The Master Cleanse Experience… aka Lemonade Diet

Well it has been sometime since I have blogged, before the birth of our second baby, Clover Alessandra. This topic, however, has to be blogged about. I started the Master Cleanse diet this past Monday, January 29th, 2008. It is a 10 day(min) fast where you only consume liquids consisting of a lemonade concoction and then do a herbal laxative tea in the morning and evening. I completed this fast once January 2007 with my mother-in-law, Fran. 

What drove me to even consider this craziness was that I was at my wits end with the lack of weightloss from having my first baby, Sebastian. I packed on a hefty 50 lbs with him and had 40 lbs to lose after the baby. I managed to wittle away at it but by the holidays (6months) later I was still 10 lbs heavier and at a plateau. I saw the footage on Oprah about Beyonce Knowles doing the fast to lose weight for her role in “DreamGirls” I thought to myself… I can do that! So when I saw the family at Christmas I mentioned it to Fran and low and behold, she had the actual orginal book The Master Cleanser by Stanley Burroughs.   I was shocked! Apparently she had the book and had always wanted to do the fast but never got around to it.  So it was ON! We decided to start and complete the fast together beginning the new year. 

It was a really tough first few days and I almost quit so many times. It was amazing the need to chew something was what I felt and I just felt like I had the flu. Apparently these are all detox symptoms. At the end of the fast I was a pleasant 12 lbs lighter and had so much energy and umpf that I was so happy I had completed the fast no matter how tough it had been.

This is why I am here again going through the same fast. This time I had more to lose since I started at a higher starting weight. I figure it will get me going down the right path and help me restart my system. Oddly though, this time the fast has not been as arduous. It has actually been quite easy.  I was prepared for the worst on day 2 and day 3 and that never came. I am currently on day 6 and toward the end of the day at that.  One side effect I am experiencing that I also had last time is the “coldies”. You just freaking feel cold all the time. I guess the lack of solid food and also it being winter time doesn’t help. Besides that everything else, including the cravings are manageable. Last time I was obsessed with watching the Food Network and looking at cookbook recipes. Weird even though I couldn’t eat anything just looking at it made me feel better and closer to food. I am planning to go to day 10, but have been contemplating continuing on for 4 more days to make it a full 2 weeks.

I have been looking at message boards which are really helpful during this time. It is always nice to know there are others going through what you are going through. With that being said, it is definitely easier to do this with someone than alone. Also I had the benefit of having this week off of work. So I will only be at work for 3 days if I complete the 10 day fast instead of the 14 day one. The worst days are also in the beginning.

So right now my sense of smell is like superhero sense of smell. I guess since I am not eating it has instensified my other senses. It’s really odd to smell everything so intensely but at the same time really great. I am also just starting to get the energy high that comes with this fast toward the end. I have also managed to mantain working out. I have gone twice now and plan to go and do a weightlifting class tomorrow.

One thing I did differently this time was I drank a lot more water in between my lemonade drinks. I think that really helped me feel so much better and I am glad I figured that out. Also having two little ones keeps me really busy and my mind off of the whole food thing. It is truly amazing how much time you have when you don’t mess with food. You have a lot of free time to read and do things you usually don’t have time for. For me though with the kids I am just spending more time with them.

So another hard thing is watching your loved ones eat in front of you. Michael has been eating pizza, chinese food, pasta, etc.  It’s tough but I just tell myself that I can’t do it and I am too close now to the end to stop this. I know once I am done I will feel like a million bucks just like last time. Also hopefully a good 15 lbs lighter. Currently I have lost 8 1/2 lbs as of this morning weigh in. It is really motivating to see that scale go down everyday! My plan after the fast is really stay away from all the bad foods and eat a more clean diet and continue my vigorous exercising… I am addicted to the working out part!

