Category Archives: Detox

Cleansing with Dr. Luke Fortney

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I’m lucky to have a friend like Luke in my life. It’s my pleasure to give you the first installment of a little Q&A he and I are doing, discussing the cleanse he developed. I hope you enjoy and find some great insight!

Welcome to Fit Club Dr. Luke Fortney!

Welcome to Fit Club Dr. Luke Fortney!

Q: Not all physicians take a holistic approach to medicine; why do you believe that the elements in the cleanse are an important part of general health and wellbeing?

A: The more you learn about biology, the more mysterious it becomes. And the more you look at human beings and just experience living, it becomes even more amazing and mysterious, in the realm of awe I think ultimately. The mind and meditation were always things that were interesting to me, and the intersection of biology, medicine, consciousness and healing were even more interesting. It all seems to come together in people and how we stay well and get well. Most of healing, nearly all of it intact, is just the body doing what it does. Now, it gets off kilter from time to time and overreacts and needs some guidance and help (e.g. appendicitis, meningitis, myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism, anaphylaxis, and on and on and on). That’s what we’ve always called medicine. So what we do in medicine is really try to assist the body. But the body is still doing all the work (e.g. antibiotics only allow time for the body and its immune system to finally clear out infection). Everyday, you and I have cancer cells forming that the immune system and our own built in DNA repair machinery recognizes and destroys. Pretty remarkable if you think about it that way. Add to this, all the strain we’ve added to our body by not moving, eating unhealthful foods, smoking, drinking heavy, and its easy to see how this system gets bogged down and strained.

The first rule in medicine is: “do no harm.” The first rule to healing is “remove the obstacles to healing” meaning that if we just get out of the way and stop punching it, the body will naturally repair and heal itself. This is just what it does. There is no debate about this. Everyday, our bodies are dealing with toxins from the outside, and what are produced inside. It has always done this and is actually really good at it. But modern lifestyle has really taken it to its limits. There are so many conditions I see that don’t have a clear answer, but are actually signs of strain on the system (just look at that long list on the detox). Whatever our vulnerable points, which are different from person to person, that is where we manifest different symptoms. It’s all tied together and what affects one part of the system (including mind body connection) affects the whole system.

The detox is just a “control, ALT, delete” for the system. It’s actually a prescription to “re-set” or jump start things…mostly by what we remove!. Often we think of going to the doctor and taking a medicine of some kind. But the premise of a cleanse like this is to begin to remove those things that are directly impeding what the body is trying to do 24 hours a day 7 days a week for your whole life. For most of us in the US (according to the CDC), this is the place to start pretty much no matter what the problem or diagnosis is (there are some obvious serious disease states where this wouldn’t be appropriate initially).

Q: Why do you think detoxing or cleansing is a healthy practice for us?

A: Its a way to anchor yourself, so that health is least likely to quietly escape when we’re not noticing. It rev’s up the system and clears it out. We seem to understand this with our cars and any type of engine. Its the same for us. At times we need to reset, to get out of the way of what the body is just trying to do.

Q: What can most people expect if this is their first time participating in a cleanse – are there symptoms or side-effects?

A: First, it is not designed to be an endurance test or what George’s dad on Seinfeld might call “feats of strength.” Somehow in our culture we’re always doing that: if it isn’t really hard or painful, then I must not be doing it right (e.g. exercise and diet). I try to tell people to really read through it first, and to make preparations a week or more ahead of time. And then if you’re going to do it, REALLY DO IT. It’s only a week, and in doing it, it is a project. In essence the whole thing is really just an experiential awareness exercise: let me see for myself what it is like to do this, to eat healthy and do healthy things. I can talk til I’m blue in the face (most physicians do), but until a person experiences what good healthy behaviors feel like, they’ll never really know. Show a man how to fish kind of a thing.

In the beginning, most people withdraw (literally, just like drugs and alcohol) from sugar, caffeine, etc. Modern food is highly manipulated combinations of fat, salt and sugar that do the same things in our limbic system that heroin does. So sometimes diarrhea, headaches, fatigue, irritability can be expected. By mid week though, if people stick with it and listen to their bodies and make appropriate adjustments (e.g. drink lots of fluid and don’t starve, EAT!), their bodies are starting to run more efficiently and we begin to actually experience the buzz and high energy, which is really our normal state.

