Mom Life Thoughts

I Tried the Master Cleanse and It Was a Spectacular Fail


Water. Lemons. Maple syrup. Cayenne pepper.

If you ever needed to lose weight quick, fast and in a hurry, you likely know what that means. For the uninitiated, these four ingredients are needed to make the infamous Master Cleanse lemonade. This diet has been around since 1940 and was created by Stanley Burroughs. It has also been dubbed the Lemonade Diet and also the Beyoncé Diet because Queen Bey herself made it popular again when she used it to lose weight for Dreamgirls.

Photo source: Maple Valley Syrup

Photo source: Maple Valley Syrup


The Master Cleanse is designed to be done for a minimum of 10 days. Some of the touted benefits are weight loss, more energy and mental clarity. It involves doing a salt water flush in the morning, drinking a laxative tea at night in addition to drinking 6-12 glasses of your lemonade concoction every day. That’s it. No food is allowed whatsoever. And it has very specific rules. Your lemons and cayenne pepper are supposed to be organic, your water needs to be purified or filtered and you should be using Grade B, not Grade A maple syrup. Still with me?

Photo credit: Snap Stills / Rex Features

Photo credit: Snap Stills / Rex Features


So, full disclosure…I have never successfully completed a cleanse. I’ve started many, but I’m usually starving by day 3 and dreaming of bacon. And those were diets where I was actually able to eat food. I decided to go all in and try it because my wedding was rapidly approaching.


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How did I get here? What made me think i could not eat food for a week and be ok? Well, desperation. The white jumpsuit I was planning to wear to my wedding reception didn’t fit. I couldn’t even get it above my thighs, so I knew I was in trouble. Every day I’d tell myself I need to exercise and then I would sit on the couch and work for hours on my laptop. I would say, “Shari, you should eat some salad.” And instead I’d go for the bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos. Uh oh.

Then I got a stomach virus. For 3 days everything I tried to eat came right back up. It was horrendous. My husband was out of town on business and I was home alone with my then 1-year-old. I wanted to set up camp near a toilet and stay there indefinitely, but it became clear that wasn’t an option. My baby needed me to get her snacks, play with her and read her the same book 5 times in a row. No illness was going to make her feel any differently.

Eventually, I emerged from the other side of the virus 7 pounds lighter and I felt great! I had energy! I didn’t want coffee! My mind felt clear! My unintentional starvation first had some perks, y’all.

I wanted to continue to capitalize on my unintended weight loss so I felt like an extreme diet was the next logical step. I spent about 2-3 weeks hemming and hawing about when to start the Master Cleanse because I had a lot of events happening (like my bachelorette party) and being able to eat & drank was a requirement.

I finally went to Costco and bought ALL OF THE LEMONS (5 pounds to be exact) and a jug of maple syrup. It was finally happening. The day I started my cleanse, I was pleasantly surprised. I thought it would be gross, but I liked the taste of the lemonade. It was done weird sort of umami thing, like it was sweet, sour & spicy. I was here for it. But I must say, while I liked the lemonade, the salt water flush you’re supposed to do every morning made me dry heave.

Things were going great and I convinced myself I could do this. Then those first hunger pangs appeared. When this happens, you’re supposed to drink more lemonade. I did, but I just couldn’t stop lusting over the lonely avocado that was sitting on my countertop. Every time I walked in my kitchen to make more lemonade, I was distraught I couldn’t eat it.

Then my personal trainer friend called me. I told her my about my current food-free lifestyle. She informed me that the Master Cleanse is a starvation diet and any diet where I am not allowed to eat an avocado was a problem. I agreed. I agreed so hard that as soon as we hung up, I busted that avocado open and in that moment it was the most delicious thing I had ever tasted.

I only made it 6 hours.

Here’s my advice to you. Don’t do the Master Cleanse. DO NOT DO THE MASTER CLEANSE! Even if you are seduced by the promises of cleansing and weight loss, read about the Biggest Loser study. Crash diets are unsustainable. My good friends who have actually completed this cleanse all told me the same thing, you will gain all of the weight back. Just say no.

