I made a concerted effort last year to take better care of myself. I decided to stop struggling to be, and stay, on a diet. Instead, I completely overhauled my diet (what and how much I eat) and committed to regular exercise. I lost over 60 pounds (287 lbs –> 225 lbs), and about eight inches off of my waistline (46″ –> 38″. I had surgery on my foot in August, and I could not exercise for two months. In that time, I pretty much kept my weight in check. However, I kind of approached the remainder of the year with less commitment to both diet and exercise — admittedly using my foot recovery as an excuse to half-ass the latter. As I head into the New Year, I had put about 20–25 pounds back on from my low. I decided to recommit to portion control and exercise. I signed up with a trainer at the gym about six weeks ago, mainly I had never really focused on toning and building core strength. I signed up for a Biggest Loser Challenge in my office, hoping to use the contest as further motivation to get my act together.
Right around the same time as entering the Challenge at work, I posted a picture of some juice, by Blueprint, on display at Whole Foods, asking why it was so expensive. A number of friends replied that the juice was part of a cleanse program. A number of friends commented that they tried the cleanse and had a good experience. I am usually game to try things, but I didn’t want another “diet.” My friends assured me that this was not a diet, but a means to clean out our system. That appealed to me, and I decided to give juice cleansing a try. I read a number of reviews online by bloggers. I also came across Chef Amber Shea’s website, where she reviewed juice cleanses by 18 different companies. The cost for the cleanses were about the same. Since I heard so much about the Blueprint Cleanse, I chose to go with their cleanse.
It’s worth noting that prepared juice cleanses are not cheap. Most cost somewhere between $175 and $250 for a three-day cleanse.
A lot of people view, or call, cleanses “juice diets.” That my be how some people approach a juice cleanse, but my goal was not to do the cleanse to lose weight. I decided to try the cleanse because I wanted a reset, of sorts. I wanted to clear my body of a bunch of sugar-laden foods (damn you Ben & Jerry Phish Food!). I also felt like I has experiencing some mild allergic reactions to various foods, but I couldn’t put my finger on what the culprit(s). I figured that eliminating practically everything from my daily intake, I could better identify problematic foods as I reintroduced them after the cleanse.
The Blueprint Cleanse has three different levels, or offerings — Renovation, Foundation, and Excavation. Though I have never juiced before, I opted for the Excavation Cleanse, which is the “greenest” of all of the cleanses. I decided on the Excavation Cleanse because I wanted the cleanse with least amount of fruit in the juices.
I decided to start the cleanse on a Thursday. Most people I know did their cleanses over the weekend. I decided to start on Thursday because I work with a trainer on Mondays and Wednesdays, and I didn’t want to do strength training while on the cleanse. Several people mentioned having to use the bathroom frequently, but I drink so much water, as it is, that making frequent treks to the bathroom wasn’t that unusual or nettlesome. Blueprint recommends adjusting your diet three days prior to starting the cleanse. Basically, you need to eliminate most foods, particularly meet, grains, and dairy. I tend to be a pretty strict textualist, so I followed the instructions almost the letter, if not a bit more. Here is an example of what I ate for three days prior to starting the cleanse.
- Water — 1 liter
- Lemon Juice — 1/2, squeezed
- Watermelon — 2–3 cups, cubed
- English Cucumber — 1/2, large dice
- Grape Tomatoes — 10–12, large dice
- Avocado — 1/2, sliced
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil — 1 Tbsp
- Kale — Chopped
- Celery — 1 stalk, diced
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil — 1 — 1 1/2 Tbsp(s)
- Lemon Juice — 1/2, squeezed
I felt good after three days of prep, and was excited to get thing started. I was a tad ambivalent about the green juices. I love salads and green veggies, but the thought of them pressed into juice wasn’t making my mouth water. You’re supposed to put at least an hour between finishing one juice and starting the next, and at least two-three hours before going to be. Accordingly, I timed out my juices for 9am, 11am, 1:30 pm, 4pm, 6pm and 8pm.
Green Juice #1 — This made from the juice of romaine lettuce, celery, cucumber, apple, spinach, kale, parsley, lemon. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that bad. The apple adds just enough sweetness to counter any bitterness from the greens. The lemon also adds a nice amount of acidity. Thank goodness that I like parsley, because the taste is quite pronounced.
Green Juice #2 — This juice is pretty the same as number one, but with the addition of ginger.
Green Juice #3 — This is the same juice as #1.
Spicy Lemonade #4 — This juice is made with water, lemon, agave nectar, and cayenne. The drink is pretty sweet, almost cloyingly sweet, but it is a welcome, and refreshing, change of pace from the green juice.
Green Juice #4 — This is the same juice as #1.
Cashew Milk #6 — As the name suggestions, this “juice” is made with water, unstrained cashew agave nectar, vanilla, and cinnamon. The drink is a little gritty, but it didn’t bother me. I appreciated the fatty feel of the cashew milk. It was kind of like having dessert. Unlike the spicy lemonade, the agave nectar didn’t make this drink too sweet. My only complaint about the cashew milk was that there were clumps of cashew meal in the bottom of the bottle. No matter how vigorously I shook the bottle, you would get a clump of cashew paste in your mouth. I suppose that if you had a problem with the grittiness, or the cashew meal clumps, you could empty the bottle into a mixer to smooth it further.
As I mentioned, the juices were not that bad. In fact, other than #2 with the ginger, they were pretty good. I normally love ginger, but I didn’t care for it in this mixture. By the third day, I just gulped #2 to get through it.
Throughout the cleanse, even pre and post, I never felt hungry. I drank plenty of water between each bottle of juice. I had a mild headache on the first day, but I don’t know if it had to do with some effects of sugar withdrawals. I can’t imagine that I was dehydrated. [shrug] Most people told me that day two was the toughest, but I felt fine. I continued to do an hour of cardio each day during the cleanse, though I intentionally dialed back the intensity of my workouts. During the post-cleanse period, five days, I repeated the menu of food that I listed for the prep. The only difference was that I only ate watermelon on the first day of the post-cleanse.
After the cleanse, I kept thinking about, and was frequently asked, how I felt. I couldn’t, and can’t, say that I felt noticeably different or better. I felt good, but couldn’t necessarily attribute it to the cleanse. I think the how I felt about the cleanse became clearer after I started to introduce various foods back into my diet. I had a big salad with some walnuts. Not long after eating the salad, I felt itchy and hot. I chalked it up to the walnuts, which I don’t recall having a problem with before. I think that the biggest benefit of the cleanse is that I am paying much closer attention to what I eat and how I feel after eating. I may not repeat the Blueprint Cleanse, but I can see myself doing some sort of juice cleanse every so often; particularly when I feel like my eating habits have turned down the wrong road, and I need a reset.
My Blueprint Gallery