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Another summer of my discontent: the triathlon version

It’s no secret that, every year, as reliably as the daylight lasts longer and the sun beats brighter, I embark on summer projects.

Last year was the summer runstreak.  The summer before that was a July 4th half marathon and move.  While I’d like to blame my summer brainstorms solely on the restless desire to fill the days while my kids are gone, I’ll admit this is a lifelong affliction.

My husband has titled my (fictitious) novel: The Agony of Goal Setting.

Remember that one time I did a sprint triathlon, in the thunderstorm, and was terrified the entire time on the bike because I have a traumatic history with bikes and everything hurt and I hated it?

But I did pretty well, considering I mostly ran and barely biked or swam for the entirety of my training, and it was my first one, and I did I mention I really didn’t train? I think I rode my bike a total of 5 times before the race, and swam about the same?

I wonder what I could do if I trained? Like, in the summer, when I’m not working 9-10 hours a day, followed by kid activities and dinner-making and homework-overseeing. When my house is empty, with my kids at their Dad’s and my husband at work (he works year-round as an administrator), and I find myself talking to the mastiffs more than is socially acceptable.

So, I’ve decided to do another triathlon. Not another sprint triathlon – I’ve already done one of those, so where is that challenge in that? The next logical step is an Olympic triathlon.

Because what’s the point in a goal unless it scares stretches you?

Have I ever in my life done an open water swim? With the exception of my surf lifeguard certification test 24 years ago, no. No, I have not. Am I scared of swimming in open water? Let’s just say I don’t even snorkel or swim in clear water. Not to mention I was a sprinter. Don’t mistake my former swimming experience with an ability to intelligently race 1500 meters. It will take me the entire summer to train myself not to go out all hell’s bells, then drown in the middle of the lake.

And then there’s the bike. 25 miles. That’s all I need to say about that.

Followed by a 10k run (“only” 6.2 miles, but that’s 6.2 miles after roughly 2? hours of racing, on Labor Day, in Austin. If I’m lucky it will be, oh, only 88 degrees mid-morning.)

I’ve started training. I have a plan, cobbled together by comparing several different plans I found on the internet. I have a practice open water race on July 10th, just to get me out in open water, and feel the distance, before the tri.  I went to a local pool that has long course meters and did a practice 1500m straight, just to see if I would die. I didn’t, although I was very bored.

I’m not going to lie, I’m fairly intimidated by just about every element of this endeavor. Even my slowest half marathons have only lasted 2 1/2 hours; I think this triathlon will take me somewhere around the 3:15 timeframe. That’s a lot of pain. Combine that with Labor Day heat in Texas (and my averse reaction to temps anywhere north of 75 degrees), a crowded open water race in Lady Bird Lake, and 25 miles on a bike (my longest training ride to date has only topped out at 19 miles), and I’m more apprehensive than enthusiastic.

On the other hand, after only a few weeks of training, I’m already seeing my body transform. It’s fascinating, in a science-experiment-kind-of-way, to see my body respond to swimming and biking and weights (oh my!) after 3 years of just running.

Have you done an Olympic triathlon? Experience? Pointers? Warnings?

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Millennials get a bad rap and other musings unpublished

Yikes. It’s been almost a month since I posted. Posted, but not composed.

I’ve composed a litany of posts, abstractly. My favorite running mind-float is to write in my head. Sure, I occasionally daydream, (unsuccessfully) practice meditative mindfulness, or (often) run through my weekly lists, but usually, at some point, my mind begins working on posts.

There’s been so much to write about the past month. The inaugural year of the signature program finished its first iteration, mostly successfully. The kids finished their school years, successfully. I made it to summer break, relatively intact. I “wrote” about each of these events during early morning hours on the treadmill.

I had the chance to talk to a former graduate from long ago, class of 2004, I think. She is now an editor at a major publication, and working on a back to school story about navigating the over-scheduled and anxiety-ridden high school years (for both students and their parents). It was amazing, and awesome, to hear her voice again (she’s in New York City, so it was a phone interview). I asked her how she ended up in journalism and publishing, since my recollection was that she went to Brown University as a pre-med student last time I saw her. She marveled that I remembered details about her life; I think most students never realize how much their teachers invest in them. We carry them with us.

I’ve been in education nearly twenty years. Teaching expectations and protocol has changed, significantly, but students not so much. To that end, I think Millennials get a really bad rap. I’ve taught hundreds, probably thousands, of Millennials. Based on the usually-accepted definition of the generation, almost my entire career has been spent, day in and day out, with Millennials.

