Easing Of Pandemic Restrictions Gives Woman Time To Focus On Body Insecurities

NEW YORK—With temperatures rising in the parts of the country that experience seasons, along with vaccine injections, residents are excited for summer and hopeful they can resume something resembling a carefree lifestyle of drinking in public parks and hookups with strangers. And now that bikini season is right around the corner, one New York area woman came to the jarring realization that it is once again time for her to hate her body.

“Is it really time for me to get my bikini body into gear already?” gasped Kelsey, a resident of the Upper East Side. “Without all the constant messaging of how I need to shed my love handles or get rid of my stretch marks, I simply lost track of the time of year!”

For the past 12 months, Kelsey found herself preoccupied not with the newest technology that promised to freeze your fat off or the latest iteration of the thigh gap, but with simply staying alive.

“As nice as that was, I’m glad to be back in my comfort zone of feeling extremely uncomfortable in my own skin, like I just want to rip it off,” she says. “I mean, literally—I fantasize about this a lot. I think I’d start with the flap of skin under my arms.”

And while last April, Kelsey’s main wardrobe concern was locating an effective face covering that wasn’t marked up 6,000%, the 29-year-old says she’s excited to get back to her roots, which include agonizing over her reflection in dressing room mirrors and storefront windows, trying on every single bikini in the Bloomingdale’s swim section and leaving empty-handed because “bikinis just look weird on me, I guess”, and working salads into every topic of conversation.

As her friends stress over the expectation to wear less clothing after an uncharacteristic year of moving less and drinking and eating more, Kelsey has found another silver lining: “Although small businesses and restaurants have suffered nearly insurmountable setbacks due to the pandemic, on the bright side, there are more companies than ever promising to get me to my goal weight in 30 days!”

“Do I go with the effective, but expected keto? The more glamorous Intermittent Fasting? Maybe I should try that ProLon thing all those influencers are posting about,” she says. “All the options are almost making me nostalgic for the simpler times when all I had to worry about was if dropping groceries off at my parents’ house would kill them.”

Kelsey’s friends have noticed the change, too. They report that during the pandemic, her usual diet talk and hemming and hawing over her jeans size were replaced by nuanced conversations about current events, sexism, and societal double-standards. Now, she’s back to interrogating everyone in her friend circle about how many calories they think are in her tofu and goat cheese scramble.

“Thank god we’re starting to return to normal,” she said with a sigh of relief. “I was starting to become interesting.”

Image: Bruce and Rebecca Meissner /Stocksy

The 5 Weirdest Wellness Trends Of 2020

To put it lightly, sh*t’s been weird these past eight months. If you think back to a year or two ago, we would leave our houses with a terrible cold without a second thought. (TBH, we’d even go out to the bar on antibiotics because “alcohol kills the germs”.) Now, you probably look back at your past self and wonder how you ever went through the day without washing your hands after every surface you touched, or ever stood less than six feet apart from a stranger. 

Wellness has had a big year, to say the least. A lot of the changes we’ve seen have been good (i.e. hand washing, virtual workouts—more of that, please!), but some have been just plain bizarre. Let’s take a look at some of the weirder wellness trends that have popped up while we ask ourselves, “Who is actually doing this?!”

1. Bee-Venom Therapy

One of the weirdest things to gain popularity in 2020 is bee-venom therapy, which claims that being stung by bees heals old or current injuries. Interesting; if I knew that, I wouldn’t have spent so much time running away from bees, screaming. BTER Foundation says that, “Bee Venom Therapy (BVT) is the therapeutic use of honey bee venom, either injected by stings from live bees or injected by needles.” It’s a practice that has been used for ages, but has recently become a topic of conversation and up for consideration for some since watching Netflix’s (Un)Well.  Getting stung by bees sounds more like a form of torture than therapy to me, but sure, let’s go with it. Beyond this form of therapy, bee venom itself can be found in the ingredients in skin care and other topical products. IDK, I thought the point was to save the bees, not to slather their venom on our skin.

2. CBD Everywhere 

There is literally CBD everywhere now. You can find CBD in drinks, snacks, lotions, bath bombs… the list goes on and on. Although CBD has been around for a while, we’re seeing it in more random sh*t than ever before as of late, and I gotta be honest, some of this stuff feels like a reach.

Like, there are activewear brands that sell CBD-infused leggings and sports bras. The infused fabrics are strategically placed throughout the garments to align with your major muscle groups. As you workout, the micro-capsules open to release CBD. Yes, CBD does help with muscle pain, but are you really going to feel it from your leggings? No studies have been done on the effectiveness of CBD clothing, so we can’t say for sure. Worst-case scenario, you get some cute leggings, I guess. 

But it doesn’t stop at leggings; CBD has even made its way into our toilet paper. And you thought the wildest 2020 toilet paper craze would be about the hoarding. I see your toilet paper hoarding of 2020, and I raise you: CBD-infused toilet paper. This TP says it “may relieve feelings of anxiety or improve quality of sleep.” I’ll stick with my gummies, thanks.

3. Ice Baths

Voluntarily freezing oneself in a body of water or shower is a wellness trend that’s having a resurgence we haven’t seen since the Ice Bucket Challenge. Although ice baths have been used in many different forms for years, they have grown in popularity during a time where most of us are concerned about their immune systems, thanks to Wim Hof, aka “The Iceman.” Gwyneth Paltrow featured Wim Hof’s methods on her Netflix series, The Goop Lab With Gwyneth Paltrow.

The ice baths have been credited with everything from optimizing athletic performance, to improving immunity, to managing symptoms of chronic disease and more.

Your vessels constrict because of the cold and open back up when your body warms up after the ice bath. This process helps to flush metabolic waste from your body, while also getting oxygen and nutrients to your muscles,” Hof’s website says. If you can’t give up your hot showers, the good news is that there hasn’t been a ton of research done on this particular method, and there are many other ways to improve immunity.

4. Ear Seeds

If your eyes are the window to your soul, your ears are apparently the gateway to wellness. They have pressure points that can help with issues such as chronic pain, migraines, and anxiety. (Anyone who’s gotten acupuncture in their ears can relate.) There are also pressure points that assist in quitting smoking and weight loss. Since 2020 has been the year of bettering ourselves in the health and wellness aspects, ear seeds are a godsend.  

