Happy New Year to you all! I hope your holidays were special, and that you were able to have quality time with your family and friends! Thanks for your patience during my silence, as I took the time to refresh over the holiday season! Note: Juice cleanses can be good for you, but you must always check with your doctor first.

Since I am approaching an age milestone, I decided to try to jump-start my weight loss by doing what had been an annual routine for me – to do a brief cleanse. I am aware that there are many ways to cleanse and have tried many different ways, from commercial cleanses and powders to cleansing with only fruits, veggies, and soups. But, this year I decided to try a very simple cleanse with only fruits and veggies. To do this, I purchased a Ninja Extracting Juicer at BJ’s (we bought at a good deal over the holidays)! As I began this cleanse, I really started to feel great about practicing self-care and starting the New Year off by making positive changes to my diet. Because I had had an especially busy year, I had let things go and wanted to get back on track. Unlike my previous cleanses, however, this time, my body didn’t respond the same. I would like to explain my journey and offer lessons that I have learned from this experience.

January 2: I dug out a number of articles and books on juicing to review the best principles. I chose one cleanse in particular and decided to stick to between 1-5 days of juicing. This would entail drinking a juice drink at least every 1.5 – 2 hours.

To prepare for the fast, I diced ginger and melon and organized apples and oranges.  I also juiced broccoli, spinach, kale, and an array of other veggies and fruits. Unlike what many experts suggest, there was no logic to the type that I used– I just purchased a bunch of different types and juiced them! On the first day of my cleanse, the juices were delicious, and my body began to thank me. Early on, I started to notice that my skin had begun to glow.  That evening, I ate a sensible meal, which included a salad and a serving of vegetables, brown rice, and fish. This was after “toying” with the idea of going on a complete juice fast. I know some people advise against eating any animal protein during a juice fast, but that is just how I decided to prepare.


January 3: Upon rising, I drank 16 ounces of water. Then I made my first juice, which consisted of ginger, an orange, lemon juice, and honey. This surprisingly made me feel alert! Usually, I would make a large cup of coffee and go to my dedicated space in my home to do work. But, I didn’t feel that I needed coffee today. Every 90 minutes, I made a new juice: mostly fruit the first day –occasionally including protein powder or tofu, to add in protein. I will admit that I looked forward to the end of the day when I would prepare brown rice, salad, salmon, broccoli  – you know, food that I could chew?!

January 4: Today, I had to remind myself that the cleanse I was on required me to drink juice all day, and with no solid food. Upon rising, I drank water mixed with lemon. Then I made another glass of juice, with ginger, an apple, lemon, and honey. I continued to juice with mostly fruit again, although many experts recommend to juice with fruit and veggies, in order to regulate the sugar content. I drank fruit juice every 90 minutes, again looking forward to my solid-food meal at the end of the day. I went to bed at about 7 pm and fell asleep about 9:30 for a full night of rest.

caregiver retreat

This is me at Camp Twin Lakes in Winder, GA., after speaking to a group of caregivers. I am heavily layered with my red coat, standing with another caregiver (also pictured, Sabrina Potter). I have already completed the cleanse, and am in Phase 3 of my eating plan:-)

January 5: Today was the last day before my real cleanse and all-day juice fast. I followed the same manner as the day prior. But, today, I made a cantaloupe shake that consisted of only cantaloupe. To me, it tasted better than a milkshake! I will admit that, instead of taking in my vegetables, I juiced cantaloupe all day long! I couldn’t help it – it was delicious! Later, as I was drinking a new juice of strawberries and tofu – I couldn’t help wondering how I would feel eating nothing at all, and wondered if I would be able to handle juicing all day with “no” solid foods?

I received a call later in the day from a relative who offered to come over the next day to help me clean my house. As a caregiver, to be offered help to put things away in the house – I could never deny that opportunity! Anyone who is caring for someone with a cognitive or mental illness understands that it is not always possible for ANYONE to come over and visit – to help, or not! I awkwardly accepted their offer,  even though it was in the middle of a cleanse, and did not know how I would feel or how my body would behave! I intently decided on a plan to exert as little energy as possible– my plan was to only perform smaller tasks and carve out our day into smaller, doable tasks.

