Paula Hughes is a Brit living in Dubai. I spent a week in Dubai in February 2011 and can’t help thinking that it would be easy to pile on the pounds living there – so many good restaurants and a tendency to add sugar to just about everything. However, Paula’s story is about anything but weight gain. She actually lost 55 pounds (25 kgs) before she started juicing and then continued to lose a further 71 pounds (32 kgs) – 126 pounds (57 kgs) in total!
Neil Martin: When did you first start juicing and how did you first learn about the idea?
Paula Hughes: My friend Louise bought me a juicer when I moved into a new apartment, I only really played with it and didn’t use it as much as I intended. It gathered dust most of the time. Then a mutual friend discovered Jason Vale from his sister and shared me one of his books. He then bought me Jason Vale’s “Slim for Life” for my birthday and this book changed my perception of everything I was eating and everything I wanted to achieve.
Neil Martin: What made you decide to start juicing?
Paula Hughes: My friends who inspired me and Jason Vales books. Fundamentally, I felt I was spending my life slowly killing myself whilst trying to find a magical quick solution to lose weight, and not understanding the reality of how to do it and without giving up my addiction to food, and then there was my on-going battle with bulimia.
“Without the medication I wasn’t permitted to exercise”
I got sick in January 2011 with a virus and my BP was 159/99, that was a big reality check. Especially when I was forced to take medication at the age of 38.5yrs! My friend Louise introduced me to Bootcamp 3 times a week and without the medication I wasn’t permitted to exercise. So I had no choice.
I made a deal with Louise and she got me focused and started on my healthy journey. I didn’t really get into the juicing beyond the basics until March 2011 – as part of my health checkups in January, I had a serious Vitamin D deficiency so I opted for a Vit D injection to rectify. That injection hit my sciatic nerve and damaged it, which resulted in me being semi-paralysed down my right leg for a few weeks; and then its been a slow recovery since and Im still recovering a little now 2.5yrs later.
I recall a conversation with my Neurologist, and he told me that my nerve would regenerate 1mm at a time, and the length of my leg was how long it would take me to recover! I went home and decided I had to heal myself from the inside out to recover from the damaged nerve. It was then I started reading more about juicing and taking it more seriously. By my birthday in May I had my copy of “Slim for Life” and Jason Vale’s “7lbs in 7 Days”, there was no stopping me after that.
Neil Martin: Did you follow a specific program, if so which one?
Paula Hughes: 7lbs in 7 days has been my base and security since I started juicing. It works, its as simple as that.
I do change the juices around occasionally to suit my tastes and now I have more knowledge I can replace and change the juices and use the plan with more flexibility.
I was astounded at the changes I felt when I followed it for the first time. Even then I wasn’t 100% disciplined and it took until October 2011 when I was at the Juicemaster retreat in Turkey to complete the whole 7 days 100%.
I lost 6kgs (13 pounds) that week and it was a very personal achievement, as it was the Bootcamp week too; after the nerve damage in the March I returned to Bootcamp in the August only to damage my right ankle even more ending up in A&E (thankfully just a sprain and bruising), so to run at Bootcamp that week was a great achievement as well as the weightloss.
I still follow 7lbs in 7 Days and have also tried Jason Vale’s 5 and 3 day plans, but now I know what I like and don’t like and fit it around my life and busy schedule. When I have an event, a holiday, something important that I want to look my best for, 7lbs in 7 days is my focus.
Neil Martin: What have you found to be the biggest changes / benefits you’ve experienced since you started juicing?
Paula Hughes: There are endless changes and benefits, where do I begin?
Weight loss for me was what I initially started juicing for. When I juice as part of a detox plan with ‘7lbs in 7 days’, the weight does drop off, the feeling of being lighter and slimmer are great feelings, flatter stomach (though Ive not yet reached a ‘flat’ stomach but its still on my list), a clearer head meaning I am calmer emotionally, I can think more logically, I make decisions faster, things just make sense.
I do believe that as woman, my hormones are rebalanced and this affects my thought process too, making decisions and my general positivity improves.
“Juicing allows me to sleep better”
Having an eating disorder makes my relationship with food even more complicated and challenging, however when I juice I have moments of true clarity and I forget it. When I then eat processed or more toxic foods again including chocolate, bread, take away food, coffee (with pretend brown sugar) I am very aware of the changes. Therefore, the biggest change and benefit juicing gives me is the ability to feel normal and move away from my eating disorder, in body and mind.
Additionally, juicing allows me to sleep better, require less sleep and if required wake up early in the mornings. My energy levels soar and I don’t feel sleepy in the afternoons as I would normally. It gives me the ability to maximise my days whether working or enjoying my weekends.
Noticeable benefits apart from the weight loss is that people think I’m now younger than my actual age, it used to be the other way around. Someone recently thought I was in my early 30s, not bad for a 41 year old I say. My skin improves when I juice, it glows and is just generally younger looking and clearer (I usually have a ‘skin clear out and detox’ in the first few days of juicing then they clear up quickly). My eyes become bluer, clearer and sparkle, maybe that’s what makes me look younger!
