“It’s never about deprivation, it’s about becoming who we were meant to be all along.”
I can’t remember where I saw this quote, but I absolutely love it. For me, instead of focusing on what I am missing out on when I make healthy changes and improvements to my life, I’ve had the most success when I focus on how my new choices will free me from what has been holding me back all this time. But don’t get me wrong, it’s tough, and as cliché as it sounds, detoxing is hard work and at times very difficult for a multitude of reasons. But try to reframe your thinking and work towards embracing it because with each symptom that we suffer, in most cases it is our bodies communicating how well this cleansing time is serving us and how much healing and room for growth that we still have. I also like to remind myself that extreme results often times require extreme changes. And with this comes time. And sometimes, lots of time. We cannot expect to undo years of suffering or a lifetime of unhealthy living and less than ideal choices with an overnight magical fix. Somewhere in my research I read that each full day of juice is like resetting our digestive systems 120 days. So, coincidentally, for the average 40 year old, this requires a juice feast somewhere around 120 days.
Today marks the 60th day of my first Juice Feast. And I’ve had so many requests for information from people who are curious about Juice Feasting (and wanting to start now!), that I decided to break my official post on the subject into two parts, the first of which will be today and hopefully provide enough information for folks who want to get started or at least want to start thinking about a Juice Feast for themselves. I will save Part II for after the completion of my cleanse at a date to be determined (remaining content to be covered is listed at the end of this post). I must say that one of the coolest parts about this journey has been watching friends become more interested in their health too whether it be juicing or just trying to eliminate meat from their diets or something else. At a minimum, I get messages several times a week from people who want to learn more. Y’all, this is the coolest thing in the world to me! I wish for suffering on this planet to end and I believe that a lot of it could if we would collectively take a hard look at our diets and lifestyles. We are what we eat and everything starts with that! My life’s mantra is to “be the change that I wish to see in the world,” and so you can see why I love to share what I learn with others. I hope this post inspires more people to maybe give juicing a shot or to consider making some healthy and positive changes in their lives however that looks for them. Sometimes what looks like is a dark or rough patch can become a beautiful turning point, and so don’t let your unhappiness with the state of your health stop you from doing something any longer!
Also, just the typical disclaimer here… I am not a doctor or nutritionist. I am also not formally trained in Juice Feasting or any sort of cleanse like this. I’m purely sharing my experiences here with you guys and some of the resources that I personally found helpful. I definitely recommend checking in with your own health professionals before, during and after doing something like this especially if you have any special health circumstances already.
Let me start off with explaining how I found myself on a 60 day (and counting) journey of fabulous fresh juices only. Similar to my raw adventures (documented previously here and here), I had heard about Juice Feasting and couldn’t stop thinking about it! When I suffered an injury after my 50 mile ultra in mid-February, I figured the stars were aligning for me to finally embark on my dream juice cleanse. For once I wouldn’t be burning 500-1,000 calories (or more!) per day running and I could easily afford to drink only juice while resting and healing. Little did I know that I was about to go through one of the most memorable, exciting, and pivotal experiences of my life. So far I have also released around 27 pounds.
Let’s talk about why juice. In the past I’ve done another very powerful cleanse (read here) several times and I loved it. The Quantum Wellness Cleanse was so powerful in fact, that it is what led me to veganism over four years ago. But my first solid food vacation has definitely taken things to a new level. Many of us are all clogged up, both emotionally and physically. With Juice Feasting, we can work to clean out our bodies and as the body physically eliminates, the mind will find clarity as well. The basic idea is as follows: by removing solid food (fiber) from our diets temporarily, the body can redirect the energy it that it would have spent on digestion. Instead, it can focus on cleansing and rebuilding. Additionally, once cleaned out, the body can better absorb nutrients moving forward when solid food is reintroduced into the diet. Water fasting has many of the same cleansing properties, however is not recommended for most of the population because it can be so tough on the body that we have to take a vacation from life, which most of us simply cannot afford.
Before I lose too many readers because this is going to be a mega-long post, I want to share all of the things that I gained from my Juice Feast that you need to know!
- LESS SLEEP NEEDED – I found that I needed much less sleep than normal. I’m not exactly sure why, but my guess is that this was because my sleep was more restful than normal because 1) I never once consumed alcohol during my Juice Feast, and also 2) my body didn’t have to spend any of its energy during the night digesting anything like it normally does.
- GLOWING, SOFT SKIN – My skin became incredibly soft and also has a beautiful glow. I personally began to notice that change towards the end of the first 30 days. I have received many compliments during my Juice Feast from strangers and friends alike who have also noticed. I attribute the soft skin to my ritual of daily dry brushing which I will discuss further on in the post. With the softness comes the glow from fresh, healthy skin.
