My juice fast has been over for quite some time now, at least two months. When I was 3 days in, I started writing a beautiful blog post on the experience, and it got lost in the electronic universe. I was pretty discouraged by the loss of my blog post. So discouraged, in fact, that it has taken me this long to come to terms with it and realize that I have to suck it up and start over. Especially when more and more people started asking me about juice fasting and juicing, I knew I had to stop grieving over the loss of the unfinished blog post and just start anew! So here I am, two months after my juice cleanse, and boy do I have some lessons to share with you! I’ll share the good, the bad, and the unexpected parts of my juice cleanse. No holding back, full on disclosure, let’s do this!
FIRST THINGS FIRST- DETAILS OF MY FAST
My juice fast lasted one week. The first three days were strictly juice (no other food or drinks), and the last four days were a combination of juice and raw foods (and olive oil, which I came to find out at the end of the cleanse is not a raw food, oops!). There are many different ways to do a juice cleanse. The most important thing is that you do what is best for your health. Some people do 30, 60, or 90 days cleanses, some do 3-4 days, and some do different combinations of juice and raw foods. You should always consult a medical professional before beginning a juice fast, and most importantly, you should listen to your body and make adjustments throughout the cleanse as necessary for your body.
Here are a few pictures of produce I bought to juice…
The benefits of my juice cleanse could be felt almost immediately in the first day. My energy level went sky high, and by day 2 I realized I didn’t need coffee to get my day started. And not only did I not need the coffee to wake me up and keep me going, but I didn’t get a headache from NOT drinking it! This was a huge breakthrough for me. I have done coffee detoxes before, and let me tell you, I was not a fun person to be around when I did! The headache I would get from not drinking coffee was unbearable. I don’t know for sure what a migraine feels like, but my coffee detox headache was probably pretty close. I wouldn’t even want to get out of bed until the headache had subsided. And during a detox, my headache could last anywhere from 3-7 days. That’s a whole week of miserable pain that won’t go away. But while juicing, I never once got a headache from not drinking coffee. Two months later, I can still skip my morning coffee if I choose, and as long as I have juice, I am good to go.
Aside from the boost in energy and not getting caffeine detox headaches, I also noticed that juicing put me in a better mood. In the moment, it’s funny because it just feels like smells are sweeter, the sky is brighter, and everything makes me smile. But logically, it actually makes sense. The body is getting tons of micronutrients that are hard to get in the same volume without juicing. Not to mention the fact that some of the foods I was juicing (i.e. jalapenos and other hot chilies) help to release endorphins in the body. So, I just felt great!
Okay, so here I am going on and on about how great juicing is and how good it makes you feel, but I will be the first to admit that there were parts that were not so fun. My biggest problem during my cleanse was that I was not juicing enough. I was probably eating about 45-55 ounces of juice a day, and I should have been eating 60-80 ounces! So by day three, I had lost some energy and wasn’t really feeling too good. This was a huge mistake on my part, and one that could have easily been avoided by consulting more resources on juicing before beginning my cleanse. But it was a mistake I learned from, and now I can hopefully help other people from making that same mistake. But this alludes to another downside of juicing. JUICING IS EXPENSIVE. I’ve read blogs and watched movies that say you actually save money by juicing because you’re not spending on other food, bla bla bla. I now believe that advice may be coming from people who eat out all the time. If you know me, you know I love to cook. And furthermore, you know I love to cook on a budget! I am the queen of reusing obscure leftovers to make an awesome second meal. And we eat good in our house, but we eat cheap.
At our first trip to the Farmer’s Market, Austin and I spent about $70 on TONS of fruits and veggies and leafy greens. And if you’ve been to the Nashville Farmer’s Market, you know that $70 goes far, and buys a LOT of food. And indeed, it did. Just look at how full our refrigerator was after the first trip to the market…
But juicing takes a lot of produce to make just 15-20 ounces of juice. So by day three, we were shopping again. I’m not sure what our weekly total was, but it was well over $100, and it was way more than we would spend grocery shopping for the week. So if you plan to juice, and especially if you plan to do a 30, 60, or 90 day cleanse, be prepared to plan a budget for it!
