Tuesday, April 30, 2013

voracious vertigo

lately i've been dealing with sporadic bouts of extreme vertigo followed by very uncomfortable panic attacks, which happen in a sort of feedback loop that make me feel basically like i'm dying. not fun! It's been going on for some time now, but getting worse and worse. I finally sat down and thought about it and realized that it began when i started using protopic for an annoying skin condition. upon actually reading the indications and possible side effects, i found that "dizziness and increased heart rate" listed among the more uncommon possibilities. looks like i'm uncommon.

anyway, once i realized this it became clear - i needed to quit using this stuff and improve my diet so that i won't need it in the first place. I've been meaning to try juice fasting for several years now and this seemed like the perfect time to take a few days off and do it. Even though i quit using protopic over a week ago, the side effects have not completely left me (although it's much less severe). I figured not eating for a few days would help my body purge the remaining medication from my system. ideally, one eats a raw vegan diet for the two days before and two days after a fast such as this, but i didn't have this luxury for my first two days. we'll see how that affects this process. I have the stuff now to close out this adventure with a few vegan meals, but not all of it will be raw. the three days in between will be all juice, tea and water.

I'm using the 3-day reboot plan from rebootwithjoe.com - this website used to be kind of broken and the sales pitch was pretty hard. you had to really use your web-fu to get the information you needed without paying for it. thankfully they've updated the site and now all of the free information is easily available. the paid services are still offered, but you don't feel quite so much like you're at a mall kiosk getting the old israeli hard sell tactics foisted on you.

this site definitely has the most useful and best organized information for juice fasting. their plans come in pdf form, with simple instructions and a shopping list. here's the obligatory before picture, with me looking overweight, unshaven and miserable:

1pm: day 1 starts with 2 cups of hot lemon ginger tea. I added a little honey because I'm a rebel. i'm looking forward to this experience. right now i'm pretty motivated and feel pretty good. i just hope i can make it through once food cravings start. I haven't practiced much (if any) self control over the past 10 years, and this might get kind of rough. this will also be the first time in 10 years that i voluntarily go more than 6 days without drinking a beer.

 245pm: i go orange with carrot apple lemon juice. i forgot to take a picture, but i'm sure i'll make this again. it's pretty good. no food craving so far. i think being home helps a lot since i tend to compulsively eat at work. i've always eaten when i was bored, even when i was a kid. this was never a problem until 9-5 sedentary bullshit began to take over my life.

 333pm: starting to feel a little wierd. not hungry yet, just odd. i think my body is trying to decide whether or not to punish me for this.

 340pm: i just realized that with my normal sleep/wake schedule, i should be consuming something every 1.5 hours according to this plan. I'm comforted by this rather tiny interval. I'm going for a walk now with my roomate's dog.

415pm: according to the plan i should drink some coconut water, but i don't have any so i go green with apple-cucumber-kale-parsley juice. i once again forget to take a picture. it just tastes like apple and cucumber as our juicer doesn't do a very good job with the parsley. i definitely prefer the spicier juices, but this one was big and filling. my roomate's taco bell smells really good, and i don't even like taco bell.

430pm: the trots!

545pm: green again, this time kale-spinach-apple-cucumber-celery-lemon. this is more like it! it's sour, savory, and kind of salty. my kind of juice. something left a bit of grit at the bottom of the juice. guess i should wash this stuff better beforehand. surprisingly, my cravings for food are so far minimal at best. i feel full and satisfied. it's probably a good thing that i'm basically alone without any of my usual eating triggers to deal with, and without having to watch anyone else eat delicious stuff.

610pm: trotsky!

615pm: false alarm. something in that last juice has made my tongue feel really wierd.

645pm: hunger. it is here. i should probably do something, such as my scheduled exercises.

