They May Call It a Fast, But That Doesn't Mean It Goes By Quickly: The Juice Nashville

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I've been hearing a lot about cleanses and juice fasts lately. I've never been a fasting kinda guy, unless you count oversleeping until lunch and missing out on breakfast. But with both Lent and my annual physical coming up, I thought it might be a good time to investigate what fasting was all about. I knew right away that I didn't want to try one of those "master cleanses" that revolve around lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. I wasn't interested in just cleaning out the pipes; I wanted to find a way to get some healthy nutrients and hopefully reboot my system a little bit.

So when the opportunity came to try out the three-day juice cleanse package from Juice Nashville, I jumped at the chance. Juice Nashville is the brainchild of Stephanie Waring, who operates a raw pressed juicery out of an industrial kitchen in downtown Nashville.

Because Juice Nashville uses a hydraulic Norwalk juicer instead of a rotary juicer like you might be using to store screwdrivers in your kitchen (or is that just me?), they are able to squeeze the nutrients out of 2-4 pounds of produce into each 16-ounce bottle of unpasteurized juice. Because they add no preservatives, sugar or water to their juices, they can claim that you are getting 3-5 times more nutrition than standard juices.

It's not even fair to call it a juice "fast," because after the first eight hours, I never really even felt hungry.

I'm not a doctor, so I can't claim any actual scientific knowledge on the topic, but here's how I understand it. Your body is getting all the nutrients it needs from the assortment of juices that are provided in "The Cleanse" package, and since you're basically giving your digestive system a rest for the duration, you can retain even more of what General Jack D. Ripper would call your "precious bodily fluids." Between drinking water and five 16 ounce bottles of juice and one 12-ounce bottle of almond milk every day, my stomach never developed that gnawing empty feeling.

However, Bites strongly recommends you talk with your doctor before trying any dietary regimen.

This program isn't cheap, with each bottle retailing for $6. "The Cleanse" package includes 18 bottles for three days and an insulated tote to carry them and runs $113. Delivery is available within 15 miles of downtown for $8 with a $30 minimum order, or you can pick up your juice supply at either the Nashville or Franklin farmers' markets on Saturday mornings. But when you consider that you are getting that 4 pounds of produce in every bottle, and that you're not going to spend any other money on food or drink for those three days, it's really not that steep of a price.

A days worth of juices
  • A day's worth of juices
The juices have clever names like "whoa," "oh yeah" and "snap." These phrases are natural answers to the company's slogan, "Your body is talking to you. It's time to listen!" My body has pretty much been telling me to stop filling it with barbecue.

The packaging is hermetic and professional-looking, so that added some confidence in the products that were to be my sole source of nutrition for the weekend.

After receiving my delivery on Thursday, I started my cleanse on Friday morning. Since the juices are raw and unpasteurized, Juice Nashville suggests that you drink them within three days of receipt. Getting started was a little intimidating as I questioned whether this was something I could actually accomplish.

Would I be so lethargic that the weekend would be wasted? Did I need to stock up the reading material in the bathroom and prepare for "a night of a thousand waterfalls?" Should I have advised my girlfriend to move back in with her parents for the weekend and just lock me in the bedroom like a lycanthrope on the eve of the full moon?

But the first practical question was which of these six juices would taste palatable right after brushing my teeth, since I hadn't drunk any coffee to dull the mint of my Crest. Speaking of which, Juice Nashville strongly advises cutting out caffeine and alcohol the few days before starting the cleanse so that you don't have to be detoxing from those chemicals while you're trying to adjust to the all-liquid diet. I'm guessing that they just don't want to take the blame for the headaches and borderline homicidal behavior that result from coffee withdrawal. they also suggest that you try to eat healthy raw foods in healthy portions both before and after the cleanse to aid your digestive system in transitioning in and out of juicing. I, however, ate at Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House in Lynchburg the day before beginning the fast. To my credit, I did turn down thirds on the chicken casserole.

So back to the first juice of the day, I decided on I Heart Carrots, a 100 percent carrot juice. Though I'm not normally a big fan of raw carrots, it proved to be a surprisingly delicious choice. It tasted like ... well, carrots, but earthier and with a delightful mouthfeel. Since this is all you're getting for 2 1/2 hours, you certainly don't want to rush through these juices, and it was nice to savor the carrots. One down. Seventeen to go.

Already ate up with smug healthy self-satisfaction, I decided to take my mind off the fast by going to the YMCA to work out during my normal lunch time. I was a little worried about overexerting and passing out on the elliptical like an American Idol contestant during Hollywood Week, so I downed a bottle of Whoa before I left. This variety was made up of kale, beets apple and ginger and was completely palatable, albeit with a slight bouquet of gym bag. I figured that made it appropriate for my workout drink.

I did feel a little lightheaded as I hit the machines at the Y, sort of like I was fighting off a cold with Benadryl. Then I reminded myself that I had only skipped two meals at that point and decided to quit being a wuss.

