I go through phases where I try to be the best version of myself -- the holy beacon of light version of myself.
It's the one who is peaceful and perhaps has defined abs.
I feel like I don’t have too far to get there.
I have a lifetime of sobriety, so I don’t struggle with booze. I’ve never smoked a cigarette and I don’t live in a major metropolis, so my lungs are in the clear.
Essentially, whenever Gwyneth Paltrow’s health and fitness newsletter, GOOP, comes into my inbox every week, I feel the urge to eat what she’s eating and glow like she is glowing.
In an attempt to become the best, physically healthiest version of myself, I took a shot at glowing just like Gwyneth Paltrow.
The result? It made me feel like sh*t.
Here's what I did to complete this "healthy" diet:
Cutting Out Sugar
Sugar is my weakness; it is my vice.
Truly, in my mind, meals are just a path between treats.
Therefore, I kept thinking that if I could just reign in my incredible sweet tooth (or all the teeth), I would be the healthiest eater alive.
According to the Goop article on “Overcoming Sugar Addiction,” our bodies don’t fare well with loads of sugar, as the dips and spikes stress our adrenals. “You get anxious, moody (sugar is a mood-altering drug) and eventually you feel exhausted.”
Plus, according to the World Health Organization, obesity, heart disease and diabetes are just some of the unfortunate side effects associated with excessive sugar intake.
So, I spent one week not eating “dessert,” which I defined as all the items listed in the Wikipedia entry for the word.
Off limits: cakes, tarts, cookies, pastries, ice creams, pies, puddings, custards, mousses, candies, brownies, cupcakes.
I never eat plain fruit as dessert. I tend to have it with meals or as a healthy snack, so I didn’t consider it “dessert” in this sense.
My removal of dessert morphed into eating more savory junk food.
I usually avoid bread-dense meals, like sandwiches and pizza. I also never crave pasta or cheeseburgers. This week I had pizza, garlic rolls and a sub sandwich.
Bread became my new siren song and left me feeling uncomfortable all week.
My body didn’t know what to do with the void of dessert, so I filled in the spaces with garlic butter and chips.
Gwyn, this isn’t working.
No sweets have ever made me feel like a beached whale. Plus, the stress of figuring out what to do with my dessert time left me with just as many zits.
Mental clarity seemed like the next step to attempt this “greatness.”
After all, it was looking like I could be zen and content in less than 30 minutes a day if I tried, no equipment required. GOOP had a whole page of apps and exercises that Oprah and Deepak believed in, too.
As the “Importance of Mediation” article explained, “Meditation, as taught by the Buddha, was a means of taming the mind by bringing the entire range of thoughts, feelings and physical sensations into awareness, making the unconscious conscious.”
We all know Gwyneth has consciousness on lock (or the authority of talking about it).
So, I downloaded some meditation apps. I put a Buddhist handbook on my nightstand. Serenity, you are mine.
But then I found myself getting worked up when I had to carve out more of my precious time to sit down and be still. Isn’t that what sleeping is for?
It's hard to begin the day with relaxation when I need to inspire myself to write three essays, get to the gym, eat a few healthy meals, feed my cats and make it to school on time.
As the lessons for inner peace taught me, if my mind began to wander, I just needed to come back to my breath.
Think about my breath, think about my breath, in and out, in and out. Don’t force it or control it.
Did this make me feel calm? Not really.
I started to feel like my breathing was labored or too calculated and I just wanted a nap to escape the mediation. When I really felt like I was not thinking about something, I tended to be snoring.
Sorry, again, Paltrow, but I think I feel more peaceful if I meditate on what flavor ice cream I’m going to have after dinner.
I really enjoy exercise and wellness, I promise.
I am actually one of those weirdos who wakes up excited to go to the gym, and I have to convince myself to take days off. Therefore, I was confident I could get “GOOP-y” via the yoga route.
In “The Basics of Yoga,” Elena Brower, the founder of Virayoga in NYC, talks about increasing physical fluency in order to “reveal some sort of internal expansion.”
Patience of the mind and love come out of the practice of yoga.
I am on board with all these ideas. I want to light up and feel sweetness.
Not to mention, it would be REAL nice to be able to touch my toes with ease.
Yet, I have some sort of disconnect.
It’s like the mediation, where the stillness begins to creep into my mind as an annoyance and a desire to do something else instead. I have trouble clearing my mind.
Again, I start to feel frustrated that I don’t look and feel as graceful as the instructor in the video. I wonder why the stout, old man in class can hold his leg out straighter than me.
I know it all takes practice, but I don’t know if this is where I want to focus my limited amount of free time. I don’t think I want to trade this for a run or a barre class.
I bet Gwyn looks like a goddess on her mat. I, on the other hand, look like a mess, with my hair frizzing, my Walmart leggings and my free tank top from a clothing giveaway.
You keep finding your flow, I’ll stick with my floor stretches while marathoning episodes of “The Affair.”
I’ll Glow On My Own
I will still read all the GOOP newsletters, and consider trying a new self-massage technique, an eco facial or a broth-based cleanse.
However, I will also continue to remember that I am pretty fabulous already.
Just because the next best health guru is telling Gwyneth Paltrow that their newest fad is the next best thing, doesn't mean I have to follow suit.
If it doesn't work for you, don't continue to do it. It will just waste your time and leave you feeling frustrated and hungry.
Trying something new doesn’t mean said new thing will make all of my problems go away.
I'm happy for Gwyn; this lifestyle is clearly doing wonders for both her body and her career, but I'm not going to force myself into someone else's style just to feel more comfortable in my own.
At the end of the day, the health gurus don't always know it all. No one should feel like they're making sacrifices when they're trying to find health and happiness.
You determine what makes you feel happy and healthy -- GOOP optional.