It's the evening of Day 20, and I'm writing my final blog entry for my first juice fast. This is a little bit surreal, and almost bittersweet.
Today has been a fantastic day: I started the morning by making a trip to EarthFare where, for the first time in 3 weeks, I ventured out of the produce department! It was a pretty big shopping trip, seeing as how with the exception of some left over veggies & fruit from my last trip, and some random staples left in the pantry, I was kind of starting from scratch and stocking the fridge & pantry again. I also spent some time cleaning out the fridge and pantry of food that I know I won't eat anymore, which was a great feeling!
As my business partner Melanie is enjoying some much needed beach-time this weekend I was lucky enough to lead our classes at Vitality Yoga & Wellness today. Big thanks to my best friend Beth for showing up (super hung over!) for the first class, Yoga for Athletes. We had a pretty fun time, just the two of us, and I made her suffer just a bit and sweat the alcohol out. My friends Mike & Shannon joined us for a great deep stretch class, and everyone did so well. It was a pleasure to get the chance to teach them, and they were such fantastic students! I'm enjoying teaching yoga even more than I thought I would, and feeling more comfortable and confident about my abilities than I was when I taught my first impromptu class just 2 weeks ago! This week, (in addition to breaking my fast!) I am looking forward to teaching my first regular classes on our schedule. If you find yourself free during the day on Wednesday & Friday I would love to see you! I'll be teaching a Yoga 101 for Beginners from 10:30-11:45 and Power Yoga from 12-1 on Wednesdays, and an All Levels Vinyasa Flow from 10:30-11:45 and Power Yoga from 12-1 on Fridays.
Upon returning from yoga I made my last juice of this fast, along with double servings of two juices to enjoy in conjunction with my meals tomorrow and Tuesday. Then, I cleaned my juicer thoroughly, and put it up until Wednesday. It will feel very odd not to use it for a few days, and it makes me kind of sad! I made it up as I went along today and my last juice (and my morning juice for the next 2 days) turned out fantastic. I've dubbed it the "sunshine juice":
Peal the citrus fruits so very little pith (white stuff) remains, remove the pits from the peaches, and throw it all in the juicer. Add about 1/3 volume of coconut water and enjoy. #1, this tasted like summer in a glass, almost reminiscent of an orange creamsicle, and #2, the color was bright and fantastic! It's a keeper.
I soaked in some vitamin D after the classes and relaxed with a good book and my sunshine juice by the pool. After an hour of soaking up the rays, I got busy in the kitchen for the first time in 3 weeks! In my last post I broke down my menu for the next week, and already it's changed up a bit, but that's where "going with the flow" comes in!
Today I began by making my breakfast salad for the next few mornings. I'd hoped to start tomorrow off with a big bowl of fresh local strawberries, blackberries and peaches. While the strawberries lasted much better after being rinsed in the vinegar water and stored in the fridge in mason jars, they were beginning to get to that really ripe stage that one or two more days might be too long to wait. Beth happened to stop by the Peach Stand for the first time ever (finally!) and called to let me know they were out of strawberries and think that might be it for the berries this year. Sad, but thank goodness I went crazy last week and bought a gallon!! I've got plenty in the freezer for smoothies, 2 big jars of my strawberry basil jam, and enough fresh berries for my recipes this week. So, in lieu of the lack of new berries, and my fear of waking up in the morning to find mushy berries, I changed my plan for tomorrow morning's breakfast just a tad, which I think will end up working out well!
High Protein Quinoa Almond Berry Salad comes from my new most favorite blog ever, Oh She Glows, which is an amazing vegan blog. If you're looking for inspired new ideas for healthy cooking, I promise you'll find what you're looking for on that site! I was unable to find cherries, either fresh (not in season) or frozen, so I used the gigantic, as big as my thumb, blackberries I picked up along with my other local produce the other day. I also opted to add some mint as it just seemed to want something green in it, and I happen to have a surplus. I'm not gonna lie- I took a lick of the maple lime dressing. Holy crap. I don't know if it's because it's my first non-juice/tea/broth in 3 weeks, or if it's really the best dressing ever, but that stuff is amaaaazing! I had to stop myself after the first little lick because I could have gone crazy on it! Following the recipe as listed, outside of the blackberries & mint, I ended up with 2 quarts of salad that would be more than enough for 2 people to enjoy breakfast twice, or it could make 6 side salads along with another meal (oooh I just imagined it next to french toast. That would kick ass). I'm hoping it's good enough to eat for breakfast Monday-Wednesday and not get bored... if the tiny taste of dressing I took is any indication, I think I'll be perfectly content!
