I tell you my juice fast and yoga challenge story. Grab a green juice and come along, dear one. We have a fun journey ahead.
Our lifestyle generally dictates our food choices and I’ve been in a whirlwind of social events lately. Now with the activities winding down, my body, which usually craves cycling and yoga, has been craving another crazy challenge – and a particular one that has been eating away at me for a while, no pun intended, the challenge of a 5-day juice fast.
I have only tried the juice fast one other time and I lasted all of 36 hours before I gave in to my hunger and exhaustion. I had no proof that on this second effort, I would go further or even as far. I knew only that this time, I had stronger resolution and firmer intention to see this one through. Fasting of any kind is not easy, but I would be first to admit that it is particularly hard for me. I am in love with the foods that I have discovered lately, foods that seem to feed my soul, in the small frequent quantities that I enjoy immensely.
My food plays psychological roles in my brain just as everyone else. It is incredible comfort, happiness, fulfillment, a feeling of back to basics and reminder of simpler things in the midst of problems and busy work schedules. Food is one of my best friends and the thought of abstaining from even a meal is painful and uneasy.
When I embarked on this 5-day juice fast challenge, I wanted to face my psychological fear and overcome them. I believe that we must temporarily give up and do without things that we need once in a while in order to find the edge of our strength and to limits of our patience. We must practice detachment if we want to know whether we can and would survive without. And so long as we do so safely and carefully, always keeping our well-being in mind and not risk harm to the body, we should only have the mental drama to work through.
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Also, the Green Juicing Intensive Clinic is OPEN again! Check out the Green Juicers Hall of Fame! Perhaps, more than anything, more than all the enormous benefits of resting the digestive system, I was looking for quieting my brain and practicing surrender to my attachments to get to know myself better during this juice fast. I wanted to do this fast to know that I can do it, and to experience the changes of body and mind through an age old health habit that is centuries and generations old. In this post, I share with you my regimen, my specific juice recipes, and most of all my experience.
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The 5-Day Juice Fast Regimen:
For duration of 5-day juice fast, from Sunday PM to Friday PM, I consumed only: 1) Juices made from raw fresh vegetable and fruits (recipes to follow) 2) Filtered water 3) Oolong tea and herbal teas steeped with raw honey I made all my juices fruits and vegetables with smart combinations at home with my juicer. I leaned heavily on the vegetable side for two reasons: Fruits contain a lot of fructose (natural sugar) and some contain a lot of acidity. Vegetables are much lower on sugar content, contain far more beneficial minerals and vitamins, and can more thoroughly cleanse and purify the intestines. While I love and did have some fruits, vegetable juice ruled the day! All recipes that I used for the juice fast are explained in later section but here is a fab Juicing Video I made recently. If you are going to be juicing, you need a reliable, top notch juicer, and it will be your BEST investment.
In addition to the juice fast, I committed to daily 40 to 60 minute intense Kundalini yoga sessions at home and regular walking in the sun for some Vitamin D and cardio. I stopped taking all my vitamins and herbal supplements for the fast. I also incorporated daily dry brushing of my clean skin after shower, a fun habit I learned from reading books by Natalia Rose. As far as preparing for the fast, I did not do anything in particular except eating generally healthy, light, small portions, which is the norm. You can read up on suggestions for slowly getting off solid foods prior to the fast. I consider my lifestyle and eating habits to be pretty healthy and I am no beginner to extensive juicing so I decided to plunge right in!
The Juice Fast Yoga Routine:
Of all the yoga types that I do and love, I believe kundalini to be the most cleansing, purifying, and detoxifying yoga for my body. With the breath of fire, the short bursts of intense kundalini sessions generate fast heat in the body followed by a quick burst of quiet meditation when the mind craves stillness and thinks nothing of the past or future, just the moment at hand. Every time I have done kundalini, I have aroused sensations in my body that were not akin to any other yoga experience, and with the juice fast, I wanted to experiment on how the two combine and compliment each other.
