For more than 27 years, I lived undiagnosed with Pure O, a form of OCD that is associated with horrible intrusive thoughts.
I woke up on April 16 of this year pretty much like I always did: groggily, hungrily, and around 11:30. This massive bummer of a daily routine had been going on for a few months, and by mid-April, I was beginning to suspect I might have a little bit of situational depression going on. Post-grad, adult life had been the sort of anti-climactic letdown that I once thought only existed for the cynical father character in bad sitcoms.
Feeling like a pile of wasted potential as usual, I commenced my normal routine. I opened the browser on my phone and loaded a few tabs' worth of articles to read while I did my makeup and returned a bunch of texts from various clients. Over the course of an exciting, pre-work afternoon that was spent remotely helping 19-year-olds learn how to write their own goddamn essays and telling no less than five men that yes, I do massage, but not that kind of massage, one of the stories I read was a funny review of Ansel Elgort's recent Teen Vogue interview. Then, I moved on to the more boring pieces that I usually consume and forgot about Elgort for the time being.
Before I knew it, it was time to head to work. I dragged my feet, feeling the familiar blah-ness. I walked up the block to Juicery, a cute little shop on Essex Street that sells smoothies, juices, and açaí bowls. I'm not big into health food, but I do love smoothies. I'm also not big into carrying cash, so when my order came out to $7-something and the woman behind the register told me about the $10 debit card minimum, I sighed and scanned the menu for something cheap that I could tack on my order.
As my eyes wandered over all of the items that I could practically hear my mother denouncing as “hippy-dippy” in my head, I noticed a set of words that seemed weirdly familiar: Wheatgrass shot. Then I remembered that in the interview Ansel Elgort had mentioned taking a wheatgrass shot. He has a public persona that basically embodies the phrase “you little shit” but hey, if a wheatgrass shot was good enough for DJ Ansolo, it was good enough for me and my debit card! I ordered one.
The woman behind the counter (who I now know as Diana and recommend you go say hi to if you get a chance!) handed me a small plastic cup filled with an almost acidic-looking green liquid. There was a slight amount of foam on the top that reminded me of my days as a barista, frothing up green tea lattes for the trust-funded ingenues of Brooklyn Heights. I like green tea lattes, so I figured this would be just like that. Awesome!
It was not like a green tea latte. It was nothing like that. I've taken a lot of gross shots in my life and times. This was worse than Georgi, worse than RonDiaz. I want to say it was kind of minty, but it wasn't. I want to say it was kind of earthy, but it wasn't. Whatever it was, whatever it really was, the taste stayed in my mouth for far too long and I learned quickly that this is the sort of shot that you taste every time you burp for the next three hours.
Still, for as bad as the taste was – and, to reiterate, it was bad – I was interested in learning why someone might do this regularly. Surely, wheatgrass shots exist only to help customers meet debit card minimums, I thought. I opened another browser tab on my phone, Googling “wheatgrass what is the point” as I ran down into the subway, headed to work.
Unsurprisingly, I found plenty of health blogs and Pinterest users extolling the benefits of this bad-tasting mistake I had made. I picked the first result, “50 Reasons to Drink Wheatgrass Everyday.” The writers at The Chalkboard Mag wrote a pretty breathless and repetitive list of all the reasons that, if wheatgrass were a person, they'd definitely try to smash.
Number six on the list of reasons to drink wheatgrass is literally that it can't kill you, which is pretty discouraging. But right before I closed the tab, I saw that not only is it good for skin, but it gives those who drink it more energy. My skin is pretty dull and I'm prone to breakouts and redness, but my mopiness lately has been a major concern for me. I've always been a go-getter, full of energy and potential and ideas; I was willing to try anything to get that back. I vowed to take a shot a day for two weeks to see if my energy picked up and if my skin looked any nicer.
