Please pardon me, most esteemed readers, for the delayed conclusion of my detox cleanse. I could explain myself, but it's not interesting, so I won't waste your time. Besides, you want to know what the payoff of all of this cooking and abstaining was, right? So was it worth it to eschew all of the things I love most in the world"to recap: bread, butter, booze, bacon, sriracha, and sugar"for the sake of this cleanse? In a word: yes. Yes! YES! Why? Let's start with the money. Now I will be the first to admit that I spend way too much money on food. And by "food" I mean restaurant meals, bottles of wine, fancy cheeses, and all the non-essentials. It is gross, but it's kind of my hobby: I like feeding people fabulous things and if I'm going to eat, I want it to be spectacular. So bearing all of this in mind, I was shocked when I realised that I had spent approximately 1/5 of my weekly food budget on this cleanse. I know it's obvious that fresh veggies and brown rice are going to be less costly than aged Brie and good Barbaresco, but I didn't realise the difference was so great. Money saved: approximately $500. Next, let's talk about overall wellness: sleep, attitude, and energy. In the beginning of the cleanse, I was somewhat famished before lunch, but the longer I was on it, the better I felt. By the last four days, I was almost forgetting to drink my afternoon shakes, which is unusual. How unusual? Honestly: I'm the girl who's thinking about dinner whilst eating lunch, meaning I never skip a snack. I was also falling asleep within 20 minutes of turning off the light"a huge difference from my normal, toss-and-turn-til-3-a.m. routine. Wellness/happiness level: high. And as for the vanity part of this endeavour? On day 12, my hairstylist commented on my cheekbones (apparently this cleanse unearthed them, I wasn't aware they existed). My lovely business partner"otherwise known as Katherine Power"said that my skin looked better than usual. My stomach had flattened to previously unseen levels. And yes, I lost some weight; five pounds, to be exact! Pounds lost: 5. Cheekbones found: 2. Clearly, I'm a huge fan of this cleanse. So much so, I'm going to start it up again next week and do it for another 14 days. I asked Dr. Lipman about how to transition off the cleanse and his recommendation was simple: incorporate the different categories/items one at a time for at least a day, see how you tolerate it, and proceed from there, leaving dairy and gluten 'til the end. I started with shellfish"blackened shrimp, to be exact"then moved on from there. Per Dr. L's suggestion, I'm staying away from sugar as much as possible, though I definitely have reintroduced red wine into my life. (OK, and martinis.) That said, my eating is definitely different. I have learned the hard way that gluten seems to make me puffy, so I just purchased my first loaf of gluten-free bread and skipped the bread basket at dinner the other night. I'm still heavily into cooking and am making many of my same "cleanse" meals, simply because they're more satisfying than the stuff I used to eat. Food-wise, the only thing that's really different is that I'm using my beloved sriracha again, a most welcome addition, indeed."Hillary Kerr For more on the cleanse, visit Dr. Frank Lipman's website.