Two weeks ago I juiced for five days. I survived. Please hold the applause. I'm no hero. A person can survive without water for 40 days, my 5 days of "eating" liquid meals was nothing compared to the month and 10 days that some people I know have completed. Besides, my juices were delivered fresh direct to my home.
Millions of people have been on these liquid kicks for years. It's a trending topic on Twitter these days. Even Salma Hayek launched a juice line. It's fair to say, juicing is the new black.
But juicing is of course not new. Abstaining from solid food and fasting on water is as old as dirt and it's part of almost every culture and religion around the world. People looking for a spiritual connection have always known that it takes sacrificing an essential to get to a place of essence. Jesus fasted, so did Buddha and Muhammad. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Dick Gregory and Mother Theresa fasted too! My mother and her church brothers and sisters fasted too. I am in no way trying to equate my fasting feat to theirs for I do understand that all these sage men and women mentioned beforehand have fasted for more altruistic reasons than I, but still my juicing journey was epic!
The cleanse challenged and stretched me in various ways and provided insight into me that I was and I am still digesting. Pun intended.
Here are the 10 things I learned from my juicing journey:
Eating is an emotional act:
Oprah has said it and so has Dr Oz and countless other self help gurus. Eating is a deeply emotional act. And after juicing, I totally get it. I did not realize how much I obsessed over food. And how much time I devoted to thinking about food. What to eat? When to eat? Where to eat? What I was thinking or doing while eating was never something I really thought about. I ate not just when I was hungry, but when I was bored, reading or watching TV. I ate to fill another gap that was not necessarily physical hunger. I ate without fully being present to the sacred act of nourishment. And I discovered that I ate without fully tasting and I mean tasting in the truest definition of the word. Juicing made me pay attention to food, even if it was in liquid form. I became hyper aware of how I ate and I watched how others ate (mostly mindlessly too!) And, I really began tasting and enjoying all the ingredients in the juices. Prior to juicing, it was mindless eating, an emotion-less an even disconnected act only because I was not aware. This juicing thing put me in a hyper alert state of mind about food and my body. Each individual will understand himself or herself in a different way during the cleanse, and after. But for me, it was a direct connection to my emotional state.
Also not chewing can potentially get you in a foul mood. I discovered that but during the fourth day when I took care of two 9 yr old boys who were being boys. My patience was depleted, but then I asked my little son if I was being too sensitive to the running and screaming he said, no mom. My friend is crazy hyper. (Phew!)
I am stronger than I thought I was
You can psych yourself for defeat or success depending on your mind and thought patterns. And when it came to forgoing food, I was calling defeat before I drank my first juice. But, I am stronger than saying I can't. And I did. And I am better for it. I felt / feel like a champ for completing the 5 days. Go me!
You can reset your nutritional button:
Juicing cleanses your palate. Delicious, organic and filled with green antioxidant veggies that I would never have eating prior to the juicing, (now I do and with gusto.) these juices did the job of 10 amazing cleaning ladies on me. Juicing changes your cravings because each of these juices is prepared not just to nourish but to detoxify your bod. Now, I can taste the sugar in the apple, banana, watermelon, mangoes I eat. I can savor the bitter, tanginess of spinach, kale, bokchoi and really enjoy it. It was as if my palate was wiped clean with a squeegee and my taste buds set free. They are now better able to take in what I put in my mouth. (See below for the nutritional juice information.) And I gave up coffee, something that I've been drinking since I was weaned off momma's milk.
I have a more intimate connection to my body:
Since my body was not wasting the energy on breaking down foods, especially the refined sugars, gluten, and meats that take up so much energy to digest, the liquids were readily being absorbed. All the other energy left over was now available for me. For my mind. For my body. Goodbye lethargy, hello vitality. It was an amazing feeling of lightness that I felt, especially on day four. I think I levitated!
Vegetables are really, really delicious
And they are our best friends. Your body will thank you when you give the digestive system a break and forgo meats, dairy and processed junk that is offered as food in boxes and cartons. A year ago, I would have never ever known that bit about veggies. But thanks to the palate restart, I can appreciate the fresh, clean, pure taste of nature's own. And weirdly, I now crave veggies, especially the greens. They agree with us. And we agree with them. Curiously, I can even taste the earth and sunshine in some veggies and fruits, especially the locally grown delicacies.
My energy level is record high
I am up at the crack of dawn, and that is a very new thing for me. Prior to the cleanse, I was not a morning person. During the cleanse I was up ready to seize the day. The energy continues. Rested and ready for a day's honest work after an 10 hour day I am up with the sun! And coupled with the fact that I have continued a vegetarian / gluten free diet, it's remarkable that I am so energetic and ready for the day. Meat takes 12 hours to be fully digested and processed foods, forget about it, a lifetime. All this makes us lethargic, not to mention the hormones in all the industrialized meat we eat in the US leaves our bodies not in the greatest shape. Grains, such as quinoa and amaranth and plants, if organic, are really the secret weapon for energy and vitality. And so are the green juices.
I feel smarter, clearer, more alert
See above. But again, I experienced the lightness of my being more clearly. On day four, when I walked in the streets of my neighborhood, it was as if my eyes were wiped clean with Windex and the colors were brighter and more radiant. It was a euphoria that was subdued and very intimate. I suppose this is what the mystics and holy men and women experience during their fasts. Glorious. I think I levitated!
