Juice Fast Progress

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 4: Sailing.

So, I find myself really resolute about not cheating even a little bit. There was a tiny voice in my head that was all, "maybe you could just have a little bit of grilled chicken now and again". I've done fasts like that, and I know they are still great, but I am just completely curious about what it will be like to really just DO THE HELL out of this.

That being said, I'm also resolute about participating in "life stuff". Last night I picked up my friend Meredith at the airport and we had a drink at the Burningman bar across the street (Noc Noc). I didn't feel bad about this at all. If I had had six drinks or snuck a piece of pizza or something, yeah, that'd be cheating - but hanging out with an old friend, having a drink is joyous.

We went to the 9am yoga class at Global Yoga this morning. The room was, as always, packed mat to mat. Chadd taught a magnificent 'sprinting' class. He didn't hold the poses crazy long, but there was this rushing, whooshing, energetic flow from each pose to the next - there were savasanas, but the energy stayed really high. The final breathing was this incredible, synchronized celebration of sound and air. Chadd actually said aloud, 'Wow, that was like, the best breathing ever.'  I'm not making up the inclusion of the word 'like'. NorCal represent... 

I feel amazing. My class today was still a bit weak, stamina-wise, but no panic, no fear, and when I was in the poses they were so open and expressive.

Here's what bugs me. I feel fairly certain that, after this fast is over, I'll eventually cycle back to a lot of my bad habits. I have just noticed that this is how life seems to be, and I don't judge myself for it. It almost feels natural. Still, I know that when I'm in a phase of eating crap and not going to yoga and stressing out at work, I really really loathe the idea of eating healthy, going to class - I find myself actively craving roast beef sandwiches and french fries, almost defiantly.  And when I'm in that place in life, I'm almost invariably grouchy, pessimistic, unenthusiastic, and uninspiring.  I would love to be able to have this version of me be able to remind that version of me, "hey, even though you don't want to... go do this, you'll feel wonderful, YOU KNOW YOU WILL."

Stubborn bastard.

Friday, February 19, 2010


So... though my stomach is rumbling a little bit, I have a surprising amount of energy. I feel spry and jumpy (in a good way) and I just feel a swell of enthusiasm. I'm overcome with the desire to get up and do things - small things, big things...

I'm starting to just accept, and attempt to work around, the fact that I really just can't program or concentrate in a single sitting for more than about an hour at a time. I need to get up and walk around, do something else with my brain for a little bit. I don't feel like this will negatively affect my performance at work too much, though, because my need to click on random, meaningless internet crap is significantly diminished.

Plus - and, again, I know this is a temporary thing and not the focus of this endeavor, but... I lost another three pounds since yesterday, and the difference those pounds is palpable. My clothes feel almost loose - my shirt that was too tight is draped falling straight down, and I just generally feel 'light'.

I love this so far. I'm preparing myself for the mental challenge of it - mostly by acknowledging that it definitely will be a mental challenge - but so far, it's easier to do this than not to do it.

Day 3: Already getting easier?

This is getting a little bit easier, though I am knocking on wood.  I find that it helps to have things to do to avoid downtime, where food fantasies can kick in. I had a giggle last night - I'm unabashedly a foodie, and in that context, giving up food altogether for a month is extra crazy.

I do find that I have trouble concentrating and focusing for long stretches of time. I wonder, though, whether that will ever change. I read an article (a published paper) somewhat recently which attempted to make the case that depression and obesity are actually ideal fitness for the performance required to sit and program for long stretches of time - the depression helps create a desire for isolation, the obesity (and the sugar binges which precede it) help create a constant high level of blood sugar, which (according to the paper) helps in concentration on abstract problem solving.   Basically, it seems like "spending all day sitting and programming difficult things" can be intrinsically unhealthy.

I realize it's only day three, and I further realize that weight-loss is not the focus of this fast, but... my clothes fit me today. They're not tight. I'm not holding my breath and stomach in all day.  Though I know this will probably go away when the fast is over, I do wonder... if healthiness in the body comes from loving your body (cue masturbation joke from Taisuke, Francisco, Joe...), then doing something which may be temporary but gives you a taste of feeling good and proud and happy with yourself can't be bad? I feel like this is a way of laying groundwork for actually preferring eating mostly vegetables, instead of truly craving chicago-style pizza every day. (Which, of course, I do).

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Orange Drinks

The orange drinks are a challenge. The ginger is SO SPICY, it makes it hard to drink them quickly, and the ginger spice just builds up and builds up.   I used to just pound them as fast as I could, but I'm making a conscious effort to really taste things.  "Always taste what you're taking".

Day 2: Morning

Getting to sleep last night was hard. My stomach was rumbling, and I was super alert, in that druggy kind of way that fasting seems to produce. 

