Does a juice cleanse actually help you lose weight?
Everyone is talking about juice cleanses.
It's like it's not enough to have a $2,000 purse, an invitation to Tory Burch's Christmas party, 50 Soul Cycle classes in your account and a street style photographer on your heels anymore. To be part of the pretty people, you now must also periodically subject yourself to several days without solid food.
No one can seem to agree on whether it's a dangerous new fad
, a cure for all ailments
, a cult
, or an extremist fantasy for people who would otherwise be religious fanatics but have devoted themselves instead to being rich and skinny
. (I'm paraphrasing that last one.)
I myself resisted for so long. But for some reason, I got it in my helpful little head that my boyfriend and I should do a cleanse together. I can't believe he agreed, but once he did, I was committed to moving forward on this nutritional suicide mission.
So, I stopped by Liquiteria to get us each a one-day, baby juice cleanse for beginners. I chose Liquiteria
because it wasn't so
unaffordable ($49 for one day). Also, since they are a small business I've patronized for years for their delicious, organic smoothies with local ingredients, I somehow felt like I was bucking the trend by not going with the ubiquitous BluePrintCleanse
. Kind of like when I buy an ethically made pair of leather leggings
. I'm on trend, but non-conformist!
At Liquiteria's store, I was directed by a friendly, young associate who probably has no background in health or medicine to the Level One cleanse, with six juices. She explained the rules: No eating anything but almonds in a pinch. Drink lots of water. Make sure you drink the juice in the proper order. I can handle one day of not eating. I know I can.
It's only later I admit to myself that leaving homemade brownies on my kitchen counter during a juice cleanse is not the best idea ...
And the Cleanse Starts
When I wake up, I'm in dread. Examining the first juice, I see that it contains kale, spinach, romaine, parsley, celery and cucumber. Setting aside the fact that I like to eat my salad, not drink it, I also hate hate hate
cucumber and celery. Cucumber makes me gag. This juice, after my very first sip, makes me gag. My boyfriend agrees that it tastes like shit, but he "took it like a man." Good for you, honey. I end up drinking a fifth of it, my throat reflexively protesting the whole time, and dumping it out. I drink my water.
I try the second juice. It's the same, except with apple juice. That makes it drinkable, so I finish two thirds of this one.
This is getting hard. I'm hungry, slightly nauseas, and the homemade brownies are calling to me from the counter. The third juice is called Skin Trip, with carrot, cucumber, spinach, parsley, aloe vera and livery-kidney-lymph detox (burdock, yellow dock, oregon grape, dandelion, red clover blossom, red and ginger roots, and nettle leaf). My boyfriend calls in pukalicious. I take a whiff, and have to agree.
I decide to take it with a chaser. It's cheating, but so is not drinking it at all, and I'm not sure I have any other choice. I hold my nose, gulp some down, and chase it with organic, no-sugar-added cranberry and blueberry juice. The taste of pulverized greens, I discover when I unpinch my nose, lingers on the palate. I finish a third of the bottle this way, then pour myself some organic iced tea with lemon, grab a handful of almonds, and leave the apartment to get away from the brownies.
I get the hiccups.
I'm back at the apartment and doing the Greens juice with apple juice again, and I'm making it through. I'm struck by how I don't have that gnawing "I'm gonna die if I don't eat" feeling in my stomach.
Oh wait, there it is. I eat a brownie. I eat another brownie. I'm overcome with shame. I haven't felt this way since I demolished the sorority snack table at 2 in the morning in college. I've also noticed that while at the beginning of the day, my face was clear as a sunny day, I now have two pimples brewing. The kind of deep, un-poppable ones that will drive you crazy. You know what I'm talking about.
After I finish my juice, I meet up with my boyfriend. He's being a real trooper, despite the fact that his girlfriend convinced him to not eat for a day. (One of the reasons I love him.) We usually despise falafel street carts, but when we pass one, we both sniff the air with longing. He's a little cranky, I'm a little bitchy, and we give each other a peck before I go back home to drink my last two juices.
Thankfully, I'm on to the Beets Me, which is much more pleasant than all the other juices. Another pimple has appeared on my face.
The final juice, Royal Flush, is delicious. I've actually voluntarily bought it as a one-off drink before, so I drink the whole thing. I've made it to the finish line!
The Next Day
The next morning, I don't even need to look in the mirror to know that I have four pimples on my face. This, I discover through Google, is a common side effect. (Note: Don't do a juice cleanse within three days of an important event.) The next time I see my boyfriend, he casually mentions something about Fred. "Who's Fred?" I ask. "Oh, Fred is the pimple on your cheek. It's so big, I thought it deserved a name." I want to punch him and then break up with him, but this cleanse was my idea and he agreed to it, so I let it slide. I've decided that I am never, ever, ever doing a juice cleanse again.
7 Days Later
I'm looking in the mirror, turn sideways, and stare with unabashed glee at my flat stomach. When did this happen?? I step on the scale, and realize that I am a full seven pounds lighter. Seven pounds. Do you know how much that means when you are 5'2"? I haven't been this skinny since middle school! I love juice cleanses!
Another interesting fact: when I explain to my boyfriend that a juice cleanse works by clearing out all the toxins and other icky stuff from your intestines, he looks relieved. "Oh wow, I was really worried. There was some alarming stuff coming out of me the next day."
One Month Later
My weight has stayed consistent at 114 pounds, despite my eating pretty much whatever I want, including non-organic foods, sugary desserts, carbs, fried foods, and everything else unhealthy short of a Big Mac. Call it the rebound effect. When I lost so much weight, I gave myself permission to splurge all over the place. But eventually, I go back to my old, healthy-ish eating habits.
If I had know all this time that the only thing I needed to tip the scale (literally) into Perfect Weight Land was a $50, one-day juice cleanse ... girlfriend, I would have asked for a juice cleanse for my birthday and Christmas every single year.
I'm Alden Wicker, and I officially endorse juice cleanses.
(But next time, I'm picking out my own juices to drink. The green ones taste So. Bad.