Sunday, 18 March 2012

Juice Juice Baby...

"I submit that scientists have not yet explored the hidden possibilities of the innumerable seeds, leaves and fruits for giving the fullest possible nutrition to mankind." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

I think it's safe to say that I have been exploring nutrition and in all it's various forms since I was about 16 years old.  In other words, for a very long time now.  I have battled weight gain since I was about that age too.

In my 20's I was super fit.  I taught aerobics (we are talking the 1990's here...), was involved in martial arts - I even assisted teaching that, and hit the gym to lift weights 5 days a week.  Then I went to university in my late 20s and everything stopped while I controlled panic attacks about not wanting to fail.  Bad food and alcohol were part of the regiment to get through school, sadly exercise was not.

In my 30's I got back onto the health train and was in great shape.  I went back into the gym, my happy place, lifted weights, and took up running.  I was lean and muscular and loved it.  I ate fairly healthy during that time, but no necessarily whole foods.  Throughout this time I still suffered from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).  That had been plaguing me since I was a child.  My late 30's brought me into the world of triathlon and Ironman.

I went into this phase lean and came out of it 20 lbs heavier.  Granted I was eating more, but hey, when you are swimming 12 km per week, and going for 100+ km bike rides you need to eat more!  Still, I wasn't gaining weight in a good way.  It was jiggly weight and it frustrated me.  I only know of a handful of others who experienced this phenomena - everyone else seemed to become lean mean triathlon machines!

I am now into my 40's.  I moved back to my beloved West Coast, I stopped the triathlon gig, got back into the gym and the trails, turned to a whole food, solely plant based diet and started to lean up again.  Even better, my allergies subsided and my IBS disappeared.

Forty is a glorious age to be, but there are it's challenges.  This, for me at least, is when your body gives you a hint at what aging may be like. Stuff starts to happen. For me it was major surgery a year ago that, due to some unforeseen complications, led to me not being able to workout, the way I was used to, for a longer period that I would have wanted.

The weight started to come back on.  Worse yet...the jiggly was back.  This is when I learned that it was harder to get the weight off.  At least this was the case for me and my body type.  I stuck to my whole food plant based diet, but I needed a jolt.  My metabolism needed a jolt.  I started working with a holistic nutritionist, Cara.  Her words "You eat a super clean diet, but you aren't seeing results. You are going to be a fun challenge."

That challenge led me to do a juice/smoothie cleanse for 10 days.  It was probably a good thing I watched the movie 'Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead'.  Joe Cross and Phil Staples juiced for 60 days in order to  lose some serious weight and reverse an autoimmune disease they both had.  The movie provided some support for this journey, not to mention a juice recipe!

I did some preparation before the cleanse so that it wouldn't be a horrible shock to my body.  I cut down on the grains, nuts and seeds I ate and boosted my fruits and veggies.  I also gave up the odd soy chai latte and vegan cookies that I had! The first few days I did that I was tired and had a three day headache.  Classic symptoms of a detox that usually occurs during a cleanse.  I hadn't even started the juice/smoothie phase yet!

I told my cousin's wife, Lisa, that I was doing the cleanse and she said she would do it with me.  I was super excited because most of the people in my life think my food habits are weird.  How to explain a cleanse?

My regime for the next 10 days was juice in the morning, smoothie at lunch, raw soup for dinner.  I gotta say first four days of the cleanse pretty much sucked.  I like food. I like chewing food.  I loved my juice, smoothies and soup, but I wanted something else. I wasn't hungry but I felt like I should be eating.  If that makes any sense. I was also always cold! Internally freezing no matter what.   Lisa had it worse than me though - she hadn't done the prep before and jumped right in.  The result, she had a rash, diarrhea, and acne.  Insane!

Then Day 5 hit and I had this crazy level of energy that I hadn't had in, well, I don't know if I have ever had that level of energy!!  I felt fantastic.  Sugar cravings were gone, and I wasn't having any of the 'you should be eating more food' thoughts.  I realized I didn't need as much food as I was used to pounding back.  Granted I had been eating 'clean' foods before, but you can still be eating too much!

What was in all the liquid meals I was making?  A TON of greens.  I went through 2 head of kale, 2 cucumbers, a bunch of celery, 4 apples, tons of berries, a pear, ginger, lemon and a head of romaine lettuce all by lunch.  Lots of fruit in the smoothie, a wide variety of veggies at dinner - broccoli, peppers, zucchini, tomato, carrots etc.  My body was not lacking in micronutrients.  Now here's a weird little fact...with all the raw foods I was eating (my soups are 'raw' as well - I make them in the Vitamix) I didn't have gas.  What's up with that??  Not that I was complaining.

The end result is that I feel great, I have a kickstarted my metabolism (I lost 7 lbs) and I have started to lean out again.  I learned a valuable lesson when it comes to the type of food I put in my body, and how much I need.   Today was the first day that I got to eat food that wasn't in liquid form.  Funny thing is, the first thing I made was some 'mean green juice'.  I really do love it.  I also had a banana with it...just for something to chew!

Oh, and I had some strange cravings while I was on this the beginning I craved cheese, which I haven't eaten in YEARS...towards the end I was craving grapefruit and a collard green wrap stuffed with veggies.  The grapefruit I had today was divine - although I only ate 1/4 of it - and I am just about to make some veggie pate for my collard greens wraps.  YUMMM!

I had been stocking up the fridge with fresh veggies and fruits all week, but today I expanded on my selection.  Behold my bounty!  This, of course, is not the end of this story.  I am a firm believer that the top five diseases in the North America would be less prevalent if people started eating a whole food diet. So I will continue researching all I can about the whole food lifestyle and tweaking my plant based diet.

If anyone has given thought to doing a cleanse, I would highly recommend it.  But the whole foods way - not the crazy herbal eat nothing way.  Oh, and Lisa made it through the cleanse despite the challenges she had the first few days.  I'm so proud of her!  I was glad to have a smoothie buddy too.  I seriously don't know how the 'Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead' guys did this for 60 days...and they were just on juice. Wow.

Resources that are great for learning about nutrition and your health are 'The China Study' by Dr Colin Campbell, 'Whole Foods to Thrive' by Brendan Brazier, and 'Eat to Live' by Dr Joel Fuhrman.

Peace out my lovelies...and go enjoy a juice today!

It's been four days since I ended the juice smoothie cleanse and I feel great.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but I can honestly say I feel like someone has hit a reset button within me.  Nothing I have done in the past has rid me of my sugar cravings, or the constant feeling like I should eat even though I just did (trust me I was never starving myself - I love food!), or the lightheadedness I would sometimes get throughout the day no matter if I just finished eating or not.   I have energy.  I feel light.  It's wonderful!