Juice-Cleanse-Detox-Fast / Veggie-Fest 2010

First of all: I’m baaack! My year-long hiatus from this blog has finally come to an end. I don’t really have an excuse for my absence; I could blame laziness, too much schoolwork, too much work-work, or moral superiority to this blogging crap – but the only one of those that would be really plausible is laziness, so let’s just leave it at that. Long time no see, blogosphere.

I return with a purpose. As of this morning, I have embarked upon a juice
cleanse. Or, to the more specific, the “Organic Avenue Detox Diet,” otherwise known as the “LOVE*young Cleanse.” Yes, that capitalization and asterisk are part of the name. That would be the one Gwyneth Paltrow does all the time, and raves about on her blog, “GOOP.” Ughh, I hate myself already.

So, some background: juice cleanses are diets where you only eat juices or shakes, ideally homemade, over a given period of time. The point is to cleanse your system, get rid of toxins, clean those bowels out, and supposedly be generally healthful, energizing, and “vibrant,” whatever that means for a diet. My hopes are that my skin will look like Gwyneth Paltrow’s when I’m done. Weight loss is not typically the goal, although chances are if you’re cutting cheese fries and Big Gulps out of your diet, you might lose some pounds too.

For this particular cleanse, I will be consuming 2 blended veggie juices, 2 smoothies/shakes, 1 raw carrot soup and 1 raw salad every day for a week, with some extra servings of sketchy green powder mixed in water sprinkled in between. My diet for the next 7 days will be raw, vegan, and mostly organic. Hooo-boy, I’m getting intimidated by the healthiness already. If you’re interested in following my footsteps, the recipes can all be found on Gwyneth Paltrow’s blog GOOP, and reviews of the cleanse can be found at The Daily Green and Bitch Yourself Thin.

Getting ready for this week has been a surprisingly intensive process. I’ve had to make a trip each to Trader Joe’s, the local foodstore, and the even more local Co-Op to get all my ingredients together. Here’s a rundown of the supplies needed, broken up by where I got them.

Borrowed from friends:

  • 1 Juicer
  • 1 Blender

Purchased at above mentioned grocery stores:

  • Trader Joe’s Super Green Drink powder
  • 90 oz. Coconut water
  • 14 0z. Coconut milk (yes, they’re different)
  • Stevia extract
  • Himalayan sea salt
  • Unsweetend coconut meat
  • Miso paste
  • 3 Zucchinis
  • 3 Yellow squash
  • 1 Bunch mint
  • 1 Bunch parsley
  • 7 Hass Avocados
  • 1 Head garlic
  • 1 Ginger root
  • 4 Limes

Stolen from my dining hall (obscene quantities of each):

  • Cucumber
  • Spinach
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Arugula/Mixed greens
  • Soy sprouts
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • lemon
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • White Onion

Whew. It was time-consuming and a bit pricier than I would have liked to track it all down, but hopefully it will prove to be worth it. Being able to get most of the produce from the dining hall will help a lot, I think.

A note on substitutions: The original Organic Avenue cleanse requires even more crazy stuff than I have listed here. They apparently want you to only consume pH-enhanced (I’m still unclear on what that entails)  liquids for the week, via creepy droplets and only Alkaline (i.e. ionized) water. I ditched the pH-drops and the liquid Chlorophyll because of issues with price and availability, and am substituting good old tap water for the alkaline stuff, again because of the price. I also am replacing shallots with plain white onion, since I forgot to buy them, and Trader Joe’s green drink powder for the Doc Broc’s stuff they recommend. It’s 2/3 the price and seems pretty much the same. Also, I will be juicing all of my fruit juices, such as the lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit.

Finally, the question I’m sure you all have is: Why the fuck am I doing this?

I am doing this for a variety of reasons. First, I have a degree of faith in the health benefits of this type of thing (I’m a sucker, I know), and I’ve been feeling really crappy over the past few months. I’m been eating poorly, drinking too much, smoking too much, and generally abusing my body through what I put into it. I think that this cleanse will be a nice way to jump-start a healthier lifestyle, and do a routine cleaning of sorts of my system. Second, I think this will be a great social experiment. If celebrities and trendsters are doing this to themselves, I want to see what it’s like and judge their behavior accordingly. I think that food trends reflect very heavily upon the societies in which they arise, and I want to see what this one says about America’s celebrities and popular culture. I will be monitoring my feelings, energy-levels, skin glowiness, and weight loss throughout the week too, to see what happens (and of course record it here).

