Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Why Feminism? My Manifesto

This—people—is why feminism is so, very important. 

The rape study was done on a small number of participants—86, mostly white, straight male college students. But it is alarming that even out of this one small group—ONE THIRD of these young adults said they’d be cool with sexually assaulting a woman if they knew they wouldn’t be caught. What are we teaching these boys about being men? And what would the numbers look like if this study was done on a much wider scale?

The stats cited in the link above were based on a 2000 (as in Y2K) study conducted by the Justice Department. Some of the exact numbers were debated (mention a bit why later…), and this survey is 15 years old now—however, I think it’s safe to say that the results are still alarming, and that the college culture hasn’t changed much. And while I’m not telling you to blindly trust the government, this department does have the resources and man power to handle such a survey study. 

20 – 25% of women experience rape or attempted rape in college. While those numbers may seem staggering—so astounding that many people’s first instinct is to claim they must be wrong or inflated—they exist, and we need to start taking some serious consideration about why they do. (Even if they’re off by a few percentage points, they’re still bad. Even if they’re wrong by half. STILL BAD.)

Some of the critics of this particular study cited the fact that participants were given a $10 gift card as a thank-you for their participation. Does anyone really believe that someone would lie about being sexually assaulted for a $10 gift card? They weren’t offered the gift card to answer the survey questions one way or another—so they would have still gotten it even if they said that no man had ever approached them in any way, shape, or form, EVER. Gift card! I find that accusation belittling. 

To be fair, let’s consider all sides. 

Perhaps they are inflated numbers, manipulated by militant feminists who seek out ways to lie on rape surveys to demean men across the country and fear monger. 

Perhaps this study didn’t poll enough differing people from enough schools across the country. 

Perhaps we should initiate a new, current study that anonymously polls people from public and private schools across the country. 

Perhaps we should take into consideration that many people who were assaulted don’t want to talk about it or admit that it happened to them because the media and our society has stigmatized victims. 

Perhaps they’re afraid that their entire life will be picked apart, their integrity and sanity questioned, and in the end—after all of the trauma of an investigation— the perpetrator will not be brought to justice anyway. 

Often, victims on campus go to their school leadership for help, and then that leadership betrays them by never even reporting the crime to the true authorities. It doesn’t look good for a school when crime rates go up. 

Perhaps you know someone who has been a victim of assault or attempted assault, or perhaps you’ve been in that situation yourself. It’s real, and it’s tragic, and it boggles my mind that there are so many defensive men AND women who will pull their own hair out before admitting that there is a problem. 

NOT ALL MEN! You say? 

You’re damn right. And those men who aren’t rapists should be ashamed of those who are and standing up with their mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends to stop it from happening. Instead, so many throw their hands up and say “I’m not a rapist. Feminists just hate men, and I won’t stand for it.” 

So many men are still offended by the IDEA of feminism. I have met and worked with people who don’t believe in glass ceilings. They won’t acknowledge the gender difference in salaries. (Women make less money than men. Even when they are equally educated and doing the same exact job.) They feel like they’re being usurped! We don’t want to take over the world and kick all the men out (or do we?) We just want an equal opportunity to have fun and be awesome in it while making a difference. 

Many people confuse feminism with misandry. I LOVE MEN! I married one! He’s awesome and smart and handsome and good at his job. He works full time, as do I, and when WE get home, we make dinner, we do dishes and laundry, and we sit around and watch TV like lazy assholes instead of going to the gym. 

He grew up in a traditional, conservative household and probably never gave feminism a second thought until he met me, mostly because it didn’t directly (or so he perceived) affect him. He has a mom who loves him more than anything who always did his laundry, made his meals, and made sure that he was treated like a king, as she did for the rest of the family. I am happy for him. Many people aren’t so lucky to have such a nurturing home life growing up, and I don’t think any less of the way she decided to raise her family (who turned out pretty darn great), just because it’s more conservative than the way I would do it. 

But he is not infantile or spoiled or macho. He is the best iron-er I know! He does dishes like a champ. He can change my car’s oil, fix almost anything in the house, and keep his cool while teaching kids with behavioral and mental disabilities. He wears flannels and has a sweet beard that is the envy of many. But none of this defines his masculinity, as his masculinity doesn’t define him. 

He is a man who loves and respects his mother, sister, wife, female boss, coworkers, and all women he encounters. He can give and receive a compliment, but he is always aware of how his words may be perceived. He’s that guy who will pull over and help anyone with a flat tire on the side of the road. If a woman who held his values was running for office, he would vote for her. He can do a billion pushups. 

