Today I was really moved by an article written by Roxanne Gay, author of two books to be released this year, An Untamed State and Bad Feminist. Roxanne and I are kindred feminist spirits in our dislike for the negative messages spread by the media that say thin equals beautiful.
I’m sharing it with those of you who are struggling to love yourselves, those of you with PCOS, those of you with overweight daughters, indeed those of you with any daughters at all, and especially those of you who have not had the weight loss results others have had with juicing. I am all of these things, but have come to love myself enough to know that while I may not be slim, my body is clean, strong, and full of natures goodness. I am overweight, and I am beautiful.
Here’s the article…
My Body is Wildly Undisciplined and I Deny Myself Almost Everything I Desire
by Roxanne Gray. Original article can be found at xojane.com
I watched the first few seasons of The Biggest Loser avidly. The show offered the ultimate fat girl fantasy—go to a “ranch” for a few months, and under the pressure of intense personal trainers, low caloric intake, the manipulations of reality show producers and the constant surveillance of television cameras, lose the weight you’ve never been able to lose on your own.
During those first few seasons, I often toyed with auditioning to appear on the show though, realistically, that could never happen. I’m too shy. I would go through Internet withdrawals. I can’t work out without music. If trainer Jillian Michaels screamed at me I would shut down. As a vegetarian, I don’t eat Jenny-O turkey. Appearing on the show is simply not workable for me.
The longer The Biggest Loser has been on the air, however, the more the show has disturbed me. There is the constant shaming of fat people and the medical professionals taking every opportunity to crow about how near death these obese contestants are. There are the trainers, with their perfect bodies, demanding perfection from people who have, for whatever reason, not had a previously healthy relationship with their bodies. There is the spectacle of the contestants pushing themselves in inhuman ways—crying and sweating and vomiting—visibly purging their bodies of weakness.
This is not a show about people becoming empowered through fitness, though on the surface, the show’s slick marketing would have you believe that. The Biggest Loser is a show about fat as an enemy that must be destroyed, a contagion that must be eradicated. This is a show about unruly bodies that must be disciplined by any means necessary, and through that discipline, the obese might become more acceptable members of society. They might find happiness.W
hen we watch shows like The Biggest Loser and its many imitators, we are practically begging some power beyond ourselves: “Take these all too human bodies, and make what you will of them.”
If you watch enough daytime television, particularly on “women’s networks,” you are treated to an endless parade of commercials about weight loss products and diet foods—means of disciplining the body that will also fatten the coffers of one corporation or another. In these commercials, women often swoon at the possibility of satisfying their hunger with somewhat repulsive foods while also maintaining an appropriately slim figure. The joy women express over fat free yogurt and 100-calorie snack packs is not to be believed.
In her latest commercial for Weight Watchers, Jessica Simpson says, “I started losing weight right away. I started smiling right away.” This commercial is one of many weight loss advertisements that equate happiness with thinness and, by default, obesity with misery. In her commercials for Weight Watchers, Jennifer Hudson shrieks about her new found happiness and how, through weight loss, not, say, winning an Oscar, she has achieved success.
Gossip magazines keep us constantly abreast of what’s happening to the bodies of famous women. Their weight fluctuations are tracked like stocks because their bodies are, in their line of work, their personal stock, the physical embodiment of market value. When celebrity women have babies, their bodies are intensely monitored during and after—from baby bumps to post baby bodies.
Women, for that is whom these ecstatic diet food commercials and celebrity weight loss endorsements are for, can have it all when they eat the right foods and follow the right diets and pay the right price.
They are the unachievable standard toward which we must, nonetheless strive. They are thinspiration as the parlance goes—thin inspiration, a constant reminder of the distance between our bodies and what they could be with the proper discipline.
Part of disciplining the body is denial. We want but we dare not have. To lose weight or maintain our ideal bodies, we deny ourselves certain foods. We deny ourselves rest by working out. We deny ourselves peace of mind by remaining ever vigilant over our bodies. We withhold from ourselves until we achieve a goal and then we withhold from ourselves to maintain that goal.