Finally, I am NOT doing this to lose weight. I’m not saying I would exactly be pissed if my belly-area shrunk a bit, but that’s really not the point. If you want to lose weight, you need a longer-term solution than this. Some juice cleanses can be very unhealthy (example: that lemon and cayenne crap), and I’ve done my research to make sure this isn’t one of them. Although the diet may look sparse, I’ll actually be consuming a pretty normal amount – the only difference is that most of it will be liquefied veggies. I will get plenty of protein from the coconut and the miso, and plenty of good fats from the daily avocado I’ll be eating; I even get to chew one meal a day! That being said, if I start feeling weak or too hungry, I will stop. And then probably bitch about it here.

So, I’m back in the blog saddle, and on my way to either glowy skin and unlimited health and energy, or carb-withdrawal-induced rage and severe indigestion. Only time will tell!

Street Art and Murals in Buenos Aires

One of my favorite parts of Buenos Aires’ general aesthetic is all of the graffiti, street art, and murals that grace its walls and buildings. The level of skill and artistic value ranges widely, from spray painted words bashing Kirchner (the less-than-loved current president) to gorgeous murals and works of art. I haven’t been able to photograph nearly as many as I would like because carrying my camera with me all the time tends to make me nervous, but here is a selection of what I have photographed:

This one’s my absolute favorite so far:

Guinea pig

I call it the psychedelic guinea pig. Here’s a close up of the bottom left corner:

cartoneros

The text says “Tu basura es mi tesoro,” which means “your trash is my treasure,” and I’m pretty sure it’s a commentary on the cartoneros here. Cartoneros are people who make a living by sorting through the trash and selling the recyclables,  and they are a source of a lot of class tensions, controversy, etc.

This same mural extends into this scene:

animals

I haven’t figured out the significance of these  anthropomorphized, dismembered critters yet, but no matter what they’re pretty cool.

Here are some more favorites:

monster thing

tentacle thingy

Che

I love this one, because it says “Por amor, usa preservativo,” o en ingles, “For love, use a condom.” Che cares about social equality, and safe sex too!

The Obligatory Fashion Post

So, in general, I do not intend for this to be a fashion blog. I love clothes, but am not looking to become any more obsessed with material objects than I already am; I also find that there are many much more stylish people out there who are far better equipped to write about fashion than I. That being said, I am currently in the middle of an Argentina-fashion-gasm, and therefore must give vent to my current consumer enthusiasm.

The clothes and accessories in Argentina are both affordable and amazing. There are ferias, or fairs, which are actually more like mobile marketplaces, that seem to pop up everywhere, and have all kinds of random stuff. I’ve enjoyed the ferias most for their jewelry and leather goods, but you can buy almost anything at them, from monogrammed mate gourds to melted beer bottle art. Some highlights of my purchases from ferias are a hand-tooled leather bag:

Purse 1

And a high-waisted belt embellished with painted leather:

Mariposa belt

When it comes to more conventional shopping, Palermo Viejo is by far the best area, featuring an awesome mix of small independent artist/designer shops, many of which are shared co-op style by several vendors, and pricey-but-beautiful boutiques featuring eclectic styles and gorgeous leather goods. Some highlights include a navy t-shirt dress that I think the bearded man that I bought it from may have actually made:

Blue Dress

And a red studded belt that goes really well with the dress:

red Belt

Possibly my favorite purchase so far has been these shoes, also from a boutique in Palermo:

Green Shoes

But the most exciting part of my materialistic exploits so far has been the Feria de San Telmo. I went there today for the first time, accompanied by a few of my fellow travelers, and I’m already obsessed. The Feria de San Telmo occurs every Sunday in San Telmo, a neighborhood graced with an uncannily large number of antiques stores. It is like other Ferias, except huge, and all the stalls in and surrounding the central plaza are like mini-antique-stores, where people (Collectors? Store owners? I have no idea) display everything from vintage jewelry to antique telephones. It’s AMAZING. I have never seen more things that I don’t need but desperately want in all my life. After finally wrenching myself away from the idea of starting an antique teacup collection, I settled for a necklace and these sunglasses:

Glasses

I was tempted by nearly everything, but I came out of San Telmo today with one clear goal: to save up money for a nice pocket watch. Clearly, a key piece in any wardrobe.