My afternoon meal was a big bottle of whupass in the form of Oh Yeah, an apple/kale/collard/lemon concoction that tasted extremely green but with a nice hint of lemon tartness. I was quite satisfied, until I heard that my bastard co-workers had all gone out for hot chicken during lunch. A lot of the effort from completing the fast was expended reminding myself not to unconsciously reach for some M & Ms out of my desk drawer or from the big bottle of peanut butter-filled pretzels on my kitchen counter. It was interesting to have to become conscious of just how much eating I do because I'm bored rather than hungry.

Before leaving work, I wanted to make sure that I didn't pass out from hunger on the drive home or arrive at the house so hungry that I might bite back at one of my poodles, so I drank the C Ya. Holy crap that was good! This drink of OJ, grapefruit, apple and ginger left me wondering whether it would be better with rum or vodka. Not yes or no; just which would be better because there's no doubt this would be an excellent mixer. Buoyed by this delightful drink, I arrived home in a cheery disposition thinking I was at least 60/40 to actually finish this thing. Mainly because I'm too stubborn to quit.

Dinner was a cup of Snap, a delicate combination of apple, carrot and ginger that tasted a little bit gritty, probably due to an incomplete shaking job on my part. Whaddya want? I was was weak at this point. My stomach felt completely full, although watching TV was a little difficult thanks to my slight lack of focused concentration and having to get up to pee every half hour.

I had put off the almond milk until the last meal of the day because I'm not a big fan of almonds. As expected, it was probably my least favorite, with the thin consistency of raw almond pressings and filtered water leading to an unfortunately unsatisfying end to Day 1, but Juice Nashville promised that it would "reduce cholesterol levels, maintain healthy blood sugar levels, build strong bones, and support healthy skin and shiny hair," so at least I fell asleep knowing I'd accomplished that.

The next day I woke up to three surprises. First, I hadn't had to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, which is rare under the best of circumstances, much less during an all-liquid day (that didn't involve Miller Lite pitchers.) Secondly, I wasn't at all hungry. Apparently hunger doesn't necessarily reset itself over night as I'd feared. Lastly, contrary to the laws of thermodynamics, somehow between when I weighed in before going to bed and then again first thing in the morning, I lost three pounds.

I decided to start with the almond milk and get it out of the way early, and it was actually better in the morning. Maybe it was the Crest. Some people said I was crazy for doing the fast over the weekend, and when I do it again I'll probably do it during the work week so that I have more to distract myself with during the days. However, I'd been warned that Day 2 is usually the darkest day, especially energy-wise, so the easy access to my couch for frequent naps was convenient. It was not my most constructive weekend ...

I won't bore you (any more) with recounts of every sip, but during the day I gradually fell a little farther behind in my energy levels until I watched the documentary "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" for motivation. When I saw that the star of the movie had made it 60 days on a juice fast, I again reminded myself to stop being a baby. Again, I never felt that hungry, just a weak body buzz like I was a little fluish. Funny, I don't look fluish.

By the morning of Day 3, I was convinced that I could have done this fast for a week. I knew that my body was drawing nutrients from the juices and really boredom was the primary hurdle. I could feel my body "rebooting," as my cravings and fantasies about food that I was missing weren't for steak or bbq, but instead for a nice kale salad with a citrus vinaigrette. Only when I realized that I was missing the Wine and BBQ Dinner at Edley's did I feel a little twinge of jealousy at having to miss the food and fun. OK, I'll admit I was pissed at myself for my crappy timing.

I wasn't sure whether my fast was officially over when I finished my last juice or the next morning, but I went for the full pull and went to bed immediately after my last bottle of Snap. Another example of my energy level was the fact that I woke up at 4 a.m., completely energized and ready to slay some dragons on a Monday. Again, that's not usual for me.

The transition back to solid food was not as gradual as it should have been, since I had already scheduled two more stops on our 2012 fish-and-chips tour. I won't give you all the scatalogical details, but next time I'll take their advice and concentrate more on fresh vegetables and grains as I restart the ole machinery. All in all, it was a surprisingly easy and positive experience.

I lost a total of seven pounds during the weekend, but that is neither usual or the point of a cleanse. When I measured my blood pressure, it was much lower than usual and my energy levels were great for several days afterwards. I really feel like I did kick-start my metabolism and have developed cravings for healthier food which I hope will keep me on the path toward better eating. It's something I fully intend to repeat.

Juice Nashville is ramping up their production process to keep up with the demand that they've seen as interest in juicing grows, so I suggest you check them out. If you're interested in learning more, Juice Nashville is teaming up with Yelp and the Nashville Farmers Market for a Juice + Learn event on Sunday March 11 starting at 3:00. Attendees will have a chance to learn about and ask questions about juicing, as well as tasting Juice Nashville's wares. Each attendee will also receive a Yelp Shop Local tote with fresh produce to try juicing from home from vendors of the NFM and a full size bottle of juice from Juice Nashville. Tickets are $10, so head here to preregister.

Even if you don't want to go all-in with a full fast, the idea of using fresh nutrient-rich juices as a meal replacement instead of a carb-laden smoothie or processed juice is definitely good call. Give it a shot and let us know what you think.

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