Spring is the perfect time to detox. After hearing that co-founder of Wellness Warehouse, Carlos Gomes and his wife Gia had both just finished 10 days doing a detox regime known as the Master Cleanse, we thought it was a perfect opportunity to get first hand feedback about the challenges, benefits and experiences of this seemingly extreme cleansing experience.
DID YOU KNOW? The Master Cleanse is a detoxifying regime consisting of an average of 10 days consuming nothing but a drink of freshly squeezed organic lemon juice, organic Cayenne pepper and organic Grade B Maple Syrup. Besides many other benefits, it gives the digestive system a break so the body can focus energy on repairing and cleansing. What made you decide to go on the fast? 'I wasn't feeling 100% vibrant and healthy. During winter I had a few bouts of flu and colds, I felt bloated, a bit overweight and a general sense of being unwell', explained Carlos. 'Gia decided to join me and I was grateful about that. It's so much easier to do when someone is going through it with you.' Carlos had done the cleanse a few times before and knew he wanted to do it just before summer started. 'September is also my birthday month and birthdays always act as a kind of marker or milestone for me. It's a perfect time, there's the excitement of spring and a feeling of wanting to celebrate new beginnings. During winter, the body tends to accumulate mucus and phlegm, and when it's over I often feel the desire for a cleanse.' What was the most challenging aspect of being on the Master Cleanse? 'For me, the decision to start is the hardest part. Most of our social lives revolve around food and abstention is rather anti-social. It took me a while to clear my calendar and find a stretch of time without important social engagements. I must admit that I was rather grumpy on the first day. I wasn't properly organized and ended up eating a small box of popcorn and two naartjies so it turned into a preparation day.' Every evening you drink a cup of Senna tea and every morning a litre of Himalayan salt water to flush out your body. You don't feel hungry at all but you miss the ritual of food, the texture, the smells, the preparation and the distraction it brings. While on a business trip to Johannesburg, as fate would have it, I was upgraded to a better hotel, which happened to have an overly generous mini-bar and a phenomenal spread of snacks.' Gia's challenge was having to cook for the family and not being able to eat the food. 'I'm very active and feeling like I needed to conserve energy meant missing out on my daily run', she explained. Did it give you the results you wanted? Gia said after the fast she felt much lighter and her skin had a noticeable glow. 'I haven't had salt or sugar cravings since the fast and it helped me start again on raw and vegetarian food. Even though I found it difficult to focus, especially on the last few days when it felt like my head was in the clouds, overall it was a good experience for me.' Besides the physical benefits ' did you experience any mental or spiritual benefits? 'I'd say the mental benefits are the most profound. When you practice such a high level of discipline you get to really understand that you can do so much more than we usually task ourselves with. If you can manage to conquer your physical and tactile impulses, you can be disciplined on many other levels. It's almost like a power surge you get when you don't give in to your impulses', said Carlos. 'Fasting also gives you so much extra time ' no eating, clearing dishes, shopping, you don't realize how much time all this takes until you don't have to do it. The time you gain gives you so much perspective - you get a totally new perspective on food and your relationship with it. It really is the most amazing experience. It allows you to be a more wholesome person afterwards and teaches you a lot about your own personal power.' Gia felt she was a lot calmer and dealt with daily challenges a lot better than usual. Would you do it again? Both Gia and Carlos agree they would like to make it an annual ritual and schedule it at the beginning of summer every year. Do you have any advice to individuals wanting to try it out? 'It is not as scary as it sounds', says Gia. 'The drink is nutritious so you feel satisfied for most of the day. I'd recommend experimenting with different herbal teas for taste variety; you are allowed tea like Rooibos and Peppermint teas as long as you don't add anything to them. I'd also suggest reading up more about the Master Cleanse as it's important to follow the programme when you finish your 10 days. You can't just head for the nearest hamburger. You need to spend at least 2 days on freshly squeezed orange juice and vegetable broth afterwards.' Carlos recommends doing it with someone, 'it's often easier to let ourselves down than to let someone else down, so having a detox buddy is an added motivation.' 'Keep your normal routine, and don't book yourself off from work as you need the busyness to keep yourself distracted.Expect high levels of energy; one evening I went to sleep at 9h30pm and woke up at 2h30am full of energy and ready for the day. Don't make your mixture in big batches; keep it fresh. Make it into a ritual. Be absolutely resolute about using organic high quality ingredients. Use Himalayan salt for the flush, organic lemons and organic Cayenne pepper and organic Grade B Maple Syrup. If you are struggling with not having variety mix your concentrate with sparkling water, try for oxygenated rather than carbonated water. Don't refrain from smelling food, enjoy it, you will notice how heightened your sense of smell becomes. Don't do any strenuous work-out's but gentle walking or moderate exercise is fine. Your Conclusion? I think a fast or detox is a great idea for anyone ' it doesn't have to be as disciplined as the Master Cleanse. I like it because of the simplicity and it's worked for me before. I am 100 percent convinced a period of abstinence is the most healing process for your body. A combination of detoxing, cleansing and fasting has amazing results. Obviously, if you have any health conditions, diabetes or heart complications you may need to check with a health practitioner beforehand.

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