Baking Blogger Completes Juice Cleanse, Lives to Tell the Tale

Ever wanted to try a juice cleanse, but find the whole thing so crazy and overwhelming that you just leave that madness to old hippies and Gwyneth Paltrow? Well, I'm here to show you that it can indeed be done by people who really, really like to eat. Which is to say normal people. Even though the experience is really anything other than normal, but kind of in a good way. If you like really verbose blog posts with lots of personal information, then you're in the right place! Grab a doughnut and settle in; things are about to get real, people.

January 16, 2012, 10:24 a.m. Well, here we are. Juice cleanse day numero uno. As I type this, it's nearly 10:30 in the morning and I have yet to have my first juice, not at all by choice. I'm not a happy camper right now. Nay, I am a very hungry, coffee-deficient, slightly deranged camper. The delivery window was between 8 and 10 a.m., and someone called a little while ago to say they were running late, but I'm freaking starving waiting for this stuff. Shouldn't these people be delivering juices much earlier in the morning if someone is to start the cleanse that day? Especially if one has been dutifully pre-cleansing (read: not eating a whole lot) in the days prior? And one has a three-year-old who wakes them at an ungodly hour? I had to break down and have some green tea and almonds to keep from chewing my own arm off. Definitely not the way I wanted to kick this whole thing off. Bummertown, big time. Maybe it's a ploy to make that first juice seem like the most delicious thing I've ever had in my entire life. Government conspiracy?

10:53 a.m. Juices have arrived! Crankiness quickly dissipated thanks to a very cheerful delivery guy with an adorable, outdoorsy Endless Summer kind of vibe. Even Little C had herself a little flirt as he handed over the coolers full of juice. Get it, girl! Finally getting something into my stomach helped too. First drink was a blue-algae shot that tasted like ocean-y dirt. But the first green juice is perfectly tasty, kind of like a celery-ish V8. So far, so good. I'm to drink 1 juice about every 2 hours, 6 juices in total, plus two "elixirs". I"m a little behind schedule now, but maybe being able to drink them closer together in order to get them all in before bedtime will be a good thing. Says the girl who is terrified of starving today.

3:57 p.m. Little sleepy, whole lotta hungry. Little bit of a funky feeling in my mouth that I can't get rid of. Definitely chilly, cold hands, cold nose. I'm on drink number 4 now, coconut water. I drank juices 2 and 3 while running errands with Little C.  Juice 2 was a lemonade with cayenne pepper, similar to the drink from the Master Cleanse, if you've ever heard of that one. Didn't love the ginger in that drink--it's not one of my favorite flavors. Juice 3 was another green juice, very similar to the first green juice of the day, maybe a bit heartier, if you could call it that? Between 3 and 4 I heated up some vegetable broth just to have something warm to sip. Lunch is my favorite meal of the day, so I was reeeallly missing that solid food feeling  'round about 2:30 p.m.

Around that same time, I had to get home to make several batches of marshmallows for a book promo thing, which I don't suppose could've been any farther from what one should do while on a juice cleanse. Thankfully, there was no tasting needed, since I've obsessively tested the recipes. But I wasn't dying to put a bunch of sugar in my face, anyway. The cravings are for salty, fatty things at this point. Which is to say ACTUAL FOOD, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.

I'm feeling good about staying the course so far today (although I could've tackled my kid for a bite of her noontime peanut butter sandwich). The funny thing about this late afternoon coconut water is that is tastes so intensely sweet, much more so than it normally would. It's a nice pick-me-up about this time of day, when everything was starting to feel very...vegetal. I'm a little nervous about dinnertime, and how hungry I might be during the night. I'm really looking forward to the almond drink, which seems like it should be very filling, relatively speaking.

