Months ago, during the depths of winter, I was perusing the Omega Institute website when Transformational Cleansing – a guided detox experience with Dr. Thomas Francescott, caught my eye. After watching Dr. Tom’s video about what participants would experience, I felt as if he was speaking directly to us. “People who need a break and need a jumpstart – people that need to hit the reset button.” Hello, Dr. Tom – are you in our heads?!? A jumpstart/restart was exactly what we were craving.
After closing down the food production side of our business in December, winter became about reinventing ourselves and creating something new. And, if you know anything about us, through real life or here on this blog, you may have come to the conclusion that we’re always on the go – work, kids, life and more work. We’re two driven and crazy Capricorns with a passion for following our dreams and creating a life that allows us to work together – from home.
Fast forward to March, our plans are made, Omega and Dr. Tom are hosting us for the weekend – we’re beyond ecstatic and can’t wait for May. In the meantime, our “new” work life is unfolding and things are pretty damn busy. Our stress doesn’t evaporate – it becomes different. Instead of standing in the kitchen for umpteen hours, we’re now tied to desks and computers. The new struggle becomes sitting too long and reclaiming old office work habits – like a pot of coffee a day which always yields more sweetener than I should consume in just a drink. Cooking becomes an added chore and it’s easier to grab 2 cookies that were made the night before than to stop for a proper lunch. And, although Jen and I consider ourselves in the know about healthy eating, living, etc, we still struggle to keep our shit in check – especially when it comes to stress and sugar.
Finally, May arrives and the
timing is perfect. Actually, timing is not perfect – both of us are juggling 100 work related “things” and the timing couldn’t be worse. But our plans are made and all we need to do is surrender – and get in the car. We do. We let go. The timing is perfect – it couldn’t be better, actually. Sometimes a forced stop is exactly what we both need – and the Universe has a way of always making sure we do…
Omega Institute, we’ve arrived…
Jen and I love adventures, especially the ones surrounded by things that make us happy – good food, yoga, nature, wellness, new experiences. Since we’re on a press trip, we’re greeted by Samantha, Omega’s public relations assistant. She presents us with our thick press packets and a quick tour of the grounds via a golf cart. The grounds are amazing – rich in greenery, paths and the most adorable cabins reminiscent of the borscht belt years in the Sullivan Catskills. The vibe is peaceful, welcoming. In order to get from point a to point b, you have to walk and be outside. Little signs with meaningful quotes stop us in our tracks, and the opening of poppies and sightings of wildlife make us breathe a little deeper.
I ask Samantha, “since you work at such a peaceful place, do you ever get stressed?” She replies “of course, but we have services to deal with stress and bad days.” In that moment, I was a bit envious. Resources at one’s fingertips to deal with the woes of life. I tell Jen, we may need to work here once the kids are gone someday. They call it the Omega bubble. We say, let us in. The bubble is nice 🙂
We depart from Samantha and make way to our little white cabin with a porch. The one bedroom room is adorable and has a full bath – perfect for a weekend stay. Then, we head to the dining hall where we met our fellow class participants for our special dinner – V-7 juice, quinoa vegetable soup, and mixed roasted veggies. Since we’re there to cleanse, our class must bypass the farm inspired buffet feast for more simple/detox fare. Not that it matters, because although our menu is simple, it is delicious.
After dinner, our program begins and one of the first questions Dr. Tom asked was “what compelled you to come here?” We went around the room sharing, everything from weight and health issues to emotional trauma and stress seemed to come up. For Jen and I, our answers were echoed – get our health back on track, continue learning, and the ability to connect with ourselves and let go. Decompress, stress less.
Dr. Tom spoke of change and transformation as an inner experience and assured us that healing is internally driven and “the body can heal itself if the obstacles are removed.” We’ve seen it happen and agree. That said, sometimes we all need to be reminded of things we know, yet forget. Before we left for the evening, Dr. Tom encouraged us to move our bodies while detoxing for the weekend, observe our individual nature, and to try new things. He reminds us that cleansing is experiential. We took note and agreed. After all, that was the reason for our visit – cleansing inside and out.
Day 2 – Yoga, Detox Shakes, and the Center for Sustainable Living
Our day begins with one hour of vigorous yoga in the Lake Theater. Since our normal routine starts at 5:30am, 5 days a week, with 15-30 minutes of Brett Larkin Yoga – a 1-hour, 7am class is a welcomed treat. Jasmine’s class was intense and hot – perfect for getting the body heated and toxins moving out.
Breakfast immediately follows, offering “Wake Up” green juice and detox soup of miso with kale, watercress, and burdock root. Both are pleasant and keep us feeling light and not bogged down in the gut – a great feeling we both enjoy.
Off to class where Dr. Tom takes us through our menu for the weekend and guides us through the 5 cleansing principles, along with information on foods to eat and what to avoid. Thankfully, Dr. T educates folks on organic food and GMOs, encouraging everyone to eat clean as much as possible.
Dr. Tom is knowledgeable and well versed, someone you could hang out with for hours just listening to. His presence is calming and he happens to be Italian, though you wouldn’t guess it. But he speaks of his balance between being healthy yet enjoying his mother-in-law’s pasta when the opportunity arises. A reminder that we’re all human and deal with choices that impact our health, mental and physical, every day. He encourages our group to be “awake at the plate” and feeling pleasure when eating aids in digestion and nutrient absorption. In other words, if you’re going to eat the pasta or the cake – do it with joy, not angst.
