Monday, May 12, 2014

The Story of My Journey To a Healthier Me, Part 1

I guess the best place to begin is at the beginning.  A few weeks ago my sister Amy and her husband John watched a documentary called Hungry For Change on Netflix.  They were so inspired by it that they did an instant overhaul of the way they ate.  Even their kids took a second look at what they were putting into their bodies.  Soon after, they watched another documentary called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.  They convinced our parents to watch them as well, and soon both of them and my mom were all on a juice fast.  When they first told me about it I wasn't interested.  Good for them, but I could never do it.  Obviously they aren't as addicted to food as I am, I thought.  10 days of drinking their meals? They won't make it past the third day, I predicted.  But I was wrong.  They made it past the third day, all the way to the 10th, and then some.  When I heard their success stories, how good they felt, how much weight they'd lost and how not completely impossible it was, I started to think that maybe I could do it.  If they could, surely I could.  We are so similar in our physical and mental make-up.  My mom, my sisters and I have all struggled with the same dietary weaknesses, addictions, feelings of complete lack of self-control.  Reading success stories in magazines and online is one thing but to see my family actually do it is another.  I was ready to check this whole juice fast thing out. 

I don't have Netflix so I signed up for the month-long free trial just to watch the movies.  I knew watching them would make the difference.  I am one that likes to arm myself with information.  If I know the facts, I am more likely to stick to something.  I don't want to hear that I should do it, I need to know why I should do it.  And Hungry For Change answered that question for me, tenfold.  To be fair, it wasn't much of anything I didn't already know.  I've known for years that sugar is a "drug" comparable to cocaine, hence the sugar addiction.  I've known that our bodies store fat because they were designed to do so back in the caveman days when we had no food for winter.  I've known how horrible processed, manufactured foods are for our bodies.  But I needed the reminder, and it was definitely an eye-opener.  Then I moved on to Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.  (I definitely recommend watching the movies, and in the order I did.) This was a much different movie from Hungry For Change, not so much an informative documentary as a video journal of one man's (Joe Cross) quest to get healthy.  He chooses to do this by juice fasting, and he takes it to the extreme by doing it for 60 days while traveling across America.  It's fascinating and incredibly inspiring and it completely convinced me to to the 10 day juice fast.

Now, I had several things working for me when I started.  I was about a week behind my other family members who had finished their fast and transitioned into the "maintenance" part.  I had witnessed firsthand their success, and that made me know I could do it.  I give SERIOUS props to my sister and brother-in-law for doing it with no one to follow, but I guess doing it together probably helped them.  I couldn't have done it.  I don't think so, anyway.  Also, I did one really smart thing that came with an unintentional side-effect: I put it on Facebook.  I didn't do this for the purpose of holding myself accountable, but that's exactly what it did.  On Day 8 I was ready to be done but there was no way I was going to give up 2 days early with everyone cheering me on! Also, I had an incredibly supportive husband who, although he thought I was a little crazy and had zero interest in the fast himself, did everything he could to help me succeed.  Yay for supportive husbands!

And so I hit up Costco and bought a week's worth of fruits and vegetables.  (I was told this was the best deal, but now that I'm not juicing every single meal I buy smaller amounts at Winco or Walmart so the produce doesn't go bad before I can eat it.  This is recommended in Joe Cross's book.) And on Thursday, May 1st, I began my juice fast, or my "reboot" as Joe calls it.  It's not a diet.  It's a detox, a way to give your body a jump start to a healthier lifestyle.  It releases the toxins from inside you and gives your digestive system a break from having to break down all the crap you've been putting in it by giving it only raw, plant-based food in liquid form.  For 10 days (or however long you do the fast) your body is only getting the nutrients and vitamins it needs and none of the garbage.  To people like me who had only been giving my body garbage, it was a bit of a shock to my system.  Day 1 and Day 2 were pretty rough, with mild nausea, dizziness, and a pretty decent headache.  But they went away quickly and it wasn't long before I felt amazing.  My mind felt clear, I had energy during the day (unless I was overdue for a juice, then I got pretty sluggish), my desire for daily naps lessened significantly, my headaches disappeared completely, and most importantly, I felt better about myself than I ever had before.  I was finally treating my body the way it deserved and NEEDED to be treated. 

Don't get me wrong, it was never easy.  I felt hungry a lot of the time, but I got used to it.  I learned that not always feeling full isn't a bad thing.  It's okay to feel hungry.  When I began to feel too hungry (gnawing pains in my stomach, lightheaded) was when I knew it was time for a juice (I probably waited a little too long most times).  And once I drank one, I felt instantly full and satisfied and content.  For once I wasn't eating food as a hobby or obsession or addiction, for recreation or entertainment or a quick high.  I was eating purely to keep myself alive, but I wasn't starving.  I was giving my body just what it needed and nothing more.  And it got easier and easier the longer I went.  I missed food like crazy, but the anger and frustration at not getting to eat what I wanted was overwhelmingly trumped by all the positive things I was feeling, both physically and mentally.  And when I stepped on the scale on Day 10 and saw a ten pound loss, I almost thought about going longer.  Almost.

So for those of you who have asked, here are the specifics of my fast: I juiced three meals a day, and by "juiced" I mean I put raw fruits and vegetables into a juicer (this is totally different than a smoothie in a blender, the difference being the blender gives you every part of the food you put in, and I'm guessing is a bit more of a strain on your body to digest than just the juice.  Joe discusses this in his book but I haven't read much about the difference yet.) and drank just the juice that comes out.  I drank a large (roughly 25 oz) glass for every meal.  Now, Joe says to drink 4-7 a day, but you can really have as much as you want.  I could never seem to get more than 3 in.  Although they were good juices, they were still the same thing day in and day out and I like variety.  So I was happy with 3, and I wasn't starving on just 3.  My sister needed more, and that's just fine.  It's whatever works for you.  Joe recommends 80% veggies to 20% fruit.  This is where I failed, and I'm okay with that.  After making his Mean Green juice for my first few juices, I just couldn't do it anymore.  It wasn't horrible, but if I was going to get past those first few days, I needed to be enticed to make and drink the juice.  So I eliminated some of the greens and added more colorful vegetables (which he also recommends--"drink the rainbow") and fruits until the juices tasted like fruit juice to me.  I know I didn't do enough greens, but that's okay.  If I had I never would have made it 10 days.  I ended up doing this recipe more or less each day:

1 apple
1/3 cucumber
1 stalk celery
1 "coin" ginger root
1 or 2 handfuls of Power Mix (kale, spinach and chard, found at Costco)
1/2-1 orange, depending on how sweet I wanted it
1/2 lemon
1 carrot
From there the fruits I added varied, depending on what I had.  A few handfuls of blueberries, grapes, a pear, a few slices of mango, pineapple, etc.  Anything you want, that's the beauty of it.  I found one I liked and stuck with it, but there are tons of different recipes on his website.  

And that's what I had, every day, for 10 days.  That's the juice fast.  It doesn't have to be 10 days, it's whatever you want.  I did 10 because that's what my family members had done and I'm not sure where they got that number, but it was a good number.  Joe recommends anywhere from a week to 15 days, or however long you can make it if you can't do that long.

Now I am transitioning out of my juice fast and back into food, which I will talk about tomorrow, as this is already a long post.  Hope this answers the questions of those who have asked! Let me know if you have more, I am more than happy to help!

1 comment:

JenFielding said...

This is so impressive, Alicia! I love that you're doing this. I have actually had dreams about seeing you looking a lot like you did when were in high school and you've been so excited to tell me how you did it. Maybe this is the start of that story! Keep it up, I love hearing/seeing/reading about it.