The Who, What, Where, When, How and Why Guide to a gentle fall cleanse.

WHY we cleanse and WHEN.

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Stony Brook Reservation – West Roxbury, MA

 

Let’s consider the following scenario.  washing-dishesImagine what it’s like to be the kitchen sink that you use daily. Constantly draining the waste of leftovers and dirty water from cleaning your dishes. Eventually, over time, the drain will become clogged and the water will not flow as easily. Imagine the buildup of sludge from leftover vegetables, rice, meats, and oils and then imagine further the fetid odor of the rotting, sour food that has been sitting there for three months. This scenario does not only occur in your kitchen sink but also within your body. Think of all the BBQ’s, parties and get together’s and without judgment, recognize the accumulation of the summer fun that is ready to be cleared out of the body so you can transition into the fall and winter months more easily.

 

Take a look around and see what is happening in nature right now.

img_2499The leaves are turning into vibrant colors as the chlorophyll starts to leave the trees due to the shortage of the sun and they go into hibernation mode of sorts, isn’t nature amazing?  The seasons represent change, not only a change in the weather but also the foods that are available and the changes you will begin to feel happening within your own body.  Which makes it a perfect opportunity to reset and rejuvenate and allow for the change not be so drastic.

 

 

 

WHERE and HOW.

You can do your detox in the comfort of your own home.  You can also be in charge of the length of your detox, which can be from 4 days to 14 days.  I recommend a gentle 4 day cleanse if you are a beginner to Ayurvedic cleanse.  This is not a starvation cleanse, you will eat nourishing foods that are fresh and seasonal .  However, there is a protocol to follow and the elimination of certain foods for the duration of your cleanse.  We eliminate the foods that we have strong emotional ties to such as, caffeine, dairy, alcohol, wheat/flour, meat and the big one sugar.

no-coffeeI know what you’re thinking, “WHAT? No coffee!!” That was my initial panic when I first learned about this cleanse.  I immediately thought to myself, “This is crazy! I NEED my coffee every morning?!”  The truth is, the mind thinks it “needs” the coffee.  Also, we have to acknowledge that some of us create rituals about our coffee every morning so that tells us that it is the habit that is hard to break but not impossible.  A cleanse will help you release yourself of old habits, and hey, maybe you decide that you choose to have coffee or not…I still do.  The point is to also eliminate foods and substances to give our bodies a little hiatus which gives the digestive system time to repair and our organs and tissues to restore and rejuvenate.

We eliminate common allergens and introduce whole, seasonal fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains and get our fat from avocados, seeds, nuts and we eat three meals a day with no snacking.  Another habit that is hard to tame is snacking.  The reason for this is that you have to let the food you consume be completely digested in order to go into fat burning mode and this is typically about 4-6 hours.  So we space our meals evenly to get our three meals.  The duration of the cleanse is low fat and eating clean.  We eat lots apples and beets with our meals to get the liver going to push bile and stimulate the lymphatic system by keeping hydrated with warm/hot water throughout the day.

This cleanse is very nourishing and can be difficult at first, when detoxing you can experience symptoms of withdrawal, possibly from caffeine and sugar.  Thankfully, the symptoms dissipate and by the end of your detox you will feel energized, clear, and calm.  Your skin will be especially vibrant, and you will shed a few unwanted pounds.  I have been leading seasonal cleanses locally in Boston for the last five years and I am excited to announce that beginning next year for spring, I will be implementing an online platform.  This platform that will create an online community with FAQs, Recipes, How To Videos, daily emails from me that will provide daily support and love.

Stay tuned for next blog post on what happens to the digestive system during and after the cleanse…

Om

 

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7 signs you need a detox this fall

