Juiced Up (Adventures in Cleansing)

Hello! Welcome to the first day of my juice cleanse. So far, so good!* I’m planning on doing three, possibly four days, depending on how I feel. And I thought I would blog about how it’s going along the way.

*It’s been about 7 hours…

I’ve wanted to try a juice cleanse for a while. I’ve done a couple of raw or semi-raw food detoxes in the past year, as you know if you read this thing regularly, but this time I wanted to step it up. I’ve said I want to amp up my efforts starting now, because it’s been a year and it’s time. First step of amping up? Juice cleanse.

The specifics of a juice cleanse are simple enough. Six bottles of juice a day, equal to roughly 96 ounces total. I am adding in an extra bottle of “spicy lemonade” which is like a lazier version of Master Cleanse (lazy because it is agave nectar instead of hardcore black tar pure maple syrup and more water).

When I decided I wanted to go this route, I was planning on ordering my cleanse. Juicing establishments often have cleansing programs. We have one local one in Indy, or there are several in LA or New York who will ship overnight to you. The national ones are crazy expensive, though, presumably because they are using LA or New York pricing. The local one was cheaper, so I decided to go with that, but when I went to place my order I was informed that they were booked for the next 8 days and I should have scheduled earlier. Something they could have mentioned on their website, which I read three times.

So, I was annoyed. I put a fair amount of effort into planning the cleanse, limiting my nutritional and caloric intakes for the week and limiting my number of work assignments for the weekend. But I was telling my mom about this problem and being the angel on earth she is, she suggested she buy me a juicer! I have been really missing my roommate’s juicer since I moved out a few months ago, so that was like the best solution I could think of.

After doing a little research on different juicers, I ended up with the Omega Vert 330. It juices at a low-speed, which is important because the high-speed ones heat up the juice and cook away some important nutrients. So far, it’s been pretty great.

The Omega Vert 330 Juicer! (Yes, I am blogging Instagrams. #noshame)
The Omega Vert 330 Juicer! (Yes, I am blogging Instagrams. #noshame)

But then the problem was the actual juice. The bottled programs have certain schedules to follow, and then often you pick the specific juices based on the category. For instance, you start with a green juice of your choosing, then mid-morning have a citrus. So that’s fine, I had some guidance there, but I still didn’t know specific recipes. I was on an hours long Internet scavenger hunt, looking for the perfect combo of juices, and if possible, recipes to go with them.

In the end, I found a few basic ingredient lists (e.g. Apple, Lemon & Ginger), a few actual recipes, and a couple that I made up myself (or already had in my repertoire). I spent quite a while mapping out which juices I would drink which days and in what order. Some of the standard ingredients were going to be duplicated (or quadruplicated) on any given day, but I didn’t want, like, three pineapple juices on day 1 and none the rest of the time. I also wanted to make sure if there was a juice I was really dreading that the one after it would be extra delish. That was another thing, I needed to make sure that I wasn’t cheating by using juices that sounded really tasty but weren’t necessarily as effective as others would have been.

Granted, I’m only halfway through the first day, so have had three out of eighteen juices, but I think I did a good job. I am starting out every day with the same super green juice (kale, spinach, romaine, parsley, celery, apple, lemon & ginger) but the second green juice of the day can be a little more innovative. In an hour or so I’m going to drink “Mojito Juice,” which came mostly from the link above.

The process has been really great so far. Aside from actually purchasing the juicer, it’s significantly cheaper to do it yourself. It was going to be about $160 to do the local bottled program, which is a lot. I spent about $115 at Whole Foods, which is still a lot, but it’s less than $160. Also, the amount of produce necessary for 18 16 oz bottles of juice is pretty substantial.

-This is what $115 of organic produce looks like.
-This is what $115 of organic produce looks like.

For bottles, I poured the water out of a bunch of 16.9 oz water bottles and into bigger 1.5 liter bottles, and am using the little ones for juice. Glass is better, and if I’d been thinking ahead I would have been saving up tea bottles over time, but live and learn. The plastic ones are fine!

The other good thing about doing it myself is it’s actually kind of fun. It’s quite a bit of work but I like seeing the whole process. There’s something so soothing about seeing the process, witnessing how it goes from a big leafy green to a juice I’ll be drinking. I like the creativity.

