Photo credit: Juliette Rolfe
“Is not this the fast that I choose… Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him…Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily…Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’” -Isaiah 58
Important note: Thank you for being patient, as we worked out the kinks in this blog post. This is the second time I am posting it and it is greatly altered, hopefully for the better. 🙂 Before you do any cleanse or fast, whether you’re in perfect health or not, you absolutely need to consult a qualified and experienced doctor, as everyone is at different places with their health and what their bodies can handle. A doctor who has experience with nutrition and fasting would determine the suitability of this type of cleanse for you, measure your percent body fat as you progress, keep an eye on your health as you fast and recommend a high quality liver detox supplement. In general, short fasts are actually good for the healthy person and recommended 1-2 times a year. If you ever undertake any kind of fast, it is important to take a quality multivitamin and fiber, drink plenty of water, whenever you use a protein smoothy to help yourself along, make sure it contains Leucine to prevent yourself from burning lean muscle, and have your progress tracked by an experienced medical professional.
I’ve alluded to this story before but let me tell you the whole ordeal… One morning in June, after an intense workout and week, I came home and let the stress and muscle fatigue melt off in the heat and steamy humidity of my shower. There is nothing that cannot be solved with prayer, a blistering shower and time alone. I was in full rest mode and let the chatter of my kids drift away until there was just silence, so like the bare whisper of the breeze through the prairie grasses on a still day. “Ahhh, nobody needs anything for these 10 minutes,” I thought. I mean, I LOVE motherhood but anyone who doesn’t think it is full time is loco. Lol. Think about it, do mothers go to bed early, get plenty of rest and sit with their feet up during the Christmas present unwrapping frenzy or meal? I mean, what’s the rush on Christmas anyway? Is North America going to be blown off the map if we don’t open the gifts in 30 minutes flat and then deliver the unwrapped code to cancel the missile launch? Moms don’t even get the option of working Thanksgiving OR Christmas. 🙂 So, I was drifting into a happy place of steam, nothingness and quiet when, out of the clear blue sky, an enormous, garage size bucket of ice water appeared out of nowhere and doused my little slice of paradise into a wintery, subzero hell. Talk about the shock! I mean, I tell you about the bucket now but all I knew was I was in a Maui-esque place and was instantly transported to the Arctic circle without the proper attire or notice. As I gasped for air, I heard the raucous laugh of my Isaak, who makes the claim that he is “the happiest person on earth.” He is full of mirth, laughter, pranks and makes us all roll. But, this time, he went too far and I sputtered out, “Oh, just you wait! I am getting permission from your coaches to surprise you in front of the whole team with pink balloons that say, ‘Mommy loves you!’ Don’t think that I won’t!” 🙂 Anyway, that image describes exactly how a cleanse feels to me- jolting, knocking me out of my comfy normal, temporarily awful but overall good for my well being. (How was that ice bath good for me? Well, besides the fact that I have heard that polar plunges are good health wise, Isaak, with his warm laugh and joy is overall SO GOOD for my heart. Man I love that kid!)
Don’t y’all love that last ten pounds, usually belly fat, that tends to stick around the middle, with the tenacity of pine tree sap on skin? Oh, it is my personal favorite. Right up there with breathing in a fly or Uncle Roco who stays too long, puts his calloused feet on your coffee table, sucks air through his front two teeth and pronounces loudly in deep “hick,” “I know I smell of garlic but it’s naturally antibactUral.” 🙂 Right around the 30 lbs. lost mark, I plateaued severely with my weight loss, like a black diamond downhill skier who suddenly finds himself doing the classic cross country stride for hours, flat, across glassy, untouched snow. My usual routine and eating habits suddenly stopped working and I definitely still had weight to lose! Now, usually when this happens, especially before you’re at the “last 10 lbs. mark,” it is because you are either eating more of the “danger” calories than you should or because you aren’t eating enough and your body has gone into starvation mode. If you have meticulously counted your calories (listed in blog post entitled And Then There’s This Guy…Counting Calories 101), you know you are following my regimen (listed in How I Ate to Lose 50 Pounds), you are feeling within site of your goal weight and your weight has stopped moving, then your body is probably desperately “holding on” to the last 10 or so pounds of fat (more than it held on to the first 10 lbs. you lost), to state the science simplistically. While there are other things that can help jumpstart weight loss along the way, thankfully, there is one big hitter that consistently budges that stubborn last 10 pounds.