7 signs of why you need to detox/cleanse

1.  White/yellow coating of the tongue.  In Ayurvedic terms this white coating is called AMA, which is the undigested, unprocessed food stuff that lingers around in your body looking for a place to lodge itself.  It is thick, sticky and foul smelling.  Ama is the root of all disease and a glaring sign of high toxicity in the body.
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2.  Fluid retention, feelings of sluggishness or weight gain.   Feelings of heaviness or sluggishness are signs of slow metabolism, which results in weight gain.  A detox will reset your digestive system offering the chance to boost metabolism.
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3.  Cravings/blood sugar issues that cause mood swings.  We all have cravings, and it is the body’s way of letting us know when we are deficient in certain vitamins or minerals, but these cravings are only correct when we do not have toxins in the body.  The presence of toxins and addiction to sugar causes cravings for the wrong foods.   Some of these cravings are emotional but physical cravings come from highly processed foods that artificially stimulate dopamine, a pleasure neurotransmitter, which causes addiction.  These cravings do go away with detoxification, I swear!
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4.  Putting stuff in your body that doesn’t make you feel good and overeating.  You know what i’m talking about the hamburgers, hot dogs, summer bbq foods are so deliciously heavy and you can’t stop eating them.  Let’s face it, we all partake in summer food fun and a detox will certainly help you eliminate all the summer slush and get you prepped for fall and winter.
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5.  Food allergies/sensitivities.  Keep changing your diet because you find it hard to digest certain foods like dairy or gluten?  In our gut, there is beneficial microflora present that absorb and assimilate nutrients from our food and the lack of this microflora results in food sensitivities/allergies.  The presence of toxins can over time proliferate more severe digestive issues like leaky gut or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).  A detox will help cleanse out your digestive system and then enable you to restore the healthy microflora by eating a balanced diet and probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchi.
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6.  Acne, rosacea, eczema, dry skin.  When the blood is acidic or carrying toxins often times, it will manifest directly on the skin.  A detox helps cleanse the liver and gall bladder, which in turn will clean the blood of toxins.
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7. Insomnia or oversleeping.  Sleeplessness and over sleeping are also tell tale signs of a sluggish digestion.
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Have you found that you have 3 or more of these signs?  Chances are your poor liver is in dire need of a vacation, which also means it needs a good cleaning.  Don’t be fooled by many detoxes that you hear about or even read about, those starvation detoxes are not sustainable.  Ayurvedic cleanse is very gentle, highly effective and totally full of all good, clean food.  In the Ayurvedic community, we detox twice a year at the juncture of spring and fall.  As I described above, the accumulation of heavy eating and heat from the summer months needs to be shed so that we can transition into the cooler months with ease.  Stay tuned for Wednesday’s post will detail what is entailed in our Ayurvedic detox and I will share personal stories on why I can’t go without my seasonal cleanses!

 

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If You Read One Article About Visiting Laguna de Apoyo, Read this One

From from Above Laguna de Apoyo
One mile out of Granada on horse-back to the top view of Laguna de Apoyo

Laguna de Apoyo is a crater lake located between the cities of Masaya and Granada in Nicaragua. The laguna is approximately 6.6 kilometers round and 200 meters deep. The crater was formed by a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago.  Rain and subterranean water filled the crater over the years, creating a warm mineral water that makes swimming feel amazing.

Laguna de Apoyo, nicaragua,
Buenos Dias Laguna

As you can see in the photo lush slopes surround the laguna making it a nature lover’s paradise. You can hike or ride horse through the slopes and can expect to see different species of birds (locals tell me over 200), howler and white-faced monkeys in the trees, iguanas, opossums, squirrels and around 220 species of butterflies.  Yeah, why aren’t you here yet?

Paradiso Hostal on Laguna de Apoyo
Paradiso Hostal on Laguna de Apoyo

 

Nicaragua is well-known for it’s spectacular volcanic lagoons, but I consider Laguna de Apoyo special because of the lush nature, warm mineral water and tranquil setting. Getting to the Laguna from Granada is about a 20 minute ride.  There are many places you can visit to gain access to the Laguna but my favorite place is Hostal Paradiso.

Paradiso, Laguna de Apoyo
Paradiso, Laguna de Apoyo

There are shuttle buses from Buena Tours directly to Paradiso daily, making life so easy. Paradiso implies exactly what you would expect – Paradise.  You can spend the day or spend as much time as you would like here ($10-$25/night).  At Paradiso you can swim, paddle board, snorkel, kayak or just read on a beach chair while sipping a pina colada or watermelon smoothie all the while listening to the beautiful songs of the many birds surrounding this beautiful place. You can also enjoy different local tours, zip lining, and massages upon request.

Calle Calzada, Granada, Laguna de Apoyo, Buena Tours, Nicaragua
Calle Calzada, Granada, Laguna de Apoyo, Buena Tours, Nicaragua

Buena Tours is located on the Calle Calzada directly across the street from the cathedral also provides daily shuttles and entrance to Paradiso Hostal $12, leaves 10am and return 4pm to Granada. Or share a taxi for about $15-20.

If you feel adventurous, public bus is another option and cheaper, from Granada the bus stop is a block south (toward Mombacho) from Parke Central. You can catch buses that depart from here daily and often, the destination is Managua and you tell the man who collects fares that you are going to Laguna de Apoyo and cost just under $1. Once you arrive to the Laguna, carefully cross the carretera (highway) and you can find stray taxis awaiting to transport to the Laguna for about 150 cordobas ($5.35).

Sunset View of LagunaLaguna de Apoyo is one of my top 10 places to visit in Nicaragua.  I am an active person and enjoy swimming, kayaking, and hiking but I also need down time and at the Laguna I can relax, stare at the beautiful scenery, listen to the sounds or just read.  If you are seeking tranquility, this is the place for you.  The adventures continue…stay tuned for the next article as we take a visual ride through the archipelago of the Isletas on Lake Nicaragua.

