The Cut’s guide to self-improvement without spending a million dollars.
Oprah has declared 2016 “the year of our best bodies,” but we’ve decided it’s the year we’re really going to let ourselves go. To reconcile these two conflicting New Year’s resolutions, we’ve devised a brilliant plan to help you reap all the benefits of being a preachy, self-righteous cleanse participant without having to do any of the work. Here’s the Cut’s step-by-step guide on How to Fake a Cleanse.
1. Pick the week you’ll do your cleanse. Mid-January is ideal, as people will just have gotten over their post-holiday virtuousness and begin to return to their weak and slovenly ways.
2. Don’t actually pick a real cleanse; if you do, your friends will be able to fact-check your dubious practices. Instead, when people ask you what cleanse you’re doing, go for something vague but fancy-sounding. Say, “Lenny Kravitz’s facialist who also works with Beyoncé told me about it. It’s what she did after having Blue Ivy.” Shrug. “It’s new.”
1. Begin with the first rule of cleansing: Tell everyone about your cleanse. When friends ask how you are, say, “Fine, but ask me again next week, when I’m on my cleanse!” Or “I’ve been feeling really heavy with toxins, but hopefully the cleanse I’m about to embark on will purify my mind and body.”
2. Ask a friend who Instagrams her every move to go grocery shopping with you. Go to Whole Foods and buy lemons, grade-B maple syrup, and a 24-pack of alkaline water, plus a few obscure and not obviously palatable items, like whole nutmeg, dandelion greens, and Szechuan peppercorns. Also, make sure to pick up a green water bottle. You will carry this around at all times during your fake cleanse, and the green plastic will make the actual liquids you drink look extra-murky and disgusting.
3. Rehearse the list of things that you’re not allowed to eat on your cleanse. Pick and choose at least 15 items from the following list: gluten, saltwater fish, mollusks, sugar, dairy, avocados, fruit that grows on trees, rice, nightshade vegetables, non-alkaline water, pork, alcohol, raw fish, coffee, all butters, soybeans, black teas, red meat, stone fruit, core fruits, tropical fruits, large melons.
4. Prepare for a week of fake-cleansing by doing your real grocery shopping online (you don’t want to risk your friends seeing you buy non-cleanse foods out in public). This is when you can stock up on extra purse snacks to consume secretly in bathroom stalls when the office holiday leftovers start to look too tantalizing.
1. By now your friends will have flooded you with comments like, “Why are you doing this?” Begin with, “Well, I’m not doing this to lose weight, but,” and then finish with, “I just want to feel more at peace with myself,” or “I’ve been feeling really out of balance lately,” or “I just want to hit the reset button.” Do not give any of these answers: “There’s been a great Papa John’s pizza special recently, and it’s been too good to pass up,” “I’ve been eating too many of my feelings late at night, and Master of None makes me hungry,” or “A 16 Handles opened across the street from me.”
2. Prepare your green water bottle. Keep it filled with your liquid of choice throughout the week: Possibilities include Diet Coke, Bud Light Lime, and Nesquik chocolate powder. Remember to exclaim, “Ugh, this is so disgusting,” while you swill your chocolate milk.
3. Start going to the bathroom a lot with your purse. Every time you get up to go, smile knowingly at your co-worker and say, “All this liquid keeps going through me!” and then run to the bathroom to eat your handheld chicken potpie.
4. Go home and begin stuffing your face with actual food the moment you enter your apartment.
1. Keeping the secret of your fake cleanse may be difficult, but do not break down and tell anyone about your plan. If you think you could convince a friend to be your cleanse accomplice and sneak you snacks during this fake-out period, think again. Trust no one. There is no telling whether your friend will rat you out when he or she hears some of the virtuous praise that is about to come your way. Your friends are all one cocktail away from spilling the beans about your fake-out.
2. Copy and paste this into Twitter: “Day two of my cleanse! I didn’t know it was possible to feel so weak and so strong at the same time.”
3. Your co-workers will order their Potbelly sandwiches and their fancy salads from Chop’t for lunch. Pretend to look miserably at a piece of kale while swilling back some more “juice.” Say, “Wait, did you get extra-aged Pecorino Romano on your Cobb salad? I swear this cleanse is making my senses appear stronger and more heightened!” Later, sniff loudly and say, “Did someone eat garlic scapes for lunch?” Your co-workers will look pityingly at you before you abscond and relish in the pork rinds you have hidden in your purse.
1. Before work, apply foundation a shade lighter than your skin tone to make yourself look a little bit pale. Cleanses are an art, and art is about suffering. But also go HAM on the contouring to make your cheekbones especially pop, and add highlighter.
2. Instagram a post of your green water bottle filled with your cleanse-looking drink. Caption it, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, but dammit, this cleanse just might kill me. [Arm-muscle emoji] [Skull emoji]”
3. When friends ask you to join them for a ClassPass exercise class, tell them that you’re afraid you just don’t have the caloric energy to power through a second workout class. “A second workout class?” they’ll ask. Say, “Yeah, I was up so early that I went to a 7 a.m. SoulCycle class with Akin. I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it, but I think my body actually feels lighter!”
1. By now your friends are getting sick of you and your stupid cleanse, which is exactly what you want. Revel in their blatant jealousy and resentment, for a woman’s worth is determined by how many haters she has.
2. When people ask you how the cleanse is going and if you’re ready to just give in and eat a slice of pizza, tell them you’re honestly so hungry that you’re not even hungry anymore. Say, “I’m, like, post-hunger,” and smile serenely.
3. Accompany your friends to happy hour at a crowded bar. As they gorge on Buffalo wings, truffle-fried macaroni-and-cheese balls, and beer, and look guiltily at you for gorging in front of you, say, “No, guys — seriously, go ahead. I actually feel totally fine looking at all this food.” Little do they know, you have your own order already bagged up and paid for on Seamless, ready to be delivered at 8:30 p.m.
4. Schedule a post-dinnertime facial so that your skin will look extra-glowy tomorrow, when you debut your last-day-of-the-cleanse look.
1. It’s the last day of the cleanse, so you’re going to want to look amazing to show that your impressive dedication to starving yourself really paid off. Get a blowout and get your makeup done. Wear at least three pairs of Spanx, and the outfit in which you feel the most confident.
2. As you all gather in the office kitchen for lunch, spot Mike from HR, who has been away on a business trip for the past week and missed you talking about your cleanse the past few days. Drink loudly and conspicuously from your water bottle as he eats food normally. When he asks why you aren’t eating, say, “Oh, I’ve been doing this cleanse.” Shrug. “In the beginning it was really hard, but I honestly feel so good right now.” You now have a captive audience ready to hear about your cleanse all over again.
3. As you feast on tempura sushi at home, write a message crowing about your achievements: “Wow, can’t believe I did it! I feel better than ever, even better than when I ‘ran’ the marathon. My mind feels so clear, and I actually crossed everything off my to-do list. And I somehow also lost 15 pounds by accident, although that wasn’t my intention at all.”
1. Your friends will invite you to boozy brunch, asking if you want to “break” your cleanse and do some normal-people activities. As you Seamless yourself some pancakes with apple butter, say, “I can’t do brunch, I woke up super early and went to Tone House this morning! Maybe we can meet up later for some green tea?”
2. When your friend Jennifer texts you and asks if she should try a cleanse, respond, “Totes! It was surprisingly easy!” Then bask in the glory of your deceit, feeding off of Doritos and the knowledge that the only thing worse than a person who does a cleanse is one who fakes a cleanse.
Previously: How to Fake Running a Marathon.