Category Archives: Review

Product Review: Downey Fresh Protect In-Wash Odor Shield

Today is day 100 of  my stupid summer runstreak. I don’t want to talk about that, because I’m pretty cranky and over it (but I am putting together a blog post about it for the weekend).

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Today I want to talk about an amazing product I picked up on a lark at Target, Downey Fresh Protect In-Wash Odor Shield.

One of the less attractive aspects of running for hours is the funk that lingers on workout clothes, no matter how many times I run them through the wash. I tried the white vinegar trick (which is an indication of my desperation, because even opening the bottle makes me gag – I hate the smell of vinegar), and while that reduced the offensive element, there was still an off-putting residual odor.

I have a sensitive sense of smell (I like to think it compensates for my Mr. Magoo eyes) so considering how much time I spend in my workout clothes, my running clothes’ funk has bothered me. #firstworldproblems

Which is all to say that when I saw this product (basically a perfume for clothes), I figured it was worth a shot, even though I’m usually more environmentally conscious with my household products.

I was desperate. Environment be damned.

Let me tell you, running peeps, it. is. amazing.

My running clothes, imbibed with a seemingly unshakeable funk, smell good. Delightful. Snuggable. This stuff is magic. The “fresh scent” (akin to Febreze) is fairly strong, so if you don’t like that fake-fresh smell, it might rub you the wrong way, but it’s not a fake top-layer scent (where you can tell it’s covering up something unpleasant). After months of the underlying funk smell, no matter how much fabric softener or white vinegar I used, I can’t get over that it completely wiped it out with one wash.

I don’t foresee using it on any laundry loads other than my running delicates (or perhaps once my middle guy starts soccer season), but I’m pretty excited about discovering this treasure for my workout gear.

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Book Review: How Can I Forgive You? by Janis Abrahms Spring

Last year, I reviewed Desmond Tutu’s The Book Of Forgiving, and completed the Global Forgiveness Challenge. While I found the experience and advice beneficial, it left me feeling … slightly inadequate. Tutu reiterated that forgiveness is for the victim, not the transgressor, and while lack of remorse, not to mention ongoing offences, present more challenge, it is still entirely feasible, and best, for the offended to rise above, be the bigger person, and forgive.

I completely agree. Theoretically. Ish.

For me, the problem with Tutu’s program, and forgiveness construct, is that it not only fails to give enough weight (in my opinion) to the remorseless offender, but does not adequately incorporate the notion of ongoing hurts (which, as any psychologist will tell you, continues to rip the bandaid off the healing of all the previous injuries). Tutu acknowledges that the process may be cyclical, needing to be completed many times.

Quite frankly, that’s exhausting. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

This brings me to my book review of Janis Abrahms Spring’s How Can I Forgive You? 

How Can I Forgive You?

 

 

 

 

 

 

On page 2 of the introduction, she writes, “Some of us believe we have an obligation to forgive, unconditionally, categorically, and that to do so is central to what it means to be a decent human being. Most of us, however, can’t live up to such high moral principles, or feel that we would compromise ourselves if we did. We can’t – and won’t – just dust off an injury, pretend that nothing happened, and embrace the person who injured us.”

You have my attention. Go on.

She then goes on to list seven “questionable assumptions” that Western society has taken as gospel, and proceeds to debunk them. They are:

  1. Forgiving is good for you. When you refuse to forgive, you get sick and suffer.
  2. Forgiving is the only spiritually and morally sound response to violation.
  3. You have only two choices – forgiving and not forgiving.
  4. It is up to you, the person who was violated, to forgive.
  5. Forgiveness is an unconditional gift. It does not need to be earned.
  6. We all know how to forgive. If only we open our hearts, forgiveness will flow.
  7. Self-forgiveness doesn’t require you, the offender, to make amends to the person you harmed. It’s a gift to yourself.

Spring has a PhD in clinical psychology and is considered a nationally acclaimed expert on issues of trust, intimacy and forgiveness, so believe me when I say that her arguments for why the previous seven assertions are not only false, but harmful for those working through forgiveness issues, are credible and intelligent.

I read the introduction murmuring “Amen” and “Preach!” (okay, not out loud, but internally I was all fist bump, blow it up).

The book is then divided into 4 parts, organized by what Spring argues are the facets of the subject of forgiveness: Cheap Forgiveness, Refusing to Forgive, Acceptance, and Genuine Forgiveness.

Cheap Forgiveness and Refusing to Forgive are really flip sides of the same coin, and since neither were particularly applicable to me, I will only briefly summarize the chapters. Cheap Forgiveness is defined as letting go of the anger, without asking anything in return. While this may sound healthy and holy, Spring argues that “Cheap Forgiveness is dysfunctional because it creates an illusion of closeness when nothing has been faced and resolved” (15), and that the most common individuals who engage in this practice are conflict avoidant, passive-aggressive, and self-sacrificial (martyr). In other words, people who engage in Cheap Forgiveness really aren’t confronting, acknowledging, or authentically even experiencing the situation at all. Likewise, those who Refuse to Forgive also refuse to engage in healing, only by holding onto the anger at all costs, instead of denying it. The most common personality types who refuse to forgive are narcissist and the type A personality, due to their tendencies towards control, retaliation and vengeance.