- FLATTER STOMACH
- LIGHT AND LEAN FEELING
- DIMINISHED BLOATING (and none after a few weeks!)
- WEIGHT LOSS! (Bloat, adema, fat, not lean body mass if done correctly) – like I said earlier, so far I have released about 27 pounds during my 60 day (and counting) Juice Feast. During the first thirty days I lost 19.8 lb which is right in line with the average of 20 lb lost for females (males lose on average 30 lb the first 30 days).
- GREAT ENERGY LEVELS – I have felt fabulous my entire Juice Feast and more specifically, have a great energy level 99% of the time. I know that this isn’t the case for everyone, especially those who are coming off of caffeine or other addictions or stimulants. However, once clean, I do believe that pretty much everyone who Juice Feasts for an extended amount of time, has good energy levels.
- CLEAR HEADED – There is something about the Juice Feast that can provide a mental clarity for many of us Feasters. For me, I seemed more organized than normal which with three small children, is gladly welcomed!
- INCREASED FLEXIBILITY – As a fairly avid yogi for some time now, I consider myself to be reasonably flexible – at least more so than that average non-yogi. However, I have always had limitations that despite how much I stretched or worked, I couldn’t push past. Then randomly I noticed one day that I could get into the tiniest little ball that I’ve gotten into in my entire life! One day, while in Balasana, or child’s pose, I felt my hips actually rest on my heels! I know it sounds small, but there has always been a small gap of space there unless the teacher was assisting me by manually pressing my hips onto my heels for me. From there I started noticing other small differences throughout my yoga practice just like this!
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “I could never go XX days without food.” Or, “I have this or that event or trip coming up.” Or “I’m just too busy.” The list of reasons goes on and on. But we have to realize that there will never be a perfectly ideal time to Juice Feast – or diet/give up alcohol/meat/etc for that matter. We can always find a myriad of excuses. I will tell you that even though I was injured and not running and the timing was “good” for me, that didn’t mean that my schedule was in perfect alignment with a Juice Feast either. Here’s a list of some of the things I successfully did so far while on my Juice Feast:
The San Antonio Rodeo. Camping. My son’s 3rd birthday party. San Francisco. Bars. Athletic Banquet. Charity Event. Date Nights. Corporate Presentation. Weekly Church Dinners. Crawfish Bowl. 4 Easter Egg Hunts. The Easter Bunny. Street Festival. Ice House. Carnival. Farmers’ Market. Church Picnic. Sunday School. Family Easter Picnic. The list goes on and on…
So, hopefully you’re still reading at this point, and if so, I wanted to share my list of tips for a successful Juice Feast. For me, despite the social sacrifices and huge commitment, what I’ve gained from my Feast is so awesome and more importantly, so worth it. Maybe you’ll be like me and the longer you go, the more you don’t want to stop because you see how good you can feel. And it does start to get easier (more on this in Part II). Also, if you do decide to Juice Feast, be sure to take a bunch of before photos! I never did and this is my biggest regret! You guys would be astounded by the physical changes that I’ve had. I do however, have before photos from circa 2011 that I plan to share sometime later this year in another big post that I have planned so be sure to stay tuned for that!
- RESEARCH – Don’t count 100% on me! I’m definitely not an expert having only completed one Feast. I highly recommend that you do some YouTube watching and some reading online. As far as videos go, I recommend watching John Rose’s Juice Feast playlist on YouTube. He is a self-taught food scientist and raw vegan for over 20 years who specializes in Juice Feasting. He is how I got into this and is an expert having fasted over 900 days (not all at once but in over 100 different fasts over more than a decade). Pretty much everything I learned about this came from him. His Juice Feast Playlist has 28 videos. Pick some of the bigger ones to listen to like his seminar. I also liked this one which was an interview with an MD who astounded himself by correcting numerous of his own health issues in a 21 day Feast. As far as reading goes, check out the website http://www.juicefeasting.com. They have a good motivational video too by the founder who was a student of John Rose. Sign up and you can receive some free information from them. I believe that you can pay to get even more info, but I felt that what I got for free was still really helpful. I am extremely curious what the full course entails, but I was too cheap to pay for it right now. Let me know what you think if you check it out!