So to anyone that wants to try this diet… DO IT! Just commit and do it and I promise you will be truly amazed at how you feel and how you look! 

gregg braden

I picked up the July 2008 FREE Wisdom Magazine at Whole Foods, and in it Publisher Mary Arsenault is interviewing NY Times Bestselling author Gregg Bragen who wrote: The Isaiah Effect, The God Code, The Divine Matrix: Bridging Time, Space, Miracles and Belief. His last book is “now a finalist for the best new science book of 2007.” His newest book is The Spontaneous Healing of Belief. I read the interview three times – once in my apartment, traveling to Brooklyn, and on the return trip to Phila – because powerful words were spoken and I wanted to deeply feel and understand everything that was said.

Gregg Braden and Dr. Darren Weissman will be at the Hilton Philadelphia Airport, 4509 Island Avenue on 1-3 August; the subject is: Recreate! Your Life, Your Health, Our World!

The August issue of Wisdom will be featuring SACRED JOURNEYS & RETREATS. It sounds good to me. Sounds good to you?

“Our left brain needs to understand why it’s possible for us to affect our world. We know that the world around us is energy and made of electrical and magnetic fields. What our own science has found within the last two or three years is that the human heart is the strongest generator of electrical fields within the human body, about a hundred times stronger than the brain, and it’s the strongest generator of magnetic fields in the body – about 5000 times stronger than the brain. So when we create a feeling in our hearts the way the ancients told us to – feelings of appreciation, gratitude, healing, love and compassion – what we are really doing is creating very powerful waves of electrical and magnetic energy inside our heart that floods our body with these fields and it extends beyond our bodies in the world around us. And that’s how we influence the physical world around us – we can literally rearrange the atoms of physical matter through these fields if we learn to focus and hone this language.” – Gregg Braden

let the buyer beware

There’s a gem of a natural foods store in Brooklyn called Back to the Land. The choices are excellent, and the vegetables and fruits are always fresh. There are magazines on health and spiritual matters, and pamphlets on upcoming workshop events, are there for the taking. I want to bring this store back to Philadelphia with me.

The last time I was in Back to the Land, I picked up the Better Nutrition April 2008 issue, and saw the article Best of beauty awards WINNERS 2008 on page 58. In the article Barbara Close, the founder of Naturopathica, and the author of PURE SKIN: Organic Beauty Basics, said companies have started to remove “questionable ingredients” from their products, and “urges customers to steer clear whenever possible” of the following list of chemicals:

*Diethanolamine (DEA)
*Momoethanolamine (MEA)
*FD&C color pigments
*Imidazolidinyl urea and DMDM
*Polyethylene glycol
*Propylene glycol
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and
sodium laureth sulfate

Back in Philly I was at Whole Foods and bought a BWC product. There were the words:   “botanical formula,” extra gentle” and “100% vegetarian” on the package – soothing words, right? Then I read the list of ingredients, and saw that the “beauty without cruelty” BWC eye make-up remover had that word parabens. Uh-oh. Caveat emptor.

The next time I was at WF, I asked, “Why is Whole Foods selling products containing parabens? And the answer was . . . “Companies have two years to get toxic chemicals out of their products.” and . . . “You can get your money back.”

Meanwhile at the check-out counter, a small tube of Tom’s of Maine toothpaste was offered free. Tom’s . . . “The secret to a naturally healthy, fresh feeling mouth starts right here.” Nothing was mentioned of the one other ingredient listed on the tube, sodium lauryl sulfate.

Toxic chemicals . . .  it’s a challenge to find ways to lessen their impact. We don’t want fear to enter the picture because the power of the mind is too precious to waste on fear, better to use it to come up with solutions for a cleaner world. I like Ode Magazine because their articles are about solutions to problems. And in the April issue are a few articles relating  to the ways individuals from all walks of life around the world, each in their own way, are contributing to a cleaner and better world. We can all do that; we just need to get started. We tend to forget that we human beings are amazingly resilient, much stronger, and have more power than we can ever imagine.

