Detox for Dummies (Hi, my name is Dummy)

It might surprise you, with my green smoothies and juicing and kale, but I’m not a big believer in detoxing.

There are, of course, many flavors out there. And some (lemon and ginger tea, salads) seem more legit to me than others (anything bottled with the word “cleanse” in it. Especially if the name is at a slant or in italic font). But overall I think the idea is overrated.

Perhaps this stems from my senior year in college when M and I did one of those body wraps where you are mummified in herbal-soaked ace bandages and then encouraged to jump on a trampoline under heat lamps for a few hours. You are supposed to lose inches all around as toxins are sweated out and good toning products are osmosised in.

M and I had battled the “Freshman 15” by moving off-campus together and cooking most of our meals. I certainly was ingesting more preservatives than I do these days. But even then there was no fast-food habit. And I had already claimed the “most likely to need to pee” title with a several-liter-a-day water habit (that started 2nd semester freshman year as that “15” brought a few friends and I looked for healthy habits to slim down).

At the end of our body wrap session, we both overall gained an inch or two. There were murmurs from the attendants of how this proved we needed more body wraps and detoxing. But I called bullshit. I assumed we were eating too healthy (just unhealthy portions of healthy) for their water-weight scam to work.

I also believe this is why I never see that magic 4-7 pound scale shift the first week I get back into serious health mode – it isn’t that dramatic of a change my “non health mode”.

But still. For all my doubts there is something appealing about thinking you can hit the reset button on your body. And I have habits that keep me from becoming too smug about my healthy lifestyle – most notably alcohol, caffeine, and prescription drugs.

When Tom hiked Isle Royale last fall, I took the opportunity to do my version of a detox. I ate a vegan diet and also avoided gluten, alcohol, and refined sugar. I swapped my 2 cup a day coffee habit for green tea.

The one thing I did not try to go without was my muscle relaxers and prescription anti-inflammatories. Originally prescribed to me in 2001 for a bad back, they have been trusty sidekicks throughout several injuries – currently my left shoulder. I don’t take them daily, and I do recall cutting down on them during that period, but I have never made a specific attempt to the cut them out of my lifestyle entirely for an extended period of time.

(I will point out these are “take as needed for pain” prescriptions – NOT something my Doctor expects me to take religiously like my thyroid medicine. I would never think of attempting to forego a daily prescription that helps regulate an out-of-whack body function.)

January 1st I made the decision to cut out alcohol until my 40th birthday at the end of March. I still haven’t seen amazing health benefits (Weight loss? Nope. Extra energy? Nope. Better sleep habits? Hell nope) BUT I do believe I am reaping SOME benefit. I feel a bit less emotional, more productive, and if sleep itself is still evasive at least general relaxation seems to come a bit easier.

So this whole nose bleed thing that occurred over the weekend is quite depressing. It may just be a bloody manifestation of the current weather and dry indoor environment, but it FEELS like an unhealthy body thing. My nose has staged a revolt and the rest of me is captive in a chair, head tipped.

Stymied with what else I can do except stuff tissue up there (and see a doctor – which is scheduled), I feel prompted to have more control over other health aspects I can do something about. So this morning, I had a 1/2 cup less coffee. And I have gone sans pain medication since Friday.

I feel awful, so it must be working.

(Anti-inflammatory use has been slightly linked to nose bleeds. And caffeine has a dehydrating effect when hydration is stressed in keeping nose bleeds from reoccurring. So it’s not like I’m just shooting in the dark here. Except that I totally am.)

A mere month into 2015, and I have upped my toxin-reducing scheme by two. At the rate I’m going, before winter is over I’ll be IMing Gwyneth Paltrow and raving over enemas. You’ve been warned.

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