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Don’t be fast, cheap, easy or fake – a challenge in juicing and healthy living

For the past week I’ve been on a juice cleanse. Drinking vegetable and fruit juice three times a day, along with cutting down on caffeine and eliminating alcohol and other vices.

There’s a saying that "You are what you eat, so don’t be fast, cheap, easy or fake." What we put in our bodies has such an effect on how we feel, move and behave, whether we’re aware of it. And doesn’t everyone want to feel as best as humanly possible?

And no, I’m not starving. But yes, it’s been intense and challenging to say the least. The smells of food are so rich and powerful, it’s as though my nose has become my tongue – and I can taste the savory meals of those around me. The temptations are there for sure, but my willpower has come out on top. That said, I can’t wait to enjoy a scrumptious, homemade meal when these 15 days are over.

Yeah that’s right, 15 days. I chose this length of time based off a juice cleanse I embarked upon a few months ago. Back then I strived for 10 days, but only got to nine because my juicer broke.

Afterward I continued drinking fresh juice for breakfast and most lunches, but I slowly digressed to indulgence – and sometimes overindulgence – and began feeling heavy. Bloated and stuck in bad habits of eating too much, too late at night, and then waking up with what felt like a bowling ball in my belly. Ugh.

After one such excessive weekend, I woke up with the firm realization that I had to make a conscious change to my diet. Luckily I own a juicer, and keep my kitchen well stocked with vegetables and fruit. I prepped some produce, turned that bad boy on and made a beverage rich in micronutrients, antioxidants, minerals, enzymes, and photonutrients – which may prevent disease.

It’s about halfway through the 15 days, and I’m feeling much healthier, balanced, in tune with myself and surroundings, am sleeping more soundly and waking up at a decent time, ready to take on the day.

The reality is that anyone can benefit from taking a break from eating. Doing so hits the reset button on your body’s digestive system, and clears your intestines of who knows what’s been hanging out there. You end up feeling lighter, happier, and start to examine your eating habits and relationship with food. It’s kind of a trip inward, but any substantial change requires as much.

The benefits I’ve experienced are endless, and here are a few:

• Your digestive system gets a break and your energy skyrockets. Because you’re basically only consuming liquids, the energy that would be used to digest solids instead goes toward detoxing organs like the liver and kidneys.

• Additional energy transfers over to you. You may notice you need less sleep, and fall asleep and wake up with ease. For me, I’m still able to practice yoga daily, hang with friends, work throughout the day and go on with my life as normal. I spend a lot more time in the kitchen and at the grocery store, however.

• This all helps improve and stabilize your moods. People may notice you’re more fun to be around, and you may enjoy being with yourself more.

• Your skin noticeably improves and becomes clearer. Same goes for your nails and hair.

• You may drop a few pounds and have a trimmer body.

• You may gain a heightened sense of taste and smell.

There is so much more information online – which explores the benefits and risks – and the movie "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" is a great watch for inspiration. Find it on Netflix. 

Speaking of risk and challenges, here are a few I’ve noticed:

• You’ve got to make a time commitment. Juicing isn’t quick, and takes time to prep, to actually do, and to clean up. Oh yes, and there’s lots of clean up. I’ve started waking up earlier to fit this into my schedule, and make enough to last through lunch.

• You may feel hungry at points throughout the day, so drink plenty of fluids, and treat yourself to a coconut water or kombucha. Avoid anything with added sugar though.

• Your body needs protein, and green, leafy vegetables are high in this. Though it’s tempting, avoid going too heavy on the fruits, which are high in sugar, and try making vegetable-based drinks.

• Your body also needs fat, and flax and chia seeds help you get this. You can find them at most grocery stores, just throw them into your fresh juice and bam, there’s some fat!

• If your body is really craving it, chow down on an avocado or two. I admit to doing so the other day, and it was wonderful.

• Be ready to be around people and their amazing food. You certainly can’t throw out your social life just because you want to try on something different, but you can prepare for these occasions. Bring juice with you, or drink beforehand. And savor the smells, for what it’s worth.

• You’ll need to keep your kitchen stocked with fresh vegetables and fruit, so you may end up shopping the produce aisles more. Fit this into your schedule, and shop around for the best deals.

So why not challenge yourself? If you don’t want to invest in a juicer, go to the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op and order one of their fabulous juices from the deli. It’s about $5 when all is said and done, but super worth it.

Start off by replacing one meal a day with juice, say breakfast for example. Notice the changes in your body and mood. Then see if you can bump it up to two meals. Continue until you feel you’re ready for a cleanse if that’s your goal. And of course if you have any health concerns, consult your doctor.

Upcoming events and classes to help grow your roots:

• Yoga at the Food Bank in Oak Park – This weekly vinyasa-style practice is offered free of cost every Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services (3333 Third Avenue). It’s put on by Yoga Across America, a Sacramento-based nonprofit that seeks to improve health through yoga and “health and wellness programs in schools, parks, low-income communities, homeless shelters, nursing homes and many other locations where people don’t have access to the practice, or can’t afford it.”

• Yoga in the Park – Put on by the nonprofit Yoga Across America, the weekly practice has made its way back outside. At McKinley Park and behind the rose garden, the vinyasa-style practice is held every Saturday at 9 a.m. The classes are free (you can donate if you want) and are designed for yogis of all levels.  

• Kommon Ground Kirtan Fundraiser – A fundraiser for The Yoga Seed Collective’s outreach program to New Folsom Prison, this call-and-response chanting will be accompanied by instruments. The fundraiser – which is free to attend, though donations will be accepted – will be held Saturday, from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., so you can swing by before Second Saturday activities. The Yoga Seed is at 1400 E Street (next to Shine Cafe).

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