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I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.
-Louisa May Alcott

happy times

The holidays , they delighted the outer and inner. Four New Yorkers came to Philadelphia and we all stayed at The Four Seasons; it was a merry place. On Christmas day we walked a bit around Philadelphia (most everything was closed), played with seven-months old Sophie, had wonderful conversations, enjoyed carry-out from McCormick & Schmick on Christmas night as it seemed to be the only restaurant opened, watched Sophie sitting up straight opening her first Christmas gifts ever (mental note: tell Alicia and Michael she would have been completely happy with a piece of wrapping paper as a gift). Sumi and Toshi, – just teasing. Then, while Toshi put Sophie to sleep, we three – Sumi, Emi and I, quietly left the room for the lounge where The Four Seasons pampered its guests with scrumptious desserts and drinks on the house in a lovely setting.

The two days you were here were lovely, and I thank you, you New Yorkers, for coming to Philadelphia and making Christmas in Phila a truly beautiful one!

The following Sunday I left for Raleigh on Southwest Airlines to spend New Year’s eve with nineteen-months old Sebastian, and Alicia and Michael. Southwest lets you choose your own seat. And that’s fine if you’re in the “A” line. I wasn’t, but that was all right, as one of the flight attendants had the kind of humor that kept us laughing for most of the trip. Don’t let it stop, flight attendant. It was good to see Michael’s smiling face at RDU Airport waiting. RDU is looking big and pretty spiffy. The city planners are keeping up with all the new residents moving into the Durham/Raleigh area. It wasn’t so long ago that a salad in Raleigh consisted of some lackluster lettuce leaves, a few slices of tomatoes, lots of bacon bits and croutons, and a heavy creamy dressing. Whew! Not anymore.

Alicia and Michael spent New Year’s eve out and about on the town; Sebastian and I played until he was ready for bed at 7:30. During the week we spent time at a few well-designed playgrounds, drove to Earth Fare for some organic foods, cooked, talked and talked, ate carry-out from Cheesecake Factory at Crabtree Mall. Then on the day before I left, Alicia suggested Michael and I dine out. Thank you, Alicia. We went to Taverna Agora, 6101 Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh. Taverna Agora is cozy, comfortable, friendly, with pleasant service, and, of course, tasty food. It feels like a well-liked, dependable neighborhood restaurant. We had a good time. On returning we found Alicia happily sitting in a corner of a couch, surrounded by big fluffy pillows, spending some down time catching up on missed tv programs. Sebastian was fast asleep; his little body only stops for naps and bedtime.

Michael, thank you for your post. It’s always interesting and enjoyable spending time with family in Raleigh.

Now we’re ready to give 2008 our best shot. Right?

the taxi driver

This month I traveled from Philadelphia to Raleigh on Southwest Airlines. I didn’t know there’s a train going to the airport (I’ve lots to learn about this city where there’s so much to do and friendly people everywhere ready to give advice), and since my flight was an early Sunday morning one, I decided to flag a taxi. And so a wonderful, witty person slipped into my life for 15 minutes by way of a taxi. He had radiant, happy eyes, a big smile, and was very unlike the last taxi driver who relished talking about the crime in Philadelphia. When just that month you’ve moved to Philadelphia you don’t want to hear about the crime. Yes, you know it exists, but no need to be in a taxi with a driver obsessed with the topic. This last taxi driver from Africa was entirely different. His story was of being misdiagnosed when he went to a doctor, and spending one agonizing week alone worrying about his wife and two young children, before realizing that maybe he should go for a second opinion. A really good idea as the second doctor said nothing was wrong with him. The funny part of the story was what went on inside his head during the week he thought he was dying. He was laughing out loud funny, and that’s the way I got out of the taxi – lol.

stirrings from within

I went away last week-not far-but far enough to see that life is just a little different there than it is here at the moment. That’s always okay because one finds food for thought in places that are different. What wonderful conversations I had with three people at three different times. Neat! Interestingly, these conversations were along the same lines, having to do with relationships which can get rather sticky at times-if we let them. These three people are searchers. The thing is though that they’re not quite sure what they’re searching for. You can tell when they’re talking that there’s something nagging at them and it keeps telling them at every opportunity that there’s a better way of thinking, doing, imagining, loving, and, in general, living. Every indication suggests that the time is right for them, and now they’re paying attention to the stirrings from within urging them to watch, trust, read the signs, let go and be open to change, to discover and explore a better, more powerful and loving way of being in this world. Ah, what an adventure; it’s an amazing journey we’re all on.

