Why I Prefer Smoothies to Juice

In a bid to get healthier and lose some weight, I have done a lot of both juicing and blending. I have found that I much prefer making smoothies to juicing.

Good quality juicers are much more expensive than a decent blender. If you go cheap with a juicer, you will most likley waste a lot of the fruit and the juicer will probably be a lot less powerful. Even expensive juicers will be more wasteful than blenders. Juicers expel the fiber, while blending uses the entire fruit. Due to this, smoothies are much more filling than juice. I can easily juice a dozen or two oranges and still not be full. Juicers are also much harder to clean due to having multiple parts, unlike a blender. There are more options with smoothies, because you can choose the base (juice, plain water, coconut water, dairy milk, plant milks, etc.) and include other additives impossible or unappealing with straight juice, such as peanut butter, yogurt, or oatmeal. Lastly, the fiber in a smoothie ensures that the high sugar content in the fruit does not spike glucose levels, unlike with juice.

I have found that I am much more likely to stick to healthier eating habits if I incorporate daily smoothies instead of daily fresh juice into my diet. In general, it is easier to do what is right when you make it easier for you to do what is right.

I am interested in hearing what others think about this. Please let me know if you have had similar or different experiences with juicing and blending.

Ego Depletion

Ego depletion occurs when stress causes a lack of self-restraint. For example, when I am working a stressful job, it is harder for me to choose healthful food over food I like better, but that might not be good for me. I might have had customers yelling at me all day, coworkers or bosses mistreating or belittling me, or a workload that didn’t allow me to take adequate breaks to recharge. The allure of something comforting after a day like that is a lot stronger in this context than the allure of giving my body what it needs, such as healthful food. Hence, the stressors in your life can have a very real and very negative effect on other seemingly-unrelated parts of your life. You might be more prone to yell at your partner or kids. Instant gratification becomes an urge too strong to fight due to ego depletion. One way I have found helpful in combatting this is to prepare. For instance, knowing how you are likely to feel after a hard day, you might have a healthy dinner already prepared for yourself so that you’re less likely to eat junk food.

In what ways have you experienced ego depletion in your life, and how do you combat it?

Quick Anxiety-Reducing Tips

I struggle with anxiety and I have learned what helps me during these times. Although different coping techniques work for different people, I decided I would share mine with you in hopes they might help somebody.

Drink water — I feel more clear-headed, positive, and emotionally stable when I am hydrated. On the contrary, I feel foggy-headed and am more vulnerable to negative emotions when I am dehydrated.

Get outside — I feel calmer and uplifted when I spend some time outside, especially if the weather is nice.

Take a hot shower — For me, showers are like being back in the womb. They’re cocooning and allow me both to experience a level of sensory deprivation (everything going on outside the shower stall falls away), while also experiencing some positive and calming sensory input (the roar of the shower in my ears and the pounding water on my body).

Exercise — Moving my body is an almost immediate anxiety lifter. It feels good to be active, to strengthen my body, and to engage in this type of self-care.

Deep breathe — Anxiety leads to shallow breathing, which can lead to more anxiety in what becomes a vicious cycle. Simply concentrating on my breathing and taking deep breaths calms and centers me.

Repeat a mantra — I will sometimes self-soothe by repeating a mantra such as “Everything will be okay” or “It’s not that serious”. Sometimes vocally contradicting the anxiety results in it dissipating.

Start cleaning/straightening — A clean, uncluttered environment has always made me feel more in control of myself. On the contrary, a messy, chaotic environment contributes to my bouts of anxiety.

Think grateful thoughts — Considering what I’m grateful for always calms me and helps put my worries and concerns in context. The situation is almost never as dire as I make it out to be.

Talk to somebody — Being alone can aid the anxiety in continuing. Sometimes just talking with a friendly person can cause the cycle of negative thoughts and emotions to end.

What are some ways you successfully battle anxiety?

