On the first day of my 30-day detox, I could almost hear its caffeinated whispers wafting from the steaming mugs at my local coffee shop, calling my name and tempting me with the promise of caffeine-induced productivity.
I didn’t get any withdrawal headaches, but by the first afternoon of my detox adventure, my head felt fuzzy and my body on-edge. What had I gotten myself into? This is ridiculous … I can’t be addicted to coffee. No, I just love coffee. As a matter of fact, I actually read that it aids with mental stimulation and exercise endurance!
“You see, Kim, coffee is undoubtedly a vital nutrient,” chimed a perfect pillow of latte foam from a passing customer’s to-go cup.
It’s only a month, I reminded myself as that foggy first day eventually fell into a cloudless sunset.
But wait, I can’t have wine either?
It’s good to get the drama out of the way, since my recent Ayurvedic detox was actually truly transformative — creating a dramatic shift all its own. Ayurveda, “The Science of Life,” is a system of traditional medicine and natural healing that originated in the ancient Vedic culture of India.
“It’s a well known fact that the first step on the road to change is the hardest,” stated the detox handbook. “Deciding to live more fully, participate in your own well-being and reclaim your sense of vitality and power takes more than a little courage.”
The program was developed by Julia Clarke, certified Maharishi Ayurveda wellness consultant, and was conducted through The Vail Vitality Center in the Vail Mountain Lodge. Her written and bound guidance went on:
“Over the next 30 days, we will be working together to improve your health, increase your body’s ability to metabolize food and absorb nutrients, and understand how to nourish your body optimally to stay healthy and prevent disease.”
As I flipped through the pages of the program module, I became immediately inspired by the deliberate and clear structure, as well the inclusion of a generous number of recipes. The intro went on:
“Unlike most detoxification programs, this one will focus on increasing your digestive power, which in Ayurveda is at the root of all health.
“Ayurveda also stands apart from many detoxification programs and popular diets because it emphasizes the importance of self-referral … essentially, we will be working together to recalibrate and re-educate our bodies on how we eat, what we eat, when we eat, why we eat certain foods, and how to manage our diets under stress.”
And so it went. For 30 days, a number of fellow aspiring “mindful eaters” and myself agreed to eliminate the following:
- Processed and packaged foods and leftovers (Ayurveda believes food starts to rot after six hours)
- Drinks: alcohol, coffee, caffeinated beverages, soda
- Fruit: oranges, grapefruit, green grapes
- Dairy: aged cheeses, cream, butter, ice cream, frozen yogurt, non-dairy creamers, non-organic milk
- Animal protein: beef, pork, eggs, seafood and shellfish, processed meats and cold cuts
- Soybean products: soy sauce, soybean oil in processed foods, tempeh, tofu, soy milk, soy yogurt
- Mushrooms, corn, white potatoes
- Margarine, processed oils, salad dressings, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard
- Sweeteners: refined sugar, brown/white sugar, corn syrup, sucanat, high fructose corn syrup, evaporated cane juice
To health, and beyond
Clarke’s overall guidance went far beyond her layout of what foods we were to remove. The program was professional, yet accessible, and included a breakdown of an ideal daily routine, food journaling, body composition tracking, basic herbal recommendations, tongue scraping, body dry brushing and oil massages, exercises recommendations, yoga offerings and other Ayurvedic teachings.
“When I first decided to do this detox, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into,” said Jillian Eberly, a detox participant. “I always thought a detox meant days of drinking broth or lemon juice and feeling hungry all the time; however, this was far from that.”
She said that not once during the 30 days did she feel hungry or starved, and that her body actually felt great, she unintentionally lost weight and she found that her mind became more clear.
My experience was similar. After about one week, the routine became more enjoyable than challenging. I started to create a new and increasingly positive relationship around preparing and consuming my food, as well as staying devoutly hydrated. I noticed an obvious and enriched vitality in my skin, nails, oral hygiene, waistline, energy and everyday outlook. More than a week after the conclusion of the detox, I am still feeling great and incorporating a majority of the program’s wellness routines into my day-to-day life.
Back to balance
The program also introduced in-depth physical knowledge on a very personal level. A Dosha test in the program manual allowed everyone to discover how he or she could create more balance in life according to their dominant physical constitution — the elements of earth (Kapha), fire (Pitta) and air (Vatta).
Program participant Matt McConnell — lovingly known to friends as “Red Face Matt” — is Pitta-dominant in his physical make-up and demeanor, and the Vail local actually suffered from a nearly deadly rupturing of his appendix last March — the ultimate indication of an excess of Pitta, or fire, in his body.
“Coming off of what I went through last spring, I really just had the desire to feel better and detox,” McConnell said. ‘What I have taken away from all this is there’s a mindful presence that hasn’t always been there, or maybe it has been and I have chosen not to listen. But through this, I have found that voice of mindfulness and it has really come to the forefront.”
McConnell lost more than 20 pounds adhering to the detox program. He expressed how the 30-day detox brought forth natural clarity and sharpness, and said he has decided to remain dedicated to mindful consumption going forward.
“The detox helped me to develop a whole awareness about myself and how my body is processing stuff and metabolizing,” he said. “All of a sudden, food is fuel. I am a luxury car, and I am only going to put in the premium grade.”
For more information, visit Julia Clarke’s website: friendlyuniverseyoga.com
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