Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Goals Wednesday - Birthday Edition

All right, everyone, I'm back. You probably remember from my last entry that I was feeling overwhelmed and depressed, so I took a break from the blogosphere. Time for a triumphant return--you'll be glad to know I haven't been slacking on exercise, although I have been slacking on weighing myself. 

However, I was able to fit into a size eight at Banana Republic! I was a size 14 when I started this blog. The pants/jeans I ended up getting are a size ten, not because the eights didn't look fantastic (not to mention felt fantastic), but because the cut wasn't quite what I was looking for. If I'm buying one expensive pair of pants from Banana Republic so I have something that doesn't fall off my body, you best believe that they will be skinny, so I can wear them with boots. The skinny jeans were a little slimmer all over, as they tend to be, and I think I'm mostly a size ten anyways--that's also the size I wore in a fabulous Calvin Klein cocktail dress I tried on (but it was too small in the chest). 

Anyway. Today is my 25th birthday! I'm celebrating by taking today, tomorrow & Friday off work in order to relax and gear up for the holiday season. Saturday I'm going to Friendsgiving, a pre-Thanksgiving event with some dear friends, so I'm testing out a new vegan pumpkin recipe that I made up. I wrote down what I did, so I can actually duplicate it, which is something I desperately need to do with my strawberry rhubarb pie recipe. I do love pie. 

So, what are my goals? Well, obviously, get back on the horse and start blogging with better frequency. Make it through the holidays without gaining all the weight back! Try to enjoy the holiday season and remember all the things I have to be thankful for. So, nothing too difficult, right? It's been such a rough year, and I'd like these last parts to be full of celebration and thanks and no more disasters. My mom's surgery is on Monday, so let's all think positive thoughts for that, shall we? 

Meanwhile, wish me good luck with that pie. I'm about to take it out of the oven. If it's any good, I'll post the recipe!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Goals Wednesday

It is the first Goals Wednesday of November! I will be 25 two weeks from today! Hopefully that will be a good age for me - 24 has not been so great. 

This Goals Wednesday, I'm celebrating my accomplishments! The juice fast is such a huge thing that I wanted to do and was able to complete, and I haven't had a lot of that happening this year. I needed a win. Today, I had another win - I ran two miles! The last time I went for a two mile run was the day that my gallbladder attack happened. One minute, you're running, feeling a little nauseated, and then a few hours later, boom! You're in the ER getting a CT scan and then being told your gallbladder needs to be removed. 

Adam and I have been doing the Couch to 5K program, and last night I felt it was rather easy for me. Today, I'd been feeling stressed & restless all day. It was so nice out when I got home, and I knew the rain was coming (and now it's here), so I decided to make the most of it and go for a run. It helped calm me down and get my mind off some of the stress of this week. 

I found out yesterday that my mother has melanoma. This news has me feeling a million different and often conflicting emotions, to the point where my initial reaction was one of numbness. This comes on the heels of worries about a very close friend going through some medical uncertainty, and recent concerns about Adam's dad, who had a heart attack and double bypass surgery earlier this year. Another one of my closest friends is going through a break-up. It seems that while I am on the road back to wellness, many of those around me may be in some trouble. 

So, my goal for this week is just to be there for those in need. Lend a sympathetic ear, and try not to be my usual awkward self around other people's tragedies. That is the least I can do for others - for myself, I need to just breathe and be through all of this. I plan on focusing on the transition back to regular eating and more rigorous exercise - this is all about re-establishing a routine, which is a comforting idea in a time of so much ambiguity. 

Juice Fast: The Review

Here it is, at long last: I've made it through the juice fast/reboot and the transition back to food, and I'm here to tell you the tale. It's given me a sense of accomplishment I haven't had since I was running on a regular basis, and it's great to have that back!

I've had a lot of people ask me questions and/or express interest in doing something like this themselves--this entry will attempt to answer all those questions, in my charming, rambling way. 

The first big question, is, of course, would I do it again? Absolutely! I probably would do a modified reboot that did involve eating some of my fruits & vegetables as well, or maybe just five days of juicing only, as opposed to ten. I'm really glad that I did this once and got through the full ten days, but, unless I have another health crisis or relation-to-food crisis or something similar, I think I would stick with the reboot plans that still let me eat some solids. 

