If you’re a regular follower of my blog, then you already know I recently did a 10-day detox with my husband and daughter. (You can also read about it here on HuffPo.) For this particular detox plan, we gave up gluten, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, dairy, starchy foods of any kind, any food that resembles the color white, happiness, and our will to live.
For anyone not familiar with detox plans, they feel similar to donating major organs without the benefit of anesthesia, just after your dog has died, and your mother has told you that you were the worst decision of her life.
The point of a detox is that it’s evidently supposed to re-start your system. It’s sort of a human “re-boot” if you will. It gives a kick-in-the-pants to your metabolism, flushes toxins, and re-energizes all our major systems.
It can also make you want to hurt people.
These little exercises (self-inflicted torture programs) may be fantastic for some people, but for our family, it was the longest 10 days of our lives. I had high expectations for clear skin, a clear head, and weight loss. What did we get? Here are our results:
- Weight Loss = Two Pounds
- Skin Clearing = No Change
- Head Clearing = No Change
- Energy Level = Sloth
- Likelihood of Ever Dieting Again = Zero Percent
- Chances I’ve Changed My Mind About Kale = Zero
- General Disdain For Most Things = High
- Husband may or may not be speaking to me. I don’t know because I haven’t seen or heard from him in two weeks. Won’t return calls or texts. Starting to get concerned. Should probably look for him at Buffalo Wild Wings.
- Daughter also not speaking to me. Not sure if because of detox or because she’s a 13-year-old girl.
One of my favorite functional medicine doctors, Dr. Mark Hyman, recommends the 90:10 rule, so that we don’t fall into the trap of perfection, having an “all or nothing” mindset, get frustrated, and ultimately abandon our health goals. Abandon? What? Let’s look at what’s made its way back into our diet since the detox ended…pizza, ice cream, BBQ, wine, beer, whiskey, cheese, chocolate, pancakes, muffins, bread, cookies, brownies… Gluten does bother my stomach, but after this detox diet, I felt like an upset colon was worth a sliver of sanity.
My older brother, a man who has never had one extra pound on his body his entire life, suggested that I try things in moderation, rather than these extreme plans. This is someone who finds room in his diet for bacon and craft beer. I think he may be on to something. While he’s enjoying cheese and micro brews, I’m blending up a kale smoothie wondering why God hates me, or alternatively, nursing my bruised and damage ego with raw cookie dough, feeling horrible about what a loser I am for not sticking to the plan.
So why the extreme failure after holding strong for ten days? I did some digging, and what I found is that our brains create habits in short doses, not long, over-arching grandiose plans. This is the reason our new year’s resolutions to “lose weight or “write a book” are destined to go south. The trick is to tell our subconscious brains to do something much simpler, like, “work out for five minutes today”. Eventually, our subconscious brain connects with the positive results our bodies are getting, they reconcile, and little by little the new short-term habit becomes a long-term behavior.
We did adapt a few great new things into our diets that we weren’t doing a very good job of before. We’ve added in more healthy fats and proteins than we used to, and because it’s produce season, we’re eating a crazy amount of vegetables and fresh fruit right now.
At least for now, I think we’ve sworn off of doing anything extreme, especially for the summer. Our plan for the next couple of months is to slow down, enjoy our lives, take it easy, and savor the sweet taste of summer in all its myriad ways. I’ll be taking a play out of my big brother’s playbook and enjoying things in moderation. And by “moderation” I mean “drink all the wine”.
I’m not saying that I promise never to try a detox again. But if I do, please understand that it’s not because I want to. It’s because my husband and child have enacted their revenge.