Divine Daytripper Freelance Travel Writer


Achieving Optimal Health By Detoxifying and Purifying Your Body
by Ingrid Hart

A flat of wheatgrass


The Optimal Health Institute in San Diego is the perfect retreat if you want to lose weight, feel more energetic, and connect with your body.  I am here at “OHI” at a one-week retreat, upon the advice of Vina, my Artist’s Way teacher who recommends OHI as a nurturing, supportive place to recharge my battery.

The OHI Program consists of three week-long sessions offering classes and activities for the body, mind and spirit.  Along with 90 other students, I am learning to purify and detoxify my body with a diet of all raw vegan food, to quiet my mind, and strengthen my spirit.  Some of us are here to address “health opportunities” such as cancer and diabetes. Others are here to enhance their overall quality of life. Then there are the lucky ones who just want to lose weight, lounge by the pool and soak up San Diego’s perfect climate, which according to OHI’s public announcement system calls for lots of sunshine sprinkled with love.

Wheatgrass juice—it’s the real thing
Those of us looking for the fountain of youth learn to search no further than wheatgrass juice—the elixir of life.  OHI is built around this chlorophyll-laden liquid gold.  This sprouted grain is high in vitamins A, B, C, and E, as well as many amino acids. At OHI, wheatgrass is serious business.  Two full-time staff members tenderly cultivate the magic plants in a large greenhouse devoted to its production.  Guests are taught how to extract the precious green juice in a sophisticated room with state-of-the-art $1,200 juicers.

Wheatgrass--its the real thing!

Chef Percy Whatley
Grinding the wheatgrass in one of the 12 machines

We are encouraged to drink two ounces of wheatgrass juice twice a day.  My experience with this gentle suggestion proves to be challenging.  The taste is okay, but the strong smell reminiscent of lawn clippings turns my stomach.   I ultimately give up the healing elixir and instead, focus on my all-raw food vegan diet–which turns out to be another tricky roadblock. 

Living food—the naked truth
Before arriving, I placed a call to OHI asking what I could do to prepare for my visit.  The friendly staff member told me to increase my consumption of raw foods and cut down on my sugar intake, which I interpreted to mean “go to the nearest In-and-Out Burger and then to Baskin-Robbins,” instructions with which I fully comply.

My first meal at OHI is breakfast.  There are two options, 1) a salad with romaine, cabbage, alfalfa, cucumber, tomato and celery; or 2) watermelon with rind juice.  A salad for breakfast? Hmmm…what have I gotten myself into?  The woman next to me laughs sympathetically as I ask when the bacon and eggs will arrive.  OHI emphasizes eating all organic fresh produce.  Their goal is for guests to eat an all raw food diet high in fiber and nutrients to detoxify and cleanse the body.  The enzyme-rich food is high in vitality and includes sprouts, soups, nori rolls, guacamole, and dehydrated crackers with most of the vegetables grown right on the grounds. 

The next three days are devoted to a juice cleanse.   The ingredients include cucumber, celery, zucchini, cabbage, ginger, and sprouts—a sort of liquid salad.  I am very nervous during this part of the program which promotes healing on a deeper level. I feel myself growing weak from minimal caloric intake, at the same time becoming stronger from the much-needed rest for my digestive system.  At a low point in my detoxification process I remind myself that this program is not something to enjoy, but more something to endure—all in the quest for optimum health.

Optimal Health Instititue in San Diego

Chef Percy Whatley
An OHI student sits down to eat a healthy salad

Classes—education of the highest caliber
The level of educational offerings at OHI demonstrates their commitment to develop the mind, body and spirit.  Classes are held three times each day on various topics that support these disciplines.  One important lesson for me is the time it takes food and liquid to become absorbed in the body as nutrition: water is ten minutes, fruit is one hour, grains and beans are two hours, meat and fish are four hours and the worst offender is shellfish which takes up to eight hours.  Yikes! Maybe I shouldn’t make my body work that hard!  I learn about food combining—always eat fruit alone; replacing tomatillo dressing for salad dressing—it tastes just as good; and the health benefits of eating raw foods. I visualize all those enzymes working at the cellular level to increase the life force within my body.

There are classes on positive thinking, spiritual rejuvenation, yoga, and my favorite: how to tone your inner body.  (Hint—it’s a class on singing.) OHI posits that sound resonates to particular organs increasing circulation, energy and vitality.  This makes sense to me.  I feel joyous and full of life as my pancreas, heart and lungs express themselves through sound vibration.

The results—weight loss and clarity
At the end of my one-week stay at OHI I am seven pounds lighter.  My skin is clear and my eyes sparkle.  I feel energetic and vital.  There is a new-found clarity in my thinking.  I am optimistic and feel like anything is possible.  I bask in the afterglow of this transformative experience.  I like the new optimal me.

I make a vow to give up diet soda and drink more water.  I tell myself that from now on, 70 percent of my diet will be vegan and raw.  I recognize that it is a lofty goal that may be a challenge to implement once I am back in my daily routine.  For now, I remain optimistic and cheerful—life is good.  I am grateful for my optimal health and this divine opportunity for personal growth.

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