When many of us hear the word "cleanse", thoughts of being on a "juice only" diet for days comes to mind or some radical approach such as sipping cabbage soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner - I can see you cringing! However, in my opinion the best approach to cleansing is incorporating "gentle daily detoxification techniques." Our bodies automatically strive to maintain balance amidst changing conditions and naturally help us to detoxify on a daily basis. The problem, as we have all heard, is that we have become heavily overloaded by toxins and as a result many of us are not maintaining our optimal health. The morning is a perfect time to incorporate some specific "daily detoxification techniques" to assist moving the toxins through your detoxification pathways. I have outlined 5 cleansing activities that I perform almost every morning. I add other practices here and there, but these five are a constant part of my morning ritual....
Upon rising, instead of jumping out of bed, take the time to stretch. You have been lying down for hours and your body naturally wants to slowly move and awaken. I usually stretch anywhere from 5-10 minutes. I start with stretching on the side of my bed and then get up and do a few yoga movements.
Drink Warm Water with Lemon
After stretching, I fill my tea kettle with pure water, let it come to a boil and pour over two organic lemon slices (or admittedly, my hubby does this for me). After steeping for about 10 minutes, I sip the warm water slowly. Lemon is highly alkalizing so it helps to balance your PH levels. It also acts as a digestive aide and stimulates the liver to help it with detoxification. Additionally, the Vitamin C boosts your immune system and helps to keep you skin clear. Plus, the citrus smell has an uplifting and energizing scent.
Before, I hop into the shower, I give myself a quick dry brush massage. It is an excellent way to stimulate lymphatic flow and increase circulation. Skin brushing also helps to exfoliate the skin and improve overall texture. And when performed daily, it can help eliminate cellulite. I use a long vegetable bristle brush that is not too hard. It is best to start at your feet with a light touch (as you don't want to scratch your skin), using long sweeping strokes. You can increase pressure as you go along, moving up the calves, behind the knees, up the thighs, and over the hips. Then using clockwise circular strokes brush your abdomen. Next, continue with the long sweeping strokes across your chest, gently over your breasts, up your arms and finally down your shoulders and back. All-in-all this takes less than 5 minutes.
All over the world, the power of water treatments have been recognized - just look at the amount of spa's there are. I very much believe in taking the time for many different types of hydrotherapy. However, in the AM before work, I often choose a simple shower, which helps to wash away surface toxins, dead skin cells and stimulate cleansing. One of the best hydrotherapy methods is combining alternating hot and cold water. I simply do this by taking a hot shower and ending it with a shot of cold water. In order to not shock the body, once the cold water is turned on, I put my right foot in it first, then my right leg, and I slowly incorporate the rest of my body. On frigid NYC days, I will skip the cold blast and instead once out of the shower, I will splash very cold water on my face. It has a toning effect, increases circulation and is an instant wake-up. I often splash cold water on my face after I have stretched for a refreshing wake-up before my warm lemon water.
What and when you choose to eat has a cleansing effect, as well.Breakfast which we have all heard is considered to be the most important meal of the day. It "breaks the fast" after a long night of sleep and gives you the energy to start the day right. Additionally, it may help to stabilize your blood sugar levels and metabolism throughout the day, leaving you to feel less hungry later, helping you to avoid overeating and prompting you to make healthier food choices. I feel so strongly about the importance of breakfast that we have a dedicated series, named, "Good Morning" that showcases healthy AM recipes. I like to mix-up breakfast, but some of my "go-to's" are a bowl of homemade granola topped with fruit and yogurt, oatmeal or avocado toast.