He is more than a label, as we all are. 

If he was running for office. I’d vote for him. And run his campaign. 

If you asked him, he would tell you that most “feminist” thing I’ve made him endure was the fact that I did not change my last name after we got married. It caught him off guard, but it was something we talked about quite a few times before we actually tied the knot. During our first conversation his reaction was something along the lines of…”Not my name, not my wife.” 

He was half joking.

There was a lot of talk about the WHY. I believe if two parties can sit down and discuss two opposing views about something they’re both passionate about by explaining the WHY of how they feel, everything can usually be resolved without killing each other. Not everyone will be happy or in agreement, but at least you might end up a bit more open minded. 

My reasons were simple to me:
1.      I don’t like to do things just because other people have done them that way before.
2.      I liked my name.
3.      I didn’t want to go through the pain in the ass process of changing it on all my legal documents.
4.      I didn’t think that getting married changed my identity as a person, so why should a name change reflect that?
5.      Secretly, if I ever get famous, I’ll want to be known by my real name that I’ve had for 25 years—so all the kids in middle school who made fun of me KNOW that it is indeed…me.

If having one last name symbolizes unity as a couple—why does it always have to be the males’? 

Hint: back in the day, women were mainly viewed as property, so the man’s name signified that she belonged to him. She originally would have her father’s surname, but then when she was given to her husband, she took his (under new ownership!)

So—since we’re obviously past the archaic (and frankly, stupid) tradition of viewing women as property—why has the surname change tradition held on so tightly? (Side note: I'm not judging anyone who took their husband's last name. Your name, your choice. More power to you. It just wasn't for me.)

After a few more open minded discussion on both parts, I had decided that if this was really important to him, I would concede—not out of submission or archaic tradition, but out of respect for the man I loved. I didn’t want him to somehow feel that I did not want to see myself as part of his family—that frankly has nothing to do with it. We’re married now, so they’re stuck with me. 

I was lucky to marry a man who ultimately understood that this was my decision, as it was my identity.
When I came back after the few days off I took before and after the wedding, I was bombarded by (well-intentioned) people in the hallways at work asking “So! What’s your new name?” I smiled politely, and explained that my name is the same as it was. And no—you don’t need to update me in your email address keeper. 

I kept my maiden name. I’m feeling it out. I like it. Some may view me as a bad feminist if, down the road, I decide to change it. Who knows. Who cares. 

I tell you this personal stuff to illustrate that feminism is not cut and dry and there’s no right and wrong way to be a feminist, as long as you are pro-gender-equality. I don’t have all the right answers, and I don’t live my life thinking “Is this a good feminist decision for me to make?” I live thinking “Is this good for me and would I be proud for my mom or my younger sister to find out about it?” Compromise is always necessary. 

My husband and I are seemingly normal people who live pretty normal lives, and were both lucky enough to grow up in loving homes with strong female role models. Our mothers are quite different, but they both have their own strengths, showcasing the amazing, diverse array of female abilities. Now, more than ever, I respect them both for all of the hard work they put into raising two pretty awesome kids.

Now more than ever, I also realize that 25 years ago, they had even less opportunity as women than I do today. I appreciate the strides that have been made, and the work the feminists made before me—going all the way back to the sexy suffragettes!

However, you can’t fix a problem if you refuse to admit it exists. And there is most definitely a glass ceiling that exists, even in our very advanced country. 

Look around you. Who are your town and county and state representatives? Who is running our country? Who are the owners and CEOs of the fortune 500 companies—and even on a smaller scale—who are your supervisors and bosses? More often than not: it’s a man (probably over 40…probably white). Are these men qualified to do their jobs? I’d say maybe and probably. But they also get the advantage—privilege—of being a male in a society who seems to value their leadership qualities and input more so than their female counterparts. The evidence, again, is in the (small) number of women in political and economic leadership positions, the salary differences that incur, and the rampant violence against and degradation of women.

What are we going to do about it? I’m not 100% sure. It’s a daunting task, but believe it when I say you can truly make a difference. You can do simple things. You can speak up when you hear a sexist (or racist, or any bigoted) joke. 

I know, personally, I can never recall something so vividly and clearly as when it’s been something I’ve done (or not done) and regretted. Moments after I say something really loud and really stupid at work—I swear!—it reverberates in my ears over and over so clearly, it’s like I’m on repeat.

