How are you feeling within your own skin as we enter the new year? Did your health and fitness efforts stick over the festive season? If not, you have nothing to be ashamed of – we all tend to eat and drink a little more than we should over the holiday period. Without leading you into an intense, unsustainable diet, let’s address the big factors that will help your body to detoxify and settle into your healthiest body shape.
A detox program is a short-term diet that helps eliminate environmental and dietary toxins from your system. To begin your year strong, let’s release what is no longer needed. A detox it is an integral component of maintaining good health in our contemporary world. Unfortunately the word detox has been somewhat misused and abused within the hype of the fitness industry. What we are looking at here are no grapefruit diets or unattainable water-only fasts. Give your diet a mini-makeover by following these guidelines during your 7-14 day detox and see where you can make these lifestyle habits for lifelong health.
- Limit consumption of caffeine, sugar, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, processed foods, processed dairy products and gluten (biscuits, flour, pasta, all breads, many condiments). Taking a break from these (typical) gut offenders will give the liver, digestive and eliminative system a chance to heal and reenergise.
- Mostly all fruit can be eaten raw. Raw foods and juices deliver live enzymes and pure, powerful nutrients straight to your system. Live enzymes, which are killed when we cook or even steam food, optimize our metabolism, aiding digestion and flushing out toxins. Antioxidant enzymes act as a bio-defense, support the immune system and help rid our body of cellular by-products.
- Vegetables that are best cooked or steamed include the cabbage family (broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, bok choy, cabbage, broccoli sprouts, turnips, watercress, chard, kale (these contain enzyme inhibitors which need to be lightly steamed to inactivate). Vegetables that are best cooked thoroughly are potatoes, pumpkin, suede, parsnip, taro, yuca, yams, celeriac and artichokes.
- All nuts and grains are best soaked overnight before eating to inactivate enzyme inhibitors
- Choose organic, free-range, antibiotic and hormone free meats, poultry, game, dairy and wild fish.
- Eat slowly and chew well. Eat mindfully.
- Respect food as vital life-force. It’s not simply fuel to bargain shop for.
Drink enough high quality, filtered water. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water (or Kg x .033 = liters/day). For example, 62kg X .033 = approximately 2L water per day. Adding a pinch of unprocessed sea salt to a bottle of filtered water can provide needed minerals and electrolytes. Celtic sea salt and New Zealand sea salts have been found to have the lowest mercury levels.
Exercise (moderate to high intensity)
Exercise 20-60min each day. This can be a walk, swim, bikeride, game of tennis, paddle, surf, dance or a simple 20 minute bodyweight strength routine. If you are not sure where to start, feel free check out my online fitness and strength coaching.
Stretching, Fascia, Movement (low intensity)
Low intensity, balanced movement puts your body into fat-burning mode by lowering the levels of stress hormones, improving cellular metabolism and increasing insulin sensitivity. When you breathe deeply during movement, you process oxygen efficiently and optimise your metabolism. Via increasing circulation to different parts of your body, active stretching aids your body in removing harmful toxins, increasing energy, and losing weight. Ensure you are stretching and mobilising the muscles/joints that are specifically problematic in YOUR body, rather than taking a generic approach to stretching. Generic stretching programs can lead to further musculo-skeletal imbalances and pain as joints become compromised. My online Fluid Body program is useful in guiding you through particular body areas with self-awareness and self-education.
Detox Your Skin
The skin is your largest organ and accounts for one quarter of your body`s detoxification process. Everything you put on your body, you put in your body. Give your skin a break by refraining from using scented lotions, aluminium deodorants, perfumes and synthetic hair products. You can moisturise with coconut oil or combinations of shea butter, cocoa butter and coconut oil. Some favourites are here and here. There are many natural alternative hair cleansing products and deodorants found at health food stores which will not put your body systems under stress.
Sleep is the master in all the detox and repair functions you are asking for.
- Aim for 7-8 hours sleep each night. If you are having trouble sleeping, try “calming” or “sleep time” teas such as camomile, calendula, lemon balm, lemongrass, valerian, passionflower, lavender and skullcap.
- Dim the lights or use candlelight at least 1 hour before you plan to doze off. This includes turning off the internet, television and mobile phone at least 1 hour before bed to encourage the body’s production and release of sleep-hormone melatonin (which is inhibited by light).
- Keep your bedroom as dark and as quiet as possible.
- Ensure you have adequate airflow and body temperature is kept on the cooler side.
- If thoughts are running haphazardly, try writing them out on paper before reattempting some Z’s. Focusing on deep, rhythmic breathing can also be effective.
These are all habits that can become lifestyle practices, ensuring you never need to look at the latest fad diet ever again. It is ok to slip off your health routine from time to time, just stick to the 80/20 rule : you can “party” 20% of the time if you are leading a clean, healthy diet 80% of the time. No need to beat yourself up. By clearing toxins from your body, you will raise your energy levels, clear your complexion, normalise your weight, stimulate digestion, and improve your all-around health and well-being.
Best of luck!