I’ve been reading lots of articles lately about how short bursts of intense activity are a very good way to improve health and fitness. See this article from the New York Times, for example. Furthermore, I (along with the rest of the exercising world, I’m sure) tend to get quite bored when I’m running on the treadmill. Lately I’ve been mixing things up a bit by doing treadmill intervals, which is alternating my speed throughout my run to incorporate some serious sprints, as well as some fast-paced walking. I tried various workouts, but decided to make up my own that I find really easy to remember – so I don’t always have to bring a post-it note to my treadmill with my workout written down.
The following workout follows a simple 1-minute, 2-minute, 30 seconds pattern and just repeats itself for 30 minutes. Start with 1-minute at a brisk walk (4 mph), move up to a comfortable jog for 2 minutes at 6 mph, then sprint for 30 seconds at 8 or 9 mph before starting the pattern over again. I like how easy it is to remember when I’m working out and how I can adjust the length of the workout if needed. Also – major plus – the time flies by and before you know it, the workout is complete! If you follow this workout for 30 minutes, you’ll log just under 3 miles.
December is a good food month. And by good food, I actually mean bad food… but it tastes so good! As soon as we wrapped up our Christmas travels, I knew I needed to get back on track. I’ve always been curious about the juice cleanses I read about in health and fitness articles, but had never done one myself. Then I found Dr. Oz’s 3-day detox cleanse and thought it looked do-able and also tasty enough.
I picked my 9 consecutive meals, starting with Sunday’s dinner and going through lunch on New Year’s Eve (Wednesday). Then I made my grocery list and headed to the store. I bought extra ingredients to do portions for Rob, too, but when I calculated the cost for just my servings, it came to $35 for nine smoothies (meals). That’s $3.88/meal. Compare that to the $200+ packages you can order online and have shipped to you, or even to the juice/smoothie retail stores that charge $9 a pop. I was pleasantly surprised at the cost for all that fresh produce.
Side note: I’m a bigger proponent of blending smoothies rather than juicing because with blending, you literally eat the entirety of the ingredients and all the nutrients from them. With juicing, you discard quite a bit of the ingredients (and thus, the nutrients). Plus, there’s no waste when you blend. I will say, however, that our Vitamix was crucial to blending the ingredients into completely smooth juice.
But what was it like? How did I feel before, during, and after the three days of smoothies – both mentally and physically? Was it worth it?
Sunday, December 28
Alright. That’s it. I’ve decided I’m going to do the three days of smoothies! I think it will be great for my body to have nothing bad put into it for three whole days. I’ll just be filling it with lots of nutrients and vitamins. Shopping list – check! Grocery store – check!
Dinner #1: Not bad! The smoothie called for cayenne, probably to make it feel a little heartier, but it’s a tad spicy for my liking. I’ll do less cayenne for the next dinner smoothie. Also, I used chia seeds instead of flax seeds, just because I already had chia seeds. Feeling good about this dinner, since I pigged out on a grilled chicken (with cheese and ranch) sandwich and Parmesan truffle fries at lunch.
Monday, December 29
Didn’t wake up hungry. Started the morning with my 7-Minute Workout, then drank green tea after my shower. Poured my smoothie in a to-go cup to take with me to work. Drove by Bodo’s Bagels (like I do every day), but actually pictured a warm, soft bagel and craved it. That never happens. It’s all because I can’t have it!
Breakfast #1: I like this one a lot. The raspberries give it great flavor and you can’t taste the spinach. Very satisfying.
Lunch #1: My first home-made GREEN smoothie. I don’t think I eat that many vegetables in a whole week. Quite delicious, but even better with a few ice cubes added to the drink. Also… I want to eat real food. More of that “because I can’t have it” stuff. Hopefully that desire fades quickly! Oh, and I have a slight headache, though I don’t feel hungry.
Dinner #2: After a 20-minute run + bath, I made my dinner smoothie. All three smoothies taste pretty good, but I think the dinner one is my favorite. Rob and I settled in for a movie and I really wanted (the usual) popcorn and wine – but nope! It actually feels good to assert my self-discipline over my habitual desires.
Tuesday, December 30
Woke up feeling good! Started the morning with my 7-Minute Workout again. That workout amazes me in that you can feel such burn all over and get your heart-rate up in such a short time. The twelve exercises are so good for the body. I start sweating about half-way through and love it.
Breakfast #2: Took it with me to work again, and had no hunger or thoughts of food :).
Lunch #2: Alright, time to get after that green smoothie. I love the way I get so many nutrients in one drink!
Dinner #3: By the time I got home for the evening around 8:30, I had very little desire to make and drink another smoothie. This cleanse is hard, guys! But I did, and I’m glad I did, because it filled me up. Plus, this dinner smoothie is definitely my favorite.
Wednesday, December 31
Woke up feeling great again! You know how you feel disgusting, lethargic, and guilty after over-indulging in super unhealthy food? Well, I feel the opposite of that, which is awesome! I feel confident and comfortable in my body because I know it’s been filled up with only good nutrients for the past few days. I didn’t start the day with the 7-Minute Workout, but I plan on doing it later in the day. Hot green tea, check! Breakfast smoothie to-go, check!
Breakfast #3: Again, not particularly hungry and feeling good about my body (inside & outside), but I just want to eat (chew) real food. Not much longer to go, though, so let’s do this!
Lunch #3: I was definitely dreading another smoothie, but finished up the detox strong!
My 3-day (9 consecutive meals) smoothie cleanse is over, so it’s time to evaluate. My body feels great and energized from the inside out! Mentally, I love knowing I just fed my body the medicine it needs to take care of itself naturally. I even like the way my stomach looks a little flatter. The most difficult part of doing this cleanse was being around other people eating or being at home where other food was readily accessible. It took more will-power and self-discipline than I’ve exerted in a long time. However, it’s not because I was starving or even hungry; it’s because I realized how much I enjoy the act of eating. I view eating more as a social and emotional act, as well as something I get pleasure from. To not partake in the act of eating (and by eating, I mean preparing meals and chewing) for three days, as my husband says, is “a bit draconian.” I think I’d have to agree. In the future, I will replace occasional meals with one of these smoothies (perhaps once or twice a week), but I doubt I’ll do the full three-day cleanse again.
Have you ever done a smoothie cleanse? What was your experience like?
I’m not a fitness guru by any stretch, but I do appreciate the value of fitness. I think it’s incredibly important to not only fuel our bodies with the foods and nutrients it needs, but to incorporate exercise into our routines, as well. I’m the first to admit that my exercise habits ebb and flow. This is something that I struggle with and am working to improve, since I know that consistency is key.
However, I’ve found a little trick that requires only seven minutes, but gets all your muscles working and your heart rate up: twelve simple exercises, thirty seconds each, ten seconds of rest between each set. Perfect for those days you just can’t make it to the gym.
“In 12 exercises deploying only body weight, a chair and a wall, it fulfills the latest mandates for high-intensity effort, which essentially combines a long run and a visit to the weight room into about seven minutes of steady discomfort — all of it based on science.” -NY Times
You can download the app for your smartphone, press “Start Workout,” and follow its verbal and visual cues. It shows a countdown timer for each exercise, in addition to what exercise is on deck. (For more thorough instructions on how to download the app, read here.)
I love that I’m “feeling it” during this workout, building a bit of a sweat, and working all parts of my body for strength and cardio. This is something for which I can set my alarm seven minutes earlier!