40 day detox: overview, effects and conclusions (Day 43+)

Overview

40 Day Detox Graph

My weight, body fat, body water and body muscle readings during the 42 days of this detox and 12 days after completing the detox

My weight, body fat, body water and body muscle readings during the 42 days of this detox and 12 days after completing the detox

My Body Fat Percentage increased in week 1

It’s been an interesting journey. As you can see from the above graph and from the spreadsheet here overall, I did eventually see a drop in body fat. However, the first week started with an increase, starting at 18.8% on day 1 and increasing 1.8% to 20.6% on day 7. I put this down to a mixture of:

  1. prolonged exercise on an empty stomach in the morning, which forced my body to go into starvation mode and thus burned muscle rather than fat;
  2. exercising too much too frequently – the body needs days off to rest so that it can build the muscles you’ve torn during exercise (more muscle equals more calories burnt even whilst resting);
  3. finding my feet with the new detox foods e.g. eating too much fat in the form of cheddar cheese and eating too high a quantity of the new vegetarian food.
The Fat Vegetarian (well almost) photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/juliastarkey/3838295291/sizes/z/in/photostream/

The Fat Vegetarian (well almost)

This first week is good evidence showing that a person does not become thin simply by becoming a vegetarian. There are many vegetarian foods that can contribute to an increase in body fat e.g. carbohydrates in starchy foods, fat in dairy products and calories in nuts! A vegetarian still needs to carefully plan what he/she is going to eat, when to eat it and how much to eat. In fact to stay healthy, vegetarians need to put more thought into what they eat than meat eaters as they have to figure out where to get all the nutrients they would normally get from meat. Vegans have to be even more thoughtful with the elimination of all dairy and all animal products. Becoming vegetarian or vegan without properly planning and putting thought into what your body needs is a very bad idea. Start your research into nutrition and what your body needs here.

Factors that contributed to a drop in Body Fat Percentage

As I gradually made the following changes I noticed better results in terms of fat loss:

  1. smaller meals
  2. more frequent meals
  3. eating more slowly
  4. reducing nuts (reducing calories)
  5. doing resistance training less frequently to allow muscles to repair
  6. not exercising on an empty stomach
  7. rest days
  8. socialising to reduce stress (stress releases cortisol which encourages fat to be stored in abdominal region)
  9. drinking more water
  10. not eating carbohydrates after 6pm
Smaller Meals

Smaller Meals

During the 42 day period my highest body fat percentage was 20.6% on day 7 and my lowest body fat percentage was 16.6% on day 39. That’s a range of 4% in 32 days! Two days after my detox (day 44) I reached my lowest body fat percentage of 16.3%.

A slight rise in Body Fat Percentage towards the end

Towards the last few days of the detox (day 40 to day 42) my body fat percentage started to rise again. I put this down to the psychological impact of reaching day 40 and thus realising that there was no way I was going to be in shape for a topless photo on day 42 for an “after” picture. This caused me to have a more relaxed attitude to how much I ate.

Other benefits of doing the 40 day detox

Other than fat loss there were many other benefits from doing the detox:

  1. I learned about my body and how it responded to detoxing, improving nutrition and exercise
  2. I learned about nutrition – an awareness that will stay with me for life
  3. I learned about other eating cultures and discovered different delicious foods
  4. I learned that I could write daily if I wanted to!
  5. I found that my body could have potentially healed old wounds
  6. I gained an almost supernatural sense of smell (I’ll be taking it easy with the cologne from now one)
  7. I appreciated the ethical position of vegetarians and vegans
  8. I discovered the benefits of drinking filtered water
  9. I was able to think with more clarity
  10. My sexual health vastly improved
  11. I noticed a drastic increase in positive moods and emotions
  12. Visualise in HD (High Definition) Source: http://punktlos.deviantart.com/art/imagination-71353483

    Visualise in HD (High Definition)

    I felt fresh / awake

  13. I gained fresher breath
  14. I had increased energy levels
  15. I gained a renewed desire to be creative
  16. I increased my ability to remain focused on a task and a sustained ability to work towards goals
  17. I noticed that I could visualise imagery in my mind with a crisper higher definition quality
  18. I noticed clearer more vibrant looking skin with a lighter tone
  19. I increased in confidence
  20. I discovered the significance of 40 days
  21. I came on TV the day after my detox completed!

I was on prime time Television!

Yes that’s right, on the 16th September 2010, on day 43 or one day after the completion of my 42 day detox, at 20.00 I appeared on BBC1 Watchdog. Here’s my bit:

And here is the full Argos feature, plus a follow up of what happened afterwards on the BBC website.

The Universe opened doors for me on day 40, day 41 and day 43

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” Joseph Campbell

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” Joseph Campbell

So as you can see, day 40, day 41, and day 43 were all highly eventful. Coincidence? Or is there really something to the significance of 40 days that seems to be recognised by mystical and religious traditions all over the world? Why don’t you do your own 40 day experiment and let me know what you experience by commenting on this post? Commit to doing something for 40 days (even a detox of your own if you like) and let me know what happens!

Effects of going back onto non-detox foods

Once the detox was complete, I didn’t start consuming everything that was forbidden all at once. I gradually re-introduced different foods to see how my body would react.

Day 43: The Omega 3 fats in fish healed my inflammation symptoms but I was highly sensitive to the caffeine in chocolate!