Feeling Overwhelmed

I’ve been thinking about the feeling of overwhelm. I experience it often and I’ve noticed that when I have a lot of items on my agenda or in my routine, it helps to take a more critical look and do away with anything that’s just not that important. It could be applying a full face of makeup in the morning or cutting down on hobbies or not going for a promotion at work. It’s really easy to inflate the importance of certain rituals, activities, or milestones until they start to negatively affect your peace of mind and your mental health. I’ve had to get pretty strict with myself because I know I get overwhelmed very easily and hate the feeling of being depleted either physically, mentally, or emotionally. This is a big reason I don’t have more of a social life. But on the flip side, a social life might also lift my spirits, giving me more energy. I’m just terrified of new expectations, new responsibilities, new (potentially awkward) social situations to navigate. It all feels so exhausting. Yet I think about people who have more responsibilities than I do, like someone who not only goes to work and school, but also has a spouse, children, and a large house to attend to. It’s easy for me to feel lazy and unmotivated when I compare myself to these people, but I know from an intellectual standpoint that everybody has different thresholds and tolerances for stressors, often in accordance with their personal mental health history.

Longing to Be Heard

Does anybody else have the hardest time opening up to others? I long so much to be heard. Yet I feel guilty burdening others with my problems, even when they want me to open up. One coworker divulged to me that even though we had known each other for several months and even though she had told me much about her own life (including the fact that she had been forced by her parents to get an abortion while in college and that as a middle-aged woman she had experienced an attempted rape), that she knew little to nothing about me. I have noticed that people often feel very comfortable telling me sensitive details about their own lives and coming to me for counsel. Yet I don’t feel comfortable reciprocating. I have taken the Myers-Briggs test a few times and always get INFJ as my result. From my research, this personality type is known as “the counselor/advocate” because we are often reticent to share anything about ourselves with others other than a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear. We are the “extraverted introverts”. I have always been more of a nurturer (although I have no desire to have children) and abhor the thought of being a burden to anybody. As a result, I end up in a pit of self-loathing, knowing I can’t blame others for not hearing me if I never give them the chance. Thus, the blame lies solely with me.

Don’t Dilute Your “No”

I have learned a lot about setting and enforcing boundaries with people. I believe that it’s much like a muscle — the more you practice it, the stronger you will become. And the more confident and comfortable you will be while doing it. One way to enforce strong boundaries is not to dilute your “no”. If you say you will not do something, stick to it. For example, I worked with a woman once (Kim) who claimed she does not work Tuesdays because that is the only day she had to spend with her son. He was a college student with a very busy class schedule who was also interning. Another coworker asked her to switch shifts and work Tuesday so that she could celebrate her wedding anniversary with her husband. Kim asked me for advice about whether she should make an exception just this once. I told her, if you agree to this, expect to be asked again. You will have diluted your “no” and shown that, despite your claims, you are in fact willing to work Tuesdays. After saying “yes” once, that boundary will be compromised and weakened, and it will be easier for others to ask you a second time. This principle can be applied to many situations, with coworkers, friends, and family. On the contrary, sticking to what you say and refusing to compromise that stance even once will more than likely result in your never being asked again. Saying “no” the first time will be uncomfortable and feel adversarial, but it will be much, much harder to say “no” after having already said “ yes”. Saying “no” the first time leads to less wiggle room for arguments. If you have said “yes” before, it will be much harder to justify saying “no” the second time you are asked. Also, if you never budge your boundaries and always stand by what you’ve said and don’t make exceptions, there is less chance of others getting their feelings hurt over perceived unfairness. Ultimately, you want your words to be taken seriously and at face-value by others. This will lead to a greater level of respect and understanding.