I found these first two parts interesting and informative, but not personally relevant. I’ve been treading the forgiveness path for a few years now; I have no interest in (and seem incapable of) Cheap Forgiveness, but my ongoing quest and desire for forgiveness, by definition, does not reflect Refusal to Forgive.

Acceptance. The chapter begins:

“Acceptance is a gusty, life-affirming response to violation when the person who hurt you is unavailable or unrepentant. It asks nothing of anyone but you. Unlike Cheap Forgiveness or Refusing to Forgive, it is based on a personal decision to take control of your pain, make sense of your injury, and carve out a relationship with the offender that works for you” (53).

The rest of the chapter read like a cross between Viktor Frankl and Dr. Phil. Like Tutu’s book, it provides steps to follow to come to terms with the transgression, regardless of the offender’s stance or presence, including honoring your story and emotional journey, seeking justice if the situation is not resolved, protecting yourself from further abuse and creating boundaries, and owning your own role in the situation.  The critical difference? Unlike most other forgiveness literature, which focuses on not only letting go of the anger and pain, but absolution for the sinner (if not the sin), Spring acknowledges that forgiveness is both impossible, and inappropriate, in many circumstances.  She writes:

“Acceptance is not a failure to forgive but an equally powerful way of healing an injury when the person who hurt you fails to participate in the process. Acceptance is not an inferior, immature or morally deficient reaction. It is a wise and proactive alternative. You can’t draw blood from a stone, but you can accept an unrepentant offender. … Acceptance is not only a good enough response; in my view, it is the only honest and healthy response when the offender can’t or won’t apologize” (114).

For all the reading and research  I have done over the past 5 years, that one chapter was perhaps the most validating, most healing, most encouraging piece of text I have encountered.

The last part of the book is on Genuine Forgiveness, where Spring gives helpful and concrete advice on how to genuinely forgive. It is divided into two parts – one for the hurt party, and one for the offender. Why is there an entire section for the offender? According to Spring, “Genuine Forgiveness must be earned. It comes with a price that the offender must be willing to pay. In exchange, the hurt party must allow him to settle his debt. As he works hard to earn forgiveness through genuine, generous acts of repentance and restitution, the hurt party works to let go of her resentment and need for retribution” (123).

In other words, according to Spring (PhD. Expert in the field), there can be no forgiveness without a mutual effort by both parties. As long as the offender refuses to take ownership of his or her behavior, making no attempt at restitution or resolution, the hurt party can not, and should not, forgive, rather work on accepting the situation for what it is, and taking all steps necessary to move on with firm boundaries to prevent further harm.

Ultimately, some may argue that the difference between acceptance and forgiveness is more semantics than anything else; after all, for the offended party, many of the goals are the same for both paths.  Let go of the anger. Refuse (as much as possible) to allow further harm. Do not seek vengeance or retribution, no matter how egregious the offense. Focus on building a happy, healthy life beyond the scope of the injury.

But for someone like me, who has been struggling for years with trying, wanting, desperately seeking, to forgive, the difference, semantic or not, cannot be underestimated. This book gave me the permission, heck the blessing, to move on with my life without staying mired in guilt and feelings of inadequacy for not obtaining what I considered the ultimate closure.

Perhaps acceptance is enough.

The Monica Lewinsky Ted talk: why I love the message, just not the messenger.

 

You may have heard that Monica Lewinsky recently gave a Ted talk entitled “The price of shame”, about her experience as a victim of cyber-bullying following the discovery of her affair with President Clinton in the late ’90s.

I love the message, but I fear it gets lost, or at least seriously undermined, by the messenger.

Lewinsky begins her Ted talk with a vignette of recently getting hit on by a young man in his 20s, with the intimation that it’s flattering to be deemed sexually desirable at age 40. I’m not sure that’s the best lede for a diatribe against cyberbullying and slut shaming, but I’ll chalk that up to a difference of opinion on narrative construct.

Then she asks who in the audience did not make a mistake or do something they regretted at age 22.

Ah. Yes. The “infidelity was a mistake, why are you making this such a big damn deal” rugsweep. I’m familiar with that one.

Except that, nearly 20 years later, it is not Bill or Hillary Clinton, or politicians or reporters, who have not let it go.

As I listened to the rest of her Ted talk, I alternately felt appreciation for her heartfelt, well spoken, intelligent discourse on our toxic (and sometimes deadly) culture of shame and cyber-bullying, with the distinctly unsettling and somewhat familiar sensation that what I was hearing was a calculated reframe of a personal failing used for self-promotion.

I decided to google “Monica Lewinsky Ted talk reviews” to see what the court of public opinion thought. I found many articles praising her for “reframing her narrative”, applauding her for “standing up to cyberbullying and our culture of shame”. Then, I found this article from The New York Times, about how Lewinsky attended a play titled Slut, and became emotional, triggered even, by watching a scene about a girl who was sexually assaulted being interrogated by the police. The article clearly parallels Lewinsky with the girl.

