Two years ago I smoked, drank at least two glasses of wine a day, had no libido, and was on the verge of a divorce. I was angry and unhappy. I had regular panic attacks. And each day brought a deeper feeling of worthlessness and defeat. My energy level was almost non-existent and I felt trapped in a downward spiral. I was afraid all the time, felt myself aging before my time, and didn’t know how to change it. All I could do was go through the motions of my life, even though nothing felt right. Let’s face it – you know you’re in trouble when you have a panic attack while doing Yoga!
But everything began to change in April of 2008 when I interviewed Karyn Calabrese for the Ageless Beauty issue of Today's Chicago Woman magazine. A 61-year-old who had been eating a raw diet for 38 years and looked younger than most 40-year-olds, Karyn is the owner of Karyn’s Fresh Corner Café, Karyn's Raw Vegan Gourmet Restaurant, Karyn’s Cooked, Karyn's on Green and Karyn’s Inner Beauty (a state-of-the-art wellness center) in Chicago. I spent a day with her, sampling raw cuisine and talking about health, fitness, beauty, marriage, sex and spirituality. And she told me that cleansing was the portal to physical, emotional and spiritual growth and that by healing the body we create a better environment from which to live our lives. During our conversation I began to realize that on a cellular level my body knew exactly what to do to be its optimal best – it me who was getting in the way.
I didn’t believe I could ever attempt anything as demanding as cleansing, but the conversation with Karyn lingered in the back of my mind until I could no longer dismiss it. And on May 12th, 2008, I wrote on my calendar, “Today is the day I let my body heal itself.”
I stopped smoking that day. And I never looked back. Less than a month later I did my first cleanse – a 21-day period without alcohol, caffeine, sugar, gluten, and all animal products. As the days passed I began to feel younger and more energetic. I was bounding out of bed at 5:00AM and falling asleep quickly and easily at night. And I saw my life with a clarity that I hadn’t enjoyed since I reached the legal drinking age many years ago.
Because I was no longer propelled by the chemicals in processed foods, sugar, caffeine and alcohol, my body’s chemistry stabilized. I no longer crashed after a sugar high, caffeine buzz or a glass of wine the night before. And that made it easier to deal with life more rationally. Instead of turning disagreements with my husband into toxic, emotional tantrums, I could speak matter-of-factly about the issues we were facing. And instead of turning the smallest issues into dramas – in any aspect of my life – I simply dealt with them and moved on.
I haven’t had one panic attack since I began cleansing. My husband and I have worked through the long-standing obstacles that threatened our marriage, and I’ve brought my libido back to life. Each day I wake up knowing that I can have a positive influence on the day ahead. I’m having more fun than I have in years. And as I approach 50, I feel younger than I have in two decades. And I just bought a pair of Size 5 pants in the Juniors department at Nordstrom!
To be sure, cleansing is not a panacea for everything that life throws at us, but it can be a great stepping-stone into a world of balance, focus, clarity and better health, both physical and mental. And it’s a springboard for those who want to take their health to a higher level. That’s what it was for me – I changed my health, my looks and my life once I started cleansing.