I said a lot about that topic, in my head, on a recent 19 mile bike ride.

this was my very first “robed” graduation ceremony as a teacher, the class of 1999 (my 2nd year teaching). I was proud to already have my Master’s sleeves!

This month marks ten years since we piled the 3 kids, and cat, in the minivan and drove from Rhode Island to Austin. I could write a novel about my thoughts on the past decade as a Texan after 3+ decades as a Yankee: the culture shock, the life changes, the regrets and rewards. I tried to edit myself down to a meaningful, yet measured, post about that milestone as I swam, lap after lap, during recent swim workouts.

Yes, that IS a portable DVD player suspended from the minivan ceiling. We did not have a system in our van (or apparently, a high standard for vehicular safety). These pics snapped during a particularly horrendous traffic jam, lasting so long that my oldest got out and picked flowers for me on the side of the road. 

I have written many posts, in my head, during the past month. Until school let out, I was simply too busy to write them down. My typical 9 hour work day easily extended to 12 and 13 hour shifts during the last few weeks in May, when many (most?) nights had evening functions, due to my position as a senior program director – not to mention one memorable weekend when I, quite literally, worked virtually around the clock (*mental note to stagger program deadlines next year).

But school has been out for almost two weeks. I can’t blame my work schedule for the dearth of posts recently. Instead, I have been trying to soak up every second with my kids (well, the younger two. The oldest has a summer job and is working ALL THE HOURS. I’m super proud of him but he’s like a ghost around here, albeit a ghost that consumes most of my fridge and pantry when he floats through the house).

The drum is beating, a little louder each day, as the 30 days approaches June 15th.

So I’m making my annual Mother Crab summer visitation distraction plans. I planned a long weekend getaway for July 4th with the husband. I have a summer grant proposal that involves many hours of research and work. I’ve (mostly. Still not totally confirmed. Still feeling out the scary details) decided on this summer’s irrational and painful athletic distraction.

I will blog about that next. After June 15th. Right now I still have 5 days to soak up morning walks, afternoon pool time, frozen yogurt trips, and friend sleepovers.

2016 Dallas Hot Chocolate 15k Race Recap

On Saturday  Feb 6th I ran the Dallas Hot Chocolate 15k. I’m finally posting the race recap a week and a half later, because life is ridiculously, insanely, busy (and it’s about to get a lot worse until the end of May). I have a new position at my school, and the workload is kicking my butt, not to mention the 3 kids are busier than ever.

I write entire novels in my head while on the treadmill, but alas, no time to put fingers to the keyboard.

It was my first Hot Chocolate race (and my first 15k), and the race fit perfectly into my March half marathon training schedule. The weather was absolutely perfect for running – low 40’s, not a lot of wind, cloudy. I wasn’t sure how the race would go, since my training hit back to back monthly hiccups with an injury in December, then bronchitis last month.

I couldn’t have asked for a better race. My goal pace was a 10:45 min/mile (my goal for my half marathon, so I thought this would be a good indicator). My splits were:

  1. 10:35
  2. 10:34
  3. 10:37
  4. 10:36
  5. 10:49
  6. 10:21
  7. 10:40
  8. 10:58
  9. 11:03
  10. 3:23 for the last .33

Average pace: 10:40 min/mile. I know, right?  I was pretty happy.

I’m really trying not to get overconfident or too excited about the March 20th half (my first in a year!), but the training is going well. I’ve also incorporated weekly swim and bike workouts to begin working on my April sprint triathlon.

If it sounds like a lot of training, it is. I’m on a half marathon training schedule (peaking with my mileage the next 3 weeks) while also training for a sprint tri.

My husband has dubbed my (imaginary) novel “The Agony of Goal Setting”.

New Year’s Goals 2015: Retrospective

I wrote last year that I usually make New Year’s goals (which sound more forgiving than resolutions) on January 1st, however arbitrary and contrived. As today is the last day of 2015, I thought I would reflect and recap how much I accomplished (or as the case may be, missed the mark).

1. Run 1000 miles: Welp, fell (165 miles) short on that one. As of this morning’s run, I clocked 835 miles in 2015.

Strangely, I am really, really okay with this.