Cod with vegetables

Cod with vegetables

I was still in pain and suffering from the symptoms of inflammation since day 40 so the first non-detox food I ate was fish (Cod). It was ok to eat (not amazing as I find cod one of the smellier fish), but heavy on my digestive system after eating. About 10 minutes after consumption I felt as though my face muscles were twitching. I then checked myself in a mirror and could see my face muscles twitching. Though, I didn’t sense any trauma. I did seem to sense trauma (as if I was sensing the pain and suffering of the slaughtered animal) a couple of times after eating food contaminated with meat in Syria when I did my first detox/vegetarian experiment. However I did notice that my headache decreased and finally disappeared and the inflammation in my nose eased and I could breathe through my nose with more ease. I believe it was the Omega 3 in the Cod that did the trick. Omega 3s are anti-inflammatory. That’s one of the reasons it’s recommended to eat fish twice a week. I do feel gutted that even though I went out and bought flaxseed oil this day I didn’t use it to see if it got rid of my inlfammation symptoms. Next time I will consume flaxseed oil (which is a vegan source of a type of Omega 3) when I feel similar symptoms and see if it cures the problem. Let me know if you have or haven’t experienced relief from inflammation symptoms by using flaxseed oil by commenting below.

Turkish sesame halva with cocoa - an addiction for me like Iranian dates!

Turkish sesame halva with cocoa - an addiction for me like Iranian dates!

In the evening I had chocolate flavoured sesame halva and two small cubes of strawberry flavoured Milka chocolate. I couldn’t get to sleep at night. I felt full of energy. I was puzzled because it felt as if I had drank some caffeine, even though I hadn’t. It was only the following morning that I found out that there is caffeine in cocoa products. I was quite surprised at how sensitively my body responded to the caffeine present in two small cubes of Milka chocolate and some Cocoa flavoured Turkish Halva! I don’t ever recall noticing the caffeinated effects of chocolate before. Incredible!

Day 44: Fight Fat with Fish and how DECAF Green tea got me high

Fish oil with exercise equals fat loss

Fish oil with exercise equals fat loss

Following the introduction of lean meat (cod) yesterday, my body fat dropped to the lowest since I started taking recordings 44 days ago to 16.3%. Does this mean that in order to lose fat it is more efficient to use lean meat as a form of protein rather than a mixture of vegan sources of protein? I think it’s possible. I think with lean meat you can avoid eating carbohydrates if you want to, whereas with vegan sources of protein, the forms (e.g. legumes, rice, bread) are almost always packaged with accompanying carbohydrates. I have experience of buring fat to the thinnest I’ve been when I was consuming fish daily with steamed vegetables for a bout a month. While writing this I’ve also just discovered that maybe the connection with buring fat isn’t just with lean meat, but specifically with fish.

Decaf green tea, stoneground wholemeal bread with peanut butter

Decaf green tea, stoneground wholemeal bread with peanut butter

The non-detox foods I experimented with today were a mug of Decaf Green Tea and two slices of Stoneground bread and a free range organic boiled egg (not all at the same time).

My heartbeat was racing after drinking the DECAF green tea. I couldn’t believe how sensitive to caffeine my body was post detox. I found it hard to focus and concentrate on my work too until later in the afternoon, by which time the caffeine probably had left my system.

I noticed no side effects from the bread.

The free range organic boiled egg was very light while eating. It didn’t taste eggy in a bad way. It tasted and felt fresh, wholesome, good clean food. Again no side effects were noted after eating the egg.

Setting the cricket free!

The cricket had been in the flat for over a week now. It seemed to me and my wife that its colour was becoming less vibrant than when we first noticed it. There was insect repellent on the windows so it couldn’t get itself out if it was clever enough to work its way out, and no other insects were coming in. Part of me wanted to keep the cricket as in Chinese culture, cricket’s are considered to bring good luck if found and kept as a pet in one’s home and also because it seemed to extend a hand of friendship towards me earlier. The other part of me was concerned that it would die if it stayed in the flat. We captured it (ok not we, my wife captured it – yes, I know, bit of a wussy moment for me) and tried feeding it lettuce. When I looked into it, if it was what we suspected, a female tree cricket, it turned out they eat other small insects not plants. Though I wasn’t 100% sure it was female tree cricket because I couldn’t see any wings! Dilemma, dilemma, dilemma! In the end we decided to free it in the hope it could survive. According to Sods Law, it was probably trodden on by one of our neighbours or eaten by a bird moments later…

Facebook Status Updates on the effects of non-detox foods

Too much caffeine made me feel like crap

Too much caffeine made me feel like crap

The following are status updates expressing how I felt after consuming different non-detox foods.

Day 46

“Ali Zaidi feels like crap”

September 19

I had my first cup of coffee after 7 weeks that morning.

Day 48

“Ali Zaidi caffeine is the evil that runs in the veins of zombies”

September 21

I continued trying to get used to caffeine for the next few weeks. For a good couple of weeks I felt constantly “high” from being on caffeine. I couldn’t concentrate and certainly couldn’t focus on writing new blog posts.

Day 49

“Ali Zaidi is wheezing after consuming the leg of a lamb. First piece of red meat in almost two months.”

September 22

Nihari

Nihari

I went out to a local Pakistani restaurant to eat one of my favourite meat dishes of all time called Lamb or Mutton Nihari. Oh my God! It is a seriously delicious dish. Even though at the time of writing this I’ve just eaten a delicious beef fillet steak, I could kill a Nihari right now! I will definitely have to go and get me some this Saturday on my day off! Anyway, after eating it, on my way home I started to wheeze, and struggled to breathe properly. I also felt quite upset about eating a mammal. It didn’t feel ethically right.

“Ali Zaidi What do vegans feed carnivorous pets (like dogs)? This is perhaps the point where moral veganism falls flat on its face…”

September 22

This status was partly inspired by my experience with the cricket. If I kept it as a pet and it needed to eat other creatures for its survival, how would I deal with the moral dilemma of feeding it other creatures if I was a vegan or vegetarian on ethical grounds? It was also probably my mind justifying to myself the renewed eating of meat which I had recently started experimenting with again.

