Friday, September 27, 2013

Raw Cleanse Diary

"Yoga" by Global Panorama / CC BY-SA 2.0
If you're into health and fitness trends at all, you've probably heard something about juice cleanses or raw diets and gluten free/vegan foods. Though I eat gluten free and mostly vegan because I'm allergic to both gluten and dairy, I like the idea of trying a cleanse just because it's good for you. I say this without being any kind of scientist or doctor, but I am of the belief that eating less processed foods and more fresh fruits and veggies is beneficial. Juice cleanses are a little more extreme than raw diets, but I still like the idea of flushing out unnecessary toxins over a short period of time. Glamour magazine had a few of its staff members try juice cleanses and record their experiences for the website, and reading their cleanse diaries made me more curious about trying it out.

My friend and teammate Danica is also very into health and fitness, and had attempted a juice fast a few months back. She didn't like it very much, although she still wanted to try some sort of cleanse. We decided to do a 3 day raw cleanse- that way our food was healthy and clean, but we still got to chew. :)

Before we could begin, we had to figure out how to do "raw". We're currently in the middle of cross country season, so we needed to make sure we were still getting enough protein and energy and all that. Our hope was that the vitamins and nutrition we would gain from the large amount of fruits and vegetables we consumed would benefit our training. We decided to focus on eating a lot of fruits and veggies, but in the name of our training made sure we allowed ourselves things like nut butter, coconut oil and salt, so we had enough protein/fat/sodium to stay healthy. This may not be some people's definition of raw, but it's what worked for us!

So here's what happened...

FRIDAY

For breakfast, I made "ice cream" by blending 2 frozen bananas, raw almond butter that my mom ground herself, chia seeds and raw cacao powder- bonus points for the cacao because it was local! I also sipped from a mug of hot lemon water. Technically, boiled water doesn't count as raw food, but as I have been sick all week I really felt that hot liquids would do me good. I ended up feeling pretty nauseous though, so I didn't eat much of the ice cream. Instead, I put it in the freezer for later and just sipped the water.

For lunch (at school) I packed a lovely dish of green grapes, blueberries, and raspberries. I absolutely LOVE fruits like grapes and berries because you can pop them cleanly into your mouth and not make an awkward mess in public. I wear braces and these bands that are supposed to fix my overbite, so it's kind of awkward to eat anything slightly messy.... Little fruits are both non-awkward and good for you! They contain plenty of antioxidants and are filling because of their water content. I had been very much looking forward to lunch after having not eaten much breakfast, and was worried that my meager fruit bowl wouldn't satiate me. In fact, I couldn't even finish it!

Practice wasn't too hard- I only ran an easy 2 miles because of a shin injury. However, if Danica wasn't doing this cleanse with me, I highly doubt I would have lasted past today. After practice I was so disgruntled... All I wanted to eat was pizza or a hearty pasta (probably mostly due to the fact that I knew I wasn't supposed to for the cleanse). What's interesting is that this raw thing is forcing me to realize my bad habit of going home and eating junk food like french fries or a bunch of chocolate right after practice. We decided to go have dinner at Danica's house, so her mom picked us up and took us to the grocery store to grab some supplies. First, we found this GIANT peach that was absolutely DELICIOUS to hold us over while we made dinner. Then we made some raw truffles by blending coconut oil, cocoa powder, salt, dried shredded coconut, and agave nectar. There might have been vanilla extract, too, but I can't remember... Anyways, we rolled the truffle balls in cocoa powder and let them refrigerate while we concocted a giant salad for dinner. We started with a bowl of lettuce and other greens, then added some avocado, slivered almonds, kalamata olives, grapes, and some spinach pesto Dancia made. We also tried raw mushrooms- we didn't think they'd be very good, but we accidentally chopped them on the cutting board we'd spilled lemon juice on. For future reference, lemon juice tastes DELICIOUS on mushrooms!

After dinner my throat was super sore, which could have been due to either my cold or accidentally choking on cocoa powder earlier. Either way, I had two cups of peppermint tea (not raw...) and a mug of hot honey lemon water. Again, the honey wasn't raw and boiling doesn't count, but I felt it was acceptable under the circumstances.

The weirdest thing is that after dinner and truffles, we were totally full. Not just full, but satisfied. Danica's mom came out after we'd cleared our plates and put a cheese pizza in the oven. It smelled HEAVENLY, and after any other dinner I probably would have made some excuse to eat the pizza, regardless of how full I was. But instead, smelling the pizza seemed to simply calm both of us. Like, "Okay, yum, there's pizza. Smell's good but I don't need any." It was very calm, this realization. It was bizarre but really neat to experience!

photo by Christopher Campbell
SATURDAY

My parents cautioned me about doing a cleanse during cross country season. I didn't listen. I have now learned my lesson.

I woke up this morning feeling kinda tired. And sick. Actually reaaaalllly sick. I was supposed to run 12 miles and the thought of jogging even 5 seemed pretty daunting. My mom drove Danica and I to the park practice was at, and we barely spoke the whole half hour drive. We grew a bit more energetic once we got out of the car and Lisel (one of my best friends and co-xc-captain who graduated last year) greeted us. We hung out with the team and Lisel took our pictures and our assistant coach Greg told us the fun course we'd be running.

We started out okay. Then our coach told us we were running about 10 minute pace when we should have been going at least 9:30, if not 9:00. I usually don't go super fast on my long runs (not that 9 minutes per mile is that fast...), but I know I can. So we tried to pick the pace up, and b y the end of 6 miles felt we'd been holding around a 9:00 pace. Actually, it was only 9:40! After 7 miles, Danica admitted that she wasn't feeling great, and I wholeheartedly expressed my agreement. We decided to try and finish the next 6 miles anyways.

We first broke our raw diet here, because the way we were feeling led us to believe it was probably a good idea to have some fuel. We both consumed probably an entire package of Clif Shot Bloks-- to give you an example of how physically exhausted we were, I usually don't have any need for Shot Bloks and Danica's last 12 miler was at a faster pace on only one Blok.

After the 7th mile, we stopped and walked a bit. Danica was tired, my knees/shins/hips were hurting and I felt like crawling... After 9 miles, I stopped and went over to the coaches while Danica jogged one last mile. We admitted to our coaches that we'd done a raw cleanse and they were none too pleased.

I decided to quit the cleanse for the sake of training as soon as I got home-- Danica planned to try to stick with it, but texted me later in the day to say she, too, had quit. We agreed that at least we'd gone one day raw, and that was better than nothing! Our plan is to go on another cleanse sometime this winter- AFTER cross country season!

After all this, though, I have to point out that I do believe one can be a raw athlete. I think it was our lack of experience with endurance running on so few carbs and so little protein, perhaps combined with being sick, that made us so darn tired. If we had maybe gone raw gradually we probably would have seen a less drastic decrease in our energy. Either way, it was a lesson learned. Plus, the one raw day we DID have was fun! For now, my goal is to try to eat healthily and make sure I'm getting the nutrition I need above anything else. 

***edit: in going over this post 3/3/2017, I am bewildered that I thought a lunch of "grapes, blueberries and raspberries" was in any way satiating, especially after having admitted I didn't really have breakfast. It probably made me full because of the water content, but how many calories is that, 100? 200? Not enough, at any rate, to sustain a high school athlete who's supposed to do a 12 mile run the next day! The reason this cleanse failed so badly for me was probably due to a lack of food, period, rather than a lack of hot/cooked foods. Please do not mimic this eating plan. 

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