After an especially long and brutal winter, I’m sure we’re all eagerly anticipating the arrival of spring. I know I am, and if I hear about one more snow storm, I don’t know what I’ll do! As the seasons change, many of us get into cleaning mode. We dig deep into our closets, reflect on our relationships and careers, and go into overdrive in a last minute attempt to shed what’s left of winter. For some, this means finally getting around to those New Year’s resolutions, while others may be pushing hard to get past that eight week weight loss plateau. Maybe you think you’ve tried everything and you just need an extra kick in the butt. Those headlines toting celebrity weight loss and Groupons for juice cleanses are calling your name, and you suddenly feel the need to detox even though you’re not quite sure what that really means. No judgments — I’ve definitely been there before. Anyone remember the Master Cleanse? Back in 2006 I walked around with a giant gallon of the homemade organic lemon juice/maple syrup/cayenne concoction for three days until I couldn’t take it anymore. And just last year I attempted a three day juice cleanse from a Chicago juice shop after purchasing a Groupon, without doing much research. Thinking back, I feel naive thinking the juice company had my best interest in mind when they made their one-size-fits-all juice cleanse.
What does it mean to detox?
Detoxification literally means, “the process of removing toxic substances or qualities.” What does this mean for you? Have you been on a drug and alcohol binge? Have you been eating too much processed food? Be honest with yourself when considering what toxic substances/qualities you wish to remove from your body/mind.
When was the last time you went to the doctor?
Chances are, if you’re in decent health (or even if you’re in poor health), your doctor won’t encourage a detox. While the practice of cleansing and detoxifying has been around since ancient times, most medical experts (Dr. Oz excluded; yes, he is a real doctor, but he’s not your doctor, and he’s also a public figure and television personality first and foremost) will tell you body cleansing is unnecessary. Point blank, your body has its own natural detoxification systems; let them do their job.
Be kind to your body!
The best way to keep toxins out of your body is to not put them there in the first place! This isn’t me telling you to stop drinking alcohol and only eat organic food. In moderation, your body can handle the bulk of what you put in it. The fact you’ve considered a detox, or that you’re still reading this post, tells me you are the type of person who generally shows a healthy concern for your body. There are habits you can practice to assist your natural detoxification systems without going on a full-blown cleanse. Drink plenty of water (and foods that naturally contain water), get enough sleep, try a brief daily yoga routine to awaken your body, and eat your veggies. Exercise is another great way to keep your body working. When you sweat, toxins are leaving your body straight from your pores — another reason to make sure you’re properly hydrated!
What do you expect to achieve during and after your detox?
Weight loss? Piece of mind? A miracle? If your main motivation is weight loss, you’re not going to get any long term satisfaction from a detox. The only way to really see results when it comes to losing weight is by forming long-term healthy habits. There’s no such thing as a “quick-fix” for losing weight. Since many detoxes involve limiting calories, you may find yourself feeling more sluggish or moody during your detox. Headaches are also common since your body is “releasing toxins.” So if you’re looking for more energy, don’t expect to find it hiding in a detox. You’re more likely to feel hungover than anything else. Once the detox is over, you need a clear plan for transitioning back to reality. Most importantly, be prepared for maintaining healthy habits after your detox. Cleansing isn’t a one-time cure. If you’re just going to go back to consuming junk and putting toxins back in your body, why even get rid of them in the first place?
Still want to detox?
Do your research. Talk to your doctor. Don’t start taking any pills or supplements claiming detoxifying qualities unless you’ve talked to someone knowledgeable AND gotten a second opinion. Any detox that only involves liquids or extremely restricts calorie intake may do more harm than good. Here are a few links to get you started (these are just examples, I am not endorsing any detox program, with the exception of the 21 DSD and Whole 30):
- Cosmo’s “How to Do a Detox Diet (Without Starving Yourself)
- Dr. Alejandro Junger’s “Clean” Detox
- Dr. Oz’s 48 Hour Weekend Cleanse (if you must)
- 21 Day Consciousness Cleanse (this one is for your mind)
- 21 Day Sugar Detox (does a great job of explaining what to expect during the cleanse; it’s not all puppies and roses!)
- And if you’re really committed to cleaning yourself up, I would really recommend the Whole30, which is not a traditional “detox,” but a transition into a cleaner lifestyle.
Have you every done a cleanse or detox? What was your approach?