I’ve written a lot about my ambivalence (antipathy?) for running in 2015. I only ran 1 half marathon (compared to 3 in 2014), and struggled at various points to complete even 3 or 4 slow miles. I’m at the point in my running journey where the novelty of medals and races has worn off, and the dedication and discipline needed for early mornings, careful Friday night pre-long run nutrition, and hours upon hours of pounding pavement (or the treadmill) is wearing thin.

Given that, I’m proud I’ve remained as consistent and dedicated as I have. I’m still running, a lot.  I have races on the horizon. I’m still putting in the miles. So it wasn’t 1000 miles. It was close enough. And it was 835 more miles than I ran for 20+ years of my adult life.

2. Finally break a 30min for a 5k. Done! Not once, but twice. Current PR is sitting pretty at a 29:10. Can I break a 29? I think so, but even if I don’t, I’m happy I hit this.

3. Take my daily vitamins. I hit this goal as well. Did I take my vitamins every single night in 2015? No, but I think it’s a fair estimate that I remembered 5 nights out of 7, on average. That counts in my book.

4. Read for pleasure. Relatively speaking, I did well on this. Whereas relative is in relation to previous years, not necessarily compared to where I would like to be. I did read more. I did not read as much as I felt I should have, or could have. It’s just so hard (insert whiny tone) with the running and the teaching and the reading I do for my courses (which I don’t count as “pleasure”, but is a good amount of reading) and the parenting. And all the television viewing. Ahem. But I guess I can count this as a win, since I did make a concerted effort to read more all year long, and did. Ish.

5. Put down the damn iPhoneDepending on the month, week or day, I either nailed this goal, or failed miserably. After all, I did take a 2 week break, when I abstained (almost) completely. But there were other week periods where I definitely spent too many mindless hours minutes on the little screen.

Overall, much like my reading for pleasure goal, I think it was an admirable effort. I was more conscious of my use, and made a concerted effort to unplug more (or at the very least, felt guilty when I didn’t).

6. The forgiveness thing. What to say about this goal? It’s hard to write about, both for privacy reasons (my kids are getting older), and, well, privacy reasons (I’m well aware this post is being scrutinized). I will say that I had a liberating breakthrough in May after reading Janis Abrahms Spring’s How Can I Forgive You? about reframing my acceptance of what happened during, and following, my first marriage. My goal became less about forgiveness for them, and more about making them irrelevant (for me). Some might argue that the shift is purely semantic, but it gave me permission to not be upset about ongoing issues with my ex husband and his wife, because I’m not trying to get to a different relationship with them. It is what it is.

Did I forgive them in 2015? I got to a place where I don’t even care if I’ve forgiven them, because I just don’t have the emotion invested to reflect on the relationships. I don’t feel like I have much of anything invested at all, except a legal and moral obligation to follow a court enforceable document for 6 more years.

Maybe that’s what forgiveness feels like? I don’t know. I don’t care. I just know I’m in a better place about the whole crazy mess.

Goals for 2016? That will have to wait until the New Year, which I’ll be ringing in with my extended and immediate family. Here’s to a happy, healthy, peaceful 2016 for all.

Social media

“We just love your Facebook posts. Your kids are ADORABLE – you have the perfect family.”

“You do realize how lucky you are, right? I mean, he’s the perfect husband.”

“Mom, don’t put this picture on Facebook or Instagram, okay? I don’t want my friends’ moms to see it and show it to them.”

I’ve heard the previous statements over the past two months, from 1. former students, 2. a colleague and 3. my daughter.  I cringed each time.

Listen, my kids are adorable, but my family is far from perfect. My husband? He’s a gem, and I adore him, but even he would admit that “perfect” is a bit of a stretch. And while I didn’t have any intention  of putting that particular picture up for social media consumption, my 11 year old daughter’s awareness of how she might “appear”, should any of her friends’ moms even see it, not to mention care enough to show their daughters, made my shoulders sag.

The double edged sword of social media.

A couple days ago, I posted this article from the New York Post on Facebook about the negative effects of social media on our society, on our youth in particular, and how it is manipulated to portray a certain image (and yes, I fully recognize the inherent irony in posting the article on social media). By now, nearly 16 years into the digital age of the 21st century, we’re all aware of the “public” nature of social media, and how it can negatively impact us with regard to college acceptance, or employment; we’ve read more than one tragic account of cyberbullying leading to suicide, and  those of us in the field of education speak to our students regularly about “appropriate and responsible” use of social media.

But what about the (arguably) less outwardly dangerous but more insidious impact of social media on our day to day lives?

It’s something I struggle with, a lot.

