Our editor ditches the coffee, cocktail, and carbs and gets serious about salads with a little help from the Life Clinic detox gurus.
When it comes to fad diet trends, I couldn’t be less interested. I’m much more an advocate of the ‘everything in moderation’ way of thinking, but there comes a time in every thirty-something’s life when they wake up in the morning, look at their puffy eyes in the mirror, and hear their body whisper, “I need a little love, please”.
Running low on energy, and suspecting that my social life, which involves lots of late nights out and frequent drinking (this is Hong Kong after all), was starting to take its toll on my health, I decided to actually do something about it. So when I discovered that Life Clinic, a fully integrated health and vitality centre in Central, offered a 10 Day Medical Detox Programme, I took a leap of faith and signed myself up.
Being totally new to the detox game, and knowing that many friends are keen to try one out, I decided to keep a very honest diary of my experience to share with anyone considering giving it a whirl. But before I do, I must stress that this isn’t one of those half-hearted ‘just ditch alcohol for a week’ sort of detoxes, it’s hardcore, it’s strict, and it takes a lot of will power to complete. But if I can do it, then so can you!
What is a Medical Detox?
First things things, a Medical Detox is a natural human bodily process to neutralise, transform, and remove toxins to improve cellular metabolism, boost immunity, help regain energy, improve digestion, reduce bloating, and improve sleeping quality.
Other benefits of this detox include improved skin appearance, enhanced memory and concentration, improved emotional wellbeing, and (a lovely by-product) weight loss. But like all good things in life, there is a flip side, and the detox process does come with a list of possible minor side effects, such as headaches, nausea, stomach pains, and mood swings – so if you’re going on one, make sure to warn your colleagues!
On entering Life Clinic the day before my detox start date, I was met with beautiful smiles, warm handshakes, and bucket loads of enthusiasm from the ‘detox gurus’ – also know as Hellena the Health Coach, Barry the General Manager, Dr. Stephen the Medical Doctor, and Joey the Head Nurse. This was just the encouragement I needed after learning during my two-hour consultation what a Medical Detox actually involves, which is …
What is included in a Medical Detox?
Above all else, a simple diet (and I mean simple) which effectively sees you cutting out all the things you would associate with your average diet – i.e. coffee, alcohol, meat, dairy, carbs, and sugary goods – basically all the fun stuff! Instead, you are restricted to follow a daily diet plan which involves having one Morning Cleanser option (home blended fresh fruit juices with oranges and lemons, or water with lemon slices, plus herbal tea), ‘Rainbow’ salads for lunch (carrots, cucumbers, red cabbage, green onions, salad leaves, and home made dressing), and the occasional piece of fruit on certain days. You also have three different powders to add to the juices which contain proteins and vitamin B, which help your liver get rid of toxins.
Aside from the diet plan, which includes several periods of fasting, the process involves taking a selection of 7 multivitamin and antioxidant supplements each day (including vitamin C, probiotics, and Omega-3), skin brushing sessions each night to stimulate the lymphatic system and facilitate the removal of toxins, one IV Therapy boost on Day 4 or 5 with essential minerals and vitamins (similar to a Myers Cocktail), and – wait for it – a daily DIY organic coffee enema to help detox your liver. Yes, you read that right – I warned you this was hardcore – but at least I would still be getting my caffeine fix – even if it was from the wrong end!
Now being a self-confessed coffee-loving, red meat-eating, cocktail-sipping kind of girl, the initial shock of just reading the list of ‘Food to NOT eat’ in my Medical Detox Manual was almost enough to make me throw in the rag and run out of Life Clinic to find the nearest pub. However, being the stubborn mule that I am, I pushed through, got weighed, had my blood pressure taken, provided my medical history for the record, asked the gurus a million questions, and left the clinic with a sack of detox goodies to help me along my way. At this point, there was no turning back.
And here’s how it went …
Day 1: I stick it where?!
Keen as a bean, I was up at 7am and juicing my Morning Cleanser oranges and lemons with my brand new blender! That was the easy part – next up: DIY coffee enema. I’m glad I woke up an hour early to give myself plenty of time to get my head around the whole enema thing, and while I won’t go into detail (you might be eating) I will say that it feels pretty alienating to take your morning coffee from the opposite end. However, after faffing around with getting my enema bucket high enough to make it flow, and fiddling around with the tubes and, erm … plug, it was fairly plane-sailing from then on. Lying on my bathroom floor and holding the coffee inside for 10 minutes (!) was a challenge, but I certainly felt the caffeine kick after I ‘released’, and it was incredible to see just how much ‘stuff’ is sitting in our colon. It’s not the most pleasant experience I’ll be honest, but in a weird sort of way, it’s quite satisfying to know that you’re all cleared out down under.
