Juicing Gems

There are many things I have learned throughout the past 60 days, a few of which I’d like to share:

  1. At first I hated some of the green juices and literally had to down them. It wasn’t until I read a post from another juicer asking whether the green juice should taste pleasant that Joe Cross replied saying that all his juices should taste nice, so if one didn’t then to add another apple or pear. That advice transformed the rest of my juicing experience. No further juice had to be downed, unless I was in a hurry! As time past, I found my tastebuds adapted and I less frequently needed to add additional ingredients, particularly when I found that choi sum was a good swop for spinach, mango a good swop for oranges, and ginger and mint a good swop for lemons, all of which I have to avoid on a low histamine diet.
  2. Timewise, it has taken me around 1.5 hours to 2 hours to do the day’s fruit and veg prep, juicing and clearing up for 1 person.
  3. I found making my day’s juices in the evening was the most efficient method as I didn’t have time with food prep for the kids, and sometimes for my husband, to juice during the day.
  4. The cost of a 5-day juice with as much organic fruit and veg as I could find was approximately £65 per week (London prices). The whole 60 days has come to a total of £780.
  5. When you feel hungry have another juice, a coconut water or some potassium broth. If you still feel hungry, have some more. I only had a few days where I felt stupidly hungry, the rest of the time I did not feel hunger at all. As long as I had a juice regularly throughout the day, I found I was on a happy plateau of fullness, not hungry and not overly full, just a pleasant state.
  6. Find a local juice bar and treat yourself to one regularly.
  7. If others are eating around you and you find your will power being tested to beyond your limits, leave the room. Everyone will understand! The same with food preparation for your family. Do something simple if you are having a tough day and don’t prepare your favourite food if your will power is low.
  8. Invest in some lovely glass bottles (500ml size) to store your beautiful juices. They don’t have to be expensive. I bought mine for £5 each.
  9. Add protein powder to your dessert juice, as it’s the most pleasant way I found of getting it down. In a taste test, I favoured pea protein powder and mixed mine into the juice using a blender as it didn’t mix easily with a whisk. Pea protein tastes good with an apple, peach, pear, sweet potato and blueberries. This became my staple dessert juice.
  10. My weight loss was 1-2lb every 2 days initially and then it slowed down. During the last 10 days of the fast I lost just 2 lbs, but this was when I hit my pre-mesh implant weight. Despite the scales staying the same for a while, I still lost inches.
  11. Show yourself some love at your achievements, when you need new clothes go buy, swop or borrow some. It’s wonderful seeing the new you emerge. Remaining in your bigger clothes hides your progress from you and everyone else. When others start noticing your new shape and commenting, that’s a huge boost to your morale.
  12. If you are doing a longer fast, you will want to measure and weigh yourself first, and get your doctor to take your blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar etc before you begin so you can assess your before and after.
  13. As you will likely be drinking a lot more than you are used to, plan your toilet stops and don’t forget your protection if you have any form of incontinence. It will likely get worse because of the volume you are drinking and the extra pressure on the bladder. My advice is don’t go anywhere where there isn’t a loo.
  14. Feeling cold can be a side-effect of the juice fast and can be miserable, affecting your mood and will power, particularly if you are juice fasting in a cold climate. Allow your juice to warm up to room temperature before drinking when possible, drink hot drinks including herbal tea and potassium broth to warm you up, wear thermals, and an additional layer, use a hot water bottle or heated blanket, buy yourself some wool bed socks and gloves, and piles on the blankets. Regular aerobic exercise also helps to increase your core temperature.
  15. Your bowels will slow down while you are juicing because of the lack of insoluble fibre in juice. If you are used to a movement every day, expect this to slow down to every 2-3+ days. This is perfectly normal. If you do feel constipated, drink more water and herbal tea.
  16. By the end of the late afternoon, my teeth often began to feel fury from the juice as it is quite sticky. You may want to clean your teeth and tongue more regularly as a result.

I’m sure there’s many other things I’ve forgotten to mention, but I’ll add them to this list as I remember.

I will update this blog on a weekly basis now throughout my transition.

A huge thank you for sticking with me through my journey.

