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My First-Ever Juice Cleanse in 3 Uneasy Steps

I didn't do myself any favors at the start of my first cleanse. On Sunday night, in preparation of a five days of cold-pressed juice, I settled in for a nutritious dinner entrée of organic Oreo-style cookies, a glass of white wine and a bite of my son's leftover mac n' cheese. I hadn't done the suggested mindful wean from coffee, sugar and alcohol. Even as I savored my last cookie, I knew my body was going to be in for a shock.

A springtime juice cleanse is the perfect time for the first-timer, as well as the more vigorous cleanser. The days consist of six bottles of fresh-pressed, ultra-nutritious and very tasty juices paired with lots of water and a few snacks in between. The mix of fruits and vegetables in each of the juices are chosen for their alkalizing properties and ability to balance blood sugar so there are no highs and lows in the day.

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On the first day, I was no saint. Having eaten so much junk the night before, I woke up hungry and ate "off-menu," so to speak, a bit that morning. I hadn't fully committed and that was a mistake. It took me most of the day to get into the right state of mind, but by dinnertime, I was into the routine and looked forward to Day 2.

The second day of a cleanse is notoriously difficult for many, as it was for me. The body is experiencing serious symptoms of detoxification—and, for me, the second day of no coffee or sugar put me in the detox fog only to make way for a raging headache later in the day. I should have gone home and lay on the couch. Instead, I pushed forward with swimming lessons for the kids. My head was pounding, and I wasn't sure if I was going to make it. By the time we got home from dinner, it was lights out for Mama.

But like the rainbow after the storm, I woke the next morning energized with the feeling I could do this cleanse forever. There is a lightness and an overall sense of well-being that fills you on this cleanse. I loved the fact I was drinking ample, freshly squeezed juice that maintained all of its nutrients without having a chance of breaking down like many other cleanses. I connected with a few other cleansers too, and the accessibility to discuss the cleanse—its challenges and benefits—dramatically helped with the success rate for us all.

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This is not a weight-loss cleanse. Instead, this is for so many of us who just aren't eating as well as we know we should. It's a way to clean the slate and start anew. It gives you a new perspective on the effect of food on body, mind and spirit, and makes you conscious of how good food, even in juice form, can make you feel like a million bucks.

A perfect start to spring.

Image via Twenty20/svz13

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