One time in particular, I remember something that I didn’t say when a co-worker (of the “acquaintance” variety—not someone who I worked with every day) was speaking about the Ray Rice controversy. He was joking about 10 feet in front of my desk, saying that when he and his wife watched the elevator footage of Ray punching his then-fiancée his wife said something along the lines of “That bitch had it coming; I would have punched her too!” He said they laughed and high-fived each other, and he went about talking about how proud he was of his wife in that moment, as if nothing offensive had been said. 

I just sat there staring at him, dumbfounded with my mouth hanging open. I was aghast that not only did he think that was OK and funny, but he thought it was acceptable to say at work in front of me and my two other female colleagues. I was disgusted, but I was afraid to say anything, because although he wasn’t my superior—he was a supervisor, and one that I didn’t know well enough to gauge his reaction.

Speak up. Don’t pull a me. Think critically and analyze things that need analyzing, but don’t jump on the media bandwagons that throw hate and cast doubt on victims when they come forward, vindicating perpetrators. You don’t need to trust blindly, but it’s so easy to pick on the weak target. Was she slutty? Was she asking for it? Was she drinking? Why doesn’t she remember every single detail of the night in perfect chronological order? As if any of those questions answered would negate the tragedy of it all.

Be aware of your surroundings and be responsible for yourself, because in this world we have to. Also be there for others. When you go out, don’t judge that girl who’s had too much, stumbling around—help her hail a cab. 

Not too familiar about anything I’m talking about? You can support the cause by supporting feminist authors while educating yourself! Watch movies (kinda hard to find ‘em) directed, written, produced by women.

Congratulate other women on their achievements, and keep jealousy at bay by being genuinely happy for them!! (Hard to do sometimes. I know.)

Speak up for those who can’t for themselves, but use discretion and have respect for their feeling and privacy. 

On a broader scale—don’t hate on other women, period! 

Don’t give backhanded compliments. 

Don’t pick apart women on the red carpet or in the mall (guilty) for their poor outfit or life choices. They’re her choices not yours. 

My favorite woman in the universe who doesn’t know I exist is Amy Poehler. She is amazing, and smart, and supremely funny, and gorgeous inside and out. I’m in the middle of her wonderful, empowering, and straight-shooting book “Yes Please.” It’s a great feminist read that I would recommend to any man, woman, child, and pet who can read. 

Side note: Not only is Amy Poehler my role model, but so is her TV character Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation (one of the best TV shows ever.) If you haven’t watched that show, do it. Do it for comic relief that shows you don’t need to wear a giant feminist button to do good things for the cause of equality. I aspire to BE Leslie Knope. 

One of my favorite quotes from Amy’s book so far is: “‘Good for her! Not for me.’ That is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again. Good for her! Not for me.”’

I’m a very opinionated woman, as you probably can tell, so this I something I need to help remind me to check myself. 

Encourage your friends to be awesome. Encourage them to start their business or quit their horrible job to do something they love. Encourage them to keep painting, or swimming, or taking pictures, or traveling. Join them! Support their causes! If you’ve got a talent that could actually, physically help their cause—use it!

Side note: I’m really good at planning stuff (events, dinner, and everything in between) and I’m kinda good at writing and proof reading stuff—so if you need any help with either of those things, let me know! I’ll be happy to assist you in achieving your dreams!!! 

I have a general rule for myself: When my friends (and I don’t use that term loosely) start a business or a venture or whatever, I will actively support them at least once (most applicable to financial support—otherwise just one act of support kind of sucks). Even if I don’t love what they’re doing. It’s their life.

I must confess, the things I find most annoying are pyramid schemes or all of those new “selling stuff parties”—you know—purses, costume jewelry, makeup, Tupperware etc. I hate them. I don’t know why, but they are my least favorite way to buy things, and I almost never like what they are selling. But if you are my true friend (and you haven’t unfriending me for making these offensive comments about your choice of livelihood) and you start on of these ventures—I guarantee one good purchase from you. I will attend your first party, and maybe even offer to host one for you if I’m impressed, but please don’t make me come to more than that. 

Sorry. That’s my disclaimer. 

But aside from product parties—I will come to your grand opening, I will eat at your café, I will vote for you kid, watch you play guitar at the bar, take your yoga class— whatever you are excited about, I want to be excited about it with you & although I’m no friendship goddess, I think this is how we should all try to be.

If you’ve met me, you know, when I am REALLY impressed with something or someone, I tell everyone, because A. I want to support my friends and B. I want the world to be as lucky as me to get to experience them and their awesome talents!