7:54 p.m. The past couple hours went by a lot faster than the rest of the day, thanks to the husband coming home from work and handling dinner for himself and Little C. I sort of avoided the kitchen and dining room, sipping juice number 5 and trying not to think about food. Juice 5 is a beet and carrot "blood builder" that probably wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for that dang ginger popping up again. I just can't dig it. But I did feel great after finishing that juice, probably due to getting a little jolt of sugar into my system. I feel fabulous, energetic, even. I just finished the the almond drink, which, as suspected, was satisfying and almost luxurious to drink, like a thicker almond milk with a hint of vanilla. Why can't they all be almond drink? Anyway, I also just downed 4 ounces of an aloe drink that tasted pretty much like straight lemon juice, and am ready to hunker down for the night. Hoping I don't sleepeat my way through a box of crackers in the middle of the night.

January 17, 2012, 8:13 a.m. Feeling pretty spectacular this morning, I must say. I succumbed to several sips of black coffee upon waking, but followed it up with hot water after it quickly cracked me out. I had quite the night last night--very deep sleep, lots of crazy, vivid dreams that a therapist would have loved to pick apart. Perhaps this cleanse also sweeps out the innermost corners of your memory? Some were super realistic and very emotional, others, like the one where I was best friends with Kristen Stewart and she was marrying Rob Pattinson, and I had erroneously committed to standing up in the wedding AND making tres leches cake for 100 people on the same day were downright bizarre. Upon trying to separate all the eggs for the sponge cake, I couldn't find a single one that didn't have some kind of disgusting matter inside, and was cracking eggs for an hour straight, while the clock ticked away. Justin Timberlake and Rick Bayless were observing. I told you--BIZARRE.

Because I just couldn't stay away, I weighed myself this morning, and am 1.5 pounds lighter. I'm sure it's water weight, but still, if the scale hadn't moved or had, God forbid, had gone UP, I'd probably have my face in a plate of peanut butter toast right about now. It's the little things that keep us moving forward, yes?Just took my blue-green algae/ocean dirt shot and am working on my first green juice. Little C is in school all day today, so I think that might make things a little easier, which is to say that I won't have to talk to someone all day while preparing a constant stream of meals and snacks that I can't eat. Kids and their SNACKS, I'm telling you! Constantly with the snacks! Which is making me realize that I put bits of her snacks in my face more often than I thought. Hhrmm.

I'm starting with the juices about two hours earlier than I did yesterday, so we'll see how it goes now that I've gotten something into my system much earlier than I did yesterday.

January 18, 2012, 8:29 a.m. So in case you're wondering why I only journaled once yesterday, it's because I sort of spiraled into a black hole of hunger and boredom yesterday. Not an easy day by any means. Around 11:30 in the morning I buckled and heated up a cup of a low-sodium vegan soup that was basically a puree of broccoli and a few other vegetables. Not sure if this derailed the whole thing or whatever, but it was, literally, a moan-inducing experience. The warmth, the flavor, a viscosity thicker than juice--it was grand, and kept my hunger at bay for about an hour or so.

I'm noticing a pattern: that the morning hours are a breeze, the first green juice totally satisfies me and makes me feel terrific. A couple hours later is when the magic is undone--from about 11:30 until 4:30, things get a little iffy, like hungry demon growing horns iffy (um, so I guess that's most of the day). It's not that I crave a specific food or a bunch of sugar or anything, it's more like a vague craving for something solid and I can't stop thinking about food in a general sense. It makes me feel like a food-obsessed whackadoodle. But I will say this--I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror in the late afternoon and had to take a second look--did my skin look almost luminous, my entire face just a tad younger? Hmmm.

The rest of the day went much better after that, except for a bracing chill throughout my body that I still can't get rid of. Per the suggestion of my extremely virtuous and knowledgeable younger sister who cleanses a few times a year, I ate a few slices of avocado with a bit of sea salt around 3:00 p.m. which felt wonderful and foreign. Around that same time, I started to feel very different--a film on my teeth and mouth, an achiness in my bones, a feeling like I honestly am detoxing? Something's happening in there, that's for sure. I spent the evening under two huge blankets while sipping my almond drink (aka The Nectar of Life), mumbling to the husband that "there were eggs in there" if he wanted dinner. I went to bed early and slept really, really deeply, probably more so than I have in months. I don't even remember if I dreamed or not. That's too bad, because I was really hoping to continue that conversation with Justin Timberlake from the night before.

