Should You Consider a Juice Cleanse?

While having coffee with one of my best friends yesterday, I told her that I was gearing up for another juice cleanse. Her response to me was, “Whyyyyyyy?”. She makes me laugh and I love that about her. She has a great point.

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Why in the world would I want to subject my body to no solid food, no coffee, no gum, no Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookie? Only the liquid of 100% fruits and vegetables and water? For 7 whole days?

Those are great questions. Last year, I made the decision to do my first juice cleanse. It was a 10-day-long, life-changing challenge for me. I was encouraged and supported by a group of women who also took part in the cleanse. It helped that we all belonged to the same mentoring group. So the challenge was set forth and I jumped on it. There were a couple of reasons that I decided to do it.

  • Curiosity. I was curious. I had no knowledge of what juicing was and I knew nothing of its benefits.
  • Competition. It was a challenge and the participants were me, myself and I. I was looking for a way to test myself and push myself beyond any food limits I had ever set before.
  • Addiction. I was a sugar addict. I knew the best way to overcome my addiction was by going old-school and quitting it all at once.

I’m a healthy, almost-39-year-old woman who is in great physical condition. No health issues, healthy weight, exercise regularly, all is good. I still consulted with my doctor though.

I took the week prior to the cleanse to detox from caffeine, sugar and processed foods. My meals that week consisted of what I consider God foods. Whole, natural, unprocessed – the kind of things you can find on this earth out in nature, without having made their way to a factory before coming to my house. I’m a big water drinker, so this helped, too. What I had a hard time letting go of, though, was coffee. I liked a little bit of coffee with my milk and vanilla syrup, if you know what I mean.

When I think ahead to the juice cleanse that I’ll be doing again next week (with my same mentoring group, by the way), I can feel the fear, the dread, the work load of the planning and the food prep, the headaches, the hunger, the anticipation, the excitement, the rush of adrenaline, the mental clarity, the energy, the sense of accomplishment – all that I experienced last year.

So what does all of this have to do with you? Good question. Are you tired, irritable, constantly battling some kind of illness, addicted to sugar, salt or processed food? Your body is trying to tell you something. It’s trying to tell you to fill it with good quality foods so it call draw the necessary nutrients to function properly.

My hope is that you will consider following me through this juice cleanse experience, that you will be inspired to research this for yourself, and that you might consider giving this challenge a shot in the future.

When I come to the end of Day 7 this time, I will have achieved three things.

  • I will look at food in a completely different way. I will see it as fuel for my body, rather than pleasure. I will see it as nourishment and energy, rather than a means to satisfying different emotions.
  • I will have eliminated all sugar, salt and processed food cravings. This is the most important and impressive goal achieved in my book. I came out of my cleanse last year drooling over a dressing-free salad and jumping up and down when I ate from a plate of carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers and homemade hummus.
  • I will work from a clean slate. The juice cleanse is like a reset button for my body. When the only thing that was put into it for a week was straight fruits and vegetables, the introduction of solid food was mouth-watering. My body only craved the whole foods associated with the juices I had been drinking before. It’s a great big DO OVER, followed by adding in only the good stuff. (By the way, I now take my coffee with full-fat coconut milk and a bit of honey – and that I will save for another blog post.)

Now, the question always comes up as to why I don’t eat 100% clean and whole unprocessed foods always? Well, the answer is simple. I’m human. And humans celebrate with food. If I choose to eat that Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookie a couple of times a year, then that’s okay with me. My goal is to stick to clean eating a minimum of 80% of the time. I savor the other times when they come.

I plan to give quick daily updates next week while I’m in the midst of the cleanse. I’d love for you to follow along. I hope by following along, your interest is peaked and that any questions you have will be answered.

Your interest helps keep me motivated and accountable. I may not be a rookie at this juice cleanse thing, but I am just like anyone else when it comes to having to work through something difficult. I need support, encouragement, and a little bit of tough love.

Update: Day 1

Before you quit, try. Day 1 of my week-long juice cleanse ended with what I now so clearly remember from last time. Tired, foggy mind and a headache.

