DOODY FREE GIRL
The colonic experience can feel very sterile. Cleanliness-wise, it should be, but it can also be emotionless, boring and awkward. Jen Gonzalez is decidedly none of those things, as the colon hydrotherapist and creator of The Doody-Free Girl. Her office, a revamped principals office in Jersey City, is fraught with raunchy cross-stiches and mellow hip hop bumping in the background. It's a lighthearted and non-judgemental ambiance— which is intentional. Jen's mission is to help people (especially women) release the stigma around elimination, and recognize its importance in digestion, gut health, detoxification, hormone balance, and overall vitality. After sharing a very intimate hour together and feeling the rush of ample endorphins post-colonic (that's a real phenomenon!), we sat and chatted with Jen about how she landed in this field, the lessons she learned from the "grandfather of colonics" and tips to having the perfect BM (hint: it includes eating plenty of plants).
Can you share about your professional background and what it takes to be a highly sought after colonic hydro therapist?
When I first got into this I was actually working for my parents. They have an insurance agency in North Bergen. I was just miserable working the whole desk life. It's just so unnatural to me, living under fluorescent lighting all day, getting to work at 9:00 to push papers around a desk, selling intangibles. I felt like I was in a prison and even though it was an easy job.
In the mornings, I would workout like crazy. I would run four or five miles and I hate running, mind you. That just added more misery. Obviously, I had an unhealthy relationship with fitness, and eventually, my knees and my hips started breaking down. I couldn't run anymore so for vanity reasons, I said to myself, "let me go pick up a 'diet' book." This was over 10 years ago, and at the time there weren't a million health books out on the market.
I went to Barnes and Noble and I found this book called the Raw Food Detox Diet by Natalia Rose. It just was so radical, and I love anything that's outside the box. The book talked about the idea that waste equals weight, and you're not going to experience the benefits of a detox like effortless weight loss or glowing skin or increased energy levels unless you're eliminating toxins from your body.
However, I became extremely obsessed with this "raw foods lifestyle". I was obsessed with being raw/vegan, I was very strict and meticulous about what went in my mouth, and to be honest, it was turning into an eating disorder. So, I went and got certified as a nutritional consultant for my own sake, as I wanted to get out of the mindset of being obsessive.
The word detox has just become synonymous with the word diet, so it's completely lost its meaning, but women still don't focus on elimination, you know?
The book also talked about enemas and touched on colonics, but it talked about infrared saunas, the importance of sweating, the importance of lymphatic drainage, jumping on a trampoline, dry brushing. So, I started doing everything right away. I started seeing Gil Jacobs, the colon therapist who was recommended in the book. I saw him weekly for colonics and he suggested that I get trained to do colon hydrotherapy for a living. I was seeing him on a weekly basis, so he got to know me very well and knew that I was miserable with my job and life. After that, I went and got trained at Wood Hygienic Institute for the gravity method colonics. I would have never foreseen a career in colon hydrotherapy if Gil Jacobs had never mentioned it. For him, I am forever grateful.
Can you explain what the "gravity method" is and how it works?
During a gravity fed colonic, water is gently flushed in and out of the anal cavity using only the natural force of gravity (no machine is involved), similar to an enema or douche. I am manually pulsing (i.e. pumping) the tube while massaging the client's abdominal area, encouraging waste removal. All of the waste is neatly contained and drained through a tube that is directly connected to the plumbing, similar to a toilet (no messy cleanup necessary).
How are you helping people (especially women) release the stigma around elimination?
I just want girls to not feel insecure about pooping. There is so much shame and fear around poop. When I was working for Tom DeVito at Release, Doody Free Girl started as a blog. It was 2012 and I started writing because it was cathartic for me. Most of my female clients at the time were really able to relate to the writing. They all had this common issue around pooping as their insecurities began when they went on vacation with their boyfriends. They would hold it in for three days because they didn't want them to know that they pooped. I've 100% been there, and it's so fucked up.
How did you build up the following and client base that you have today?
At first it was hard to get clients and build a following. Because I was the new kid on the block and nobody was gonna trust me with their ass right out the gate, but building a loyal client base comes down to one thing: dedication. I've always been dedicated to squeezing every last drop of garbage out of every single client, every single time. I never cut corners and this translates into nonstop referral business, which is always the best business.
How did you decide on the aesthetic and vibe that you created in your space? i.e. playing hip hop, funny cross-stitches, and general aesthetic?
