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My Three-Day Juice Cleanse

A few weeks ago, a friend in the fitness community asked if I'd be interested in doing a cleanse through the company he and his wife started in exchange for a write-up of my experience. I received product for writing this review, which is my honest recounting of my journey into juiceland.

I was genuinely excited and curious to begin this new way of consuming calories and cleansing out built-up toxins in my body. But I was also apprehensive; I love food, and I use it to comfort me in stressful times. I knew this relationship with food was a bad one, though, and one of the things I sought to change through the cleanse was the way I view and use food. Logically I knew I would be getting enough calories each day with just the juices, and I tried to rely on that knowledge to convince myself that I could do this. The one thing I did not anticipate is that I would still be in the process of moving from one home to another, a highly stressful event (I had hoped to be done the day prior to starting the cleanse). I would caution anyone who wishes to take on more than a one-day cleanse to do so at a time when stressors are low and when a more contemplative, relaxed approach can be applied to the juicing period (i.e., do as I say, not as I do).

The Details
  • Juice Monkeys 3 Day Juice Binge/Detox
  • 6 16-oz. juices per day, for 3 consecutive days
  • Juices:
    • Juice #1: Lemon Banger--lemon, cayenne, filtered water
    • Juice #2: The Green Machine--kale, spinach, romaine, parsley, cucumber, celery, apple, lemon, ginger
    • Juice #3: Pineapple Express--pineapple, apple, lemon, mint
    • Juice #4: Beets by Nabs--beets, apple, lemon, ginger
    • Juice #5: The Detox--apples, cabbage, carrots, lemon, lime
    • Juice #6: The Big Green "O"--kale, green apple, lime, mint
Day 1
The juice monkey, a.k.a. Vinny, showed up at my door with a cooler full of my colorful liquid meals for the next few days. He stocked them in my fridge, reminded me of the process (he'd already emailed me a detailed instruction sheet prior to the delivery), warned me that I might experience classic detox symptoms (namely head and body aches)--particularly on the second day--and that if I could just get past that the third day would be much easier. I nodded along, thinking to myself that I eat a pretty clean diet so I shouldn't have much toxic waste built up; therefore I was pretty certain my symptoms would be minimal (see Day 2).

Behold the rainbow of juices.

I packed a bag with the juices I needed to take to work, one every two hours. But first I would have to consume the first juice, Lemon Banger. I'd frequently read about the benefits of drinking lemon water, so I knew this was an essential part of the cleansing process. And I've done the warm water and half a lemon thing in the morning before, but it was a smaller amount, less concentrated, and, most important, didn't include cayenne. But what I was taking on was more important: so down the hatch it went. I had full-on lemon face while drinking all 16 oz. The whole concoction was a little harsh to my mouth and throat, but I followed it with regular water to cool things off.

No pretense here.

Once at work, I had my permitted cup of herbal tea (it's no coffee replacement, but it's something I still enjoy). I had a busy, compressed day at work, as I had taken half the day off to "finish" moving. While at work I also drank the the Green Machine, which was the most vegetable-tasting juice of them all, but I didn't mind because I was pretty hungry by then and would have eaten anything.


And then the very welcome treat of Pineapple Express. This one was straight-up delicious. I downed it pretty fast.

Yum, yum!

I was feeling good. I was proud that I was doing something good for my body. Soon I was off to go finish up that move, with two more juices in tow and one waiting at home.

The rest of the day was spent packing, lifting, carrying, and generally being overwhelmed by how much we still had to move from one place to another. Throughout the process, though, I stopped to drink my juices and then carried on. The Beets by Nab juice was also pretty good--it was the most dense of them all (and therefore felt the most like food), and I think I really just liked the color.

Nabs is the other partner and I believe the primary juicer.

Before heading home, I picked up another cup of tea, with "a little bit" of honey (wink, wink), which was allowed. After getting home, it was time for dinner: the Detox, and later the Big Green "O." The Detox wasn't bad, but it tasted pretty cabbage-y.

Prepare to belch after this one.

The Big Green "O" was my second favorite; it was sweeter than the morning green drink and it was the only one that didn't have lemon (but it had lime), which was a nice break.

Almost forgot to take a photo of this one until the last day!

By the end of the night, I was feeling pretty cleansed. I noticed my bloating was all gone, though I still felt satiated. I was tempted to stop here, but I'd committed to two more days. I was also pretty exhausted, and a slight headache had started to set in. I just wanted to go to bed, and so I did.

This is what exhausted looks like.

Day 2
I woke up the next morning feeling well rested, but hungry. Unfortunately all I had to look forward to was a lemon cayenne drink. I tried to recall the advice a friend gave one time on how to open my throat without using my swallowing muscles to push food or drink down; I essentially wanted to bypass my tongue (I also thought of holding a large spoon over my tongue). But I couldn't do it. So I drank and swallowed, drank and swallowed, as quickly as I could until it was all down. And then I burped a lot. FYI.

This day was admittedly more difficult. And by that I mean I had a few emotional breakdowns. It wasn't as exciting as the first day because it wasn't as new, and it wasn't close enough to the end that I felt any sense of ease; I just felt this overwhelming barrier to what I really wanted: food. And in retrospect I think I worked myself up pretty badly. If I had just tried to focus on something else, I think it might have felt easier. (And let me say that having "only" fresh, organic, cold-pressed juices readily available to consume is a total first-world problem, I know.)

