The Ins and Outs of Juicing

I started juicing two-three years ago. I had been curious about it for awhile, but for some reason just sat on the fence about it. Probably I had a case of the lazies.  However, when I watched Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead I ran out, got myself a juicer, and got going on it. I am in no way as bad off as Joe was in the film, but the film educated me about the benefits of juicing and made me wonder how it would improve my health and just general daily life (if you have not seen the film please go see it now. it will change you).

As you all know, I’ve written about juicing  and am a big supporter of it. I think it’s a great way to improve your diet and get some fabulous nutrients into your body.

juicingApparently, my reputation for my love of juicing caught the attention of Williams-Sonoma – also fans of juicing – and they asked me if I could address some questions about juicing. Note, I am not being compensated for answering these questions. I thought the questions were great and definitely worth answering. I hope my thoughts help you think about juicing and how it can be used in conjunction with your practice. Keep in mind that I am not a medical doctor or a licensed nutritionist. These are simply my own thoughts in relation to my experiences.

Do you think its healthy for someone to have fresh juice as a meal replacement? Why or why not?

Yes. I say yes because I do this, and I think it’s a perfectly fine thing to do. If I’m replacing a meal with juice, it’s likely going to be breakfast. I know people say they have a hard time giving up actual food for a liquid meal. I get that, but I am also not a big breakfast eater. Never have been. So my breakfasts are probably healthier when I have 32 ounces of juice.

I also say yes with this qualifier – be mindful about your decision. If you are replacing food with juice, make sure you drink enough juice. I normally need 32 ounces. If you don’t get enough you’ll just be hungry again in an hour or so and that could lead to some junk food eating (wait…how would I know about this?). 🙂 It can take a few days to figure out what works for you so keep some healthy food with you – like nuts or a piece of fruit – so you already have a good snack in place should you get hungry.

The other thing I want to tell you here is drink what you like. I got on a kick once where I had this lovely orange/grapefruit/lemon juice for breakfast. Then I drank some green juice for awhile. You might hear people say to avoid citrus juice or drink only green juice but the thing is, you have to start with where you are, educate yourself, and do what’s right for you.

What was your experience like when you did a juice cleanse? What would you have done differently?

In 2013 I had this idea that I was going to do a juice cleanse. I think it was supposed to last seven days. Prior to the cleanse, I had done a 30-day vegan challenge (well, almost…let’s not forget about that meltdown I had which led me to eating accidental bacon). I had never done a cleanse before, and it was a bit scary. I was not supposed to eat any solid food for seven days. I was to get my nutrients through juice and near the end I was supposed to transition into some smoothies and then back into food.

Yes, I ate bacon during my vegan challenge.

Yes, I ate bacon during my vegan challenge.

If you read my juice cleanse experience, you know I made it 2.5 days. On the afternoon of the third day, my blood pressure was dangerously low and my cognitive functioning was impaired. I ate soup and a banana and called it quits. My experiences on Day 3 gave me pause about going further.

My overall experience wasn’t easy. I had headaches and was pretty grumpy in the beginning. But my sense is this is normal for a first-timer.

The thing about the juice cleanse was that it allowed me to explore a fundamental question about myself that I had yet to consider: Why do I do things like this to myself? Why do a juice cleanse for seven days, three days, or even one? Why go to Bikram yoga for 66-days in a row? Why do a vegan challenge? I get this question a lot, and I found the answer during this cleanse.

I wrote a post about this which you can read in it’s entirety here. But here is a brief excerpt of the answer:

My whole life, I realized, has been about not self destructing. When I was a teenager I was the last person my parents had to worry about in terms of drinking and doing drugs. I’d already seen the consequences or had heard about them. I’d already known family members who had those issues. I wanted no part of it. Not even a taste. I was not going down that path. I wasn’t even putting my foot on it.

So that’s the answer. I do these things to benefit my health and my practice, yes, for sure. But at the core I do them because there is this determination in me to not self destruct and to not engage in the types of behaviors that put people over the edge and down into a spiral. There is a determination in me to be good to myself and to nurture myself even if doing so is hard and deemed “crazy” or “weird” by some people. I remember very clearly being a little girl (about 8 or 9) and vowing to myself that I would take care of myself and not follow the path that had been well trodden by so many people before me. I’m keeping my vow. What it looks like in practice evolves as I do.