When Troy and I were expecting our second child, someone said to us, “It’s like God gives you a stupid-pill.” You forget all of the work and the pain that goes into that first child, only remembering all of the good – and so you do it again.

It’s just like that this time around with the juice cleanse. I have wonderful memories of how great I felt, how much it changed my taste and eliminated my cravings. What I forgot, though, was the “pain” I had to endure to get there.

My Day 1 started off with high expectations, an “I’ve totally got this” mind-set and my eyes set on the end-goal. By late afternoon, all I could think about was that lonely little piece of popped popcorn that I found underneath the kitchen table. “No one will know if I eat it,” I said to myself.

Actually, no one would know if I consumed anything other than the juices I have said I would. But I would know. And this is about me moving past a hurdle that I have set for myself. It’s like a game of golf. You’re always competing with yourself.

And as I crawled into bed last night, my words to Troy were this, “If I ever tell you I want to do this again, tell me no.” He laughed. He knows that we will push past the fatigue, the headache, the desire to lick my fingers after making the sauce for my kids’ spaghetti dinner.

And the end result is that I feel better than I have in a long time, my desire for only good healthy foods is incredibly strong, I set a really difficult personal goal and met it, and I am an overall better person.

Now, onward to Day 2…  Because before you quit, try.

Update: Day 2

I should have known that yesterday was going to be a good day, for a couple of reasons. When my alarm went off at 5:45am, the first words I heard were “She says if you work hard to get where you are, it feels good in the hot spot light. She’s a big star!” – lyrics from one of my favorite country music artists, Kenny Chesney.

Is there really a better way to wake up than hearing encouraging words? My eyes didn’t even open before I ran a million thoughts through my mind. “Day 2…I made it through Day 1!” “I slept great!” “Man, I feel pretty good for so early in the morning.” And even though Kenny didn’t write those lyrics for me, they made me immediately stop and think about something good.

My feet didn’t hit the floor thinking about all of the negativity in the world, the news, politics or tragedies that occur everyday. No. Instead, I woke up thinking about the good that would come out of this day. How productive I was going to be and what I could do to make a difference. I thought about how working hard sets me up to be the best I can be.

I remember well from last time that my Juice Cleanse: Day 2 was a pretty amazing day. I felt really, really good. I had a few of the “detox” side effects going on, including a dull headache. I also had the famous “chills”, again another detox sign. And I wondered for just a minute how I could be cold on a 65+ degree day after just coming off of the coldest winter in 30 years. But it happened, and I dealt with it.

Another really interesting feeling that I’ve rediscovered is what I call the “peppermint sensation”. You know that cool, refreshing feeling you get in your throat and chest after eating a mint? Well, I had that feeling all day. The only explanation for this is that everything going in my body is 100% good, so that good feeling is the end result.

The biggest change I noticed was an increase in energy. Wowza! I’m a really active person, and even through this cleanse I am continuing to exercise normally and function as I always do. The amount of energy that popped yesterday was what I so vividly remember from this cleanse the first time around.

Dinner was hard last night. I made one of Troy’s favorites, a pasta and sausage skillet meal. I think he actually glared at me, lovingly of course, as I served it to the kids.We both sat at the table while the kids chowed away. But you know what? The conversation was great. Our mouths weren’t full, so we talked and talked and talked.

Another bonus: Troy pointed out to me last night that there was a visible difference in my skin. Crazy, huh? His words were “Vibrant, smoother, youthful”. I’ll take that!

So, after 10 juices and a ton of water, I’m feeling like I have that “I’ve totally got this” attitude back. When you work hard to get where you are, it feels good in the hot spot light. My very own personal hot spot light. It was a day I felt like a Big Star.

Update: Day 3

Day 3 of Operation 2014 Juice Cleanse was almost a carbon copy of Day 2. I felt great! No headache, not really that hungry and still full of energy. My skin looked great, I had that “peppermint sensation” in my chest and I got to Zumba. All was right in the world.