And the juices taste great, I love my food so to have something in my life that tastes great and keeps me away from the toxic foods some of the time, makes me feel amazing and improves my health, it doesn’t get any better than that.
Juicing facilitates and encourages other open doors to other healthier choices – raw foods, soups, healthy recipes, vegan foods organic etc, the list goes on.
Everything is connected, and its just a mater of picking and choosing what works for me and my life.
I’m sure there are more benefits, I keep finding more new benefits the more I juice. It is safe to say juicing has given me my wings in many way. Because of all the benefits of juicing, I have started to live my life. I’ve fed myself live enzymes so its not a surprise I’m more alive than ever. I now have the courage and drive to do things I only dreamed of before – running 5kms and 10kms is now possible, learning to sky dive solo/wind tunnel training after completing a number of tandems, this was only possible after losing the weight, even just having the ability and enthusiasm to walk places and at a fast pace and travel the world is a benefit. My to do list grows regularly but now Im ticking many things off as much as I’m adding them on.
Neil Martin: Since you started juicing what have you found most challenging and how did you deal with this challenge?
Paula Hughes: Avoiding the many temptations that surround us – Im normal, Im not perfect, I still make bad choices and suffer because of them. Every day is a challenge for me but I still continue with my juicing journey and every new day is an opportunity to learn something new.
A big challenge is being disciplined to stick to a juice plan when I commence it – there are so many distractions, so many things in my social life that tempt me and take me back to my old ways. Learning how to adapt juices to suit my life is always a challenge however I’m a big problem solver so I like to find solutions.
Living in a service orientated country makes it easy for me to achieve this – I can have my juices made fresh to order and delivered to my home or work place within the hour. That’s a great solution and result!
My biggest challenge is changing my personal habits, and remembering the benefits that juicing brings. Its easy when busy and getting on with life as we know it, to sometimes forget the positives that come from juicing. You can teach old girls new tricks, that I am learning, it just takes time and persistence and practice. I’m not perfect and never claim to be, I don’t juice all day every day, I live my juicing life in balance with everything else. The difference is its one of my passions in life so I’m aware of the juices daily even if some days I don’t juice. Juicing is a tool for me to live my life in balance.
My other challenge is the people I face who are very anti-juicing. They don’t understand the difference between freshly juiced veg and fruit juices/smoothies and they just lack information. I see this as a huge opportunity as I can share them my story and how I gained information and knowledge by reading and listening to others stories. I wont be able to explain to everyone, everyone won’t be willing or interested enough but it takes just one person, one open mind to inspire that person – and then they go on and share their story an inspire other people.
My biggest challenge continues to fit in time to study towards my Natural Juice Therapy course. 2014 is my goal, its been too long in the pipeline.
Neil Martin: How has juicing changed your life?
Paula Hughes: Completely! Its now about how juicing has connected me to people – my family all have juicers at home, I help my family and friends when they need the juices to help and heal them and it has even brought me closer to my mum.
I took her to the Juice Retreat in Turkey last year and we were able to spend quality time together, something that we have never really had.
Its also brought me back in touch with my lost best friends, and its allowing me to meet new, amazing and inspiration people who are with me on my juicing journey.
I feel very blessed to have found out juicing is my passion; I don’t recall ever being this interested or motivated to keep reading and learning about anything. Its on a par with my new and developing hobby – sky diving solo. When I weighed 135kgs (298 pounds) or even 110kgs (243 pounds), sky diving was so far removed from my life, goals or ambitions. I did my first tandem sky dive in May 2011 on my 39th birthday and I tracked my weight loss over the next 5 tandem jumps in Mauritius, Sydney, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and Dubai again. Now I am training in the worlds biggest indoor wind tunnel, Ive completed my first jump course and my first solo jump, 2014 will be the year I graduate as a solo sky diver and a Natural Juice Therapist. So, how has juicing changed my life? It gave me my wings and allowed me to soar gracefully into my fab 40s!
Neil Martin: What has been your biggest juicing mistake and why?
Paula Hughes: Not studying consistently enough for my Natural Juice Therapy course for the last 18 months.
Letting a beetroot and berry juice/smoothie brew too long in my Sigg flask and then opening it without caution in my kitchen as I ran out the door for work one morning. My kitchen ceiling still requires re-painting and the stains flew more than 5 metres across into my lounge and sofas. Beetroot and berries stains everything at speed!
Neil Martin: Which do you think is more essential to health and wellbeing, exercise or diet and nutrition?
Paula Hughes: I can only speak personally, as I believe that health and wellbeing is individual to each person, we are all very different and unique. I try not use the word diet too often, nutrition is the key. For me, I now know that exercise is key in combination with nutrition. Exercise can be walking every aisle at the supermarket instead of just to the area you want to go to, it could be parking your car furthest away from the front door and taking a few extra steps, maybe taking a few flights of stairs to the office instead of taking the lift, taking a walk to the shops and carrying the bags rather than taking the car, making ‘moving’ fun by meeting friends for a walk whilst catching up, it could even mean flying in a wind tunnel or doing a sponsored walk/swim/run etc and raise money for a good cause.