The Experience of My First 5-Day Juice Fast:
There is no magic behind the number 5 for the 5-day juice fast, no good luck charm and no ancient wisdom. I chose 5 days because as a beginner, it is long enough to where my body would go past the initial hunger strike, then quietly get into detox zone and cleanse my system and rest to my digestive organs. More importantly, it is a duration that I am still able to mentally grasp and accept, while still overcoming the fear, anxiety, curiosity, and irrational attachment to my foods. In addition, I seriously do not wish to lose much weight and while I have lost 4 pounds on this juice fast, I know that a longer period would have resulted in more weight loss, all of which would probably come back. I am guessing more frequent practices of shorter juice fasts suit me more. A Warning: If you do not feel committed to the labor involved in planning, purchasing, washing, cutting and preparing the juices, and cleaning up the mess all week long, you may want to reconsider the juice fast. While the difficult task is to keep hunger at bay and stay hydrated and stress-free, there is the reality of preparing the fresh juices, unless you live next door to a juice bar (what a dream!) and do not mind forking out what it would cost to keep you satisfied. Even this would probably prove impractical, as you will want small or large doses of juice all day long. The Juice Disclaimer: I did not use any bottled juice, no matter how much the labels insist on freshness, organic ingredients and yumminess factor. You may certainly do this; this was my personal preference. These juices are almost always pasteurized, which means they have been boiled to kill all the bacteria and then cooled down. The process also kills much of the beneficial enzymes in the process. The packaging often adds ingredients and chemicals so you need to check ingredients list. The juice is also likely not made yesterday or last week, and will not have the natural, delicious taste as when you juice it yourself. The sacrifice is the time and effort to do it your way.
The Preparation for the Juice Fast:
I had a pretty good idea what kind of juices I wanted to make, but quantity was still an experiment. A 5-day juice fast is a huge commitment! I ended up making 2 batches on Monday, 1 on Tuesday, 1 on Wed, 2 on Thursday, and none on Friday, each time making between 124 to 150 ounces (~gallon+) of juice. I bought organic for about 80% of my vegetables, simply for either availability at the time and my own measure of freshness between organic and standard produce. I prefer the leafy greens to always be organic. I also used some frozen fruit from Trader Joe’s. I did not peel anything except the watermelon. I cleaned out my juicer before use.
The Time Investment for Juice Fasting:
The time investment is the largest effort, without a doubt. It is the down side of the juice fast – there is serious effort involved in making the juices and a challenge to have them at your fingertips to consume as you are on the run with a busy fast schedule. This is one of the reasons you need a GREAT reliable juicer – I cannot emphasize this one enough, and I love and adore the Omega juicers above all.. I basically decided to juice enough for each batch to last me about two days, and every new day, I made a new type of juice. This way, I always had 2-3 different types of juices available for variety. I kept each batch no more than 72 hours. For each set, the time I spent in buying, washing, cutting, juicing and cleaning-up was about 2-2.5 hours. My approach calculated to about 10-12 hours of my time in preparation for the 5-day juice. I consider every second worthwhile because I did not want to take a shortcut or another approach. You need to make the right decision for you.
The Total Cost Breakdown of the 5-Day Juice Fast:
Besides the other invaluable commodity, time – time – time , it is fair to ask how much this is going to cost. A friend of ours used to joke about the “tonnage” – how much solid produce is used to make a tiny ounce of juice. I estimated that all of my fruits and vegetables came to about $150-$175 for the 5-day juice fast with some left-overs for 2 days following the juice. If you try any formal detox or fasting program with a professional service, my guess is it will cost as much if not far more, but perhaps the time saving is worth the cash. For me, I wanted to create, build and design the experiment from my own research and for my own body and without any dependency to anything or anyone but me, so time or cost were not a concern in my investment.
Green Juicing Recipes for Fasting:
Since juices are going to sustain you for the course of the fast, while you can enjoy creativity and fun, you should take some considerations to include certain combinations so you receive as many minerals and vitamins as possible. Some of the ingredients I recommend: (1) Dark leafy vegetables, (2) Ginger, (3) Carrots, (4) Beets, (5) Watermelon, (6) Cucumbers, (7) Tomatoes. I stayed away from my favorite citrus fruits to limit acid intake on empty stomach.
- Juice #1: 1 Head of Romaine Lettuce, 1 Bunch of Kale, 3 pounds of Carrots, 1 Bunch of Celery, 1 large Green Pepper, 1/2 Bunch of Mint, 2 Large Tomatoes, 1 Bunch of Parsley, 2 Bunches of Spinach, 2 Lemons, 2 Limes, some Ginger.
- Juice #2:2 Small Mangoes, 2 Cups of Blackberries, 2 Cups of Blueberries, 1 cup of Strawberries.
- Juice #3: 1 Large Watermelon. I don’t like to mix watermelon with anything else – it is perfect by itself! It is the most refreshing, light juice and added just the right variety which complimented the green juice diet perfectly!
