I was recently interviewed by Neil Martin (aka Natural Juice Junkie) from across the pond. I shared some fairly in depth info on juicing, veganism and eating habits in general. Enjoy!
A ”junk food” vegetarian who suffered from obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, joint pain and fatigue, Chris drank alcohol too often, overate and relied on pharmaceutical drugs. Since he started juicing just 7 months ago he has shed 65 pounds (over 4.5 stone) and increased his energy and stamina.
Natural Juice Junkie: When did you first start juicing and how did you first learn about the idea?
Chris Swirski: I started my first 20 day juice fast back in March of this year (2014). I remembered watching Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead. Joe Cross’ story inspired me to research body detoxing and juicing further.
Natural Juice Junkie: What made you decide to start juicing?
Chris Swirski: For 22 years, I was a ”junk food” vegetarian. I drank alcohol too often, overate and relied on pharmacies and doctors to ”cure” my ailments.
By 38 years old, I was overweight, constantly sore and suffering from fatigue on a daily basis. I woke up one day and decided to change my life. I had a good feeling about juicing being the answer (or at least a big part of it).
Natural Juice Junkie: Did you follow a specific program, if so which one?
Chris Swirski: As far as a “specific” plan goes, no, not exactly.
I loosely took some guidance from the 5 Day (Jump into Juicing) program on Reboot with Joe’s website and simply repeated the 5 day schedule over and over again.
Based on this schedule, I was drinking 5 juices a day (between 12 and 16 oz each) and heavily hydrating in-between all of them with lemon water, filtered water, coconut water and herbal teas.
I used some of the juice recipes from Joe’s site as well as other recipes that I created by just experimenting.
During my first fast, I also contacted a hydro-colon therapist, she encouraged me to drink 8 oz of water with 1tsp Psyllium Husks (indigestible) each day during my fast to promote the g.i. tract cleaning process.
I had one colonic after my first week of fasting and another one after the 20 days of fasting were over. Since I never had a colonic prior, it was amazing to finally become aware of the actual effects that processed foods had on my digestive system over time (and I was a vegetarian for 22 years!).
Shortly after the 20 day fast, I was feeling great but my weight loss began to plateau. I had read that sometimes a 10 day juicing / 10 day eating approach worked well for some, so I did that with the next 3 juice fasts (and had continuing success).
I think the key thing that I do differently than most people is that I treat my “eating days” to a very similar schedule as when I juice fast. A single serving (12-16oz juice) should be around 200-250 calories, that is, if there are not too many fruits in it. I figured, if I was drinking 200-250 calories 5 times a day, I would also eat the same way. So thats what I did.
I kept on the same schedule and even drank the water, lemon water, coconut water and herbal teas in-between. And the food I now eat is all vegan…lots of raw, unprocessed, no refined sugars, no white flour, etc. including smoothies and juices as well. So really, it was a mixture of juicing, colonics and completely changing the types of food (and portions) I was eating.
Natural Juice Junkie: Did you have any medical conditions prior to juicing?
Chris Swirski: Obesity, High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, Joint Pain and Fatigue.
Natural Juice Junkie: Was weight loss one of the reason you started juicing? If so, what other diets had you tried and how successful were they?
Chris Swirski: Yes, weight loss definitely was a factor but I was also very interested in the “detox” aspects of juice fasting as well.
At my heaviest weight (210 lbs / 15 stone), I was very sluggish, generally feeling bloated and my joints were constantly sore.
“Dieting is a bunch of bulls%$t”
Sure I wanted to lose weight but I knew it wasn’t just the extra pounds…it was all those chemicals and free radicals that were deep inside my organs and muscles. I wanted to reset my body and then start anew.
“Dieting” is a bunch of bulls%$t. And myself, I don’t look at juicing as a “diet” at all. Juicing is just one (of many) weapons in my arsenal which I use on a daily basis to fight obesity, sickness and disease in my body.
