Last week in the office, as we all took turns breaking off shards of a jumbo-size toffee/caramel/sea-salt chocolate bar around 4pm, circling the thing like sharks, we had a collective thought: This isn’t good. Working on a daily website is stressful, and the long hours mean we’re constantly hunting for between-meal snacks, which more often than not include tortilla chips from Chipotle, the aforementioned chocolate bars, and anything that’s sent to us by (secretly evil) publicists: macarons, gummies, BACON AND DOUGHNUT-FLAVORED POPCORN [1-2], etc. “I need to cleanse,” one of us is always saying. But this time—and perhaps it was because spring was in the air, or the fact that our fingers smelled like BACON POPCORN—it stuck. And juice cleanses are all the rage, right? We spent the next two days researching the most popular 3- and 5-day programs in New York (and Austin, TX, for our Digital Director, Michael), and, with a good amount of fear/anxiety, each signed ourselves up for a different one. Our goals varied slightly: from a general system reboot to experimenting with a healthier, more mindful lifestyle to shedding a persistent few winter pounds. We would be cleansing together, so that was all warm and fuzzy, and this way we could compare our findings—and the actual juices. Which is why we wanted to do it in the first place: we were curious. After all, we'd heard friends and colleagues rave about clearer skin/minds/hearts/digestive tracts.
Note: There’s a good amount of controversy surrounding juice cleanses. Many people, including lots of doctors, don’t believe there’s a nutritional benefit to any type of cleanse, from the strict Master Cleanse on down. Some even believe they’re potentially harmful to your body. As with anything we do/say on ITG, please take our experiences with a grain of salt (Himalayan, preferably, as it’s apparently the ‘healthiest’ type), and definitely consult your physician if you’re considering a cleanse and have any concerns or medical conditions. For the record, all of us at ITG were humanities majors in college—there’s not a scientist among us.
Cleanse: Juice Press’ Six Juice Cleanse
Goal: Overwhelm my body with nutrients
You may remember my recent trip to northern Italy to for a week of eating detoxing, wherein an army of doctors told me that my frat-boy culinary tendencies (pizza, pasta, pastries) would surely lead to my demise in the long-run, and were definitely making me a zombie in the short-term. I took their words of wisdom seriously...for a good three months—soaring high on all that fish-, green vegetable-, and whole grain-derived energy—until, slowly, I began to fall back into my (totally immature) devil-may-care, live-fast-die-young-bad-girls-have-grande-mochas ways. I wanted to feel nourished again. And, instead of simply eating a balanced diet and making healthy choices once in a while, I did what many a New Yorker does these days and threw my hands up in the air: I need a juice cleanse. As it turns out, the rest of the Gloffice were on the same page. So here we are! Day 1 (of 3) of #ITGjuiceweek, wherein we’re trying Jill Pettijohn (Nick), Austin Skinny Limits (those Texan juicers sure have a sense of humor! This one's for Michael), One Lucky Duck (Elizabeth), and Juice Press (me).
Here are my day #1 reflections from Nick’s bed, where I lay, because we are feeling all sorts of feelings (depravation, defeat, inexplicable sadness) while sipping Juice Press’ Spicy Citrus (my favorite of the lot) at 10:30 PM and watching It’s a Brad, Brad World:
-Coffee=necessary. I know, I know, you’re not supposed to have it while cleansing, but you’re also not supposed to have sex until you're married, so…
-Green juices are really pretty wonderful when you opt for them, not when you’re drinking three a day for multiple days in a row. I found myself struggling to get through six bottles of juice (plus all the water you’re meant to be drinking) in one day, hence the fact that I was still on #4 at 10:30 PM. It’s just a lot of fluid.
-“Sweet Potato Pie”  as a name for something that isn’t anything like it: false advertising. Don’t get my hopes up. If it were called “Carrot Sweet Potato Flax Oil Medley,” I’d have been much more satisfied, or at least less perturbed, with the result.
-The new Juice Press on Greenwich Avenue, in the West Village, is like a health food candy store. In fact, it has basically upped the ante for any health food store, anywhere. It is beautiful. And so clean. And very, very expensive... but so is a meal for two out, with wine and tip. Nobody said juicing was cheap.
