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A health-focused guide to cleansing.

I’ve been doing a great deal of purging lately. Winter’s long-sleeved tops and bulky wool sweaters are being shed in favor of lighter cottons and linen fabrics. And thinning out my wardrobe has led to the rest of the house. Old magazines are being hauled to the recycling bin and I’m carting books off to Half Price. Pantry shelves will also get their annual deep clean. Even my Facebook friends list is taking a hit. Nothing is free from my wrath.

So it’s no surprise that I’m beginning to wonder if my body wouldn’t also benefit from a bit of a cleanse as well.

I start each day with three or four cups of coffee, I’ve never met a dessert I didn’t like and with all of the restaurant dining I do for work, I eat really good quality food, although I consume my fair share of fat and calories — and probably a bit of everyone else’s as well. Add to that hearty, rib-sticking dishes whipped up on cold winter nights, typical holiday binging and my two-week trip to Spain with its ham-heavy diet, and the beach vacation on the calendar with its requisite bikinis is beginning to look ominously close and panic is setting in.

But when I say “cleanse,” I certainly don’t mean one of those insane “drink gobs of lemon juice, cayenne pepper, lose 25 pounds in a week” types of nonsense I see splashed on the web and on the cover of almost every tabloid. I’ve gleaned enough about nutrition over the years to know that quick fix “plans” aren’t based on real science at all. They’re simply stopgap measures that can be seriously detrimental to your health. What I’m talking about as far as cleansing is lighter eating — less meat, more fruits and vegetables — with maybe a bit of a jumpstart at the beginning.

Jennifer Kagy, a locally based certified holistic health and nutrition coach totally agrees. I checked in with Kagy to make sure I was on the right path before starting my cleanse. (Calling your doctor or a nutritionist is something you should do if you’re planning any major diet or exercise change.) I wanted to get her feedback on the idea of cleanses in general — after all, since they are everywhere, maybe there’s something good about them I don’t know about — as well as some ideas to “clean-up” my own eating plan. It turns out I was spot on as far as nutrition, but did have a few things to learn.

“As far as those types of so-called ‘Master Cleanses’ go, they’re crazy and nonsensical,” Kagy says. “Those things are really not good for you. You get nothing [nutritionally] from them and when you’re done, you go back to eating crap. And, not only do they offer you nothing nutritionally, they also strip your body of good things.”

Kagy, who subscribes to the concept of enacting meaningful, manageable and permanent lifestyle changes, suggests that, “If you really feel as if you need to cleanse and want to do just one thing, get up in the morning and drink one glass of room-temperature water and do a shot of two tablespoons organic, cold-pressed olive oil with the juice of half an organic lemon. This flushes out all of the toxins from your liver, gets your bowels moving and helps to cleanse your lymphatic system.” She also suggests drinking a lot of warm water in general, as most people are dehydrated and don’t even know it.

For those who feel that they’re game for an even bigger commitment, Kagy suggests the program put together by Dr. Mark Hyman, a general practitioner located in Massachusetts, and television doctor Mehmet Oz. Dr. Hyman and Dr. Oz created a three day detox cleanse based on whole foods that feed your body the nutrition it needs while supporting your organs. It claims to: “Reset your hormones and detoxify your body.”

There are no processed foods allowed and caffeine and sugar are no-nos as well. The plan consists of ingredients that are affordable, available in any grocery store and features nut butters, plant-based shakes, green tea, vitamin supplements and, my favorite part, an evening bath laced with lavender oil. I’m not quite sure if that’s a worthy replacement for my coffee addiction, but for three days and a healthier me, I’m willing to try almost anything.

While I’ve never been much of a breakfast eater unless I’m on vacation, I do agree with the notion that it’s important to start the day with some nutrition other than my daily jolt of caffeine. The cleanse recommended by nutritionist Kagy features three different smoothies, and although this particular one is meant to be for dinner, the hearty dose of fresh fruit suits me as more of a morning beverage.

Visit Kagy’s website at jennkagyhealthyme.com and doctoroz.com to find the ingredients and instructions for the “Three Day Detox Cleanse” Kagy recommends.

DETOX CLEANSE SMOOTHIE

INGREDIENTS:
½ cup mango
1 cup blueberries
1 ½ cups coconut water
1 cup kale
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
¼ avocado
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. flax seed

INSTRUCTIONS:
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Drink immediately. Makes one serving.

If a tropical destination isn’t in the cards this spring break, try a family-friendly weekend road trip.

