#OurTribe founder Jenni Rai shares her calorie restricted experience.
I have always been “cleanse curious.” It’s a combination of self-confidence and laziness that draws me to it. Like a lot of women, I often feel my “ideal weight” is just within reach. A cleanse, (or a fast- I’m using them interchangeably), seemed just the thing to get me to my goal. It sounds so easy and only lasts a few days! (That’s confidence talking) And soo much easier than actually sticking to an exercise routine and eating healthy (laziness). In the late 90’s I tried the OG cleanse, aka “the cabbage soup diet,” and lasted a full 36 hours before giving up, but despite that failure, my fascination and misplaced confidence continued.
Chapter 1: The Purchase
In less than one week’s time, multiple people mentioned the ProLon fast to me, so I googled it. I was impressed. ProLon was invented by Dr. Valter Longo of University of Southern California, and is a “fast mimicking diet,” which means if you eat the special food they provide you, your body still thinks it’s fasting. It also has a shit ton of research behind it. The clincher for me, is that Dr. Longo, who owns 60% of the company, donates all of his proceeds to research! See, he’s not just trying to make a buck off me, he really means it! I clicked “purchase.”
Chapter 2: The Regret
The kit arrived! I open it up, and quickly went from “wow this is so well organized and cute!” to “What-was-I thinking-I’m-never-going-to-do-this-will-my-husband-find-out-how-much-money-I-just wasted?” (Cost of one kit with all supplies for the 5 days: $250)
Chapter 3: The Shame
The kit was stashed out of sight on a shelf in the closet. I deftly avoided all attempts of the ProLon staff to follow up with me, in case I had any questions. I didn’t feel that “is this thing returnable?” was a question they would answer.
Chapter 4: The Renewed Interest
Several months pass, and we are now a few weeks away from my brother’s wedding. What a great time to do a fast! Who doesn’t want to look better in pictures? I remove the kit from its hiding place, and start rummaging around. Oh ew. Garlic Olives feature prominently in my food supply. I am totally allergic to garlic. Ok, no problem, I finally return one of those avoided calls from months ago to see if I can just switch out their cute packet of garlic olives for some of my own garlic free version. Much hemming and hawing from the ProLon representative: You see, all the research was done with that exact kit. I can’t guarantee you will receive ALL the benefits if you make substitutions. Let me talk to my superior and see what I can do….
Several days later 2 packets of Garlic Free Olives arrived in the mail. Thanks ProLon!
Chapter 5: The Return to the Closet
Looking at the calendar, “let’s see, I can start the fast the end of this week, and be done just in time for the wedding.” A thought crosses my mind. I call my friendly ProLon representative:
Me: If I’m going to be fasting, will my immune system be compromised?
ProLon Rep: Yes, for a few weeks after, it is possible your immune system won’t be as strong.
Me: The fast is off!
There is no way I’m flying across the country, on a plane full of germs, with a potentially compromised immune system! Back into the closet it goes.
Chapter 6: Two Months Later
The time is now. No more excuses.
Chapter 7: Day 1 (1100 calories)
I am at work and greet everyone with “Hey! I’m starting a fast today!” figuring if I can’t eat food, might as well eat the look of admiration on everyone’s faces!
I have to admit today is off to an easy start. All of the food is provided for you and easily labelled and organized. All food is gluten free and vegetarian. The breakfast bar was tasty enough, and I am shocked at how yummy the just-add-water tomato soup is! Add in some olives, some crackers and more soup, and I’m fasting!
Chapter 8: Day 2-5 (800 calories)
Luckily, I am not at work these next four days, as my cheerful disposition dives into moments of extreme hanger. The 800 calories worth of food is similar to day one, with just a little less. For example, one packet of olives, not two. To get by, I take their suggestion of “one cup of coffee if needed” and run with it, adding a second cup for good measure in the afternoon. By day 2, I notice my typically bloated belly is flatter! I also develop a terrible migraine, which, as I’m super migraine-prone, I can’t entirely pin on ProLon. Days 3-5 pass with an increasingly flatter stomach. This is great, as I seem to have lots of extra time to simply stare at my stomach in the mirror. Time certainly slows down when you are counting calories. That and the fact there seems to be NOTHING TO DO that doesn’t involve eating. Oh it’s the weekend, and I’m fasting, guess I’ll just sleep!? The amount of bored eating I do really became highlighted! If I was involved in something, the hunger I felt completely disappeared. Come evening, knee deep in Netflix, the hunger monster reared its head.
Chapter 9: The Fast is Over
I return to work on day 6, 5 lbs lighter! ProLon provides you with instructions for how to break your fast- slowly introduce foods, eat soups, etc. Wondering if by “soup” they meant “plain sad broth,” because the can of Annie’s vegetable I ate left me feeling terrible! I was headachey, groggy, super tired- migraine on Day 2 aside, this was definitely the worst day of the fast.
This fast was totally doable. In fact, while I was in the middle of it I even thought, “Yeah I could see myself doing this once a year!” I was never out of my mind starving, more bored than anything. The food was decent, except for a few of the soups that had an awful lot of peas in them. I have never been a big fan of peas, however when limited to 800 calories I will eat every last one. When I think about those soups now, I must admit I want to barf. The good news is ProLon has since added more soups to their repertoire.
I did manage to maintain the 5 lb weight loss even a month later! I was concerned it was just “water weight” that would return immediately, and was pleased to see it didn’t. An interesting side effect from this experiment was learning just how sensitive my gut is to gluten. As mentioned, the fast is gluten free, and I really think that has massively contributed to my IBS situation for all of these years. As a result, I am now actively avoiding wheat, etc.
I am super glad I did this, and if I can ever get over that feeling of nausea when thinking of the pea soups, will definitely do it again!
*PS: Jenni Rai/#OurTribe did not receive any compensation for this review, and kit was purchased out of pocket.
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