My body is wildly undisciplined and I deny myself nearly everything I desire. I deny myself the right to space when I am public, trying to fold in on myself, to make my body invisible even though it is, in fact, grandly visible. I deny myself the right to a shared armrest because how dare I impose? I deny myself entry into certain spaces I have deemed inappropriate for a body like mine—most spaces inhabited by other people.
I deny myself bright colors in my clothing choices, sticking to a uniform of denim and dark shirts even though I have a far more diverse wardrobe. I deny myself certain trappings of femininity as if I do not have the right to such expression when my body does not follow society’s dictates for what a woman’s body should look like. I deny myself gentler kinds of affection—to touch or be kindly touched—as if that is a pleasure a body like mine does not deserve.
Punishment is, in fact, one of the few things I allow myself. I deny myself my attractions. I have them, oh I do, but dare not express them, because how dare I want. How dare I confess my want? How dare I try to act on that want? I deny myself so much and still there is so much desire throbbing beneath my surfaces.
Denial merely puts what we want just beyond reach but we still know it’s there.
Recently, my best friend and I were drinking wine in a hotel room. She grabbed my hand to paint my fingernail. She had been threatening to do this for hours and I was resisting for reasons I could not articulate. Finally, I surrendered and my hand was soft in hers as she carefully painted my fingernail a lovely shade of pink. She blew on it, let it dry, added a second coat. The evening continued.
I stared at my finger the next day, on an airplane hurtling across the country. I could not remember the last time I had allowed myself the simple pleasure of a painted fingernail. I liked seeing my finger like that, particularly because my nail was long, nicely shaped, and I hadn’t gnawed at it as I am wont to do. Then I became self-conscious and tucked my thumb against the palm of my hand, as if I should hide my thumb, as if I had no right to feel pretty, to feel good about myself, to acknowledge myself as a woman when I am clearly not following the rules for being a woman.
Before I got on the plane, my best friend offered me a bag of potato chips to eat on the plane, but I denied myself that. I said, “People like me don’t get to eat food like that in public,” and it was one of the truest things I’ve ever said. Only the depth of our relationship allowed me to make this revelation, and then I was ashamed for buying into these terrible narratives we fit ourselves into and I was ashamed at how I am so terrible about disciplining my body and I was ashamed by how I deny myself so much and it is still not enough.
With the dramatic reveal of Rachel Frederickson, the latest winner of The Biggest Loser, we finally have a reason to be outraged about the show and its practices, even though the show has been on the air and offering a damaging narrative about weight loss since 2004.
When her season began, Frederickson weighed 260 pounds. At the final weigh in, on live television, she weighed 105, a 60 percent loss in mere months. She had disciplined her body the way she was asked but, apparently, she disciplined her body a bit too much. There are so many rules for the body—often unspoken and ever shifting.
During this reveal, even trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels gaped at Frederickson’s gaunt body. In an interview, Harper would later say, “I was stunned. That would be the word. I mean, we’ve never had a contestant come in at 105 lbs.” The biggest loser, we now know, should lose, but only so much.
There was a wide range of responses in the wake of seeing Rachel Frederickson’s new body. Her body, like most women’s bodies, instantly became a public text, a site of discourse, only now, because she had taken her weight loss too far. She had disciplined her body too much.
In the two months since that reveal, Frederickson has gained twenty pounds and is at, apparently, a more acceptable but still appropriately disciplined size. She has explained that she lost so much weight because she was trying to win the $250,000 prize, but those of us who deny ourselves and try so hard to discipline our bodies know better. Rachel Frederickson was doing exactly what we asked of her and what too many of us would, if we could, ask of ourselves.
My daughter has named this one 7 Wonders – on account of having seven super fabulous wonderful ingredients, and they are…
1 large super juicy fresh peach
2 deliciously fabulous medjool dates – pitts removed
A slice of any kind of scrumptious sweet melon – I’ve got two thin slices here of honey dew and casaba as that’s what I had in the fridge.
The sweet heart of a baby cos lettuce (romaine) or a leaf or two of whatever lettuce you have handy
10cm (4″) piece of refreshing cucumber
1 large choy sum leaf – or any other dark green leaf you have
1 spinach plant with the wonderfully nutritious roots – or a handful of spinach if that’s how you buy it.