While I had the strawberries out I went ahead and prepped the salad that I will enjoy with dinner tomorrow night and eat again for lunch on Tuesday. It's a beautiful salad with strawberries, avocado, spinach, red leaf lettuce, pecans, and blue cheese. I tossed in some chia seeds for good measure (and now that I think about it, will probably add chia seeds to my Quinoa Almond Berry Salad in the morning too!) I'll share the recipe for this salad tomorrow, but I wanted to mention in this blog about the genius that is salad-in-a-jar.
The concept is simple and can work for just about any salad. Dressing goes at the bottom of a 1 quart wide mouth mason jar. On top of the dressing goes your veggie or fruit toppings: in this case the avocado is sitting in the vinaigrette to keep it from turning brown (double duty!) and the berries are on top. If you're a fan of raw mushrooms in salads, try putting the shrooms down in the dressing first, and they'll soak up some of the flavor and become marinated fabulousness. The goal is to get enough toppings on top of the dressing that you've got a nice buffer and your greens stay dry. I suggest putting your lettuce/spinach/greens in a salad bowl and filling it as much as you'd like your final salad to be. You'll be shocked at how much lettuce you can fit in a mason jar! Stuff the lettuce in. Top with your remaining ingredients- in this case, pecans, chia seeds, and blue cheese. Nuts and cheese are great to put at the top. The cool thing is basically you do the prep work and chopping for one great big salad, and put it into as many jars/servings as you'd like. You'd be surprised at how long these greens will last sealed up in jars too- you could easily make a gigantic salad on Sunday, put it into 7 jars, and have your 7th jar in one week come out fresh and delicious. I'm borderline obsessed with salads-in-jars now, and I hope you can use this handy trick to make your June Salad Challenge even more convenient and easy to stick with! (PS- we now have a Facebook Group for the big challenge! Join up and share your pics, recipes, and get ideas and motivation!)
After jarring up some delish looking salads, I made some Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes with Blackberry Salsa, which will be dinner tomorrow night and Wednesday night. I can't WAIT to eat these babies! Look for this recipe on Tuesday. If they taste as good as they look, this recipe will get put into regular rotation. It ended up making 3 servings instead of only 2, so again, I'll have to go with the flow here. I very well might end up throwing my Nourish Mac & Cheeze in the freezer to enjoy later and using up the sweet potato cakes. Or, if hell freezes over, Jeremy might try them and like them too and help me eat them up!
I put the remaining strawberries in the freezer, along with what was left of my blueberries and blackberries. I'll use these for some quick smoothies later in the week. As I mentioned earlier, I have already made and frozen some sweet dessert treats to enjoy through the week- sliced bananas, topped with almond butter, dipped in organic chocolate coating and topped with coconut flakes. Super excited about the sweets :)
All in all, I spent a little less than 2 hours in the kitchen, and probably could have shaved 30 minutes off if I weren't going at a slow, easy pace and shoo-ing cats off the counters every 2 minutes. I ended up with 8+ meals (3-4 breakfasts, 2 large salads, and 3 dinner entrees). Between what I made today and my Nourish delivery coming Tuesday I should be set on food until Thursday, at least!
