Today I am the cliché. The first month of the new year is a reminder that I need to get in shape for swimwear season, knowing fully well it will take me that long to achieve my target weight. With that in mind, I have been exercising with more regularity, made a lighthearted attempt at a diet and even moved into a new house. Internally I am looking to get a fresh start. The next step to help me reach the stereotypical January guilty man status is a cleanse.
You hear about Hollywood going crazy for the cleanse. It’s a common term these days for an idea that has actually been around for eons. Basically a cleanse is a sort of fast. Maybe it is a juice fast. Maybe it’s a break from alcohol. The idea is that there is some kind of toxin you feel the need to rid yourself of and the fast (or cleanse) will get your body back to ground zero on that level by eating certain foods while denying others.
The proper cleanse can be decided only after you assess your goal. Are you looking to lose weight? Feel better? Maybe you are doing this for some religious reason or as a tribute to something you care about. Whatever the case, the most important factor is to remain healthy during this endeavor and not jeopardize any part of your system. Don’t forget, some low-calorie cleanses slow your metabolism to turtle speed, making it almost impossible to lose weight.
Our first goal of Cleanse Club is to avoid processed foods. This means refined sugars, MSG, soy, alcohol, aspartame, Willy Wonka products and Big Bufords shall not be ingested throughout our journey toward digestive enlightenment.
The juice cleanse may be the most common fast of them all. Juice is delicious. It has to be fairly easy to give up some of your favorite toxins if you can replace them with juice. When cleansing in this manner you can’t just run by the grocery and grab a carton of Donald Duck orange juice and call it a day. You really need a juicer to help keep this affordable, with fresh veggies and fruits, not something from concentrate.
Your other option is to purchase organic, fresh-bottled juices that can get pretty pricey. You’ll be drinking about six 16-ounce bottles of these planned juices daily, which can run up to anywhere from $50 to $100 per diem. That’s a lot of bread for a day’s juice, even on the low end. Buy yourself a juicer.
The liver is the body’s organ for removing toxins, so maybe it’s a great idea to remove the toxins from our livers. There are over-the-counter powders, capsules and liquids to perform a liver cleanse, but this is a food article. Several foods aid in promoting liver health and toxin removal.
Think chlorophyll. Green leafy veggies are fantastic raw, juiced or cooked (don’t forget the pot liquor). Spinach, mustards, collards, turnips and cabbage are some of my favorites.
Beets and carrots, garlic, grapefruit, apples, quinoa, broccoli, cauliflower, limes, walnuts and moderate amounts of olive oil are generally part of a liver-cleansing program. Some affect the organ directly. Others aid the digestive tract in removing toxins before they make it to the liver, therefore giving our old drinking buddy a rest.
A good rule is that if it’s green, it’s good for the liver — as long as you don’t fry your Brussels sprouts and asparagus in bacon fat.
Tips and techniques
When doing a cleanse or fast, you will certainly lose a good bit of energy as you deny yourself the pleasures of certain carbohydrates, proteins and sugars. Many friends of mine who have taken these tests of deprivation suggest you ease yourself into it as far as activities go.
One recommendation is to drink lots of water. I’ve never heard anyone say, “Don’t drink lots of water” for any situation, so there must be something to it. You certainly may need to limit your exercise for your cleanse. Without that boost of pep from those french fries you may be a little sluggish for the 10k race you planned on winning. Opt for a board game or some personal time before you commit to renting out the racquetball court, at least until you figure out where you stand.
Most of these programs are not designed for weight loss, but dropping a couple of pounds is often a byproduct of the system. Be very aware that this is usually due to water loss, restroom breaks and/or starving yourself. These pounds will come back very quickly if you fail to change your lifestyle. Don’t think of this as a fast track to being skinny. Let’s hope your cleanse makes you feel good enough to promote healthier habits.
As with any drastic dietary change it is a must that you contact your physician to find out if a fast or cleanse is a good idea for you. As I said, the goal is to rid your body of toxins, not put yourself into a bad position. Wish me luck. I may start with a weekend cleanse. Isn’t that where you treat Monday through Friday as if it were the weekend?