Of course, the second part to the question at the start of this section asks me what I would do differently. Well, I think it’s really, really hard to do a cleanse and be a regular Bikram practitioner. I think I would have to give up my practice during a cleanse. I imagine that what lead me to my difficulties was that I was not getting enough juice in me. I only went to class once – Day 2 – but I think that sent me down a bad path.

juicing and yogaSo really, I have two pieces of advice if you are thinking about a juice cleanse:

#1: Don’t go to Bikram while you are on it. Just take the time off from your yoga and nurture yourself in a different way

#2: Maybe don’t do a full on cleanse. I think I could maintain a practice if I was allowed some food. I don’t know what this would look like, but I think one meal a day should be food and maybe one snack. Again, this is what I think would work for me based on my experience.

As a yoga enthusiast, what are some juice ingredients you would suggest to others interested in yoga? Do you think its better for someone to drink juice before their workout for more energy or after as a recovery?

I’ve played around with juicing recipes plenty! See here for some of my favorites. During my cleanse, I learned that red leaf lettuce is excellent in a juice! I love using cucumber as a base. Some people like celery. I’ve tried it, and it’s not my favorite thing in the world. But explore. Start with a base – orange/grapefruit/celery/cucumber are all good bases – and then build from there. Pay attention when you go to the store to see what catches your eye. The more you juice the more you get a sense of what you like. Green juice can be strong. Feel free to make it a bit tarter (and less green tasting!) by adding in apples and lemons. There is no shame in that!

I don’t think it matters when you drink your juice. I’m not convinced there’s a right answer here. I’ve done it both ways. I’ve had juice for breakfast (32 ounces) and then taken class, but I’ve also followed up class with a 16oz juice (which I consider a snack). All worked very well for me.

Ready for Your Juicing Journey?

If you are new to juicing, you may be wondering where to start. Williams-Sonoma has a wonderful array of juicers that will get you started. Don’t get sticker shock! I have a Breville, and it is definitely worth the money. I know people with Vitamixes, and every single one of them would marry that thing if they could (and it does more than juice). A straight-up juicer, like a Breville, will be cheaper than a vitamix, but you will be able to do more with a vitamix (so I’m told…I have yet to pony up the cash for one). Take some time to think about what you want the product to do and make the decision that is right for your needs.

Two Years Ago Today on MBYL

One Year Ago Today on MBYL


Taking Some Down Time

So a quick follow-up about yesterday. I made it to class and was even in a decent mood when I got there. I actually started feeling better as class progressed. That’s unusual because I usually feel like crap during the day before and the first day of my period starting. All was good until we hit the floor. I decided to give wind-removing pose my all. Why not? I was giving my all for everything else and it was working out just fine.

I pulled my right leg into my chest and did everything to my edge. And my reward for doing so was to kickstart menstrual cramps in class. For real. As soon as I let go of my right leg there they were and they did not go away. Taking class with cramps is awful and of course I was out of luck until I could get home and take some Advil. So the rest of class pretty much stunk.

This also meant that I half-assed it for the rest of wind removing pose. I got my leg in position, held it there, but didn’t really do anything with it. On the other hand, this half-ass job was really my whole ass job given the cramps. I guess it depends on how you look at it!

I felt so miserable when I got home. I had yucky cramps that I thought would be cured by a hot shower (nope). After dinner I took my Advil and settled in on the couch with Max the Pug. We read and played video games for about 2 hours. This means I did no more backbending and skipped my hip strengthening exercises. And you know what? I am ok with that. I was so miserable last night. It wasn’t an issue of being tired or lazy. It was an issue of feeling rotten. I needed to just tuck myself into a secluded little spot and chill for the evening. Then I went to bed and slept very well. Mission accomplished. Listen to your body.

Today I have done nothing as far as training goes, and I don’t plan to. With my current schedule I don’t practice on Wednesdays. I think it’s important to have one full day of rest with no class and no training. So that’s what Wednesday currently is.

