Detoxing in the New Year: Part 1

February 10, 2011 § 2 Comments

It’s that time of year again when people go cuckoo for week-long syrup fasts, fat-igniting magic pills and foul-tasting meal replacements that all serve primarily to reinforce the distinction between happiness and health.

Happiness is where they’ve been; partying, indulging, living. Health is that odious, obligatory task of taking out the trash.

People of all ages and genders have been wandering into my work wearing expressions that immediately betray their grim purpose; ‘Fix me with your herbal hocus-pocus!’

I begin to explain that a gentle cleanse does not have to equate to suffering and sacrifice…

…but they are already plucking the ready-made detox kit from the shelf, cringing as they turn over the neatly packaged box of potions that will ‘melt fat from their frame’ before you can say gimmick.

To them this temporary plan, albeit painful, is the only way they can truly repent for the sins of the festive season. Unfortunately, it is an established misconception that holding your nose in the name of health is a necessary evil, and however loudly I may protest, many people refuse to believe that good health and good fun can ever be reconciled.

Say no to Lemon Detox!

This worrying trend that I’ve observed in store is far from being an isolated phenomenon. It saddens me to think that this is the way many people visualise health, and as a result, they are missing out on the truly wonderful, miraculous and delicious truth. To perform a detox and attain permanent & lasting health, YOU DON’T NEED TO PULL THAT FACE!  It’s not so bad my tortured friends!

I’ve decided to write a series of articles that provide you with various options for detoxing and losing weight in a manner that is taste-bud friendly, and free from rigid rules and yawn-fest calorie-crunching.

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PART ONE: The Emotional Detox

Correct. This particular approach targets the noggin’; the control centre of our being that deserves a lot more love, and acts as the foundation for our continued efforts at attaining better health.

Like emptying your handbag of months of compounded crap, cleaning out your mental space can help you locate that inspiration you misplaced, the missing keys to your happiness, and the motivation that was rotting right at the very bottom, in a forgotten Tupperware container (don’t pretend you haven’t found decomposing matter in a hidden corner of your purse!).

Not only can taking the time to re-focus and re-group support a greater level of organisation, but having a healthy mental state also prevents the physical effects of stress from impacting negatively on your body.

Did you know that highly stressed individuals have permanently elevated levels of cortisol? This is a hormone secreted in the event of a fight-or-flight-type situation and would be useful if you were legging it away from a bear or a yeti. Being continuously depressed, anxious or strung-out however means your body produces cortisol consistently, in turn increasing your insulin levels and appetite, and hence stubborn belly fat is born.

Many natural health gurus also believe that holding on to negative emotions and failing to address underlying issues can be reflected in the physical – i.e. being ‘chubby’ because it serves an emotional purpose. Are you hiding behind your weight? Could it be that you are deeply afraid of the consequences of actually attaining your goals and having to live with the attention you might receive being thin? Sounds far-fetched, but the power of your mind and your prevailing beliefs is such that thoughts can and do manifest in the physical. Think about it, yo.

My suggestions for becoming a happier, more mentally mellow dude (in the gender non-specific sense) are as follows:

•  Ask big-picture questions. Go on, I dare you. One night I actually took the time to ask myself how I was doin’ and if I was happy with my studies/life/future plans. How shocked was I when the answer I came out with was a resounding, NO. If you find that you also aren’t jiving with your current job, living arrangement or overarching direction, why not hypothesise as to your alternative options? It’s your life; please build, tweak and sculpt it to your liking! Go forth and write, research, plan, enquire, chant and astrally project until you have a solution.

•  Take the time to offload all those pesky logistics/budget concerns and grocery lists onto paper. Ok, so needing to write a shopping list has never impacted negatively on my happiness, but I’ve certainly felt overwhelmed with thoughts about money and other tedious aspects of capitalist living that, once laid out on paper, did not seem so horrid. Be brave, allocate funds in order of priority (tip: SPLURGE ON CONSUMABLES!) and take the time to make a detailed to-do list that you can cathartically tick off with vigour! CONFESSION: Sometimes I include a bunch of things that I’ve already achieved, like ‘wake up’, ‘shower’ and ‘breathe’ to make me feel super productive :P

•  Address interpersonal tensions. If there’s someone you’ve been avoiding or a friend you have unresolved issues with, make a concerted effort to heal that wound. Whether it means acknowledging that they are gone from your life, or trying make amends, decide on your preferred outcome and take warrior action (yes, you can be a friendship warrior as well as a Vibram warrior!).

•  Do the hard stuff. There are always things on my list that inspire a certain fear and weakness in the spongy parts of my spine (emailing someone with bad news, asking for a favour, paying a ridiculous, outrageous, outlandishly expensive parking fine…). When you want to put it off, you have to flex your confidence muscle and just it do (yoda, for nike). You’ll feel an empowered sense of accomplishment once you’ve volleyed all life’s tennis balls back into the opposite court (sometimes my analogies aren’t so catchy– let’s roll with it).

•  Clean up your shit. I’m not saying you live amid filth and squalor but if you did, hypothetically speaking, it would be wise to shovel out the poo. For everyone else, organising and cleaning out your room, house and car can have a profoundly cleansing effect on the mind. Feng shooooeeeey is not without it’s merits.

•  If all else fails, jump into the ocean. Or at least touch it with your toe. Or go somewhere in nature that you’ve never been before; a place that restores calm to your muddled interior would be ideal. Take the time to do some whimsical, meditative frolicking (of which you know I’m a fan) – any time spent tuning your nature chord is time well spent.

What are your tricks for cleaning out your emotional inbox?

§ 2 Responses to Detoxing in the New Year: Part 1

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