Wishing you health and happiness and many tasty juices to come.

Adèle

Day 60!

I’m slightly in shock that I’ve made it to 60 days!

60 days of no solid food and only fresh juice made from 80% vegetables and 20% fruit, along with coconut water and potassium broth. I’ve got the equivalent of the runners high, and elation similar to what I felt when I saw my first ever article in print.

Elated on my 60th day of juicing

Target setting

If you had asked me on day one to bet on whether I would juice for 60 days, I would have told you that you were having a laugh. The three days I targeted myself to do initially was tough enough. So, it was definitely Joe Cross’s five-day approach which helped me to achieve so much more, that, and a very strong driver: I wanted to heal my very sick immune system.

The thought of targeting myself with 60 days was so unimaginable difficult, that it totally put me off, but I found that a target of five days was within the realms of possibility, so I just kept targeting myself with five days. To reach 60 days has been the biggest surprise and it has reinforced a valuable lesson: that we are all capable of climbing any mountain if we break the target down into manageable chunks.

The importance of a good support network

The support from my family and friends has made a significant contribution to this achievement and for that I am extremely grateful. My inspirational parents paved the way for me and have encouraged me every step of the way. They have owned an Oscar Vitalmax 900 horizontal masticating juicer for over 10 years now, and it has been used so much that the juicer’s collection jugs are now stained brown. After both my mesh removal surgeries my Mum and Dad have lovingly made me litres of green and red juices to help me heal.

My Mum and Dad began their juicing journey when they became vegan 11 years ago. This came about because my Dad developed prostate cancer in 2008 and the Royal Brompton Hospital, where he was being treated, advised him that diet played a significant role in the hormonal cancers like prostate and breast cancer, and he was given some diet sheets to take home. Dad and Mum did their homework and met others who had been on the same path who gave them great advice about taking up a vegan diet, not eating any refined sugar, cleaning up their home environment to reduce Dad’s exposure to toxins, and about cleanses he could do to detoxify his body. This holistic approach was intended to strengthen his immune system and give it the best chance of targeting his cancer.

Whenever my Mum and Dad said they were doing a short spell of juicing or a bowel, liver or kidney cleanse, I never really understood how they managed it. Except that as they did it together, they had each other for support, and they could usually avoid other people eating or having to prepare others’ food, which helped. The Joe Cross Community has been a fabulous place to celebrate others’ juicing achievements and to seek advice on struggles. Fast forward 11 years and my Dad’s most recent MRI last summer showed he is now cancer free.

Dad and Mum at 222 vegan restaurant, celebrating the start of my juice fast

Following in their footsteps, I have been doing a bowel cleanse alongside the juicing for the past five days and will finish this in 3 days time. It has been pretty painless apart from the gritty, charcoaly taste of the cleansing powders I take twice a day. But thankfully Joe’s Mean Green and Green Citrus juices have been great for hiding the taste!

My husband has been a superstar at home, often helping me to wash and chop produce, cooking his own meal so I didn’t have to, as well as more-often-than-me putting the kids to bed so I could start juicing and not be at it all evening long. His sweet and selfless gestures have meant a great deal and helped me through the most challenging times juicing. I love him even more because of this challenge, which isn’t an outcome I had anticipated!

Tucking in to fajitas in Cardiff, while I watched and drank steaming mint tea

My Mum-in-law too has been amazingly supportive and, despite extremely painful peripheral neuropathy affecting her hands and feet having survived Guillain-Barré Syndrome, she has insisted on standing at the sink helping me scrub and peel vegetables and fruit, while entertaining my kids with her magic bag at the same time. She is a true inspiration of someone who lives her life to the full, never letting anything beat her.

Mum-in-law in the throws of making lychee juice

So what has juicing delivered?

  • Improved cognition – thinking straight again isn’t to be underestimated. I now think so much I don’t want to go to bed!
  • I no longer have any oedema in my body (water retention from chronic inflammation)
  • Weight – down to my pre-mesh implant weight in 2005, a loss of 23lbs
  • Heart rate – now 60bpm (my pre-mesh heart rate), down from 80bpm at rest
  • Waist – lost 5 inches
  • Bust – lost 4 inches 
  • Hips – lost 4 inches 
  • Blood pressure – now 100/70, down from 120/80
  • Body Mass Index – now 20, down from 25
  • Shoe size – down half a size in swelling
  • Dress size U.K. – down 3 dress sizes
  • Since July 2018, I have managed to rid my body of nearly 3 stone in oedema from chronic inflammation by following a low histamine diet and the 60 day juice fast.

