JUICEFEST: LET’S RECAP
Here’s the short story. I highly recommend a juice fast! I spent the past 7 1/2 days drinking only freshly made juice, consisting of veggies and fruits. I also enjoyed a little green tea in the mornings and decaf herbal tea at night. Plus I downed a bunch of water, perhaps 60 oz per day. And the results were pretty impressive (keep reading).
Why did I decide to juice fast? I needed a reboot. My weight was inching up past my normal high end, I was feeling puffy, sluggish, and at times irritable. I was craving bad foods and indulging in those cravings. My clothes were not fitting comfortably. And truth be told I was drinking too much wine and not exercising enough. I needed a healthy jump start before the holidays.
We decided to kickoff JuiceFest following Thanksgiving. In hindsight, to reap the most benefits from a fast, we should not have started immediately following a big ‘eating day’, but the timing was right on our calendars so we went for it. We’ve since learned that you enter the deep cleansing stage of a fast more quickly if the body doesn’t have to process so much food. That said, we’ll likely juice fast every year the week following Thanksgiving, but just not eat as if it’s our very last meal ever.
Leading up to JuiceFest we juiced at least once per day for about 2-3 weeks. This was simply to get the hang of it. I’d recommend this. It’s also helps your body start the detoxifying process so that the first three days of the fast aren’t so aggressive on your system. If your diet consists of mainly processed foods (things not found in the produce isle), I would suggest this is a must. Your odds of making it through your fast will increase greatly.
DAYS 1- 3
Start your juice fast on a Saturday if possible or on your non-work day. The first day is tough; it’s easier without the added stress of the job, without the red velvet cupcakes your coworker bought in to share, and without the peer pressure of less-than-supportive colleagues (luckily, all of my work friends played along nicely!). Plan on feeling a little down the first two days. Patrice watched movies and football to take his mind off of eating; I cleaned out every closest in our apartment! We also both worked out as we normally do. So do whatever makes you feel good or takes your mind off of eating. Nap. Walk. Call your friends and gain their support. Just know that the first two days are the most challenging.
On day 2 you’ll wake up feeling proud that you made it a whole day and slept through the night and didn’t die or cave in! I didn’t crave coffee the second day like I did on the first so I knew it was starting to work. Green tea is a healthy substitute that is easy on your stomach. You might have a headache durning the first couple of days. That’s completely normal. Patrice did. Drink water. Rest up if you can. Drink more juice.
We learned that on day 2 and 3 you’re in full detox mode. So, strange things may happen. There are plenty of web articles and books on juicing describing worse-case scenarios. Depending on your drug, alcohol and eating history, these couple of days can be anywhere from mildly uncomfortable to down-right unpleasant. If the latter, just remember that ‘you did this to you’ and try to breath through it! That’s the body working its all-natural magic, clearing out all of the nasty. It also means that you’re on the brink of greatness! “Respect the distance” as I used to say about marathon running. Your ‘fast’ is actually a long, slow run not a race. So pace yourself and expect some ups and downs. If you’ve been eating relatively healthy foods leading up to your fast, the worst you might experience is bad breadth for a day or two as toxins exit your body. That’s pretty much all we noted. All other systems were normal — although the literature says that’s not the case for everyone. The good news is, this only lasts a day or two.
DAYS 4 - 8
By day 4 there’s no turning back. This is the day we both felt the fast really kicking in. If you’re not miserable on day 4, and you were only planning a 5 day fast, I’d suggest you shoot for 7 days or more depending on your overall health and fasting goals. Since you were still burning the solid food you last ate (before the fast) on days 1- 3, this is really the first day your body can give your digestive system a rest and start deep cleaning.
Hunger, as you would typically describe it, is gone on this day. Foods still smell delicious and you’ll think about eating, but you aren’t craving food any longer. I looked forward to walking to our corner market, buying our veggies, preparing the juice, cleaning up and relaxing at night. If you have kids, I can imagine getting them involved preparing the veggies, making animal shapes out of them perhaps and enjoying this fun routine every night. You start taking on a new sense of mental calmness after day 4, too. If you’re not feeling that way, it might be time introduce food again, eat more produce for a few weeks and try for a longer duration next time. Days 4 through the end, while not “easy”, should feel doable without much discomforted.
Thanksgiving morning I was 133.6 pounds. Eight days later I am 125.7, fully hydrated. [Patrice lost 12 pounds over nine days] I lost nearly three pounds after one day. Then it was about a pound per day for three days, finally plateauing off this morning with only .3 pound difference from yesterday. I also measured my hips since they were pushing the limits of my pants: down at least one inch! Maybe a wee bit more. And I feel really good!
ARE YOU READY TO JUICE?
Patrice and I are going to juice fast twice per year. I feel like we just unlocked an ancient secret that was right under our noses: Fresh vegetables! Fresh fruit! No caffeine! No alcohol! Why is this revolutionary? It’s common sense.
This is not complicated or expensive. It’s about $35 per day (for all of your food) for two people, plus the cost of a juicer. That’s less than $6 per meal, per person. Really. It could even be less where you shop.
