I Drank Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington’s Green Smoothies Every Day for a Month. Here’s What Happened.

A little more than a month ago, I was doing my morning scroll through my Instagram feed and stumbled on Reese Witherspoon’s IG Live video detailing how she makes herself a green smoothie every morning.

In her video, Reese explained that when she first met Kerry Washington, she remarked how clear her skin was and asked her for her secret. Kerry told her that she drinks this smoothie every day, and ever since then, Reese has done the same.

Because I was instantly convinced that this was the key to both of their beauty – that, or there is an oil painting of both of them in some dusty attic somewhere that is aging instead of them – and the fact that it seemed SUPER easy to make, I decided to give this a shot too.

The Method

If you’re interested in watching me perform this science experiment, you can watch the first attempt here. Long story short: I definitely didn’t blend it enough and omitted the almond butter. It also confirmed that I don’t enjoy coconut water in ANY capacity, so I switched to water or almond milk for subsequent batches. It also gave me the idea to add collagen powder because it was easier to add to this smoothie than to my coffee like I’d been doing for weeks.

Note: This recipe also makes roughly 60 ounces. I can’t fathom drinking 60 ounces of ANYTHING, so I took Reese’s advice and split it into two and saved the second half for the next day. This can give me middling results because fruit on day two is always a little weird. But re-blending it tends to revive it, and this is the method that I’ve stuck with.

The Results

I’ll be real: I started this because of Reese’s skin claims, but I really wasn’t expecting any eye-popping results in the skin department. Some people just have good genes. But to my surprise, something interesting happened.

About a year ago, a cancer scare convinced me to stop taking hormonal birth control after nearly 20 years, and my skin has been reacting badly ever since. It was like every zit I managed to avoid for 20 years on the pill came back for revenge, all over my chin and neck for 8 straight months, and nothing I did could stop it. Painful red welts every 3 weeks (timed with my cycle) made me super self-conscious. I wasted money on tons of topical treatments that never worked, and I was miserable for most of the last year (on top of being anxious and depressed because of the pandemic).

After less than a week of smoothies, the acne all but disappeared.

I thought I was just having a good skin week at first, and kept an eye on it. But one week went by, then another, and another, and no acne. Yes, I have one or two spots that manage to make their way to the surface, but it is NOTHING like it used to be, and I could cry from happiness.

I also thought this amount of fiber would have… shall we say… explosive results. I’m pleased to report that I have so far suffered NO ill effects. On the flip side, I will say that if I accidentally skip a day or two of the smoothie, I DO start to notice a NEGATIVE difference in my skin and in my stomach. TMI? Maybe. But we keep it real here.

Final Thoughts

Granted, the skin results that I’ve seen cannot be 100% proven by smoothie magic, but the way I see it, there’s no downside to eating all those fruits and veggies each day, right?

After a few tries, my final version of Reese & Kerry’s Smoothie is:

  • 2 heads of Romaine
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 2-3 stalks celery
  • 1 banana
  • 1 apple
  • 1 pear
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 6 – 8 ounces almond milk or water
  • 6 ice cubes
  • 4 scoops of Vital Proteins collagen powder

Yes, it’s kind of a pain to always make sure that we have all these fresh fruits and vegetables around. But after having such good results over the last month, I’m willing to keep this concoction in my daily routine as often as I can to keep the good vibes flowing!

What do you think: have you tried Reese’s smoothie? Do you have your own go-to fruit and veggie blend?

What I Eat in a Day – Part 2

I know it took me months, but after starting with what I eat for breakfast, lunch, and snack time, now I’m taking a look at what I eat for dinner and dessert – and sharing some of my favorite recipes, too.

Dinner

Though the pandemic literally set my mental health journey back about 2 years in the span of just a few months, it did force me to broaden my culinary horizons. Random food shortages thanks to people panic-emptying the grocery store shelves (and fear of even going to the grocery store at first) meant stretching the big shop from our normal one week to last two or even three weeks.

This meant trying recipes with a lot of frozen and canned vegetables and things I could find in bulk like frozen shrimp and quinoa, and I managed to create a handful of dishes that became staples even when things started to calm down. This garlic shrimp dish in particular is still one of my favorites, especially when I pair it with quinoa that I combined with canned roasted tomatoes, corn, canned beans and fresh cilantro. Now, of course, I omit the corn, but it’s still a tasty dish that makes tons of leftovers and can even be a lunch option too.