Medical evidence yet to collate

  • Blood sugar levels – to see if I am still pre-diabetic.
  • Histamine levels – I have unmeasurably low levels of an enzyme called diamine oxidase in my gut, which is critical as it breaks down and rids our body of unwanted histamine. As histamine is contained in all foods, not having this enzyme means histamine builds up in my body causing oedema and many other health problems including increasing allergic responses to drugs, foods and chemicals.
  • Mast cell activation – I’m hoping that the juice fast has stabilised my immune cells known as mast cells. These were previously shooting out their contents left right and centre causing havoc in my body for no good reason, apart from the fact I had two rather nasty polypropylene meshes degrading in my body.

I look forward to letting you know the results in the next couple of months.

Day 59 – Squidgy chocolate pear pudding

Just one day to go and what a mix of emotions. Stupidly, a part of me wants to keep on full-time juicing! It’s because I’ve become so used to it; shopping is easy because of Joe Cross’s very helpful five-day shopping lists, which mean that going back to menu planning and sorting out my own shopping lists seems a bit of a chore on top of menus for the family! However, hopefully the reward of eating some lovely hot food will spur me on.

Even on day 59 I have been tempted. This time the kids menu included the rather wonderful Squidgy chocolate pear pudding, a BBC Good Food recipe. I usually make it with cacao instead of cocoa to improve the nutritional value, sunflower dairy-free spread instead of butter, and sometimes with chia seeds instead of eggs (1 tablespoon of chia to 3 tablespoons of water and whisked to an egg-like consistency, is equivalent to 1 egg). I used normal plain flour, but if I were making the pudding for me too, I’d use half and half rice flour and chickpea flour instead to make it gluten free. If you make all those changes, you can end up with a pretty healthy pud.

Squidgy chocolate pear pudding topped with brownie chocolate and sliced almonds

I came across a new range of free from chocolate in Tesco made by The Free From Kitchen Co. called Rich Brownie Chocolate Slab. It made the perfect topping for the pudding along with the almonds. However, there are other ranges of vegan chocolate, such as the Organic Lucuma Cacao Bar, which are more virtuous because of their use of naturally occurring sugars e.g. honey, coconut sugar or maple sugar.

I whisked up the cacao batter inbetween cooking and dishing up fish fingers, rice, carrots, peas and corn on the cob for the kids and with just half an hour in the oven, the pudding was cooked not long after they had finished eating. The kids enjoyed a portion of pudding, and had seconds too, with lashings of Alpro custard. I quickly drank a pleasant enough green juice before starting on an orange as well, which speedily curbed my hunger.

I’m looking forward to eating again! I’m just beginning to worry that I’ll put back on all the weight I’ve lost within a week, and I’m only just beginning to enjoy being back to my usual size again. I’m glad that the Reboot includes a transition menu to follow for a week and then lots of recipes to help me adjust to a new way of life.

A slice of gooey-in-the-middle Squidgy Chocolate Pear Pudding with Alpro custard

Day 58 – Ground hog day

It has only been three months since I did my first Job Seekers Allowance form and today was my third visit to the job centre to attempt a third signing of the declaration. I gathered up my paperwork, including a copy of the online application form I had done just in case I’d been axed from the system again and hurried out of the door.

As I introduced myself to one of the assistants she looked at her clip board and greeted me with, ‘Oh, you are the woman who hasn’t turned up for appointments.’ Instant hackles up, as I realised I was going to be reliving ground hog day, I explained politely that the first time I missed the appointment it was my mishap with a diary entry, but that I had turned up, just on the wrong day! The second missed appointment they had for me was not an appointment I had made, the true second appointment I had made, I turned up for, but was ill-advised to claim for Universal Credit and not Job Seekers Allowance, so this was my third appointment, where I finally hoped to sign the declaration for job seekers allowance. She shut up after that.

