Tag: healing

The Benefits of Meditation: Boost your Health and Happiness

The Benefits of Meditation: Boost your Health and Happiness

Meditation and My #HappyMe Challenge September is my favorite month. I am admittedly slightly biased because it just so happens to be my birth month, but I’d still probably prefer it even if I wasn’t lucky enough to have the sapphire as my birthstone. Crisp […]

On Top of the World with First Descents: My 1-Year-Outta-Chemo Cancer-versary

On Top of the World with First Descents: My 1-Year-Outta-Chemo Cancer-versary

Life after cancer: Young, fancy and free A year ago last Wednesday – August 23rd – was my last day of chemo. The first step on the road back to normalcy. My unofficial return to freedom, to life. To life after cancer. My last day […]

Why Cleanse: The benefits of cleansing and signs your body needs one

Why Cleanse: The benefits of cleansing and signs your body needs one

Cleanse your system the fun way

The words cleanse and detox often cause strong, guarded reactions. The idea of deprivation or consuming bizarre foods you can’t even pronounce is simply not appealing to most. But before you turn and run… truth bomb: you don’t have to suffer on a cleanse! You can have your coffee and drink it too if you really can’t fathom going without.
And best of all: you don’t have to deprive yourself! Cleansing can be done in a completely satisfying, totally delicious way.

Why cleanse

The fact is, our bodies are designed to detox on a daily basis. Detoxification is a natural process. However, modern life is so full of toxins that it’s difficult for our bodies to keep up with the constant toxification loads placed on it through our food, the products we use, and the air we breath. By periodically and systematically eliminating foods that are more taxing on the digestive system and are known common irritants, we allow our bodies’ systems to rest and reset.
Symptoms often include relatively minor annoyances like poor sleep, weight gain, brain fog, mood swings, food cravings, or bloating to name a few. (But let’s be real, anyone who suffers from these knows how real the frustration is when nothing seems to work, no matter what you try!). But toxic overload can also be a factor in more serious conditions such as chronic insomnia, autoimmune conditions, asthma, arthritis, acne, irritable bowel syndrome, and more.

 

What is a Cleanse?

These days you hear the terms cleansing and detoxing everywhere. Detox your life. Do a juice cleanse. Do this detox diet and make these detox-friendly recipes. The two terms are often used seemingly interchangeably, so what’s the difference?
Detoxification is actually a natural process that happens every day in our bodies to clear out toxins and waste. A true detox diet typically refers to a highly restricted diet that may reduce down to only liquids (fruit and vegetable juices) and usually calls for specific supplements to support the detoxification process.
Cleansing ultimately has the same goal as a detox – to give your body the chance to reset – but takes a somewhat gentler, more sustainable approach. A cleanse essentially cleans up your diet: it eliminates processed junk food and strips the diet down to the essentials – nutrient-dense real, whole foods. Think: lots of fruits and vegetables.
By removing the junk from your diet and consuming foods that support the body’s natural detoxification processes, you allow your body to rid itself of the toxins and waste that have been building up over time – a natural detox. It’s basically like unclogging a drain. Cleansing allows our kidneys and liver to function more efficiently, which makes for a healthier, happier body.
Blueberry Green Power Smoothie – recipe in my free cleanse guide

Who should cleanse?

While weight loss is a common goal of such diets, cleanses are a good idea for anyone struggling with low energy, stress, poor health, or, frankly, nearly any form of disease in the body. Cleansing can not only repair the body, but it can remedy your relationship to food and help you rethink the way you fuel yourself.
Basically, if you fall into any of the following categories: you should consider a cleanse:
  • If you wake up feeling less than vibrant or energetic. If you feel like crap all the time. If you suffer from any of the symptoms listed below.
  • If you struggle with keeping the weight off. As it turns out, not all calories are created equal. Sugar and refined flour have a unique effect on the body’s metabolism, and often trigger hunger and cause people to overeat. Not to mention, sugar triggers inflammation.
  • If you’re addicted to sugar, carbs, or salty food-like junk. The fact is, it’s not your fault. It’s the sugar and the flour and the chemicals and the concerted efforts of the food industry over the years to hijack our brains so we become addicted, repeat customers.
  • If you’ve never done a cleanse or detox. These days, all of us could use a little reset. And most of us could do with a little more self-care. Cleansing allows you to focus on self-nourishment. You and your body are your top priority for over a week. How great is that?

But wait, cleansing sounds hard!

