Take care of your body with steadfast fidelity.
The soul must see through these eyes alone, and if they are dim, the whole world is clouded.
If you survived through one of the longest, bloodiest and bitchiest winters recorded to date, your pores must have recently been invaded with spring, your old skin is shedding and you begin to stretch and purr into the blossomed newness of life.
Spring is for opening. The whole of nature is back in business. And being a part of nature, your body wants to do the same.
After hibernating and shrinking to protect itself from the cold, your body now wants to spread open, grow a pair of wings and explore the galaxy (or, okay, the planet at least). But you can’t fly so well, without letting go of what is holding you back: your mind, body and heart need some special time, attention and help to clean the house and take out the trash.
So what is a Cleanse?
A cleanse (or a detox) is a period in which you allow your body the time and space to let go of extra toxins accumulated through the previous months, years, lifetime… (winter is longer than it feels).
Your body already comes equipped with the ability to clean itself from the inside out.
But we are constantly bombarded by chemicals (in our food, air, bodycare products, clothes, electronics, you name it), as well as mental toxins (worry, stress, negativity, feelings of not-enoughness, self-imposed limitations, guilt, complaints)…As for our heart, we often wake up as from a bad dream, to realize that we have invested too much of it in relationships or unfair exchanges that result from and continue to create more chaos.
The good news is that you do have the (super) natural ability to say: Yo, this is my house and I make the rules — and then proceed to create a more fulfilling, whole existence. But before you talk you need to learn how to listen. A detox is the Pause button where you allow yourself to listen to your body and give it an extra lift to help you get rid of all your excess luggage.
During a cleanse, you lower the load on your digestive system and allow your intestines (headquarters of your immune system) to flush out the toxins, refresh and regain efficiency and increase your innate self-healing superpowers.
Symptoms you need a detox (yes, I’m talking to you):
– Dry, blotchy or spotty skin.
– Fungal infections.
– Joint pain.
– Gas / bloating.
– Overweight or uninvinted extra weight.
– Excess of belly fat.
– Fatigue or lack of energy.
– Mild depression / feeling sad, pessimistic or hopeless.
– Clouded mind, irrational thinking / feeling, poor decision-making.
Do you test positive for any of these symptoms?
The best part about a general spring cleanse is that you can do it in your own time, at your own pace, adjust it to your circumstances, unique body, health prerequisites and any other specific or general diet requirements.
You can set your own cleanse period: from 1 day (incorporated into your busy week) to a 3-day weekend cleanse, to a 10-day medium cleanse and on up to 21 or 30 days. It all depends on the type and purpose of your cleanse and how this fits into your current story.
Here are 10 basic guidelines you can apply to pretty much every lifestyle, diet or specific detox routine.
1. Eliminate all processed foods, refined sugars, white flour, trans fats, soda (including diet) and additives.
When it comes to the 3 P’s (processed, prepared and packaged), read the labels carefully. Google the ingredients if you’re not sure. Don’t buy any food, if you don’t understand what substances it contains or how these might affect your health and well-being.
Here is a list of top deadly chemicals found in most packaged and processed foods you should try to avoid at all costs:
2. Drink more water & hydrating liquids.
Our standard diets and lifestyle lead to dehydration. Plainly put, most of us are dying of thirst. Many of our unhealthy food cravings are often thirst masked as a need to indulge. So, before you stuff yourself with the first comfort food within reach, try drinking a full glass of water first. If it’s not true hunger and just an unhealthy craving, it will most likely decrease. And if it’s hunger, eat some real food instead.
When it comes to how much we should drink every day, each body has different needs, depending on our lifestyle, but as a general rule, try to drink at least 9 glasses of water a day — or its equivalent in fresh juice or equally hydrating liquids.
We are at least 60% water. In order to flow through life we need to become or return to water.
