As some of you may know, I embarked on a (modified) juice fast inspired in part from Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. I am going to break down the results of my fast along with what the costs were, if you were curious.
The first question is always “why?” Why would I want to go on a juice fast? Thank you for asking…
I went on the fast mostly out of curiosity. Yes, I wanted to lose weight for myself and for my family but it was more than that. There are many ways to lose weight, but I was interested in the other benefits of a juice fast. Specifically the things I read and saw talked about giving your body an opportunity to clean itself out and heal itself by not being bogged down by a bunch of crap that you’ve eaten. There are also claims that juice fast can simply make you feel more alive and more alert in general, with a renewed mental sharpness. So, I’ve gained and lost weight before but I am pretty sure I have never overloaded on copious amounts of vitamins and minerals. In my mind I thought I could drop 20 lbs in the process.
The second angle, or perhaps a confirmation of the whole thing was spiritual. Our church was challenged to fast something after the first of the year, so from January 2 – January 20th I didn’t eat. About 80% of what I had was freshly made fruit+vegetable juice from a juicer that I had borrowed. I didn’t go 100% juice, so I did have a particular smoothie that I made to take for lunch at work. (I’ve read that fresh juice should be consumed within an hour or 2). This consisted of a banana, unsweetened Coconut milk, ground cocoa bean, natural peanut butter, and ice. That is an amazing combo by the way and provided quite an assist for me along the way. These ingredients were also an excuse to visit Trader Joe’s – a win-win. The occasional smoothie is why I say “modified” juice fast. Besides that I had water and green tea.
I’ll skip straight to the summary and results, then share a more detailed timeline and breakdown for those who are curious.
Cost: $100. I was fearful this would be expensive, and I could see how it can be. Depending on the fruits and vegetables you buy it could certainly be much more. I bought mostly in bulk, and used things that are relatively cheap like carrots, apples, and spinach. It worked for me!
Physical: In this 19 – 20 day stretch I lost between 20 – 22 lbs. I am happy to say that my weight is back to where it was at our wedding. Beyond the weight, I mentioned that I was also curious about the other physical benefits I would see from consuming so many nutrient rich things. For the majority of the time I felt incredible. I had way more energy than usual, felt mentally sharp, and just felt more excited about life overall. I know that sounds like an infomercial, but there were several times I told Sarah “I know this sounds funny, but I feel incredible right now. I don’t know how else to explain it, I just feel amazing.” I did mix cocaine into my morning juice on occasion, so that could have contributed to this feeling as well. (joke)
As a result, I honestly think I was a better father and a better employee during this time. It was a productive 3 weeks all the way around! I am certainly sold on juicing and more generally how much our nutrition impacts our day to day life.
Moving Ahead: I do need to return the borrowed juicer, but I do plan on buying my own and making this part of a regular routine. While some juices were nasty, there were several that I really enjoyed. Bigger picture for me is that I reminded myself of the power of determination. I told just enough key people that I was taking this on so I wouldn’t let myself quit, even though there were plenty of great built-in excuses along the way. I see this as a spring board for some other challenges in 2013, some physical and some not, using this as a reminder that I can accomplish difficult goals.
On the nutrition front, I feel like this baptism by fire helped break some bad habits. When I realize I had enough control to not eat any “chewable” food for so long, certainly I can make better decisions on a day to day basis to continue in the direction of where I want to be physically. I’d like to think I’ll look back in a couple of years and see January 2013 as a turning point in my life.
If you are interested in trying something like this yourself, here is a good FAQ from the guy who did the “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” movie. Remember, I didn’t follow this to the letter but used this as a great starting point.
Below is more of a daily/weekly detailed timeline if you are interested. Some of this is covered in the summary, but just in case you care…
Day 1. I started out on Thursday January 3rd, after borrowing a juicer from a friend. Juicers aren’t cheap and while I’d like to think I would want one for the long term, I thought I better try making at least 1 juice before deciding how realistic that was. I had been mulling this idea over for a few weeks, so I was pretty sold on the fact that it was happening. I’m not picky, so I can eat or drink just about anything. I made my first trip to Sam’s and loaded up on carrots, apples, oranges, spinach, limes, etc. and I was ready to go. Day 1 wasn’t too bad, I fumbled through a couple of juice recipes I found online and my hunger pangs were moderate.
Day 2. I promise this won’t document every single day. The second day was the toughest. It was a Friday which is when we usually go out for dinner, and I just woke up hungry. Also these juices are generally served cold, and it was January 4th – I could have used something warm. Nevertheless, I had told enough people about this that there was no way I was going to allow myself to quit. I did feel somewhat queasy at times, but I just kept drinking the water and the juice. (I later discovered that green tea was acceptable for my purposes, which was a big help)
On about day 3 or 4, I really turned the corner. I started to feel energized and just general felt better about myself. Monday was my first day back to work after a 2 week break. We all know that feeling of going back to work or school after an extended absence. I thought about calling my dentist to see if he could squeeze me in for a root canal so I could have a couple more days off. For whatever reason, this time it was really not a big deal to me. I also felt as if I was on my “A” game mentally, as I was able to get caught up with relative ease and didn’t feel stressed or overwhelmed.
By the end of the first week, hunger hadn’t ceased completely but it was certainly controllable. I think doing this fast will actually make me eat better afterward, as right now healthy food (or any food) sounds delicious. My mind keeps saying, “why don’t you quit the juice fast and only eat stuff that is really good for you?” I respond with “You know, mind, you raise a great point and I like that idea. However, I have informed too many people about this fast and if I break it now it would be rather embarrassing.”
At the outset, I pegged Hudson’s first birthday party as one of the more difficult hurdles I would have to face. Friends and family gathering for ballpark themed party with ballpark snacks and food everywhere you look. I created ballparksavvy.com for goodness sake! This wouldn’t be easy. I made an extra juice and took it with me to the party, which turned out to be a good idea. I was able to ward off any temptation and make it through another day.
Sunday, which was day 11 of the fast started off with some encouraging news. I pulled out some jeans that I had “grown” out of and was able to comfortably wear them to church. Little victories like this have kept me going. The biggest challenge really isn’t the pain or feeling of hunger, but rather the idea of eating. We typically eat out on weekends, so you miss that part of it. Having another juice is a little disappointing, but I still feel generally more energized and productive. I feel like I’ve been a better dad when juicing simply because I have been more active playing with the kids.
In the final week this has all become habit, and I continue to be energized by how much weight I have lost and how I feel.
I did find that I went through phases. Coming down the home stretch it became more difficult to keep up with. I wasn’t anymore hungry, I was just getting burnt out on some of the routine juices I had been making. I could have helped this with more variety, but once I found a handful of juices that I liked I simply stuck with it. By the time the 20th rolled around, I decided to eat something. Thankfully I didn’t get sick as I thought I might, so that was a plus. Definitely I could tell that my stomach/appetite had shrunk and I couldn’t eat like I used to. This was also a plus. While I plan to continue juicing, it may be a week or two before I want to see another one.