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Mindful Bytes - The Detox: It’s Discovery not Deprivation

Updated: Jan 7, 2022

Happy New Year people!!!!! I hope 2022 brings you health, happiness, and lots of success achieving personal goals.

What better time to talk about a detox than right after the holiday season!!! God knows I need one!!!

One of the things that drew me to Nick and Jean Luc early on (besides the fact that they’re both kick ass motivators/inspirations) was when I heard that they started their journey with a food detox, just like Hedy and I did.

The detox is much maligned and misunderstood. And part of that is because it’s often mis-used. I certainly used it for all the wrong reasons when I started my latest journey in 2018. But I was attending WW workshops weekly and my coach was very “mindset” heavy and that really helped me to eventually use the experience in a healthy and strategic way.

When I started my detox in 2018 I cut out all my trigger foods. Basically potatoes, white rice, anything with flour, unnatural sugar or artificial sweeteners, and all replacement foods (think protein pancakes and faux chips/chocolate bars). I did it to lose weight fast. In case you’re wondering, that’s the stupid way to “detox”. I was awesome at that stupid way of getting healthy for decades!!!

But the coaching I received plus my own interest in finding a way to make this journey finally sustainable turned that detox into a transformative process for me. It was transformative both physically and from a mindset perspective.

First the physical. Previous journeys I did what most of us do. Tried to fit in the maximum amount of indulgent food I could and still lose weight. I’d pepper my plan with low cal treats daily. I understand now that eating like that teased my food obsession into a frenzy and I’d eventually binge hard. The time between binges would eventually shrink until I didn’t bounce back from one of them and then I’m just eating whatever I wanted in whatever quantity I wanted.

This detox certainly let me lose weight quickly, but I was journaling and keeping track of how I was feeling. I was shocked at how low my cravings were, how in control my hunger was, how much energy I had.

Then Hedy and I planned and tracked our first pasta meal since restarting our quest for better health. Jeez. You’d think we were both hard core addicts. We were climbing the walls with cravings for junk. For DAYS!!!! What the hell just happened? We just went through the easiest 45 days of eating healthy we had ever experienced in our lives, and now I’m jonesin’ for Skittles like a madman!!!

For me, starchy food and sugar makes me hungry and cravey. There’s science behind those cravings that I won’t bore you with, but it’s real and absolutely applicable to me.

So clean eating makes me less hungry/cravey and accelerates weightloss.

But for me the real win from a detox was found on the mindset front.

In my world food=happiness. And when I say food I mean indulgent food. Chips. Crackers. Bread. Pasta. Fries. Food that is basically 100% for pleasure with no real nutritional value. Writing this paragraph made me laugh out loud because literally in the moment of writing this, I remembered that I used to refer to fruit veg and lean protein as “healthy food”, but all the other stuff I ate was just called “food”. That’s telling huh?

Anyway, I used to look at healthy people and think “how do they deal with the misery of eating healthy? Are they all on drugs that I don’t know about?”

Well, the detox gave me my answer. Eating clean is not as much fun as crushing Cool Ranch and Gummy Bears, but I felt pretty good and it wasn’t that hard to do after the first couple weeks. In fact parts of my life were better and worth the sacrifice of not having any of my triggers.

THAT meant that maybe my lifelong opinion of “food” (😉) was wrong. So what else was wrong? Was holiday binge eating as essential as I’ve made it? Can I sustain this clean style of eating long term? What foods when excluded from my life are worth the sacrifice, and which ones aren’t? All of a sudden I had interesting relevant questions to consider about my behaviours and a new tool to answer them. To this day I don’t miss pasta. We just don’t eat it. I can if I want to, it causes cravings and I don’t feel full after a reasonable portion. You can put a bowl in front of me and I won’t even be tempted. I also learned that I don’t want to live without pizza. That sacrifice wasn’t worth it. Detoxing helped me evaluate my behaviours in a way I never could have eating “everything in moderation”.

It also showed me I’m capable of doing hard things. Things I would have said were impossible for me before I started. Not eating any starch/sugar? Might as well ask me to bench press 1,000 lbs. Accomplishing this filled me with confidence.

It also helped me develop a new mindset with Hedy. Each week we’d check in, asking each other how the week felt eating like this. When the answer was “good enough” we’d look at each other and say “so… more week then?” Neither one of us started the detox thinking it was “forever”. No grand statements, no lifelong commitments made. This was the birth of the “just for now” mindset that we’ve used for activity, alcohol-free months, basically any difficult behavioural change we wanted to try. Whatever the behaviour, is not gone forever, it’s “just for now”. Until,

like pasta, one morning you wake up and realize that forever would be fine with you because “just for now” has turned into a habit.

I wrote a post months ago about deprivation. The key element that makes deprivation positive or negative is intent. Vegetarians, recovering alcoholics, and severe diabetics aren’t living an unsustainable life, because their intent is permanent, even if some of them never look past today in their focus.

I don’t tend to keep massive big change promises for life. “ I’VE DECIDED TO NEVER EAT SUGAR AGAIN!!!” doesn’t usually stick with me. But I think a detox can help anyone learn about what truly makes them happy, things that are necessary and others that are luxuries. The process can show you that you can accomplish really hard things, all while dropping weight pretty quickly. But it’s not for everyone. Some people have a much stronger FOMO (fear of missing out) instinct and a detox can be counter productive.

So along with my New Years greeting, I hope at this post gives you the sense that trying things outside your comfort zone can have a profound impact on your future. That changes don’t have to be permanent to be positive, and intent can turn something that people criticize into a helpful tool on this journey.

Now go grab and apple and a walk. It’s January. Time to get after it. 👊👊👊

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