When There’s No Lesson to be Learned

I think one of the worst experiences is to go through something awful without learning a valuable lesson. One of those experiences where you ask yourself, “What could I have done differently in order to avoid that situation from occurring?“ or “What was I supposed to come away with/ how was I supposed to change after that event?” and nothing comes to mind. Of course, it could be said there is always a lesson to be learned and that’s it’s only a matter of being honest enough with yourself and unbiased enough to accept what the situation is trying to teach you. Granted, there are many lessons I have learned via negative experiences. However, there are many I feel I must have missed. Learning a lesson makes me feel empowered and as though I didn’t go through a tough situation for nothing, that there’s a “silver lining”. Not knowing what to glean from a situation makes me feel like I have zero control over my own life. If I learn a lesson, I can put that lesson into practice to avoid or ameliorate future issues. If not, all I can do is dread the next time it might come up again. Not having learned a lesson makes it very hard to let go of my emotions surrounding it. It feels more like an assault than an opportunity, more like scorched earth than a rebuild. It feels like a bandaid that keeps getting ripped off or a trauma relived. I think in this type of situation the only thing you can do is to position yourself so that it’s less likely to happen again (whether that means moving, changing jobs, etc) and learn to accept what you can’t change or control. Am I the only one who has things happen that are super unpleasant and yet seemingly unavoidable and without any merit or redeeming value? How do you weather that experience in a dignified manner while not coming out on the other side jaded and fearful?

Dangerous Self-Care Myths

There are many myths surrounding the concept of self-care. Let’s talk about what they are and what the truth really is. But first, let’s define self-care. I would define it as anything you do to intentionally maintain or improve any facet of your health, including the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects.

1. Self-care is expensive.

Self-care doesn’t have to be an expensive massage, expensive dinner, or anything else that requires a lot of money. Self-care can even be free. Taking a walk or a nap, for example, are both self-care activities.

2. Self-care is selfish.

The only way you’ll have the energy and patience to help others is if you give yourself the opportunity to become rested and rejuvenated. Regardless of your best efforts and motivations, you are not a machine and will break down if you do not take care of yourself. Mothers especially often forego their own health to focus on others.

3. Self-care takes up a lot of time.

Self-care doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment. It can be a 20-minute cat nap or eating the grilled chicken sandwich instead of the fried one (or, if it’s time for a treat, eating the fried chicken sandwich instead of the grilled one).

4. Self-care is always fun/ pleasurable.

Self-care is very different than self-indulgence. It can be doing something you don’t enjoy, such as exercise, eating healthfully, or cleaning your home.

5. Self-care is a one-time thing.

Self-care must be regularly scheduled just like other commitments like work and school. For example, getting a massage once a week or setting aside ten minutes each day for meditation are examples of self-care.

6. Self-care is a luxury.

Self-care is a necessity. It is essential to ensure we are able to function properly and not become burned out. Thinking of it as a luxury builds feelings of guilt into self-care time, which deters many people from engaging in self-care.

7. Self-care is trendy.

We live in a busy, stressful, complicated world that is only becoming moreso. Due to the state of things, the topic of self-care has come up a lot in recent years. More people are being introduced to the term and learning what it means and how important it is. Yes, the topic is more popular now than ever, but this doesn’t mean it’s a fad or that it’s not integral to a healthy lifestyle.

8. Self-care is only for mentally-ill people.

Everybody, including those without mental disorders, needs self-care. Of course, those with mental disorders often need to attend even more closely to self-care. Many people with mental disorders have an extra hard time attending to self-care. And mental illness is often the result of neglecting self-care for an extended period of time.

9. Self-care is always an action.

Sometimes, self-care is inaction. For example, not driving by somewhere that triggers you or declining a party invitation can both be examples of self-care.

Have I missed any harmful myths related to the topic of self-care? Do you find yourself believing some of these myths?

Fat Person’s Thoughts on the Body Acceptance and Health at Every Size Movements

The Body Acceptance Movement purports to be a movement about loving your body in its present state, flaws and all. The face of this movement used to be people with disabilities, deformities, scarring, skin conditions, and the like. It was an empowering movement that emphasized looks don’t matter; health and self-care do.