“Ali Zaidi the nicotine in Shisha makes your heart beat faster”

September 25

Me smoking my shisha

Me smoking my shisha

Well I had just smoked tobacco in the form of Shisha for the first time and noticed my heart beating incredibly fast. It was so fast and pronounced I felt anxious. I also noticed this effect when I smoked a cigarette whilst waiting for a friend outside a tube station. I had never noticed these sensations from smoking tobacco before. It turns out, like caffeine, nicotine is a stimulant which is supposed to have that effect on you. Did you know that nicotine is a natural pesticide that the plant it is found in, uses to keep insects from eating it? Did you also know that in some places nicotine smoke is blown onto plants to acts as a pesticide? So in effect an addiction to nicotine is an addiction to pesticide! It might be one of the reasons we can get lung cancer from smoking tobacco!

How my eating habits 3-4 months after completion of this detox have changed

The Yo-Yo effect

Yo-Yo mama so fat

Yo-Yo mama so fat

In the first couple of months I gained an addiction to Turkish Sesame Halva. I was eating loads of it everyday. Needless to say within two months, regretfully, I regained the 2% body fat I lost during the detox. This has made me realise that in order to keep fat off permanently I need to make some sort of permanent commitment to my diet and lifestyle. If I just go on diets for fixed periods of time and then revert back to old or worse behaviours I will experience the Yo-Yo effect of dieting. The funny thing is, as soon as I reached my pre-detox body fat percentage of 18.8% I completely lost my addiction to Sesame Seed Halva. When I tried eating it again, I didn’t care for the taste anymore. Very strange.

To eat, or not to eat animal products is the question

Pescatarian anyone?
Stealing Eggs

Stealing Eggs

When I first started eating meat again, I initially made a move to organic meat, eggs and dairy. My moral and ethical leanings were still quite strong. I wanted to only consume meat from animals that were treated well and fed naturally. However the sheer expense of organic meat (4-5 times the price of normal meat) has made it an unsustainable option for me at present. If I were richer I would only consume organic foods. I did play with the idea of becoming pescatarian where I would eat only the meat of that which I felt I could kill myself i.e. fish and eggs. I can’t imagine slitting the throat of a cow, lamb or chicken but think I could handle stealing an egg or going fishing… I think. I figured what right do I have to eat something if I would be unwilling to kill it myself? Also my whole experience with inflammation from day 40-42 made me wonder if the Omega 3 from fish was important for my health. I also figured I’d be able to get my vitamin B12 from this source which vegans tend to miss out on.

Hold on a minute …what if I’ve become a domesticated human?
Vegetarian: Ancient tribal slang for the village idiot who can't hunt, fish or ride

Vegetarian: Ancient tribal slang for the village idiot who can't hunt, fish or ride

Alternatively, I have noticed that if an animal is taken out of the wild and domesticated it can forget its ability to hunt and survive in the wild. It seems to me that city-life is much like living in a zoo, and I wonder if I myself have become domesticated and for this reason I feel unable to hunt and eat other animals for survival. Could my moral leanings towards vegetarianism and veganism be a product of this process of domestication? I am also not convinced that I’d be able to get enough iron from vegan sources so I wonder if eating red meat every now and again would be better for me.

Organic eggs and reducing my “dairy footprint”

I have to this day retained the eating of organic free range eggs. The taste is just so much better than ordinary farmed eggs. I’ve reduced the amount of dairy in my diet. I pretty much always use vegan alternatives to cow’s milk (e.g. rice milk and oat milk). Only on rare occasions will I have cow’s milk in tea and coffee. When I have bought milk, I buy organic if the option is there. I still indulge in chocolate, ice cream, cheese every now and again. After watching a video on youtube on dairy farming my idea has been to reduce my “dairy footprint” (much like reducing one’s “carbon footprint”). Give the poor cow’s breast a rest!

If I find vegan alternatives to dairy products like Vitalite I generally do use them. However some things I have not been able to replace, like Häagen-Dazs Vanilla ice cream. Nothing compares!

Vitalite

Vitalite

Only wholesome wholegrain will do

Cranks organic stoneground wholemeal bread

Cranks organic stoneground wholemeal bread

In terms of grains, for breakfast I’ve been having bran flakes and muesli with fresh fruit, nuts and vegan milk. For bread I’ve moved to Cranks Organic Wholemeal Stoneground Bread. I can’t recommend it enough. Absolutely delicious dipped into a soft boiled organic egg. Mmmm… I also only eat wholegrain basmati rice, and pasta. My rule of thumb when choosing something to buy is: how much nutritional value does the food provide? Will I be getting vitamins and minerals as part of the deal or will it just be empty fat causing calories?

Fresh fruit and vegetables: if you were to make only one change in your diet …increase these!

Even since the end of the detox I have kept up eating a large variety of fruit and veg daily – and continue to see the benefits in my sexual health and speed of recovery from colds and flu. When I get a cold I increase the intake of fruit which does wonders for me. Much better to help the body recover by equipping it with vitamins and minerals to enable it to fight disease than to just wade out the problem with only using pain killers.

The £1 fruit and veg bowls I keep talking about! Ilford

The £1 fruit and veg bowls I keep talking about! Ilford

Alcohol: a switch to the richness of red wine

I do like a glass of Merlot red wine

I do like a glass of Merlot red wine

Since the detox, I’ve almost exclusively restricted my alcohol intake to red wine as it seems to me the healthiest alcoholic choice. It helps me digest red meat easier. But as I feel a lot dumber (mentally) since drinking it, I am thinking of quitting alcohol outright. By quitting I will certainly avoid embarrassing Facebook updates or comments via my pesky mobile phone!

