Now that we are in December, many of us are considering New Year’s resolutions.
According to a Nielsen Survey, the top two goals individuals make for the next year are #1 staying fit and healthy, and #2 wanting to lose weight.
However, as January rolls around, people tend to start off with an extreme approach that is hard to maintain. In fact, off all the New Year’s resolutions made, only 8% of people actually stick with the them, according to Forbes.
And when it comes to nutrition and fitness, many are led by false claims of rapid weight loss success and sadly buy into a lot of myths that they can achieve better health through these methods. While some actually do see the numbers drop on the scale, the problem is that these kinds of crash diets and extreme workouts are not sustainable… and can even cause damage!
Improving your health for the long term takes a shift in diet and lifestyle that is not only practical for you in your everyday circumstances, but also supports your unique body and any added health challenges you may be facing. Check out this blog post to learn more about the reasons I believe being overweight is actually a symptom of a bigger problem!
Defining the terms…
After indulging over the holidays, changing the foods you eat may sound like a fabulous idea to drop the weight and get yourself back on track to achieving your goals. And this may be an excellent way to kickstart healthy habits that can last a lifetime.
First, the following are the ways I define diet, detox, and cleanse within KW Health Coaching:
1. While the term “diet” may describe a particular way of eating or a distinct theory (such as Paleo, Atkins, vegetarian), the term “dieting”, especially when applied to New Year’s goals, screams restrictive, difficult, and undesirable. It’s about slashing meals, cutting out the joy, and is an icky term I do not like to associate with good health!
2. In a “detox”, certain foods are removed from the diet in order to establish whether or not their continuous consumption is causing inflammation and negative symptoms. You still eat delicious, balanced meals, and when you’re hungry, you eat! It’s about establishing what is optimal for your unique body and what supports your long-term health. A detox also extends to self-care and lifestyle related areas too. Its aim is get you more in touch with your body and to start on a path to overall improvement.
3. A “cleanse” is everything included in the detox, but goes a bit deeper by providing optimal nutritional supplementation and organ/liver support. Since our organs tend to regenerate quite quickly, this kind of approach is a great way to bring healing that can support you during the year, while also getting you started on healthier habits. Detox or cleanse programs are usually between 14 and 21 days.
On to the misconceptions…
1. Cutting calories and portion restriction
This approach takes the same foods you’ve been eating, but just makes the meal amounts smaller to restrict calories. This is dieting and relies on willpower, totally disregarding what your body actually needs.
If you’re eating the proper foods for your body in the first place, you will feel full and balanced. It is better to eat mindfully, and take into consideration what you’ve had that day and what your physical demands may be, than simply portioning out your meal. This approach also doesn’t take into account food sensitivities, blood sugar balance, cravings, nutritional deficiencies, hormone imbalances, sleep, and immune response.
Of course in the short term, you’ll likely lose some weight, but if you’re not properly nourishing your body, then you will not achieve good health. And let’s face it, restriction sucks! Willpower will only last so long, and before you know it, the diet is over.
Lastly, when you restrict food and maybe even workout more, you are sending a signal to your body that there is a famine and physical stress. Your body slows down your metabolism to protect you. In evolutionary times when there wasn’t a grocery store a mile away, this was necessary for survival. Now what happens when you aren’t able to stick to the extreme resolution? The weight comes back, plus some extra protection in case the conditions occur again! And the yo-yo dieting begins.
2. Juice Cleansing
While the intention may be to load your body with pure nutrition, there are many drawbacks to this approach. First, and most obvious, you’re not eating real food… you’re drinking juice (and cutting calories). While you may actually be removing inflammatory foods, such as gluten, dairy and soy, don’t be fooled… these drinks are often loaded with sugar! (Especially if you’re juicing fruits, carrots and beets).
This approach also removes 2 of the 3 macronutrients: fats and proteins. The body needs fat for healthy skin, brain function, and to support nutrient absorption and cell growth. Protein is not only needed for muscles, but their ‘building bocks’, called amino acids, are also needed for phase 2 detoxification of the liver (which is part of the reason you’re doing this in the first place!). Did I mention you’re not eating food? No thanks!
3. The Shake or Smoothie Detox
We’ve all seen those before and after photos online of someone who lost 15 pounds in two weeks. Typically, this approach involves buying a program of powders, bars, and snacks. Breakfast and lunch consist of a 150 calorie shake, followed by a “sensible dinner”. For snacks, you can have fake chocolate bars with hidden sugar and a huge list of unpronounceable ingredients.
These low calorie shakes are usually made from poor quality protein powder (derived from dairy, soy, or gluten containing grains – all of which are known to cause negative symptoms in many people!), possible hidden junk fillers, and tend not to have the best bio-available nutrients.
While “physician grade” cleanse products can be supportive in proper cleanse, the big problem I have with this approach is that you’re not eating real foods. What happens when you go back to “regular life”… or is the idea that you need to maintain smoothies for life (a customer for life)?
Don’t get me wrong, I make smoothies a couple times per week, but when it comes to making New Year’s resolutions around health and weight loss, starting with the best quality and proper approach will help you achieve long term success.
Enough gloom and doom about the gimmicks…
The solution is to implement a program that is right for your unique body and delivers proper nutrition from balanced meals. You shouldn’t feel hungry or “hangry”, because that isn’t a program you’ll be able to stick to in the future. Also, there is more to good health than just what goes into your mouth!
Proper stress management is critical, as well as good sleep, and appropriate movement or exercise. It is possible to make positive shifts in the kinds of food you eat and still feel full, nourish your body, decrease the negative symptoms, and help your body to naturally lose weight in a way that is sustainable.
If you are making a New Year’s resolution for next year, please keep these tips in mind so that you can be a part of the successful 8%!
I have suffered from numerous health challenges conventional medicine couldn't fix. This blog is a place for me to share my experiences and information with others who want to feel better again too. Please share your thoughts in the comments. I always look forward to supporting you to improve your health!