- Juice #4:12 Small Beets, 12-14 Beet Leaves, 1 Large Tomato, 3 pounds of Carrots, 1 Lemon, 1 Lime, Some Ginger.
- Juice #5: 4 Yellow Apples, 2 cups Strawberries, 1 cup mixed dark berries. Strawberries and mixed berries did not juice well in my juicer. The juice came out thick and needed to be diluted. It was delicious and I had a craving for berry juice. Next time, I would do oranges, lemons and limes with apples instead.
- Juice #6: Same as Juice # 3. Another Large Watermelon. 2 Large Italian Cucumbers, 1 Large Pepper, 1 Bunch of Spinach, 2 Lemons, 2 Limes, 1/2 Romaine Lettuce, 1/2 Bunch of Kale, Some Ginger
- Juice #7: 2 Large Italian Cucumbers, 1 Large Pepper, 1 Bunch of Spinach, 2 Lemons, 2 Limes, 1/2 Romaine Lettuce, 1/2 Bunch of Kale, Some Ginger After I broke the fast, there still remained 1/2 of Juice #5 and 1/3 of Juice #6 and 1/4 of Juice # 7 in the fridge. This worked out very well because I needed to continue drinking the juices as I added solid foods.
How Much Green Juice to Consume During the Fast:
How much of these juices did I drink? I must say that I did not measure and did not particularly limit myself. Most of the juices were vegetable-based, and I drank a glass every 2-hours, accompanied in between the green juices with sips of my Oolong tea and occasional water. I easily drank up 6-8 large glasses of the juices from early AM hours to early-mid evening hours. I did not dilute the vegetable juices much at all but I did dilute my berry juice with 50% water. I followed the general flow and desire of my body within the limited confines of its juice diet without becoming a fanatic in measuring how much and when, and none of my reading had put a cap on the amount to consume either. I also did not force down 6-8 glasses of water because vegetable juice is very hydrating, and a lot of water makes me nauseous on an empty stomach.
How to Store Vegetables and Green Juices:
In my first year of making juices, I was paranoid about storing the juices. I had read so much about the benefits of drinking the juice immediately after making it. This made juicing exhausting and impractical for frequent. When I made a large batch a few months ago, I stored it in a plastic liquid container with a tight lid and decided to sacrifice a few enzymes to practicality! The juice tasted fabulous for two days straight. The concept of short storage made the consideration of a juice fast entirely possible. I now have dedicated large tight-lid plastic containers to store the juices and I take care to not store for more than 48-72 hours, except for watermelon which tastes great even after 4 days.
The Overall Fasting Experience:
The Most Prevalent Feelings during my 5-day fast (in High to Low order): Alert, Productive, Energetic, Focused, Pain-Free, Ache-Free, Aware, Content, Lucid, Meditative, Calm, Inspired, Curious, a little Anxious and Hungry (on and off)
My body went into the first pangs of hunger in the afternoon. Since I am used to eating raw foods and drinking juices until early afternoon on regular basis, the morning was no more than a routine, but by 2pm, my stomach went on a small strike that did not end until well into dinner hours. Working through busy conference calls and schedules was good to keep my mind off hunger. The driving mantra I used over and over was simple, taken from Michael J Fox’s biography: Pain is temporary, the same exact mantra that helped me through my 10-day yoga challenge when the difficulty of the moment was playing tricks in my mind. When I did not surrender to strong temptation while my husband was incidentally enjoying the stroke of inspiration and cooking up a feast in the kitchen, I knew I can get through anything. Surprisingly, my energy was up all day, and I completed an hour of kundalini yoga – Yoga Fixes by Ana Brett and Ravi Singh.
The second day was more difficult and felt longer. I never once thought about wavering, but I did have a long afternoon. Today is the day that I basked in the support of my friends and realized how much interest this topic has played even in my small network. My tongue had started to feel very dry along with a strange taste in my mouth – not bad, just unfamiliar. No matter how much I brushed my tongue or used mouthwash or drank water, it did not subside, so I decided to welcome it after all. Energy was up all day, and I felt extremely alert. I did not take a nap, and while on both days I woke up between 5 and 6am, I did not force myself out of bed, despite the early rising regiment I am still working through. I wanted to go with the flow if my body needed the extra rest. I went with my favorite kundalini DVD today – Fat Free Yoga by Ana Brett and Ravi Singh.
