Vegansaurus does an Organic Avenue juice cleanse!  »

Last week I embarked on a five-day Organic Avenue Lovedeep juice cleanse. I did it for a number of reasons: I wanted to “reset” my body and system after developing some bizarre and detrimental habits (daily venti coffee, unreasonable affinity for sugar and candy, pigging out at night and not eating anything in the morning, etc.); I wanted to observe the effect it had on my body and my training regimen (muay Thai, running, Bikram yoga, four jobs); and of course sheer curiosity. I consulted with the folks at OA and told them my intention was to maintain my usual life/training schedule during the cleanse, and after their approval, I booked the dates and kept my fingers crossed. I went to the pick-up location near my office on Monday and picked up a big silver box of fresh-pressed fruit and veggie juices. Inside were six 16-oz. fresh juices and one chlorophyll shot, my food for the day. Organic Avenue also sent me a daily email explaining the benefits of each juice, and offering a suggested drinking schedule and words of encouragement.

I didn’t finish the juices; I couldn’t stomach all of that juice every day. And since I wasn’t hungry, I didn’t necessarily need them. I’d usually keep them and enjoy them the following day, and I have three leftover juices now that the cleanse is over, which I definitely intend to drink before returning my bottles! The juices themselves ranged from totally scrumptiously delicious—orange, ginger lemonade, grapefruit, pear—to borderline undrinkable—chlorophyll shot, Young Love (spinach/celery/cucumber). Pick-up/drop-off was easy, the staff was cheerful and accommodating, and the simplicity of the whole process really made it run smoothly.

Day 1
The first day was the toughest; my moods swung like crazy and I was impatient and irritable for most of the afternoon/night. I had a brutal headache from Starbucks withdrawal, craved salt, and generally felt unlike myself. I made it through the workday without too much drama, but that evening’s seven-mile run was undoubtedly tougher than usual, and I realized I’d need to take it easier in the gym over the week. With no carbs in my system I wasn’t my usual Energizer Bunny self. I got home from the gym that night and passed out on my bed before I could even take my shoes off.

Day 2
I was definitely a little out of it when my alarm went off, but I packed up for the gym and sipped a cucumber juice on the way. Muay Thai class wasn’t too bad, though again I noticed my stamina wasn’t up to par. The following run, this time five miles, wasn’t as rough as the previous day’s, but I was huffing and puffing more than usual. Once at work I was actually feeling good; though still a bit foggy I was in better spirits and enjoyed the juices. I wasn’t nearly as cranky or tired when I got home, though I still slept like a rock.

Day 3
I woke up feeling decent, made it to work and coasted through what was to be the best overall day of my cleanse—no hunger pangs, no headache, no mood swings, decent energy throughout the day—I’d even say I was chipper! There was an orange juice on the menu that day, and after living on spinach, orange juice is the GREATEST THING EVER. I felt like I was cheating! Feeling great, I made it into the gym that night and blasted through five rounds of full-contact sparring and an advanced conditioning class. I felt tired when I got home, but that’s normal for me on a Wednesday night.

Day 4
I woke up feeling clear-headed and was off to the gym. I took it easy in muay Thai, having noticed a significant drop in my stamina and endurance, but I made it through just the same. My run was, again, grueling: I took walk breaks and was certainly not as fast as usual. Though my patience was wearing a little thin at this point, my mood was good. Work was busy and I stayed focused through the day, and enjoyed the delicious grapefruit juice. Into the evening, I was having elaborate, borderline-romantic food fantasies; I missed my precious food! Got home that night a little grumpy, but as usual passed the heck out swiftly.

Day 5
While I generally sleep until about 1 or 2 p.m. on my Fridays off, this time I was wide awake soon after 11 a.m. Feeling great, I got ready to run some errands and packed a few juices along with me in my gym bag. I made it through the day feeling really good; my energy was up, I felt clear and enthusiastic and focused, and my body felt rejuvenated from the good night’s sleep. When I started that night’s training, however, everything changed. My run was dismal; I could barely keep it up for more than five minutes at a time, taking frequent walk breaks and watching other runners leave me in the dust. Muay Thai was equally pathetic; though I made it through three hours of training, I felt like I didn’t have a shred of life left in me. I got home that night and did my best to get a juice down as fast as possible before passing out.

Breaking the Fast
OA sent me an email with directions for my first day after the fast: I could eat as much as I wanted of one fruit of choice, and enjoy a big green salad for lunch and another for dinner, adding some roasted veggies if I so desired. I had some water, then enjoyed CRUNCHING into an organic Fuji apple before heading to the gym again. That day’s training was the worst of them all—I barely survived the run, and opted for a beginner muay Thai class. Even still, I was wiped out by the end and couldn’t wait to get home for my salad. I took a quick nap before I ate, and truly enjoyed every forkful of greens and tomatoes and beets and kale. It felt so good - almost scandalous!—to chew mouthfuls of food again.

