Living LifeWise: The Pains and Gains of a Juice Cleanse

Living Lifewise Written by

Today’s column is provided by Johanna Dokken and Whitney Haggerson.

Friends and fitness enthusiasts Johanna and Whitney decided to embark on a three-day juice cleanse. Feeling a mixture of nerves (cutting solid foods!?) and excitement (no more toxins! clean slate!), they chose a ready-to-go program through Juicebox in Seattle.

It started with Brandin Myett, co-owner of the Capitol Hill business, reassuring them that it would be okay to eat some raw almonds, carrots or coffee along the way. And then … well, read on for every “juicy” detail!

juice cleanseJohanna: Day 1 – A “Juice Fast” Where Nothing Feels Fast

It’s 10:35 a.m. I’m sitting at work, and what I’m feeling at the moment can best be described as panic. How can I settle down to do the day’s tasks without my usual coffee/chocolate arsenal?

I’ve just sucked down my first juice (which is a delicious blend of yam, ginger, carrot and cinnamon), but at the bottom of the glass remains an unsettled feeling of knowing there will be no food for three long days. Should I keep my lunch plans with a colleague? What to do about dinner tonight? Will I feel up to yoga later? What was that lady’s name I needed to email again? And will anyone notice if I lay my head on this keyboard and take a nap?

By noon I feel a little off-balance — not for the lack of food, but for the lack of routine. To placate this feeling, I create a mini calendar of allotted times to drink a juice. My regimen is five juices a day, so a juice every three hours seems about right, with the last one at 8:30 p.m. I try to shake off my growing apprehension and get on with my day.

Whitney:  Day 1 – Learning to Adjust

9 a.m.: I’ve peed, like, 100 times. This is so much liquid. How are people hungry when they do this?

1 p.m.: I’m starving. Why do I want to eat five cookies? I don’t even like peanut butter cookies! I cave and end up eating five cherry tomatoes and three cucumber slices.

I guess that’s better than the cookies …

5:45 p.m.: While drinking my beet juice, the only thing I can think about is how I seriously hate beets.

7:45 p.m.: My husband just got home from the gym. I feel guilty for skipping the gym.

7:52 p.m.: Now my husband is eating a BLT. He knows I’m on a juice cleanse! Ugh. Avocado too? He’s getting the silent treatment for the rest of the night.

8-8:45 p.m.: I am obsessed with this spicy, chocolate-y, cinnamon-y almond juice. I research how to make the juice on my own, and try to talk my husband into buying a juicer. I must drink this daily.

juice cleanse

Johanna: Day 2 – Is It Just Me Or…?

I wake up with rawness in my throat. It must be my daughter’s strep throat rearing its ugly contagiousness. I have a mildly amusing spell of denial during which I contemplate whether or not the juice cleanse can magically heal my infection.

But then I get real and go to the doctor for antibiotics.

With this strep stress, I can’t help but notice how frequently thoughts of comfort food come to mind. While wandering the pharmacy waiting for my medication, boxes of chocolates seem to leap off the shelves at me. Under normal circumstances, I would be helping myself to a small bag of leftover Christmas chocolate to ease the pain in my throat. (Because that totally makes sense).

I opt for hot tea instead and settle in to rest.

Whitney: Day 2 – Some Surprising Realizations

juice cleanse7 a.m.: I’m surprised by how normal I feel. I actually enjoy the taste of this green juice and find value in the fact that fitting in all my daily juices forces me to have “breakfast,” which is something I usually skip in favor of a few extra minutes of sleep.

8:30 a.m.: More green juice. I really like ginger.

11:05 a.m.: Okay, now all I want is a latte.

1:30 p.m.: I’m spending my lunch meeting watching co-workers chow down on sandwiches that usually would not appeal to me, but today look like the best lunches I’ve ever seen. I’d eat that sandwich. Honestly, I’d eat this table. I’m starving.

I step out of the meeting to get a juice and return to the meeting with a new confidence — I can do this.

8 p.m.: I should drink this beet juice.

8:02 p.m.: I hate beets. I think I might pass out if I have to drink another beet juice.

8:15 p.m.: Things I’m craving: fried rice, French macaroons, a Venti non-fat chai tea. (None of those have ever made my top ten favorite foods list before.)

I drink my chocolate-y, cinnamon-y, spicy almond drink and remember that I LOVE this juice cleanse. Maybe I should go for five days … Or maybe I should just learn to make this juice. I remind my husband that I would really like a juicer.

Johanna: Day 3 – I am Eeyore

With the combination of a low-grade fever and a rumbling stomach, my energy today is at a definite low. I am barely a warm body in a team planning session, and, as I stare at my diary page, I am unable to muster more than a few words to express how I’m feeling.

I slump to the fridge at the end of Day 3 only to fuzzily realize that, lo — I have extra juices! I was actually allotted six per day, not five. I spend my evening chugging juices and cut my losses by going to bed early.

Whitney Day 3 – This is Great!

6:15 a.m.: I get out of bed after my first alarm. That NEVER happens. My husband even makes a comment. Maybe I’m sleeping better?

4 p.m.: Today flew by. I’m still amazed by how much liquid I’m “required” to consume. Today, I’m better prepared and remember to bring my juices to meetings — maybe because my brain is functioning at a higher capacity. I contemplate giving up coffee all together. As in — forever.

6:15 p.m.: I’m at a bar for a co-worker’s going-away party, and there’s a delicious-looking soft pretzel sitting in front of me. I sip on my juice.

8:30 p.m.: I am ELATED that I didn’t cave and have any of that delicious-looking pretzel. I am so proud of my willpower and celebrate with my favorite almond drink.

Johanna:  Day 4 – Yes, This is Great!

juice cleanseI decide to extend my fast as long as the juices hold, and today, amazingly, the juice regimen’s promise has suddenly come to fruition (pardon the pun). The temptation of treats has waned; I now see them as potential blemishes to my newly purified system. I realize I have steady energy and focus, as well as an undercurrent of optimism, oddly enough.

Breaking my usual cycle and routine has felt very empowering after all. If I can accomplish this change in routine for a few days, I might be capable of long-term changes. It’s opened something up for me: flexibility in letting go.

As I guzzle down the final drops of my last apple/lemon/ginger elixir, I feel a little sad that it’s over. Ultimately, though, I’m grateful.

Whitney Day 4 – A Final Victory

3 p.m.: I skip my daily Diet Coke, even though I’m technically done with my juice cleanse. This is the ultimate win.


juice cleanse
Johanna Dokken is a former college swimmer and mom of two, looking to make health and fitness a higher priority. Her inspiration to lead a more active and healthy life comes from her family’s history of diabetes and heart issues, as well as a personal brush with cancer as a teenager. She loves the personal empowerment, stress relief and community of training and pursuing outdoor activities.


juice cleanseWhitney Haggerson is a California native who is learning to love the Pacific Northwest in all its fleece-y glory. Living LifeWise is part of her quest to learn to love exercise rather than do it as a means of offsetting her peanut butter addiction. Whitney lives in Green Lake with her husband and their chocolate Lab.