My New Favorite Juice

So one of my favorite Bikram bloggers asked me about me recent juice concoction. I don’t have an exact recipe per say. I aim to make 24-32 ounces each time. What I do is make about 15 oounces, taste it, and then adjust from there to my liking. This will get you started:

1. Cucumbers: This is my base. Use at least 3. You can also use celery as a base, but I prefer cucumber.

2. Lemons: I prefer my juice a bit on the tart side so I usually go with 3 but sometimes 2.

3. Red Leaf Lettuce: I am in love with juicing red leaf lettuce. I buy one pound and usually put two handfuls in. I told you this was not going to be exact! 🙂

4. Apples: I used to use Granny Smith, but this last time I used Golden-Delicious because they were on sale. I have to say that while Granny Smith is my favorite apple to eat, I prefer juicing the Golden Delicious (at least in this recipe). It makes it sweet and gives a nice sweet and sour blend when combined with the lemons. Use at least two and maybe three depending on size.

5. Ginger: Ginger is optional. If you are new to ginger do a small piece. I think it can be an acquired taste. Ginger gives your juice some spiciness. I love it and will cut off a big hunk. Again, not an exact science.

I usually toss in 1-2 cucumbers, a lemon, and the lettuce before I give the juice a try. I then make judgement calls about how much more of each to add. If you try it let me know what you think. If you vary it let me know what you do!

And….I’m Out

I pulled the plug on my juice feast. My coach felt like there were some changes we could make that could keep me in the game, but yesterday seriously freaked me out. I decided I needed to stop. Last night I had some more juice and a small salad. I felt better.

Today I had actual food for breakfast and then went to class as I normally do. I think I finally have a handle on what it means to give your own personal 100%. On the outside, it probably looked like I was giving 50-75% of my normal self. But I wasn’t. I was giving my 100% for that day. I wasn’t completely back online yet mentally or physically after yesterday. I took it slow. I paced myself. There were times I got dizzy or felt really whacked out mentally. When that happened I sat down or did savassanah. The result was that class was fine.

For lunch today I went to my beloved Salsa Fresh and had actual cheese. I had a cheese quesadilla with a side of queso dip to dunk it in. I had chips and salsa. It was wonderful.

That said, I am not going whole hog back on the dairy. I like how I feel when I don’t eat dairy. I am though implementing my new rule which says that I am vegan at home and a vegetarian/vegan when I am outside the home. I eat at home more than I eat out, and when I go to my office I often bring my lunch with me so I’ll be eating more vegan meals than not.

I definitely don’t consider my stopping the feast a failure. I know you all don’t either, and I really do appreciate all the support I received yesterday. It meant a lot. I felt like such crap yesterday. Thanks for the kind words. I wanted to make the point about not being a failure  though because it goes beyond this feast. Anytime we try something new, be it a juice feast or more Bikram classes, or whatever we never really know what to expect. Just trying it and seeing what it brings, and being open to what it brings, is important. It’s how we learn and grow. I may not do a juice feast again anytime soon (or ever), but I have learned a lot about myself and a lot about juicing. Here are some things I learned:

– juicing red leaf lettuce is amazing. do yourself a favor and put it with some cucumber, lemon, and ginger.

– pineapple in green juice is wonderfully delicious

– I may get cravings for particular kinds of food, but I am capabale of not letting those cravings break me down. I can simply notice them and move on. My mind my be trying to get the best of me, but I am stronger than I realize

– Everyday is a new day and a new chance to get back up and start all over or go in a completely new direction. Enjoy the journey and pay attention.

Juice Feast Day 3: Chocolate Buffet!

On day 2, and continuing on to day 3, I started experiencing cravings. They are very interesting. So I now present to you my cravings over the last 48 hours:

– a spicy chicken sandwich (this one comes up a lot)

– onion rings

– a kitkat

– cadbury creme eggs

– dill pickles

– bacon cheeseburger

– a plain hamburger (just a piece of meat between two buns!)

– a glazed doughnut

Note how specific my cravings are. I don’t crave chicken. I crave a spicy chicken sandwich. I don’t crave chocolate. I crave a kitkat and creme eggs. Interesting, right? These cravings don’t irritate me. I know they are mental. When I get them, the first thing I do is check in to see if I am hungry. Nope. Never feeling hungry. The cravings are interesting.

I also have mad, crazy dreams. My favorite dream is about the chocolate buffet. The chocolate buffet looks just like any other buffet except all they serve is chocolate. I had a glorious time at the chocolate buffet.

