To Cleanse or not to cleanse? This is the question.
I have heard many mixed reviews on whether cleansing is good for you or not. I have even been in conversations where certain parties get heated about the juicing/cleansing “fad”. I personally believe cleansing is a great way to take care of yourself, your health, and your long-term relationship & appreciation with food, eating, and nourishing ones self. I also believe there are ways to cleanse safely and maximize the benefits. So since spring is upon us and a perfect time to cleanse – I decided to write a blog post with some tips as well as an interview with my friend & fit mum of 2 young ones, who has just completed a three-day juice cleanse. I think cleansing has incredible benefits on one’s flexibility and yoga practice as well:)
Let’s start with 6 tips that I suggest from having tried different fasts over the years:
- Fasting is something that is best to ease into and out of. This way you keep the positive outweighing the negative benefits. For example, if you binge the week before and the week after a cleanse, you haven’t really netted out in the positive, except maybe tested your mental limits, strength, and relationships to those around you. But physically for your body you have shocked it one way and then back the other. No long-term benefits here and no cultivation of small changes that lead to bigger changes overtime. More like an experiencing of both extremes. If you are going to do one, prepare yourself and your cupboards the week before. Limit your caffeine and processed foods so that your symptoms can be less harsh and you can still live your daily life. The same for going off the cleanse, ease back into things and use the gained energy and rejuvenation that your body received to focus on a better overall healthy balanced diet and exercise plan going forward.
- Make a list of a daily non-food reward idea for the end of each day. Need ideas? Hot bath with a lush bath bomb, an exfoliating scrub, a self massage, a good book, deep breathing, a walk in nature, tea with a really good gal pal or (male pal), a scroll through Pinterest planning an amazing recipe for post cleanse, a new top. What’s on your list?
- Drink plenty of water and make sure if you are doing a juice cleanse – the juices include a good bit of veggie with a lesser bit of fruit. Drink the juices at intervals throughout the day. Some do morning, noon, and night. Some cleanses include drinking a juice every couple hours. Again, the ultimate goal is for an increased intake of nutrient dense veggies and fruits directly to the blood stream allowing the digestive system a little more time to focus on detoxing and removing what it doesn’t need so that it can maximize clean out. It is sort of like cleaning out your wardrobe. You have things left in the closet or the colon that may have been there a while but your body hasn’t used and its time to expel them. Increase fluids and reduce bringing in more food for a short time and the net gain is positive. Not to mention there is a sense of accomplishment at the end of a cleanse.
- Eat the rainbow. Taste the rainbow. We can tend to have certain foods we like more than others but in a balanced diet we try to get a bit of everything. So in a juice cleanse, purchase a wide colorful array of fresh veggies and fruits to ensure you get some of everything. Also, when you drink the juices, slow down and savor them. Wake up your taste buds, clean them, get your olfactory senses working again. Often times our lives become so busy we don’t even know what we are eating or how often. A cleanse is a time to slow things down, be mindful, and recharge. Why not make it colorful and appealing to the eye?
- Exercise. Now, everyone is different but for the average individual on a fast I would recommend light exercise. The reason is again we are focusing on cleaning out and if your body is repairing after an intense training, this takes away from what it can do with the detox. It is overworked. To be strategic, I would suggest light to moderate exercise unless you have a burst of energy then by all means – take your tush on a run.
- Plan a way to deal with emotions that come with a cleanse. Once you remove meal prep and eating, you free up time in your life. I believe while the body cleanses it not only removes debris we don’t need it removes some stuff stuck in the emotional body. Recommendations for ways to deal with what comes up – journal,phone a friend, meditate, pray. Have a friend on standby who can help you or EVEN BETTER do the cleanse with you. Cleanses were a part of a lot of religious practices and some religions said it was not custom to tell people you are cleansing, it was just something you kept to yourself. My theory is cleansing is/was a part of a lot of religions because it does have an emotional, spiritual, and physical healing on the body – it keeps your vessel clean. Whether you need help or not – I leave that up to you. We are human. I think it’s adorable when couples cleanse together and I think it’s bonding. Just like having a beer together.
Now, just incase you are still a little leary of what fasting can do and if it’s right for you….I decided to interview my friend and fellow mum who has just completed a three day juice fast. Read on and find out what this busy mummy of two has to say on the topic of fasting.
Q: Have you cleansed before or can you describe your previous views/experiences with cleansing?
A: No, I have not cleansed before. I did eat very little at one point in my early 20s in an effort to be thin and at the time I was very thin. Now, my goals are more nutrient/vitality related instead of fitting into a certain size or shape, as well as wanting to be a good role model for my children and wanting them to have a healthy relationship with food and make good choices.
Q: Why or how did doing the cleanse come about?
A: It was a suggestion from my personal trainer, Henlu Van der Westhuizen, Co-founder and owner of HHH Health Retreats and owner/Personal Trainer at henlupt.com, to help expedite some weight loss.
Q: Did you set any goals you wanted to achieve by completing the cleanse?