Step 1. Watch the documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. Don’t skip this step. It’s important. It put us in the right state of mind. King Corn, Supersize Me, and Forks Over Knifes are fascinating and motivating movies as well.
Step 2. Buy your juicer. I purchased an SPT model. I’d go with a Breville if I could do it over again. Buy the best one you can comfortably afford. Juicing is a lifestyle. You’re worth it. Other than the juicer, you don’t need much. Some bowls, a sharp paring knife, a veggie scrubber, a colander, and some juice containers to store the juice (for a few hours) will do the trick.
Step 3. Recruit a partner or at least a champion. You’ll need to talk about your experience with someone you trust, someone who cares about your health and wellness. This will make the experience much more interesting and fun.
Step 4. Juice a few times per week or even once per day for a week or two. Don’t chow down on bad foods like you’ll never eat again leading up to your fast. Resist that temptation as it will only delay the detox. Try to eat smart (unprocessed, low sugar, ‘real’ food) leading up to your fast.
Step 5. Determine your JuiceFest goal. One day, four days, ten days? Until you loose X pounds. State a goal. This is also key to your success.
Step 6. Juice! It’s your first time so drink as much juice as you want to feel satisfied, not stuffed. Juice mostly veggies and some fruits. All fruit all the time is too much sugar. And veggies have all the micronutrient goodness. There are different schools of thought as to the optimal combination of veggies and fruits. Read up if you want to get it exactly right (although expert juicers seem to disagree on this part). But my best advice is to make sure the juice tastes at least drinkable so you stick with it and that usually requires some fruit, IMHO.
CORE INGREDIENTS — MIX & MATCH
- Cucumbers — Peel if not organic and waxed
- Carrots — Scrub with a veggie scrubber
- Green Apples — Rinse well. Some people even peel these. We didn’t.
- Bok Choy — It’s juicy and mild tasting (some say not to use bok choy;I haven’t investigated why and found out after the juice. Seemed fine to me.)
- Beets — Peel with a pairing knife
- Spinach — Rinse it well
- Savoy Cabbage — Red Savoy makes beautifully colored juice!
- Lemons — Cut off the skin or use a hand-held juicer
- Ginger — It should not be brown on the inside. It should be very fragrant when peeled. We used ginger every time.
FOR VARIETY AND/OR TASTE
- Any green leafiness. Kale, parsley, bean spouts, alfalfa sprouts all work great.
- Green or Red Peppers
- In Moderation:
- Grapes — Any kind. A few grapes add a nice flavor.
- Pomegranate Seeds (Messy, but tasty!)
PRODUCE WE ATTEMPTED TO JUICE (THAT YOU SHOULDN’T)
Learn from our mistakes. We would NOT recommend juicing:
- Jalapeño Peppers
HOW MUCH JUICE?
I drank juice whenever I was hungry, which was about every 3-4 hours. Depending on the day, I took in anywhere from 60 - 80 ounces (5 - 6 glasses). Less juice would have resulted in greater weight lose, of course. Some would suggest 5-6 glasses is on the high end of a juice fast, but at 120 - 150 calories per juice I was still ingesting less than 1000 calories per day, hence the 8 pound weight loss. My next time around I will probably dial that back, but listen to your body the first time around. If you don’t loose weight drinking all the veggie juice you want, I’ll reimburse you for your juicer!
MAKE JUICEFEST FUN!
We grow through our experiences, through learning. Make this fun. Make it interesting. Read up on the science of juicing and fasting. Learn. Share your experiences with your friends. Make veggie faces and share them on Facebook!
It’s also fun and motivating to keep a journal. Record what you juice. Record your measurements and weigh yourself daily. The simple act of keeping a journal helps keep you motivated. Seeing your progress add up day after day helps too.
WHEN JUICEFEST ENDS
Today is day 8. I planned to juice for 7 days and I imagined I’d indulge in coffee, eggs, yogurt, bread, soup, maybe even veggie pizza and a glass of wine following the juice fast. But I woke up this morning and really just wanted… more juice! I’m no longer craving coffee in the morning or wine in the evening. That will likely change, but for now I’m going to listen to my new cravings and only eat what sounds good and healthy. Right now that’s more raw veggies. The experts say we should break the fast with simple foods — raw veggies, fresh fruit and soup for a couple days upon re-entry. This is so the detox can continue for a few more days, albeit more slowly. Today I had a juice for breakfast, a banana at noon (it gave me a little stomach ache but not bad), then snacked on some raw veggies the rest of the day — and they were delicious.
By the way, I am not a dietician or expert on fasting by any stretch! This summary is simply my experience as a first time juicer. Books and websites abound on this topic. Many try to sell various supplements related to juicing. We didn’t take any supplements except for psyllium husk (all natural, for fiber as the juice contains little) and Patrice took unflavored whey protein. Unless you’re juicing longer than 10 days, intuitively speaking, the absence of these supplements should be fine. Let your digestive system rest. Read up on all of the different schools of thought if you wish, check with a professional if needed and see if you can benefit from juicing.