Last night's yoga class was a bit eye-opening. I was very weak and had poor stamina, but there was very little panic and I was surprisingly flexible. I also noticed that my willpower was much stronger, despite my body being weaker. It may not have seemed that way to anyone looking at me, as I sat out about half of the standing series, but I was repeatedly surprised by being able to find new places in poses.  I found a new place in both Balancing Stick as well as Floor Bow... yay!

This morning I am definitely noticing cravings, with a vengeance.  I went to the cafeteria to pick up a fruit bowl (and oatmeal for Stacy), and the sight of a delicious fried egg with toast was really difficult.  FORTITUDE!

I have a cough that sorta came out of nowhere last night, and my joints feel swollen - particularly my fingers - so typing is hard and painful. In general, this just adds to the feeling weak. I realized last night that I have no objective way to 'know' that I'm getting enough of whatever nutrients my body needs.  I don't really know this in normal life either, I just solve it by overeating consistently...  (the shotgun approach to nutrition).  But, I realize that I'm trusting Mary and the yoga studio completely, without having really done the work to understand the nutrition and logic of this on my own.  I have a book from Taisuke and Brenda about raw food nutrition - I think it's time I did more than skim it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Day 1: A few observations

I'm noticing a few things.

First - I am just shy of tripping my ass off. My scalp is tingling, colors are vibrant... I assume this is the beginning of the detox? BRING IT ON.

Second - I notice that if I let more than 3 hours go by without a juice, I start to notice an inability to keep focused. (Or type).

Third - I have been reminded of one of my favorite parts of fasting (juice or otherwise). So much more time in the day! The acquisition and consumption of food takes up so much time... It's great to not have to think about it.

0 days down, 30 to go

Hello friends.

I'm starting a 30-day juice fast today. The juices are being expertly prepared by Mary Jarvis at my favorite yoga studio, Global Yoga. Each day I pick up 5 juices - 3 of which are the green drinks, which just emanate 'livingness', 1 orange drink, and 1 watermelon-based drink. Depending on the day, the mix of juices may include more than 3 green drinks.

So... taking stock. It's been a long three years... almost four years, now, since Bikram Teacher Training. I've moved to San Francisco from New Zealand (though I miss NZ more every day). I do feel like I have a baseline of health in my life that I didn't have before I found Bikram Yoga - a sort of enforced minimum. I don't (usually) feel wretched or hopeless in an ambient way, which I did feel before all this. Plus... I got to have that feeling of knowing that at least once, at least for a day at the end of training, I achieved a body that was, for a fleeting moment, magnificently healthy.

But... the yoga has slipped away from me, little by little. I am still going weekly (sometimes less), and I love our studio. I even love class, though the old "can't breathe, can't breathe" panic is back. My septum is severely deviated, and I have less than 10% airflow through one nostril, and sometimes as low as 20% normal airflow through the other. There are times, particularly in a humid room, when I just have no air flow through my nose at all, and the panic just sets in immediately. But... that's always been there, and long gone are the days of yoga every day for three months. Part of this is just time - our work has long hours which are very draining, and if the day also includes yoga, there isn't much time for much other than going home, eating a quick bite of something, and falling asleep. That's hard to maintain every single day, it makes me feel like life has become a race away from something.

Ultimately, then, it's just a search for balance - how much yoga is enough so that I feel my body staying healthy and getting healthier, without feeling like my life has evaporated? I don't know the answer.

I do know that as of this morning, I weigh more than 260 pounds, which is a new personal record. I know that I can feel my heartbeat in a way that I have not used to. I know that my diet has started containing more and more alcohol, more and more pizza and grease, and that my cravings for junk food are strong. By way of illustration: today I'm starting a 30-day juice fast, and today is also 'free donuts' day at work. I ate the donut. (But before the first of my first box of juices, so technically it wasn't breaking the fast...). Old injuries seem to be reappearing. New injuries seem to appear for no reason, and both are getting inexplicably worse.

Why a juice fast? First, I trust our studio, and I trust that the complement of juices that I'm drinking daily are providing me with enough nutrients to live healthily. Seeing the International Yoga Asana Champions (dig it) train in Mary's studio, some of whom were only consuming the juice (Emily!), convinced me that I don't need protein powder or supplements or anything like that. Secondly, the juices taste really alive and delicious. I still struggle with the orange ones, but the greens are just wonderful. I've had an 8-day juice fast before, and it was very doable. Lastly... I feel like I need a big, measurable change to help me kick the bad habits that I've picked up, and I feel like I'll have support and encouragement on this path.

So, wish me luck!
5 juices x 30 days = 150 juices.
1 down, 149 to go.

I'll be gradually weaning myself off coffee, rather than going cold turkey, and I'm going to continue to have a bowl of fruit in the morning. Steamed spinach with salt and Olive Oil is also allowed. I'm intent on not making a huge deal about having food here and there with visiting friends or special occasions, though I won't use this as a loophole.

Mary is taking a 'big chubby before picture' at Yoga tonight, which I'll post here.