A: To feel lighter, more energized, to lose a bit of weight, boost immunity in between seasons, and to focus and dedicate more time towards my self-care as I tend to put this last at times and the rest of my family first.
Q: Did you do any pre-prep before the cleanse?
A: I didn’t intentionally decide to make any changes prior, but maybe subconsciously I did notice the week before I consumed less read meat, less coffee, alcohol really isn’t a part of my diet regularly, and I had increased my intake of cruciferous vegetables per the DNA Fit test also recommended by my trainer, Henlu Van der Westhuizen. I didn’t want the fast to be a complete shock to my system and hoped it would lesson any uncomfy symptoms.
Q: Can you describe each of the days and what you remember in terms of how you were feeling and how the day went?
A: Sure. Day 1 – The juices started at 7 am and there were 8 juices to drink every 2 hours each day. The morning ones were delicious – tropical and fruity – reminded me of a beach holiday beverage. The afternoon consisted of 3 pretty kale dense dark green sludgy ones that were very fibrous and harder to get down and still pretend I was at the beach. They were more work. The evening one included some pineapple and I was back again in my tropical vacation in my head. I had no headache but my husband who did the cleanse with me, suffered a horrible headache the first day. By the afternoon I was incredibly hungry so I ate crudités with the children. By the evening I was very tired and less patient with the children. I did notice that whilst my body was tired, I wasn’t anxious or as stressed in my mind. It was more of a tired calm. I think it was a good decision to have planned a big day out with the kids before so they were happy to be home and chill, which made it easier to cleanse because I had to watch the clock and make sure I was drinking my next numbered juice every 2 hours. This part was fun to get the children involved because it involved colors and numbers and I added stickers upon every juice that mommy completed. One of the hardest parts was still having to prepare, smell, cook, and even help encourage the children to eat their meals and be around food. My husband had to leave the kitchen area when meal time arrived. He could not be around any solid food knowing he could not partake. I went to bed early and had a great nights sleep. Day 2 – I woke up early, made sure I had 2 juices in before attending Henlu’s Saturday bootcamp at the Herti Stadium in Zug. I was low on energy and in survival mode during the session. I did notice my body felt lighter when I ran, especially in my legs and that after the workout – I didn’t really want to socialize or talk. Luckily it was sunny out, so in the afternoon I encouraged our family to go for a walk to help my husband’s still banging headache. By the end of Day 2, I had a renewed sense of confidence that I was going to finish this and it was a going to be a good thing. Day 3 – I woke up feeling light, bright, and positive. I noticed my skin was glowing so I didn’t really feel the need to cover my face in make up. We had a kid’s birthday party in the afternoon and we decided rather than break the fast early – to trudge onward and the renewed sense of energy and how I felt helped me to do this. My husband still felt miserable and couldn’t wait for it to be over. I noticed more mental clarity along with the lighter feeling, I was more mindful with my interactions with the children and even thought to myself I would like to maybe attempt a 5 day one next time. Again, the sunshine helped. My husband slept great this night and I had some trouble with my youngest waking up.
Q: What was the first thing you and your husband ate the next morning?
A: My husband awoke at 6:20 and let me know right away that he was going to go eat the overnight oats we had prepared the night before as he was hangry (hungry meets angry), sometimes a volatile state for a marriage. He was so ready to eat and be done with the cleanse and back on to solid foods. I had a small bowl of the same thing before another training session with Henlu and ate it slowly, savored it, and was content also to be back in the world of eating solid foods, with a renewed energy and sense of completion. I also had some warm lemon water as I wanted to keep encouraging any toxins that had been drawn up to exit.
Q: Would you do it again?
A: Yes, I don’t think I could do it once a month per Henlu’s recommendation but I would definitely do it again. My husband probably would not. Unless maybe encouraged by me. I do think the next week we both ate healthier and smaller portions so while we haven’t completely defined our health goals, I feel like we both ultimately got something positive out of this and are moving in the right direction of keeping self care a priority both as we age and as we parent.
Q: Any advice for other people who may want to try a cleanse but are apprehensive?
A: My advice especially to moms of little ones who think they can’t do it and it would be too hard is that you can. The juices are already made for you, really colorful, most of them tasty and you can get the kids involved. The ordering process was easy, the cost was reasonable. I had time to think about some things and noticed I felt more at peace with myself, my current life, and my relationships, despite its busy-ness. As a mom, I am often in survival mode getting everything done for everyone else and wanting everything to be in order—during the cleanse, I felt like I got off the hamster wheel for a few days and was able to reset. The sleep I got at night felt different, like it was totally dedicated to rest and restore sleep as my digestive system was on a complete vacation. Not to mention, that sense of achievement, accomplishment, and vigor after completing a challenge. It was a well deserved WIN-WIN.
Now for those of you who would like more information on the juice cleanse, you can check out press bar on instagram or the web. And I couldn’t dare end this article without a picture of the rainbow!
Happy Spring Cleansing!