I know what you’re thinking: WTF are ear seeds? They’re not just a tiny addition of sparkle you add to your ear. They’re literally small seeds used to stimulate pressure points in your ear. It’s like a type of acupuncture, but without the needles. Basically, you stick them on your ears, wear them for a few days, and, depending on the location you place them, they can help with all sorts of physical and mental issues. Whether for actual wellness needs or for a trendy accessory, wellness gurus and influencers alike have been sporting this cute accessory all throughout this past year.

5. Celery Juice

Celery juice is quite simple to understand. It’s literally just juiced celery, though some people add lemon or other fruit to get the dirt and grass taste out of it. This juice cleanse is supposed to help improve the function of the digestive tract, working as a natural laxative (sounds like a nightmare, yet intriguing ). It’s a cleanse many use daily, but according to Parsley Health, although there’s no harm in downing celery juice daily, it does not have much scientific backing yet—just a sh*t load of praise from celery juice addicts.

Image: rukxstockphoto / Shutterstock.com

Does Dry Brushing Do Anything? Here’s The Deal With This Wellness Trend

Self-care has never seemed as important as it has in the last few months, and with everyone having so much more time at home, there’s no excuse not to show your skin some love. Although wellness trends seem to be a dime a dozen, some of them are actually a worthy addition to your weekly routine, even if they don’t perform all of the miraculous functions they’re touted for. 

Dry brushing has been around for centuries as an ancient way to detox the body, increase circulation and aid in digestion. In recent years, it’s ridden the wellness wave into our homes as an easy way to reap major benefits and rid the body of toxins from the comfort of your own bathroom. But what is it, and does it actually work? We spoke to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Adam Mamelak and pharmacist and natural health and wellness expert Dr. Lindsey Elmore to comb through the details (see what we did there!)

What Is Dry Brushing?

Dry brushing is a centuries-old practice that is well known in Ayurvedic healing. It employs a brush with stiff yet soft bristles and a wooden handle to softly and methodically brush away dead skin cells over large portions of the body. Although primarily an exfoliation practice, dry brushing has been plugged for potential detoxifying properties. It’s also been heralded as a way to miraculously brush away cellulite (if only it were that easy!). Unfortunately, there is no hard evidence to support the idea that dry brushing is the dream technique your tush has been looking for, but that doesn’t mean it’s devoid of all benefits. 

What Are the Health Benefits?

That’s a bit of a gray area. It’s been said that dry brushing can help reduce cellulite, increase circulation, and detoxify the body. Wellness influencers and celebs alike have been drawn to this trend, with beauties like Gwyneth Paltrow and Victoria’s Secret model Josephine Skriver adding it to their routines. Hell, even dream girl Cindy Crawford calls it a “miracle tool.” However, the results are mixed, and there isn’t much hard science to support all of the things you’ve heard. 

Dr. Mamelak says that “Exfoliation is by far the greatest benefit of skin brushing. The dry bristles help remove dead and flaky skin from the surface, leading to a brighter, healthier and more vibrant glow.” As we know, exfoliation is a great way to scrub away dead skin cells, unclog pores, and leave you with a more lively look. It is also thought to increase circulation and encourage lymphatic drainage, which would in turn encourage detoxification, says Dr. Mamalek. Dr Mamalek says “Rubbing the skin could theoretically increase circulation to the area and encourage lymph movement. While this could help encourage fluid movement in and out of the area, the brushing itself would not necessarily eliminate toxins from the body.” Dr. Elmore goes on to explain that by stimulating the skin’s lymphatic system through brushing, it could help to release waste and environmental toxins from cells.

When it comes to reducing cellulite, Dr. Elmore says, “Unfortunately, though many women swear by it, there is little to no evidence that dry skin brushing can improve the appearance of cellulite. What is likely happening is that the increased circulation makes the cellulite dimples plump up. 

How Do You Do it?

As the name suggests, neither the brush or the body should be wet. Use a brush with soft, yet stiff bristles and a wooden handle (this one from Goop is specifically designed for those hard-to-reach places). Dr. Elmore suggests starting at your feet, then “gently drag the brush bristles over the skin in sweeping patterns towards the heart.” She recommends adding this practice to your morning routine (before your shower) as it’s thought to have some energizing properties, and could give your skin a more vibrant appearance.  Dr. Mamelak recommends starting with 5-10 sweeping strokes per area of the body about 1-2 times per week.

Can Anyone Do it?

Although almost anyone can dry brush, Dr. Elmore says there are certainly some people who should exercise caution or avoid it altogether. If you have inflamed or irritated skin, or if you’re experiencing a skin condition like eczema or psoriasis, it’s best to skip it. Also, she notes, you should definitely not use a dry brush on wounds or skin with an infection.

The Bottom Line?

Dry brushing is a fantastically effective way to exfoliate and reenergize dry or dull skin. It can also increase blood circulation and might help to support lymphatic drainage. If you want to add an easy, energizing and indulgent wellness practice to your routine, this is a great one to incorporate. All other miracle cures should be met with a skeptical eye.

Images: Zainchkovska Kateryna / Shutterstock.com

The Time To Cancel “Shedding For The Wedding” Is Now

“Shedding for those wedding bells, I see!” said an oblivious male trainer friend of mine the last time I was at a gym (which feels like 200 years ago), distracting me from a personal best I was about to make. Because we have a personal relationship, I said straight to his face, “excuse me, that was incredibly rude,” and we moved on. But, truthfully, rude doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of how problematic this assumption is. 

Shedding for the wedding has somehow become a cultural phenomenon that not only requires a bride to put on the most expensive party of her life, but also forces her to spend the months leading up to the wedding (that should be spent drinking champagne and shoving her hand in people’s faces) hangry and stressed. Disclosure: I am talking about female-identifying brides, as I rarely hear about grooms training specifically for the big day, but for the record, body shaming harms everyone.

