Pausing To Regroup

Has anyone else been watching Legion? Starting to feel like I’ve got my own Lenny calling the shots sometimes. (By the way, does anyone else have a massive girl crush on Aubrey Plaza in this role? She’s electrifying!)

I really screwed up this week. On Wednesday, I went to see Brian Wilson play at the Saenger Theatre, and that night I ended up spending money I didn’t have on food I didn’t really want. I overate, and I felt sick all the next day. But feeling terrible didn’t mean that I went easy on myself the next day and got back on track; I felt so crappy, I ended up getting Chinese for dinner as comfort food, and of course I then overate again. So then Friday I woke up feeling REALLY terrible – bloated and queasy and just out of it, and breaking out behind my ears and under my jawline in an allergic reaction to something I had eaten. So what did I do? I went to a baseball game that night, and ate more crap, so I’d feel truly disgustingly sick. Then I woke up on Saturday, knowing that I had the chance to put it all behind me, and ordered a pizza and wings, and skipped my chance to hear Noah Levine doing a live reading/talk/Q&A because I felt like the most disgusting human on the planet. Then I ate a pint of ice cream and some gumbo and two sodas for dinner, and went to bed really sad with how far down the rabbit hole I’d managed to fall in just a few days.

So I woke up this morning, thought about going to the gym to try to set off on the right path, and decided that I couldn’t face the day, and then went back to bed until early afternoon, when I woke up and got an iced ginger latte and a lox sandwich for my late lunch. I don’t really feel too bad about that, actually. I mean, yeah, I really couldn’t afford to spend that money and I’ll be short for the rest of the month because of it, but it was a truly delicious sandwich, and ginger lattes are probably my favorite thing on the planet, other than decent ginger beer (which is sadly difficult to find – they’re always too sweet).

Anyway, that was my last five days of burning money and eating myself sick. Oh, and I felt so terrible about it all (physically, mentally, and emotionally) that I also skipped my Recovery Refuge meeting tonight, like an asshole. It felt like an episode of Elementary, where Sherlock starts skipping his meetings because he’s not well, emotionally, and his sponsor has to track him down. Except when it’s pizza instead of heroin, and you have no sponsor, no one’s there to track you down and drag you to a meditation circle. I’ve got to get my own shit together. I’m a grownup. I have to figure out how to do this.

So.

Keeping all this in mind, I know that I can’t change what’s already happened. I can only try to make better choices moving forward. So I took a time out from feeling like a worthless pile of shit and thought back to what I have done differently for the last couple of weeks that seemed to be working out for me.

Step one has been cooking up a big pot of veggie curry to have on hand. Wouldn’t you know that I ate the last of the curry on Tuesday night? And look where that got me. So today I looked up a new curry recipe for my crockpot, and of course the food co-op didn’t have half of the ingredients that I wanted, so I’m doing something new with the things I could find: chickpeas, green beans, carrots, onion, and I’m also trying garam masala for the first time. I’ll let you know what happens.

Step two has been going to the gym, so I’ve already let my gym buddy know that I’ll be there for spin class tomorrow. Step three is, of course, meditation. I’m going to try something new this week, and go to a meditation meetup at the Healing Center on Wednesday night. Singing would be great, too. I wonder if I’d have time to get to the kirtan meetup tomorrow night if I leave the gym by 7pm? Hmmm.

The final step will be seeing a doctor. Mindfulness has been proven to help with binge eating, but I should be seeing a therapist again to work with my anxiety and really give this the one-two punch. Unfortunately, at the moment that’s just not an option. My job is great, and pays for health insurance, but a trip to the doctor still costs $35 out of pocket, and that’s just money I don’t have. Especially after eating it all this week. Insert huge sigh here. I do have a regular doctor’s visit coming up in May, though, so maybe by then I can figure something out.

I feel worse about missing tonight’s meeting because of a weird second of interaction that happened last meeting. When the official meeting is over, one of the group leaders takes the time to talk to people as they’re packing up and leaving the meeting spot. It’s really nice of him, though it makes me a little uncomfortable, just in the way that any personal interactions with strangers make me act even weirder than usual. He strikes me as a very kind, empathetic man, and I don’t know anything about him, but if I had to guess, I’d say that he’s an artist of some kind. He just gives off a vibe – a little bit punk, a tad eclectic, eyes that seem to see you and through you at the same time. I bet he’s a Scorpio.

