I’m not a huge fan of New Years resolutions. Setting unwieldy goals that will be forgotten by February seems like an awful way to start the first days of the calendar. That being said, last week seemed a peachy time to do a juice cleanse, if only to scrub away the cobwebs and funk built up by a holiday season full of heavy food, sweets and cured meats.
Then it appeared in my Facebook newsfeed: a three-day cleanse featuring juice, and a plan written by the people who brought you the Food Matters documentary film. They advertised a free set of recipes and plans for the three days, although the acquisition of which was confusing and I ended up buying the e-book version. This plan seemed better than others I’ve tried before (and failed — my brain freaks out without carbs); it included real food in the form of salads for lunch and a vegetable soup for dinner, with juices and teas in-between.
Here are some things I learned in the process:
1. Some cleanse is better than none at all.
I cheated. Big time.
I actually behaved and followed the plan most of the time. I drank my large glass of water first thing every morning. I actually enjoyed my alkaline veggie juice for breakfast each day (kale, celery, cucumber, parsley and lime), although I cheated a bit and added an apple a couple of times. The large salads at lunch were filling and delicious, even when the avocados I purchased for said salads were found to be too green to even cut open. And the veggie soup for dinner was awesome!
It was those few hours before bed on day two that my body went crazy.
After all day feeding my body a virtual IV drip of awesome, I fell headlong into a bag of marshmallows. Same on day three, followed by some cornbread (hey, it’s the last day, I’m done, right?) and a handful of candy corn. That carb/sugar addiction is some serious shiz.
With my cheats, I fully expected to not get a lot of benefit from the whole experience. Guilt-tripper health nuts will chastise you and say, “you might as well not have done the cleanse at all.” But, despite all my shortcomings, I am sitting here on day four awake and clear-headed when I’m usually shuffling back to bed for a nap. I lost some weight and I feel…well…clean. Proof enough for me.
2. Any step in the right direction is a good step.
Corollary: Your brain, not your stomach, is your biggest challenge.
I could have decided I was going to lose 20 pounds by spring, mapping out an elaborate diet and exercise plan. Nothing wrong with that. Except I won’t do it. I did a tiny, three-day baby step, and I didn’t even complete it properly. But I did something.
I got enough benefit to take a few more little steps, not even as drastic as those I did for three days, but still, something. Cut down on sugar (it tastes kinda gross now, anyway). Keep juicing, at least a few times a week. Cut way back on meat and eat more fresh vegetables.
As my brain was screaming for nighttime carbs, I became more aware of the brain-stomach connection. My hunger wasn’t from my stomach, it was from a chemical reaction in my brain…literally an addiction. Even when I failed to control it, I took a tiny step to recognize it for what it is. And if you ever watched G.I. Joe, you know that knowing is half the battle.
3. Juicing is pretty awesome.
If you’ve never tried it, I can highly recommend it.
Don’t freak out when you see juicing evangelists like Joe Cross (of Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, a great documentary you should totally watch) going all-juice for 30 days or more at a time. Just try one glass, mostly veggies. I like Joe’s Mean Green recipe. Then go from there.
To rehash an earlier phrase, it’s like an IV of nutrients going right into your body, immediately ready for use. I was coming from a pretty rough place last week, with fatigue and brain fog. Before I was even done with the first glass, I could feel stuff happening, like an energy surge. You know, like you hope that third cup of coffee will do but doesn’t. Oh…and other things.
Ahem. Juicing will make you go.to.the.bathroom. With a quickness. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t even finish the glass first. It’s all good. Your body needs to get rid of, well, stuff. My husband joked that men would probably take pictures and share stories. It’s pretty remarkable, really.
So, as with most things in my life, I didn’t do the cleanse perfectly, but at least I did something. And that may be the biggest lesson learned of all.