My new selfish attitude to nutrition: personal long-term health outweighs moral, ethical and philosophical dilemmas

If I could conclude that being vegan is the healthiest option for me I would choose veganism as it matches my moral leanings. If I found ovo-lacto vegetarianism was the healthiest for me I would choose that. If I found pescatarianism is the healthiest I would choose that. If I found being an omnivore is the healthiest I would choose that. If I found being exclusively carnivorous was the healthiest option I would choose that. I think more experimentation on my part is necessary before coming to any final conclusions for myself. For now I choose to be an omnivore with increased use of fresh fruit and veg, the use of wholegrains rather than highly processed grained foods, twice-weekly consumption of fish (not much more due to fears of mercury poisoning), the eating of lean poultry (e.g. chicken and turkey breast), and occasional consumption of lean red meat (I prefer beef fillet steak as it’s the leanest – and most expensive!). On occasions I may also indulge in fattier meat (other parts of chicken and lamb chops for example).

Conclusions and Recommendations

It’s been a wonderful journey. The results have been so good that I am considering doing a permanent version of the detox. It won’t be as restrictive as I’ve done for the 40 day detox, but cutting out that which I know for sure provides questionable benefits (e.g. smoking and alcohol). I will definitively consider coming back to doing some form of experimental detox on a yearly basis. Next time perhaps I will experiment with raw veganism.

Pregnant man

Pregnant man

If you’ve never done anything like this, I do highly recommend it. It was really amazing to discover the kinds of things my body was capable of doing – e.g. super smelling sense, ability to visualise in HD etc.

I intend to continue with experimenting with different approaches to nutrition until I find something that works optimally for my body. I recommend that you do your own exploration to find out what works best for you. Our bodies are all different: what works for me, might not work you, and what works you might not work for me!

The nutritional project I have just started is the 120 Day Fat Loss Competition. There are over 40 people participating! Join us!

 

Filming for BBC1 Watchdog UK (Days 41-42)

Day 41

I spent a good 3 hours filming with BBC Watchdog today during the morning and afternoon! Wow! Another eventful day for the 41st day of the detox (like I said before special things are supposed to happen on the 40th/41st day according to my Mum’s 40 day prayers formula). Watchdog were considering including my bad experiences with Argos on their feature on them which was going to be aired one day after the completion of my detox (Day 43)! They filmed me at my home, on my computer, in my kitchen, playing the Wii with my wife, walking in and out of Argos, Ilford and outside on my street. They even did an interview with me. For a few hours I felt like a celebrity and had fun. What more can I say?! 

After filming I snacked on corn on the cob with lime. 

Corn on the cob with lime

Corn on the cob with lime

In the evening I ate Chana Dal with Aubergine. Yep! That’s right! It was a dish inspired by my meal at Tayyab’s earlier this week! 

Chana dal with eggplant

Chana dal with eggplant

My headache and symptoms of inflammation continued today.

In the evening, the cricket which has been in our flat for the last week started to follow me every where I went. I was puzzled… Could the cricket sense that I was a herbivore, and therefore befriendable as a result of my 41 days of being a vegetarian/vegan? Or was the cricket a carnivore and did it see me as a delicious piece of herbivore meat to devour? I didn’t let it jump onto my foot even though it seemed determined to do so to find out! Alas I shall never know its intention… :-(

Day 42 

I did my usual morning routine with the hot lemon juice and quinoa breakfast with coconut milk, blackberries and plums. 

My weight, body fat, body water and body muscle readings during the 42 days of this detox and 12 days after completing the detox

My weight, body fat, body water and body muscle readings during the 42 days of this detox and 12 days after completing the detox

For lunch I had the chana dal with aubergine curry with buckwheat and lettuce, cherry tomatoes and black olives. 

Chana dal and aubergine with buckwheat and salad

Chana dal and aubergine with buckwheat and salad

A few hours later I had chana dal with black olives again. 

Chana dal with aubergine and olives

Chana dal with aubergine and olives

In the afternoon I snacked on some prunes. 

Prunes (dried plums)

Prunes (dried plums)

For my evening meal I had the same as lunch – chana dal with salad. 

Chana dal with bhaingan and salad

Chana dal with bhaingan and salad

My sharp headache and symptoms of inflammation continued for a third day the last and final day of my detox.

This was the last and final day of my 40 day (6 week or 42 day detox). It’s been an adventure! And tomorrow there is the chance that I will be on BBC1 Watchdog! I’ll guess I’ll only find out for sure when the show comes on. There is always the chance that I got edited out and didn’t make the final cut. But my fingers are crossed!

 

MLM (multi-level marketing), pyramid schemes and the Sunrider International SCAM (Day 40)

Dawn of the Magical 40

Dawn of the Magical 40

My morning routine was the same as usual, with the exception of a booking I had with Nengi the lead personal trainer from BeFitToday.co.uk. The day I went to Speakers Corner at Marble Arch I met two very interesting people who were offering me two potential avenues to explore opportunities that could well upgrade my detox experience to the next level. The first person was Nengi who was offering one free 1 hour personal training session, and the other was the IBO who was singing the praises of the nutritional benefits of the products he was promoting and the opportunity to generate an income from getting involved with them too. Both follow up events happened to be taking place today – the fortieth day of my detox!  

If you’ve read my previous post you will have come across my mother’s practice of repeating certain prayers to 40 days to get a result on the 40th or 41st day, a practice that has variations amongst many cultures including Zoroastrians and Jews. As my detox lasted an additional 2 days, I would say the days to look out for any siginificant changes would be the 40th day, 41st day, 42nd day and 43rd day. Days 40 and 41 (day after the fortieth) because of its prevelance in many mystical traditions. Days 42 (the day my detox actually ended) and 43 (because it was the day after the completion of the actual detox). 

