How Detoxing Changed My Life
I’ve always been the type of person that cringed at the idea of doing a “detox” or a “cleanse”. These words conjured up an image of endless days of lemon, cayenne and maple syrup water, which (in my opinion) actually creates toxic build-up because the body NEEDS fiber to elimate toxins. And of course, it’s not sustainable long term. I could never wrap my head around how so many friends of mine partied like rock stars, ate crap, and then for 10 days every 6 months shocked their system in the name of “cleansing”. To me, optimal health is a marathon, not a sprint. So I shunned the concept, without really knowing much else about it.
But for someone who already eats organic, works out regularly, practices yoga and meditates (though much less than I did pre-kids!), I knew I should be feeling so much better than I was. Despite my pretty-darn healthy lifestyle, I couldn’t shake some nagging symptoms. The worst one was my afternoon slump. Every single day, without excpetion, I found myself dragging from about 3:30-5:30. Can you relate? I sure know a lot of America can! What bothered me, however, was that I knew I wasn’t hungry, I knew it wasn’t a lack of good nutrition and activity….yet there it was, every afternoon, a slap-me-in-the-face reminder that something I was doing clearly wasn’t working!
Along with my daily energy slump, I continued to struggle with breakouts. Nothing like my cystic acne days, which I cleared up with organic skin care and organic, whole foods, but breakouts nonetheless. When my kids were teenagers and getting their first pimples, was I doomed to still have my own?! That definitely didn’t sound fun to me! 😉
On top of that, my joints ached, which never made sense to me. I always thought achy joints were for people who just didn’t take care of themselves or were aging! Or for people who were over-training, but that wasn’t me either. In fact, I always thought I should be able to do more with my workouts considering I was training smart. But achy joints that got worse with each pregnancy definitely have slowed me down.
And do I dare divulge my mood issues?! I definitely found myself all-too-often on an emotional roller coaster, except nobody around me was having fun. Nor was I!
You might be thinking, if a Certified Holisitc Health Coach is dealing with all of this, how is there hope for me?! Well, let me first say, even with all the above symptoms, I’m in a WAY better place than I was in my teens and early 20’s. You can read more about my story here. I’ve always struggled with a weak immune system and a laundry list of ailments as a result. That is why I’ve dedicated myself to the life-long pursuit of knowledge to integrate and support my personal well-being. It’s been baby steps, and you can take those too. And spending 2 years studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition became the means for me to take what had become my passion and share it with the world by supporting others in living their life to the fullest as well. Because one thing that I think we can all agree on is that when our bodies and minds are both fully nourished and functioning optimally, life is a whole lot more beautiful and blessed!
So what if I told you that I have been “nagging symptom” free for 5 months now?! Would you want to know what I’ve done?
Well I’m sure you can guess it, I finally succumbed to a 21 day fiber-filled detox! OK, let’s be honest, it was actually 28 days! It is marketed as 21 days, but the 7 days of prep were not the easing-into-it that I’d imagined. 🙂
Honestly, I never thought I could do it.
But the very thought that this might bring some relief to the myriad of irritating symptoms that were bogging me down and interfering with my life was all I needed.
And for me, this has been yet another peeling back of the onion. Peeling back the layers upon layers of mis-information, lack of education, and intentional deception that gets piled on by the powers that be. Man does it take a lot of work to block it all out, but I certainly know based on the way my family is thriving how worth it it is!
And that’s why I turned to the Chlorophyll Chugging Champion herself, Miss Tera Warner! I knew I couldn’t take this on alone. Even as a coach, I’m an eternal student, and seek out coaches that can take me to the next level. And take me to the next level she did! Woah Baby!
For 28 days, I shifted to a raw, plant-based diet, with a focus on green smoothies. There are definitely things I would do differently, and actually am working on a gentler detox to support the majority of people who I think might not be ready for the intensity of this cleanse. I should mention, however, that Tera definitely creates the space for everyone to be exactly where they are in their journey. If that means just adding one green smoothie a day, then that’s to be celebrated! But I felt I was in a place to play full-out, so that’s the way I jumped in!
As a result, I experienced some pretty hard-core “detox” symptoms, that I think could (and should!) be avoided. The first several days I just felt hungry, but then days 3-5 , BOOM! Throbbing headaches, exhaustion and diarrhea set in. My dark chocolate cravings where all-consuming, and the mood swings reminded me of my horrible IVF drug days! Yikes, no fun! So yeah, I think a gentler approach might work better, at least for me personally.
I called my mom in tears on day 5 and told her I was bailing on the program. I started seriously beating myself up, wondering why I couldn’t do something that so many others could. Can you relate? Maybe you’ve had a similar experience with a detox, or maybe a diet? I think this is far too common, and as I said, I largely attribute it to jumping into things too fast. Slow and steady really does win the race!
