Thursday, April 10, 2014

juice fasts: how to reconcile feelings of ultimate, superior health while simultaneously fighting the urge to murder your coworker for a cupcake.. and other fine tales

I find the idea of juice fasts pretty fascinating. I've read about them, and a few of my friends have done them for varying lengths of time. I also know that there's tons of information out there that says it's a total load of crap, that it's full of sugar, and that you aren't doing your body a lick of good. Regardless, about a month ago, I came across a Living Social deal for a juice cleanse and sent it to my coworker to discuss. Our gchat conversation went a little like this:
danielle: you're doing this??
me: would i die?
me: do you want to do it with me?
danielle: i did a 3 day juice cleanse once
danielle: i definitely felt miserable
danielle: and like dying
danielle: but afterward i felt like pure energy
danielle: i felt awesome
me: well, if we BOTH did if we could be miserable at work together  

In the end, we decided that we'd do a three day, modified cleanse. Instead purchasing a pre-packaged fast online and having it delivered, we decided we'd buy the juices for a local establishment called Nourish Your Soul. The idea was to give our digestive system a little bit of a break while still allowing a little bit of food to keep the insanity at bay.

For those of you who live in the Boston area they have two locations, one in Medford, and one in Fort Point. After some correspondence Susan (the owner), we decided that we would have three juices a day -- we chose the Green Goddess, PPM, and Cashew Milk (which happened to be delicious and my favorite). I chose to supplement the juice during the day by snacking on raw almonds (one serving a day) and celery (possibly the only time in my life that I'll ever consider celery to be a snack). Dinner was sautéed vegetables with lean ground turkey and avocado slices. Calorie-wise, I was at about 1300 a day, not very high, but not life threatening for three days. I stopped drinking caffeine three days prior to starting the cleanse in preparation and made sure to consume lots and lots of water.

This about sums up my experience in a nutshell:

Day 1 - Sunday: 
Going into the cleanse, I was definitely feeling a little self-righteous. I was all.. Ohhhh yeaaaa! Juice! HEALTH! Juice is life. How hard is it to do this for three days? I didn't even want to eat dinner on the first night but I did because I knew I should. I wasn't even hungry. Hunger is for suckers!

Day 2 - Monday: 
Due to a miscommunication with the store owner, we hadn't purchased all of our Monday juices on Sunday. This meant that we only had one juice and whatever "snacks" we'd brought to work to tide us over on Monday until they were able to finish juicing. We weren't able to pick up the rest of our juices until around 1:30pm and by that time we were definitely knee deep in a hangry situation. Danielle and I spent about two hours whining and cursing about how we were going to starve to death. Actually, I'm pretty sure that we did die for about seven minutes.

Juice is death.


Once I got some more juice (ie sugar, calories, and HEALTH) in me, I started to feel so much better. I had made plans to go rock climbing that night, so I knew that it was important for me to eat dinner. I definitely felt more fatigued than usual, though luckily I didn't have to deal with any dizziness. I ended the day with my delicious and nutritious Cashew milk and went to bed feeling pretty satisfied.

Day 3 - Tuesday:

This about sums it up:
me: i don't think i could do a no food juice cleanse
me: i was sooooo smug on day 1
me: today i had to set up lunch for a meeting
me: and i wanted to dive into the indian food
danielle: indian food? where? no. don't tell me
a few minutes later.. 
me: i have a PPM and a Cashew Milk left for the day
me: but i've eaten my almonds and celery
me: i pretty much have nothing to live for
me: except cashew milk
me: and jeremy, i guess
me: but that won't help my hunger  
I woke up on day 3 feeling ready to end the juice fast. It wasn't that I was starving, or that I was craving anything in particular. I didn't like feeling restricted in what I could and could not eat or drink. One positive thing to note was that almost a week without coffee and I had pretty much stopped craving caffeine entirely. I think that I missed it mostly because it's been such a big part of my morning routine -- get to work, brew some coffee, and drinking it while reading emails.

I expected to be starving after concluding the cleanse but that never actually happened. In fact, it took days for my appetite to come back. Even now, over a week later and I still have not been getting as hungry as before. I've also noticed that I am snacking a lot less. I actually don't have as much of a desire to snack. I'm also happy to report that I've only had coffee twice since the fast has ended - both times were half caff lattes from Starbucks when I was traveling on the West Coast and in desperate need of a little boost. I'm going to try my hardest to minimize my caffeine consumption. I've also been trying to keep track of my sugar consumption -- both natural and artificial. It's difficult! Those pesky artificial sweeteners are. in. everything.

All in all, I'd say it was a pretty positive experience. There were times when I was REALLY hungry, but most of the time I felt pretty satisfied with the juices. It was difficult not having enough energy to keep up with my usual workouts, but it was manageable for three days. My sugar and caffeine cravings all but disappeared and any bloating that I'd had was gone by the end of day three. If (and that's a big if) I were to do a juice cleanse again, I'd probably make them at home myself. It would be way more time consuming, but then I'd have complete control over what exactly I'm consuming, rather than going by juices that someone else has prepared.

Have you ever done a juice cleanse? What sort of experience did you have? Would you do it again? Why or why not? 

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