My Experience with the Short Home Cleanse (SHC)

As some of you know, I completed my first real detox last fall. It was very powerful, and so as part of my follow up from attending Dr. Douillard’s Ayurveda and Weight Loss program at Kripalu last month, I decided to try his 4-day, short home cleanse to prepare for spring. Here are some highlights from my experience. 

Prep Day: Sunday

  • I keep thinking of my last detox and anticipating what this one might be like. I realize I need to let go of any expectations. 
  • I make a different version of kitchari–this time based on Dr. Douillard’s recipe, and am interested in seeing which one I like better. This kitchari seems easier to make for some reason; I decide to make it each night rather than quadrupling the batch and having it taste stale. 
  • I decide to do the non-capsule form of all the herbs, and I can’t find red root tincture after running to three different stores. I binge on a chocolate chip pumpkin muffin from Whole Foods because I’m frustrated. But I call Cambridge Naturals and they finally save me. 
  • I say something to my husband about it being nice to have permission to take a bath each night, to which he responds, “why do you need permission any night?” Hmmm…. 

Day 1: Monday

  • I can’t believe I drank two teaspoons of ghee, although I didn’t bother trying without mixing it with nonfat soy milk. I also added cardamom since I figured it would remind me of my warm spiced cardamom milk, but without the cashews. It actually isn’t bad, but I can’t imagine day four when I have to consume eight teaspoons first thing in the morning!
  • It’s nice to get back to alternate nostril breathing, but my mind is a ping pong ball during morning meditation. 
  • I think I overdosed on the red root tincture! The instructions in Dr. Douillard’s pamphlet say “one dropper-full” but I have a big bottle, and the bottle says 20-30 drops (which is nowhere near a dropper-full). I dump out some and dilute it with more water. It smells OK in the bottle but is gross in the water, maybe because I did WAY too much to start. I get a little paranoid about potential side effects, but after getting to work, I seem to still be alive. The red root tincture is gross, even with just 20 drops.
  • I’m very hungry by 11am but I’d done a pretty brisk walk on the treadmill at the gym this morning–why is it so hard for me to back off!? I convince myself that warm water will hold me until 12:15pm, which it does. I’m hungry again between 3-4pm and slightly dizzy. Hopefully it’s just a “first day” thing.

Day 2: Tuesday

  • I continue to have a hard time slowing down my exercise. I do a little yoga and limit myself to Tracy Anderson arms and abs. It’s not easy especially given how much ghee (i.e. fat) I know I’m ingesting each morning. I hope to get a walk in today though–the weather is so gorgeous! 
  • My husband had me awake a lot last night with the various noises he makes in his sleep. I decide not to mention it today, in contrast to what I usually do. It seems like telling him after the fact, when he can do nothing to change things, isn’t “non-harming”. 
  • I feel slower and more relaxed somehow (or it it weak?). I’m more easily aware of my belly breathing, and when I tighten my facial muscles (which I do a lot).
  • My hair is not right, even though I used limited massage oil on my head last night. 
  • I’m not hungry for breakfast, and I’m wondering whether I should eat kitchari until I’m full or the full serving, given its a long way to lunch. I need to follow the two-palm rule more often (mine are small)! I end up eating 3/4, but once at work I panic slightly as I’m hungry again. I drink more warm water and it helps. (I’m getting better at the warm water!) By 11am I’m only slightly hungry. 
  • I eat my lunch too fast, and my stomach doesn’t feel well before even drinking the red root tincture water. I decide to save my whey protein shake for later, and wonder if that counts as a (forbidden) snack? Probably. In general the red root stuff is less offensive. I accidentally refrigerate it in my lunch sack, and hope that isn’t a problem.
  • After work I again eat 3/4 of my kitchari out on the deck, and call my mom and some old friends I’ve lost touch with. I decide that although my husband is fantastic, I still need a wider support system. Relationships have been difficult to maintain, especially with everyone not dancing as much and going their separate ways. I double the spices in my next batch of kitchari.
  • During my evening bath I decide to face some difficult emotions I’ve been avoiding, which were stirred up by two different situations today. For the 20 minutes I don’t read, but try to get in touch with my feelings. I manage to cry just a little. Not a total release or anything, but it’s something, since I’m not a crier. I theorize this as a root cause of an issue I’ve been struggling with for a little while now (which is a possible topic for a future blog post). I feel amazed that I’m alive, given what my mother and grandmother went through in their lives. I consider that I’m out of balance again: I used to dance too much, but maybe now I’m too far into the yoga, meditation, and nutrition and not having enough dancing fun. Though I’d been wondering why the heck I signed up for Boston Tea Party, part of me starts to look forward to it. 
  • I love that I happened to do this cleanse so that it fell on the vernal equinox / first day of spring! I think I should do this yearly.