I also discovered homemade poke bowls, after one of my favorite Bake Off winners, Nadiya Hussain, was given a Netflix show last spring where she shared her favorite quick recipes for lunch and dinner. Sushi-grade tuna was hard to come by the first time we made ours, but I gave the salmon a quick sear in the frying pan and fell in love with this super-fresh, crisp bowl full of veggies and rice and protein. It’s a great option when we’ve got a bunch of stuff in the fridge that’s about to go bad – just whip up some protein and toss that delicious sriracha sauce on it and boom: everyone’s happy.

The crock pot isn’t just for winter cooking in this house, either. I regularly break it out for things like chicken tacos (combine a pack of chicken breasts and a jar of salsa and ta-da) or my favorite ground turkey chili. Other staples include:

  • chicken marsala with brown rice and roasted Brussels sprouts
  • butter chicken with jasmine rice and broccoli
  • Beyond Burgers on gluten free buns
  • tilapia Thai green curry with white rice and veggies
  • Gluten free frozen pizzas (from everywhere, we’ve tried a lot of them and have found plenty we enjoy)

Desserts

Now that we’ve committed to that gluten free life, I’ve become a big fan of baking more at home. But an interesting side effect of that is that I also don’t feel the urge to plow through 5 cookies in one sitting when I’ve baked them myself. Maybe it’s because they take longer to make, butthe flavor is just that much more intense and they’re so much more satisfying one at a time.

Like these snickerdoodles, which I baked for everyone at Christmas, complete with red and gold sprinkles

Some of my favorite recipes – which I simply substitute Cup4Cup Gluten Free Flour in – include:

I also can’t quit my favorite Reese’s mini cups, and always have a stash of them on hand at all times. Thanks to my new medication, I’m finding it much easier to avoid eating the entire bag in one sitting and often forget they’re even in the house for a few days at a time now. It’s nice to know they’re there if I need them, though.

Bonus: Beverage Time!

In addition to watching my gluten and corn intake, I’ve also focused on how much alcohol I drink, too. At the start of the pandemic, I fell into the trap of opening a bottle of wine every few days and “treating myself” to a glass or two (or three) after work almost every day, because it was what everyone else seemed to be doing on social media and what else were we doing?

After months of that, I realized I was unhappy – and likely packing on the pounds with each bottle, given that I also wasn’t exercising as much as I used to. So in September I put myself in wine time out and ended up not having a drop until Thanksgiving. And while it was delicious when I finally had some again, I realized that I didn’t need it as much as I used to. I slept better without drinking so much, and my skin and head were more clear without it. So I now have a glass or two maybe every month, with the occasional splurge on a Zoom date with friends.

I also discovered the joy that is Aviation gin, and my eyes have been opened:

Yes, it’s Ryan Reynolds’ gin, and yes, I’m not ashamed to admit that I love it. I’ve tried other alcohols with varying degrees of success but none have checked all the boxes like gin does for me. It takes less gin for me to get a similar buzz to wine, so it’s lower in calories than my usual 2-glasses-of-wine evening, and it doesn’t give me headaches. It’s also given me the opportunity to try other mixers, like flavored sugar-free seltzers and fresh fruit.

Keep in mind, with my new medication, I’m not drinking almost at all – it’s not a bright idea to mix a depressant like alcohol with an anti-depressant, after all – but red wine and gin in moderation are what I go for when I do.

And that about does it! How about you – what go-to’s are on your daily menu? Share your favorites and hook me up with some new things to try!

Recovering from a Mental Health Injury

Hey there! It’s been a few months. Where to begin?

When we last left off, things were going relatively well. I started seeing a therapist in October and was making good progress in my mental health. Together we cultivated a toolbox full of anxiety management techniques and dug into the ideas of acceptance and mindfulness. As a result, my running improved greatly. By December, cutting out gluten and corn in September had helped me drop almost 20 pounds, and I had more motivation to keep it up.

After the dumpster fire that was 2020, I was ready to enter the New Year with high hopes. Or rather, I planned to tiptoe into the year quietly, so as not to spook it and send it running, on fire, into the barn, thus starting a blaze that would level the entire city.