The third day started really easy, with heaps of energy, lots of work and activities all day long, and I continued to feel happy, light, creative, productive, focused and determined. The taste on my tongue has not subsided. I have made mild friends with it, although I continue to brush a lot. For exercise, I went for a 25min walk in the heat of afternoon sun, followed by a 40 minute kundalini, the Yoga Bliss Hips DVD by Ana Brett and Ravi Singh. Somewhere in the middle of yoga, I started to entertain thought of giving in and stopping. After a nice long shower, working on my laptop, smelling the delicious food my husband is making for himself, I felt so weak, and while I know my stubbornness won’t let me cave in, I was just losing my determination and feeling slightly cranky. My mood has been very positive all week so it is a huge shift to even feel unhappy but here it was. I was feeling sensitive to noise, and a bit emotional. I was missing food. Eventually I had another glass of juice and made it through the night. I went to bed early and things got easier as the sleep set in.
On the fourth day, I woke up after a few alarms and from a deep restful sleep. I knew from the beginning that I would compromise and sleep more if my body asked for it. Extremely vivid dreams for 3rd night in a row. Feeling pain-free and ache-free again, another surprising way my body was responding. Hunger was in the background; my mouth was feeling an even stranger taste and extreme dryness and my stomach started growling mid-morning until noon. My mind was clear all day and my energy was surprisingly high. I went for a 40min walk with a friend. Feeling hungry on and off late afternoon. It seems to be a foreign feeling now – imagine that, hunger being foreign on a fast! For the 4th day Kundalini, I did 40 minutes of my calmer sets – Ultimate Stretch Workout by Ana Brett and Ravi Singh. I had some emotions and sadness come and go, alert and full of energy all day but keeping my activities reasonably medium. I also prepared mentally for coming off the fast, while not really needing, thinking about or craving food.
I woke up with amazing energy probably from all the raw goodness. The thought of this being the fifth and last day makes me nervous and excited. I wondered if I should keep going or break the fast as planned. The idea of eating was still foreign but I anticipated it. The hunger had subsided with a quiet, meditative state in my stomach, and the day looked filled with possibilities. My mind continued to feel clear and content, and my productivity comes from focused attention, and I am entertaining far more creative ideas in my brain than usual. I felt wonderful and I knew that to come this far for me was a tremendous accomplishment and gave me inspiration to set a higher goal for my next fast. Thus ended the last part of my fast and I went into the afternoon with plans to break the fast.
How to Break the Juice Fast:
Things took an unexpected turn in the afternoon of Day 5 as I gently broke the fast with small bites of a banana, followed in half an hour with a few bites from a ripe avocado, and an hour later, with one glass of watermelon juice. A massive headache was pounding as my stomach was slowly waking up. My body was unhappy, tired, in the mood to rest and relax, as if I just came back from a long journey. I sat in the late afternoon sun to read a little bit; I was in no position to do kundalini and not about to force myself. I tried to nap. My hubby made the soup we had planned for dinner – celery, carrots, oregano, spinach, onions and rice – I woke up after a 30min nap with the same headache, and slowly ate my first bowl of soup. It felt wonderful to eat something warm and substantial. Headache persisted. I waited an hour and had another bowl. Unlike what I had read and expected, I did not experience any pangs of hunger after breaking the fast – only headache. Headache and exhaustion which lasted well into the night. To my surprise, breaking the fast was the most difficult and uncomfortable part of my fast.
What To Do After the Juice Fast:
I am writing this section of the post with the headache strongly pounding and my mood begging me off the computer. I am writing this now because even now, I am simply ecstatic to have done this juice fast. I felt like a different person when I was on this fast; and I liked the state of my mind and my body. The meditative and inwardly, the aware and conscious, the careful and brave, the willing and strong state. I loved it. I loved putting myself through something that I know was mentally impossible to overcome. I loved getting to know myself better, and I know this is just the beginning of building these lifetime habits of well-being. I will make this a tradition and return to my juice fast when seasons change and it is time to purify and cleanse again. If you love green juicing and the journey to health through juicing, join my Insider’s Exclusive Guide by signing up below.
I will send you my favorite fresh new recipes, share with you my tips and mistakes to avoid on your juicing path – these are the valuable stuff I have learned as I go through up and downs of life and my insanely busy work schedule and my travels. Because juicing must go on, baby! Now hurry up and join me and let’s go on the journey together!