So you don’t have the time (or the money) to take the kiddies to visit Mickey Mouse at his magical Walt Disney World abode this spring break. That doesn’t mean you’re destined to spend the week together cooped up at home. In just a few car-bound hours, you and your family can be at one of these affordable long-weekend, child-and-adult friendly getaways chock full of outdoor adventure, neon gnomes and educational opportunities. Starting with the closest, we’ll work our way through three entertaining pieces of Americana.

Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, Fishers, Ind.

Estimated drive time: 2 hours

Conner Prairie Interactive History Park is a living museum with five themed areas — Lenape Indian Camp, William Conner Homestead, 1836 Prairietown, 1863 Civil War Journey and 1859 Balloon Voyage — where guests experience what life was like in Indiana during the 1800s. Where to stay: With 15 hotels in five nearby cities offering Conner Prairie packages and other accommodations (valid April-October), and nearby Indianapolis, there’s no shortage of places to stay. Where to eat: The Hearthside Suppers program invites you to help prepare an authentic 19th-century multi-course meal by candlelight in the 1823 Conner House, central Indiana’s first brick home. If you visit after March 27, try the Café on the Common for salads and sandwiches.

What to do: Try on clothing at the McClure House in Prairietown, play a game of “hoop and stick,” take a 350-foot-high balloon ride (after March 28), meet farm animals, make traditional 1800s arts and crafts or board the train at the year-round Discovery Station. What to see: Venture into an outdoor experience that puts you in the middle of an Indiana battle during the Civil War. The story of General John Hunt Morgan’s cavalry comes to life in Raid on Indiana with video, sound, staging and interpreters dressed in 1800s costumes. For adults: Adults can take the Restoration Tour of the Conner House while the kids enjoy interactive playtime. The Conner House was built by William Conner, Indiana statesman and fur trader, and is one of only two 19th-century buildings original to Conner Prairie.

Hocking Hills, Ohio

Estimated drive time: between 2 and 2 ½ hours

With a 2,356-acre state park (the original home of the prehistoric American Indian Adena culture) full of towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls, wooded trails and gorges, Hocking Hills is ideal for outdoor attractions such as horseback riding, fishing, hiking, zip-lining, archery and more. Where to stay: Sleep in a piece of history at the Historic Host bed and breakfast’s one-room schoolhouse, farmhouse or gypsy caravan; enjoy medieval flair at Ravenwood Castle; get spooked at the purportedly-haunted Georgian Manner on Lake Logan; or relax at Old Man’s Cave Chalets. Where to eat: The Grouse Nest Restaurant features fresh, local, seasonal foods and wild game offerings such as Venison Burger and Hocking Hills Jambalaya with rattlesnake and rabbit sausage. What to do: Experience the vast world of nature all in one place at Hocking Hills Adventure Trek, shop 1800-1970s vintage items at Logan Antique Mall, visit one of the longest zip line courses in the Midwest at Valley Zipline Tours, or have a veteran pilot take you on Hocking Hills Scenic Air Tours to see the area from a new perspective.

What to see: For 40 years, the outdoor drama Tecumseh! has depicted the struggles of a Native American leader defending his homeland complete with galloping horses, live military cannons in action and recreated battle scenes. For adults: The Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls offers many packages for adults looking to relax including Learn To Massage Your Mate and the seasonal Pawpaw Facial/Massage Duet.

Rock City, Lookout Mountain, Ga.

Estimated drive time: 6 hours

An Americana roadside attraction at its best and kitschiest. Listed as one of National Geographic’s “America’s Iconic Places,” Rock City and its naturally formed rock streets are an outdoor adventure full of plentiful gardens, ancient geographic formations, whimsical gnomes and panoramic views. Where to stay: If you are looking for location, Chanticleer Inn Bed and Breakfast is steps away from Rock City Gardens. Over 20 other hotels are located on their website. Where to eat: Big Rock Grill offers hamburgers, hot dogs and more in the short-order style restaurant and Cliff Terrace provides pizza to guests as they approach Lover’s Leap. What to do: Walk the 4100-foot Enchanted Trail that winds through the 14-acre property atop Lookout Mountain. Started in 1928 by founder Frieda Carter, the trail begins at giant, ancient rock formations, passes a cascading 100-foot waterfall, crosses the 180-foot Swing-a-Long Bridge and ends at an open field, now known as Lover’s Leap, with a panoramic seven-state view.

What to see: Fairyland Caverns are a must. This dark, man-made cave is full of gnome figurines perched on fake rock ledges. Inside there’s also Mother Goose Village, a gathering of wonderfully bizarre fluorescent fairy tale characters, illuminated by black light. For adults: Visit Shamrock City for live Irish music, Irish jig lessons, traditional Irish food and specialty beer in a souvenir glass as well as Green Shamrock Wine.