That’s how Shardene Blake introduces herself on her blog, eatcleanjuicegreen.com. She goes on to explain how she gained 5 stone (70 pounds) when pregnant with her first child, dropped a couple of stone after the birth, but then she started to put the “baby weight” back on!
Shardene says she was constantly craving junk food, mainly sugar, ALL of the time.
ALL of the time includes 2am and 4am when you could regularly find her in my kitchen casually eating a couple of chocolate bars (a habit she had started in pregnancy).
I first came across Shardene about 6 weeks ago when she posted in the Natural Juice Junkie Community on Facebook. Her before and after pictures grabbed my attention and she kindly offered to share more of her story.
“I hated the juice”
Neil Martin: When did you first start juicing and how did you first learn about the idea?
Shardene Blake: I had my first ever juice in the early 00’s when Gillian McKeith was at the height of her ‘You Are What You Eat’ fame and she suggested a juice of half cucumber and half celery.
I hated both and I hated the juice, so that was that: juicer relegated to the back of the cupboard.
Watching reruns of her show makes me wonder how anybody anywhere would ever want to eat healthily, she made it seem like such an awful chore and she portrayed herself as some sort of dragon. Not cool Gilly! Luckily (for me) juicing got a second chance……
Neil Martin: What made you decide to start juicing?
Shardene Blake: Fast forward to 2012 and I had just had my son (first child) and I had abused my body beyond belief with junk food.
I had put on 5st (70 pounds) during the pregnancy and the weight was not shifting (in fact I started to put it back on). Weight gain was the least of my worries ,though. I had developed severely inflamed wrists which made picking my son up extremely painful.
Here I was, supposed to be enjoying the most amazing time in my life, and I was crying with agony every time I had to pick my son up. The doctors weren’t sure what was wrong so I was sent for tests and put on anti-inflammatory medication.
By coincidence the day I received my repeat prescription for my medication I flicked through a newspaper in the supermarket and stumbled upon an article about what doctors wouldn’t do. There, clear as day, was a doctor saying that she would never take anti-inflammatory meds (because of the damage they cause to the gut) and instead would cut out all sugar and processed foods.
I never picked up my prescription that day, instead I went home and googled ‘food and anti-inflammatory’. I started juicing within days.
“For once in my adult life I changed my diet and it had absolutely nothing to do with losing weight”
Neil Martin: Did you follow a specific program, if so which one?
Shardene Blake: No, I didn’t follow a program. I experimented a lot in the beginning but typically I would have a couple of juices and a smoothie each day and no processed foods.
For once in my adult life I changed my diet and it had absolutely nothing to do with losing weight (although I had lots to lose). I was a serial fad dieter and if you name a diet chances are I’ve tried it.
I could’ve told you the calorific values of any food plus the fat content and I was totally addicted to Diet Coke. I wish I could have said to myself ‘stop dieting, stop weighing yourself 3 times a day, stop obsessing over calories and food. None of it works, it’s all a huge con.’
Almost 10 years of yo-yo dieting, of feeling guilt and shame for not being able to stick to some ridiculous diet and all I had to do was concentrate on becoming healthy because you can’t be overweight and healthy, the weight just takes care of itself.
Neil Martin: Since juicing, how much weight have you lost?
Shardene Blake: I’ve lost all the weight from my first pregnancy which was about 3 stone (42 pounds) when I started juicing. I have also had another baby since then and I have lost almost all my pregnancy weight, I just have a few pounds to go and she is only 3 months old.
“I became positive, happy and full of energy”
Neil Martin: What have you found to be the biggest changes / benefits you’ve experienced since you started juicing?
Shardene Blake: The most important benefit was that I managed to sort my wrists out and I was able to pick my son up without experiencing any pain. Another major change was that I experienced a massive change in my mood, I was no longer angry, miserable and lethargic.
I became positive, happy and full of energy.
Neil Martin: Since you started juicing what have you found most challenging and how did you deal with this challenge?
Shardene Blake: Time and preconceived ideas: I felt like I wouldn’t have enough time to juice and do everything else I wanted to do when I had newborn baby.
I wanted to be able to watch episodes of The Real Housewives of….. and TOWIE and whatever else ITV2 or E! had to offer and still fix myself juices and walk to the shops and get 10 hours sleep and clean the house and it just wasn’t viable.
Something had to give. In the end I shut myself in the kitchen, set up a little station with my juicer and blender and got on with it.
I realised that my health was the most important thing because if I wasn’t healthy who would look after my son? I found that the more I juiced and the more fruit and veg I ate the better I felt, I wanted to feel good so I continued.
“I never feel like I am depriving myself”
Neil Martin: How has juicing changed your life?
