The Myth of The Cleanse
When I decided to bust the myth of a cleanse today I wasn't sure I would be able to do it in less than 250 words. There's just so much to say about the fallacy of cleansing.
First, let's just apply some basic biology. You already possess an amazing cleansing and detoxifying system in your body. This system features (FOR FREE:-) your liver and kidneys, and to a lesser extent your lungs and skin. The PRIMARY job or your liver and kidneys is eliminate biochemicals from our body. Yep, it's true! Our lungs and skin also have a role to play through ventilation and and sweating. Our body is an amazing and adaptive collection of organs, organelles, and tissues and it's in our best interest to quickly and effectively shuttle undesirable biochemicals out of our tissues.
Second, and this usually stumps most people, what it is EXACTLY you're trying to rid yourself of. Most folks, and especially the people who are trying to sell you the magic cleansing product, will answer with the dreaded T words, toxins. Well, which ones? What kind? How do you know what's toxic? Anything, even WATER, is toxic if it is ingested or inhaled in the wrong amounts. When someone drowns they die of inhaling water in toxic amounts. You can even die by DRINKING too much water. It's called hyponatremia and it's a real problem.
I hear this often, "I just need to re-set, so I'm going to do a cleanse." This type of cleanse is usually accompanied by a fast (24-48 hour fasting is the most popular) thus the cleanse has some weight loss element. Let's think about what's really going on here. We need a "re-set" because we've been making a series of lifestyle choices with regards to food, alcohol, sleep, and exercise and we just want to start over. Well, you can do all of that FOR FREE with your next meal. Then you can do it again without any special product or magic drink at your next meal. It's called choice and we all posses the ability to make one. If you're attracted to the fasting element, then just try that. Fasting costs you nothing and yes, you will probably lose some weight.
One thing that I can advocate that will help you re-set is to drink water. Water, the universal solvent, is amazing in its ability to lubricate the detoxifying systems of your body. Water will help your kidneys and liver do all of the amazing cleansing they naturally do so well. Water will fill your belly so you don't feel so hungry. Water will make you pee which means your kidneys are doing their job. Water will help you poop which means your digestive system is doing its job of elimination. How much water? Let's start with 1/3 to 1/2 your body weight in ounces. If you weigh 140 pounds then try drinking 46-70 ounces of water. You know what's best of all? Water is free:-)
Do you have a myth you want me to bust? Tell me in the comments!
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It's Myth Busting Monday and you may have noticed the past few Monday's I've been exploring how to wade through mis-information and silly bullshit so that you can critically explore the newest magic product, process, or exercise that your Facebook friend is trying to sell you.
There are two very important science concepts, correlation is not causation and confirmation bias, that I want to explore today. Understanding these concepts can help us see through the pseudoscience that often accompanies the latest, greatest thing.
Correlation is not causation means that just because two things have a relationship it does not mean one thing causes the other. An example might be, every time you have a PR your Coach is wearing black pants. Therefore, your coach's black pants are the reason you PR. Sounds crazy right? What about when someone shows you the data?!? Here's one of my favorite examples of correlation is not causation. This graph shows a relationship between the U.S. per capita consumption of cheese and the number of people who died by becoming tangled in their sheets.
Based on the data you could erroneously conclude that eating cheese increases your risk of death by becoming entangled in your sheets. But, you won't conclude that because there is no causal relationship.
What if that graph was eating beets at night and pounds lost? You might be more inclined to believe that there is a causal relationship, and that is an example of your confirmation bias. If you want to believe you will, no matter what the data show. We are more likely to believe a relationship is causative if it reinforces our beliefs.
So the next time someone tries to sell you something, and they show you a graph that correlates their amazing magical product with an amazing magical outcome, remember, correlative data points on a graph do not show cause and effect AND if you want to believe that this product is going to make your life amazing and magical you're more likely to believe it even if there's no science to support it.
Critical thinking skills are fundamental to being able to successfully navigate life and not fall prey to charlatans, quacks and snake-oil salespeople. Want me to explore a myth? Suggest one in the comments.
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Kendra does a heavy deadlift.
Lifting weights make you bulky.
Do cardio to lose weight.
Do crunches to reduce belly fat.
Do these statements sound familiar? They are all myths that have been debunked so many times, yet persist on the interwebs and are told to us by well meaning friends and family.
It can be such a challenge to wade through all of the misinformation out there. every Monday I share with you reliable sources to bust the most persistent myths. Why am I so passionate about this? Because people still ask me what is the best way to get 6 pack abs, or to lose weight, or to be "lean, but not bulky." As long as people keep asking me these questions I will continue to provide you real answers for your real fitness questions.
Today I share with a nice and concise video from Science Insider on the top 17 fitness myths. I hope you enjoy watching it.
Rachel and her son play on the parallettes.
Last Monday I blogged about how there are many modern day snake-oil salespeople and how most of them are selling something to solve a problem that can be more inexpensively solved through lifestyle practices. Sometimes, however, they have persuasive stories from others who have used their products and had amazing and life changing results. These stories are powerful and can motivate us to use those products as well.
Stories provide social proof that something works, but they are anecdotal and it can be difficult to tease apart all of the variables that are involved with the success of a thing. Let's looks at an example. I have borrowed this one from Renaissance Periodization's book Renaissance Woman.
"Eat beets every night to reduce belly fat."
At first glance this may seem like a great idea. Beets are natural and eating more of them can't be harmful. Besides, the blog where you read this says it's the big secret Doctors don't want you to know about. So you start eating beets every night. After a few months you have visibly reduced belly fat. You're convinced your new nightly beet eating was the thing that reduced your belly fat so you post before and after pictures on Instagram and become a brand advocate for Beet Yourself Skinny, LLC.
But there's a problem with this conclusion. You see, the recommended protocol for eating beets at night to lose belly fat also included drinking 1/3 of your body weight in water to help flush out the "toxins" that the beets were drawing out of your cells. You also fasted for 24 hours every 5 days to help accelerate the "cleansing" of your cells.
So what exactly is the cause of your reduced belly fat? You have no idea because it's impossible to know if was
1. Nocturnal beet consumption
2. Increased water consumption
3. Calorie deficit from not eating every 5 days
If we want to use science to see if nocturnally noshing beets reduces belly fat we would set up an experiment that tested just ONE variable, eating beets at night, and eliminated the increased water consumption and decreased calorie consumption protocols.
It is only natural that we want magic things like eating beets to help us solve our problem. Making sustainable changes in our physical health, fitness, body composition and mental health take time, persistence, consistency, and commitment. We humans really struggle with all of those things. Plus, it takes brave introspection to admit we might not be making good lifestyle choices. It's far easier for our ego if we just eat this new magic food rather than make consistent choices.
The next time your Facebook friend invites you to join a group for the most amazing new product that works synergistically to create a harmonic balance in your cells so that they flush out toxins, look carefully at the other things you're supposed to do while taking the most amazing new product. You're likely to see a familiar set of healthy lifestyle practices associated with its use. What if you just do those healthy lifestyle practices?
Have you been asked by a Facebook friend to try an amazing new product? Share in the comments what it is and all the things you're supposed to do while taking it.
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