Perhaps it is unique, but I prefer to use my clothing as a unit of measure. I gauge my weight on my ability to pull up, button, zip or snap. This is my standard unit of measure as I transition into a new season. As spring approaches, I pat my winter belly on a job well done; I look at my yoga pants from last spring, knowing that my sweats will soon retire to the back of my drawer. In Ayurveda, transitioning into a new season is called ritucharya. This is the opportunity nature gives us to asses and engage in seasonal house cleaning, internal and external.
I bring my spring yoga wear forward and contemplate whether I could begin my ritual. With courage, I step forward, one leg at a time, gradually pulling my pants up toward my waist. As this international unit of measure never lies, I accept the results. The next phase of my ritual is to seriously reflect on my internal house cleaning. Cleanse or detox? It can be confusing.
Seasons are marked by junctures which are moments of opportunity for wellness evolution. Seasonal cleansing or biannual detox extends your life by taking out your inner trash.
Cate Stillman, author of Body Thrive.
To Cleanse or Detox? What is the difference?
While the terms are often used interchangeably, some authors distinguish between cleanse and detox. A cleanse is a simplified diet. You may begin by eating more fruits and vegetables, changing habits of when, where and what you eat, and cutting back on winter foods that offer sweet and salty tastes. The intention of a detox is focused and aimed at your digestive system (liver, kidney and gall bladder) to change the metabolic process inside your body to remove toxins through elimination.
Serious cleansing or detoxing is not for the faint of heart. It takes preparation and offers self-reflection as to your current body’s status. It is important to be clear as to what you are trying to accomplish. Both a cleanse and a detox will help eliminate excess waist/waste (pardon the pun 🙂 ) But are your more concerned about weight or the side effects of excess ama? Ama is undigested food or emotions; the junk in your trunk. It can manifest as bloating, gas, skin irritations, decreased energy level, moodiness, constipation, and joint stiffness. Both a cleanse and detox will hunt down alma.
I decided to go for the gold, detox. My first attempt at detoxing lasted about 6 hours before my rebellious sugar fairy broke her chains and announced her presence. Once I gave in (she is really temperamental) I had a choice to make: quit or modify. I decided to modify my diet and expectations. I focused on eating more fruits and vegetables, cut back on caffeine, sugar and alcohol, for the remainder of the course. This put me in the cleanse category. A good first step for me.
My second attempt was aimed at detoxing: eliminating the big three: sugar, caffeine and alcohol. I lasted 3 days (hurrah!). This was a great accomplishment! I had identified my kryptonite from trial one and put strategies (meal planning, food/drink substitutions) in place. I woke up feeling more alert, no bloating, less joint stiffness and actually noted no 3:00 pm food cravings at work! Proof that I had decreased the amount of ama in my body. I felt glorious, however , sharing my experience with others may not have been the way to go. As I sought out kindred spirits by way of co-workers, swim buddies, or folks in the vegetable aisle, the majority responded with “Why would anybody want to do that?”
Hence the argument for support. Authors agree that if you are a newbie at this, please seek a guide. A guided cleanse or detox will offer support as to targeting your goals, identify the needs of your kitchen, clarity on foods, fruits and vegetables your body needs, knowing what to expect from your body, how to communicate with your family, and how to ease in and out. Guides come in many forms, you may work with a healthcare professional, health coach, or enroll in an established detox program.
As to which is better, cleanse or detox, I think that is an individual call. For me, starting with a cleanse provided the opportunity to reflect and gradually ease into a more comprehensive detox. With a detoxing, I have been the most successful when enrolling in an established program, like Yogahealer, which offers education and guided support. I work full time and I have learned how to adapt my kitchen, shop, pre-plan meals and communicate with others in my household as to what my intentions are during this time. I understand what is realistic with my work and life schedule. I am happy to say that for the last two years my unit of measure has kept me healthy, aware of my internal health and in my yoga pants!