8. Do you think you’ll continue to juice as you move into a weight maintenance?
Neil Sheds 70 pounds of juicing weight loss and transforms into the Natural Juice Junkie.
October 7, 2013 By 2 Comments
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me introduce you to fellow Brit Neil Martin. AKA The Natural Juice Junkie. Neil lost 70 pounds through juicing and running. Sound familiar?
There are a lot of similarities in our stories. Both of us work in the corporate world of long haul flights, strange hotel beds, endless dinner and free booze. Both of us struggled to run for 5 minutes yet after juicing and training Neil and now run long distances. Neil has run marathons and will be running at the next London Marathon.
Neil was kind enough to answer our questions our questions on his juicing success. We hope you will read this interview and also be inspired by Neil’s transformation.
1. Throughout your journey, what would you say has been the most challenging thing that you had to face? And, what did you do to help get you through it?
I travel a lot for work and trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle on the road isn’t always easy. For example, airplane food is never good and due to security restrictions you can’t take juices onto the plane with you. I have been pleasantly surprised to find juice bars in a few airports – in Amsterdam Schiphol airport there is a juice bar where I often grab a wheatgrass shot and juice or smoothie.
When I travel in the UK I regularly take a juicer with me to use in hotels!
I also go to quite a few business lunches when away and on those occasions I find it easier to go with the flow. I know a few days on the juice when I get home will always get me back to feeling healthy again, regardless or what I eat and drink on the trip.
I am a firm believer in the compounded impact what we eat has on our health (and weight). One “bad” meal will not destroy your health or make you obese. Similarly, one vegetable juice or salad will not suddenly cause weight loss or major health improvements. If you live and eat well 80% of the time you can eat anything on occasion, although I find that the healthier I’ve become the more I’ve craved “good” foods.
2. What made you decide to start juicing as part of your weight loss strategy? What have you found to be the biggest benefits you’ve experienced from doing this?
My journey to regain my health began in September 2009 when I went to see a Nutritional Therapist. I’d recently changed jobs, having been offered a significant promotion, and knew I would be spending a fair amount of travelling. Having gained a significant amount of weight since the death of my father 11 years earlier I decided I simply couldn’t afford to get any bigger. I’d tried various diets and gone through various gym memberships but always ended up getting bigger, so I decided I needed to seek some professional help. The Nutritional Therapist didn’t try and put me on any specific diet, but instead gave me some advice on cleaning up my diet. This prompted me to start researching nutrition to learn more about how I could help myself. One of the books I read, introduced me to the idea of juicing vegetables and eating raw foods. In early 2010 I purchased a juicer, with little idea of what I needed to do with it. The juicer came with a book by Jason Vale, which lead me to reading his “7lbs in 7 days” and “Slim for Life”. This was at a time when juicing was yet to get the press coverage it does now. Most people I mentioned it to thought I was mad, but a few months after reading the book I had a week where I was working from home so I decided to follow Jason Vale’s programme. It promised a 7 pound weight loss in 7 days, from memory I think I lost about 10 pounds that week, but it wasn’t just weight loss I experienced; I was also bursting with energy. That was when I officially became a Natural Juice Junkie.
3. Has there been anything you’ve found to be troublesome or hindering while using the juicing strategy to lose weight? Or has it been relatively smooth sailing?
I believe juicing is the ultimate fast food. Making a juice is so much quicker than cooking a meal and it delivers the nutrients to your cells in around 15 minutes. I also find that the energy / sugar spikes I used to get with my old diet are gone, despite what you may read about juicing delivering rapid sugars to your bloodstream.
I’ve had a few challenges with travel as mentioned before. I also found my very first juice fast / reboot challenging because I was doing it alone and my family continued with their normal meals. I guess I would describe the experience as lonely. My wife has joined me on all of my subsequent juice fasts and it is definitely easier to do when you are supporting each other. I think it is also easier now than it was in 2010 as there are so many juicing websites and online communities offering support and success stories.