745pm: red! i've been looking forward to this all day. apple-carrot-beet-ginger-beet green-spinach. this is like drinking infant blood, if that were something that would be really awesome. spicy and savory. i just wish there was more! still sandy at the bottom though. I'm starting to think it's the "washed" spinach i'm using.

the cut beet made a heart on the cutting board. a heart beet! awww

755pm: i'm still not "hungry" per se, but i definitely want some of my usual comfort foods. so far i think i can handle saying no.

758pm: had to help my roommate make a reese's chocolate shake. stop testing me damn it! THIS IS NOT THE TEMPTATION OF ST ANTHONY, IT IS A FUCKING JUICE FAST! LET UP A LITTLE!

i tried making a collage with the horse from dali's temptation holding a burrito and a shake, but it was making me hungry.

818pm: actually starting to deal with waves of hunger. might have to make an extra juice if i can't make it to 915.

915: had tea to tide me over. surprisingly it helped a lot. my gf is cooking a pizza of course. this will be difficult. next i'm having kale-cucumber-celery-apple-lime-ginger. pretty good, but surprisingly better with the lemon than with lime. i added the rest of the parsley for the hell of it.

938pm: still not really hungry, but i definitely want some pizza.

1038pm: found two tiny square pepperonis from my gfs pizza. my will broke and i ate them. they were delicious.

1045pm: for "dessert", we're supposed to go purple. i didn't notice that all of the purple recipes call for blueberries, which i bought frozen because they're like $5 a pint fresh.

i was not about to drop $20 on blueberries for this. mint and basil were also needed for a few of these recipes, but the $3-$4 bunches of each were so pathetic that i didn't bother.

i'm having sweet potato-pear-apple-blueberry. hopefully the blueberries have thawed enough to produce some juice. i'll be sure to leave some out so i'm ready tomorrow.

1046: berries frozen solid. substituting watermelon. this was good, but not so great. this is probably because sweet is not one of my favorite things. the recipe for this was also way, way off, as have been a couple of the others. i'd expect about 32 oz of juice per recipe, so i juiced everything but the watermelon and stopped at 32 oz. one of the recipes calls for 1/4 watermelon, which is probably about 64oz of juice by itself! i used less of just about everything for this one. definitely not my favorite - sweet and thick. i just hope it keeps me from waking up in the middle of the night starving.

lastly i'll have some tea and more water and hope this doesn't make me wet the bed.

1209am: getting ready for bed. had some cravings but they've subsided. I expected to feel really hungry and crappy by now, but i feel sated and awake. we'll see what happens tomorrow.


felt pretty good all yesterday and didn't want to jinx it by saying so. I didn't experience any of the typical panicky symptoms until the end of the night when i was trying to sleep. i always get really hot as soon as i close my eyes, so it's even more annoying when i feel like i'm having a mild heart attack and cant breathe very well.

also, what is it with the body triggering the itch response as you fall asleep? why does the body resist sleep in this way? WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THE BODY?

i also discovered today that the shopping list on the reboot plan is way, way off. i have too much of some things and ran out of the others by the end of day 1. i guess the intent here is that you'll go shopping every day, which i'd be fine with if the only store that carries all this crap wasn't 4 miles away in 100 degree heat. this necessitates using a car for the shopping, which is something i try to avoid. I have to make a trip to the library anyway, so whatever. but i swear i'm not driving anywhere tomorrow.

115pm: lemon ginger tea again. i skipped the honey this time. i will not skip it again.

137pm: i'm preparing orange-beet-carrot juice for my orange breakfast. today i'll take some pictures of what this stuff looks like after it's been decimated by an electric motor.

this stuff tasted ok at first, but left a bitter, poisonous aftertaste that got worse as it lingered. it coated my tongue and made me feel naseous. i ate a piece of watermelon to help clear it out. guess i should have peeled the oranges - that's the only thing that could make such a vile taste. it would have been more cost effective (and easier) to just add carrot and beet juice to a glass of oj, or just squeeze the oranges into the carrot beet juice.