On the one hand, I love social media. I am active on Twitter, Facebook, Vine and Instagram (although I still don’t get Snapchat, at all. I briefly flirted with, then abandoned, Periscope).  I like sharing pictures of my family on Instagram, and Facebook is my primary form of contact with my family and faraway friends. Twitter is my daily chat with my local girlfriends, since our busy career and mom schedules only permit for a bimonthly GNO, if we’re lucky.

Do I try to stay positive in my posts? Focus on the fun stuff my family is doing, or vignettes that I think others might find funny or entertaining? Sure. Am I doing it to try to portray some sort of “image” about my family? Convince people that I have a “perfect” family, the “perfect” husband? Am I one of the people the article warned about, the “friends on social media who contribute to this fake reality”?

Not only does that idea make me cringe (see above), but I viscerally recoil at that notion because I do know others who utilize social media for those purposes. I suspect we all know people who hit “publish” or “tweet” with the express calculated intent of presenting a manipulated facade to the internet world, whether out of self-protection or self-promotion.

Fortunately, my own kids are pretty oblivious. My oldest (15) has an Instagram and Facebook, but rarely, if ever, checks them. My middle (13) and youngest (11) both have had Instagrams and one a Pinterest page for over a year now, initiated and set up at the other house (without discussion with or consent by me), but thanksfully, the interest in Pinterest was short lived, and they rarely get on Instagram. I’ve had to have honest and frank talks with all 3 of them about how social media is manipulated and used by certain individuals, and for better or for worse, my kids understand and “see”  the manufactured image of false realities.

As the article notes, there’s a growing backlash against social media, and I, for one, welcome it. As much as I like seeing pictures and updates from friends and family near and far, there’s something to be said for our flawed, imperfect, but real, lives.

Mother crab

Cancer is the mother of the zodiac.

If you know anything about astrology (and I’ve been a sucker for all things zodiac from a young age), you know that, in profile after profile after profile, the Cancer woman is known for her maternal nurturing (followed closely by her moodiness. Of course, these astrological profiles are never 100% accurate).

Say what you will about the legitimacy of horoscopes, I always felt a sense of recognition reading about my sign. Married at 23 and a mother at 25, I’ve been a caretaker virtually all of my adult life, a role that I willingly chose. Unlike so many of my Gen X peers, particularly those with my level of education and socioeconomic status, especially given that I came from a divorced household, I pursued motherhood young, enthusiastically, and in spades.  On my 30th birthday, I was 6 weeks postpartum from my 3rd child (with 2 additional pregnancies ending in miscarriages).

For me, and I suspect for so many women, the role of motherhood goes beyond care taking and nurturing, beyond the financial support and basic needs, beyond loving my children unconditionally. It’s not just a core part of my identity, but perhaps the sum of my parts; I am a mother more than an educator, a runner, a daughter, sister, friend and wife. Despite my higher education in Erikson and Marcia, and admonishments to my students on oversimplifying characterization, my instinctive and immediate response to “Who am I?” is mother.

And so, five years after my divorce was finalized, I still struggle, every summer.

It is certainly easier than in 2010, when I found myself without my 3 children on a regular basis for the first time in a decade, for the first time ever. When well meaning but completely clueless friends offered laughingly “What I wouldn’t give for a break from my kids!” (word to the wise: that’s just about the worst thing you can say to a newly divorced woman, particularly one who had no choice in the matter) and experienced divorced moms, several years out,  would gently suggest to “take some time for me”. Back then I wanted to punch pretty much everyone in the face, and counted the hours, literally, until my chicks were back under my roof.

It’s easier now. If time does not heal all wounds, it at least lets them scab over.

I still dislike not seeing my children every other weekend and Tuesday nights during the academic year. I hate hearing the other class of 2018 moms talk about “only” having their children definitively home for 3 more Thanksgivings and Christmas mornings and spring breaks, and knowing that for me, as this past year was “my” year, it is only 1.  One. All the benchmarks and milestones that mothers triumphantly yet anxiously mark on the determined march to the empty nest happen to divorced mothers also, only it’s uptempo, beating twice as fast.

I have accepted it with resignation.

But the summer. The summer gets me the most.

Once upon a time, in the (singular) summer post-divorce but prior to remarriage, there was an agreement that the kids would not be away for an entire 30 day stretch. There was more flexibility then, more amicability, of working together to do what was best for the children despite the shocking circumstances of the marital dissolution. Slowly but surely, as so often happens within marriage and divorce, agreements were broken, promises forgotten, the rules changed without negotiation or even discussion.

