Since this entire column is about doing things to and for yourself, I figure it’s time we start looking at the mornings as a prime time for other types of self care – after all, how you choose to start your day sets the tone for the hours that follow and determines how you feel. The morning is also a time when you are at your most purified as your liver and kidneys have spent the night hours working diligently to filter your blood and body of toxins while you just lay there sleeping like an entitled asshole (kidding, you need sleep more than anything). But now these toxins are sitting there waiting to be expelled, and must be, in order to start a productive day. Below are my tips on how to ramp up your detox first thing upon waking to get the maximum benefit.
SLEEP CYCLE / FIT BIT
Now that cell phones have almost entirely replaced alarm clocks, we have even less distance from our devices than before, but one benefit to come out of the explosion of apps is new technology centered around our bodies and biorhythms. When you fall asleep at night, your brain enters 90 minute cycles that include light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep (dreaming). Each of these phases are crucial to cellular repair, emotional processing, and all kinds of cleansing and resetting, and if we wake ourselves up mid-cycle we feel, to put it lightly, really fucked up. Groggy, half asleep, shaky, edgy, irritable. Have you ever had the experience where you woke up 30 seconds before your alarm went off thinking “Wow I feel so alert and refreshed”…well congrats, you hit the sleep cycle perfectly. But honestly, how often does that happen?
Luckily, new apps and gadgets like Sleep Cycle and FitBit solve this problem by sensing your movements, breathing, pulse, etc. and then waking you up at the exact moment your sleep cycle ends with soothing music. It’s really easy: you tell the app what time you have to wake up (say 7am) and the app builds in a half hour cushion before that in case your sleep cycle ends first. So let’s say your sleep cycle ends at 6:42am, the app will wake you up right at that moment before you can enter a new cycle, fall back into a really deep sleep, and feel like hell twenty minutes later. There is no downside…you will wake up earlier and feel better than had you slept in until 7am. I’ve used this and it works; seriously it’s a game-changer.
Oil pulling is an ancient form of detox that has been widely practiced in Indian Ayurvedic traditions and has a whole host of health benefits that sound too good to be true but it actually works. I come from a family of dental professionals who told me repeatedly as a kid that all health starts in the mouth (and the gut but more on that later). My father who practiced dentistry for fifty years could diagnose all sorts of diseases based on how his patient’s mouth appeared, and taught us that bad oral hygiene is linked to heart disease, diabetes, and low grade bacterial infections in the bloodstream, among many other maladies.
So what is oil pulling? It’s easy, if slightly uncomfortable at first. All you do is take about 2 tablespoons of oil (sesame, coconut, etc.) and swish it around in your mouth for 10-20 minutes each morning before you do anything else. Do NOT swallow any of it because it will be loaded with toxins and bacteria by the end, and do not spit it down the sink or toilet. Normal people say spit it in the garbage; I prefer walking outside and spitting it into the dirt because I like pretending that I live in the wilderness sometimes. Then rinse your mouth and brush your teeth, floss, etc. and go about your day.
Oil pulling acts as a soap, scrubbing your mouth of cavity-causing bacteria; it also pulls toxins from your gums and all the highly vascular areas of your palate and cheeks, which keeps the bacteria load in your bloodstream low and your vitality high. I have personally seen that it helps tremendously with hangovers, garlic breath, fatigue, breakouts etc. I swear by raw coconut oil, but to each his or her own. Once you get used to how odd it can feel, you’ll start looking forward to it. Since you’re a busy human, keep the oil by your bed and put it in your mouth before you even get up. Swish while you check emails and feed your dog, swish while you prepare breakfast or heat the shower, swish while you pick out your outfit, and before you know it you’ll be done and can spit it out. Best part of all? It also whitens teeth and substitutes for mouthwash.
This is probably the easiest and cheapest thing you can do for your overall health. It’s really simple, ready? 1) Squeeze a whole lemon into a glass of water when you wake up in the morning 2) Drink the lemon water.
If you do this every morning before eating breakfast, your liver will be so happy, as the lemon encourages the liver to dump all the toxins it has collected overnight. Lemon water, though acidic, has an alkalizing effect on the body, meaning it makes you more basic (not in the basic bitches way, don’t worry). We want this because most of the stuff we ingest (coffee, alcohol) are super acidic and throw off that balance, which is why they mess up our stomachs so much. Lemon water is your best friend. If you’re really dedicated, make a whole pitcher of it with many lemons, to drink throughout the week.
If you are lucky enough to own a juicer, a great act of love you can do for yourself each morning after lemon water is to drink plain celery juice. It is potently anti-inflammatory and can help ease symptoms of pain, autoimmune diseases, and other bodily stress; it is alkaline and can combat all the acid buildup in our systems and purify the blood and aid in digestion and mend gut issues; it can help the kidneys cleanse toxins from the body and promote weight loss. Plus it tastes like you are drinking a glass of pure health.
POWER OF POOP
If you haven’t pooped by the time you get done with oil pulling, lemon water, and celery juice, you may want to consider what your eating habits, stress levels, and nightly routine is doing to throw off your bowels. Poop and pee, along with sweat, are the three ways we get rid of toxins most effectively, so try to get your body into the habit of moving your bowels each morning. The important thing for colon regularity is everything-else-regularity, meaning, try to get to bed around the same time, eat dinner at the same time, and not do anything damaging to the gut late at night (pounding shots or eating greasy or spicy foods spring to mind). If you need extra assistance getting things moving, there are lots of supplements on the market that you can take before bed to encourage regularity. Look for those containing cascara sagrada, burdock root, slippery elm bark, aloe, black walnut, and dandelion root. But do not rely on laxatives – these strip your gut of the good bacteria it needs to function properly. Patience is key.
If you spend a few weeks drinking lemon water every day, oil pulling 4-5 days, celery juice whenever you can, and pooping regularly, I guarantee you’ll feel fresher, clearer, and cleaner, and soon it will become second-nature routine!