The fact that I haven’t blogged for 5 months tells you all you need to know about how that worked out.

Two days before New Year’s Eve, we were faced with a family emergency that threw our little team of two into chaos. Then just as things started to calm down on that front, my mother came down with COVID. With a lot of stressful nights and careful watching, she is now back to 100% healthy. We’ve continued to work through a handful of other unrelated issues since then, but after the 1-2-3 punch that was January-February-March, I made a change and wanted to share here.

No, not wearing a fanny pack 24/7 (although I really dig this one)

I started medication again.

I’ve dealt with anxiety and depression since age 12, and went on Zoloft back in 2003 to manage severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. While the medication made me gain much of the weight that took me years to lose, it worked. I am a big proponent of medication for mental health, but for some reason, kept telling myself that I didn’t need it this time. I had found running and acupuncture, and I was in therapy. Shouldn’t that be enough? It sort of was, until I found myself in crisis around the end of February.

The best way I can describe my tipping point is that it felt like I was working two full-time jobs. In addition to working 9-5 for money, every free hour was spent working on my mental health. Every thought was focused on my own thoughts. My mind was in constant motion from one anxious thought to the next, with no safe place to land. I moved in and out of depressive states that put me in some dark places. VERY dark.

But if living with anxiety and depression at that level was like treading water endlessly, starting Effexor was like grabbing onto a life raft and finally feeling the relief of not having to try so goddamn hard for the first time in months – years, really.

The pic I sent my husband after I picked up my new prescription for mental health (covered in cat hair that I didn’t see until later).

With Effexor, I still have anxious thoughts. But instead of the anxiety flowing through my whole body and causing a physical reaction in my clenching stomach and sweaty palms and racing heart and shortness of breath, the thoughts… stay in my head. I don’t know how else to explain it. It’s fascinating. The medicine “opens the window” and gives me the mental space to work through the anxious or depressive thoughts using the tools that I’ve developed over 7 months of work in therapy. It’s still work, but it’s not as stressful, and it’s easier to let those thoughts pass and return to regular thoughts.

It’s also not some magic bullet, either. I was faced with a hugely stressful situation last week that created a swell of anxiety that not even Effexor could stop. The day was rough and I spiraled, thinking that it was a sign that I had backslid into my old ways, the medicine was useless, that nothing could fix me. But the window had been “opened”, and after a day or so, I was able to approach the situation tentatively and work through it a bit. It was a good reminder that while meds are helpful, I am also stronger and better equipped to handle anxiety than I was a year ago thanks to therapy.

We decided to try Effexor because its mechanism of action is similar to Zoloft, which I had a good experience with, but also includes norepinephrine to possibly improve my energy levels and attentiveness, which had been impacted. And despite being worried about weight gain, Effexor has had the opposite effect of the Zoloft and I’ve lost a few pounds already. I don’t feel the need to turn to food for comfort, and nighttime snacking (which was my Achilles heel) is all but nonexistent. It’s motivating me to move more but not affecting my sleep. I wish I’d started this stuff years ago.

July 2020 on the left, April 2021 on the right.

I say all this with an asterisk: just because I am having a good experience doesn’t mean that it’ll work for everyone. I’ve had people message me about it but don’t want to sound like I’m pushing this drug or overselling it. This is just me explaining how it’s helped me and keeping the conversation about mental health going.

In December, Olympic runner and filmmaker Alexi Pappas shared her story of depression and the importance of treating mental health issues the same way we treat physical ones. She referred to them as “mental health injuries”. That phrase stuck with me.

As runners, we are often sidelined by things like shin splints, hairline fractures, or torn ACLs. But we treat those injuries with things like physical therapy and medication. Why don’t we view mental health struggles the same way?Having a mental health injury isn’t a weakness in the same way that pulling a muscle isn’t a weakness. They stop us in our tracks, take time to recover from, and in some cases, there is often a chemical – physical – imbalance, and medication like the one I’m on can be an IMMENSE help. But yet, the stigma around it remains.

Why?

I’m tired of being anxious and depressed and feeling like a prisoner in my own mind. Now that I found the combination of things that seems to work for me in this moment, I’m going to talk to anyone who will listen about it, in the hopes that it helps even one person take that step and get help for themselves, whether that’s through therapy or medication or both.

And that’s what’s going on in my world these days. How are you doing?