And so it is that now, years before the expected 2022 empty nest, I find myself spending weeks at a time every summer in an empty house, off of work, with my kids 4 miles away but legally beyond my reach.

I fake it well. I make plans with my husband, with my friends. I come up with crazy fitness challenges. I run half marathons. I move. I teach summer classes and tutor and cook elaborate meals for my husband and organize every closet in the house.

I don’t say much to friends and family about how hard it is; they’ve heard it all before, and no one knows what to say anyway.  By now, it seems, I should have a better handle on this divorced mom gig.

And in so many ways, I do. I am productive, and shed very few tears, and count down the days silently, to myself.  I keep a stiff upper lip, and tell myself to suck it up, that I still have 3 healthy, beautiful kids (when so many don’t), and at least they are being well taken care of (when so many aren’t), and that, heck, in a few short years, they will not be bound by a decreed visitation schedule, and can come and go as they please (how’s that for the ultimate empty nest positive reframe?).

Generally speaking, I am proud of myself, how I handle the summers. How I handle it all. Everything. The absurdity, the ludicrosity, of my so-called life.

I just haven’t figured out yet, no matter how many miles I run, no matter how many books I read, no matter how many cakes I bake, how to feel like there isn’t a part of me, the essential part, the sum that is greater than all the other parts, gone missing without my permission or consent every summer.

Jus by Julie 3 day cleanse review

Funny story. I decided to try the Jus by Julie 3 day cleanse shortly before New Year’s Day, after seeing a former student rave about her experience on Facebook. I’ve never done a juice cleanse (I’m fairly skeptical of the notion of our body needing to be “rid” of toxins by cleansing versus day to day healthy eating and exercise), but I thought in honor of a brand new year, I’d get a little crazy. Go outside my comfort zone. I read many positive reviews on-line, and hunted for several days for the best price. I found a groupon for a hefty discount (warning: the cleanse is not cheap, but you can find many discount codes on the internet), and ordered just after New Year’s, with a delivery date for Friday, January 9th.

At that point, I had no idea just how “toxic” the first week of 2015 would be. If there was ever a time for trying any experimental voodoo, New Age, ridding of the bad spirits, no matter how farfetched, now was the time. You know what they say: the universe closes a door of stress eating and opens a window of incredibly overpriced Fed Ex-ed containers of smashed fruit and veggies.

Or something like that.

The following is my journal of the cleanse experience.

Friday 4:55pm: Arrive home from work to find a large box from Jus by Julie waiting on my doorstep. 18 bottles of brightly colored (disconcertingly so) juice are packed neatly in an insulated bag (perfect for grocery trips when I’m allowed to eat again…). I read the enclosed brochure carefully, and decide to store day 3 in the freezer, and put the other 2 in the fridge for this weekend’s consumption.

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even the dog was dubious about green juice

Saturday 6:45am: I’m up relatively early (for a weekend) to do my weekly long run. I’m a little anxious how the whole “not eating for 3 days” will work with burning over 1000 calories at the outset on a 10 mile run, but I’m sure I’ll survive (and if you’re reading this, I did). I make the decision that, cleanse or no cleanse, I still need to fuel for my 10 miles like usual. As such, I technically break the rules of my cleanse by having 2 belVita biscuits before running, and then Clif Blok Shots during my run.  I’m fairly confident that running for almost 2 hours will “flush out” both the couple hundred calories I’m ingesting, and any “toxins” from the food. I’m not counting this as cheating, but survival.

Saturday 10am: Home from my run, it’s time for my first juice! The “Morning Glory” contains:  romaine, kale, spinach, apple, celery, banana, strawberry and water. It tastes about as good as it sounds, which is to say, like a salad. It’s a little … pulpy. Jus by Julie touts itself as one of the few companies that blends the ingredients instead of pressing them, leading to a thicker, more natural, state. It’s disconcerting. The consistency mirrors the taste – I feel like I’m drinking pureed vegetables. That said, I’m able to drink it without gagging, which is saying something for me. It’s not bad, just not something I would voluntarily choose. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Saturday 12pm: There’s a window of a couple hours immediately following long runs when I’m not hungry at all; I usually have to force myself to eat post-run nutrition. So, I’m still not feeling particularly hungry, but the nausea is hitting me hard. I think it’s probably the combination of running for 2 hours, the green juice, and no solid food. I’m hoping the next juice will help. Number 2 for the day is “Spicy Lemonade“,  containing: lemon, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water. It’s okay. I’m not a big lemonade drinker, and the kick of the cayenne pepper is a little weird for me, but it’s definitely better than Morning Glory.  I give it an 8 out of 10.