My weight, body fat, body water and body muscle readings during the 42 days of this detox and 12 days after completing the detox

My weight, body fat, body water and body muscle readings during the 42 days of this detox and 12 days after completing the detox

When I realised that both appointments happened to be landing on the 40th day of the detox, you can imagine the wonder, curiosity and excitement I was feeling about what could potentially transpire as a result of both meetings. Could these two meetings be a mystical response to my 40 day detox? Could it be a “sign” that they were both doors opening to paths I should walk down to continue on this journey? Were these two synchronistic appointments the Universe responding to me via the Law of Attraction? Was this The Secret at work? Was it God, telling me “Ali, this is the way forward…” I had all these thoughts rushing around in my head. But at the same time I also knew that in the past when I have blindly followed the signals of synchronistic events they haven’t always gone according to the positive outcomes I had originally assumed they signified. Though, looking back at those experiences that seemed negative at first hand, I can say from hindsight, in the long term, they did lead to an awakening and an overall acceleration in the evolving of my perspective of reality. It has been my experience that sometimes synchronicity takes you by your hand, gives you a club and guides you in smashing to pieces your current idols of belief from which your present Weltanschauung has been constructed. How to respond to both potential opportunities was therefore a little confusing as I wasn’t really in the mood for anything too dramatic. I would prefer to understand from afar what to do, rather than go down a route that I could later regret (even if the regret was temporary)!  

My hour or so session with Nengi was very interesting. He measured my body fat percentage on his scale. My reading was 1% less than the scales I use at home. Get in! He said that he found his scales quite accurate as when he’s had his body fat checked by a professional (callipers perhaps) both his scale and the other method showed similar results. But at the same time he agreed as long as you keep your method of measuring your body fat percentage consistent and regular you will notice when your body fat is going up or down in a useful way which you can then use to your fitness benefit by making adjustments in your diet and exercise regimen. We then headed to Valentines Park for an example of the kind of things he’d be getting me doing if I were to book him as a Personal Trainer. 

 

After about half an hour I had a splitting headache. I also noticed my shoulders and neck were stiff and my nostrils were constricted making it harder for me to breath through my nose.  The workout was challenging, but not enough to make me sweat, so I’m not sure if the symptoms were caused by the physical activity or as a result of the lack of Omega 3’s in my diet – no fish, and for some reason I hadn’t replaced my flaxseed oil during the detox either! It was a painful experience. At the end of the session Nengi agreed to look into vegan and meat eating diet plans for my fitness goals, plus send me further information in regards to twice weekly group fitness activity events starting the following week. 

White dal, brown lentils and buckwheat

White dal, brown lentils and buckwheat

Post workout I ate white dal, brown lentils and buckwheat for lunch.  

The Magic Corn stand at The Mall in Ilford

The Magic Corn stand at The Mall in Ilford

Magic Corn

Magic Corn

A couple of hours later I snacked on some sweetcorn whilst out at the Shopping Mall.  

Later in the evening I, Naadira and Zar had agreed to attend a Sunrider event at their headquarters in London, thanks to an invite from the IBO. The IBO said we were lucky to be invited as Wendy Teng (formerly Wendy Chen) the VP of Marketing and daughter of Dr. Tei-Fu Chen and Dr. Oi Lin Chen the founders, Chairman and President of Sunrider International, a multi-million (maybe even billion) dollar company. I couldn’t have organised an event like that on the 40th day of my detox if I had tried! So when I went, I went with an open mind, open to the possibility of purchasing their products and maybe even recommending them (after trying them myself first), or joining their business opportunity if it sounded like it was a fair deal (again only after trying their products myself first and getting my personal approval).  

When we arrived the IBO was there demonstrating how good their Fortune Delight herbal beverage was at cleansing out oil from inside one’s digestive system by getting us to rub vegetable oil on our hands then busting open the Fortune Delight sachet and rubbing our hands with the contents, then rinsing with water. See photos of the Sunrider Product Fair here. Did the process get rid of the grease? Not that well. And I did wonder if it would have had the same effect if I had simply rinsed my hands with water? There were a few things that attracted me to check out the Sunrider product fair. There was the fact that I personally like doing things that have a positive impact in the world. I have more social entrepreneurial tendencies rather than just entrepreneurial tendencies, and if there was the possibility of generating a living while doing that why not? Another thing that attracted me was how healthy the IBO looked when we first met him. He had a glow from within. I got the impression that the wonderful health-conscious products of this company, based on old Chinese herbal secrets, was at least, partly responsible. Not only that, he also seemed like a really genuine and nice guy. I like these attributes in a person. But then I noticed his colleague who was also working on the same table. She was quite overweight. If you’re going to be promoting the excellence of your health products – it helps if you’re in shape. Just an observation on my part. Then I looked around at the other people who worked for or distributed Sunrider products. I wanted to see evidence of people glowing from within and in shape just like the IBO. To me this is the biggest evidence you can give in support of the health claims of the products you’re promoting. If people are overweight, pale and generally look ill then the chances are this is a reflection of an unbalanced diet and/or lifestyle. So did I see people glowing from within? No. The IBO was one exception, and I now believe this is due to his overall “fitness fanatic” attitude to nutrition and exercise in general and not specifically due to the “wonders” of Sunrider products.  

At the time, these doubts were not so well pronounced. I continued to explore the product fair and hear Wendy Teng speak with an open and positive mind towards the possibility of trying their products or working with Sunrider. At one table they were demonstrating SunSmile® Fruit & Vegetable Rinse. This was perhaps the most interesting demonstration. They had two bowls of water: one ordinary tap water, the other, tap water with the Vegetable Rinse mixed in it. They then had a tray with broccoli on it. They put a piece of broccoli in each bowl for a few seconds and then pulled them out. The visual difference was staggering. The broccoli that had been rinsed in just tap water looked dull and clearly had a white residue on it (I was later told this was wax used to increase the shelf life of non-organic fresh produce) while the broccoli that was rinsed in the vegetable rinse came out vibrant with colour with the wax washed off. That demonstration did look pretty good. And had me tempted for a bit. Then the gentleman who was doing the demonstration said that the vegetable rinse would get rid of all kinds of things including pesticides. Wait a minute… Pesticides? How will the cosmetic cleaning of the surface of a vegetable that’s been sprayed with pesticides remove the pesticides? Sure it might remove it from the surface, but wouldn’t the pesticides have been absorbed into the fruit or vegetable in question? So even if you clean it from the outside you’re still likely to consume the pesticide by eating it regardless aren’t you? I mean isn’t the effect of pesticides so far and wide that we are told to limit our consumption of fish to twice-a-week thanks to pesticides running into the water supply which then gets absorbed by the fish which can then be absorbed by us?! So surely it would be far better to eat organic rather than use fancy and expensive cleaning methods (a 475ml bottle will set you back £26.66!) to avoid consuming pesticides if it is a concern for you. If I could afford it I would definitely opt for organic. I’ve just discovered that a similar far more prudent way to wash the wax of vegetables is to scrub them with dish washing liquid then rinse!  