Day 1, Juices 2-5
Day 1, Juices 2-5

I’m going to keep updating the next couple of days, tracking my progress both physically and emotionally. And I’ll post my “meal plan,” but I’ll wait for a post that isn’t already so long. (I’m wordy, I’m sorry!)

In the meantime, here are some recipes:

Super Green Juice

  • 1 Bunch Kale
  • 1 Cup Spinach
  • 8 Leaves Romaine
  • 3 Stalks Celery
  • 1/4 Cup Parsley
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 2 Apples
  • 1 Inch Ginger

Grapefruit-Ginger Juice

  • 2 Red Grapefruits
  • 2 Lemons
  • 1 Apple
  • 1 Inch Ginger

Spicy Lemonade

  • 15 Ounces Filtered Water
  • 2 Lemons
  • 1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Agave Nectar

Spicy Lemonade

-Please don’t be mad if these do not taste good. Sadly deliciousness is not a requirement for juice cleanse. I think they are all tolerable though, particularly the first two.

Happy juicing!
-lj

An apple a day…

Like I said in my last post, I decided to get back into hardcore-mode with a new detox. Sadly, it was not as good as the detox I did last spring, even though they were both from Whole Living. This one allowed for lean animal proteins, so it only eliminated sugar, gluten and dairy (plus alcohol and processed foods). I don’t know if it was the recipes I was making or the inclusion of meat but I just didn’t feel the same intense effects as I did last time. I think it was a combination of things, including the fact that I was in a much healthier starting place than I was the first time. The detox was still successful in its main goal, though, which was really to give my mental state a reboot so I could get back into my old health-conscious routine.

The other good thing about this “detox” was that it did open me up to some new recipes, some from the Internet and some of my own. My favorite detox-friendly recipe was Apple Spice Quinoa. A few weeks ago I tried this Coconut Breakfast Quinoa I found on Pinterest, and it was fantastic. Since then, I’ve been coming up with new ways to make sweet, fruity quinoa, and I think this newest one was my most successful to date.

In my experience, apples are the best food to eat while detoxing. They are filling, and there’s something about them that gives my body a really clean feeling. Plus they are delicious, which is something that cannot be said of everything on the detox diet, so it’s a plus. Thus, the other afternoon I got home from my latest in what seems like an infinite number of trips to home organization stores, getting ready to start the work day, and I realized I had pretty much burnt out on kale and smoothies. I wanted something more than just an apple though, and I was out of almond butter. So I looked in all the cupboards and the quinoa inspired me.

This is 1.5 large gala apples.

Quinoa has a nutty, earthy, robust sort of flavor, which I thought would go well with apples, since they both have an autumnal kind of vibe. I added some other ingredients that are crazy-healthy and detox-friendly, and was so pleased with the result.

Apple Spiced Quinoa

Serves 3-4

  • 1 cup dry Quinoa (washed)
  • 2 Apples, sliced (any kind will do, I like Galas because they are a little sweet)
  • 1 1/4 cup Light Coconut Milk (I use 365 Organic. The would work with any kind of milk, though like almond or skim)
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons Shaved Almonds
  • 1 tablespoon Chia Seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Clove
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon Honey (OR you could use brown sugar)

In a medium saucepan mix together quinoa, apples, milk, water and spices (& salt). Bring to a rapid boil. Stir again, add in honey and almonds, stir again. Cover. Lower heat to medium-low and let simmer 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, add chia seeds, stir until seeds seem evenly mixed in and re-cover. Continue simmering another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot. It’s done when the liquid is mostly evaporated, but the quinoa is a little gooey.  When it looks done, remove from heat and let sit a couple of minutes to settle and cool.

Serve with apple slices. You can also add a little more sweetener (I added a teaspoon of honey), and/or more coconut milk (or whatever kind of milk) to make it more like a cereal.

FYI if you are really detoxing I am not positive that honey is detox-friendly (it probably isn’t). But by the end of my 4 days I wasn’t being too strict because I didn’t feel like my body was really getting a good cleanse, but the challenge had gotten me back into healthy mode anyway. I am trying to listen to the advice that moderation is key! I don’t want to get burnt out (again?).

