Let’s juice it baby with the Alpha Step: 5 Day Reset #weightloss #health #lifestyle #juicing

Screen Shot 2013-05-19 at 23.54.01

Our travel writer Katrina Santos-Baron took a break from travelling to glamorous locations and instead spent the last week on a health trip that didn’t even require her to leave her home town! She shared her findings with Snoochie Boochies to show the benefits of tackling weight loss and healthy living through juicing, and more specifically the Alpha Step: 5 Day Reset. 

Follow her journey here and on her amazing blog: http://katscapades.net

Over to you Kat! 

Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 13.19.59Two months ago, I decided to go on a Weight Loss Challenge as I wanted to lose 5 kilos (11 lbs) that I gained over the last few months.  I started it as I was coming into the realisation that married life is not an excuse to gain more inches around the waist! And I found along the way, that there’s more to life than just losing those ‘muffin tops’ I gained from a happy marriage  *giggles* and fitting once again into my size 8 dresses, jeans and stylist’s clothes, what actually happened was that I rediscovered the beauty of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. And who wouldn’t want to wake up with a flatter tummy?!

Looking back at my diet, I realised I was eating a lot of oily and processed foods, particularly when my husband and I had a few friends over from our native Philippines. (I was cooking a lot of Filipino delicacies, such as binagoongan, ginataang alimasag, sinigang, rice and all for 2 weeks – not to forget the deserts on top!  – oh, good times). I applied the polite portion principle though. During this time, I noticed that my skin started to breakout and I almost gained what I just lost. Phew… So, being inspired by some of my fitness partners, I bought a juicer and I started juicing various produce.

I can officially announce that my juicer has been the busiest machine in my kitchen! I’ve been experimenting lots of different mixes, I find it de-stressing. My husband and I have moved on to replacing one meal with 1-2 cups of freshly made juice (mostly dinner) and this has been going on for few weeks now. Over this time, I noticed that I’ve lost 3 kilos and few cm off my waistline. Yahoooooo! Well that comes with also working out almost 5 days week, a holistic approach is the key!

I also noticed that with juicing, my skin got clearer with a pinkish glow effect, and I am more energetic especially when I do my usual fitness exercises.

Juicing

Its not just me who has seen the benefits:

One of my friends who inspired me to start juicing also shared her juicing experience:

“I have been juicing on and off for almost a decade already. But seriously juiced (everyday) just this year. Our family doctor recommended a recipe to make us healthier and have glowing skin noticeable in just a week. So we tried it – it was great! We went back to it this year and I really noticed a big difference in my energy levels so continued my research (since that recipe tasted horrible) and found a whole heap of new recipes to try. 

Since I started juicing, I noticed I got more energy and my skin was just glowing. There is that rosy pink glow to it. I can do so much more in the day than I used to. The energy is the most important change that I noticed. I became stronger. Also, I am a frustrated runner. My knees hurt everytime I tried to run, even for just a few seconds. But more recently I am able to do a minute of running, alternating with brisk walking then running again. I’m faster now. I’ve always known it has got to be the juicing. And just today, I discovered that cucumbers help lubricate your joints. I juice cucumber a lot, so now I know why all of a sudden I can run for a bit longer. I got hooked. And been sharing the benefits of juicing to my friends since.”

You can see why my friend is my juicing guru. We’ve been talking about different types of juicers (centrifugal vs masticating juicers and how we can’t wait to get our hands on Hurom HU-700), various juice mixes and health advice.

Screen Shot 2013-05-19 at 23.54.37

The Alpha Step: 5 Day Reset 

As I got more serious about juicing I’ve started an Alpha Step: 5-day Reset. This means that I’ll be eating no food for a period of 3 days but instead, replacing all the meals with 100% fresh veggies and fruit juice every 3 hours up to 6 times a day and consuming 10-12 cups daily, then slowly introducing protein on Day 4 & 5 then back to eating clean and regular exercise.

Here’s a helpful quick-start article by Drew Canole about this – please click here. I don’t think I have the symptoms of poor digestion as mentioned in the article but I believe my body deserves a break from heavy food intake. Drew also stated that, “Alpha Step”…is the beginning step in any new workout regime or fitness goal. Okay, game.

So here’s my Alpha Step Diary:

The day before:

I started to read few articles and blogs about Alpha Step so that I get a clear understanding of what am I getting myself into. I got really excited, unfortunately, and planned my grocery shopping for the following day.

