Every now and then, ideally once every four to six weeks, it is a good idea to devote a whole weekend to yourself. Tell partners and friends that you are otherwise engaged, or ask your husband or a friend to look after the children. If you feel you cannot spare a whole weekend, at least try to get a full day. Giving time to yourself should be an empowering experience, but it may feel strange at first.
The aim of this programme is to enable you to take stock of your body. You could use the weekend to lose a little weight, to detoxify your body of needless substances, or simply to re-establish a balance in your life. Don’t expect to feel totally different after one weekend; this is just one small positive step.
If you suffer from any medical conditions such as diabetes or cancer or regularly take any medication, you should check with your doctor before you engage on a cleansing programme, as you may need to modify it slightly to accommodate your specific needs.
Planning Your Time
- Book A Beauty Treatment
The first stage, a week or two ahead, is to book a massage, facial or pedicure, either at a local salon or, if possible, by a beautician who will visit your house. In some areas there are companies who will come to your home and give you a ‘health farm’ –style beauty, exercise and food routine. However, if you are not used to it, you will probably find that one pampering treatment is enough. You may like to consider asking a friend to join you, either for your beauty treatments or for the day, but make sure she is someone you can relax with.
- Indulge Yourself
Stock up with new magazines, one or two books and your favourite music, so that you can lie back in the comfort of your own home and completely indulge yourself. Treat yourself to some new beauty products: for the bath or shower, for your hair, nails or skin. If you are going to try the natural face packs, don’t forget to shop for the ingredients beforehand.
The day before, go to the shops or markets and buy plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits. Make sure that your refrigerator and cupboards are well stocked, so that you can easily prepare food that is both appetizing and healthy, such as a fruit shake or vegetable soup. I suggest you buy bunches of fresh herbs and plenty of limes and lemons, as these will help to make your salads and cooked vegetable dishes even more delicious. Also make sure you have a good-quality virgin olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper to make dressings for your salads.
- Exercise Is Optional
Some of you may like to combine the cleansing weekend with visits to your local gym. This would be excellent, but is not essential as the aim of this programme is to get you to feel energized by food.
- Eat Regularly
Even though you will be eating different types of food during this weekend, it is important for you to eat regularly. This will help to protect your gut from stomach acids and keep a steady flow of food through your bowel muscles. Also, if you let yourself get too hungry, you are likely to give in to a craving for something less healthy.
- Prepare Delicious Food
Devoting time to making something delicious for only yourself to enjoy should be a major priority. This weekend there is no need to worry about other people’s needs, but many women feel that it is not worth the effort of preparing something special just for themselves. This shouldn’t be so – you’re worth a lot. Think of cooking or preparing delicious vegetable and fruit dishes as an empowering activity.
- Enjoy Your Meals
Think about the presentation of the meals and take time to enjoy them. In the winter you might like to take your food outside and sit in the garden under the sun. In summer, make sure the house is warm enough for you to relax without having to have lots of clothes on.
- Avoid High-Protein Foods and Carbohydrate
Just for two days, try to keep off protein-rich foods such as meat, game, chicken, fish, shellfish, eggs, cheese, dried beans and lentils and nuts (although a few nuts will not hurt), and carbohydrate foods such as bread, potatoes, rice and pasta. Of course they have their place in a balanced diet, but two days of not eating these foods will not harm you. You will be amazed how well you feel after two days of eating just fruits and vegetables – flavoured with honey or sugar, and delicious oils and vinegars.
- Avoid Caffine
Caffeine prevents your body from absorbing many vitamins and minerals from the fruits and vegetables you will be eating. Since the aim of this weekend is to boost your health and energy, it would be better to avoid tea, coffee, hot chocolate and cola-based drinks. If you have been a heavy caffeine drinker you may suffer from a mild headache for a couple of hours when you stop drinking it. It is not recommended that you drink decaffeinated tea or coffee as these frequently contain chemicals, which not only make the drink taste strange, but their effect in the body is not fully known. Instead drink plenty of water, herb teas, fresh fruit or vegetable juices.
- Avoid Alcohol
Alcohol isn’t bad for you, but in a weekend where we are trying to get you to feel full of energy, try to avoid it. This will give your liver a rest as well as enable your body to regain its natural energy balance. It is fine to use alcohol to poach fruits, or to splash into vegetable soups, as long as it boils for at least a minute or two: the alcohol evaporates off, leaving its lovely flavours in the food.
- Make A Health Plan
Take this opportunity to plan how you can keep the next few weeks healthy and less stressed. Making lists of things to do, blocking out time for yourself and organizing the shopping so your cupboards are stocked with good foods, can all help keep you on the straight and narrow.
Remember to examine your body regularly. Get advice on how to examine your breasts and do this at least once a week. Don’t just rely on your doctor to pick up problems: you know your body better than anyone, so keep in contact and you will notice if things are changing. Report any changes or worries to your doctor.