The holiday season is not easy on the body, as we all well know. From fattening food to endless amounts of champagne to awkward family conversations—”Are you dating anyone right now?”—it’s not surprising that so many people’s New Year resolutions involve pledging to be happier and healthier. But with so many options out there promising to help undo all those weeks of holiday indulgence, where does one even begin? Eager for a fresh start in 2014, I tested out the latest trends New Yorkers use to detox in the New Year.
I began with what’s possibly the most common choice of detox there is—a cleanse, of course—going with Organic Avenue‘s 3-day Love Fast cleanse. Each morning starts with a liquid booster shot followed by a series of fruit and green juices, and a chilled soup and salad at the end of the day. The offerings are slightly different each day, and I found myself looking forward to seeing what would arrive in my box each morning.
I’ve done a juice-only regimen before and felt awful and emaciated by the end, so I loved that Organic Avenue’s cleanses offered an eating component. Surprisingly tasty salads were a wonderful change of pace after drinking juices all day and stopped any cravings I had for solid food. (My Greek salad had some feta cheese sprinkled on top, which tasted like heaven on the second day of the cleanse.)
I felt great after the cleanse and did lose some water weight, and more importantly I picked up some new eating habits along the way, like considering chilled soup as an alternative to my formerly unhealthy lunches (I was thrilled to find out Organic Avenue has a location close to my apartment, because I am definitely going to have to get the Gazpacho Verde again).
Surprise benefit! Now that I know I can last three days without coffee, I’m pretty sure I can do literally anything—even survive the Polar Vortex.
Now that I’d adequately cleansed my body, what about my mind? I decided to try out Kundalini yoga, a growing practice that’s attracted the likes of Russell Brand and Demi Moore. Known as the yoga of awareness, Kundalini classes don’t offer the typical vinyasa flow poses but instead a series of “kriyas” meant to stretch you not just physically, but mentally and spiritually as well.
“One of the benefits of Kundalini yoga is it hugely renews your energy,” said Amabir Singh, an instructor at Golden Bridge Yoga, a studio that Reese Witherspoon and Cindy Crawford supposedly are fans of. “When your mind is clear and focused, then we have more energy to direct our minds into what we want to actually create in our lives, instead of putting our energy into worries and stress.”
“Another advantage of continued practice is that it gives you a stronger sense of strength and steadiness in your life,” Singh told me, “so you’re both physically and mentally moved to be healthier. In that way, you can live a more relaxed life.”
The class was different than any class I’ve taken before; I’m used to performing sun salutations in a typical yoga environment, whereas my Kundalini class involved deep breathing, chanting and even actual singing. Meditation is a huge component of the practice and was surprisingly the hardest part for me—an admitted type A—as I struggled to clear my mind of all thoughts and worries. I was legitimately sad when the hour-and-a-half long class was over. I felt like I was almost at spiritual enlightenment!
Surprise benefit! I can see how learning the benefits of meditation could help me in a lot of areas, from dealing with stress in my personal life to being more patient at work, and definitely plan on working more to clear my mind in the future.
Powder supplements seem poised to become the next big thing in cleansing, so I tried Blisslabs Nutricosmetics’ fatgirlcleanse two-day detox. The two-part system includes milk thistle to support the body’s filtering process and a mixture of cranberry and dandelion to support natural detoxification. Added probiotics further help clean up the digestive tract.
The detox includes ten powder drink sticks: four per day, plus one at night. I liked the feeling of improving my internal balance just by adding a powdered mix to my water—it was easy and I felt refreshed after the quick course. Also, probiotics in solid form generally make me feel nauseous, so I loved having them instead as a supplement in my water.
Surprise benefit! Though I generally drink a lot of water during the day, this program made me realize that I neglect my water intake after work. I’ll make sure to hydrate better after 6 p.m. from now on!
For my last experiment in total rejuvenation, I tried out a new treatment that’s increasingly gaining popularity: IV therapy, where concentrated vitamins, minerals and amino acids are injected directly into the circulatory system to boost energy and health. The most famous intravenous concoction is the Myers’ Cocktail, commonly known as the “hangover cure,” but IVs can be customized for each particular patient based on their overall health and conditions. The treatment even has celebrity fans like Madonna and Simon Cowell, and even Rihanna once tweeted a picture of herself receiving what she called the “party-girl drip.”
I received my custom IV at the newly opened Fountain Med Spa on the Upper East Side, where Dr. Todd Schlifstein mixed me a combination of vitamin C, B-complex, EDTA, selenium, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin D…the list goes on and on with terms I’ve never even heard of before. The insertion of the IV needle was relatively painless and the process takes about 20 minutes, during which I relaxed in the dimly-lit room with soft music playing—just enough time to catch up on emails and play a few rounds of Candy Crush.
“Studies have shown that every single one of these ingredients has benefits, and through the direct infusion you can get vitamin blood levels up to five times what you would receive orally,” said Schlifstein. “Even if you took vitamins every day for a month, you’d never be able to reach these levels.”
Schlifstein cites his extremely high return rate as first-hand experience that the treatment works—over the past five years, 95% of patients that have an initial session return for a second. “The level of customization is what patients come back for,” he told me. “We don’t make pre-made concoctions; they are all individualized.”
Surprise benefit! The combination of vitamin C and glutathione causes an instant skin-brightening effect that I noticed immediately, the B vitamins caused a lasting feeling of euphoria, and I had one of the best workout sessions of my life after the treatment. Boom.
After an entire month of fasting, meditating, cleansing and rejuvenating, I actually feel really healthy! I know I’m starting 2014 off on the right track, and I can confidently say that I’ve picked up a lasting health habit from each of the trends that I tried out—and that, for me, is the biggest benefit.
But, man, I really want a burger.