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Lessons From My 3 Day Juice Fast

Thanks to all of my gluttonous eating around the holidays, last Thursday I decided it was time to do a 3 day juice fast.  Perhaps it was a spontaneous decision, but I’ve been wanting to do one for a while, and this past weekend was the perfect time to do it.  18 juices later, I was ready to embark on what I knew would be difficult adventure. But allow me to rewind for a moment…

First, I realize that according to many people, not eating solid food for 3 days isn’t exactly a good idea. Second, I did not do this fast in order to lose weight. In fact, I did not get on the scale before or after. I simply wanted to allow my body a break from all the junk I had been ingesting over the past few weeks. (Why so many parties around the holidays???) And finally, I’ve been talking about doing a juice fast ever since I saw Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. Mentally, however, I could not let go of the idea that I would not be working out for three days. In addition, I never felt like I could take three days of feeling lethargic. My willingness to sacrifice just wasn’t there. Well, there is nothing like a piece of cheesecake or peanut butter fudge to push those reasons aside and  to start drinking kale like it’s going out of style. 🙂

My juice fast started Friday morning and 72 hours later, I couldn’t find enough food in the house to satiate my hunger. However, the purpose of this post is not to tell you about how I felt over the three days. Instead, I would like to share a few things I learned from this experience. (But if you really want to know what I went through, just scroll down to the bottom for a very short summary.)

Lesson #1: Food is everywhere 

When you can’t eat, it’s impossible to not realize what a large role food plays in your daily life. From preparing food, buying it, meeting friends out for lunch, hanging out at a neighbor’s house, planning your next activity, or any other thing you can think of… you name it and food is there. Food is central to so many of the things we do, and when it is taken it away, what the heck do you do with all this new found free time? Take away meals and suddenly your have time to watch four movies in a day and read a few books.

I also came to realize just how much food is used to make us happy or to get us to do things. On day 2 of my fast, I decided to do a little grocery shopping to get out of the house. Bad idea. Total Wine was giving out samples of champagne (at 9am) and Whole Foods seemed to have more samples than their normal selection of fruit and pita chips. Maybe it’s always like that and I mindlessly eat chips and drink champagne first thing in the morning. In fact, that’s probably exactly right. But when I was forced to be mindful about my actions, it really became clear to me how much food guides my day to day activities. Just a little food for thought. 😉

Lesson #2: Experimentation is a good thing.

There was certainly no shortage of people telling me how crazy I was or what a bad idea it was to drink only juice for three days. In fact, Mario was the only one telling me to stick with it even when I wanted to gnaw my arm off. I did this fast because I wanted to see how my body reacted. My body is not the same as anyone else’s on this planet (hooray!), and if I don’t try, how will I ever learn what works (or doesn’t work) for me? That is a lesson that can be applied to so many aspects of our lives. We rely so much on what people tell us…. run this many days a week to avoid injury, this is the best exercise to prevent runner’s knee, eat 3 times a day, eat 6 times a day, cardio before weights, weights before cardio, and the list goes on and on. In order to decide if any of this information is true or false, isn’t it almost necessary to experiment? Of course there is value in learning from other people’s experiences. How else are we going to know what to experiment with? But my take away from this fast is that in order to know if something works for my body, I have to try it out… on my body.

Lesson #3: A lot of things in life are like a marathon.

When I decided to do the juice fast, I knew it would be hard, but I wanted to do it. Kind of like a marathon. Day one wasn’t so bad. I was excited and ready for the adventure that awaited me. Just like the first 13 miles of a race. Day two was hard. I was stuck in the middle. Too much invested to turn around and not close enough to see the end. It sucked… like miles 13-20 of a marathon. Day three was hard but I knew I was going to make it to the end. The fact that I would be able to say I successfully completed my goal was motivation to keep going, no matter how hard the remaining hours would be. The end was approaching and I knew I would finish… just like miles 20-26.2.

During my time between watching movies and reading a book, I began to think about just how many of our obstacles and adventures in life are exactly like this. Exciting at first, really crappy in the middle when things get tough, but exciting, inspiring, and motivating when the end is in sight. Sometimes the hard part may be 24 hours or 7 miles or perhaps even years, but if we persevere, we will see it through, whatever that “it” may be.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


My juice fast summary: It was a lot harder than I thought, I had a terrible headache for 2 days, I didn’t have any increase in energy levels, and I will not be doing it again any time in the foreseeable future. 🙂

What do I Stand to Gain?

As with all family events that I attend and get to chat with my fabulous cousin Dan, I always leave with a little more knowledge than I had when I got there.  Saturday night’s take away, go listen to episode #57 on Rich Roll’s podcast. Dan and I are both pretty avid podcast listeners (Ben Greenfield, The Good Life Project, Dave Asprey), but I’m not always as up to date as he is. Therefore, yesterday morning, I downloaded the podcast and headed to the gym. What an enlightening 1 hour and 11 minutes!