Apple Spice Quinoa

I am feeling pretty good about being back on the heathy, clean living bandwagon. I definitely have more energy today than I did a week ago before I got started. This non-detoxifying detox was actually really helpful, because it served as a great reminder that what is really most important in this process is that I do what’s best for my body. I can’t starve myself, or completely and universally eliminate things I enjoy, or I will never be able to maintain the changes long term. Even though I don’t think the week’s meal plan was good for cleansing specifically, I do feel pretty great after a week of eating super healthy and being conscious of everything I put in my system. So I am still going to count it as a victory!

A Healthy Social Life

I don’t know what it is about our culture, or at least my own personal life, that so much of our social interaction is based around calorie consumption. But almost every interaction I have with people revolves around eating or drinking (or both). It makes sense. People are busy, they work all day, have other obligations, eating and socializing is a way to multi-task. Plus it gives everyone something to do.

I’m a very social person. As an extravert, I get a little stir-crazy if I spend too much time by myself. At first, I was passing on invitations, laying low and just using avoidance as the best option. But that doesn’t work for me AT ALL because being alone stresses me out and stress eating is one of the reasons I am here in the first place! Thus, I find myself in restaurants searching menus for diet-friendly things to eat quite frequently. I have found thus far it is often a difficult task, but not unmanageable.

There are generally two types of meal companions: those who help you cheat and those you help you stay on course. Generally, I think which kind of helper you are dining with depends on what that person’s goals are for him or herself, and what kind of relationship he or she has with you. For instance, I have friends who don’t pay any particular attention to what they eat, and/or have zero nutritional knowledge, and those people generally say things like, “it’s just cheese, you need to get your protein in from somewhere!” or “you really need to give yourself a break once in a while.” Neither of those statements are necessarily untrue, but cheese is not the healthiest (or most efficient) protein choice and I give myself plenty of breaks, I’m not looking for an extra!

The other friends are great. “The grilled salmon looks like it would be pretty good, and I bet it’s fairly low-calorie.” Those are the helpers I like to go out with. Unfortunately, even with those friends around, there is still that pesky laminated card stock of gluttony staring up at me at any restaurant, teasing me with all the foods I want to eat instead of the pickled beet salad. Usually, though, if I’m with the helper friend, the helper will help talk me down. Or (and admittedly this is not the healthiest tactic) I will feel bad about myself for cheating when the person I’m with is really pulling for me. I don’t want to be a disappointment! Nothing like a little neuroses to keep me in check. (Isn’t that the point of this blog, anyway??)

There is a third kind of friend, and that is one that I struggle with for different reasons. That friend is the one who is also dieting, but is on a much more conventional (less strict) diet plan. For instance, last week, a friend made me dinner. I’ll start by saying it was so delicious! And much more nutritious than if we had gone out for Mexican like we used to. But this friend is trying to lose five, maybe ten pounds, if she even has a goal weight at all. And, her weight loss is basically superfluous because I’m sure she already was in a target BMI category. Although, I will never look down on someone for trying to be healthier, so her brand new interest in physical health is great! But I got to her house, and she was so excited she was making a beautiful, very healthy meal for us. Except the very healthy meal was spaghetti. And certainly if this was me six months ago, it would have been the healthiest thing I ate that week. And, I really loved it! But pasta is supposed to be off limits. So is parmesean cheese. So it’s difficult because this is a diet-friendly meal by all accounts, and it is great to have someone who is also working on changing her lifestyle, but I have to make more extreme changes. And how do you say, “thank you so much for being healthy with me but it’s not healthy enough?”

So how do we deal? I’ve started gathering techniques.