First, let’s break down how little sense the idea of losing weight for your wedding makes. You’re marrying the love of your life, who loves you for you. Now you want to go and crash diet and/or binge exercise to drastically change your appearance for one day? There’s no reason to make yourself miserable in preparation for what’s supposed to be the happiest day of your life.

One could argue that the ritual ceremony of a wedding itself symbolizes entering adulthood. For me, it definitely does in a much more real way than graduating college or doing my taxes for the first time ever did, and for some, that can be a call to consider their health seriously for the first time. That is not inherently a bad thing, but the problem with the wellness industry as it stands is that it conflates health and well-being with beauty. That notion of “beauty” is further limited to Eurocentric features, so it’s problematic in multiple ways. True health and well-being aren’t as sexy to promote on Instagram, though, because it’s tougher to market what we can’t see from the outside, but diet culture has officially infiltrated the spaces we look to for health information. 

Diet culture is the belief that thinness = “health” and status. This is dangerous to us all, but especially to women, BIPOC, people who are differently-abled, anyone over size 6, the trans community—basically anyone society “others”. It sends the implicit message that if you don’t look like the imaginary health ideal—which, according to stock photos, is exclusively thin white women (who can usually be found laughing at salad)—you’re not only unwell, but a whole slew of other unconscious judgments that come along with it (lazy, unmotivated, etc.). Wellness becomes inherently political in this regard. It is impossible to talk about health without addressing the fact that we all have varying levels of access to wellness resources and that we continue to glorify some bodies as beautiful and others as not—which lurks somewhere deep in our brain when we think about what would make us look *perfect* on our wedding day. 

I so, so, so get wanting to look your best for the big day. These are photos you’ll have forever, after all. And yes, you better believe my skin care regimen is 234209243 steps long, and I’ve obsessed about the hair and makeup and the dress, but the idea that we need to lose weight to be and feel beautiful is sexist, and while we’re being honest, it’s racist. At the same time, I fully support your right to be autonomous with your body, in every sense of the word. If you want to lose weight to feel special on your special day, that is entirely your right and you shouldn’t feel shame for that—but you should know where that desire comes from, because I’m willing to bet my dream honeymoon that the desire to lose weight comes from a hope that we will be more worthy, better versions of ourselves once that finally happens. The thing is, though, losing weight doesn’t usually accomplish that. If you aren’t armed with this information going in, you’ll probably be disappointed when you get to that final dress fitting and you don’t feel as changed as you thought you would. 

To be clear, I am not against having fitness goals! But by fitness goals, I mean actual fitness—not physique goals. A fitness goal is “I want to run a marathon” or “I want to carry this overpacked suitcase without breaking a sweat.” A fitness goal is not, “I want to lose x pounds or fit in this dress”. Personally, my biggest “wellness” goal is staying sane in 2020 and making it to my wedding alive amidst a GLOBAL PANDEMIC, PEOPLE. 

As a bride and pilates instructor (with no wedding date in sight), what I am doing is continuing to do the exercise I enjoy because it feels good and helps me deal with COVID-19/wedding/2020/self-employed stress. Listen, movement is objectively good; I’ve literally made it my career and can personally vouch for the life-changing magic of moving your body every day. The problem is, shedding for the wedding puts the focus on changing your body for aesthetic purposes only, instead of enjoying it or even focusing on health itself. Not only can that get punish-y and dangerous, but it’s also just not fun. 

I move my body regularly, whether it’s a full workout or a sanity walk around the block, because it feels good and also so I don’t lose my sh*t when my dress is indefinitely delayed or trips get canceled. Choosing to exercise in appreciation of your body and as self-care increases body satisfaction and helps you be nicer to your reflection, which, wedding or not, is always welcome. 

Unfortunately, you’re not likely to get through your engagement without hearing the phrase “shedding for the wedding”. So what do you do when someone puts their nose where it doesn’t belong? It’s actually quite simple: Call them out and remind them (politely or not, up to you) that it’s not only not their business, but it’s also harmful and promotes an outdated beauty ideal. Let them know that your wedding does not revolve around an arbitrary number of pounds lost or gained, but the fact that you found yourself a life partner. What a concept. 

It’s time to cancel “shedding for the wedding” and start celebrating body diversity with the same fervor that we do one particular type of beauty. 2020 brides have had to sacrifice dancing, hugging, and uh, human interaction in general with the rise of stoop and Zoom weddings. But, we’ve also started to see an edit of superfluous traditions in favor of celebrating what’s actually meaningful about a wedding: the love! Maybe, *JUST MAYBE* we can make engagements about being engaged instead of dieting, and “shedding for the wedding” will go the way of the garter toss.

Images: Jacob Lund / Shutterstock

I Tried Vogue’s Wine & Egg Diet From The 70s, & It’s Just As Wild As It Sounds

Welcome back to the Fad Diet Diaries, a series in which I knowingly decide to try out horrible diets and then am still shocked when I have a bad time. It’s been a while since our last venture, because it turns out that your body can only take so much abuse before it straight-up decides to stop cooperating with your editorial schedule. But we’re back, stronger than ever and ready to make more terrible decisions when it comes to our metabolism. Shall we?

About two years ago, in my fad diet heyday, a tweet about a “wack ass” Vogue diet from the 70’s went viral. It had all the makings of one of my next experiments: it was funny, it was dumb, I would likely suffer for it, etc. But I passed at the time, not because of any of the several, valid objections to the diet itself, but because the thought of learning how to cook a steak felt too cumbersome.

Now, two years wiser, in the midst of a pandemic, and in the possession of a real kitchen, it felt like the stars had finally aligned. When the same diet went viral for a second time, now being advertised as the ideal quarantine diet, I knew that it was time for me to step up. Have other people already tried this? Yes. Did anyone actually ask me to do it? No. Did either of those things matter? They never do.

quar seems like the perfect time to finally try this diet from 70s vogue pic.twitter.com/p176EdsXC1

— crissy (@crissymilazzo) August 2, 2020

It wasn’t until halfway through my first “breakfast” that I thought do any actual research about this diet beyond the confines of the initial tweet because I am, before all else, a very serious journalist. Much like any other time in my life that I’ve tried to learn something that I probably should have already known, Wikipedia was there for me.

