I caught myself eating a quarter of a cake one Tuesday, and I began to question my life decisions. Is it really a good idea to eat a dozen doughnuts on National Doughnut Day? Might it be time to stop devouring a pint of Talenti gelato every night, no matter how crack-ably good their sea-salted caramel may taste?
I always rationalized my deplorable eating habits with the disclaimer that I had a high metabolism. But I’m not eighteen anymore, and it’s been slowing down at logarithmic speed with each passing year.
With a beach trip coming up, I desperately grabbed for the nearest diet fad that didn’t involve going to the gym. Yes, the juice cleanse is so 2009, but it's also so simple: Don’t eat solid food, only drink fresh juice and water, and pretty much reallocate your normal grocery budget on juices. Acolytes swear by its detoxifying powers, while detractors call it nothing more than socially acceptable anorexia. Seemed no less evil than every other fitness craze out there, and I was not going to start doing P90X.
I went local and decided to try my hand at drinking nothing but Arden’s Garden every day for a week. (NOTE: I didn’t use their official cleanse; I just bought a ton of different juice bottles every day. Variety is the spice of life, and when your diet doesn’t allow spices, it becomes even more important.)
Juices: Beet It Better, Multimax, Paradise, Veg-Aholic
Best: Veg-Aholic. If you mix kale and spinach with enough apple, you pretty much only taste the apple.
Worst: Beet It Better. All the ginger in the world can’t change the fact that you’re drinking a beet.
Takeaway: Throughout the day, I need to repeatedly fight off the urge to scream upon seeing other people's food. By night, I feel so dizzy and lightheaded that I nearly fall into bed.
Juices: Yoga 1, Pineapple Apple Ginger, Beware… It’s Pear, Carrot Apple Ginger, Hotshot, Cocomotion
Best: Beware… It’s Pear. How did I not know about this delicious juice until this cleanse? I want to add vodka. Bonus: Pears are high in fiber.
Worst: Cocomotion. Not all the chocolate and banana in the world can drown out that persistent carrot flavor.
Takeaway: All the drowsiness from the first day is gone. I’m alert. And not hungry. Does it really only take a day for your body to adjust to such a dramatic shift in your diet? In bed, it takes me an hour to fall asleep. Dammit, too alert: All the fruit crack is keeping me up.
Juices: pH Solution, Hotshot, Cocoa Carrot, Oops!, Pineapple Apple Ginger, Green Energy Machine
Best: Oops! Banana and pineapple go together surprisingly well.
Worst: Cocoa Carrot. It's better than Cocomotion. But it's still an ungodly alliance of carrot and chocolate.
Takeaway: I could not have been more focused today. All the natural sugars in these juices have made me sharp as a thistle. The store clerks at Arden's Garden definitely judge me for buying eighteen bottles at a time. I've decided to be crafty and switched up the store locations I'm visiting for my juice supply (yay for seven area locations).
Juices: Beet It Better, Beware… It’s Pear, Multimax, Pineapple Apple Ginger, pH Solution, Oops!
Best: Pineapple Apple Ginger. I'm learning that pineapple and ginger are two of my favorite ingredients. The former adds sweetness, while the latter provides a hearty kick.
Worst: pH Solution. The cucumber-celery concoction isn't bad so much as overwhelmingly mild. It tastes like a flavor of SmartWater that wouldn't make it to market.
Takeaway: Today was Saturday, my biggest cleanse hurdle yet: a day reserved almost exclusively for drinking alcohol and eating processed foods with friends. I stay in.
Juices: Yoga 1, Salad in a Glass, Beware… It’s Pear, Green Energy Machine, Hotshot
Best: Hotshot. Another take on pineapple and ginger mixed together. Seriously, this is a win-win combo.
Worst: Salad in a Glass. It tastes exactly like it sounds. Only the salad you're drinking is mostly carrots and beets, so it's somehow worse than it sounds.
Takeaway: I'm looking great, if I do say so myself. My stomach is flat, and my thighs are less plump. I can now take my clothes off without being marked by them. I don't know how much weight I've lost because just as Cher doesn't trust mirrors, I don't trust scales. Besides, the most important variable is that I feel great.
Juices: Veg-Aholic, Pineapple Apple Ginger, Oops!, pH Solution, Beware… It’s Pear
Best: Beware… It’s Pear. God, I love it. However, this nectar of the gods does have twenty-one grams of sugar in it. Otherwise, I would just drink this and only this. For the rest of my life.
Worst: pH Solution. I want to try to use it to test pH levels of various things in my apartment. Insanity may be setting in.
Takeaway: I attended an awards ceremony tonight for work. Against all my better judgment, I turned down the free food. The waitstaff presumed I was a vegetarian and kept bringing me plate after plate of vegetables. I'm not sure if this cleanse has put me in a bit of a Zen mindset or if I'm just deranged from the lack of solid food, but I find this entire procession deliriously funny instead of annoying.
Juices: Hotshot, Oops!, Paradise, Veg-Aholic, Carrot Apple Ginger
Best: Oops! I love banana.
Worst: Carrot Apple Ginger. It's still just carrot with a bunch of other stuff thrown in.
Takeaway: I didn’t get to go home for lunch, leading to drinking way too much juice at night. Didn’t I start this cleanse to regain some balance in my diet? Now I have bowl-full-of-jelly gut.
Juices: Beware… It’s Pear, Chia Factor, Pineapple Apple Ginger, Paradise, Multimax, Green Energy Machine
Best: Green Energy Machine. It's mostly a mixture of celery and cucumber, but it has enough apple and ginger thrown in that I don't hate it.
Worst: Chia Factor. It actually isn't as repulsive as one might think. It's mainly orange juice mixed with chia seeds. It looks like sludge, but it tastes like OJ with a weird texture.
Takeaway: The weight loss of this cleanse seems to follow a parabola of sorts because I feel like I must be gaining again. Alright, time for something solid.
A few weeks after returning to a normal diet, I can report on the good: For starters, the cleanse forced me to change my lifestyle and my notion of my "normal" diet. I spent the first day of the cleanse obsessing about the what I couldn't eat and what I would eat first. It didn't take too many hours before I realized the steady regimen of pizza and burgers to which I looked forward to returning probably wasn't doing my body any favors. The cleanse turned into a baptism by raw juice. I could begin anew. I now try to get some fresh juice in everyday. Arden's Garden must appreciate my contribution to their bottom line. Maybe I'll even try out Souper Jenny's new venture. This feels like the beginning of a healthier (albeit poorer) new me.