Wellness Retreat
Illustrations: Ciara Phelan
I once greeted the day with sugar-free Red Bull, followed by a few visits with (Diet!) Dr Pepper. Then I sloshed home to Kim Crawford, my favorite Sauvignon Blanc. I needed the caffeine because I was groggy in the morning; I needed the wine because I was wired at night. I can hear you thinking, "Hey, Judy Garland, that's what happens when you're hooked on uppers and downers!" However, I was too far over the rainbow to stop. I tried to eat at least a reasonably healthy diet, choosing energy bars over cheese curls, and the finest fat-free brownies science could engineer.

Most of the time I felt well enough, but I never felt well. I wanted a dietary do-over. Though my spirit was willing, my flesh was weak; I knew I couldn't effect change without a break from the concerns of everyday living. I needed to retreat—to go, as Thoreau did, to the woods in order to live deliberately.

Which is how I find myself at an organic spa, mixing their detox drink out of what appears to be ground particleboard. Nestled in the woods north of Houston, Deer Lake Lodge is like an upscale summer camp for grown-ups: sweet cabins made from reclaimed barn wood, everything smelling pleasantly of resin and virtue. In the homey lounge, I mix my powdered concoction of acacia, flaxseed, and calcium bentonite clay (meant to absorb toxins) with organic olive oil, "ionic minerals," apple cider vinegar, and warm water. The resulting brew tastes rich and loamy, like feed for a pampered farm animal. For lunch I'll have another detox drink and green juice; for dinner, raw soup. Also included are energy-boosting teas, liquefied greens (for antioxidants), and fiber regulators (self-explanatory).

Anyone who's come within spitting distance of a Whole Foods Market recently knows that "detox" is the health watchword these days. According to proponents of detoxification diets, we're all full of poisons from the stuff we put in our bodies, and periodically we need to give the digestive system a break to purge them. It's like hitting an internal reset button, says Pamela Girouard, Deer Lake's wellness director, who claims that my 30-foot intestinal tract is about to get a new lease on life. According to Pamela, my intestinal walls (and yours, too, by the way) are covered in residue in which toxins love to congregate, so they need an occasional deep cleaning. Thus, colonics.

Next: The point of no return

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