 

6 Surprising Uses of Baking Soda

Arm & HammerBaking Soda (Sodium bicarbonate) is a pretty versatile ingredient and I have recently rediscovered the many uses and benefits. Nicaragua is a tropical country and the months of March and April in particular are extremely hot. The sun is at its brightest and can reek all kinds of havoc on the body both internally and externally. I notice each time I visit that within the first week of being here I retain water because my feet begin to swell. This year, I went from winter into full fledge 93-degree weather, the climate change gives the body quite a shock. Even though I drink copious amounts of water, the drastic change in climate makes my whole body freak out. A good friend that lives here in Granada recommended a natural remedy that alkalizes the body. He told me to use 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in water first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.  My curiosity led me to research the many benefits of baking soda.  Here are 6 uses that I find the most useful in my daily life:

Baking Soda, Lemon Water

  1.  Alkalizes the Body.  After my discussion with my friend about water retention, I decided to try adding baking soda to my daily morning regimen of lemon water and within three days, I felt a huge difference. I was not retaining as much water and felt less bloating. I then discovered that baking soda and lemon mixed together is a wonderful natural remedy for gas and bloating. Mixed together they form carbon dioxide, which is a digestive aid. Complete relief is felt within 20 minutes. 1 full teaspoon, 1 cup water, 1/2 lemon. Squeeze juice of lemon and add water and baking soda mix and drink. For even better results in increasing the body’s PH levels, add ACV (1/2 tsp).Baking Soda Water Antacid
  2. Antacid. As I read through the pages about the different uses for baking soda, it all began to make sense to me. Taken internally, it functions as an antacid.  If you are experiencing some acid reflux mixing baking soda in water will make the burning subside in no time.  I remember that my grandmother mixed baking soda into warm water to give to my grandfather almost after every meal.  He loved adding hot pepper chiles to his meals, despite knowing that he suffered from heartburn but she had the remedy at hand.Cleaning Uses for Baking Soda
  3. Cleaning & Deodorizing. Another use that we are aware of is keeping fridges smelling fresh but who knew just how many other things it can help with around the house? Baking soda can be used for cleaning cutting boards and zapping smells such as onion and garlic by just scrubbing along with salt, this combination also assists wonderfully in cleaning grills, no need for harsh chemicals or even steel wool!Zap Nasty Smells
  4. Odor Deodorizer. I use various oils on my body daily (abhyanga – self massage) and after some time, my towels get a rancid smell, I zap the odor with about 1 tablespoon of baking soda along with the detergent when washing towels and it works like a charm. Gym clothes or any odoriferous can be neutralized with 1/2 cup of baking soda in the rinse cycle.Cooking Uses
  5. Cooking. We all know that beans are full of fiber, protein and antioxidants but if not cooked well, boy they can cause a lot of gas!  I often add gas reducing spices, such as hing (Indian spice) or Kombu (seaweed) to help neutralize the gas producing starches but of course, I also tried adding a dash of baking soda and it works, also gives it a thicker texture for making bean soup.Homemade Deoderant
  6.  Best all natural deodorant & Anti-perspirant. It’s understandable that this multifunctional ingredient would be an obvious choice as the active ingredient in a homemade deodorant. It is quite an effective deodorizer and guess what else?  It’s very affordable, along with some base oils and essential oils, you can make a deodorant that your skin will love and appreciate.

Ok, so there are my 6 top uses for baking soda and thanks to the Arm & Hammer box for many more!

Why Granada is Hotter than Jennifer Lawrence

Cathedral in Central Park in Granada, Nicaragua
Cathedral in Central Park in Granada, Nicaragua

Well, she is hot but the city of Granada, Nicaragua is both hot (temperature) and has become the hot spot in Nicaragua. My first visit to Granada was April of 2004 with my grandmother.  We spent a week in her native country visiting family.  An adventurous aunt took us on a lovely tour of different areas in Nicaragua.  The city of Granada was one of my favorite’s.  We came to Granada to have lunch and visit local churches.  I was awestruck by the raw beauty of this colorful city.  I was surprised to see so many European tourists walking around the city.  I was left with the impression of the city and knew that I would return.  I returned to Nicaragua in 2014 and came straight to Granada and was pleased to see the increase in tourism. The elements that prevail in Granada are nature and history making this city one of the most visited destinations in Nicaragua.

 

IMG_0064The colonial architecture of its old center has many galleries, hotels, restaurants, bars and a cosmopolitan ambiance that makes this city a hot spot. Some of the attractions include the Volcan Mombacho (inactive), elongated coasts on Lake Cocibolca (Lake Nicaragua), an archipelago, natural reserves and the oldest city in the country, which still preserves original historic colonial center. The population is divided almost evenly between the urban and rural areas. Its rural area, which is constituted by 17 villages and the Zapatera Island, is known for ecotourism and petroglyphs.

