Lessons Learned from a 7 Day "Detox"

By: Amy Anderson

Let me just start by saying, I might just be the only health coach you know that hates diets and detoxes.  It's true.  I have only done one, and I was hosting it!  We did 7 days with no processed foods, no added sugars, no white flour or rice and no alcohol.  We also limited meat, limited screen time (primarily before bed), added smoothies throughout the week (for extra veggies), plenty of water (half your weight in ounces) and at least 30 minutes of exercise (moderate to vigorous) each day.  I think that was all the rules.

The reason I've never done a detox or cleanse before is because I don't find it necessary.  For starters, there is no scientific evidence that these things work.  I find that people usually do these things for one or two reasons.  1) They think it removes toxins from the body and 2) there's usually a hope or a promise of quick and sometimes significant(ish) weight loss.  First, there's no way to measure if the toxins are being released or even what toxins are being released.  I leave that job to my liver and kidneys and to date, they are doing a fantastic job.  As far as the weight loss goes, well, it makes sense.  If you restrict your calories or cut out the foods that are high in calories (sugar, fried and processed foods) it is bound to cause some weight loss, especially if you're doing it for two weeks or more and especially if it's a huge departure from your regular intake.  The problem is though, if you're losing due to a major calorie restriction (think liquid detoxes), you're likely losing the weight from muscle, not fat.  That's certainly not ideal! 

So why on earth would I host such a thing if I find it so unnecessary?  For a few reasons.  First, that's what women want for some crazy reason (again I think it's the possibility of seeing the number on the scale drop a bit).  The second is that it never hurts to show people that they can still eat delicious food while keeping it healthy and lastly, it's an excellent exercise in mindfulness.

That said, 7 days was enough.  Here's what I learned during the 7 day Body Revival:  

Deprivation is the devil- Seriously.  For over a month before this "detox" began, I made a decision to not drink any alcohol during the week.  Partially because I didn't need those extra calories and partially because we had made it a bit of a habit of having a glass or two or three of wine some nights while rehashing all of the depressing news of the day, and it just wasn't necessary or healthy.  It was no big deal when I decided to stop.  But along comes the detox, with written rules and suddenly on a Tuesday, I really could go for a glass of wine!  7 days is no biggie but when you're depriving yourself for longer stretches, that's another story.  It really just reinforced what I'm always saying - that deprivation backfires and if you go without long enough, you're likely to go way overboard when you decide to give into your cravings.  (You know that "give me all the cookies" feeling)

Mindfulness is the key to healthy living-  Again, this is reinforcement of a belief I have held for several years now.  It's easy to move through the day not really putting much thought into what you're eating or drinking.  What I learned is that reading labels for ingredients and sugar has absolutely become second nature to me, it's just what I do (of course that wasn't always the case) and it can become your habit too with a little practice.  

Making exercise a daily requirement is totally doable- There's nothing revolutionary about this lesson but by making it part of the "rules" I made sure I was getting it in.  I'm not one of those people that naturally loves to exercise.  I wish I were.  I do it because I want to be healthy and maintain my health and mobility well into old age but not because I love it.  A 30 minute minimum is not that hard to do.  I have easily wasted well more than that amount of time on Twitter or Instagram on any random day.  You make time and you just get it done.  Accountability helps too.  I was posting updates in the Facebook group and that was keeping me honest as well. 

So over all, this 7 Day "Detox" truly is the only detox you'll ever need because it is full of practical lessons to use during everyday non-detox week life to put you on a healthier path.  It's never about quick weight loss (because it always finds you again, and sometimes brings it's friends).  It's not really about the toxins, because again, liver and kidneys.  It's about paying attention to what you eat, how you move and practicing good self-care (sleep included).  The weight will sort itself out.

* The 7 Day Body Revival is going off to live it's life in the 10 Open Tabs Membership site should you ever decide to give it a whirl or another go around if you were on it with me.  I recommend EMBER* group coaching in the meantime, it's  both personalized and productive.  Hit me up with questions or comments!



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