All that being said, I have to say, I woke up on Day 6, at 5:30am (I usually wake at 6:30), feeling completely alert and ready to go. That focus lasted ALL DAY LONG. All the side-effects had completely vanished, and I found myself feeling very pure, vibrant, joyful and present. While I was enjoying my blissed out state after several really miserable days, I couldn’t help but wonder when it would all come crashing down. My energy felt so crystal clear, my skin was glowing, my joints didn’t ache even in the slightest (hello awesome workouts!), not to mention that I was pooping like a champ! (yep, I went there! )….it all felt WAY too good to be true!
But the days moved along, and I continued to wake up at least an hour earlier every morning, not even thinking about my morning cuppa joe, just ready to rock my day. And rock my days I did! As my body was detoxing, I became aware of something awesome and powerful happening all around me. My mind and my heart began to detox too. I felt lighter, happier, calmer. I was more patient with my boys. I had extra reserves of love that my boys AND my husband benefitted from! 😉 I started tackling the cluttered spaces I’d been neglecting around the house, and in doing so, felt this stagnant energy within me and around me all start to flow more freely. Without even thinking about it, I found myself organically “cleaning up” all the toxic places lurking in my life, physically, mentally, spiritually.
I will admit that 2 weeks in to the program I started eating cooked heavily plant-based dinners with my family. I felt like I had accomplished what I set out to accomplish, which was to create some new healthy lifestyle changes that would stick. I continued with 2 smoothies and all raw snacks every day, but family dinner time was a higher priority for me than my perfectionist need to complete the cleanse as I originally set out to. As long as I’m making my choices based on what I think will serve the greatest good for me and my family, I’m at peace with that!
I knew that this process had profoundly changed me, for good. I had been an occassional green smoothie drinker before, but now I have my husband and 2 boys chugging their green drinks right along with me every single morning. My husband has so much more energy at work as a result, and I feel really great knowing that I’m getting a ton of nutrient-dense goodness into my kiddos that might not otherwise be so easy to do!
As I continued to sail through my days on less sleep and with absolutely no energy slump at all, I couldn’t help but wonder what exactly was it that made me feel SO dramatically better?
Was it simply the massive amount of greens I was now eating? I’d already been dairy-free since I was 20, so it couldn’t be that (although I know that’s a culprit for a lot of people). Was it simply stopping my one cup of coffee in the morning? My one glass of wine at night? Could it possibly be gluten? I was inclined to think not, after all, I was pretty sure that the gluten-intolerance chatter that was all a buzz these days was likely just the latest fad.
I wasn’t really sure, but I knew I’d probably figure it out as I re-introduced foods. The serendipitious events that followed still blow my mind every day, months into this. During this detox, my youngest son Asher, then 19 months, was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder. One of the first recommendations I got was to take him off Gluten (the protein in wheat) and Casein (the protein in dairy).
I agreed to give it a go for 3 weeks, but wasn’t expecting anything since I wasn’t really on board with the gluten craze. Well let me tell you, I am ON the band wagon now, baby!
Stay tuned for my next post, where I’ll dive in to the story of what removing gluten and dairy did for Asher’s life, and our entire family’s.
As for cleansing, as I mentioned, I realize that this level of intensity might not be the best place for you to start. Jumping in to a full-on detox like this is definitely not an easy thing to do. But you can start today by adding in more detox-friendly foods. Try to add a green smoothie a day, maybe more salads and more raw veggies. As you begin to add in more of the good, you’ll naturally start crowding out more of the not-so-good. Again, this isn’t about deprivation, but about creating sustainable habits that will have you feeling better, looking better, and wanting to add even more of the good as you let go of more of the not-so-good side effects!
I know for me personally, I always do better when I work with a coach. That’s why I went to one of the guru’s for my first detox! I highly recommend Tera’s life-changing work. And if you’re looking for more gentle support, along with someone to support you in the entire process, body, mind and spirit, then be sure to fill out an intake form on my coaching page so we can discuss if we would be a good fit to work together.
Until then, give this green smoothie a try. It’s a great place to start for those new to green smoothies. Any blender will work, but if you become a green smoothie monster like everyone in my family has, I highly recommend a VitaMix! I’m pretty sure my first time using my vitamix was a religious experience! 😉
Basic Green Smoothie
1 cup water (or coconut water, which I highly recommend! It is super hydrating, aids in digestion and has amazing anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-microbial properties).
2 cups of greens (spinach, swiss chard or kale are all good places to start)
1 small banana
1 cup berries (choose your favorite! I like the frozen mixed bags (organic) because berries get pricey, but since it’s summertime, now is a great time to get affordable fresh berries. If you go fresh, add about 5 ice cubes)
Blend, and enjoy!
There are of course tons of nutritional “extras” you can add, such as chia or hemp seeds, maca, spirulina, etc., and tons of variations of smoothies, but this is a good starting point. The only limitation is your imagination!
Just try to increase your greens and lessen your higher sugar fruits such as bananas as you go.