When I hear clients express the desire to “detox” or, for the sake of this post, to do a “cleanse”, I try to always ask them “Why” they think they need it.
The responses can vary. But it includes things like:
“I think I need to kickstart my metabolism.”
“I’ve been drinking too much and eating too much junk. I need to flush my system.”
“I think it may be toxins that are keeping me from losing weight.”
While the allure of these things sure is persuasive, it lacks a foundation in reality.
Because somewhere intertwined in the desire to flush, kickstart and detoxify is some notion of “clean eating.”
It’s as if we live in a dietary world where the line is drawn between dirty food and clean food, good food and bad food; this dichotomous relationship of what crosses our lips every day.
But what I find in practice is that the same people who get romanticized by detoxes and cleanses inevitably end up right back in the same eating and drinking habits that led them to the desire to detox in the first place.
In all the years I’ve been servicing clients, I’ve yet to meet the person who said: Well, what really solved my weight loss puzzle was the appropriate amount of detoxes that I administered on myself.
I can’t forget the meme I saw on social media proclaim: Detox is white girl for diarrhea.
Let’s work with the premise of detoxing because I do believe that there is value in the intention, even if I’d like you to consider it from a decidedly less marketable way.
By definition, the verb detox means: “to abstain from or rid the body of toxic or unhealthy substances.”
When we work from that definition, I think we can view detoxes from a new lens.
What in your life is currently unhealthy?
Take inventory. Then ask yourself what you need to temporarily or permanently detox from.
I want you to go full-Marie Kondo and start removing things that don’t add value or give you joy.
Warning: this could get uncomfortable. More uncomfortable than diarrhea.
And the results might look something like this:
-If you’re trying to lose weight, remove/unfollow websites and social media pages that promote foods you have no control over. Tell your friends and family not to share those things with you. You would also be well served to empty your pantry, fridge and freezer of the same foods that you can’t moderate effectively.
-If you’re struggling with self image, unfollow the profiles of people who make you feel like you need to compare yourself to them. This is rampant on Instagram where the line between fantasy and reality is so fantastically blurred that you almost have no idea what the definition of “normal” should be.
-If you spend time around people who “push” food and alcohol on you, put some distance between yourself and these social occasions. It doesn’t mean never, it means less.
-Kill your television. Not literally. Put more time into your self-care (meal prep, journaling, going for a walk, going to bed earlier, taking a bath, etc.) There’s a reason we call it binge-watching, it’s not a positive thing. Those shows aren’t going anywhere any time soon. And yes, you’ll survive if you aren’t up to date on the water cooler conversation about whateverinthehellishappeningonthebachelor.
And I’d like to add something else, something for you to at least ponder.
In 1998, when I was admitted into rehab for some things I could not moderate in my own life, the topic came up about alcohol consumption.
We were told that it wasn’t how much you drank that made you an alcoholic, it was your emotional relationship to alcohol. So, even if you drank once a week, if that drinking relationship was unhealthy, chances are there’s a situation that needs to be resolved.
That’s something you can apply not just to alcohol but your relationship with food, toxic friendships, and your coping mechanisms. Apply it accordingly.
Here’s the most important thing that I can hope to leave you with. It’s unlikely that your solution to detoxing will come in a box, a pill or a powder. If you don’t find a way to sort out the unhealthy things happening in your life, those better marketed band-aids will only provide a fancier way for you to have a bowel movement.
That doesn’t sound like a solution to me.
(Below is a recent picture of my son, Jackson, and I. We’d like to encourage you to work on the hard stuff so you have a better chance for success.)