This is it. Day 1:

  • Weight: 57.7kgs
  • I had warm water with lemon as usual (let’s call this L-H20 and this is different from squeezing lemon on drinking water under room temperature; to cut the long story short, the difference is the water temperature)
  • I had a banana-kiwi smoothie for breakfast since bananas do not go in the juicer. I blended it well to ensure that it’s less thicker than a normal smoothie, almost close to the juice texture.
  • I quickly went to the shop nearby and picked few essentials
  • I’m glad I had a good 60-min cardio at the gym last Saturday as this programme prohibits excessive exercise / lifting weights for 5 days. I just did few squats at home.
  • I did the normal no.2 in the morning (sorry I had to write this in case this changes along the course)
  • Three hours later, I juiced 4 celery stalks, 4 carrots, 2 red apples, half beet root and a handful of spinach
  • My next juice was 4 big tomatoes and 2 small carrots – kinda sour…
  • I was drinking loads of water squeezed with lemon all day
  • I felt kinda dizzy, maybe that’s my body adjusting or I was just spending too much time infront of the computer, anyways, I kept on reminding myself – I can do it. Here’s my work desk with my juice (sorry it’s a bit cluttered, I usually clear it up after):

My work desk

  • I really wanted to stuff my mouth with the leftover M&Ms.. Lol.. But I thought, it’s not worth it!
  • My husband picked me up to do grocery shopping and we spent nearly £85 on produce! Okay, this is not a cheap diet but I know it’s a good health investment.
  • I got a bit hungry so I made beetroot, carrot and cucumber juice – not my favourite mix so I had water with lemon immediately
  • This is the most challenging bit: cooking salmon and aglio e olio for my husbands dinner. Okay, okay, okay… I had to hold my breath and focus on my goal: detox to lose unwanted fats and be healthier. Fine.
  • Of course I had to go to the loo frequently due to the amount of liquids drank all day (not to do no.2 – just want to make it clear)
  • For the first time in months, I felt sleepy at 9:30pm and went to bed early.

Ain’t That Easy. Day 2:

  • Weight: 56.5 kilos – I already lost 1.2 kilos
  • I had the same in the morning: L-H20 plus banana and kiwi juice-like smoothie
  • I didn’t take any fiber supplement as advised and there wasn’t a change in my toilet routine, I was still able to do no.2 at around the same time (sorry, it’s gross but I have to include it)
  • I juiced greens for lunch: broccoli, bell pepper, granny smith apple, cucumber, celery and parsley.

Green Juice

  • The dizziness had gone and I felt energetic. However I am paranoid of the pimple-popping-detox-result. I’ve read few blogs and they’ve experienced severe breakouts during the juice fast. Thankfully, no red spots on my skin yet. I guess that’s because I’ve been juicing already and been avoiding greasy junk food prior to this.
  • The green juice made me full for the next few hours until late in the afternoon. I’ve been eating Juice Plus Chewables (made from real fruits and veggies in chewy form – it melts before it even goes down to the esophagus so I guess it’s okay).
  • Another challenge: I prepared roast chicken, potatoes with onions, red and yellow bell peppers for my husband’s dinner – now that made me hungry! I was okay the whole day until this came along! I thought it was going to be easy but it made me crave for hot food!  The whole house smelled of roasted chicken and I realised this is not easy.
  • So I made a juice: half of a red bell pepper, 1 apple, 2 carrots and 2×1″ ginger. I don’t know what I was thinking – it really tasted awful.  I only had few gulps and I had to bin it… I felt really bad, I hate wasting food!
  • To give myself a little treat, I made my one of my favourite mixes – beet, carrot and apple, my comfort juice (others call it the ‘Miracle Drink’) and went to bed at past 10ish

I’m Still Alive: Day 3:

  • Yes, I’m still alive! lol. The thought of ‘no food’ was a bit scary to begin with but thinking of all the benefits from juicing and upon reading the testimonials, obviously this plan is created for a nourishing detox and I woke up happier this morning. It’s the last day anyway and tomorrow I can insert egg whites in my diet, then fish the day after.
  • This morning, I weighed 56.1 (dropped almost 1 lbs), lost 2.6cm off my waistline and no breakouts – yahooooo!
  • After the usual L-H20, I had a smoothie made of 2 bananas and a cupful of strawberries for breakfast and that kept me full for hours (I’ve been drinking water with lemon in between as well)
  • Normal toilet routine – meaning my digestion is still good 🙂
  • Got a bit hungry so I prepared a juice made of 1 pack of asparagus, 2 tomatoes and 1 carrot.

Aspharagus Juice

  • At around half 5 in the afternoon, I made an orange juice (using 6 oranges). Did you know that oranges are good for the skin? That’s one beauty secret revealed!
  • I wanted to join my husband in the gym at around 7ish but I opted not too since the plan prohibits excessive exercise as I mentioned earlier. I also have loads of unfinished work to do anyways…
  • Like in the past two days, the most challenging bit comes when I prepare dinner for my husband. I cooked Spaghetti Bolognaise (another favourite). I thought to myself, “It’s okay, Kat. Few more days and you can eat a polite portion of SpagBol. You’ve come this far, so don’t give up”.  Hope you don’t get me wrong, I’m not depriving myself – I’m detoxing just for 5-days!
  • For dinner, I made 1 beet root, 1 carrot, 1 apple, 1 cucumber, 4 celery stalks and handful of parsley.

