The title of this blog was inspired by the Smashing Pumpkins song of the same name, used in the trailer of Watchmenwhich is an alternate version of the more well-known “The End is the Beginning is the End” which was written for Batman & Robin (and no, I won’t link to anything done by Joel Fucking Schumacher). I like the slower version of the song better.

Here’s the TL/DR version, as is my wont: The juice fast is over, for unexpected medical reasons. Over the course of 7.5 days, I lost more than 12 pounds and more than 10 inches. But in the end, the fast had the most important impact it was designed to: it changed the way I look at food on a fundamental level. So I’ll be eating even healthier than I was before, with my experience over the last week to guide me.

At about 1:15am today, I woke up with massive stomach cramps. I’m not talking hunger pains, or ‘Oh, my stomach’s a bit upset’ sorta cramps. I’m talking about cramps on the level I had when I got food poisoning in Mexico cramps. Bacterial gastroenteritis-level cramps. Curl up in a little ball and die cramps.

Because I don’t currently have medical insurance, my options were limited as to what I could do, so I called an Ask-the-Nurse hotline. I laid out the details of what I’d been doing over the past week, and more importantly, what I’d been ingesting. The nurse I spoke to was very nice, and asked me a lot of questions to make sure that she gave me the right information.

The upshot was this: I needed to go into the kitchen and make myself a medium-sized salad (easy enough, with all the veggies I had) with just lettuce and tomato and a very little bit of dressing, and eat it. Not juice it, but actually eat the whole thing. She also recommended I have a small amount of protein – she suggested a couple spoonfuls of peanut butter, which I had – and asked me what else I had to hand in the cupboard. Black beans were also on the menu, apparently, so I mixed in some lime juice and cumin with the beans and tomatoes and had a small serving of those as well (about a third of a can).

She told me that juice fasting is fine for some people, but apparently my system needs more fiber than I was getting from just the veggies, and that was causing the cramps. She told me that it was an early warning that I could end up with a blocked colon, and so I needed to get some fiber and basic proteins immediately.

Without getting too graphic, lemme just say she was right. I hadn’t been finished with the salad for 15 minutes before I had to run to the bathroom. I lost 2.5 pounds last night between 1am and 5am, when I finally got to sleep. All that ‘cleansing’ that was supposed to happen during the 3rd and 4th days was saving itself up, I guess.

One other thing that’s been a huge challenge for me over the past week is the juice itself. It makes me physically nauseous to drink this stuff, to the point where I’m right on the verge of gagging even when I’m drinking it. Just thinking about it makes me nauseous. I don’t know what it is, whether it’s the texture or just the flavors or what, maybe it’s too thick, but as hard as it was to go drink for 7 days, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have lasted 60. Think about it: how long could you go, if your only ‘meals’ were juices that made you nauseous to drink?

What I Learned On My Winter Fast:
So that’s the beginning and the end. The next beginning is the changes that I’ve already made in my diet based on what I learned this week. The main point of the juice fast wasn’t to lose weight, it was to train my body to eat healthier, and to break the psychological addiction I had to unhealthy food. And it worked.

I know now that I need good fiber for my system to function adequately, every day. So I’ll be eating a bit of what I call ‘old man cereal’ (aka Fiber One) each morning. Likely a salad with some protein each lunchtime, and a light dinner (fish, etc). I’ll be watching my portions and stopping when I’m full, no matter how hungry I think I am. This will be much easier, because I can look at it and go: “Well, I’m hungry now, but this is nothing compared to what I went through then, so big deal.”

I drove past 3 Sonics, 2 McDonald’s and a Burger King today, as well as innumerable other restaurants, without even being tempted to stop. Instead, I hit Subway for a 6-inch flatbread chicken sandwich loaded with veggies and with no salt or cheese. 430 calories. I’ll have the other 6-inch for dinner in a few hours. My cramps have gone away completely, I don’t feel mentally foggy like I’ve been for a week, and I have more energy.

I even skipped the sweet tea, y’all.

So this is the new beginning: Changing the way I eat forever. Lots of veggies and fresh fruits (in a form I can tolerate), no less than 64 oz of water every day, no soda, no salt, no sugar, no caffeine (barring the occasional cuppa), low-fat proteins like fish and chicken, and cutting way back on dairy (hard, because I love cheese, but doable). Add in a few long walks and other exercise, and I’ll lose the weight quickly. With every bit of food I look at now, I think to myself: would I break a fast for this?

I’ve been through my own personal hell over the past week, and I’ve come out the other side a changed man. I can’t wait to get started.