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Why I won’t be doing a traditional detox this January : some alternative New Years resolutions

Its official, according to an American survey, as of February 1st most people give up their new years resolutions. Perhaps they were going to lose 20 pounds, workout every day this year, or do a January detox. Yet, almost all people stop their resolution after about 30 days. Why do you think that is? I have a theory.

While a new year is a great time to reflect on goals and aspirations for the year ahead, I actually do not believe that this is the best time to do a detox. First, let’s define a detox. There is a lot of media attention (re: money to be made) by selling detox supplements and programs. Some of these are good, and some of these have some dangerous ingredients and do not take an individualized approach to health. For example, anything that has a lot of caffeine or laxatives I would steer away from. Meanwhile, our bodies detoxification pathways are always working and don’t always need supplements to do their jobs. Sometimes supplements they are necessary, but many times specific foods can stimulate the detox pathways. Think bitter greens, vegetable consumption, and healthy bowel movements!

If we think about detoxification, in my opinion, the best time to do one is in the springtime. If we think about traditional Chinese medicine principles here, the winter is naturally a time for drawing in, resting, spending time with friends and family, and eating nourishing cooked foods. Now would be a poor time to start a 30-day smoothie challenge or go on a raw diet, as those cold foods need to be energetically warmed up before they are digested – making it harder to get those nutrients out of those foods. In the winter you also have to warm your body up as well. Doing a severe detox right now can actually deplete you of energy and make you feel more fatigued. If you’d like to clean up your diet, by all means, but I would stick to warming nourishing foods like soups, stews, stir fries during this time to build up your energy for the warmer months ahead.

Also, it’s important to decide what you’d like to detox from and what goals you have. If you goal is to lose weight – why? Perhaps a better way to phrase your goal is to ask yourself how you would like to feel. Would you like more self-confidence? Would you like more energy? How about more time with your family? Then, set a SMART(ER) goal to achieve that. SMART(ER) stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. The ER is for you to Evaluate your goal and Review if it was too easy, too challenging, or completed.

So an example of a smart goal would be something like this:

“I would like to get more physically active and feel less pain this year. My SMART goal is to go for a walk 3 times a week for 30 minutes, and stretch every day for 20 minutes. I will do this every day in February and re-evaluate my goal in March.”

This goal uses “will” instead of “should” statements, which make them more likely to be accomplished. It has a specific activity, and a measurable timeframe used. It’s achievable: it did not start with running every day, or even walking every day: trying to set too lofty of a goal won’t set you up for success and can lead to discouragement and quitting. Then it includes a time to re-evaluate those goals. That’s the thing about new years resolutions, they should grow and change with you and your habits. You are not bound to one single thing for the whole year if you find something is not serving you.

Now for some alternatives to food/weight/ diet-based goals, which can be triggering for some people, especially with a history of disordered eating. With that being said, my new years resolutions this year are decidedly not food based and not diet culture based. This year, I’d like to grow my business to be able to help more people like you. I’d also like to do one thing for myself each day. This is something that I do for joy, pleasure, or relaxation – something “unproductive”. For me, that might be reading a book, doing a meditation, knitting, or sitting with myself and not doing anything for a set amount of time. Learning to be okay while doing nothing is something very challenging, and very against hustle culture which I find I need to take a break from after a million years in school.

So, what will your new goals be? If you have thought about giving up on your goal or have already let it go, I challenge you to reframe your goals for the week, month, and year ahead. Take some of my goals above or try your own. Below are a few ideas;

- It can be as simple as taking a deep breath before reacting.

- How about a detox from social media?

- Or a detox from alcohol, cannabis, or other substances?

- Deepening your spirituality?

- Committing to calling a friend or family member every week?

A detox does not necessarily mean taking a health drink each day and throwing in the towel on the rest of your goals. Find what works for you, and your body.

Here’s to new goals and good things ahead!

In good health,

Dr. Larissa


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