Smiling on a Gloomy: Day 4:

  •  I woke up on a gloomy and rainy morning but I feel lighter. I went to the bathroom and I weighed 55.3kgs (1.7 lbs lost) and dropped 1cm off my waistline. No breakouts on my skin apart from a dried tiny spot on my forehead (I had this before I started the Alpha Step!)
  • I had 4 boiled eggs whites on a empty stomach replacing one juice consumption. I was so excited to have egg whites. I seemed like I’ve never felt as excited as this about egg whites in my entire life! That was filling and I had a good burp (excuse me!).
  • Banana, strawberry and kiwi smoothie for brunch at 11:45
  • I realised my no.2 didn’t take place (I hadn’t taken any fibre supplement yet)
  • I made another green juice: 3 celery stalks, 1 cucumber, parsley, broccoli and 1 lemon. Tangy, tangy…
  • I had another 2 egg whites for dinner 🙂
  • I was sleepy at around 10ish but was watching a movie with my husband, so ended up staying awake until about midnight. I was a bit cheeky and tried one of his M&Ms..but apparently, I was surprised that I didn’t like the taste – I can sorta feel the green juice on my tongue mixed with chocolate, nasty. Anyway, at least it puts me off from getting another one.

I Survived! Day 5:

  • Last day of my Alpha Step.  It’s so sunny outside so I wore my trainers and went for a quick walk around the neighborhood. But before that, I had 3 boiled egg whites for breakfast. I weighed 54.8kgs (1.3 kilos / 2.9 lbs lost) and dropped another 1cm off my waistline. I feel that my energy’s back to normal, actually I can run but I just thought maybe I’ll give it few more days.
  • After the walk, I grabbed a freshly made juice from a local juicing cafe. It’s called Sun Kissed made of mango, orange, pineapple and passion fruit  It was so refreshing!
  • I was a bit stressed for missing out my normal morning toilet routine yesterday, glad it went back to normal today (see I told you, it has to be documented!)
  • For lunch, I juiced 3 apples and 2 carrots.
  • After hours and hours of writing reports, etc for work, my husband and I went to the gym at 6:30pm. I had a banana before (that’s not part of the programme, I just had one). My friend, was also there and we did 30-min cross training session, 30-min cycling session and spent 4-mins rowing.
  • For dinner, FINALLY!!!! Tadaaaaaa…….

Fish

  • Okay, it may not look that exciting for you but I was so looking forward to eating dinner with my husband. Since Monday, I was just having juice while he was eating the food I cooked. He had rice with this fish but I just had the fish meat (I seasoned this fish with tomatoes, shallots, spring onions, lemon, ginger, pinch of salt and pepper and little olive oil popped in the oven for 15 mins covered with foil then another 15 mins without – just in case you want to find out the recipe).
  • Very Happy!

My conclusion on the Alpha Step detox

That’s my Alpha Step experience, the first detox program that I’ve tried. I lost 3 kilos (6.61 lbs) and about 4cm off my waistline. I originally wanted to become skinnier, basically get my pre-married shape back but really beyond that, I did this because I want to be healthier (shredding off those unwanted ‘muffin tops’ is a BIG bonus, wink*… plus the glowing skin). Of course I won’t binge on food after fasting for 5 days. Slowly, I’ll go back to eating clean foods and will avoid junk food as much as possible.

If you are looking for a detox programme without losing the important nutrients needed by our body, I think this one is for you. Don’t worry about not having carbs, it’s just 5 days anyway! Just make sure you consult your doctor first especially if you are undergoing medication.

I suggest that before you do this, get a juicer and insert this juicing habit in your daily life. Try replacing one meal, preferably at night, with 1-2 cups of freshly made juice like what I’d been doing before this detox program (and will be doing after). Then see if you think you are ready for the Alpha Step. Otherwise, juice anyway. And keep juicing, baby!