I get it. For most of us accustomed to the SAD (Standard American Diet), cleansing sounds like an onerous chore. And frankly, it can sound really intimidating to many. No pizza? No burgers? No fries? No cookies!? And on top of all that… no coffee??? Are you nuts!? (Well, maybe a little, but that’s neither here nor there ?)
As I mentioned above, while perhaps not the absolute ideal, you can have your coffee on a cleanse. Just stick to one cup of organic coffee in the morning, then maybe reduce to decaf, and then possibly consider dandelion tea. If you can start to wean yourself down a few days before, even better!
I LOVE my coffee too, but I do encourage clients to give the no-coffee thing a shot at least once as we easily get hooked on the caffeine. It’s possible that after a few days, you may even choose to go without.
Here’s the thing about cleansing: if often opens up a whole new world of eating. Healthy, nourishing food can be absolutely delicious, and your whole approach to eating can shift. Cleansing can get you better attuned to what your body truly needs, and many often find they begin to crave these healthy options full of nutrients your body requires rather than empty calories that mess with our chemistry. Delicious food that nourishes body, mind and soul – who wouldn’t want that?

When not to cleanse

Detoxing is one thing – many people should avoid strict detoxes. When it comes to whole foods cleansing, there are far fewer risks.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should always avoid strict detoxes, however my gradual, whole foods cleanse approach is safe to follow during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
There are of course situations when caution is advisable. Anyone suffering from a serious condition should always clear any major dietary changes with their doctor. Diabetics in particular must excercise caution, as with any dietary change.
Because this approach is gentle and calls for real, whole foods, there is nothing to be lost except for what you want to lose: the toxic crap that makes us feel less than great!

The cleansing process

What happens when you eliminate all the ‘dead’ foods? Foods that contain gluten, flour, wheat, dairy, sugar and trans fats are technically dead, and dead foods have lower energy. Because they’re dead. No wonder consuming them makes us feel like crap.
So, first, you replace them with lots of live foods: delicious fruits and veggies and clean plant-based edibles. Once you eliminate the processed, refined, and difficult-to-digest dead foods, your body will feel cleaner, leaner, and lighter. You’ll be able to think more clearly, have more energy, and be more productive. Imagine feeling light and free and full of energy – imagine feeling like the best version of yourself, every day.
I won’t sugar-coat it: things often get a little worse before they get better. Cleansing can release toxins stored in tissues into the bloodstream and cause a little fatigue, brain fog, or skin flare-ups, but this usually only lasts a couple days, and proper preparation and cleanse-enhancing activities can ease these symptoms.
A cleanse isn’t necessarily an easy quick-fix solution. It’s not a magic pill (they don’t exist). It does take a little planning, effort, and willpower to stay the course when everyone around you is indulging in pizza, cake, and beer. But consider getting your friends or family on-board: social support and friend-power is a winning combo!

Bottom Line: It’s worth a shot!

Once you get through to the other side, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do this ages go. And you may find something somewhat astonishing: that food in its natural state not only tastes good, but that it’s better than all the other stuff you used to indulge in. You may find that you start to prefer, fresh, real food.
Bottom line: Cleansing effectively switches your metabolism into full gear, activates your body’s natural healing abilities, and helps you function better than you even thought possible.

Cleanse-friendly food

Signs you need a Cleanse

Still not sure if a cleanse is really worth it for you? Here are some common signs your body could benefit:
  • have trouble sleeping
  • get headaches
  • gain weight easily, especially in the belly
  • feel exhausted and depleted
  • feel a lack of focus and energy
  • have trouble losing weight
  • experience bloating or gas
  • have digestive complaints
  • have excessive sinus problems
  • suffer from joint pain
  • have acne, eczema or other skin problems
  • feel stuck, unmotivated, or irritable
  • feel stressed and overwhelmed
  • experience mood swings
  • crave sugar or starchy food

Symptoms of Toxic Overload

What underlies these signs are typically the symptoms of toxic overload. The complaints listed above are often how the body signals that it’s experiencing toxic overload and wants a little TLC.
The symptoms of toxic overload are much more extensive than the relatively minor frustrations listed above. The symptoms are also extremely varied and can impact the entire bodily system. Seemingly unrelated conditions may all result from this underlying issue. As mentioned above, chronic insomnia, autoimmune conditions, asthma, arthritis, acne, irritable bowel syndrome, and more serious conditions can all by influenced by toxic overload.

Below is a list of the many symptoms of toxic overload:

  • headaches
  • weight gain or loss
  • constipation
  • belly bloat
  • painful gas
  • frequent belching
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • joint and muscle aches
  • muscle tension
  • soreness
  • acne
  • warts
  • itching
  • eczema
  • skin eruptions
  • inability to focus or concentrate
  • foggy brain
  • irritability
  • mood swings
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • insomnia
  • lethargy
  • flu-like symptoms
  • allergic reactions
  • hives
  • runny nose
  • sneezing
  • coughing
If you experience any of the above, this is a sign your body needs a good internal cleaning. Overall health and optimal wellbeing begin with gut health and nutrition, and cleansing your body is the best way to shift your body into healing and optimal functioning.

