I am a grump. Today I agreed to begin a two-week cleanse diet with my husband Michael. As far as I am concerned this is a terrible thing. The idea of eating only sweet potato, carrot, celery, and cabbage–– (no salt, no sugar, no fruit but six drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract and as much tea as we want!!!) –– for even one day day is a misery. The idea of eating only four foods for two weeks is purgatory. I’m a foodie, and a food writer. Even if I unearth every single sweet potato and carrot recipe in the universe (multi-ethnic carrot salad medley anyone?) it’s no fun. It’s probably not even healthy. But in the end, I am either game, or kind of stuck. I don’t know if I believe in the idea of a “cleanse”. I haven’t spent too many sleepless nights obsessing about the mobility of the cells (cilia?) in my epithelium or being too worried about the cleanliness of my digestive tract. But, according to Igor, maybe I should be.
IGOR: It’s all Igor’s fault. Igor Burdenko is an amazing coach and motivator who has been helping Michael make a semi-miraculous recovery from a fractured lumbar disk that he injured this summer. Twice a week, bleary eyed and way too early, we meet Igor at the pool where he works with Michael for an hour on mobility exercises, endurance, strength and coordination. Oh — here’s the other thing. Mike has MS. And regaining mobility and agility for him is crucial. The last thing he needed was three months of near immobility after a stupid boating accident last August. Bummer beyond bummer.
My friends at the Canyon Ranch recommended Igor as a potential godsend to Michael. For over 50 years Igor has been training elite athletes — famous prima ballerinas, speed skaters, gymnasts, and divers who performed at the top of their pursuits winning Olympic Medals and audience adoration. Their photos and love notes line Igor’s office walls. He helped Mikhail Baryshnikov, skaters Nancy Kerrigan (after she was whacked by Tanya Harding’s goons), Paul Wylie. the list goes on. This past summer, Igor helped the Canadian diver who won the Silver Medal recover after he’d torn something crucial playing pickup hackey sack just weeks before the Games. Igor ended up with the Canadian government inviting him to Ottawa where they presented him with his own Silver Medal as a thank you. Igor is the big gun in sports medicine, rehab and water therapy. He encourages, pushes, calls you “sweetheart” when your energy is lagging, smiles like a sunrise over the Pacific when you are able to do more than he’d expected. You don’t want to disappoint Igor.His time and love is precious.
Igor is also very old school. Very Russian. A product of the Soviet sport’s machine, he assume that your sport or rehab is the only thing in your life –or your parents, or your spouse, or whomever is on your team. I am the key team member for Michael.Igor truly wrote the book on sports Medicine in Moscow. There’s a copy of it on his desk. He’s 74 now, and came to the States in the early 80′s where he has become an icon for athletes and patients with chronic diseases or injuries. He can diagnose a problem in a blink. Just watching Mike walk four steps down the corridor for his first meeting, and he knew exactly what was wrong with Mike. Spooky smart. For Igor, the human body –muscles and wiring–is totally transparent. Christmas Eve On the morning of Christmas Eve, we met with Igor after Michael’s hour in the pool, and he gave us his famous, no fooling around diet that is sure to help us lose weight (we both could stand a slim) and cleanse our toxins. It’s so simple that I barely needed to write it down: carrots, sweet potato, celery, and cabbage. No caffeine. No alcohol, no salt. No fruit. Not even a few stray raisins in the carrots salad. The good news, is that Igor says we can cook them any way we want. Steam, baked, sauteed..We can go wild and crazy!!!
Friday: Day One The Day after New Years
I am not at all sure that there’s any point to it, but I am committed nonetheless. Two motivators –the big one is Igor. I don’t want to disappoint Igor, don’t want to do anything at all to suggest that Mike or me is less than totally on board. Our eating sweet potatoes and carrots three times a day is kind of like drinking Igor’s Kool-Aid. The other reason is my damned curiosity. Can I do it? Do cleanses work? will I actually feel better, lose weight, have bouncier hair and a brighter smile? So, today, I laid in the supplies — bags of carrots, sacks of sweet potatoes, a couple of heads of cabbage, and some boxes of carrot soup. We’ll see. Tonight here’s what we had for dinner: carrot and ginger soup, baked sweet potato, a stirfry of carrots and red and green cabbage. We had two fights before the meal was over. one, Mike asked me for a sharp knife to cut hsi sweet potato, (c’mon it’s a bleeping baked potato!); and the second when he reached for the salt mill. It is filling though. I couldn’t possibly have room for dessert.