- THE JUICE – You’ll most likely need a juicer. I was given one for Christmas so that’s what I use (Breville). Besides being extremely economical as far as juicers go, I do like mine because it is extremely fast and with my crazy busy life, I’ll take time savings any way I can get them (apparently some machines take a long time to make the juice). That said, I don’t know that my Breville has a great yield especially for greens (i.e. I think there are better ones). It also does spit out a fair amount of pulp in the juice depending on the fruit/vegetable. Remember, the key to juicing is that by removing fiber from our diets, we allow our bodies to not expend any energy on digesting and can put that energy to better use such as rebuilding and rehydrating and healing and cleansing. Thus, I strain all of my juice through a nut milk bag. This quickly and easily removes the remaining pulp that my juicer missed. Here’s a good video to show how fast and easy it is. John Rose does discuss juicers in depth in some of his videos so be sure to keep an ear out for that if you are on the market to purchase one. There are a lot of pros and cons for various machines and he will cover that. If you don’t have or juicer but are dying to get started, or you just want to buy all of your juice, you can do that too. Both ways are more pricy than most of us would like, but I felt that it was well worth it. I will say that I found a local shop around day 40ish that had a great deal for 18 bottles (i.e. two days’ worth) for $85 or $76 after you recycled your bottles. This works out to be $4/half quart which depending on your grocer and/or the season, might be worth your while, especially in time savings (it takes me up to 90 min per day to prepare my juice if I make it all myself). My point is that you should do some research locally and see what produce vs store juice is available to you. Even if you don’t buy the juice from the store, you can at least get blend ideas from their menu. Regardless, let’s spend a minute to discuss the difference between store-bought and home-made juice. The main difference is probably how long it lasts. When making juice at home, it is recommended to consume the juice immediately as the juice begins to oxidize (just like cut fruit turns brown). For many of us, this isn’t ideal because we aren’t just kickin’ it at home waiting around to make juice five times a day. But there are things we can do to help combat this. First of all, when you do make your juice, fill up your containers to the very tippy top. This way, when you put the lid on, you will have slight spillage and you know that there will be NO AIR in them. This is probably the most simple way to do this, but some people choose to buy the containers that have vacuum pumps to remove air (could be something like this). Additionally, unless I’m in a dire situation where I absolutely will not have time to make juice and for whatever reason cannot buy it, I only make one day’s worth of juice at a time. Homemade juice do not last as long as store bought juice. From my research, it appears that the industrial cold presses do a better job maintaining the integrity of the cells in the fruits and vegetables during the juicing process and therefore have a shelf life of a few days which our homemade ones do not. When I say the homemade ones do not have more than a day’s shelf life, that’s not to say that they will rot or go bad in a few days, but just that they will lose the quality of their nutrition (at least this is my understanding).
- EQUIPMENT – Besides the juicer and nut milk bags listed above in #2, there are some other things that can make life easier. A) Bottles or containers (like these; I like glass best), B) Small cooler with ice packs (necessary for bringing juice on the go), and C) Eat Cleaner Fruit & Vegetable Spray (optional, but nice to wash off any impurities since we are focused on total cleansing).
- IT’S NOT ALL ROSES – Scott will kill me if I go into too much detail here like I did in my last ultra post. That said, feel free to contact me and we can chat if you want to hear more, haha! But, you should expect to have a stomach rollercoaster at times (especially in the beginning) and eliminate a lot of old waste. They say the average human has 5-30 lbs of undigested crap (literally) in our systems in the form of 10 – 15 meals. Juicing helps get this out. It will blow your mind what comes out of you. Today is day 60 and I woke up and had a large solid movement. People! I haven’t had solid food in SIXTY DAYS!!!!!!!! Yet, it’s still coming out of me! This is actually one way to know when you are clean. Apparently you will stop eliminating solids. Like I said, I have yet to get there.
- GIVE YOUR BODY A HELPING HAND – From your reading, you’ll learn about ways that you can assist your body in its detoxification and cleansing process. You can incorporate these activities as you choose of course, but as you’ll read, things that can help speed up the process and are worth looking into are dry brushing, water enemas, saunas, massage, light or gentle exercise (key words being “light” or “gentle,” i.e. I would not recommend training for a big race while solely juice), hot/cold showers, etc. I’ve also only been using an unrefined fair trade virgin coconut oil all over my body (including my face!) and have been loving the results.
- WATER – During my Feast I begin every morning with one quart (32oz) of water. I squeeze lemon in mine and it’s literally the FIRST thing I do when I get out of bed (unless I’m practicing yoga first thing which in that case I do it immediately after yoga). This is a habit that I plan to continue post Juice Feast. I’ve never been a coffee drinker, but I’m now a morning lemon water drinker! I also drank 25-75oz of water throughout the day during my Feast, although I don’t really think I have to with the 1 – 1.5 gallons of juice that I consume daily.
