It seems crazy to embark on a 30 day raw juice fast smack dab in the middle of holiday season, but that’s exactly what I decided to do. During Thanksgiving, I had a great time entertaining my family and celebrating my birthday by cooking, baking and toasting. By the time everyone left, I felt very bloated and lethargic. I was actually dreading December and the month-long food fest that it brings.

I made a decision to do the very thing that would bring me back into balance, a raw juice fast. I have done two raw juice fasts in the past, once in 2012 for 21 days, and once earlier this year for five days at the Omega institute in upstate NY. I got to meet my juicing inspiration, Joe Cross, who himself lost over 100 lbs. juicing, and documented his experience in the movie Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (available on Netflix). You can also visit his website, Reboot With Joe for more information about juicing protocols, recipes, retreats and community support.

During the retreat, I learned some valuable lessons that I am using this time around. First lesson learned: this is not a deprivation or punishment, but a wonderful gift I am giving to myself.  Nourishing my body and feeding my cells with the juice of healthy fruits and vegetables is an act of love.  Am I really missing out on Christmas cookies and alcohol? Not really, they will be there when I come off the fast if I want them (but to be honest, I lost my cravings for sugar on day 4).

I also learned that doing this with support makes all the difference in the world, so I called up a childhood friend, Sandy, who has a health challenge herself; she has MS. Together, we were going to do this! She agreed to drive up to my house to start the cleanse, and I would put together our own DIY health retreat.

Our DIY retreat consists of weekly massages, colonics, whole body vibration sessions, ionic foot baths, yoga, walking, dry brushing, Biomat sessions, EFT sessions, consuming fresh alkaline water and raw vegetable juices. While I do all of these already, I don’t do them consistently (together).

I am amazed at the body’s ability to regenerate, if you give it what it needs to heal itself.

The changes I have seen in just eight days is remarkable. First and foremost, the abundant energy I feel is indescribable. I feel like a teenager. I fall asleep very quickly, sleep soundly and awake restored. My skin (especially on my face) feels like a baby. The dark circles under my eyes are visibly lighter. My eyes are clear.  My rosacea has vanished (I know this is not permanent, it will return again if I drink red wine, or eat acidic foods). I have lost 11 lbs.

I have a little health retreat set up in my home with all of the modalities we used, but when I came down to her house, I had to find a place that had everything. Sandy lives in a rural town in South Carolina so I wasn’t so sure we’d find everything, but after some Google searching, I came across the Bridge to Wellness, a detox center owned by a very caring woman, Angela who became a detox specialists after being in the nursing field for most of her life.

We set up a series of services for two weeks and then pretty much unplugged from socializing.

During a detox retreat, (whether it be a DIY or a center) requires you to unplug and this is much easier said than done. There will always be an event to eat and drink or to celebrate. There will always be temptations from friends and there will always be naysayers. It requires you to put yourself First.

Some friends questioned how I could sequester myself from my family, especially during the holidays, and my response is:  I can be a better wife and mom by demonstrating being healthy. I am a happier person when I am healthy, which in turn makes me happier to be around.

Once I come off the juice fast, I plan to integrate a healthier lifestyle into my daily diet, which will also be better for my family, so it’s a temporary hardship (separation) for a beneficial long term goal.