I was told the person I was meant to be seeing was not there, so I would be seeing a stand-in instead. Some days you just know that things are not going to go to plan. I was waved over to the gentleman’s desk and the woman who had previously inappropriately advised me to apply for Universal Credit appeared next to him. She told me that it had transpired that my online application no longer existed as for data protection purposes, all applications are deleted after they are a month old (but mine wasn’t!), and that she wanted me to fill in pages and pages of a paper booklet instead. Flicking through this I realised I would need to supply details of every bank account I own, my business account information and more – far more than had been on the online application and I didn’t have half the information with me.

Sighing with utter disgust at the process, for a benefit which I supposedly have been entitled to receive since my first surgery back in November 2017, I said I’d fill in the application at home and walked out of the door wanting to cry. Instead of wasting my time filling in the ridiculous application form, I’ve decided instead to apply for PPI before it is too late, as I definitely took out a policy in my student years and paid into it right up to my mid twenties. This is hopefully worth as much to me as job seekers allowance and the forms look far easier to complete!

Thankfully I’d made my favourite Green Citrus juice so drank the 500ml bottle quickly and soon felt much better. It amazes me still how juice can revive you and change your negative emotions to positive in just minutes.

Playdate

The end of the day turned out much brighter as a school Mum friend had us all round for a playdate with her two children. She went to town and cooked the children roast poussin with both roast and steamed vegetables, and the lovely smells in the kitchen made me feel very happy despite knowing I wouldn’t be able to taste her delicious-looking meal. One carrot was particularly special, so it escaped being eaten:

My kids had a wonderful time kicking a ball, building towers with blocks, playing football on the playstation and watching part of a film before being called to eat. My three then consumed full platefuls of roast dinner before asking for seconds and thirds! My daughter even asked my friend if she could come again, and helped herself to a fifth roast potato!

Mid-week roast poussin dinner

Potassium broth recipe

What is potassium broth?

The thin earthy brew (which is sometimes called “leftover broth” or “scrap broth”) is made by slowly simmering vegetable scraps to release their essential vitamins and minerals. This infuses the liquid with a wealth of nutrients, such as thyroid-revving selenium, detoxifying vitamin K, and hunger-dampening amino acids. 

But the real slimming superstar of the broth is potassium. Concentrated mostly in the skins and other discarded portions of many vegetables, this mineral is an electrolyte and natural diuretic — properties that prompt waterlogged cells throughout the body to release trapped fluids. Studies show this effect leads to struggle-free weight loss: Harvard researchers found that sipping a daily mug of potassium-rich broth can help women shed four pounds in three weeks without diet or exercise. 

A great tasting addition to your cleansing programme. It will flush your system of toxins, acid and mucous, while giving you concentrated amounts of minerals.

Recipe

Makes 4  pints (80 fl ozs)

Need a  large pan – equivalent to a large pressure cooker

Ingredients

Use only organic vegetables.

—5 Potato peelings- use potatoes for chips or mash

—5 Carrot peelings – use carrots for juice or freeze

—5 Beetroot – whole chopped  & greens

— 2 Onions – whole chopped – no need to be fine

—5 Garlic cloves – roughly chopped (I love garlic so doubled this amount)

—5 sticks of Celery – whole chopped

Ÿ1 medium hot chilli pepper – chopped (or to taste)

A handful each of your favourite fresh herbs – e.g. thyme, parsley, sage

Method

  • Just cover with water and simmer for 1 hour
  • Discard solids – beetroot maybe save some for soup/salad
  • Strain and keep broth only (keep in fridge)
  • You should have around 2.3 litres of broth. If you are short, top up with boiling water.
  • Store for four days in the refrigerator or up to a year in the freezer in an airtight container.

Potassium Broth Benefits

Proponents of potassium broth note that it also has an alkalinizing pH, which helps neutralize the acidic by-products of digestion and metabolism that can lead to muscle-wasting. This alkalinizing effect is said to protect the body’s stores of calorie-torching lean muscle tissue. In one Tufts University study, researchers found that adults over 55 who consumed the most potassium had 16 percent more lean muscle mass than those who got less potassium in their diet. Potassium broth fans say this boost is powerful enough to keep their metabolism humming and ward off middle-aged fat.