Saturday 3pm: I suppose since it’s mid-afternoon, and I’ve only consumed 2 (of 6) juices, I need to drink another one. But I’m going to be honest – I’m staring down another green juice. And I don’t want to. But (big inhale. Internal pep talk. I can do this!), number 3 is “Sweet Spin“,  containing: spinach, kale, pineapple, banana, mango and water. I think the “sweet” is misleading. You know what’s sweet? Cupcakes (my kingdom for a cupcake!).  This is sweeter than the salad-in-a-bottle from this morning, but it’s not sweet. It’s palatable. As my 14 year old said, “drinkable. I guess”.  Admittedly, I’m probably a tougher critic right now, since, you know, I ran 10 miles this morning and WANT A BAGEL, but instead I’m drinking spinach and kale. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Saturday 4:45pm: The 14.46 miles I’ve covered today (according to my Garmin) is hitting. I’ve taken in roughly 500-600 calories of juice, and burned approximately eleventy gajillion calories. I want food. For some strange reason, I’m craving matzoh ball soup from a local New York deli. Instead, I’ll have juice number 4, “Chia-Berry“, containing: strawberries, chia seeds, lemon, pomegranate, and water. Finally! This is the flavor and experience I envisioned when deciding to try a juice cleanse. It tastes like a light smoothie, albeit with a slightly weird crunch from the chia seeds. It’s not enough to bother me, it’s just a little … weird. But the taste is great. I give it a 9 out of 10 (docking a point for the chia crunch).

Saturday 7:15pm: After a 2 hour nap (I think I passed out), I wake to find my wonderful husband has ordered pizza for the kids (and sleepover friend) and taken care of dinner, so that I am spared the agony experience of sitting at the dinner table, watching (and smelling) them eat food.  Even though I’m not hungry (I think my body has lost the will to eat), I know it’s time to consume juice number 5, “Choco-Nana“, containing: chocolate, banana, strawberries, and water. I’m actually pretty excited about this one – it’s not green, it has chocolate, and it’s not green. Sadly, I found it to have a weird strawberry aftertaste (and I like strawberries).  It didn’t go well with the chocolate. In the interest of fairness, I asked my husband to try it, and he agreed – the strawberry is a funky addition. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Saturday 9:15pm: The last juice sits on my nightstand as we watch a movie. I can see it’s glowing green-ness in my peripheral vision, taunting me. I know I’m supposed to drink it. I know I should drink it. But oh good GOD, I don’t want to. The last juice of the day is “X-Treme Greens” (no, I’m not making this up. It’s a green drink TO THE EXTREME), containing: kale, spinach, lime, pineapple, orange, hemp seeds, and water. It’s not bad, to be honest. It’s definitely better than Morning Glory, and I’m pretty sure it’s better than Sweet Spin, although honestly, it’s hard to tell at this point because I think my cognitive skills are compromised. It’s just that it’s the end of the day and I don’t want to drink anymore and I’m sick of juice. In the interest of full disclosure and an honest review, I’ll admit I only was able to drink about 1/3 of it. I’m tentatively giving it a 7.5 out of 10, but I’ll revisit that score tomorrow. When I have to drink it again.

Day 2

Sunday 7:45am: I’m up early to get to Trader Joe’s before the crowds hit, and pick up Dunkin Donuts for the kids. I think there’s a special place in heaven for mothers that buy their children donuts while on a juice cleanse, but I digress. I slept really well (the best I have in a long time), but I’m not sure if that’s from all those healthy nutrients, or my body going into semi-hibernation from lack of food. I’m not hungry at all, and feel empty, thin and a tad light-headed. I decide to just have a cup of coffee (allowed!), and save the “glory” of Morning Glory for when I get back. I tell my husband I would rather fast all day than drink 6 more juices. He looks sympathetic. Or maybe scared. I’m not really sure.

Sunday 9:45am: Back from the grocery and donut run, I have unloaded all the groceries, put a load of laundry in, and overseen breakfast. There’s not putting it off any longer – I have to have my first drink. I begrudgingly imbibe the Morning Glory. If I was rating it today, I would downgrade the 6 to a 5. I don’t want to drink salad. I want some oatmeal. Or eggs. Or a bagel.

