A Life Change, Part One

 

I’ve posted in the past about doing a juice cleanse to get healthy.

I’ve posted weekly updates about exercise and motivation and the avoidance of sugar.

I’ve posted about our family’s adventures in trying a Paleo diet.

In all of these posts, there was a tale of moderate success to be told.  I even described myself as a “big fan of healthy living” in my About Me.

But all of these things came to an end in one way or another.  Juicing felt great at first, and it was a good way to jump start better eating habits.  But, honestly, slamming your body with that much sugar, albeit natural sugar, had its ups and downs.  I was cranky and hungry a lot. WE were hangry people.  And being hangry is not a great way to sustain a healthy lifestyle.  Exercise was fine, when I could manage to fit it in somehow.  I tried to do home video workouts and attempted to go running early in the morning when I could.  The video workouts were not very motivating for me, and it was difficult to keep kids at bay while I did them.  I was constantly interrupted or worse, observed entirely too closely, and the workouts became a thing of the past.  Running, well, it just wasn’t for me.  I trained for a 5K and successfully did it; then I lost interest.  Also, PNW winters are no fun for running.  I admire people who do it, but I am just not one of those people.  The Paleo experiment was interesting.  It was difficult to get the family on board, and it was expensive to be eating that much protein all the time.  We did it exclusively for almost three months and then gradually added back in some dairy and some grains.  Paleo was helpful for figuring out some of my body issues, but for our family personally, it was not sustainable for a long time.  We do tend to have meals that are Paleo at least a few times a week, but the rest of the time, we are enjoying brown rice or whole-wheat pasta or roasted potatoes with our proteins and veggies.

Around Thanksgiving time last year, I made an unconscious decision to stop trying.  I wasn’t exercising at all or even attempting to be active beyond what was required of me in my daily life.  I stopped caring so much about what went into our daily meals and snacks.  Delicious homemade meals with extra helpings for all became normal.  I started drinking soda again – sometimes two or three in one day.  I thought nothing of having a venti sugary Starbucks drink and then having a dessert after dinner on the same day.  At Christmas time, my in-laws gave me some money for a gift, and I used it to get myself some new jeans.  Bigger jeans.  A size I had never worn before.  That should have been a wake-up call right there, but I continued right along in my apathetic ways.  I stopped planning meals and fast food sneaked in more and more.  The kids would ask me to come out and jump on the trampoline, but I always had an excuse not to.  They stopped asking.  I would sit inside at the dining room table, folding laundry while watching them through the window.

My clothes got tighter.  I would sit slightly hunched over at church or in other public places so my belly wouldn’t stick out so much.  Still, I could not seem to find motivation to change, to stop this indifferent lifestyle.  I was miserable all the time.  I was exhausted all the time.

One day, I went into the bathroom and took a good long look in the mirror.  I didn’t like the person I saw there.  It was not even about the weight gain, the protruding stomach, the flabby arms, and the round face.  I didn’t like the person inside of me.  Why couldn’t I have any self-discipline in this area of my life?  Why was I willing to throw in the towel so easily?  Why couldn’t I commit to something and stick to it?  The deeper questions came next.  Why do I care so little about myself?  What is it about me that is unworthy of change?

Facing these questions about yourself is hard.  I knew I could go to the computer and google “getting healthy” or “losing weight” and find hundreds of plans for doing so.  But I didn’t need a plan.  In that bathroom that day, I realized I needed a heart change.  The diet books and the exercise videos were not going to help me with that.

Week One of Our Juice Cleanse

juicyjuice     When Chris and I first decided to make positive, healthy changes to our lifestyle, we knew that we needed to focus on nutrition first before exercise.  Exercise has always been the easier part of the equation for us – eating healthy, vitamin-rich foods and avoiding the crappy, sugar-filled foods have always been a battle for us.  I have heard that the key to a long-lasting, healthy life is 70% nutrition and 30% exercise.  My obstacle was going to be conquering my coffee addiction;  Chris had to face giving up his beloved Pepsi and sugary energy drinks.

