Pull!

If you are anything like me, you spend a sizeable portion of your time wondering exactly what Gwyneth Paltrow is doing at every hour of the day.

I can’t help but nurse an absurd amount of awe for someone who is so skilled at the art of euphemistic, delusional rebranding: This is a woman, after all, who announced the end of her marriage through a blog post on her own personal lifestyle website and did not call it divorce but rather, “conscious uncoupling.”

Because of this, whenever I am feeling blue, I like to think not of what Gwyneth would do because, of course, she would never have such difficulties as I, with lowly “boy troubles” and “job searching” (or, as Gwyneth would call them, “sub-gender quandaries” and “spiritual livelihood quests”). Rather, I ruminate on what Goop might be doing in this exact moment.

Perhaps she is relaxing with her close friends Beyoncé and Jay Z on their private island, sipping a kale-spirulina cocktail and mulling over the pros and cons of purchasing the nation of Greece. Or maybe she is having a “me” day and has confined herself to her own private island to weave a necklace out of algae, chia seeds and solid gold thread whilst undergoing a colonic.

It is very soothing. Sometimes, though, I turn to “facts” and try out some things that Gwyneth actually does do. This once led me to go gluten-free for a summer, which was a pretty bad time, and, more recently, do a very weird thing called “oil pulling.”

What is oil pulling, you ask? It’s 3,000 year-old Ayurvedic practice that, like yoga and meditation, has more recently been capitalized upon by Western culture with the promise of helping its disciples find inner peace and lose weight.  To do it, you take a tablespoon or two of oil (preferably coconut) and swish it around in your mouth for twenty minutes, and then spit. And that’s it! According to a website I found that once dedicated an entire blog post to “The Best Kale Salads from Instagram this Week,” this practice whitens teeth, increases energy, clears the skin and promotes weight loss. Gwyneth told People magazine last year that she has added it to her beauty regimen, saying it’s “amazing!”

Now, everyone who knows me is aware that I am always “jonesing” for an effortless way to become skinnier and more energetic (which is why I used a slang term that arose out of the heroin addict’s vernacular), and thus, I decided to give this a go. I “pulled” for a week.

photo
Fun times in apartment 8!

To start, I purchased a jar of Spectrum Coconut Oil at Target for $6.99. This is kind of expensive for something you are not actually planning on consuming, but you get a lot of it! 14 ounces, to be exact, which is much more than it sounds like because coconut oil is actually completely solid. I learned this as soon as I returned home and eagerly plunged a spoon into the jar, only to find that it got stuck.

Once I excavated my spoon, I swished. This is weird! The oil, which initially is solid in a slippery way (think butter right after you take it out of the fridge) (isn’t this appetizing?), melts after about a minute, and then it is just kind of…there… for the remaining nineteen. It tastes the way that Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen smells, which is not entirely unpleasant but lends itself to a good deal of cognitive dissonance.

While doing this religiously every day for a week,  swishing, I found, is very distracting. I tried to use my twenty minutes to watch The Wire but could not focus and instead had to turn to more mindless activities, which is how I accidentally read twenty pages of a Suri Cruise fashion blog in one sitting.

The results? My teeth are a little whiter, I think. I did not lose weight. I did not turn into Gwyneth Paltrow. But my hopes are still high! I shall continue oil pulling, because I would like to own a private island, and because I have a lot of leftover coconut oil.

Pull!

I Stopped Eating Gluten So You Don’t Have To

Recently, I accidentally become a Gwyneth Paltrow apologist.

Obviously, I didn’t mean for it to happen. But, about four months ago, innocently enough, I signed up for the goop.com newsletter on a whim.  My initial attraction was, bizarrely, that Gwyneth Paltrow’s way of life (excuse me, “lifestyle”) made me feel better about my own.

