November 20, 2011

How I (Almost) Survived My First Juice Cleanse

First of all, let me say that I am not someone who is very focused on my overall diet, health or fitness. So, when people around my office started talking about cleanses and juice diets I wasn't very interested at first. But after the conversations continued for several weeks I started to wonder what exactly would happen if I laid off of sugar, carbs, booze, caffeine, meat and well, anything except for juice for a few days.

It turns out that my cubicle mate, Michele, had done a few juice cleanses in the past so we -- for whatever reason -- decided to put our bodies and our will to the test and cleanse it up. We signed up for a three-day "serious cleansing" from Elixir Juice in New York City, but there are a billion different varieties of cleanses out there. For a not inexpensive fee we received six different juices per day, each with their own cute name (like "mood mender") and ingredients to coordinate with whatever my body may need at the time of day I was drinking each blend.

Day one was pretty good. The whole novelty of doing a juice cleanse was exciting. I started my morning off with an "all greens" mix that tasted like a liquid salad made of mostly kale. Later in the morning I had my second juice of some fruity mixture that was basically all grapefruit. When lunchtime rolled around it was time for a blend called "skin tonic" that I swear was made with actual skin. The bottle said it was made with things like apple, celery and spinach, but I definitely think there was some skin in there. The juices were actually pretty good and I was feeling fine until 2:30pm when -- in the middle of a meeting -- I thought I was going insane. I got a throbbing headache (probably because of caffeine withdrawal) and felt super agitated and squirrely. Post-meeting I ran back to my desk for my next juice called "fatique fighter" which was mostly watermelon. It was good, but only returned me partially back to my normal self. After regaining sanity I ended my work day with a putrid concoction of beet and hatred (seriously, the worst one!) and then had one final juice before bed that actually tasted like a liquified oatmeal cookie. How convenient of the juice lords to end the day with a pleasant-tasting drink to make me forget the skin and beet torture of earlier in the day. I went to bed feeling a little bit lighter and proud of myself.

Day two was basically the same, but the novelty was gone. Starting my day with liquid kale was not exciting, and missing out on the socialization of lunch and afternoon snacks with coworkers was pretty soul-crushing. On the other hand, I had dropped four pounds from the morning of day one to day two and wasn't feeling over-hungry at all. Perhaps these juice people were on to something. I continued with the plan for the rest of the day, which was fine, but once I was at home that night and waiting for the final "cookie" juice I was starving. I basically just laid on the couch, dead inside, waiting for 8pm when I could crack that bad boy open.

The morning of day three I weighed myself and had lost another pound. My stomach was very flat and I was feeling pretty good about the results. Granted, the weight loss and sudden flat belly was due to the fact that I had no food or poops (ew!) in my body, so I wouldn't say a cleanse is a miracle way to lose weight. I've definitely gained it all back already. Despite the positive weight loss, at work I was feeling like the spawn of Satan. Mean. Irritable. I was ready to snap. So, after drinking my greens and grapefruit juices I broke the news to Michele that I had to give up and each some lunch. She understood, mostly because I think she feared for her life.

So, I only made it two and a half days into the three-day cleans, but I tried my hardest. Unfortunately by lunchtime on day three I was in need of something unvegetable and unliquified. I had a chicken and cheddar sandwich, if you were wondering. The feat in itself was still pretty amazing for someone like me who eats pretty crappy and often, so I was proud to say that I made it two and half days without any solid food and no one got murdered.

Here's what I took away from doing a juice cleanse: They are pretty OK but definitely not for everyone and I'm not sure if I'd do it again. I'm sure giving my body a break from sandwiches, pizza, coffee and processed food did it good. I saw immediate weight loss (which came right back) and I did have very even energy all throughout the day. I did not have that extra energy that some people profess, but I didn't have that 3pm dip that I normally do either. The thing that I probably was most aware of was how often I wanted to eat just so I had something to do, not out of hunger. No wonder people who work desk jobs (like me!) tend to slowly gain weight. I sit on my tush all day and was grabbing a snack here and there, often just to kill time.

Is a juice cleanse for you? Who knows. I'm in no place to tell you to do it. But if you want to test out your self control and maybe clean out your tract for a few days then perhaps you'll give it a try.