I have to say, the hunger pangs throughout the day have not been as bad as I expected – even when I caught a whiff of fish and chips walking into the office block around lunchtime – who even eats fish and chips in Hong Kong?! However, after drinking only orange juice with powder and herbal tea for the whole day, I started to crash around 4pm and began fantasising about buttery potatoes. The stomach wants what the stomach wants – and apparently that’s carbs! It’s 9pm now and I’ve just completed my skin brushing session which was very relaxing. Now I’m about to fall asleep like a baby – a hungry baby … in need of a bottle!
Day 2: SALAD!
I woke up feeling pretty sprightly this morning, probably because I knew that today was salad day, and I fell asleep at about 9.30pm last night! The long sleep did me good, and after performing my relatively painless morning enema (as you do), I went about my morning as usual, thoroughly enjoy the two apples I was allowed to eat around 11am, and then devouring my homemade Rainbow salad at lunchtime. But yet again, as soon as it hit 4pm, I was crashing again, and my energy levels were plummeting. Clearly a big salad didn’t cut it, and the headaches began to creep in too. I was warned day 2 and 3 would be the hardest, so I’m not exactly looking forward to what tomorrow holds. At least the skin brushing feels relaxing. Will power! Come on!
Day 3: Cravings
I don’t have much to share with you today, because all my brain waves have been used up on sinful thoughts of biting into a slab of thick, juicy steak and washing it down with a glass (ok, a bottle) of red wine. That’s right, today is – according to the detox chart – ‘miss comfort foods’ day, and it appears I’m 100% on track. The only consolation is the knowledge that I’ve already dropped 3kg, so the detox is obviously working. I enjoyed another Rainbow salad at lunchtime and had no 4pm comedown today. My energy levels have been pretty good, so much so that I mustered up enough to go and catch a show in Macau and get the 1am ferry back home. The House of Dancing Water is absolutely spectacular by the way, and a must-see show if you’re over that way.
Day 4: Feeling fabulous!
Today has been by far my best detox day yet – I’m on the up! I feel rested, energised, and most importantly – hangover free after spending my Saturday night downing fresh orange juice in City of Dreams – hardcore! I decided to spend a lazy Sunday at home, juicing away and feeling rather smug that my joggers are hanging a little looser than a week ago. My appetite has definitely shrunk, and I’m starting to see the physical benefits of the detox – clearer complexion, tighter skin under my eyes, and feeling super positive. That said, I’m looking forward to my IV pick me up tomorrow. I think I’ll sleep well tonight, and I’ll spend longer on my skin brushing as I missed it last night.
Day 5: The halfway mark (and IV day!)
I felt quite weak this morning, but the back-end coffee kick certainly woke me up a little! As I’ve been on an intermittent fast since yesterday lunchtime, and I wasn’t able to eat my salad until 7pm tonight, I was running low on energy and battling the hunger pangs, so the IV therapy couldn’t have come at a better time. After sipping on orange juice all morning, and munching on a big apple around lunchtime, I popped into Life Clinic to get my dose of Myers Cocktail (aka. the minerals and vitamins drip) which slowly picked me up. I’m not great with needles, but my very friendly and supportive Health Coach, Hellena, kept me nicely distracted for the duration of the 45-minute treatment. I was happy to hear that I was on track and that my minor side effects were totally expected. I would have taken a photo of my evening salad, but to be honest, I inhaled it before I could even reach for my phone.
