Three years!

It’s been three years since that blue dress drove me to get up early every morning and hop on that treadmill.

Three years since I said told myself I was going to lose weight and get back to my ‘normal’ size 12 body.

Three years since I started on this journey that ended up being about so much more than losing weight.

I was not one of those people who constantly tried to lose weight. I didn’t try and fail repeatedly because I never tried. I had resigned myself to the fact that I was the weight I was and that it would never change. I was always active, so I figured my weight was what it was meant to be.

Early on in our relationship my husband, who had successfully lost weight before I met him, told me I could be a size 8.

I laughed in his face.

I honestly did not believe that was even possible. I had pretty much always been a size 12-14 (with a couple of years at a size 18) and that is the way it would be. He got to give me a big “told you!” when I started buying size 8 clothes.

But that is what my journey has been about, more than losing weight, more than fitting into smaller clothes it has been about believing. I have gained more confidence in the last three years than in the thirty years prior, just because I believed in myself and proved to myself that I could do it.

Once you believe in yourself nothing holds you back. Sure you may trip and fall, but believing in yourself allows you to pick yourself right back up again and keep going.

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Health and Fitness Fridays: Weight Loss Fads Part 2 – Cleansing or Detoxing

Last week, I introduced my latest Health and Fitness Friday topic and gave a little background on myself. This week I researched cleanses and detoxes, and actually learned a fair bit. My idea of a cleanse was the 3 day eat nothing but shakes to lose some weight. What I realized over the last week is that whiles these types of cleanses do exist there are other ways or ‘cleansing’ your body that are not so drastic.

Cleansing- What is it?

The premise behind cleansing or detoxing is that your body will accumulate toxins from your environment and the food you eat; every so often you should cleanse your body to rid yourself of these toxins.

The idea is not a new one, as it is based on the Ancient Egyptian and Greek idea of autointoxication, where certain foods can putrefy and produce toxins that harm the body. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detoxification_%28alternative_medicine%29) Cleansing and detoxing lives in the realm of alternative medicine and mainstream medicine continually produces evidence that the field is unscientific. But there are a growing number of people that are buying into the idea of cleansing your body.

There seems to be two main types of cleanses, a more moderate method of cleaning up your diet and focusing on eating foods that will help detox your body.  The other, I feel, more extreme type is the fasting cleanses where you only eat minimally for a period of time, usually 3 days to a week.

Clean Eating

The basic premise behind clean eating is to eat whole, natural foods and to avoid processed foods. Based on this it is easy to see the line between clean eating and detox. By avoiding processed and refined foods you will eventually rid yourself of the toxins in your body.

A quick Google search gives a number of Clean Eating Detoxes ranging from 3 to 30 days. The common theme is that they provide a meal plan that doesn’t seem too hard to follow. The meals look colorful and full of nutrients.

The few I looked through had around 1300 to 1600 calories a day. Which is not enough for me, but is not an unhealthy amount for many people.

Here is a sample I found of a 3 day clean eating detox http://life.gaiam.com/article/3-day-clean-food-detox-plan

Fasting Cleanses

When you say “cleanse” most people will think of fasting cleanses. These tend to be shorter and more extreme than the clean eating cleanses, and are intended to kick start your system into a new routine.

The common theme amongst these fasting cleanses is a drink/ shake in place of food. Some cleanses allow for one meal a day, and some do not. The duration can be as short as 48 hours, but I found some that were up to three weeks. The longer ones tended to allow for at least one meal a day and shakes the rest of the time.

The most well-known cleanse is the Master Cleanse and it involves 10 days of drinking six to twelve glasses a day of maple syrup/lemon juice/water/cayenne pepper lemonade and taking daily laxative. See the link for some more common cleanses. http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/healthy-drinks/top-10-cleanses-2014

Side Effects

Any time you change your diet drastically you are bound to run into a few side effects, and cleanses are no different.

With Fasting cleanses you are likely to feel fatigued, because they are low calorie and often don’t provide much in the way of carbs and fats. If you are not maintaining your water intake during your cleanse you may also risk becoming dehydrated. People with certain health issues, like diabetes, should not follow a fasting cleanse because they won’t be able to keep their blood sugar at appropriate levels.  You can find a list of common side effects here: http://www.detoxandbodycleanse.com/detox-diets/cleanse-side-effects/

For clean eating cleanses the side effects have more to do with cravings. Suddenly cutting out processed foods, particularly sugar will make your body go through withdrawal, and while it won’t be like a drug withdrawal, it won’t be fun either.

To detox or not to detox?

My personal belief is that you do not need to detox, especially a fasting detox. If I were to get on board for a detox, it would definitely be the clean eating diet, but that has more to do with my eating philosophy rather than believing in the detoxifying effects of the diet.

The body is able to effectively remove toxins on its own and you may end up risking your health if you constantly restrict your food intake.

If you are cleansing to lose weight, you will most likely just put it back on when you start eating normally. The best way to lose weight is through a slight calorie reduction and not restricting your intake.

Next week: Pills, Patches and Powders.

Health and Fitness Fridays: Listen to your body

When I was in high school I slipped a disk in my back. I never knew what caused it, but probably bending over constantly for field hockey and having a weak core. Which is funny because at the time I was in really good shape, but apparently not in my core.

It was probably the most painful experience I have ever had. I remember not being able to stand in science class because it was too painful to sit. I remember having to roll out of bed because I could not stand due to the pain. Somehow I would get up and dressed, but I was in constant pain.

At my mum’s urging I went to physio. I had electrodes put on my back and had to work on strengthening my lower core. Eventually my back healed, but it has never quite been the same. It will act up every so often and leave me in pain for a few days. But never anything significant.

Flash forward 15 years and I am in the best shape of my life. I am very active and actually have a strong core. But that back pain started creeping up again.

It started with the cross fit workouts. Deadlifts and good mornings would leave my back in pain for a few days after the workout. But a few days rest and it would be ok and I would be on to the work out again. Pushing harder, lifting more weights.

Well the last few of weeks the pain hasn’t gone away. In fact my body has been sending me not so subtle signs to ease up. Not only has my lower back been bothering me, but my upper back too. Constantly.

But did I listen? No.

It took my husband basically yelling at me not to go to practice and not to work out because I was hurt before it hit me.

I had to check my pride.

I didn’t have to lift all the weights every time. I needed to fix my back and get my form down first.

So now I have scaled back on the weights in cross-fit, making sure I can do the exercise without hurting my back. I have also added supplementary workouts that aren’t too strenuous that focus on my posterior chain, as this is where most of my pain comes from.

So far so good, as I am pain free this week. But I need to be more aware of what my body is telling me.

Our bodies our fantastic machines, but like all machines they need to be taken care of. Would you ignore a check engine light in your care? So why ignore that in your body.

If something is hurting there is probably a reason, so listen to your body and ease up, or go get it checked out.