To Cleanse or Not To Cleanse?

Happy Humpday!

I hope you all had a good long weekend filled with family, friends, and delicious food! This is my second day back at work after a much-needed 10 day vacation. Between working my full-time job, training clients, training myself, and working on getting my business started I was getting EXHAUSTED, so I figured I should get some R&R in before the busy season begins at work.

It was so nice not having to rush out of bed to get my workout in before sitting down to write programs, train someone, try to figure out this whole running-a-business thing, get lunch and dinner ready and then rush off to work for another 8 hours. I got a lot of the things that had been piling up on my to-do list done, did a ton of cooking, and even found some time to pamper myself.

Between conflicting schedules and stressful jobs my boyfriend and I rarely see one another even though we live under the same roof. Our one day off together is spent running errands and then he’s off to bed early for work the next morning. This was starting to take its toll on us, but after having 4 days off together, getting couples’ massages, and spending a night in fluffy robes eating room service at a hotel I think we’re both re-charged and ready to take on the next few months.

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Dinner served straight to the bed!

I also got to attend a workshop about cleansing, hosted by Feed Life at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. I’ve never really been big on cleanses but I was interested to see what they had to say.

The two-hour workshop covered food cleanses, juice cleanses, smoothie cleanses, and even enema cleanses. It’s too bad I learned about the enema cleanse mid-vacation; apparently the best way to do it is take 7-10 days off work and hang out in the bathtub for 15 minutes 3 times a day. Can’t think of a better way to spend a vacation 😉

The hosts made a lot of really good points and got me thinking about how small daily changes could help promote health, energy, and vitality. I’ve done a few food cleanses before by cutting out certain food groups and refined sugars and I’ve always found my cravings for junk food are far less intense by the time I’m done. But I’m still up in the air on this whole juice and smoothie cleanse-thing.

The ideas behind cleansing make sense to me. Between air pollution, pesticides, and stress we live in a toxic environment, so it seems like a good idea to try to rid ourselves of these toxins. I’m also a firm believer that the foods we eat play a HUGE role in determining our health and how much energy we have, so consuming nothing but vegetable and fruit juices and smoothies that are chock full of nutrients for a few days seems like a good idea, right?

I don’t know. You hear about the side effects that occur with juice and smoothie cleanses. Headaches, inability to think properly, lack of energy, lack of ability to regulate body temperature, irritability…these are all allegedly signs of toxins leaving your body. But is it really healthy?

Some people say they come out of these cleanses feeling more energized than ever, and others come out feeling like shit, or don’t even end up finishing them. Is it all about the mindset going into it? Are these people who “feel great” after intense cleansing subconsciously making themselves feel that way to validate how shitty they felt the past few days?

Then there’s the weight loss aspect of it. Juice fasting has been touted as a great weight loss method lately. “Purchase this 3-day juice cleanse for $300 and lose 10lbs!” Well no shit. You’ll be consuming less calories so of course some weight loss will occur, but much of it will be due to water loss. And guess what…as soon as you start eating again that weight will come back!

I believe that if we can incorporate certain aspects of regimented cleanses into our daily routines we can reduce the effect our toxic environment has on our bodies. You drink nothing but smoothies for 3 days straight and take all the wheat grass enemas your butt can handle for a week to get rid of every last toxin within you, but at the end of the day your environment still has pollutants and your body’s going to accumulate them again.

Eating like shit for 3 months, going on a 7-day juice fast, and then going back to your regular eating habits is ineffective. Proponents of cleansing want you to use cleansing to kickstart your new healthy plant-based life, but fact of the matter is that for the general public that’s beginning to think about these cleanses, that isn’t necessarily going to happen. A more effective option would be to incorporate a juice, smoothie, or salad filled with raw veggies into your day EVERY DAY.

Smoothies and juices provide easily digestible nutrients and give our bodies a bit of a break, so there’s nothing wrong with consuming one or even two each day. If you’re trying to lose weight you’ll want to be mindful of how much you’re consuming because even though these are natural sugars, smoothies and juices are still high in sugar. Instead of fasting and eliminating all food, work at incorporating at least one healthy, plant-based meal into your day.

Another aspect of cleansing I really like is sweating. In theory you need to sweat the toxins out, and you all know I’m a fan of getting sweaty! Go for a walk. Go for a run. Lift some heavy weights. Go to a power yoga class. Just get moving! Between all those delicious vegetable nutrients and the exercise you’re getting you’ll quickly notice an improvement in your energy, no foggy fasting headaches required.

So am I saying that people shouldn’t cleanse? No. I think if you know how to go about it in a healthy way, are knowledgeable about the potential side effects, and are doing it to actually cleanse yourself and not lose weight then go right ahead. But if you don’t know a whole lot about cleansing and are just doing it because it’s the cool new thing to do, try a couple of the suggestions I listed above before going all-out with it. You may find that’s all you need!

Last year I always made a solid effort to have a salad or green smoothie every single day. Going to this workshop gave me the motivation to get back into it, so I’ve been a juicing and blending machine this past week. I’ve had some delicious concoctions (one that I’ll share below) and some not-so-delicious concoctions (tomato, celery, cucumber, parsley, and lemon do not make for an ultra tasty juice) but I’ve been having a lot of fun with everything. So bust out your blender, pick up some fresh vegetables, and give this a shot!

Full Meal Deal Smoothie

Full Meal Deal Smoothie
(Courtesy of Feed Life)
5 kale leaves
1/2 cucumber
2 sticks celery
1 slice lemon
1 pear or green apple
1/4 cup hemp seeds
2 cups water
Optional: ice

Instructions: Blend and enjoy! I like to have my smoothies and juices as an afternoon snack.

Have you ever done a cleanse? If so, how did it make you feel? And if not, what are your thoughts about them?

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6 thoughts on “To Cleanse or Not To Cleanse?

  1. I’m personally not a fan of them as it seems so many people use them as a weight loss tool which they aren’t. I also can’t go very long without food so I’d likely faint after 8 hours of no solid food.

    • I totally hear ya on that! I usually have a smoothie or juice as an afternoon snack and every once in a blue moon if I’m running late and need to grab a smoothie from a juice bar for lunch I feel FAMISHED by the time dinner comes.

      It’s unfortunate that it’s so widely used as a weight loss tool because it could provide potential benefits I think. But I guess it’s like anything, I have to remind myself that people take exercise to extremes for weight loss as well!

  2. I’m totally late on this, but I love this post and agree with you completely! If more people were concerned with detoxifying instead of a quick way to lose weight, society as a whole would be much healthier.

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