Do you juice?

When I was first asked this strange question by my friend, I thought she was referring to steroids. I responded to her with a quizzical expression, after all, she knew that I was never one for organized sports.

She was quick to explain that she was actually referring to juicing, America’s new favorite hobby. Juicing is a diet in which which folks embark on fruit and vegetable juice-only binges that last anywhere from one meal to up to 60 days. Apparently, the health benefits of juicing are all encompassing - ranging from weight loss to clear skin to an overall sense of wellbeing. Clearly, the whole thing sounded like malarkey.

Needless to say, I politely said "no" to juicing and "yes" to my current diet of potato chips and pizza.

Then about a year later, a work friend told me that her husband had begun juicing and had already lost 40 lb in a month. She encouraged me to watch a documentary, called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead– which had inspired her husband’s cleanse. She was preparing for a 10 day-cleanse herself, and invited me to join along with her.

I was still skeptical. I like juice alright. I have been known to splurge on carrot juice and freshly squeezed orange juice once in a while, but to make that my daily sustenance was a completely different thing.

I had tried fad diets and “cleanses” before, but found myself extremely moody and irritable. And moreover, I found that the weight loss could be attributed more to starvation than actually being healthy. Worse, the pounds I had shed would quickly and eagerly return post-cleanse.

Still, I’m a sucker for good documentaries and I figured I’d give this one a chance. OK. I'm really a sucker, because this was one of the best documentaries I've ever seen.

I don’t want to spoil anything for you (especially since you can watch it for free on Hulu here), but I now know why this documentary changes lives, including mine. The documentary follows the stories of "juicers" whose lives are transformed by their new diets. I know I know. I just described every infomercial on television, but I can't tell you how empowered I felt to change my life in a big way. Yes, I suddenly had my motivation to juice.

While I’m not overweight, I could definitely use a boost in the “being healthy” department, both physically and emotionally, which is why I agreed to try replacing lunch with juice during the work week, so my friend would have a buddy to keep her motivated and I could take baby steps into this new lifestyle. I know this was by no means a dramatic move, but I also wanted to test what it would be like before I invested a few hundred dollars into a juicer.

The week went by without much difficulty. I never ate too much at lunch anyway and found it nice to get out everyday to Jamba Juice on my lunch break, although the carrot or carrot-orange combo got to be a little boring. Plus, I had the added luxury of being able to eat dinner when I got home.

Still, I could feel that I was doing something good for myself and I did feel lighter and more energetic, so the following week, I pulled out my credit card, shut my eyes and bought a juicer.

In the documentary, they recommend a 10-day juice fast to get started, and while I would have loved to do that, I couldn’t fathom it, which is why I opted for a 5-day fast. If it was going well, then I would extend to 10 days.

Also, I should note that it is recommended that you consult your physician before you start any type of cleanse, but I did not want to. Instead, I called my mom, who is an RN and asked for her advice. She told me it was a terrible idea, and that I shouldn’t do it. I protested that I had already purchased the juicer, so I had no choice but to go through it. At last, she relented.

My friend also sent me a book of 101 juice recipes. I went to the market and stocked up on fresh veggies and fruits. I was ready to start.

Day 1:

Breakfast: Earl Gray Tea

I feel 100% excited and motivated. I end up telling too many people what I’m doing. 

Lunch:  12 oz. carrot and spinach juice

Not hungry at all. The juice is quite good, and while I don’t feel full. I feel sated.

Dinner: 12 oz. sweet potato, cucumber, pineapple, and apple juice

A few stomach rumbles, but still enjoying the juice. I feel like the rest of the week is going to be smooth sailing. I am really relishing this feeling.

Day 2:

Breakfast: Earl Gray Tea

Did not sleep well. Had really vivid dreams, possibly nightmares. Stomach growled in the morning.

Lunch:  16 oz. sweet potato, apple, spinach, and celery juice

More keen to sight and smell of food. I don’t have a desire to eat anything, but I definitely notice it everywhere, particularly all the lunch smells. Juice taste is okay, but not 100% satisfying. Took a walk during lunch time just to get outside. It felt really good, especially, since normally, I'd be sitting at my desk scarfing something down something really unhealthy.

Dinner: 16 oz. spinach, cucumber, apple, pear and ginger juice

Still feel motivated. Stomach is already pretty flat and I feel very light. This is the feeling that everyone is talking about as the best feeling. It’s pretty good, but I don’t know if I would go as far as saying it’s the best feeling ever.

While everyone else is eating dinner, I find myself just zoning out and not thinking about anything in particular. I let the all the momennts of the day filter through me - it feels nice to just recharge and relax.

Day 3:

Breakfast: Earl Gray Tea

Woke up feeling light and energetic. Decided to go for a run for some exercise. Not a good idea. I nearly passed out two miles in. Had to walk back home and felt very light-headed the entire time.

Lunch: 12 oz. carrot, celery, orange, and grapefruit juice

Juice tasted pretty good, but was not satisfying. Low energy. Began to doubt whether I would last five days. Had to give myself a pep talk about how I only had two days left. Rational side of brain kept on making excuses to quit. Now. I have to keep on reminding myself that a few days of discomfort is worth being healthy and detoxifying my body. Brain is resistant. Oh well. 

