Why do I Cleanse?
Cleansing, Detoxing, Fasting whatever you want to call it. It is a hot topic and seems there are many different options on it. I have discussed this with a few people normally just before or during one of my cleanses. Where what I hear includes:
‘oh you doing it just to loss weight‘;
‘you are just starving yourself‘;
‘You must be hungry‘;
‘You are just messing up your body by doing that‘
‘Cleanses don’t actually do anything‘
As someone who only in the last two years have started doing cleanse and have been on a bit of journey with it, I thought I would share why I do cleanse and how and tips I have learnt that worked for me but might be helpful for you too. I am actually just finishing up an 8 day cleanse right now so probably the best time to write this post.
So why do I cleanse?
Let me address this question while also debunking some of the reasons people think most people think most people and then inferred I do cleanses. However, the individual reason will vary to each person and also how they carry out their cleanse, is always personal at its core. So I will simply share my personal reasons.
For me cleaning isn’t about weightless at it core (not going to say that losing a few pounds isn’t a nice bonus). Those I personally believe do it just to loss weight are just thinking short terms and if they need is to get in a particular outfit for a special occasion so be it. We hear of actors doing it right before a big shirtless scene (which also highlights cleansing isn’t just for women). However, I agree with all those you will hear say you don’t truly loss that magical ten pounds in three days. Majority of the loss is from water weight (especially is a short cleanse) and that magic number on the scale when you finish will not stay for too long. You will put some of that back on when you get back to your normal diet. However, I have on most my cleanse experience some weight loss and it has varied in amount from half a pound to a few pounds but I put that down to post cleanse and real reason for cleanse getting in a better mentally healthy space.
Detox the Body
Yes, ultimately this is what I am hoping to achieve. As I always see it you are giving your body a bit of time to deal with the backlog. I will normally always undergo a cleanse when I have had a bout of not the healthiest eating, whether is eating out, too much sugar etc. So it gives my body time to get rid some of those excess toxins I have been making it progress. You aren’t giving it anything to testing to digest and which is very pure and nutritionally rich. So one aspect is you aren’t making the system process hard food such as fats, proteins which the body a lot to do. The second aspect if most cleanse you are working at a slight calorie deficit so you body burns your fat and toxins are stored in your fat. This why in the first few days of your cleanse you get some of the side effects such as headaches and spots as the toxins are being released and why drink water is very important to help flush them out. By the end of my cleanses I do have to say that no longer have any side effects quite the reverse skin is clearer and have more energy. Detoxing is very important if you think all we ask of our bodies and so giving it a little breather is always a good thing.
Why I enjoy cleansing and turn to it at time is it is simple and not that I am a masochist and like starving myself but I enjoy the minimal effort aspect of cleansing. I will willing admit that I know I have an all or nothing personality so I do find cleansing easy especially when I am underway – that harder part for me is stopping and going back to food. Cleansing is pretty simple to do and so you aren’t having to think of what to eat, if I want a snack, making sure get enough protein etc. For me, I like the control I need to have over myself to carry out a multi day cleanse, which is only hard in the first few days as your body adjusts. Then is the simplistic and routine of cleansing, you life if mainly made up of juice, water and tea. You are not having to think about it, just drink and go. Don’t get my wrong I love cooking and food, with all the variety of flavours and textures and in the last days of my cleanse the is bit I get most excited about the cooking oddly not so much the eating of food. On my most recent cleanse I timed it as I knew that at work I would be going through an extremely high level of stress and removing food as a concern and also a crutch it meant that was not adding to my stress both mentally and physically. I know for some the idea of just liquids is hard to swallow (had to do the pun) but I don’t find that, I do use tea to give me different temperatures at least and make sure try to mix up flavours. Cleansing for me mean slow and simple which is good at times.
