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The Ups (and Downs) of My Juice Cleanse

Dieting is all the rage right now, and has been for quite some time. I’m sure you’ve heard of keto and paleo, as well as other crash-diets, superfoods, and juice cleanses. And what I’m sure you’ve also heard regarding those fad diets is a bunch of very mixed and confusing reviews about each of them, depending on who you’ve listened to and whether or not they trying to push products associated with their respective diet. The truth is that all of our bodies are different, in genetic makeup, physical structure, and years of daily habits – so even if you do find a consistently positive response to any one diet that convinces you to try it, you have to be wary that it might not even work for your body type. Another truth is that many of the above diets are not designed for long-term use in general; while they each offer their own benefits to certain people, they are frequently misused because they are commonly marketed as a quick or easy weight-loss tool.

I personally believe that it’s more important to make sure you have healthy habits and make good choices for your body every day before you throw yourself into any well-known regiment or diet plan. My logic is simple: if you can’t keep up with your own healthy habits and choices, how are you going to stick to and maintain a plan that somebody else coined or sold to you? So if you’re here for a quick weight-loss story, you’re in the wrong place. If you came for a tried-and-true method or guarantee that your body will change by doing what I did, then you need to look elsewhere. But if you’re like me and struggled for a long time with terrible food decisions and feel like you have no clue how to begin improving your health, then we’re in the same boat. If you just want to start your journey by doing something that is noticeably good for you (because it makes you feel better), and somebody’s personal, honest account of what they changed and experienced is going to encourage you, then welcome, and thanks for being here. Below is my personal experience with juicing.

I’d like to make note of a few things for starters, the first being that the juice cleanse recipes I’ll provide here are ones that my parents came up with “on their own” (before everything and its mother was on the internet), and fed to me regularly for a time when I was younger. So please realize that even though I wasn’t keeping track of my weight, cravings and costs back then, I have done this before and I’m thankful that I did! The fact that my dad picked up a juicer and got into buying bulk produce to use in it meant that when I hit a period of struggle with my health in adulthood, I already had a familiar and comfortable avenue to turn down in terms of making better decisions for my body, which honestly made it a lot easier to commit to the change of habit.

It’s also important to note that my regular diet outside of this regiment (which I started up again a few weeks ago, with the intention of doing it daily for at least two months) is complete garbage. I am trying to be honest and straightforward about myself here – a typical day for me is a cup of coffee and creamer for breakfast, possibly lunch comprising of a bagel and cream cheese, lots of sugary and fatty snacks, and a big, heavy dinner that is either a bunch of frozen products or fast food. I struggle to eat fruit and vegetables unless they are made readily available to me (as in, my boyfriend is cooking veggies for himself and is kind enough to serve me up my very own plate), and I have to regularly defend myself from intense sugar, salt and fat cravings. I drink not nearly enough water, and often a little too much wine. Anybody reading this who is even mildly health conscious can see where this is headed – after a few years of having to feed myself and doing so in this manner, my garbage diet was starting to make me feel like garbage. (I was also partially raised on fast food and junk food too, but I’m an adult now, and at some point I realized that if I want to feel better, I need to take responsibility for my own actions.)

So when I hadn’t consciously changed any habits in a while and consistently began to wake up tired and feel exhausted all day, I knew then I had some work to do. When I started to develop dehydration headaches at work from not reaching for my water bottle enough out of habit, I became a little nervous about just how much work I had to do. And even when feeling like this for several days at a time I would still convince myself to hit the drive through on the way home from work, and would later get really upset at my decisions and feel like I was being borderline neglectful to my own body. The guilt from those decisions alone was enough to overwhelm me, not to mention the anxiety I bore over my health and the way I was feeling, which would then only kickstart more emotion-based cravings for the same junk that caused these feelings in the first place. But eventually I threw up my hands and decided that feeling like garbage about my garbage lifestyle wasn’t enough to fix it – I was ready to take out the trash and start afresh. And in order to do that, I knew I needed to convince myself that making good choices would not only be much more effective for my health, it would actually be very easy as well.

I texted my mom the following morning so she could remind me of the recipes we would make when I was younger, and also to inconspicuously ask if she still had the old juicer laying around. Because it had been over ten years since the last time that juicer was used, she naturally had no idea where it might be. So with a sigh, I begrudgingly made note of the recipes we had used and went shopping. Neither of us could remember the kind or brand of juicer we owned back then, so I did some research and settled on the Jack Lalanne Power Juicer (with the color being negotiable, because cost is much more meaningful than aesthetics in my kitchen). It’s a bit pricey, with some Amazon listings currently asking around $130 for even used ones, but I was lucky enough to find a black one from Ebay for around $55, shipping not included. I counselled myself into the “impulse” buy because of the deal I felt like I was getting, and because I wanted to somehow signal to myself that I was committing to this cleanse. If you want to get into juicing or begin your own routine and have no idea where to start, I would personally recommend trying to find one of these on Ebay for $75 or less. It’s very easy to use, especially in the morning when I’m less than awake and just need sustenance, and the only painful part is the cleaning process (which is going to be true for any juicer just about every time you use it).