We won’t succeed all of the time. We’ll get tired and lazy, or even broke. But your real friends and family are the ones who pull you through the really shitty shit, so make sure you’re investing time and thought and good energy and efforts in them. 

Be there for your friends and be an open line of communication (or an open ear) when someone wants to talk. Also, feel free enough to be honest with them if they’re making choices that are or could be seriously hurting them. 

Do everything you do well. Be proud of your work, and don’t be afraid to speak up and share your awesome thoughts with everyone. It can be scary to be the only girl in a conference room full of men, but you got this! It can be hard to politely, but earnestly, disagree with a close friend or family member, but you can do it. 

Beyond your circle of comfort—get involved in your communities and keep up with politics. They’re not always fun and exciting. Often they can be frustrating and you may feel like you can never get the full story.

Do your research! I beg of you—Don’t be that person who only knows what they read on Facebook or who only watched Fox or CNN or MSNBC news. I am very leery of the “journalism” that’s rampant in the media today.  It’s not real journalism, just a bunch of robots spewing hot topics. 

However—there are meaty, informative, fact-checked pieced out there, and if you don’t get involved in at least UNDERSTANDING politics, and you don’t vote your conscience, then it’s hard to complain when everything goes to shit. 

Volunteer. Campaign for things you believe in. Give back to your community. You can make a small difference that can have widespread effects. 

Support good things and good people, and hold hope that with time and effort, we will come that much closer to equality and peace of mind. 

For those of you who disagree with me and with feminism in general—you’re entitled to your opinions, but remember that the true definition of FEMINISM is “the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”
You may hear about bitter man-haters or other negative conations that you may associate with feminism. You may think that feminism is some dirty word that describes “bitchy” women. (Don’t get me started on the double standard known as “bossy women” vs. “male leaders.”) 

Those people exist, but they do not define all feminists, and their actions and beliefs don’t align with the straightforward (but not simple) mission of creating a world where women and men get equal pay for equal work and equal opportunities to excel both socially, politically, economically, and educationally.

If you can’t get down with equal opportunity—you’re not invited to the party. 

(*Final side note—I am fully aware that Buzzfeed is not always a worthy and unbiased news source—however, the study is posted for you to read for yourself. Plus it was just one of many examples I could have used that caught my eye this morning.)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

It's my birthday, I'll dry shampoo if I want to.

It's my birthday, I'll dry shampoo if I want to. 

As I sit, staring down the barrel of 25, I can't tell if I want to throw up or go to bed early.

This year has been one of the most eventful of my life, and yet sometimes it feels like the least.

This time last year, I was about to turn 24, and I had just taken a new position as a political speech writer-- which is a pretty good job-- one I thought would be my dream job.

Brian and I got engaged this summer, which was super exciting (and still is)!!!

Those are some pretty huge things! Once in a lifetime, you could say. (One would hope.)

On the other hand, along with the new job came a 3 hour daily commute. With the "next step" in our relationship so imminent, Brian and I have been trying to "buckle down."We still have lots of fun together, but spontaneity gets curbed a bit when the major purchase of your first house looms in the back of your brain.

I can honestly say I've never felt so tired in my entire life. I'm tired just writing this. Earlier this evening, after a day of work and a nice "you're getting old gynecologist appointment" I felt almost too tired to chew my health conscious dinner of fish and brown rice with veggies. This year I've made countless resolutions. I've started drinking green juice. I make conscious decisions about my fiber intake.

I feel old. I wonder if 24 is the last birthday people get excited about. I'm halfway to 50!! Probably a third of the way dead! (That's scary if you think about it....)

I'm not mad or even sad about it. I don't feel sorry for myself, and I'm not having a pity party. Actually, I'm going to have a birthday party with some of my favorite people on Friday, and I'm very much looking forward to that! I just feel weird and numb. I've always LOVED birthdays!!!! I used to be that kid who had the hardest time falling asleep on my birthday eve. I used to make lists of what I wanted for gifts and revel in every second of my special day. I still have people who make me feel special and who will be lovely on my "special" day, and for that I am thankful, but the "hold-your-breath", drink champagne, throw confetti and save your birthday balloons until they droop in your room excitement is just not there anymore.

Maybe I'm nervous. Maybe I'm scared because I realize that the past year literally flew by so quickly I'm not even sure what happened or where the time went. Wasn't it just yesterday I was going out to Philly for my 21st birthday?!