I feel that is where most folks fail in their own transformations; within their mind they treat juicing as something they will only do “temporarily” just in order to lose weight. But they don’t realize that if they do not completely CHANGE the way they eat and adopt juicing as a habit, moving forward, they will eventually be back to the way they were….again and again and again.
I’ve been there…and I never want to go back. The mind can be a terrible obstacle if one allows it to be.
Natural Juice Junkie: Since juicing, how much weight have you lost?
Chris Swirski: Since February of this year, I have lost a total of 65 pounds.
Natural Juice Junkie: What have you found to be the biggest changes / benefits you’ve experienced since you started juicing?
Chris Swirski: Weight loss, increased energy and stamina, less joint pain, flexibility, look younger, feel younger…better hair…better skin. Better focus and concentration. It has also had a large affect on my general mood as well. I want to go out there and be more active.
Natural Juice Junkie: Since you started juicing what have you found most challenging and how did you deal with this challenge?
Chris Swirski: I make it a point to juice (and eat) only Organic or Non-GMO fruits and vegetables (since I cannot trust whats in them otherwise).
Unfortunately, where I live, I can’t always get the organic produce I need from just one place. I often find myself shopping for produce in like 3 different places.
It makes it less convenient…BUT…I also feel that convenience will eventually be the death of everyone.
Working on our health is WORK. If we want to succeed then we have to let go of our ridiculous need for everything to be fast, simple and easy. If you shut off the complaining in your mind for just long enough, you will eventually adapt to the extra work involved.
Natural Juice Junkie: How has juicing changed your life?
Chris Swirski: For all of the reasons I’ve listed above…PLUS, I get so many compliments on my transformation and a ton of questions from people all over the place. It has helped me discover writing again.
I now have a blog of my own called Beeting the Odds where I post juice, smoothie and food recipes, topics on detox and general rants about the food industry in general. I never would have tapped into this side of my creativity and desire to help others if it weren’t for juicing.
Natural Juice Junkie: What has been your biggest juicing mistake and why?
Chris Swirski: Not discovering it sooner! Hahaha (seriously though).
Also, when I first started juicing I was throwing away my leftover pulp, which was a big waste. I finally got a compost setup so now I can “re-feed” the earth with the pulp. Sometimes I also save the pulp and use it to blend into smoothies and soup stocks as well. I’ve also heard you can use it in baking vegan muffins and cakes.
“My advice is JUMP IN HEAD FIRST”
Natural Juice Junkie: Any juicing tips you have picked up along the way?
Chris Swirski: I simplified my juicing process by not requiring such a HUGE variety of recipes, as some of juicing plans do.
I feel that the additional need to track down so many ingredients will deter some people into ever giving it a try. The more excuses you have to not start, the less likely you will ever start. My advice is JUMP IN HEAD FIRST. Get a juicer and some Cucumbers, Celery, Apples, Lemon, Ginger and Kale, look up a good recipe and just make one juice.
Get those things while you’re out shopping and go home a just make a juice…don’t plan some BIG EVENT right off the bat; just give it a try. Then, when you’re convinced that it’s good for you, slowly go a little BIGGER.
While it is very important to get a wide array of all the different kinds of fruits and veggies and also to “mix it up” a bit; I find that when I’m fasting/detoxing on juice only…I really keep it to 3 recipes (Green, Red and Orange). Some people only fast on green juice alone and have seen similar results.
My formula for a great tasting juice has always been a balance of “lightly sweet (apples, peaches, beets, carrots), salty (celery), tangy (orange, grapefruit, lemon) & spicy (ginger)”…there is something about that combination of tastes on my tongue that just makes me happy.
Some other tips that I follow are drinking warm lemon water immediately when I wake up (helps with digestion) and also drinking 8oz of water with Psyllium Husks once a day (helps clean out your g.i. tract).
Another tip, especially for people just starting out; clean up your juicer and chopping board mess before drinking your juice. It will not only make it easier to clean the juicer but it will train you in helping keep your good habits strong. Otherwise, you will drink your juice and wait until “later”…it will be more difficult to scrub down and you will get lazy and tired of juicing before it can even help you.