Anyway, this morning is Day 3 and I'm almost finished with my first juice. There is a feeling of being close to the finish line, knowing that I can shop today for what I'll eat tomorrow to break the cleanse. If this isn't what supreme hope feels like, people, than I don't know what is. Yesterday was definitely harder than Day 1. There was a point in the day when I actually pouted out loud when I realized that I had one more day to go. But I woke up today feeling leaner, and for lack of a better word, cleaner. Another pound lost, by the way. Although I'm sure the Juice Cleanse Police would cite me for weighing myself everyday because a cleanse isn't supposed to be about weight loss, it's supposed to be about cleansing and detoxifying the mind and body, blah, blah, blah--just tell me my pants will fit better after all this madness, okay? I can't see what's going on in my bowels and bloodstream, but I know pants.

I do have to note that despite the evil hungries, I haven't felt cranky or moody like I thought I might throughout the cleanse. I've had a mild headache here and there, but overall, my mental state has been really positive. I haven't had much of a desire to exercise as I normally would, but have tried to stay as active as possible, resting when necessary. Every day I've given myself a serious exfoliation in the shower (as per my cleanse instructions) and taken some time to meditate a little about why I'm doing this. This entire time, I have kept in mind that I'm doing something good for myself in the long run, that my body really needed this bit of shock in order to reset. When I think about breaking the cleanse, it's about really great, clean, whole foods. Despite the fact that I got my issue of Bon Appetit in the mail yesterday and cover reads The Best Fried Chicken Ever!, accompanied by a photo of a single, plump, golden, crisp-skinned drumstickARE YOU KIDDING ME, UNIVERSE?

January 20, 2012, 10:19 a.m. So here we are, two days post-cleanse. To quickly recap, the rest of Day 3 got a little dicey in the afternoon, I really wanted to give up early. But I didn't--I put up, shut up, drank my juices and went to bed early, knowing I could eat in the morning. The first day of slowly breaking the cleanse was odd--I really didn't feel much like eating at all. But I started the day with blueberries blended with almond milk, and good Lord if that didn't taste like Haagen-Dazs. So sweet, so vibrant. Amazing.

Throughout the rest of the day, I had some green salad with avocado and lemon, some almonds and dried apricots, a cup of pureed vegetable soup. For dinner, I headed out for a dinner date with friends, and got Mardi Gras-level wasted on two glasses of wine. I had a small salad and several bites of fish for dinner and it was glorious, but by the time I got home, I felt like I'd been hit by a truck, terrible. Too much too soon, for sure. This morning, I started with a green juice and an apple with some peanut butter, and am feeling good. I'm planning on sticking with clean, vegan fare for the rest of the day to balance out that mess from last night.

Overall, I gotta say--the whole experience was really something. It was definitely uncomfortable, sometimes empowering, sometimes miserable, but you know what? That's what I signed up for. I wanted a real shake-up, something to make me look at food and my daily routine, differently, and well, that totally happened. Before, things had snowballed into too much rich food, too much sugar, too much snacking, too much wine. And even though I mentally knew that, now I physically can gauge just how overboard I was in those areas, and use that knowledge to make some longer-lasting changes. I genuinely crave more raw foods now, more of the good stuff in general, and am totally satiated by smaller amounts of these foods, without feeling the need to eat a cookie after. Bam! Goal reached. Also, I feel better in my pants (five pounds lost, thank God for tangible results), and that's really the point of life, right?

In short: Man, I'm so glad THAT's over. But man, I'm so glad I did it.  

NewsShauna Sever