I made it through five days of juicing without any major adjustments in my work/life/training schedule. I didn’t cheat once, I followed my plan, and I feel great. Though my stamina and endurance in the gym were significantly lower, my energy levels were the same and I really wasn’t tempted to cheat very often. Hunger was never a problem—if I craved food it was its flavor, texture, familiarity. My skin never broke out like crazy and my digestive system didn’t react too violently at all. I’m so glad I had the experience and I feel pretty great. I learned so much about my body and the fuel I put into it, the importance of complex carbohydrates and balanced proteins, the benefits of a raw organic diet, and how fuel affects mood. I am excited to make changes to my old habits. No, I won’t be cutting caffeine out of my life—I am a sincere and dedicated coffee-LOVER—but it will be decaf for the most part. When I crave something sweet I’ll opt for organic pineapple or fresh berries instead of Twizzlers and Swedish Fish. And I’ll fuel my body on a more regular basis rather than that abusive binge-and-starve pattern. This was an incredible, educational, rejuvenating experience and I can absolutely recommend it to anyone interested in a kick-start to good habits. Organic Avenue offers many different levels of cleansing, and supports you the whole way through. If I can do it, anyone can: you just have to want to!

[Organic Avenue provided me a five-day cleanse free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion. You can order your own cleanse on their website or by calling 212-358-0500. First image via Organic Avenue. Also, check out how Maria did on the Blueprint Cleanse. Vegan cleanses galore, people! Now, back to your regularly scheduled binging!]


Vegan-friendly rock climbing! Work it out!  »

I wasn’t vegan when I started rock climbing a few years ago, but I was lucky enough to already own a pair of synthetic climbing shoes when I decided to become a vegan. For all of you climbers who weren’t so lucky or if you’re a vegan and new to climbing I did some research on some of the top synthetic climbing shoes to share with you all.

Defy’s are my original climbing shoe love. They are great for beginners or any level for that matter! They even come in purple (for the ladies?). If you are looking for something a little bit more aggressive you might like the Five Ten Blackwings. These shoes provide stability and comfort while giving you the edge to tackle the more advanced climbs. And these are just hella cute! For you mini-climbers you can check out the Venga’s by Evolv. Nothing better than a day at the local crag with the kidlins.

In general Evolv will be your go-to company for climbing shoes; they offer the most vegan-friendly climbing shoes out of any climbing company. Vegan win! When you go to purchase climbing shoes I definitely recommend going into an actual store and having someone fit you. Buying climbing shoes is nothing like buying your trendy Toms. You want them to fit very tight (but not painful) and have to know what you’ll be wearing them for. It would be a huge waste of money to buy some advanced shoes if you are just a beginner.

If you already know how to fit yourself and don’t mind waiting for a package to come in the mail then feel free to try ordering a pair online. If you live in the Portland area I think you should check ClimbMax. They don’t have the biggest selection of vegan climbing shoes but everyone who works there is very knowledgeable and will do their best to answer your questions. ClimbMax also carries ropes, quick draws, cams, guide books and just about anything you could think about needing for your climbing adventures.

For all things outdoors make sure to take a trip out to Next Adventure. Always start in their bargain basement for gently used products such as tents, sleeping bags, and hiking shoes! If you prefer shiny gear, stay on the main level and don’t forget to head upstairs for camp cooking utensils and gear.

Next to having the right gear, I’m all about planning what to eat when I go climbing! Don’t make the mistake my friend made on one unfortunate climbing trip: He decided to leave the house with only a Costco-size box of danishes. FOR A WHOLE WEEK! Lucky for him I showed up with a car full of food. When planning what to eat you have to take into consideration your surroundings. Will you be in a traditional camp site? Are you staying in someone’s house or a hotel? Or are you just going out for a day?

No matter what the case, always remember that you are classier than PB&J and veggie dogs (gag). For ease, prepare what you can at home. Plan on having stir fry? Portion out your rice or grain of choice and have your vegetables pre-sliced. For climbing trips some of my favorite foods to cook include curries, stir fries, soups, pita pizzas (super easy to make if you have a Dutch oven), and really just about anything you can think of! I love being the envy of the cooking site when I go out on climbing trips.

For breakfast try to keep it simple, oatmeal with some fruit mixed in is a perfect, hearty meal to start your day. It’s fast and clean up is fairly easy. The goal is to get the job done and beat the other climbers to the best climbs, or, you know, to try to catch up to the other climbers because your alarm didn’t go off. Lunch is always best kept in snack form. I always keep an assortment of Cliff bars, mixed nuts, and dried fruits in my pack (and sometimes a PB&J). But most important of the food rules is DO NOT FORGET YOUR WATER! I know from experience that it can get above 100 degrees very fast at Smith Rock State Park in the summer and you would be a dead climber walking without your water bottle.On a side note: Vitamin Water and Crystal Light do not count as water! Only plain-jane water will do.

When you’re out there climbing just remember to have fun, be good and learn something new (like how to apply your vegan ethics to the basic ethics of climbing)! So vegan brothers and sisters, there are no more excuses. Get some shoes, get out to Smith Rock or whatever, and do your thing!

Chelsea Catchpole is a vegan who hails from the mystical land of Portland, Ore. She is a barista by day and a blogger, climber, and “chef” by night. You can normally find her wandering the isles of New Seasons or The People’s co-op. The rest of her free time is spent cuddling with her two cats, Sushi and Mojo-Jojo. You can read her other musings here.

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