This makes a large smoothie juice. I didn’t measure it but I would say it comes in at around 800ml to a litre (27oz – 34oz) and is lovely poured over ice.
Just in case you were wondering … my method of making a smoothie juice is to blitz the soft items – in this case the peaches and dates – in the juicer jug with a stick blender, before adding everything else via the juice machine.
Now there was no rhyme or reason in the creation of this recipe, I just had all this in the fridge; testament to the fun of throwing things together to see what happens.
I’ve also been playing around with peaches and medjool dates lately; peaches as they are in season right now in my part of the world, and medjool dates because they are just such a lovely way to naturally sweeten a juice … which is important to me as I try to get my daughter (who I’ve mentioned before has taste sensory issues associated with Autism) to drink more plants in lieu of the fact she doesn’t really like eating them.
On the subject of medjool dates, one of the reasons I have been getting into them is because there are at least 15 minerals in dates, including selenium, which if you look at my chart where I track my nutritional intake while juice fasting, is a mineral that you can get low in if juice fasting. Selenium by the way is an important mineral believed to help prevent cancer and important in immune function1.
Now, if you are observant you might notice that juicer in the background of the above pic is different to the one I usually use. That’s because I just got a new one, the Russell Hobb Juiceman Pro, also known as the Jay Kordich Powergrind pro. If you want to know my thoughts on this juicer, please subscribe as I will be reviewing it and comparing it to the Breville Juice Fountain as soon as I get time to make a video.
In the mean time, make a smoothie juice, they are just so yummy.
Happy juicingWanna check my sources? Here they are...
I often come across discussion in juice circles about the rules of juice fasting.
Obviously juice fasting involves some rules, for example, you can’t say you are juice fasting if you are eating steak, or even if you finish each day with a big salad. But what about including smoothies or pulped fruit in your fast? What about adding nut milks? If I put seeds in my juice, doesn’t that mean I’m eating? If I make a hot broth from my pulp and add a stock cube, have I broken the rules? What about the 80/20 rule, I can’t stick to it, have I failed?
The approach to juice fasting varies between different juicing advocates. Some say a true juice fast means 100% juice, meaning no smoothies, no pulped fruits, no seeds, no additives whatsoever in the form of stock cubes or Tabasco sauce. And, don’t have more than 20% fruit per juice. But who wants to be a Juice Nazi? (Seinfeld fans will get this reference, lol).
As for me, I am a big advocate of finding your own way of juicing that suits your lifestyle and your goals. You make the rules, the important thing it to stick to them once you have set them.
For example, if you decided to juice fast to give your body a seriously good clean, then adding tabasco sauce or stock cubes probably isn’t the right attitude as they contain lots of salt and other additives.
If you decided to juice fast to loose weight, then adding stock cubes to a broth, or nut milk to a juice or smoothie isn’t going to hurt at all.
If you are diabetic or insulin resistant, then pulping your fruit is a good idea as the extra fibre will slow the absorption of sugar.
If you just want to get more plants in your diet, and have chosen to do that with liquefied food, then smoothies or juices are perfectly fine.
There are so many ways of looking at a juice fast. The main thing to consider is YOU.
I truly believe that while there are programs out there with set menu’s and rules about how to juice fast, if you are going to juice successfully, and take it on as a life long habit, you have to do it in such a way as to make it realistic and achievable for YOU.
So now it’s time to establish your own rules of juice fasting.
Will you juice the rainbow?
Do you want extra protein?
Do you think tea is acceptable?
What about a black coffee a day? Gasp! – I wouldn’t recommend it while detoxing, but after the initial detox week if your main focus is weight loss, well, it’s your fast
Will you make your juices in bulk or make them and drink them fresh?
Whatever you choose to do, establish your rules and then stick to them.
Legend has it that eating an apple a day keeps the doctor away … though big pharma would probably prefer us to put a new slant on this old adage by saying a multivitamin a day keeps the doctor away. Personally I doubt either is really that effective, but I wonder about the daily benefits of a green juice?