5. What do you think has been the greatest contributor to your success?
Food scientists, food manufacturers and supermarkets may want us all to focus on the component parts of food (such as calories, protein, sugars, etc), but I’ve found that sticking to a diet of natural whole foods means I don’t need to worry about any of these things.
There is a quote from actor Jason Statham that pretty much sums up my approach: “I never gave a f*** about a calorie. An apple? It’s good for me. I’d have five. Bananas? Eat the bunch.”
6. For someone who is considering starting juicing to help with their own weight loss journey, what advice would you give them?
Buy a juicer and do it!
That might sound a bit flippant, but I seriously believe in the difference juicing can make to our health on so many levels.
In my opinion the best thing to focus on is health and not weight loss. If you give your body the right nutrition and lifestyle then the weight loss will happen. I was initially so focused on weight loss that some weeks I would be disappointed when the scales showed only a small loss (or even a small gain). Once I realised I was feeling healthier and stopped obsessing about the bathroom scales the whole process was so much more enjoyable and rewarding.
It is important to remember that many sports people and highly fit actors (Tom Cruise, Matt Damon, Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, Will Smith, Denzel Washington) are considered to be overweight or obese based on their Body Mass Index (BMI). This is despite them having the kind of toned bodies many are looking to achieve.
7. How has being able to lose weight through juicing changed your life? Do you find you’re more confident now? Has anything else changed significantly since you were finally able to shed the weight?
I’ve gone from being someone that got out of breath running a bath to someone that runs marathons! I started exercising as I cleaned up my diet and started juicing; because I suddenly gained so much energy I felt I needed to use it. Initially I would go to the gym or do some rebounding, then in June 2012 I decided to start running.
When I was a kid my dad ran a half-marathon and I’d always wanted to follow in his footsteps, but never considered myself capable. I then met someone who was training for an Ironman. I didn’t know what an Ironman was, but when she explained it was 2.5 miles of open water swimming, followed by 112 miles of cycling and a full marathon I figured if someone, that looked “normal” to me, could manage all that I could run a half-marathon. So, the next day I started training. Not only did I do the half marathon, I went from couch to full 26.2 mile marathon in under a year! I am currently undertaking a charity challenge to complete 2013 self powered miles in 2013 (http://www.justgiving.com/2012-AYearWithoutBeer-CF). Until June 2012 I doubt I’d covered 2013 self powered miles in 10 years, let alone one year.
I actually got below the target weight I originally wanted to achieve some time ago now. Juicing to me is more about maintaining optimum health than simply maintaining a particular body weight. I think one of the reasons the lifestyle changes I started in 2009 have worked so well for me is because I always looked at them as a lifestyle change, not a diet or a short term goal to shed a few pounds.
I will be honest and say that after my initial weight loss of around 56 pounds in 2009 / 2010, I did slip back into some old habits and regain some of weight I’d lost. I guess I wanted to be “normal” and so allowed some of the standard western diet back in to my life. The wake up call that I actually didn’t want to be “normal” anymore came when my uncle asked me if I’d lost my gym membership card and patted my stomach. That was about 2 years ago and after some self reflection I quickly realised I no longer enjoyed some of the junk I’d let back into my life, so I let it go. I quickly lost the weight I’d regained and more until I had eventually lost over 70 pounds. My waist size dropped by over 10 inches, my neck by 3 inches, and I even had to get my wedding ring made 4 sizes smaller as it was falling off my new slimmer fingers.
9. What role did exercise play in your weight loss results? If you were exercising, what does a typical week look like for you?
Until June 2012 my exercise was fairly low impact. I probably did about 20 minutes of rebounding 4 or 5 times a week and would use hotel gyms when traveling. I thought I was quite fit, so was surprised how hard it was when I first started running.
Before I’d even taken a single step on a training run I’d signed up to a 10 mile race and posted about it on Facebook. There was no turning back, which was probably a good thing as my first training run was a bit of a disaster. I ran about a mile. I say ran, but in reality I walked quite a bit of it. By the time I arrived back home I was dripping in sweat, and breathing so heavy I sounded like a bad impression of Darth Vader.