I used to judge people who said they didn't do birthdays. Maybe I still do. I didn't buy it when anyone said that they didn't like people making a fuss over them once a year. It's your birthday for goodness sake! You get to be a princess today!! I considered them faux cynics.

Right now, I'm  too tired to be clever or witty or to even have my thoughts straight, but I've got to get this down! It's the last day of the 24th year of my life! I am grateful to have a job and to have people who love me and to have breath in my lungs.

I am trying to be grateful for all those awkward times when strangers confuse me for a high-schooler. I will appreciate that in 10 years. I think.

Between work, and wedding planning, and house hunting, I haven't had much time to do much else that counts as productive. I'm reading and listening to audiobooks, but I find myself choosing books  that I've already read. Perhaps that's my subconscious making sure I don't get to invested in something I don't have the time or mental capacity for.  If I've already read the book, it's still a good book, and I'm still working my brain, but I don't find myself staying up until 3AM because I just HAVE TO finish the next chapter ... or 5. 

Side note: If any of you are looking for a great fiction read-- Stieg Larsson it is! The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest are wonderfully written books that are a challenge that reward diligence and perseverance.  Plus, the protagonist in these books is a girl who kicks ass like no other-- a serious thriller with technological, psychological, and political themes throughout, along with strong feminist undertones. 

I have always been a low maintenance kind of girl, but this year I feel like I could count of one hand the number of times I put serious effort into doing my hair and makeup. I have not touched my eyebrows in SIX MONTHS (That is not an exaggeration-- in fact, I'm treating myself to a nice birthday threading)!!! Is this because I'm tired and lazy or do I care less or  have I come to terms with the person I am and how I look, so that I no longer feel a need to make myself up on special occasions? Am I crazy for even thinking about these things? Probably a little.

All I know is that tomorrow is my birthday, and instead of washing my hair and preparing a cute outfit, I just sprayed half a can of Klorane dry shampoo on my head and threw on some sweatpants. This is who I have become.

 I guess what I have to do is realize and accept that my birthday is just going to be another Thursday. I won't feel any different. In fact, I'll only actually be a day older, not a year. But I can use it as another opportunity to set new goals for myself, including expanding my work goals and ideas, finally getting serious about getting back into my old jeans (Please--- No one use this line as an opportunity to try to sell me something), and find a new hobby that makes me feel like my brain is still working! I don't want to get duller with age. I need to stay curious and open minded. I want to learn something new every day. My days are more numbered today than they were yesterday. Who knows how many I'll really have. For now, I'll continue to use an acne face wash in the morning and a wrinkle cream at night during this transition phase. I am determined to get my excitement back-- about everything and anything!

25 is going to feel old, but it's going to be a good year. I'm going to get married. I'm going to move out of my mother's house (which is terrifying to be honest), and I am going to get something done-- just not sure what yet.  I might even shave my legs regularly, but that's not likely. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Beating the Boring Breakfast Blues

Beating the Boring Breakfast Blues

This time of year, I need a breakfast to stick to my ribs (but not my waistline.) My office is usually freezing, so it’s nice to have something warm to eat when I get in. Also, I need my sleep. I do not have the time or energy in the morning to get up and make a real breakfast. Sometimes, even making a smoothie is too much work for me.

 I used to bring those instant oatmeal packets to work with me…saccharine sweet flavors like banana, strawberry, and peach, but now they’re too sweet for me to handle. Plus rolled oats, especially the instant variety, can easily become a pile a beige mush—not too appetizing!

That’s when I discovered steel cut oats. I really don’t know why I never had them before, but they’re awesome. They do take a few minutes to cook in the morning (usually 10…but if you like them mushy, I guess it could take 20,) but they’re low maintenance. Put some water on low heat and dump the oats in. I brush my teeth. Run to the kitchen to stir. Put my clothes on. Stir. Make my bed. Stir. ETC. Basically, when the water almost completely evaporates, they’re done! Yay! Then you can flavor them anyway you want! 

Little time saving hint: if you’re a commuter like me, and like to bring breakfast to work so you can eat it when you get in, prep all your add-ins the night before (fruit, nuts, honey, sugar, coconut flakes, peanut butter, etc.) and put them in a Tupperware in the fridge. That way in the morning, you just have to worry about cooking the oats, dumping them in the Tupperware, and running out the door. I have an hour and a half commute, so I still need to reheat it in the microwave when I get to work, but they stay hot for the first 20 minutes of the drive if you don’t have such a far trip! 

