I will once again begin by apologising for my continued sporadic presence on the blog – but my final exams are but a week away and much of my time is spent trying to wrap my head around edge detection algorithms these days. Riveting, I know. Anyways, on to today’s topic (which I promise is a little more interesting!) Last week I announced I was embarking on a 7-day juice fast as a “detox” in an attempt to solve some mysterious digestive issues I’d been having which my doctor insisted were stress related. After giving it some thought (thanks in large part to some of your insightful comments) and doing yet more research, I decided 5 days would be more than enough for a short “detox”, especially given that most people only do 3-4 day fasts when starting out – 7 did seem a bit excessive. More so than anything else, as I mentioned in my previous post, I really didn’t want to run the risk of losing weight. In any case, I went for 5 days of drinking nothing but freshly extracted juices and smoothies. In all honesty, I was sure I would cave by day 3 and reach for something savoury like a salad or some hummus, but all in all it was actually a very positive and painless experience. I kept a little diary of my day-to-day experiences on the fast, for those of you who are interested. Day 1: It’s the end of day 1 and I have to say, other than being a little out of my element, I’m feeling great. All day long I’ve sort of been waiting for any adverse effects to hit I haven’t had so much as a headache. The only time I felt genuinely hungry was this morning when I woke up and my body was expecting breakfast but once I had the hot water and lemon drink followed closely by the first juice I felt pretty full. I had all the suggested juices today with a couple cups of herbal tea (no green tea though as it has some caffiene in it) and water. I absolutely LOVE all the juices – they taste delicious although I’m definitely more partial to the earthier ones with beetroot and carrot in them. My only criticism is that some are a little too sweet for my liking so I’ll be adding in a couple extra handfuls of greens and ice tomorrow to balance them out. Exercise: I went for a slightly longer (3.5 miles) than planned jog but will aim to keep them no longer than 3 miles for the rest of the week. Day 2: Although I had no noticeable dips in energy yesterday when bedtime rolled around I was pretty tired and ended up sleeping like a baby. End of day 2 now and I’ve been feeling great all day, but again quite tired now. I’ve managed to be rather productive and find myself able to concentrate on exam revision for up to 3 hours at a time which is unprecedented for me. Not sure if this is down to the juicing or simply due to the fact that I have a lot more time since I’m not cooking/preparing meals and snacks, either way I’ll take it. I haven’t actually felt hungry yet or experienced any cravings, I think I miss the physical act of cooking and preparing food more than anything, it feels weird not having to that. Exercise: Went for another 3 mile jog today as the weather was nice and sunny and refueled with the Turbo Express juice which had tons of greens and avocado. Day 3: Day 3 and slept really well again last night.One thing I’m really enjoying is the hot water and lemon to start my mornings with – It’s so refreshing and just tastes really nice for what it actually is, will definitely be carrying that on post-fast. Overall felt fine today, I’m definitely starting to adjust both mentally and physically now. I had a very mild headache in the afternoon that stayed with me until bedtime but it was honestly so slight I barely noticed it. Exercise: 10 minutes on the eliptical trainer set to a low intensity then went to a yoga class which was the perfect way to break up studying. Day 4: End of day 4 now and I feel really good – definitely noticed a surge in energy levels today compared to yesterday. Woke up before my alarm and managed to get a lot done before my afternoon class. I noticed I felt pretty full after having just 4 out of 6 juices but had the last one (which was a double batch, so two technically) anyways. I’m really loving the airtight portable flasks I bought – they make juicing on the go such a breeze mean I only have to juice twice a day to make 6 juices which is super convenient. Exercise: 50 minute fitness pilates class – first time trying it but I loved it. There’s definitely a bigger focus on strength and balance which suits me more in terms of running. Day 5: I woke up feeling completely energised today. Even though it’s the final day of the fast I now understand how people go for weeks at a time just juicing, once the body adjusts it’s really not as difficult as it initially seems and it’s definitely a question of mind over matter. I didn’t feel very hungry today at all, but made a point to have some of the denser juices/smoothies today in preparation for starting back on normal food tomorrow. My GI doctor had recommended colon hydrotherapy to me before, and from what I gather about juice fasting it’s beneficial to have a colonic at the end in order to flush out the toxins in your system rather than have them re-absorbed (which would defeat the whole point of a detox) so I went in for a session today. I’ll spare you the details, but I can honestly say it was nowhere near as unpleasant as I had imagined and I actually felt incredible afterwards. *** Spirulina in smoothies and hot water with lemon – two things I intend to carry on. Overall Recap Overall, as I said it was actually a pretty pleasant experience. Although I missed putting meals together and the physical act of using my teeth, I definitely enjoyed the simplicity of just having juices and smoothies. I never felt physically hungry, although the smell of cooked food incited a sense of nostalgia in me which I found very interesting as it was definitely more of a “mental” hunger. I felt very light all the way through, as would be expected, and an odd but comforting sense of peace. As for whether the it worked – the answer is yes. I’m happy to report that I’m feeling great and my digestive issues have all but disappeared which is a huge relief. Whether I can attribute this to the “detox” however, I can’t say. While I do think the combination of resting my digestive system, the colonic as well as the new probiotic supplements I’ve been taking under my doctor’s recommendation may have all contributed to healing my symptoms, I’m not entirely sure I believe in the merits of detoxing just yet. I say this because those issues aside, I didn’t notice any considerable difference in how I felt after the fast than before. As my hydrotherapist pointed out, this could be because I eat well and lead a relatively healthy lifestyle. She noted some of her regular clients whom she would typically classify as healthy often over-estimate just how “toxic” their bodies are and underestimate the power of a healthy diet and exercise regimen (if carried on in the long-term). She was also quick to say that the opposite is also true and that most people underestimate the detrimental effects of an unhealthy diet and lifestyle. All in all I’ve come out of this experience with a renewed appreciation for my mind and body, as well as for food. Although I fast yearly for the Holy month of Ramadan by abstaining from food and water from sunrise till sundown – I never imagined I’d be able to go even 3 days without solid food. I was amazed and truly humbled at the fact that I was able to go about my daily life and even exercise without so much as a dent in my energy levels. I find myself eating a lot more mindfully nowadays, and I really take the time to savour and relish meals no matter how busy I find myself. I think it’s what some people refer to as an “attitude of gratitude” – and at the risk of sounding slightly holier-than-thou, I now definitely understand why. Post fast lunch: spinach, strawberry and avocado salad with walnuts As for whether or not I lost any weight – I don’t own scales so I don’t actually know yet, but I don’t think I have. Just to be sure however, I will check when I go to my yoga class tomorrow. Before I end this already long post I feel obligated to say that although this fast was a positive experience for me – everyone and every body is different. Please don’t take my word as gospel. I am not a certified health practitioner and you should ALWAYS check with a doctor (or two, in my case) before making such a drastic change to your diet. It’s definitely not something to take lightly and should be proceeded with extreme caution and sensibility. Have a great week everyone.