I had a second dream (also a buffet dream!) where I was presented with a giant bacon cheeseburger. I denied it, but then the person showed me a smaller version, and I snatched it up. It was also delicious.

Crash & Burn

The first two days of the feast went about as I expected. The first day I was a bit tired, grumpy, and had a headache. The second day I felt amazing! I went to class. I was a bit scared to go to class, but it went well. I got dizzy, and there were some momenta when I stopped the posture early and focused on my breath. All, in all, a good time.

This morning I got up and felt ok. I had to go to work early (left around 7:00 am). It’s about a half mile walk from my car to my office. I don’t mind this. In fact, I once got bumped to a closer spot and asked to be moved back. I like the walk. It’s relaxing.

Today I was about one block away from my office when I felt really, really bad. I was starting to get dizzy and walking didn’t seem like a good thing. But I got there, sat down, and all was fine. I taught a morning class and drank two juices and some water during that time. My idea after class was to go to the store to get more produce, come home, and do more work.

Well, I got back to the car and didn’t feel so good again. By the time I got to the store I was not feeling good. I was dizzy and really out of it. I decided to check my blood pressure. In the back of my head, I thought it was probably fine. But I told myself if I checked it I would realize it was fine and then I would feel better.

It was not fine. It was low. I called Mark and we figured out a bananna might be a good thing to eat. I got the produce I had come in for plus some banannas and some other items. On the way out I decided to get some soup. Mark thought maybe I needed more salt. What has a bunch of salt? Campbell’s soup. Didn’t say it was a good thing to eat. Just sayin’ it has a lot of sodium. Plus, my brain was shutting down, and I couldn’t think to well.

I grabbed two cans of soup and headed up the aisle to the register. On my way, I walked past the pasta. This is normal. The pasta and the soup are in the same aisle. I know this. However, when I saw all of the pasta I stopped for a moment. What is all this pasta doing here? Where am I? I mean, I knew I was in the grocery store but suddenly I didn’t know where I was in relation to the check out. In reality, I could have thrown a box of pasta and hit a cashier. Yep. Things are not looking great.

I get to the check out and realize I am not sure if I should continue on with the feast. However, I also have my cart loaded up with produce to juice. I decide this is to complex a decision to make and buy everything.

I manage to get myself checked out and home. I brought in some bags and placed them on the dining room table. I placed the rest on the kitchen counter. I unloaded all the bags on the kitchen counter and realized I was missing some items (they were on the table). I went back to the car and could not find any bags there. I then concluded I must have left them in the cart at the grocery store. I decided to not go back for them. I thought about calling the grocery story but didn’t feel capabale.

So imagine my surprise when I found all the missing items on my table! And then imagine my concern about my cognitive functioning.

I ate the bananna. I ate my soup. I took a 30 minute nap. I felt better. A lot better. My brain came back online.

I talked to my coach and in the end was left with a decision to make. Do I continue on with the feast or do I stop? Do I pick back up where I left off, make some adjustments based on what I experienced today or do I stop here? That’s what I’m pondering….

Juice Feast: Day 1 – Thank God This Day is Done

Oh ughhh….where to begin? I had such a positive attitude the day before I started (I really did). Now I just feel overwhelmed. What did I sign myself up for?

The day started off just fine. I had my first juice down by 8:30. I started on the second one around 10:30. From 10:00-2:00 I had a dull headache which I understand is normal. My coach called me and said it’s normal to feel kinda crappy the first day or two. She said it gets easier. We’ll see.

Later on, I got the idea to lay down on my nail bed. That did make me feel a bit better. Nail beds are so full of magic. Everyone should have one. I really do believe that.

I’m getting overwhelmed trying to manage everything I have to do. I realized I need to get up early tomorrow so I can do my hip strengthening exercises my PT gave me. If I don’t do them first thing in the morning, they will not get done. I also have a hair appointment, I have to pick up two juices from the juice bar, go to yoga, AND go back to the grocery store AND make juices for Wednesday. That’s all on tap for tomorrow. Luckily I can squeeze in work in the morning and while I am getting my hair done.

I got all my juices made for tomorrow. I do not have the energy to go through it like I did yesterday. I had SUCH a good attitude yesterday! Anyways, today I juiced kale. So sub out spinach and lettuce for kale in yesterday’s recipes. FYI: Red leaf lettuce in juices RULES. It is way better than kale and spinach.