A girl who was sexually assaulted, with Lewinsky, who in her Ted talk, freely discusses how she “fell in love” with her boss. Likewise, in her Ted talk, Monica Lewinsky draws parallels between her life in 1998, and those who are publicly shamed today, including minorities and gays and lesbians. She mentions the leaked Jennifer Lawrence photos, the iCloud hacking, how our 21st century just loves to expose, to ridicule, to shame, to relentlessly torment.

Yes. Agreed. But let’s be clear: one example involves bullying because of difference (race, sexuality) or public fascination (celebrity), while the other involves public condemnation of failings in character.

Or as Lewinsky would say, a mistake.

Let me state, in no uncertain terms, that I believe what happened to Monica Lewinsky in 1998 was a nightmare. I believe the responsibility for their “relationship”, as it were, rests heavily on the shoulders of the man who was in power. I cannot imagine what it would be like, at the age of 22, to be thrown into that maelstrom. I felt compassion for her in 1998, and still do, when it comes to the consequences for her actions.

I feel compassion, and empathy, for the consequences for her actions, but I absolutely believe they are the consequences for her actions. Which is why I recoil when Lewinsky parallels her situation with victims of sexual assault, or gays and lesbians who are bullied, or minorities.

Because while she got a raw deal, certainly more than (in my opinion) she “deserved”, whatever that means, she did make choices. She chose to have an affair with the most powerful husband and father in the world.  Even at the tender age of 22, you know having an affair with the President of the United States is wrong.

Do you deserve to have your life made a living hell, to contemplate suicide, to have that be your calling card for the rest of your days? No. I do not believe so. I think, fundamentally, I agree with her point that no one deserves that, because we, as a society, simply shouldn’t do it. People in glass houses, and all that.

But neither do I believe that Lewinsky is an effective ambassador for this movement, at least, not without serious suspicions and reservations regarding her motive. Her claim that she is “breaking her silence” purely for altruistic reasons, out of moral outrage for our culture’s transgressions, strikes me as disingenuous.  I absolutely agree with the reviews that she is “reframing her narrative”; I wish the reframed narrative focused more on acknowledging and owning mistakes, and learning from them to be a better person,  rather than a self-righteous castigation of those who harped on them.

 

 

Jus by Julie 3 day cleanse review

Funny story. I decided to try the Jus by Julie 3 day cleanse shortly before New Year’s Day, after seeing a former student rave about her experience on Facebook. I’ve never done a juice cleanse (I’m fairly skeptical of the notion of our body needing to be “rid” of toxins by cleansing versus day to day healthy eating and exercise), but I thought in honor of a brand new year, I’d get a little crazy. Go outside my comfort zone. I read many positive reviews on-line, and hunted for several days for the best price. I found a groupon for a hefty discount (warning: the cleanse is not cheap, but you can find many discount codes on the internet), and ordered just after New Year’s, with a delivery date for Friday, January 9th.

At that point, I had no idea just how “toxic” the first week of 2015 would be. If there was ever a time for trying any experimental voodoo, New Age, ridding of the bad spirits, no matter how farfetched, now was the time. You know what they say: the universe closes a door of stress eating and opens a window of incredibly overpriced Fed Ex-ed containers of smashed fruit and veggies.

Or something like that.

The following is my journal of the cleanse experience.

Friday 4:55pm: Arrive home from work to find a large box from Jus by Julie waiting on my doorstep. 18 bottles of brightly colored (disconcertingly so) juice are packed neatly in an insulated bag (perfect for grocery trips when I’m allowed to eat again…). I read the enclosed brochure carefully, and decide to store day 3 in the freezer, and put the other 2 in the fridge for this weekend’s consumption.

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even the dog was dubious about green juice

Saturday 6:45am: I’m up relatively early (for a weekend) to do my weekly long run. I’m a little anxious how the whole “not eating for 3 days” will work with burning over 1000 calories at the outset on a 10 mile run, but I’m sure I’ll survive (and if you’re reading this, I did). I make the decision that, cleanse or no cleanse, I still need to fuel for my 10 miles like usual. As such, I technically break the rules of my cleanse by having 2 belVita biscuits before running, and then Clif Blok Shots during my run.  I’m fairly confident that running for almost 2 hours will “flush out” both the couple hundred calories I’m ingesting, and any “toxins” from the food. I’m not counting this as cheating, but survival.