Here are quick tips about juicing:

  • Have the right mindset. Be beautiful inside and out.
  • It ‘s really important that you connect with the people who are also into this. It’s helpful to follow blogs, Facebook pages and Instagram posts. I’ve downloaded ‘The Everything Juicing Book’ by Carole Jacobs and ‘The Funk Fresh Juice ebook’ by Jason Vale in my iBooks.
  • Get a good juicer. Currently, I am using an Electrolux centrifugal juicer since I didn’t really know what to get at first. Now, I’m saving up for a Hurom slow juicer (it’s about £360!). Also consider if it is easy-to-clean as you must clean your juicer every after use.
  • Make sure you wash your fruits and veggies properly, you’ll never know! Also it’s better to use a plastic chopping board instead of a wooden one. Do not chop meats using this chopping board – get a separate one for that.
  • Do not store produce in the fridge for long. They only last for few days. I know it will take you several trips to the grocery weekly but believe me, it’s all worth it. Plus you get to burn those extra fats by walking to the supermarket!
  • Be prepared for frequent toilet visit.
  • Even busy people can make this a healthy habit.
  • Juice greens! Juice those superfoods that you can’t eat – at least you can cover your nose when you drink!
  • Juice less fruits at night – they’re good during the day or before the work-out. How about a refreshing apple-carrot juice after a 5km run?
  • Drink your juice immediately, you don’t to lose those nutrients!
  • Drink warm water with lemon first thing in the morning – it alkalizes your body.
  • If you feel you haven’t juiced enough, try Juice Plus Chewables (I used to eat Haribo gummies whilst working, now I replaced it with these all-natural fruit and veggie chewies)
  • Get a juicing journal or save your juicing mixes in your iPhone notes. I like taking pictures too.
  • Try, experiment, enjoy!
  • Just think of your health, really. That’s about it. Benefits will follow 🙂

Happy Juicing and cheers to a healthier us!

The Great British Roast – At the Balham Bowls Club @balhambowls #foodreview

Screen Shot 2013-04-07 at 19.21.10

Ahhh the humble roast dinner… the staple Sunday meal for the best of British, whether it be pork, beef, lamb or even a nut roast, our expectations are high come 1pm onwards. But why do we love the Sunday lunch so much and where does it all originate from?

Well, there are apparently two origins:

1) During the industrial revolution, Yorkshire families left a cut of meat in the oven before going to church on a Sunday morning, which was then ready to eat by the time they arrived home at lunchtime.

2) The Sunday Roast dates back to medieval times, when the village serfs served the squire for six days a week. Then on the Sunday, after the morning church service, serfs would assemble in a field and practice their battle techniques and were rewarded with a feast of oxen roasted on a spit.

Screen Shot 2013-04-07 at 19.26.33

Whatever its starting point, the Sunday Roast is still a firm favourite in modern day, and with the sun shining so beautifully yesterday, Snoochie Boochies went on the hunt for the best.

The criteria has to be this:

1) It must be in a traditional setting (if its not in your own home)

2) It must have roasted meat, roast potato or mashed potato, with accompaniments such as Yorkshire pudding, stuffing,vegetables and gravy.

3) It mustn’t cost the world

4) It must fill the plate!

So what did we find this week?

BALHAM BOWLS CLUB

Screen Shot 2013-04-07 at 19.09.32

No longer a home for bowls, the Balham Bowls Club is now a quirky drinking and eating establishment within easy walking distance from Balham train and tube station. It feels like you’re in a slight time warp to an era pre 1970’s. It has original features, a cosy atmosphere, smiley bar staff and waiters and very British bunting hanging across the ceiling – Cath Kidston would be pleased!

Family friendly, Balham Bowls club is popular to customers of all ages, from regular drinkers, to those who fancy a game of Musical Bingo on a Thursday night; and to families looking for somewhere large enough to house a push-chair for a quick pit stop between shopping.

On a Sunday, it is advised to book in advance for a Sunday Roast. It’s a popular venue, so you wont often find a seat or table if you show up on the day itself. One of the downsides to its thriving business is that often food can take quite a long time to come out, but if you manage to book a sitting just before the rush (as we did) then you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you actually can get the food.

Screen Shot 2013-04-07 at 19.23.54

The selection of meat is impressively large with beef, lamb, pork, chicken and a vegetarian option, there’s definitely something for everyone. When the food arrives the plate is piled relatively high with your chosen meat, along with some lovely sides of cheesy cauliflower and red cabbage. One big shame is that the great yorkshire pudding is not included, and you can’t help but think that something definitely is missing. However the rest is more than enough for you to enjoy in one sitting, and a relaxing snooze is definitely on the cards when you get home.

To follow this up, we’d definitely recommend the scrumptious chocolate brownie or sticky toffee pudding, and at £4.50 it wont break the bank to treat yourself to a dessert. The final bill isn’t too alarming either. Look to pay (including tip) between £16-18 for a main and desert and around £22 if you fancy a tipple alongside it.

All in all, if the sun is shining and you really can’t bring yourself to slave away for hours to cook the perfect roast, then Balham Bowls Club is a great alternative, friendly, fun and something different from your average pub, its well worth a punt.

But of course, if you fancy taking the matter into your own hands, here’s a handy video from Gourmet Butcher Donald Russell on how to cook the perfect roast…

Happy Eating!