I am exhausted. I have a dull headache that will not go away. All I want to do is beg Mark for a foot rub and then pass out. This day is done.


VC Day 30: Let’s Get this Juicing Party Started

First, a question:

If anyone is going to the women’s retreat in August and would like to room, please let me know. I think it’s 900.00 per person for double occupancy and 1150 for single (give or take). I’m happy to have a roomie, but if I don’t get any takers by March 15th, I’m paying for the single.

On to the Juicing!

Meet my juicer – the Breville. Yes, I got it after watching Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. It’s a great juicer. I think we’ve had it for about two years. I’ve recommended it to several others, and everyone seems to be happy with it.

So – juice feast #1 starts Monday. I made all my juices tonight. My juice coach, Courtney, said they would hold for 24 hours. I know the best way to drink the juice is right after making it, but that’s not practical for me during this feast. I would spend my day tied to the kitchen. Plus, I have a job, and I have to go to class!

I made my first four juices this evening.

002Each juice is 32 ounces except the last one. I hit about 28 ounces on that one. We’ll see how it plays out. I’m supposed to drink ALL of this juice tomorrow.

Here’s the recipes (I’ve tasted all of them, and they are delicious). They are presented in order from left to right:

Orange Juice #1

2 lemons, 2 grapefruits, 3 oranges

Green Juice #1

1 full head of celery, 3 cucumbers, 3 lemons, 1 pound of spinach, 2 granny smith apples

Green Juice #2

3 cucumbers, 3 lemons, 2 granny smith apples, 1 pound of red leaf lettuce, 1 piece of ginger (size to your taste)

Green Juice #3

3 cucumbers, 3 lemons, 2 granny smith apples, 1 piece of ginger (size to your taste)

I forgot to include ginger in green juice #1. You could certainly add it in. You might notice I am missing kale. Well, I have four pounds of kale in my house ready to go. I’ll put two pounds in the next round of juices.  Which reminds me, I have some rules for this feast. Let me review them:

1. Consume at least one gallon of juice per day. More if I am hungry.

2. Juice one head of celery a day (to make sure I get salt)

3. Juice two pounds of leafy greens, like kale, each day

4. At least 75% of the juices must be green.

5. Keep drinking my regular water intake (approximately one gallon per day) to stay hydrated for Bikram classes.

So – I’m sticking with one citrus juice a day followed by three green ones. I like a citrus juice for brekafast. Today, when I went to buy my leafy greens, I wanted to get six pounds. I bought up 95% of the kale and had only gotten four pounds. So that’s where the spinach and lettuce came in. I know the kale will hold. I wasn’t sure about the spinach or lettuce so I juiced it first. You should have seen me piling up kale in the grocery store and cleaning it all out! Crazy! You should also try checking out with four pounds of kale. 🙂

Here’s the breakdown of what I juiced today:

Lemons = 11

Cucumbers = 9

Apples = 6

Grapefruits = 2

Oranges = 3

Celery = 1 head

Spinach = 1 pound

Red Leaf Lettuce = 1 pound

Pieces of Ginger = 2



VC Day 24: I’ve Got a Feast Coming!

Today I met with my juice feast coach, Courtney, for a little over an hour. We went over all the nuts and bolts of my feast and what to expect. First, you may be wondering what the difference is between a juice feast and a juice fast. In a nutshell, a juice fast limits the intake of calories. In a juice fast, you could expect to need a lot of rest and spend a lot of time doing nothing. You might be tired a lot. Courtney said that for this reason a lot of people will go to retreats where they can float around in a pool all day and take naps. It can be hard to do a 7-day juice fast and contend with regular life.

A juice feast then is the opposite. I want to literally feast on juice. I should be able to function in everday life just fine, but I could experience some diffculties. I might be tired. I might get a headache, but I should be taking in plenty of calories. Feasting allows for me to go about my daily life including continuing my Bikram practice.

Yes – I plan to sustain my current schedule of five Bikram classes per week, plus one advanced class, plus whatever I would be doing at home outside of class (which can vary). Yes, I will be telling you ALL about it.