And if your water really bores you, here are some creative ways to invigorate it:
Aside from water, look for drinks that will have an alkalizing effect on the body (restore pH balance). Green drinks low in sugar are a great example. Quick ‘n’ easy green juice punches:
And an amazing fruit & veggie juice cocktail I just made today (for strength, energy & endurance). Click on the pic for recipe.
3. Reduce (or eliminate) animal foods in general.
If you consume any meat during your detox, let it be organic and grass fed. For the love of all life and sake of our planet, stay away from processed meats — filled with well-known carcinogens, biggest cause of deforestation and responsible for massive air, water and soil pollution. But, since you’re only detoxing for a limited amount of time (from 1 to 30 days), try to go without meat altogether at least for this period, if only, to give your body a much-needed break. Most people eat more animal products and in larger quantities than their body can process.
Milk and cheese are not your gut’s best friends and a detox big NO, as well. Rather than nourishing, dairy products malnourish (especially pasteurized cow milk and cheese) by depleting your body of nutrients to make up for the imbalance caused by the high acidity they produce. Read: they make a mess and to clean it up and restore homeostasis, your body needs to make use of its own stored up nutrients. Not cool.
Worst of all, they increase the amount of mucus production in your lungs and gut, clogging you up even more. As such, if you suffer from asthma or allergies, quitting dairy is one of the best decisions you can make for your health. If not quitting altogether, at least try a temporary detox.
Another significant milk/cheese downer is that it clouds your mind (and therefore, your vision) and reduces your energy (zombie state), due to its naturally present opiate substances.
Milk is nature’s perfect food for baby calves and it contains natural opiates that will keep the baby grounded, sleepy and “addicted” to the milk, so it can be breastfed and double its size quickly. Though it has been consumed and branded for humans, it’s definitely not intended for humans. Heck, it’s not even for cows, just for their babies. Human milk would be the closest approximate — but who wants to eat that or turn it into cheese?
Just because we can tolerate something (an ingredient, a meal, a punch in the face), it doesn’t mean it’s healthy, nutritious or safe. Let alone all the cancer-causing crap they now put in dairy products, like the bovine growth hormone — which speeds your cancer cell growth, among other mutations.
This is not about being or becoming a vegetarian or vegan. (Best thing that ever happened to me, but every person is different). It’s about pressing pause on the meat and cheese overdose on your system. Meat takes longer than vegetables to travel through your digestive tract and an excess of poorly digested meat will rot inside you and pollute your underworld with unwanted bacteria, which, if not balanced with enough healthy bacteria and digestive enzymes — present in whole, fresh foods — it will compromise your immune system.
4. Increase your intake of greens, vegetables and whole fresh foods.
Fruit and green smoothies, salads, legumes, whole grains, roasted / sauteed / steamed veggies, there is so much you can create. You don’t need to be a nutritionist or a doctor to understand what your body needs in order to thrive. Every creature on Earth comes equipped with the natural innate ability to feed and heal itself. All you need is to turn down the volume of your distractions, start observing your body and educate yourself on the why, what and how.
There are thousands of free resources online, as well as amazing coaching programs and education to help you get re-acquainted with fresh foods and start designing your ideal diet and lifestyle. It often takes a bit of trial and error at first, but the whole of life is one great experiment. The more you discover, the more fulfilling your adventure becomes.
(Right-click on this image & open it in a new tab to see a larger version)
5. Give your liver extra care.
Your warrior liver has the dirtiest job in your body. It is considered the primary detoxifying organ and it has to put up with your shit every day — that is, face the army of toxins and harmful chemicals you ingest through your food, drinks, bodycare products (skin) and even the air you breathe. It filters all the body pollution and once it neutralizes it, it is sent to the bowels so it can be eliminated through your stool.
How to make life easier for your liver:
– Eat more liver-friendly detoxifying foods. A few examples:
– Eat naturally fermented foods and take a probiotic supplement to keep your healthy gut bacteria in check, boost your immune system and give your liver a hand. Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) is a delicious probiotic treat to add to any salads or meals.
