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Drink Your Greens

3 Jan

Happy New Year! It’s the start of a brand new year and a very popular time for questions about detoxing and fasting. Today I’m going to share my advice on that and give you the lowdown on juicing and green smoothies.

So we are all feeling a little heavy, groggy and bloated from too much “holiday cheer”, but do you really need to “cleanse” your body to get rid of all that gunk?

Running on Sunshine verdict: not really. Here’s why…

  •  A normal digestive tract doesn’t need to be manually “cleansed” ESPECIALLY if you have plenty of fiber in your diet. Fiber is nature’s way of cleaning the pipes!
  • Most popular fasting programs have little to NO protein, fat, or fiber. I see this as a major problem. Without these wonderful nutrients, we feel hungry, irritated, and tired. The overall lack of calories also contributes to the fatigue which is the reason for the “no exercise” recommendation that often accompanies many cleansing regimens. A health plan that discourages exercise? Hmm… sounds pretty sketchy to me.
  • Contrary to popular belief, fasting is NOT a good option for weight loss! When you are slashing your calories so drastically, of course you are going to lose weight initially. But what type of “weight” are you losing? Because of the lack of activity, calories, and protein, much of it is muscle mass. NOT GOOD! Losing muscle mass puts the breaks on your metabolism, which is the exact opposite of what we want for weight loss.

I’ve posted about detox diets in more detail here. Check it out!

That being said, it IS a good idea to take steps to “get back on track” or give your body a delicious dose of nutrients to repair any damage done by the constant stream of toxins we take in through processed foods and pollutants.

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A great way to help your body get lean and clean: drink your greens! This is a new commitment for JWD and I. We’ve done it sporadically for a couple years, but we’ve decided to make it a part of our daily routine. Why? I’ll tell you!

  • It’s an easy peasy way to get major nutrition into your body. I am a healthy food expert, and even I fall short of a hefty dose of veggies on some days.
  • Some people take pills, I drink greens. I am a whole-hearted believer in the power of veggies. It truly is the best medicine for whatever ails you. It is the medicine of prevention.
  • It sets the tone for your day! It’s like waking up on the right side of the bed, putting your best foot forward, you get the picture. When you start your morning with a big glass of liquid sunshine, you better believe you’ll be more inclined to put your health first for the rest of the day.
  • It makes you shine! There is something about drinking greens that makes you feel completely vibrant and alive. And if you do it for long enough, you will literally start to shine- hair, skin, eyes, the works. It starts on the inside and makes it’s way to the outside.

Blend it or juice it?

You can drink your greens by juicing or by blending.

Juicing: Juicing requires a juicer which can be a pricy and complex piece of kitchen equipment. I have a very nice juicer and I must admit it only graces the countertop on scarce occasions. When I do dust it off, it’s always worth it. The main benefit of juicing is the lightning fast absorption of nutrients since all the pulp or fiber is removed from the veggies. I know some folks that are completely devoted to their juicers, and for them I have much admiration. Personally, I prefer the simplicity of blending.

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Blending: No fancy equipment needed, just a basic blender. A high-speed blender is needed for blending sturdier produce like apples and carrots. Since the fiber sticks around when you blend, you get to reap its rewards! It fills you up, helps steady your blood sugar, and gives your digestive tract some cleansing love.

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Juice or blend, the choice is yours!

Due to the aforementioned downsides of fasting , Green drinks should not be your sole source of food. HOWEVER they can (and should!) be added to your diet as an extra shot of nutrition or used to replace 1 meal. If you choose to drink your greens as a meal replacement, add some protein and fat like soymilk, Greek yogurt, nut butter, or avocado. This will give it some staying power.

The combinations are endless, so toss the measuring cups aside and start experimenting!

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Sunshine Green Shake 

makes two servings

  • 2 cups coconut water or water
  • 1 banana
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cucumber (peeled and chopped if not using a high-powered blender)
  • 1 handful kale (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 handful spinach (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • Stevia to taste
  • Bonus: for a yummy dose of healthy fats and vitamins, add 1/2 an avocado

Add ingredients to blender in order listed and blend until smooth. Add ice cubes and blend for a colder, thicker drink. Start shining!

Thanks for reading 🙂

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Addicted To Sweat?

9 Jul

Happy Monday! Hope your week is off to a great start. Today is the start of two weeks of insanity for me. Full explanation on all of that to come.

Let’s back-track to the weekend. JWD and I spent the weekend at his parent’s house. It was a good weekend full of family time and old friends (JWD and I grew up in the same town and have the same childhood friends, making trips “back home” a lot of fun). We went out with friends to see a band on Friday night. JWD was up bright and early on Saturday morning for a 7:30am tee time and my intention was to get up when he left at 6:30am… the next thing I knew, I woke up at 9:30 to an empty house and this weather report:

I haven’t slept that late in ages. I sat on the back porch sipping coffee for a good 20 minutes contemplating a workout in the heat. Hot yoga has made it easier for me to tolerate the heat and I was in the mood to sweat, so I downed some water and half a banana and hit the pavement. Since I was racing the rising thermometer, I went for a timed workout.