Q: Do you believe that cleansing can actually impact physical symptoms like sinus issues, headache, and heartburn?

A: Yes, absolutely, this is why this was created in the first place. Modern medicine is mostly dealing with fatigue, chronic fatigue, chronic headaches, frequent migraine headaches, sinusitis, congestion, sleep problems, irritable bowel, joint and muscle aches, skin problems, mental cloudiness and concentration problems etc etc etc. Our culture teaches us to reach for the quick fixes and pills, which are powerful and effective, but they are a double edged sword and carry consequences. For example, use of chronic antacids leads to significant problems in the long run (now there are cases where daily use of these medications is appropriate), as one example. Most of our current chronic lifestyle diseases (heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, glucose elevation/diabetes type 2, many types of cancers, etc) eventually result from what the CDC calls “4 modifiable health risk behaviors” namely smoking, heavy alcohol use, poor diet, and being sedentary. Some reasonable and reputable models suggest that we can wipe out 80% of our chronic ailments and health problems simply by not smoking, no to moderate alcohol, moving around a little bit, and eating a fairly healthy diet overall. Big impact for such a little intervention.

Q: How important are the recommended supplementary practices, like journaling, vitamin supplements and energy work? 

A: The mind body connection is involved with everything, and is the most unrecognized and under appreciated aspect of health in our culture. There is a saying that “the sorrow that hath no vent in tears makes other organs weep.” Journaling is one of the cheapest but most powerful tools to get at the root of much of our despair and stress. Infact, obesity in our culture at it’s root is not even really about food, it’s about mood, stress, thoughts, and behavior. We self medicate our despair and sorrows with food (again fat, salt and sugar stimulate the brain’s pleasure centers like alcohol and drugs). So its mind body and body mind. They are inextricably connected. Nowadays there really isn’t any debate about this. I can go on and on and on and give lots of examples, both extreme and common that illustrate the powerful and universal effects of the mind body connection.

Detoxification Cleanse – Day 7

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As I sit here drinking my tea on the morning of day seven, I feel good. I’m proud that I’ve been able to stick to the cleanse guidelines for a week. I’m happy that those holiday pounds seem to have come off during this week. I’m glad that I feel good.

But this is also a scary day for me. Without the excuse of “I’m doing a cleanse” how will I regulate my diet? I already have social plans for this weekend that include eating and drinking – how will I maintain moderation? How can I keep the cravings that I know are going to pop up again at bay, and how do I keep from overeating and binge eating in the future?

I have to think that this is the case for many people out there. We start the new year right, we clean out our systems, we engage in the right activities for a few weeks and feel great…and then we stop. Somehow the weight gets put back on and we start to feel like shit again. I don’t know how this story is going to end, but I’m committed to sharing the story along the way, and hopefully becoming accountable to readers of this blog.

On to day seven. Nothing new or earth-shattering here. Same routine as yesterday. I made this slow cooker savory bean and spinach soup, which was good, so I’ll have some leftovers for the next couple of days.

spinach soup

 

I’ve also got some broccoli slaw salad left, and ingredients to make this crunchy cashew thai salad tomorrow. Of course I’ll be back with more recipes next week.

Why I’m looking forward to the weekend: my treadmill gets delivered tonight, I have a date with Erin for a 3-mile run on Saturday (it’s going to be 35 degrees, a WI heatwave!) and there’s plenty of time to cook.

Why I’m nervous about this weekend: I want some red wine. And I want brunch. And those are two things that can get me in trouble when it comes to going overboard, having no boundaries, and ending up with a 3,000 calorie day.

