I remember my first juice fast: I was 15, at boarding school in Colorado, and desperate to be skinny.
My roommate and I got up at 5 A.M. to go running or get to the gym before class started.
I spent every other moment of the day “fidgeting” to burn calories…a tip that was actually recommended in one of the many weight loss books I’d hidden under my bed.
This was before Instagram-celebs were sharing their glamorous looking cleanses and glowy skin, we just had a faded book from the 80’s inspiring us to drink nothing but juice for three days.
As you might imagine, we made it through a single day before bingeing on pancakes (it was breakfast-for-dinner night in the cafeteria…it’s like the gods of growing young women were taking care of us 😉 )
The years following saw me through SlimFast, raw food cleanses, smoothie feasts, one-meal-a-day calorie restriction, and the motherload: 90-days on nothing but juice.
Yeah, that’s THREE MONTHS.
My fixation on body cleansing to perfection and FINALLY getting the “perfect body” consumed my life.
When I gave up dieting, it was revolutionary.
Suddenly I was treating myself as if I LIKED myself and I actually had to find something interesting to DO with my life!
After having spent years upon years juicing every day (even going so far as to pack my juicer in my suitcase on every vacation) I shoved that juicer under the counter and didn’t look at it for months.
I wanted nothing to do with rules, “have-to’s”, or anything resembling a diet.
Several months were spent eating purely for tastebud-pleasure and culinary curiosity and it was FREEDOM…temporarily.
And when the free-for-all honeymoon ended – I was more free mentally but less free physically.
I had no more hangups about “good” and “bad” foods.
I cherished my body as it was, no diet necessary.
And I felt awful.
PMS. Flaky skin. Headaches. Mood swings.
All stuff I’d dealt with prior to getting into this healthy eating business.
So, in the name of FREEDOM (which is why I’d ultimately made EVERY choice from juice fasting to giving up dieting) I decided I’d explore eating for how I wanted to FEEL.
I wanted lightness.
To feel like MYSELF without the mood swings.
Thus, my juicer found it’s way back to my counter with no force, willpower, or sense of dread.
I absolutely refuse to eat anything that doesn’t bring me joy (I guess I sorta Marie Kondo’d my diet!) and a giant jar of hydrating green juice every day has become downright sacred.
Juicing as a sane person.
Having lived every extreme from orthorexia to fuck-green-juice-I’m-getting-taco-bell, here are my top tips for knowing if a juice fast is healthy:
– It feels exciting, right, and easy. It should not feel like the world’s biggest burden and if it does, it’s not the right step for you. A “cleanse” should be just enough of a stretch for you that it feels completely doable with just a touch of challenge.
– You’re focused more on how you want to FEEL than how you want to LOOK. A cleanse done purely to see the number on the scale go down is gonna make you crazy. A cleanse done to bring in LIGHTNESS, MAGIC, and CLARITY into your experience is the way to go.
– You feel completely “whole” and “enough” to begin with. You should never jump into a cleanse thinking that you’ll be “fixed” at the end. You don’t need fixing. Perhaps your experience of yourself simply needs a little upgrading.
– You’re listening to your body. There will likely be cravings and detox symptoms but you shouldn’t feel like you’re starving yourself or that you can’t show up for your life.
– You already have a lifestyle that supports feeling really good in your body. There should be no jumps from fast-food binges to white-knuckled fasts.
– You’re not struggling with disordered eating or you don’t like your body. Going to an extreme will only hold you in a place of struggle for longer. If this is you, know that cleansing can have a place in your life when you’re more grounded and have healed your relationship to food and your body.
– It comes naturally. In my experience, the desire to lighten up or cleanse sort of “calls” to me like an invitation. It can “call” in the form of simple curiosity or in an intense desire to feel less heaviness.
In my experience, a teeny bit of life-affirming discipline can lead to a whole lotta’ freedom.
Not the “I’ll look great in a bikini and THEN I’ll feel free!” sort of way.
In the “waking-up-feeling-clear, connected-to-your-body, oh-THERE’S-all-that-vitality!!” sort of way.
My advice: Learn to love your body first – THEN explore the world of cleansing if you feel it calling to you.