According to the Egg and Wine Diet page, this abomination was in fact published in Vogue in 1977, but it first gained notoriety after being printed in Helen Gurley Brown’s book Sex and the Single Girl: The Unmarried Woman’s Guide to Men in 1962. As a single woman in 2020 who was under the impression that the last way to attract a man was to smell vaguely of white wine and hardboiled eggs, I was intrigued, to say the least.

Helen Gurley Brown was an American author and businesswoman whose work, according to my best friend Wikipedia, played a part in the sexual revolution that took place from the 1960s–1980s. Most notably, Brown was the Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan from 1965–1997, during which time she transformed what was once a female-focused literary magazine written entirely by men into the Cosmo we know, love, and sometimes make fun of today.

Say what you will about present-day Cosmo, but under Gurley’s tutelage it became one of the first American publications to recognize the very outrageous notion that women like sex. Gurley built the archetype for the “Cosmo Girl”—the glamorous, career-focused, party girl that shaped the representation of single women in pop culture for decades to come. Her feminism, while seemingly outdated and at times offensive today, was revolutionary in the 60s Mad Men era that she came up in. She paved the way for the Samantha Joneses and Carrie Bradshaws, who went on to pave the way for the Hannah Horvaths and Ilana Wexlers, and so on and so on. Basically, any show about white women living and having sex in New York? That was, in part, Helen Gurley Brown’s influence.

The success of Sex and the Single Girl: The Unmarried Woman’s Guide to Men was what put Brown on the path to Cosmo, serving as an introduction to the culture and discourse that she would go on to instill at the magazine. It’s a how-to guide for the (then-) modern single woman, covering everything from relationships, sex, and affairs to careers, dieting, and throwing the perfect dinner party. It sold two million copies in three weeks during its initial publication in 1962 and was re-released in 2003 with an endorsement from none other than Kim Cattrall. This is appropriate, given that it’s basically the prequel to Sex and the City.

I had every intention of reading the entirety of Sex and the Single Girl: The Unmarried Woman’s Guide to Men this weekend, but it turns out that it’s really difficult to do so when you’re wine drunk and malnourished for three straight days. In fact, it’s difficult to do anything but lay in bed and start a re-watch of The Vampire Diaries for reasons that still escape you in the cold, sober light of Monday morning.

From what I’ve gathered through research, reviews, and light skimming, Sex and the Single Girl reads like a toned down, non-satirical Babe Walker from the 1960s. Tonally, it reminds me of an old magnet that my great-grandmother had on her fridge of a joyful, pudgy cartoon pig holding a measuring tape over the words “Taste Makes Waist.” Having not read it fully, I am hesitant to speak to the book as a whole, but I think it could be described as well-meaning but problematic. Gurley seems like a woman I would love to get drunk with, but probably wouldn’t want managing the HR department of my office.

I did, in an egg and wine haze after my third and final dinner, manage to read the chapter that the diet was featured in, titled “The Shape You’re In.” The diet itself is presented as an admittedly insane crash course for losing six pounds in two days rather than a sustainable or rational way to live, so at least we know Brown wasn’t quite as unhinged as I initially believed her to be. In fact, had I followed her advice rather than Vogue’s, I probably would have been better off.

Here is the screenshot from Vogue that started this whole mess.

And here is what Gurley wrote in Sex and the Single Girl.

To the naked eye, these may seem to be very similar diets. To someone who would have murdered a man for an egg that wasn’t boiled come breakfast the third day, they are very different.

Please note that Helen does not place limitations on the size of your daily steak. She also doesn’t purposely tell you to cook it with pepper and lemon juice but neglect to mention salt. She does not suggest you drink three cups of highly acidic black coffee per day on an almost entirely empty stomach. She does not dictate Chablis as the wine of choice, sending you to multiple shops around town until you’re able to locate a bottle of white wine that went out of style decades ago. Most importantly, she recommends two days of this unreasonable diet rather than three, all of which means that someone who worked at Vogue 50 years ago owes me 24 hours of suffering and one potential ulcer. Anna Wintour, I’ll be awaiting your response.

Once I got past the realization that I had been making things harder for myself than I actually had to, this single chapter of the book was one of the most entertaining things I’ve read in months. Reading a wellness guide from the 60s is wild because there are nuggets of what we now know to be absolute truths but are presented as radical notions, mixed in right alongside absurd suggestions that sound like they came directly from the mouth of a drunk Kitty Forman.

Hindsight makes fools of us all, and I’m sure 50 years from now people will look back on the wellness trends we all abide by today as archaic and, frankly, entirely unsubstantiated (I’m looking at you, Oat Milk*) but it’s still vaguely comforting to know that, even at my lowest, I never thought cooking with powered skim milk in lieu of regular bottled milk made for clean living.

*Authors note: Please put down your pitchforks, I love Oat Milk. But let’s stop pretending it’s healthy.

According to HGB, single girls require a very special diet that will ensure we stay “sexy, vibrant, and unmorose about being single.” And guess what—this one is not it! Suffice to say, I’ve never felt less sexy, vibrant, or unmorose in my life than after three days of nothing but hardboiled eggs, wine, black coffee, and over-cooked steak.

First, let’s talk about the diet prep. There is, admittedly, not a ton to do here, but what there is I still managed to f*ck up.

The Eggs

In front of God, the internet, and you, dear reader, I am ready to announce a deep shame: I had never hard-boiled an egg before this event. I didn’t think that this was all that big of a deal, considering hard-boiled eggs are not a typical staple in my diet outside the rogue salad bar and also you can buy them pre-boiled at Trader Joe’s, but apparently, I was wrong about both of those things. Sue me! I love convenience! Moving on.

But now an entire ocean away from Trader Joe’s, I figured it was time to grow up and drop an egg into some boiling water. Turns out there’s more to it than that, which I found out at breakfast on day one when I bit into what I can only describe as the saddest, sandiest egg yolk of all time.

Luckily, Chrissy Teigen was there for me in my time of need, with a full proof hard-boiled egg recipe. “But boiling eggs is, in itself, a foolproof task,” you are likely thinking to yourself. Congrats on your culinary training.