Also—I know there are “overnight oats” methods when you can soak them overnight and just microwave them in the morning, so feel free to experiment with that if you really hate the idea of using your stove in the morning.

Below is my favorite recipe. It really tastes good, it’s got texture—so you can chew it!—and it’s under 300 calories, and completely holds me over ‘til lunch!

¼ cup of steel cut oats (The ¼ cup measurement is the amount of dry oats; then you cook them according to your package, and voila!)
1 tbsp of chia seeds
½ tsp of cinnamon
1tsp of Sugar in the Raw
½ tbsp of sliced almonds
½ tbsp of dried cranberries
1 tbsp of vanilla almond milk 

If you use this exact recipe, the nutritional info is as follows:
285 calories. 41 g of carbs. 9.5 g of fat. 6 g of sugar. 11 g of protein. 11 g of fiber.  

Not too shabby!

I like Bob’s Red Mill brand for the oats and chia seeds, and you can get them at ShopRite, but it’s totally your preference. Same goes with the Sugar in the Raw; you could use brown sugar, agave, honey, whatever you like. And again with the dried nuts and berries—mix it up to your preference! You could also use regular or rice milk instead of almond milk, or leave it out entirely. I like it, because I have to heat it up again once I get to work, and it keeps the oats from getting dry. 


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

BluePrint: The cleanse for the health conscious and slightly masochistic

BluePrint: The cleanse for the health conscious and slightly masochistic 

**This is a LONG entry, but it’s thorough, and if you’re debating whether or not to try the BluePrint cleanse, it’s pretty detailed and informative (or at least I hope and think so!) so stick it out ‘til the end!

Let me preface this play-by-play of my experience with the BluePrint organic juice cleanse by saying—I’m a normal person!!! I currently have a BMI (body mass index) of 24, which— for those of you who aren’t familiar with it—is one point below slightly overweight (typically starts at 25+.) 

Now I don’t put too much stock in the exact science of the BMI Index, because it is calculated solely by your weight and height (they don’t take my XXL hips or very thick hair into the equation, and there’s not much I can do about that,) but it is a good general indicator of where you’re at weight wise. 

Anyway, let’s rewind to August 23, 2013 when Brian proposed to me. He did good. He kept it a secret and I was totally surprised, which is virtually impossible. I said yes, and the next morning he had another surprise for me—an awesome cruise!! We had a ton of fun, and the best part was the all you can eat all day every day—from a fancy restaurant, to a taco stand, to a  buffet, and a build your own Guy Fieri burger station—plus a few boozy drinks now and then. 

Unfortunately, when we got back and when I got on the scale, it was a bit scary. I put on 5 pounds in 5 days (this was on top of the fact that I never really got my beach body back completely since my senior year of college—so it was five pound on top of the other 15 I wanted to lose before I got engaged!)  I realized then that I was getting married, and, as trivial as this may sound, if I couldn’t get motivated to get in shape for my wedding day, I probably would never find a better reason. 

I started by cutting out all fast food (not that I ate much of it anyway, but once in a while I would give into some taco bell or chicken nuggets of a good five guys burger!) I cut out all processed foods; I stopped eating anything that came wrapped in plastic or cellophane, anything with an unlimited shelf life—no more “Lean Cuisine”and sodium loaded low fat soups for lunch, even though, in my past life, I considered them my “healthy”and “light”options.

(Don’t get me wrong, I lost 15 pounds on the lean cuisine diet, but I was cranky and hungry and bloated from all the added salt and preservatives…not worth it, not sustainable, and not healthy!)

I CUT OUT COFFEE. Which sucked for the 1st day, but I kept green tea on hand and was able to make the transition. I had 2 cups of green tea on my first coffee free day. Then 1 cup a day for a few days after, and finally I just stopped. No headaches or crashing. I was caffeine free for a whole month. Now and then I have a cup of green tea when I’m feeling slow, or just want it, because it’s good. And once in a while I’ll treat myself to a small coffee—because I like it, not because I need it to function! 

I found out about BluePrint at a yoga event in Philly. Some of their reps had a table set up and were giving free samples; they let my friends and I try the whole flight of BluePrint flavors, which was really nice, because it was good to know I could stomach the flavors before I took the plunge into a full-blown cleanse.  All of the flavors were very tasty, and the juices were all organic, cold pressed juices, from a variety of fruits, vegetables, and even nuts! I was intrigued, because the cleanse consisted of drinking 6 juices a day, lots of water, and herbal tea if you wanted. I was more intrigued when I found out that each day, I would be consuming 1200 calories—which is good because I don’t do starvation—I love food too much, and I am the originator of the adjective “hangry” – don’t believe me? Google it.
BluePrint offers 3 levels of cleanses—beginner, intermediate, and expert, and it’s basically based on how much of a crappy eater you are.  The beginner cleanse consists of 2 green drinks a day (out of the 6 juices,) and as the levels increase, so do the number of green drinks per day. Needless to say, I decided to go with the beginner cleanse, also known as the “Renovation” cleanse on their website. 