If there is one thing that is really apparent to me since I started drinking a green every day it’s that I no longer get colds. My multivitamin popping friends still do though. Thinking back to my first foray into juicing I remember coming down with a nasty flu that actually made me stay in bed … for a whole day would you believe … but that was it. It hit me hard and was pretty much gone the next day. Sure I still deal with illness, but not really infection.
Me thinks that green juices have something to do with this.
Back in the old days if I felt a cold coming on I’d start eating oranges and drinking the good old hot water with honey and lemon concoction that I’ve never really enjoyed. But I think this was more of a ritual based on being raised on that method of dealing with the common cold. I also of course ate lots of chicken soup which is apparently good for the soul as well as many other things.
And when you think about all the money being made by the sale of multivitamins, how much more is being made by the sale of codral and the myriad of other pills that alleviate the symptoms of a cold?
Here’s a pic of my spreadsheet showing what I get in my typical glass of green stuff…
It might be a bit tricky to understand but in short it shows the recommended daily intake (RDI) of nutrients for men … see the little symbol that looks like a you know what … and women … see the little symbol that indicates where our important bits are…
Then it shows how much of all that stuff you get in a standard green juice.
The ticks show that we are getting enough and in many cases more of our RDI in just one juice.
It also shows how much more we need in some cases, but lets not forget, this is just one glass of green juice and wont be the only thing you consume in a day.
Now me, I’m a pear girl, but if you still want to get in that daily apple to keep the doctor away then feel free to use an apple as your fruit in your green.
And on that topic, just for a little trivia, just where did the apple a day saying come from?
Well, back in 1866 a publication called Notes and Queries printed a proverb that went like this;
Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.
Fact is though, in those days apples were easy to come by, they also store really well for up to a year. So as far as fresh and as natured intended goes, an apple was a pretty good bet. These day we have access to a massive variety of fruits though, and we now know the humble apple in juice form comes in at about number 10 on the list of high anti-oxidant drinks; behind pomegranate juice, cranberry juice, red wine and even tea.1
So, with summer coming to an end here in the southern hemisphere and cold season approaching, perhaps it’s time to start knocking back a daily green juice to boost your immune system and see if this year the common cold just passes you by. Hope it does.Wanna check my sources? Here they are...
- Hunter, Amy. “Will an apple a day keep the doctor away?” 28 July 2009. HowStuffWorks.com. <http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/human-biology/an-apple-a-day.htm> 28 February 2014. [↩]
This one’s what I call a smoothie-juice and who’da thunk that greens and mango could work so well together, but they do, it has my daughter’s tick of approval, and coming from an Aspie with sensory issues when it comes to taste, texture and smell, and who really struggles with juicing, well that’s saying something.
Makes 600ml (20oz)
In the juicer jug, blend the flesh of 1 large mango with a stick blender. If you keep the skin (which I do) it will make the juice all ‘bitty’ so you can add it through the juicer if you like, or discard it altogether, it’s up to you.
Add the rest through the juicer:
- 1 Lebanese cucumber (or half a continental/telegraph)
- 1 handful/plant of spinach with roots attached
- 3-6 choy sum leaves
- 1 kale leaf
- 2 lettuce leaves
- Handful of fresh stevia leaves (usually only available if you grow it yourself)
- 2 handfuls of wheat grass rolled up inside the lettuce for effective juicing.
You don’t have to use the same greens as I do, just use whatever is available in your part of the world. Choy Sum is a regular favourite of mine readily available at my local asian grocer, but you could substitute it with 2 chard/silverbeet leaves instead (they’re larger).
Wondering what stevia is?
Stevia is a little known herb that has been coming to the forefront of peoples minds lately. It’s a cute little shrub-like herb that I grow in my own garden. It originates from South America and has been used there as a natural sweetener since the dawn of time I suppose. Unlike sugar though it has no calories, no carbs, and registers zero on the glycemic index. On top of all of that it’s about 20 times sweeter than sugar. What makes it really good in my book though is that it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels – though it’s important to note that it doesn’t lower then either. What it has in fact been shown to do is improve glucose tolerance, so for someone who is glucose intolerant like me, that is of course a very good thing.
Curi, R et al (1986). Effect of Stevia rebaudiana on glucose tolerance in normal adult humans, Braz J Med Biol Res. 1986;19(6):771-4. Available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3651629