The low point of the day was getting my hair cut on Didier’s patio and sort of falling asleep, at which point I had to do the whole, “Oh, I’m so sorry, I’m on a juice cleanse,” thing, which no matter what always makes you sound like an asshole. The high point was…well, not so sure there is a high point to day #1 of a cleanse. Thinking day #2 will be better.
Cleanse: Jill Pettijohn Nutritional Cleanse
Goal: Stop eating junk food, eat my vegetables. Feel clean/clear/under control.
The night before my cleanse was to begin, Jill delivered a nice insulated tote with my first six juices—“blended drinks," she specified—to my doorstep. Stuffed among the bottles was an instruction pamphlet that included affirmations like "Be kind, gentle and allowing with one's self," "The Body is your temple. Keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in," and "You may experience some physical discomfort like headaches and fogginess, sometimes flu like symptoms." Hmm. I stored them in my fridge and went to meet my family for dinner at an Italian restaurant downtown. I ate my last [solid, cooked, meat-centric] meal with a heavy heart .
Morning: The Daily Green, a blend of cabbage, broccoli, celery, collard greens, lemon, avocado, and other stuff, isn't so bad! I'd heard from my friend Anne Slowey that Jill, a former private chef to Donna Karan, made the most "nutritionally sound" cleanses in town, and also that the drinks were "a little rough" since they were devoid of any kind of sweetener, even agave, and are very finely blended rather than cold-pressed (meaning: light pulp). And Anne was right—this has got more 'texture' than the green juices I'm used to drinking, because it's not a juice; it's got stuff in it. Totally fine.
Late Morning: Blueberryade, I can hang with. We're good. It's like an unsweetened smoothie and has flax-seed oil and other stuff, and I feel good about that.
Lunch: Spinach & Dill, which also has olive oil and avocado… I'm starting to get tired, feeling a little out of it. Foggy. Looking around the office, I see Elizabeth and Emily similarly slumped in their chairs. I write a post and wonder, once it's published, whether it's in comprehensible English. Then, I get REALLY cold (even though it's the nicest day of the year), and start shivering in my desk chair. (Aww.) This segues into daydreaming about running across the street to Duane Reade to buy chocolate and chips, which is what I used to do all the time. I remember that the body is my temple or whatever. And also that I can't be the first of us to break. Sets a bad example.
Dinner/Dessert: Well, let me be the first to tell you that Yellow Squash with Fresh Herbs is a dish best served...roasted. Or even just hot…I’ll take lukewarm, fine! But the redeeming thing is that all of Jill's drinks taste nutritious and good for you and have a little something to chew on, since they're Vitamix-ed purees. All of which makes them easier to swallow. The Pear and Parsley mix is the standout of the day, because it tastes like pears. Around 5pm, Jill emails me to ask how I'm doing. My nutritional-cleanse spirit guide! I write her a long email back—TMI—and imagine her check-in emails will likely peter out. I hit a low emotional point around 7:45 and beg Emily to come over to my apartment to watch ANYTHING, so we can juice in solidarity. I think the weirdest part of cleansing is having to rethink your social life, which, if you live in a city and are anything like me, revolves around eating and drinking things that don’t come out of a Vitamix (I’m not counting you, margaritas). Also, tomorrow morning, I'm lifting weights with my trainer for the first time since I started the cleanse, and I'm nervous about making it through our session. Usually, I have a whey protein shake before and after training. Intense, I know. Anyway, stay tuned.
Cleanse: Skinny Limits (can we call a winner in the Best Name category?)
Goal: To complement my new push-up routine (200 a day!)
I associate juice cleanses with people from LA and New Yorkers who always talk about moving to LA. You know who I mean. They wear interesting hats and probably sold minimalist jewelry on Etsy at some point. Just move already, jeez!
So as you can tell, "juicing" kind of rubs me the wrong way, and as a man of science (I took a physics class in college), I'm a bit skeptical and slightly chagrined that my participation was required. However, it's nice to know what I'll be eating for the next three days, no planning required, so that's a plus.
