What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
Juice cleanses are kind of a big deal right now and, if you're anything like me, you may have seen some gorgeous woman with perfect abs on an impeccably-filtered Instagram account posting about them in a way that makes them seem like literally the best thing you could ever do.
Because I'm susceptible to pretty pictures, I've been looking around for a good juice cleanse for a while now. The impression I've come away with has been mostly that holy shit, juice cleanses are expensive, and since I have like, 400 Instagram followers, no one's offering me them fo' free (sadly). You can DIY them, obviously, but that requires having a juicer, and I only recently bought a blender, so suffice to say I don't have one. Juicers themselves are also expensive, and so are the approximately ten thousand pounds of fruits and vegetables you'll need each day (not to mention the time you'll need to juice everything). I work full-time, go to school one night a week, and have a seven year-old. I also need time each night to Netflix and chill with my fiancé, so my time is precious.
I met up with my friend and wedding photographer on a Sunday to talk about my wedding. She told me, in passing, about the cleanse she had just done, and how much she had loved it. Add to that the super exciting (for me, one who loves all foods) detail that you actually get to eat a salad — WITH GOAT CHEESE — for dinner and that five days would only cost me $120, I was sold about five seconds after she brought it up.
It's officially less than three months until my wedding, and though I'm largely feeling nothing but totally psyched, I'm also feeling the pressure to look the way I want in my dress. I'm a very unimpressive 5'3" and curvy. I'm not fat, and I almost always know that, but I have a big ass and wide hips. My fiancé loves my body without conditions, but I struggle daily to do the same.
I've been both over- and underweight in my life, always unhealthy one way or another — overeating or severely under-eating, not exercising regularly — and a smoker.
Now, I work out 4—5 times a week (hot yoga, running, strength training, HIIT) and eat clean about 80% of the time. Pizza Rolls are a thing that exist, and Grand Rapids has been named Beer City, USA two years running, so there's no getting 100% out of me.
I knew that most of the weight I lost on this cleanse would be water weight, and that I wouldn't keep it all off, but I'd had a rough few weeks, food-wise, and was really just looking to re-center my focus. My fiancé, who operates a gym and knows more than I ever will about health and fitness, was dubious (to say the least), and his knowledge of my rocky history with food was at the top of his concern list. I assured him I would be fine.
Monday morning, I placed my order and was told I could come pick up my first day's worth of juices that evening after work. That would be the schedule for the entire week — I would pick up the next day's food on my way home from work each night. They also had a morning option, but I wasn't about to actually wake up early to do this.
I was psyched. I was cocky. I was kind of a dumbass.
Day one was rough. The juices were good, but my body was battling to adjust to no solid food. Plus, I may have had some extra snacks and a beer the night before as a last hurrah, so it was a sharp drop-off. When the coworker who sits behind me spent fifteen minutes chomping chips, I swear to God, I almost slapped her. When I got home, I had to make mac-and-cheese for my seven year-old, and it took every bit of my admittedly limited self-control to not eat some.
The salad helped. It was good; it could have been great if there had been more dressing, cheese, and maybe some chicken thrown on, but honestly everything is better with more cheese.
The morning of day two, I woke up 2.4 pounds lighter with ¾ of an inch off my waist. I was feeling like a bad bitch and flying high when I got to work, until about five minutes later when the "donuts in the break room" announcement trickled down. My coworkers are pretty much used to my not participating in things like donuts, pizza, and cookies, but this time, it hurt more than usual. I sipped my first juice at nine feeling pretty sulky.
Any time I stopped into the break room for a water refill (that's a part of the cleanse as well but also just something I try to do on the daily because #stayhydrated), I was met with the scent of pure sugar and fried dough. It was glorious and awful. On my lunch hour, I did some light yoga in an abandoned office on the other side of the building (if anyone I work with is reading this, I swear to God if you tell someone and I lose my workout room, I'll end you).
By this point, I was existing in a weird state of half-hunger that felt vaguely like floating. I felt light and airy and my brain felt just a tiny bit slow, but clear. I didn't have a headache on day two, which helped massively when I had to head to class after work.
Day three passed mostly like day two I didn't have a headache, and I still felt like I was not quite anchored to the ground. I went to hot yoga that morning before work and was surprised to find how good it felt with basically nothing in my body. By the end of the night, though, I kind of wanted to cry at the thought that I had been on this cleanse for at least six years now, and I was only ⅖ of the way done. I wasn't strictly hungry per se, but the yearning for food (that wasn't that salad I was rapidly growing to hate) was just so emotionally and mentally wearing.
I had opted for the five-day cleanse over the three. I thought I could handle it, and it would be no big deal. But let me tell you something: five days is a long ass time. By Friday night (day four), I was so truly hungry and my brain was so worn down from the lack of real food, that I threw some pulled pork I'd frozen the week before into my salad just to cope. I may have also had a secret spoonful of crunchy almond butter, which remains the single most delicious thing I think I've ever tasted, whether in spite of or because I ate it without letting my fiancé see me. I had been insisting I wasn't starving, that it was all going swimmingly, and he had taken to staring at me in disapproving silence whenever I did so.
Saturday (day 5) kind of fell apart on me. I went to yoga in the morning and, when I came back, my stomach was screaming for food. I mixed some Greek yogurt and rolled oats into my juice with a blender, and did that for the second juice as well. It was glorious. I guiltily had a sandwich for lunch and was grateful that only my kid was around to see my shame, and my salad with pulled pork for dinner, of which I ate half because I had officially grown to hate it with my entire being. I had bought some soup from the juice place on Friday, and decided to have it with my half salad.
It was supposed to be a Southwestern soup, and I was expecting it to be akin to a religious experience after what I had subjected myself to...It was literally broccoli, tomatoes, black beans, and corn in some kind of broth that tasted mostly like water. They said it was chicken broth, but I'm about 96% sure it was just water. I dumped handfuls of Mexican spices into it to fix it and wildly overestimated how much crushed red pepper a tiny bowl could possibly need. Because I am basic and a wuss, I couldn't even eat it. Bye bye, soup.
And that was it.
I've been eating a normal, healthy diet for five days now, along with my normal workouts. I'm being stricter than normal because I have a wedding dress in which to look ass-spankably hot. Because I'm the worst, that didn't stop me from lying in bed last night, eating Terra chips off my chest, while scrolling Instagram, telling myself it was okay because they're made of vegetables. I literally ate one off the floor.
I'm still down 5.2 pounds from where I was when I started this cleanse, and more importantly, I broke a weight barrier I've been flirting with for the last three weeks. It was an experience, to say the least, and I'm pretty sure I'd be willing to do it again, although if I did, there's no way in hell I would be able to convince myself I could actually do five days. I cannot do five days.
All in all, it was a decent experience, and I've developed a love for green juices that taste like lemonade and stir-fry (lookin' at you, juice number three with your apple, celery, and ginger), but honestly guys, — and I can already hear my fiancé saying, "I told you so," — the best thing you can do for your bodies is to feed them clean, healthy foods, work them out, and mostly, cut yourself some slack.
I'm trying really hard to do just that.