Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fitness Update- Juice Cleanse

I haven’t blogged in some time- the wedding planning stage has finally moved from ‘daydreaming and securing a vendor here and there’ to ‘EVERYTHING MUST BE DONE NOOOOOWWWWWW’. The last few months were stressful on their own, and also very, very busy. I struggled to keep my head above water with planning, and really struggled with diet and exercise. Strike that- I ceased struggling with diet and exercise and simply ate- and drank- whatever the hell I wanted.

So here I am, approximately 10 weeks away from my first fitting and nowhere near my fitness goal. I realized I needed to jolt my system in order to kick start healthy eating. Also, I was feeling the effects of months of poor nutrition and limited exercise in more places than my waistline. I’d heard great things about juice cleanses and had an unredeemed groupon-style discount voucher for a local company, so last week, I went for it.

I used Jill Pettijohn’s Juice Cleanse. She is local to NYC and delivers within Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. The juices are also available for pick up in Brooklyn. Daily pickup or delivery is recommended in order to have the freshest juice possible and to mainatin variety, so I chose to pick up each day rather than pay the (pricey) delivery fee.

If you are not familiar- a juice cleanse is nutritional and meant to give the digestive system a break from breaking down solid food in order to rest, and focus on eliminating built up toxins in your body. A bonus effect is weight loss. It is sometimes referred to as a fast or confused with the Master Cleanse. The Master Cleanse is the famous ‘Beyonce Cleanse’- during the cleanse you mix water, lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper togather and subsist only on that concotion and water for days on end. Jill’s- and a similar system, the Blue Print Cleanse- is different. You consume 6 different juices daily- 2 ‘green juices’ (made of, varyingly, kale, celery, spinach, cucumber, etc), two ‘lemonades’ (consisting mainly of fruits), one ‘soup’ (carrot & ginger one night, borshte another) and an eveing nut milk (entirely vegan- the nut milk is sweet and considered your treat of the day).

So how did I fare? Well, to start, I woke up with a terrible cold and sore throat the day before I was to start the cleanse. I was worried at first; was it a good idea to juice while sick? I have horrible luck with colds- I cannot remember the last time I caught a cold and it did not turn into a sinus infection, bronchitus, etc. Then I read online that some people actually recommend the cleanse during times of illness. (Of course it is noted everywhere to check with your doctor first, in any circumstance.) So my overall results could be skewed; however, the timing worked in my favor. I am almost 100% better, and I didn’t need antibiotics. I have never recovered as quickly as I did while juicing. Freaking miraculous.

The big question is- did I cheat? Well, yes- a tiny bit. I found the hardest time to resist solids to be when I arrived home from work in the evening. My usual routine is to come home, pour a glass of wine and have a snack while contemplating dinner.  Walking in the door with just two or three remaining juices (I usually drank the second lemonade on the way home), my willpower sunk. Twice I broke down and ate something; luckily I limited it to a handful of pistachios. I also broke down and drank something, but again I tempered it- a hot toddy. Hot tea with lemon and honey and a dash of whiskey. This was during the first couple days, when I was still being pummeled by the cold and sore throat. And I never finished or even drank half of the tea & whiskey- just having it there seemed to make me feel better, and a few sips were enough to soothe my throat.

Light cardio is recommended if you feel up to it, as is sitting in a sauna- working up a sweat helps get the toxins out. Again, I was a little limited from feeling under the weather for the first 3 days, but by Friday I felt well enough to attempt the ass-kicking Strength for the Core class at my gym. I struggled through it, then decided to hop on the treadmill for half an hour. I came home knackered- a result of both not having been to the gym in far too long and overextending myself, and not giving my body enough fuel because I’d skipped some juice. The night before, I’d skipped the dinner soup entirely- it was borscht, of which I am not a fan. And I only drank about a third of the nut milk. Friday, gym day, I’d gone to the class having skipped the dinner juice again, and not finished either of the green juices.  When I got home I created a bootleg sauna by running the hot water in the bathroom and stuffing a towel under the crack in the door, draped a towel over the toilet and read a damp book for 20 minutes. Ah. An hour later I was passed out in bed.

