Friday, November 5, 2010

21 Days

On Monday, November 1st, I started a journey. I decided to do a 21 Day Detox/Cleanse. that five days have passed and here I am sitting and writing this with a bowl of soup near my desk, I smile and think to myself, "Can I really do this for another 16 days?"

Let me back up a bit. A few years ago in college, I teamed up with a few other women in my rec program in Colorado and did a 10 day fast/juice/cleanse/detox. It was an assignment for one of our experiential education classes where we had to participate in "Edgework." Edgework can be simply defined as the sociology of taking risk. Our project was to choose something that would put us "out there," pushing our own personal boundaries, growing mentally, physically, and emotionally, and create a dynamic experience that would lead us to a deep reflection. So, with that said, I became a bit hooked, not only on Edgework in general, but this "Cleanse/Detox/Juicing" thing. I bought a Juicer in college and since then, I try to do a cleanse at least once a year, if not more.

Why Do I Cleanse & Detox?
So I could go on and on and on about the research & science behind the cleansing, the pros and the cons, etc. But I wanted to take a different route on documenting this personal project, I wanted to make it personal. A real personal account of what its like to live a somewhat normal life (working, paying bills, having a cell phone, living in a city, etc.) and embark on something intense and deep.

By far, the most common asked question regarding this type of personal project is "Why?" Well, I like to cleanse for a variety of reasons:

Reason #1. It feels good inside. I can just tell that when I am cleansing/detoxing, I feel lighter, less tired, less fuzzy in the brain, etc. Sure, there is some weight loss that happens, but mostly I like to just get back to basics and turn my body into a lean, mean, green, dynamic, healthy machine! Not gonna lie, the first couple days are rough. The lack of sugar, dairy, meat, all the good stuff that I enjoy on a daily basis. They say to "lean in" and take it easy and plan, but for me, the cold turkey technique has been tried and true for me. So, with that said, let me go into more depth.

This is what happens to my innards when I cleanse: My little liver and kidneys get a much needed break from processing all kinds of junk. My digestive tract gets a break from gluten and sugar. My brain starts to stabilize on its own. My nervous system gets real again (more on that later), and my body can rest and repair more naturally than it usually does.

Reason #2: It's my version of a spiritual marathon.
I wouldn't call myself your average American nor would I call myself the world-renowned hippie of the year but what I can say about myself is that I value a strong spiritual practice. I lean on the left side politically speaking, I like farmers markets, non-profits, and sustainability. I do yoga, light incense, and chant. But on the other side of things, I like Cherry coke, cheeseburgers, fries, and twizzlers. I stay out late and drink beer in Ballard. I occasionally dance my ass off at clubs, and my favorite food would have to be pizza. I work a 40 hour week and rush around chatting on my cell phone, yelling at other drivers on I-5, and get in fights with my lover. (Just wait, I will get into how a cleanse affects a relationship).

The Cleanse gives me a break from all of that and ups the ante on being a little more mindful and aware of myself, what I am eating, and how I am "being" in my relationships and the world in general. I know that for the most part, I am on my own when I cleanse. The rest of the world is still living and I am unable to escape to a cave in India with a private guru guiding me the whole way. Everybody else is eating pizza, candy, coffee, soda, etc. For a chunk of time each year, I get to go on another track without really leaving. Its a great way for me to get the lessons of slow gratification, self-nurturing, love, and mindfulness.

Reason #3: I get to SLOW Wayyyyyy Down :)
When I cleanse, I can't push my body like I am used to doing. Naturally, the internal body starts to slow down and take a break so I try to do the same. That means not staying up super late. That means I don't push myself in the gym for 2 hours each day. That means working sustainable hours (luckily, I am an hourly employee). That means I can take baths during the week, meditate before work, etc. This rest is so important and vital in a cleanse because you are taking in no artificial stimulants and getting back to your body's original rhythms. This means 10-11 hours of sleep every night and asking for backrubs and tea :)

Reason #4: It's my chance to learn & be selfish.
I am a learning machine. I love to learn, read, experiment, try anything once. So when I cleanse, I get to try new foods, learn how to cook them, and push myself to the edge with being aware of my cravings and then move on from them. The mantra for the first couple days, "Just a craving. It will pass." When I cleanse, I am in charge of every choice. I mean, this is true in my own life but it really hits home when I am on the cleanse. I am careful of reading labels, I take my time when I eat, I can eat pretty much whenever because people feel bad for you, and I get to have that glorious feeling of being all hippy like in the natural markets.

The selfish part of the cleanse is that I get to only do things that nourish me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I notice I am more apt to say no to engagements or events, not out of spite or disrespect, but simply to restore energy and take more time for me in this glorious process. I get to journal more, do more yoga, breathe deeply, and drink lots of good herbal tea (caffeine free of course).

So, this year, this cleanse, right here and now is a way for me to look at my life under a microscope and look at what is holding me back, what needs to be eliminated, and what nourishes me, both inside and out. I plan on documenting for the rest of the cleanse, hopefully daily posts with menus. I am drawing on a bunch of different resources, including books, websites, medical journals, etc. and I am so excited to share it all with you!

So now, as I raise my glass of Green Drink, I toast to you "Happy cleansing!"

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