I didn't want to be your run-of-the-mill crunchy, granola, holistic healing center. In fact, I don't even like using the word "healer." I wanted to create a non-judgmental zone, where everyone feels instantly comfortable. I love white, so I knew I wanted a white space that didn't feel like a sterile hospital room, so all of my accents help add some character.
What are some of the big lessons you’ve learned from your mentors?
What I've taken from my mentors was just what worked for me. Gil’s very extreme, but he's also articulate and breaks everything down in a very logical way where it becomes common sense. There are certain things that I just do instinctually now because of his influence. Gil also instilled in me the importance of elimination. He's just so charismatic about it, health is all about elimination to him. More so than what you're putting in your body, you've gotta make sure you're eliminating, eliminating, eliminating. Growing up, I never had a problem going to the bathroom, but I didn't realize how much we as a society don't go to the bathroom. It was interesting how you can elevate your health by this mass evacuation.
And how often should we be going? Is it really just based off the individual?
That's my answer. You definitely want to be going on a daily basis but I also don't feel like you should beat yourself up if you don't go one day. There are times where I don't go for a day or two and I know it's because I'm off my game because I'm eating like shit or because I went to a party the night before. Don't beat yourself up about it, just know how to correct it. We should know that food and your emotions, especially while eating, are going to affect how you go. Just make sure you know what's regular for you.
Can you explain how the gastrointestinal system actually works? What is the interplay between the large intestine, liver, colon, etc...?
Everything dumps into the colon. Look at your colon as your septic tank. Every bodily process has a waste product that needs to be removed from the body. When we're backed up, when we're not eliminating, and when our colon is full, things are going to be backing up "literally" and it has the power to actually penetrate through the intestinal walls. That's what's called leaky gut and it can wreak havoc once it finds its way into your bloodstream, and that's where skin issues come into play. Shit either comes out of your ass or your face or it's affecting other organs of your body. I tell people to think of your bowels as your septic tank; are you draining your pipes like you would the pipes in your house? And what happens when your pipes back up? Shit starts overflowing.
The liver filters all the noxious substances we ingest, not just alcohol. But, we all have liver issues, they say our liver is more enlarged than it should be. It filters blood— I believe about a quart and a half a minute or something crazy like that. It's also responsible for bile production and we don't produce enough bile as a culture. I subscribe to Andreas Moritz's Liver Cleanse and his whole theory is that our livers are super congested with these stones. They're soft so they don't come up on doctor radars until they become gallstones, but they're completely congesting our bile ducts and it's affecting bile production which is really important for hormone synthesis. But more importantly, it's affecting our digestion. We want to make sure that our livers remain free of obstruction. These "stones" also increase the pressure in our bodies and prevent the liver from functioning, which prevents it from detoxifying all of these noxious substances.
These days, everything makes its way through our entire systems. You want to make sure the liver is producing enough bile and so that when it's detoxing, all that shit is leaving the system through your colon.
What diet do you feel like works best for our bowels?
Definitely a whole food, plant-based diet containing water-rich and fibrous plants. People think they can just take fiber supplements, but it's not doing you any justice; you're just getting the raw fiber but when you eat a whole food, plant-based diet your ingesting all the vitamins, minerals, water, and fiber. That's what will promote movement in your system. Also, cleanse your blood with chlorophyll.
How do we encourage good elimination in general?
Plant-based eating is obviously huge, and I always recommend green smoothies. For me, they are a great thing for people to do either for breakfast or lunch, or both. It's basically a liquid salad and it's delicious, you can throw fruit in there, and boom you've got a huge serving of plants for the day. Definitely be mindful of your emotions when you're eating. It's important to recognize if you are actually hungry when you're eating. Wait until you're hungry to eat, and always eat slowly. Chew your liquids and drink your solids! You want to taste your food before you swallow it because we have enzymes and bacteria in our mouth. There's also a chemical reaction happening, not just the physical mastication. People these days are just inhaling their food at work.
I also love juicing for elimination, but when it comes to juicing, it's important to start slow. My favorite juice combo is carrot, fennel, and celery.
Can you explain this idea how some foods stick to your tract, and some food don’t, and why that matters?
I find that gluten and those kinds of carbs—which I definitely do indulge in every once in a while— are like glue in your system. When you mix flour and water, it makes paste, right? So it's the same thing that happens in our systems. When we eat something heavy, carb loaded, we can feel bloated and backed up. Another is animal protein. It's definitely harder on our digestive tract, it forces our bowels to really contract and expand, which makes it harder to push waste through, this includes dairy as well. Most of the time, you want foods that just run through you smoothly, you're body takes what it needs, and eliminates what it doesn't.