347pm: running errands completely screwed my 1.5 hr schedule. i got some coconut water since i figured it would be easier than making juice, but i think juice would be better.

coco water is great but it's not helping me feel less hungry. being at the grocery store is a terrible idea during this process. i wanted to eat everything in sight. hell, being anywhere except in my room makes me want to do that. even the kitchen is a tough place to be. i just have to stay occupied with other things like dealing with the bureaucracy of my insurance company. so far, day 2 sucks, but i don't feel as bad as i expected.

on insurance: a "free wellness visit/physical" in which the doctor didn't even touch me and sent me to get blood work instead just cost me $73.05. the insurance company could not explain with any sort of clarity why this is. after talking in circles with an associate and a supervisor for 20 minutes i did what any good drone does and gave up. the insurance industry, particularly when it comes to health insurance, is one of the biggest and most obvious rackets in the united states today. will these people be prosecuted for their blatant racketeering, not to mention the suffering they inflict on their fellow countrymen?

not a fucking chance.

437pm: going green again with kale-spinach-apple-cucumber-celery-lemon. this stuff is fucking disgusting. i'm starting to think that the bitter poison taste is me, not the juice. i used a whole lemon in this yesterday and it did not taste this awful. guess i'll peel it next time and see if there's a difference. this recipe made about 32 oz of juice. way too much for how bad it tastes right now.

504pm: choking down the rest of the last juice and hoping i don't vom. i'm officially starting to feel like shit. i think i'm going to lay down.

612: time to go red with apple-beet-ginger-green-carrot. no pictures. i want to die. well, not really. i just want a cheeseburger or something. definitely feeling like crap right about now.

637: just finished juicing and cleaning up. juicing is definitely faster than cooking and eating. one thing i did not expect, and that no one has ever mentioned in any of the research i've done regarding juice fasting, is that on day two, everything tastes like shit. the juice i just had was by far my favorite from yesterday, and today it just tasted like dirt. bitter, nasty dirt. i've also been washing everything really well and there is still a fine grit at the bottom of every juice, leading me to begin dumping the last sip instead of drinking it. my tongue feels like someone glued something to it, and this bitter taste just will not go away.

640: ugh.

815: green. disgusting.

941: laying around feeling awful. it's not really bad, i've had worse hangovers, but i just have no motivation to do anything at all. i'm not really hungry, not really craving anything, but those things are in the back of my mind. i'm sick of the way tv shows start out interesting but then get ruined with romance and conflict. why does everyone like this shit so much? why can't a show just be interesting, and leave it at that?

943: we're supposed to have something purple or orange. the purple recipes all look incredibly vile. hopefully carrot apple ginger won't taste as nasty as everything else today.

956: not terrible, but not as good as it was on day one. at least i didn't feel like i was drinking poison. i also realized that i didn't weigh myself on day one. not a big deal since i'm not doing this for weight loss, but for posterity's sake we'll mention that i've been steady between 185-190 for quite some time now. i don't expect to drop below that permanently until i can start walking more. i've considered the treadmill, as lame as it seems. as much as i enjoy walking to work and back, i just can't do the 100 degree shuffle this summer. the food cravings are much, much easier to resist at the moment, i guess due to the fact that i'm actually taking in nutrients rather than delicious empty macronutrient calories. i haven't had the familiar spike/drop in blood sugar that causes me to shake and go for the nearest thing - flamin hot cheetos, mcdonalds, whatever. i want them, but it's been much easier to say no than i thought it would be. adding juicing to my daily routine should help a lot with this, but it's really more a matter of time than anything else. i don't eat bad food just because i like it, i usually wind up eating it because i don't have time for anything else. i'm always on the fucking road or rushing back to my desk from a break or running some ridiculous errand. this, more than anything, contributes to my poor diet. i'm a step ahead of most because i actually like healthy food. the problem is finding the time and money to eat it.