There were two thoughts that became very clear to me on Day 3. Water and food. Now this may sound funny to you, seeing as how I’m only “drinking” the liquid of fruits and vegetables for 7 days. Naturally, food is what all of us would think about. A lot. Like every single minute.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned over the course of these cleanses is that water is my biggest friend. It really helps me feel full, fighting off what I consider to be “hunger” pains. In reality, they are “water” pains disguised as hunger. I have been drinking water both with and in between all of my 5 daily juices.

I discussed in my original post above that I am and always have been a big water drinker. I like my coffee and an occasional glass of tea, but I can do without soda.  Doing without a lot of water, on the other hand…no way. On average, I drink anywhere from 85-100 ounces of water a day. Obviously, this makes for multiple bathroom trips – which is normal…for me.

Since juicing began, the stock in Angel Soft toilet paper has gone up. I thought I had a decent-sized bladder, never waking at night to go. But honestly, how many trips to the bathroom can a girl make already? I have to laugh at this one. It’s really not a problem at all. It’s just more of a minor inconvenience.

A friend wrote this to me earlier this week: “I gotta ask, are you staying HOME during this ‘cleanse’?” I answered her with, “I am not. Fully functioning, running errands, exercising and all. I’m picking up what you’re dropping down, though.” She was under the impression that this was a colon cleanse. That made me laugh. It’s a bladder cleanse before it’s a colon cleanse, for sure!

So in between my many “potty” breaks, I have reflected a lot on the solid food that I eat. This leads me to my other Day 3 thought.

For the most part, I am not a sentimental person. But yesterday, I felt a bit nostalgic. We’re approaching the one-year anniversary of my grandfather’s death. In fact, it’s a little over a week away.  He was 101 years old when he died, and he lived a grand life! He grew up on a farm in Tennessee. The food that he ate was from what was slaughtered or grown out back. He didn’t know the words “genetically modified” or “organic”.  What a different way of life he had.

So many of our foods are modified to withstand pests and extreme weather conditions that we are no longer eating the same type of food that was originally put on this earth. The wheat that my grandfather ate 100 years ago is nowhere close to the wheat that we find in our breads and pastas today.

I’ve had some time to look into this and I would encourage you to do so too – if you haven’t already. Come to your own conclusions. Decide if what you are putting in your body is the right kind of nutrition to make you function at full capacity.

Water and food. Those two thoughts were on the forefront of my mind on Day 3.  And pottying. As the day wrapped, I crossed another one off my list and prepped for Day 4, wondering what the day would hold and where my mind would take me then.

Update: Day 4

There’s a place called the Halfway Cafe just outside of Boston. It’s been around since 1964. The owner’s goal is to exceed its customers’ expectations while staying true to what the cafe is all about. It looks like an interesting little place. When we visit our friends in the Boston area in the future, I’d like to stop by and check out this little cafe.

You might be wondering what in the world this has to do with Day 4: Operation 2014 Juice Cleanse. So, I’ll elaborate. I was Google searching yesterday on various topics and eventually was led down the rabbit hole of the internet. It can be a time suck, most times, but yesterday I came across a picture of the Halfway Cafe.

This picture instantly became significant to me because it had the words “halfway” and “food” in it. How fitting for a girl at the halfway point of her 7 day juice cleanse.

Halfway means that I had endured the climb up to the top of the hill, stood at the summit checking out the beautiful view, and was ready to descend back down. Like riding a bike when you were a kid, the most fun part comes as you coast down the hill, streamers flying, on that big banana seat and the wind blowing through your hair.

There’s something enlightening about getting to that halfway point. I knew that the hardest part was behind me. Sure, I was still going to have some struggles. For example, I almost caved yesterday evening before my last juice of the day.  I. WAS. HUNGRY. I was tired of drinking juice and water. I wanted to chew. My kids’ dinner looked WAY too good. All I wanted was to eat that banana that was sitting on the counter. I resisted.

It may seem trivial…a banana? Really? It’s still a whole food, yes? Well, you’re right. But to me, it would mean that I had not followed through with what I said I was going to do. Following through is very important to me…in all areas of my life, not just this cleanse. If I had come through almost 4 complete days only to cave…well, that was just not acceptable in my book.