My plan during the juice feast is to blog once a day, usually in the evening, and also to tweet about my experiences. You can find and follow me on twitter at LeighAHall if you want to keep up with the juice feast tweets! Too bad I can’t tweet directly from class. Can you imagine what I might say? 🙂

Of course a big question on my mind was how much juice to drink and how to think about hydration in relation to my Bikram practice. You should know that anything I say about this feast applies only to me. When I tell you about my hydration needs do not run out and apply them to yourself. This is what works for me or what we think will work for me.

So juicing – I am supposed to drink at least one gallon of juice each day with the bulk of that being green juice. I do plan on having one citrus juice each day, and that’s fine. One gallon comes down to about 125 ounces. I drink between 100-125 ounces of water each day to stay hydrated for Bikram. What does all this mean? Well, while juice is a form of hydration, in this case it is also my only way of getting nutrients. I am supposed to drink at least one gallon of juice and then my regular gallon-ish intake of water every day.

I really hope I can get a bathroom pass out of the hot room. It could be a legitimate need. 🙂 And for the record, I will not be peeing on my mat. Yes, there are people who actually pee on their mat because they have to go and are committed to staying in the room. I know two of them personally. I really don’t want it to come down to that, but the thought has crossed my mind. What if I drink so much that my choice is flee the room or pee on my mat or be in severe pain? I am just letting that thought go. If it becomes a reality, we’ll see what I do (so stay tuned!).

Vote for Me!

Finally, vote for me for best local blog in the triangle: Just write in, “My Birkam Yoga Life” when asked about best blog. This is a great way to raise awareness for Bikram yoga and healthy living (and crazy issues like peeing on yoga mats!).


Juicing the Green Stuff

Several months ago, I eased into green juicing with a cucumber/lemon/apple combination that is nice and tart and oh-so fabulous. But I was thinking it was time to take a step forward into more serious green juicing arenas. I had purchased Drew Canole’s book on juicing a few months ago, but I had yet to put any of his recipes in action. I think my delay in trying his recipes was due to: (a) being lazy and (b) making myself get out of my juice comfort zone.

See, I was very comfortable with my cucumber juice recipe as well as one I had put together made up of oranges/lemons/grapefruit. And by the way, if you are new to juicing I think starting with citrus fruit is where it’s at. You make great stuff you are already familiar with and then work into other things (like green juice) from there.

I had read Drew’s book and scanned his recipes. I was itching to try something new and push myself a bit in terms of what I juiced. So I went right for his Super Green Machine juice. I won’t give you the recipe because you should buy the book or join his Facebook page. The recipe is actually listed at the top of the page. If you like his page, you’ll get all kinds of updates and recipes.

I will tell you that this juice included things like kale, spinach, and brocccoli. I think kale and spinach are OK. I have eaten them before. I do not make an effort to cook with them, but if you cook me a meal with them I will likely enjoy it.

I hate broccoli. This is no joke. I have given up on enjoying it on any level. I have tried it every way I can think of including broccoli cheese soup where the broccoli was in tiny, tiny bits. Still hated it.

Anyways, I was good and bought broccoli.

This morning I made the juice prior to going to a 9:00am class (day 18/39 I believe it was today). I was not convinced I would like this juice. It was green. Really green. Way more green than my cucumber juice. Plus, it had broccoli, kale, and spinach in it. I don’t care if I think kale and spinach are ok to eat. I was not convinced about the whole thing in a juicing format.

But still, I was going to drink that juice. Why? Because I just spent money buying all the ingredients. Also, I knew that if I gave it a chance something good might come out of it. Just to be sure I tossed in a second lemon. Sorry Drew. 🙂 I made one small modification to make sure I liked it. I love lemons. I will eat them raw.

The end result? I liked the juice! I may even back off on the lemon tomorrow and have just one like the recipe calls for. But, if you are anxious about a juice, like I am sometimes, adding an extra apple or lemon can help you start to acquire a taste for it. Then you can go from there.

I will add that I had a fine class this morning having only had jucie for breakfast. I think, and this is a personal thing, I prefer to eat solid food for breakfast when I am practicing in the morning. So I’ll be moving this juice over to my afternoon snack (plus it’s vegan, duh, so it’s the perfect snack for my 30-day vegan challenge!). That’s just a personal preference though. I think you could have this juice for breakfast (and just this juice alone) and have a fine class.