Sipping potassium broth is also said to help eliminate brain fog, improve memory, and ward off mood swings. That’s because potassium plays an essential role in the communication between nerve cells in the brain. Additional research published in The Journal of Pain suggests that the mineral’s electrolyte properties help dial down the activity of pain nerves throughout the body, reducing muscle and joint pain by 33 percent or more within just four weeks. And maintaining adequate potassium nutrition levels has also been linked to faster wound healing, diminished stress levels, lower blood pressure, and a reduction in age-related bone loss.

Potassium broth can be warm and comforting any time of the day or night, providing much needed vitamins and minerals while flushing the system and aiding the body’s natural detoxification process.

Herbalists and naturopathic doctors have been recommending potassium broth for decades. The vitamins, minerals and emotional sense of well being it offers can make it worth the extra effort to make. Benefits include:

  • ŸAdds essential vitamins and minerals
  • ŸAlkalizing to the body
  • ŸAids in the body’s natural detoxification process
  • ŸHydrates the body
  • ŸBoosts the immune system
  • ŸCan help regulate blood pressure
  • ŸHelps flush the kidneys and rid the body of retained water

Is potassium broth safe?

Though proponents say healthy women who regularly sip potassium broth are not at risk for any negative side effects, nutrition experts do caution against relying on the broth as a meal replacement because it lacks many of the essential nutrients that are necessary for a well-rounded diet and optimal health. Experts also advise talking to a health-care provider before making potassium broth part of a daily diet— this is especially key for anyone who is ona daily aspirin regimen (which can raise potassium levels), has had kidney concerns (because the organ filters potassium) or who is taking medications that are known to raise potassium levels (includingdiuretics, ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, or blood-thinning agents).

Beautiful beet-coloured potassium broth

Day 57 – Morbidity and mortality

For the past 6 weeks, I had been left hanging with the worry of whether I had developed systemic scleroderma. If I tested positive, I knew I was facing up to a 10-year life expectancy, because my immune system would attack all the connective tissue in my body, likely leading to major organ failure and/or cancer. I tried not to think about it and to remain positive, while sipping my life-giving green juice and packing the rest of my juices in a cool bag, but my stomach was doing somersaults with fear.

I would also find out if I had developed Raynaud’s syndrome. It was soon after my last mesh removal surgery on 30th October 2018 when I first began to feel cold all the time, and the skin on my hands around my fingers had turned red and blotchy and the cuts on the ends of my fingers and knuckles more severe.

It was an important day. I had a consultation with Professor Denton, the UK’s leading expert on scleroderma and Raynaud’s at The Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead. My husband had taken the day off work to come with me.

To kill time in the morning, while waiting for the appointment at 1pm, I had booked a yoga class which helped focus my mind on breathing and stretching. The instructor focussed much of the class on stretching the hips. I am always stiff in this area and find it very difficult to sit cross legged now because my Trans-Obturator Tape mesh went through the obturator foramen (the holes in either side of the hip bones). When it was removed, the surgeon had to scrape the mesh out of my bone in the obturator foramen where it had become embedded. Before the class I had a lot of discomfort and pain in the left hip, but amazingly after it, the pain was gone.

We missed the first train from South Acton tube and sat on a bench in the cold spring sunshine for 10 minutes to await the next one. By the time it arrived I was chilled to the bone as I only had on my gym gear and a thin hoodie underneath my coat as we had been in a rush in the end leaving the house.

The short, 20-minute trip to Hampstead Heath from South Acton was a pleasant journey which passed in a blur. The London Overground train was spacious, clean and warm. In summer it would be pleasantly cool with the air conditioning, unlike other trains on the London Underground network.

When we arrived at Hampstead Heath station, we exited the station to find ourselves beside a beautiful looking fruit and vegetable stall. The hospital was just a couple of minutes away, and opposite the entrance we were surprised to walk past a fresh juice bar, where my husband promised we’d go after the appointment. It felt like a good omen.