Detoxification Cleanse – Day 6

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Wow, after an impressive reiki session last night, I slept well and I’m ready for my day. I’ve got some appointments this morning and afternoon for work, so I’m strategizing on how I’m going to handle my food and liquids since I’m leaving the house and won’t be 12 feet from my tea pot and refrigerator! I should be okay though – I’ve got an hour to kill between two appointments, so I’ll take some of this broccoli-slaw salad to eat in the car, then get some tea at a coffee shop.

broccolislawsalad

 

Today, the cleanse instructs that in addition to fruits and vegetables, I can add back mushrooms, beans, legumes, seeds, nuts and healthy grains. I made the broccoli salad yesterday without pumpkin and sunflower seeds, but I’ll add them in today. I’m sticking with my green smoothy for breakfast, although I’m out of juice cubes, so I’ll need to stop at the store for more greens to juice. I’m going to pop this Savory Bean and Spinach Soup recipe into the crockpot before I leave, so I should have a nice, warm, NEW meal when I come home tonight!

As we near the end of this cleanse journey, I feel good. My body feels revitalized and my head is clear. I think I may even feel a little less achey when I wake up in the morning. I’ve tracked my food intake every day on My Fitness Pal and cleared all of the crap from my fridge. So the next challenge is living this as a lifestyle, not just seven days out of the year. How can I incorporate this feeling into my every day life? What kinds of recipes can help me stay craving-free and eating at a normal intake rather than bingeing? I don’t know the answers yet, but I’m working on it.

Detoxing through Reiki

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Tonight, as an unexpected addition to my cleanse, I was blessed to practice reiki for the first time. As I was reviewing the cleanse guidelines yesterday, I noticed that a suggested add-on to day 5 was energy work which includes reiki and acupuncture. My friend Rebecca recently opened Mosaic Wellness Studio in Germantown, so I emailed her to inquire if she provides reiki. I was in luck! Although her treatment rooms are not quite ready yet (her yoga studio and retail store are bustling though!) she offered me a session, on the condition that I ignore the construction equipment in her back hallway. Of course I agreed, and off I went to Mosaic.

I’ve never practiced reiki before, nor did I really know much about it going into the session. Frankly, I was a little surprised that it was recommended by a physician trained in western medicine, so I guess that made me even more curious. Rebecca had me lay down on a heated mat filled with amethyst (yes, she pulled up the sheets and I kid you not, there were rows of little amethyst chips sewn into the mat) which is intended to stimulate and soothe the mind and emotions.

Rebecca began the session by “scanning” my body from toe to head which was basically just floating her hands over each area and gently placing her hands down at times. She explained to me that the practice of reiki is meant to tune in to the chakras and make sure energy is balanced between them. She started with the root chakra, and moved up my body through the sacrum, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye and crown (yes, she gave me a lovely worksheet after our session to help me remember these). She said that she had set her intention for the session for healing and cleansing, but that she is more of a vessel, an that the energy is actually doing the work. She warned me that I may not really feel anything other than relaxed, or I may feel some heat as she worked on certain areas, or even a magnetic type feeling.

During my session, I did feel heat coming into me from her hands. I felt extremely relaxed, and even got into a meditative state during the second half. During my meditation, I focused on releasing toxins, negative energy and the past from my body and soul. I visualized it moving out of my hands and feet (Rebecca had told me earlier that those are the places where most detoxification can happen). When Rebecca got to my throat chakra (this chakra’s function is inspiration and expression) I felt something – I can’t explain it well, but it was a blocking – my breathing wasn’t as easy, and I wonder if this has something to do with the challenge I’m having with my business identity right now. I also felt something different when she was working on the third eye (this chakra’s function is seeing and wisdom) – I felt almost like I was hearing electrical currents or something.

Now I know, to many of you all of this probably sounds whack-a-doodle and you’d laugh at someone for spending money on such a thing. But I’ll tell you this – I sort of get why reiki was recommended at this point in the cleanse. In the first couple of days, it’s more about movement and detoxing the physical toxins out of your body, and frankly, physically expelling the bad stuff. This practice, on day 5, left me feeling emotionally light and balanced. I was surprised at how nice my body felt on the way home. No hunger cravings. No tummy rumbling to poop some more. No headache. Just plain old nice.

