For this post, I'm going to discuss my experience, then the lessons I learned from my cleanse. You'll want to read what I learned about my body and myself through this experience!
Let's start at the end of my experience...
On the third day of my juice cleanse, I was taking my lunch with my boss so that we could review the details of the grand opening to a $60 million dollar Student Center. I was hired to help her complete the final projects and tasks necessary for this building to be ready for student use.
She ate a leftover rigatoni pasta dish from her dinner the previous night. I settled into my carrot and ginger juice, which was the third drink of the day. Halfway through our lunch, she said, "you're staring at my pasta." I had no idea that I was barely looking at her but instead, not breaking eye contact with food that I hadn't touched in 60 hours. By this point, I couldn't deny my hunger.
Choosing to complete a juice cleanse was out of pure desperation. After six months into my first office job, my body was starting to change. Months of being seated behind my computer had given me some extra fat and it was starting to show over the waist band of my slacks. I started looking for any quick fix to stop the increase in fat and allow me to reset any bad eating behaviors that I had established.
I had heard about juice cleanses and even worked with someone who routinely completed a 14 day cleanse. If someone could do 14 days, I can certainly attempt a three day version.
After researching a few different juice cleanse companies, I settled on Pressed Juicery. I had also enlisted two other women to complete the cleanse with me. I figured a support system would be the best way to stay on track!
When my juices arrived on my doorstep, I neatly organized them into my fridge. I was excited and nervous to start the cleanse. I was happy to have a reboot to some of my unhealthy habits but I was scared to be hungry. Was I going to starve for 3 days?
I cracked open my first drink, a chocolate almond milk. Because I was still teaching exercise classes after work, I went with the "athletic" or "beginner" cleanse option that consisted of two almond milks and four juices (1200 calories/day). After drinking the milk, I was feeling good!
By 10am, it was time for my first juice. This one was a green juice full of what tasted like fancy lawn clippings. But after I threw this one back, I started to have my first negative side effects.
I was horribly nauseous. I started sweating through my cardigan and thought I was going to faint. I texted my cleanse companions to see if anyone else was starting to break down but I was the only one having a hypoglycemic episode. I set a timer for 30 minutes. If I wasn't feeling better by then, I was going to get some real food.
After 20 minutes, I made a full recovery and turned off the timer. An hour after that, and I was ready for my third drink.
By far, this one was my least favorite. I took me another hour to choke down a mixture of carrots and ginger. Again, I reached out to my support team to ask about their opinion of the juice. I stood alone again as they said they loved the juice!
As I approached 4pm and working on my third juice/fourth drink, I thought I would start to feel some serious hunger pains. Whenever I started to think about food, I would drink a glass of water. This strategy really helped me feel full. Also, it was taking about an hour to drink each juice so by the time I felt a little hunger, it was time to start drinking.
Into the evening, I was working on my final drink, a vanilla almond milk. I started to get hungry by this time but not enough to give up. Deciding to head to bed early helped me from watching too many food commercials that practically had me running to the pantry.
I woke up hungry. I could have given up right at this moment. But I knew I hadn't completed one day just to give up on the next, so I opened my chocolate almond milk and got ready for work.
As I got closer to 10am, my anxiety about having another hypoglycemic episode heightened. Could it be even worse than the day previous? By 11am, I finished the juice and was feeling fine! Maybe my body and metabolism had finally adjusted to the new calorie intake.
I fought down the carrot and ginger juice at 1pm and got to enjoy the best juice, pineapple mint, at 4pm. Somehow, my hunger pains had subsided. I mean, don't get it wrong; I would've enjoyed a sandwich or even just a piece of toast but I wasn't feeling deep starvation.
Two days before that, I could barely go three hours without consuming at least a snack. How was I doing so well after more than 36 hours without a solid meal?
As night approached, I drank my last green juice then my vanilla almond milk. Every night, I wash my face before bed. I have chronic adult acne so dealing with blemishes and uneven skin tone is a daily struggle. But this is when I saw the most positive side effect from the cleanse...
My skin looked incredible. I have used every antibiotic, treatment and facial in the medical and beauty industry to give me a glowing and acne free face. Nothing, seriously nothing, has ever made my skin look better than that second night of the cleanse. I felt radiant and my cystic acne was already starting to reduce. And this was after only two days!
I settled into bed, with clearer skin and slightly hungry stomach.