This cleanse consists of:

·         2 Green juices which include organic romaine, apple, celery, cucumber, spinach,       kale, parsley, and lemon juice.

·         1 Gold juice that includes organic pineapple, apple, and mint juice.

·         1 Red juice that includes organic apple, carrot, beet, lemon, and ginger juice.

·         1 spicy lemonade (kind of like the Master Cleanse drink!) that is water with organic lemon juice, cayenne, and agave. 

·         And finally, one drink that isn’t really a juice at all, it includes organic cashew milk,   agave, cinnamon, and vanilla bean.

OK—so at first, I thought, this is going to be easy. I just drink pre-made, pre-packaged juice for three days. Because, man, is juicing annoying. The chopping, the juicing, the cleaning of the juicer, and the fact that if you wait too long to drink it, it’s already a weird color, especially green juices. 

HOWEVER, this cleanse is expensive!!!

Check out the BluePrint website for further explanation of the juices, packages, and pricing, but if you want to do a three day cleanse, it costs $195 for 18 bottles of juice (6 per day.) AND if you don’t want to drive to NYC to pick it up, they charge you $30 to FedEx it overnight—since it has a short, refrigerated shelf life, there’s no other shipping option. So $225 for a 3 day cleanse. 

They offer 15% off group discounts, and bridal party discounts, but it still stays pretty pricey. Since I am a skeptic and a cheapo, I decided to look into the Wholefoods option (Because, as far as I know, if you don’t buy it directly from BluePrint, Wholefoods is the only other place that sells the juices.) 

I did my research and my math. If you buy the cleanse from whole foods, you need to purchase the following:

6 bottles of green juice (at $9.99/bottle) = $59.94
3 bottles of gold juice (at $9.99/bottle) = $29.97
3 bottles of red juice (at $9.99/bottle) = $29.97
3 bottles of spicy lemonade (at $6.99/bottle) =$20.97
3 bottles of the cashew milk (at $11.99/bottle—Yikes!!) = 35.97

Total cost for the BluePrint 3 day cleanse through Wholefoods is $176.82 –which already saves you $48.18 (compared to buying it directly from the BluePrint site.)


Wholefoods offers a 10% case discount. A case is 12 bottles (I believe) and must be made up of bottles in the same price point, so you can buy the 12 bottles of green, red, and gold juice that you need in one case since they’re all $9.99, and then just buy the other 6 bottles of cashew milk and lemonade separately. If you purchase them this way, with the case discount like I did, you’ll only end up paying $164.83, which is $60 cheaper than buying them through the BluePrint website!!! (You’re welcome. I’m a frugal genious! I know)

$164.83 is still pricey for 3 days worth of juice, but I justified this purchase by telling myself it was a good kickstart to a healthier lifestyle, and I was getting married. It’s important to note that I did not decide to do this cleanse with the intention or hope of losing weight. Yes, I did lose about 4 pounds (about what I put on during the cruise,) and yes I did keep them off, but it’s not a magic fat wand. 

So 3 days before the cleanse, you need to prep for it. Get rid of any heavy processed foods, coffee, dairy, red meat, etc. Basically, I ate steamed or broiled fish, whole grain rice or beans with veggies and fruit. 2 days before the cleanse I ate fruits and veggies rice and/or beans, and the day before the cleanse just fruit and veggies. Pre, during, and post cleanse, I only drank water and hot green tea. Then you start you 3 days of juice.

Day 1 sucked. The taster samples I’d tried a few weeks earlier at that yoga event were yummy! They tasted fresh, and trendy, and healthy! Chugging 16 ounces of green juice on my way to work was hard. You start your day off with one green juice. 

Chug water. 

An hour later, you drink your gold juice—which is decent your first sip, but is soooo sweet it was almost harder to finish than the green! I know it’s real fruit juice, but the gold has 45 grams of sugar in it!!! That’s A LOT! 

Back to chugging water, then onto my 2nd green juice—which is really rough by this point in my day. 