Natural Juice Junkie: What resources (books, websites, movies, etc) have helped you on your journey and why?
Chris Swirski: Back in the early 90’s I watched a movie documentary called “Faces of Death”, which journaled real life situations involving human and animal deaths. There was a part about factory farming and another about the furring industry. Very graphic and quite shocking. I’ve been a vegetarian for over 20 years since.
I have always had respect for people so passionate about something that they are willing to go through the insane steps of making a movie about it. That said, I will usually watch something if it is a topic I’m interested in and food is definitely at the top of my list.
That said, as of the last couple years, “Super Size Me” was the big one that first grabbed my attention; following that, I’d say “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”; then “Forks Over Knives”, “Hungry for Change”, “Food Matters”, “Super Juice Me” and “Vegucated”. These documentaries have all made really lasting impressions on me.
“Most “American” food is junk…”
When I finally latched onto the “health” aspects of food and not only the “compassionate” aspects, I realized there was so much more that I was not considering.
Most “American” food is junk…consisting of ridiculous chemicals, white flour, refined sugars and unnecessary processing practices. These things are all slowly killing us and most people turn a blind eye to it because they do not see through the pretty looking, false advertisements.
Everyone has sickness, pain and disease with absolutely no real answers as to where any of it came from. Most doctors do not have answers either, they just hand you more chemicals. Chemicals on top of other chemicals…symptoms masked by other symptoms.
The simple answer (that you can sense if you quiet your mind) is that it all comes from what we put into our bodies every day. Eating has become a subconscious task like breathing…we do it to survive but we really don’t think about the action of it.
We forget that food is the ONLY reason we are alive in the first place.
Yet, we stopped caring about what we were eating because we just trust that food companies will make the right decisions for us. It took me a long time for this to sink in but I am extremely grateful for all of the resources out there that are available. Especially the vegan and juicing communities online which have also helped me learn so much in supporting my new eating lifestyle.
Natural Juice Junkie: Which do you think is more essential to health and wellbeing, exercise or diet and nutrition?
Chris Swirski: Definitely diet and nutrition. I’ve done the exercise thing so many times throughout my life but it never really did anything to “transform” me.
“Everything you put into your mouth will have a lasting effect on your wellness; it’s as simple as that”
Don’t get me wrong, it is very important to add exercise into your daily regimen (walking, on it’s own, is even great) but the only way to get truly healthy and feeling great is from “the inside out”.
Everything you put into your mouth will have a lasting effect on your wellness; it’s as simple as that.
Food is the ONLY true medicine…and if you aren’t eating the right kind you are just continuing to poison your body.
We’d like to think that the food companies and even our own governments have the welfare of the people as their priority; it’s just not true…they are only guided by money and the people end up paying with their lives.
“We have become a truly addictive society”
We have become a truly addictive society. We just don’t know when to stop. To reverse these problems, we need to shut down our minds first because it all starts there…the guilt we put on ourselves, the “treats” we allow ourselves, our excuses, our procrastination…it’s all born in our mind and then our mind turns around and tells our body what to do. That cycle needs to be broken.
Natural Juice Junkie: How much and what kinds of exercise do you regularly do?
Chris Swirski: I ride my bike about 15-20 miles every other day and follow it up with 20 minutes of simple strength exercises (crunches, planks, pushups and dumbbells). I also play drums in a fairly fast rock band which practices each week and plays frequent gigs.
Natural Juice Junkie: What do you eat / drink on a typical day?
Chris Swirski: When I’m eating, I change it up every day.
I love to cook and be creative with food. I also love my juices and smoothies, so on any given day I may have less food and more juices. It all depends on what I feel like doing. But I always stay strict on my regimen of lemon water, Psyllium Husks, Coconut Water and filtered water.
Here is this past Tuesday:
Around 9:30am I drank 8oz of warm lemon water. Then I took 5 raw wheatgrass tablets and 2 PB-8 Probiotic capsules, washed down with 4oz of Organic “Antioxidant Force” Juice (bottled SmartJuice).
