After four days filled with pie, homemade ice cream, mashed potatoes with the best damn vegetarian gravy I've ever had, and rugelach, so. much. rugelach, forgive me if I swear off food for a little while, and divert things to talk about juice instead. Green juice!
Let's start from the beginning. I bought a juicer a little over a year and a half ago. And I can honestly say it was worth every penny. Up until a couple of weeks ago, I would juice fruits and vegetables (lots of vegetables) for a healthy snack or breakfast. Last January I even did a green-juice-a-day-january where I drank one for 31 days straight to help myself build the habit. Juicing is an easy way to ensure you digest the full 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day that we're all supposed to get (though no one actually does), in a fast straight-to-the-blood-stream, kind of way. Not only does drinking green juice make my body feel energized and light, but it has a pretty incredible affect on my mind, my mood, and my ability to focus. And for me, that's a pretty big deal.
So two weeks ago my husband went out of the country for what felt like the millionth time this year for work. I went to work in the morning, then spent the rest of the day in bed feeling sorry for myself, feeling trapped in a life I didn't choose and feeling less than hopeful that things were ever going to get any better. Things were shitty. And I felt super depressed. On top of this, I'd gained almost 5 pounds over the past couple months, and despite feeling pretty confident in knowing how to take care of my body, and continually bring myself back into balance, those numbers on the scale scared me. I felt heavy and lazy, sad and hopeless. I knew I needed a shift that was a bit more dramatic, and I needed it fast. So with my husband gone I attempted a juice cleanse. 4 days. No food. All green juice.
The first day was, of course, the roughest. I wanted food and I wanted it badly. But somehow I felt nourished enough by the juices. I drank 2-4 giant juices per day, somehow needing less and less of them as the days continued. Much like a fast, I avoided any strenuous exercise, and limited things to lots of gentle and yin yoga classes along with walks for P. Physically I felt less energy, but mentally my mind became light, clear, and focused; my mood improved dramatically. The most difficult parts of the day were the evenings. When the sun went down around 4:30 and it got cold, all I wanted was a warm meal. Each evening I swore today would be the last day and tomorrow I'd end this thing. But each morning I work up feeling good and more determined to finish what I'd started, so I'd drink a giant glass of warm water with lemon (a healthy habit I totally fell in love with) and carry on.
Throughout the four days I learned how much our culture revolves around food. We socialize around it. I found myself postponing meetings with friends because pretty much all people do when they get together is eat. I found I couldn't open the fridge or go near restaurants (which felt like they were everywhere!). I couldn't watch the food network, read my favorite food blogs, and at times I felt so desperate, I actually started drooling over the trashy big mac commercials on tv. I snuck a raw almond while organizing my pantry on night two, and I swear to you, nothing has ever tasted so good in my life. Oh and I craved meat. Like steak. Big time. I feared that when this cleanse ended I would eat and just never stop eating.
Fortunately that's not what happened. And when I eased off things by drinking warm homemade almond milk with cinnamon at the end of day four, I thought I'd die of happiness. Nothing has even felt so nourishing and delicious than that glass. I started day 5 with a fruit and spinach smoothie. I made kale chips and toasted almonds with olive oil and sea salt for lunch and couldn't believe how delicious they tasted. I savoured every bite like I was eating for the first time. Everything tasted so good. For dinner, I ended things in a big way with Green Kitchen Stories' New Yoga Pot. And it was perfect. Over the next couple of days I pretty much ate just whole fruits and vegetables, then slowly started incorporating some dairy, like greek yogurt, and feta in a salad, then grains.
A week after the beginning of the cleanse, I felt pretty fantastic. I felt empowered and like I'd given my body a fresh start to eat really well. To focus more on whole fruits and vegetables. To limit the amount of bread I eat (avocado toast, I love you). Oh and although this wasn't my main goal, and I don't recommend cleansing purely the loose weight, I lost those pesky 5 pounds and got back to my "normal". Obviously it goes without saying, I'm not a doctor, and believe every body is different - what's good for one could be bad for another, but for me the experience was great.
So today I share with you, my favorite fall green juice. Because I believe health is about balance, and balance, just like I teach my yoga students, is not about standing perfectly still, but about constantly moving around center. It's about staying present enough to make those little, or sometimes big, adjustments to keep you around center. And if you try to stand perfectly still, you will, undoubtedly, fall. I see it in my students, I see it in myself. And for me green juices help me balance around center, so I can enjoy carmel pear pie on thanksgiving then drink kale the next morning.
My Favorite Fall Green Juice
Makes about 1 quart
2-3 large apples*
1 handful baby spinach
1 large bunch of Kale
1 large head of romaine
1/2 medium cucumber
Wash and thoroughly dry all ingredients (salad spinners work great here). Press all ingredients through a juicer. To get the most out of the baby spinach, pack it tightly between the two apples.
*I start with two apples, taste, then if you'd like it sweeter add a third. Apple juice is low-glycemic, so the sugar from it won't spike your blood sugar, plus apples have always been my sweetener of choice for juices.