“Before you die, dare to walk the wildest unknown way.” – Bryce Courtenay

“Let the beauty we love be what we do.” – Rumi

“What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.” – Otto Rank

“Unless you leave room for serendipity, how can the Divine enter in? The beginning of the adventure is to lose your way.” -Joseph Campbell

talk and a good bistro

Recently a friend of mine went to an all-day meeting, a panel discussion. We met after, and as we sat at a charming bistro -one needs to balance a heavy discussion with surroundings that please – she began talking about her very. very busy day. It’s easy to sense when a person has had a day that’s draining. Their entire self is different. Those kind of days are somewhat like batting your head against a brick wall, you contribute to the discussion, around and around the talk goes, and nothing too significant gets done because there are so many rules and regulations. I think many people have those days.

The atmosphere of a good bistro lends itself to seeing life differently, and words began flowing easily. She’d been taking part in a panel discussion about young children and health. However, talk about young children was short-lived as we began thinking about adult children. This is not so cut and dry a subject – everyone thinks differently about it, and surely that’s everyone’s right.

We went back and forth with this conversation. Adding that in many cultures, families tend to stay together. This is what I’ve heard and read. Our American culture is very different, as is the way we have of bringing up our children. There’s no right or wrong here, but it’s been written that our culture is too materialistic, that we’re always in a hurry, stressed out, don’t even bring up our children as we leave that for other people to do, and we’re selfish with our time. So when our children return to us, perhaps after a divorce, or when s/he hasn’t found a way in the world yet, or simply is not ready to leave family, we become anxious and struggle with this instead of accepting it.

In some other countries, one sees large families living together, supporting the family in different ways, and enjoying each other’s company. It looks like an authentic togetherness. Sometimes that’s how it is in the States, though the norm tends toward big wonderful family meals savoured mostly during holidays. And according to the hilarious movies we see during the November/December months, family holiday dinners in the US don’t turn out quite the same as, let’s say, those in Europe.

The other side of the coin is when a parent or guardian is not ready for their child to leave. They keep a tight hold, and when thoughts of leaving the family are brought up, an adult child is made to feel guilty. So, the other side of the coin has to factor in allowing a child to freely leave when the time is right for them. Readiness is individual, some can’t wait to “conquer the world.” They leave with or without consent. Some can do this without guilt, others can’t. They stay, and live their life on someone else’s terms.

Yes, this was an interesting conversation. There’s no right or wrong – only opinions – therefore. we resolved nothing. Let’s say that the best case scenario is when joy, peace, love and laughter reign supreme whatever the circumstances.

Yes, we’re ready for the check. Thank you.

a little glimpse

He said that he was born in Southeast Asia and was adopted by Mormons. That was his past. He was handsome, kind, soft-spoken, intelligent, and easily enjoyed being with people. He was a professor at a major university on the west coast, until he took a year off to travel around South America with his Japanese girlfriend.

One evening in Ecuador, when a group of us gathered at a restauant for dinner, the kind of casual meal that welcomed others to join, he spoke about a place in Hawaii where he had recently been. During his stay there he said everything he desired came true. Everything! I asked him, if that was the case, why he didn’t stay. He replied that it would be a very boring life.

I got to thinking recently about him, this citizen of the world. I can only guess, but, if this kind of experience exists, it must be true for everyone. We can all have a glimpse of just how fascinating this world of ours is, and be grateful to the Intelligence that created it. But . . . we are so busy with what’s before us that we don’t stop often enough to consider the grandeur of our world, and that it’s not what it seems.

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“. . . He decided to dedicate his life to researching consciousness and mystical experiences, which he now feels are among ‘the natural birthrights of all human beings.’ ” – Ode Jan/Feb 2007, Tijn Touber, p. 75-about Stanislav Grof, WHEN THE IMPOSSIBLE HAPPENS: ADVENTURES IN NON-ORDINARY REALITY

a late night caller

She had married for the first time in her forties to a man she loved. He died when she was in her fifties. She had lived in the same town, a small, quiet New England town, all her life. The job she’d had for so long no longer satisfied her.