The public commitment to run a 10 mile race meant I had to keep training and within a week or so the running started to become easier. Initially I didn’t follow any specific training programme, but simply ran as far as I could. I ached a lot. I got sore nipples and black toe nails, but I kept training. My training became more structured as I read a number of running books, including “Finding Ultra” by Rich Roll, “Born to Run” by Christopher Mcdougall, “Eat and Run” by Scott Jurek and the No Meat Athlete “Marathon Roadmap”.
By the time I got to race day (approx 4 months after I started training) I was confident, smiling and astonished when I finished 10 miles in just 1 hour 23 minutes and 45 seconds. I will never forget that time – I mean, what are the are chances of finishing a race in 1:23:45!
Now I run around 5 times a week and I also cycle, row and do some basic weight training. Depending on my travel schedule I will typically complete between 30 and 50 miles per week.
10. What do you find to be most helpful about juicing that other diet methods you’ve tried in the past lacked? What was it about juicing that made you finally achieve weight loss success?
For me juicing was part of a lifestyle change. It was never a diet, and that is the big difference.
When you get to the point of being sick and tired with the fact that you are always sick and tired you start to evaluate the way you are living your life. I strongly believe that what we eat and the way we live directly impacts our quality of life and our life expectancy. I have no doubt that the typical Western diet is a killer. If you don’t agree then just look at the way diseases have risen in line with the adoption of more and more processed foods.
The more I learn about diet and nutrition, the healthier I feel I become. The healthier I get, the healthier I want to be. It’s simple really.
11. What overall rate of weight loss did you see while using juicing? Were you losing weight faster when you first began or has it been relatively steady the entire way through?
Whenever I’ve done juice fasts or juice reboots, where I have a period of time on nothing but juices, weight always falls off. When I first started my journey to regain my health I think I lost about 30 pounds in the first month and this was simply by cleaning up my diet – I hadn’t started juicing yet!
With juicing the weight loss continued to happen very quickly, but then after a while it started to plateau. Initially this frustrated me a little as I was so focused on weight loss. But I soon realised I was feeling healthier, even on weeks when I gained a few pounds. I decided that if I kept giving my body the right nutrients it would heal itself and maybe some weeks it needed to focus on more important things that shedding the pounds. Trusting my own body and how I was feeling over the numbers shown on the bathroom scales was definitely the smart move as my clothes continued to get looser and my energy levels soared.
12. What has been the best part of the entire weight loss journey for you so far? What have you enjoyed most about the process?
Feeling young again! Before starting my journey I was getting old before my time, I had no energy, I never felt well, I had various health problems, I was severely obese – I guess like the movie title I too was “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”. Now I feel so alive and really excited about discovering what the future holds for me.
To give some context, I was recently in a restaurant with my family and the owner was chatting with us. Now this is a restaurant we have been going to for years. The owner and I had recently become friends on Facebook and he had seen one of my before and after pictures. When talking he apologised that he hadn’t realised who I was – that is, during the period where I rarely ate out and lost most of my weight my looks had changed so much that when we returned to his restaurant he thought my wife had found a new man! I guess in many ways I am a new man now.
13. What does a typical day of eating/juicing look like for you? What is your meal/drink schedule?
Most days I will start the day with a Ginger Slammer and then some kind of juice or smoothie. I like to mix up the colours and flavours so there is no specific juice I have for breakfast, although most days it will be based around cucumber and celery with some kind of leafy greens and apple or pineapple to sweeten it. I am a big fan of avocados so often the juice will be blended with half an avocado. At weekends the morning smoothie is often more fruit based with lots of berries and some banana.
Lunch will typically either be another juice or smoothie. Sometimes it may be a salad or soup or even some kind of sandwich or wrap if I’m traveling. I try to keep most of my food plant based and as natural as possible.
I am a big fan of eating 4 or 5 times a day and not the traditional Western approach of 3 meals. This means I typically have a mid-afternoon snack which is often another juice, a piece of fruit or some nuts and seeds.
