Cleansing 101 / by vanessa

Caveat emptor: I am not a doctor, don't want to be a doctor, and in fact, don't even know a doctor. Well my friend Margaret is an Oriental Medicine doctor, so that counts, but I digress. The point is this: take responsibility for your own health.

I have been asked by a number of people, with regards to a cleanse, wtf? Actually people have been cooler than that, but there are enough questions so I thought I'd post the principles of cleansing. Keep in mind this is from my own experience and I believe that ultimately you have to decide what works best for your body, blah blah blah. So, without further ado, here goes -- my take on the basics of cleansing.

Why cleanse? Because if you saw your intestines you'd know how much you need it. Trust me. Plus the way you feel afterwards is amazing. Plus it's a great way to drop dependencies (e.g. sugar). Plus all the cool kids are doing it.

What is a cleanse? A cleanse is any program where you eliminate difficult to digest components and/or toxins from your diet for a finite period of time. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups? Gone. Fat Tire? Histoire. Twinkies? Buh-bye. You get the picture.

How do I know which one to chooose? Russian roullette. It's kinda like that actually. You do some research but the way I started out doing these is just researching different ones (one at a time) and seeing which ones I liked the best after trying those that appealed to me to begin w/. If I had the ambition, I'd do a cleansing bake-off, similar to my Kombucha-thon, but you wouldn't want the pictures.

How do I know how long to do it for? Listen, cleansing's a bitch. Or at least I've always felt like it was until this one when I decided that I was going to enjoy it. Most cleanses say try this for x period of time, depending on the cleanse. For example, the Master cleanse (I'll describe this in a few), is generally held for 10 days. When I tried it, I lasted 3. But, anytime we give our bodies a break from digestion and toxins it's a good thing, so I didn't feel like a loser for not makin' it the whole 10 days. Much.
That said, I always try to do at least three days of any cleanse, and hopefully for as long as I can. This is the second time I'm going for three weeks, but it's modified, meaning I'm eating solid foods (fruits/veggies/nuts) so it's not like I'm starving. That's important b/c if you're really really hungry, it's easy to bail.

Will I still be married at the end of my cleanse? No. Remember 2005's Epic Break-Up? Too much cleansing. Nor will you have any friends. But your skin and your eyes will look so good that you can find new ones. Did I already mention that you might get a little grumpy? I'm just saying... it's been known to happen.

Here are the cleanses I've tried, with commentary of course, in no particular order:
1. FRUIT ONLY. I got this out of Baron's 40 Days book and I love it. It's short (3 days) and packs a lot of bang for its buck. Plus you get to eat avocados and tomatoes since they count as fruit. Highly recommend for first time cleansers.

2. MASTER cleanse. This mother consists of water, lemon juice, grade B maple syrup and cayenne pepper. It lasts for 10 days. It blows. After day one of no food I was about to eat a fence post. I started looking at my ex-boyfriend's limbs as possible food sources. I know a lot of people who like this one though and they're only partially weird, so I feel compelled to say that you might like it.

3. ARISE & SHINE. The guy who wrote the book on this cleanse is way hard-core. PETA has nothing on him. You take a bunch of pills (cayenne included), some clay, aloe, a bunch of other stuff, eat an alkaline based diet and then at the end of 30 days you're supposed to feel so good you never eat another processed acid-based food in your life again ever. Period. Except that I maybe lasted six days. It was too high maintenance for me. That said at the studio I used to teach at one of teachers there did it and she lasted the whole time and she loved it. Her eyes sparkled like you could eat off o' them.

4. RAW FRUITS & VEGGIES. I read this manual a few years ago. It was written by a friend of a friend of a friend and its principle was that for 3 weeks you eat only raw fruits and veggies and then after 3 weeks, you start adding in, one week at a time nuts, then soy, then grains, then dairy, then meat. Its goal was to show you what foods you're allergic to. Btw, that's another perk of cleansing -- you realize *quickly* which foods don't really work for you by eliminating them from your diet. I liked this cleanse nearly the best and I felt great after 3 weeks. I changed it a little bit in that I added in Ezekial bread after week 2 (which is sprouted, or live, wheat) because I couldn't take it. I'm currently doing a modified version of this now in that I'm eating some steamed and grilled (cooked in olive oil) veggies along w/ my fruit and I've also kept nuts in there.

5. CLEANSING FARM. This is where you go and pay a bunch of money and they feed you a little bit of fruit juice (less than 8 oz a day), a little bit of veggie juice (puke) and a bunch of pills. You can go for as little as 3 days, which I did, and as much as eternity. For real I don't think they cap you. I think though most people stay for like around 5. This is a nice option, save its steep price, because basically you lay around at the pool all day, get a few "treatments", and then take your pills. I was grumpy for sure w/out the food, but once I stopped talking (around day 1.5) it was much easier for me to get along w/ people. The next thing I knew, I was packing my bags to go home.

Additional Suggestions:
I got an email from my friend Malia the other day recommending the Colonix cleanse from Dr. Natura. She warned me not to look at the pictures, so I'm passing the same heeding on to you.

And, if all else fails there's always the SUPER A cleanse: It consists of 2 bottles of Ambien, 1 bed. Take the former, and jump in the latter. You'll wake up about 3 weeks later, no bags under your eyes, though slighty dehydrated. I'm so kidding. I do not recommend this. Say no to drugs.

You may be thinking, "wow, as tempting as you've made it, exactly why would I want to do a cleanse?" I should admit that I always try and paint a really ugly picture b/c I know that I like to feel prepared, and I do when I know worst-case scenarios. It's kinda like telling people who are about to go to bootcamp to like Mexico or Hawaii - it's NOT a vacation. The reality is yeah, it might be hard, but you come out the other end on top of the world.