Clean up your act
FOR SOME, summer means over indulgence, a time when beach parties, junks, barbeques and weddings become a weekly routine and 2pm cocktails the civilised norm. There are those, like myself, who fall into the habit of treating your body as if it were 18 again. We all know that pollution, junk food and lack of exercise make us sluggish, so to kickstart our bodies into shape many turn to the almighty detox.
The word detox used to send shivers down my spine. I imagined miserable hippies wearing tie-dye and sourpuss expressions, chewing bits of bark and proclaiming it delicious. The only one I had previously dared to try was the Lemonade Diet as popularised by Beyonce: 10 days of nothing but lemon juice, cayenne pepper, water and maple syrup. I lasted only five days, did not lose weight - a miraculous result for anyone practically starving for 120 hours - and I felt like hell.
So it wasn't without trepidation that I took on the challenge of another detox. Run by Dr Wendy Yang at Dr Susan Jamieson & Holistic Central Medical Practice, the 10-day Urban Health Farm Detox and Weight Loss Solution sounded like the perfect antidote. This detox aims to address some of the health problems associated with modern urban living - not just the pollutants, physical inactivity and cutting down of bad habits, but hormonal imbalances, ineffective metabolisms and poor immune function thought to be linked to high levels of bodily toxins. Even types of malnutrition occur because a lot of modern or processed foods contain much less nutrients and minerals than in fresh organic produces from non-depleted soil. Add this to stressful city living and unhealthy habits, and the results aren't pretty.
Pre-detox 2 days: Elimination of certain foods from the diet to prepare body for detox. I send back a questionnaire on my lifestyle, habits, problem areas and goals for the detox for the doctor to create a customised detox solution for me.
Day 1: A visit to Holistic Central. Vital stats are taken and afterwards Dr Yang explains the fundamental principles of the detox. I get a schedule for meals and supplements and a list of allowed foods - pretty much vegan. Lunch meals should be raw salads and lots of different supplements taken throughout the day. She provides a shopping list and simple recipes. I also do a session with Body Talk expert Angie Tourani, whose gentle treatments are said to help with a host of physical and emotional blocks.
Day 3: The diet is healthy and quite tasty, so I don't feel hungry. There is no restriction on the amount of raw food you eat, which makes the detox easier than most. My skin, after a one-day breakout where toxins were being realised, looks clearer. Meals are quick and easy to make. I feel full with all the supplement pills and powders. Dr Yang contacts detoxers daily to check on their programme.
Day 5: My skin continues to improve and my mood is lifted significantly. There is no weight loss yet, but I feel much better from the healthy diet. Going to massages and saunas, as advised, is great for expelling additional toxins. There is some bloating, maybe because of all the supplements, and some people experience a little dizziness from withdrawals, but I feel fine.
Day 7: After a week, I feel on top of the world, especially emotionally, which was unexpected. I discovered some delicious Indian dishes that fit the diet and the spices are a welcome break. I feel happier, the bloating has gone and I feel lighter - the scales say that I have lost one kilogram.
Day 9: I wake up feeling fantastic. My body feels lighter, and with the walking I've done a few times after dinner, there is a spring in my step. By now, I've read a lot more literature on the philosophy behind certain foods, the detox and the supplements I'm taking, and becoming more informed on food in general and processes of this detox.
Day 10: The final day goes without a hitch and I feel amazing. My skin's clearer and tighter. I'm conscious of the changes in my body. The supplements have worked; especially the one that expands in your stomach and expels old toxins. I'm delighted about my skin and general elevation in mood. I have lost little weight, but I feel lighter.
Post-detox 2 days: Again to gently ease your body back into your normal patterns, some foods are eliminated for two days. I go back to Dr Yang for a check-up and measurements. I've lost one and a half inches from the circumference of my rib cage, one inch from my waist and half an inch from my hips. My skin still has radiance. On the weight front, I didn't lose much, but others on this detox lost as much as 12 lbs in 12 days, whereas some, like me, lost inches but not many pounds.
Post-detox 1 week: I would like to to do this every three months, as the effect of the detox is quite drastic, especially in an unhealthy Hong Kong environment. This Urban Health Farm Detox, unlike so many I've researched, is not difficult and founded upon sound Chinese and western holistic medical practices. The internal cleansing is extremely effective, and the healthy diet and supplements means your body is never in any kind of starvation or emergency mode. Unlike my first experience with a detox diet, this was not painful or depressing. In fact, the improvement to my mood and outlook was surprisingly strong. Dr Yang is fantastically supportive and a great educator on how the detox targets and changes the body. The greatest benefits are knowledge and good habits taken from the detox that can be integrated easily into normal life.
Body of work
Dr Yang is a trained chiropractor, and an expert on energy and bodywork techniques that blend western and Eastern philosophies. Although she studied chiropractics in New Zealand, Yang had been practicing holistic medicine since childhood with her Taiwanese grandmother. She is also a certified raw food chef.
The detox promises to promote cleansing and weight loss by neutralizing and eliminating toxins from the body, which are then expelled through the body's natural processes. This programme particularly relies a lot on organic and non-processed foods by reducing the toxins and chemicals going in. Herbal supplements used in the programme (supplied by the Doctor) support the body's natural cleansing processes and give extra vitamins, minerals that the body needs. Repair focus is on liver, digestion and kidneys. The programme is individually customized and great for busy Hongkongers. Dr Susan Jamieson & Holistic Central Medical Practice 36 Queen's Rd Central www.holistic-central.com
1 pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and chopped
2 leeks, trimmed and diced
1 onion, sliced
1 carrot or parsnip, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper
Pinch of curry powder or cumin 2.5 cups water
*Put ingredients in a large saucepan with enough water to cover.
*Simmer until tender, drain. thoroughly and press in blender, add hot water for right consistency, add olive oil at the end.
*Can serve with a spoonful of organic natural yogurt, cooked quinoa or brown rice.