December was a heavy month for all of us. January should’ve been different, but it’s such a miserable month. Depriving myself of all the naughty things I love feels like an unnecessary torture. I looked in the mirror mid-Jan and realised my food-baby bump. I was tired, lazy, bloated and I only had a week before I’d be bikini-clad in Dubai. Panic! I needed to slim down and tone up fast. I know quick fixes won’t work and I needed to ease my way back into training, but first I needed a detox.
There are a lot of bad juice diets on the market so pick yours carefully. A friend of mine suffered from hallucinations because of the high sugar content of one. Plenish Cleanse pride themselves on being not only organic but 100% cold pressed. Their juices also boast an incredible 6lbs of vegetables and fruit in every bottle. Before I chose my cleanse I spoke to founder, Kara Rosen, on the phone about my goals and she recommended the Level One cleanse for three days. Obviously, I then opted for four.
I’m no juicing “virgin”, but I’ve been a little liberal in my approach. I’ve done three in the past, but my lifestyle got in the way. I didn’t want to be the person at the dinner party sipping on juice awkwardly in the corner or worse, declining the invite altogether. This time needed to be different. I booked out four days in my diary where I could be far away from temptation.
Before you get started you need to prepare your body for the juice cleanse. That means no celebratory “last supper”. If you do that you’ll be having all kinds of hunger pangs and caffeine withdrawals (i.e. a fierce headache). Try and avoid any caffeine and alcohol a few days before to make it easier for yourself. It is essential to have a “clean” day the day before. Plenish provide some ideas for a healthy vegan day and insist on drinking a least two litres of water. If you do the cleanse right, not only will you be giving your digestive system a liver a much needed rest, your body will also be rid of toxins and switch your system to an oxygen-drenced alkaline state. This means reduced bloating, glowing skin and feeling mentally brighter.
The Daily Routine of Juices
1. Sweet Sexy Green (pear, cucumber, romaine, spinach, kale, basil and broccoli)
2. Pineapple² (pineapple, apple, mint and aloe vera)
3. Mind Body Green (cucumber, romaine, pear, kale, spinach, parsley, lemon and ginger)
4. Spicy Limonade (filtered water, lemon, lime, coconut nectar, red chillies)
5. Cherry Beets (carrot, beetroot, filtered water, lime, cherry)
6. Cashew M*lk (filtered water, cashew nuts, dates, vanilla, cinnamon, himalayan sea salt)
To avoid sending my body into total shock, I armed myself with a 1.5 litre bottle of Evian which I refilled throughout the day and avoided my beloved morning coffee. I chose to make breakfast from Plenish’s suggested recipe – chopped pear with two tablespoons of ground flaxseed and a small handful of walnuts. For lunch, I steamed a pile of vegetables and sprinkled Himalayan sea salt over and dinner was something similar but with some roasted sweet potatoes. All in all this was pretty easy, but I did miss my morning dose of coffee.
I clambered out of bed around 8am and made myself some hot water and lemon to give my digestive system a little kick. The first two morning juices were surprisingly tasty and gave me a burst of energy. I thought I would be craving solids by lunch, but I felt pretty satisfied. At 3pm I had a bit of a crash. There was a moment in Sainsbury’s when the sandwich section was cooing me, so I quickly got out of there.
Then came the afternoon beetroot juice. I’m not going to pretend this was my favourite, the beetroot was quite overpowering. Kara advised me on the phone that beetroot was the secret weapon against fatigue. I needed every drop. Word of warning, don’t open this in a rush whilst wearing pale coloured clothing. My light grey t-shirt now has red speckles on it and not even Vanish could get them out.
I decided to stay in that evening and catch up on TV I’d missed during the week. I swear every other advert was about pizza or chicken. Everyone in the programmes seems to be eating too.
At 8pm it was time for the Cashew milk. This one has mixed reviews, but I think it has a nice consistency. It’s rich, sweet and it felt like a well-earned reward at the end of the day. On this first night I developed a bit of a headache. I knew it meant I hadn’t been drinking enough water. That and my body was going cold turkey on caffeine and booze. I eventually drowned it out with water and had a very early night. It was exactly what I needed.
I woke up on Day Two already feeling pretty fresh. I got out of bed at 7am (much earlier than usual) and wasn’t craving food. There’s no sign of headache today and I’ve made sure I’m carrying 75cl of water around with me at all times, drinking at least half between juices. I walked into a newsagent and was nearly seduced by a bag of salt and vinegar discos, but as soon as I left the temptation quickly resided.
After work, I thought it was an idea to take a trip home to see my parents. It was a Friday night and I didn’t trust myself to be anywhere else. Surely there would be no temptation at home? Unfortunately, the smell of my father’s delicious cooking kept wafting into the living room. It put me in a really bad mood. Day Four felt like a long way away.
By 8:30pm I was tucked up in bed watching a marathon of The Walking Dead. It usually puts me off eating anyway. I fell asleep around 10pm.
I woke up with an unbelievable amount of energy. I bounced out of bed, ran some errands and did some HIIT before the sun rose. This is a first for a Saturday. In fact, this is a first for a long time. Even days I need to be in the office I’ve eventually flopped out of bed with only five minutes before I need to leave the house. The juices taste better now. Well, I’m still a little unsure of the Spicy Limonade number. That one’s still not getting any better for me. I had some hunger pangs at about 4pm, so I grabbed a small handful of unsalted pistachios and drank more water. In the evening I had a little wine envy so I poured the bottle into a wine glass. This actually made me feel a surprising amount better. I wished I had done this the whole way through!
The day went by really quickly and I had this incredible feeling of mental clarity.
After one of the best sleeps I had ever had I was ready to take on the world. Sure, I was sad to miss out on one of my Dad’s incredible roast dinners, but I felt so good I was tempted to extend my juicing for a couple days further.
My skin was glowing, eyes sparkling and my tummy looked the flattest it had been in a long while. What made me really happy was that my jeans felt loose by a couple of inches.
OK, so I was aware I was meant to “introduce solids mindfully”, but my holiday was only two days later so this plan went out the window. I drank, I ate rich meats and my tummy wasn’t happy about it. After a heavy night of boozing I was very ill. Lesson learned. Your first day after the cleanse should be raw food and only by the fourth day after you should be re-introducing lean meat and fish into your diet. What I’m really happy about is that I don’t seem to have regained the weight. And whilst I’ll still continue to have a few indulgent meals (I also write restaurant reviews), I’ve become a more aware of the way different food affects me and I’ve started making much healthier decisions. I would highly recommend Plenish to anyone. I haven’t felt that good both physically and mentally in such a long time.
Tips for success:
Drink lots of water.
Have easy access to the ladies. You’ll be making a lot of trips.
Don’t set yourself up to fail. Surround yourself by people who will support you, not sabotage you.
Stay away from supermarkets.
I haven’t slept so soundly in a long time, nor woke up so refreshed
Pineapple². This was a delicious taste of the tropics and the sharpness of the pineapple, cooling mint and aloe vera made a heavenly combination.
Feeling lighter and clothes feeling looser. I reckon I nearly went down a whole dress size.
In reality you need to dedicate about 9-10 days to this diet so you really need your diary clear, unless you’re very disciplined when it comes to will power!
Mood swings around the midway mark. Apologise to the people you live with in advance.
words by Francesca Newman-Young