The Coffee

There are few things in life I despise as much as black coffee. There are few things in life I love as much as an incredibly milky coffee. You can imagine how this went for me.

To add to that, I learned that drip coffee is not nearly as prevalent in Amsterdam as it is in America, which meant I was either going to be drinking Americanos three times a day and potentially having a heart attack, or I was going to have to do some investigating.

I ended up finding a café that sells bottled cold brew, but in quantities that wouldn’t kill me. This was a welcome reprieve from the cold brew at home that allows you to peek into a new dimension if you drink even one tablespoon over the prescribed amount.

The Steak

If you’re someone like me who doesn’t have any kind of concept of measurements (metric or otherwise), you probably didn’t realize that 5 oz. is not a lot of steak. It’s certainly less than you would like it to be after only consuming three eggs and three glasses of wine.

It’s small enough that you need to go to a butcher to specifically ask them to cut a piece of meat for you that size, and small enough that they’ll tell you no. But then you’ll ask again with a look in your eye that’s probably a little bit concerning considering you’re already three eggs and three glasses of wine into your day, so they’ll relent.

It’s small enough that you’ll find it incredibly difficult to not overcook, even after you send your mom a “you up?” text at 7:30am her time and ask her to FaceTime so she can walk you step by step through the process.

It’s small enough that you are definitely drunk after pairing it with one (1) cold brew and at least two thirds of a bottle of wine.

But then you’ll be kind of glad it’s that small, because you’ve also never had steak without salt and you’ll never really want to again.

The Wine

It will be no surprise when I tell you that this was the most enjoyable part of the entire experience. Given how few rules there actually were here, I tried to strictly to adhere to the limits that were offered, meaning I drank only Chablis. I’d never actually had it before but was pleasantly surprised to find that it was like a more mellow Chardonnay, without any of the oaky flavor that I truly dislike.

My strategy was to make my breakfast and lunch wines as socially acceptable pours as possible, leaving the bulk of wine for dinner and socializing. While I think this worked a bit, there’s no arguing with the fact that I spent most of these three days in a light daze—a fun combination borne of starvation, alcohol, and caffeine. So basically, like college but with a significant improvement in the quality of ingredients. You know what they call that? Growth.

Kind of like anything else that you think will be fun, it turns out drinking a bottle of wine per day for three days isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I recognize that the recipe says, “up to one bottle of wine,” but chose to ignore that. We’re an all or nothing household.

Me to my bottle of Chablis on the third day:

Day One

As is the case with any of these diets, the first day was a bit of a novelty and therefore as close to enjoyable as you can get in this kind of situation. There were a couple minor obstacles, like the nearly inedible egg yolk and the severe oil burns I got from drunkenly attempting to cook a steak, but all in all things were looking positive.

I started out with a very strategic regimen for each meal, trying to sandwich the wine between enough egg and coffee to offset as much of a buzz as possible, but I can’t say that it was all that effective. Also, that strategy fell to the wayside as soon as I got to lunch because I was too hungry to actually moderate anything.

It wasn’t until I was on my way to a dinner with friends (them: nachos and sweet potato fries, me: cold brew and a hydro flask full of Chablis) that I began to worry what drinking coffee this late in the day would do to my sleep schedule. It turns out that it didn’t matter, because starvation trumps caffeine. I took two Melatonin that night just in case, but was asleep before my head hit the pillow, The Vampire Diaries playing in the background for only my cat to watch.

Day Two

Any kind of optimism was abandoned the minute I woke up on the second day, starving, irritable, and still exhausted despite the fact that I’d just slept for nine hours. I had, foolishly, decided to buy ingredients on a day-by-day basis instead of stocking up on everything beforehand, which meant I had to actually get up and get out of the house if I was going to consume anything. The plan had been to go buy more eggs and try and redeem my first attempt at cooking them, but after it took me fifteen minutes to get from my bed to the bathroom to the kitchen, I gave up and settled for another sandy abomination.

Although this is not the first time I’ve had to navigate a somewhat functional lifestyle while doing one of these diets, it was my first time doing so since moving to the Netherlands. Living in Amsterdam means two things: biking wherever you need to go, and then inevitably climbing a lot of stairs once you get there. I did not take any kind of physical exertion into account when planning for this, which meant my shuffle from my apartment, to an eyebrow appointment, to the café, to the wine store was the slowest recorded movement on a bike in Dutch history. Tourists on foot were lapping me. There is a maximum two-foot elevation change across this entire city, and it was still too much.

By the time I had gotten home from my Odyssey-caliber journey, it was lunch time, which meant I had to drink my breakfast and lunch wine back to back. This, plus the successful second attempt at the hard-boiled egg, had me feeling so nice that I decided to reward my efforts with an afternoon nap. This felt like a good idea at the time (working title of my memoir), until I remembered that on a regular day with a normal amount of food, I tend to wake up from naps ravenous and disoriented. So needless to say, I got up around 5pm resembling a wet gremlin more than anything else.

That night I took my slightly less overdone steak and remaining wine to a park to picnic with friends, which led us to a bar, which led me to a couple more glasses of wine than my allotted bottle per day. Something tells me that Helen Gurley Brown would approve. You know what did not approve? The rest of my body.

Day Three

I woke up at 6:30am on the third day, with what I can only describe as a stomach full of battery acid and hot flashes that make me truly fear menopause. In my half-asleep stupor I reached for a bottle of (carbonated) water on my bedside table carbonated and immediately chugged half of it, which only exacerbated the situation. It felt like the visual equivalent of pouring Sprite into a middle school science fair volcano. Unsure of how to handle the situation, I did what any self-respecting adult would do, and laid on the floor until the feeling passed.

Around 9am I managed to crawl out to my kitchen, where upon opening the fridge I was greeted with what felt like a solid wall of hard-boiled egg odor. Nothing another 20 minutes on the ground couldn’t solve.