Even though I was fat on my wedding day, I took solace in the fact that I have not completely wrecked my metabolism. With hard work and dedication, I’ll get my old body back. But maybe not today.

*puts Dorito in mouth*


Me & the hubs. My gut was poppin’ Photo credit: Michael Kuntz / MK Photography


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  • Reply
    May 15, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    Hilarious! You looked fantabulous at your wedding…glad you came to your senses before suffering needlessly!

    • Reply
      Shari Neal
      May 16, 2016 at 4:34 pm

      Thanks Alysia! The cleanse wouldn’t have worked out anyway. My dad was at my house cooking everyday leading up to the wedding.

  • Reply
    May 16, 2016 at 8:44 am

    lol! you weren’t fat at all on your wedding day. You looked happy and healthy.

  • Reply
    Diana Blair
    May 26, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    Very entertaining read, and you were a gorgeous bride!

  • Reply
    SocaMom® (@SocaMomDC)
    June 3, 2016 at 8:04 am

    This was funny! 6 hours or so on a diet is my limit too… you look great!

  • Reply
    June 3, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    You looked amazing. And there’s just no way. Like none. I can barely make it through the night without food and that’s when I’m sleeping! No way I could do it awake for a week.

  • Reply
    Jay |
    June 3, 2016 at 11:14 pm

    You looked so pretty! I did a cleanse once and never, ever again. I had some harsh side effects. I ended up at urgent care.

  • Reply
    Kirstin N. Fuller (@thetravelindiva)
    June 4, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    You looked fabulous on your wedding day! You lost me at nothing but lemonade and cayenne pepper was an Thanks for taking one for the team!

  • Reply
    Nicole M Williams
    June 5, 2016 at 9:57 am

    This was an awesome and inspiring post. You looked great. Quick fixes never work but make the problem worse. I’m slowly starting the weight-loss process myself… first I started by doing more fresh squeezed juices, and smoothies, doing a bit better with drinking more water and taking my vitamins, now I’m starting to run this week.

  • Reply
    June 5, 2016 at 9:58 am

    Ummm…you are by no means fat and you look great in your jumpsuit! I’ve never tried this cleanse and don’t want to because like your friend said, it’s not sustainable, the weight will come back and all of that starvation would’ve been for nothing. No thanks! Everything in moderation. 🙂

  • Reply
    June 5, 2016 at 10:05 am

    You look great. But as far as the gut goes, it could be bloating. Do you intake a lot of sugar and dairy? You’d be surprised at how eliminating those things helps reduce bloating.

  • Reply
    June 5, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    First off I love this post and you look gorgeous! I have been saying I was going to try the Master Cleans for years. Now I fell better with just saying No! Pass me one of your Doritos please!

  • Reply
    June 5, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    I laughed and laughed and laughed so more. I want to have my ideal body, but I also want ice cream. Lots and lots of ice cream. I already know I can’t do anything that requires me to not eat.

  • Reply
    June 5, 2016 at 11:40 pm

    I have always wondered about this cleanse. It seems hard to go that long without real food. You looked gorgeous on your wedding day.

  • Reply
    June 6, 2016 at 8:22 am

    I just laughed so darn hard!!! And I was considering doing it too! But let me say you are two parts not fat and one parts crazy!!

  • Reply
    June 6, 2016 at 9:57 am

    There’s no way in the world I could do anything like this! At least you tried lol. Your pictures turned out amazing anyway!

  • Reply
    Valerie Robinson
    June 6, 2016 at 11:50 am

    Those cleanses are no bueno! You look FABULOUS by the way!!!

  • Reply
    June 7, 2016 at 10:30 pm

    Girl I love how real you are! I get why Beyonce called her Album Lemonade…she is known for her Lemonade cleanse and this album was a purge and cleasings of built up frustration and anger,,,I get it! No cleanse for me sounds super unhealthy.

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