Our theme for the month of July is “stunt journalism.” Writers were asked to try something new, take on a challenge, or perform some other interesting feat strictly for the purpose of writing about it.

I’m getting old.

I went to the doctor a couple months back, and he told me my cholesterol was getting high.  Not dangerous, but something to watch.  I have a slowly but steadily increasing paunch around my middle.  My hair, once my pride and joy, is thinning.  Joints and tendons ache, and I can feel my youth slipping away.

The rot of middle age is setting in.

Faced with the incontrovertible decay of my body, I did what any aging millennial does—turn to the pseudoscience of the age and go on a cleanse.

Luckily, a friend of mine happens to sell a variety of products designed to promote health, weight loss, and natural nutritional supplements.  I had followed her Facebook business page for some time because I support her and want her to do well, but I had never bought anything because my brief time being involved in Multi-Level Marketing has made me wary of financially supporting any such venture.  But, I finally took the plunge and bought a starter kit and committed to doing a “5 Day Reset.”

Here’s what’s in the Starter Kit TM

  • 2 canisters Life Energizing Shakes (protein powder)
  • Men’s Health Daily Vitamin Strip TM
  • Instructions on what to do and how to order more

The 4 Reset Guidelines

  • 3 shakes a day, in lieu of meals
  • 3 snacks—chosen from a very helpful guide of what is and is not allowed, as well as portion size
  • No caffeine, unless it is from their All Natural Energizing Tea TM
  • An amount of water to be drunk per day that averaged roughly a small lake

I was skeptical.  The whole thing reeked of snakeoil for the Buzzfeed generation.  Plus, every container was plastered with phrases like “ALL NATURAL” “NON-GMO” “NO ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS”—you know…shameless pandering and buying into the current trend of anti-science hysteria.

Despite my skepticism, I was firmly committed to following the rules of the reset.

Results

Day 1 – I was pleasantly surprised by the taste of the shake.  For not having any artificial flavors and being all natural, it is amazing how they got the protein powder to taste exactly like birthday cake.  I made it through the day, and being forced to adhere to a rigid eating schedule really drove home just how much mindless snacking I do throughout the day.

Day 2 – I was getting the hang of it and figuring out my favorite snacks.  I love almonds, but the portion size allowed was too small to bring me any joy.  Apple slices and peanut butter are heavenly.

Day 3 – The cleanse aspect of the reset took effect.  I am not sure if my body was cleansed of toxins and my chakras aligned, but I was passing BMs like a GD dream.

Day 4 – By now, I no longer noticed any occasional pangs of hunger.  I had my routine set.  I did notice I had energy despite not having any coffee.  The constant urination from the liters of water I drank was annoying, but probably beneficial to my body.

Day 5 – I was ready for the Reset to be done.  Subsisting on a diet essentially of liquids with the occasional salad or handful of nuts just wasn’t doing it for me anymore.  Just twenty-four more hours…twelve…six…three…almost done.  DONE!  I DID IT!!!

The immediate results were obvious.  I had lost a decent amount of weight in just five days.  I knew that I would gain some back, but it was encouraging to make any progress losing weight.

The Reset highlighted that I do a lot of empty snacking when I don’t need to.  Chips and salsa are tasty, but they should not be a meal unto themselves.  I also realized that I do not need to drink nearly as much caffeine as I normally do.  Yes, I work a third shift job, but that does not give me carte blanche to guzzle gallons of coffee to stay awake.

Conclusion

I went into this whole experiment with more than a healthy dose of skepticism.  I didn’t think it would work, or I just didn’t really know what to expect.  By the end and in the days following, I realized that I actually had a pretty positive experience.  Since doing the Reset, I have been more conscious about what I eat and how much I eat.  I try to drink a lot of water throughout the day.  My meals are healthier than before, and I am just trying to make smarter decisions when it comes to my health.

Are all these nutritional supplements and shakes just clickbait snakeoil?  I don’t know.  Possibly.  But that doesn’t mean they can’t still be helpful.

Paul Menn

Paul (’10) lives in Grand Rapids with his wife, Emma (’10), and cat, HandsomeMarcoCat. He loves board games, Babylon 5, and honey-curry chicken. Everything else is negotiable.

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