Let's be realistic though - we do live in Australia and the barbecues are also firing up, and the weekends are full of the promise of buckets of booze, charred fatty meat and sweet-and-creamy pavlova. All this can easily kick out a good intention before it even has a chance to kick off. And unfortunately, no amount of salad with your steak or strawberries on your pavlova is enough to give you that healthy, clean feeling you would really love.
Summer is closing in fast and while we are not all expected to look like swimwear models, at least we should be able to hold our heads high and be proud of having made an effort to look and feel healthy. The time is right to undertake an annual combined Spring Clean / Fat loss / Muscle up / Detox program. In reality, such a program should never end... it simply gets a lot more intense about now as we implement a Spring Clean. The primary goal of better health always should be maintained.
I think short term programs are great because the act of saying, "I am doing this for two weeks, four weeks or even six weeks", allows you to intensify the level of attention placed upon a specific aspect of your overall lifelong wellness plan. Picking out a specific goal and going for it acutely, whether it is a detox, defining your abs or learning a new skill, drastically increases your likelihood of achieving that goal. Then all you need is gentle maintenance to stay where you are or to continue at a more gradual pace.
Having a goal is great, but having one that you can really feel strongly about provides more incentive to your drive. This is where an approaching date can help, be it signing up for a sporting event, or being front and centre at your own rapidly approaching wedding day, or even planning your first swimsuit outing in so many weeks. Having such an incentive can really help.
Detoxification is so often where I will begin when asked to help many of my clients, as they set out to achieve their overall goal of better health. The reason for such a simple beginning is that detoxification, when done correctly, can drastically improve both the mindset and the health of an individual, whether they are weighed down with a wide array of generic non-specific complaints, or suffering from one or more specific illnesses.
In a properly conducted detoxification program I feel it is important to frequently monitor the changes which are occurring in body composition, observing the changes in fat, fluid and muscle as the detoxification progresses, and adjusting the program as required. Fat loss is a surprising bonus for most people when undertaking a detoxification, although the phenomenon is no surprise to me. I both expect it and design programs to enhance it during detoxification, as this mobilising of the fatty stores within the body also sets free many of the persistent organic pollutants trapped within the adiposytes.
Many of the chemicals that are released from fat cells may be the very same persistent organic pollutant chemicals (POPs), which, in minute doses from chronic environmental exposure, may have encouraged fat cells to accumulate in the first place. The concept of small amounts of chemicals and heavy metals accumulating in our body, instigating inflammation and inducing metabolic disturbances, such as insulin resistance, raised cholesterol, elevated liver enzymes and oxidative stress, is a concept that has been developing rapidly as a hot topic in health science literature as population exposure to these chemical cocktails increases.
Limiting your exposure to pollutants can be assisted by switching to stainless steel cookware and drinking bottles and using glass for food storage, filtering your drinking water, washing your hands before eating, using natural organic sunscreens, shampoos and skincare products. But the fact is that there are many more sources we are constantly exposed to which are accumulating in our fatty tissue.
Carrying extra fat means you are likely to be carrying extra toxins and fat loss can actually compromise your health as you expose your organs, nerves and circulation to POPs. So, even without a planned detoxification program, supporting your body as you lose weight makes a lot of sense, while those who have hit a weight loss plateau may find a detox kicks things off again. Whether your goal is a detox, fat loss or specifically to lower your level of POPs, the time is right for a Spring Clean.
Jeremy Hill (Diploma of Natural Therapy) is a qualified naturopath.