January 6: To begin my day, upon rising, I drank water mixed with lemon. I also meditated with God for 30 minutes.  I made a juice drink of ginger, apple, lemon, and honey. Then, I proceeded to work on my at-home contract. I had already planned my juice “meals” for the day, which included using my Ninja juicer in a different way – that is, to make soups. For some reason, I figured that, if I made soups, it would make me feel more energetic, probably because the soup would be hot, and my body would welcome hot foods a lot better! And, I also felt that drinking hot drinks would help me recover from using up so much energy to clean during this cleanse!  Well, my body responded very well. I felt energized. I followed my plan to exert as little energy as possible and took plenty of breaks in between working to make soup. One way I did this was by mixing juiced spinach, kale, and carrots with broth and salt. Then, I poured the mixture in a pot and let it simmer for about ten minutes. It was delicious! Despite my efforts, my rule of juicing every 1.5 hours, went down the drain. I turned in about 8 pm, eager to start again the next day, but still wondering I should count the days of “preparation,” and of when I ate solid foods, to count toward my 3 days of absolute cleansing?

January 7: I started the day with lemon mixed with water and meditation with God. Then, I drank a juice of ginger, apple, honey, and lemon. Finally, I proceeded to drink veggies and fruit, ensuring no more than 1.5 hours between each “juice” meal, and drinking plenty of water in between! I practiced more of what I had learned about how to make soup using vegetable juices! Honestly, I was enjoying doing this, because I felt that the results of this juice cleanse would be phenomenal and would kick-off a new weight loss effort.  I worked on my contract all day while drinking juice meals in between. It was a regular day of work for me.

At 4 pm, I took Duncan out for a walk. And, while walking him, I began to feel cramping in my stomach. The cramping became stronger so I decided to stop my cleanse while I was ahead. Juice fasts are great – but they can be harmful if not done correctly! As I said earlier, I will be the first to admit that I am not an expert at this and there are, of course, many articles on a variety of cleanses, most of which mention that the types of fruits and veggies that are used on a cleanse matter. It’s especially important to consider what and how you eat after the cleanses is over.

I learned a lot of lessons on this particular cleanse. I felt fine for a while, and I likely helped my body to some degree early on before the cramping started. After having done Part 1, the cleanse, I have now entered into Phase 2, the reintroduction of foods into my diet. I am now back to eating six, small meals per day while ensuring that I include some form of protein in each meal. I’ve started by eating soft foods first to ease my way back into a full diet. Let me share with you lessons that I learned:

  1. Always check with my doctor first! Cleansing can be hard on the body, and my body didn’t respond as well this time. However, if I had checked with my doctor first, I may have decided to add a few things to make it easier on my body.
  2. Relax! Carve out time to rest more during this time and remember that this is a time to renew as well. This 58-second video from WebMD gives great tips on fasting, cleanses, and detox diets.
  3. Take a regular dietary supplement, to continue gentle cleansing throughout the year.
  4. The types of fruits and veggies that are used on a cleanse matter! So, next time I will purposely include beets, cabbage, and other vegetables that are proven “cleansing” veggies.
  5. Take baths with Epson salt. This relieves, soothes, and relaxes me.
  6. Listen to your body!! Everyone’s body will respond differently. Some of us feel horrible the first two days of cleansing, and for some of us our bodies may scream out to STOP!

Having shed 10 pounds, I feel that I have jump-started my body into weight-loss mode. Now, I am eager to begin Phase 3, which is exercise, and a regular six-meal diet that includes 5-9 veggies servings of fruit and veggies daily. In order to include the servings of fruit and veggies daily, I MUST continue to juice every day! And now, I feel this is a doable task!

Caregivers consider incorporating something into your day that calms you – this could be taking a bath in mineral salts, for example. If you choose to go on a cleanse, I encourage you to take care of your body. Perhaps some of the lessons I learned would be helpful to you. Or, you may have learned lessons you would be willing to share? Please leave your comment below.

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