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Balanced Living & Benefits of Detox

Are you sabotaging your attempts at balanced living?

It can start so subtly – feeling a bit rundown, slightly irritable, sluggish, and out of balance.  It can grow into something too big to ignore – fatigue, constant colds, headaches, skin rashes, weight gain, and even depression. These are definite signs you are not enjoying balanced living.

The first notion for many, is not to look at their diet, but to instead look to energy drinks and over-the-counter, self-prescribed pharmaceuticals, as the answer.  Hippocrates said, ‘let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.’  What if a simple change in diet could be the first, and most powerful step, in feeling more energy, losing weight, gaining mental clarity, and strengthening your immune system?

I have just returned from six days of juice fasting in the desert.  This is my fifth time at We Care, a holistic wellness retreat that focuses on bringing the frenzied back into balance.  While there, I also read Sophia Amoruso’s book – #GirlBoss.  Yes, Sophia lost her company however there is a great deal of straight up wisdom in those pages and it got me fired up enough to want to take things to the next level.


We Care is very campy to say the least.  The price tag is not really about the accommodations, it is about the expert, loving compassion and skill set of the practitioners; many of whom have been there for years.  We Care is my go-to happy place.  I can unplug, heal my body, and find renewal.  By day three, I generally have ridiculous energy which I channel into writing, blogging, and other creative outlets, however the point is not to work – it is to rest.

I do follow a detox regime at home which works well for me.  It includes supplements, diet, exercise, and plenty of pH 9.5 water.  Retreats like We Care are not for everyone.  Many people cannot simply leave their lives for a week, or can afford to go.  The benefits of programs like We Care, however, are essential for everyone and to a certain degree, can be achieved at home.  This three-part series on detoxing, will cover the ‘how-to’ of doing your own program with this blog, and podcast, focusing on diet.  Even implementing some of these changes can elicit incredible benefits and have you feeling much better within a week, or two.

There are three main types of detoxification to get you back to balanced living:

  1. Elimination of foods that may be toxic for YOUR body. This is the most logical first step.
  2. Utilization of supplements that promote detoxification, combined with diet, and exercise.
  3. Longer fasts, combined with either supplements, colonics, or other forms of accelerated release of toxins.

Balanced Living Strategy One: Elimination of Foods That May Be Toxic for Your Body

Your body is composed of 100 trillion cells.  You have a unique DNA map that dictates much more than eye and skin color.  In fact, new science, readily available from sources like 23andMe, and others, can tell you if you can process dairy, are gluten intolerant, can handle a vegan diet, and much more.  At a higher level, physicians are ordering genetic tests to see if patients are able to process certain micronutrients.  Last fall, I had numerous genetic testing done and found that I am highly sensitive to calcium, copper, and a host of commonly found vitamins and minerals.  I also discovered, though this wasn’t really a shock, that I cannot tolerate gluten and dairy.  (I have been off gluten and dairy for years).

Over the years, I have had many interesting discussions with practitioners who vehemently say things like, ‘there is nothing wrong with gluten,’ or ‘everyone can process dairy.’  I laugh because that is like saying everyone’s eyes are blue.  The reality is that unless tested, no one knows what another person can, and cannot, process in their body.  Without testing, the best, and simplest way, to discover if something doesn’t work in your body, is to eliminate it.  It usually takes about one week to see if you start to feel better without a particular item, in which case, you can decide to keep it out or go back to your old ways and live with whatever is going on.

Famous diet eliminators include Ellen DeGeneres, who took out dairy and lost a significant amount of weight.  Gwyneth Paltrow has written about doing period eliminations to clear out her system however as a notorious foodie, she will re-introduce certain things and maintains great balance.  Some celebrities will eliminate certain foods to get red carpet ready while others, think Beyoncé, will do longer fasts.  For years, I practiced as a nutritional consultant and found that elimination can be beneficial for people who have struggled with a particular challenge.  I have had clients with eczema that was cleared up by eliminating dairy.  Another client dropped thirty pounds by going off wheat but keeping spelt.  Again, everyone’s body is different and the only way you are going to know if something isn’t working is to try it.

As an aside, I am also cautious when someone is extremely dogmatic about diet.  One person can be paleo (elimination of starchy carbohydrates and often, an animal protein based diet) and feel great whereas another person may attempt that diet and find themselves nauseous and breakout with acne.  Conversely, as a 99% vegan, I know that being vegan isn’t for everyone however eating more fresh vegetable is.  You will know what works for you when your sleep, weight, energy, and mental clarity improve and that is the bottom line.

Where to Start – A List of Items to Eliminate

The following items are excellent as a starting point when it comes to elimination.  I give more details in my podcast and want you to consider that choosing only one to two of the items on this list at a time is a good start.  Some people like to be hardcore and do it all at one time however detoxing from caffeine, sugar, meat, dairy, and other things at once can literally put you in bed.  I recommend starting slow so you can maintain it unless you have a big event coming up in which case I would suggest eliminating the top offenders at once – sugar, dairy, processed foods, and gluten.


  1. Processed and Fast Foods

These tend to be high in sodium, artificial ingredients, fillers, and more which can leave us cranky, bloated, cause headaches, and much more.  This is a no-brainer!

  1. Gluten

Many people find gluten to be an inflammatory and it is in many things including soy sauce, salad dressings, and many vegan products.  Make gluten-free choices.  This site has some great guidelines – .

  1. Dairy

This isn’t just about lactose (milk sugar), it is about the dairy itself.  If you get frequent acne, bloat, eczema, nasal infections, loose bowels, and nasal infections then dairy could be the culprit.  There are excellent alternatives out there.

  1. Caffeine

If you find yourself irritable and have trouble sleeping, caffeine could be the cause.  Not everyone can tolerate it.  I have friends that can have coffee and sleep eight hours whereas I can’t have caffeine after a certain time of day or I am up all night.

  1. Sugar

Ah yes, this one is tough as sugar is virtually everywhere.  If you have yeast, and this is gross – but cottage cheese in your underwear, you need to go off sugar.  There is obvious sugar such as candy, cookies, and juices, and then there is secret sugar which can be in salad dressings, and more.  An easy start is to eliminate refined flour products, and sugary drinks, and sweets.  The next level is to take out things like fruit.  Seriously – I am not a fan of this.  Fruits like berries are high in cancer fighting anti-oxidants.  If you have yeast – here is a website to use as a resource –

  1. Alcohol

Duh!  Tim Ferriss and I share a mutual love of wine and even the 4 Hour Workweek Guru, professes to take a few breaks a year from this age-old pleasure.  If you find yourself drinking daily, it is quite obvious – take a break.

There are other things you can eliminate such as self-prescribed medication, tobacco, and recreational drugs.  If you have an addiction – get help!  Life is too short to be a slave to something that you use to escape from your reality.

Lastly, a friend once told me, ‘we don’t know how bad we are feeling until we start feeling good.’  You may think you are fine however what if you could take your energy, vitality, and performance to an entirely new level?  I invite you to post your comments about what you are going to, or already have, eliminated, how you are feeling, and what tips, and resources you have for others.

Finally, I have no affiliation with the websites mentioned in this blog and will not be recommending specific products in this series.  If you are serious about detoxifying, I encourage you to find a good naturopath or osteopath who can help you chart your course.


Susan Sly is a keynote speaker, best-selling author, entrepreneur, and mother of five.  She resides in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Susan is available for corporate consulting, and speaking, on the topics of work-life balance, time management, productivity, and transcending challenges.





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