– Incorporate blue-green algae (spirulina and chlorella) as well as green superfoods (wheatgrass, barley grass, alfalfa) into your meals. They contain a high amount of chlorophyll, and they are some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, with a high concentration of minerals, vitamins and enzymes crammed together in small quantities.
The best part about blue-green algae and green-herb superfoods is that most of their nutrients (over 90% in some) are easily and quickly absorbed by the body. The most effective, available and enjoyable way to consume them is in powder form, added to your smoothies and juices.
6. Re-understand food.
Don’t eat in between meals and when you’re eating, don’t just do it your mouth but with your whole body. Be present. Don’t text while you’re eating, don’t check emails or work and if you can help it, don’t watch any TV (or at least not something that will generate a strong physical reaction — violence, arousal or rage — as this will interfere with your digestion and nutrient assimilation). To eat is to communicate with your food. It’s a conversation, not an addictive, self-serving monologue.
Chew your food thoroughly because digestion begins in the mouth. The less you chew, the heavier you make it on your stomach. You’ll also experience an immediate energy drop after eating — which we interpret as “normal” but it is not so normal if it requires you a coffee slap to function — since your body will literally put you to sleep in order to process the unchewed mess you just swallowed.
Try to pay special attention to how you feel after you eat and how your food affects you through the day. Ideally, try to eat your last meal of the day at least 2-3 hours before bed time. Going to bed on a full stomach will interfere with your rest, make you bloated and lead to uninvited belly fat.
7. Take more baths, dry-brush, get a massage.
Three practices, often forgotten or ignored in our fast-paced everyday, that can significantly increase your detoxing superpowers, boost your immune system and make you feel like a baby.
Baths — Soak your sorrows and toxins in a weekly bath. Showers may be faster, more efficient and water-saving on a daily basis, true — but baths are the ultimate pore-opener and deep cleanser, and you can easily make them a part of your detox routine. For increased benefits, add a cup of baking soda or Epsom salts to your bath. This will alkalize it and help your body absorb more magnesium, a life-saving, toxin-neutralizing mineral highly deficient in most of us.
Massages — Make it a deal to get a massage at least once a month. You can choose the type of massage therapy, duration and service that best adjusts to your needs and means. Just reading through the benefits is making me doze off.
Dry Brushing — Brush your sexy naked body every day before you shower. This amazing, simple, super cheap practice has too many benefits to ignore (where’s the trick?). Aside from what is listed below, dry brushing stimulates your lymphatic system, hormone and oil-producing glands, boosts your immune system, reduces need for body lotions, improves digestion, helps with even distribution of fat deposits, prevents your skin from premature aging and makes you want to hug yourself more often.
Your lymphatic fluid is like a second blood. It activates elimination through the intestines (the most effective kind of detoxing) and it produces white blood cells. Think of it as your bodyguard. It stimulates your immune system and it fights off the uninvited bad bacteria guys. The problem is that, unlike your cardiovascular system, this secondary “blood” doesn’t have a heart, or any other pumping mechanism, so it won’t flow unless you move.
Aerobic exercise also facilitates more oxygen to the brain. Which equals more clarity, more focus, less cloudiness, better ideas. Exercise also inhibits cortisol (the immune suppressor stress hormone) and it increases oxytocin (the feel-good, “love & life” hormone also released through hugs, orgasm and childbirth).
Aside from its other life-saving benefits, exercising regularly will make you look and feel 10 years younger, add more life to your years and more years to your life.
9. Sleep, baby, sleep.
Our body’s most powerful ability and resource to self-heal, detox and replenish. The darkness at night induces the production of melatonin — a hormone activated only when the darkness hits, essential for regulating your sleep-wake cycle, a powerful mortal-combat antioxidant, and a strong immune ass-kicker.
Electronics, stress and artificial lighting are three of our nights’ worst enemies (talk about vampires — this is what’s sucking your blood). They interfere with our melatonin production, mess up our natural sleep-wake cycle and interrupt or delay our most important daily detox process.