Wendy Teng VP Marketing and daughter of Dr Chen, CEO of Sunrider International

Wendy Teng VP Marketing and daughter of Dr Chen, CEO of Sunrider International

After the product fair came the presentation by Wendy Teng. She spoke about many things and as most of the people present were “IBOs” (Independent Business Owners = Sunrider speak for distributors) from the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland most of the audience seemed at awe at how lucky they were to be in the presence of Wendy the daughter of Dr Chen the man who had given them the gift of health and wealth out of the goodness of his heart. I however, was curious, and had some questions I wanted answered that popped up in my head while she gave her presentation. I was polite and waited until she finished before firing away with my questions.  

Beverly Hills Formula Total Enamel Sensitive Toothpaste 125ml / 170g

Beverly Hills Formula Total Enamel Sensitive Toothpaste 125ml / 170g

At one point Wendy spoke about how conventional toothpaste has many poisons in it and that their toothpaste was superior as it didn’t contain any of these toxins. She specifically mentioned fluoride, which I myself have written about in this blog. I pointed out that most researchers agree that digesting fluoride is a bad idea, however topically applying it to the teeth is good for the teeth (even most opponents of fluoride will agree with this). However even if I agreed with their perspective and wanted to buy Sunrider’s “superior” toxin free toothpaste I asked “How competitively was it priced?” The response was that the SunSmile® Herbal Toothpaste including VAT was £10.66 (and that’s before the rise in VAT this week!). “How much?!” That’s right! I almost literally fell off my seat and really needed someone to repeat the price to me. The IBO was quick to qualify that its size was bigger (135g) than a standard toothpaste bottle and that it was a lot more concentrated than ordinary toothpaste so you only need to use a tiny bit each time you brushed your teeth. At the time I didn’t know what a standard size was (its not exactly the kind of figure I keep in my head). It’s hard to compare as toothpastes usually come measured in ml rather than grams.  My herbal toothpaste is 100ml and was already quite expensive at nearly £4. I also have Beverly Hills Formula, a high-end tootpaste that is 125ml and 170g (bigger than Sunrider’s toothpaste) which can be bought for around £2-£3. There is no justification for charging over £10 for a standard-sized toothpaste! 

I have a full price list of Sunrider products in front of me and can tell you that the prices are what I can only say seem to me as being extortionate – unless you believe their claim that they are so highly superior and concentrated that the prices are worth every penny. In September 2010: their range of Calli teas range from £5.60-£7.56 for 10×2.5g sachets (that’s 56-76p per tea sachet!). Their 60g deodorant stick is £9.25. Compare that to the price and size of deodorants on the open market.  

MLM Pyramid Structure

MLM Pyramid Structure

I asked Wendy if when you become an IBO are you tied into their products i.e. if I opened up a health store or an online shop would I have to only promote Sunrider products or could I sell the products of other brands alongside them? She responded quite diplomatically that Sunrider IBOs do not sell the products of other brands simultaneously. I then said to her, “But could they if they wanted to?” Again she avoided answering me directly. The IBO then helped rephrase my question and said I think what Ali is asking: “Are there any rules in the contract that forbid IBOs from selling the products of other brands?” She said that she wasn’t sure and someone else said that they didn’t think there was any such clause. One of the IBOs in the audience who was sat a few rows in front me then turned around and said to me: “Why would you want to promote other brands? Have you tried Sunrider products? They are the best nutritional products on the market and once you’ve tried them you wouldn’t go back to anything else let alone want to promote anything else.” Either she was speaking the truth or this company had a cult-like following where Mr Chen was the Pharoah sat on a throne at the top of the pyramid while these guys were his loyal pyramid builders. But no! It’s not a pyramid scheme, such things are illegal in the UK… I was assured that it was a “Direct Marketing Company”. Despite the pyramid looking structure to their business model they insist it is not a pyramid scheme. See the scan I’ve done of a copy of a slide that Wendy presented that day and now compare it to what it says here about the legality of multi-level marketing companies.  

Sunrider MLM pyramid structure: note the need to "buy" products each month and an emphasis on finding more recruits who will do the same

Sunrider MLM pyramid structure: note the need to "buy" products each month and an emphasis on finding more recruits who will do the same

And note the words from America’s Federal Trade Commission Alert (I recommend clicking on the link and reading through the whole alert as it seems to me to describe Sunrider International to a Tee):   

Watch Out For Pyramids

“Steer clear of multilevel marketing plans that pay commissions for recruiting new distributors. They’re actually illegal pyramid schemes.  

Why is pyramiding dangerous? Because plans that pay commissions for recruiting new distributors inevitably collapse when no new distributors can be recruited. And when a plan collapses, most people-except perhaps those at the very top of the pyramid-end up empty-handed.” 