Ok, now I was really hungry. I reached out to my friends in cleanse to see how they were doing. They finally agreed with me. The calorie deficit was getting to everyone. But, it was the last day. We could keep it going for a final 24 hours!
10am rolled around again and I drank that terrible carrot juice without the hypoglycemic feeling. But that hunger feeling intensified. I tried my usual glass of water trick but it was losing its effects.
Maybe I needed another hit of motivation so I stepped into the bathroom to look at my skin and see if I was looking smaller. After three days of not eating, my stomach was much flatter but that was to be expected. Not having food in the stomach to process is going to make anyone naturally slimmer.
But one unexpected area of loss was my back. I rubbed my hands along the back of my hips and felt a flatness I didn't know it was possible. Honestly, I had forgotten that was a body fat storage place for me. At that time, I was so focused on reducing my little gut and getting my thighs to stop touching (read my post about biggest insecurity) that I hadn't even considered my lower back fat. Feeling a loss there was motivating and encouraging to stay with the cleanse.
Alright, now we are back to lunch with my boss. By this point, I thought I was doing a good job of masking my hunger. The fact that I was staring at her lunch proved how truly starved I was feeling.
She offered me a bite of her pasta and I so desperately wanted to say yes. But I stayed strong and declined. By 6pm, I knew that I needed to eat. I wasn't going to go to sleep with this level of hunger.
I checked in with my cleanse support team. They agreed that a little food was necessary to make it though the night.
I decided to meet with some friends for a sushi dinner. After a long menu deliberation, I decided on four pieces of salmon sashimi. That first bite of raw salmon tasted like I was eating pure butter. Fish had never tasted so good.
Once dinner was over, I drank my last milk and hit the bed.
One Week Later
I have to admit, any weight loss or changes in my fat content were short term. My back hip fat was back, my little gut had found its place again and my skin had a fresh blemish.
Although my physical benefits didn't last once the cleanse was over, I did make some significant mental changes that have stayed with me. This is where I truly see the upside of trying a juice cleanse.
Drink more water.
It's amazing how a glass of water really helped with hunger pains. Now, I don't want to create or exacerbate an eating disorder by advising you to drink water over eating. But what I am saying is: if you are feeling hungry shortly after a meal or if you are getting enough nutrients in a day and still feeling hunger, try to drink another glass of water.
I'm not really hungry. I'm bored or stressed.
I realized how much I mindlessly eat whenever I have nothing to do or feel stressed about what I need to do. I don't truly NEED that mid afternoon cookie from the cafe.
Get a support group
I could not have done that cleanse on my own. Having a group to check in on or stay accountable with helped me stay on the cleanse. If I want to train for an endurance event (marathon, triathalon) or try to maintain healthy eating habits, I will form a group to keep me motivated!
Eat more veggies for clear skin
After seeing the positive effects of the cleanse on my skin, I knew that I needed more veggies in my diet. I mean, I always knew that but it was nice to have a serious effect from getting more greens in my diet. Now whenever my skin flares up, I reflect on what my vegetable intake has been recently.
Not eating a meal for 64 hours was extremely challenging for me. It tested my willpower and my ability to stick with a goal. Like someone who has completed a marathon, I feel like I've overcome a mental and physical battle.
Know when to give in
If I had skipped dinner on the third night and only done the juice, I would have been really grumpy. My low energy and irritability was apparent. I didn't feel motivated and only resentful with the cleanse for continuing to starve. After eating about 400 calories in salmon, I felt strong and resilient. I knew that eating was the right choice. And honestly, what is a few extra calories?
Would I ever do a juice cleanse again?
Yes and no.
I would not do a juice cleanse again expecting any lasting fat loss on my body. It would be smarter to make healthier food choices over the long term and watch my body become leanier in that manner.
However, I would do a juice cleanse again if I needed a mental challenge. The calorie deficit isn't too significant for only 3 days (my cleanse had around 1200 calories/per day). So, it's not like I'm trying to achieve a near death experience. But it would be fun to try it again and see if I could truly finish out the three days!
Do I recommend that you do a juice cleanse?
Yes and no for the same reasons as above. Please do not do this expecting some magical long term fat loss. It is truly a short term solution. But if you are looking to have a mental transformation experience, then give it a shot!
THANK YOU so much for reading. I know this was a long one.
Please share this with anyone considering a juice cleanse!