  1. I try to look for the healthiest option on the meal that isn’t just going to make me sad. For instance, I’d rather eat a salad, even if it has say, cheese and boiled egg on it, over some depressed, soggy steamed frozen vegetables (that have been marked up 500% from the bulk grocer). But I still definitely stick to as little dressing as possible! And make sure it has more nutrients than an iceberg wedge, too.
  2. I guess this should have been number one, but try to go to places that actually encourage healthy living. I live in Indianapolis, which has not historically been known for its physical fitness, but there are tons of restaurants that specifically market eating fresh, local and healthy. So, if I can pick one of those places to go, we go there.
  3. The to-go box. The to-go box has a downside, which is that there is another unhealthy meal later. But, eating half the meal on Monday night and half of it a couple of days later at least gives your body a chance to balance that small portion of restaurant food with all the green, clean superfoods you are eating in between.
  4. Plan for the meal. If you know where you are going ahead of time, and you can anticipate how much cheating will be involved, it makes it a lot easier to make up the difference. If you know you are going some place where it’s nearly impossible to eat a meal up to super-diet standards, maybe you should plan on that being a cheat meal for the week. If you think you can find something relatively healthy, maybe just have a smoothie and some mixed greens earlier in the day.
  5. DO SOMETHING ELSE!! I have started suggesting to my friends that we catch up by going for walks. Why not burn calories instead of adding on extra? Or, I don’t know why it isn’t more acceptable to just sit and visit. Growing up, my mom and her old lady relatives used to do this all the time. There didn’t need to be a precursor or a crutch like sharing a meal, we could just share each other’s company instead.

But, since I know five is not particularly realistic, I try really hard to follow advice 1-4. Try. Sometimes I institute four retroactively, and decide while I’m eating that that better be a cheat meal. It’s hard, though. I never want to be that girl that says, “oh no, thanks, I’m on a diet.” That girl is boring and uptight.

Except of course usually that girl isn’t making up for 2 decades (on and off) of eating whatever the hell she wants, and thus that girl doesn’t actually NEED to “diet” for health reasons.

Sadly, this girl does. So I am constantly learning to manage my social life in terms of healthy living.

Oops, this was a long one. xo

-lj

Dieting is Hard

Well, last week was not as successful as the previous ones have been. It wasn’t necessarily unsuccessful, I don’t think I gained weight, specifically, but I certainly didn’t make any progress either. I don’t think I ate more calories than normal, I wasn’t going crazy on my portions or snacking all day, but I also wasn’t as conscious of grains, dairy and sugar as I am supposed to be.

It all started with my bad mood and subsequent pity pizza on Monday. Well, the bad mood really never ended, and neither did the pizza. I still had six pieces left after lunch on Monday, and I felt obligated to eat it. I paid for it, after all. Thus, pizza everyday during the week. The first night, I made a really nice green smoothie for dinner, because I was so unsatisfied with eating pizza during the day. The other days, there was a noticeable decline in my ratio of vegetables to non-veggies. For instance, Friday night I used a curry that came from a jar (granted a locally produced jar but, still it’s not homemade) and even though I paired it with a huge pile of fruit and vegetables, I also paired it with mahi that had been rolled in coconut that I bought from the Fresh Market counter (delicious, but not the point!). I’m not sure what they used to make the coconut stick but I’d wager it wasn’t spinach juice. Is spinach juice even sticky? The point is, my goal was to try hard to avoid processed or complex foods. I want things basic. Vegetables, fruits, the occasional beans and nuts, less occasional fish. Essentially I want to be able to survive in the Hunger Games if I ever end up a teenager in the post-apocalyptic future.

Maybe my goal is too lofty, but I don’t think it is. First of all, it’s been working. People are commenting on my visible weight loss. Second, the fact is, it’s a goal and I want to continue to try to reach it, even if it isn’t exactly possible. Right now I think I have gotten too complacent. The first few weeks were so exciting. I was making big changes and exploring this change in lifestyle was so fun and new. But now the thrill is largely gone, and the lifestyle is less new and more monotonous. Things like taking a half hour to chop fruit for a juice in the morning, where I used to grab a sugar-filled yogurt and granola bar, are less invigorating than they were in the beginning.

Part of the problem is that I was feeling really down in the dumps this week. Without getting into it too much, I’ve been job hunting , which is a terrible process always. But at the same time, maybe that’s not really it. I’m not sure. Am I feeling low because I’m not eating as well, or am I eating worse because I’m feeling low? I’m inclined to think they feed off of each other. (Pun absolutely intended.)

Thus, a solution. I need to find a reason to stop with complacency. I need to re-rev. Maybe just writing this blog entry will do the trick. Maybe trying on some jeans that still don’t fit but fit better than they did two months ago. I have been thinking about doing another 10 day cleanse. I was planning on waiting until I hit the 60 day mark, but maybe I should do it sooner.