Armed with my juicer and my nostalgia-bearing recipes, I was ready to being. When thinking about this process a few weeks ago, I decided to replicate what my parents did when I was younger as much as possible, because I wanted to pay attention to the beneficial changes I would feel from this experience that I had not noticed as a child. So, this meant that I would make a glass of juice with breakfast with one recipe, and a glass of juice with dinner with another recipe, and then over the weekend I would duplicate either recipe to have a third glass with lunch, since I was home and able to do so. It is again important to note here that I was not planning to cut back on any food consumption – I just planned to drink these juice glasses alongside my regular meals (as garbage-like as they might be) to measure the benefits of just the added nutrients in my diet. Equally as important to note is that, sadly enough, I couldn’t begin mass-producing these concoctions and saving portions for later. Juicing these fruits and vegetables rips their essential nutrients from their natural state in the fruit, and they start to break down and become useless shortly after doing so, which is why you need to juice only when you’re ready to down the glass up to thirty minutes later. It feels like nature’s cruel irony, I know, but once I got into the swing of it, the twice-daily process wasn’t even an inconvenience.

So to start with, for breakfast, I would prepare, wash and juice an apple, orange (peeled), banana (peeled), kiwi, and a cup of strawberries without the stems. And I do say for breakfast here, since I didn’t already usually eat breakfast. There’s really not much to complain about with this recipe, since it’s all sweets – it even has kind of a tropical feel to it! With the juicer I purchased, you can just throw any whole fruit or vegetable in the top and use the compactor to push it through, and the machine does just fine like that. However, I do notice that if you want your flavors to blend better, chopping up the different fruits and mixing them together before juicing helps with that, but it also all depends on how much time you have on your hands. (Remember here that I have to clean it when I’m done in the morning too, since I plan to use it later with dinner.) Cleaning it is indeed the most painful part of this process, but if you read the manual and do it a few times a day, you do get used to it.

With this breakfast one, I did notice within a few days that having that burst of (granted, natural) sugar in the morning spurred my appetite on much earlier in the day than normal, which was a little disappointing, but ultimately a good sign that my body recognized something was different. It also helped to wake me up enough that I did not need to get to work and immediately make my coffee – that being said, the sugar burst first thing in the AM left a lot more room for an energy slump mid-morning, which is when I began relying on my cup of coffee regularly. Again, not really a good or bad thing, but interesting to witness the change all the same.

For the dinner juice, I had to go all (mostly) green, which I was not nearly as thrilled about. My process here includes tossing through two cucumbers, a large carrot (no stem), a few sticks of celery, a cup of shredded kale, and two cloves of peeled garlic (then sniffing and tasting this mixture, getting really turned off by it, and throwing in a juiced apple for taste). Although not so great going down, by the end of my first week in, I started making this glass as soon as I got home from work instead of waiting to have it with dinner because I noticed on some days I would get a small boost in energy or focus, and be able to tackle something in my apartment before dinner. I suspect that this is because this second glass is mainly all nutritious vegetables, while the first glass is entirely sugary fruits. I have had the thought to switch these recipes to get that solid energy boost in the morning and to allow my blood sugar crash from the fruity one to come at a more appropriate time when I’m getting ready for bed anyway, but so far I have not been able to convince myself to create and consume that green machine in the morning.

Overall, I do have to say that my experience with this routine is a positive one. I have not noticed any weight changes (and believe me that I have been checking in daily to be certain of this), but my mood throughout the day has generally improved and become less erratic, likely because my body has a steady boost of nutrients at key times of the day instead of just relying on my irregular snacking habits. Like I mentioned earlier, the combination of these two recipes also gives me a smooth, natural wake up as well as an energy surge when I normally would be slugging around at home, which has kind of changed my life up. Given, however, that I spent the first week of juicing with an even more intense appetite than usual, I have not been able to even think about cutting out any food and using this routine as a straight cleanse. But after my body got used to the loaded batch of vitamins and essential nutrients, my appetite levelled out around the middle of the second week, which really encouraged me to keep going. I’m now about five weeks in to my eight-week plan, and I am regularly clear-headed throughout the day and have even been able to convince myself to hit the gym a few times here and there because of the physical energy I’ve gained. I do still suffer from bouts of lethargy when I reach for too many cookies or have frozen pizza for dinner too many nights in a row, but the side effects of my juicing routine have also made me more aware of just how gross I feel when that sensation hits me.

There were two noticeable downsides to this routine, and both of them had to do with logistics rather than results. Doing this process every day, especially twice a day, with this much produce is not only time-consuming, but can also really rack up your grocery bill. I am lucky enough to live in an area with tons of farm land and lots of markets with fairly-priced produce when it is in season, but obviously all of the ingredients I use don’t grow around me and aren’t in season all at the same time. Since I do feel so great since beginning this routine, I am even considering investing in a membership card to a bulk grocery store near me, to help cut down on the costs (and time efficiency, since I seem to clear out at least one section of the produce aisle in my local store every time I’m there). As for the time I have to spend preparing these drinks, it did feel like a huge burden at first, but eventually the benefits became clear to me, and the time needed to keep providing myself those benefits didn’t seem to matter nearly as much.

So, that’s my experience so far, and I feel like I only have even further up to go in terms of the way I feel. It was a great place for me to start, because it has definitely helped me realize that making better choices for myself doesn’t necessarily have to mean balancing all of my food groups, spending all my evenings cooking or meal prepping, or grinding away at the gym when I’d rather be in front of Netflix. My experience with this process showed me that there is indeed an easy way in if you want to change something to better the way you feel, and realizing how easy this routine was to maintain just makes me want to find other hacks that contribute to the rest of my diet. It just goes to show that you don’t have to fully commit, follow somebody else’s plan, or have everything fully mapped out before you begin to make a change. It really is just as simple as trying something out and realizing what a difference it makes!

Author Bio:

Jordan is the beauty and brains behind Beautifully Alive! She loves eating healthy and trying new recipes.The self-proclaimed Zumba Queen has a passion for beauty products and loves reading new books. She’s always down for a DIY project!

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