Late one night when heavy rains pounded at her house she found herself in a deep state of unhappiness. She’d been sitting with her unhappiness for some time unable to shake it or to even think of her next step when suddenly a name popped into her mind. She’d gotten the name from someone awhile ago, but never followed up on a call. The name belonged to a highly-recommended counselor. As if in a trance she looked for the number and found herself making a phone call. Had she been in her usual state, and had put more thought into making the call, it never would have happened since it was past midnight. Luckily she wasn’t in her usual state. Althought it was late the woman answered her phone and agreed to see the caller. It would be another hour or so for the caller to get to the counselor’s house since she lived in another city. It was all right the counselor had said. “Come.”

They met on that stormy night and the caller’s life was forever changed. This is all she told me when I first met her in New Mexico. I’ve no idea what was said in the wee hours of that stormy morning. I think she has no desire to relive that part of her life, but whatever it was it was like a healing pill for the unhappy caller. From the east coast to the west coast the caller traveled. An interesting step since she’d never traveled any where except in her own home state before this time. At the time I was fortunate enough to meet the caller she had gotten her college and master’s degrees and went from pastoral training right into the ministry. Of course, it wasn’t an easy road. Did she mind? It doesn’t seem that way. And I don’t think she knows what the word unhappy means anymore.

I marvel at what was set in motion because a compassionate counselor answered a phone call late one night and said, “come.”

the hudson river towns

Yesterday a friend and I took the Metro-North Hudson Line at Grand Central. Garrison, NY was the destination to check out rental possibilities. We asked the conductor if he knew of Garrison. He said, “There’s lots of trees there.” That didn’t help much. However, a stranger sitting across from us with a love of the Hudson River towns picked up on our conversation with the conductor. She began telling us a little about the history of Peekskill, Garrison, Cold Spring , and Beacon . She said that since 9/11 more and more people have moved to the river towns. There’s a lot of creativity, many artists live there, and new galleries are opening up all the time. And she said that she’s been thinking of selling her Manhattan apartment and moving to Beacon and then traveling. I always perk up when I hear the word travel. It’s a magic word to me. You, too?

The stranger’s name is Mary. And Mary with a delightful way about her, gave us a new way of looking at the river towns. She was on her cell phone for awhile; I didn’t know she was gathering more information until she handed me a card with names to call if Garrison was the place of choice. Nice! As we continued to talk about the towns, the day’s itinerary got shifted. Garrison, it was noted by Mary and the conductor, was not a place to be without a car. Final talk about Garrison ended with, “It’s a beautiful place if it’s the lifestyle desired.” Thoughts of Garrison were eliminated. We would get off at Cold Spring or Beacon. Some semblance of a plan was forming thanks to Mary in the know.

We decided to get off at Cold Spring. Beacon was a stop away should we want to see it later in the day. Cold Spring is a charming town with very friendly and helpful people. We asked a lot of questions from people we met while walking along the streets, and they freely gave their time to answer. I was beginning to feel like a reporter. People from Manhattan never quite get over the friendliness and helpfulness of people in other areas. This is not to say Manhattan is not a friendly place, it’s just to say it’s not as friendly. However, there are big exceptions, Mary being one of them.

Cold Spring has lots of large houses, antique shops, craft places, restaurants, a library, a bookstore, a lovely inn, and whatever is needed for a cozy lifestyle. It’s a quiet town; it’s a clean town, and we were told that on weekends it’s a town busy with tourists. Going to new places makes you think of new possibilities and the many different lifestyle choices. Thank you to those people who shared their experiences yesterday. It was most pleasant. And a big thank you to Mary who I’m sure goes through life helping strangers along the way.

“Afoot and lighthearted I take to the open road, healthy, free, the world before me, the long brown path leading wherever I choose.” – Walt Whitman