Sometimes in life I just feel : enough. Enough booze, late nights, fatty foods, desserts, overworking and being perpetually tired. That heavy feeling when my digestive system is sluggish, skin has turned into the surface of the moon, I sleepwalk through the day and lay awake at night with my mind whirring while I beg for the Sandman to come rescue me.
Over my modeling career and beyond, I have known this feeling well. I didn't know why it was happening and most often, I didn't put 2 and 2 together - in fact in my teens living in NYC, I had no idea that this feeling was in any way tied to my diet or the way I lived my life. In my mind, eating a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast with 2 espressos, a burger for lunch, Slim Fast for snack , Diet Coke as pick up and a steak frites for dinner followed by 5 Cosmopolitans and 5 hours sleep was normal! Let's face it, this was back in the late 90s and early oughties when the definition of healthy was a tofu stir fry with mung beans. Whaddaya mean fiber, micronutrients, candida, rest, hydration, gluten free ? I had no idea about these things! To me, running each morning for an hour fueled by an espresso was being healthy and fit. It took some of my family members getting autoimmune issues to set me on a road of questioning . This led me to some great books, naturopaths, chiropractors and experts. So what do I do now when I feel this way?
1. Juice cleanse. First up, I will start with a 1 day juice cleanse. This helps my digestion reset and eliminate toxins. If I am feeling particularly sluggish, I will also take a lot of vit C and magnesium on this day. This is not a day to schedule meetings, it is a day to sit at home, chill and take it easy ( and have ample access to a lavatory! ). For me, 1 day of juicing is enough followed by a fiber rich,organic, plant heavy diet with no grains. For some people that have not cleansed for a long long time or have health issues, long term juicing can transform their health. Check out my friend Joe Cross' film Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead for tips on how juicing can reinvigorate your life.
2. Clear the corners of your mind. Take a weekend or even better, a long weekend to rest, recuperate and see what is causing stress in your life. Face every problem head on, workshop solutions , write them down in a journal, smudge the house with some herbs while saying your intentions out loud and meditate or do some creative visualizations. Try to see what lessons life is trying to show you underneath the stresses around you and take mental steps to acknowledge your own blockages and bad habits. Praise yourself on the lessons you have learnt and make note of the ones you have not. Practice self love and acceptance through positive affirmations - without loving ourselves, we cannot move forward from repeating our mistakes. This form of mental detox needs to be made a consistent priority because most of our bad habits stem from a lack of reflection and stillness of the mind. Try meditation every day for a week - see how it changes your life!
3. Quit gluten and dairy for a while - this is a hard one for most people, but quitting gluten was a game changer for me mentally and physically. Whilst dairy doesn't trigger me in any way, gluten really does. It was hard for a girl from the Mediterranean to give up crunchy bread, sweet pastries and rich, flour thickened sauces - really hard! With new scientific reports proving the Gut-Mind connection exists , perhaps autoimmune disease and anxiety, stress and depression can be partially cured by diet? It certainly helped not just my outlook on life but my skin, which started glowing and best of all - no break outs anymore!
4. Sweat it out- do anything that makes you sweaty and happy! For me that is running, yoga, pilates or power plate training. If I am feeling especially tender or tired, this means a slooow walk around the beach. Take it easy on yourself, detoxes are hard.
5. Avoid toxins - duh! That means coffee, alcohol, processed food, food additives, sugar, GMOs, high fructose corn syrup, canola oil and overly rich food.. It's a good idea to keep these to a minimum in your everyday life too - your body will thank you for it!
6. Expect the worst: break outs, stinky breath, irritability, tiredness - these are just some of the signs that your detox is working - rejoice! It's called the Herxheimer reaction, it is awful and definitely the worst thing about detoxes but hey - better out than in!
7. How long does one do a detox for? For me, if I am generally healthy a week is good, however I have done a 3-4 week detox when I was experiencing bad symptoms of a toxic overload. A proper long term detox will follow 2 steps : killing bacteria and parasites and then repopulating the gut with good bacteria. Use clove and wormwood tincture to get rid of parasites alongside aloe juice, a diet high in greens, fresh garlic, chili, pumpkin seeds,coconut oil, fresh pineapple, calmyrna figs, sesame oil, black cumin seed and fennel seed tea. Then, after a couple of weeks, start introducing ...
8. ...Probiotics! Let's make one thing clear : there cannot be good health without good bacteria. So easy to lose through drinking alcohol, antibiotics, stress and bad diet. So hard to gain back in a modern world ! Eat fermented vegetables and drink kefir ( milk or coconut ) and kombutcha every day. Bottled probiotic & prebiotic powder can also be of use. This is the cornerstone of your health along with a good, clean diet - imagine your body as a garden where you are trying to cultivate good soil and beneficial insects. If you have enough good bacteria populating your garden, they will keep the bad bugs at bay and your body will function at it's optimum.
Keep it up and you may never need to detox again!
With thanks to About Life