New Year, new start 

Cleansing is an option for those looking to kick off 2014 with a clean slate

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The holidays are over. The shortbread cookies are gone. Eggnog is becoming scarce. With life now back to normal this is a good time for a good interior clean up.

Whistler dietitian and nutritionist Marnie Melsted and fitness coach Cat Smiley both agree this is a good time to reset and make dietary changes. The two have slightly different feelings about how to clean up and start the New Year, however. Smiley is an advocate of cleanse programs while Melsted recommends against following commercial cleanse programs.

"Cleansing is an excellent way to reset," says Smiley, the creator of the original Boot Camp fitness classes. "If you're completely off track, easing your way into it is going to be a lot more manageable for your body. The process of detoxification is a normal body process that does eliminate and neutralize the toxins."

For those who like to occasionally use cleanse programs there are all kinds of commercial packages available, ranging from Dr. Oz's 48-hour cleanse and the Wild Rose Herbal D-Tox to hundreds of other options.

But Melsted says, "You are better off taking that money you spent on your so-called cleanse and filling your cart with lots of dark leafy greens, colourful fruits and vegetables and lean proteins."

She coaches to her clients to eat a healthy balanced diet. The only thing Melsted recommends taking out of our diets is processed foods.

"This is the best way to keep your body functioning so it can deal with any environmental toxins that you're putting into it," she says.

"Our body is very, very good at handling these toxins and eliminating them so the best thing to do is to keep the organs top notch so they can handle that. The best way to do that is to fill our bodies with all the nutrients needed."

While Smiley isn't as critical of avoiding certain foods as part of a cleansing period she warns that going from full party mode to a strict cleanse isn't a great idea.

"Going from a really nasty diet like pizza and beer all the way to completely clean is going to give you very uncomfortable detoxification symptoms," Smiley says.

A painful experience can be discouraging, so Smiley recommends getting into an empowering and gentle program to generate the most effective results. In her book The Planet Friendly Diet, Smiley suggests eliminating gluten, wheat, dairy and meat while taking a smoothie at breakfast, another for lunch and then eating a nutritious dinner in the evening. She advocates supporting the effort with relaxation techniques like massage or yoga. Vigorous exercise isn't recommended by Smiley during cleanse periods.

"It's very challenging to detoxify and also to really find the energy to have a kick-ass workout," she says. "I would definitely give your body and mind an opportunity to flex a little bit because your body will need the strength to adjust to this new way of eating."

Goodbye pizza and beer, hello veggies and water.

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