No food for 10 days at first sounded like torture, and an impossible thing to do. How could someone not eat for 10 days and it be beneficial to your health and well being? Healthy living and eating has always been something I’ve been interested in and passionate about. I’m not some crazy vegan, lactose and gluten free ‘never put anything bad through your body’ ever type of girl (I’m actually USUALLY a fish vegetarian if you’re wondering, but sometimes the odd steak is incredible). I just believe you should treat your body with respect, and take care of yourself. Put things through your body that’s good for YOU.
A friend of mine did a fast and said it was the best thing she’d ever done, and it was like her “mind and body had literally hit the reset button”. So I researched the hell out of it to see if this was something my body needed. People do fasts, or ‘detoxes’ or ‘cleanses’ for many different reasons. Weight loss, spiritual or religious reasons, releasing stress, or simply just to rid their bodies of all the nasty chemicals and toxins we have absorbed in our bodies throughout our lives.
Everyone at some stage in their lives should consider a fasting program to clean up the toxic load on their body. Toxicity is of much greater concern in the twentieth century than ever before. There are many new strong chemicals, air and water pollution, radiation and nuclear power and we are continually ingesting toxins of all kinds through our diet, stimulants and sedatives. Toxins are not just what we put in our mouths either- beauty products, cleaning products, paints, plastics, fumes, pollution, smoking etc are many different ways in which toxins can get in to the body either via our lungs (breathing) skin (topically) or mouth (digestion). – Natural Instinct Healing
So how does a ‘fast’ help detoxify?
The idea of a detox or cleanse, is to eliminate your body of food, and giving it only water, green juice, coconut water and a few essential and natural herbs to keep you going. Detoxification is a process that already naturally occurs in our body day to day through the colon, liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph nodes, and skin. By fasting, we precipitate this process because, when food no longer enters the body, the latter turns to its fat reserves for energy.
When the fat reserves are used for energy during a fast, they release the stored and built up chemicals from the fatty acids into the system and are then eliminated through the organs.
I thought of my high school years of clubbing and drinking far too much alcohol on any given day, the summers I had spent in Greece drinking sangria and eating gyros’s daily, the time my friend Eden and I drove my van around Australia and drank a lot of ‘goon’ (the cheapest wine, horrible stuff but it does the job when your on a backpackers budget in Aus), and I was sold*. After doing lot of research, I had my heart set on going to a retreat in Bali – Indonesia to take part in a fast at some stage in my life. I just wanted to say ‘thank you’ to my body for putting up with me for a whole 22. something years.
*it should be noted that these were some of the best times of my life however, but my body DID pay the price.
When we came back to Australia from the Caribbean for the hurricane season, Riley went away to work on a pipe lap barge in northern Western Australia. I stayed busy working on the internet, recorded an album and published a little recipe book along with a few other little exciting projects I’ve been working on.
Moving to the city (literally the heart of a city, our view from the apartment is of sky scrapers and I can’t see the sunset nor rise from here) was a bit of a shock for me. How quickly everyone moved, all the sounds, the smells, the hundreds of unfamiliar faces that pass by you each day and don’t usually talk to you, but communicate with their eyes… I’d never been in a city for longer than a week at any stage in my life. After spending a few months here in Perth, I decided it was the perfect time to escape the city and jump on a flight to Bali to take a break from it all and reset my mind and body. So off I went, to Natural Instinct Healing, a detox retreat in Ubud – Bali.
After searching many different retreats, I chose N.I.H based on the programs they offered, their quick back and forth emails in answering all my questions before booking, the beautiful looking gardens and the friendly faces of the staff. I was interested in their ‘Simply Renew’ 10 day fast. Basically each day looked like this for me:
6.30am – Wake up, coffee enema, detox shake, herbal tea. Usually read a book and chill out.
8.30am – Take my detox herbs, prepare for exercise class. This can either be yoga, water therapy or walking through the rice paddy fields, bike ride.
