The three-day juice cleanse challenge
Illustration by Paul Hostetler
I’ve always been intrigued by juice cleanses, mostly because of
skinny celebrities who swear by them the health benefits. So I decided to challenge myself with a three-day juice cleanse. To test my willpower and avoid gaining my usual 5 pounds, I upped the stakes: Not only was I going to survive on a diet of liquid vitamins, I’d do it at the chocolate wonderland known as Hersheypark. (Have I mentioned I’m a chocoholic who never drinks juice?)
9:30 a.m.: I enter Purée Juice Bar in Bethesda and pick up three bags filled with glass jars of juice. (Purée generously offered to sponsor my first-ever cleanse. I feel like Tiger Woods when he was signed by Nike, except without the fanfare, the bonuses or the athletic ability.) I admire the vibrant orange, green, red and yellow of the juices. They’re like liquid M&M’s!
9:45 a.m.: I sip my first beverage—a mixture of lemon, cayenne pepper, alkaline water and coconut nectar—as I pack the minivan in preparation for our annual family trip to Hersheypark. We should have lots of room in the van. I can feel myself shrinking already.
11:45 a.m.: Time for my second beverage, a concoction of kale, cucumbers, lemon and apple. It’s surprisingly tasty—not as good as a hot, gooey slice of pizza, but not as bad as, say, grass clippings.
1:30 p.m.: I open a bottle of liquid carrots laced with a shot of beet juice. It’s creamy and rich-tasting, and has the added benefit of turning my lips orange, which masquerades as lipstick for those of us who aren’t keeping up in the grooming department. “I wonder if they’ll give us Hershey bars when we check into the hotel like last time,” one of my kids says. I shoot him a death glare and sip on.
4:30 p.m.: As we wander through Hersheypark, I shift my backpack, which is stuffed with ice packs and three more bottles of juice, to a more comfortable position. I try not to punch the giant Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup character when he puts his arm around me to pose for a photo.
9 p.m.: Back at the hotel, we order room service. I try to escape the delicious aroma of pizza, burgers and french fries by swilling some vanilla almond “milk,” my last juice of the day. But I end up stealing a pizza crust and hiding in the corner, hoping that no one will notice as I gnaw on it like an orphan out of a Disney film.
7:30 a.m.: I look in the mirror and scream. I’ve sprouted a line of zits down the side of my cheek and chin. Purée’s website warned this could happen, but I didn’t believe it. The impurities forced out of your body by the cleanse can emerge as halitosis and acne. I’ve turned into a teenager—albeit one with crow’s-feet, a balloon mortgage and a minivan.
9:00 a.m.: I clutch my bright green bottle of morning juice and force myself to think about Madonna’s abs as the kids run toward the hotel buffet, shrieking, “There’s an omelet bar! Chocolate croissants! Waffles!”
11:30 a.m.: I’m feeling better. My energy is returning and I’m no longer hypnotized by a smorgasbord of carbs. At least until my kids buy kettle corn and ask me to hold the bag while they ride the Sooperdooperlooper. “Little sadists,” I mutter as parents overhearing me hustle their children away.
6 p.m.: I’ve made it through the day by rationing my juice, but I’m down to my last bottle. I’m going to have to power through four or five hours on water and willpower alone. Unfortunately, neither is terribly filling.
8 p.m.: A broken woman, I slump on a bench by the food court, eating a banana. It’s the only time in my life I’ve felt like going to church to atone for nibbling a piece of fruit.
7 a.m.: I wake up feeling nauseated, like I have a juice hangover. But the sensation soon passes and I feel so energetic I want to run a marathon, despite the fact that my top jogging distance is three miles. (Note to self: Do NOT suggest this to my editor as a topic for my next column.)
12 p.m.: Zits aside, my skin looks better than it has in a long time. And the bathroom scale that so loves to taunt me is finally tilting in my favor: I’ve lost 2 pounds.
6 p.m.: I’m not sure I’ll do a three-day cleanse ever again, but the benefits make a one-day cleanse tempting—a few months from now, perhaps. In the meantime, I think I’ve earned a few Hershey’s Kisses. Luckily, I just happened to tuck a big bag into my backpack at the park. The cold juices conveniently kept them from melting.
Sarah Pekkanen’s most recent novel is These Girls (Washington Square Press, 2012). She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.