Sunday 11:45am: At nearly halfway through the day, I’m still not feeling hungry, but I do miss eating. I thought doing the majority of the cleanse on a weekend instead of a work day was wiser, since I’m a teacher and my children and husband might be more forgiving than my students of any food-deprived rage outbursts, but the downside is that I’m around food all day, and less busy. I’ve avoided the nausea and headaches, but I still feel light-headed and somewhat weak. Today’s second juice is “Spicy Pome-nade”, containing: pomegranate, lemon, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water. It’s not green, so that right there earns points.  It’s fine – it tastes like a regular juice, with the exception of the weird spiciness from the cayenne pepper (similar to yesterday’s lemonade).  I’m sure there’s a physiological benefit to the cayenne pepper, but taste-wise, it’s not helpful. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Sunday 1:15pm: Time for another “Sweet Spin”. Mood: dour.

Sunday 3:15pm: Juice 4 is, again, “Chia-Berry”. I know I like it (ish), but I’m surprised at the lack of variety, given how many flavors they have on their website. I guess better safe than sorry (at least I know what I’m in for), but it seems like a more diversified cleanse could have been sent, given what is available. Or maybe I’m just bitter because my husband and son are snacking on chips and popcorn and mexican dip while watching the Cowboys game, while I’m drinking juice. Again. Also? My sense of smell, normally strong, has taken on superhuman proportions. I thought I was weird until I googled it, and apparently it’s not unusual during a juice cleanse. Perhaps when your taste buds die, all their power goes to the nostrils.

Sunday 6:15pm: Unlike last night’s pizza-nap combo, tonight I have to make dinner for the family (and I suppose I should sit with them as well). Fortunately, Juice 5 is the one that looks the most appealing to me in the entire cleanse, “Not So Chunky“, containing: peanut butter, banana and water. C’mon, I HAVE to like this one. Peanut butter? Good. Banana? Good. Water? Sure. Tragically, it was a tremendous letdown. It tasted like watery peanut banana mush.  Just … not appealing. I give it a 7 out of 10, with extra cranky deductions for getting my hopes up.

Sunday 8:10pm: Watching the Golden Globes, my husband has a beer and some Pepperidge Farm cookies; it’s time for me to drink the last juice of the day, another X-Treme Greens (again, could we not mix this cleanse up more? There’s a LOT more than 10 flavors on the website). Half curious, half empathetic, my daughter decides to try a sip.

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She’s not a fan. I do manage to finish the entire bottle this time (unlike last night’s 1/3 consumption).

Day 3

Monday 5:50am: The last day of the cleanse! Hoping that the euphoria of the cleanse being almost done carries me through the challenge of teaching. I slept well again last night, although I had very weird and vivid dreams. I’m not hungry at all – I wake up feeling empty and light. I’ve been asked by several people if I’ve suffered from typical “cleanse” symptoms like nausea, headaches, stomach pains, and I can honestly say that with the exception of a rough patch on Saturday (which I chalk up to the 10 miles with no recovery food), I’ve physically felt better than I *thought* I would. I decide to interpret that phenomenon as validation that I am usually a rock star healthy eater, and my body is not unduly shocked by the cleanse.

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With that said, I’m a bit nervous about teaching all day with this to sustain me for 9 hours.

Monday 8:15am: I drink my third, and final,  Morning Glory. I tell myself that it is the last time I ever have to drink one, and it goes down more easily than the previous two days. I can confidently, and happily, say I will never drink this concoction again. My morning 2 blocks are prep periods, so no physical or mental exertion yet.

Monday 10:15am: Juice number 2 today is, again, “Spicy Pom-enade”. Not offensive, but not exciting. I am noticing that it’s harder for me to sustain concentration – I find myself having to re-read the same sentence as I prepare for class. I’m not hungry, but I’m not feeling wonderful, that’s for sure.

Monday 12:15pm: the only good thing I can say about having to drink another “Sweet Spin” is that I had to drink it while doing grade checks with my advisees, so I was distracted from the fact that I was, again, drinking a green juice.

Monday 2:45pm: As I taught 3rd and 4th blocks, I sipped my way through juice #4, “Acai Blend“, containing: acai berries, strawberries, banana and water. Not as good as “Chia Berry”, which is weird, because you would think with the ingredients and without the seed “crunch”, it would be even better. But it had a weird consistency that didn’t match the flavor – a thick pulpiness with seeds, only not crunchy seeds. It’s hard to explain, but I didn’t like it. I give it an 8 out of 10. But I do congratulate myself on still acting peppy and kind (I think) to my students, even though I’m so. sick. of. this. cleanse.

