25 January 2015

Who's Up for Juice?

In the spirit of trying new things (and my fast-approaching trip to Jamaica), I decided to start my New Year off with a juice fast. Yes, I totally know that your body cleanses itself, however after some overly indulgent evenings over the holidays I couldn't help but feel like I needed to reset.  Or at least consume large liquids that didn't have olives floating in them.  I had been looking at Joe Cross's plans for a while, so I decided to do a 5 Day Reboot. This plan involves 5 days of juice-only meals. Basically, you choose  from a variety of juice recipes based on color (i.e. breakfast = orange or red juice, lunch is a green juice, afternoon snack is a yellow or red juice, etc). What follows in an account of my experience of a 5 day juice fast, or  as I like to call it, 5 Days Without That Pesky Chewing.
To start things off on the right foot, I prepped all of Monday's juices Sunday night. Any other time I've tried to juice, I never prepare ahead of time and end up eating something else instead. So this time I headed to the grocery store with a juice plan and a list in hand of everything I'd need for Day 1.

The chopping, juicing and cleanup probably took about an hour, which isn't bad for a full day's meals. And there were no pots and pans to scrub. One thing I didn't like was how wet my hands were for the duration from the produce washing and the dribbles of juice from slicing. But that's just one of my personal foibles. Other than that, it was pretty simple.
Many of the recipes make 2 servings, so I divided everything up into mason jars and put happy little labels on each "meal". I admit, that was pretty satisfying for me - seeing the jars all lined up and labelled with juicy goodness.  I felt organized and self-righteous. This must be what it feels like to be Gwyneth Paltrow.

Only Tushie brand carrots from O'Leary are good enough for my juice!!
Monday, January 5th 2015

I woke up much earlier than usual. Perhaps it was the excitement of all the juice that awaited for me that day.  As per the plan, I started my morning with hot water and lemon. I like hot water and lemon, so this was a nice treat. Then I had my "orange" breakfast juice - Carrot Apple Lemon. The plan recommends that you reduce or eliminate caffeine during the juice fast, however I can't afford a criminal lawyer for any potential murder charges, so I opted to try to reduce my morning coffee intake instead of completely eliminating it.

Mid morning snack was a Pine Lemon Lime juice (yellow).  Very tasty and actually left me feeling full until lunch. Lunch was a green Garden Variety juice. Tasty, like grass. If you're into that kind of thing. Luckily, I am.

One thing the plan recommends is to drink lots and lots of water. By 1:00 PM I'm debating moving my computer into the office loo.

After work, I taught a spin class and I was curious to see how I felt. Some people on the Reboot with Joe website indicated that they felt weak/tired/headachy for the couple of days - enough that some took time off work. Really? Hmm. Ok. Well, not this cat. I plowed through the class with no noticeable change in my energy levels. I think perhaps it helps that the juice is fairly high in carbs. I was a bit headachy through the day, but not bad enough for me to blame on the juice.

Supper was another Garden Variety juice, and "dessert" was the left over Carrot Apple Lemon from breakfast.  The day overall wasn't too bad. I had hunger pangs from time to time, but they tended to ebb and flow. It was never completely intolerable.  What I really noticed was how much of a habit putting food in my mouth is. I'd mindlessly open the fridge and reach for something and then realise that it wasn't in the plan this week. It was an odd feeling to catch myself in the act. Almost like sleepwalking. This just might explain why I'm fat.

Tuesday, January 6th 2015

Last night's prep wasn't as easy this time. Maybe because I was tired or rushed (I got home late), but it was a complete mess. I have learned that my cheap juicer doesn't appreciate making so many servings in one go. It seems to get clogged up and not much juice comes out.  One hint I read was that you can take the pulp and run it through the juicer a second time for more output, and this was a disaster. My juicer has a small opening, so the pulp was hard to corral into it without it mooshing all over the place. And the 2nd-round pulp was a fine, soggy, cloggy mess. 

Back to my usual routine this morning i.e. staying in bed until the last possible moment.  I felt pretty good - unlike the bloated ball of goo that I had been feeling like over the holidays. The scale even rewarded me with a 2 lb loss! Sure, it may be water weight or poo or the complete lack of food in my stomach, but I don't care. It's motivating.