Dinner: 20 oz. V-8 juice (freshly made)

Disgusting. I hate this juice and I hate this juice cleanse. Of course, I have a pint of this juice left over and I hate to throw it away, so I will probably have to drink it all day tomorrow. Angry. (And starving.) Before bed, I began reading juicing blogs for motivation, which works... 

Day 4:

Breakfast: Peppermint Tea

Good night’s sleep, although woke up hungry and craving that “burst of energy” that everyone talks about. I felt okay, but not super peppy or energetic.  Peppermint tea made my stomach queasy.

Lunch: 12 oz. V-8 juice (leftover)

Saw an ad for Buca di Peppo. Basically thought of pasta and meatballs all day – could not think of anything else. Also, spent a few hours on Pinterest, pinning and emailing myself recipes of everything that I would eat once the cleanse was over. Never felt so obsessed with food. Went for a 20 min. walk during lunch break.

Dinner: 20 oz. carrot, celery, cucumber and apple juice

Looked at Buca di Peppo menu online and spent about an hour and a half deciding what I would get there. Thought I was cracking up a little. Hard to focus on anything but food. Couldn't decide if I was actually hungry or just missed food. Still not sure. Regardless, mental countdown begins: 24 hours to go!

Day 5:

Breakfast: Water 

Slept well. Woke up feeling weak, but excited about the last day!

Lunch: 16 oz. apple, kale, cucumber ginger juice

Was not hungry at all, but still did not feel that energy kick. Went for a 20 min walk during lunch break. Loving these walks.

Dinner: 20 oz. pear, carrot, spinach and orange juice

Felt weak, but not hungry. Also felt really good about myself that I had made it this far. Considered extending cleanse to 10 days...

 Day 6:

2:30 am – woke up to insane stomach pains.  Could not go back to sleep. Made almond milk and ate some almonds.

Finally got back to sleep, then woke up, thrilled that I was done! I feel like I accomplished something and did something really good for myself. I also feel like my skin got clearer (people started commenting on it) and gained some clarity on eating healthier, namely reducing my chip intake.

I don’t have a scale, and it wasn’t really about the weight loss, per se, but I definitely dropped a few pounds. My jeans weren’t as tight as before and clothes felt loose, which was a nice benefit.

 My Learnings:

 -       It was not easy. It was insanely difficult, actually. I think you have to maintain the right kind of motivation. For me, I wanted to do something good for my body. I kept having to remind myself that I was doing something good for myself. Had the reason been anything less clear, I would have caved in, particularly on Day 3. Have a clear goal or objecitve. Write it down or do whatever you have to do so you don’t forget it.

 -       Be prepared for the worst. Needless to say, Day 3 was the absolute worst. I felt really upset the entire night. Day 4 was also difficult. I think it’s important to do something really nice for yourself those nights – maybe a bubble bath or something? Unfortunately, I didn't think that it would get this bad, but definitely something to keep in mind for next time. (Also, I seriously have to do something to keep Buca di Peppo out of my mind!)

-       Modify your exercise program. I didn’t want to stop completely, so instead of running, I ended up walking more.

-       Drink tons of water. I wasn’t doing this during the first few days – I think this was actually contributing to feeling weak. It’s crucial to stay regularly hydrated during your fast.

-       Make as much juice as you can at one time. It’s fun the first few times, but if you don’t have a lot of time, the process can feel like a lot of work. I ended up making at least 1.5 days of juice every few days.

-       DO NOT GO ON PINTEREST or look at any food pictures. It's needless torture. 

-       Get motivated by reading other people’s experiences. Healthy Crush’s 10-day juice cleanse account in her blog was instrumental in keeping me sane. I must have read it at least three times on Day 3.

-       Listen to your body! I think this is the most crucial learning. Your body will tell you if something is right or wrong. Day 6, I knew that I had to stop the cleanse– thanks to my body’s early (and painful) morning wake-up call.

-       Be good to yourself. If you can’t make it to x number of days, don’t beat yourself up. Pull yourself up and try again later. There are times that I wish I could have made it to 10 days, but then again, I knew I’d be miserable. The last thing I wanted was to be thinking compulsively about Buca di Peppo for the next five days, which is probably what would have happened.

-       Be present. A cleanse should not be something that you suffer through or tolerate, although there will be some of that, of course. It's also a chance to cleanse your inner self too. Think of it as not only detoxifying your body, but releasing toxic emotions and feelings as well, which is why it's a good idea to keep a journal of your experience. During those hours when everyone else is eating, I found that I had the rare luxury of having time to enjoy being introspective and reflective with my day. It was nice to be able to check in with myself. In other words, when you truly heal, everything heals.

I’ve also learned that I want to continue juicing periodically. (I just completed another 4-day cleanse last week.) It doesn’t get easier, but I think my motivation gets stronger, which is why I was able to convince my friends and my sister to also try a juice cleanse. I’m still working up toward the 10-days, but I’m in no rush.

Do you juice? What were your experiences like?

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