Before getting this party started, I decided my last meal should be as unhealthy as possible (what's the point in cleansing if you're clean as a whistle?), so I went to Liberty Bar here in Austin and had the Thai fried chicken (Chicken Karaage) with the Brussels sprouts salad . Don't let the word "salad" throw you off. It's fried. Good luck fighting that, juice!
My cleanse is composed of four different juices, two of which are green and fruit-focused, one is a lemonade, and the grand finale of each day is a cashew-cinnamon concoction, which I'm assuming is my dessert. LET'S DO THIS.
11am: All right, so I'm two juices in and pleasantly surprised. So far this is all very palatable and juice #2 has ginger in it! I <3 ginger. Clickity clack!
1pm: Turns out not drinking a lot of coffee is taking its toll on me. Turns out there is no caffeine in kale juice. Turns out I'm going to take a nap.
3pm: I had a lot of plans for today, but I have replaced them with drinking these lovely juices (they actually are quite tasty), watching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and sleeping. Either juicing reduces your ambition or I have a serious caffeine addiction. News flash: it's the latter.
7pm: I am cranky and hungry. The instructions told me if I absolutely had to, I could eat some avocado or celery. Oh yeah, instructions?!?! Fuck you. In other news, if I am to believe those who say I look like Nic Cage, then right now things are very Leaving Las Vegas .
9pm: I'm going to go to bed now. I have decided that I'm going to cheat tomorrow and eat something. After all, my name isn't Will Power. It's Mick Harper.
Goal: Attain the "healthy glow" that you hear so much about (mostly from Gwyneth Paltrow)
In the next five days, I feel like I will begin to really understand that whole cartoon-characters-envisioning-friends-as-giant-juicy-steaks thing. Sure, I may have it easier than my colleagues on this juice-cleansing voyage—mine is aptly titled the Not Just Juice Cleanse, as it includes raw foods (yes!)—but I have never been down this road before. And I love food.
Morning: I begin the day with a workout, drink my first-ever green juice (apple, cucumber, celery, mint, lime, and spinach), which was actually kind of tasty, eat a parfait, and am much better fed than I am typically by 8:30am. At work, I proceeded to talk to Michael, who’s a few days ahead in his juicing, about the food he was going to eat to break the cleanse. I am introduced to the mouthwateringly good-sounding “migas” and decide that I hate diets. Cleanses! Whatever.
Lunch: Emily and Nick alternately shoot me nasty looks as I dig into FOOD, specifically a taco salad  with lettuce, “spicy taco crumble”—still not sure what that really means, exactly—pico de gallo, guacamole, cashew sour cream, and cilantro-lime dressing. I wash it down with a side of Swan Greens Juice. As I generally have my lunch salads with a soda on the side, I feel super healthy. Am I growing up?
Snack: I have not been so excited for snack time since 5th grade. My “Blue Sunset Shake” (pineapple, mango, banana, blueberry, coconut water, and vanilla) is delicious. I have zero complaints here.
Dinner: Food again! Yay! Zucchini and Tomato Lasagna  was on the menu for dinner….but I feel as though “lasagna” is a slightly misleading name because this meal did not include pasta (rude), but, to be fair, it was not half bad.
I am someone who becomes incredibly unpleasant when hungry (ask anyone in my family), and last night was no exception. Word to the wise: do not hang out with friends during a juice cleanse, at the least on the first night, because even receiving a text message inviting you to “tacos and margaritas” will make you irrationally angry at no one in particular. By 9pm, I am hungry again. Not so much a stomach hunger—I actually have not felt too bad yet—but my brain is hungry. And just like a scumbag brain would, all it will think of is delicious, greasy foods that it wants me to consume. Real nice. This, of course, is not helped by the shockingly high number of food commercials during Monday’s broadcast of The Voice (though Adam Levine definitely got my mind off of food for a bit—he’s so dreamy). But, before I get too down on my cleanse, I have to be honest (and remind myself), it really isn’t bad. In fact, it’s kind of delicious and I’m liking having my meals planned out, packaged, and ready for consumption at my first pang of hunger. But I still want a cheeseburger.
[1-2] Pre Juice Cleanse snacks, [3-6] Emily's cleanse, [7-11] Nick's cleanse, [12-15] Mick's cleanse, [16-19] Elizabeth's cleanse