Eight days go, hours before I dove head-first into the unimaginable, pre-Christmas detox, Bella Hadid’s nutritionist told me I was a genius. While it would be cool to claim I’d been planning all along to go balls-to-the-wall clean eating deep in the middle of frosted cookie season, it would also be dishonest. Story rights go to the barrel of holiday party wine I drank (on a Tuesday), which had me hangover-googling “best model detox” (on a Wednesday), and landing on Dr. Charles Passler’s 7-Day Pure Change Program (last Thursday). The Pure Change Program has already been reviewed by every major health and fashion site under the sun—namely because Passler is loved and lauded not only by the aforementioned Hadid, but also by a long list of Vogue editors and Victoria’s Secret angels. Tally up the votes and here is what you get: more energy, less bloat, less weight, actually works. And so it was decided, and the very next day I had Passler on the line, telling me how smart I was not to wait ’til January to tidy up my habits.
He put it almost stupidly simple: “Just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean you need a cookie. And just because it’s New Year’s Eve doesn’t mean you have to get hammered.”
And then Passler prodded. “What is your weakness?”
Easy. “French fries.”
“And how do you feel when you eat them?”
“So why do you eat them?”
“Because they are amazing?”
“And how would it feel if you didn’t eat them?”
Again. “But how would it feel if you didn’t eat them?”
And there I had him, the man behind the models, unfolding what it means to be a “cost acceptor.” As Passler explains, you either value accomplishing your goals or you don’t—and the difference between people who accomplish their goals and people who don’t lies in their ability to accept the cost required. “Anybody on the planet who is successful at anything is successful because they are willing to accept the cost required to make it real.”
Enter Passler’s Pure Change mantra. “If I value the program, I tell myself that I will accept the cost required. So, for this week, I will walk away from that cookie [french fries]. I am done with that cookie [french fries] for today.” He paused. “If that’s your mindset, how hard is it?” Could this possibly be as easy as he makes it sound?
Here is the 7-Day Pure Change schedule: 6 a.m. wake up (drink water), 7 a.m. Lean Body Protein shake (drink water), 9:30 a.m. consume 1/2 protein bar (drink water), 12 p.m. figure out 100 calories of steamed or raw vegetables plus 1 tablespoon olive oil and one “detox support pack” (drink water), 2:30 p.m. second Lean Body Protein shake (drink water), 5 p.m. consume remaining 1/2 protein bar (drink water), 7 p.m. more figuring out 100 calories of plants plus 1 tablespoon olive oil and another “detox support pack” (drink water), 10 p.m. bedtime—but first! Magnesium and probiotic supplements (and obviously, drink water).
The rules: No coffee, no alcohol, no exercise (true story), and no snacking.
Generally speaking, I neither over-consume nor maintain any hint of an unusually toxic or even moderately unhealthy diet. But I wasn’t always so measured. Growing up, I was the fat kid—a child of divorce who coped by coming home from school each day to stuff her face with hot pink Pop-Tarts until she fell asleep in a food coma on the couch in front of Ricki Lake. In seventh grade, I tipped the scale at 180 pounds, and justified it with the fact that Gabrielle Reece weighed the same (or so I read in People). I lost a ton of weight in high school and college, through an equally unhealthy mix of Adderall, long runs and bulimia. And then I moved to New York, discovered yoga, adopted a mostly vegetarian (sometimes vegan) diet, and balanced my shit out. Ignore people who say this city is toxic/terrible for everyone; some of us find equilibrium.
Back to the point. Thanks to living on both ends of the skinny/fat spectrum for larger part of my adolescent-adult consciousness, for the last 10 years I’ve embraced a fairly health-conscious lifestyle. Most mornings I wake at 6 a.m., have a cup of coffee with Califia Farms Better Half unsweetened coconut-almond milk creamer (best stuff ever), and go for an easy, three-mile run along the East River. I make hard-boiled eggs while I’m getting ready for work, which I throw in my purse and end up eating around 11 a.m., in an effort to fast between dinner and breakfast for as long as possible.
I pack my lunch almost every day—usually some giant kind of colorful salad topped with avocado, walnuts or cashews, and a (homemade) olive oil, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar dressing. When I don’t bring lunch, I’ll run across the street to Le Pain Quotidien for their vegan Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai or whatever vegetable soup of the day might exist. I always pretend I’m going to avoid the bread that comes with, which is a fruitless endeavor because LPQ baguettes are deliciously crusty, chewy and amazing and I, pathetically, can never say no. (Another reason I aim to brown-bag it.)
My midday snack is a pack of Thrive Market’s Sea Salt Seaweed Snacks; I am addicted and buy them by the case, which of course takes up an absurd percentage of real estate in my tiny New York kitchen. Between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. I probably drink an average of 2-3 cups of green tea. On a bad day, I’ll raid Observer’s conference room candy jars, filled with tiny Snickers, Twix and KitKats. It is a choice I always, immediately regret.
Dinner, when I eat at home, is decidedly healthy: salmon with quinoa or brown rice and a vegetable, usually spinach or broccoli. Dinner, when I do not eat at home, is decidedly reckless; possibly a proper, age-appropriate entrée, and definitely multiple glasses of Pinot Noir plus (per the above admitted vice) half a plate of french fries. There was a period, earlier this year, where I was eating fries at least twice a week—which is why I’m here now, writing this article.
