A Holistic Juice Cleanse in Real Time

All week I felt so lethargic and I knew my diet of processed foods and mostly carbs was to blame. I follow a vegan diet, but even still there are plenty of opportunities to eat poorly. Faced with this realization, I knew the best way to reset my body was to eliminate foods altogether and engage in the age old process of a fast. Fasts are great for jump starting weight loss, healing the liver and gut, skyrocketing energy levels, and clearing the mind.

Rather than engage in a super strict water-only regime, I chose to do a simple weekend juice fast–sticking to mainly organic and raw fruits and veggies. This weekend I’ll be documenting my fast covering juicing recipes, tips for beating cravings, and how to take full advantage of the intense focusing effect fasting has on the brain.

Day 1 (Saturday):

Also, it’s incredibly important to drink lots of water. I start my day with a liter of filtered water and this weekend is no exception.

10:00 am: Already after  my first juice I feel a surge of energy, my mind is sharp and my mood is euphoric. Even the boys got in on the action and added some organic juice to their breakfast of waffles and fruit. 

12:00 pm: I did a short 15 minute kettlebell workout and some gentle yoga. I didn’t feel any different during the kettle bell portion, and my yoga practice felt great. I concentrated on moves that focused on my back and abdomen (spinal twists and bridge pose) to encourage the cleansing process even more. After working out I made lunch for the boys, and the first real hunger pangs hit me. I reconciled these with remembering why I chose to do this cleanse in the first place, and took some deep breathes. Studies show that cravings tend to last around 30 seconds, so if you can make it past that point, you will survive–resolve intact.

I also poured myself a cup of organic black coffee. Purists would say that you should forgo all caffeine during these cleanses, but there is so much evidence that supports the benefits of coffee on the liver and gut, so I’m keeping it in.


1:00 pm: Lunch is a Naked green machine smoothie. It’s bit of a cheat and higher in sugar than I would like, but with two kids it’s a lifesaver and will help me stay on track for the duration of the cleanse. 

6:00 pm: It’s been roughly a day of consuming nothing but liquids and I feel amazing. My husband and I took the boys to Whole Foods to pick up some dinner and I grabbed a cold-pressed juice. It’s odd, I feel so sharp–sounds and smells are heightened and yet my mind is so relaxed. I can see why so many people from around the world use fasts as religious and spiritual aids: it doesn’t just clarify your body, but your mind as well. 

Four Unexpected Effects of a Plant-Based Diet.

Update: My article was published in elephant journal! You can find the latest version here: https://www.elephantjournal.com/2017/05/four-unexpected-effects-of-a-plant-based-diet/

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What if I told you that you could do something today that would make you look and feel amazing, save lives and the earth? I think without knowing what that action was, most if not all people would agree to trying it. Unfortunately, when that action involves breaking with societal norms and traditions, the decision to change is harder fought. My only viable option then, is to share my own experience of how going vegan and relinquishing all meat and dairy from my plate, drastically changed my life in unexpected and beautiful ways. My ultimate purpose is that someone reading this will be curious enough to try the experiment out for themselves, and watch their own life transform for the better. 

Common sense dictates that when you eat more fruits and vegetables, while simultaneously eating less sugar, processed foods, and fat, you will feel better. A diet consisting mainly of meat, eggs, and dairy has been proven to sink the body into a state of inflammation which leads to disease and a poor quality of life riddled with medication and corrective surgeries. But what I found surprising is that in the past few months while I slowly eliminated meat, then eggs and dairy in favor of a plant-based diet, I experienced a myriad of benefits that I never anticipated. Aside from feeling happy about my choice to live an environmentally friendly existence, I experienced perks that I had not even considered when making my initial decision to become vegan. I knew I would feel clearer and have more energy, but I never expected these next four items to happen, and certainly not so suddenly.

Sleep: Within days of eating a diet free of meat, eggs, and dairy, I started needing less sleep. Typically I would feel exhausted by 9:00 pm. Right after putting my two young boys to sleep, I would want to crash too, and often did much to my husband’s dismay. Our time to talk and bond as friends and a couple was truncated because all I wanted to do was clean up the dinner dishes and get to bed. This shifted almost immediately when I began consuming more dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, beans, fruit and grains. And aside from having more energy at night, my quality of sleep improved. I fell asleep fast, and slept soundly all night, which was not typical for me.

Before the switch, I would toss and turn to get to sleep (despite being overly tired) and would wake frequently throughout the night. The result was that I was groggy and reluctant to get out of bed in the morning. I set the alarm for 5:00 am so I can practice yoga and mediation, and usually it’s a battle for my feet to hit the floor. Not so under this new diet, and that’s with receiving even less sleep that I was used to getting. Now when the alarm sounds, I am alert and ready to start my day from a place of mindfulness and strength while the rest of my house soundly sleeps.

Athletic Endurance: I love to workout, it’s something that has been a constant companion my entire life. It’s rarely a chore, and something I honestly enjoy. Through working out I connect with my body and reach meditative states I can’t by simply sitting still on the floor. That’s why I was intrigued when I went completely plant-based, and my running felt different. I felt as though I could run forever, there was no resistance in my lungs, heart, or legs. My body moved in synchronicity, perfectly free and full of life. The amount of energy I source from nutrient dense foods has changed that way my blood flows when taxed, and I sensed it immediately. It has been shown that patients with high cholesterol and arterial blockages can improve their vascular health by switching to a plant-based diet. The body wants to heal itself, and it will if you only let it. It takes about three hours for the arteries to de-harden after the consumption of food high in salt and fat, which is usually when they are hit again with another damaging meal. Imagine what happens when you let the body go into a state of healing instead of destruction, and imagine what happens if you don’t.

