How to start (and finish) a whole lifestyle New Year detox.

Try the four times four challenge!


Is your body beginning to creak and groan? Just the very thought of one more mince pie, like the legendary “waffer thin mint”, making your feel nauseous?

It’s that time of year when we become all too aware of the toxins that we’ve accumulated over the festive period. Maybe as a result you are feeling sluggish and lethargic? If you are determined to shake off the lethargy and lose weight, then a detox, combined with some strategic lifestyle changes, is likely to be much more effective than any short term “diet”.

So why not try a whole lifestyle New Year detox? Here’s some practical suggestions of how you might go about it. If you are up for the challenge then I’d love to help you achieve it!

A detox is a way of helping the body to find some equilibrium after the wonderful celebrations and ‘chaos’ of the festive period. It’s about the return to some simplicity and routine which can be both challenging and a relief. And it’s as much about what we do as “what not to eat”.

I’ve put together a simple FOUR TIMES FOUR to help kickstart your 2019 transformation and get you to that mountain top! Obviously you don’t have to make 16 changes to your life to make a difference. And you may well be doing some of these things already (great!). If you really want to make a difference to your life maybe pick out one or two from each section – maybe the ones that ‘strike a chord’ or that you think will pose a worthwhile challenge – and commit fully to them.


FOUR to enjoy. FOUR to avoid. FOUR things to do. FOUR principles to apply.

So let’s kick off with what we want to be eating and drinking to reset our minds and bodies. Four wonderfully simple pleasures to enjoy!

FOUR to Eat and Drink

Having rightly indulged over the season of parties and excess, now is the time where less is more. Simply simplify what you eat! Keep the “rules” simple and minimal and that makes life so much easier.

It’s a great time to practice consuming the food and drinks that will revitalise our bodies, aid in the detox process and leave you feeling energised. Some “healthy meals” are not as easy to prepare as “convenience”, processed foods but the pay off is delicious and healthy food that leaves you feeling replete and ready for life!

There are many articles claiming Red Tea is the key to a good detox. I swapped red tea for my usual black or green tea during December and, after an initial shock to the system of missing the caffeine, I have felt great and lost weight. You can pick up basic Red or Rooibush tea like this Tealyra loose leaf Red Tea on amazon or at the supermarket.

Or you can follow a full Red Tea detox. This one had a massive following in 2018 with many people experiencing some great results without following traditional calorie counting diets.

The Red Tea Detox 

Here’s my top 4 tips for what to eat and drink.

  1. Drink well! Instead of coffee or black tea drink Red Tea or Green Tea and plenty of water! Red tea is caffeine free so be prepared for some withdrawal symptoms if you are used to drinking caffeinated drinks (remember that Green tea is full of caffeine!).
  2. Eat whole grains – wholemeal pasta, bread, rice. For a change try some different grains like quinoa. These alternatives to ‘white’ carbs are not only more nutritious they are also so much more tasty.
    Image result for whole wheat bread
  3. Eat plenty of fresh fruit, salad and vegetables. Prepare some easy to carry snacks like carrot sticks or slices of apple / orange segments.
  4. Start everyday with oats. Oats offer the perfect combination of protein and carbohydrates. If you don’t have time to cook porridge in the morning try some of the online recipes for “overnight oats”. They leave you feeling replete, they are full of slow release energy and they aid weight loss by fighting off mid-morning hunger pangs.

FOUR to avoid! Meat, Sugar, Alcohol, Processed Food

Cutting out, reducing or minimising certain foods for a period of time is a really good way of seeing how your body responds. It allows you to weigh up whether the gratification from eating such foods is worth the implications for your health and wellbeing.

Try Vegan! – avoiding meat is another big issue for discussion of course. Although not everyone wants to be a vegetarian or vegan (many top athletes including world champions are adopting a meat-free diet) taking a break or reducing how often you eat meat is a very worthwhile part of the detox process. Going vegetarian or especially vegan is virtually guaranteed to help any weight loss goals you may have. Check out the Veganuary website for help going vegan. If you prefer try swapping red meat such as beef and pork for chicken and fish.

