Kendra-Lee Pearman always thought her diet was healthy and she was vegan before vegan was a buzzword.

However, she started putting on weight at the age of 43.

“My dress size went from 8 to 10 to 12 to 14,” the 54-year-old said. “Then, I was pushing into a bigger size and I said, ‘I’m just not doing that.’”

She thinks part of it was because of hormonal changes, but the other culprit was all the carbohydrates she was eating.

“I ate a lot of pasta,” said the human resources adviser, who has a doctorate in educational psychology.

Over the next eight years she tried many diets, losing weight in some, but never in the amount she wanted. Some of the programmes were expensive. One nutrition counsellor charged her $2,000 for two visits and pills called “nutraceuticals”.

“That didn’t even include meals,” she said.

She found some success in fasting, but couldn’t quite get it right.

“My weight plateaued,” she said.

As it turned out, the answer to her problems lay in a wedding gift buried deep in her kitchen cupboards — a juicer.

“My father, Kenneth Pearman, did a bit of juicing and liked it,” she said. “In 2015, I decided to give it a go.”

For ten days she fasted, consuming only five 16oz juices a day.

“I never felt hungry,” she said. “The word for what I felt was satisfied.”

She was amazed when she lost 10lb in that short period.

The theory behind juicing is that it gives the body’s organs a chance to rest.

“Sometimes, digestion can be a four-hour process,” Dr Pearman said. “When you juice, you are taking away the fibre, so the body can absorb nutrients and enzymes straight into your cells and tissues. Your body is now able to heal itself because it is not focusing on the digestive process.”

She switched to juicing several times a day and eating her main meal at lunch.

“I really like eating salads,” she said.

At night she usually eats a snack such as fruit or popcorn.

While her fridge filled to the bursting with fruits and vegetables, the weight kept coming off. To date, she’s lost 30lbs. She used to look into her bedroom closet desperate to find something that was big enough to fit. Now she looks in there for just the opposite reason.

“I was wearing size ten clothing and it was really too big for me,” she said. “Now, I’m down to a size eight again and it’s so exciting.”

Old friends stop her on the street and marvel at how good she looks.

“People can’t believe I’m 54 and have four grandchildren,” she said. “They say I still look the way I did in high school.”

Last October, wanting to share her experience with others, she started offering a juicing and fasting course: Refresh Yourself in 30 Days. She’ll be offering it for the fourth time later this month. Students are given booklets with juicing recipes and diet advice. They can take part in two cooking classes and group walks.

“It’s really taking people through a detoxification process,” Dr Pearman said.

“They choose how long they fast. They might want to do it for three days or they might want to do it for longer.

“Then, we introduce them to raw fruits and raw vegetables. Then we add cooked vegetables, nuts, soaked grains and at the end of the programme we introduce legumes. It is a vegan programme.”

She monitors and assists people with questions through WhatsApp.

Some of her “converts” include her daughters Mikaela and Samaela.

“When Mikaela has had a bad weekend, she’ll say it’s time to juice again,” Dr Pearman said.

“My daughter, Samaela, is nursing a five-month-old boy. You can juice while you’re nursing, but it’s not recommended you rely on that. Samaela does smoothies. They are different from juicing because there is blending involved and there is still fibre within the drink. She is able to get more bulk in there.”

She emphasises to clients that she is not a medical doctor and ensures that they sign a form, showing they understand that she cannot give medical advice.

“They should see a doctor before they start my programme,” she said.

She insists Refresh isn’t just a weight-loss programme, but also a lifestyle one. Her ideas on diet and nutrition are closely related to her Seventh-day Adventist faith.

“We have a health message about how you need to take care of your body,” she said. “It is a temple of God.”

She thinks about 150 people have taken the juicing journey with her, with many able to significantly improve their health.

“Before one person took the course, they were pre-diabetic,” she said. “After the course, they were back to normal.”

She admitted there were some struggles to beginning a juicing regimen.

“Before people start the class, they have to give up caffeinated beverages like coffee,” she said.

“My daughter Mikaela had a hard time with that. Some people get headaches when they start fasting and some people have to run to the bathroom a lot because they are drinking more liquid. I advise people to start on a weekend, so they can find out how they will react.”

Knowing how to season things right is important and cost can also be a challenge.

“Buying a lot of vegetables and fruits at the store can be costly,” she said. “But I always say pay now, so you won’t have to pay later.”

Food for thought: buy a masticating juicer

Starting a juicing regime can be a confusing process.

Kendra-Lee Pearman recommends buying a masticating juicer rather than a centrifugal one. It works slower, but extracts more fibre, enzymes and nutrients.

She suggests people include lots of cruciferous vegetables such as spinach, celery, broccoli and kale. Fruits and vegetables have different health properties; below are a few:

• Melons are cooling and soothing, and are said to have anticancer properties and reduce your risk of lung cancer.

• Blueberries and strawberries are inflammation fighters.

• Pineapple is full of vitamin C which fights heart disease and joint pain.

• Oranges neutralise acid in the body and help lower cholesterol.

• Apples have pectins and vitamin C which helps control blood sugar and remove toxins from the body.

• Celery leaves have high levels of vitamin A and the stems are a great source of vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C with many other nutrients, which can help lower blood pressure.

• Cucumbers contain ascorbic acid and caffeic acid, an antioxidant, which helps prevent water retention and lowers cholesterol.

• Refresh Yourself in 30 Days runs September 29 to October 28. E-mail

Royal Gazette