I decided to take the advice of my chiropractor, Dr. Jeff Henry, and do a liver cleanse. Now, we hear all kinds of fad ideas in this day and age and one of the big ones is a liver cleanse. To say I was skeptical is an understatement! I tend to have a “prove it to me” attitude, while fully embracing a diet as close to nature as possible. I mean, for goodness sake, at one time people used to use the highly poisonous metal Mercury as a beauty and health supplement! God is the author of Science, so let’s use it wisely!
First of all, it helps me to know what these terms mean besides the hipster health hype. 🙂 Along with the lungs, spleen, kidney, skin and lymphatic system, the liver is one of the top cleansing organs of the body. The National Library of Medicine states that the liver, “converts the nutrients in our diets into substances that the body can use, stores these substances, and supplies cells with them when needed. It also takes up toxic substances and converts them into harmless substances or makes sure they are released from the body.” Essentially, when people do a cleanse, it is like changing the filter on their dish washer. My next question was… Can the liver really get gummed up, much like a mechanical filter does? There is a lot of debate about this among trained medical professionals. Some claim that the liver can easily cleanse itself unless disease/damage is present. Others believe that even if disease isn’t present yet, we can overload the liver with everyday toxins. Whatever the answer, a cleanse starts with some form of fasting. For thousands of years, people have found that fasts give their system a rest and clean out backed up garbage.
The next question that floated around my head, like a perfect, cumulus cloud around Mario and Luigi as they run, was, “How do we know that liver supplements actually cleanse the liver?” However, as Dr. Henry is a gifted doctor and has multiple degrees, I knew that anything he endorsed had solid science behind it. Additionally, the liver and other supplements he recommended are from highly reputable companies in the natural health care industry; the quality of the product absolutely matters, as there aren’t as many regulations regarding vitamins and natural supplements. In short, there is a lot of junk out there! Following Dr. Henry’s advice, I jump started my weight loss again. It allowed me to bust through and continue losing 20 more lbs! To me, the fact that I continued to lose, even after the fasting portion was complete, tells me that the cleanse, indeed, worked as he said it would. Also, I was able to drop my % body fat significantly and I felt phenomenal towards the second half of the month. Because of my hypoglycemia, I have never been able to fast longer than a day but the small amount of nutrition allowed in his cleanse, enabled me to follow through with it. It is essentially a monthlong commitment, which gets easier and easier after the first 2 weeks. Honestly, I was miserable the first week but it was so worth the results, like the gruff, bearded prospector who searches every day, dirt in the cracks of his worn fingers, and finally sees a glint of metal in his pan, reflecting a golden light through the rivulets of water.
You will also see huge spiritual and emotional benefits if you seek God very intentionally during your fast (I do better with a schedule, so I try to pray each time I feel hungry and at certain times of day). Whether I am doing a fast to draw closer to God or whether I am doing it to see health results, I always make prayer a cornerstone of the time. I don’t do this because I am amazing (far from it); rather, I do it to help me make it through and because I want God’s help in life. It isn’t a formula whatsoever but just like I move to help my children when they are obedient and want relationship with me, when we are hungry and, as a result, focus more on God/give him more time, he opens doors. It is a mysterious thing, like large, faceted jewels that we can just see the outlines of through a murky green pool in a cavern, but fasting is a spiritual accelerant. It isn’t just about the act of fasting or praying; it is about fasting and praying with a heart intent on hearing, drawing close to and obeying God, as well as honoring and deeply caring for other people.
There are many good cleanses/ fasts available, which are variations on the simple ideas of 1. Giving the body a short rest from processing and cleansing, allowing it to detox, 2. Introducing a small amount of plant based foods and shakes which contain Leucine early on to prevent lean muscle loss, 3. taking quality supplements that are shown to contain enzymes, herbs, etc, that help clear out the liver and 4. slowly increasing those leafy greens, fruits and nuts to include lean meats as the cleanse continues. If you would like to obtain a specific cleanse for your level of health and fitness, make sure you go to an experienced doctor who is knowledgeable in nutrition. Dr. Jeff Henry is available at Alpine Chiropractic, #(719)-522-1219, to make an appointment if you’re interested. By the way, I don’t benefit from endorsing him whatsoever. I wish you all the best as you endeavor to reach your goal and obtain better health!