So my last ‘cheat’- I didn’t complete the final day. I’d stupidly left two juices out on the counter all day, and they looked questionable. And I hated one of the remaining juices (the soups and green juices are rough if you are not used to drinking liquified vegetables!). As a result of over-exercising the night before, I woke up feeling like I’d gotten run over by a dump truck. I could barely move. I chugged the daily green, which perked me up a little, but I realized there was no way I was going to make it to Sunday morning on 4 juices and fumes. I juiced until the afternoon, then got a large salad. This is the recommended way to break the cleanse- raw greens. So I don’t feel too badly about it- it was my fault, not the cleannse’s, that I couldn’t get through the last couple of hours, but at least I didn’t break down and inhale a grilled cheese.


First, I feel really good! I have more energy and a better attitude towards everything. My wedding to-do list seems slightly less daunting.

One of the major things the cleanse did is reset my taste buds and eating habits. I was able to shake my compulsion to snack every time I was sitting idley, working or watching TV or going online. I also got used to eating fresh and natural. On Sunday morning I went back to the gym and bought a bottled juice drink- a blend of fruit with extra ‘boosts’ of vitamins, flax seed etc. Unfortunately, being a pre-bottled drink, it also came with a big boost of sugar, and it tasted terrible. I can assure you I didn’t have a problem with sugar before I started the cleanse. Also, the lack of solid food shrunk my stomach. I’ve been getting full much faster.

My skin isn’t generally a problem area, but I had some persistent recurring tiny bumps that popped up around the edge of my face. During the course of the cleanse, I didn’t so much as wash my face- just rinsed it during the shower and moisturized. Those bumps usually require a round- or two, or three- of exfoliating and heavy moisturizing. But this morning I realized- those bumps are gone. COMPLETELY. And I didn’t do anything to them. Crazy!

Lastly- I lost 7+ pounds. (My scale jumped back and forth between 7 and 8.5 so I’ll ere on the side of caution and say 7.) Today my suit pants feel loose all the way to the waist.

The cleanse dictates that you drink tons of water- DO THIS. It helps a lot in making you feel full, and also helps distinguish the juices as meals and snacks as opposed to just something you’re sipping.  Drink a big glass or two between every juice.

Avoid temptation- Michael was working on an episode of his latest TV series in Indiana- he flew out the morning I started the cleanse and arrived home in the wee hours of the final day. This timing worked AMAZINGLY for me. I couldn’t guarantee that I wouldn’t have strayed past a handful of pistachios if I’d come home during the roughest part of the day and found Michael working his way through some take-out.

Distractions are necessary, and so are bathrooms: doing the cleanse at work was vital- the days were so much easier than the nights because I was busy at work. I tried running errands after work, which was a terrible idea- walking the streets of Manhattan while trying to avoid food is a nightmare. There are smells wafting from every other doorstep. Street meat never smelled so good. During the cleanse I craved a salad, but I also craved virtually every food item that I passed by or saw in a commercial. I had the most bizarre craving for Taco Bell, of all things. Ew. And, everyone seemed to assume that the bathroom visits would be disgusting, but they weren’t. You’re drinking a ton of liquid, so, you know. (That’s as much as I want to say about the bathroom, but suffice it to say it is not as gross as everyone assumes.)

Ease into and out of it- I had pizza the night before I started. Stupid. Try to eat a lot of raw veggies and greens the day or two before, and do so on the day or two out.

Do the cardio! And sauna! My gym has a sauna, but my bootleg home spa worked in a pinch. (Thanks in part to living in a new building with a kick-ass water heater.) Jill Pettijohn created this cleanse during a yoga retreat- if I do this again, I would like to try a Bikram class during, but I think regular yoga would be very soothing. Or treadmill or even long walks. Don’t jump into a core class if you haven’t been in months- oy.
Now- onwards and upwards. I’m continuaing to eat better and making myself go to the gym- my goal is 4 times a week, minimally. The wedding is only 3 ½ months away!