Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate |

Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate

Alison Berkley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

“Here’s your garlic pill, honey,” Ryan said, handing me a yellow capsule. I took it before I had a chance to think about it.

“Hey, why don’t you clean out the juicer and get it ready?” I said.

“You are not the boss of this cleanse,” he yelled from the kitchen. From where I was sitting outside on the patio, I could hear clanking in the sink, and I knew he was cleaning out the juicer.

I immediately started to burp up the garlic pill I’d just taken, and it made me feel nauseous. Oh, great, I thought to myself. I’m in day one, hour one of this thing and already, I’m suffering.

I’ve done maybe three other cleanses in my life, and they’ve all been different. At least in my mind, a cleanse is a drastic measure. It’s a last resort. It’s what you do when you have to do something, but nothing else is working. It’s a big commitment, like dropping into a wave you know is either a little too big or might close out on you, or maybe you took off a little late and chances are you’re going to take a pounding. You know you’re going to survive it, but you also know it’s going to suck.

“I know the goal isn’t to lose weight, but I’m just wondering if it does help,” my friend Sarah said on the phone last night.

“What do you mean it’s not to lose weight? Losing weight is so totally the whole point.”

Sure, it’s a good idea to detoxify your system and wash away all the alcohol and caffeine and processed food that’s probably all stuck to the sides of our colons like those burned brown spots in baking dishes you can never quite get out. It’s probably good not to drink three cups of coffee to start your day and three pints of beer to finish it.

But let’s be real. I want to lose weight.

The first cleanse I ever did was the best. I’d found it in a book called “Prescription for Nutritional Healing.” I’d been feeling run-down after taking a round of antibiotics to fight off an infection, and the book recommended fasting and gave a detailed description of exactly how to do it. It’s basically two days of only raw fruits and vegetables to prepare the system followed by three days of raw organic juice and teas followed by two days of raw food to come off the cleanse.

I was totally amazed by the effects: The bags from under my eyes were totally gone. My skin was clear and even-toned. My body felt light and tight, and that extra layer that I’d been carrying around my whole life, the one that feels like you constantly have a heavy sweater tied around your waist, was gone. I tried to do this cleanse once a year or so, but it was never as good as the first time.

The last cleanse I did was called “The 7 Day Detox Miracle,” based on a book I read by the same name. This cleanse was similar in terms of preparing with a raw-food diet, though it allowed for brown rice and lightly steamed vegetables (woo-hoo!). The only major difference was for three days you were to have nothing but lemon and water, along with a very elaborate regimen of various forms of hydrotherapy, which basically entail hot/cold water baths and showers.

I almost died on this cleanse. The first day I woke up with a severe headache on account of caffeine withdrawal, and I was so hungry I was crawling on the floor and scratching the walls and licking the windowsills.

“Maybe you should go drink a coke or something,” my friend Tom said. “I mean, this sounds crazy.”

“No!” I practically screamed into the phone. “Obviously, this is a sign of just how much I need this.”

So between standing in an ice-cold shower and counting to 30 or taking a hot bath followed by lying in bed on damp, wet sheets (what an ordeal that was), I slept. I slept for about 18 hours, only waking up to crawl back into the bathroom for more hot/cold Chinese water torture.

But man, did I lose a lot of weight on that cleanse.

This is the first time I’ve ever done a cleanse with someone else. I was pretty surprised when Ryan, who is like the Dairy King of the Midwest, jumped on board. He’s always taken pride in how much he can eat, as if it’s some kind of accomplishment. He’s also the most confident person I’ve ever met, with not a single insecurity about anything. The guy can seriously fall asleep mid-sentence, never has bad dreams, and so obviously has the clearest conscience on the planet.

Until the other day he woke up and the first thing he said to me was, “I think I’m going to get liposuction. I’m way too fat.”

The best is when he tells other people “we” are doing the cleanse because “we” are too fat.

And I go, “What to you mean, we?”

And he says, “I said, me am doing the cleanse because me is too fat,” and laughs.

So far, we’ve done our two days of raw food and are on our first day of juice, and I feel pretty damned good so far. I don’t know if it’s because I’m so motivated, seeing as though the (other) Royal Wedding is coming up in a few months, or if it’s because for the first time in my life, I have someone there to support me.

Either way, when I went for a hike under this insanely brilliant, electric-blue sky today, I realized just because my life is fat (with a “p”) doesn’t mean my waist has to be.

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