I try to vary my exercise and sometimes ‘plan’ too much then end up doing very little. My friends keep telling me to keep it simple and don’t over commit. So I now try to fit in what I realistically can, but I still have an over ambitious schedule.
“Nutrition is the key to enable the exercise to work”
Nutrition is the key to enable the exercise to work, its a partnership that works beautifully when each person finds out what fits for them.
Its also important to remember we need balance and we wont be perfectly exercising or eating perfectly nutritious food all the time, its remember the basics and that we require both in balance.
For me I also had a 3rd essential – meditation, without this my focus on exercise and nutrition can disappear when I really feel Im off balance with being healthy, meditation gives me the strength to get back on track and detox my mind too.
Neil Martin: How much and what kinds of exercise do you regularly do?
Paula Hughes: Im not consistent, I did say I wasn’t perfect….
Sometimes I do very little but I make sure I use the stairs as much as a I can and park my car far away from where I need to be. I have an on/off Personal Trainer that Ive just this minute contacted so I can get back to my 3 times a week with him. He got me to 78kgs (172 pounds) for my 40th birthday 18 months ago, he will help me get to 72kgs (159 pounds) for my 42nd birthday.
I also on/off train with an ex-military friend 2 evenings a week but that has been on hold for a while and just needs me to clear my diary to fit that in.
I walk once a week 10kms when I can with a friend, and we will resume this again after the busy festive season. Additionally, I have tried to do some early 5.30-6.00 am exercise sessions – this is going to take more time as is the return to regular jogging, which I only just mastered before I stopped.
Most of my ‘exercise’ in recent weeks has involved training in the wind tunnel and just walking when I can. As Ive written this, Ive just set my alarm for 6am for an early morning walk to start my week off positively. Thanks for the inspiration :-).
I did try Dragonboat racing but decided against it after a few months, but in the New Year I will be rowing in between my sky diving. As I said, I’m overly ambitious about what I can fit in, but that in itself makes me smile inside and out, as I’m so different to the lazy couch potato I used to be!
Neil Martin: What do you eat / drink on a typical day?
Paula Hughes: Again consistency is lacking for me. I try to juice or eat raw foods every day, especially for breakfast.
I can’t go by without my avocado, just eaten on its own with a spoon and I drink a fresh coconut water either in the morning or in the evening.
During the working week, my afternoon snack is fresh pineapple as it gives me a natural mid afternoon pick me up and Im lucky that one of my colleagues brings me fresh pomello to eat throughout the day too.
I can have fresh juices delivered to my office or home from my favourite healthy juice cafe, so this is a regular occurrence. Otherwise I would eat a salad for lunch, sometimes a tuna nicoise salad for breakfast because I can or worse case an egg sandwich.
At weekends I allow myself one day when I can eat whatever I want, though I do still over eat sometimes on these occasions – but I always have my juices to fall back on, for recovery, detox, energy boost or just because they taste clean and fresh.
On average, every 6 weeks I will complete either a 3 or 7 day juice/veg soup/raw food cleanse. Im still learning, so I experiment a lot at home, so no 2 days are really ever the same. Compared to my previous lifestyle, raw fruit and veg is about 50% of my diet on my least healthy days.
Neil Martin: Is your diet completely vegetarian / vegan?
Paula Hughes: No, I eat almost everything. Ive recently discovered a taste for fresh fish, something I didn’t eat much of before August this year.
Being healthier, juicing and eating more raw foods I think has changed my taste buds. I also contribute this change to the fact I don’t drink litres of Diet Coke on a daily basis now. I used to drink this instead of water – I know, crazy!!
I do feel that the more I move forward with my juicing journey, the more benefits I see of becoming vegetarian and eating more plant based foods. I rarely eat red meat, maybe 2-3 times a year, but I still eat chicken and some seafood.
Neil Martin: What advice would you give someone who is thinking about adding juicing to their life?
Paula Hughes: Read Slim for Life, then see where your journey takes you. Have an open mind, read as much as you can and read both sides. Then start by adding one juice per day initially and see how you feel. Have that juice in place of your usual breakfast. Try out as many different recipes to find out what you like and what you need to adjust to suit your tastes and preferences. Once you are used to your juicer, and you have made your breakfast juice a daily habit/routine, add in a few more juices that suit your lifestyle and schedule – maybe replace your evening meal with a juice, perhaps mid morning or lunchtime is a good time to add that other juice.
If you want to then do a 3, 5 or 7 day juice detox, then go for it.
Find out how juicing can work for you personally, than adapt it into your life, but don’t make it a chore. Make juicing fun and involve you family, or friends or even your work colleagues. Most important, don’t think you know how a certain fruit or veg is going to taste when juiced and mixed with other fruits and veggies, keep that open mind and you might be nicely surprised. Try it once at least, be adventurous and just enjoy it.
Neil Martin: If you were stuck on a desert island with a working juicer and blender and an unlimited supply of just 6 ingredients, what would those ingredients be?
Paula Hughes: Ginger, Coconut (water and the flesh), Avocado, Pineapple, Mango, Banana – these are my fave raw/juicing foods but to make a recipe would be a challenge.
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