Then we dive into Dr. Tom’s Core Daily Cleanse Detox Shake, which we’re encouraged to have in between meals for protein and to help aid our detoxification. Unlike something you’d find in a store, healthy or not, this shake is 100% different. It’s a complete protein with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and herbs which support the liver, digestive tract, and the body’s ability to reduce inflammation. It helps the gut to properly function with fuel and fiber to restore and repair the stress it endures on a daily basis. Plus, it helps balance hormones, which I believe I have an issue with (more on that soon after I do a follow-up with Dr. Tom to get to the bottom of things).
For our mid-morning break, he has us mix up our shakes – much needed after an hour of intense yoga and a light breakfast. We add some additions – coconut oil, chia, lecithin (brain food) and detox superfoods. Surprisingly, it’s easy to make, filling and delicious. Plus, it’s sweetened with stevia so it curbs the need for a sweet treat – an added bonus, especially for me 🙂
Lunch and dinner once again offer a vegetable based juice – and though juices are far from my favorite, his portion size made it manageable and they were quite palatable. Along with a detox salad, detox soup, and steamed veggies. Again, simple but fulfilling to the taste buds and belly.
In the afternoon, we toured Omega Center for Sustainable Living – an incredible opportunity to learn about their water purification system constructed from outdoor wetlands and an indoor aerated lagoon. True sustainability and water stewardship.
That evening, we were encouraged to try Laughter Yoga with Howard Moody – 45 minutes of laughing, not really yoga. So, Jen and I throw to the wind – as this style class is not something we would normally gravitate to. The room is packed and the guidelines are laid out. Our job is to laugh – real or fake, just laugh. Howard speaks of how voluntary laughter provides the same physiological and psychological benefits as spontaneous laughter.
Personally, silly things like this make us feel – silly. But, since Dr. T encouraged it, we would stay and participate. So, we “played” and laughed for 45 minutes. It was hilarious – lol. Think improv with laughter as the thread tying everything and everyone together. A huge stretch for our somewhat reserved personalities.
That same evening, we climbed the stone steps to the sanctuary for a concert of North Indian classical music. It was so relaxing that I drifted into a light sleep…
Day 3 – Going Home & Connections
Sunday morning greeted us with more good food and information on how to implement staying on track at home. Though we were leaving, along with a few classmates, others were staying for the extended version of the class. I will say, we were bummed that we wouldn’t be among the group that was continuing on. But, Dr. Tom was great and answered many questions before departing. We were armed with eating guidelines and recipes – super helpful for those first finding their way to healthy eating.
Lunch was filled with farewell conversations and information exchanged – isn’t it funny how you connect with people just when you have to say goodbye. But we were in no rush, and the gift shop was calling my name. After one awesome pair of flowy pants and the most comfortable sports bra ever, I was set and ready to head back to the ‘burg. I felt once again awakened to things I already knew but needed to hear again.
The entire weekend was more than we thought it would be – sure we spoke of health and nutrition but it was deeper and incredibly meaningful. Dr. Tom made us see the need to deal with our emotional baggage too. We all have it – some more than others. I’m a sweep it under the carpet, kinda gal – until my cork pops and then… Well, you don’t want to know 😉 I found myself tearing up multiple times hearing the stories of others – sometimes triggering a similar emotion. Life is hard and one way or another we all have something that haunts us or presses the wrong buttons. This made me recognize that I really need to tune into my feelings – good and bad.
Taking it home…
It’s been 5 weeks since our visit to Omega and I’m happy to say we’ve stuck with changes implemented that weekend. Sugar issue is in check, the angst of lunch has been replaced with Dr. Tom’s shake – a godsend, especially for Jen who’s on the go and traveling in the car quite a bit. We’re aware of our stress levels and how to curb them. We’re a bit more forgiving with ourselves when the workload is never ending yet it’s time to call it quits for the day.
So, if you want to know if it was worth it – yes. Was it transformational – yes. Would we do it again – absolutely! Luckily, if you’re interested, Dr. Tom will be hosting the same class in October (and again in May 2018). If you feel like you need a reset, whether mental, physical or both – invest in yourself. Sign-up and force yourself to commit to an amazing experience. We were blessed to have been given this gift to share with all of you – our readers. Take our advice and just do it – register and don’t look back.
Dr. Tom’s 5 Transformational Cleansing Principles
- Balance blood sugar. Stick with zero added sugars, low-glycemic juices, fruit and veggies. Plan proper meals – small and frequent. Incorporate healthy oils (olive, coconut, avocado, flax), and the Daily Cleanse Shake to stabilize mood, cravings, hunger, and energy while cleansing.
- Remove inflammatories. Avoid nightshades, food toxins and chemicals, hydrogenated oils and GMOs. Reduce stress; use food and herbs for support of inflammation reduction.
- Incorporate detoxifying superfoods. Consume fresh juices, antioxidant-loaded fruit and veggies, cleansing herbs, detox supplements and increase water intake (1/2 your body weight in ounces).
- Practice mindful eating and breathing. Connect with your breath before every meal, adopt a healthy lifestyle that reduces stress and enhances relaxation. Chew food well to reduce cortisol and support digestion and metabolism. Be aware of auto-pilot and mindless eating.
- Cleanse until you’re surprised. Be open and flexible, build awareness to help create change. Release old habits and patterns. Start to listen to your body in a deeper way – paying attention to how foods affect your mood and gut.
Things to Know Before You Go
- You don’t have to attend a program in order to visit Omega. If you’re on a budget, try an R&R getaway.
- Pack good walking shoes and layers, you’ll be walking quite a bit and outside a lot.
- Omega is for everyone – really. No, it’s not some weird place. It’s part magic, part nature, part inspiration, part wellness.
In the interest of full disclosure, we did not pay to attend Omega Institute. That said, all opinions are strictly our own and other than being compensated for room, board and educational information, we were not paid to say the above.