What now?

Ready to cleanse? Got any questions? Get in touch with me now and we’ll come up with the best plan for you! My cleanse guides are packed with even more information and are full of delicious, cleanse-friendly recipes to get you started.
In the meantime, check out a few of my cleanse-friendly recipes:
The Truth Behind Detoxing – Miracle cure or mythical crock?

The Truth Behind Detoxing – Miracle cure or mythical crock?

 Detox Me, Maybe? Juice cleanses. Detox programs. Cleanse supplements and detox teas. These days, these products are ubiquitous in the world of wellness and nutrition. But what’s all the hype about? Why is detoxing beneficial and really – is it? As with all things health […]

Life After Cancer: A Masterpiece in Progress

Life After Cancer: A Masterpiece in Progress

Cancerversary: Reflecting on a year out This month will mark the one year anniversary of finishing chemo. Tomorrow marks the one year of finishing round 5. When I think back on a year ago, I think about the whirlwind I was in the midst of. […]

Raw Vegan Green Blender Soup

Raw Vegan Green Blender Soup

Cooling soup for the warm weather

I love soup, and it just so happens to be a great option for a detox or cleanse, particularly when the weather is a bit nippy. But summer is arguably the ideal time to cleanse your body, and warming soups aren’t typically quite what we crave.

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Sugar: The Dietary Devil, and why you should cut sugar

Sugar: The Dietary Devil, and why you should cut sugar

The White Devil Unless you’ve been completely disconnected from reality, you know that the sugar skeleton is finally out of the nutrition closet. It’s worse than gluten, it’s worse than dairy, and yes, it’s even worse than fat.

My One Year Cancerversary

My One Year Cancerversary

The Preliminary C Diagnosis: Looking Back A year ago today I received a call when I was at work. It was the director of the Lymphoma center at Columbia. I went into the bathroom to take the call. Gently but without mincing any words, he informed […]

The Cost of Cancer: Part 2

The Cost of Cancer: Part 2

So the first part of my detailed account discussed the alternative approaches I took in addition to treatment in order to properly heal myself and mitigate suffering. When there is so little definitive information out there, how does one make the best decisions? Was all of this necessary? When it comes to life or death diagnoses, how does one make that judgment call? I still don’t have any definitive answers, but I experimented. I went with my gut. I’m here, and, while I’m still working on picking up the pieces of my life and putting them together, I’m doing pretty well.

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The day I lost (most of) my hair. Photo: Nikola Tamindzic

I realize these posts are more serious; less upbeat. It’s true that in most of my posts – both here and on social media – I remained positive and upbeat. That was 100% my reality this summer. I did feel better than most people told me I would. Fewer side effects – yes. I did manage to get out and about a bit between treatments. From the get-go, I knew I would make it. But, it would be a disservice to everyone to gloss over the less pleasant realities that patients go through – even patients who kick ass. Treatment was not in any way a vacation. It still did completely suck. This is also my reality. The two do not negate each other; having a smooth ride – all things considered – does not in any way minimize the difficulties that I did go through, and continue to experience. Even though I’m doing well, I’m not quite ‘back to normal.’ Here in Part 2 I detail the other, unavoidable, costs of treatment.

Medical Bills and Insurance

Insurance is complicated; medical bills are extremely confusing. I’ve never been here before. I’d never been to this hospital. I’d never really had to deal with insurance. The realities of all this are just starting to sink in. The social worker at the hospital was very nice, but ultimately next to useless. I didn’t even know the right questions to ask, and those that I did ask received dead-end responses. There was nobody to help me navigate. In June I received a bill for over $3k, and I had several bills for smaller amounts so I called the billing department to get clarity on my account. The balance showed just over $2k – nearly $1k less than the first bill alone. Apparently there had been an insurance adjustment of $950 between the time the bill was mailed and when I called. Great for me since I actually called, but had I just gone ahead paid the original bill, I would have lost $1k. No chance I would have gotten that back. This time I was lucky.

That call also clarified the fact that nothing in hospitals is centralized. Each bill came from a separate department, and each had to be settled with that particular department’s billing system. I hung up in frustration because I was beginning to feel overwhelmed. I also received bills with charges for multiple items, and bills for one item alone. Some were for tiny amounts, some not so tiny. One day I finally had the mental capacity to start sorting through them. I had a couple duplicates, so I started sorting through, paper clipping them together, and writing out checks. Why checks? WHO knows. I rarely write checks. But that’s what I decided that day, maybe because I could keep all the papers together in that moment.