If you are open to it, I do recommend trying reiki. I know that it will do different things for different people, and I think that’s okay. Tonight, it helped me release some things on a different plane than the caffeine, alcohol, sugar and wheat that I’ve been detoxing from all week. It helped me send some feelings away, and made me feel good, and quite frankly, if that’s what it takes, then that’s pretty cool.

Mosaic Wellness Logo

Oh, and if you’re in the Germantown area, I encourage you to check out Mosaic Wellness. They’re on Facebook, too. They have a gorgeous yoga studio with a variety of classes and teachers each week, awesome retail goods (I bought a beautiful scarf and a lip balm tonight), and coming in February, the treatment rooms will be available for massage, reiki, etc. Support local, y’all!

Detoxification Cleanse – Day 5

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I told you from the beginning that I would be honest about how I feel during the cleanse, so I will. I’m flabbergasted by how good I am right now, after the fasting day. This is my third time doing a variation of this 7-day cleanse, and I have some very different experiences to compare. The first time that I did it, I had such a headache  that I didn’t get out of bed for a couple of the days. I’ve experienced extreme fatigue.

And to be really honest – I’ve never made it through the fasting day before – I’ve always had to add in something (usually a big salad or sweet potato saute) to get through. But yesterday was different. I drank a lot of tea, and I had a cup of vegetable broth around 10:00 and a cup of beef broth (I guess that’s sort of cheating) around 1:00. I whipped up a vitalizing beverage (juice of 1 lemon, 3 tbsp. maple syrup, 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper and seltzer water in a big glass) around 4:00 and that was it! It was perfect timing that a friend called to invite me to see a movie last night, so I was distracted for a couple of hours that are normally my snacking/eating hours. I will admit, it was hard to turn down popcorn at the theater, but not that hard.

This success leads me to two conclusions, neither of which are based in fact or what anyone has told me, but which will give you an idea of who I am and how I function.

Conclusion 1: I must be so fat now that my body doesn’t even respond to going a day without food, it just lives off of itself. While I know this is most likely false, this is how my mind works right now. The negativity has to go, but I think it’s something I’ll always work on.

Conclusion 2: I must be way less polluted than I have been in the past to have less symptoms of detox. This may be true, although again, it’s not based in any research or advisement from an expert. I am in a very different place in life now than I have been for my past cleanses. There is a lot less stress in my life, I’m not stopping at Starbucks every day for a Venti Latte, I’m not drinking alcohol on as frequent a basis as I have in the past – there are a lot of factors that have changed for me recently. And I will take this for what it is – it may have nothing to do with the cleanse symptoms, but I’m grateful that this is where my life is, and that I’m making a move toward changing my body.

Today is day 5, back to fruits and vegetables only, which means I’m back to my leftover soup and spaghetti squash marinara. As you might expect, I’m getting a little bit bored with these meals. I’ve got three new dishes for the last two days of the cleanse – a broccoli-slaw salad, a quinoa salad, and a spinach and white bean crockpot soup. I may whip up the broccoli-slaw salad today without the pumpkin and sunflower seeds, just for some variety. We’ll see how the day goes.

I’m thankful to be feeling good today, but please know that if you are going through this cleanse process and you don’t feel great, it’s just fine. Everyone is in a different place, and everyone’s body will respond differently.

Detoxification Cleanse – Day 4

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Today’s the big day. My cleanse guidelines instruct me to avoid eating any solid food; drink plenty of water, broth, juice, and tea. Although I didn’t make the Superfoods Detox Broth, I do have some vegetable broth in the house that I’ll warm up (it’s still in the negative degrees here in WI, so soup is totally appropriate!) I’m also prepared with a wide variety of tea (I think I drank four pots yesterday – I just brew the tea in my 12-cup coffee maker), the ingredients for vitalizing beverage, and if I get really desperate, I’ve got a cucumber, carrots, apples and oranges that I can juice.