This is the core reason for me and normally what triggers me scheduling a cleanse. As said above I will do a cleanse if I haven’t been in the healthiest mindset for a bit, whether stress eating, falling in old bad habits, travel etc. I use the time I am on a cleanse as a bit stop and reset. It stops your current behaviours as you go to cleanse which is completely out of your normal routine and during that time you get some great mental clarity to start forming new routines post-cleanse. In relation to clarity, this is again your body is doing less, normally you are too – you aren’t doing too much physical activity – so you brain has time to all slow down and catch-up with itself. It is a good time to do a bit of check in where you are with everything. For me, I always find my eyes opened during the cleanse and maybe it normally having to deal with food and my body feeling better I just find I have time to do more including reflecting. From taking up mediation again, working on this blog (which had been too busy with stress to get in mental space to do), make a plan for what want to do post-cleanse physically. I find it is a time for plans. A large part of that mental reset is food related and that after going through a cleanse and all that goodness and how your body feels, your body has changed and reset too so your approach to food also changes. My tolerance for sweetness and fatty food always goes down, food I might have been craving/eating/bingeing on even now make me feel a little sick. Is especially true in relation to sugar and I do believe is like a drug in that you build up a tolerance and cravings for you, so when you remove and go cold turkey that stops. In the last few days of a cleanse and the post-cleansing days all I dream about is whole foods, plant-based food which are very simplistic and clean flavoured and I will normally continue like that for considerable time (until stress/travel etc leave me away from this routine then I cleanse again if required). I really enjoy the mental clarity and positivity that a cleanse give me.
At the end of day we just want to be happy, it is plan as that. I have to say for all of those say you must be miserable on a cleanse, it just isn’t true. I get much enjoyment out of food, the cooking, eating and sharing of it but that isn’t the only thing that can make you happy. Okay, if I have been extremely unhealthy (so first time I cleanse did happened) you do get some side effects for first few days but that wares off soon and then you are just left with more energy, healthier body, clearer mind and an excited for life. That is my experience at least. I even had a close friend who been away whilst I was cleansing so didn’t know I had done it and commenting on how good I look and was shocked that I was in such a good mood with all the stress I have in my life. I will no lie there are days when you are tired and just get home and sleep, and I don’t always feel that social but other times have gone for out and just sat drinking my tea happy as Larry. Ultimately I have never come out of a cleanse unhappy.
Other benefit of cleanse the form reason for cleansing including:
- Better Quality Sleep – you are eating less so do get more tired but then you have much improved quality of and are full with a lot more energy as long as you are making sure you get lots of nutrients during cleanse. The power of sleep is very real.
- Reduce any Bloating – by end of cleanse you have rested your digestion system to reduce any side efforts of it working too hard
- Improved Skin – from all the water and release of toxins you should see improvement in the quality of your skin. I do, especially hormonal or digestion related spots.
- Compliments – be prepared for those after you have completed your cleanse to comment on how well you look and that is always a lovely side effect. You cleanse for you but always nice for others to notice too.
Things I have learned about Cleansing
I have now been cleansing for about two to three years, and will roughly do four a year. I don’t plan my cleanse throughout the year, so it isn’t strike once a quarter it is just if and when I feel my body and mind needs it. I wouldn’t say I am old hat at it and very much are still learning to figure out what the best way to do it but I though I could share some of the things and tips I have learnt or picked up along my way.
Listen to your Body
I can’t stress this one more, listen to you body as you don’t want to do yourself any harm starving yourself and causing both short and long-term damage. Be easy on your body, and figure out what your body is capable on a cleanse. For me, I can go to work I have the energy and mental capacity, but I can’t exercise and cleanse at same time, I make sure that I do the lot of walking but not running or hitting the gym. I also make sure that if I am feeling a little low on energy that I either sleep including naps or that I go and have a juice, water, kombucha anything I don’t starve my way through it. Figure what works for you, if want to do a single day or even just two and a half days that is great, as that is what your body could do and needed to be a healthier and happier you at the end of it. It is an endurance challenge, be easy on yourself. I find that during a cleanse it is also a great time to do a bit of self-care, give yourself that facial or massage, go to bed early, have a long soak in the bath. In addition, each time you cleanse your body is different so make sure to check in and figure if what you did before would benefit this time or do you need to mix it up. A cleanse will not work if it doesn’t works for you and you shouldn’t put your body through unnecessary stress and you also have your everyday life to achieve so do what fixes your body and lifestyle. You should be miserable but happy on a cleanse.