I drank my dinner of cauliflower and green apple. Surprisingly, it was good, though I was gagging at the thought of drinking cauliflower. I was quite surprised actually, and thanked the Lord above after my first sip when I realized that the green apple trumped the cauliflower.

And so these are the days of our lives during a juice cleanse. Looking back over the last 4 days has made me realize that my body will perform to the expectation. It’s my mind that takes the work. I have to keep telling my mind that I am strong and I can do this and I will do this.

That view from the top of the mountain is way too exciting to give in now.

Update: Day 5

Day 5. It’s not Day 1 or 2. It’s not Day 6 or 7. It’s just stuck somewhere in the middle. It’s just “ordinary”.

Juicing, by now, has become a routine. It’s not filled with all the excitement and anticipation that the days leading up to and the first few days held. There’s sort of a ritual now to my day, in addition to the other things normally on my task list.

My day starts off by juicing my first two juices. My lunchtime and afternoon “snack” juices are made at the same time just before lunch. Dinner juice is made after the kids have eaten dinner. When I first saw the recipes for this cleanse, I thought this would be a breeze. How much time can it take to juice grapefruit, spinach, carrots, celery, oranges, strawberries? Not much, I thought. But the truth of the matter is that this, just like any other healthy meal, takes planning, preparation and time.

I spend about 45 minutes each day prepping and individually bagging the ingredients for the next day’s juices. This makes my life so much easier. I have some friends who are currently juice cleansing with me and who prep three days of juices in advance. Really it comes down to what works best for you.

The preparation starts with pulling out all of the produce that the recipes call for, followed by cleaning it all.  I use a vinegar/water (1:4 ratio) solution to clean most of my produce. I also buy organic fruit and vegetables as much as possible. Organic produce is not treated with all of the chemicals and pesticides. If I’m only wanting to put good things in my body, I definitely want to stay away from chemicals and pesticides.

After cleaning, I peel, cut and place the produce into individual gallon-sized baggies labeled “Day 5: Breakfast, Day 5: am snack, etc.”. And into the fridge they go, ready for the next day.

I’m not going to lie. It is a lot of work. But here’s my take on it. I’d rather put time and effort into choosing, prepping and eating whole, healthy foods than end up on 10 different prescription medications when I’m older. I consider this work that I am doing as  “preventative”. I am working toward being as healthy as I can be and preventing illness and disease.

As far as physical symptoms go, I am still doing very well. My mood has been pretty phenomenal this week. I know Troy and my kids see it. I feel pretty darn awesome. The only thing still nagging at me is that I “want” to eat. I’m fully satisfied during and after drinking the juices, even though they all seem to be running together now. But my body knows exactly when it’s time for another. Every three hours, I can feel it.

Day 5. It was an “ordinary” day like a lot of others. But sometimes in “ordinary” we find the things that make our minds stronger, our bodies stronger…and better.

Update: Day 6

As I sit down to write so early this morning, it’s hard to focus on my Day 6 update or anything else for that matter. Why? Because it’s Day 7. Right now, it’s Day 7! I made it to the final day. I can see the finish line ahead of me. It’s one day and 5 juices away. And I’m feeling out-of-this-world awesome.

The Day 7 update will come tomorrow, so for now, I focus on the events and feelings of Day 6. They are now behind me and I can reflect on them for a brief moment.

Cravings were the name of the game for Day 6. All that I could think about was eating. What I wanted more than anything was a big spinach salad, loaded with tomatoes, red onion, strawberries, almonds. I didn’t even care about the dressing. I just wanted to chew and savor. My tastes had changed. The juices were now too sweet. I knew my mission, my hard work was paying off. Boy, did that feel great!

Saturdays typically start off with sleeping in a bit later than my normal 5:45am wake-up call, followed by errand-running, taking care of things around our house, being with the kids, and possibly eating out for dinner.

This day held a lot of the same, minus the eating out. It started off with a building cleaning/work day at our church, followed by a trip to two of my favorite stores – Georgetown Market and Costco. I think I could spend days in each of these places.