- JUICE REQUIREMENTS – You’ll probably read this too, but apparently we need one “head” of celery per day somehow in our juices. We also need 2 lb of greens. This is a LOT of greens. This should help us to get the calories and nutrients that we require. Fruit is supposedly more detoxing than vegetables (which in turn are better for rebuilding), so you can use this knowledge to guide your Feast depending on what you feel you need at any particular time. Do you need to put your foot on the breaks a little bit and slow things down? Well, it might be time to load up on the veggie juices. Want to accelerate things? Go heavier on the fruit. Again, the total goal is 4-6 qts per day depending on your activity level. I started out with 3 – 4 daily, but easily got up to 5 – 6 once I got used to it. It really isn’t possible to drink too much, but it is possible to drink too little. If we don’t consume enough juice, we run the risk of losing lean body mass which is obviously not ideal or desired. This happens when our carbohydrate tanks run out so we must keep them full! So how do we do that and ensure that the weight that we lose is bloat, water, fat, and old, undigested food instead? DRINK LOTS OF JUICE! I will say that many juice stores mislead people here so I want to caution you with that. For example, the most common cleanse package includes six 16oz juices per day. This is only 3 quarts! This is not nearly enough calories and you WILL be hungry. Thus, these cleanses don’t seem to last long and/or people quickly fall off the juice wagon. For me, I found my daily MINIMUM intake to be 4.5 quarts, if not more. This equates to nine 16oz bottles! Besides, who the hell wants to be hungry all the time? It sure ain’t me!!! Also, it is possible to sustain your weight on a Juice Feast. I haven’t lost any weight in over three weeks now that I’ve gotten near my ideal weight for my height.
- GROCERY SHOPPING – I find that 3-4 days of produce is all my fridge can really hold at a time so I shop often. I also utilized an extra fridge in the garage which really helped save space for the rest of the family!
- FAVORITE BLENDS – My favorite veggie juice is kind of like a spicy version of V8: celery, carrots, parsley, spinach, red bell peppers, tomatoes, and jalapeños. You just make up the combos as you go and find what you like. For fruit juices I love to do mono juices such as just straight watermelon, straight cantaloupe, or straight grapefruit. My favorite fruit blends are: pineapple/romaine and grapefruit/orange/lemon.
- SUPPLEMENTS – After day 30 I checked in with my doctor (who is fully supportive) and did a blood test. As I expected, not only were all of my numbers were not only in the acceptable ranges, they were in the excellent ranges. In fact, my B-12 which vegans are classically deficient in, was so high that my doctor told me to stop taking my vitamin – that I didn’t need it! That kinda made me nervous so I’ve been taking it every other day or so and will re-check my blood again upon completion of the cleanse. People are so concerned with my health and if I’m getting “enough protein” etc, but honestly, when you Juice Feast, you’re most likely going to be getting the MOST NUTRTITION that you have ever gotten in your entire life short of when you were nursing as a baby. When else are you eating the vitamins and minerals of 12-15 pounds of fresh produce daily?! And as far as protein goes, ask any vegan and they will happily tell you about The Protein Myth and how we don’t need but a small fraction of what the dairy/poultry/meat industries (and sadly, some doctors too) will tell us. Somehow I’ve been able to not only survive but also thrive the last four years as an endurance athlete on an extremely low protein diet and this Juice Feast is no different. Guys, fruits and vegetables have protein and iron and all of the things we need! The only “supplement” I take is one tablespoon of hemp oil for some fat and omegas. I take it like a shot. It is nasty but I can deal lol! And even this is also debatable. I’ve read both that we do need and that we don’t. So I just do it every other day in case.
- PLAN!!! – Guys, you’ve got to plan your juice consumption whether you’re making it or buying it. The fastest way to fall of the wagon is to get hungry and/or be completely without juice. As you saw from my list of events/activities/trip above, it IS possible to do all kinds of stuff while juicing. But yes, it takes planning and preparation. Make your juice a top priority during your Feast.
Coming “soon” upon the completion of my first Juice Feast will be Part II which will include the following topics:
- HOW TO BREAK THE FAST – I’ll spend some time discussing how to break the fast, how it went for me, and what I ate. One thing’s for sure: it won’t be with pizza! 😉
- NOW WHAT? – How to you ensure that you don’t end up in the same boat again.
- MORE FAQ’s – I’ve been keeping track of your questions thus far and many of them should have been answered in Part I. For those that weren’t, I will be sure to include them in Part II. In the meantime, if you think of anything else that you would like included in Part II, please contact me with your questions to ensure they are included in the segment!
- OTHER – Additional notes, final thoughts, and observations
For those of you getting started, I wish you the best of luck and am very excited for you because as John Rose says, you’re in for a real treat! You can always contact me with questions or find John Rose online. He does list his phone number on several of his Juice Feasting videos on YouTube in the description.
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