Saturday, 13 April 2013

The Big Juice Spring Clean!

Hello, long time no write!

I just wasn't quite feeling the writing groove. And it doesn't seem right to me to force myself to do something I'm not that motivated to do.

Apologies in advance, this post is pretty text heavy and I only got a few pics because I wasn't really thinking I'd blog!

But I have come round to the fact that my challenge over the past week was definitely worth a post. I took part in the Big Juice Spring Clean, a global plan orchestrated by Jason Vale (aka Juice Master - I did his 3 day cleanse last year), lasting 5 days on freshly made juices and smoothies, herbal teas, a touch of manuka honey and an emergency hunger banana! The five days were free of refined sugars, grains, animal products (besides honey), alcohol, caffeine, refined fats...basically anything that requires extra energy for your body to process. This encourages your body to tap into nature's energy (and your own fat stores) and redirects energy expenditure to cleansing your system and repairing disease.

Each day, Jason released recipe videos to walk through how to make and the benefits of each recipe. The whole process was simplified further by the fact that each day had only 2 recipes, each to be repeated in the day, so busy bees who don't have round the clock access to a juicer (as I do!) can simply double batch their twice daily recipes in advance. Also included on the plan was a ginger shot (half an apple juiced with as much ginger as you can cope with) first thing - down in one! An awesome immunity boost and kick start to the day, and it'll be something I'll definitely have again, along with several of the plan's recipes.

A beautiful blend of vegetable juice, sweetened with apple and pineapple, and whizzed up with avocado!

Participants also received daily videos from Jason recorded that very day - he answered questions and shared tips depending on the feedback he received on Facebook and twitter, as well as shout outs and success stories. This gave the whole program an awesome sense of community and the momentum to carry on.

Many people experience low points on programs such as this. As the body detoxes, withdrawal symptoms can occur, but the trick is to have faith in the process and not blame the beautiful juices for your symptoms because it's purely the toxins (sugar, chemicals, alcohol, caffeine - drug-like foods) leaving the body. If your body has come to rely on false, synthetic energy, it's going to have a bit of a tantrum until it comes to accept your new energy source. I was fortunate to experience nothing on the withdrawal front - I suppose that not being big on refined food, alcohol, caffeine beforehand helped!

So, what kicks did I get out of it? Well, the actual plan was based on Jason's forthcoming book '5lbs in 5 days' so many jump on the wagon for weightloss reasons. I'm not a big weigher - when you enjoy lifting weights, the scale is never a true reflection of your body's size, shape and health - so I don't really know how much I lost. I did do a measure though around my waist, hips and the flabbiest bit of one of my thighs. I lost 3, 4, and 1.5cm from these areas respectively, plus my abs(ish) have popped back to say hello and my jeans are fitting perfectly again.

Another thing I wanted to achieve was to relearn hunger signals, recognise false hunger, and sense when I am satisfied. I had gotten into a habit of feeding false hunger, purely because I was expecting to eat at a certain time of day, and not really listening to my cravings so I was never truly satisfied. So did I? So far, I certainly think so. I was 'planning' another liquid start to my day today, then really what I truly craved was a crunchy salad with creamy tahini dressing and gooey grilled sweet yeah, I had that for breakfast and it was beautiful! In fact, I left about 20% of the dish because I was full, and I'll have the leftover later today as and when I fancy it.

As I am writing this (2 hours post salad) I feel that I may be getting hungry again already, but I'm not sure it's the true hunger I experienced before tucking into salad round one, so that baby can wait a little longer!

A lot of people don't embark on fasts/juice plans because of fears about how it fits with their workout plan. Of course if your withdrawal symptoms are zapping your energy or making you grumpy, a workout won't be fancied, but Jason encouraged daily sweaty exercise throughout the week. I made 4 workouts in the 5 days and didn't feel remotely affected by the lack of solid food. In fact, I was flying in last night's hour of spinning, and managed weight lifting on day 1, maintaining my lifts and even upping some of the weights as I had planned last week.

I needed this by day 3 - super sweet thick, dessert-like smoothie of apple juice, frozen banana, frozen berries and gelled chia seeds.

Another reason people don't hop on the wagon is because they believe they will be nutrient deficient...where will I get my protein/calcium/blablabla. The fact is, live nature can offer us all we need, and juicing extracts nutrients from a plant's fibres so we get as much of it as possible. I'm talking amino acids (I.e. foundations of protein), vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, soluble fibre. Sure it won't be as much protein as typical diets (about 10%) but a) we often overestimate how much protein we require and b) it's only 5 days, you certainly will not die or lose significant amounts of muscle (though if your body fat is already really low, then I wouldn't guarantee that a degree of muscle wastage wont occur). Besides, as Jason argues, when did you really last care about fulfilling your nutritional quota? Though i know some of my MyFitnessPal friends do care and strive to meet them everyday, as do I a lot of the time, but in the main, people really don't give a shit...that is, until you tell them to get on a juice plan! It's just another excuse, juicing challenges your state of well being, your addiction to drug-like foods...who want to admit that their life isn't thriving, or that they make self-sabotaging food choices, or are physiologically addicted/dependent on junk, and have that challenged by some else's lifestyle choices. Here's Hannah the psychology student: when we come across something that challenges our self-perception, something that we are in denial about, or jealous of, we look for excuses or use defence mechanisms because change is scary and we want reasons to stick with what we are familiar with. To undertake a drastic lifestyle change requires a good deal of mental effort, being honest with yourself, and A LOT of picking yourself up, dusting off and trying again, and it's only when you truly value the outcomes of a healthier lifestyle that all that hard work is worth it.

Did I have more energy in general? I think so. I felt kind of bouncy/buzzy, but couldn't really vent it in the day time when I was sitting/standing in a quiet shop (pants week this past week, grrrr....), so most of the week kind of felt like a repressed fuzziness...hard to explain...but the second a customer came in I felt wildly enthusiastic and chatty!

Jason is running the plan again next Monday - Friday (kind won't be 'live' but all the resources will be made available) so google The Big Juice Spring Clean if your keen to find out more and register your email address to get the daily videos. Another key to success would be to pick up one of Jason's books to help maintain the right mentality to see you through your junk- free week.

Anyway, I I that's all I have to say about my week so far. I might try and review how well the effects are sustained over the coming weeks too. And if you have any questions, please leave a comment!

Bye for now!

Hannah x