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Snake Oil

Today I went to the Holistic Health Expo to support fellow practitioners, sample some services and goodies and just bask in all of the choices available to us today to support our wellness journeys. We have many options to keep us healthy, mobile and strong. And that is a good thing.

Which leads me to this week’s topic – online snake oil "wellness" purveyors.

I research many topics that I share in this blog, and won’t promote anything that I haven’t tried myself or have found to have legitimate merit. I feel that this is part of my obligation to you as a reader, to get the most factual information you can and then make up your own mind as to what actions you will take when it comes to your wellness goals.

Today I want to talk about one that got me really riled up this week. I receive many emails on health and wellness from people I subscribe to, and in doing so, I also get more unsolicited ones. Read the small print when you sign up for information. Oftentimes, you get solicitations that you don’t remember signing up for. However, that is a blog for another day.

I received one offering a 3-day cleanse at a very low price. Because I also offer seasonal cleanses I was curious as to what this would entail and since it was so cheap, I ordered it. A little fishing expedition if you will.

Well, let me just say this. It was worth every penny! Meaning, it was pretty valueless.

Once I made my purchase; it was pretty difficult to know when I finalized my order as I waded through an onslaught of add-ons I didn’t want, and quite frankly gave up and got off the site. Has this ever happened to you?

In fact I wasn’t sure the order went through until I got an email with my download. Alrighty then!

I opened the cleanse and what do I find. Lots of inaccurate information and a 3-day meal plan that was ridiculous! I was fuming!

It was essentially a liquid diet for 3 days, with little or no protein.

Let me break it down for you.

The caloric content was approximately 759 calories for Day One. With the number of 8-ounce glasses of water at 7, or 56 ounces. And much of the food is liquid or contains quite a bit of liquid content. So, lots of water to keep you full.

A typical man needs anywhere from 2000- 2500 calories per day to maintain weight and a typical woman needs from 1500 – 2000 calories per day. If you want to reduce your weight, sure dropping down to under 760 calories will do it. You could also faint.

To lose weight, if that is your goal, you need to not only reduce your calories you also need to increase your protein. This cleanse has your protein at 12% of your macronutrients, when it should be at 30 to 40 percent.

Oh, and did I tell you, you are expected to exercise for the three days you are on this restrictive diet.

Using this cleanse to lose weight will cause you to lose muscle mass.

This is not something we can afford to do, at any point in our lives, let alone when we are in midlife and beyond. You see, you start to lose muscle mass in your thirties, and it is slowly replaced by fat. Keeping muscle mass keeps us strong, and also keeps our metabolism higher. Muscle uses more calories than fat. You don’t want start breaking down muscle, you want to build it or maintain it through eating protein, and strength training.

Further, when you reduce your calories significantly like this, you will lose a few pounds and then it will rebound and your metabolism will reset at a higher set point, to make sure you don’t “starve” again.

You see, your body has built-in failsafe systems to keep you alive and well, and keeping weight on you is one of those protections that have been around for millennia. Drastically reducing your caloric intake means your body goes into starvation mode and hangs onto every ounce of fat that it can.

It also resets your metabolism to slow down afterwards, causing you to potentially add even more weight after the three days of torture are over. And you are ravenous. I guarantee you will overeat when you are done.

The only weight you lose is water weight, which quickly comes back. If you don’t mind peeing a lot for 3 days, go ahead and try this.

I am not trying to trash anyone else’s program, and that is why it is not named. I do however want to make a distinction between nonsense, faddy diets that are not going to work in the long run from ways of eating that support your wellness, keep you strong and help you maintain a healthy appreciation for whole, nutrient-dense foods. That is the only way real change occurs.

It is so important that we eat properly, no matter what age, but especially as we enter midlife. Our body changes and our protein needs increase. We need to hold onto all of the muscle we can. And certainly not add more fat.

I pride myself in a whole food approach with food choices that satiate and provide a balance of the macros we need every day; protein, carbohydrates and fats. All essential to provide for our energy needs and cellular regeneration.

The cleanse that I take you on is one in which you are eating whole foods, no sugar, no caffeine, no gluten, and no processed foods. The cleanse is primarily to give your liver (your biggest filter) a break. That is the intention.

Secondly, the cleanse is part of a mindfulness around what you are eating, how you are feeling and hopefully guides you to eat more intuitively going forward. Again, intentional.

I guess you can tell that it really bothers me when I see these types of products being offered that make no sense. And in fact, can be harmful. And at the very least, disappointing.

The worst of it is – you feel disappointed in yourself. Because you couldn’t finish it. I am such a loser, it is only three days. What is wrong with me?

Because you lost control. You were so hungry by day two, you crammed a bunch of cookies down your throat or went right to the drive through. Yes, super-size me please! I am starving.

Because you didn’t understand why this cleanse that promised you miracles didn’t work for you (again). I can't stick to anything.

These are the types of inner dialogue I hear from clients all the time.

Stop beating yourself up. It isn’t you.

It is a wild west on the internet and some of the stuff out there is just bad, and most of it is confusing. Be a fact-checker, be discerning, and keep educating yourself.

If you are ready to get serious about your wellness and want to feel better in your relationship with food, consider someone you trust. Someone you have been following for awhile that isn't blowing smoke.

Book a consultation today and get the real skinny.
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