Consultation with Prof Denton

Professor Denton was a thoughtful and considered, kind man, who had been fully informed of my case by my referring rheumatologist. However, he wanted to hear my symptoms first hand so asked a lot of questions to cover all of my history. After reading up on the histopathology reports on my explanted mesh, he talked about the fact he had seen a number of patients with different medical implants and that they had been the causal link with their immune disorders and that he was very clear in his mind that Mesh had caused my Raynaud’s symptoms and was masking itself as systemic scleroderma.

My test results for autoantibodies, which are indicative of scleroderma, had come back as negative, so Prof Denton said he did not think I had this autoimmune disease, but he wanted to check the capillaries in my nail bed on my fingers to be absolutely sure. The joy rushed through my veins and my heart felt light with relief and I looked at my husband to witness his body relax with relief too.

To hear this wonderful man say out loud that mesh was the cause of my immune ill health (something I had suspected all along) brought great comfort, despite being told he thought I had genuine Raynaud’s. This illness at least wasn’t going to kill me despite how uncomfortable feeling cold is and how painful split fingers are. And he told me reassuringly that many patients with immune reactions to medical implants eventually recover from their immune illnesses. Hearing this news brought me great hope.

Tests: capillary nail bed and thermal imaging

The nail bed capillary analysis was done by a doctor with 27 years experience as a scientist in the field of Raynaud’s and scleroderma. He was a talkative, happy soul, and he shared a lot about the diseases with us and his work. He used a microscope to look at the capillary ends in my nail bed and my shoulders relaxed as I could clearly see the neat lines of capillaries and the bends at the ends where they turned around and went back up my fingers again. He explained that if I had scleroderma the vessels would have pooled together to form large blobs and as mine were all still in neat rows, I was showing no evidence of disease. He stopped talking for a moment to allow this very happy news to sink in.

Next the doctor asked me to plunge both my hands into a bucket of water at 17 degrees for a minute. Swimming pool water is often heated to between 25 and 28 degrees, or 30 degrees in children’s pools, so 17 degrees did give me a mild shock as I placed my hands in the water. After a minute he asked me to hold a white chopping board against my chest while placing my hands on the front of it. A thermal imaging camera pointing at my hands would monitor the returning heat. The thermal image from the camera was projecting onto a TV screen which we could all watch. The screen showed my hands as completely black in colour.

The doctor explained that when we put an extremity, like a hand, into cold water, nerve signals are sent to the brain letting it know that heat is being lost from that part of our body. The brain in response sends nerve signals to that body part causing muscles around blood vessels to constrict. This stops blood flow to the area which reduces heat loss, so that heat can be kept for the core of our bodies. In an adult with normal functioning vascular system, you would expect to see warmth returning to your hands within five minutes as the vascular system communicates with the nervous system that the temperature has risen again so muscles surrounding the capillaries can relax and let blood flow through.

The doctor distracted me with his stories about other patients he had met. A little old lady with severe Raynaud’s who used to warm her hands over the lit gas ring on her stove. Another whose party trick was picking up hot oven trays without oven gloves. And another who prided herself on being able to bear the hottest baths which her husband couldn’t put his toe into. The doctor proceeded to warn us that none of these party tricks were a good thing, as not being able to feel heat didn’t mean that the skin wasn’t damaged just the same. I shared that I have burned myself on hot water bottles at least three times in the past month because I can’t feel how hot they are, which led to a conversation about high-tec heated clothing and hand warmers, which I found out my husband already had for golf.

Five minutes had now passed and my hands remained black on the screen. My heart sank a little as a realised that they were not going to change colour anytime soon. After ten minutes, my hands were still showing no signs of the return of warmth and the doctor ended the test. Raynaud’s looked certain, but Professor Denton wanted to look at my test results first before writing to my referring rheumatologist and letting me, my immunologist and two mesh removal consultants know the diagnosis.

We left the hospital with lighter hearts and celebrated with a juice. I chose an apple, carrot and ginger juice and it was my sweetest yet.

We got home just in time to attend my daughter’s Brownie promise ceremony. She remembered all her words and was warmly welcomed into her Brownie pack by the kindest of Brown Owls. My daughter was glowing with pride afterwards and so was I, but doubly so because of the fond memory of my own promise ceremony 38 years ago.

