Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
I have a non-contentious relationship with my body, but it has been a struggle to get here. At the ripe old age of 32, I am comfortable with the fact that I gain weight and it stays on. I still look good in clothing and decent without. The hardest thing to accept about myself has been my stomach. After years of poking at its softness in dressing room mirrors and negotiating its boundaries with regards to the waistbands of jeans, skirts and various shirts that look fine before I buy them then cling desperately to its contours, I have come to terms with the fact that I’m never going to have a flat stomach. My current stomach is a physical, visible testament to my weakness for a cookie and my reluctance to give up beer. I’ve tried sit-ups and planking, sweating on a yoga mat that’s at least three roomates old in the privacy of my bedroom. I will never see a slice of it peeking out between a crop top and a high waisted jean. This is the way it is, and I might as well get on board.
Just because I’ve accepted it for what it is doesn’t mean that sometimes I don't want it to be different. Fad diets have interested me in theory but never in practice. The idea of grapefruit and black coffee for breakfast like a repressed housewife in a bathrobe with a smoldering Pall Mall stuck in an ashtray next to me is appealing only in my rich inner fantasy life. I know that hard work — exercise, eating right, a forced fondness for burpees — is a way to keep things tight-ish. But, I love a shortcut.
A teatox feels natural. It’s tea. Tea is herbs and sticks and twigs and berries that you boil in water and drink while feeling virtuous.
Enter the teatox. Touted by celebrities that I follow on Instagram, like Ashley Benson (the best of the "Pretty Little Liars"), as a way to "cut the bloat" and lose weight, something about it appealed to me as a viable option. Waist training feels dangerous, but from what I can tell achieves terrifyingly good results. Liposuction is clearly out of the question. A teatox feels natural. It’s tea. Tea is herbs and sticks and twigs and berries that you boil in water and drink while feeling virtuous. Tea is sipped out of solid, cream-colored mugs that you clutch with both hands while wearing a fisherman sweater, shivering at an imperceptible chill in the air. How bad could a teatox be? I took to the internet and found something that would fit my needs. Skinny Teatox, procured after a couple of late-night Googles on my phone in bed with my glasses off, was the winner.
There are two different teas — a morning tea and a night tea. The morning tea is to be consumed every day for seven days, the night tea, every other. According the instructional pamphlet I received, it is prudent that I remain in "easy access" to a restroom as I prepare to flush out all the toxins that lie within. To try and make this an actual detox, I made an attempt to eat better. Nothing I eat in general feels terribly unhealthy, althoughI have a fondness for coffee cart croissants — the large, pillowy bland ones that taste like they come from a suburban Costco.
The results I have been promised are appetite suppression, increased energy and a flushing of toxins that no one seems to be acknowledging is just poop. Before I started the teatox, my sister took a look at the packaging and read the ingredients. "Everything you just put in your body over the last week is gonna be a real bitch on the way out," she said, on her way to bed. "Good luck."
I make the morning tea after a light meal of yogurt and an iced coffee. I thought about reconsidering my caffeine intake, but if I need to have easy access to a restroom at any point during this teatox, I’d like to be as alert as possible. The taste is pleasant, with a hint of licorice and maybe some mint. About an hour after consuming this pleasant beverage, I find myself talking out loud more than is normal to my co-workers. Am I hungry? Maybe. Should I eat food? Who needs it! All comes crashing down after an hour, when I come out of my haze and realize that I am starving. Emboldened by my new lifestyle choice, I get a salad. Because I like to live on the edge, I added jalapeños. I have a feeling I will regret this move.
At night, I settle in with a cup of detox tea and this video review. I regret not ordering the strawberry diffuser. The main ingredient of the evening tea is senna leaf, a known laxative thats used generally for the elderly, which is reassuring. According to the pamphlet, I should be feeling a "mild laxative" effect in 3-10 hours. That range is larger than I feel comfortable with, but I press on.
Morning brings zero adversarial effects of the nighttime tea. At work, I go big and make two cups of the morning tea. Halfway through my first cup, I look at my screen and realize whatever I’ve been writing is hot garbage. Also, I’m very hot. I am alternately hungry and not hungry in waves. It feels like I’ve taken a possibly-expired Adderall. It’s a lot for the office.
I drink the second cup while listening to the Magic Mike XXL soundtrack. I might be whisper-singing "Anytime" by 112. After finishing it, I am no longer hungry. The urge to have a cigarette has also magically disappeared. This is a miracle. Around 4pm, there is a worrisome rumble in my stomach. This seems to be the detox kicking in. It seems prudent that I work from home for the duration.
I am now in complete submission to the crazy train of the morning tea. I have a cup at noon and write lots of things that are either brilliant or horrible. Because of yesterday’s intestinal distress, I am working at home. I talk out loud to the cat more often than usual.
A friend is in town, so we go out for drinks. I drink the evening tea when we get home while searching for at-home remedies for this giant zit I have on my eyebrow. I am nervous about the integrity of my bowels. We’re going to the beach tomorrow, my bathing suit bottom is white and I’m praying that my body decides to keep it together.
The morning tea doesn’t seem to have the same effect as the night before. Maybe it’s because the three Abitas consumed in rapid succession last night aren’t on the recommended diet list. Regardless, I press on. Though I’ve been fearing the detox aspect of this entire thing, I am somehow disappointed that nothing significant seems to have happened. I will come to mark my words. This may have been the moment I jinxed myself.
It is too hot to conceivably boil water, but I do it for the dream of a flat stomach. I press on, opting to have this over ice. It tastes like a fancy iced-tea I’d buy from the cafe down the street.
"The come up is faster. Much more energetic," I write in my notes. I feel like I’m dutifully chronicling a trip report for Erowid. The evening tea goes down easy, and I drift asleep, relaxed but still kind of disappointed that the effects haven’t been more… effective.
I confess — I forgot to make the daytime tea. At this point, it’s annoyingly fussy to walk into the shared kitchen space at work, fuss with the teabags, and then totter with it back to my desk. To make up for this, and also because the lack of a serious bathroom-need has made me cocky, I drink the evening tea while reading a book.
This proves to be a fatal mistake.
The end is here. To celebrate the fun and wonderful journey I’ve had, I make myself a full pot of the morning tea. I walk a few brisk laps around the office. I go to the grocery store, but something feels not quite right. It started on the train on the way home — a seizing cramp that starts low. I fear my cockiness and disappointment have caused this, as well as the senna root, which now seems to be doing its job.
The train ride is, to be quite frank, touch and go. Thankfully, it is short. Instead of stopping at my apartment before the grocery store, I decide to forge ahead. My thinking is that the urgency of my body’s physical needs will speed me along. It is when I am absentmindedly squeezing peaches in produce that I realize I need to be home as quickly as possible.
On the two block walk back to my apartment, I am in mortal fear that I am possibly going to shit my pants. One of my roommates enjoys taking showers at odd times of the day. If he happens to be in the bathroom when I make it up those stairs, I will be forced to seriously consider the deep and abiding shame of the litter box. This is not a reality I am interested in accepting.
The coast is clear. The bathroom is mine. Relief, eventually, comes.
The End Result
The results have been lackluster. I don’t think I’ve lost any weight. I was saddled with an enormous amount of bad gas and then a brief brush with mortification because I thought I was going to soil myself at Foodtown in Williamsburg. A flat stomach is not worth that indignity. Lose weight the right way if you want, but don’t believe the hype. I learned what I had already known — detox tea is bullshit.