Finally, and keep in mind I said this blog would be full disclosure, one other downside to my juice cleanse was the bowel movements… or lack thereof! There, I said it. Let’s be grown up and talk about it. Dr. Oz made it cool to talk about bowel movements, so I’m a little more open to it, ha! I have heard of other people doing juice cleanses and they report having an awesome system flush. Some people even warn that you should plan a juice fast around a time when you know you can be at home or have quick access to a bathroom if necessary. So I did. And I waited. And then I waited some more. I was lucky if I had one BM a day in the first three days, and for me, that is torture. I have a healthy (and predictable) system, so not having my usual regularity drove me crazy.
There are two things that I believe may have contributed to the way my body reacted to the juice cleanse. First of all, the flushing of the system is usually so intense because the body is ridding itself of lots of harmful toxins—toxins that come from consuming things like meat, dairy, and other animal products… toxins that come from things like alcohol and tobacco, medications and chemicals found in highly processed foods—and these are things that had long ago been flushed from my system (minus the occasional alcoholic beverage). I am vegan, so my body has gotten rid of most of the animal products that once occupied it (although I have heard that chicken can stay in the system as long as red meat—up to 7 years—so my body may still have a little bit to get rid of, but not as much as a carnivore). I quit smoking more than two years ago, so those harmful chemicals shouldn’t be a problem anymore. And I have greatly reduced the number of processed foods I consume, so the dangerous chemicals and hormones, and artificial food colorings just aren’t a part of my regular diet anymore. So for all of these reasons, I think my body just had less to shed than what some other people might have to cleanse.
The other reason I think my BMs were so few and far between was because there isn’t a whole lot of fiber consumption in a strictly-juice diet. The fiber in all these great fruits and veggies I was eating is found in the skin of the food, and of course when juicing, you don’t consume the skins. So if this would be a concern for you, you could always drink the juice and then pull a few skins of high-fiber foods out of your juicer’s “compost bin” and eat those. By the time I was eating raw foods along with the juice, my system became more regular again, so consuming some high-fiber skins along with your juice or doing a raw diet in combination with your juice cleanse may be the answer to keeping you regular. And don’t get me wrong, I was not bloated or uncomfortable during the strictly-juice part of the cleanse. So if not having as many BMs as you usually do doesn’t bother you, then don’t even worry about it!
Okay, get ready for it, because this is my favorite part. In my 7-day juice cleanse, I lost 7 pounds!! And two months later, I have still kept those 7 pounds off. This weight loss was completely unexpected for me because I have weighed the same for the last 5+ years. No matter what I eat or how regularly I exercise, NOTHING has changed my weight in the last five years. I change what I eat and I change my exercise routine, and I see great results, don’t get me wrong. I see more toned muscles. I notice that I have greater endurance, a stronger back, and more flexibility. But never, NEVER, have I lost any weight during this time. So when I did the juice cleanse, it wasn’t a goal of mine to lose weight, and I wasn’t expecting or even hoping to do so. In fact, it wasn’t until I had a doctor’s appointment that I even noticed I had lost any weight, and then it was confirmed when I went back to the gym to make sure it wasn’t just a difference in scales. At the doctor’s office, I stepped on the scale and thought to myself, “I could just tell the nurse to write down 140, because I am always 140.” And then she read the weight out loud, “Okay, 133.” I looked down in disbelief… “133?!?!” I exclaimed. “Yes, 133, is that good or bad?” she asked. I said it wasn’t good or bad, but just an unexpected weight loss. But now that I’ve had some time to get used to it and think about it, it is good. It is great! Whatever that 7 pounds was, it wasn’t anything healthy and it surely wasn’t anything my body needed. And after a successful juice cleanse, it is gone. And I’ve maintained the weight loss since my cleanse ended by sticking to a continued healthy diet consisting of juice and raw foods and the occasional cooked treat.
So I think all in all, I can call my first juice cleanse a success! Most importantly, I learned things for future cleanses. I learned that I will need to consume more juice when I am on the juice-only part of the cleanse. I learned that I will either need to consume more fiber during the juice-only part, or deal with the fact that I’m not going to have as many BMs as I usually do. I learned that I will need to save up some money to do another cleanse, especially if I am going to do it right and consume about 60-80 ounces of juice a day.
I hope that by sharing my experience you have learned something about juice fasting and that you can make the right decision for yourself if you want to try it or not. And as always, if you have any questions about my experience, please don’t hesitate to ask me. I could talk about this stuff all day, ha!