I was looking for a manly diet. One that didn’t require a ton of hands on prep. One that would help a man drop pounds in a matter of weeks instead of months. I knew I wanted something extreme, but it couldn’t be unhealthy—meaning, it had to be natural food rather than fake ingredients. The last criterion was that I could participate in this manly diet, too, without losing too much weight.
I found the perfect diet. A juice fast. With a juice fast you get to pump your body full of amazing vitamins and feel energized. You get to use this groovy machine that sounds like an airplane taking off. (See? Very manly.) Then, after the juice fast, when one is already seeing the pounds melt away, you get to transition into a moderate diet that will continue the weight loss process with a more gradual pace. The ribbon that tied up the package for me was the assurance that if I didn’t need to lose weight, I wouldn’t.
Here’s how it went:
The first five days of the diet prepared us to go from whole fruits and veggies to juice only. We drank two to three juices and ate veggies, salads, and soups for lunch and dinner. These were not enjoyable days. The kale salads were good, but the bland veggies and puree soup recipes were not. I could not seem to puree the soups finely enough to make the texture palatable. So, we opted for an organic box soup puree, just to make it through those dinner recipes. (Realm actually went without soup at all. It was getting to him.)
By day five I was cringing over the kale juices we’d been drinking. They had been tasty before, but not anymore. I had a kale nightmare. Kale wasn’t attacking me; I just dreamed I had to drink lots of kale juice. I woke up nauseated that fifth morning; and the thought of smelling kale—much less drinking it—made me gag. I didn’t want to drink any more kale juice, but I was determined. I gulped down a third of the morning juice, shuddered, shuddered again, sipped on a bottle of water, and waited for the worst. I was pretty sure the worst was coming. My stomach was not happy.
My stomach finally settled down, so I was great, right? I ignored the gentle “no” of nausea and gulped another third of my juice.
“Mom, are you okay?”
I couldn’t answer. I was in the throes of holding onto the juice. I could feel it in my throat.
“You look sort of green…”
“Of course, I look green,” I retorted after I was sure I wouldn’t hurl. “I’m drinking kale!”
May it be noted, for me and for anyone who goes on an extreme diet, I was a hangry jerk to my children. I have apologized to them a number of times, but I still feel badly about it. Another thing I’ve learned from this experience is the problem with embarking on a diet with your husband if you can’t handle it. I feared if I gave up, he would. So, I didn’t give up. I substituted kale for romaine, then to spinach once I could handle the taste. Every day I went to bed with nausea and woke to the dread of drinking another juice.
“Be positive,” my juice diet book told me. Have you ever noticed that people who are genuinely positive act differently than people who pretend to be positive? This worked not at all, and people knew something was wrong and I was faking it. I just wanted to slap the author of the book because I was disgruntled. Definitely disgruntled. And as we journeyed into the juice-only phase, my stomach was disgruntled. It burned and hissed at me. It voiced its distaste for my vitamin-packed offerings by accepting the juice and having me race to the bathroom all day long. I have a passive aggressive stomach.
I researched my symptoms. Other than the many websites that suggested I was dying, I found a few discussion boards where I discovered I might have a low-sodium, low iodine issue. So, I salted my juice and added some iodine drops. Delicious. 😦 Obviously, I was ignoring the fact that in a matter of days I’d dropped to the same weight I was before I’d had kids—which wasn’t ideal. (Yeah, I hear ya: “Oh, poor you.”)
My body was giving all the signs of defeat. I felt like one of Ursula’s withered-looking “souls” on Little Mermaid. I had no energy. My limbs felt heavy, and I was super, super depressed. I didn’t want to talk to anyone; I didn’t want to write. I wanted to hole up in my bedroom and think sad, lonely thoughts.
I had a protein shake on the night of the seventh to counter my horrible new personality. It made me feel even sicker. On day eight I woke with one wish: a whole avocado with salt. With much guilt I gave in by the afternoon. My stomach settled down, and I felt lovely. When I drank juice for supper, my upset stomach returned. I tried a red cabbage juice for breakfast on the ninth day. Nausea returned. I juiced a dessert juice. Still nausea.
During this time, Realm was feeling great. He was energized. He felt healthier than he’d felt in a long time! I told him I was glad he was doing well, but I really wanted to hate him. He said he thought I should wean myself off the diet because I hadn’t been acting right. “You don’t need to lose the weight anyway.”
“But I’m supposed to feel energized, and all of my health problems are supposed to go away!” Yeah, I realized how ridiculous it was right after I’d said it.
My weaning process was rather hurried because, first, I could not stomach another juice and, second, I was achingly lethargic and the inside arches of my feet were itching terribly (both signs for me of low iron).
As you can tell by the tone of this post, I’m not wholly out of the juice jungle yet. It’s been three days. My stomach has calmed down. I’m writing again now that my brain isn’t in a fog. Today my body sent me an appetizing picture of a kale salad, so I’ll try that tonight in hopes this diet hasn’t ruined my taste for the crunchy greens.
A few of my friends are going to say, “I told you so,” and they did tell me so. They said they were concerned, that a juice fast could be dangerous. Yep, it just about kale-d me.