That sentence is a paradox, and, in all likelihood, has never been uttered before. But let me explain:

The thing is that my life is fairly easy. I’m not, you know, a Rich Kid of Instagram or anything, but I am highly aware of the relative meaninglessness of my own, very tiny,  #millennialproblems. That is, I know that the fears or worries or whatever that I have feel incredibly real to me — like grades, generational angst, finding a job that also lets me find myself, etc.– but they have no impact on anyone else, especially when considered in the light of basically everything else that’s happening in the world today. I’ve never been a proponent of a “eat-your-vegetables-there-are-starving-kids-in-Africa” approach as a barometer for suffering, but when your main duties end up only relating specifically to yourself, sometimes it’s hard to find the motivation to help the over-pampered, privilege-bloated individual that you are, comparatively.

Thus, a subscription to the goop.com newsletter became a means of assuaging my self-doubt no matter how minuscule my current crises at the time happened to be. Every Thursday, when it was sent out, I would remember anew that Gwyneth has worries that actually matter less than mine– like the quandary of selecting an osteopath, and “mommy wars” over the very specific difficulty of being the subject of resentment from other mothers due to being too wealthy, all presented in a concise, aesthetically pleasing bulletin.

After reading, sufficiently soothed and with some perspective (or lack thereof), I would turn to my own issues, which somehow now seemed much more relevant.

Me and some gluten.
In my youth, with the enemy.

I am easily influenced

But then, like a true Cady Heron, somewhere along the way, I stopped being an aloof onlooker and turned into an actively devout participant.  I should have realized that I was in too deep when I engaged a professor in a heated debate over the validity of “conscious uncoupling,” or when I force-fed my sixteen-year-old brother an unfortunate goop concoction called “Warm Walnut Pâté.”

But I had become like Gwyneth, in that I was exceedingly non-self-aware. So I stopped eating gluten, for some time, for literally no reason whatsoever.

It was a dark time.  This act effectively rendered me the full caricature of myself that had been several years in the making, having always been a fairly kitschy Whole Foods-er with a Prius. Perhaps this is why my first few gluten-free days were suspiciously easy, enhanced by bizarre mix of adrenaline and a fabricated sense of superiority. I flitted about my days in a smug, jicama root-induced haze. This is so easy, I would think to myself, scoffing at those who deign to eat wheat. My friends, who are not as gullible as I am and all eat gluten, obviously loved this.

The "food" I served my loved ones.
The “food” I served my loved ones.

One day at work, a cake appeared in the break room. In this moment, I proudly announce to anyone that will listen that I have given up gluten for the time being— nobody cares, obviously, but I pretend that they do. (Later, I sneak back in and eat some icing).

The rest of my memories of these first few days are fuzzy– I do remember yelling at my dad for accidentally mixing some pasta in with my quinoa. But still, these are happy, hazy, halcyon days.

 

You’re tearing me apart, Gwyneth

After about a week, I begin to lose faith. I opened my freezer one day to find four Trader Joe’s Frozen Spinach Pizzas, which happens to be my very favorite food in the world. I resist it, but only just (“What would Gwyneth do?” I ask myself, which is concerning). I can’t tell if what I am experiencing is a fledgling eating disorder or evangelicalism, but it is probably something in between.

At my younger sister’s graduation dinner, a beautiful dark chocolate mousse cake is served. I can’t eat it and I am, obviously, morose until I devise an ingenious method of extracting the dark chocolate mousse by gently sliding a spoon betwixt the layers of glutinous cake until I have a generous serving on my plate. This is not what Gwyneth would do, most likely, but I am sated. However, my family is appalled (the rest of the cake is now collapsing on itself). I can’t help but wonder if this is causing a rift within my family.

Then, after exactly thirty-six days, I eat some gluten- half of an M&M cookie, at a work barbecue, on impulse. Just as I entered my gluten “cleanse,” I am suddenly out of it: suddenly, for no apparent reason, and with no great effect.

Nothing happens, save for the tremors I feel from a placebo effect crashing down—I do not pass out, nor do I violently puke, and my colon does not explode. My stomach hurts, though. A little bit. I think.

