In the last two years, I put on a little weight.
Until now, I had always been the type of person who can eat virtually whatever and not gain an ounce. But after transitioning to a desk job, becoming less physically active after college, and living dangerously close to a bodega with 50¢ Hostess snacks in the window, I started packing on the pounds. How many pounds, I can't be sure, because up until very recently, I purposely did not keep a scale or full-length mirror in my apartment. But after months of being in denial about why my jeans were getting tighter, I decided to do something about it.
I wasn't going to do anything crazy like exercise or anything like that—I was looking for a quick fix. Ideally one that would allow me to drop two dress sizes, shed 10-15 pounds and make me look like Jessica Alba all in a matter of days, so I turned to the fad-diet of choice for Instagram influencers and hot girls from my high school: a juice cleanse.
And yes, I know that many experts say juice cleanses are unhealthy and ultimately ineffective, but my morbid curiosity combined with the promise of "detoxing" my body was too intriguing to ignore. So I went down to a juice store and took the plunge.
The cool teen behind the counter talked me through my options, and I decided to try the most noncommittal of juice cleanses: the 24-hour cleanse. I figured that even if I absolutely hated it, I could keep it up for at least 24-hours. If I ended up liking it, maybe I'd even end up a life-long devotee!
Oh, April, you stupid, stupid idiot. If only you knew how naive you were.
The cool teen gave me 6 juices, labeled them in the order in which I was to drink them, apologized for not having the chocolate flavored nut milk (I said I didn’t care because cool teens intimidate me but deep down I cared, a lot), and I was on my way with $32.00 worth of liquids in tow.
The next day, I started the cleanse as per the instructions: drink the first drink when I wake up, then drink a juice every 2 hours until I’m finished. I popped the first drink open around 7 a.m.
It was some sort of vanilla-almond milk that was surprisingly tasty. Sure, the texture was grainy, like someone kicked a whole bunch of sand into it, but nothing starts the day like a mouthful of sand! On the whole, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. I chugged it down. Not even 8 a.m. and already one down, five to go. This would be easy.
Two hours later, I dutifully unscrewed the cap to my second juice. This one looked like bottled swamp water, and it's taste didn't prove otherwise. It was 10 a.m., around the time I usually scarfed down a bowl or two of "choco-marshmallow cavity balls" or whatever that cereal is called, and I was feeling those familiar pangs of hunger.
To put it mildly, this juice was not satiating my cravings.
The initial flavor wasn't horrible, but the aftertaste was acidic, like the taste in your mouth after you barf. I started doing that thing where you hold your breath and drink as much as possible, and then come up for air at the last second like a toddler drinking a juice box. No matter how much I drank, sipped, and chugged, I swear this f*cking juice never went down. I ended up nursing the lettuce-water for about 3 hours, putting me behind schedule. F*ck. This was the beginning of the end.
Now, this might be TMI, but I need to address the state of my poop during this time. You know you were wondering. Yes, I peed a whole bunch the morning of the cleanse, but what I didn’t do was take my daily 11 a.m. poop. Yes, somehow, the cleanse was making me constipated?! I assumed a juice cleanse would have the opposite effect. But nope. On top of everything else, this juice cleanse was giving me trust issues.
It's like my asshole was acutely aware that I was doing a juice cleanse, and although I kept feeling like I had to go, I just couldn’t. It was like "I DON'T WANT THAT LIQUID SALAD ANYWHERE NEAR ME!" Isn’t the whole point of doing a juice cleanse to piss out of your butt?
Lunchtime rolls around and by now, I'm ravenous. I still am choking down juice #2 when a coworker informs me that there are free, warm cookies in the break room. At first, I resist. I have committed to a juice cleanse, and I am not going to sprout those Jessica Alba abs unless I take this thing seriously.
But athat point I must have temporarily blacked out, because about 45 seconds later I had a cookie in my mouth and I was doing the ONLY thing you're not supposed to do while on a juice cleanse: I WAS EATING. FOOD.
Okay, to be fair...I was just listening to my body. And in that moment, my body said it really wanted a cookie. No, it was literally screaming: "ME WANT COOKIE." And I have to be honest, before eating that cookie I was feeling a bit light headed and totally unfocused. But after eating it, I felt revived! I'm no doctor, but that cookie could've saved my life. It also made me thirsty.
Ooh ah la: juice #3!
Juice #3, which was disturbingly rust-colored, was a real f*cking doozy to get down. I kid you not, I sipped on this nasty sh*t for EIGHT HOURS before finishing it. Not only did it taste like spicy bile, but I was already so full of juice that my body straight up rejected any more liquid.
Initially I did this cleanse to see my love handles deteriorate, but it soon became clear: the only thing deteriorating was my soul.
Cut to 8 p.m. and I'm sitting in my apartment trying to keep down the last few sips of juice #3. I look in the mirror and see a sad, bloated, starving girl who is inexplicably sweating profusely. Besides the cookie, I hadn't had solid food in 24-hours. Aren't I supposed to be happy, with great teeth doing a yoga pose on Instagram or something right now?
You heard it hear first (okay, maybe you already knew this): Juice cleanses are a lie. I had my "come to Jesus" moment when I finally acknowledged that there is no way I am drinking three more juices before going to bed tonight. Dejected, I gifted juice #4 to a handyman who came over to fix a shelf in my apartment. He seemed confused by the gesture. And that is fair. Looking back, there is no greater white woman move than gifting your handyman an expensive yet disgusting bottle of juice. Sir, if you are reading this, I apologize.
As I fall asleep that night, I think about this juice cleanse. I’m pretty loopy from hunger, but more than that, I really miss chewing food. And I miss ingesting things—warm things. FOOD. I miss food.
After a day of drinking drink cold, bitter slop, I fell asleep thinking about how nice it would be to eat a microwaved sweet potato. Do you see what the f*ck a juice cleanse does to your mind? I ended up pining for a f*cking MICROWAVED SWEET POTATO. That sh*t is NOT normal.
The next morning, I am surprising less hungry than I thought I would be. I decided to see this thing through, and make the 24 hour juice cleanse a 32-hour juice cleanse. I'm a goddamned warrior. I drink down the same vanilla almond drink I had yesterday for breakfast. Still grainy, but hey, after drinking that juice yesterday that tasted like it was fresh-squeezed directly from Satan's butthole, I can't complain.
Sloshing with liquid, I crack open the final juice around 10 a.m. I think, "Clear eyes. Full bladder. Can't lose," before downing the entire bottle. This last juice actually tasted good, so I didn’t have to do some mental gymnastics in order to convince myself to drink it. It also had 24 grams of (natural) sugar, so it was pretty much like drinking melted ice cream, which is why I was probably so on board with it. I threw the empty bottle in the recycling bin with vigor, feeling like Frodo throwing the one ring into the fiery pits of Mount Doom.
Reflecting on my
ordeal experience, I realized I was hungry and unfocused the entire day. I had no energy and no motivation. And although this cleanse made me stop and appreciate the simple things like solid foods and chewing, it was not worth the dull, lingering headache that persisted for nearly 24 hours straight. I did not lose weight. I did not "detoxify" anything. I did not even get to fulfill the American dream of pissing out of my butt. The only thing this cleanse really did was confirm what I already knew deep down inside: there is no shortcut when it comes to being healthy.
I'm happy to report that now, months later, I lost the 15 pounds by not treating my body like a trash can and exercising regularly. It took several months, but not once did I ever have to drink liquefied grass-clippings to achieve my goals, so it was definitely well worth it.
In conclusion, I think that juice cleanses are stupid and bad. Maybe don't do them.
*This post, not sponsored by Juice Cleanses™