But this is the day that I also felt the worst symptoms, as I was forewarned. Aside from feeling tired, I had a pretty constant headache and was lightheaded. I again had a lot of work to do but couldn't focus very well; reading much at all made me feel dizzy and sometimes nauseous, which made me think if I could just eat something I'd feel better. But I didn't want to give in so soon. So I looked forward to the time passing so I could drink more juice.

Even though we had more stuff to clear out from the old place, Tim knew I was not feeling great and told me I could take the night off while he worked on finishing up the move. Again. I knew this meant we'd both have to go over the next evening to truly finish things up, as it was our last permissible day in the lease, but I was banking on feeling better that day, so I took advantage of Tim's offer and came home early and pretty much passed out.

This is when I started telling a couple friends that I didn't think I was going to make it. Beth knew what I was undertaking and very thoughtfully messaged me to check in. She gave me some encouragement and told me to try not to pass out (thanks, Beth!). My other friend, Nicole, who is technically my landlord now, stopped by the house briefly after work, so we got to chat for a while. But after standing up for 15 minutes or so I asked if we could sit down. I think part of the problem I encountered was that I wasn't really drinking much water. I already had to pee a lot, so I was reluctant to drink anything more.

I was pretty useless the rest of the night, even though I had a writing assignment that was due by the end of the evening. I had to do it in spurts, because looking at the computer screen for very long made me feel sick. I was feeling so bad, in fact, that I decided to contact Vinny (who had checked in on me a couple of times, but when I was feeling less desperate). I didn't want him to think I was failing, but I didn't want to eat something without contacting him first. I was really glad I did, because he told me I could have a small snack, like a banana or a handful of almonds. So not long after Tim had come home from moving more stuff out of the old place, he was headed back out to the store for almonds (I intentionally had no snacks at home in order not to be tempted). It was the best handful of almonds I'd ever eaten.

I had a pretty restless night of sleep; as tired as I was, it took me a while to fall asleep.

Day 3
I woke up groggy but glad it was the last day of the cleanse. This day did in fact end up being better than the previous day. I still had some of the same symptoms as the day before--easily lightheaded, fatigued--but without the headache, which made a big difference. Plus, my outlook was better, as I knew it would all be over soon.

I had a lot of work to bang out at the office, and I wasn't working as efficiently as I usually did. When I told my boss why I was dragging a bit, she told me about her experiences with juicing. She's a fairly avid juicer and had actually done a seven-day juice cleanse before (I couldn't imagine!). But she also said that it's a difficult thing to do when you're under any duress--and I was under lots. Hearing that oddly made me feel better about how poorly I'd seemed to handle the experience; perhaps under normal circumstances I'd have responded differently.

After work, I still had to meet Tim at the old place to clear it out once and for all. I was pretty cranky, I admit. The leftover odds and ends that seemed to have no place to go were weighing on me, but so was the knowledge that I was so close to being able to have food. I considered eating a meal that night, after the last juice. Technically I'd have finished all 18 juices, so I kept trying to justify to myself that I could eat. But I knew that the program was for three whole days, and Tim helped keep me accountable, even though I fought him on it. I did, however, have some more almonds when I got home.

* * *

After the cleanse, I bounced back pretty quickly. I was excited to eat again, but I also wanted to be cautious of what I put back in my body. I wanted to steer clear of refined sugars in particular, which I'd gotten lax about when everyone's extra Easter candy and end-of-the semester treats made regular appearances at the office.

What I Learned
  • Cleansing isn't for the weak-willed; it takes a lot of mental strength to push through. I tried to summon my marathon training mentality to help me get through it, and sometimes that failed.
  • I probably should have moved around with more regularity. Mild exercise helps push toxins out of the body. I sat for a long time at work without moving each day, and then I probably overdid it the two nights I spent finishing the move, which likely contributed to my fatigue.
  • I should have consumed more water. I realized this a little late in the second day and tried to take corrective action, but again, the peeing. 
  • Everyone can benefit from a cleanse. I maintain a pretty clean daily diet, and I still experienced some pretty intense detox symptoms.
  • Fair warning that this one may be TMI: the juice from leafy greens and beets retains its color all the way through the digestive process. (That's just bonus information for my readers.)
Juice Monkeys has a variety of cleanse programs, as well as other juices that weren't part of the cleanse (which I can't wait to try!). Hopefully I won't need to be cleansed again for a while, but if I feel I do, I'll be better prepared to deal with it, and I hope this helps prepare you if you're considering doing it, too.


Oh Lee, my local Health Zone offers this, & I've considered it. Now, not so sure. We are making smoothies with my home grown wheat grass. P.S. I think it's odds and ends, ;) Love, Aunnt Pattie
Lee Davidson said…
Pattie--I don't regret doing it, but it took a lot of fortitude. And as for "odds and ins," it made sense to me! But I should have looked it up. thanks for the correction :)
Anonymous said…
"You're a braver (wo)man than I am, Gunga Din!" Not sure if I have the fortitude to do it but I am seriously considering it. I'm going to check with my dietician, first, though, because of my pre-diabetic condition which I have licked for now, but my lack of willpower keeps me on the edge of sliding back into it.
B.o.B. said…
This is a great, honest review Lee. I appreciate you sharing the ups and downs since I do see a lot of blogs that are all is glorious kind of deals. I'd still try the cleanse and take your advice to do it on a low stress week.

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