By mid morning, I can't stop thinking about steak. And eggs. As per the plan, I knock back some coconut water, but that doesn't help so I make an herbal tea and start counting down the minutes until "lunch".  I use this term loosely because today's lunch looks like the remnants of something hosed off the underside of a lawnmower.

In the afternoon, the hunger really kicks in. Like, crazy hunger. That's when I start renegotiating this whole juice fast thing. I'm tired. I'm crabby. Still, I force myself to BodyPump class and I don't notice any measurable lack of energy (mind you, it's the first class I've done in a couple of months, so I was prepared for it to suck anyway). When I get home, I just CANNOT have juice for supper. I end up eating some ham.

I run a hot bath in order to avoid eating any more. See, here's the other challenge with this juice thing: it's -13C with a wind chill in the -20s. I'm effing cold and the last thing I want is a big tall glass of ice cold juice. I want stew. All I can think about is beef and Guinness stew from the local pub. I get out of the tub and beg Miguel to make me some tomato soup. Because that's like juice, only hot, right?

I end the day on the couch and I don't prepare any juice for the next day. I still have 1 "supper" and 2 "snack" juices in the fridge. I'll have those instead.

Wednesday, January 6th 2015

I start out the morning feeling puffy and bloated again. I convince myself it was the ham and soup. Too much sodium. I start to plan how I'm going to make up for the fact that I'm a couple of juices short today, when I realise that I have a lunch meeting where pizza is served.
We need to talk about my love of pizza. It is immensely deep and passionate. But the problem isn't just with my love of the wonderful combination of cheese, meat and bread, it's the fact that I cannot control how much of it I eat. A normal person would be happy with 1 or 2 pieces. I, on the other hand, lose count after 5. I can eat a LOT of pizza.

Lunch is served. Yum.
I spend the better half of the morning fretting about what I'm going to do in a room full of pizza - never mind the fact that I haven't finished a document that I need to discuss in this particular meeting.  In anticipation of the overwhelming temptation,  I save my breakfast juice and drink it a half hour before the meeting. Maybe a tummy full of juice will make hot, gooey pizza seem disgusting. One can only hope. Maybe I can just use it to warm my hands? It's -15C outside. Feck.

The day ended much better than Tuesday did. I did have the pizza - 2 slices of veggie that had very little cheese. I skipped the lunch and midday snack juices and ended up being in the same nutritional target as if I had juiced 100% instead of having the pizza. 

I ran 5k on the treadmill after work and it was brutal,  though I don't know if my lack of energy was due to the juicing or the soreness from the previous night's Pump class.
I decide to make only 2 juice recipes for the next day instead of 3, and swap out a "snack" juice for protein the next day. I have to teach a spin class and I really need the energy.

Thursday, January 7th 2015

The morning is rushed as I am super late for work. I don't have time to drink the hot water and lemon before I head to the office.  I take my breakfast and lunch smoothie to work, plus 2 hard boiled eggs for protein. When I get to the office, it  feels like my stomach is trying to digest itself.  I feel nauseous. I'm hungry, but the thought of the juice makes me queasy.  The thought of any food makes me queasy. I want to head over to the juicing message board and bitchslap all the people singing the praises of juice. Some of these people do this for 30, 60, even 90 days. They need their heads examined.  Sitting at my desk, I can smell the juice even though the jars are still buried deep in my bag. Kind of like how someone's body odour sticks in your nose long after they've left the area.

I head to spin class after work and have good energy through out the class. But I do realise that I have felt queasy all day. I'm no longer hungry, I feel sick. All the time.  I start thinking about my "supper" juice and I literally start to gag. At that point I decide that I need to eat some solid food. I get home and I make a wrap with chicken breast and, lettuce, low fat sour cream and cheese. And it's HEAVENLY. Seriously, pure bliss. It was a healthy option and again, my nutritional profile ends up looking similar to what it would have if I had juiced the entire day. In fact, my carbs were actually lower even with the tortilla for my wrap.

Friday, January 8th 2015
Back to regularly scheduled programming.  I can't take it anymore. Not for lack of trying, though. My willpower is pretty strong, but I feel like throwing up just thinking about the juice regardless of the concoction of flavours. I don't think I can even stand to smell it at this point.