Or maybe I can just change my attitude. Part of the reason I’m here in the first place is that I have always used eating as a way to make myself feel better. But, isn’t that exactly what I’ve been doing by eating healthy? I’ve felt my most lively and clear-headed in years the last few weeks. Maybe I just need to hold onto that. Maybe the lifestyle change isn’t as complete as I thought it was, because stress-binging on junk food is still my default first response. But a good healthy concoction is always going to make me feel better because it is what my body needs, physically. But also, making it is an accomplishment. Pressing “order now” at nachosandpizza.com is not.

So that’s what I’ll try first. Will power and the possibility of self-satisfaction. Plus, honestly I really do still like juice.

-lj

PS: The smoothie I made Monday night was quite successful. I didn’t have a lot of groceries left, so I just threw whatever into it. Turns out my leftovers go well together!

Also, we still don’t have a blender, but we broke out the food processor. A blender would be better, because it would be smoother, but the FP worked in a pinch.

Green Tea Green Smoothie

Fair warning: This recipe makes a ton of smoothie so either be starving or share it. Or cut the recipe in half, but I hate using less than a whole avocado because they turn so quickly once opened.

Green Tea Green Smoothie

  • 1 Small Avocado
  • 1 handful Kale (maybe 1/2 cup)
  • 1 1/2 handfuls Spinach (maybe 3/4-1 cup)
  • 1 Small Gala Apple
  • 1 Navel Orange
  • Juice from 1 Lemon
  • Juice from 1/2 Lime
  • 1 1/2 inches Ginger
  • 12 Ounces Kombucha Green Tea (with 1 Packet Stevia)

I recommend blending the kale, spinach, ginger and carrots a little on their own first, then adding the fruit and tea after. Make sure the Green Tea has cooled to room temperature. Give it a little longer to blend than you normally would. Of course, if you are using a real blender instead of my basic food processor it might not be as much of an issue. The whole thing tastes pretty good. The tea goes well with the greens and ginger, and the stevia and apple really are great for sweetening it up. The avocado is a perfect substitute for yogurt to make it creamy. I will definitely make this again.

Exercise: The Other Half of This Thing

So, something I’ve noticed about the topic of the best way to lose weight: everybody has an opinion. Cut out fat, cut out sugar, cut out carbs, avoid cheese, count calories, join a program and on and on. And in my experience you can find expert evidence to support all of those ideas. The one thing most people agree on though, is that exercise is important.

But even that gets variations: walking is good enough, walking is not enough, or it is enough if you are moving fast enough. Running is better. Running isn’t really that great. Classes are more effective. Just do a 10 minute video at home–they really work! And again, I’m sure if not expert research there is at least plenty of anecdotal evidence to support them all.

This week I was all set to join a gym. Excuse me, not a gym, a health club. It’s an expense I really shouldn’t splurge on, financially speaking, but it’s something that is important enough to me I can figure it out. This place looks great. It’s the closest gym to my house, and it’s big, with plenty of equipment, classes, a nice pool and even a juice bar. If you recall, I really love my liquids.

But then, in a ridiculous and embarrassing misstep, I sprained my wrist while trying to maneuver a large suitcase. I figured the cross-trainers and ellipticals I wanted to use would not be the best thing for it, so instead I put off the gym a week and I’ve been walking.

Walking is how I’ve been exercising for several months now, but I think with my new detoxified energy, I’m moving faster so it feels like more of a workout. I’ve been walking an hour a day, and by the end, I can feel it. Even though I am excited to join a gym when my wrist is healed, exercising outdoors has a certain appeal to it. Time of year in particular, everything looks and feels beautiful.

So, I mentioned to a small group of friends that I was enjoying this, and some day wouldn’t mind learning how to run. I say learning how because it is not an intuitive movement for me. I still have post traumatic flashbacks to the required 9th grade mile run. Except my mile run looked more like desperate flailing played back in slow motion than actual running. I just have never mastered how to do it.

But before that point, I’m not sure my body could even handle running right now, which is what I told my friends who were encouraging me. For reference, one of these friends is a doctor about to start a fellowship in sports medicine, one is a marathon runner and one is a non-runner, but instead does all the fun workouts like the ballet barre and reformer Pilates.

