For me, it all started with numbers. I disliked all the numbers associated with me. My age. My blood pressure. My blood sugar. The waist size on my pants. My shoe size. All of them described someone older than I, sicker than I, more restricted by life than I. Over time, it came to seem as if gravity were pushing me down more than others.

So I decided to make a change.

I have been doing juice fasts every year for years now. Always in the high heat of August, when it feels so good to drink down the cool juice and then to sit outdoors, catching what breezes I can.

Sometimes the fasts are as brief as three days, just enough for a little detox and a little rest. Other times they can last a full thirty days, a period of time in which I can reassess, decide what aspects of life are working for me and which ones are not. It is a time to reassess work, relationships, and, most important, lifestyle choices—food, locale, etc.

Last August, I had set out to do a full thirty days. And I was nearly there. On day twenty-eight, Hurricane Irene swept up the East coast and walloped the state of Connecticut. We were without power for days. And, with no power, I had no juicer. Our excellent health food store, New Morning, was closed. Everything was closed. Trees were down everywhere, roads were flooded. Radio stations disappeared. The batteries on our old radio failed and stores were closed. So we went without.

In short, that fast ended abruptly.

One day I was juicing carrots, zucchini and cucumber. The next I was baling out the basement.

And after that we ate what food we had. Canned things. Bottled things. Crackers with peanut butter. Not the usual ending of the fast. I had intended to move onto raw foods for a time to continue losing weight and cleansing my body. But Irene changed my mind. Within two weeks it was as if the fast had never happened.

So, I’m on to the next fast now. To change those numbers. And I pray this time for a soft landing.

It was a funny thing that motivated me this time. It was a picture that I saw on Facebook. It has been all over the Internet by now, I’m sure, but I’ll post it here:

This bloated possum serves as the "Before" image for my juice fast

It’s a possum you broke into a bakery in Australia. You can see from the hole in the back of the box that he was a good bit smaller when he chewed his way into the box then he was when he finished eating. Image what the little guy must have thought when he got into that box. I’m sure he smelled the pastry, and so he had a clue as to what was ahead. But to find so many! And so many flavors! He apparently ate all night until he not only was too swollen to get back out of the box, but even to move.

Take a close look at the picture. His expression tells the whole story.

So I saw this picture and, at first, laughed. It is funny. (I just hope that the people who had the sense of humor to take the picture also had the sense of humor to let the poor thing go.) But then I began to identify with the animal. I realized that I look like that too many nights after too many dinners. That could be me on the couch instead of the possum in the box. And, like the possum, my own discomfort, my own bad numbers (aside from age) were those that I earned from my own bad choices.

So I have decided to make a good choice for a change and to decide to go on a juice fast as a means of starting from scratch. If you’ve never experienced a juice fast, it is an amazing thing. A time of detox, which can be quite difficult, followed by a time of rest and reflection that can yield powerful results if you let it. And then, at the end, there is a time of joy, as your being feels charged with energy and healed from within. It it, as I say both a difficult thing that requires determination and a wonderful, powerful tool for healing.

Last summer, I mentioned my juice fast in passing here at Psora Psora Psora, as a bit of an amuse bouche. This time, as the stakes are higher, I intend to write in more detail, giving notes on how to do a juice fast safely and effectively. Even with a nod to giving some recipes for specific juices. (Hint: lots of carrots are involved.)

There’s nothing that I can think of in life, short of joining the witness protection program, that can give you a fresh start like a juice fast. I hope that, as you read these entries, you come to agree.