Saturday 10am: Home from my run, it’s time for my first juice! The “Morning Glory” contains:  romaine, kale, spinach, apple, celery, banana, strawberry and water. It tastes about as good as it sounds, which is to say, like a salad. It’s a little … pulpy. Jus by Julie touts itself as one of the few companies that blends the ingredients instead of pressing them, leading to a thicker, more natural, state. It’s disconcerting. The consistency mirrors the taste – I feel like I’m drinking pureed vegetables. That said, I’m able to drink it without gagging, which is saying something for me. It’s not bad, just not something I would voluntarily choose. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Saturday 12pm: There’s a window of a couple hours immediately following long runs when I’m not hungry at all; I usually have to force myself to eat post-run nutrition. So, I’m still not feeling particularly hungry, but the nausea is hitting me hard. I think it’s probably the combination of running for 2 hours, the green juice, and no solid food. I’m hoping the next juice will help. Number 2 for the day is “Spicy Lemonade“,  containing: lemon, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water. It’s okay. I’m not a big lemonade drinker, and the kick of the cayenne pepper is a little weird for me, but it’s definitely better than Morning Glory.  I give it an 8 out of 10.

Saturday 3pm: I suppose since it’s mid-afternoon, and I’ve only consumed 2 (of 6) juices, I need to drink another one. But I’m going to be honest – I’m staring down another green juice. And I don’t want to. But (big inhale. Internal pep talk. I can do this!), number 3 is “Sweet Spin“,  containing: spinach, kale, pineapple, banana, mango and water. I think the “sweet” is misleading. You know what’s sweet? Cupcakes (my kingdom for a cupcake!).  This is sweeter than the salad-in-a-bottle from this morning, but it’s not sweet. It’s palatable. As my 14 year old said, “drinkable. I guess”.  Admittedly, I’m probably a tougher critic right now, since, you know, I ran 10 miles this morning and WANT A BAGEL, but instead I’m drinking spinach and kale. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Saturday 4:45pm: The 14.46 miles I’ve covered today (according to my Garmin) is hitting. I’ve taken in roughly 500-600 calories of juice, and burned approximately eleventy gajillion calories. I want food. For some strange reason, I’m craving matzoh ball soup from a local New York deli. Instead, I’ll have juice number 4, “Chia-Berry“, containing: strawberries, chia seeds, lemon, pomegranate, and water. Finally! This is the flavor and experience I envisioned when deciding to try a juice cleanse. It tastes like a light smoothie, albeit with a slightly weird crunch from the chia seeds. It’s not enough to bother me, it’s just a little … weird. But the taste is great. I give it a 9 out of 10 (docking a point for the chia crunch).

Saturday 7:15pm: After a 2 hour nap (I think I passed out), I wake to find my wonderful husband has ordered pizza for the kids (and sleepover friend) and taken care of dinner, so that I am spared the agony experience of sitting at the dinner table, watching (and smelling) them eat food.  Even though I’m not hungry (I think my body has lost the will to eat), I know it’s time to consume juice number 5, “Choco-Nana“, containing: chocolate, banana, strawberries, and water. I’m actually pretty excited about this one – it’s not green, it has chocolate, and it’s not green. Sadly, I found it to have a weird strawberry aftertaste (and I like strawberries).  It didn’t go well with the chocolate. In the interest of fairness, I asked my husband to try it, and he agreed – the strawberry is a funky addition. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Saturday 9:15pm: The last juice sits on my nightstand as we watch a movie. I can see it’s glowing green-ness in my peripheral vision, taunting me. I know I’m supposed to drink it. I know I should drink it. But oh good GOD, I don’t want to. The last juice of the day is “X-Treme Greens” (no, I’m not making this up. It’s a green drink TO THE EXTREME), containing: kale, spinach, lime, pineapple, orange, hemp seeds, and water. It’s not bad, to be honest. It’s definitely better than Morning Glory, and I’m pretty sure it’s better than Sweet Spin, although honestly, it’s hard to tell at this point because I think my cognitive skills are compromised. It’s just that it’s the end of the day and I don’t want to drink anymore and I’m sick of juice. In the interest of full disclosure and an honest review, I’ll admit I only was able to drink about 1/3 of it. I’m tentatively giving it a 7.5 out of 10, but I’ll revisit that score tomorrow. When I have to drink it again.

Day 2

Sunday 7:45am: I’m up early to get to Trader Joe’s before the crowds hit, and pick up Dunkin Donuts for the kids. I think there’s a special place in heaven for mothers that buy their children donuts while on a juice cleanse, but I digress. I slept really well (the best I have in a long time), but I’m not sure if that’s from all those healthy nutrients, or my body going into semi-hibernation from lack of food. I’m not hungry at all, and feel empty, thin and a tad light-headed. I decide to just have a cup of coffee (allowed!), and save the “glory” of Morning Glory for when I get back. I tell my husband I would rather fast all day than drink 6 more juices. He looks sympathetic. Or maybe scared. I’m not really sure.

Sunday 9:45am: Back from the grocery and donut run, I have unloaded all the groceries, put a load of laundry in, and overseen breakfast. There’s not putting it off any longer – I have to have my first drink. I begrudgingly imbibe the Morning Glory. If I was rating it today, I would downgrade the 6 to a 5. I don’t want to drink salad. I want some oatmeal. Or eggs. Or a bagel.