Monday 4:45pm: Home. For the first time since Saturday, I feel negative physical effects from the cleanse.  Working all day after not eating since Friday has left me hungry, weak, and slightly nauseous and head-achy.  I’m over it. Two more juices and then tomorrow I get oatmeal. And matzoh ball soup. I’m having both, I don’t care if I do have to leave campus for lunch.

Monday 6:15pm: Oh good, “Island Coconut“, containing: coconut meat, date, cinnamon and water. Considering that I don’t like coconut, not even with rum in it, I’m not enthusiastic. It tastes better than I anticipated (you know what they say – expectation is the root of all heartache), and it’s not quite as painful to sit with my family at the dinner table as it was last night. I give it a 9 out of 10.

Monday 8:30pm: I briefly contemplate skipping the last installment of “X-Treme Greens”, but decide that I’ve made it this far, it’s the last one, and I want my review of the cleanse to have the fewest holes in authenticity as possible. I chug 2/3 of it before bed.

Tuesday morning: I did it! I finished the cleanse! With the exception of my 10 mile fuel on Saturday morning, I followed the rules. I did not eat anything, only drank 1-2 cups of coffee in the morning (sans sweetener, which I never use anyway), and consumed nearly all of the 18 juices.

I took before and after photos to see if there would be a visible change. Photos on the left were taken Saturday morning before my run, photos on the right were taken this morning, upon finishing the cleanse. Same time of day, same clothes, same lighting/room.

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I don’t think you can see it in the photos, but my skin does look better.

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Less bloated? I can’t tell. I don’t think so.

Jus by Julie 3 day cleanse review:

The good:

  • My skin does look better.  I normally battle rosacea on my nose, and I have noticed less redness than usual. My skin looks younger and brighter. I don’t think you can tell in the pictures above, but I see it.
  • Weight loss: 3 pounds.  I did not do this cleanse to lose weight (juice cleanses are not an effective weight loss tool, since it’s mostly water weight loss), since I’m a healthy weight to begin with, but I did lose the few pounds I gained over the holidays. Through my unofficial internet research, I see that my weight loss is in the realm of average (most people seem to lose 2-4 pounds on a 3 day cleanse).
  • Kicked my sweet tooth. While I’m normally a very healthy, clean eater to begin with, I got in the habit over the holidays of eating dessert again, drinking alcohol, and grazing more than usual. I do feel this was a “reset”.  I have no cravings for sweets or alcohol – my strongest cravings for today are oatmeal and matzoh ball soup!
  • Very minimal physical side effects. I really didn’t have much discomfort, or even hunger, on this cleanse. I was rarely hungry, and with the exception of a few bouts of mild nausea, one or two short-lived headaches, and some weariness (but I did run 10 miles. And I’m usually tired after working.), it wasn’t anything overly taxing or uncomfortable. I expected some bathroom issues or stomach pains, but there was none. I take this to mean that my system wasn’t that “dirty” to begin with.

The bad

  • I missed eating. A lot. You don’t realize how emotional food is (or maybe you do) until you can’t do it at all. It was really hard to prepare food for my family and grocery shop while not being able to eat. Again, I wasn’t really that hungry, I just missed the enjoyment of eating.
  • Limited variety of juices. I don’t understand why my cleanse contained so little diversity in flavors when there are so many on the website. I had to drink the same 3 green juices every single day, with little rotation in the fruity juices.
  • The cost. The cleanse is not cheap, even with the discount.
  • Drinking all the time. It was hard to consume that much juice. I live by the mantra “don’t drink your calories”, so my usual diet consists almost solely of plain water, sparkly water, or coffee. Suddenly I had to drink thick liquid every 2 hours. Which brings me to …

The ugly

  • The taste. Okay, let me say at the outset (and hopefully reduce the chances of Jus by Julie coming after me with a lawsuit) that I am a notoriously picky eater. My palate is narrow, to say the least. So, take this part of the review with a grain of salt. But I did not enjoy the juices.

Will I do a juice cleanse again? Well, never say never, but I don’t foresee a 3 day Jus by Julie cleanse again. I really wanted to feel totally awesome today – clean, light, magical. And I do feel pretty darn euphoric, but I think that’s the oatmeal endorphins rather than the cleanse.