More chugging, then it’s time for a spicy lemonade (my favorite!) More water, and I make it to my most hated of juices—the red (beets, apples, carrots, ginger.) I really do not like beets, and I really, really don’t like drinking them. Also—don’t be alarmed when you go to the bathroom and it looks like you have internal bleeding worthy of a House episode. It’s just beets turning your poop a really scary color of red! Yay! 

Finally, I finish my day off with the cashew, cinnamon, vanilla, agave drink. You have to shake it really well or it gets a little chunky, and the instructions day that you should really try to chew your drink to mix your saliva into it for better digestion—whatever—I felt like a big idiot doing that, and I choked myself once on my own spit. Go me. This drink wasn’t so bad. The first half of the bottle I imagined it was almost like drinking a yummy milkshake. The 2nd half of the bottle gets a lot of chunky sediment, and I started to feel like I was swallowing a poorly mixed protein shake. 

I must say, I wasn’t really hungry all day because I was chugging so much liquid. I was also peeing every 10 minutes…and my pee was clear, so that’s good!

The next day went the same as the first, except I’d gotten used to the routine a bit, and definitely wasn’t hungry. I didn’t feel cranky or headachy. I did have a bit of trouble sleeping the 1st night, which might have been from so much sugar during the day. Gold juice has the most sugar, but the rest weren’t far behind. It was tough because I was at work this whole time, and my lovely office ladies kept asking me if I was sure I didn’t want to eat some pizza. 

That second night I had to go to an event for work where there was like….a wedding style cocktail hour and sit down dinner. I was really good for most of the night, but then I was really hungry, and couldn’t drink my cashew drink at this event without looking like an idiot, so I caved and have some of the steamed veggie side-dishes that were offered. 

The last day of my cleanse, went fine. However, at the end of the work day (it was a Friday) we had a big, fancy office retirement party. I had RSVP’d weeks ahead of time, so I couldn’t back out, and there was so much fancy food, I thought I would die. I caved (again) and ate some stuff…just a tiny appetizer plate’s worth, but I had a few shrimp with cocktail sauce, some veggie crudités, and (gasp!) a cute and tiny grilled cheese. I’m the worst at not eating real food. 

That 3rd night, after the retirement party, I skipped the beet juice and the cashew juice, because I felt bad about eating and really wasn’t hungry. I tried to extend the cleanse into a 4th day by drinking the beet juice for breakfast the next morning, but it was so gross; I could only stomach half the bottle. I felt so guilty about throwing out $5 worth of juice, but whatever. 

I saved the last bottle of cashew milk, and drank it after the gym as a protein shake that day. Good riddance, juice cleanse. I finished it. I cheated a little, but I don’t feel too bad about it. The cleanse was fine. I had energy, I wasn’t hungry, I got a ton of servings of fruits and veggies over that week. 

I eased myself back into regular food, but it took a whole week for my stomach to get used to it. I know this is TMI, but it’s important—I had diarrhea the WHOLE WEEK after the cleanse. Not terrible, not explosive or painful, but not normal. 

I probably wouldn’t do this cleanse again, because it was pricey, and I really think that I could have gotten the same nutritional value by just eating fruits and veggies. The green juice claims to have 8 pounds of produce in one bottle, so it might be hard to eat that much produce, but again—whatever. However, for me, it was a good mental cleanse and jumpstart to a good gym routine and healthier eating habits. I kept telling myself, you just spend $160 on a juice cleanse—you better keep up this healthy stuff! 

So, if you’re feeling desperate for a change and not very motivated or consistent, maybe this is for you. Maybe you love juice! Whatever floats your boat! I’m not going to recommend this either way, because I’m not you and I’m not a doctor. 

I would recommend that you NOT consider doing this for more than a few days. I read somewhere that this is safe for up to 30 or 40 days, and some people—especially crazy brides—do the cleanse for the whole month leading up to your wedding. I can confidently say that sounds insane. You will be cranky and hungry and wanting to chew stuff, and you will be taking in WAY too much sugar every day. Plus, good luck trying to eat anything awesome at your wedding or on your honeymoon because your stomach and colon will not be having it!

Whatever you do, make sure you do your research and make sure you do it safely. Don’t believe anything or anyone who tells you it’s a good idea to try XYZ fad diet or cleanse because it promises you’ll lose 10 pounds in 3 days. It won’t, and if it does—you won’t be feeling well and you’ll gain it all back!

Enjoy ladies and make good decisions!!! :)

The end. Feel informed??