Sunday 11:45am: At nearly halfway through the day, I’m still not feeling hungry, but I do miss eating. I thought doing the majority of the cleanse on a weekend instead of a work day was wiser, since I’m a teacher and my children and husband might be more forgiving than my students of any food-deprived rage outbursts, but the downside is that I’m around food all day, and less busy. I’ve avoided the nausea and headaches, but I still feel light-headed and somewhat weak. Today’s second juice is “Spicy Pome-nade”, containing: pomegranate, lemon, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water. It’s not green, so that right there earns points.  It’s fine – it tastes like a regular juice, with the exception of the weird spiciness from the cayenne pepper (similar to yesterday’s lemonade).  I’m sure there’s a physiological benefit to the cayenne pepper, but taste-wise, it’s not helpful. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Sunday 1:15pm: Time for another “Sweet Spin”. Mood: dour.

Sunday 3:15pm: Juice 4 is, again, “Chia-Berry”. I know I like it (ish), but I’m surprised at the lack of variety, given how many flavors they have on their website. I guess better safe than sorry (at least I know what I’m in for), but it seems like a more diversified cleanse could have been sent, given what is available. Or maybe I’m just bitter because my husband and son are snacking on chips and popcorn and mexican dip while watching the Cowboys game, while I’m drinking juice. Again. Also? My sense of smell, normally strong, has taken on superhuman proportions. I thought I was weird until I googled it, and apparently it’s not unusual during a juice cleanse. Perhaps when your taste buds die, all their power goes to the nostrils.

Sunday 6:15pm: Unlike last night’s pizza-nap combo, tonight I have to make dinner for the family (and I suppose I should sit with them as well). Fortunately, Juice 5 is the one that looks the most appealing to me in the entire cleanse, “Not So Chunky“, containing: peanut butter, banana and water. C’mon, I HAVE to like this one. Peanut butter? Good. Banana? Good. Water? Sure. Tragically, it was a tremendous letdown. It tasted like watery peanut banana mush.  Just … not appealing. I give it a 7 out of 10, with extra cranky deductions for getting my hopes up.

Sunday 8:10pm: Watching the Golden Globes, my husband has a beer and some Pepperidge Farm cookies; it’s time for me to drink the last juice of the day, another X-Treme Greens (again, could we not mix this cleanse up more? There’s a LOT more than 10 flavors on the website). Half curious, half empathetic, my daughter decides to try a sip.

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She’s not a fan. I do manage to finish the entire bottle this time (unlike last night’s 1/3 consumption).

Day 3

Monday 5:50am: The last day of the cleanse! Hoping that the euphoria of the cleanse being almost done carries me through the challenge of teaching. I slept well again last night, although I had very weird and vivid dreams. I’m not hungry at all – I wake up feeling empty and light. I’ve been asked by several people if I’ve suffered from typical “cleanse” symptoms like nausea, headaches, stomach pains, and I can honestly say that with the exception of a rough patch on Saturday (which I chalk up to the 10 miles with no recovery food), I’ve physically felt better than I *thought* I would. I decide to interpret that phenomenon as validation that I am usually a rock star healthy eater, and my body is not unduly shocked by the cleanse.

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With that said, I’m a bit nervous about teaching all day with this to sustain me for 9 hours.

Monday 8:15am: I drink my third, and final,  Morning Glory. I tell myself that it is the last time I ever have to drink one, and it goes down more easily than the previous two days. I can confidently, and happily, say I will never drink this concoction again. My morning 2 blocks are prep periods, so no physical or mental exertion yet.

Monday 10:15am: Juice number 2 today is, again, “Spicy Pom-enade”. Not offensive, but not exciting. I am noticing that it’s harder for me to sustain concentration – I find myself having to re-read the same sentence as I prepare for class. I’m not hungry, but I’m not feeling wonderful, that’s for sure.

Monday 12:15pm: the only good thing I can say about having to drink another “Sweet Spin” is that I had to drink it while doing grade checks with my advisees, so I was distracted from the fact that I was, again, drinking a green juice.

Monday 2:45pm: As I taught 3rd and 4th blocks, I sipped my way through juice #4, “Acai Blend“, containing: acai berries, strawberries, banana and water. Not as good as “Chia Berry”, which is weird, because you would think with the ingredients and without the seed “crunch”, it would be even better. But it had a weird consistency that didn’t match the flavor – a thick pulpiness with seeds, only not crunchy seeds. It’s hard to explain, but I didn’t like it. I give it an 8 out of 10. But I do congratulate myself on still acting peppy and kind (I think) to my students, even though I’m so. sick. of. this. cleanse.

Monday 4:45pm: Home. For the first time since Saturday, I feel negative physical effects from the cleanse.  Working all day after not eating since Friday has left me hungry, weak, and slightly nauseous and head-achy.  I’m over it. Two more juices and then tomorrow I get oatmeal. And matzoh ball soup. I’m having both, I don’t care if I do have to leave campus for lunch.