My Lovely Place of Residence

So, as I mentioned earlier, I’m living with a host family while I’m here in Buenos Aires. My host family lives in a lovely apartment in Congreso, at 140 Sarandí. Congreso is the neighborhood, or Barrio, that the Argentinean congress is in (in case the name wasn’t enough of a hint), and so is generally one of the older parts of the city. The apartment building is gorgeous and is from the 18th or 19th century (probably 19th; Anyway, it was built in a century not our own). It was modelled after a building in Paris, which is in keeping with all the French architecture here.

140 Sarandi

140 Sarandi

140 Sarandi

I absolutely love the building, although it does come with a few of the less-than-exciting perks of an older building, such as dialup internet and a really bad heating system. But it makes up for these with its completely bad-ass elevator, which makes me feel like a film-noir heroine whenever I use it.

My elevator.

My room is really pretty awesome; a little old, a little musty, but really colorful and cozy. My favorite parts are the green and purple walls, and the big paintings, some of which my host-madre Clara painted.

My Room

My room

So essentially, I love my apartment. Quarters are a little close, but that’s not really anything new to me anyway. The beautiful old architecture is already one of my favorite parts of Buenos Aires, and I’m so happy that I’m quite literally right in the middle of it. Finally, I will finish this post with a picture of the view from my bedroom window:

My View.

Semana 1 en Buenos Aires

So, after much delay and neglect of this blog, I’m finally in Buenos Aires, Argentina for my fall semester abroad. I’ve actually been here for 4 days now, crazy as that seems. The adjustment has been tough, but it’s getting easier already. Incidentally, they speak NO English here, which initially increased my feeling of isolation, but my Spanish is already getting better.

My host family is very nice, and very funny. The parents, David and Clara, are both actors, and Clara also does some directing and writing. My impression is that they’re mostly into theater, although apparently Clara has a role in a TV show right now, and I just found out today that David is somewhat of a legit movie actor:

http://www.cinenacional.com/personas/index.php?persona=5072

There are definitely some cultural differences; for instance, Clara doesn’t seem to be such a big fan of wearing pants around the house, and instead opts for tights. But all in all, they are very sweet, and have been very nice to me, despite the fact that my Spanish-speaking self must seem like una poca de una idiota. David and Clara also have a 25 year old son, Federico, who lives at home and is pretty cool. He’s currently being trained as a gym teacher, which is slightly hilarious.

So, for your reading pleasure, here is an brief glossary of the random things I have discovered here that I deem worthy of description:

El Alamo – HILARIOUS American bar near where I live. Open 24 hours, 7 days a week. Appears to play nothing but the Black Keys, which is kinda exciting, and U2, which is kinda strange. Incidentally, Argentinians seem to love the song “Vertigo.” I have no idea why.

Claro – Vaguely creepy cellphone network that appears to literally sponsor the roads; every street sign has a “Claro” logo on it, as well as an arrow pointing to the nearest Claro store.

Eh-mee-lee – How David and Clara pronounce my name.

Un Lomito – Delicious steak sandwich, popular everywhere here. And in case steak isn’t meat-y enough for you for lunch, they often come with ham on them in addition to the large slab of steak. They like meat here.

Quilmes – Cheap local beer that I absolutely love. They have it everywhere, it only costs like 6 pesos Argentinos, and its decently tasty for the price. Definitely beats Natty Light.

Don’t Eat the Organic Kumquats

One of the surprises that comes with any away-from-home internship is new found adulthood. And with adulthood comes a very new and exciting activity: grocery shopping. I LOVE grocery shopping.

