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Pressing the Reset Button, Penni Shelton's Juice Feasting journey

This week is Women's Week on WLIR. We're featuring essays, podcasts and profiles on the topic of women's health and women in the world of raw food. Today's essays comes to us from health enthusiast and educator, Penni Shelton. Penni is the author of Real Juice Daily and has been featured on this site, Carl Atl's Raw 50, and multiple articles in Oklahoma's Tulsa World, a daily newspaper.

In 2005 Penni started her raw journey to overcome a life long struggle with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Currently Penni is at the half way point of her 90 day juice feast and has joined us today on WLIR to talk about how her life has changed on this beautiful journey.

Pressing the Reset Button, Penni Shelton's Juice Feasting journey

Juice Feasting 101
Many of you within the raw food community are already acquainted with the concept and theory behind juice feasting. However, for the benefit of the readers who aren’t that familiar with the term, allow me to post a brief synopsis of the practice. As the name implies, juice feasting is unlike juice fasting, in that it is a program of abundance, in which the feaster drinks 12-15 lbs. of freshly juiced produce each day. Within the 12-15 lbs., it is strongly advised to include 2 lbs. of leafy greens (kale, spinach, chard, parsley, etc.) along with one head of celery each day. Additionally, with the other fruits and vegetables (preferably organic), one is receiving all the nutrition needed to feed the body and mind, yet this liquid nourishment places the body in a position to detoxify, eliminate nutritional deficiencies and heal the digestive track in the most efficient way possible. Depending upon your personal health and commitment, most feasters choose to embark on a 30-92 day program of drinking 4 Quarts of fresh juices and additional superfoods, like Spirulina and bee pollen, each day. This practice is unlike any other in that it pushes the reset button on your physiology, taking you back in time about 120 days for each day you juice feast. There is no other method that turns on the body’s natural ability to cleanse and rebuild in such a way as when you are flooding your system with nutrient dense fruit and vegetable juices which beautifully balance, rehydrate and alkalize your entire system.

My journey begins...
When I first heard of juice feasting, it was about a year and a half ago when I was following the work of Angela Stokes, who at the time was an English blogger that had overcome morbid obesity and a plethora of other health issues, including Candida, by switching to a raw food diet. I would periodically log onto her site to read about her personal experience with the rejuvenating powers of raw foods and juice feasting. The thought of living only on juice for 92 days seemed so radical to me. I mean, how do you just walk away from eating food and just drink juice all day, everyday? This chick must be sort of out there, hard core, a radical, I thought. Nonetheless, I found myself fascinated and totally intrigued with her healing journey. 

Fast forward to 2008… At this point, I’d been involved in the raw food world for nearly three years and maintained a high percentage of raw food in my diet. I came to this way of eating in an effort to overcome a lifelong battle with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Within the first week or two of going raw, I found that all of my symptoms miraculously went away along with the loss of some serious unwanted pounds. Needless to say, I was an immediate convert and quite charismatic about my new discovery. As with most raw converts, once the honeymoon period was over, I found that I would yo-yo from time to time and have periods of eating more cooked foods. When I would slip back into my old patterns, my symptoms would return, so I would always come back to raw.

During the first year or so of being raw, I made some great online friends. These friends were my only source of community, dietary wise, as I felt like a lone ranger eating a raw diet in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We all would read each other’s blogs and lend support through web communities, private emails and recipe sharing. At the beginning of 2008, two of my friends, Heidi Ohlander and Philip McCluskey both embarked on their own juice feasts. I was immediately drawn to what they were doing, how they were doing it and why. For a few weeks I read their juicy online diaries, quietly taking it all in, until one day something clicked inside me. If these people, who are not that different from me can do this, why can’t I? 

Because I am an information and education junkie, I began to devour everything I could find on juice feasting. I quickly learned that David and Katrina Rainoshek have the most extensive site on the subject. Then I downloaded Angela Stokes ebook, A Juice Feasters Handbook, and read it start to finish. I sat my family down and explained to them my desire and my plan, and was pleased to find total support at home. For two weeks I planned and prepared myself mentally, emotionally and practically for my next big adventure. I began with the rest of the Global Juice Feasters on March 1st of this year and am currently just over half way into my 92 days on juice.


My health Transformation
For me, juice feasting has been a beautiful tool that has helped me in ways I couldn’t have expected. Not only do I come from a background of struggling with IBS, but also that of chronic fatigue, compulsive overeating, multiple allergies, asthma, and eczema. I have wrestled with weight all of my life. I know I’m not alone when I tell you that I have battled addictions for many years. Food addictions, the misuse of diet pills, diuretics, and alcohol have all been methods of trying to control, bandage and numb my heart and mind from the emotions and reactions to life that I didn’t know how to handle. Although I had given up my diet pills and diuretics three years ago, and more recently, alcohol, I still used food, albeit gourmet raw food, as my pacifier. 

Regaining my strength
I believe that taking the leap of faith and committing to a juice feast has some sort of spiritual power behind it. For me, it was admitting I was powerless over my attachment to food. Many of you know the roller coaster ride as you eat another helping of that decadent desert or as indulge in a high calorie Mexican meal, compete with a mucho margarita, when none of your health conscious friends are watching. Ahhhh, there it is, that instant gratification, comfort and pleasure. But soon comes the self loathing and guilt of overeating or eating something dairy laden, overly processed or overly cooked. Then the day arrives when you step onto the scales and see that the vicious cycle is one that suddenly has control over you. It is a scary place and I know so many women, and men, struggle silently with this very scenario in their everyday lives.   

Juice Feasting has given me back me dignity. It has empowered me because I now know that food is not my master. Taking this much needed break from the seduction of heavy foods and from the ritual of meals has been like a vacation or a magical time away at a spa. Don’t misunderstand, I am looking forward to the time when I will go back to eating, but I will be coming at it from a completely different perspective now. Am I afraid once I go back to solid foods that I’ll fall into the same patterns or behaviors as before? One thing I do know is that the information I have learned in the last 50 days regarding myself and my relationship with food, has been invaluable and healing to me. And I also know that juice feasting is always here for me and its here for anyone who wants to break the cycle of compulsive eating and any other health related challenge. It is always here as a method of stepping back, breathing deeply, reassessing your life and putting yourself back on track, nutritionally, emotionally, spiritually and realistically. 

In the last month and a half, I’ve lost 25 pounds, yet I have gained so much on a deeper level. If you’d like to know more about this healing adventure of juice feasting, please visit David and Katrina Rainoshek at their website for more detailed information and please come visit me at my blog where I tell all about the details of my journey with juice.