I would never have considered myself unhealthy, at least by today's somewhat lax standards. I didn't have Big Macs for breakfast, I could see my toes (on good days) and I almost never deep fried anything. Sure, I could always have been healthier but then, so could everybody, right?
My plummet into introspection began after watching a few documentaries on Netflix, specifically "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" and "Vegucated". Before that I was happy to coast along, keeping a somewhat watchful eye on what I ate and when I ate it.
My epiphany came when one of the characters in "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" was told that he was "Over fed but under nourished". This man was clearly overweight, had rarely gone hungry in his life and here he was being told that he was malnourished. This is not the kind of malady you'd expect to see outside of the developing world.
Being told that I was possibly "full but starved" made me stop and think about my intake of food. I was never a person to savour a lunch hour, for instance. I would prefer to use that time to schedule meetings or make conference calls without interruption, then take five minutes to grab a quick sandwich on the way back to the office. I was also a firm believer in coffee and a muffin to get me over the three o' clock slump.
Suitably inspired and educated, I decided that a juice cleanse would be a good gateway into healthier living and I began to seriously consider trying a juice cleanse. Only nice and fresh blended fruit and vegetables for a few days sound easy. This is a deceptive assumption borne from lack of experience. The only all liquid diet most of us could remember involved either baby formula a very long time ago or a stag weekend not nearly long enough ago.
But it was time, my mind was set. So off I ambled to purchase myself a special blender, mentally patting myself on the back for taking the first steps on the road to healthy living. Unfortunately it soon became obvious that these may have been the only steps.
Between working a twelve hour day and sporadic business trips to both sides of the Atlantic, it was proving difficult to find the discipline and the time to buy, prepare and consume the necessary produce day by day. I just couldn't stick to any consistent plan due to my schedule. My best intentions were laid to ruin. I began the slide back to an overly comfortable culinary lifestyle and decided to put the cleanse on the long finger for the moment.
I was effectively back to where I started when I happened across an Irish company, PureGreen, that seemed intriguing. They are the first in Ireland to prepare the juice using a "cold press" method that's all the rage in the States. This method retains a lot more of the nutrients in the juice to alternative methods. As well as that, and this is the part that really sold me, they would then bottle and deliver it to me at home or in the office. So since most of my obstacles from my last attempt were immediately addressed and overcome I had absolutely nothing stopping me, bar my own willpower or lack thereof. So it was with some excitement and more than a little foreboding that I began my cleanse.
Four bottles of cold pressed vegetable juice was on the menu for breakfast lunch and dinner for three days. Three whole days. An amount of time that seems a lot longer when there's no hot meal in the foreseeable future. But I was determined! I was educated! And to be honest I was flat out of excuses.
I began the first day with a spring in my step, I was as mentally prepared as I was going to get. If you decide to go for the cleanse and do it properly then there are some sacrifices to be made in addition to solid food. Coffee, booze and cigarettes are out. In fairness, I'm not a smoker and not one for drinking much, never mind mid-week. Also it didn't take a genius to figure out that a bucket of coffee a day is not indicative of a healthy lifestyle.
I found it easier than I thought it would be for the morning anyway, I had my juice which was refreshing and surprisingly substantial. I didn't feel the first real pangs until mid-afternoon, prime muffin and coffee time. It was at this point that my body began rebelling. As my body realised that this whole no solid food thing wasn't being played for laughs and was actually happening, reading documents or staring at a screen became difficult.
While it wasn't a game changer, it certainly nagged. By bedtime of the first night I was proud that I had stuck with it and I wondered what the next two days had in store for me, anxious but determined I knew that I would see this out.
I woke up feeling, if not refreshed, then certainly less sluggish than usual. I have been guilty in the past of eating in the late evening and you could certainly feel it when you roll out of bed. Not so now, as I looked forward to seeing (somewhat blurrily) another day of health. The first day hadn't exactly been a breeze, with minor hunger pangs and failing vision springing to mind, but I was already feeling the benefits of this little stint.
Day two was much the same as day one, I began the day without much difficulty with a slump in the middle. By day's end however, the benefits outweighed the drawbacks and I was feeling better and better, a trend that continued into and after the final day.
To be honest, when I started this cleanse I thought it would be something I'd do, then put behind me and never revisit again (except maybe as an anecdote to be told while enjoying a steak). I was surprised to find that I had become an advocate of juice cleansing. I began to think of the possibilities and fringe benefits of cleansing.
For instance, it's the perfect way to change routine or kick start a diet. I'd also recommend trying it if you need a bit of a shakedown, to dig you out of a rut or to dispel lethargy. It's a great way to start a month and I can see myself making it a regular thing. Don't get me wrong, I love food and they can pry my steak knife out of my cold dead fingers, but a cleanse every now and again but helps encourage introspection about your standard diet as well as clearing your mind and body in an energising and affordable way.