Yesterday, Cindy and I finished our 10-day juice fast, and now we’re heading back into eating solid foods. We broke the fast with what started out as a simple cabbage and broth but morphed into a full-blown (and extremely satisfying) vegetable soup. Tonight, we had veggie pizza.
Losing 10 lbs. as a result of being on the juice fast is nice, but I expect it to be temporary. In fact, I weighed myself before writing this entry and I’m already up more than a pound from yesterday. I had been losing about a pound a day during the juice fast. I’m okay with that. Any real change is going to have to come from making…well, real change. It’s that simple. And this gets to the heart of why I did the juice fast.
It’s easy to set my mind at starting something…but hard for me to finish it. I have a long history of stopping projects. I thought the reboot might help me figure out more than how I really think or feel about food. I thought it would show me how I manage to talk myself into quitting projects. It’s easy to quit something when you see it as insignificant, unimportant. The problem with doing that is that eventually you start seeing more and more things as insignificant, or something you can put off until tomorrow. But eating? Now, that’s a challenge! Because it’s something I do everyday, several times a day.
What I needed was to set my mind to something I knew was way outside of my comfort zone, and then do it. When your comfort zone includes comfort foods, not eating is seriously outside the comfort zone, folks. The juice fast couldn’t be something so short-term that I could do it without much effort, but not something too long that I would be setting myself up for failure. 5 days, I could do easily. 7 days is harder because weekends are our time to explore and enjoy the foods this town has to offer. I really missed having brunch at You Say Tomato on Sunday, let me tell you! For me, getting through Saturday and Sunday was more difficult than getting through Monday to Friday. I needed more than a nutritional reboot. I needed a mental reboot. And because I can’t resist wanting to go just a little further, I chose the 10-day fast instead of the 7-day (which I think would be plenty for most people).
What I learned from my juice fast was something obvious: my body and my mind are not on the same page. That’s nothing new to me. The fact that I’m overweight is a pretty good indicator that my life is not balanced, and hasn’t been for some time now. But by drinking juice for 10 days straight, I became very aware just how often my mind lies to me. When I think I’m hungry, I might just be thirsty. When I’m hungry, I might just be bored, whether I consciously think I’m bored or not. For example, I would get hunger pangs late at night, and I would usually just fix myself something to eat, watch some more TV, and then go to bed maybe an hour or 2 later. Not so easy to do on a juice fast. Instead, I would drink water, turn off the TV, and read a book. 15 minutes later, I would notice that I wasn’t feeling hungry. It’s one of those things you know you do, but you don’t realize to what extent you’re doing it until you have to not do it, night after night.
Another very obvious thing: I do not drink enough water.
Now that the fast is over, I’ll be adding in more salads, fresh fruits and vegetables. I’ll also make fresh juice more often when I want a snack, and add more fish and seafood to meals. I’m also seriously considering making 2 days a week meatless (Geez, did I just hear someone hit the floor after reading that?) Last night’s cabbage/potato/onion/garlic/celery/carrot soup was pretty damn tasty. I definitely feel like I have a better appreciation for vegetables when done right. (I’m still going to always choose fried okra over boiled any day of the week though.)
Also, considering I spent the last 10 days not grazing and not eating anything after 8 PM, I’m definitely more mindful of late night eating, and the need to curb that impulse.
But I’m still down for the chili bacon cheeseburger with fries, and fried chicken, and ice cream sandwiches. And I’d still be up for some good Mexican food, if there was a place to get it here in Kansas City. I’m not eliminating “bad” things I like to eat. I’m adding in more “good” things, more micro-nutrient foods that I also like to eat but have neglected, and I’m giving them the same level of consideration as I would to all those comfort foods. Before this fast, if you had told me I would love eating a bowl of vegetable soup, I would have thought you were crazy.
The 60-Day juice fast that Joe Cross and Phil Staples did in Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead was remarkable. And radical.
But I’m not doing that. I got to where I am by making lots of small negative changes over an extended period of time that felt good in the short-term but resulted in negative long-terms consequences. I’m not talking about just my weight here, either. So, the only way to undo it without “falling off the wagon”, to my mind, is to make lots of small positive changes over an extended period of time that may feel uncomfortable in the short-term but will result in positive long-terms gains.
I think, having done this juice fast, and coming out of it feeling like I’m in control of things that would have typically gotten the better of me, it’s going to be a much easier road to travel.