9.30am – Hydrate with a green juice or coconut water, and we usually have a workshop with Becky our nutritionist at the retreat. A different lesson each day, anything from a raw food cooking class to learning about digestion and food groups.
10.00am – Detox shake, massage, sauna. Chill out, or venture out into the beautiful village of Ubud and do some exploring.
11.30am – Detox herbs, don’t forget to take those with you if you go exploring!
1.00pm – Detox shake, private one on one session with practitioner at retreat (anything from guided meditation, nutritional information or spiritual guidance, you are ‘the boss’ here and they will help you with anything you are also hoping to achieve during the fast!).
2.30pm – Detox herbs, coconut water. Do some reading, get some sunshine, do some air yoga.
4.00pm – Enema. Detox shake and herbs (are you sick of hearing about the detox shakes and herbs yet? Yes, we do 4 sets of both detox shakes and herbs each day).
5.oopm – Herbal tea, meditation. My favourite part of the day!
6.00pm – I lied, this is actually my favourite part of the day. Dinner time! Vegetable broth soup shared with the group (veggies slow cooked for several hours by Aji, and we drink the water part. Throw some Cayenne pepper and salt on it and it’s actually pretty nice). Herbal drops.
7.30pm – Watch a documentary, group discussions and hangout. Free time.
You are mostly free to do whatever you want throughout the day, you can always skip certain classes or exercise if you aren’t feeling up to it, book yourself in your facials or go get your nails done, go catch up with a friend visiting the island for lunch (well their lunch, you’ll be drinking herbal tea or sipping on a coconut water over your catch up…) etc. It’s no where close to like being on a school camp or anything. Aji makes sure you remember to take your detox shakes and herbal drops throughout the day and when you start developing a ‘fasting brain’ Aji is a life saver!!
At N.I.H, they can have anywhere between 5-12 people at the retreat at one time doing a program. We had 5 people in total during my fast. I kept the cameras mostly on myself throughout the fast (if you didn’t already notice) as I didn’t want to ruin anyones experience for them, getting my cameras all up in their grill.
Breaking the Fast
Before I knew it, 10 days had passed and I was having my first meal of papaya and cashew yoghurt (papaya for digestive enzymes, cashew yoghurt for probiotics). IT WAS INCREDIBLE. We had a two week eating plan to follow through after leaving the retreat (breaking our fast) so our bodies could slowly and carefully have time to prepare for all the different kinds of food again. These two weeks of eating each meal, felt like the first time I had ever really tasted food before. Our senses were much stronger and by re introducing certain foods into our bodies one at a time, we are able to tell how our body really reacts to them. I thought my body had never been able to handle gluten very well, nor dairy (I do realise I joked about not being some ‘crazy gluten, lactose free person’ earlier, but this is actually sort of the case.. haha). But I still consumed small amounts of it as I was never 100% sure, because there was always so many other distractions happening around me and other foods I would eat these things with so it was hard to tell. Let me tell you, after re introducing these two things my body told me it was definitely not for me. I also found a few other certain foods that didn’t sit well in my body and I now avoid. My body craved fresh, colourful fruit and veggies for weeks after the detox, and continues to do so!
I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. The combination of the positive energy I felt at Natural Instinct Healing and Ubud especially, and the beautiful souls at the retreat really made the experience for me. I feel a real ‘fast’ just couldn’t be done at home mixed with the stress, pressure and busy-ness of our day to day lives. It just wouldn’t work. To really cleanse your mind and body, I feel you need to try and take the time to put work and any responsibilities aside, and have some real time to yourself. I felt lighter, not just physically but emotionally as well. I had learned so much about myself, I had many beautiful experiences, and I now look at certain things from a whole different perspective.