Give up alcohol – after the festive season a time of sobriety is a great way of allowing the body space to recover. Remember that alcohol is basically “empty calories” there’s no benefit to your body. If it’s a challenge then it’s probably all the more worthwhile as an exercise to discover how you respond psychologically to no alcohol for a while.

Ditch the processed foods, which often contain excessive sugar and salt. These add to the addictive nature of many processed items and add to the stress placed upon our bodies as a whole and our digestive system in particular. Taking a break from processed food requires a bit of effort and forethought but it’s another ideal way to practice mindful eating. Take a few minutes at the start of each week to plan your meals and work out ways to replace processed food with a ‘real’ alternative.

No Sugar! So much of what we eat contains hidden sugar. This is a time to give up adding sugar to drinks and take a break from sugary biscuits and snacks. This may be hard as so many of these items are very addictive and having indulged over the holidays it’s all the more challenging to go ‘cold turkey’! Give it a try, get past those first few days of cravings by substituting the refined sugar for sweet fruits or a packet of raisins, sultanas or better still trail mix containing some nuts and seeds too.

Four life-changing activities to do!

  1. Cold water exposure! The legendary Ice Man, Wim Hof has proved that controlled exposure to cold water is a fantastic way to transform your mind and your body. Check out his cold shower challenge and his app for a brilliant way to ice up your life! I’ve been using cold showers through the last month too and it’s an amazing way to revitalise your system.

Image result for wim hof
don’t try this at home!
stick to cold showers for now
  • Do some physical activity. Find something that you love that involves some activity, raising your heart rate and fire up your metabolic system. This could be something really energetic like running, cycling or swimming. It could be trying out a team sport like netball, 5-a-side football or ultimate frisbee. Or it could be something like yoga or Pilates, or a gym session or class. The key is find the activity that you love, that really motivates you to get out of bed in the morning. Sometimes it takes a while for this ‘love’ to grow. If you have to acquire some new skills then this can take time and dedication and it may well be challenging. Check out my blog on learning to swim for 30 minutes for some tips on how to get started with swimming.
  • Do something simple and spiritual – meditation, prayer, breathing. This also a great time of year to carve out a little time for contemplation and quiet reflection. If you like to pray or meditate then carve out some time – ideally first thing in the morning to go somewhere quiet. My brother, Brian, has written this book all about “Soulfulness” which you might find a helpful introduction to the topic.
  • 4. Do something creative and not digital (writing, drawing, painting, building, gardening). Switch off the ‘devices’ for a while and unlock your hidden Picasso! Write some poetry, take some photos, get out the paints, write in a journal, sketch or just doodle – it doesn’t need to be something to show others, you won’t be given a score or a mark. Just enjoy some time of private expression.

    Image result for writing in a journal

    4 Principles to apply

    1. Write it down! Set some specific goals and write them down on real paper with a real pen. Stick them up somewhere prominent. You will be amazed how much this simple act could transform your motivation and ability to hit your goals.
    2. Enjoy the ride!  Embrace the process of working towards your goals. The journey is just as important as crossing that finish line. Stay present in the moment and you won’t get overwhelmed by your big goal.
    3. Get back on the wagon! If something goes ‘wrong’ and you get a setback, maybe you get ill or you miss out on your good nutrition, just reset and start again. It’s no big deal! None of us is perfect. Let it go and move forward. Dwelling on a stumble is the second mistake that can take you permanently derail your New Year challenge. Just let it go and take the next right action.
    4. Don’t overthink it! What are you waiting for? Stop deliberating—inaction is the block to inspiration. Start now, even if it just means speaking to a ‘training partner’, going out for a 10-minute jog, or declining one dessert. Little steps, taken steadily over a protracted period of time, move mountains.
      Image result for baby steps

    Good luck!

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