5 minute warm-up run

4 sets of 5 minute intervals: I gradually picked up the pace during each 5 minute interval until I hit a full sprint for the last 30 seconds, then returned to a slow jog to start the next interval.

5 minute slow jog to cool down

Total: 30 minutes

I was drenched when I returned, but felt much better.

Post-run overnight oats to cool me down. Loaded with blueberries, blackberries, and banana.

The increasing number of sweaty workouts in my life, my recent need for electrolyte replacement nutrition, and the countless loads of laundry we do each week to keep up with the piles of soaked workout gear brings me to this question: Are we addicted to sweat?

There is nothing more satisfying than wringing the sweat out of my yogitoes after my Vinyasa practices. Sometimes JWD and I will go for runs where “getting a sweat” is our only goal. I honestly feel like my day is not complete without breaking a sweat.

Awhile back, I read an article in the NY Times on this very subject. Hot workouts are all the rage from Bikram Yoga to heated spinning classes, but is all that sweating really a good thing?

Here’s what experts have to say about the claimed benefits of hot and sweaty workouts.

Is a “hot workout” a better workout?

Yes- to a point. Your body has to work harder at higher temps, but anything past 100* is entering the danger zone. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are serious consequences of of a workout that’s a little too hot.

Does all that sweating detoxify the body?

Not really. Although sweat does contain trace amounts of toxins, heavy sweating is not a reliable method of ridding toxins from the body. The primary purpose of sweat is to cool the body, not detoxify it. Leave detoxification to your liver and kidneys.

Are hot workouts for everyone?

No. Exercising in the heat requires a certain level of fitness and slow acclimatization to higher temperatures. Exercising in heat could be very dangerous for someone with a low fitness level or who isn’t used to it.

The bottom line:

Extra sweaty workouts are best suited for those with a higher fitness level and should be eased in to. Hot workouts should not make you feel dizzy, light-headed, clammy, or nauseous!

If you’re going to amp up the sweat, it’s crucial to replace what you lose. Two easy ways to monitor hydration: 1. Check out your urine color- it should look like pale lemonade. Apple juice-colored urine is an indicator of dehydration. 2. Weigh yourself before and after a workout and replace 150% of what you lost (24oz. of fluid per pound lost). Include sodium and potassium-rich foods in the 24 hours post-workout, especially if you are a “salty sweater”.

For me, sweaty workouts are a way to turn up the intensity. I always compensate my sweat sessions with tons of water, coconut water, electrolyte powder, and foods high in sodium and potassium. I am a really salty sweater (my skin gets coated with a white, gritty residue when I sweat a lot), so that last part is important for me.

Between the sweaty workouts, the hot temps outside, and few nights of cocktails ;), the weekend left me feeling dehydrated. I had a headache most of Sunday, so I skipped my Vinyasa class and opted for plenty of water and rest.

On the drive back to STL, I picked up a Lemonade Vitamin Water Zero at a gas station. It has some electrolytes in it and it’s sweetened with stevia, so I gave it a try.

It was pretty good! I was disappointed when I checked the label more closely in the car and found out it doesn’t have any sodium or potassium (the electrolyte biggies). Case-in-point for why it’s important to investigate those front-of-the-package claims! Flavor-wise, definitely something I’ll try again. My state of dehydration was also a great excuse to partake in some salty Mexican food at one of our favorite spots back in St. Louis, Tortillaria.

I had one fish taco and my fare share of chips and salsa. The rest of the day was spent packing and doing some work. Today I am a prisoner of my desk and my lonnng “To Do” list. Lunch:

Almond butter and half a banana on Ezekiel bread and a peach on the side. It’s rare that my lunch is veggie-less. I foresee a giant green salad for dinner!

See you later in the week for an iced coffee post.

Thanks for reading 🙂

First Post of 2011: Crafting and Detoxing

5 Jan

The feasts have been eaten, the presents opened, the tree trimmed and untrimmed. The parties have been given, the champaign drank, the hangovers suffered, the holiday season has come to an end.

Now what?

In my last post I suggested setting some goals for the new year- to give the year purpose and direction. To please the creative creature inside of me, I set my 2011 goals in the form of an inspiration board.

This board will hang in my closet and remind me of my goals everyday.

What are my goals, you ask? Here’s a few…

In 2011 I will… continue blogging, aim for one post per week and begin posting a workout of the week, and expand my readership.

In 2011 I will… set a half-marathon PR.

