Editor’s note: Jasmin Singer might be our first Reboot success that’s now a published author. Her memoir, “Always Too Much and Never Enough,” was recently published by Random House Berkeley. Jasmin’s story will resonate with many who struggled through childhood as “the fat kid.” Jasmin was bullied, and used junk food as her solace, even after becoming a vegan.
Jasmin lost almost 100 pounds after discovering “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” and juicing. What’s more, she’s kept it off. In her book, she covers universal topics of self-esteem, finding ourselves, and changing our relationship with food.
Jasmin kindly shared some of her story with us. “Always Too Much and Never Enough” is available in bookstores everywhere, and online.
Q: During the early days of your juice fast, you say “In order to be there 100 percent for animals, I need to be there 100 percent for myself.” What do you mean by that?
By the time I became a full-time activist, and was working long hours, I somewhat unconsciously had made the decision that my health could come second to my meaningful career. So many people, activists or not, can relate to this mentality. I know a lot of parents, for example, who put their kids first to such an extent that their own health begins to suffer. That was me. I spent my days advocating for animals, but — in the wake of being told I was on my way to heart disease — I realized I was not advocating for myself along the way. The irony, of course, is that by giving all I had to my career and not saving anything for my own well-being, I was not only shortchanging my body, but my activism. It’s the whole “put the oxygen mask on yourself first” thing; how could I save animals if I was not saving myself first?
Q: In the book, you’ve said that finding support during your periods of juice fasting was key. Who supported you, and why do you think that was so important?
I was lucky enough to do my juice fasts with my wife, Mariann. Having a companion beside me as I learned the ins and outs of juice-fasting was key, and I also tend to think that it would have been triggering to me, or at least uncomfortable, to have someone in my house eating solid food during those first few juice fasts. (That’s not to say it would have been impossible, but it made it a lot easier having her in it with me.) Though, for me, juice-fasting was a lot easier than I thought it would be, there was still a period of adjusting and figuring out how to move through my day, and it made it a lot easier to have Mariann beside me, with the same questions, so that we could learn from each other. I also got a lot of support from the Reboot with Joe community. I found it so comforting to be plugged into a community of people who had already navigated through the same terrain I was learning. For juice-fasting, just as for veganism, finding and fostering community is extremely important.
Q: What resonated about Joe’s story for you?
Like me, Joe had tried everything to lose weight and find health again, and — almost on a whim, almost as a last resort — he began to juice-fast, just to see what happened. And, like me, it was a lot easier than he thought it would be. His pounds melted off, and his health issues disappeared. I appreciated Joe’s humility as he used his personal experience to jump start a movement, and to explore the systemic issues behind why our country is plagued by obesity and by a thoroughly avoidable passel of diseases. He approached eating, and juicing, as both a personal and political act, which resonated with me. I was also inspired (and remain inspired) by Joe’s openness, his frankness about the struggles, and his eagerness to constantly evolve and to find solutions.
Q: Why do you think Rebooting worked for you where other diets didn’t?
For me, the first time I began a juice-fast, it wasn’t about “weight loss,” but rather, it was about a holistic approach to health and healing, and for me, weight loss was a natural reaction to that. My body was in constant pain and I was always achy. I had adult onset acne and painful boils. I was lethargic and depressed. And even though I was only 30, I was told by my doctor that I was on my way to heart disease. Someone handed me “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead,” and after watching it and feeling inspired by Joe’s successes, I thought I’d go the route of abundance rather than deprivation, and that was a new concept for me. Rather than focusing on what I wouldn’t eat, I focused on flooding my body with nutrients. At the same time, I was, it turned out, taking a break from the unhealthy mentality I had regarding the food I ate, the way I ate it, and my relationship to my body. That break from having food in my life, which was going on at the same time as my body was basking in the healing powers of vegetables and fruits, was the perfect combination. And I found that I began to crave whole foods, so in between juice fasts, I wound up dropping the processed, junk foods. I also appreciated the importance of scheduling in the juice fasts, because if I had them on the calendar then I’d be sure to do them, so I started planning them out months in advance. I wound up juicing every month — 10 days one month, 3 days the following, then 10, then 3, and on and on — and in between, I would eat a whole foods plant-based diet with a limited amount of high quality fats, and little to no processed foods.
Q: What benefits, other than weight loss, did juicing have for you?
I actually consider weight loss to be a terrific side benefit, and I consider the clarity I gained about my relationship with food, eating, and my body to be the main advantage that juice-fasting brought me. I had a long-held, negative relationship with my body, and I dealt with life’s woes through overeating. I was addicted to food, and to the cosmic high I received from stuffing my face until I could no longer feel. During that first juice-fast, I had the space in my life to really assess the systemic reasons behind why I always turned to food. I had a break to consider what it was I had been hiding. As I discovered the ways that Big Food had been betraying me, I realized that there were so many ways I was betraying myself, too. As I flooded my body with nutrients, I started to let go of these deeply-held beliefs that I needed junk food as my crutch, and that’s when my pounds literally melted off. For me, my journey to health and peace was jump-started and then maintained by juice-fasting, but a holistic approach to self-care became the bigger picture. It all started with juice.
Q: What healthy habits have you maintained?
I regularly juice-fast in order to give myself that “reboot” that I need to take inventory of my life and my habits, and to rid myself of any bad habits — either related to junk food or to anything else toxic in my life — that has managed to seep in. I also drink a lot of smoothies as meals, especially for breakfast, which is, for me, a healthy and wholesome way of starting my day.
Q: Any advice for those thinking about doing a juice fast?
I tend to think that people should start with at least a seven-day juice fast. I don’t think starting with a one or three day juice fast is optimal, since I found that the first and last day are always the toughest, and the bulk of the time is a lot easier than it sounds right now. I have found that, for me, it takes my body three days to just get into the fast in the first place, so why not start with something that will show real results, physically and emotionally? I also think that community is really important, so find others who will do it with you, or who will support you. Finally, reduce the amount of triggers in your life as much as possible, so if you are in the position in your household where you prepare the food, it’s time to call in some extra help for that week, or to prepare things in advance, put them in the freezer, and teach your kids how to reheat. This process will be a lot easier if you’re not constantly bombarded by food. Finally, I would strongly suggest planning juice fasts on your calendar way in advance, and not making any unnecessary plans during those times. Remember, this time is for you, and your healing, and so why not use it as a moment to take a breath?
Jasmin Singer is the cohost of the award-winning Our Hen House podcast and the Executive Director of OHH. She is the author of the memoir Always Too Much and Never Enough (Berkley, 2016), which documents her journey to find herself through juicing, veganism, and love, as she went from fat to thin and from feeding her emotions to feeding her soul. Jasmin has contributed to several anthologies (including Defiant Daughters, Running Eating Thinking, and Circles of Compassion), is a contributing writer for VegNews Magazine, and has been seen on The Dr. Oz Show, HuffPo Live, and Unchained with Jane Velez-Mitchell. A sought-after public speaker, Jasmin spends her downtime at home in New York City with her wife, animal law professor Mariann Sullivan, and their darling, twelve-year-old pit bull, Rose. Follow Jasmin on Twitter: @ourhenhouse @jasmin_singer, and visit jasminsinger.com for updates.