I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: diets are not my area of expertise. But I’ve been working out pretty hard for the #WHGetsFit winter fitness challenge and I just haven’t managed to get those abs to show yet. According to those in the know, a good physique is twenty percent exercise and eighty percent diet. I’m fit, young and lean, so, with my goal so tantalisingly within reach, I reckoned I could skip the regular long-term weight-loss route and try a juice cleanse instead.
I’ve always wondered how effective juice cleanses are. More importantly, I’ve wondered if I could actually stick to one. Challenge accepted. I checked out quite a few before settling on one that sounded tough, but doable: the Winter Detox 3-Day Juice Cleanse by Juice Revolution. This cleanse includes yummy soups that make it a little easier on those cold winter days.
Three days, six cold-pressed juices, six winter-warmer soups – let’s go.
It’s A Juicy Revolution
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous embarking on this juicy journey. My stomach was aflutter with pre-cleanse butterflies as I opened my Juice Revolution box of liquid food for the next three days. I carefully placed them in the work fridge, ready for day one. After work, I had plans to hike up Table Mountain with a group of fellow adventurers and spend the night in the hut up there. Coincidently, it also turned out to be the coldest night of the year. After this character-building experience, it would be a quick, cold hike down and back to work… and juices.
READ MORE: Coffee: Are You Pre-Wired To Need More?
Day 1: Let The Games Begin
I woke up feeling pretty well rested and piled on more layers before the icy descent. And that’s when I remembered: no coffee or breakfast for me. Somehow I needed to get down a mountain and to the office without snacking or indulging in my life source – caffeine. Magically, I made the trek and arrived at work right on time for my 8am detox tea. The first official drink of the cleanse was a blend of green rooibos, lemongrass, ginger root and cinnamon bark, among other herbs. I love tea and this one was no exception. I’ve got this.
Juice 1: Kaleidoscope
I’ve had mixed experiences with juices. There have been some really yummy ones in my past, and then some that honestly can’t be fit for human consumption. Knowing that I still had three days with no other alternative, I tentatively took my first sip of an apple, carrot, beetroot, yellow pepper, cucumber, lemon, broccoli, avocado and celery blend. It may sound odd, but it tastes amazing! I had nine supplements to take with this first juice and I quickly swigged them down. I hardly ever take pills (unless I’m sick), so nine seemed pretty intense. It’s important to drink the juice cold. After the morning hike down, it was the perfect refresher. What’s more, it actually filled me up.
Soup 1: Spinach, Watercress, Rocket And Sweet Potato
Lunchtime is 12pm and by 11am I was really looking forward to a good, warm soup. Obviously, they’re not of the chunky soup variety and are more juice-like, but they’re tasty. I can definitely do this. The only problem I could foresee at this point: the no coffee rule.
Juice 2: Star Dust
This juice included apple, spinach, beetroot, cucumber, avocado and parsley. I mainly got them beetroot vibes – luckily I’m a big fan! I’d be lying, though, if I said I wasn’t tempted by the delectable avo crackers lying seductively on my colleague’s desk. I missed chewing solid food, but on the other hand, I could see myself making it through the three days… Or so I thought.
Supper: Butternut, Squash And Carrot Soup + Choc Nut Mylk
This is when the sh*t hit the fan. I went out with a friend and only got home to my supper around 9pm – not the recommended 6pm. I was starving! The temptation to eat something was very strong. Like, smack-my-hand-away-from-the-biscuit strong. I heated up the soup as quickly as was humanly possible. It was another good one. But wait, hold up: the overall winner of this entire juice cleanse was the chocolate mylk. A lifesaver sent from the juice gods: a delicious mix of almonds, macadamias, dates, cacao, vanilla and Himalayan salt.
After my liquid supper, I was so exhausted that I climbed straight into bed at 9:30pm. A first for me. I set my alarm for 5am gym with a little pang of fear at the thought of another coffee-less early start.
Day 2: One Day Down, One To Go…
Did I say how much I love coffee? In case I wasn’t clear, it’s the blood that flows through my veins and the reason I wake up every morning. I’m used to four generous cups a day. So a 5am wake-up with nothing but hot lemon water to fire up my metabolism is not my idea of a good start. Somehow I made it to BOLD South Africa and my morning workout helped to get the blood flowing and wake me up. It also woke up the monster that is my stomach – and it needed feeding. I got to work at 8am and sipped my detox tea, all the while eyeballing the time as I waited for 9am happy hour.
Day 2 was a struggle – there’s no other way to describe it. I felt incredibly tired and my brain was all fuzzy. Not much work got done through the coffee-deprived haze. I craved a plain peanut butter sarmie somethin’ crazy. Luckily the juices and soups were delicious again. I kept myself going by thinking: just one more day…
Day 3: The Final Day
I had another early start, this time for a run up Lion’s Head with my trail buddy. Okay, confession time. I caved, I gave in. My downfall? One little black coffee. I know, I know, I was so close, but I couldn’t function properly and feared for my driving ability. My advice: if you’re thinking of doing a juice cleanse, get the coffee addiction out of the way first.
After my run, I got to work and I felt incredibly energised. And I’m not sure I can give one small black coffee all the credit. I felt light, lean and pretty great. I paid the bathroom mirror a quick visit. Why hello abs. Finally, I could see them!
As I got ready to go out that night with some friends, my buddy Carla turned to me and exclaimed, “You’ve got abs!” Day made. For me, with my specific body type and fitness goals, the juice cleanse was totally worth it.
Looking back on the juice cleanse, I would have done a few things differently. I would have done it over a weekend or a holiday when I didn’t need brain power or energy to stick to my hectic schedule. I would have given up coffee at least a month in advance to prepare myself. But, would I do it again? Sure.
Ed’s note: Always consult with a dietician before embarking on a cleanse.