Day 3: Wednesday

  • I meditate outside on the front porch this morning. It’s lovely. The gym is also good, but I am running late and feeling a bit of the fear I always associate with that. I hope my morning kitchari holds me until lunch, given the good walk I had. 
  • I end up having a walking one-on-one this morning right before lunch, and am surprisingly, minimally hungry! I eat my kitchari mindfully and then have my shake. 
  • Two colleagues give me unexpected gifts, which makes me smile! Also, during a meeting I end up being funny with my notes and people notice (in a positive way). 
  • Work gets a little crazy in the afternoon but I somehow multitask without the stress I normally feel. Even driving home, stuck in traffic, hungry and knowing I should have eaten by 6pm, it isn’t at the same level at all. Listening to Wayne Dyer’s Making the Shift doesn’t hurt either! 
  • I wonder how I’m going to do eight teaspoons of ghee tomorrow morning. Tomorrow is already day four–making my kitchari for the last time I feel sad; I was just getting into the routine. It has been so easy to do each night — I have it down to a science and had to plan so much less. And it does taste much better fresh each day!

Day 4: Thursday

  • I’ve been sleeping so well, both last night and the night before. I wonder why I ever got out of the “no-technology/water after 9pm and evening meditation” routine. 
  • I am amazed that today’s my last day. I take my ghee and meditation on the front porch again, since it’s another beautiful day! The 8 tsp. of ghee is OK going down, but after light yoga and the Bar Method I feel slightly nauseous.
  • I got way too much oil in my hair last night, and haven’t been able to get it all out.
  • I have a really great afternoon — overall I feel very productive and at ease at work, even though I’m very busy. At 4:30pm though, I’m starving and I feel shaky. I decide to have tea. I will NOT break this cleanse in the final hours!
  • What is it about a cleanse/detox that makes everything just seem easier? Is it the food (i.e. because kitchari and ghee is grounding for my vata-pitta constitution)? Is it feeling like I have that “permission” to take time for: self care activities like baths and massages; a mental “vacation” from stress; less strenuous workouts? Is it because I’m focused on the cleansing process? Why can’t every day be like this–just easy! That would be awesome! I think it can be, if I allow it.
  • I mess up the order of the day 4 final steps: I eat, then drink some red root tincture water, then prune juice, then dandelion tea while taking a bath and waiting for the “may or may not happen” laxative effect. Several hours later, there are no observable issues (or laxative effect)!

The Day and Night After: Friday / Saturday

  • I can’t get over how nice my skin is. “Radiant” I think, catching myself staring at my face in the mirror while getting ready for work. 🙂 I’m looking forward to a breakfast that isn’t kitchari, although I’m taking leftovers for lunch. I feel so grounded and balanced between both feet. I do a light jog at the gym. I am very mindful during my shower, and makeup application. I lost 2 lbs, but I don’t care, given all the other benefits!
  • I have another busy yet productive day at work. A few times I feel like I’ve helped people, and that makes me feel good.
  • My husband and I have a nice dinner out. I immediately divide my plate into the two portions it is, take half home, and have chocolate yogurt at home for dessert (proper portions). I pack a Sensible Medley snack and get ready to head out to Boston Tea Party for some dancing.
  • I feel good listening to a friend while driving to the dance, and enjoy seeing people. I dance with a very sweet old man who tries to teach me how to Mambo on the West Coast Swing dance floor. I don’t turn a single leader down, and I’m having a nice time.
  • Around midnight, my ego comes out in full force, though I only recognize it after the fact. Disappointed but comforting myself with some compassion, I decide to head out. I manage to meditate and do alternate nostril breathing before finally getting to sleep around 1am.
  • I wake up naturally at 5:20am, try to go back to sleep, and am up again at 5:45. I do my regular morning routine, but I have a headache and feel cranky, short of breath, dehydrated (even after drinking tons of water last night) and antsy. I feel like this just re-affirms the choices I’ve made over the last few months, and predict that my dance career may remain on hold for awhile.

Anyone else have a detox / cleanse experience you want to share? I’d love to hear about it.

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