I must admit, though, that Costco on a Saturday – during a juice cleanse – should be illegal. There were massive amounts of people to worm around to find the things on my list. Then, there was the food. Yes, food. As in food samples – by the millions. Food samples were being handed out lovingly and generously by these little older ladies. They were tempting to me to try their chocolate-covered almonds, trail mixes and seasoned cod. You could go to Costco on a Saturday, stay all day and have breakfast, lunch and dinner served to you – for free. It’s better than a cruise ship.

All the while, I slurped slowly on my spinach, strawberries, cutie, pear, grapefruit juice – otherwise known as “Wake My Butt Up” juice. It was one of the better juices of the week, but by no means was it a little paper cup of chocolate-covered almonds.

I spent too much time wandering through the store, stopping for what felt like hours in the fresh produce section. It made me happy. I wasn’t pulled toward the “crap” food as much as I wanted to be around the colorful, flavorful, fleshy produce. Even though I have been overloaded on these foods all week, it’s now what I craved, only in whole form.

The day carried on, and with it, my juicing. My daughter had been offered her first official babysitting job for the evening, and my son was having a gaggle of teenagers over to hang for the night. This meant that I was in for the evening, with my husband and my juice…and the new series of House of Cards. I was going to get my love language met this evening, for sure!

We did something we haven’t done for a while, especially since launching our Intentionally Refined Facebook page and our blog website here. We binge-watched the first 4 episodes of House of Cards, season 2. THAT kept my mind off of food. Wow. If you haven’t caught that Netflix Original Series, you should. It’s a must-see.

Some good friends of ours (also HOC viewers) told us to prepare for an OMG moment in the premier. When the scene came, I think I jumped, let out a noise and then looked at Troy like “OMGosh – did THAT just happen??” Yes, I was definitely not thinking about food or juice or anything else during that time.

So, my thanks for Day 6 go to my church (for keeping my body busy cleaning, while renewing my spirit), Costco (for keeping me on high alert, driving my cart through what felt like the Pamplona Running of the Bulls) and for Netflix (for giving me something other than juice to think about for the evening).

I made it through Day 6. It’s done. It was successful. And now….here I go, tackling one final day and 5 final juices before calling this Juice Cleanse a 100% success!

Update: Day 7

Can you smell that? Ahh, yes, I can. No, it’s not the wonderful aroma of the food that will be filling my kitchen in a minute, but rather the smell of sweet success. I did it. I wrapped up what I started on Day 1.

Day 7…the day it all comes down to. Day 7…the finish line is in site. I’m on the last mile of this long, but powerful marathon.

There has been more than the normal amount of reflection for me this past week. I don’t know if it was that I chose to reflect on purpose or if it was the result of actually committing to and doing this juice cleanse – or a little bit of both. I’m guessing it’s a little of both.

When you purposely change things up in your life, as opposed to just muddling through the same routine day after day, it causes you to think a little more about how it affects you and those around you. When you intentionally do things a little differently, your mind has to “think” its way through it, rather than just accept that the method is the same and mindlessly go through it. You see the world differently.

This last week was a huge change-up, all the way around. It was a change-up not only in the type of food, but the manner in which I consumed it, the prep work, the side effects (both bad and good), the way that I saw myself and the world around me.

I realized through all of the “hunger” that I experienced that I really don’t know what hunger is at all. I know what it feels like to have rumble in my stomach, but I was nourished the entire time. There are so many around this world who are not.

I realized that my body adapts, performs and changes, but my mind is the thing that takes most of the work. This experience was just as much of a mental one as it was a physical one.

I anticipated three changes over the course of this juice cleanse:

  • I will look at food in a completely different way.
  • I will have eliminated all sugar, salt and processed food cravings.
  • I will work from a clean slate.

I can honestly say that all three of these changes have successfully taken root within me.

I see food as energy now instead of just as enjoyment. Food is a fuel source. Now, this doesn’t mean that I don’t plan to enjoy my meals. I plan to savor each bite, for sure. Instead of looking to that Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookie as my source of enjoyment, I’m looking at the avocado, tomato, spinach, onion and eggs that are on tap for breakfast. It can’t come fast enough!