Shardene Blake: One thing that has changed completely is the ‘dieting’ mentality that I used to have. Everything revolved around what I could eat according to the fad diet I was following or thinking about what diet I should try next.
I was stuck in a cycle of finding a diet, having ‘one last binge’ before the diet started, ‘failing’ at the diet, feeling guilt and shame at not having the willpower to stick to the diet, complete blowout, gain weight, look for new diet.
Now I see food differently, even though there are lots of things that I no longer choose to eat I never feel like I am depriving myself.
Neil Martin: What has been your biggest juicing mistake and why?
Shardene Blake: Being a little over enthusiastic with certain ingredients: I ruined a few juices by putting in too much ginger or celery (which I used to absolutely hate!).
I also avoided some recipes in the past if I didn’t like the sound of them but the braver I got I realised that just because a juice contains veggies or fruits I don’t like doesn’t mean that I won’t like it. That was a revelation for me.
Neil Martin: Any juicing tips you have picked up along the way?
Shardene Blake: Wash your juicer straight away! Really, this has been the best tip ever! If you leave your used juicer parts lying by the sink all day and then have to come home and scrub off dried on pulp it is going to turn one of the healthiest things you can do for your body into a chore.
“I also had people tell me that juicing was unhealthy”
Neil Martin: What resources (books, websites, movies, etc) have helped you on your journey and why?
Shardene Blake: Food Matters was the first film that I watched that really changed my perspective; the idea of preventing disease rather than having to wait to get something and then try to cure it was really empowering. I had spent many a night worrying if I would be struck down with diabetes or cancer and that worry was eliminated.
Other films such as Forks Over Knives, Hungry for Change, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead have inspired change in me and have been great tools for inspiring other members of my family and friends to revaluate their health too.
I didn’t know a single other person who juiced when I started, so it was a little lonely to begin with, then I found courses in juicing and found that was a lovely way to meet people.
I also had people tell me that juicing was unhealthy and so I read up a lot on health and food and even took a course in nutrition. What I was doing felt right for my body, I just wanted the knowledge to back that feeling up. I am now working on creating something that will offer support to people in the way that I wish I’d had at eatcleanjuicegreen.com and within my local communities.
Neil Martin: Which do you think is more essential to health and wellbeing, exercise or diet and nutrition?
Shardene Blake: You definitely need both but I think you need to start with nutrition, it is hard to find the energy and motivation to exercise if you don’t feed yourself the proper fuel. For true wellbeing I think it is important to spend time doing what you love and remember to love yourself.
Neil Martin: How much and what kinds of exercise do you regularly do?
Shardene Blake: I spend most of my day running after a toddler with a baby strapped to my chest which I like to think of as HIIT with weights. Aside from that I don’t get chance to go the gym but I have recently bought a rebounder which is amazing! So I try to get on that for 20 mins a day.
Neil Martin: What do you eat / drink on a typical day?
Shardene Blake: Water on rising and if I get chance I’ll have a mug of nettle or fennel tea. I am always thirsty in the morning due to breastfeeding throughout the night.
A green smoothie bowl or a juice for breakfast or if I am in a rush I’ll have a couple of pieces of fruit.
I spend most of my day out and about with the children and I’ve found that there isn’t much choice when it comes to healthy options especially in children’s play areas so I try to be prepared by having lots of things to snack on like raw vegan crackers, fruit, salad and raw vegan cake/cookies.
For dinner I usually make soup, chilli, curry or gluten free pasta.
Not everyday looks like this but my unhealthier days now look like what I would have considered to be a healthy day in the past.
My diet is predominately plant-based at the moment, the ultimate goal is to eat raw vegan 90% of the time.
Neil Martin: What are your thoughts on caffeine and alcohol?
Shardene Blake: As I am breastfeeding I stay away from both and I feel so much better for it. I used to rely on caffeine to get me through the afternoon in the form of coffee and with that I would always eat something sugary and then feel terrible.
I do enjoy champagne on special occasions but I don’t enjoy hangovers so I don’t drink very much of it.
“Don’t just think about it, take some action”
Neil Martin: What advice would you give someone who is thinking about adding juicing to their life?
Shardene Blake: Do it! Don’t just think about it, take some action.
Find somebody who has experience juicing and ask them for advice or search the internet; Joe Cross, Jason Vale, Natural Juice Junkie are great resources.
If you don’t think you can afford to buy a juicer beg, steal or borrow one. Ask around, most people have a juicer collecting dust in the back of a cupboard that they don’t use. If you live in the North West you can hire one from me. Get yourself involved in a juicing community (there are loads online) and stick with it for at least a week!
And if you are a Mama (especially if you breastfeed) do this one thing for yourself, because it will impact so positively on the family. Your health is everything, take care of 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?
Shardene Blake: Frozen bananas, turmeric root, apples, celery, lemons and spinach.
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