In the evening I eat pretty much anything I feel like. I do still enjoy some meat and fish although, again, I typically eat more plants than anything else. The interesting thing is that since I cleaned up my diet I tend to crave healthy foods. I love experimenting with new vegetarian, vegan and raw food recipes and enjoy many foods that the old me would have simply refused to eat.
My tastebuds have definitely changed – I used to have 2 sugars and plenty of milk in each of the 10 to 15 cups of coffee I drank every day. Now I drink very little coffee, and when I do I prefer it black and without any sugar. In fact, I was recently served coffee with sugar in it on a business trip to Brazil and I was unable to drink it. It was way too sweet for me.
14. Have you used any additional supplements as you went through this process?
Yes, I regularly use supplements, especially when traveling. These include a good quality multi-vitamin, wheatgrass powder, spirulina, hemp protein, Udo’s oil, microbiotics and digestive enzymes.
15. What plans do you have now for the future with regards to your health/exercise/nutrition program? Have you set some new goals now that you’ve successfully lost weight?
My main goal is simply to share my story and try and inspire others to lead healthy and happy lives too. There is nothing extraordinary about me. If I can regain my health, lose weight and reverse the aging process so can millions of others.
16. Did you ever receive any negative feedback from your choice of juicing for weight loss from others? And if so, how did you handle this?
I love going to the checkout in supermarkets with the ingredients for a juice fast. You always get comments and if you explain what you plan to do with all that produce the person on the checkout generally thinks you are insane.
I often get questioned about how safe juicing is: “can it really be healthy to have nothing but juice?” “where do you get your protein?” “what about fibre?” The list of questions is endless, although somewhat repetitive.
How do I handle the doubters and those who say juicing is dangerous? I simply show them pictures of the old me. That generally shuts them up.
Ironically, many of those who question the safety of juicing wouldn’t think twice about giving their kids a happy meal, fizzy drink (soda) or highly processed snack. If you want to see the health impact of fast food vs juicing I suggest you watch Super Size Me and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.
17. For those who have quite a significant amount of weight to lose, getting started can feel very intimidating. Many people are coming out of feelings of being hopeless about being able to lose weight effectively. What advice do you have for these readers on how to get started?
Let me start by saying that I really hate it when people say fat and obese people are lazy or stupid. I was severely obese, but I don’t believe I was stupid. In fact, I have a good education and a successful career and I’ve worked hard for my achievements. My problem was that I didn’t understand how to improve my health and lose weight or the impact my lifestyle was really having.
The food industry spends millions each year on advertising and increasingly this promotes diet products and foods with supposed health benefits. Before 2009 I, like many others, believed products with big labels saying low calorie, fat free and sugar free where the way to loose weight. Now, I don’t believe anyone thinks a bag of white sugar is a health food, but it could legitimately be labelled as 100% fat free.
Thankfully there are now many great resources available to help those new to juicing, including recipes and juice detox / reboot plans. For example, I recently launched a budget juice reboot plan on my website, naturaljuicejunkie.com, that also includes some recipes (such as Easy Green) that are specifically designed to taste good for those who are new to juicing but also have the high levels of nutrition seasoned juicers desire.
And finally Neil…
What is your favorite juicing recipe? Do you tend to juice the same fruits and vegetables daily or try and mix it up as time goes on?
That’s a tough one! I like to vary my juices and include a rainbow of colours, but one juice I do try to drink daily is the Ginger Slammer (http://naturaljuicejunkie.com/2013/09/ginger-slammer/).
This is a really simple juice made from 1/2 an apple and 1 thumb sized chunk of ginger. I often use more ginger because I love the taste.
Before I started juicing I used to suffer quite badly with asthma and hay fever. My asthma symptoms would often get worse when the pollen count was high, aggravated by my hay fever. I used to regularly take antihistamine tablets to combat my hay fever and once upon a time my asthma would have me using inhalers several times every single day. Since drinking daily Ginger Slammer’s I no longer get any hay fever or asthma symptoms.
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