A cleanse, according to my friends at Webster, is defined as follows: “To make somebody or something thoroughly clean”. . . “To make something free from unpleasantness”. . . “To make somebody free from sin”. . . “To purify.”
Given these definitions, I think I should have done my cleanse years ago.
Many asked what possessed me to give up food, glorious food, for close to three weeks, relying on only vegetable, fruit, and protein-based liquids to provide all my necessary vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Had I lost my mind?
The truth is, although that question has been up for debate for some time, I had three surprisingly sane reasons which prompted me to “cleanse” up my act:
1. A Cleanse Reboots the Body.
Although I’ve been on diets in the past and aim towards healthful eating, I had never given my body a true rest from the poisonous toxins that inevitably accumulate over time. I always believed I felt well enough and that I had a decent amount of energy. The thing is, who really knows what “feeling well” means when we have no way to compare our condition to another possible “feeling well”? But now, with a healthier body and mind (hopefully), I have a new paradigm for good health. And sure enough, I do have a little more energy, I sleep a little better, and I now believe—even if only in my own mind—that 50 really is the new 30!
2. A Cleanse Helps Develop and Refine the Habit of Healthy Eating.
We’re all creatures of habit, some good, some not so good. Over the years, I had picked up the unpleasant habit of grazing. You know grazing: Pass by food in the kitchen, take a few bites of food in the kitchen. Did you ever notice that no matter what you buy at the grocery store, there’s a good chance that you’re going to eat it? (Unless, of course, someone else in your house eats it first.)
Ever since my cleanse, I’ve consciously developed better eating habits. It starts with what I buy at the store. If it’s not good for me, I keep on walking. I find that I spend a lot more time in the fresh foods section of the store. And beyond shopping, I’m much more conscious about what I put into this high-octane body of mine. After all, if I wear out my body, where am I going to live?
3. A Cleanse Breeds Discipline! Every aspect of life is a microcosm of the bigger picture. Even hard science has suggested something to this effect. In this case, the way you eat suggests the way you live the rest of your life. For me, the cleanse served as a metaphor for my intention to gain more control over my life. Although I’d led a generally disciplined life before, the effort provided a powerful reminder to be more mindful about all of the choices in my life. It gave me the opportunity to take a closer look at what works in my life and what does not. It led me to know what I’d like to add, and what’s best subtracted. Most importantly, it encouraged me to ask myself how I can live a more values-driven life—a life filled with what’s most centrally important to me as a person, friend, community member, and steward of the world.
For me, it all boils down to this: Being healthy and making a living is important; being healthy and designing a life is paramount.
So are you ready to “free yourself from unpleasantness”? Want to “purify” in the truest sense? Even make yourself “free from sin”? (Well, two out of three isn’t so bad, is it?) I encourage you to give it a try—in whatever way best suits your idea of a nice clean rinse.
Happy cleansing, and may your efforts be rewarded with a cleaner—and brighter— outlook on all the possibilities down that newly-scrubbed road ahead.