7 Things I Learned on a 7-Day Detox

Part of traveling means tasting the local flavor and when you travel for a career, all that eating and sipping without a way to burn it off tends to add up. Although I wouldn’t change my guiltless-in-the-moment indulgences, when I do return to reality, easing back into a routine, well, isn’t always so easy as I never really have the chance to get back into a routine before shaking it, and breaking it, back up again.

After a summer of travel, I didn’t necessarily feel guilty about what I was doing (my indulgences) but more rather about what I wasn’t doing (hitting the gym). So, to jump start getting back into a protein heavy diet, and dig into my eating habits, I vowed to take the seven day detox that is Pure Change.

Created by Dr Charles Passler, the Pure Change detox eliminates built up toxins in your kidney, liver and stomach, with the additional appeal for many as a chance to shed a few pounds. Having been around for almost two years, the program has been used as a way to reset eating habits, recognize unhealthy eating patterns, discover allergies, and as a transition diet from season to season (typically entering fall or spring).

“What we’re trying to accomplish with the seven day detox is to give an individual the opportunity to take one week from the 52 weeks in their year to get healthier, and make better choices,” explains Dr. Passler. “To actually make a difference in your life, while also teach you.”

And this is exactly what happened during my detox–I realized some unhealthy patterns that had formed subconscious habits, recognized areas of nutrition that lacked in my diet, and was introduced to supplements. I learned a lot about myself as I was determined to complete this week, but here are seven of the most important things to share:

1. Coffee is a habit and I don’t need it to function

As I walked past coffee shops, accepted coffee meetings, and woke up at 7AM–part of the Pure Change routine–I realized that I didn’t need coffee to get me through any of these. In fact, I realized that coffee had become a habit–grabbing a cup before I got on the train, ordering my third or fourth coffee of the day just because I was at yet another meeting in a cafe, reaching for a cup because I felt like that’s what I was supposed to do to get me through my day. In reality, on my first day of the detox, I didn’t have caffeine withdrawal and throughout the week, I didn’t have to substitute tea or switch to black coffee because I realized I had gotten to the point where I was drinking it just to drink it; coffee was adding no value to my day.

2. I wouldn’t say alcohol is a habit, however, like coffee, it doesn’t always add value

This lack of value was also seen in alcohol as I went on a date and to various events, without ordering that week-night glass of wine, or accepting that free martini at a cocktail hour. As Dr. Passler recaps, “It doesn’t mean you’re never going to have a glass of alcohol or coffee again–it’s giving your body an opportunity to experience how good it feels to not have it in your system. To ask yourself, does it really hold value to have that glass of wine or is it more habitual?”

3. Wellness isn’t a yoga class or a healthy meal, it’s a lifestyle

While I’ve always believed in a balanced lifestyle, I didn’t realize how unbalanced of a routine I had. Urban living keeps me running around from place to place, which completely throws off my eating habits, often involving the skip of a meal or two and binging my day’s worth of calories at night. I didn’t realize how thrown off my eating schedule was until Pure Change held me accountable to eat every 2.5 hours–a protein shake for breakfast (7am), half a protein bar for a mid-morning snack (9:30am), 100 calories of vegetables for lunch (12:30pm), a protein shake for a mid-afternoon snack (2pm), the rest of my protein bar for a late-afternoon snack (4:30pm) and another 100 calories of vegetables for dinner (7pm). For the first couple days of the program, I wasn’t hungry for the afternoon snacks because of my tendency to skip meals during the day, but after the initial adjustment of adhering to my new eating routine, I came to realize my body had more fuel and I was less apt to eat my way through my pantry in the evening. It’s something I learned contributes to the greater picture of wellness, because effectively my daily exercise was hindered by the lack of daily fuel I had previously allowed my body. “It’s a momentum builder. The momentum allows the individual to make sensible, better food choices moving on,” says Passler.

4. I’m actually not a breakfast person

“Breakfast literally means to ‘break the fast,’ explains Dr. Passler on the first meal of the day which breaks the daily recommended 12-hour period of rest for your digestive system while you sleep. “The fact that we think we need to eat a bagel, a muffin, a croissant, or even eggs–there’s a lot of other foods that would make it easier for our body to break down.” Even though I woke up ravenous, those shakes became the ideal way to begin my day–who knew that two scoops of powder and a cup of water could fill you up that much–and without the bloat? For me, this is one of the biggest changes from the detox as I replaced my cup of coffee with a glass of water and protein shake to start everyday off with a little more energy, and a lot less bloating.

5. I overcame my fear of supplements 

As part of Pure Change, there are detox support packs you take with lunch and dinner, as well as night time supplements. Prior to this program, the only pill I took was Vitamin C; I didn’t quite understand the importance of supplements. Dr. Passler explained how the liver transfers the toxins to the kidneys to excrete through the urine, therefore, in order to ensure the effectiveness of this process, the detox support pack of six pills was created. These packs include two fish oil pills (anti-inflammatory, supportive of the nervous system, as well as mental and emotional well-being), a pill based on cellular detoxification, a pill to increase kidney detoxification pathways and two liver support pills.

As for the pre-bed pills–a probiotic to help eliminate the buildup of processed foods and magnesium. “Magnesium is needed for allowing the body to go from the busy daytime nervous system to the quiet nighttime nervous system,” says Dr. Passler. “It is one of the largest deficiencies we see in people because we burn it up so quickly in our lifestyle.”

6. A better way to snack (or not to snack)

As I isolated myself during the first few days of Pure Change, I realized the increased potential to snack out of boredom while I was at home (though, as I had rid of my snacks in preparation for this detox, I had nothing to give into). Before I began the program, Dr. Passler and I talked about this, with him saying, “You might be at the office and they’re handing out peanut M&Ms. When you’re on the program, you may go to reach for the M&Ms and realize you aren’t even hungry, you’re just reaching for them purely out of habit.” As I sat in my apartment, I remembered these words, so instead, I drank a glass of water and brought my wandering mind back to my work–something I still do to this day, as I realized I wasn’t in fact hungry, but simply used it as an excuse to take a break.

7. I still need to have a cheat meal

While there were many positive takeaways from the program, I have to admit that I also realized the need for a regular treat meal to stay sane. My last day fell on a weekend night and after a week of staying in, I was ready for my favorite weekend treat of gal gossip over guacamole and a margarita. My relationship with food is one that has grown over the years, coming to appreciate the unique flavors and varied spices that different dishes offer. So, although throughout the week, I contemplated adapting to a lifestyle of basic meals, I knew it wasn’t realistic for my lifestyle.

I do, however, recognize the value in doing this twice a year, to detoxify, rather than completely adapt to this as a regular diet. “You clean your filters, your air filters, car filters, so let’s clean our bodies, take a step back, refresh, renew, so that we can be healthier,” says Dr. Passler. Something I couldn’t agree more with as I sat back and sipped the sweet spice of my jalapeno margarita, savouring those flavors and the anticipation of the first meal that would break my newfound appreciation of how, what and when I eat.

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