I will tell you right now that I took “before” pictures of my skin with no makeup because I had every intention of including them for you alongside some “afters." But you will not see these pictures, now or ever, because after two weeks of shots, my face looks exactly the same. If you came here hoping to get some confirmation that wheatgrass will give you a glowing, dewy complexion and gobble up your pores and blemishes, I have bad news. Buy some good primer and concealer or maybe curl up with some wine and a copy of "The Beauty Myth." Wheatgrass ain't for you.
My skin problems are purely hormonal, appearing like clockwork during a certain week every month. The only effect that I noticed on this front was that while every other monthly event happened on the exact day it was supposed to, my skin looked decent for a full three days longer than it usually does. I was actually pretty impressed, but that didn't last long. Now I have two big dry patches and a blemish that are even more disappointing than usual because I spent three days thinking I had outsmarted and evaded them.
I did notice an increase in my energy and I want to be sure to include that. I hate the taste and the process, certainly, but I did have more energy. Whether that was an exclusive result of the wheatgrass, however, is debatable. The second day, I went out and bought fruit to make detox water (which I faithfully drank for a week before realizing it was a huge waste of expensive-ass fruit). My increase in energy was maybe because of the wheatgrass, but more so because of the feeling I had that I was doing something good for myself. This change in attitude had more of an effect than any of the chlorophyll that I ingested.
Also on the second day, my new latex waist trainer arrived. This motivated me to go to the gym more, as well, and the timing was just a happy coincidence.
My main take-away from my two weeks of wheatgrass shots is that doing one small, stupid thing can make a person feel that they are doing something much bigger and more important for themselves than they really are. This, then, leads to doing more small, stupid things that all add up to a healthier lifestyle. I walked more and I ate better. The small, healthy routine of taking the daily shot did more for me than its content, which I probably would have hypothesized had I taken the the time to write a hypothesis.
There is something to be said for that good feeling. I'm all for that placebo effect sort of thing if that's what it takes. By the fourth day, I was feeling so much happier and more confident that I pitched this story instead of spending my night writing lackluster cover letters and applying for any semi-relevant job I could find, as usual. Feeling like I was doing something nice for myself by being more active and taking my wheatgrass shot enabled me to stop stressing so much, sit down, and think of a clear strategy.
And look! It worked! I'm not a staff writer anywhere yet, no, but you're reading this, aren't you? Wheatgrass, baby!
While I was running around in my waist trainer, chasing my wheatgrass with fruit-infused water and pretending that I suddenly had my life together, real life was still happening. On the sixth day of my wheatgrass mission, I got a call from my dad saying my mom had suffered a small heart attack. I regressed back to my previous state, sitting in bed in my pajamas, crying, and waiting for him to call me with updates from over 1,000 miles away. My mother, thankfully, is fine now, but at the time I wasn't sure.
Interestingly, a few hours into my pity party, I suddenly felt the urge to get dressed, leave my apartment, go get my wheatgrass, and get on with my day. After only six days, the small lifestyle change I had made really began to take hold. I saw then just how badly our bodies and minds really want to be happy, healthy, and active. Even on the very worst day in a long time, I could not justify sitting in my bed and feeling sorry for myself.
It was just the simple act of doing good things for myself that got me out of my funk. And believe me, I'm out of my funk now and I don't have any intention of getting back in it. Maybe for you it will be wheatgrass, maybe it will be detox water, or maybe a waist trainer, like it was for me. Maybe for you it will be eating more yogurt or spending an extra 15 minutes outside in the sun every day. Maybe it will be training for a marathon or taking the stairs or meditating or actively trying to give your kids more hugs. Whatever it is, from what I've learned, it will snowball into something bigger and better as long as you stick with it and believe in your own power to turn it into something great.
If you do choose to start doing wheatgrass shots, though, let me leave you with this advice:
1. NEVER let them put cayenne pepper on top of the shot. You only make that mistake once, but you should try not make it in the first place. Trust me.
2. Ask for a piece of pineapple to use as a chaser.
3. Eat after the shot or prepare to spend an hour doing that weird thing where your stomach lurches but you don't quite throw up, you just alarm everyone else on the bus.
Good luck and (try to) enjoy your wheatgrass!