They all encouraged me to keep up with the walking and see what happens from there. The doctor’s words were, “Walking counts!” She said it so forcefully like people don’t believe her but she knows it’s true. Then later, basically, my body will get so accustomed to being able to move free form via walking, gradually working in a one or two minute jog will feel easy. Eventually. And then I can keep evolving from there.

On the other hand, the non-runner friend said someone she knows has lost nearly 100 pounds just from walking. He has essentially given up his car altogether and walks absolutely everywhere. Any errands he needs to run, he walks. Pun intended. I’m sort of skeptical of that, because she said he didn’t even change his eating habits, but I do like the concept.

The point is that movement is important.

I’m still pretty excited to join a gym. But I found the story of the man who walks uplifting, and I like the idea of walking until one day running is just the next natural step. Pun still intended. It’s like, if you’ve ever seen at the movie the Usual Suspects, at the end a character transforms his gait and becomes an entirely different person. I don’t have any interest in organized crime and being an Eastern-European mob boss, but the idea transcends.

I’ve spent the last two or three weeks, and all of this blog, focusing just on changing my food habits. But that’s not the only habit that needs adjusting. I’m excited to see how much farther and faster I can go on foot, and to see how much more motivated I get once I’m in a gym and surrounded by equally motivated people.

So no more ignoring the exercise part of the plan.

-lj

The Glory of a Well-Balanced Meal

So, it’s still Week 2 of my cleanse. On Week 2, I’ve been allowed to add in seafood and legumes. Honestly, that’s a diet that could be sustainable long term. It has opened up a lot more possibilities, but to be honest I’ve been using a lot of Week 1 recipes still. I wish there was more information on the reasoning behind each step of the process, because I’m not sure if eating fish or legumes every day or at every meal is vital to success or if it’s just a way of easing back in to normal life.

Either way I am glad this one uses fish as the protein. I don’t eat a lot of meat. I can’t help but think of what I’m actually eating and it grosses me out. I don’t like it. For some reason fish, and to an extent chicken, don’t bother me as much–I think because they are less “meaty”–so I really only eat those, and stay away from other meats. Thus, I got lucky that this one uses fish.

I’ve been reading up on other cleanse programs some more and I found one that seemed so strange to me. It lasts one week. The first day you eat only fruits. Second day, only vegetables. Third day, BEEF AND TOMATOES. Can you imagine? How can that possibly be cleansing? Tomatoes are incredibly acidic, first of all. And beef is so high in cholesterol and saturated fats, I don’t understand how it can be useful for detoxing at all.

But I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist or a naturopath. And, I’ve digressed. I can’t say I notice a huge amount of difference in energy between Week 1 and Week 2. It could be that the thrill is sort of gone, and now it’s purely my body’s energy and not my added emotional excitement. Either way, I still feel great. And, since I’ve been visiting my parents–who eat healthy but not cleanse-healthy/crazy–it’s nice to be able to join them for dinner a little more easily. Last night, I had roasted salmon, with an avocado-orange salsa, brussel sprouts cooked in olive oil, vegetable broth and garlic, and as a “treat” a 1/4 of a cup of steamed brown rice.

Salmon with Avocado Salsa

Here is the Avocado-Orange Salsa Recipe if you are interested:

Avocado-Orange Salsa

  • 1 Avocado
  • 2 Small Navel Oranges
  • 1/4 cup diced onion (or a little less depending on taste)
  • Juice from 1 Lime
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cumin

(This recipe makes a lot of salsa, but it’s hard to cut down without wasting precious avocado!)

The whole thing was so good. I think it might be psychological, but having different elements to the meal (instead of one giant salad) made it seem so much bigger and I was really full at the end of it. (Not too full, though! Just the good kind of satisfied fullness.)

The only problem is, I am not super great at cooking. I’m good at making things like salads and smoothies, but I have no idea how to grill a piece of fish. It’s easy to be so excited while I’m visiting my mom, who has been cooking meals from scratch 5 nights a week for like 30 years. I am really determined to make these efforts last long-term, so I guess I better get some cookbooks! Or at least watch Youtube instructional videos…

I’ll figure something out!

-lj