RSS

Rebel Without a Car – My week of living dangerously

This article appeared in the on-line magazine for actors The Networker, in September 2010

After years of contemplating, reading lots of books, researching on the Internet, and procrastinating, I finally embarked on a Detox journey, committing to an 8-day cleansing program.

Our bodies are full of toxins, picked up from the food that we eat, the air that we breath and the environment that we are exposed to. Toxins come from many sources, including Pollution, Pesticides and Fertilizers, Medicine, Hormones used in raising livestock, processed food, and everyday sources that we take for granted.

According to many studies, it is recommended to cleanse our bodies at least once a year. Women are especially encouraged to cleanse one year before they plan to conceive, to ensure the healthy development of their baby. It is said that when we cleanse our bodies of toxins, we can get rid of some allergies, ailments, skin problems, and we can energize ourselves, our bodies and our mind.

Despite of all the great benefits of the detox, it took me years of contemplating before I finally did it, partially because I didn’t want to deal with side-effects and withdrawal symptoms. Also, my schedule is so all over the place, that I thought that I won’t be able to keep the eating schedule when I would have to run to a meeting, or to a shoot, or visit some friends.

Cleansing my body also seemed extremely complicated and I’ve never been able to follow any suggested eating habits with the exception of my most sacred large European style breakfast routine. Breakfast is very important to me and I just didn’t think I could “survive” without it.

When I finally decided to detox, it was not because I was prepared and had my days laid out but I started it because things were just perfect for it for the first two days.

Here is what happened:

1. My fridge was empty
2. My curiosity was piqued
3. My calendar was clear
4. My Detox book was staring at me, ready to guide me

This perfect combination of things is how my detox started.

And I’m glad that I finally did it! The entire experience was much better than I expected and I learned not only about myself, but also about other people as I got a lot of support along the way from friends online, as well as in person.

The very simple and effective book by Dr. Christina Scott-Moncrieff Detox: Cleanse and Recharge Your Mind, Body and Soul became my workbook and my bible for 8 days (and beyond).

This book doesn’t have day-to-day recipe, but it has a simple guide to what one can eat. It gives suggestions on how to combat side-effects, what to eat to cleanse for specific ailments, and it has guides to herbs, vegetables and fruits and their health benefits and cleansing properties.

This book also has tips on how to detox your environment and stay healthy beyond the 8 or 30 day detox plan.

My 1st day (and every day after) of cleansing started out with a glass full of lemonade (no sugar added). For the rest of the day I could only drink a cup of organic potassium broth every two hours. This was so delicious, it is now a part of my regular diet.

The 2nd day I drank lots of vegetable juice (I chose V8 from the store that was served in a can because it can be recycled – remember, the cap of plastic bottles can’t be recycled, so don’t buy plastic bottles) and I was allowed to eat a large salad after lunch and for dinner and one piece of fruit for the day.

Days 3-8 were filled with low sugar fruits, lots of salad and vegetables, some fish, a bit of potato, low fat nuts, and lots of herbs.

I could drink lots of non-caffeinated teas, so I chose Yogi Detox, which I was drinking for 8 days all throughout the day. I also went to Trader Joe’s and bought the 14 day Trader Darwin’s Complete Body Cleanse dietary supplement kit, that included fiber pills, as well as liver and digestive formula.

Aside from making some killer salads, the 8 days were a good training for me to take the time to make good healthy food that tasted great and didn’t take much time.

Here is one of my favorite salads recipes that I made. (If you don’t have a garden, buy these at your local farmers market and/or buy them organic. Wash everything well!)

12 oz spinach
2 tomatoes
3 green onions, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
5 red radishes
handful of slivered almonds
minced fresh dill
1 large tablespoon of nonfat Greek style yogurt

Mix together and enjoy.

You can add minced parsley and some balsamic vinegar as well.

This is now a basic that I’m starting my salads with. Sometimes I put sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds instead of the almonds. I also add blueberries or poppy seeds or non-fat or low-fat feta cheese.

I’m grateful that I didn’t get headaches during the detox, which can be because I don’t take any medication. I don’t drink alcohol or coffee. I don’t smoke and I’m living a pretty clean lifestyle. However, I did get nauseous, I got crabby, I was incredibly irritated on my 6th day and I had very low energy most of the time. It was interesting how I started to cope and adjust and I realised that this entire 8 day process was not bad, but it benefited me in the long run.

– I slowed down to preserve energy: I enjoyed my walks to the store, to the bus and they became meditative.
– My breathing slowed down and became deeper: I started to get in touch with my body again, and I started to pay attention to signals, rhythms, and movement patterns that I didn’t notice before.
– My senses improved: I felt like a wolf during these days, always alert, and sensitive to sounds, smells, tastes and movement. Some smells were extremely irritating, especially synthetic ones, like perfume, cleaning products in the grocery store, and car exhaust. Other smells, like trees, sweat, and dirt, became pleasant and welcoming. My Chapstick tasted horrible and so did the taste of bad air.
– After the 7th day, I didn’t smell bad when I sweated. It was like I sweated just clean water.
– After the 8th day my skin started to look so smooth and clear, like I haven’t seen in years.

During these few days, I learned a lot about myself and about my willpower and strength. I learned that there are a lot of good people out there who supported me with tips, encouragement and some even avoided any food reference, to not irritate me.

The detox that I did was quite simple and even though it was not meant to be a diet, I did lose some weight, since I cut back on grains, cheese and meat. I also lost some muscle weight since I didn’t ride my bike for the entire week. I didn’t trust my reflexes in case of bad road conditions or if an inattentive (or disrespectful) driver would have compromised my safety.

If you decide to do a detox, I have a few suggestions to make it a pleasant experience:

  • Make sure you have an easy week ahead of you, light on work and meetings and schedules.
  • You will be tired for the first two days, so set time aside to rest and to take naps.
  • Let your friends know that you are cleansing. They will be supportive and encouraging when you are ready to quit and they will also be understanding of your mood swings.
  • Take long walks.
  • Cut back on any heavy exercise routines.
  • Meditate.
  • Detox during the warm months or prepare to bundle up (you will be chilled).
  • Write a journal or blog.
  • Hydrate with lots of tea, potassium broth or vegetable juice.
  • Shop ahead of time so you won’t be tempted to buy “bad food”.

I decided that I will do this detox every year now. I inspired my husband to do it as well and we have been supportive of each other to continue with the healthy diet, with good habits and we are planning on keeping our bodies healthy so we can live to be 150 years old.

Be happy, be healthy, and always be kind!

Enci