1157pm: feeling a lot less awful. symptoms that i described from the medication seem to be almost gone. i've gotten a few flashes of anxiety and dizziness but my heart rate has stayed in check. i mostly just want a burger or something. i'm having the end of the day tea now and hope that i'll be able to sleep with this feeling of mild hunger. usually it keeps me up but i'm over halfway there now and can't quit. the skin symptoms i was using the stuff for in the first place (dryness and itching) are there, but not as bad as it used to be. my skin looks really dry in the morning but it lessens throughout the day. i don't expect three days of juice to take care of that but i hope that it helps to begin the process. i'm really hoping that by this time next week the side effects from the medicine will just be a crappy memory.


221pm: i was wide awake last night since i had been laying in bed all day. The plan recommends stopping all non prescription medication before and during the fast, but i'd rather sleep than lay awake all night feeling crappy and hungry.i had to take a ton of pills to get to sleep.  as a result i slept much later than i intended. i don't feel as crappy, and my tongue doesn't feel mossy anymore. we'll see if that returns when i have juice after this lemon ginger tea. I weighed myself out of curiosity and found that as of 2pm im at 172. that was pretty shocking - that means that i lost between 8-18 pounds in two days, given room for the +/-5 that i'm always fluctuating between anyway. I don't think i look any different, but we'll see with the after photo tomorrow and a final weigh in.

i also had some mild symptoms last night when trying to sleep. my heart rate was normal, but it was beating so hard i could hear it in my ears. breathing felt odd. i attribute this more to the 6 hylands calms forte, 6 hylands insomnia and 3 melatonin i had to take in order to sleep than to side effects from the protopic. my skin looks better than it did yesterday morning, but is still dry in patches.

245: having a lot of trouble focusing. i'm going to make carrot apple lemon juice and hope it doesn't make me want to barf.

301: it was actually really good. I used a lime instead of a lemon and i was sure to fully peel it this time.

330: i started to feel cold and shaky so i had my next serving of swill early. coconut water tastes much better today.

411pm: green. kale-spinach-apple-cucumber-celery-lemon. not great, but tolerable. i completely peeled the lemon and made sure to use less cucumber than is recommended. my tongue finally feels normal! thank god.

431: i got to thinking about how inaccurate the shopping list and parts of the recipes are, so i'll share my findings below.

shopping list on 3 day reboot pdf, with my notes next to each ingredient:

1 bunch basil (too expensive for such a small amount, i skipped this)
1 bunch mint (same as above)
1 bunch parsley (centrifugal ejection juicers like mine don't make much juice from parsley. it comes out looking much like it went in, and doesn't change the flavor of the juice. I'd skip this next time.)
1 gingeroot (i like ginger, so probably wound up using 3 1"x1" pieces per day.)
cinnamon for your pantry (no idea why they describe it as "for your pantry". it's only used in one recipe, which i didn't like. no need to buy this.)

12 apples, green or other (it's tough to buy a dozen apples. they come by the pound for too much money, or in bags of 8 or 9 for about $4. i will wind up using about 18 small apples by the time i'm finished. go for bags of small apples - the big ones make too much juice and aren't worth the money unless you're going to enjoy them on their own.)
3 oranges (I made one of the two recipes calling for oranges and was not impressed. I won't make it again, since as i mentioned you might as well just mix some bottled oj with fresh carrot and apple juice, or simply squeeze the oranges by hand for a cheaper, easier solution.)
3 lemons (again, this amount is purely fictional. you'll need at least 4, i think i'll have used 5 by the time this is done.)
2 limes (only one recipe calls for lime, and it uses basil. i could have skipped the limes altogether, but i like them. they're also going to be great for the jicama watermelon feta salad i'm planning for my first solid food meal tomorrow.)
2 peaches or pears (be sure to get hard, unripe pears. organic peaches were either too expensive or unavailable, and the pears i got were too soft and made kind of a puree. the recipe that used them was gross anyway. i'll skip these next time.)
1 small watermelon, or half a watermelon (i wound up getting a 2 pack of personal seedless watermelons from costco, only to find that two of the same melon would have been 1$ less at the grocer. that's how they get you! I actually only needed one personal watermelon for this whole deal, so 1/4 of a whole watermelon would have been more than enough.)
1 bunch of grapes (i haven't used these at all. also, grapes are sold by the pound in large bags - be careful with this as it's a total rip off. one of those bags costs about $7, so be sure to take some out and stuff them into another bag for the next sucker. no one ever eats a whole bag of grapes anyway. i think i got about $2 worth and the one recipe that calls for them calls for overpriced herbs so i'll just wind up eating them as a snack. i could have skipped these as well).
2 baskets of blueberries (fuck off! I'm comfortable, but not wealthy by any means. fresh, out of season berries are not something i'm willing to pay through the nose for. I got a giant bag of frozen blueberries from costco since i can use them for smoothies and they won't go bad. I didn't even wind up using the ones i thawed out. blueberries are nice, but not necessary to get through this.)