Our digestive tract also produces mucus every day, moderate amounts is healthy. We unfortunately don't produce moderate amounts, because we live in a modern day world and we're now overproducing mucus. A lot of holistic practitioners believe that this is the root cause of all diseases, because it's keeping pathogens and bacteria in the body. When we're eating processed foods, taking medications, drugs, alcohol, environmental toxins, slathering shit on our skin… our body reacts. It reacts by producing mucus to keep whatever is foreign or doesn't recognize out of the bloodstream. As we're producing more mucus, it’s sticking to our walls, preventing nutrient absorption and keeping toxins in your body.
I use the colonic to accelerate the waste moving through your system, as it's going to be exfoliating some of that off your colon, just like a crusty booger. It’s important to get the mucus out, however, we're always going to producing mucus, no matter how healthy your diet is, you can't avoid it, but just be mindful of it. Try to be mindful of the foods that don't create more mucus like dairy.
It sounds like you have a real understanding of the mind-body-food connection. What is your advice for keeping that a part of your daily mindset?What do you attribute to helping that transition mentally for you?
When I was going through my raw vegan obsession, I attended a gathering with a bunch of people from Natalia Rose's group at a women's house in Jersey. There was a woman who spoke to us about emotional eating. At the time, I didn't really understand what it meant. I was never heavy or obese or anything, but I was always very conscious of my weight, I wanted "smaller thighs" or a "smaller butt", all that bullshit. At one point I remember her asking, "Are you an emotional eater?" I was in such denial, because I thought everything was perfect, "my life is great". She also asked, "Are you anxious when you're eat?" It was just a general question to the crowd, but I thought, 'actually yeah'. I wasn't listening or recognizing how I felt when I was eating. If you eat when your anxious, it's actually crazy what it does to your digestion. It just fucks everything up.
For my transition though, it had a lot to do with the social aspect as well. Like I didn't want to just be a recluse eating my health food. I had started dating and that really got me out of my shell. I'm also super mindful of the 80/20 principle, being healthy 80% of the time, and 20% of the time doing whatever the fuck you want. It's about enjoying yourself while you're doing it.
What are some ways that are quick fixes if we’re dealing with constipation?
The other thing I always recommend for bloating– that actually Kerrilynn at CAP told me about were digestive bitters. I tell people to take an entire shot glass worth, not just a dropper or a tablespoon, but like a full shot glass that makes gas bubbles pop. It's like fire in your stomach, digestive fire.
What are your thoughts on when people say that colonics disrupt your microbiome?
I think it's definitely changing your microbiome environment for the better. We're cleaning out the septic tank, which is where there are good and bad bacteria. But there's no environment for anything to actually flourish. I think it's important to get rid of all that to make a healthier, cleaner environment for everything else to kind of come down. In my opinion your small intestine is where we need probiotics, the good flora to flourish because that's where 70% of our immunity is, in the shape of bacteria in our gut. That bacteria discerns what gets absorbed into the bloodstream, it's in direct communication with your immune system, and you want to make sure that you are taking probiotics or eating a lot of fermented foods. There are people in my world that don't take probiotics, but they eat all shit load of kraut and kimchi. All of that's important and your good bacteria thrive on a plant-based diet. That's what the prebiotics are— food for probiotics. You want to make sure you're flourishing your good bacteria, I tell all my clients that whatever you're eating is either multiplying the good or the bad. It’s important though to not be using colonics as a crutch, but using them in collaboration with a healthy nutritious diet. Plant-fiber is what's going to be feeding your microbiome. Elimination is important but eating plants is so equally important. It's like a one-two punch.
What are some other forms of detoxing and elimination that you subscribe to as well?
Yoga is huge. In yoga you're just doing so many twists and turns that literally wring out your insides, and that's just as detoxifying. I can't recommend yoga enough. I try to get into the sauna every once in a while, it's hard for me to make time for it, or be motivated to go sit in a hot box, but sweating is so important. Also, there's a place in town called JaneDO that does trampoline classes, and the trampoline is really great for lymphatic drainage, so I love that class.
When you think of legacy and the mark that you wanna leave on the world, what most rings true for you?
Pooping is just such a natural thing, you gotta release the pressure! I feel like once you're able to release that, it's just so freeing. So as far as legacy, I just want girls to feel that freedom. You should be able to just go to the bathroom when you have to go to the bathroom, it's a human right!