Breakfast was a bleak affair, edging closer to brunch hours at the rate I was moving around. I ate my egg in one bite and washed it down with a Chablis spritzer that was 70% sparkling water. I managed to bike my way to a lunch with friends, which I think I only managed to navigate to because it was downhill from my apartment. My judgment was impaired enough to put on a full sweater vest in a heat wave in August, to give you an indication of where I was at mentally.

I had the wherewithal to go to the grocery store on the way home so that I could be sure there would be food when I woke up the next morning, but was unprepared for how emotional standing in a room full of food would make me. An unreliable shopper at the best of times, I truly outdid myself by leaving with a cart of black beans, a single red onion, kettle corn, sliced cheese and raw salmon.

I abandoned half of my lunch, opting to starve rather than look at one more perfectly boiled egg (a six on the Chrissy Teigen scale). After choking that down I retreated to my room for an undetermined number of episodes of The Vampire Diaries, before emerging for the last of the cold brew, Chablis, and steak. These were all consumed, cold, in my bed.

As I lay there that night, willing myself to the sweet release of sleep, the immortal words of Helen Gurley Brown came to me as if she was floating in the corner of my ceiling like Toni Collette in Hereditary: “Single girls need lecturing. You are the world’s dumbest about nutrition.”

In the end, I lost 4.5 lbs, which puts me just shy of what both Vogue and Sex and the Single Girl promised. Not that it matters anyway, because as I sit here, 12 hours after my final weigh-in, I have already gained all of it back. Spoiler alert: that’s how crash diets tend to end.

Was this worthwhile? Absolutely not. I know far less insane ways to lose a few pounds in a short period of time, and none of them involve hardboiled eggs. But I’m sure Helen Gurley Brown is looking down from above, smiling fondly, and lamenting the fact that I went out first thing and ate what was effectively cake for breakfast. All things in moderation.

Images: adnanroesdi / Shutterstock.com; Giphy (4); crissymilazzo/ Twitter

Is Chlorophyll Water The Latest Bullsh*t Wellness Craze?

From alkaline water to celery water to not drinking any water at all, it seems like the wellness industry is obsessed with H2O as of late. I mean, I know it’s the essence of wetness and wetness is the essence of beauty and everything, but why do we need to keep reinventing the wheel? And will it ever end? The answer to that final question, at least for the time being, is no, and that’s because there’s yet another type of water on the market that’s making a whole lot of bold claims. Enter Chlorophyll Water, the green water drink that looks like a weird concoction I might have made in 6th grade biology, but that actually tastes amazing and is attracting celebs like Kourtney Kardashian, Mandy Moore, and VS Model Shanina Shaik. I’m listening…

While I wouldn’t intentionally read, let alone try to learn anything from the POOSH website even if my life depended on it, I can’t deny that I’d like to look like Kourtney K. So, I’d like to know: what’s the deal with the latest chlorophyll wellness craze that she and these other hot people are getting behind? 

What Is Chlorophyll Water?

Chlorophyll is simply “a green, plant-based pigment that holds the power to translate light into oxygen and energy for plants,” explains Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, Registered Dietitian at Betches. Remember from your middle school science class? She adds, “People are adding it with hopes of obtaining these similar energetic powers simply from drinking water.”

What Are The Potential Benefits?

Besides making you appear up with the trends, studies have shown chlorophyll to: 

Have antioxidant properties: Beckerman explains that “chlorophyll has helpful antioxidant properties which will help combat negative cellular damage in the body.”

Work as an internal deodorizer: According to this study administered on 62 geriatric patients, chlorophyll tablets were found to be helpful in “controlling body and fecal odors.”

Detox the body: The study cited above also found chlorophyll to “aid in easing chronic constipation;” while other studies conducted on animals have shown chlorophyll to “promote the elimination of potentially harmful toxins and carcinogens from the body.”  

Clear up acne: Chlorophyll-a photodynamic therapy (a treatment that uses drugs and light and in this case, chlorophyll) was used to treat 24 Asian subjects’ acne, in which there were significant reductions. 

But…

As you might have already gathered, these studies are quite limited. Testing on animals or on subjects strictly of Asian descent like the studies cited above does not give us the science-backed results we need to feel confident that chlorophyll is a magical cure-all. Beckerman echoes this sentiment by explaining, “until I see long-term, large, randomized, double-blind, clinically controlled trials, I’d be skeptical that chlorophyll is the answer everyone is looking for.”

Did My Experience Line Up?

Nutrition and science and Kourtney K. aside, I wanted to try out Chlorophyll Water in the first place simply in hopes of supporting a sustainable, earth-friendly brand. The water bottles are biodegradable and every case sold plants a tree—which might make you feel better about the $3.33 price tag for a bottle (and $39.99 for a case of 12). 

I was definitely weirded out when I realized that the green color was coming not from the water bottle, but from the actual water itself. However, my initial weirded-outness was replaced by a pleasant surprise at the fresh/crisp taste of the water, which I later learned can be attributed to the purification process it goes through. I was honestly pumped to have found a thirst-quenching drink that doesn’t have any hidden sugars and whatever other chemicals MUST be in those weird flavored CVS drinks I’m always buying when I’m hungover. I found myself drinking about two bottles a day for one week.

Despite being tasty and making me look like an intimidating yoga betch (a long-lived aspiration of mine), I can’t say that I was magically more energized or that my skin was suddenly glowing. I suppose I was going to the bathroom a good amount (aka I was not constipated for the Jerry in the back), but as a vegan, this isn’t usually a problem (wow we’re getting personal here), so I’m not necessarily the best guinea pig.

Conclusion

One week isn’t long enough to test much of anything, but the current science doesn’t give us much confidence in chlorophyll as the be-all and end-all health answer, either. 

Despite chlorophyll having antioxidant properties, Beckerman is instead urging us to stick to the ol’—wait for it—fruits and veggies concept (it sounds so simple on paper, dammit! *bites into chip*). She explains that the antioxidant properties found in chlorophyll “are also found in blueberries or broccoli, and we know these foods provide the body with anti-inflammatory and disease fighting properties. Why can’t we all agree to eat more colorful foods instead of buying chlorophyll-infused water?” Okay, you got us there.

