Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tips on Cleansing

It is time for a cleanse! I have noticed my eating habits have progressively gotten worse over the last couple months and boy am I feeling it physically! I feel lethargic, apathetic, and have lots of muscle and joint pain. And bad decisions just perpetuate bad decisions until I'm hooked and then the cravings get the best of me! Fortunately the opposite is also true, good decisions perpetuate good decisions and builds incredible confidence and motivation! If you are having any issues with motivation, I highly recommend checking out 16 ways to get motivated in one of my favorite blogs, zenhabits

I have decided to do Alejandro Junger's Clean program again, which I did last year. It was an incredible journey and the book and online support are fantastic tools to guide you through the detox process. Plus they contain a plethora of recipes that will most likely become staples in your diet. I highly recommend purchasing this book if you are serious about cleansing because he goes into more detail about the actual cleanse, and the knowledge you will gain will change your life. Or visit The Clean Program website. The program consists of a liquid breakfast, a solid lunch and a liquid dinner. The liquid meals include freshly made juices, smoothies and pureed soups which are surprisingly filling. I do not purchase the expensive extra's they try to sell on the website. I believe that the diet change alone is enough. I will be starting an Elimination Diet on Monday May 7th, then starting the actual cleanse on Friday May 11th until Friday June 1st.

Tips on Cleansing:

1. Decide the length of your cleanse. 3 weeks seems to be the perfect length to really maximize the detox process and create new habits that will carryover into your daily life. But if 3 weeks seems like too much of a commitment, start with 1 or 2, especially if it is your first time. You may just get hooked and want to keep going!

2. Realize that the first week will be the toughest. Your cravings will be strong, your body will feel a little fluish and sluggish and your dreams might be vivid BUT, if you can make it through that initial 4-7 days, your cravings will disappear, the fire within will awaken and you just might feel better than you ever have in your entire life. Mysterious aches, pains and digestive issues will begin to disappear, you will experience better sleep, tons of energy, a clear head, less mood swings, weight loss and an incredible sense of confidence.

3. Schedule it into your calendar and prepare. Try to not to overbook yourself during that time. Times of major transition or turmoil are not ideal times to cleanse so look ahead and try to pick a time that is less busy. Weekends are good times to start so that you can get all your shopping and prepping done and already have two days under your belt before the week starts. Some people can maintain an active social life while cleansing and feel empowered by being around others without indulging, but, if you are like me, I like to take a break from the world and take the opportunity to indulge in some quiet, introspective time.

4. Cleansing is not just about eliminating toxins, but it is also equally important to introduce foods and activities that help facilitate the detox process. I am going to make a list of all of the foods I cut out when cleansing, the foods I focus on eating a ton of, and the activities I make part of my daily cleansing routine. But this is a personal preference. Many cleanses allow animal products in the form of organic poultry and wild caught seafood. So listen to your body and pick the foods you are most addicted to and the ones you may even suspect to be an allergy.

Foods to Avoid:
1. Gluten (wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut)
2. Animal products (including dairy and eggs) I will consume organic chicken and wild caught seafood sparingly.
3. Cane sugar, including chocolate (healthy alternatives like agave and stevia are allowed in small amounts but use sparingly since most of us are addicted to highly sweetened foods)
4. Coffee (I do consume a little yerba mate and green tea but try to limit caffeine consumption)
5. Alcohol
6. Nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplants) A surprising amount of people do not react well to these veggies which are a huge contributor to joint pain so if you have any issues with pain, I would cut them out of your diet for awhile.
7. Anything processed or prepackaged. Anything with chemicals listed in the ingredients. If it has more than 5 ingredients or an unpronounceable ingredient, it's a no no. Stick entirely to whole foods if possible.
8. Soy. Some cleanses might include tofu or soy milk but soy is a genetically modified food that is highly processed, overconsumed and highly allergenic.

Foods to enjoy, preferably organic:
1. GREENS!!! Kale, Chard, Collards, Dandelion greens, Beet greens, Arugula, Spinach. Mix them up!
2. Veggies: go for organic, in season and variety in color if possible! Cruciferous veggies are especially cleansing!
3.  Fruits: Again go for organic, in season if possible and variety! Berries are especially cleansing, lemons are very alkalizing and avocados are high in good fat! Try to avoid Oranges, grapefruits, grapes and bananas.
3. Fresh garlic
4. Fresh ginger
5. Herbs and spices not only make everything SO much better, but have great health benefits so pick your favorites and start sprinkling! I keep parsley and cilantro in a cup of water with a bag over top in my fridge at all times! They will last much longer that way. Better yet, plant an herb garden!
6. Nuts and Seeds (raw and unsalted are best, avoid peanuts)
7. Grains: there are tons of grains out there so experiment and see which ones you like best, quinoa, brown rice, wild rice,  millet, buckwheat, teff and non GMO corn (which can be highly allergenic so pay attention to your body)
8. Beans and lentils
9. Unrefined Oils. Best ones to have on hand: virgin coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil
10. Dairy substitutes: rice, nut and coconut milks
11. Lots and lots of water (preferably purified) to help flush the toxins out. We had a reverse osmosis water filter installed in our last house which I am hoping to do here soon because it is kind of scary what is actually in our drinking water!

Activities that facilitate detoxing:
1. Dry skin brushing. Buy a body brush and brush your entire body before each shower. Start with your extremities and always brush towards your heart. It is so incredibly invigorating and not only does it exfoliate, but it stimulates your lymphatic system
2. Tongue scraping. You can either buy a tongue scraper or just use a metal teaspoon. Every morning, look at your tongue and if you notice a white residue on the back of your tongue, scrape it off. This is an ayurvedic practice that helps remove toxins that build up on your tongue overnight. 
3. Neti pot. If you have never used a neti pot, you should get in the habit! Not only is it a great practice for detoxing to help flush out the sinus mucus that might initially worsen while cleansing, but always a good practice to hydrate dry nasal passages and help sooth allergies and stuffy noses. It feels amazing!
4. Hot/Cold Plunge. Alternating between hot and cold water while in the shower is an incredibly invigorating way to boost circulation and detoxification. The vessels in your skin relax and dilate with heat and contract with cold. When this relax/contract pattern happens, your skin pumps almost as much blood as your heart. Plus it seriously energizes you!
5. Epsom Salt baths. Taking baths is an incredibly luxurious and relaxing activity to do while cleansing, and always for that matter! By adding epsom salts, you increase the detox process because the salts help draw toxins out of your body.  Add at least 2 cups to your bath
6. Exercise. It is a good idea to tone down the intensity of your exercise program while cleansing, especially in the beginning, but keep your body moving to help circulate the toxins out of your blood stream. Do what you love but some of the best activities are yoga, walking/hiking, and bike rides. Take these opportunities to be truly present and enjoy nature.
7. Meditation. If you have never meditated, now is a great opportunity to research the topic and start practicing. Start with 5 minutes and remember that the goal is not to completely clear your mind, but to not attach to your thoughts. The main concept is to focus on your breath and whenever you find yourself wrapped up in a thought (which will happen a lot, especially in the beginning) gently and without judgement, bring your awareness back to your breath.
8. Journal your experience
9. Take time to reflect and express gratitude for the blessings in your life
10. Read an inspirational book and/or watch one of the many transformational and important food documentaries out there...get educated and inspired!
11. Breathe, Love, and Be Present.


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