All sugar, salt and processed food cravings are gone. Seriously. They are GONE. This is one of the biggest reasons I chose to do this cleanse again. It literally floors me when I finish and have none of these cravings that were so incredibly strong before starting. I think it was around day 4 when I first noticed that my juices were becoming sweeter. That was the trigger. My tastes had changed. I had pushed the reset button.

Working from a clean slate is the equivalent to winning the Showcase Showdown on the Price is Right. It’s the grand prize. I put all of these good things into my body all week, and my body responded. Now, I get to work with a body that is fueled with the right foods. It’s easier to continue to choose the right types of foods now, too – especially since the cravings for the bad are gone. I’m riding on the healthy road, with the wind in my hair.

“Will you do this again?” has been a question that has come up time and time again lately. Honestly, I don’t know if I will or not. It’s a game of willpower, strength and perseverance. And it’s definitely not easy. I suppose if I end up in a place, lacking the quality of health that is important to me and that I desire, then yes – I’ll do it again.

Before you quit, try. When you work hard to get where you are, it feels good in the hot spot light. Stand at the summit and enjoy the view. Find strength and become better in the “ordinary” days. Become better today than you were yesterday. This was my mission in this cleanse. Mission accomplished.


What questions do you have about juicing? Will you consider changing the food that you put into your body? Will you consider a juice cleanse to reset your body? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Please share them in the comments section below.

 

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10 thoughts on “Should You Consider a Juice Cleanse?

  1. I have been considering doing this. I just dont know how to get started and with my crazy schedule changing from one minute to the next is there a way to prep the juice ahead of time.

    • Yes, you can make your juices ahead, but it’s recommended to make them as close to the time that you drink them as possible. There is some degradation in the juice as it sits over time. But it’s still better than drinking any of the juices you would buy at the store. Most of those are pasteurized and lack a lot of the nutrients that you get from juicing fresh produce yourself. Yes, there is a lot of prep involved. There is a lot of planning, purchasing, washing and cutting involved. But it’s worth it, in my opinion. Let me know what other questions you have.

  2. Yes, you can make your juices ahead, but it’s recommended to make them as close to the time that you drink them as possible. There is some degradation in the juice as it sits over time. But it’s still better than drinking any of the juices you would buy at the store. Most of those are pasteurized and lack a lot of the nutrients that you get from juicing fresh produce yourself. Yes, there is a lot of prep involved. There is a lot of planning, purchasing, washing and cutting involved. But it’s worth it, in my opinion. Let me know what other questions you have.

    • Christy, yes, you can juice with a blender. It’s a bit more difficult and includes an extra step of taking the blended mixture and pushing it through a strainer to extract the juice. I have not tried this method before, but I have friends who have and have been successful. Just requires that extra step and a bit more patience. Thank you for commenting! What other questions do you have?

  3. Christy, yes, you can juice with a blender. It’s a bit more difficult and includes an extra step of taking the blended mixture and pushing it through a strainer to extract the juice. I have not tried this method before, but I have friends who have and have been successful. Just requires that extra step and a bit more patience. Thank you for commenting! What other questions do you have?

  4. I am doing the juice cleanse and have done day 2 as we are ahead in Australia. I am finding it really easy no side effects so far apart from a little belly grumble now and then and was a little light headed yesterday so I am not sure if I am doing something wrong. I have been following it to a t.
    Loving it!

    • That is great to hear, Katherine! Sounds like you are doing great! Is this your first time to do a juice cleanse? Do you normally eat clean? If so, you may not have as many side effects from it. I’m so happy to hear that you are loving it! Are you drinking at least 5 juices a day, along with plenty of water?
      Please share with us – right here – how you continue to do. Love hearing about your experience!

  5. That is great to hear, Katherine! Sounds like you are doing great! Is this your first time to do a juice cleanse? Do you normally eat clean? If so, you may not have as many side effects from it. I’m so happy to hear that you are loving it! Are you drinking at least 5 juices a day, along with plenty of water?
    Please share with us – right here – how you continue to do. Love hearing about your experience!