Day 56 – Mother’s Day

I woke to find I was surrounded by three hot water bottles – one to my left, one to my right and one under my feet. Confused, I opened an eye to spy a little boy sleeping to my right, snuggling up to the other side of his still warm woolly sheep bottle. And to my left, was his brother who, realising I was stirring, excitedly tried to prize open my eyes with his fingers. Welcome to Mother’s Day!

Three very excited children waited impatiently while I prepared my hot water and ginger and warmed up my juice before arguing who would be first to give me their home made card and present. My daughter delightedly watched me open hers first, which she proudly told me she had bought with her own money. What a great gift it was too; Little Miss Busy Surviving Motherhood, a short little book of laughs, just the size of book I can manage these days. An eager Twin 2 then kindly helped me unwrap a jar and bottle opener, which was exactly what I needed, and Twin 1 quickly ripped off the lovely pink-striped paper to reveal a beautiful pair of wool bed socks. Just perfect!

We celebrated part of the day in Ravenscourt Park at the fairground I’d promised the boys we’d come back to the day before. This time the rides were in full swing and some good tunes were blaring out across the park. My excited children joined a small crowd of others running from one ride to the next sussing out which they wanted to go on first, and next, and next. They had a wonderful time, while I slowly began to feel colder and colder, despite a coat, many layers, gloves and a scarf.

When my husband disappeared off to grab himself a panini and arrived back with single scoop pots of sorbet for the kids, I was confused for the second time. I’d suggested he bought lollies as a treat, but had expected sweet lollies like the ones I’d spotted the day before on the café counter, and not something in the spectrum of iced treats! Being ice-cream fans, the kids were delighted, despite the weather. I couldn’t think of anything worse. I was now cold to the bone.

The day ended with a brief but happy shop for some smaller clothing basics, while the kids enjoyed some Dad time. An hour later, in the warmth of the indoor shopping mall, I finally thawed out.

Day 55 – Can you juice pizza?

I overran on the supermarket shop this morning which sadly meant my daughter missed out on her swimming lesson. I tried my best to get back in time, but with the shelves in Aldi half empty (on a Saturday morning at 8.15am?), I had to do the majority of the shop afterwards in Tesco, a huge store, which I often find hard to navigate. I should have given up earlier, but sneaked in another aisle before joining a checkout, only to find I had the most inquisitive check out lady. She began by quizzing me on why I had bought 45 apples, 6 bags of organic kale, 4 bags of choi sum, 20 inches of ginger and 6 bags of organic carrots. Stupidly, instead of telling her a little white lie that I was cooking for a large family dinner, I told her the truth. Telling anyone that you are day 55 of a juice fast, is never the quickest way of getting your goods scanned.

A packed fridge ready for my final 5 days of juice only.

Beckonscot

In the late afternoon, my family all went to visit Bekonscot Village, the world’s oldest and original model village. I love it there. It is a fascinating little place which you can do comfortably in a couple of hours. There’s a great cafe with loads of outdoor seating for picnics, a good-sized play area for the kids to work off some energy, and a lovely ride-on train which takes you round the site and gives you a better view of the miniature railway which runs around the model village.

Lessons in what to juice

My husband arrived home from Beconsfield carrying a Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Pizza – spicy chicken arrabbiata with ndjua. It certainly smelt delicious as it was cooking. I have to admit that I didn’t know what ndjua was. And for those who don’t either, it’s a smoky, spicy, spreadable Italian sausage. I asked my husband if the pizza tasted as great as it looked and he retorted, ‘Yes, why don’t you juice some?’ I wish!

I don’t alter my dessert juice anymore, I now just make the same one every day as I love it so much: 1 apple, 1 pear, 1 peach, 150g blueberries and 1 sweet potato put through the juicer. I occasionally add some additional ingredients, depending upon what I have left over. Tonight the juice contained three figs. To the juice I then add a sprinkling of cinnamon and a heaped dessert spoon of pea protein powder before blitzing it for a few seconds in a blender. Tonight, I served it with a paper pineapple straw and cocktail umbrella and sipped slowly. Heavenly.

