A lot of people have been asking me why I decided to take time off from real food and drink a mixture of palm syrup, lemon juice and cayenne pepper instead. Well, the answer isn’t a short one, but it’s an educational one. So, I thought it would be beneficial to explain what I am doing and why.
This is my 3rd time doing this cleanse, the first time for 9 days, the second time for 5 days and this time for at least 5 days, maybe more…
Here’s why I did it:
As most of you know, CrossFit has been a key part of my life since mid-2007. I quickly ramped up to a 5x a week training schedule and was hitting PR’s right and left. I competed in the CrossFit Games in 2008 and had goals of returning in 2009. Although I didn’t make it through Regionals in 2009, I continued to train 5-6 times per week focusing on the 2010 Games season, taking very few rest days in between. My diet wasn’t 100% on point, but compared to how I had eaten before I found CrossFit, my diet was about a 70-80% Zone diet, with cheat days on the weekends. I also had a lot of other things going on. Between my job and coaching, I was working 12-14 hour days every day, trying to find time to train in between there, and because of a bad real estate move and poor decisions with credit, I was in a financial nightmare. All of these things combined were a recipe for disaster.
Starting around late 2009-early 2010, I started to feel drained. I had no energy in workouts, my numbers started to decline, I was always tired but slept poorly and I never wanted to work out. I knew something was wrong but I wasn’t sure how to make things better. At this point, I started to back off on my training and focus more on my coaching. I figured I couldn’t be good at them both. My training became inconsistent and I went into the 2010 Sectionals and Regionals weak and overtrained.
I had started following OPT in 2009 and when he announced that he was creating a Coaches Certification Program, I had to be in on it. In February, I traveled out to Calgary for my first of five visits throughout the year to take the OPT CCP Assessment Module. I knew James was a sharp guy and getting to know him through the OPT CCP program proved to me that he was a person I needed to learn from. I’m very analytical, and so is he. I like data, and so does he. I like knowing and understanding the “why,” and so does he. He has a lot of experience and has a lot to offer. In August 2010, I hired him to start working with me on my training. Through working with James, I also started working with one of James’ go to guys, Dr. Jeoff Drobot. Dr. Drobot is the Director at The Calgary Centre for Naturopathic Medicine. James suspected I may have issues with cortisol management and Dr. Drobot confirmed it.
In October of 2010, I took two tests, an Adrenal Stress Index (ASI) Test and and ALCAT Test for food sensitivities. The food sensitivities test told me which foods I should avoid because my body was sensitive to them. Any food sensitivities would add inflammation and one of our biggest goals was to reduce inflammation. The ASI test showed that my cortisol levels, the bodies stress hormone, were completely out of whack. They were low in the morning when they were supposed to be higher and they were high throughout the day and at night where they were supposed to be lower. This had put my body in a very catabolic state, where it was very effective at breaking things down, but didn’t have the resources available to rebuild. My DHEA levels, one of the main building blocks of testosterone, progesterone, estrogen and cortisol, were non-existent.
From this analysis, it was determined the best way to start my treatment plan was with the Neera Cleanse. The Neera Cleanse provides the nutrients I need for energy throughout the day while allowing my body the chance to take a break from digesting food. I was ordered to rest completely and to sleep as much as I needed. Sleep was and still is VERY important. After the cleanse was over, I started taking a fiber supplement to help heal my digestive system, as well as DHEA to help increase my levels of DHEA, a liver, glucose and energy supplement all to aid in metabolism and repair and phosphatidylserine to control cortisol levels. My diet was 100% real food and I was to eat most of my protein throughout the day and have a meal of steamed veggies with little to no protein at night. James continued programming for me, but with a different purpose in mind. My training was to stay fairly low intensity and not too strenuous to allow my body to continue to rebuild and repair. Sleep was CRUCIAL, at least 8 hours every night, and little to no stress was the key.
We retested the ASI test in January and noticed dramatic improvements. My cortisol levels were back to normal during midday, but were still just a tad bit off in the morning and late evening and my DHEA levels were on the low end of normal. I stopped taking the phosphatidylserine and we increased my DHEA intake from 5mg to 10mg. We weren’t 100% yet, but we were on our way out of the woods.
March 2011 rolled around and I decided I wanted to give competing another go. The plan was for me to do the first workout in the CrossFit Open and see how I felt. If I felt ok, we’d continue through the 6 weeks of the Open and see how everything fell out in the end. Although I hadn’t been training specifically for competition, I felt surprisingly well throughout the Open. At the end of the Open, I finished 32nd in the SoCal region with an invitation to compete in the 2011 SoCal Regionals.
We decided that since I had 6 weeks to prepare for Regionals, another cleanse would be good to give my body a chance to repair from the 6 weeks of the Open. Cleanse #2 took place the week following the Open and in the 2nd week I started training hard. My training was top priority. I trained when I was told to train and I rested when I was told to rest. It paid off. I finished up tied for 22nd in one of the toughest CrossFit regions there is. Not bad for spending the prior year working through recovery from adrenal fatigue.
Now, with Regionals behind me, it’s time for a 3rd cleanse and time for rest. This is Day 3 of my cleanse, and oddly enough, as I sit here writing this, I have been fighting the urge to workout all day. My energy levels are great and for the past few months, I have been excited to train.
So, I know this was a long answer to a fairly simple question, but that is why I have been doing the cleanse that I have talked about. Mainly for rest and recovery. The fact that it cleans out any toxins is a bonus. I love food and am not one to go without, but this cleanse is doable. The syrup is delicious and whenever I get hungry I take a swig and I’m good to go. And, when I do start eating again, I don’t eat as much and I don’t crave the sugary and starchy foods I craved before. I also regain my strength fairly quick and only regain a portion of the weight that I lose. Everytime I have done the cleanse, I come back leaner and stronger. The Neera Cleanse is now an essential part on my journey to elite health and fitness, as is OPT, Dr. Drobot and their guidance.