warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Give It Up: The Juicy Details Of A Cleanse

Marisa Zocco |
April 30, 2015 | 4:58 p.m. PDT



If you’ve ever told someone you’re going to give up on something, you know the concept is generally frowned upon. We don’t just give up on things. We are not brought up thinking quitters are admirable people. 

But there are times that giving up can be immensely brave and even physically beneficial.

Take, for example, giving up on your gut. 

That’s what I did this month when I gave up all solid food for seven days and then embarked on a month of vegetarianism and no caffeine.

It was all set into motion when I looked at the number on the gym scale and saw it teetering 10 whole pounds above my maximum “acceptable” weight. But it wasn’t about the pounds, as much as the feeling in my body and the addiction I had to nutritionally poor foods.

Turns out that a double-major schedule, plus car accident injuries, minus a car or the ability to work out due to accident-related pain equals $990 spent on grab-and-go food over a 16-week period of time. It also adds up to—not surprisingly—more than 10 pounds of extra weight.

By the time the end of March rolled around and I saw the dreaded number displayed on the scale, I immediately got hungry for some comforting crap food like pizza, McDonalds or a white Mocha from Starbucks. 

I craved only the junk. I knew something had to change. 

I had a huge desire to go on a juice cleanse. I’d done them before and they had yielded what I felt were great energetic and physical results. 

The idea was that by putting only fresh homemade juice in my body, I would take in maximum nutrients from fruits and vegetables, resetting my system to desire healthier foods. Ultimately, by the end of seven days, I would crave next to nothing. If I was craving foods at the end of the period I had allotted, I planned on extending my cleanse.

I blogged about my juicing experience on GiveItUpPress, but basically, the desires to consume something warm and to chew were the strongest cravings. These are easily curbed.

On the fast, I began every day with warm water and lemon which was, I dare say, more effective than coffee in rousing my mind in the mornings. I made herbal teas to drink when in need of inner warmth and I made broths from cut up fresh vegetables and veggie scraps from my green juices when I wanted something warm to pour over my tongue.

As for satisfying the desire to chew—that one’s just not pretty. I’ll admit openly that on an evening that I attended a pizza party, I brought a couple of slices home just to chew them and spit them out. That’s how strong the desire to chew becomes for me. It’s happened every time I have juiced. There’s no way to remedy it and gum just doesn’t do the trick.

Veggie Girl

A Lacto-ovotarian breakfast: roasted carrots surround an egg baked inside a hollowed and seasoned tomato. (Marisa Zocco / Neon Tommy)
A Lacto-ovotarian breakfast: roasted carrots surround an egg baked inside a hollowed and seasoned tomato. (Marisa Zocco / Neon Tommy)
After the cleanse, I made a few personal adjustments to the vegetarian diet I had decided to adopt. 

I’m actually what would be called a pesce-lacto-ovotarian. Which means I allow myself to eat fish, dairy and eggs. 

So far I’ve had cravings for fish once. I’ve eaten an egg or two maybe a handful of times, and I’ve been eating Greek yogurt as a source of protein. Other than that I’ve had little difficulty steering away from these items. I eat them when I crave them because I feel a craving indicates a need for a particular nutrient. 

Deciphering between a craving need versus a craving want can be a little tricky, but after doing a juice fast it becomes a little more clear. Paying attention to other cravings in addition to the strongest and looking at the intake of the craved product can be a good measure. 

For instance, the other day I was in 7-11, stopping in for a water after a strenuous hike, and for a moment thought that I was craving a hot dog. I was disappointed because I was worried I was lacking protein and thus craving meat. Maybe the vegetarian lifestyle wasn’t compatible with my body. 

Taking a moment to pause, I realized it was the smell of raw onion that caught my attention and took my mind to the flavor of a hot dog. Not for the meat, but for the combination of onion, relish (sugar), ketchup (lycopene), and the tang of mustard. I also wanted the bun--a carbohydrate loaded, non-nutritional casing for all of that flavor. My hike was causing my body to ask for carbohydrate energy. 

On the other hand, there are those cravings that are good for nothing but temptation. Like chocolate. Re-introducing chocolate into my life was just stupid. I want it all the time and it opens doors to the desire for all sorts of sugary “cravings,” when, aside from fruit, my body needs processed sugars like one more lump of cellulite on my thigh.

Speaking of things that open the door to temptation and resuming bad habits, I also changed my resolution to not drink coffee. 

I originally called it a caffeine-free month. But it’s not fully because I consumed a few sodas (which by the way are actually not particularly good, but rather drinking them is an old habit. Also, they burn my throat a little—I never noticed this).

So I can'tclaim to have lived a caffeine-free lifestyle. I can’t even say I’ve lived coffee-free, actually. I discovered a great little trick and almost leaped for joy when I did. 

There is something called decaf. 

Amid the addiction to my quad-shot lattes from Starbucks, I forgot that coffee is still enjoyable when not mud thick, sugar-loaded and ready to help me electrocute people to death with my caffeine buzz. So I’m really living a greatly caffeine-reduced lifestyle with decaf coffee, a milk of my choice (almond-coconut is a favorite) and some raw sugar or honey in it about once a week.

Aside from all that, I reallly just can't get enough vegetables. And when I began the juicing I found that the green juice I once dreaded having to smell, nonetheless drink every day, was something that I actually looked forward to in terms of flavor and feeling.

Green Energy

The contents of a typical lunch juice while on my juice fast. (Marisa Zocco / Neon Tommy)
The contents of a typical lunch juice while on my juice fast. (Marisa Zocco / Neon Tommy)
Speaking of feeling, I’m doing great on a number of different fronts. 

I’ve been sleeping like a baby when previously light coming from beneath a door used to wake me because I was so up-tight with stress. These days my head hits the pillow and I wake up in the same position in which I fell asleep. The new sleeping pattern began the day I started juicing.

I can’t stop moving. And not in a fidgety way, but in the way that when working out, I am not at all easily fatigued. 

I feel lighter. And I am. By 10 pounds and a couple of inches in the waist and bust, the last I checked. Workouts feel like less of a hassle and seeing results quickly adds to the motivational factor.

I’ve been motivated, or shall I say I’ve discovered a new balance. But that’s really what this is all about anyway. 

The most pleasurable thing that I’m finding in this habit of detaching from things on a regular basis, is that when we give something up, we gain something new, and bigger.

For me, the largest realization with this juice fast and new eating lifestyle, is that the self and its wellness are what is most important in life. It isn’t about striving for absolute perfection, but about doing your best while still maintaining your sanity and well-being. 

By focusing on goals one day at a time in terms of listening to my body and its needs nutrition- and activity-wise, I’m more regularly in the moment than usual. 

As my clothes loosen and my body lightens with this new diet and lifestyle spurred by a simple seven-day juice fast, so does my soul. And that’s pretty much the coolest thing, ever.


Contact Columnist Marisa Zocco herefollow her on Twitter here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.