Day 6: Broccoli guilt
Dear Detox Diary, I have a confession to make … I caved in and ate some broccoli at around 8pm tonight. I was doing so well today, feeling super positive and repeating Day 1 of the ‘no food and only juices’ diet without feeling any hunger pangs. That was until I watched old re-runs of Peep Show and the main characters were eating toast – you know, that golden, crunchy, melting butter type of toast – and I caved in and ate a piece (ok, four) of raw broccoli from the fridge. Maybe my body won’t notice because it’s so full of yummy orange juice? Darn you Peep Show. Ok, lesson learnt: be careful what you watch. My bad. Maybe the skin brushing will wash away my sins …
Day 7: Coffee and salad fail
After the whole broccoli debacle last night, I was determined to stay on track for the rest of the detox – or at least today. Especially after I dreamt of raiding an all-you-can-eat and drink champagne buffet with a fellow media buddy of mine and woke up feeling twice as guilty! After spilling my ‘special’ coffee all over the shower in an attempt to balance the enema pot on top of the cubicle (I could just tell it was going to be one of those days), I enjoyed a plain-sailing morning of juice sipping and munching slowly on a delicious Japanese peach from the market. But when it came to lunchtime, I couldn’t even finish my City Super salad, even after fasting for 45 hours! In fact, I only managed to eat half – there’s a first for everything! Despite clearly losing my appetite, I do feel super alert and sharp as a knife, and I have SO much energy I feel like I’m in my 20s again! My concentration has improved and my skin feels a lot tighter, especially under my eyes, as if I’ve had a mini facial. All in all, I feel pretty darn fabulous today – I’m on a natural high and full of beans – not literally of course.
Day 8: Fully adapted
It’s official, I’ve full adapted to the detox – and I’m feeling pretty darn fabulous. This could be partly due to me doubling my morning coffee intake (yep, definitely feeling that extra kick this morning), but also because I’ve enjoyed a lovely, long, uninterrupted sleep, which has been improving every night since I began the detox. As well as feeling mentally switched on and having so much more energy, my skin feels particularly fresh and glowing today, which I’m sure is largely due the amount of fluids I’m drinking, as well as the lack of toxins in my system. The good thing is I’m hardly thinking about food at all now, and I don’t crave the things I used to like coffee – just as well given the number of cafes I have to walk passed to get to work every day. I even managed to sit through a whole movie at the cinema without wanting to mug the person in front of me who was munching loudly on a bucket of sweet toffee popcorn – who am I? My stomach is definitely smaller than before, and while I did manage to eat more of my salad at lunchtime, I still didn’t reach the bottom. I’m starting to think that I could do with reducing my portion sizes when I finish the detox – clearly I don’t need as much fuel as I thought. I’m on the home run now, and feeling pretty proud of myself. Tomorrow is weigh-in day and my final consultation at Life Clinic. Bring it on gurus!
Day 9: EGGS!
EGGS! They’re amazing? Why don’t I eat them every day? Yes, that’s me above, stinking out the office and revelling in the fact that I’m officially back on a solid diet as of today. I’m slowly reintroducing foods that are easy to digest in order to maintain the detox benefits, so I enjoyed a selection of fresh fruit from the market for lunch, then salmon and veggies for dinner. I had my final consultation at Life Clinic today and am pretty chuffed to announce that I have lost a total of, drumroll please … 3.6kg in body weight (or 8 lbs). My metabolic age has declined by 5 years – and it’s all down to Rainbow salads and fruit juices. Beaming from the happy news, I spent an hour with the clinic’s General Manager, Barry, who helped me come up with some suggestions on how to continue my newfound healthy eating habits on a more realistic level. By the way, a bowl of mixed nuts is an excellent source of vitamins and a much healthier alternative to those naughty chocolate nibbles. He advised me to slowly reintroduce different foods back into my diet, but to listen closely to what my body likes and dislikes in order to determine what I can live without. To maintain the health benefits of my detox, he also recommended taking daily doses of Vitamin B, C, and D, and Omega-3, as well as my usual choice of probiotics and flax seed oil capsules – both of which are great for the digestive system. With a list of ‘good foods and snacks’ to add to my diet and my Detox Manual under my arm, I left the clinic determined to keep up my good work. One more day to go!
Day 10: The FINISH line
There comes a time in every girl’s life when she reaches for those skinny jeans she once abandoned on top of the wardrobe, slowly steps into the legs, and with bated breath pulls up the zipper until … hallelujah! That’s right world, I’m back in my dream pants and it feels bloody fantastic! Losing weight was never the main goal of my detox journey, but it’s certainly a rewarding by-product, and I’m lapping up every minute! It’s unbelievable what a week of Rainbow salads and fruit juices can do for your body – and I’m living proof. Now I have to confess that the only exercise I’ve done during my detox is walking to work and back, and dashing around the city as usual, so this weight loss all comes down to nutrition. After enjoying another scrambled egg breakfast, I spent the day at the Arnold Classic Asia festival, where I kept topped up on healthy drinks and tasty salads with zero guilt. I even turned down a free Snickers bar from the booth next door – I’ve changed!