Monday 6:15pm: Oh good, “Island Coconut“, containing: coconut meat, date, cinnamon and water. Considering that I don’t like coconut, not even with rum in it, I’m not enthusiastic. It tastes better than I anticipated (you know what they say – expectation is the root of all heartache), and it’s not quite as painful to sit with my family at the dinner table as it was last night. I give it a 9 out of 10.

Monday 8:30pm: I briefly contemplate skipping the last installment of “X-Treme Greens”, but decide that I’ve made it this far, it’s the last one, and I want my review of the cleanse to have the fewest holes in authenticity as possible. I chug 2/3 of it before bed.

Tuesday morning: I did it! I finished the cleanse! With the exception of my 10 mile fuel on Saturday morning, I followed the rules. I did not eat anything, only drank 1-2 cups of coffee in the morning (sans sweetener, which I never use anyway), and consumed nearly all of the 18 juices.

I took before and after photos to see if there would be a visible change. Photos on the left were taken Saturday morning before my run, photos on the right were taken this morning, upon finishing the cleanse. Same time of day, same clothes, same lighting/room.

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I don’t think you can see it in the photos, but my skin does look better.

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Less bloated? I can’t tell. I don’t think so.

Jus by Julie 3 day cleanse review:

The good:

  • My skin does look better.  I normally battle rosacea on my nose, and I have noticed less redness than usual. My skin looks younger and brighter. I don’t think you can tell in the pictures above, but I see it.
  • Weight loss: 3 pounds.  I did not do this cleanse to lose weight (juice cleanses are not an effective weight loss tool, since it’s mostly water weight loss), since I’m a healthy weight to begin with, but I did lose the few pounds I gained over the holidays. Through my unofficial internet research, I see that my weight loss is in the realm of average (most people seem to lose 2-4 pounds on a 3 day cleanse).
  • Kicked my sweet tooth. While I’m normally a very healthy, clean eater to begin with, I got in the habit over the holidays of eating dessert again, drinking alcohol, and grazing more than usual. I do feel this was a “reset”.  I have no cravings for sweets or alcohol – my strongest cravings for today are oatmeal and matzoh ball soup!
  • Very minimal physical side effects. I really didn’t have much discomfort, or even hunger, on this cleanse. I was rarely hungry, and with the exception of a few bouts of mild nausea, one or two short-lived headaches, and some weariness (but I did run 10 miles. And I’m usually tired after working.), it wasn’t anything overly taxing or uncomfortable. I expected some bathroom issues or stomach pains, but there was none. I take this to mean that my system wasn’t that “dirty” to begin with.

The bad

  • I missed eating. A lot. You don’t realize how emotional food is (or maybe you do) until you can’t do it at all. It was really hard to prepare food for my family and grocery shop while not being able to eat. Again, I wasn’t really that hungry, I just missed the enjoyment of eating.
  • Limited variety of juices. I don’t understand why my cleanse contained so little diversity in flavors when there are so many on the website. I had to drink the same 3 green juices every single day, with little rotation in the fruity juices.
  • The cost. The cleanse is not cheap, even with the discount.
  • Drinking all the time. It was hard to consume that much juice. I live by the mantra “don’t drink your calories”, so my usual diet consists almost solely of plain water, sparkly water, or coffee. Suddenly I had to drink thick liquid every 2 hours. Which brings me to …

The ugly

  • The taste. Okay, let me say at the outset (and hopefully reduce the chances of Jus by Julie coming after me with a lawsuit) that I am a notoriously picky eater. My palate is narrow, to say the least. So, take this part of the review with a grain of salt. But I did not enjoy the juices.

Will I do a juice cleanse again? Well, never say never, but I don’t foresee a 3 day Jus by Julie cleanse again. I really wanted to feel totally awesome today – clean, light, magical. And I do feel pretty darn euphoric, but I think that’s the oatmeal endorphins rather than the cleanse.

Book Review: Desmond Tutu’s The Book of Forgiving

Book of Forgiving cover“Forgiving is how we move from victim to hero in our story.” – The Book of Forgiving

I wrote earlier that I have been listening to Desmond Tutu’s The Book of Forgiving as I work on my half marathon training. In this book, Tutu seeks to provide the reader with both the motivation (by citing research as well as anecdotes on the benefits of forgiveness) and method to forgive those who have committed injuries against us.

Desmond Tutu seems like a fairly legitimate and reliable source, so I figured I would give the book a shot.  Here is my summary of the fourfold path to forgiveness, and my thoughts on his plan.

Part I: Telling the Story

“This is what healing requires. Behavior that is hurtful, abusive or demeaning must be brought into the fierce light of truth, and truth can be brutal. In fact, truth may exacerbate the hurt; it might make things worse. But if we want true forgiveness and real healing, we must face the injury.”

Tutu speaks at length about the importance for victims to tell their story. It is only through honesty that healing can begin, both for the victim and perpetrator. Tutu gave example after example of how victims must tell their story, without recrimination, correction or condemnation, in order to “own” what happened to them.

Especially meaningful to me was Tutu’s discussion of research by child psychiatrists who stated that children who grow up in homes where the family history is not authentically represented struggle with identity, adult relationships, and trust issues.