Yesterday began to get challenging for me. Maybe it was just a Monday where I was cooped up in the house all day, but I struggled with focus and some negative thinking. I got hungry in the afternoon, so instead of my ants on a log snack, I made some sweet potato hash:

sweet potato hash

 

This is a really easy solution and I’ve added beans and more veggies to make it into a full dinner before. I just shred a sweet potato using my food processor attachment, heat about 2 tbsp. of olive oil in a skillet and cook it with about 1/4 of a red onion and a bunch of spices: salt, pepper, and this time I used Penzey’s Forward! salt-free blend.

I did notice that about an hour after this meal, I truly started to cleanse (ie – my bowel was moving and hasn’t stopped since). I’m thankful right now that I work from home, and that it’s too cold to go anywhere, because it’s nice to just be able to let this process happen and not feel weird about running to the bathroom frequently.

My negative thinking struggle is a whole different aspect of this process, and trust me, I battle with it outside of my cleanse time, too. There was a realization yesterday, that I should move my body, I needed to sweat, but I felt trapped in the house and couldn’t even take a walk. I’m eagerly awaiting the delivery of my new treadmill (3 more days!) but until then, I need to figure out ways to deal with this. At one point I thought that maybe I should just give up and order a pizza (I didn’t). I also had the internal conversation of, “you’re never going to loose the weight, so why are you even doing this?” I can tell you this: I’m doing this because I love life and I want to live it well, in a body that can take on anything. I started a business, and it’s my responsibility to my business and my clients to be the best me, to feel good, to be productive and sharp, and this cleanse is a way that I can start down that road.

Today will absolutely be the most difficult, but I’m ready for it. Day 4 can bring it on!

Detoxification Cleanse – Day 3

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Day three: let the pooping begin!

Don’t be turned off by it, we all know the whole purpose of a cleanse is to actually remove the toxins from your body, and what better way to do that than through sweat, sneezing, and, well, eliminating.

Yesterday’s yoga experience was…interesting. I forgot that it’s January and everyone and their brother has resolved to move their body more, create time for themselves and bring peace into their lives. The class I went to was packed. Uncomfortably so. I was squished in too close to my neighbor for me to be comfortable (personal boundary issues, I know) and the time before class started when I usually try to quiet my mind was frankly just too loud. I reminded myself of something my favorite yogi Jess says often: your practice is about you and your mat – no one else in the room has an impact on it and you leave whatever you choose on the mat. Interestingly enough, our instructor, Biz, is also working her way through a one-month cleanse, and is integrating her yoga classes with it. So yesterday’s class was focused on cleansing the kidneys and bowels. Yup. You heard it. With a smile, she announced to the class that she encouraged coughing and sneezing as a great way to release toxins, and well, we all know what might come out the other end! Despite being a bit uncomfortable with my proximity to others, I did have a wonderful 90 minute yoga practice full of twists and bends and a focused ending meditation.

I felt great pretty much all day yesterday – not overly hungry, no cravings, not too difficult. I continued to work on my 2014 vision and goals, and watched the Packers loose in the playoffs. It was weird to be watching football at home and not indulging in beers and some sort of cheesy, meat-y treat. One thing that I’m going to need to work on and probably need support in is figuring out how to be social, and at the same time, do the right things for my body.

Again, I didn’t sleep well, and it was midnight before I finally dozed off. I probably need to give some study and attention to my sleep habits and patterns in the near future.

Today is day three of the cleanse and it requires another elimination – no grains, nuts or beans. Fruits and vegetables only, prepared with oils and spices. I already feel like I may struggle with today – no ants on a log for when I get snacky. Since I’ve already got my spaghetti squash marinara and vegetable soup, I’ll stick with those, but I may add a salad in – I bought some fabulous apple balsamic vinegar and rosemary olive oil at Oro di Oliva this week as a treat.

So I’m ready. Bring on the pooping (it actually started yesterday) and get this body cleaned out. I’m ready for a different kind of feeling this year.

 

Detoxification Cleanse – Day 2

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Welcome to day two of the cleanse – I’m feeling good! Yesterday I took it very easy – spent a lot of time on the couch working on my Create Your Amazing Year workbook (which you can get on Amazon) and cooking, juicing, etc. in the kitchen. Since I’m using this workbook, I haven’t been journaling separately; it’s a recommended part of Dr. Fortney’s detox plan, and he has a great handout to guide you if you’re so inclined. I was a little hungry during the day and evening, so I had two rounds of “Ants on a Log” made with natural peanut butter, celery and golden raisins. Today’s instructions are the same as yesterday – no meat, eggs, dairy, wheat, alcohol, caffeine or sugar.