This turn of events is actually incredibly dangerous, especially for someone like me who’s trying to live on a slim school-given stipend in DC, the world’s most expensive city. DC also happens to be a menacing place in another way: it is the land of the Whole Foods. Everywhere you look is another looming bastion of disgustingly high-quality produce for exorbitant prices, full of temptations such as fine drunken goat’s cheese from the netherlands, organic large grain quinoa, and yes, the dreaded organic kumquats. My faith in frugality is tested everytime I walk by.

I have a tortured relationship with Whole Foods. On the one hand, it is the epitome of the spoiled-young-liberal-super-yuppie lifestyle, it encourages buying imported foods rather than local, and it certainly has a tendency to drain one’s wallet. On the other hand, I have found the average quality of food to be generally better than at most groceries, and the price issue is really only a problem if you let it be. The Whole Foods- owned “365” brand stuff is actually generally cheaper than comparable products at say, Giant, tastes better, and a lot of it is organic and therefore chemical-free too. Unfortunately, this is not what you will want to buy once you enter a Whole Foods. Right next to that 365 peanut butter will be a jar of BeardedHippie Farms’ organic peanut butter, with a label explaining that it’s made  from peanuts that have been hand-picked by a Guatemalan orphan who is being paid a fair wage by the Bearded Hippies so that he can buy his school uniform. And guess which peanut butter you are going to want to buy?

I have resisted much temptation thus far, but little things like nice cheeses, live basil plants, and yes, kumquats, keep appearing in my basket whenever I shop for groceries. I’m eating wonderfully for now, but I’m skeptical of exactly how economically sustainable my eating habits are. Of course, a sane person would say, ” Why the hell aren’t you shopping at Safeway with all the other broke college kids?” But in my defense, until recently a Whole Foods was literally the only food store within walking distance of my house. Now that I’ve moved, my NEW Whole Foods is actually the second closest, but the closest one is a gross Giant that is barely bigger than my apartment and doesn’t even have a deli section.  My life is hard.

Working From Home vs. Working From Bed

For the last four weeks or so, I have been performing my nonprofit internship mostly from home. Working from home isn’t all that uncommon for people involved with start-up nonprofits; closet-sized offices, limited funds, and other time-consuming activities, such as jobs that actually make money, are all common factors that can drive the eager idealist into his or her home. My excuse is a combination of two factors: the first being a closet-sized office that we never use, the second actually being my boss’s excuse, a tiny baby. She works at home to take care of her kid, therefore we all work from home.

Needless to say, this has been a bit of an adjustment. I haven’t been quite as homebound as I could be; meetings with my coworkers, meetings with people from schools and other organizations, and random little detours like grant-writing classes have all broken up the days a bit. That being said, working from home requires a level of basic discipline, and that is something that I distinctly lack. When given the option to choose between, say, taking a nap or continuing to do my assigned research, I will choose the nap far too often.

An excellent (or rather kind of pathetic) example of this is right now. Right now I am lying in bed, still under the covers, trying to qualify it as work because I have my laptop on my stomach and am halfheartedly glancing at my inbox and some websites I’m supposed to be using between spurts of writing this blog entry. I am writing my lame and inconsequential blog, FROM BED, and later I will log these hours on my time sheet as “program development.” I am a bad person.

To be fair, it’s not that I don’t care deeply about my work. It’s just that what I’m currently doing is rather distant from the really compelling stuff that we do, and so it’s hard to keep that in mind for motivation. Also, there are a number of reasons why this morning is an extra struggle:

1. It’s Monday.

2. Those 3 glasses of red wine last night.

3. This bed is absurdly cozy.

4. My boss is moving this week, so she’ll probably be too busy to call today.

5. I’m doing research, which means it’s totally feasible to actually get work done on my laptop… in bed… while actually writing this instead. Maybe not.

I could go on. But rather than continue to regale you with stories of the torturous life of employment from the home, I’m going to eat a snack. Oh wait, it’s lunch time. I’m going to go eat lunch. And then maybe get my act together and actually accomplish something.

Also: I’m moving tonight! To a lovely apartment across from the National Cathedral, where I will be catsitting for two cats named Abigail and Mr. Bonkers. Mr. Bonkers might be my new best friend.