Inspired by the most unlikely of sources – Howard Stern sidekick and newswoman (and holder of my dream job) Robin Quivers – I embarked this week on a three-day-long “juice cleanse,” otherwise known as a “juice fast” or “some hippie dippie way of cleaning out your system.”
While Ms. Quivers does a handful of 21-day fasts each year, I thought this would be a sustainable enough experiment to start. I’d imagine most marathon runners began with a 5K (if not, indeed, with a single step).
I knew headed in that this silly procedure wasn’t about weight loss (but more on that later). I thought maybe the cleanse, undertaken here at the onset of winter, would provide me with some needed nutrients, give my digestive system a rest, flush out some toxins, and maybe, just maybe, make me a more energetic person, shave 10 years off my appearance, cure my anxiety, earn me half a dozen new friends, and give me a new appreciation for simple pleasures.
Perhaps this was too much to hope for. Did I mention I also had a Groupon.
For those of you out there in the mood for a good (albeit boring) story or for anyone considering doing a cleanse themselves (three days or otherwise), this was my experience. Duh duh DUH.
Sunday, 8:00 p.m.
“My last solid food until Thursday morning!” I think in a panic. I eat pasta. Bagel chips smeared with cream cheese. I have a glass of wine. I later found out I was supposed to limit processed food, dairy, and alcohol in the two days prior to the cleanse. Ooops.
Monday, 8:00 a.m.
I head to Peeled, the juice/cleanse bar in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. They hand me a box of 18 16-ounce bottles of various juice. Like the ones below, but not quite as fancy. I leave, feeling inspired. Man, is the box heavy.
Photo Courtesy of The Fallout Girl
Being a frugal city gal, I opt for the El into work versus a cab. But because I’m later than usual, there are no seats. I stand, holding this quite-heavy box. I drip with sweat. My arms begin to quake. Chivalry rolls over in its cold-ass grave. Once I mercifully reach my stop, it’s a long four-block walk into my office. At least I didn’t drop the juice and waste my 99 bucks.
Monday, 9:00 a.m.
So the cleanse is laid out like this: six drinks per day, so roughly one every two hours. In between, you are supposed to drink lots of water and green tea. Yup, that is a ton of liquid, but I’ll get to that.
First is a green drink (veggies spiked with apples). Second and third are cayenne lemonade and watermelon juice, respectively, which are both just as they sound. Fourth is more green-monster juice, then another watermelon. The sixth and final bottle is cashew milk, where you get much of the day’s sustenance and protein. It’s a creamy, fatty reward for a job well done.
First up – green drink. I take one sip and shiver. “This is not going to end well,” I say to my work neighbor Carlos. If it just tasted like the important stuff – spinach, kale, celery, cucumber – it would be far more palatable. The fact that they try to “improve” it with apple juice simply makes it taste like spinach brined in tart apple juice.
My friend Hanna advised letting the green juice come up to room temperature and then chugging it. I agree – it’s the best (if not the only) way.
Monday, 8:00 p.m.
Drinks 2-5 went off without incident and I wasn’t feeling terribly hungry. Time for this cashew milk nonsense. The first sip is a shock to my system and prompts me to shake it a little more diligently. Then it morphed into a not-exactly-delicious Egg Nog. A little creamy but definitely filling. I felt relatively sated, but I already missed chewing.
Monday, 11:30 p.m.; Tuesday, 1:30 a.m.
While this three days of juice didn’t truly cleanse me out as Dr. Sendil evilly warned, I did have to do something about the 120 ounces of liquid I’d ingested that day. I know, I know, Mom. Too much information.
Tuesday, 8:30 a.m.
I feel okay. Not starving. Man, is the green drink even more gross than I remember.
Tuesday, 11:30 a.m.
I want anything crunchy. Doritos. Pita chips. Goldfish. Carrots. Binder clips.
Tuesday, 1:30 p.m.
“Damn it, Carlos, how can canned soup smell so utterly delicious! How? Please go eat that elsewhere. No, seriously. Wonder if I should be eating these juices with a spoon to fool myself.”
Tuesday, 8:00 p.m.
Back on track. Less cranky. Less longing for snacks. Just one day to go. I start fantasizing about my Thursday-morning breakfast. Spinach, mushroom and goat cheese wrap from the healthy-ish place next door. I rarely get breakfast out – ever. But man, I’m going to deserve it.
Tuesday, 10:00 p.m
I also, however, find out that each day’s worth of the cleanse is roughly 1,400 calories, which seems like kind of a lot considering the amount of sacrifice involved. That is 4-2/3rds McDonald’s cheeseburgers, people. Three-plus Taco Bell bean burritos.
Wednesday, 8:00 a.m
I’m a little light-headed but feel strong. I can do this thing. As God is my witness, I will never (feel) hungry again!
Wednesday, 4:00 p.m
Fourth drink of the day, final green drink overall. I will not miss you.
Wednesday, 6:30 p.m
Swing by my friend Beth (#1)’s house to help with her dog. Nearly eat a Beggin Strip.
Find it increasingly hard to resist the little cup of pistachios on her counter. Convince myself that if I have a couple of pistachios, it is basically the same as cashew milk.
Nibble on a couple of pistachios. And in this world, ‘a couple’ means 17 or so. It’s really all Kermit’s fault. Damn you, Kermit.
Okay, so by my count, that was 70 hours of no chewing, no solid food, nothing but juice prepared by the fine folks at Peeled. A failure by two hours, technically speaking, although I really shouldn’t have chewed any solid food until tomorrow morning. Better cut back on my grand breakfast plans.
But here’s the deal, folks. Other than feeling a sense of accomplishment that I can actually go 70 hours without crunching on nonsense snacks, I don’t feel really anything different. No heightened energy like some people reference. No glowing skin. No spring in my step. No desire to wear my skinniest jeans (not that I even know what those are these days). I just feel … okay.
So it was all in all, I suppose from my point of view, a failed exercise. Yes, I felt better today than yesterday, but it’s all relative. It’s the Collective Soul/Creed analogy that I will get to in a later post.
Honestly, the best part was probably the workout my biceps got carrying that damn box.
Catch you on the solid-food side.