I can’t comment on the quality of their products as I haven’t tried them over an extended period of time. It’s possible that Sunrider’s products are very good, but it’s also very possible the IBOs convince themselves that the products and the company is THAT GOOD as it suits their business interests. I would be happy to do a 40 day trial of their products and blog about my experience (if the products are supplied courtesy of Sunrider). If they are amazing, I will state that to be so. If they are crap I will say so too. I also have no ethical hang ups about people earning commission from products sold to consumers who are sold something at a competitive price or even earning commission on sales generated by customers that are introduced from the customers you introduced (multi-level). What I have issue with is: 

  1. the extortionate pricing;
  2. the fact that you don’t have enough faith in your products (or pricing) to have them sold side by side with other brands on the same shelf or online store;
  3. the requirement for each distributor to “purchase” €100 to €200 worth of extortionately priced products each month in order to be eligible for commission;
  4. and an emphasis on finding other distributors who also pay in €100 to €200 per month into the pyramid scheme!

I also wonder if schemes like this have an exit strategy? If you spend 20 years building a business as a distributor it would be nice to be able to sell your business onto someone else if you no longer wanted to be a part of it or simply want to retire. That’s what you can do with a normal business. If you can’t do that with an MLM “business” then it’s not a real business is it? Instead you’re more like a sales contractor who only earns a commission, but with the additional catch that you must contribute to the pot of gold with monthly purchases. 

Not even being employed as a salesperson on a 100% commission basis do you get such a raw deal. You’re not expected to purchase the company’s products on a monthly basis in order to be eligible to continue to earn a commission on sales that you have generated for the company. What if you don’t want the products for a particular month? Lets take the lowest monthly purchase required: €100. That’s £84 per month for food. To put that figure into perspective: I currently buy a whole bowl of fresh fruit or veg for £1. For £20 I can buy 20 bowls of fresh fruit and vegetables which is easily more than enough for two of us for the whole month. For £84 I could buy 84 bowls of fresh fruit and veg! It really is ridiculous! 

So the question is how do companies like this continue to operate and make their founders incredibly wealthy for quite an extended period of time despite their questionable business model? Well if the photos of Dr Chen at the London Sunrider HQ are anything to go by (there are photos of him with almost every US President in recent years that I can think of and even one with Arnold Schwarzenegger the Governor of California); the large amounts of money they make; the fact that the majority of human beings are good decent people who are truthful and have faith in others; and the human tendency to seek someone wiser and more knowledgeable (particularly someone who allegedly has exclusive secret information or an exclusive ”higher link”) who will  tell them what to do with their life: the factors that leads to their continued success can easily be seen. It is a formula for success that selfish yet charismatic people have used for thousands of years to build their monarchies, empires, organised religions and monopolies. It’s not that difficult to do. You just need to be a lying, two-faced C%$T to do it. It’s something that has gone on since humans have walked the Earth. This manipulation of people is something that even Plato alludes to in The Republic when he quotes Socrates’ simile of the cave over two thousand years ago. 

If I had any doubts about the “social entrepreneur” nature of Dr Chen I just had to Google Sunrider and Dr Chen and the kinds of things he’s been convicted of in the past to realise he is not the opportunity-giving angel he promotes himself to be. And it seems the health and wellness industry is filled with many characters like this. So please be wary. Of course there are good people involved in the health industry too. There are people and organisations who not only genuinely would like the world to be a healthier place, but also deal in complete honesty and fairness when it comes to generating a revenue from this industry. 

I would like to say to the IBO, if you’re reading this, I want you to know that I do genuinely like you very much. For that reason I was in two minds about writing this piece. But once I start writing, how I see things just flows out. I think you’re great, but Sunrider’s business model seems to me highly questionable. 

Having said all that, it seems I appear on the Sunrider blog.

 

YUCK! Quinoa Milk SUCKS! (Days 37-39)

Day 37

Almonds soaked in water

Almonds soaked in water

After yesterday’s long overdue workout and meal out at Tayyab’s in Whitechapel, my weight increased 0.4kg to 66.6kg while my Body Fat decreased 0.5% to 16.7%. My Body Water and Body Muscle both increased 0.3% to 57.2% and 43.3% respectively. After last night’s Chana Dal I feared it might add some flab to my belly, but it seems not, as Hamzah pointed out, it seems it was a good source of protein after all. Protein my body put to good use after the workout earlier yesterday.

I started my day with the same breakfast as yesterday, whilst also snacking on some almonds soaked in water.

Red lentils,, wholegrain basmat rice, black olives and vegetable juice

Red lentils,, wholegrain basmat rice, black olives and vegetable juice

Red lentils, wholegrain basmati rice and salad

Red lentils, wholegrain basmati rice and salad

I exercised again today similar to yesterday’s workout.

For lunch I had red lentils, wholegrain basmati rice and black olives with vegetable juice.

For dinner I ate red lentils, vegetable curry and salad.

At night I snacked on some nuts, dates, fruit juice and hazelnut milk. Maybe one too many!

Day 38

Vegetable soup

Vegetable soup

I had the same breakfast as the last couple of days.

For lunch I had vegetable soup.

In the evening I was invited with my wife and the rest of my family to my aunt’s house for an Eid al-Fitr dinner. It was an extended family kind of event. As people had been fasting all month, my aunt had created a meat feast to delight her guests. There were numerous dishes to indulge in but all meat based: lamb shoulder, lamb chops, chicken, mutton mince… you name it, it was served!

