As I write this I'm sitting here staring at a bottle of mixed up fruit juice. It's the sixth one I've consumed today. And it's all I've consumed today. That's right -- I'm doing a juice cleanse.
If you know me well, I'll give you a minute to pick yourself up off the floor.
|The juicy lineup!|
So how did I come to this? Well...while we've still been having plenty of great meals and making a hobby out of food and drink, I think we've both recognized that maybe, just maybe, we ought to pay attention to our health. At least a little. It struck home when I tipped the scales at a higher-than-ever number earlier this year. I knew I needed to get better at taking care of myself. Or at least try.
So I took up exercise. Walking at first and then walking interrupted by jogging/running. Nothing too hard on the knees. Now I do a two mile walk/run five days a week. That's helped stabilize things. I also bought a new bike earlier this summer, which is both good exercise and a great way to explore DC. I even cut back on beer during the week (oh the sacrifice!). I'm losing weight -- not in gobs, but definitely trending in the right direction. Even with a little indulgence.
But a juice cleanse?
The first time I heard about a cleanse was when one of the guys who used to sail with me said that he and his then girlfriend (a model) went on a weeklong cleanse where they drank nothing but water with a little cayenne in it. Or something like that. And that sounded crazy. Or maybe something that guys who date models do when they want to keep dating the model.
Patti came across a Groupon (Or was it Living Social? Or Gilt? Rue-la-la? I never can keep them straight) offering a deal on a juice cleanse and it came in three- and five-day increments, as well as a week. Three days sounds more doable than a week! And juice sounds better than cayenne water. She tried one of the cleanses a few weeks back from an outfit out of Brooklyn, liked it, and wanted to do another. I decided it was worth a try. After all, it's only three days. If it really sucked, I'd stop.
So, armed with Groupons, we went into DC to a local juice/raw food shop in a transitional (but on the upswing) neighborhood that reminded me vaguely of a head shop -- countercultural vibe, espousal of hemp, crunchy atmosphere, etc. We left laden with three days worth of juices -- six per day, including a coconut water to start the day, and various fruit and vegetable juices for the remainder. That's all we were going to consume for three days.
The literature actually called it a "fast." A fast? What have I gotten myself into?!?! The only time I fast is when it involves an inordinately long un-catered (Communists!) meeting at the office or a trip to the doctor. And even when I go to the doctor I try for a morning appointment so I can sleep through most of my fast. But, as I keep reminding myself, it's ONLY THREE DAYS! And I strategically timed it so it would be a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and not ruin any social outings, weekend plans or ballgames.
So here's how it went down (so to speak):
I learned a very important lesson right off the bat. Don't start the first day of your juice cleanse with a hangover. The night before, since I knew it was my last solid meal for three days, I grilled a beautiful hangar steak with a side of corn on the cob and a salad. Plus of course I drank some beers while grilling and then split a bottle of awesome Foxen California Syrah with the meal. Plus another beer while doing the dishes. I went to bed...um...happy.
Until I woke up. Let's just say that was probably a mistake. Especially since when you're hung over the first thing you want is a big, solid breakfast -- *not* coconut water. But I battled through, and the cleanse is on!
So far, I've spent the day vaguely hungry. Not starving, but like a case of the perpetual munchies. I don't know that I've witnessed any "periods of clarity and energy" like the literature promised. But I'm surviving. Though passing the office sandwich stand/cafe in its full lunch rush sounds and smells -- the same place that I usually turn my nose up to in favor of the food trucks or an actual restaurant -- sent me into a Michelin Three-Star swoon! Must...be...strong.
On the plus side, it's amazing what you can do with the time and mindspace freed up by not having to think about what you're eating for your next meal. I spend most of my day planning, anticipating, chomping at the bit for my next meal. We've both been the kind of folks who sit at lunch and talk about dinner, or sit at dinner and talk about tomorrow night's dinner. But on a cleanse, you already know what it is. Juice. Already prepared. Just reach in the fridge, open it, and drink. Evenings are much more free when you don't have to cook or do dishes! The productivity! You can do other things. Like blog, for instance.
Things started off well, I didn't wake up hungry. After my walk/run I weighed in and was almost four pounds lighter than I had been the day before. Not a bad start. We'll see how the rest of the trendline reads over the next couple days.
As the day wears on, I'm still a little hungry, and my stomach gurgles a bit with all the liquid. There's a bit of monotony setting in. I don't focus on it constantly like I did yesterday. But not having a meal to look forward to until Thursday is a little depressing. The good news -- it's a very rainy day for the first time in a while. I don't have to go out in it to get lunch, or visit the café of last resort downstairs. That's good, right?
Now as things wind toward what, on a normal day, would have been dinner, I'm a little more depressed. But hey -- we're going out to run errands tonight! I think the secret is to keep busy enough that you don't have as much time to think about food. Only one more day!
I can't complain about the weight loss -- just shy of another four pounds. It'll be interesting to see how much I put back on, or whether exercise can at least keep the weight (mostly) off.
Today should be interesting, as I'm working from home all day with a fridge full of food (and BEER!) beckoning me. Since it's the last day, I think I can hold out. I was a little hungry this morning, but my exercise went well.
I will say I'm getting tired of the lineup. This cleanse has pretty much the same juices in the same order. First thing -- coconut water; then watermelon ginger; then a couple of veggie oriented juices (including a rather smelly one involving cabbage), then mostly fruit juices around "dinner." It's a little boring. I just went down to the fridge and put some beer where the large quantities of juice were. I probably won't get to pop one until tomorrow night, but I need that light at the end of the tunnel.
So what have we learned from this?
- Juicing may indeed help with weight loss. I did drop some pounds and it'll be interesting to see if I keep it off as I move back to normal eating (and drinking). But remember, this is a "cleanse" (or a fast), not a diet. So it may be a way to jump start things, but I don't think it's sustainable long term on a number of levels (for me, at least).
- I really do spend a lot of time and mind on food. One of the hardest things to deal with was the absence of having food and meals and drinks in my life. Given that I'm into food and drink enough to blog about it, this is a Big Deal. I missed having meals. And being able to determine what I eat, and thinking about it all day. A part of my daily existence was gone (for three days, at least).
- Not having food to think about frees you up for other things. As I pointed out above, when you don't spend time planning for, acquiring, preparing, eating and cleaning up from meals, you have more time. Our lives are so crowded with work and various other activities that when we come home and pull together (or order) a meal, by the time we've cleaned up it's time for bed. Without that, we were able to do other things.
- I'm really glad I picked a time to do this when I had few or no social plans. I think a happy hour, ballgame, dinner or other social occasion where I was with people who were eating and drinking while I couldn't would've broken me. The closest I came was having to sit through a catered lunch meeting on the first day (thank God it was sandwiches and not pizza or something!) and my Wednesday night sailing regatta on the third day, where I had to refuse (much to my crewmates' surprise) the traditional post-race beer.
- I'm not sure what the benefits are in terms of the "energy and clarity" the literature promised. I felt pretty good, energy-wise, and had good workouts every day during the cleanse. And I didn't get the mid-afternoon sleepies like I sometimes do when I've had a big lunch. That said, I also didn't feel faint or sick. In fact physically, except for feeling a little hungry pretty much all the time, and having some gurgly feelings in my stomach, I did okay.
All-in-all, as I sit and enjoy my first meal (a berry salad and one cup of black coffee -- trying to ease back into it) I'm glad I did it, if for nothing else just to explore what this would be like and to prove I could do it. Time will tell whether this becomes a regular part of my life, or just a one-time experiment.