Well, the next day I entered them all into excel, item by item. And as I entered them, I found duplicate charges – some of the smaller bills for single items were the same charges included in the larger bills. Wonderful. Just wonderful, for a cancer patient dealing with fatigue and brain fog. Again, I was lucky. I finally paid off the last of my bills a couple weeks ago (I hope!). My medical bills wound up adding up to about $12k since my insurance plan had a relatively high deductible – when you’re healthy and never go to the doctor and your company is small so doesn’t cover it in full, you don’t opt for the significantly more expensive option. Though I did get a discounted rate through the Livestrong program and Cornell, fertility preservation was also not covered. This is something I would love to change – if breast reconstruction is covered, how is fertility preservation not across the board for cancer patients? It makes no sense to me.

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The day I lost (most of) my hair. Photo: Nikola Tamindzic

Speaking of insurance, there were plenty of moments of frustration, especially in the beginning. Calls for approval, calls about coverage, calls about I don’t even know what. One episode in June was particularly bad. I spent over a week going in endless loops between insurance and the pharmacy and my doctor’s office, each saying they were waiting on something from someone else to approve a particular drug that was supposed to suppress and protect my reproductive systems. It was utterly maddening. I was frustrated, probably had some hormone situation going on as the previous injection was wearing off, and all I could think about was that I needed this injection to protect myself, and I wound up in tears numerous times. My stress levels were through the roof. It is not lost on me that it was immediately after this drama that I wound up in the ER with a fever and an infection from my PICC.

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The day I lost (most of) my hair. Photo: Nikola Tamindzic

Assistance

There is help out there, but it’s complicated to begin with, and even moreso when you’re tired and even reading a fluffy novel is too taxing on your concentration. I’ve done the research and navigating these charities is tricky. There are not a ton for young adults, and of those that do exist, many I do not qualify for, either because I have the wrong cancer or I’m not quite young enough. I found a couple, but just missed the deadlines. Cancer in young adults comes with its own host of issues; one foundation sums it up quite well in the name they’ve given their grant: Life Interrupted.

It’s not just the immediate costs of cancer treatment; it’s the interruption of income. The income stops, but the bills don’t. It’s the interruption of your career. And in my case, it’s the cessation of one career and the attempt to create a new one. And in any case it takes a while to get back on your feet. Disregarding the typical struggles of creating a new career for any random individual, cancer survivors have to manage fatigue and chemo brain. Jumping back into a full time job right after treatment was not feasible for me, nor would it have been advisable. All of this takes time. My life has most certainly been interrupted and disrupted. I did not financially plan for cancer. I was always healthy; medical expenses were never something I worried about. Maybe it was naive of me, but really what evidence did I have to work with, other than my past history of near perfect health?

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The day I lost (most of) my hair. Photo: Nikola Tamindzic

Life is Expensive

Through all of this, which began seven months ago, I had – and continue to have – my regular day to day, month to month expenses: grad loans, car payments, car insurance, to name a few. And since August, medical insurance out of pocket. And then there’s all the treatment-related incidentals like gas and tolls and parking and train fares and taxis and Vias to get to the hospital and doctor’s appointments. When you have that many, these costs add up rather quickly. Especially when you have no income because you can’t work for the precise reason you are going to these appointments. I worked as long as I possibly could, but the logistics of working simply did not make sense for me to be able to continue. And at the beginning of this whole thing, I felt pretty shitty. So it wouldn’t have even been fair to my students for me to continue.

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The day I lost (most of) my hair. Photo: Nikola Tamindzic

The diagnosis process is a whirlwind, with little time to consider the implications of what’s next. You focus on the next appointment, doing your best to quell the moments of panic and lift the cloud of uncertainty. I was lucky that things moved as quickly as they did. Appointments opened up out of the blue when there were originally none for a couple weeks. I got in before it got worse. But, when things move so quickly, you have to act quickly and make decisions. And you make these decisions in a scary, confusing haze of uncertainty.

My focus was on getting through treatment; my focus was on getting to my sister’s wedding in the best health possible. I did a lot of reflecting on my past and thinking about my future. I had fuzzy ideas that slowly became clearer and clearer and made vague plans, and things have actually been falling into place. But I did not have the wherewithal to plan months in advance. And certain things simply did not work out in my favor as I hoped they would. My next post will cover what life is like after treatment.

 

The Cost of Cancer: Part 1

The Cost of Cancer: Part 1

Cancer is expensive. That’s a fact. A few people have wondered about my use of funds on the yoga retreat I went on in September. This did cross my mind when booking the retreat – how it might look. The fact is, I didn’t use […]