“If you go under 65kgs I’m divorcing you.” My poor, long suffering wife. She said that to me as I left for work this morning, I’m assuming it was a joke.
Scale picture from Shutterstock
I had just weighed myself: 66.1kg. After my huge drop on day 1, I had expected things to steady out a little, but no. After only two days on my juice fast I have lost roughly 3kgs in weight.
An overweight person, or someone taller (I’m 5′ 9″/175cm) might not register the visual difference, or feel different, but I noticed it immediately. I look leaner, I feel like I’m carrying less fat. I woke up both mornings and knew I had lost weight before I even stepped on the scales.
“Your face looks gaunt,” my wife said. She liked the way I used to look at 72kgs, when I carried a little more muscle and fat. I haven’t looked this lean (or weighed so little) since high school. I’ll admit: it’s a little scary. Scary because I have committed to this fast for seven days. If this is what I look like on day three, after two days of fasting, what will I look like next Monday morning? What will the number on the scales read then?
Monday came and went with relative ease. You don’t necessarily feel hungry on a juice fast, but there’s a pervasive sense of emptiness. That’s what you have to contend with. The urge to eat food, at least in the beginning, is a constant.
Food is everywhere. It’s in the stores I pass on my way to work, it’s the chocolate in the fridge chilling next to my juice. It’s in the words people speak. “Stripping the bones off that story now,” someone in the office said, a metaphor, plainly. All I could think of was the meat that might fall off that bone as it was stripped.
Food is cemented in every ritual we have. It structures our day. It punctuates our working hours. If I could forget that fact, this juice fast would be easy. I don’t feel hungry necessarily. Hunger comes and goes in the way it might if I was eating food, but once in a while you must quiet a slight panic in your gut. It comes every time you forget that you won’t be eating food for lunch, or any other meal.
It’s part of my own personal attachment to food. I look forward to eating. I love food. I love cooking. I think about food regularly and have to relive that small disappointment every time I remember that I won’t be eating food today, or this week for that matter.
I keep picking up food by accident. Mindlessly picking up something edible. Then I remember.
Yesterday I left the elevator in my building and something smelled incredible. As I walked closer to my apartment I realised the smell was coming from inside and I physically winced. My wife had been boiling green lentils with garlic and the smell was intoxicating. I floated towards it like a Tom and Jerry cartoon, nose sniffing in the air like a bloodhound. I had to feed these lentils to my seven-month-old child. Then I had to put the leftovers into a Tupperware container. It was unbearable.
But arguably the most tiring thing about the juice fast is the arguments, the people who can’t help but pipe up.
“This is unhealthy, you should stop…”
“Why are you doing this, you’ll just put the weight back on…”
“You should just eat the vegetables raw, you’ll get more benefit…”
“What about protein…”
“What about the enamel on your teeth…”
“What about bad breath…”
“What about your digestive system?”
Three days in and I’ve heard it all. It’s discouraging and, in my weakest moments, it’s those voices that filter through the echo chamber providing multiple reasons to quit. But the strange reality is this: most of these complaints tend to come from people living sedentary lifestyles, or people who binge drink alcohol, or eat fast food for lunch everyday. I never openly chastise people for their unhealthy habits, yet people are so quick to judge me for trying something different, something that will potentially have a positive effect on my well-being.
The minute you try any kind of diet everyone — family, friends, random people you’ve never met — all automatically become experts in nutrition and you have to be on the defensive at all times. And that’s tiring.
I think it’s a common response. Any time someone attempts to go on any kind of diet their first obstacle is the naysayers: the people who think they know better. Part of me believes that people are simply afraid of change, and seeing the possibility of a healthy change in others is a scary confronting thing. Their first response is dismissal: a loud, obnoxious vocal dismissal. Most of the time I respond politely, but when you are the one testing your will power in a relatively extreme situation, it can be frustrating.
But at the same time it’s healthy, and part of the reason I’m doing this to begin with. I want to lose kilos, I want to get to my optimum climbing weight, but I also want to start a discussion. Discussion, I’m sure we can all agree, is healthy!