My sister, mum, nan and wife stood outside my aunt's house arriving for an Eid dinner

My sister, mum, nan and wife stood outside my aunt's house arriving for an Eid dinner

Unfortunately, I couldn’t feast on hardly any of the variety that was served up. So I started eating what I could, the salad, and then that awkward moment came… when everyone starts to realise that your plate doesn’t quite look right, then comes the curiosity, then comes making the big deal about the whole thing. I had wanted to stay under the radar about my vegan experiment in front of my relatives. See I hadn’t been to my aunt’s house in 15 years or so. Back then I was a bit of an odd one out of the family, particularly the males and even more so amongst the second generation of cousins who were born in the UK because of my devoutness to my faith. I was extremely religious and being brought up in the UK at that time it wasn’t so common for young people to be so religious. I just didn’t want to continue to project an eccentric image! So I tried my best to play down the unwlecomed attention. I explained it was an experiment that would be over within a couple of days as I was most likely only doing it for 40 days and it was already day 38. In Punjabi my uncle jokingly remarked: “Ali! Tu Hindu Ho Gaya?!” (Ali! Have you become a Hindu?!) I said, “No, why do you say that?” He said “Hindus do 40 day fasts called chalisa.” I replied that I didn’t know that. Which at the time I didn’t. It’s only after researching my a recent blog post did I discover how widespread 40 day fasting in one form or another really is around the world. Ahh… if only I had known what I know now and I could’ve responded with a smarter answer… Oh, no! Stop it Ali! That would have only reinforced the image I was trying to shed!

Anyway, after my Mum and some of my relatives made a big deal about the whole thing, my aunt was very kind in offering me some daal she had made the day before. As it wasn’t meat she didn’t think anybody would have appreciated it with all the meat that she had on offer. How wrong she was. It was a mix of two dals. One was moong dal and the other one I can’t quite remember what it was (the meal was on 11th September 2010 and its now 5th January 2011!). But it was so nice, I asked my wife to try it and suggested that we should also experiment with mixing two types of legumes and pulses in one dish. Another great daal culinary experience!

Day 39

EcoMil Quinoa milk. 0% Soya. 0% Cholesterol. 0% Gluten. 100% Disgusting.

EcoMil Quinoa milk. 0% Soya. 0% Cholesterol. 0% Gluten. 100% Disgusting.

My breakfast and morning routine was the same as the last few days.

For lunch and dinner I ate urid dal with wholegrain basmati rice.

I exercised again today, just as the last couple of days.

Today I tried Quinoa milk for the first time. I think I can honestly say it is the most disgusting thing I have ever tried. I really can’t remember trying anything as horrid before in my life! It was so bad it almost put me off Quinoa in its whole form! I felt sick for a while, the smell in my mouth just wouldn’t go and almost every aroma reminded me of it! So this is the first vegan alternative to milk that I can honestly advise to keep well away from. ABSOLUTLEY DISGUSTING!

 

Dinner at New Tayyabs London (Day 36)

 

My weight, body fat, body water and body muscle readings during the 42 days of this detox and 12 days after completing the detox

My weight, body fat, body water and body muscle readings during the 42 days of this detox and 12 days after completing the detox

These last few posts of the 40 day detox are a bit rushed as I’ve started a new project: it’s called the 120 Fat Loss Competition. This time not only am I going to be focusing on my personal progress and experimentation with diet and lifestyle, but there are also over 30 people at the time of writing this who have joined and are competing with me! I need to write my first blog post on that so that people who are struggling to start can get started. But before I do that I need to finish the posts for the 40 day detox first! Pressure! Pressure! Pressure! 

This was the last day I took any photos of myself topless. Unfortunately I still haven’t achieved the physique that I’d be happy to share. For before and after shots you’ll have to wait for the results of my new fat loss regime. It will be focussed on fat loss (rather than detox) and will last three times the amount of time as the detox i.e. 120 days. From all that I have learnt about nutrition and my own body over these last forty days I am confident that I will see really good results at the end of this next project. And then you will see my before and after pics!  

Red quinoa, plums, blackberries and coconut milk

Red quinoa, plums, blackberries and coconut milk

I had my hot lemon juice in the morning, followed by Inca red quinoa, with garden grown organic British plums and blackberries.  

Vegetable curry, black olive, and wholegrain basmati rice

Vegetable curry, black olive, and wholegrain basmati rice

For lunch I had wholegrain basmati rice with vegetable curry and black olives.  

Hazelnut milk - LOVE IT!!!!

Hazelnut milk - LOVE IT!!!!

I resumed exercising again, doing my upper body resistance training and 20 mins of HIIT training on the cross trainer. 

During the day I teated myself to a glass of Hazlenut Milk. 

In the evening I met up with some friends for an urban clothing brand launch called Stirling. It was an interesting evening. I met up with Hamzah his brother and sisters and his girlfriend Mandy. It was the first time I met his siblings and it was the first time I had seen Mandy since starting this blog. Mandy was (maybe still is?) one of my most regular readers – if not the most regular reader, hands down of this blog. I think. It seemed every person we met that night Mandy was encouraging them to read this blog :-D Thanks Mandy! Your support and enthusiasm has been really appreciated! Not only that, most of the evening whenever she got a chance she would ask me questions on stuff I had written about over the weeks. Mandy made me feel like a celebrity author that night. I know I’m not one (yet), but her response has sure given me some confidence. 

Chana Dal and Aubergine at New Tayyabs Restaurant, Whitechapel, London

Chana Dal and Aubergine at New Tayyabs Restaurant, Whitechapel, London

After drinking lots of glasses of water during the event, we ended up at an Indian restaurant in Whitechapel called New Tayyabs. Hamzah had gone ahead of some of us, and as the restaurant was about to close I had to order over the phone without a menu handy. Hamzah recommended the Chana Daal with Bhaingan (Aubergine / Eggplant) – based on the requirements of my detox. I agreed. And boy was I glad I did. The Chana Daal and Aubergine mix was seriously good! It was the first time I tried Chana Daal mixed with Aubergine (or any vegetable for that matter) and it was so good that my wife has been cooking Chana Dal with Aubergine ever since! I recommend the mix. I had it with some salad and bottled water. Towards the end of my meal at Tayyabs I also discovered that poppadoms were ok to consume on my detox as they are usually made of chickpeas and other legumes like lentils. Overall it was a great restaurant experience!

 

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