Not to make excuses but shortly after he and I met, my husband and I went away on vacation, then my basement flooded (see previous post), then we had summer company, then we were away again and... [insert next excuse here]... Finally the time was right and on Thursday of last week I started!
I will digress a bit and say that when I met with Colin in juice it was a great experience. He interviewed me and took me through my health history, my health goals, my previous experience with cleansing and juicing, my activity levels and with all of this information he created my personalized juicing plan.
The plan was laid out with the full shopping list including the number of each produce item I would require for the three days. I had my daily "meal" plans set up for me and the recipes for each of the juices making it very easy to follow. In the past when doing juice cleanses I have picked a particular juice or juices and juiced 4-6 liters of juice to tide me over for the day. I would also drink as much as I wanted and as often as I wanted it.
Colin had my day divided into "meals". For instance I would begin my day with a hot lemon and mint water and at 8:30 was "breakfast": 2 apples, 1/2 lemon and cinnamon. My mid-morning snack was at 10, followed by "meals" at 1, 4, 5 and 7 and an optional "bedtime snack" at 9. Each juice was generally no more than 300-400mL, so just over a cup every few hours - much less than what I had been used to on previous cleanses!
What I really liked about this program was the variety. Each day featured new juices: with recipes like Pearsnipity, Minty Stinger and Fluid Flush I was juicing everything from the more common apples and carrots to beets, spinach, kale, lemons, limes, mint, pears, cabbage, broccoli and even parsnips! It was definitely more labour intensive and thankfully I was off work for the last two days of the cleanse which made it somewhat easier to juice. On the Thursday I juiced for an hour in the morning before I left in order to ensure I had my 10, 1 and 4 juices with me (time included the clean up) at the office. Not ideal as it is preferred to drink them fresh for the highest enzyme content.
Friday and Saturday being at home it was a little more manageable as I was able to juice fresh for each "meal" and getting to space out the juicing and clean-up made it feel a little less cumbersome then it did that first hour on Thursday morning. That being said it did feel like I was pretty much constantly making juice those days! Fortunately I love the opportunity to challenge myself to spend a little more time on another aspect of my health that often takes a backburner. For me that is definitely having a variety in my nutrition for the day and taking the time to make different meals. I generally am able to keep myself well fed and healthy, though mundane is a word I would use to describe my daily routine of breakfast buckwheat/ flax oil and sea salt; lunch of a smoothie and some sort of healthy (usually!) supper with a variation of mixed greens/ protein/ veggies.
Juicing the variety of creative recipes that I did motivated and inspired me to keep this up now that I am done the cleanse and to include more variety in our family's meals.
OK - those are the logistics... now, how did it go??
In a word: great. I surprised myself! As much as I generally eat quite healthfully and am a fairly regular cleanser I don't have a lot of discipline when it comes to being rigorous and regimented with my diet. Because I have a strong inner sense of what is good for my body and what food and drinks allow me to feel good, I don't tend to need an external "plan" to help keep me on track. My own tendency is if I feel like ice cream, for example, I will have it. But usually only a tablespoon or two as more than that and I start to feel puffy and tired. So I give myself the taste and spare myself the yucky physical feelings/ symptoms. And so these external plans often feel restrictive and cumbersome.
However I also believe it is good for me to cultivate some discipline from time to time and follow more restrictive plans, as discipline (when combined with a spirit of gentleness rather than punishment) is essential for a healthy and balanced life.
It is interesting to me that when something comes along at just the right time how the discipline sort of takes care of itself. And this is how it was with the cleanse, it just sort of unfolded.
Day 1 on any cleanse is always the toughest for me. Especially in the evening once I am home from work and it is time to start thinking about supper. This is the time of day I find the hardest on a juice cleanse as I have to say that supper is my largest and most favorite meal. My breakfasts are eaten on my own after a little work-out; my lunches are usually a smoothie sipped on at my desk while seeing patients and so I love the rituals of suppertime. I love snacking as I prepare supper, chatting with the kids after their day, sitting down with the family when my husband gets home from work and enjoying our meal together.
On a juice cleanse it feels sort of lonely to sit there and sip my juice while everyone else digs in to their hot steaming meals. Often this is the instant I think: "oh, just a little rice won't throw this fast off too much..." and have to work with my inner discipline to ride that wave and keeping sipping my kale juice!
Day 2 was easier and plus I was busy around the house all day with home and yard clean up and visiting with friends. Distraction definitely makes the process smoother. What also made the process easier was journaling each morning, especially with longer cleanses when I have to draw deeper on my discipline and remind myself of the intentions I set forth when embarking on the process. That way if I don't have distraction to take my mind off of food I can draw on my intentions and motives for wanting to go through a fast or cleanse.
In this particular case it was: 1) to have the experience of working with Colin. I had heard nothing but positive reviews from another seasoned juicer, who drew upon his expertise when she made it to 21 days of a juice cleanse (wow!!); 2) to get myself and my habits cleaned up after a summer of: "just a spoon of ice cream", "ok, just one more glass of wine", "pass the chocolate"... that handful of chips, some fries at the Ex or whatever other dietary indiscretion was inching its way into my daily routine.; 3) to gain the clarity of mind and spirit that I find often accompanies an experience I do that pushes the limits of my comfort zone. What I mean by this last statement is that I find that when I push a limit of comfort I need to dig deep to check in with myself to see what is causing the discomfort. When I can get in touch with this and allow the insight that generally follows (for me this most often happens through journaling) I experience a new expansion of my comfort zone and a new level of personal peace.
