No Magic Pill: Takeaway from my 15-day Juice Fast

First of all, let me publicly recognize that in the grand scheme of things, a 15-day vegetable juice fast isn't that big of a deal, so I don't think I've done something extraordinary or something worthy of being on ABC World News Tonight. For one thing, 15 days is about 0.13% of my life. For another, Jesus did it for 63% longer than 15 days. That said...

I took on the 15-day fast for 4 reasons:
1. an experiment - just another way to use my body as a human laboratory
2. detox/cleanse
3. give my body a break physically before my full Ironman training starts (it's hard for me to take time off when I have normal levels of energy. Having less energy than normal allowed me to actually sit and rest for a while and not go stir crazy)
4. lean down as much as possible before IM training starts (5 or 10 pounds makes a big difference over 140.6 miles)

My brother and I used to joke about a pill that someone could create that would:
1. provide all important and vital nutrients
2. keep you in great shape
3. shower for you
4. keep your teeth fresh and clean
5. make money for you
6. cut your hair and keep your nails and body hair presentable at all times
...you get the idea...

Wouldn't that be great? Our joke was that we could just lay on the floor watching old movies all day and never have to do anything. Ha!

But I'm glad there's no pill like that, nor will there ever be one. If this magic pill existed, it would greatly diminish hard work, dedication, sacrifice, and effort. It is a perfect system set up by our Sovereign God.

Anything worth anything at all must take HEDS (hard work, effort, dedication and sacrifice). Look at the greatest most valuable event in the history of our existence: the Cross. There's the perfect example. There was no easy way around that. There was no corner to cut or line to not run all the way through. That was sacrifice personified, in its must guttural and raw form.

I stopped eating the Standard American Diet in August of 2009 after I read the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. After reading that book, I only ate the foods mentioned in that book for the next 7 months (pita, beans, chia seeds, vegetables, hummus, fruit) with rare exception.

In April of 2010 while training for my second Half Ironman, I experimented with the Paleo Diet. That's basically anything your body can digest in its raw form (meat, fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, oils). I cut out most wheat (other than the rare pizza or bean burrito) and all dairy. And by the way, all the meat I was eating at the time was from a grass fed ranch in Powderly, TX (http://www.texasgrassfedbeef.com). My dogs still get their food from this ranch...or rather, I get it for them...they're just dogs. I felt amazing at the finish line of the most physically demanding Half IM in the continental United States (BSLT 70.3).

I then tried a vegan diet for 30 days starting June 1 of 2011 and felt so good during that month that I have basically kept all animal products at bay since then. What really struck me was how fast I began recovering from intense training sessions. The more I read about the anti-inflammatory properties of a plant-based diet, the more it began to make sense. As a side note, I have no issue with anyone eating meat of any kind...as long as you know how that meat is prepared and processed and have watched that process with your own eyes.

All that to say, I have been eating something other than the Standard American Diet (or SAD) for a couple of years.Taking that into consideration, this juice fast has opened my eyes to a whole new way to look at food, how it interacts with our bodies, and how terribly most of us treat the only bodies we'll ever have.

I feel like I have finally, completely conquered processed and refined foods. And if you knew me at all during the first 29 years of my life, you knew me as someone with an incredibly strong sweet tooth. I could not even fathom having candy bars, ice cream, brownies, cookies, cakes, dairy, and sugar out of my diet completely. I would typically gorge on that stuff on Sundays (or some other day but just once a week), but cutting it out completely was an unheard of thought.

I had processed sugar in dessert-type foods once or twice all of 2011, so my body has already re-acclimated and treats fruit (frozen, raw, cooked, pureed, etc) like any dessert anyone could put in front of me now. It's funny what happens to your preferences and taste buds when you're not eating salty, processed foods that damage the sensors that tell you what and when to eat and how your body perceives the food it is eating. It starts craving nutrient-dense, high quality food.

I honestly feel like if someone were to force a "box" brownie into my mouth right now, my first reaction wouldn't be to think "oh man, that tastes good...I could just eat this one and be fine"...it would be to violently spit it out of my mouth. Not for any sort of moral reason or anything like that (I have NO problem with people eating anything they want IN MODERATION), but simply because that would be my natural instinct after becoming so in tune with my body's cravings and nutrient needs.

Another good thing (mentally) about the fast, is that now that I've finally reached my target training weight (which I've been trying to reach for many months), I won't want to "mess it up" by eating things that will be counterproductive to the progress I've made and to the nutritional state I've reached.

I can foresee completing a 15 day (or longer) juice fast at least once a year for the rest of my life. I feel like my body is rested and completely rid of all noxious substances that may have been lurking around for the last few years. In fact, I plan on doing a 5-day fast after IMTX in May, and another 15-day fast in December after the Whiterock Marathon.

I can also foresee maybe doing a day or two after what I call a "fat" day in which I eat a significant amount of calories. Doing just one day won't effect my energy and will allow me to continue to train despite the reduction in calories for 24 or 48 hours.

Another amazing thing about the fast that I hadn't anticipated (and definitely my favorite thing about the experience) was how many people contacted me with words of encouragement or questions about the fast or nutrition in general.

I have a passion for wellness and one of the things I sit and think about (when I have time to sit and think) is how to break the current mold and way of thinking about food that our culture has developed over the last 100 years or so.

Spending millions, or probably billions, every year on disease treatment while actual incidents of disease stay the same or slightly increase is NOT the most effective way to live. Our culture constantly pumps medicine and other noxious substances into our body (which harm and weaken our bodies) so that we can continue to eat in ways that harm our body...it's a downward spiral to obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, auto-immune diseases, arthritis, and on and on and on...

So I have a passion for trying to figure out the way to get people to just consider the idea that just because something tastes good or a preference for a certain food or types of food exists, doesn't make that food healthy or outweigh the risk of what those food preferences are leading to.

And just consider the idea...I'm not out to change the world by any means. I just want people to know what path they're on. And if, after careful consideration, the choice to eat the Standard American Diet remains, then so be it. I have no problem with that.

What I have a problem with is people making decisions based on opinion or tradition. It's like walking across a busy street blind folded just because that's how your family has always done it. I just want people to open their eyes for a second...see the danger that lies ahead...THEN decide on what to eat, what to feed their kids, and how to treat or view our nation's food industry.

So if a juice fast makes 10 people carefully consider health, wellness, and nutrition, then that's a pretty good reason to do it. Because those 10 people can have an enormous effect on the people around them and those they love and are entrusted to care for.

There's no magic pill. Science will never create a remedy or medication that will allow people to eat refined, processed, toxic-filled foods, and live a full, happy and healthy life (and there are many interpretations of what a full, happy, and healthy life actually is).

The only way to achieve exceptional health and wellness is to work for it, make sacrifices, and change the status quo in your own life and household.

I hope to continue being a resource for people, and am glad that I may have inspired a handful of people to try and make some changes that will benefit their entire well-being.

Looking forward to the next juice fast! Thanks for everyone who kept up with my journey and for all the encouraging words.