I have a discipline problem. My weakness: sugar. And salt. And, well, anything made from or covered in those substances. I’m the girl who asks for the dessert menu when everyone else shakes their heads in satisfied fullness. I’m the girl who orders a burrito from Chipotle and eats the whole thing in one sitting. (Saving half for lunch the next day? Pffft. No chance.) I could eat a giant plate of pasta seven nights a week. And more than one coworker has remarked how funny it is that they only run into me in the office kitchen, where, coincidentally, the charity “snack box” lives—$0.85 for a pack of Oreos, bag of Ruffles, or a Rice Krispies Treat. (It’s possible that I will soon have to start paying interest on the debt I’ve accrued to the snack box.)

This past weekend, Memorial Day, was a double whammy in the healthy eating department. Not only were there barbecues galore to contend with, but we also had family in town visiting. Translation: Chips, dips, homemade brownies, and endless coolers of beer—alternating with leisurely, wine-fueled, multicourse dinners at restaurants for four days straight. You know it’s bad when you’re forced to unearth the stretchy jeans from the bottom of the drawer to ensure a comfy workday after your weekend. On Tuesday night, as I sat at yet another eatery (still rocking the stretchy jeans) wolfing down tacos to celebrate a friend’s birthday, I realized I couldn’t actually remember the last time I ate a meal at home, or the last day I hadn’t consumed a drink (or two, cough, cough). And I had a moment of clarity.

I need to detox. Big time. Cleanse, purify, whatever you want to call it. My system needs a fresh start.

There are a zillion nutritional cleansing plans out there. Some you have to pay for, some involve dietary supplements in pill or powder form, and some just seem ridiculous (liquid shakes twice a day? No thanks.) No, I need something less extreme for my first go at this. Something that is more of a healthy eating regimen than a cleanse. And that’s where It Burns Joe Fitness Diet comes in. Developed by Joe Hendricks, the founder and leader of Denver’s infamous It Burns Joe Fitness (last year’s Top of the Town winner for best boot camp), this plan is essentially a list of “yes foods” and “no foods” to use as a guideline when choosing your meals.

For 31 days, you’ll eat six times a day, drink six to eight glasses of water (more on a heavy exercise day), and cut an apple into sixths and consume one piece, seeds and all, 15 minutes before you eat to curb hunger. (Note: Hendricks is not a nutritionist, a dietician, or a personal trainer. But he is absurdly, unbelievably, not-an-ounce-of-body-fat-anywhere-on-him fit. He’s gotta be doing something right.)


– Eat a small salad between breakfast and lunch.

– Chew sugarless gum to help keep cravings at bay.

– Carry a water bottle with you at all times.

– Take a multivitamin twice a day.

– Use spices liberally.

– Eat a fruit or vegetable three times a day.

– Separate a meal into portions and put some away for later.

IBJF Don’ts

– Eat until you’re stuffed.

– Eat anything out of a bag or carton.

– Skip a meal (especially breakfast).

– Drink soda—even diet soda—or use artificial sweeteners.

– Eat fast food. Or anything fried. Or anything with white flour.

– Use butter, margarine, or ketchup.

– Drink beer.

– Have even one French fry. Not even one.

The full list of good and bad foods is actually reasonable; lots of tasty ingredients to mix and match, and some pleasant surprises! (Say ‘yes’ to sugar-free Jell-O pudding? Baked potatoes and yams? Buffalo burgers? A glass of red wine and piece of dark chocolate daily? Wild rice? And my personal favorite (a small addiction of mine): “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! in the spray bottle?) The willpower hurdles: pasta, sweets, pizza, ice cream, and cheese. And one of the biggest challenges: Eating this nutritiously will probably be expensive. But I like that there’s no counting ounces, no point system, and no vegan/liquid/amino acids weirdo stuff. It’s just, as Hendricks says, a guideline for a fitness-friendly lifestyle.

Thirty days. Start date: June 1. Can I do it? Will I feel less toxic and more healthy? Will I cheat? Stay tuned.