I have toast and peanut butter for breakfast and it's so lovely. At lunch I'm enjoying some hard boiled eggs when I get a waft of a colleague's lunch. Smells like chili! I get downright giddy at the idea that I will make chili for supper on the weekend! See, that's just not normal. Initially, I had expected to crave foods like pizza or burgers - the kinds of things I want to eat all the time. But I was craving food in general. Food I could chew. Food that would quell the rolling in my stomach. Salad, protein, anything. The greasy stuff wasn't even that appetizing. I just wanted anything that wasn't served to me in a jar.

The Results

It wasn't all bad. I did lose 4 lbs in 4 days. Hopefully that's some momentum to keep me going for a while on a less restrictive plan of healthy eating. And for the most part, the juices were tasty - except for Red White Blue and Green (blueberries, watermelon and chard) which tasted like sweet compost and was effin' expensive to make.  They did actually fill me up when I consumed them, though that feeling didn't always last. And nutritionally speaking, they do have substance - which is why you shouldn't drink a lot of juice on a regular diet. Some of those juices were well over 200 cals a serving, tons of carbs and a little tiny bit of protein. Not a lot of fibre, though.

Now for the cons. It's expensive, especially in the dead of winter.  This would be better in the summer when I can grow a lot of what I need and other ingredients are in season. For Red White Blue and Green I spent over $20 alone in blueberries for 2 servings and the end result tasted like crap. And if you start a juice fast right after New Year's, expect to find empty shelves where there kale and parsley are supposed to be. Apparently I wasn't the only one with this great idea.

If you're prone to binging, juicing is not for you. There were several moments where I felt the overwhelming physical and psychological need to shove food in my mouth just to satisfy the hunger pangs. The feeling was so powerful that the only think I felt was preventing me from binging was the fear that once I started, I wouldn't stop until I was ill.

Would I recommend it? Maybe the 3 day version if you want a jump start on resetting your eating habits. Any longer than that, and you run the risk of losing friends because you're so hangry.  I think it would be better as a supplement to a healthy diet, especially if you struggle to get all your servings of veggies. I don't have a problem with this, so overall the juice fast thing is just not for me.

Now... who wants chili?!

06 January 2015


"A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers." ~Plato
So it's another New Year. A time when we look back and reflect on the last 365 days of successes and failures and everything else in between.  I tend to focus a lot on numbers - the numbers on the scale, the numbers of kilometers run, the number of inches on the measuring tape, the numbers of people in the spin class on a given day.
Recently I hit a pretty big milestone. I tracked using MyFitnessPal.com for over 1000 consecutive days. 1102 to be exact. While that may sound like an impressive achievement, I can assure you that it's not as great as it seems.  Sure, I logged in to the site, and I would say more days that not, I would track everything I ate. But that doesn't mean I'm a weight loss rock star. Far from it. If you look at my weight loss trend for the past year, it resembles a lovely urban sky-scape. In fact, I weigh much more now than when I started tracking in the first place. And that sucks.

When friends on MFP see my log in count and congratulate me on such a high number, I usually respond with "Yep, I sure am good at logging in!".  I feel almost like a fraud - there's no accomplishment there other than a ticker reminding me that for every day I log in I'm still not reaching my weight loss goals (and seem to be going in the opposite direction).

However, in an effort to keep my negative self talk to a minimum, there are a few things I've accomplished in the last 1102 days. Here are a few things that I can be proud of:

- 4 Marathons (including the New York City Marathon)
- 8 10k races
- 2 5k races
- 1 7k relay
- 1 50k bike event

Sadly, I've spent the last year injured, so running ended up taking a bit of a hiatus over the last year, but I didn't let that hold me back. I became a certified RPM spin instructor and I rode in my first outdoor event, the  MS Bike Tour. I tried stand up paddle boarding and tennis (stay tuned for more on that one) and I was instantly hooked on all of it.

Sure, I'd be thrilled if the number on the scale was different. But I've had a lot of fun in the last 1000 days. I've had way more fun than I had when I was 20, 30 even 40 lbs lighter.   I am so much happier.

Finding things that you love to do, that challenge you, that leave you breathless... at the end of the day that's what really makes me happy.  I won't give up trying to get to a more comfortable weight. That is a battle yet to be won. But I won't sit here and continue to hate myself for what I haven't done and ignore what I have. 

And you - you there in the interwebs land... you give yourself credit, too. Every little accomplishment counts. Did you go for a walk today? Did you make it to the gym? Did you manage to get out of bed when all you wanted to do was hide from the world? A win is still a win, no matter how small.