 

In yesterday’s post, I talked about our decision to go on a juice cleanse.  We purchased a juicer, loaded up the fridge and counter tops with fruits and vegetables, and planned out how we were going to make this work.  We started on a Saturday so we could get used to it before the busyness of work and homeschooling hit on Monday.  The plan was to drink five to six juices (16 ounces) throughout the day as well as plenty of water in between.  Meanwhile, I would make healthy, balanced meals for the kids as well as offer them juice if they wanted it, too.

 

Day One of the cleanse was interesting.  We happened to score a great deal on an outdoor playhouse from Craigslist, and Chris spent the first day of the cleanse dismantling the playhouse at the previous owners’ house and then rebuilding it in our backyard.  That was a lot of sweat and labor for a diet of just juice.  However, we both made it through the day successfully, giving me hope that I would be able to continue.  The second and third day of the cleanse were not as kind to me.  I felt sick, achy, extremely tired, and cranky.  I worried that I wasn’t doing it right, but after a little reading I realized I was just experiencing the detox effect.  I knew if I could just push through it I would be feeling great soon.  On Day Four, I woke up BEFORE my alarm clock and quite literally jumped out of bed.  I was shocked at the high energy I had all day.  For the rest of the week, I was intoxicated with my energy level and with how I just felt so good.  Chris had the same experiences – getting up earlier in the morning and being cheerful to boot.

 

I did miss coffee terribly that first week.  It was such an ingrained habit that just a whiff of coffee (hello, I live in the land of a Starbucks-on-every-corner) would make me miss it and desire it so much.  After the first few days however, I found that I obviously did not need the caffeine!  Our other struggle that week was attending a barbecue on Friday night.  It was strange and a little awkward to be standing there, sipping our fresh juices, while everyone else indulged in homemade mac’n’cheese, hot dogs, and hamburgers.  I discovered that I didn’t really desire the barbecue food at all.

 

If you’re thinking of starting  a juice cleanse, whether it be for three days or a week or even longer, let me share a few tips with you that I learned our first week.

1.  First, be prepared.  Have the fruits and veggies on hand that you need so you won’t be tempted to give up.  I ended up making a whole lot of juice in the mornings – maybe three or four different varieties – and putting it into tightly sealed mason jars in the fridge.  Chris took four jars to work with him, and then I also had a lot of juice to get me through the day, especially as I was making the kids’ meals.

2.  Secondly, make sure that you use a variety of fruits and vegetables in your juices every day.  It’s important to get different vitamins and other nutrients into your body, as that will be the only nutrition your body gets during the cleanse.

3.  Use more veggies than fruits.  Most of my juices are full of vegetables with a little fruit to sweeten them up.

4.  If you can, start your cleanse on a day when you don’t have to be anywhere or do anything too strenuous.  Give yourself time to relax and and rest throughout the day, but do try to stay busy so you don’t think so much about the fact that you’re not getting to eat anything.

5.  Juicing is amazing because all the vitamins in the juice digest quickly and get into your bloodstream within fifteen minutes of drinking it.  However, it also eliminates all of the fiber.  This is a good thing during a cleanse, as it gives your body a chance to rest and not have to work so hard at digestion.  But it can make you a little “backed-up,” if you know what I mean. 😉  I bought some “Get Regular” tea and used it when I needed a little help.

 

When we got to the end of our first week, I felt better than I have ever felt in my entire life.  I had loads of energy, and my skin had cleared up dramatically.  The best part was that I lost eight pounds!  We were so excited about these new changes in our lives that we decided to continue the juice cleanse, but to switch it up a little.  I’ll let you know how that went in a future post.

Here are two of my favorite juice recipes.  The Big Green one I drink every morning to start off my day, and the Sweet Potato Splash is a nice pick-me-up in the afternoon.

 

Big Green:

1 cup kale, loosely chopped

1 cup spinach

1 cup broccoli

1 cup romaine lettuce

1/2 cucumber

1 Granny Smith apple

1/2 lemon

small piece of ginger

 

Sweet Potato Splash

one small sweet potato, peeled

2 large carrots

2 apples

1 spear pineapple

small piece of ginger

 

Enjoy!