This morning before yoga I had Jeremy take my "after" photos. I use the word after loosely because while they are the final photos of this particular juice fast, I still have some work to do and a ways to go to meet my final weight and fitness goals. I stepped on the scale this morning and it was 147.2. Pretty cool. Felt good to know I'll beat my goal by .8 pounds, and maybe I can get that final .2 off by tomorrow morning, who knows? So, without further adieu, here are my before (pre-fast; weight 168ish), during (day 11; weight 154.6) and after (day 20; weight 147.2)
I'm happy that, for once, the changes I see on the outside reflect the changes I feel on the inside. Physically I've ended up with a bigger change than I anticipated or hoped for. My favorite changes can definitely be seen from the side view: my chin looks SO much less flabby and more sculpted, and my stomach is infinitely flatter. The biggest difference in size I think is around my ribcage, which is surprising to me. I don't know why, but I kind of thought the diameter of the ribcage was a static thing. I tried on my wedding dress yesterday and this was the area that it was the tightest just a few weeks ago. At this point it looks like I'll be having the dress taken in by at least 2 inches! I'm searching frantically for my paperwork from buying my dress as it has my measurements, and I'd like to measure myself tomorrow to see how this translated to inches lost. I'm also pretty psyched about the decrease in arm flabbiness, and the reduction of the good 'ol love handles. My thighs in particular are also much thinner than I figured they'd get! I can look at my pictures today and be really proud of my body. It's still not quite where I want it to be, and I've still got some work to do, but this is a body I can put a bikini on and feel confident about!
I've got an amazing feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction this evening. I'm proud of myself for making it 20 days on this juice fast. Not bad for the first time around. My next 2 will be much shorter, only 7-10 days, but after the wedding I would like to try for an extended fast of 30ish days. Everyone tells me "I'd love to do a juice fast, I just don't have the discipline or will power". I am here to call "bull-shit!". If I can do it, you can do it, I promise you that. I am such a glutton when it comes to food. I have practically no willpower. Show me a pizza or a cupcake and eat with abandon. Sticking to juice, tea, and broth was somehow... easy. The rules are so simple and easy to follow, it's hard to mess it up.
Mentally, I have a much greater clarity than I did 20 days ago, without question. This has had some amazing results: I feel like I have a much better grasp on my life, and what I want out of it, and what I want to accomplish. I feel like I'm finding my purpose and my place. Outside of the juice fast, our lives have been a big roller coaster the past 20 days, most of it negative. Sometimes you feel like life is conspiring against you, trying to make things as difficult as possible, trying to break you. I think, were it not for the confidence and mental clarity I've found through this process, I would feel that way right now. But instead I have a feeling of peace, and knowing that I am exactly where I am meant to be right now. I'm overwhelmed with gratitude to my body, my health, my relationship, my professional progress. Things might not be falling into place, and it might seem like one step forward and 2 steps back, but I feel a deep and sincere happiness that wasn't there before I began my fast.
It's also changed the way I look at food, and my health. The physical and mental changes I've experienced in 20 days are directly related to the food I've put (or not put) in my body, and that is something I have 100% control over. It has made me look at food in a new light, and be mindful of my decisions. I hope that I'm able to keep that mentality and carry it through to the eating phase, and not get lost in a sea of temptation that's filled with pizza, chicken wings, burgers, and beer. I am immensely looking forward to my pizza dinner on Friday night, and also looking forward to waking up Saturday and making good, healthy decisions about what to eat.
Many people ask what the hardest part of this fast has been, and I think most expect me to say the cravings or temptation to eat food, or being sick of drinking my meals. Not so. Not even comparable, for me, was the lack of working out. Staying as dormant as is required on a juice fast has been incredibly challenging for me, and I have sorely missed my workouts. I am SO excited to try out my lesson plan for the new power yoga class tomorrow, and even more excited to strap on my running shoes and see how it feels to run with 20 pounds less on Tuesday when Alvaro and I hit the Riverwalk trail.
I feel sad, and bittersweet, that today brings my first fast to a close. It has exceeded my wildest expectations in every way. I want to sincerely thank those of you who have been a constant source of encouragement. I want to wish you best wishes as you contemplate embarking on your own juice fast, or salad challenge, or whatever change you make to give yourself a better, healthier, happier life.
I will continue blogging several times a week, now with recipes for FOOD! Namaste!