Let's address the juicer. There are a lot of different juicers out there, and most of them are pretty expensive. Adam and I went with this one:

It's cheap, well-reviewed, and so far, it's been a champ! It is a centrifugal juicer, and, from what I gather, this means it isn't quite as good for juicing leafy greens. I will say that I tended to get more juice out of kale, chard, beet greens, etc. when I chopped them into smaller pieces. However, one big advantage of this juicer is the big mouth - leafy greens notwithstanding, minimal prep was involved to make the veggies small enough to fit in the juicer. 

That's one thing you notice pretty immediately when doing a juice fast, or even subbing juice for a meal or two - you suddenly have much more time on your hands. Prepping produce, making juice, and cleaning the juicer all takes much less time it takes to make your average meal, or even pick up your average take-out meal. For the first few days, you're going to be a little lazier, and therefore probably not doing much that's productive with that extra time, but hey, you can catch up on your television while drinking some juice. It's odd to be drinking your meals. One of the most difficult aspects of the fast, for me, was missing the sensation of eating, especially in the cold. Nothing turns you off chilly juice like a cold, rainy day - you just want some hot food, and maybe some coffee! But, I had to make do with tea. Lots and lots of tea. Also vegetable broth, once. 

What I didn't suffer too much from was hunger. Don't get me wrong, on days 3 & 4, I did get hungry from time to time, and I felt a little weak and crappy--natural when your body is detoxing and switching to alternate sources of fuel. But as soon as I felt hunger, it could easily be resolved by having a little juice and a glass of water. Some people seemed to be under the perception that the juicing-only part of any reboot plan is tantamount to starvation, and that's just not so. This recipe for carrot-apple-ginger juice, one of the lighter recipes I've seen, is still 233 calories. This recipe for Peachy Green juice, on the other hand, contains 384 calories. Most plans I've seen recommend you drink juice 3-5 times per day, which means you're still taking in a good amount of calories. Most likely less than you're used to, but juicing does not equal starving yourself. Take a look at the recipes I linked to, and others with nutrition facts - you're still getting protein and all the nutrients you'd need. You are getting less fiber, obviously, but that is part of the point. You're supposed to be giving your digestive system a break. 

As I mentioned in update #7, I did not have the digestive fireworks most people describe having in the first few days of the fast. Other "cleanse" programs (most of which are essentially starvation, and therefore not cool in my book) talk about cleaning out your colon, getting rid of the sludge, etc., and I've seen a good bit of that when reading about juice fasting/rebooting. Adam and I did not experience this particular side effect. Why that is, I'm not sure. Our normally high-fiber, low fat diet? Lack of processed foods? It's difficult to say without consulting an expert, which I would rather not do, for obvious reasons. 

We did, however, lose some weight. Not a lot of weight - 5-6 pounds each, if you check the weight log. Weight loss is the goal for a lot of people, but it wasn't my primary goal--although I am glad to be back in the normal BMI range, and I'm hoping to stay there as my body rebounds from the fasting period. My primary goal was to redefine my relationship with food, and with my body. You see, I love food, which is more than I've been able to say about my body this year. As all of you probably know (if you've read anything else on this blog, or have talked with me in the past year), my body has failed me in a lot of ways as of late. One of the hardest parts has been the cold/pneumonia/respiratory infection. Not being able to smell or really taste your food combined with constant doses of antibiotics, steroids, and cold medicine will leave you utterly without appetite or enjoyment for food. I've been better for a while now, but the month-long stint of illness messed with my body and how it relates to food. I wasn't eating when I was hungry or even craving food, I was eating when I forced myself to, because I felt like I should be eating. That's not what food should be. Food should be enjoyable, nourishing, or, at the very least, a social binder. 

So far as redefining my relationship with food, this juice fast was a resounding success. As I mentioned yesterday, I was more than eager to be around food, even though I wasn't eating much of it. As I get back into eating, I'm enjoying my food, eating smaller portions, and feeling the nourishment. I am having a little trouble getting back onto an eating schedule, but I'm confident that will come with time - it probably didn't help that I was just starting to eat food again on Halloween. But I've been pretty proud of my eating habits thus far, and feeling much more in tune with my body where food is concerned. 