My delicious dessert juice

Day 54 – Warmth at long last

Spring arrived in full swing in London. It was such a warm, sunny day that even the tulips in our back garden opened their heads to celebrate.

I packed the remains of a stunning, pink, breakfast juice, which bore close resemblance to a camellia blooming outside my neighbour’s house, and enough snacks to feed an army. The boys and I then caught the bus to Ravenscourt Park. We sat in the front seats together and talked about all the different shops we saw on the High Road.

The boys happily scooted through the entrance of the park and soon found the children’s play area, then a fair which wasn’t yet open and, disappointed, made me promise we’d come back over the weekend. We played football, fed the ducks and geese, found the loos, just in time and walked down an avenue of blossoming cherry trees. I felt warm all day for the first time in months.

We lunched back at home. My green juice was another good one. The boys had half a veggie burger each accompanied by homemade baked chips, roasted butternut squash and peas. The dessert of homemade, blueberry and chocolate chip muffin was their reward for finishing most of their lunch.

A neighbour dropped round in the afternoon to juice some of her own produce, and kindly brought me a gift of more organic beets, and helped me to prepare all my produce for my next day’s juice, which gave me back an evening to catch up on Doc Martin!

Day 53- An old friend

The older I become, the harder I find CV writing. I’ve had three careers: media, healthcare and consulting, and a lot of jobs in the past 23 years. It’s a case of what do I keep in and what do I leave out now, and how do I present it – chronologically, or skills-based. I tried skills-based on this occasion and quite liked it for its conciseness.

I was meeting an old friend and work colleague at Ernst & Young, who I had first met in 2008. We had worked together for 2 happy years before feeling forced to go our separate ways as the boutique consulting firm we worked for was bought out.

An agency had contacted me recently about a back-to-work scheme run by Ernst and Young called EY Reconnect. This is a 12-week paid programme of support to get you back into the workplace after an extended break. I had the right qualifications so, before applying, I reached out to my friend to ask for her advice. She kindly invited me to her office in London Bridge for a catch up and to introduce me to a few of her colleagues.

It was an exciting afternoon. London Bridge has become even more of a bustling and interesting place to work in recent years. The smells of the restaurants and cafes alone had me excited just walking from the tube to EY’s office. A short pep talk later, I noticed that The Thames was a stones throw away from my friend’s office and that Tower Bridge was visible at the end of the street. The view made me realise how much I still love London, having arrived here as a student 27 years ago.

Seeing my friend again was a hugely happy event, and hearing about her transition from government work to people services and how much she was enjoying the change, and her new colleagues, was inspiring. I was reminded how I had previously enjoyed the professionalism of a good consulting environment, the training, thought leadership opportunities, comradeship and support, the preparedness and organisation, access to good technology, a comfortable working environment and the more-often-than-not rewarding work.

Meeting one of the first EY Reconnect employees was an unexpected pleasure, and I was able to explore how work-life balance, travel and getting back into work was for her. The fact she took her kids on a holiday to Dubai at the end of the programme had me wishing I could do the same. Well, to be honest, any holiday would be nice. By the end of the conversation, I realised I really had all to gain in applying, but that my confidence was seriously lacking now having been 14 months out of working environments where the world changes very quickly.

I then had the pleasure of being introduced by my friend to the Head of Leadership, a field which has fascinated me for years. Throughout my twenties I was a member of International Business Systems, which was a programme of training through books and seminars on a wide range of leadership and management skills (my bulging bookcase to this day still stores the evidence). The quarterly seminars in Wembley gave me the opportunity to hear inspiring speakers including, Matthew Pinsent CBE, rower and winner of 10 world championship gold medals and four consecutive Olympic gold medals; Richard Noble OBE, land speed record holder, 1983-1987; Tracy Edwards MBE, skipper of the first all-female crew in the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race; and Simon Weston CBE, veteran of the British Army who is known for his recovery from severe burn injuries suffered during the Falklands War.

It was an opportune moment, as after a glowing introduction by my kind friend, her colleague quickly mentioned that there were roles available in his team. A second later, my CV safely in his hands, I said I hoped he would consider me! Fingers crossed.