The End

I can’t say that I’m angry, though— once a Gwyneth apologist, always a Gwyneth apologist, as they say.  I remain steadfast in my fascination with ol’ Goop and her blithe, out-of-touch lifestyle advice, which helped me lose five completely imperceptible, unimpressive pounds over the course of thirty-six days. I will also forever cherish this roasted carrot soup recipe, and I still think that “conscious uncoupling” is secretly a rather brilliant concept. Finally, I am nothing if not a fan of a good hyperbole—I admire the hysterical melodrama of saying you would “rather die” than let your kid eat cup-a-soup, or that you would prefer to “smoke crack” rather than eat cheese from a can. So- I like Gwyneth, and you can pry my goop subscription out of my cold, dead, gluten-free hands.

Giving up gluten, though, is something I only advise if:

A)     You seriously need to “get a grip” on your life,

Or

B)       Alienating yourself from your friends and family sounds like a fun activity.

 

And that’s about all there is to that.

I Stopped Eating Gluten So You Don’t Have To

Conscious Uncoupling

It is with hearts full of “meh” that we have decided to separate. We’ve been working together for two years now; together when it was necessary, apart when it was possible, to see what might have been the potential between us, and we have come to the conclusion that while we mildly tolerate one another, we have decided to stay separate.

Obviously, the operative “we” in this scenario is the Miller Center (the main gym on campus) and myself, and what I am trying to say is that we are consciously uncoupling. Conscious uncoupling, if you happen to be living under a rock made of gluten and haven’t yet heard, is the chic new way to get a divorce à la Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin.

Because sometimes you need the gym, and the gym is…not what you need. The treadmills are taken, the Stairmaster is broken, and the stench of sweaty collegiate ennui permeates its walls, rendering endorphins useless (which, one might imagine, is probably not wholly unlike a life spent cohabitating with Chris Martin).

The solution? Take it to your room: YouTube is literally overflowing with trainers who want to help you with your post-gym uncoupling rebound.

So be like Gwyneth. Be like me. Consciously uncouple from the gym, and mindfully pair up with these YouTube gym replacements.

Blogilates

Cassey Ho, the face of Blogilates/ POPilates, is probably the current biggest name in virtual fitness with over a million subscribers and more than 13 million views, and a vast assortment of workouts that range from classic Pilates to cardio routines. She is definitely a “peppy” instructor: her videos are peppered with inspiring quotes (“Keep going! Love that body, now!”), and she calls her subscribers “POPsters.” Somehow it works, though, and Blogilates videos are like working out with a very fit, neon-clad friend (that you secretly always wish you had) who constantly screams rousing, body-positive jargon at you.

Great if you like: Motivational posters.

Best videos: “Call Me Maybe” Squat Challenge, 100 Burpee Burnout

Yoga with Adriene

Adriene Mishler is just a super chill, ethereal yoga teacher/ actress who wants to bring you into her super chill, ethereal yogi life. Like her hometown of Austin, Texas, Adriene keeps her practice weird, in the best possible way. She describes some poses as “yummy.” Sometimes, in the midst of a downward facing dog, her actual dog will wander into the room and hang out for a while. It’s all chill. Chill, weird, yogi fun. Namaste.

Great if you like: Just being on a different plane than everybody else, man.

Best videos: Weight Loss Yoga: Total Body Workout, Bedtime Yoga Sequence

Tone It Up

Karena and Katrina are two best friends who run a YouTube fitness channel together. They also have a reality TV show on Bravo, Toned Up, on which they get into adorable fitness shenanigans, like forgetting to bring reusable bags to Whole Foods and sneaking into Andy Cohen’s office to do arm curls with the bottles of Veuve Clicquot he apparently has lying around next to framed photos of NeNe Leaks and Lisa Vanderpump. Their YouTube channel is also great, though- they always do Pilates-based workouts on the beach, sometimes on surfboards, which is nice for pretending you are somewhere nice, too. Also, friendship! Mix it up, and do these with your own best friend!

Great if you like: Friendship.

Best Videos: Toned & Lean Beach Day Routine, Bikini Series™ Cowabunga

Conscious Uncoupling