At 10:30am I had a 16oz Green Smoothie (Baby Kale, Banana, Strawberry, Raspberry, Pineapple, Vega Protein, Spirulina, Hemp Oil, Hemp Powder, Maca Powder, Chia and Flax Seeds).
At 12:30 I drank a 12oz glass of Coconut Water, followed by a Spring Mix Salad w/ greens, cucumber, goji berries, organic mixed nuts, pumpkin seeds, cherry tomatoes and topped with Crushed Kale Chips.
At 2:30 I drank 8oz w/ 1tsp of Psyllium Husk Powder followed by a 16oz glass of filtered water.
At 3:30 I had a 16oz Red Juice (Beets, Kale, Swiss Chard, Orange, Celery, Purple Carrot and Ginger) followed by 16oz filtered water. At 5:30 pm I had 1/2 Tofu Salad sandwich w/ homemade Cashew Cheese on Sprouted Whole Grain Bread, followed by 16oz filtered water.
At 7:30pm I had Grilled Marinated Skewers of Tofu, Mushroom, Eggplant & Yellow Squash, 1/2 of grilled organic Corn on the cob and 1/2 cup of Brown Basmati Rice. Then another 16oz glass of filtered water.
At 8:30 pm I had 8oz of hot Golden Milk (Almond Milk, Turmeric paste & Agave Nectar) followed by a snack of Chia Chips w/ Hummus.
At 10:30pm, just before bed, I had a cup of Nighty Night herbal tea.
Natural Juice Junkie: Is your diet completely vegetarian / vegan?
Chris Swirski: 100% Vegan since February. (lacto vegetarian for 22 years prior)
“Fasting on juice helped me to kick caffeine and alcohol”
Natural Juice Junkie: What are your thoughts on caffeine and alcohol?
Chris Swirski: Considering I had an addiction to both, I’d say my immediate thoughts are to kick them to the curb.
Fasting on juice helped me to kick those as “habits”. I have now gotten to a point where I can now revisit them as a rare treat.
Before juicing was in my life, I’d say I drank 3-4 cups of coffee each day! Now it’s like 1 every week (or even 2 weeks).
Drinking alcohol was also a big part of my life before juicing. Sometimes I drank 3-4 (beers, wine or whisky) every day for weeks on end. Then I would break from it for a bit and then go back again. Now, it is a very rare occasion that I drink any alcohol; when I do, I limit myself to only 1 or 2 (maybe every 3 weeks or so).
The key to these is CONTROL. If you are not addicted to them and treat them as an occasional thing then that is fine. But as an addiction they are terrible.
Juicing can help replace those habits. Make sure if you are doing a cleanse, you don’t do ANY of it at all during it (otherwise, it will reverse the positive effects of a “detox”).
“You will end up feeling so good that you won’t want to ever go back to your old habits”
Natural Juice Junkie: What advice would you give someone who is thinking about adding juicing to their life?
Chris Swirski: It’s the best thing you can choose to do for yourself. It not only sparks weight loss but it helps clean your entire insides and clear your mind as well.
You will end up feeling so good that you won’t want to ever go back to your old habits.
It will push you (subconsciously) to eat and drink healthier things and to pay more attention to how, when and what you decide to eat.
Juicing is the most natural way to detox your body, so you will feel under the weather when you start doing it…thats not a bad thing! Thats your body telling you that it’s working on getting out the bad stuff.
Don’t let your mind and all of it’s clever excuses stop you from juicing, you have to ignore the negativity (it tastes bad, it’s inconvenient…blah blah blah)…shut it off! Give your body some time to adjust and start paying attention to what your body wants (not what your brain wants), you will start to see the difference.
Keep at it! Stay on it long enough that it replaces your old habits and let juice and plant based foods become your new habits. Never think of it as a “diet” or something temporary.
Natural Juice Junkie: If you were stuck on a desert island with a working juicer and blender and an unlimited supply of just 6 ingredients, what would those ingredients be?
Chris Swirski: Beets, Kale, Carrots, Celery, Lemons and Ginger
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