The Fat Acceptance or Health at Every Size Movement was founded as a reaction toward the extremely thin figures that started becoming popular in the 1960’s on television and in magazines and that eventually made its way to Main Street, negatively affecting women’s mental health due to insecurity over their own bodies. Nowadays, when people hear body acceptance, the first thing that typically comes to mind are fat people.

In recent years, as the rate of obesity in the U.S. has skyrocketed, the movement has centered moreso around accepting extreme levels of fatness, and the movement itself seems to have grown in popularity and acceptance. This movement asserts that fat and obesity have nothing to do with how healthy a person is, so a fat person should accept being fat and shouldn’t feel the need to lose weight– that the only reason anyone would ever lose weight is to fit in with and please others, which are regarded as non-legitimate reasons.

Unfortunately, this view conflicts with science to a massive (pun unintended) degree. Almost every disease and condition that affects human beings is worsened due to obesity, if not directly caused by it. Since 2013, obesity itself has been considered a disease. And yet, while we don’t ridicule or bully people who have other diseases such as type 2 diabetes or cancer, we also don’t preach that they should be “accepted”, either. Instead, we promote the funding of cancer research, as well as lifestyle changes being instituted by individuals to reverse their diabetes.

I agree that it’s important to love and appreciate your body at whatever state you find it in currently. But self-love will inevitably result in giving it what it needs in terms of exercise and nutrition, not routinely overeating, and not accepting or settling for an obese body. Similarly, a parent who loves their child will make sure to wake them up in the morning, educate them, feed them healthy food, and limit their technology use, not because it makes the child happy but because it is what the child needs. As well, positive psychology has taught us that using positive motivations to change (for instance, losing weight to be able to participate in sports) is more effective than using negative motivations (feeling worthless after being bullied about your weight). If you don’t love and value your body to start with, you won’t care enough to take care of it. There’s nothing refreshing, glorious, positive, or inspiring about a body that is so large normal daily activities such as bending, walking, and climbing stairs are painful. Neither is there about the possibility of high blood pressure, strokes, or death resulting from carrying excessive weight.

I would really love to hear other’s opinions about this topic, especially other fat people’s. Do you think the Fat Acceptance Movement is a long time in coming due to all of the prejudice we have faced historically? Or do you agree that the movement is misinformed and dangerous?

Self-Indulgence = Self-Care or Self-Harm?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about when self-indulgence acts as self-care and when it acts as self-harm. Examples of self-indulgence include eating junk food, overeating, sleeping in, not exercising, procrastinating, etc.

Sometimes we use self-indulgence as punishments for past mistakes, without even realizing it. If you do not feel as though you’re worthy of a healthy body, mind, and spirit, what can appear to be self-care can actually be self-loathing and self-sabotage.

Putting off chores, staying in bed, and allowing yourself unhealthful but tasty treats both feels good and can be considered part of a balanced life, if done in moderation. For example, many people have “cheat days” on their diet. These are not considered to be negative because they acknowledge that perfection is not necessary or even desirable and that most things in life are not “all bad” or “all good” (including different foods).

I believe the difference is what we make the focal point of our lives and what we do most of the time. If we make it giving into every whim and following every fleeting feeling instead of doing what we know will be more worth it in the end (for example, building a savings account or achieving a healthy BMI), we will end up miserable. However, no play and all work will also make us miserable. Self-indulgence should be used as a reward for a productive week (or day), not in lieu of being productive. Hard work and productivity are natural mood-lifters and will bring more ultimate satisfaction to our lives than a life filled with nothing but leisure and hedonism.

I hope I haven’t come off preachy in this post. As with all my posts, I write about what I struggle with or can relate to, myself. And lately I have been struggling with my competing responsibilities and desires and striking a balance between them. Does anybody reading have any additional or alternative thoughts on the matter?