What I most took away from my 21-day Juice Feast was the principle of balance. Having wrestled with a tendency to vacillate between extremes in lifestyle, diet, emotion, and thought, I longed for a sense of peace and wellness. While to many people the idea of living on juice for 3 weeks could seem extreme, I found that what it unearthed in me was a deeper sense of what it meant to find equilibrium and calm.
Which is not to say I didn’t face challenges! On Day 2 of my juice feast, halfway through preparing my juice for the day, I distractedly chopped my last bunch of kale, and my index finger got caught in the crossfire. It being an extremity, there was a lot of blood, and off to the emergency room I went. Fortunately, I already had a lot of juice made, so I was able to pack that up and bring it along. I had five stitches to show for my adventure with my greens! At first, I felt defeated and a little bit sorry for myself. I was experiencing a setback with an already difficult task.
Ultimately, however, the wound turned into a huge gift. As I watched it heal throughout the Juice Feast, I was reminded of the processes that millions of my cells were going through at that very moment — mending, healing, cleansing, revitalizing. It gave me faith that my insides were healing just as well. The emergency room doctor suspected that the skin would turn black and fall off because so little was left to hold it on, but because of my incredibly healthy lifestyle during the juice feast, the cut healed beautifully and, one month later, is no longer even noticeable.
Another interesting challenge was a really fun and sweet visit from my parents. They flew all the way out from New York to see me for 6 days, and I was very nervous about my inability to eat with them socially. We always enjoy family meals together, and they are kind enough to take me to wonderful restaurants, so I felt nervous about this shift in our family dynamic. I was concerned they would have less of a good time, that I would be somehow limiting their experience of San Diego. I am happy to report, however, that the trip went beautifully. The Juice Feast prompted me to ensure that we had other activities to enjoy, such as hiking in majestic cliffs overlooking the ocean, visiting the seals that play in La Jolla Cove, swimming in the pool, strolling through Del Mar, and watching the sunset. I especially appreciated my parents’ kindness, flexibility, and openness to the practice of Juice Feasting. Their support made a huge difference, and I enjoyed my time with them very much. The most challenging part of the visit was the sadness I felt when they left, given that I don’t have family here in San Diego. I knew I was really going to miss them.
In the past, I would have eaten heavy food to numb that feeling, or to “calm” myself. The inability to do that while remaining committed to my goal of a 21-day Juice Feast helped me prove to myself that I can, in fact, survive the feeling of sadness without the “help” of food.
I have struggled with compulsive eating and powerlessness over food for many years, and this Juice Feast allowed me to take a break from that noise. Cravings and food obsessions popped up at different points during the Juice Feast, of course, and those were challenging moments and experiences, but they also showed me that those thoughts will pass, given time. I can allow them to move through me without acting upon them.
It was immeasurably valuable to learn that I don’t need to judge my cravings, thoughts about food, or responses to the smell of foods that, for health reasons, I choose not to eat. It’s alright for bad food to smell good to me, but I can also simply tell myself, “I’m doing something different right now,” and release the desire back out to the universe. The process hinges on my commitment to one day at a time. No more, no less.
When I sat down on a bench overlooking the crashing waves of Windansea Beach in La Jolla, smoothie in hand, about to take my first sip of non-juice and break my juice fast, I felt a deep and overwhelming sense of gratitude for the beauty of my surroundings, the beauty of my experience, the help of my amazing coach Courtney, and the support of everyone who loves me. I think the newer, more unfamiliar type of gratitude that I felt, however, was gratitude for myself, gratitude for my own inner life and world that had given me permission, time, and space to complete a journey that had seemed impossible to me.
The Juice Feast taught me that I don’t know exactly who I am, what my habits are, or what my destiny is. As I gently shift my actions, I will uncover what is really there, beneath some of the pain and struggle surrounding food and my body. I learned I can do this with gentleness. In fact, I learned that gentleness is essential. I take that with me as I successfully continue on a more peaceful, blissful journey toward greater health.