Her: Wow, you look amazing.
Me: Well, the last time you saw me I was 4 months post-partum, and my maternity leave had just ended. I’m definitely less delirious and sleep-deprived than I was then.
Her: It’s more than that, you’re really radiant.
Me: Well, thank you!
Her (owner of a number of amazing restaurants in Saratoga Springs, NY): The restaurants are doing wonderfully. We just opened a juice bar right on Broadway.
Me: How fantastic. You know, I’m in the middle of a five day juice cleanse.
Her: Well THAT explains that glowy radiance!
I don’t know if everyone would say that I’m farting rainbows and sunshine right now, but I’m more than happy to take the compliment. And, admittedly, I’m FEELING like a ray of sunshine (I know, Gag! Groan! Eye Roll! (but it’s the truth)) and I think that that is ultimately why I am writing this post.
I’m on day five of a five day juice cleanse.
And I feel incredible.
The fact that I am sitting in my office, fully showered, dressed, fed (er, juiced) and am in the midst of a blog post before 7:30am speaks volumes. I even got the most coveted parking spot for the building. A first in four years! Huzzah!
James and I decided to do a juice cleanse this week as we were in a sluggish, cheese and bread induced winter coma. The bloat, the tiredness, the flatulence!, the lethargy that comes from surviving a crazy cold winter with comfort foods and a daily habit of bread baking, while delicious and wonderful in many respects, was taking its toll. It’s not that we weren’t eating all the other food groups, it’s just that bread and cheese were the overwhelming majority. And we were feeling the physical impact.
I hesitated to write about it because I know that I find diet and exercise posts self-indulgent and lame and often very misguided. But this was a really worthwhile experience, and given that there are so many fad “juice cleanses” on the Interwebs, I wanted to write about our experience in the hopes of providing another (far more affordable) avenue for those considering a cleanse.
We worked with a local nutritionist (who is available to anyone – we actually never even met in person) for a whooping $5 per person and made all the juices ourselves, in our own kitchen, with our own ingredients. I really can’t advocate enough for that kind of hands on control. It was a way to really understand exactly what we were putting into our body for those five days, and I liked being able to still prepare daily meals, even if they were all being blended together into a mush. Especially since the girls were witnessing this cleanse (we were obviously still preparing full meals for them), I wanted them to see that James and I were still “eating” real food. And, the goal is to never feel hungry. If you’re hungry, you make another smoothie. This was by no means an exercise in starvation.
Renee, the nutritionist, emailed a list of smoothie/juice recipes on Sunday evening and we filled our fridge with the resulting abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables that we’d need for the week. We prepared all of the meals in a blender (not juicer) to be sure to reap all the nutritional benefits. I drank lots of herbal tea throughout, and heavily utilized my “Citrus Zinger” water bottle that Kimmy gifted me this Christmas (an easy way to infuse fresh citrus into your daily water). We’d receive a daily email with new recipes, encouragement, and a description of what we might be experiencing on that given day as a result of the cleanse.
Day 1 and 2 were (as expected) the hardest. In the evenings I was headachy and James was irritable. But we powered through, and by Wednesday, I was feeling great. Energized. Alert. Clean. By Thursday, I wasn’t craving solid food as I had earlier in the week, and found it very easy to get through the day. We did very mild “exercise” (think: leisurely walks) with the exception of my TRX class today, as I didn’t want to derail my body from the cleanse. The hardest part of the cleanse in my opinion was meal planning and “packing” drinks for the office or getting home during the work day to make a fresh drink. I also really missed the communal nature of eating with friends and loved ones.
Someone asked if I was stepping on the scale at all during the cleanse, and while many people use juice cleanses as a weight loss mechanism, that was never my goal. I also think scales (used as a stand alone) are a pretty poor measure of health and wellness. I weighed more than I had in years (pregnancy an exception) at the height of my half marathon training – I was needing to eat like crazy to keep up the training and I had far more muscle mass than I had previously. My weight gain was a sign of strength and fitness. And while I am certain I “lost weight” during this five days merely based on my constant runs to the bathroom to urinate (it was like pregnancy redux) – I’d wager that it was predominately water weight, and not a weight loss that will be sustained once I begin eating solid foods and a more well rounded diet. While the juices are clean and nutritious, they lack the necessary fats and carbohydrates and protein that one needs for long term wellness.
But I am so glad that James and I went through this experience together. I’ve been inspired to begin my days with more green, leafy vegetables for the way that they make my body feel alive and awake. I’ve been reminded that my body doesn’t need large portions to feel full and satisfied and fueled if I’m feeding it nutrient-rich food. Since we’re headed into a 10 day vacation, these lessons will be a wonderful reminder during a time that we might otherwise forgo balanced meals and taking care of our bodies.
If you’re interested in giving a juice cleanse a try, I recommend that you connect with Renee from Eat To Total Health. Now that I’m on the other side of the five days, I definitely recommend the experience.
Have you ever done a juice cleanse? How’d it make you feel? Or, if you haven’t, would you ever consider doing one? I’d love to hear your stories!