The change I felt in running carried over to the weight room too. The weights felt lighter, and my recovery time was shorter between repetitions. Usually, the day following a tough weight session, I am sore, but I felt very little of that. At first I thought I was just having a good day, then a good week, but I saw the same encouraging results each time I went to the gym. My performance had definitely improved, and the only variation was the quality and make-up of my diet. After my workout, I typically drink a protein shake or eat an apple and it carries me through until dinner, no 2:30 pm sugary snack needed.

Sugar Addiction: Sugar is one of the most damaging ingredients in the human diet, and one of the most addicting. I certainly was not immune to its pull, however with an abundance of fresh fruits and veggies in my diet, my urge for soda, candy, and yes even Nutella has subsided substantially. Its been theorized that sugar cravings are actually caused by a depletion of nutrients such as phosphorus, magnesium, and chromium. Because I was getting plenty of the core nutrients my body needed, my usual sugar cravings evaporated. And as a result of consuming less sugar, I noticed my skin, hair, and nails looked better. I was healing my body from the inside on a cellular level, and it was showing on the outside.

Relationships: Truly happy people have a good relationship with themselves first, and feeding yourself well and with care, is the ultimate act of love to your body, mind, and spirit. By choosing to eat nutritiously and mindfully, I show myself love everyday, and that impacts how I interact with my sons, husband, family, co-workers, and friends. My improved levels of energy, athletic performance, and general sense of well-being made me happier and more excited about life and my relationships. It’s a scenario where everyone wins. Plus the more I talk about how great I feel, the more questions I receive about it. At first there is always a joke, usually accompanied with an eye-roll, but then more often than not, the conversation transforms to honest curiosity and openness about how a plant-based diet changed my life for the better, and how it could change theirs too.

The list above details just a few examples of how going vegan has had an enormous impact on my quality of life, and I am looking forward to discovering more as time goes on and I get more creative with my recipes. For those individuals who inexplicably deride a vegan lifestyle because it opposes cultural norms, I just want to convey that we have one life and one body, and to truly honor yours and live your best life, you need to actively take control of what you put in your body. And who knows what exciting ways your life might improve if you are curious enough to try a plant-based diet out for yourself.

Chocolate Strawberry Banana Protein Smoothies

One of my favorite shows, Chopped, challenges competitors to make delicious meals out of seemingly random ingredients. I am no chef, but I enjoy pretending I’m on the show when faced with a surplus of leftovers or fruit that’s a tad too ripe. 

Such is the case today when I opened the fridge and found a full container of strawberries that were not long for this world. I decided to whip up healthy protein smoothies for me and the boys and they turned out delicious!

Ingredients:

2 cups of strawberries 

1 banana 

1 package of GoGo Squeeze Organic Strawberry Banana Applesauce 

1 scoop of chocolate protein powder

1/2 cup of chocolate milk

Ice (optional) 

Scenes from Today: Breakfast with Santa 

Bright and early this morning we took the boys to the annual Breakfast with Santa event coordinated by the City of Chamblee. Consistent with every year, the boys did not enjoy meeting the big man, but now the outright aversion to him has become such a tradition in itself, that if it changed I’m not sure I would know what to do. 

After the torturous forced picture (which I will spare you from) we ate a lovely egg and cheese sandwich breakfast provided by the always delicious local eatery The Mad Italian. DC, my youngest, promptly spilled his drink everywhere, including my lap. You might ask why I let him run off with a container of juice in the first place, and you wouldn’t be out of line. The reason is that he adamantly refuses to let anyone help him drink out of cups because he desperately wants to emulate all things big brother Nash. I can’t fault a desire for growth in anyone, even if it’s obviously out of reach at the moment.  

Our Santa adventure pinnacled with pony rides outside in bitter temperatures. It was the first time either boy had ridden a horse, unless you count the time I was pregnant with DC and unhorsed by a charging territorial goose–but that’s another story. The boys loved riding, and by the end had made fast friends with their miniature steeds. 

All in all it was a successful, albeit disorganized endeavor, but this is an instance where I absolutely choose to embrace the chaos. Moments like these create memories that we will remember and laugh about for years to come, spilled juice and scary Santas included. 

Fudge Brownie Protein Bars

Protein is an essential part of a healthy diet. It’s responsible for building and repairing tissue, and making enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicalsProtein aids in building bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. And children need an even greater percentage of protein compared to adults as they are constantly growing. 

Protein also serves as an important part of weight management. One study showed that eating approximately one daily serving of beans, chickpeas, lentils or peas can increase fullness, which may lead to better weight management and weight loss. (Li SS, Kendall CW, de Souza RJ, Jayalath VH, Cozma AI, Ha V, Mirrahimi A, Chiavaroli L, Augustin LS, Blanco Mejia S, Leiter LA, Beyene J, Jenkins DJ, Sievenpiper JL. Dietary pulses, satiety and food intake: a systematic review and meta-analysis of acute feeding trials. Obesity, 2014. Aug;22(8):1773-80.)

As a busy mom, I’m always on the lookout for healthy snack options for my family. I have tried to be like the French and not feed my kids (or myself) snacks inbetween meals, but that lasted all of thirty minutes before a revolution of another sort happened en route to Costco. In light of these harsh realities, I place a priority on finding snacks that won’t make my children resemble deranged chimpanzees five minutes after consuming them. Enter, the Fudge Brownie Protein Bar. 

Ingredients:

Bars

1 can of black beans

3 Tbsp cocoa powder

7 Tbsp chocolate protein powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup honey

3 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/3 cup chocolate chips

Topping

Sprinkle sliced almonds and PBFit powder

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350

Puree the beans and mix in all the ingredients until smooth

Grease a glass pan and spread mix evenly

Sprinkle the almonds and PBFit on top

Bake for 20-25 mins

Once cooled, store in the fridge

 Enjoy!