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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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