Last week, I finished a ten day juice cleanse. Ten days! We’re going to record an episode of the podcast all about my experience and motivations, so stay tuned for that in a couple of weeks if you want more information. Today, I just wanted to share my takeaways from this experience, in case you’re thinking of doing something similar.
1. It’s not that hard to drink only juice, I just really like to eat
Truly, I didn’t find it that hard. Sure, it was tedious to clean out the juicer or blender (usually both) every couple of hours, and yes, it was certainly annoying to be around grocery stores and restaurants. But those were mostly mental annoyances more than physical ones. I didn’t have any really strong cravings at any point during our detox, but I did spend a lot of time lovingly thinking about food – all the while not truly wanting to break my fast and eat any! It was kind of a weird paradox because while I wasn’t very hungry and felt pretty satisfied despite being on a liquid diet, I just sort of missed food.
We had so much variety in our juicing plan, both over a single day and throughout the ten days. We used so many different kinds of fruits and vegetables that the juices were never really boring – merely the act of drinking only juice was boring.
Basically, I was reminded that I like balance in my life. I don’t like restricting myself from doing or eating something, because if I do, I’ll simply want it more. I’m a moderator, not an abstainer.
2. Beware bad moods caused by physical things
The first five days of the fast, I was very irritable. The last few, I felt light, a bit clearer and even less reactive. But in those first days, I was not my best self and neither was my boyfriend. We tried to make it easier on ourselves by not leaving the house very much, so that we could relax and be quiet, but still we had our moments of stress and annoyance. We came up with a little system to use whenever we’re feeling angry to check in with ourselves and see whether it’s being caused by hunger, anxiety, hormones or fatigue. If so, time for some space. I really believe the majority of my “issues” come up at times when I’m physically overwhelmed or out-of-sorts, so recognizing that what I’m feeling might not even be a real problem is so key for me.
3. I am stronger than I think
During our fast, I both taught and took yoga classes, went for hikes and for walks, did my hobbies, and performed all of my regular everyday activities. While I never really experienced that “huge burst of energy” that people who do juice cleanses talk about, I found that I was able to do much more than I thought I’d be able to. And even though I had some issues with focus and headaches in the first few days, I did experience more clarity and energy in the last few days. I was able to be creative and keep up with all my work without any problems. This is a good reminder that I am capable and strong and can work with what I have. (And so are you!)
4. Community is so important
I think my boyfriend’s support and participation were huge factors in my success in completing this cleanse. Not only did he make the majority of the juices and smoothies (don’t worry, I cleaned it all up), just having him totally on board, without wavering, made it that much easier for me to stick to it. We also told his whole family what we were going to do, so they were able to support us and not tempt us too much with food. His mom even did a few days of juicing and eating lightly in the evenings, which was so great. Having everyone’s support made it so easy to stay with it.
5. Listen to your body
I’ve learned this lesson about a hundred times in my life, but it never stops being important. During the detox we sometimes went to bed at 9, we sometimes slept in, I taught gentler yoga classes than usual, and we stayed at home as much as we could. A couple times, we took a big hike because we wanted to be outside and active, but took it gently and only went as far as what felt good. We really went with how we were feeling physically, and let that guide us as much as possible. We are lucky enough to work mostly from home, so we were able to change our schedules to match our energy levels.
6. No expectations
This is another lesson I feel I’m constantly learning, but it applies here too. We were inspired to try this cleanse after watching Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, and motivated by the results that the people in the documentary experienced. We weren’t doing it to lose weight, although we did. Instead it was more of an experiment in trying to detoxify our bodies. I was mostly excited about experiencing that big spurt of energy, and having more focus and clarity. I was also just curious to see if I could really do it, and what it would be like. I didn’t think I had many expectations going into it, but I can admit that I was often comparing how I felt to how I thought I was going to feel by Day ___. It’s an excellent reminder that I should work to minimize my expectations and just be grateful for whatever comes.
7. Do things just to see
You never know until you try, right? Pushing myself to try new things, just because, is such a wonderful way to help myself see the world in a different light. This juice cleanse sparked many conversations, it brought me closer to my partner, and it taught me more about myself. Not to mention, it was an experience! Any experience can be full of so much learning and growing, especially those experiences that are kind of out of the ordinary. Doing this cleanse seemed an idea that was a little crazy but a little fun and in fact, it was a lot of both. I probably won’t do it again, at least not for 10 days, but I’m very glad I did it once.
8. Live in an atmosphere of growth and experimenting
Similar to #7, I am learning that I want to live my life with an open mind, an open heart, and a lot of curiosity. I want my environment to be full of that kind of energy too. It’s only by living with that mindset that I even thought about trying this detox, and it’s only with light-heartedness, curiosity, and sense of playfulness that I could follow through with it. Really, it was an experiment to see what would happen and to see what I would discover. Doing this cleanse reminded me that curious people are the kind of people I love, and that a curious life is the kind of life I want to live.
9. You can do anything you put your mind to
Simple, but important: finishing things feels good. Doing the things you say you’re going to do feels good. Being the kind of person who lives by her values feels really good. I really believe that building confidence comes from doing things that you’re proud of, things that remind you of who you are. Following through builds confidence. Even if what you’re doing is as simple (or as tricky) as a 10 day juice cleanse, the self-esteem you can build from completing even simple actions can be very real and very healthy.
10. Goals are great
I don’t think that goals are great if you pursue them at all costs, or if they’re not really in line with your values, but making goals from a light-hearted, loving place can be so powerful. My birthday lists are just for fun and for growth. They’re an opportunity for me to push myself, try new things and learn new skills. And consistently, the things I complete from my birthday lists turn out to be some of my best memories from that year of my life. They’re the things I look back on the most fondly, or the things I am most proud of. I want to remember to never stop setting these kinds of goals for myself.
Surprisingly, I learned or was reminded of a lot of great lessons during this experience. I know it seems like a bit of an intense thing to do just out of curiosity, let alone stick to it, but I always learn a lot in doing these crazy and interesting things.
This detox was a goal from my list of 25 things I want to do before I turn 25. See the rest of the list here.