Back in 2006, when I was working in a career services office, I took a group of students to NYC to visit the Juicy Couture headquarters. It was such a treat to see the line of clothing that was still in production and sample some of their fancy lotions and perfumes. But Juicy was never for me — I can’t fit into any of their clothing and certainly can’t afford it.
After a busy May/June of wrapping up the spring semester of work and school then starting up my summer doctoral classes, my body was unrecognizable. I had lived off of 4 hours of sleep each night for over a month, was drinking 32 ounces of caffeine (coffee, soda, RedBull, etc) just to function, and spent 20 hours a day either commuting, sitting in class, or crouched in front of my computer writing papers.
In 1 month, I gained 15 pounds.
My face was swollen, my belly extended, and my butt — well, that was sore from all the sitting! My shoulders felt permanently rounded over from all the typing, and I actually developed some numbness down my right side from the repetition of typing.
It was bad.
To top it all off, I wasn’t walking or running. The furthest I had ever gone in a month was from my car in the parking lot to the school cafeteria where I quickly filled up my 16 ounce travel mug of coffee — my second one of the day.
While taking a break from writing over 40 pages of papers, I threw on a documentary called “Sick, Fat, and Nearly Dead” which was about a man who embarked on a juice fast for 60 days. He drank 64 ounces of freshly juiced vegetables and fruits along with 64 ounces of water. In 60 days, he lost tremendous amounts of weight, managed to reduce his dependency on medications he was taking for an autoimmune condition, and felt incredibly good.
My husband — in a show of support for my procrastinating paper writing — decided to watch this show with me.
Now, let me give you some insight into our home:
- though we KNOW how to be healthy, we don’t always practice it
- the only vegetables in our home were frozen, bagged ones
- we rarely ever opened those frozen, bagged vegetables
- I watched shows like “The Biggest Loser” while eating Oreo cookies
- “dinner” was often something from Wendy’s or something that could be heated in a single pot or pan (typically something frozen)
- essentially, it wasn’t considered a meal unless there was meat. And, I mean red meat. Chicken didn’t count. And, if it was turkey snuck into the sauce or meatballs, it usually went untouched.
So, yes, I KNOW the difference between healthy and unhealthy foods. I KNOW what a difference working out makes. I KNOW the importance of increased water and decreased caffeine.
I KNOW… I KNOW… I KNOW…
And, likely, YOU KNOW, too.
Ever since I was a pre-teen, I have been dieting. Sometimes that meant restriction. Sometimes that meant over-exercising. Sometimes that meant both. And, for over a decade, it meant a very destructive cycle of binge-purge-binge-purge depression. Then with Marathon B4 Mastectomy, it became running, running, running, running (with no weight loss at all).
After the documentary ended, Jorge decided he wanted to take the juice challenge. Not for any organic, Save the Planet, granola reasons. Rather, he wanted to see if it was really possible. Could someone really just drink juice for 3 days? 5 days? 7 days? 10 days?
He was a man on a mission.
For the next 10 days, Jorge documented his juicy journey. And, frankly, he was amazing. He woke up every morning before 6am just to start juicing more than 128 ounces for the two of us. That was a frack load of vegetables and fruit. He bottled them up for us to take to work, and we began our cleanse.
As I was writing papers still, I found that I couldn’t sustain the juice-only cleanse. So, I committed to eating 1 meal a day. But, as time went on, I noticed that my meals were getting smaller and smaller, but they were also getting healthier and healthier. I didn’t want a plate of pasta for my meal; I wanted a salad. I began to crave vegetables.
Through the cleanse, we were never hungry. We missed some foods — you know, the chocolate cupcakes in my office or the brownies brought in by a co-worker. But, I found that I really just wanted a super, ice cold glass of juice.
Ten days later, Jorge was down 15 lbs and I had dropped the 15 lbs that I put on during my summer session. Jorge completely is off caffeine, and I am down to just 1 cup a day (some days I don’t have any). What’s been awesome about the juice cleanse is that neither one of us feels like we’ve restricted ourselves from anything. It just seemed to re-program our bodies to look for nutritious foods rather than just empty calories.
Our refrigerator now? It’s packed. Packed with fresh vegetables and fresh fruits. The frozen bags of ready-made dinners have been sitting in the freezer for over 2 months now, and I have no desire to even make them. I can almost taste the salt just looking at them!
Just like those Juicy clothes, buying fresh vegetables and fruit doesn’t come cheap. And, buying organic is even more expensive. So, honestly, we did what we could. When there was a little bit of money extra in our grocery budget (because we weren’t buying chips and cookies anymore), we bought a few organic items.
When I called Jorge the other day during lunch, he told me he was out getting something to eat. Two months ago, that would mean that Jorge was at McDonalds, Wendy’s, or at some deli getting a “Thanksgiving sandwich” with the works. Now, I can predict that he’s at a salad bar or out buying some vegetables at a farmer’s market.
During the juice journey, I clearly remember a moment when Jorge was making his way up the stairs and the familiar sounds of paper bags accompanied him. For a moment, I thought that it was the sounds of paper bags with fast food inside. But, when he reached the top of the stairs, I saw that his bags were overflowing with green, leafy kale, and the weight of more than a dozen apples and carrots.
“Wow,” I smiled. “We are really different now.”
Jorge and I have been back on solid food for a few weeks now, and the weight is still off. Would we do it again? Absolutely! In fact, after having a very heavy, fried lunch with my friend from school, I found myself craving vegetables. I didn’t regret the mushroom burger with swiss cheese that I had just eating (okay, okay, and steak fries and onion rings!), but I knew that my body wanted more. It needed more. And, I was eager to go home and make a nutritious juice for dinner. The mushroom burger felt more like a special occasion than the “norm.”
So, this morning, rather than make a cup of coffee (which, is quite difficult since our coffee maker is not even located on our kitchen counter anymore!), I reached into the refrigerator and searched for something to juice.
It feels good to know that my body has been re-programmed to seek things that are good, healthy, and kind. We’ve always known that a plant based nutrition lifestyle is best for your body and our planet, and this was the jump start our family needed.
At the risk of sounding like an infomercial, I highly recommend trying it if you’ve been trying to find a way to focus your health and eating on plant based nutrition. If you’re interested in trying the juice cleanse even for a few days, check out http://www.jointhereboot.com.
Peace, love, and staying juicy,