Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Do You Need To Detox?

It seems like everyone I know is on some kind of detox plan, from boxed colon-blasting fiber concoctions to milk thistle "liver cleansing" things to enemas to bizarre grapefruit-based diets to who knows what else.  And inevitably, people always seem to ask me what I think about detoxing. 

You know what?  I think everyone needs to detox.  But I don't think that means taking shots of lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper and nibbling on leaves.  What I do think that means is getting rid of all the toxins in our lives and making them as healthy as possible.  Here's my detox plan.  Personally, I think it beats the hell out of anything that comes in a box (or out of a hose).

Um... no thanks!

1)  STOP EATING TOXINS.  Clean up your diet.  If you've been reading my blog, you know how important this is.  Posts like this make it easy:  What it comes down to, basically, is this:
-Stop putting processed crap in your body.  White flour, white rice, cookies, crackers, processed meats, fake "meats," 99.999% of breakfast cereals, sodas, fast food... just stop it.  This stuff is slowly poisoning you, and, if nothing else, it's making you fat, slow, and weak.  So get rid of it.
-Cut out sugar as much as possible.  Reasons:  see above.  More reasons:  it's more addictive than cocaine, says one study:  (and I can speak from experience how horribly addictive sugar can be: ).
-Buy locally-grown, seasonal, and organic/pesticide-free whenever possible.  This food tends to be fresher, more nutritious, often cheaper (especially if purchased at a farmer's market), and doesn't have any mysterious poisons on it.
-Eat lots and lots and lots and looooots of veggies.  Especially green ones.  They are very low in calories, nutrient-dense, high in antioxidants, and some veggies like spinach are even able to "arrest" toxins in the body and prevent them from being absorbed. 
-Don't be afraid of healthy fats.  Healthy dietary fats (think nuts and seeds, avocados, extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil) are probably not what is making you fat and giving you heart disease.  Simple sugars/carbohydrates are.  I have touched on this in other entries, but this will be spoken about in more detail in future blog posts.  Promise.  For now, just trust me.  Or do your own research.  Either way, healthy fats are good for you and may even-- gasp-- help you lose weight and improve your heart health.
-Drink lots and lots and lots and loooooots of water.


-Overdoing it.   If you're like me, you tend to burn 300 candles at 800 ends.  And if you're like me, you're eventually going to get burnt out or make yourself ill.  Having just come off a few days recovering from a fairly high fever, I learned this the hard way.   My body forced me to take a break, so now I need to listen.  While I know it's not feasible for me to change or drop anything from my schedule at the moment, I do know I can back off my training a bit (I've been training hard 5 days per week lately; I can and should make this 3 or 4 days) and work on getting longer and higher-quality sleep (I've been going to bed too late for the time I have to wake up).  I am taking steps to make this happen.  One of my favorite quotes (which I didn't come up with, but I don't know who did) is:  "You're never going to look back on your life and wish you'd spent more time at work."  Figure out what you can change in your schedule to prevent burning out, and make good on it.   Make some "you" time, make some time for your loved ones, and get more sleep.  Find a way to destress regularly-- stress is a killer.  You'll be far healthier and happier in the long run.

-Underdoing it.  Are you sedentary for no physical reason?  Have you left your dreams by the wayside because it was too hard to pursue them?  Are you languishing at a job you hate just because it's easier than looking for a new one?  Get up.  Move.  Dream big (no one says you have to make a living doing it-- just find a way to incorporate it into your life.  This is why I sing in a band in my free time).  Start searching for a career that makes you happy (if you're going to spend 8+ hours a day there, you might as well love what you do during those hours).  But never, never settle just because doing something else is "too hard."  Another quote I love is this:  "If you think lifting weights is dangerous, try being weak. Being weak is dangerous." (Brett Contreras)  Don't be weak.  

-Making excuses for bad habits. 

-Self-sabotaging.  This sort of falls in the same category as making excuses, but still deserves a say.  A self-sabotager often feels that they don't deserve good things, is worried that a good thing won't last, or is worried that a good thing will require too much work to maintain.  A self-sabotager also might simply not be ready for a positive change yet (much like a smoker will not be able to quit unless they are truly ready to quit).  If you're self-sabotaging, you need to figure out why, and nip it in the bud.  This may require some support, either from supportive friends, a therapist, or some other outside source.  But in the end, you are the one who needs to get out of your own way-- no one can do that for you.

-Drugs, smoking, and overindulgence in alcohol.  If you're doing it, you probably already know you're doing it.  If you already know you're doing it, you probably already know why you shouldn't.  You don't need a lecture.  You just need to stop.  Find a way that works for you-- rehab, therapy, hypnosis, quitting cold turkey-- whatever works-- and make it happen.  

-Pharmaceuticals.  I know I may start a bit of controversy in saying this, but I do not believe in taking any pharmaceuticals unless it is absolutely necessary.  This includes things like anti-inflammatories, cough syrup, pain medication, etc.  I have a few reasons for this:

              1)  These things mask symptoms-- they don't cure the problem.  And if you have a symptom it is either telling you not to do something so that you don't make matters worse (i.e. pain), or it is helping your body rid itself of something (i.e. fever, coughing).  Either way, you're better off finding the root of the problem and getting that taken care of, rather than just masking the symptoms.
             2)  These things have side effects.  They can affect your liver, kidneys, heart, alertness, and more, and any of these effects can be far more dangerous and long-lasting than the symptoms you are trying to mask.

So if your symptoms aren't absolutely unbearable, try to deal with them until the root of your problem is cured.  In my opinion, you'll be better off in the long run.

3)  GET RID OF TOXIC PEOPLE.  This one is probably the trickiest.  If you're like me, you tend to see the good in people, especially those you care about most.  But when it comes down to it, everyone knows toxic people.   I know I've had more than my share.  I've spent years in relationships with toxic men, maintained friendships with toxic people, and it wasn't until I was free of them that I realized how much better my life was without them.  If anyone in your life makes you feel poorly about yourself, makes you cry (or want to cry) on a regular basis; if anyone in your life tries to stand in the way of your happiness, tries to prevent you from doing the things you love, tries to tell you who you can and cannot be friends with; if anyone in your life tries to bring you down when you're happiest, is jealous of your successes, seems to revel in your hard times, or never seems to be there when you need them most; if anyone in your life ever harms you physically-- GET THEM OUT OF YOUR LIFE.  I have found that the highs and lows of my life seem to weed out many of the most toxic people I know.   This article was recently posted on and is worth a read, and this article was published earlier this year and is also worth checking out (I was personally involved with someone just like that for a long time, and it took a while before I realized it).

Now, of course, there is much to be said for toxic air and water as well, but these things require political action (although there is plenty you can do personally about living a more environmentally-friendly life as well-- but that would require about 400 blogs in and of itself).  

This having been said, if you manage to do at least a good percentage of the above, you're not going to need to drop half your bank account on lemons and cayenne pepper, and you're not going to need to stick any hoses where hoses should not be stuck.  Your liver, kidneys, and circulatory system will do their job, and your mind will be more at ease.  

Questions?  Comments?  Post 'em here!


  1. Melody, I'm so glad you think this way. When I saw the title I started thinking whether I should politely disagree, or say nothing.

  2. Great post, lots of helpful tips!

    I'm not a big fan of reading, but I found this book to be a great read:
    "4 Day Win" by Martha Beck, PhD.

    It speaks of the same things you touched upon in this post.....check it out and I'd love to hear if you did or already have in the past.

  3. Thanks, Diana! I'll put it on my list. It might be a while before I get to it, though; textbooks take up just about all my free reading time these days. :(