A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about my brand new Vitamix blender and how much I love it. (If you missed that post, you can read it here.) But today I want to rave about how amazing I’ve been feeling this past week as a result of taking my diet to the next level.
The Vitamix has played a big role in this transformation, but so have a couple of books I read recently. The first is Rich Roll and Julie Piatt’s new book, The Plantpower Way, which I reviewed a few days ago in this post. The other is Brendan Brazier’s Thrive Energy Cookbook, which I plan to review on the blog next month. The combination of having my fun new kitchen gadget to play around with and reading those two books put an idea in my head: for the first time ever, I wanted to try a liquid “cleanse.” Neither The Plantpower Way nor Thrive Energy Cookbook are about cleansing at all, but they are about super clean, whole foods, plant-based eating. After reading those books, I wanted to see how I would feel following two days of super healthy eating, and since I wanted to play with my Vitamix, I decided to make my “meals” all in a high-quality, nutrient-dense liquid form. The diet I came up with included the super green blend you see in the photo here; some fruit and berry blends; a warm breakfast blend featuring oats, nuts, dates and almond milk; an assortment of pureed soups; and a few “super shots” (highly anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and alkalizing blends that are so strong you can only drink them like a shot).
I have to admit that by dinner time at the end of the first day I was starving, so I ate some leftover tofu and kale stir fry. It was probably because I’d spent the day helping my mom till and plant her garden, and doing some heavy landscaping. The next day, I headed to my friends’ place and spent ten hours with a shovel, pickaxe and plate compactor helping them put in a paver patio. I drank a lot of juice that day, but I also ate a lot of fresh fruits and veggies and a delicious chickpea couscous dish my friend cooked for me. When I got home, I was hungry and too tired to cook, so I ordered a vegan pizza. It was not a proud moment.
I thought I had failed on my two-day cleanse and I felt kind of bad about it. I thought I might try again later the next week when there were no patios to build. But when I really thought about it, I noticed something: blending huge amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables and using these blends to supplement or replace some of my regular meals had already led to some noticeable changes in my energy levels after just two days. I carried the experiment forward another day and found that I didn’t feel hungry at all when I had my usual breakfast of Overnight Oats and a whole food dinner. I felt great again, so I kept making the blends and kept the processed foods out of my diet. It was on the fourth day that I noticed an incredible increase in my energy levels, and something even more miraculous.
A little backstory first: About a month ago, Laura and I drove to a nearby lake to go for a run. Five minutes in, I had to stop running and walk because the back of my left knee and lower leg were in such pain. This was a mysterious and persistent pain I’d been having for nearly a year. At that moment, I thought to myself, “I’m done running. I will just have to find other things to do.” This was a serious and sad realization, especially since I derive a good part of my income from writing about running!
Fast forward to a few days ago, when I’d been following the new, healthy diet for five days. My energy levels were through the roof to the point where I felt restless. Specifically, I felt like I needed to go running. My knee felt great, so I headed back to the same lake and cautiously started out at a slow pace. Five minutes in, I felt great and went a little faster. Halfway around the lake, I realized that I’d just run further without pain than I had in a year. Not only that, but I was running at a pace that would have worn me out a couple of months ago. Not wanting to push my luck, I told myself that I wouldn’t run again for at least one or two days. The next day, I woke up early, wrote and submitted an article before 9 a.m., did an hour-long weight workout, met with a client, walked the dogs, wrote a blogpost and still found myself jumping out of my skin, full of energy. I needed a few things from the natural foods co-op, so I jumped on my bike and rode the 8 mile round trip just to burn off some of that energy.
Today I decided it was time to run again, so I drove out to a nearby nature preserve and ran a 4-mile loop with ease. Running under the canopy of trees coming down the home stretch, I thought to myself, “I feel like I’m running on rocket fuel!” And I finally got it – the whole thing about not just going plant-based, but about cutting out processed foods and maybe even gluten. It’s about giving your body exactly what it needs to thrive and none of the stuff that gums up the works. I’m more excited about this than I have been about anything in a long time. This experiment will continue for me, but I fully expect to come back here in a month and report that the experiment is over. By then, it will just be my new way of life.