I was hoping that the juicing would help my skin. After never having a skin problem before in my life, I've been prone to breakouts for the past 15 months or so, which has been a real pain. After trying a million different (eco-friendly, non-toxic) products, I think I've got a routine that keeps most of it under control, but I didn't see much of a difference when juicing. I feel like I look a little healthier now than I have, but I suspect most of that is due to other factors. 

One of the biggest unexpected benefits of doing the juice fast has been the sleep. I imagine part of this is due to the fact that caffeine is a no-no while juicing, but it felt like more than that. I got tired faster, slept better, and woke up filled with much more energy. I would be sleepy when the alarm went off, like we all are, but as soon as I was up & out of bed, I felt fully awake. Normally, I may not feel fully awake until I've already been at work for a few hours - I'll spend that morning time just feeling fuzzy. It's nice to wake up and actually be energized and ready to tackle the day. 

The energy did translate into me wanting to exercise, but Adam wasn't feeling up to keeping up with the Couch to 5K during the fast, so we went on a lot of walks, but we're now back to the plan - you can keep up with that over at the fitness log

In fact, a friend asked me how I did at work during the fast, energy-wise, and if the juicing affected my ability to work. I did great! I shattered a previously held productivity record (previously held by me, so it was my own record) by a good portion. I won't lie and say that it's all great; I scheduled the fast when I did (starting on a Thursday) so that days 3 and 4, which were the roughest, would fall on a weekend. It was also helpful that one of my co-workers agreed to participate in the fast with me, so I had moral support right there at work. Literally right there (she sits next to me). Having a great support system at work, at home, and of course through my online community really helped me get through the temptations and tougher times during the fast. I couldn't have done it without you all! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Post Juice Fast

Well hello! I took a little blogging break over the weekend/Halloween, but now I'm back, ready to share my thoughts on the end of my ten-day juice fast. 

Saturday (day 10) was a little rough. I knew the food was close, and so I just did what I could to stay busy and get through the day quickly. As a result, I rather feel like I didn't have much of a weekend, but that happens sometimes. I made it through! Sunday morning I was at New Seasons shortly after they opened, armed with a list and ready to shop. I suggest having a list if you haven't eaten solid food in ten days, lest you end up buying entire the store. I just wanted to be around food, really. 

To break my fast, I made a platter with fresh black mission figs, valencia almonds, a fuji apple, hummus, and pita. I also made myself a mimosa, as a little treat. I vastly overestimated the amount of food I could eat in one sitting! I was snacking on that plate and sipping on that mimosa for hours. It was great just to have the sensation of eating again, though, and I'm glad I chose some foods with varied textures and flavors. 

Most suggestions I've seen for transitioning back into solid foods have you eat vegan for a few days. For dinner, I made a broccoli white bean soup, which was vegan (except for the shaved parmesan garnish, which I did not have), and an upgraded caesar salad, which is not vegan, but I wasn't eating that. I made that for my darling husband Adam, who loves caesar salad. This fancy version used chard instead of romaine and was topped with a poached egg. I'd never tried to poach eggs before, but they turned out well! It turns out I can cook, when I put my mind to it. We had everything with some delicious homemade bread that was gifted to us, which I did partake in, despite the fact that both the bread and the butter I put on it were not vegan. 

I also made one of our fall/winter favorites - molasses crinkles, vegan-style. Since they are a depression-era recipe (courtesy of Betty Crocker), they use shortening instead of butter. The only non-vegan ingredient was the egg, but I use applesauce instead. The effect is so delicious, I prefer them to the non-vegan version. 

Yesterday, being Halloween, meant lots of treats were about. I ate more cookies than I'd care to admit to, but a minimal amount of candy, none of it from my home stash - quite impressive, considering we had zero trick-or-treaters! I've got plenty of candy and will honor trick-or-treaters all week. 

Luckily, the scale was not too much of a foe today - 0.7 lbs up, but that's to be expected during a transition back to solid foods. Stay tuned for an in-depth look at the juice fast - why I did it and what I liked, what I didn't, and what I accomplished, posted tomorrow. If you have any questions for an FAQ section, please shoot them my way and I will include them in the upcoming post!