“Some find forgiveness difficult because they believe forgiving means forgetting the pain they have suffered. I can say, unequivocally, that forgiving does not mean forgetting the harm. It does not mean pretending the harm did not happen, or that the injury was not as hard as it really was. Quite the opposite is true. The cycle of forgiveness can only be activated and completed in utter truth and honesty. Forgiveness does not mean that we pretend things are anything other than they are.”

Part II: Naming the Hurt

“Giving the emotion a name is the way we come to understand how what happened affected us. After we’ve told the facts of what happened, we must face our feelings. We are each hurt in our own unique ways, and when we give voice to this pain, we begin to heal it.”

This part of the book was the most unclear to me at first, but as I listened, I realized Tutu was talking about accurately identifying just how the trauma of the act needing forgiveness hurt, and damaged, the victim. It reminded me of Dr. Phil’s saying “you cannot change what you don’t acknowledge.”  This step is about understanding, and owning, exactly what has been done to you.

Through my own therapy over the past several years, I have become very familiar  with the terms “rug-sweeping” and “gaslighting“.  Tutu discusses how individuals must break free of these false rationalizations, justifications and defense mechanisms in order to therapeutically process the events.

“When we ignore the pain, it grows bigger and bigger, and like an abscess that is never drained, eventually it will rupture. When that happens, it can reach into every area of our lives—our health, our families, our jobs, our friendships, our faith, and our very ability to feel joy may be diminished by the fallout from resentments, anger, and hurts that are never named.”

Part III: Granting Forgiveness

“Forgiveness does not relieve someone of responsibility for what they have done. Forgiveness does not erase accountability. It is not about turning a blind eye or even turning the other cheek. It is not about letting someone off the hook or saying it is okay to do something monstrous.”

How do we actually grant forgiveness? As you might imagine, Tutu is unable to definitively give a “how-to” for all situations (although secretly, this is what I was waiting for), rather he discusses what forgiveness is, and is not, and how it is all for the benefit of the victim. Ultimately, in simplest terms, it is about letting go of the offense, and no longer wishing retribution for the transgression or ill will towards the perpetrator.

While I agreed intellectually with everything Tutu wrote, my problem lay with the rhetorical construct of the argument. In the book, Tutu gives several anecdotes involving either remorseful perpetrators, or anonymous crimes, or dead attackers.

None of which I could relate to.

If the person needing forgiveness wants it, there is a section later in the book addressing how to help him or her go about that process (discussed below).

“How do we genuinely renew or release a relationship after we have been hurt? How do we move forward from the loss? In order to renew or release the relationship, we must make meaning from the experience.  This is how we continue to move away from our identity as victims. If your best friend calls you an ugly name, you would want an apology and an explanation. When we are hurt, we need an explanation for why we were hurt, why a trusted friend lied to us, or a spouse was unfaithful, or a stranger saw fit to accost us. Often it is this truth-telling that gives us the momentum to move forward.”

Part IV: Renewing or Releasing the Relationship

 The final step in the path to forgiveness is to redefine the relationship – to either renew or release it. Tutu argues that the premium should always be on renewal if possible, as that speaks to the ultimate goal of harmony and connection. However, he is clear that, in some cases (particularly when the perpetrator is remorseless and still desires to do harm), it is necessary to release the relationship.

“We may also demand restitution or recompense for what was taken or lost. Ask yourself what you need to renew or release the relationship, and then, if you can, ask it of the person with whom you need to renew or release the relationship. You may need to hear the person is remorseful before you are able to renew or release the relationship. If the person is not sorry for what they have done, you may decide it is best to release the relationship.”

Tutu’s book gives advice for how to decipher what you need in order to renew or release the relationship, and which course of action is best. He asserts (and I agree) that even in circumstances where the perpetrator(s) are unwilling or unable to work with the victim, it is still possible to forgive and release the relationship.

“Releasing your relationship is how you free yourself from victimhood and trauma. You can choose to not have that person in your life any longer, but you have only truly chosen the path of releasing the relationship when you no longer wish that person ill. Releasing is choosing to no longer allow that person space in your head or heart. It is releasing not only the relationship, but your old story of the relationship.”

Obtaining Forgiveness

The last part of the book is for those seeking forgiveness. Tutu outlines the steps those who have wronged others should follow to best receive forgiveness.

  1. Admit the wrong. “It is not easy to admit our wrongs, but it must be done. It is much more difficult to live a lie. Only when we speak our secrets can we hope to banish our shame and live with integrity… Acknowledge the wrong, and that we have harmed the person horribly, and perhaps, irrevocably. Do not self-justify or seek to rationalize the harm. There can be no reconciliation without responsibility.”
  2. Witnessing the anguish“When people are hurting, they cannot be cross-examined out of their pain. If you argue with the person you have harmed, you will both be trapped in an endless cycle of telling the story and naming the hurt. “
  3. Genuinely apologize. “We may need to utter those magical words many times before they are heard. Before they are believed. When you apologize, you are restoring the dignity you have violated in the person you have hurt. You are acknowledging the offense has happened. When you apologize with true remorse for what you have done, you open a space for healing. A hollow and insincere apology only compounds the injury done. An apology said with self-interest causes further harm.”
  4. Asking for forgiveness. “When we ask for forgiveness, we express true remorse, and explain how and why we will not harm the victim again. When we seek forgiveness, we will do whatever it takes to make things right. We will be willing to not only ask the victim for their forgiveness, but be willing to offer whatever form of restitution is required in order to forgive. It is as simple, and as difficult, as that.”

