Yeah, I know that doing a cleanse or detox in January is a complete stereotype and cliche, but I don't mind too much what it sounds like. I love the new year more than I do Christmas and I think whether you drop a few resolutions by mid February or not, nobody can take away the positive effects of the good things you did.
I've been focusing on my health for a long time now, especially trying to achieve hormonal balance. Last year I discovered the work of Alisa Vitti and it blew me away. I read her book Womancode, which gives you a much better understanding of how the female body works and a protocol to achieve balance and hormonal health to avoid conditions too common like endometriosis, PCOS or fibroids. You can read my post about it for more details about the protocol.
WHAT IS IT?
Part of the protocol is this 4 day detox, which I had avoided for a whole year despite everything else making so much sense to me. I was scared of the word detox and of starving for days or doing something that sounded a bit extreme. However, when I actually read through it I realised that this was a different kind of detox. The objective is to balance your hormone levels through what you eat.
This is not about weight loss, so it is not about how much you eat, but about what you eat. You may drop a few pounds (I lost 3lbs), but that depends on so many things (your usual diet, how much extra weight you are carrying, how blocked your endocrine system is, etc.) that it will vary hugely from person to person. I imagine if I did this again soon I might not loose much at all.
What these 4 days are about is feeding your body with non processed foods that will help you eliminate estrogen, which tends to be in our bodies in much higher levels than is optimum, often causing conditions like fibroids, which I have experienced and needed surgery to deal with. You will eat 3 meals a day that are mostly fruit and veg with some grains and fish.
The plan also offers life assignments that will help you eliminate things in your life that might be causing havoc with your health, like toxic cleaning products or ready made sauces full of preservatives.
GETTING READY FOR IT
Finding the best time for it
I'd wanted to do this since November, but it was tricky to find a full week where I had no commitments to go out in the run up to Christmas. Although the program lasts 4 days, there are 3 extra bonus days t "ease you back to normal" which I highly recommend doing, so you might need to find a whole week. I personally found it easier to do it in January when I craved healthy food after the excesses of Christmas and there are fewer social commitments, plus more people are doing something healthy so I felt more motivated and less like I was swimming upstream.
I made it one of my New Year Resolutions and booked a week in my calendar, making sure I didn't do anything else that woul interfere with it.
Because all the dishes involve lots of chopped fruit or vegetables, I found preparing in advance really useful. If you follow the guidance on the ebook you will notice it advises to do the food shopping two days in advance and all meal prep the day before you start. I made 60% of the food I was going to eat for 4 days so I just had to do a little something each day.
Although you will eat less than usual, it is important to know that there are no restrictions on quantity, so you won't be hungry. This is more about what you eat than how much you eat. Wave goodbye to anything processed, because you won't be seeing anything of that ilk, and get ready for lots of vegetables and fruit.
The dishes are really simple, so I had to inject some flavour into them, which was easy. Lemon, parsley, garlic and ginger will be your best friends.
Typically you will have a fruit salad for breakfast, followed by fish with rice and a salad for lunch and a soup in the evenings. I chose the quick vegetable soup but if I was to do it again I would make a smaller pot and make the mung bean minestrone as well to add some variety to the evenings. I must admit I was a bit bored of the soup by night two so the next two days I made some garlicky broccoli as a side and that did the trick for me.
It is interesting that my mood and spirit didn't stay up the whole time, and there were moments when I wished I could fast forward into the future. On the third night I started having cravings, but for a creamy bowl of porridge or a square of dark chocolate. Now I was eating very basic stuff, those felt like such an indulgence, that I didn't feel like I needed lots of biscuits and cakes to satiate my desire.
Because there are lots of things that disrupt our hormones and this is about your whole wellbeing, there are daily assignments, like going through your kitchen cupboards and throwing away bottled sauces or condiments with certain ingredients, or replacing conventional cleaning products that are full of chemicals with gentler versions. These actually made me realise that this has been a long journey for me and I have already made lots of those changes, so I felt really good about it and it gave me a boost.
Other assignments were life related, like making a list of things that nurture you or people who are important to you and ways to demonstrate that to them without spending much money. The next day I told some good friends to come for dinner the following week and told another friend how much I loved her Instagram posts (she is doing a January self care challenge and posting every day).
ACTIVITY + ENERGY LEVELS
Because you are eating less, drinking lots of water and your body is detoxing it is a good idea to keep your activity fairly low and indulge in relaxing baths, reading or watching your favourite show on Netflix. I walk to and from work and I quite liked staying in, reflecting and doing the assignments.
Because I have a reasonably healthy and non processed diet usually I didn't notice I was feeling lethargic or irritable and I did not have headaches or any withdrawal symptoms, but this might be different for other people and there is plenty of guidance on what to expect and available support on the ebook.
HOW DID I FEEL AT THE END?
If I had to choose a word to describe how I felt it would be lightness. I felt just right in my body, not to mention the sense of pride and accomplishment. I also appreciated food differently and thought of healthier versions that can still feel like a real treat, like a creamy bowl of hot porridge. I remember eating a medjool date and it tasting like caramel.
I have talked about weight loss before and I will address it again. I lost 3lbs, which I expected to put back on within a few days. To my surprise, nearly a month later I still haven't. It is not just magic, as I have consciously drunk more water and eaten better.
This was about hormones, so my period would be the moment when I would see (or not see) a difference. I am usually a few days late, and this time it arrived 28 days after the previous one without fail, so I can confidently say that it made a difference.
I know I am sounding really positive and I want to stress that whilst it has been a really positive experience it was challenging at times and it is not easy, but in my opinion it was 100% worth it.
WHO WOULD I RECOMMEND THIS TO?
The short answer is every woman, especially anyone dealing with hormone related conditions like endometriosis, infertility, PCOS, fibroids, etc. This is only something to kickstart a different way of living and to see long term benefits you need to make long term changes as well.
If you're interested in finding more about it and knowing exactly what it entails, it is completely free on Alisa's website, FLOliving , when you take the quiz on the home page.