Before | After
Weight – I lost 2kgs during the fast. This is not something I was focused on, nor was it the reason I initially wanted to fast, but was obviously a bonus! The amount of weight lost during the fast completely depends on your body type. A larger person can lose anywhere up to 15kgs!. After breaking my fast I put back on a healthy amount of fat. ‘Good’ fat 🙂
Before | After
Physical changes – My skin and eyes were glowing. I didn’t touch my body with any chemicals throughout the fast (body wash, shampoo/conditioner etc). We were encouraged to use natural oils on our skin for moisturiser and to let our hair do its thaaaaaang. By day 10 with only washing my hair with natural shampoo once, my hair had reproduced its natural oils and had started to clean my hair by itself!
Emotional changes – The main reason I did my fast was because of stress. The lifestyle I live may seem very ‘relaxed’ and all nice sunsets and sailing off into the horizon, but people forget the other things that comes with a life style like mine. (I’m not complaining, I do love this lifestyle, but there are always going to be sacrifices and trade offs I have/have been forced to make)
- Traveling A LOT and never knowing where you might be in a weeks time is exciting, but can sometimes take a lot of planning and it can be mentally draining and stressful.
- No REAL home base. I moved out of home years ago, my backpack became my home for a while and then a van, so this is something I am fairly used to now. Always being on the move. Our boat is my home, yes. But it’s never in one place long enough to become familiar with things like your favourite supermarkets, stores, or to create a community and network of friends that you bump into each day, like you do in your home town (however we do bump into fellow sailors we have met on the water, the community of our yachting family is slowly growing which we are very happy about!). This is something I believe every human needs every now and then. Familiarity. Being grounded. Not having this feeling for a while also causes me stress.
- Routine. Each day for me is different and I have no real routine. I have a lot of work to do on the internet and projects I have going on, but it’s all over the place. No day is the same. I try to put some routine into my day with things like exercise and meal times and a little to do list for me to complete that I will jet off into the city or village or jungle wherever I am to do. No routine can equal stress.
Anyway, you get the idea.
So I wanted to take a step back and give some time for my body and mind to heal itself. Reset. And this is exactly what happened. All those things that were stressing me out and causing a bit of anxiety every now and then, now seemed so little. Not important. I felt like I could tackle them with new strategies and look at them as a challenge, rather than a a stressful problem. Life is awesome.
Liver Flush and Gallbladder Cleanse – Flushing our liver and gallbladder was surprisingly easy. The hardest part was swallowing and keeping down all of that disgusting olive oil and lemon juice at once. The day leading up to the flush, we were not allowed any detox shakes (which have fibre in them) so our stomachs remained completely empty. This gives us the best chance of a successful cleanse. We had a herb shot, and a salt shot, and then at night time we drank the oil and went and laid down on our right side of our bodies for half an hour so the oil could drain into our liver and do its thing. I felt a bit nauseous, but that feeling didn’t last long. I fell asleep after the half an hour of lying on my side (which is fine) and woke up at 2 am with some strange feelings in my stomach. Between 1-2 am is the hours your liver is most active! So I knew something was up. It just felt a little un settled but no pains or anything. But I slept through the rest of the night and was actually looking forward to doing the enema the following morning. Not just because I got to see if any gallbladder stones were released, but it was the LAST ENEMA OF THE PROGRAM WOOHOOOO. I had about 5 gallbladder stones that came out. They were green and looked like peas. Another person in the fast had 20!! But most seemed to average around 5. Liver and gallbladder flushes are easy to do and can be done at home. It’s recommended we do a flush up to two times a year.
I couldn’t recommend doing a fast enough. If you ever get the chance to escape from your usual life for a few weeks, take the time and do this for yourself. Your body deserves it! It’s already been through a lot, it’s got a lot more yet to go through, and it’s the only one you have!!
If you are interested in taking part in the same program as I did at Natural Instinct Healing, be sure to checkout the website and look at what is included in the program and what is available. There are also other programs you can do like the ‘Simply Raw’, ‘Total Transformation’, ‘Feel aLIVE Superfood Cleanse’ programs, just to name a few. Sort of something to suit everyone 🙂
Peace for now,