In 2011 I will… become a CPT (Certified Personal Trainer).

In 2011 I will… learn to better manage my stress and commit to a regular yoga practice.

In 2011 I will… make an effort to use my cookbooks and recipe collections (to get us out of our dinner rut).

The new year is also a popular time to give your body a clean slate. The sluggish, bloated, overfed feeling of the holidays becomes blatant, and the urge to detox, fast, and cleanse ensues.

A lot of controversy surrounds detoxing in the scientific world. Is it safe? Is it necessary?   Does it work?

Three Beliefs About Detoxing

It will help you lose weight.

The Truth: Most detox programs (fasting, juicing, etc.) are very low in calories, so weight loss is an obvious side-effect and most of the loss will be water. Because these diets are not sustainable, long-term ways of life, the weight loss probably won’t last. As soon as you return to your normal eating routine (or even just a healthy calorie level) you will likely regain some weight. The worst part about extreme fasting is that it will eventually slow your metabolism and make it harder for your body to burn calories! Detoxing/fasting is NOT a quick-fix way to lose weight.

Your body needs to be cleansed.

The Truth: If I have learned only one thing in my education, it is that the human body is an incredible contraption. It continues to operate even under the most abusive conditions (ahem, Western Diet). When treated correctly, our bodies will detoxify themselves without extreme fasting and cleanses. Our bodies don’t want to be filled with laboratory chemicals and additives. There are many innate detoxifying mechanisms working inside of us everyday. All you have to do is treat your body right (see guidelines below) and it will clean itself.

You have to go all out or it won’t work.

The Truth: Many detox programs are very extreme. The most popular example is the Master Cleanse. The only thing consumed in the Master Cleanse is a water, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, maple syrup concoction. These types of cleanses can be very dangerous and do not, in my opinion, embody a healthy, balanced lifestyle. The side effects of extreme cleanses make it very difficult to lead a normal life. Think unpredictable changes in bowel movements, stinky body odor and breath, breakouts on the skin, nausea, and severe lethargy due to the low nutrient/energy intake. I believe that a healthy, cleansing lifestyle should include exercise and most extreme detox programs advise against exercise because of low energy levels. There’s just something not quite right about that…

Detoxifying your body doesn’t have to consist of starvation. You shouldn’t have to tuck yourself away in your house for a week with a bottle of lemon juice to sleep and purge away all of your toxins. Try these easy tweaks to feel cleansed and healthy.

A Safer (and easier) Way to Detoxify Your Body

*remember that I am not a registered dietitian yet. These recommendations are based  solely on my personal experience and education thus far.

Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

The best way to heal your body from holiday abuse is with good old-fashioned fruits and vegetables. Your body wants and needs fruits and veggies! They will help to naturally detoxify, nourish, and repair your body. Boosting your intake will make you feel clean and energized in no time. My favorite way to boost my fruits and veggies? Spinach fruit smoothies and green juice (green juice post coming soon!)

Ditch the Chemicals

Cut out highly-processed foods– restaurant meals, fast-food, condiments, prepackaged foods, and sodas. These foods are full of artificial flavors and colors, preservatives, and other additives. Think of it as putting poisons into your body. Our bodies don’t recognize these laboratory chemicals and their presence wreaks havoc as our bodies try to figure out how to process/store them. The same goes for non-organic fruits and vegetables which are covered in pesticides and other chemicals. The best way to detoxify your body is to stop putting toxins into it. Simple.

Give Veganism a Chance

Or at least cut back for a day or two. Animal products are usually more processed and harder for our bodies to digest than plant foods. By decreasing your meat and dairy consumption and increasing your plant consumption you are giving your digestive system a rest. If you do continue to consume animal products, stick to low-fat versions in small portions.

Lose the Sugar High (And Sodium Too)

As discussed in this post, added sugars distress the body. And after weeks of pumpkin pies, candy canes, Christmas cookies, and cocktails, your body is probably begging you to lose the sugar high. Cut out the added sugars in your breakfast cereal, soda, ice cream, venti mocha caramel latte with whipped cream, etc. and you’ll be on the road to recovery. These same processed foods are also loaded with sodium. If you’re feeling bloated, cutting back on sodium intake will make you feel better.

Hydrate With H2O

Just like guideline #1, the best way to detoxify and cleanse the body is with good old-fashioned water. Water has probably taken a back seat to all the egg nog and hot toddies, so there’s no better time to start guzzling. Many holiday staples such as high-sugar foods, caffeine, and alcohol dehydrate the body. Water consumption will help rehydrate, fill you up, and flush out toxins. Shoot for at least 8 cups a day.

Following the above recommendations for a week, a few days, or even just 24 hours will help heal the holiday fun damage and make you feel lighter and healthier.

Happy 2011 and thanks for reading 🙂

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