Thursday, August 2, 2012

Top 10 Ways to Cleanse to Ensure You Don't Keel Over

Happy Summer Everyone,

One of the questions I’m often asked is - “Is cleansing safe?” As with most good queries in life, the answer depends upon numerous factors some of which include our current state of health, our goals, the type of cleanse and most importantly in my book: our willingness to listen to our bodies and modify accordingly.

This is something I chose to learn the hard way. In fact, my philosophy and approach to food is shaped in large part, through keeling over, both literally and figuratively, in my earliest cleanse experiences a decade ago.

Like many people, I associated the word “cleanse” with sitting on a toilet and drinking nothing but juice. My body wasn’t suited for juice fasting but I blazed through anyway assuming the worse I felt, the better it was for me.

Invaluable lessons were proffered up through toilet hugging, a trip to the ER, food-deprivation leg wobbling which reduced me to crawling on hands and knees in a retail store and food “cheating” on my ‘juice fast expert.'

My ultimate takeaway was this: As with food choices, with cleansing, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Any good cleanse program or diet should be rooted in the art of listening to the intelligence of our own body along with encouragement to modify accordingly as our body shares signals.

Below, I’ve shared some of my top tips for a happy cleanse journey.

Eat foods as opposed to going all liquid.
But choose very mindfully what you put into your mouth. There is a misnomer that in order to cleanse you have to fast. We can experience an even more powerful cleanse by eating alkaline foods and concurrently cutting out the junk, our own personal intolerant foods or food sources of inflammation. Food intolerances is a key that most people miss and they instead initiate a detox with foods they don’t realize are creating inflammation in their bodies. This causes the body to hold onto unwanted symptoms including weight and also the very toxins they are hoping to release. Most people have between 1-3 food intolerances to everyday foods. Some of these include - citrus, garlic, peppers, soy, chicken, corn, dairy, eggs and gluten. Replacing processed foods and possible sources of inflammation with alkalizing veggies, whole beans, seeds, grains and voilá - you have a healthy cleanse with sustainable practices to carry forward into daily life.

Drink up!
Replace processed foods and sugars with vegetable juices, preferably Green Juice as opposed to fruit based juices many juice cleanses promote. The perfect alkalizing juice toddy – The Love Cleanse Juice is available by name at your favorite Austin Juice Bars.

Juice Fast?
Good question. In the earliest days of our program, 4 years ago, we offered a 2 day juice fast with protein shakes in the middle of our food-based cleanse. After a year, we pulled the plug on fasting. Our clients were experiencing such palpable, sustainable benefits from our food-based cleanses and not only were we not seeing the same tangible benefits in the juice fasting it actually felt harmful to some. While many people have great experiences with juice fasting, it’s definitely not for everyone. Anyone who has blood sugar issues (which is a large part of the population) or compromised immune systems wants to avoid fasting. And anyone who wishes to learn how to eat right for their constitution is missing out on a vital opportunity to do so when they opt for a liquid diet. If you do choose to do a juice fast, it’s best undertaken away from the busyness of life, preferably on retreat. Carve out lots of down-time. Consider starting with 1-2 days rather than committing to a pre-determined fasting time line. If your body feels like continuing on, keep it rolling. But if not, honor those signals too.

No pain, no gain, right?
Think that in order to effectively detox you need to suffer with headaches, nausea and extreme lethargy? While many cleanse programs promote “powering through” we believe this to be counterintuitive and unsafe. Mild transition symptoms can be very typical but anything beyond this is an invitation from our bodies to slow things down. Checking in on some basics is a helpful first step: Are you drinking enough water? Have you had a good BM each day? While there is no need to sit on the toilet all day, ensuring you’re keeping things flowing, is essential. You can also dial up and dial down, simply by varying the types of foods you choose. Heavier foods such as grains and beans tend to slow things down while lighter foods including vegetables, juices and seeds will dial it up.

Many cleanse programs advocate either diving right in or simply following 3 days of Pre-Cleanse recommendations. While everyone is unique, this can be a recipe for a few days of pure cleanse misery. We take our clients cleanse happiness seriously and require all LLM clients to cut out their beloved caffeine for a full 7 days prior to beginning. I know, that’s an “ouch!” But it’s way less painful than removing it during the cleanse. In the earliest days of our program, we learned a lot of lessons and were more lax on this point. There were times we showed up with juices and food on Day 1 to a client saying, “Ohhhhh I didn’t stop drinking coffe but I only drink ½ cup a day, I’ll be fine!” Inevitably, these clients wound themselves around the toilet, hurling for the first 2 days only to decide, understandably, that they couldn’t hang. I’m proud to say since becoming ‘no-coffee’ nazis and insisting on its removal for a full week prior to beginning we’ve not had a single toilet hugging incident in 3 years! We did, however, have a couple recently slip through on their Pre-Program requirements and experience a miserable first day. Fortunately for all, we caught it in the knick of time, insisting they stop their journey and reschedule for a better date with more preparation.

Doing this to drop some LBs?
A food-based cleanse is an amazing way to kick start weight loss and to keep those extra lb’s off, beyond the cleanse, through the adoption of healthier eating habits. However, many people use cleanses, especially liquid ones, as a standby for rapid weight loss before an event, with no intention of creating any lasting dietary changes. In fact, they often revert right back to former patterns by the very same event for which they sought to lose the weight in the first place. With repeated bouts of starvation, our bodies eventually refuse to lose weight and instead, like a bear, go into weight-hibernation.

Break Your Cleanse Consciously
Or better yet, let your food-based cleanse be a graceful evolution into your daily eating habits and lifestyle changes.

Pay attention to your body’s barometers.
Skin color, tongue and pallor of our lips all hold vital clues into our state of health. Is there still a life-sheen in these areas? Or do you look like the next cast for Twilight? Remember this is all about creating optimal health and vitality and to do that your best ally is your own expertise.

Listen to your Body.
Maybe you are setting out on a 10 Day Cleanse and the cleanse program tells you it has to look a certain way. But your body is screaming the opposite - weakness, extreme headaches, fatigue. This is a huge invitation from the Inner Expert that resides within, to shift and accommodate. Flexibility and accountability are two of the most important traits you can bring to a successful Cleanse Journey.

Embrace your excitement!
Any time we are doing something new we can commonly experience a twinge of nervousness. If this exists, acknowledge it as a natural part of a journey but don’t let it stop you. Instead know that you have all of the tools to choose the program that works best for you and to listen to your Inner Expertise. Call upon your excitement and create a vision for the life changes you wish to create. Holding this vision in your minds eye will allow you to have an amazing cleanse experience on your road to your happiest, healthiest life!

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