Now I have to be honest, embarking on a serious detox journey is exactly that – a journey. There are ups and there are downs, and there are times when you want to turn around and go back to where you started. But if you can get to the end of the challenging ride, it is 100% worth it. I can honestly say that I have not slept as well as I have the past week since my twenties, and I’ve certainly never had this much energy without the aid of several cups of very strong coffee.
Aside from feeling so much lighter, leaner, and more positive in my daily life, my detox experience has allowed me to see first-hand just how important the role of food plays in my health, and that is by far my greatest take away. Going on a detox really gives you the opportunity to think carefully about what you put in your body, because for the first few days at least, that is all you can think about. And as it turns out, I can live without coffee, I don’t actually need sugar, and I there is no need to eat like a horse to get enough fuel to run for a day. What an eye-opener!
As a result of my experience, I have made several changes to my diet, all with a little help from the Life Clinic experts. For starters, I have started eating breakfast every day – hot oatmeal or scrambled eggs – and no longer run on three coffees and an empty stomach until lunchtime. I’ve also completely cut milk out of my diet as I’ve realised it makes me bloated and I’ve proven to be intolerant to it in food tests. I will definitely eat more veggies and reduce my portion sizes to reduce over stuffing and bloating, because clearly I don’t need as much food as I thought.
And while I have to come clean and admit I could never imagine eliminating coffee, red meat, or alcohol from my diet (they just make my life a little richer) I have decided to make a conscious effort to choose white meat over red, more often, when I eat out, and limit my coffee to one a day. As for those tantalising, beautiful cocktails, I will consider just how much of a sugar bomb each one is before I get sipping. But if I do fall off the health bandwagon, it’s not the end of the world, because I always have my Detox Manual and enema bucket ready to use again. In fact, the detox gurus suggest that it’s a good idea to repeat the 10 day detox every six months to give your liver a good cleanse and your body a break. Given just how fantastic I’m feeling right now, I’ve already made a promise to myself to follow this advice. See you in six months gurus!
10 tips for doing a detox
1. Pick your timing carefully – Choose a window in your social calendar where you have no birthday bashes, boozy brunches, or any occasion involving eating copious amounts of food and drink. In other words, be a hermit for a while. There are other things you can do that don’t involve eating and drinking, and there will be plenty more times to indulge afterwards.
2. Let your friends and colleagues know – Having support and encouragement is key to making it through the detox process, especially when you hit those lows, so let those around you know you’re serious about it. Plus, if they’re good buddies they’ll know better than to invite you along to happy hour after work, or offer you a cookie in the office.
3. Turn down any invitation to eat and drink – Temptation is a wicked thing, so why subject yourself to it? Postpone those catch-up cocktails or yummy dinner with friends until after you’ve finished the detox. Just imagine how good that first meaty/carbie meal will taste!
4. Avoid taking trips to supermarket with cooked food stations – Out of sight, out of mind. Don’t torture yourself by walking past the billions of cooked food stations at the local supermarket. The smell of roasted chicken wafting up your nostrils is enough to make you burst into tears in the middle of the aisle!
5. Buy a good blender – You’ll be using it every day so make sure it’s a good one. The bigger the better, you need to make plenty of juice each morning to last you the whole day.
6. Mix it up – The detox diet plan may be strict, but it’s not totally limited to Rainbow salads and orange juice. To avoid getting bored, check out the ‘alternative fruit and vegetable guide’ and vary your ingredients each day.
7. Ask lots of questions – Everyone’s experience of a detox is different so if you’re unsure or concerned about anything along the way, ask the experts for guidance and advice, that’s what they’re there for.
8. Focus on the positives – There will be times when you want to throw in the towel and down a Martini, this is bound to happen, so it’s important to focus on the end goal and the emotional and physical positives that will come out of the experience – just remember, weight loss!
9. Don’t give up – You’re not climbing Mount Everest, but between Day 1 and 3, you might feel like you are. Keep going, you can do it – and at the end you will feel GREAT! I promise.
10. Don’t fall straight back off the wagon – You’ve put so much time, energy, and will power into completing your detox, so why undo all that good work now? Try to make some realistic goals to help you maintain the benefits of the detox, while still enjoying the good things in life. Go easy on those first few sips of red wine, and bites of juicy steak – but savour them!
Want to give it a go? The Life Clinic 10 Day Medical Detox costs $5,800 and includes all the equipment, supplements, consultations, and support from the detox gurus. If you’re up for taking part in the 10 Day Detox challenge, get in touch with Hellena on (+852) 2881 8131, or by email at email@example.com.