Jason Vale 5 Day Big Juice Challenge 2016 - Our Experience

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Saturday 15 October 2016

Jason Vale 5 Day Big Juice Challenge 2016 - Our Experience

Right, 5 days, 20 juices, 10 recipes, 5 ginger shots and lots of tea and water later......how was our 5 day Jason Vale #BigJuiceChallenge experience? Today is what the plan officially calls 'results day', but in the absence of scales or measurements in our current base I'd like to focus instead on how we felt during the week and, perhaps more importantly, how we feel now? Was it hard? Did we enjoy it? What are the benefits we feel? Will we do it again next quarter?

At the start of the week I wrote about why we were excited to take part in the BigJuiceChallenge - 5 days on nothing but freshly extracted vegetable and fruit juice as part of a reset and pre-winter boost after a physically demanding summer of hiking and challenging tour of Egypt that had seen us compromise our preferred plant-based, mostly raw diet.

Click here to read about why we chose to do the BigJuiceChallenge

Dan's Experience
For me this week is the first time that I have committed to an extended period on a fully juice plan. Juices have been part of my diet for several years but apart from the odd juice-only day here and there this by far the longest I've spent on just juice.

Physically the 5 days has unfolded pretty close to the Jason Vale advice on what to expect. On Day 1 I felt fine, no real cravings or feeling hungry at all. By the evening of Day 2 I was craving something to chew and was looking longingly at the fruit bowl, being quite grouchy and short. (Tetchy Tuesday as the plan says). On Day 3 I did feel hungry most of the day and a little lethargic. I still did my exercise and stuck to the plan but it was tough by the evening with food continuing to pop into my thoughts and bedtime was a welcome arrival. On Day 4 I felt generally better and less hungry although lethargic in the evening and i really probably should have had my hunger SOS in hindsight. But then Day 5 arrived and I felt great again. My energy returned, food daydreams diminished. I was still aware of hunger and juice times were very welcome when they came, but I wasn't craving in the miserable 'why am I doing this?' Manner that I'd felt on days 2 and 3.

On the whole I have reached the end of the fast pretty comfortably. I never felt I was actually going to cave in, even on the evenings of Days 2 and 3. With the exercise I was careful to respect my body was detoxifying so took it easier than I normally would. My sleep has been awesome throughout and I felt a great clarity of thought building during the 5 days. I've definitely lost some weight too as my clothes feel looser (a couple of kilos at least) and based on my armpits a lot of detoxing has been going on!

As an added bonus I've only had to use my incontinence irrigation kit once all week when I usually need it twice a day. Obviously I won't be living on juice full time forever but this week has underlined and helped me reassess how my volume intake affects my incontinence management needs.

Overall I'm really very pleased and happy to have done this and am excited to try out Jason's 2-3-2 week plan, including 2 days each week on just juice. I also plan to do the next BigJuiceChallenge in the New Year. I'm genuinely surprised how much better I feel right now even compared to our normal routine of a plant-based, whole food, mostly raw diet!

Esther's Experience
Esther has completed several juice fasts before plus a 5 and a 10 day water only fast (for therapeutic reasons) followed by 7 more days of juice, so knew better than me what to expect.

As with me, there were a few times in the week when she had a few cravings or felt a little more tired than usual, but being more experienced knew to expect this so it didn't unsettle her at all. Experience definitely helped in that respect.

But it wasn't just experience helping as she especially drew a lot of support and excitement from the daily videos from Jason, the BigJuiceChallenge social media channels where some of the other 50,000 participants were sharing their stories and also from getting involved in that sharing too posting photos and (her first ever) videos of our personal juicy journey this week. Its been a lot of fun and very uplifting.

And results wise the effects are clear and obvious to me visibly. She's definitely lost weight, her skin is clearer and glowing, she's sleeping more soundly and has been powering up our trail run sessions faster than I can.

In fact Esther is so excited she has decided to carry on her own juice fast for a while longer.

So What Next?
For me I confess as much as I love the results of the BigJuiceChallenge I'm excited to start chewing again. I may carry on with juice over the weekend to make it 7 days but am looking to switch to something like the Jason Vale 2-3-2 structure next week. For Esther, as I mentioned she will be continuing her juice fast a while longer, maybe up to a total of 3 weeks as that is when we we leave Switzerland. The reason being that with 5 days of momentum already and a stable base to support us it is an ideal opportunity to do so. As I've written elsewhere Esther has been suffering from an ME relapse after all of the hiking with limited rest and the serious sleep deprivation and interruption in Egypt (then a 2 week stomach bug in Italy leaving her even more depleted). So although she wouldn't normally consider doing something as long, based on past experiences and the week so far it feels like something her body can massively benefit from.  But after that she is just as excited as me to try out this new structure which I will write about soon.

It is actually a structure we only heard about yesterday on the Day 5 video from Jason Vale, so a big thank you for that as we had been nervous about the transition back to meals without undoing how great we are feeling.

In Summary
Even though we already eat a plant-based, whole food, mostly raw diet the speed of physical and mental changes over the past 5 days has surprised me. Not because I didn't know the healing power of the body given excellent nutrition, that's why we eat the way we do. But surprising because of how just juice has been like rocket fuel for healing. Having never personally done a juice fast before I didn't realise how fast and tangible the changes would feel or that it wasn't actually that hard once I had mentally committed to it.

We've also noticed a big time saving, preparing our juices in batches twice a day compared to our usual cooking from scratch 3 times a day. I know some people think juicing takes more time, but we have found the opposite.

The 5 day BigJuiceChallenge has definitely done what we wanted it to in giving us a great pre-winter boost, kick some of the bad food habits and snacking we'd developed over summer and left us feeling energised, clear headed and recommitted to excellent nutrition.

Finally, in terms of commitment the support and resources from Jason Vale and his team has been fantastic. Being able to make a public commitment along with tens of thousands of others helped massively, as did being able to do this together.  We're very grateful that this BigJuiceChallenge came at the right time and that Jason Vale inspired us to give this gift to our bodies. Thank you.

A Note On Recipe Modifications
We followed the 5 Day Juice plan as closely as possible but on some days had to switch an ingredient or 2 because they just weren't available in our current Swiss Alpine base. For example, our Day 2 Ruby Tuesday used red cabbage instead of beetroot (still tasted great) and our Day 5 Sweet Beet Smoothie had to be switched completely for another Turbo with a kick.  We also sometimes added a little less fruit than the recipe as we found then a little too sweet for us. We normally subscribe to an 80/20 ratio of veg' to fruit as a rule of thumb, so switched some of the fruit for more extra greens in some recipes.

We also didn't have a blender, so some of the smoothies like turbo with a kick we changed by adding a spoon full of chia seeds or ground flaxseed then allow that to thicken up over 10-15 minutes and then eat the avocado alongside the juice.

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