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5 Reasons to Avoid a Cleanse (and What to Do Instead!)

5 Reasons to Avoid a Cleanse (and What to Do Instead!)

With the holiday season rapidly approaching, I am reading more and more headlines touting the “quick”, “safe”, and “easy” ways to lose an astonishing amount of weight in just a few days. Most of these articles use the buzz words “cleanse” or “detox” and promote radical shifts in lifestyle habits, yet are not backed by any hard scientific evidence. (Side note: there are no peer reviewed studies available on PudMed, one of the most comprehensive search engines for health and nutrition studies!).

Should these flashy articles be thought of as the Holy Grail for losing those pesky five to ten pounds that tend to accumulate over the holidays? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but these articles really are too good to be true and are not long-term strategies for weight management.

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So, let’s go through why you should shy away from a juice cleanse and discuss some tried and true methods (backed by actual science!) to get you back on the healthy train.

1. Your body doesn’t actually need to “detox”

Detox is all the rage these days, with more and more people touting the benefits of removing “toxins” from the body. However, many toxins, such as urea and lactic acid, are produced through normal biological processes. Because of this, the body is equipped with a coordinated system that is able to detoxify and remove harmful compounds. This system includes the liver, kidneys, and GI tract. It involves a variety of enzymes and proteins to help filter out toxins and byproducts from the body.

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2. Cleanses are low in protein

Most juice cleanses involve consuming little to no protein, which is extremely problematic for multi-week juice cleanses. Protein is a macro-nutrient involved in promoting lean muscle development and feelings of fullness. Additionally, protein is critical for supporting immune health, so doing a juice cleanse in the middle of cold and flu season may not be the best idea for protecting yourself against infection.

3. Energy will not drastically improve on a cleanse

The body is able to store energy, about 600 grams, in the form of glycogen, so in the first few days of a juice cleanse, glycogen stores are depleted. Going through glycogen stores can lead to lack of energy, headaches, and dizziness due to unstable blood sugar levels.

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4. Just because celebrities do it, doesn’t mean trained healthcare professionals would recommend a cleanse

Celebrities ranging from Gwyneth Paltrow to Beyoncé have made cleanses a household word, but should we be taking healthcare recommendations from them? It is best to consult with a trained and certified healthcare professional such as a Registered Dietitian before making any drastic dietary changes. Registered Dietitian, Sarah Romotsky, says, “Would you got legal advice from an actor from “Law & Order?” Stick to credentialed nutrition experts like myself who understand the science and provide individualized, tailored recommendations for you. I’ll gladly encourage juice as a way to get important vitamins and minerals, but a cleanse is completely unnecessary and unproductive.”

5. Cleansing is not a long-term weight loss solution

Additionally, metabolizing glycogen for energy also draws out water from the body, which results in the short-term weight loss. However, since the body prefers to have glycogen stores, once you resume a normal diet, glycogen will be stored again, which draws in water and translates to increased weight on the scale.

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6. Instead, focus on a balanced diet that incorporates moderate exercise

While it is not the most “sexy” piece of advice, adopting a diet that highlights nutrient-dense foods, incorporates the three macro-nutrients, and makes sure to get in important micro-nutrients is the best strategy for weight management. Additionally, ensuring your energy balance is in check is your best bet for weight management.

What is energy balance? Simply put, it is balancing the amount of calories that are taken in with the amount of calories that are expended. According to the USDA, “People who are most successful at achieving and maintaining a healthy weight do so through continued attention to consuming only enough calories from foods and beverages to meet their needs and by being physically active”.

Eating this way will not only appropriately fuel your body throughout the day, but also give you a long-term sustainable relationship with food. So, cut the cleansing, chose nutrient-dense foods, and make sure you are getting plenty of exercise. This strategy will power you through the (sometimes) overindulgent holiday season and steer you towards optimal health.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

1. Understand Yourself Better

Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

2. Keep Track of Small Changes

I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

3. Become Aware of What Matters

As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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4. Boost Creativity

The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

6. Process Life Experiences

When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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7. Stress Relief

In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

8. Provide Direction

Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

9. Solve Problems

Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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10. Find Relief From Fighting

Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

11. Find Meaning in Life

Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

12. Allow Yourself to Focus

Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

14. Let the Past Go

I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

15. Allow Freedom

Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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16. Enhance Your Career

Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

18. Catalog Your Life for Others

No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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