Conclusion

I have read many, many books and articles on overcoming trauma and forgiveness over the past several years, and this is definitely one of the better written and persuasive books. It clearly lays out what I believe most of us already know intuitively – that to withhold forgiveness and hold on to anger only grants those who harm us more power.

With that said, Tutu acknowledges how difficult forgiveness can be, and how it can take many of us years to authentically release the pain, particularly when the transgressors are unrepentant, lack the desire to make amends, or even deny the wrongdoing in the first place.

However, I have always been committed to doing the right thing, and rising above my circumstances. I do not believe that two wrongs make a right, or that I am “justified” in any belief, thought or action that I know to be wrong.

I know exactly how damaging, and hurtful,  those defense mechanisms of rationalization and justification can be.

As such, I have signed up for the Tutu Global Forgiveness Challenge. I will report back at the conclusion of the challenge with my impressions.

“There is a certain kind of dignity we admire, and to which we aspire, in the person who refuses to meet anger with anger, violence with violence, or hatred with hatred.”

Forgiveness – Part I of II on Desmond Tutu’s The Book of Forgiving

Book of Forgiving cover

I have written how much running has helped me with my PTSD.  Since I regularly run for extended periods of time, I have taken to borrowing audio books from the library and listening to them as I attempt to plug away for 1, 1.5 and 2 hours (or more) of running.

Right now I am listening to Desmond Tutu’s The Book of Forgiving.

It has always, since 2010, been my intention and goal to forgive.  I’ve done enough graduate work in counseling psychology, reading, studying, not to mention my own therapy, to know that anger is toxic. I certainly have no interest in giving those that hurt me more power by voluntarily giving them room in my head, heart and soul.

“Without forgiveness, we remain tethered to the person who harmed us… Until we can forgive the person who harmed us, they will hold the keys to our happiness, they will be our jailor.”

Perhaps just as importantly, I want to release the anger and pain so that I am the best possible mother to my children, so that I am in the strongest and healthiest place myself so that I can help them navigate their own journey with this situation.

So, I have actively sought, for four years, to find the courage, wisdom and strength to forgive.  To forgive despite ongoing offences, requiring forgiveness on top of forgiveness. To forgive despite a lack of remorse. To forgive despite the ability to create the best conditions necessary for the healing process. Essentially, to forgive despite little change in both the offensive behavior, and attitude, of those I need to forgive.

Despite. Despite. Despite. Against all odds. A Herculean task.

So, I am interested to hear what Desmond Tutu advises as the path to forgiveness. He outlines a “fourfold path” necessary for forgiveness:

  1. Telling the Story
  2. Naming the Hurt
  3. Granting Forgiveness
  4. Renewing or Releasing the Relationship

Right now I’m halfway through chapter 3. After I finish the book, I’ll follow up with a review.

 

Review: Foam Roller

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I have several runner friends, and every once in a while I’d hear them talk about hitting the foam roller. I mostly ignored this because 1. I was not really a runner and 2. I had no interest in getting serious enough about running to need equipment.

But here I am. Running a half marathon. Begrudgingly reading about foam rollers. Go figure.

After running 8 miles last weekend, my longest “long” run to date, and subsequently hobbling around the house for the remainder of the weekend, I headed to the REI down the street and bought a foam roller.*

My daughter (who has taken a gratifying interest in my running) decided to help me test it out. We broke out the instruction manual, hit the floor, and tested the different positions.

Back? Check.  Hamstrings? Oof, but check. Calves? Feels kind of nice, check. Quads?

HOLY MOTHER MARY OF GOD WHAT THE HELL I BROKE MY LEGS.

No, really. I rolled, and shrieked. Usually, I’m a “grit my teeth and growl” kind of girl. But I shrieked. Completely involuntary. Utterly painful.

Roll. SHRIEK.  Roll. SHRIEK.  And then I stopped rolling.

My daughter? Agreed to demonstrate the move. Show-off.

I have used the roller after my other 2 runs this week (4 and 4.5 miles) and while rolling my quads remains the most uncomfortable of the stretches, I can now do it quietly. Improvement.

I’m still not entirely convinced that the foam roller is necessary or even that beneficial, but I’ve only been using it for a few days, so I’ll reserve final judgement until I see how it gets me through the half marathon training.

** I was not compensated by GoFit in any way for this review, and I’m entirely sure the company has no idea of who I am. I just happened to grab this particular roller because the price was right and I was in REI.