A good practice that will help you get a good night’s rest and regulate your sleeping pattern is going to sleep at the same hour every day, and turning off all electronics that can be unplugged in your house, at least one hour before bed. Use this time to read (best sleeping pill) and enjoy a cup of calming, sleepy tea (lime blossom, St. Joe’s Ward, chamomile, rooibos)… End your knock-out session with 10 minutes of deep breathing and meditation.
If you have trouble getting to bed early, instead of focusing on being asleep by a certain hour, and torturing yourself by counting sheep, try 10 days of waking up early, instead. Set your morning alarm for the same hour, every day, regardless of what time you go to sleep the night before. After a few days, your circadian rhythm should self-regulate to naturally make you tired at the hour you need to fall asleep in order to reach your optimal number of night resting hours.
10. Detox your mind through writing and journaling.
Your mind lives inside your body and your nourishment goes both ways: just like your body feeds your mind, your mind feeds your body with thoughts that generate emotions, trigger actions or reactions, form habits, and eventually create and shape the rest of your life. You can be conscious about eating clean food and practicing a healthy lifestyle, but a polluted mind won’t interact well with either or lead you to your most optimal results.
A great, mind-cleansing practice is free-style journaling or the equivalent of stream-of-consciousness Morning Pages — in which you sit down to write immediately or shortly after waking up — to be seen by your eyes alone. There are no rules for this exercise though what usually comes out first is… trash! But once the trash is out, you’ll have more space and increased energy to focus on creating and acting rather than projecting and reacting.
Among the body-mind benefits of journaling, you will notice a clearer mind, less need for distraction through the day, a greater perspective of your goals, plans and priorities, an increased sense of purpose, more creative energy and an overall state of well-being.
Closeted, Blocked or Busy Writers, please read:
BONUS — 10-minute, mind-cleansing practices:
11. Heal your wild heart by spending time alone in nature.
We are nature. But we’ve been separated from our wildest essence by all our time-consuming flashy inventions and many of our cravings and dissatisfaction with life come as a result of this separation. Instead of going back to our roots and getting re-connected, we estrange ourselves even more with mindless distractions, brain-dead entertainment, addictive food and soul-killing work and relationships.
So go back to where you come from. Take more walks, go camping, go on a picnic, bring a book or your journal with you, be silent, hug a tree, cry if you need to (when is the last time you cried or laughed from the heart?), try to listen to the ancient truth in all things whispered through the leaves, feel the breeze on your skin, realize that you were never separate or ever alone, but one with all nature, an endless dream come true, again and again.
Recap, Rewind & Repeat?
Healing and keeping yourself healthy is a privilege, a pleasure and an art. You are not just your own doctor but your main alchemist, the architect of your desires and the chief executive creator of your life. There is no greater pleasure than for all your parts to be working in harmony.
We are not intelligent machines, we are the gods that make machines: powerful and conscious creators of reality, holding unlimited potential, and a whole being (our selves) at our disposal to assist us in moving through this world and fulfilling our mission. Our body, mind, heart & soul all work in unison to help us tell our story and with it, the story of the world.
All we have to do is let them.
JOIN THE CLEANSING PARTY:
– Join us for 10 days of cleansing on Instagram or Facebook, happening as we speak. Set an intention and a few goals. Start anytime, anywhere. You deserve 10 days of special self-care, even if you can’t take the time off but must do it on the go (like most of us working humans), as we enter a new season. Use the hashtags #springcleanse and #wellnesswarriors in all your posts, to find each other in the virtual jungle.
– Stay tuned for my upcoming holistic health and wellness guidebook, The 30-Day Wellness Alchemist Detox, currently in the publishing oven. Yum!
*Friendly Disclaimer: This information is based on my research, education and personal experience. It is not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any health condition. You are 100% responsible for the use you make of my recommendations.
P.S. I heart you.