No One Cleanse Fits Everyone
I have done a fair few variations of cleanses and as said still trying to figure how best to detox my body. There are numerous of style of juice cleanses, 5:2, water fast, master cleanse, soup detox etc.. Some are just marketing gimmicks such as those ones you get in bad health stores like do the 14 day tea detox and loss ten pounds which aren’t really cleanses and not worth your money. For me, especially through cleansing I have figured out my ‘all-or- nothing’ personality so I can easily do the master cleanse, a water fast for several days. I have had friends whose body needs more calories than that to function and be happy, so they might do the 5:2, intermittent fasting or a smoothie/soup cleanse. I have also learnt that your tolerance for ‘strengthen’ (for lack of a better word) also develops as you do cleanses, I wouldn’t have thought to do a water fast. I also know there was a time when my lifestyle demand that I be more active during a cleanse so I did master cleanse during the day and had a single protein smoothie in the evening. I will build the cleanse around my body’s need and customise it to what my body needs, again all about listening to your body. In addition, not everyone is a major fan girl of green juice or master cleanse mixture (tree syrup, cayenne pepper and lemon), so find a cleanse or the elements of it that you like. Don’t pass any judgement on yourself if the what if felt ‘hardcore’ cleanse just don’t work for you, you will get what your need more for your body if you do the cleanse that suits you and as long as you are doing it for the right reasons.
Sleep is you friend
Sleep is so underrated and with people every increasing busy lives it is easy to think we don’t need it, or we don’t consider the quality of sleep as well as just the length of time in bed. The health benefits of good sleeps are numerous and a whole post in itself. I personally due suffer from insomnia and despite how much I try I wake up very early, me seeing 4am is sadly normal. Sleep allows your body to rest and recover which is what you need during a detox as it is trying to achieve a lot – detox and also just keep you going. So take yourself to bed early, light some relaxing candles and go to bed to ensure you get close to eight hours sleep. You will feel so much better for it and your cleanse will more effective too.
It doesn’t have to be expensive
I have seen all these juice, master cleanse, soup detoxe advertised and it all start at buying either a ridiculous expensive tea, syrup, spice or go full hog and have your tailor detox deliver to your door, some starting as low s £50 a day and others way higher. I know the cost put me off doing a cleanse and I knew (luckily) to stay away from the gimmick cleanses. However, after deciding to do my own cleanse that suited me, and making it customise I was able to make it something I could afford and wasn’t expensive to do. For example for juice cleanse you can get a cheap juicer about £40 (which you get a lot of cost per use) and then if you just buy the raw organic fruits and veggies you can make you own juices – from as little as £50 for 3 days even, same if you go soup or if you swap in some protein smoothies too. The only additional tip if you do make it yourself if meal prep – make your juices in the morning or evening before. This is all the same argument people have about how costly it is to eat healthy it isn’t but it does involve buying in bulk (maybe a little bit of shopping around) and putting a bit of effort in and making your own food verse prepared food/drink. So don’t be shy to do it yourself.
Don’t forget the Post-Cleanse
A lot of people when they factor scheduling a cleanse in they just think of the three days doing the actual juice cleanse but you also need to factor in a few days after to ease your body back from just having liquids or a restricted diet. Also the length of time you follow post-cleanse protocols (for lack of a better phrase) is proportionate to how long you were detoxing for. So if you did a 5 day cleanse I would personally do 2 days post-cleanse. What I mean by post-cleanse is you don’t go straight back to the diet you had before the cleanse (you should want to follow a healthier diet anyways if the cleanse was effective). The first day after cleanse stick to just fruit and veggies and none which are too starchy; so think fruit salad, soups, mixed salads, kimchi/sauerkraut . Second day you can start adding in seeds, grains, plant-based proteins. Third day add in fats so oils, avocado and if you do have it dairy and after this day again if you have it animal protein. Throughout these day also slowly increase portion size as your stomach will need to take it easy and also you will notice that your appetite most likely has also decreased over your cleanse. If you do slowly increase food and introduce food types over a few days after your cleanse you are most likely to maintain the benefits. Also if you just go back to eating unhealthy all the benefits long-term will be lost. It is also a good time to carry out an elimination diet if you are having medical trouble or expect an intolerance. Don’t undo all that effort but just rushing back into old habits.
This post isn’t about me promoting cleansing to anyone but just sharing my views and tips for those that might think it would work for them. It also about just sharing my experience, I don’t claim cleansing to be a weight loss tool or a magical cure to anything, but in the end I always feel so much better after a cleanse both mentally and physically. It isn’t easy, there are days something that I am hungry, get a bit light-headed, tired or just socially wish I could eat with everyone else. Nevertheless, I do it because my body needs it and because I garnish such benefits. So next time your body is feeling tired, or you have been in an unhealthy routine or just wanted to give your body a rest and a big restart why not do a single day cleanse and see how you feel during and after.