Skin is clearer
My skin is radiant. I have a glow, like I got a facial or a peel or something. And I did get a new exfoliant that was recommended by my amazing yoga teacher Corinne Idzal to help my skin along, get it: Katefoliate. Amazing!
I lost and kept pounds off. About 10 lbs. But honestly, I don't know the exact number I never weigh myself. I'm of the school of thought that having a scale is masochism. Instead, I use my clothes to tell me where I am at, where I want to be. My jeans from a decade ago fit loose!
Our body is a waste disposal
This is the honest truth and whether juicing or not, its happening. Except when juicing its on for real. But when you are juicing you get a fuzzy, hairy tongue feeling because your toxins are coming out of everywhere, and especially, your tongue. The more guck, the better and its a great sign that your body is releasing all that no longer serves you. Make sure you have a tongue scraper handy to scrape away the sludge several times a day. Gross but great. Swear. And regarding our biggest organ, our skin, like dogs and cats, human beings shed millions of dead skin cells a day. Dry brushing from head to toe, except the sensitive areas (face, breasts) during the cleanse and several times a week there after. It is an amazing away to help your body rid itself of all the dead skin. My skin is now cashmere soft all over. (See skin above)
My heart is open
It is an awesome feeling when you nourish your body with foods that agree with it. Juicing can kick start and something remarkable happens. It's almost as if your heart expands too. And because I am happier, healthier, my brain and heart are too.
It benefits everyone, not just you
When you take care of yourself the world benefits because you are offering a better you to everyone you meet. While doing this fast, I also exercised. And still do. It is a winning combination. True union only happens when you feed the body, brain and soul right.
My cleanse was part of a a 30- Day mind, body and soul spring cleaning that I am in the midst of wrapping up and it included a month long Bikram challenge and abstention from alcohol. The program was created by two remarkable yogis, the Yoga Vaitanas.
What it involved: I drank six delicious organic six juices and smoothies every two hours for 5 days prepared by Juice Well. These liquid meals provided every nutrient I needed in a 24 hour period. I "ate" more vegetables during those five days than during an entire year. No hyperbole. I also, as suggested, gave up coffee and wine, really all alcohol. I replaced both of my loves with lots and lots of water. My friends judged me. They thought I was crazy. And the fast totally unnecessary, especially the bit about not drinking alcohol. So much of what we do in New York City when we socialize is around drinking. I was called a kill joy for not wanting to partake in imbibing ginger martinis, mango mojitos or yummers, red delicious Malbec. Why? (More on that judging for a later post.)
The challenge: This particular juice program provided no "cheating." Some programs allow for a tiny snack or espresso coffee. But it was all about the juices and me. My 9 yr. old, upon seeing the way I lusted after his pizza or rice and beans dinner or anything he ate whispered, "c'mon mom, you can eat just a tiny bit, just told tell anyone, they won't know!" When I explained that I am the one that would know and that was enough, he did not understand. Suit yourself he told me as he ate and chewed and I salivated.
The journey: The first day was amazing since the newness and excitement of the experience was keeping my mind off the cleanse. Day two I started to feel like I was going down a vortex and was questioning my sanity. I judged myself. Harshly. Yes, I did. And it was not good. Day three and four, I went to bed hungry. It dawned on me that there are millions of people around the world who would die to have some of the food that lay uneaten in my fridge and here I was forgoing the amazing delicacies in my kitchen. Vanity. Spoiled Americana. Ugh. However, my beloved pointed out sagely that I should not berate myself for being on a wellness track. This is something that I was doing for me to live a more healthy life every day. No survivor guilt was allowed. Words of wisdom. It helped tremendously too that I was part of a group of 10 who fasted together. The support, laughter and crazy feedback was a perfect antidote to the drama that was happening between my body (it was hungry) and my mind (it was hungry too!)
Mission Nutrition in liquid
CITRUS BREEZE –Ruby Red Grapefruit and Mint
WELLNESS FACT: Grapefruits are low in calories, low in sodium, high in potassium and high in fat burning enzymes and can benefit weight loss.
SWEET GREENS –Romaine Lettuce, Spinach, Kale, Cucumber, Celery, Apple, Lemon and Ginger
WELLNESS FACT: Cucumber is high in water content making it diuretic. Cucumber has a cleansing action within the body by removing accumulated pockets of old waste material and chemical toxins.
VITALITY SMOOTHIE Coconut,Cacao, Vanilla, Banana
WELLNESS FACT: Coconut is a tropical fruit that is rich in protein. The meat of the coconut is very good in destroying intestinal parasites, that we get from eating infected food. Coconut water is good for kidney and urinary bladder problems.
BASIC GREENS –Romaine Lettuce, Cucumber, Celery, Kale, Parsley
WELLNESS FACT: Raw celery cleanses the blood, dissolves sticky deposits in veins, maintains elasticity of blood vessels, facilitates removal of moderately sized kidney and gallstones, treats deafness and ear infections, and benefits the sexual system.
RUSSIAN RED – Beet, Cucumber, Carrot, Dill
WELLNESS FACT: Beet juice is best known as a blood purifier and blood builder that helps in the creation of red blood cells.
ALMOND MILK –Almond, Alkalized Filtered Water, Vanilla, Stevia, Cinnamon
Magnesium, potassium and Vitamin E to name just a few. It's delish too.