Day 3 - the day I "fell apart".... well, not exactly but Day 3 was Saturday and the beginning of our chilly weekend. I went for an outdoor swim at Wascana Pool, something I love doing in the summer, regardless of the weather. When I got home I was quite chilly and so juicing wasn't quite satisfying my hunger as I think my body was wanting some fuel to burn in order to help warm me up. By early afternoon, despite having downed my really delicious 8:30, 10 and 1 o'clock juices my tummy was growling. Really growling. I chose to listen to my body and decided to have a couple of tablespoons of almond butter - just to take the edge off and give me a bit of fat for satiety and warmth. It definitely helped and I was on course for another few hours. I guess I could have contacted Colin to see what he would recommend, but I didn't think of it at the time. (On a side note there had been a couple of clarifications I needed from him at the onset of my program and he was great at getting back to me right away.) We spent the rest of the afternoon outside at an event where the kids kept themselves warm by bouncing in the bouncy tents while Dan and I shivered watching them. As I walked home I started to think about the comfort that food provides and I was really wishing for some nice hot steamy food when we reached home. I realized that it was not so much the food that I was craving but that cozy comfortable feeling that comes with a meal. I let myself daydream a bit on the chilly walk home about what that might be if I weren't on the juice. I also let myself feel sorry for myself that I "couldn't" have the food. I let my mind invent stories like what a bad idea the cleanse was and how silly and maybe it wasn't good for me, etc... and I recognized that these were all just "excuses" to try to get myself to give over to eating in order to cultivate that feeling of comfort. When we got home I went so far as entertaining coming off the cleanse, as really - it was only a couple of juices I would be missing and what is one meal early... besides, I told myself, I had actually sort of started on Tuesday with a couple of prep days so really, it would be fine if I stopped early. And that Indian food I'd been thinking about for the last few days would smell and taste so good!
I chose to check my intentions and re-inspired myself and pulled out the juicer for the last time to juice my 5 and 7pm juices. My stumbling block was the feeling of comfort I wanted from the food. I took a moment to become mindful of my surroundings. We had the gas fireplaces going, the kids were reading books, Dan was sitting relaxed in the living room with them as we engaged in this discussion about what we might eat. And in that moment the feeling of comfort and warmth washed over me. Without food. It washed over me with gratitude for these amazing blessings around and I no longer felt the need to seek it from nourishment.
Those last two juices tasted amazing. And I could definitely have continued for another few days.
The bottom line? Physically the juice fast (some call them "juice feasts"!) had me feeling more energized and clear headed. I felt physically strong and continued my daily activities through the process. My breathing was clear and I think my eyes looked less tired! I am lucky that given my body is fairly healthy to begin with and I have gone through the process of removing toxins before so I didn't experience any uncomfortable cleansing symptoms that are possible: like headaches, skin reactions, mood swings, digestive distress, etc. but trust me, I've been through those in the past!
My one "complaint" was how many times in the night I had to wake to pee! With all the juices and additional water and some herbal teas my bladder couldn't quite rest. Given the increased energy I felt as my body wasn't using as much energy for digestion I also had some troubles falling back asleep when I would wake to go to the bathroom. So my sleep wasn't as sound as it normally is, but I didn't feel any worse for it.
Psychologically there is always a wonderful feeling of strength and satisfaction that comes when I work through something that is challenging for me and I come out the other side of it. In this case I had that feeling in conjunction with the feeling of pride in myself for trusting that I did need to eat those few calories in that almond butter. One could argue (like my husband did!) that I "lost" the juice fast by eating. That somehow that made me "fail". However I know that it was not a mindless choice. It was something that I checked in with myself on and knew that I needed that little bit of nourishment and that eating it was the kinder of the options to my physical body. In contrast to later that afternoon, checking in again with myself when tempted to eat again, and realizing that it was my soul wanting the comfort and not my physical body and therefore choosing to find the comfort in another way.
Yesterday I was exquisitely conscious of my food choices and mostly the actual eating process. I recognized how much better it felt to sit to eat, to really chew my food, to breathe, to create intention around the meals. They felt so precious, I didn't want to take them for granted!
Going forward I plan to work some juices into my daily routine here and there. Morning breakfast juices. Juices as snacks. The more we implement little habits from cleanses after a cleanse the easier a full cleanse is to go through.
I will also continue to work on listening to the wisdom of my body and making choices in alignment with this wisdom. I will slow down when I eat and chew my food. I will pay attention to all things in my environment that bring me comfort: like this morning, the way the sun is really struggling to peek through the clouds after the constant rain of yesterday. I can feel its warmth and comfort without even being outside.
It has been shining for the last three days... it hasn't stopped shining. There have only been clouds that obscure it.
And so it is with our spirits. It is always there shining even in the face of difficulty, challenge and adversity.
I encourage you to try a juice fast! or even just challenge yourself to do something slightly out of your comfort zone and go through the discomfort required to come through the other side. You will feel your Spirit shining brighter because of it!