Exquisite Practices, Cleanses: Week 1

Focusing on the ritual of cleanse to purify the body, mind and spirit. Follow Jenna as she embarks on a raw fruit and vegetable regimen.

It’s been a while — years, in fact — since I’ve done a juice cleanse. The idea occasionally arises in my consciousness, but I tend to push it away, rationalizing that I eat mostly fruits and vegetables, and also… how can I give up wine? Or dinner parties? Or TOAST? But I’ll be honest. I’m going through a break-up and feeling generally low. Our bodies cycle through high and low phases, just as the moon waxes and wanes. Interestingly, the moon is currently waning which represents a time to let go. It’s also a time to break bad habits and a time of deep intuition and thoughtfulness. With these things in mind, I pulled one of my favorite books off the shelf: A Prescription for Nutritional Healing, and started reading about cleansing. I think it’s time. Welcome to July’s Exquisite Practices theme: The Ritual of Cleanse.

Cleanses are beneficial for many reasons, and there are a myriad to choose from. The Master Cleanse is an intense (and controversial) weight loss cleanse in which you consume solely a lemon-maple-cayenne drink, salt water and a laxative tea. GOOP’s annual detox, on the other hand, is a gentle detox that promotes healthy eating through a menu of pure whole foods. Elimination diets are a great way to cleanse and determine which foods your body responds well and badly to. I’ve tried the spectrum (yes, including the 10-day Master Cleanse), and my favorite is the fresh juice cleanse, which is somewhere in between the three aforementioned. It incorporates fresh vegetable and fruit juices, teas, broths, protein-rich spirulina and other green drinks. While you consume only liquids throughout, you can choose to cleanse for one, three, five or ten days according to how you feel and your schedule. The fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals so you aren’t depriving your body of necessary nutrients; however, consuming only liquids allows your body to take a break from digestion and focus on healing.

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Why cleanse? Even if you are a raw vegan (which, I am not, by the way!) cleanses provide a time of rest and rejuvenation for your body. Your body expends a huge amount of energy in the digestive process, but while you are cleansing, your body is able to focus instead on detoxification and healing. In fact, if you catch a cold, a bug or even have a more serious illness, cleanses are extremely helpful as they allow the body to flush out toxins and begin healing. The longer you fast, the more time your body has to heal. Of course, it’s not all feeling thin and healthy! Cleanses are hard and take focus, practice and determination. You will be hungry, initially. Then, as your body begins the healing process, you may experience a wide range of symptoms, including headaches and irritable mood. But stick with it — you will feel the effects profoundly.

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Next week I will embark on a 3-day juice cleanse, eating raw fruits and vegetables for two days before and after to prepare my body. I’ll outline the schedule and juice recipes along with lots of encouragement. Who’s with me? Let’s glow brightly!

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  1. So excited for this post!

    I’ve been going through some life changes as well and have been craving a cleanse, some relaxation, and alone time to reflect and connect with myself again.
    Will definitely be joining in on the cleanse! They’re always more bearable with a support system :)


  2. I enjoy this, but I am a long distance runner. Is it safe for me to try this? I run 6/7 miles a day right now and want to be sure I don’t feel faint from lack of food.


  3. Hi Emily! Light exercise is best while doing your cleanse. For someone who regularly runs 6-7 miles a day, I would suggest reducing down to 2. You will certainly feel the affects of having drastically reduced calories and on top of that, you can tend to have periods of high energy and euphoria where you may feel like you can run your normal amount but once you’re out there that will change. Rest during a cleanse is quite important because it’s a time of healing and flushing out toxins so if you’re up for taking a couple of light running days your body will thank you! xo, Jenna

  4. Wow, thanks for this post!

    I’ve been thinking of making some changes in my diet for some time no and considered trying an elimination diet -seems like the most effective way to finally know what works best for your body. This post was the final motivation I needed.
    And a cleanse every now and then doesn’t sound so bad either. Thanks again!

    xo, Kat

  5. I have thought about doing this a lot, but I think this Laurie Penny piece provides an alternative perspective on cleanses and the ideological trend toward personal wellness. I still feel a deep attraction toward all things that seem healthful…which is why I frequent this blog so often, but I think this piece has given me some valuable insites. I hope everything works out for all of you and you find the health and community you are looking for!


    An excerpt from the essay linked above:

    “The well-being ideology is a symptom of a broader political disease. The rigors of both work and worklessness, the colonization of every public space by private money, the precarity of daily living, and the growing impossibility of building any sort of community maroon each of us in our lonely struggle to survive. We are supposed to believe that we can only work to improve our lives on that same individual level. Chris Maisano concludes that while “the appeal of individualistic and therapeutic approaches to the problems of our time is not difficult to apprehend . . . it is only through the creation of solidarities that rebuild confidence in our collective capacity to change the world that their grip can be broken.”

    The isolating ideology of wellness works against this sort of social change in two important ways. First, it persuades all us that if we are sick, sad, and exhausted, the problem isn’t one of economics. There is no structural imbalance, according to this view—there is only individual maladaption, requiring an individual response. The lexis of abuse and gas-lighting is appropriate here: if you are miserable or angry because your life is a constant struggle against privation or prejudice, the problem is always and only with you. Society is not mad, or messed up: you are.

    Secondly, it prevents us from even considering a broader, more collective reaction to the crises of work, poverty, and injustice. That’s the logic exposed by personal productivity gurus like Mark Fritz, who tells us, in The Truth About Getting Things Done, that:

    The biggest barrier to achieving the success you have defined for your life is never anyone else or the circumstances you encounter. Your biggest barrier is almost always you. . . . Dr Maxwell Maltz, author of Psycho-Cybernetics [ETA: sounds legit to me!], put it best when he said, “Within you right now is the power to do things you never dreamed possible. This power becomes available to you as soon as you can change your beliefs.

    This, of course, is a cyclopean lie—but it’s a seductive one nonetheless. It would be nice to believe that all it takes to change your life is to repeat some affirmations and buy a planner, just as it was once comforting for many of us to trust that the hardships of this plane of existence would be rewarded by an eternity of bliss in heaven. There is a reason that the rituals of well-being and self-care are followed with the precision of a cult (do this and you will be saved; do this and you will be safe): It is a practice of faith. It’s worth remembering that Marx’s description of religion as the opiate of the masses is often misinterpreted—opium, at the time when Marx was writing, was not just known as an addictive drug, but as a painkiller, a solace when the work of survival became unbearable.”

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