Here’s how my green juice smoothies turned out – so yummy! It did take some time yesterday to juice everything, but I’ve got enough frozen juice cubes for four days, which is great.

The apple & orange separated from the kale & parsley!

The apple & orange separated from the kale & parsley!

Blend cubes with 1 c. coconut milk and a banana - yum!

Blend cubes with 1 c. coconut milk and a banana – yum!

I had a little bit of trouble getting to sleep last night. I was in bed by 10:00, but my mind was buzzing (sidebar: I recently started a consulting business and am in the naming process currently – so it was good, creative buzzing, but still kept me awake). I may take a small amount of melatonin tonight (per Luke’s recommendation) to help me shut off and actually get the eight hours that I’m striving for.

Today I’m headed to a 90 minute yoga & meditation class at Haleybird Studios in Tosa. Should be relaxing, and I have to remember that just because I’m being gentle with myself and detoxing, I still need to move my body to have the best effects. I wasn’t planning to make this Asian Broccoli-slaw salad until the end of the week, but I think I’m going to whip it up today – I was a little bored with my spaghetti squash and soup yesterday and this could give me the variety I need to stay satisfied. 

I’ll keep you posted! Hopefully this good feeling and productivity continues!

Detoxification Cleanse – Day 1

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Today I start a 7-day journey to help me get rid of the sugar and processed food cravings and get back on the track of basing my diet on the things that really work for me – fruits and vegetables primarily! I am beginning a cleanse that I’ve done a number of times before, and really felt great after. My friend Dr. Luke Fortney developed Detoxification to Promote Health: A 7-Day Program to help his patients detox in a healthy way that promotes our natural detoxification ability. I highly recommend devoting the time to do this a couple of times a year – and for me, after the holidays is the time where I need it most.

I love that Luke lists the five basic elements of detoxification as:

  • Exercise: every day such as yoga or walking, especially in nature
  • Regular sweating: a sauna, steam room, or hot yoga class
  • Healthy nutrition: rich in organic fruits, vegetables, and water
  • Self reflection: such as meditation and breathing-focused relaxation
  • Body-work: such as massage or acupuncture

The approach is gentle and realistic. You can do this cleanse in the midst of your regular lifestyle, although if you can manage to take some time away from your daily grind, it’s beneficial. I bought my groceries yesterday, and since it’s going to be -20 degrees in Wisconsin for the next few days, it’s the perfect time for me to hunker down at home and focus on my health.

I am doing version #1 of the cleanse, so today I begin by eliminating meat, dairy, eggs, wheat, alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, and sugar from my routine. I brought my juicer out of the basement, and am taking my inspiration from this Green Smoothie Plan.  I’m doing mine a little differently – I’ll juice the kale, parsley, and apple together and add an orange, then I’ll freeze my juice in ice cube trays. This way, each morning I can throw a few juice cubes in the blender with a banana and some coconut milk. I’ve also prepared a meal that I’ll use throughout this week which is spaghetti squash with a home-made marinara sauce (I simmered 2 cans of crushed tomatoes, roasted red peppers and a chopped onion with a bunch of basil, Penzy’s Pasta Sprinkle and some sea salt and pepper). I’ll make this Winter Minestrone soup for dinner, and call it a day! I always drink a lot of tea, so that’s nothing new for me, and I’ll make some of the Vitalizing Beverage using lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and seltzer water if I feel hungry or have a craving.

And finally, as my self-reflection efforts, I’m working through Leone Dawson’s Create Your Amazing Year workbook. This project is helping me let go of 2013, envision 2014, and document how I’m going to live this year.

Stay tuned for the rest of the cleanse. I know what’s coming, and I may not be as chipper as I start to feel some of the detox effects, but I promise to be honest about how it’s going and hope that you’ll find this tool helpful in your life, too.