If you would’ve suggested a juice fast a month ago, I probably would have looked at you like you were crazy. James and I are about as into food as two people can be — and not just beautiful, photogenic food, but all kinds of food. But when we sat down to watch Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead a couple of weeks ago, we saw all the great things that juicing could do for your health and we committed then and there to a 10 day juice fast. We just wrapped it up on Sunday.
To prepare, we bought an inexpensive juicer and a whole bunch of fruits and vegetables. We started out by using the FS&ND creator’s recipe for “Mean Green” juice but ended up throwing in whatever sounded good by the end. We made a big effort to do more vegetables than fruits. We drank five to six 16-ounce juices each day. James was strict about just drinking juice, while I had a small bowl of miso soup as well.
Days 1 – 3: These were by far the toughest days of the cleanse. It became abundantly obvious how much time we spend thinking about food — and more than that, wanting food. We’re the kind of people who talk about what we should eat for dinner while we’re having breakfast, and so the ten days stretched out before us like a vast, empty sea. We were hungry. We were tired. We were grumpy. And everywhere we looked, people were eating. Have you ever realized just how much people eat in the movies and on TV? Even the books we were reading seemed filled with food scenes.
Days 4 – 7: Day four was a turning point. I was sitting in a meeting at 10am and I’d already had two juices for the day, plus a bunch of water, when I felt myself getting hungry. But I sat through the meeting and was surprised to find myself totally fine by the end — not hungry at all. My skin was less congested and much more evenly toned, to the point that I stopped wearing foundation all together. Our energy levels became very even — no afternoon slumps, no morning grouchiness, and no falling asleep on the couch in the evenings. And perhaps most importantly, we began to sleep very soundly at night.
On day five, I began looking into transitioning out of the fast and realized the process would take five days to complete, for a total of 15 days — which I couldn’t handle. While we were feeling fantastic, I wanted to eat. Like a normal person. So on day six, I began transitioning out of juicing by switching out my lunchtime juice for a handful of lettuce. I was surprised to find that it kept me full until dinnertime.
Days 7-10: On day seven, I added fruit back into my diet and even had a piece of toast with banana — and immediately felt kind of sick. Professionals suggest eating solid versions of what you’ve been juicing, but there was one lonely piece of bread sitting on our counter and it was calling my name! Mistake. I went back to juice, vegetables, and fruit until dinnertime on day nine, when I had a veggie burger with a slice of cheese on it. I didn’t feel great afterward, and I woke up still feeling full. I decided that meal portions needed to be even smaller, and since then I’ve been eating very small amounts throughout the day to re-adjust.
Since James was more fully committed (and less afraid of the transition), he continued on through day ten. He said he stopped looking at people eating and feeling envious, and instead thought, “That looks good,” but felt okay with downing a juice instead. But on the last day, instead of feeling great, he found himself longing for it to be Monday. I tried to convince him to start the transition early, but he stood his ground — and got through it!
We didn’t do the cleanse to lose weight, but rather to get our systems clear of a lot of the junk we’d been consuming. Since the holidays, we’d both been sluggish, so we though this would be a good way to remember what it was like to feel clear headed and alert. On that front, we were spot on! Since I wasn’t consuming that many fewer calories each day, I only lost a few pounds while juicing but surprisingly lost a few more afterward because I just didn’t need to eat very much food to feel satisfied (and still don’t). James, on the other hand, lost a whopping 14 pounds! But the other benefits were much greater, like:
- Getting unhooked from caffeine. James has a very stressful job, and at a week before the fast (when we gave up coffee), he was drinking seven cups of coffee each day. No surprise that he was waking up in the middle of the night and having a hard time going back to sleep. During the fast, he slept really well and we both woke up feeling energized. And even though I only drink a teacup of coffee each morning, I’m glad to be off of creamer (who knows how many chemicals are in there!) and to have eliminated those seven teaspoons of sugar (one for each day) from my week.
- Clearer skin. Both of us noticed a vast improvement in our complexions. James said that one of his (male) co-workers even walked by one day and said, “Hey, your skin looks great!” It’s helpful to see how much a bad diet can congest your skin by juxtaposing it to how clear your skin is on raw nutrients.
- Better mood + more energy. Before the cleanse, I’d begun to notice that by 3pm I wanted to crawl under my desk for a nap. Since I get really sick if I drink coffee in the afternoons, I’d sit in afternoon meetings feeling like I might just die. During the cleanse, both of us noticed that we could power through the day, come home and enjoy our time together more, and still not feel like we had to collapse into bed at the end of the night.
- A new perspective on eating. Realization: we don’t have to eat so much. For some time now, we’ve wondered if I have blood sugar issues because when I get hungry, it hits me like a ton of bricks and I feel like I’m on the verge of blacking out. But since starting the cleanse, it doesn’t happen any more. I get hungry but not shaky and faint. Also, now that we’re back on solid foods, everything seems to have more flavor than before, so we don’t feel the need to use so much salt, sugar, and other seasonings.
- Doing something new together. Another documentary we watched recently called This Emotional Life talked about how an important part of marital success is doing new things together. This was definitely a new journey for both of us. We were each other’s cheerleaders, we shared our new discoveries, and we divulged embarassing and weird things our bodies were doing throughout. We also survived the awful caffeine and food withdrawal periods, and if you can survive those, I think your marriage emerges stronger!
Thinking about juicing? Definitely check out Joe Cross’ incredible story of going from sickness and obesity to wellness in Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, which is free on Hulu. And feel free to comment with any questions you might have!