15 large carrots (this is way off. i got a 5lb bag of baby carrots so i wouldnt have to fuck around prepping them. I'll probably have used about 4lbs by the time i'm done, which is equivalent to far more than 15 carrots.)
1 bunch of kale/Australian Tuscan cabbage, or other green (this is also pure fantasy. the bulk of these recipes kall for kale (see what i did there?), and 1 bunch consists of 8-10 leaves. each kale recipe calls for 6-8 leaves, meaning you're using more than half a bunch at a time. make this three bunches and you'll be good to go.)
1 small bunch spinach (don't fuck around with bunched spinach. it's always covered in sand and soaking wet, it rots too quickly and it's a pain. i'll wind up using 2.5-3 half ounce boxes of washed salad spinach, shown below.)

4 cucumbers (jointhereboot.com's idea of a cucumber must be much smaller than the cucumbers i'm used to. each time i used a full sized cucumber, it made too much juice and killed the other flavors a bit. plus, cucumber is in all of the green juice recipes. considering that you drink 3 green juices a day, 4 is once again a completely oddball number to recommend. I bought extra cucumbers on day 2, having already bought a 3 pack of giant english cucumbers from costco. i realized that cutting that three pack into thirds would have given me 9 appropriate size cucumber pieces, plenty for all three days. if you're using the normal cucumbers you find at the store, cut them in half. that will make plenty of juice.)
1 bunch celery (surprisingly accurate! 1 bunch should last all three days with a little bit leftover.)
4 beets (i got a bunch of 4 small beets with tops. i got extra on day 2 since i liked the beet recipe from day 1 so much, but will probably use 5 beets at most for all three days. I'd definitely recommend getting smaller beets with the tops on, since they'll cost less than buying by the pound and the greens have plenty of that crazy red beet stuff in them.)
1 sweet potato (i got two for some reason, and the one recipe that calls for sweet potato sucked. i'll skip this completely next time, since they don't make much juice and don't really add any flavor.)

another note here, this time about refrigeration: every refrigerator i've had in san antonio has the strange ability to freeze veggies while leaving everything else alone. try to get everything into the crisper drawers or keep them at the front of the middle shelf. anytime i forget to do this, veggies like cucumbers, watermelon, tomato, and sometimes even carrots will be frozen solid. not great for juicing, and unfit for eating plain. it's one of the biggest challenges to eating fresh veggies here. i also have to keep my greens in special bags lest they instantly wilt when placed into the fridge.

I'm also curious as to the total cost of this adventure. i tossed my receipts, but looking back over the list, i'd estimate that i spent about $85 on the shopping list above. having gone through it and knowing now what i need and don't need, i could probably do this for around $55. doing it properly and making sure to have raw vegan meals for the 2 days preceding and following would probably bring it back up to about $75. seems like a lot, but not so bad considering the monetary and mental costs of feeling sick all the time. it's likely that i'll be able to add a juice to my daily routine without adding much to my overall weekly grocery budget, and entirely feasible that i could do a 3 day juice fast once a month. so far today i'm feeling pretty good, so if i could do days 1 and 2 on my days off, day 3 could be done at work if i find a few juice recipes that store well in the fridge over the course of the day.

