Ramping: How I Prepare for My Extended Juice Cleanses
Note: This is a method I perfected for myself since starting juice cleansing in the mid-90s. It is due in part to Queen Afua, whose book Heal Thyself was my gateway into detoxing during a time when cleansing was still viewed, in this country, as whacky. My method may not work for you; everybody’s body is different. As always listen to your body temple; it can tell you a lot about what it needs!
Tomorrow will be the first day of my 2015 Winter Cleanse. I do this detox/cleanse every year (along with a Summer Cleanse) however this year’s been a little different. Usually I start in February and am done by this time of year, but Snowmeggedon 2015 was brutal. My entire being was in serious hibernation mode until March and I steadily ate comfort foods.
In light of the amount of time spent snowed in and shoveling out, I gave myself a break this year and allotted more time to ramping up than ever before. Usually it takes 3-4 days to ramp up to a 100% juice cleanse, but this year I’ve been ramping for the past two weeks. What does ramping mean? Simply it’s the method of removing particular food groups from your diet in order to facilitate an easier transition into juicing. For example, if you eat steak on Monday and decide you’ll start a juice cleanse on Tuesday, odds are you have less of a chance at success when your body starts craving meat. But if you’d removed meat from your diet on Tuesday and went without it completely before commencing to juice Friday, there’s a much higher likelihood that the cravings for meat will have a weaker hold on you.
Since I juice cleanse for a minimum of 7 consecutive days, it’s important to me that my body is primed for the long haul. Juice cleansing is a marathon, and ramping up properly is a way of stacking the odds in my favor. The first things I remove are animal products. I don‘t eat red meat (haven’t for over 22 years) or many dairy products (with the exception of yogurt, which I’ll explain in a minute), so the first thing I removed from my diet was poultry and fish. After a couple of days, I started removing my real weakness—carbs. I cut down on cooked grains, whole grain crackers and breads over the course of 5 days. This method almost guarantees zero cravings and helps me go as long as I like. My longest 100% juice cleanse, so far, was 15 days.
As I remove various cooked foods from my diet I increase raw foods—both fruits and vegetables. I jump to 50% raw immediately, and from there ramp down the cooked/baked foods while increasing the amount of raw. Around now is the time I introduce the juicing by having a serving of juice at whatever time’s convenient, usually at night. This is also a good time to re-compile my juice recipes and try some newbies. Once I hit 100% raw, I either start juicing 100% the next day or ramp down raw for a day or two while increasing juice exponentially, depending on what my body tells me its comfortable with.
This year, I’ve got a new goal–weight loss. For the 15 years I’ve been doing this bi-annual cleanse (I started 20 years ago, but stopped during pregnancy and slacked off during early momhood), I’ve always sought to cleanse and detox above anything while the (inevitable) weight loss was icing on the cake. Now, in the wake of the Great Hibernation and what seemed like never-ending eating, it’s like getting rid of the Freshman Fifteen all over again. My goal is to lose at least 10 pounds, and so far I’ve lost four pounds on ramping alone.
As mentioned above, the one dairy product I keep in my diet is yogurt. I don’t drink cow’s milk and rarely eat cheese (although I LOVE it), because of its effect on me. Yes, I am lactose intolerant, but according to much research so is the majority of the human race.
“Look, are you a suckling calf? Name one creature on earth that uses milk after it’s weaned. Man’s the only one. And man’s the only one who lives out only half his life span. A cow has four stomachs. You don’t. You can’t handle whole milk.” – Jack Lalane
Yogurt, on the other hand, while still a dairy product doesn’t wreak havoc on the human digestive system due to the active cultures it possesses.
“A benefit of yogurt…not present in most milks is the presence of probiotics. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that help maintain digestive and immune health.” – Larissa Gedney
Yogurt is honestly one of the best things I can put in my body. Plus it fits in with my juicing efforts—I love making yogurt-based smoothies during my Summer Cleanse. So yummy!
But how does it feel?
Juice cleansing is not about starving your body—far from it—it’s about feeding your body all the vitamins and nutrients it needs while giving it a break from digesting solid food. And, just in case you’re wondering, I still work out while ramping and cleansing. To support that, not only do I ramp up my protein intake with yogurt-based smoothies, I also add soy-based protein powders, green supplements such as spirulina, wheatgrass and more. That being said I keep my cardio workouts to 30 minutes—5 minutes stretch on either end of 20 minutes sustained cardio. With that ratio of exercise and calories I lose pounds, detox and stay energized!
It feels fabulous!
Over the next few days, I’ll give more details about my cleanse, including recipes and cleansing techniques. Stay tuned!