So, a bunch of us here at the Merc are in the middle of a three-day juice cleanse from Portland Juice Press. In case you are unfamiliar, a juice cleanse involves abstaining from food*, alcohol, caffeine—everything except water and raw juice. The idea is that without having to deal with digesting food, your body can spend its energy shedding toxic buildup. I've experimented with lots of different cleanses, so I'm kind of supervising my co-workers as they undergo their first times. And I gotta say, if you have the cash and the willpower (a three-day cleanse runs $165, progressing up to six days at $330), this method is pretty trick. PJP is delivering us our daily rations of six different 16 oz juices to the office every morning. We don't have to do squat, so it's pretty easy... or is it?

  • Portland Juice Press

*We were given permission to supplement with fresh fruits and veggies and the like, but to some of us that seems like cheating.

Hit the jump for profiles of the juicers and their progress...

Katie Peifer
Katie works in our sales department, is used to eating breakfast, and describes her typical diet as "usually homemade and fairly healthy, but does include grains, meat, cheese, etc." Perhaps it's no coincidence, then, that she has reported cravings for cheese and Thai noodles. She's also taking advantage of the fact that PJP's Liz Nolan gave us permission to eat some simple, mostly raw foods if we needed to. (It's a cleanse, not a fast.) Katie's been supplementing her juices with "bananas, blueberries, celery, carrots, watermelon, almond butter, and steamed edamame."

So how's that working out? "Last night my bike ride home was much harder than normal. I also had a headache when I went to bed last night. Not sure if it was from caffeine withdrawal or just from staring at a computer all day. I went to bed around 9:30 because I was quite tired. I am feeling quite cranky, to be honest, and thinking 'what did I get myself into?' Feeling sluggish and starving. Feed me, please! Don't get me wrong, the juices are tasty, and I love fruits and vegetables, but I need something substantial."

Dirk Vanderhart
News reporter Dirk rides his bike constantly and is heavily reliant on coffee. He "has never even been tempted" to cleanse before, but took this as a "challenge of the will." He is doing it straight: all juice, no food. He didn't finish all of his juices yesterday because he got sleepy and just went to bed instead, which seems to be a common thread.

"It's mostly not bad. I reflected yesterday that it was the longest period of time, by a long shot, that I'd not eaten in 30 years of life. But it's not as uncomfortable as you'd think. Actually, to the degree that I ever feel hungry at all, it's been manageable with juice and water. The real bastard of a juice cleanse is not being able to drink coffee. For me, that brought on a crippling caffeine-withdrawal headache that set in yesterday afternoon and would not abate. But then I woke up at 1 am or so (because urination is constant on a juice fast) and the headache was gone! A milder iteration has returned today, though.

"There is also a fairly serious psychologic component to eating that's been thrown into sharp relief in the last 24 hours. As I set off from work last night there was a very definite, and very desolate, notion that I had nothing to look forward to. I wanted—want—a tostada, and to ease into a sleepy digestive state. But I've just got this juice (which is all drinkable, if not always downright tasty) and, for now, a headache."

When you see it un-juiced, you realize you are actually consuming a ridiculous amount of food.
  • Portland Juice Press
  • When you see it un-juiced, you realize you are actually consuming a ridiculous amount of food.

Sarah Elliott
Sarah also works in sales, and is pretty healthy and athletic despite "weekend splurges of pizza and beer." She's also supplementing with food: "I'm mostly just drinking the juice, with a banana and almond butter for breakfast. I had some veggies last night. I did have a sip of my boyfriend's coffee this morning... he [also] bet that I couldn't go without a drink for three nights... So far I'm winning that five bucks. Alcohol doesn't even sound that wonderful to me, maybe because it's a liquid, and I have plenty of that sloshing around in my stomach."

It's recommended that you lay off of more extreme exercise while on a cleanse but Sarah worked out last night anyway, which was "not the best idea." However! "Mentally and emotionally I'm fine. No breakdowns in front of Little Big Burger or Pizza Hut... yet." Like Dirk, she was only able to get through four and a half of her juices yesterday, claiming to have been "a bit juiced out." She also passed out at 9:30 pm last night.

Like I said, I've done cleanses before although never one specifically like this. I did attempt a juice cleanse once, which mainly consisted of me throwing whatever I had at home into my juicer and frequenting the juice menu at Prasad. I take comfort in the formulaic vibe of having my juices prescribed by experts like this. It feels safer. Like Dirk, I'm going straight juice, although I wouldn't be averse to some fresh produce, I guess. I don't really care. I was pretty hungry yesterday, but opted to crash early—surely it was at least 9:30?—instead. On the plus side it was markedly less of a trial getting out of bed for 6 am boot camp than it was on Monday, and while I didn't feel particularly spectacular doing it, I did just fine.

I think Katie and I are the only ones drinking all their juices. I like them all, but there's a carrot/broccoli/red bell pepper/apple/cayenne mix that's by far the most remarkable flavor, and the one I'd recommend first. I find myself hoarding the empty bottles in a corner of my office for some unclear future purpose, but at this point they're totally doing it for me. I am completely indifferent to the fact that I'm not eating. I'm more likely to order a salad (no cheese, no croutons, no dressing—just a lemon wedge, please) later just to make my husband feel less uncomfortable than to curb my own urges.

Physically I feel fine but emotionally... I have felt like shit all day. I am not quite as cranky as yesterday but I am a hundred times more depressed. They say that can happen when your body dredges up old waste; it can churn your emotions up too. Anyway, just leave me alone.