emptiesHere I am at the last day of a three day juice cleanse. And this is what I know for sure. No matter what they tell you about the healing, cleansing power of juice and nutrients, antioxidents yada yada, if you have a caffeine monkey on your back, it will kick juice’s ass and steal its lunch money. Most juice cleanse programs — and certainly Urban Remedy’s cleanse which I am using — suggest you stop caffeine three days before your cleanse. This should NOT be a suggestion! And three days? Who are they kidding? If you are addicted to caffeine, you will need at least ten days to detox from that completely before you even attempt a juice fast. I chronicle in Day One how I had to break down and get a small coffee since I hadn’t had my java since two days before the cleanse. After that, Day Two was a breeze and I assumed the juices had extracted all caffeine and its toxic effects from my bloodstream.

If I formulated a juice cleanse, it would include a cup a joe first thing every day!

If I formulated a juice cleanse, it would include a cup a joe first thing every day!

No such luck. I awoke on Day Three with that blinding headache that can only be caused by caffeine withdrawal — unless someone happens to be hammering a nail into your frontal lobe. It was two hours before I was supposed to have my first juice, but, assuming it had magical healing powers, I went for Juice Number One. It’s billed as Brainiac, features cucumber, celery, spinach, parsley and lemon. The bottle promises it will “cleanse cells, deliver phytonutrients, energize, and alkalize the body”. Sounds like what I needed. I drank about half before I realized I was too dizzy, nauseous and racked with a sledgehammer headache to do more. Within 15 minutes, I knew java was the only answer. I managed to get myself in the car and down to the nearest country store. Where I promptly threw up all my Brainiac juice in the driveway, crawled inside and up to the counter, then fumbled my way through ordering a medium cup of coffee. I sat in my car like a heroin addict with that little cup of Methadone just ingesting my “medicine”. The heroin analogy is very apt. Did you catch that scene in the premiere of Sons of Anarchy where the bad detective, played by Donal Logue, shoots up, then slowly falls back in ecstasy? Well, that was me — except without the creepy naked in front of the mirror and examining his eyeballs thing. Anyone who says caffeine isn’t a drug should note that a Johns-Hopkins researchers says caffeine addiction should be classified as a psychological disorder. And he says withdrawal will set in from 12 to 24 hours after your last cup lasting as long as ten days. What does he say it gives you? Headaches, muscle pain and stiffness, lethargy, nausea, vomiting, depressed mood, and marked irritability. Check, check, check and check to everything.

I even went to the nation's largest heirloom and organic food expo and easily passed up food booths like this.

I even went to the nation’s largest heirloom and organic food expo and easily passed up food booths like this.

The rest of the cleanse? That was a breeze. And the results? I’m down five pounds and, although I didn’t think my face was puffy before, it’s noticeably unpuffy now. In fact, my whole body looks leaner. So here’s what I’ve learned — besides the fact that the Caffeine Monkey will not let you walk away unscathed.

1. You really, really, really won’t be hungry on this cleanse. I don’t think I felt one rumble or grumble. Even when I went to the Heirloom Exposition and was confronted by organic Willie Bird Cajun spiced turkey sausages. The Urban Remedy website says this is because you are drinking a 100 to 300 calorie juice every two hours, so your body is never running on empty.

2. Which brings me to the realization that half a dozen small meals keep you fueled better than a few large ones. Yeah, I’d heard it before, but never really believed it. I’m a notorious breakfast skipper, light luncher and have always found myself ready to eat the wallpaper off the walls by dinner. Well, now I’m motivated to eat a small breakfast and have little mini bags of trail mix, fruit or some kind of 100 calorie, nutrient dense food with me to munch on at intervals between meals. Folks, take it from a former disbeliever: it really works.

3. Now this is gross. You might want to clear small children off the Internet. Do you know about the furry tongue? Yeah, neither did I. And you won’t hear it from any of the juicing companies. But if you read any of the bloggers who juice — they all talk about it. Apparently, after two days of cleansing — your tongue starts to slough off cells which is a signal that your liver is cleaning up its act. Or some such thing. I found the whole thing distasteful — literally — and found myself brushing my teeth every hour. And no, I’m not going to photograph and post a picture of my tongue. But this guy did.

4. While we are in the TMI phase of this post, I did mention that you will be weeing every half hour or so? Yeah, so don’t plan anything further than 50 yards from a known bathroom. Not to mention that your juices are highly perishable and you need one every two hours. So make that perimeter include a refrigerator. But you won’t be going anywhere anyway, because you will be spacy. Don’t, whatever you do, attempt a two hour freeway drive as I did on Day One.

Here’s what I didn’t get: the “beautiful glow” they promised me. My friend, Christine, did. But she did the Seven Day Cleanse. So I’ll chalk it up to my liver needing more time. I also didn’t get “increased mental clarity and focussed energy”. Just the opposite. Although, looking back over the past three days, I did get a lot done. I just did it with about a third of my brain cells working.

Would I do it again? Yeah, I might. Or I might make my own juices and do it myself over a lazy weekend. As I mentioned on Day Two, I am concerned that my exercise and hiking program has been shelved as I don’t think I’ll be refueled for a hike until at least Monday. And I don’t recommend exercising strenuously the morning of your first cleanse day, as I did. So I would probably never do the Seven Day Cleanse for that reason.

Was it worth the hefty price tag for this particular program? Yes, I’d say so. But I’d figured I was paying for more than juices. I was paying for willpower — and the price would make me stick to it. In addition, the ingredients for the juices are all on the bottles, so I could easily replicate this program for myself. I’d even reuse the bottles since they are a handy serving size. Also, I think formulating a juice cleanse isn’t something you can do with any old juice. I was impressed at how the juices at Urban Remedy really seemed to address my body’s needs at a particular time of day. They balanced lighter, more diuretic juices with thicker, more “food-like” juices. One type of juice would give you a little jolt of energy and the next some more serious fuel. I noticed the program was also arranged so that you went to progressively more caloric juices as the day went on. That got you through late afternoon and evening and, most importantly, through the 9 hours of your nighttime fast between your last juice and your morning juice. If you read up on juicing, a precise order and type of juices is recommended. It’s pretty hard to figure out from the books, so Urban Remedy took the guesswork out of it.

Do I think I’m going to rush out and have a fried egg, steak and biscuits and gravy breakfast tomorrow? Probably not. Urban Remedy posts a “re-entry program” and tells you how you should ease back into regular eating. But I’m not actually craving anything. I might have eggs for protein. Maybe a veggie omelet. And coffee. But I do think that I might abstain from wine for a little longer.

Just a little. Who am I kidding? Grapes are fruit. Doesn’t wine count as juicing?

Doesn't matter how spacy you are from cleansing or how strung out you are from caffeine withdrawal, terriers still need to be scritched!

Doesn’t matter how spacy you are from cleansing or how strung out you are from caffeine withdrawal, terriers still need to be scritched!

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