So eat your damn veggies, and until we have more research, if you’re going to drink Chlorophyll Water, do it for its taste, prestige, and added vitamins (A, B12, C and D). 

Images: Vista Photo / Shutterstock.com

The Best Exercises To Tone Every Part Of Your Body

Bikini szn is fast approaching, and you know what that means: Time to try on bathing suits, wonder what the hell happened to the ab crack you totally had last summer, remember that you spent the whole winter eating mozzarella sticks, and then look up where your gym is actually located so you can use that membership you forgot about once August hit. So I did some research and compiled a list of some of the best workouts to tone different parts of your body. Let this list guide you the next time you’re too broke to pay for another SoulCycle class or you’re feeling lost at the gym. Bonus, a lot of these exercises can be done from the comfort of your own home, and we all know not leaving your house always beats actually going outside.

Abs

For some people, having abs is way easier than others (thank you, genetics). I personally have abs, they just so happen to be hiding behind a layer of fat. But before you start doing a million crunches, there are a ton of ab exercises that are way better than traditional crunches. For instance, doing Pilates is a killer way to get abs. If you’ve never tried it, it’s super hard but effective, since it incorporates a ton of ab-targeted exercises. The plank is another of the best workouts to tone your abs, but it can get boring. These exercises below are a little more complex than simple crunches or planks, yet still effective in toning your abs.

Double Dumbbell Drag: Start in a plank position with a dumbbell or kettlebell on the outside of your right arm. While engaging your core and ensuring you don’t move your hips, take your left arm under your right and move the dumbbell/kettlebell to the outside of your left arm. Repeat with the right arm. Make sure to keep your wrist beneath your shoulders. Add a push-up if you’re fancy.

Plank Hand Taps: If someone is hogging the dumbbells, this one is perfect for you. Start in a plank position and lift your left hand to tap your right shoulder. Repeat on the other side.

Alternating Toe Reach: Lie on your back with your legs straight on the ground and arms straight above your head. Raise your right hand to meet your left leg in the air above your body. Make sure to engage your abs with each move. Repeat with your left hand and right leg.

Arms

A fear of mine is to have the dreaded chicken wing arms, but toning your arms takes a lot of commitment. That means when I don’t want to work out, I Google images of Michelle Obama’s arms and that motivates me real quick. Here are some of the best arm toning exercises I found.

Upright Row: Stand straight with a dumbbell in each hand, in front of your legs. Raise your arms until they reach your chest, keeping the front of your hands straight in front of you. Lower your arms back down. Repeat.

Tricep Kickbacks: Stand with your legs hip-width apart and your upper body slightly leaning forward from your hips. With a dumbbell in each hand, bend your arm from your elbow towards your chest, then back behind you.

Dumbbell Punch: Standing hip-width apart and with a dumbbell in each hand, pretend you are punching your ex in the face, alternating between each hand.

Glutes

We all like nice butts, and we cannot lie, and sometimes traditional squats won’t cut it. If you’re tired of people telling you to do squats, here are some more interesting exercises.

Plie Squat: If you speak in ballet talk, start in second position with your feet turned out. If you don’t, click here. Go into a plie (aka a squat). Keep your core engaged and each time you recover from the squat, squeeze your butt.

Split Squat Jump: Start with your feet together, and jump up, landing with your legs split in a plie squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Push up from the squat and jump your legs back together.

Fire Hydrant: Get on all fours, and lift your left leg up like you are a dog peeing on a fire hydrant. Keep your back flat by engaging your core. Do 15 reps and repeat on the right side.

Legs

If Beyoncé has taught me one thing, it’s that toned legs make all the difference.

Reverse Lunge: Start with your legs together. Lift your right leg and bend into a lunge. Bring your feet back together. Repeat with your left leg.

Pistol Squat: Balance on your right leg with your left leg lifted just above the ground. With your arms straight in front of you, lower yourself to the ground and then back up. Repeat with your right leg extended in front of you.

Lateral (Band) Walk: Stand with your legs together. If you want extra resistance, place a resistance band around your knees. Open your right leg to be about hip-width apart and then bring your left leg to meet your right. Repeat starting with your left leg.

Back

Rocking a backless top and showcasing a toned af back would be amazing. Other than the fact that I always need to wear a bra (thanks DDD), my back isn’t as toned, tanned, fit, and ready as I’d like it to be. Basically, I should take my own advice and do these workouts more often.

Reverse Fly: Leaning forward from your hips, place your arms straight below you with a dumbbell in each hand. Open your arms to each side, keeping them straight. Squeeze your shoulder blades and then release your arms back in front of you.

Forward Raise: Keeping your legs hip-width apart, back straight, and a dumbbell in each hand, extend your arms straight in front of you. Once they are in line with your shoulders, lower them back to your legs.

Lateral Raise: Repeat the above exercise, but instead of raising your arms in front of you, raise them to either side of you.

Chest

Some people believe working out your chest will give your boobs a perky boost. I’ve never stuck to an exercise long enough to see any results, but lmk in the comments if you have.

Medicine Ball Push-Up: Do a traditional push-up, but place a medicine ball under your right hand so your back is on a slant. Repeat with the medicine ball under your left hand.

Chest Fly: Lie on your back with your legs bent in an L shape. With a dumbbell in each hand, hold them straight above your chest toward the ceiling. Open your arms until your elbows hover over the ground, but keep your forearms towards the ceiling. Engage your abs to keep your legs supported.

Dumbbell Pullover: Lie on your back with your legs bent, like you are about to do a crunch. Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Raise your arms above your head towards the back of the room, then raise them towards the ceiling until they are directly over your shoulders. Repeat.

Images: Luis Quintero / Unsplash, Giphy (16), Tenor (1) Gfycat (1)

Mattel’s New Self-Care Barbies Are A Whole-Ass Mess

Has the millennial #selfcare trend gone too far? My bank account says yes, and so does Mattel’s announcement that they are now releasing a line of self-care Barbies. If only we’d had these dolls in the 90s, so my Barbies could go on the South Beach Diet with my mom. Mattel actually partnered with Headspace to create this line, which consists of various nearly identical spa-day playsets focusing on meditation, physical fitness, and self-care by encouraging “daily routines.” Because that’s what kids love: routines. I, for one, can’t wait for them to follow this lineup with a line of Barbies that have gone into credit card debt from getting stoned and convincing themselves they need new bath bombs one too many times. Or perhaps one who lost all her friends and family because she stayed home for too many “self-care” days and they assume she died. The possibilities are endless. As Betches’ resident doll roaster, it is my sacred duty to now roast these dolls. Luckily, they’re so zen they can take it.