529: i feel remarkably normal. no cravings, not really hungry, and my mind is working at it's normal state of spacy focus. guess i'll pick up the house a bit.

545: red. apple-beet-carrot-ginger-spinach. better than yesterday, but not as incredibly awesome as on day 1. maybe i need to use more ginger. i peeled the beet this time which reduced the bitterness, but it still tasted kind of like dirt. I can't figure out why it was so good on day 1, but now is just sort of meh. I think i'm going to be using a lot more cilantro and lime next time i do this. cilantro, lime, and ginger usually make veggie juice pretty tasty.

609pm: the cat will not leave me alone. every time i get up he just stands by his food and looks at me.

636: reading weirdcraft issue 3 which can be found here. i feel kind of wierd and vaguely dizzy at times. not nearly as bad as last week, but i'm starting to think that this is related to something other than protopic, which exacerbated it. it could be from taking melatonin every day for a few years. the lame thing is, being able to sleep without it and stay within my designated work and life schedule will require some really difficult changes and a lot of sleepless nights. my sleep cycle is a topic for another day though.

715: green. celery-apple-ginger-lemon-cucumber-kale. peeling the citrus is definitely a must. this still was not very good, but it was tolerable. i'm looking forward to eating regular food tomorrow, but i'm surprised at the vagueness of my cravings. the first things that come to mind are cheeseburgers, chinese food and pizza, although when i think about it, i don't really want any of those things. i'm going to make a watermelon jicama salad, i know that much. probably some russian beet salad with the leftover beets and some potato mushroom saute. I'll probably be out and about so it's anyone's guess what i'll wind up having to eat.

837: roomate returns home with mcdonalds. the thought of eating it is not a pleasant one, but my body is starting to rebel and try to get me to eat. i really can't wait til tomorrow. my mind is reeling with attempts to rationalize breaking the fast tonight rather than tomorrow.

844: orange-carrot-apple-ginger-lemon. i'm going crazy and combining two recipes. what a hoot. this was actually really good. i substituted lime for lemon. slightly less hungry now, but with the end in sight, this tortoise might be stopping off before the finish line for a snack. my body just might win this one.

910: in an effort to stop thinking about delicious food i bend the rules a little and have some camaronazo. hey, it's juice, right?

in case you don't have this fine beverage in your region, it's a tomato shrimp cocktail. it's the shrimpy cousin of the clam version, clamato. both are delicious, especially with beer or vodka.

sadly, no images of people partying on the beach with clamato. but the above recipe looks tasty - i never thought of putting maggi seasoning in a michelada. it might be the most tasty thing ever. sadly, most people i know don't understand the beauty of a salty, tomatoey seafood beverage. this is the look i usually get when i talk about it:

(she's holding a bud light/clamato michelada)

1052pm: at 945 i should have had some tea, so i'm going to have it now. I'm made up my mind to eat something after midnight. i know - it's a pathetic rationalization, but at midnight day three is officially over. I made some beet salad and I'll probably have a sandwich. nothing too extravagant, but it's going to be fucking awesome.

1141pm: day three was by far the worst as far as hunger goes. I'm cooking now so i can eat right at midnight. it's possible that an extra juice could have helped, but in the future i'll be planning to up the juice intake on day 3 by two or three juices. i've been hungry all day and i'm fucking starving right now. i weighed in at 176 today, so i effectively dropped 10 pounds in two days. i don't really look or feel different as far as my physique, and keeping the weight off will require a permanent change in diet and more walking. this experiment has definitely given me the motivation to do both.

12am: dinner! thank god its over.

now for the after shot where i'm tanned, airbrushed, and juiced up for the photo shoot.

ok not really.