If you want to know what the podcast is about, you really need to just go listen to it. I can’t relay the information or the emotion the same way that Rich Roll and Jeff Spencer do. But I would like to share a small point from the podcast that I think has fundamentally shifted my way of thinking.

But before I do, let me share two pieces of information: I quit my job, effective January 21, 2014 in order to pursue my dream of fitness, wellness, motivation, and inspiration and Jeff Spencer (the interviewee) is the creator of The Champion’s Blueprint. Moving on…

There are seven parts to the champion’s blueprint and I actually listened to the podcast again today to make sure I fully understood all seven parts. Yesterday, step one, legacy, really resonated with me. Today, step two, mindset, struck a chord with me that has honestly shifted my way of thinking about things. There were a lot of things Mr. Spencer said about mindset but my favorite line was when he said The champion doesn’t ask What do I stand to lose? The champion asks What do I stand to gain? 

The month of January will bring about a lot of scary and exciting changes. Other than being unemployed and having to create my vision from the ground up, I will also start training once again for the Boston Marathon. Now sure, training for a marathon isn’t that out of the ordinary for me. But this race is different. This race showed me defeat in 2012 like I have never known before. I can not, nor will I, let that happen again.

Personally, I feel that I have an athletic potential that I have yet to reach. I know I can accomplish so much more than what I have done so far. Yes, I’ve run some fast times but never once in my marathon running career, have I arrived to the start line being fully trained and uninjured. In fact, my 3:26:46 time in Chicago was after 2 months off from any real training. If the three times that I have Boston qualified have been with absolutely no serious training, I know I can be so much faster. I like the pain. I like the hard work. This is something I want so badly, but wanting it isn’t enough.

So what does this have to do with the question What do I stand to gain? Well it has everything to do with that question.

What do I stand to gain is a mindset. If every action that I take throughout the day is centered around that one question and if I have my legacy clearly defined, I will better prioritize. I will stop being afraid. I will stop being lazy. And stubborn. If I can answer the question what do I stand to gain by running at an easy pace? with you’ll better recover from the workout yesterday, I’ll slow down. I know I love to overtrain and 7:30 miles aren’t really an easy pace. Like I said, I will prioritize. And as I enter into the world of unemployment, if I can answer the question what do I stand to gain by making new contacts, asking questions, or putting myself out there for ridicule and critique with the answer you’ll be a step closer to achieving your career goals, then that’s okay. I’ll do it.

The two questions, what do I stand to lose and what do I stand to gain, are the same question, but with two different focuses. If we are always counting our losses or focusing on the bad, then how can we ever expect to move forward? It is those who are willing to risk the most, who stand to gain the most.

Thank you Dan for encouraging me to download episode #57. 🙂

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


And this is how we spend our Saturday nights… attempting pistol squats.

My sister Toni and cousin Dan having a little family fun

My sister Toni and cousin Dan having a little family fun

Change, Willpower, and Happiness

Friday I watched the documentary Happy. (Check it out on Netflix if you have the chance.) I learned that other than social interactions and being in nature, one of the things that makes humans happy is change. Doing things differently. Then for some reason, this quote about insanity popped in my head, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” And then I related it to running…

For so long I have planned on the rest of November and December being my months off from running, yoga, correcting body alignment issues, sleeping in past 6:00am on Saturday mornings, and taking a mental break from the mileage. Having done two marathons just 5 weeks apart, I figured my body could use the rest. Well the Las Vegas marathon was November 17th and since then, I have taken at most 5 days off from running. Why? Because it literally takes willpower and mental strength to not run. It requires more effort to do a yoga class instead of putting on my running shoes as soon as I get home. Running is a habit and to do anything else requires my brain to go off autopilot.

Thankfully, however, I just finished a book on willpower, which I followed up with the film Happy.  Friday night I reevaluated my weekend workout plans and Saturday morning I was at a hot yoga class with my best friend of 25 years. Change is good.

January I will start my training for the Boston marathon. I have been down this road many times. Excited to start my training, workouts planned, scheduled off days, planned yoga classes, time set aside for body maintenance. It all sounds great in my head but the hard part is actually doing it. And because it’s hard for me to run easy or take a day off, I’m never able to reach my full potential as a runner. I end up injured, mentally drained, and arrive at the start line 50% prepared. It’s a vicious cycle that I’ve been through over and over again. In other words, it’s insanity. 

I think I’ve finally realized that I am going to have to exert some willpower in order to make a change. It’s crazy to think I will reach my running goals if I keep doing what I’ve always done. It doesn’t work that way. Habits are hard to break.

For the month of December, I will not worry about running. Every day I will make a conscious effort to step out of my running “comfort zone,” and do something else. Maybe a pilates class, another hot yoga class, some hiking at a nearby park, a juice cleanse, or even just a few days of doing nothing. And perhaps once I realize that I can break the habit loop, it will not be that difficult to actually follow my marathon training plans. Perhaps I will actually run slow on easy days or even start practicing yoga at home. Any maybe, just maybe, the end result of my marathon training will be success and not injury.

Here is to a month of change, and happiness.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,