Breathe With Me Barbie

Breathe With me Barbie

The Breathe With Me Barbie is able to lead kids through five meditations, which I’ll admit is an improvement from the days when Barbie said sh*t like “Math is hard!” and gave people eating disorders. Look, I’m not saying it’s bad for kids to meditate. It is objectively good for kids to meditate, but what kid wants to meditate while they’re in the middle of a f*cking playdate? This doll is a one-way ticket to not having your kid invited over again. I can picture it now:

Mom: How was your playdate, hon?
Child: Uhh…okay but in the middle of it Kimmy pulled out a Barbie wearing yoga pants and made us sit in silence for 15 minutes while it led us through a body scan.

**Mom blocks Kimmy’s mom’s number and pretends not to see her at Kiss-And-Ride for the rest of the year**

Barbie Spa Doll

spa barbie self-care barbies

Tbh, I genuinely envy the Barbie Spa Doll’s lifestyle. She is described as someone who “soaks away the day with spa and bath products.” In other words, Spa Barbie is me on unemployment. She comes with a brush, a candle, a neck pillow, an eye mask and set of bath bombs. This doll is living the dream. She also comes with a rubber ducky, which I’m pretty positive would get her ass laughed out of the spa. The best part is that Mattel describes her outfit as “a comfy chic look”. Need I remind you, this “look” is just a towel and flip-flops. So, thanks to Mattel’s self-care Barbies, the next time I’m late to a function because I was sitting on my bed in my towel, staring at the wall for 45 minutes, I will simply claim I was just changing out of my “comfy chic look” into something more elegant.

The Barbie Spa Doll also has her own dog, which she has apparently brought to the spa with her. He even has his own floatation device, which suggests that she is bringing him into the water. This is unacceptable spa etiquette and should not be taught to children. If I was at Spa Castle and someone got in the hot tub with a dog, I would demand a refund. And don’t even try to tell me this is an emotional support animal. You’re at a spa. That’s all the emotional support you need.

Barbie Fizzy Bath Doll

Barbie

The Barbie Fizzy Bath Doll is basically the Barbie spa doll, but she comes with her own bathtub, suggesting that she is at home. And to really drive home that Barbie is just your average millennial, they even gave her a little succulent next to her bathtub! How cute. In related news, succulents are officially played out now.

Of all the dolls, the Barbie Fizzy Bath Doll is the one I can most get behind. I mean, she’s essentially just a Barbie with a really nice bathtub. Sounds normal. I’m honestly surprised it didn’t already exist. Not really breaking any new ground with this one. The only thing that bothers me a bit is the description: “​Kids can practice self-care as they help Barbie® doll recharge with this spa-themed playset that lets them play out a classic moment—a glittery, fizzy bath!” While yes, taking a bath is a classic self-care practice, do kids really need to be learning about own how utterly relaxing it is to slip into a warm fizzy bath after a long week of pretending to like the idiots you work with? Isn’t life going to beat them down enough without Mattel training them for it?

Also, as a sidenote, Mattel classifies this Barbie as “brunette”… which… like…. ok. Moving on.

Barbie Face Mask Spa Day

face mask barbie

Only slightly different (and I do mean ever so slightly) than Barbie Fizzy Bath Doll is Barbie Face Mask Spa Day, who comes complete with her own tubs of dough to construct face masks out of. I have spent every Sunday night since 2016 applying at least one face mask in the hopes that it would undo the emotional damage from my blackout the night before, and never once have I molded the mask onto my own face like clay. So Barbie is already better at self-care than me. It’s cool, I’m fine.

But if you read the description for this Barbie, it’s actually pretty f*cked up. First, the Barbie comes with a marker, and kids are instructed to “use the included marker to create blemishes on the doll’s face.” Oh no, I do not like the way this is going. After molding the face mask onto Barbie’s face, which we already discussed is unrealistic, here’s what happens next, per Mattel’s own instructions: “remove the mask, wipe the doll’s face with the towel and the blemishes have disappeared—what a healthy glow!”

Okay, f*ck you Mattel. Everybody knows that doing a face mask isn’t going to magically make your blemishes disappear—you just do the face masks because they were on sale at Sephora and the gold ones look cute on your Instagram story. But that’s not the biggest issue. Teaching kids that blemishes are anything other than a normal part of life and need to be excised from one’s face is one thing. But teaching them that they can be eliminated with one face mask and the swipe of a towel? Now that is criminal. Yet another set of unrealistic beauty expectations thanks to Barbie!

Barbie® Relaxation Doll

Barbie® Relaxation Doll

Okay, we really did not need a doll for this. This bitch is just going to sleep. Next.

The Fitness Doll

This Barbie is the most sinister of all. She comes with her own yoga mat, weights, and a hula hoop. Her dog also comes with its own set of weights, because society doesn’t place enough pressure on dogs as it is to be fit. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in this pitch meeting: “What if we… now hear me out… give the dog its own set of weights so it can do bicep curls along with Barbie?” “Glen, you son of a bitch, you’ve done it again! That’s genius!” Meanwhile, the one woman in the meeting is like, “…but dogs don’t have thumbs…?” and she gets told to stop being negative. Also, when was the last time you went to a workout class that involved a hula hoop? Ah yes, I remember it well: it was the 35th of Neveruary.

Hula hoop ridiculousness aside, this doll is the person who shows up first to every yoga class, sits directly in front of the teacher, and does headstands while everyone else is supposed to be in child pose. This doll oms really loud at the end of class in a really performative way that you can tell goes against the whole point of om-ing in the first place. This doll #livelaughloves and wears $500 fitness outfits. Stay away from this doll.

Images: Mattel

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