By Collette DeBenedetto
Those long winter months are over and it’s finally spring. Ah, the splendor. The sun is out, the birds are chirping, and you’re on your hands and knees, vacuuming under the couch.
Okay, spring cleaning may not be the idyllic aspect of the season, but it makes you feel better in the long run, right? So this year, why not dial it up a notch? While cleaning out your closets and cabinets, try cleaning out something even more important—your body. The winter months of hibernation trigger us to indulge in Christmas cookies, New Year’s champagne, and Valentine’s candy, which leave us packed with toxins, coping with refined carb-induced blood sugar spikes, and feeling generally lethargic. A great way to transition through the seasons and into a healthy everyday life is through a spring cleanse! (And the good news is that, if done right, it can be a lot more pleasant than chasing dust bunnies around your living room.)
Unfortunately, most people identify cleanses with weird, faddish cocktails of cayenne, citrus, and maple syrup that promise detoxing and weight loss, but fail to mention that they’ll also leave you hungry, lethargic, and somewhat grossed out. Furthermore, they’re not terribly effective. The body doesn’t reboot by pushing control+alt+delete. It’s a complex series of systems that requires patience, time, and the proper nutrition to realign.
Luckily, there are smarter—and more palatable—ways to cleanse your body and clear out the toxins that have accumulated over time. Our favorite (not surprisingly) is the Beachbody Ultimate Reset™, a three-phase, full, inner-body tune-up designed to detoxify and restore your body to its original maximum state of balance, purity, and health—gently and naturally. Let’s explore a few of the ways a healthy cleanse like the Reset will benefit your body.
- Clean out the junk. Think of all the processed foods, sugars, alcohol, environmental toxins, and general daily stress that go into your body day after day, year after year. Those toxins accumulate over time. Additionally, your body becomes accustomed to some of the crap that you put inside it. A proper detox functions as your body’s reset button. It usually involves removing processed foods, sugar, and alcohol from your diet and consuming specific foods that promote the cleaning out your system. Benefits of this clean-out include weight loss, more energy, bowel regularity, and improved body awareness.
This happens a few ways. First, when your body doesn’t know what to do with a toxin, it stores it in adipose tissue (body fat). In order to get toxins out, you need to mobilize that adipose tissue. As James Dillard, MD, assistant clinical professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons explained to WebMD, “When fat is mobilized, anything that is fat-soluble should be mobilized, too.” Of course, it’s important to do this with healthy clean foods, or you’ll be putting toxins back in just as fast as you pull them out!
- No more toxic addictions. Sugar and caffeine are addictive. If we have a cookie, we’re usually not satiated. We usually want another cookie. I may or not be speaking from personal experience. Don’t judge. Same with caffeine. Do you really want to live a life in which you’re required to drink a cup of coffee, like it or not, to start your day? A detox is a way to lose your taste for toxic foods, so that you don’t crave those foods when you’re back to your normal lifestyle. It’s also a way to remove the emotional attachments you may have developed with certain foods.
- Learn about your body. As you take out processed foods, you begin to see how your body functions without additives, pesticides, hormones, sugar, and other nasty stuff that is added to most of the food we eat. At this time, you may see that your skin is clear, you sleep better, or you’re not bloated. If you notice any of these good side effects, you may be allergic to some of the food you regularly ingest. For instance, when I took gluten out of my diet, I eliminated bloat, gas (wait . . . girls don’t fart, right?), and acne. For one person, it may be dairy; for another person, it may be wheat. Note the little changes that go a long way. When your gas ends, your significant other may thank you (and me).
- Cure yourself, naturally. If you’ve been lethargic or have had trouble with digestion, allergies, infections, headaches, or depression, before running to the doctor, try nature first—try food! The Ultimate Reset™, for example, is not an extreme program that promotes starvation. This is a 21-day, step-by-step transformation to rid your body of the accumulated toxins and reclaim your body and health. In addition to several great recipes, the plan provides essential nutrients, enzymes, and probiotics to aid in healthy functional performance.
- A complete reboot. When you put these four benefits together, you get one even greater benefit. Your body returns to homeostasis, the place of balance where it wants to be. Because the system is running without obstruction, successful cleanses can level out a variety of health indicators, such as reducing cholesterol, increasing testosterone, or just giving the cleanser a higher energy level.
Of course, there are a few things to be mindful of when embarking on a process this powerful. Yes, one benefit of a detox is potential weight loss. After all, it’s a large calorie deficit for several days, if not weeks, but the key here is to not go overboard once you’re done. If you think you can clean up your act for 21 days and then jump back into your old eating habits while maintaining your newly found slimmer physique, you’re in for a sad surprise. Unfortunately, just as there’s no magic pill that will carve a six-pack, there is no magic detox that washes the saddlebags away. When used correctly, they can be great to shed some unwanted pounds, but the user needs to be cognizant of the choices they make post-detox.
Also, when selecting a detox/cleanse, beware that there might be side effects. When you are on an extremely low calorie diet, you can feel weak, irritable, develop insomnia, have headaches, and have some digestive distress. Your body is used to a certain amount of calories, and when you deprive yourself, it can be difficult for your mind and body to perform. The best way to avoid this during a cleanse is to take it easy. Don’t worry. Your workouts will still be there when you’re done, so there’s no need to plow through Plyo X on minimal calories.
Even before doing something like the Ultimate Reset, you can begin to cleanse your body by eliminating processed foods, mainly those that are high in refined flour, added sugar, additives, preservatives, and other chemicals. Also, you can try rounds of eliminating excess protein, dairy, caffeine, and grains to see how your body reacts. When you start to notice a difference (good or bad), play with that. Try taking something else out of your diet and see how your body reacts. Slowly, and one at a time, start to reintroduce foods to see how your body reacts to them, since you are no longer “used” to them. Watch your energy expenditure at the beginning of and throughout your cleanse. Your body will not be taking in as many calories as usual, and you don’t want to tax your body during this time. The key is to start slow. Don’t rush your body. You will be amazed by the response.
Whichever route you go, make sure that you are following a healthy cleanse and not going into starvation mode. Keep a daily journal of how you’re feeling day-by-day. This will be a good indicator of what foods you are reactive to and what foods are okay by the standards of your body. Listen closely. Your body has the ability to communicate some amazing things to you.
Detractors accuse cleanses of being just another holistic fad. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. Practitioners of ancient Indian medicine Ayurveda have benefited from springtime cleansing for generations. Their practice of pancha karma, a comprehensive 7- to 30-day program designed to eliminate toxins, was around long before many of the toxins we modern folk cope with even existed. So, if you’re ready to change the channel to more energy, clear skin, less headaches, and overall better living, try a detox.
Happy spring cleansing!