View of Mombacho Day
View of Mombacho from Isleta

The Volcan Mombacho features an exotic cloud forest and is situated on lake Nicaragua. The Lake is a hop, skip and a jump from the central park and you will often see tourists paddle boarding, kayaking, swimming or taking boat tours. The archipelago of “Las Isletas” is constituted by more than 300 small islands on this lake are privately owned.  Some of the islands are ecolodges, some are homes, and some are for rent for private parties.  Anywhere you go on the lake, you will have a breath-taking view of Volcan Mombacho. The enigmatic Zapatero Archipelago, which preserves part of its forest and an archaeological pre-Columbian treasure, is situated on the lake.

5 countries represented
Five Countries Represented – Granada Nightlife

I return to Granada every year and have made friends from all over the world. I have met amazing people from London, Amsterdam, Germany, Mexico, Japan, Australia, Canada and of course, a rich community of ex-pats that enjoy living here. Granada is a very special and magical city. If I have not succeeded in convincing you to hit the “Book Now” button for airline ticket, stay tuned for more highlights.

Top 4 Reasons Why You Must Get to Nicaragua Now

Playa Gigante Tola, Nicaragua

I have visited Nicaragua for the past three years now and am beginning to see a huge influx of tourism that this beautiful country rightfully deserves. This gem is north of Costa Rica and south of Guatemala. The particular situation of Nicaragua provides this country with some unique characteristics.  I have to admit that I am a little biased as this is my family’s native country but find that this country is unique and rich with culture. I will be blogging highlights of many cities throughout my six-week stay here so be sure to sign up for my daily alerts!

Here are some reasons why you should get to this country:

1. Just as beautiful as Costa Rica with less tourist traps.

A room with a view! Isletas, Granada Nicaragua

Costa Rica used to be the “Go to” location for yoga and surfing, but now there are Starbucks everywhere (not a bad thing but has a state-side feel to it and the point of leaving the states is well, leave the states!)  If you want to discover a new and raw culture than Nicaragua is definitely for you.  Nicaragua is the land of lakes and volcanoes.  The coasts of Nicaragua are just as gorgeous as Costa Rica and absolute killer waves for surfing. The colonial city of Granada is my favorite, it is about 45 minutes from the capital of Managua and what makes Granada so special is that the houses and buildings are colorful, the people smile and the weather is always perfect. The city is central to many attractions like the Isletas on Lake Managua, Vulcan Mombacho, nearby Laguna de Apoyo and about 2 hours from the Pacific Coast.

2. It is so affordable!

Staying in Granada or the Pacific Coast – Accommodations vary but if you’re on a budget, you stay at a comfortable and clean hostel for about $15 USD/night.  If you’re looking for a mid-range accommodations, you can find hotels ranging from $55-$99 USD/night. Do not be fooled, there are many luxury hotels all over the country if you are seeking to splurge on all-inclusive accommodations.  Food + lodging is about half the price in Costa Rica or Panama.  Airfare ranges but you can find roundtrip fares starting at $420 USD.

3. Wildlife & Biodiversity.

El Mirador Catarina, Laguna de Apoyo

There is really so much to see and do.  If you have penchant for adventure or just easy relaxing, you can achieve that here.  You can travel down the Rio san Juan, or visit the island of Ometepe, where there are two islands on a lake, which makes this unique. The Caribbean Coast, and the Pacific Coasts. Through out the country you will find plenty of horse back riding, paddle boarding, swimming, fishing, surfing, hiking, dancing, dolphin and whale watching and so much more.  Best bird watching in the world!  There are 704 species of birds in Nicaragua.  Exactly, WOW! In the rainforest areas, there are 5 species of cats, including jaguar and cougar; 3 species of primates, spider monkey, howler monkey and capuchin monkey; 1 species of tapir, called Danto for the Nicaraguans; 3 species of anteaters and many more.

4. Surfing!  

Playa Maderas, San Juan del Sur

The beautiful coasts of Nicaragua are becoming popular for surfing. You’ll find some of the best quality waves along the Pacific and no crowds!  Nobody likes surfing in a big crowd and the crowds in Nicaragua are pretty light.  A few beaches that are on the Pacific Coast worth mentioning are:  Playa Colorado, Playa Hermosa in Tola, which are bit more secluded but some of the most pristine beaches and Playa Maderas off of San Juan de Sur.  

Amongst the million reasons why you should visit, I gave you the top 4 and I would definitely recommend this country to explore. Best time to visit – Anytime!  If you’re from the East Coast, I recommend skipping harsh winters in Nica 🙂