And all of this is to say that, while I’m not smoking cigarettes and chugging Diet Coke, there is most definitely room for improvement.
Day One: The day before the detox was spent preparing—and not in the gross, frantic, chocolate croissant-gorging manner one might be inclined to imagine. My last “meal” was dinner at XYST, Matthew Kenney‘s new Mediterranean vegan concept in Chelsea. (Go now, and order the Fried Artichokes, Beet Manti, Cast Iron Socca, and chocolate cake with orange blossom gelato.) Shocker: I also had several glasses of red wine, which meant I didn’t exactly feel fresh the next day, and therefore opened our 10 a.m. edit meeting with a disclaimer to my team that I was off caffeine, so if I snapped/cried/passed out they’d know what to do with me.
Apart from almost falling asleep on the subway home (for the first time ever in my 10+ years living in New York), Day One was without drama or consequence. I didn’t feel hangry or even hungry—surprising, given that the Pure Change Program tops out just shy of 1,100 calories a day (two shakes at 180 calories each, one 260-calorie protein bar, two 100-calorie servings of veggies, and two tablespoons of olive oil, each being a standard 120 calories). I don’t count calories, but I am positive I eat way more than this on even my lightest food days.
Day Two: Holy caffeine hangover, my eyes were throbbing. Lucky for me, it was Saturday, and the only thing I had to do was hang around my apartment detoxing. I cannot imagine editing anything under such circumstances—but I did want to write, and so around 11 a.m. I caved and made a cup of green tea. An hour later, my headache was gone and the rest of the day was relatively productive. I made steamed spinach and zucchini for both 100-calorie non-packaged-food meals, and again had zero hunger pangs.
Day Three: No headache, but super sluggish. I am, and always have been, a morning person. But not on Day Three. It took every ounce of being to pull myself out of bed at 8:30 a.m., meaning the regularly-programmed 7 a.m. Lean Body shake was postponed for two hours. I decided to spend the rest of the morning clearing my head, walking around the city, catching up on Christmas errands. Unfortunately, I didn’t return home until around 2 p.m, meaning I skipped my 1/2 protein bar snack and veggie lunch—though I didn’t physically miss either of them, which I have to attribute to the shake’s 20 grams of protein. I resumed schedule at 2:30 p.m., with the second Lean Body shake. After dinner that night I really wanted a glass of wine—so I cheated and made a mug of miso broth. I fully know how lame that sounds, but it worked. Craving gone.
Day Four: Every single time I hear annoying people talk about how zippy-great their energy is sans caffeine, I roll my eyes hard. On Day Four I became that person. It is difficult to explain, and (speaking from experience) even more difficult to understand, the electric current of steady, non-chemical buzz that pumped through my veins. I was hyper focused and happy for no reason—to the point where I basically felt high. But I did, for the first time, have some hunger issues. In fact, I was ravenous all day—probably thanks to Day Three’s accidental low-calorie intake. Dinner was a struggle, because I wanted to follow my sad bowl of steamed broccoli with something more substantial, like a pizza. Instead, I made a cup of Four Sigmatic’s Reishi Elixir, which was exactly what I needed, because by 9:30 p.m. my body and brain were still firing on all cylinders. Reishi mushrooms have a ton of health benefits—important here, the ability to reduce stress and induce sleep. Sure enough, I passed out swift and deep.
Days Five, Six + Seven were pretty much the same as Day Four, thankfully minus the desire to eat everything in sight. Full, pulsing confidence, superhero clarity. Also, I realized that despite outlining the Pure Change plan in the paragraphs leading to this entry, I had somehow managed to completely skip every day’s second detox support pack of vitamins. Not sure how that happened, but I still feel awesome. I should probably also mention the other supplements I always take. Every morning, I have two Elysium Basis capsules and four Vital Proteins Spirulina tablets—which I continued on the detox. At night, I usually have two of Kimberly Snyder’s SBO Probiotics and three Detoxy+ Magnesium—both of which I skipped, as Passler’s kit includes exactly the same.
In total, I’m down 10 pounds from a week ago, though I have to wonder how much of that is water weight. Certainly more importantly, I feel incredible—which brings this full circle, back to Passler’s initial point. Just because it’s December doesn’t mean you need to consume everything in excess, and you definitely don’t need to wait until January to detox. In many ways, going on a strict diet made the last week of holiday offerings markedly easier. Yes, I had a box of Sugarfina candies and free champagne dumped on my desk—but because the term “cost acceptor” kept ringing through my ears, it wasn’t hard to hand the sugary goodies off to a few younger staffers, whose metabolism is perhaps a bit faster than mine.
Speaking of, sugar was the one item on the Lean Body shake ingredient list that furrowed my brow. Granted, Passler’s was organic—but it was still the dreaded “white stuff” which so many detox programs strictly prohibit. “When you are detoxing your body, you do need a little bit of sugar,” he explained, “and there is only 1 gram of organic cane sugar in the shake—less than what you would get in a cup of raw broccoli, which has 1.5 grams, or a cup of tomatoes, which has around 4 grams. The main reason for using organic cane sugar instead of stevia is for taste. Organic cane sugar gives the best taste experience.”
And there you have to put faith in the fact that Passler knows his stuff. Or maybe commit to being a “cost acceptor,” and try it for yourself.