Anyway, after the first meeting, he took time to ask me if I’d be back, and what I thought, the usual thing. Then at last week’s meeting, he was talking to someone else as I was collecting my stuff, so I just walked past them and started to walk out the door. I was halfway out the door when I heard him call my name, a little bit like a question, maybe a little bit worried. I looked back, and he had his hand half outstretched. It felt like a millisecond of panic, barely reined in. If I had to guess, I’d say that he planned to be personal with everyone, so it hadn’t occurred to him that he might miss anyone on his list due to them leaving without saying goodbye. And maybe he’s a bit like me, really wanting to be good to people, but not entirely sure that he’s doing it right. Or maybe he was worried about me for some reason I can’t see but he can. Anyway, I looked back, smiled, and told him I’d see him next time. He looked skeptical, maybe worried. Which maybe also might be why I didn’t go back tonight, because anyone could tell that I’ve been gorging myself for the last few days. My face is round. My skin looks terrible. My hair was stringy until I washed it a little bit ago. Ugh.

Whatever. I’m doing what I can to get myself back. I gave myself a pedicure. I washed the dishes. I put a pot of curry on. I boiled eggs, and made tea, and fed the cats, and cleaned out the litter boxes. I am writing my blog post. I will pick out my outfit for tomorrow, listen to a hypnotherapy recording, and get a good night’s sleep. I will go to work early (with a healthy breakfast and lunch packed up) and go to the gym after I’m done with all of my paperwork. I will come home and vacuum the house, clean the bathroom, and write another blog post. I will be OK. In the end, that’s really the only choice.

I’m bookending this with one of my favorite versions of “Feeling Good,” for your listening pleasure…

Label That Feeling For Later

It’s Day 20 of my social media detox. I have my second terrible cold of the year, and it feels like my head is swaddled in at least one large duvet. My hearing is shot, I can’t breathe out of my nose, and my eyes aren’t watering, exactly, just feeling old and tired. I am also incredibly bored. Like, monumentally bored. BORED. The kind of bored that made you angsty as a little kid. The kind of bored I haven’t been in I can’t remember how long, because I’ve been filling all that empty space in with Facebook, TV, or just generally being incredibly anxious about gods-know-what.

I finished reading my third book in four days today at lunch, and I’m not really feeling like starting a new one yet. The apartment could use a good deep cleaning, but when my nose and throat are this irritated, the solvents from the different cleaning solutions make everything swell up and make every breath torture, as I learned the hard way last night, when I tried to spray down my kitchen counters and had to leave the house. So nothing more than vacuuming and dish washing is getting done tonight. I could watch TV, but I just don’t feel like it. I spent a little time dream-shopping for new apartments in new hometowns on Craigslist – that was fun. My favorites were the mid century mod apartment buildings in Phoenix, and a cute apartment in an old Victorian house in Maine.

But the real reason I’m taking a moment to write is that I think I might have stumbled across something, due to this pesky cold, and I want to label it now while I can see it most clearly. So here it goes:

Today I can’t breathe through my nose, so I can’t smell properly. And because I can’t smell properly, everything I’ve eaten today has been unappetizing. I could barely force myself to finish my tiny little container of curried chickpeas at lunch. That is something with which I’m entirely unfamiliar, as I generally have no stopping mechanism, so I have to control my portion sizes to get myself to end a meal. Stopping before the food is gone is almost alien to me. This being said, while I have no drive to eat today, I AM incredibly bored. Do you get where this is going? I think I’m feeling a boredom I don’t normally feel because typically, when my mind starts pushing me closer to this state, I eat. I eat when I’m bored, to cover up the feeling (which apparently I’ve been doing rather well), and then, once I’m done eating, I move on to other things, like feeling terrible about myself. Voila! Solution to boredom is feeding the anxiety. Literally.

Space, Time, Money

There is seldom any controversy in my household, since I live alone, with three cats for companions. But this is why, when there are disagreements with others in my life – even disagreements that live entirely in my head, never seeing the light of day – my tiny apartment becomes integral to my need for refuge and respite. In the same way, though, living in such a small space provides its own challenges. For someone who likes to share so much of herself in writing, in person I guard my space jealously. I don’t think clearly without a great deal of alone time. It’s hard to work out your problems when other people are on top of you, all day, every day. At this point in my life, I find it hard to believe that I’d ever be able to share my personal living space with another human being again (at least, any living space possible on my current meagre budget…maybe if I had a mansion, or at least two big apartments, side by side).

These were the thoughts taken into account last week, when I asked the boyfriend to give me some space. Not “we’re breaking up” space, or “stay out of my business” space, just literal SPACE. The ability to come home to my apartment in the evening, tired from work, without finding another human already here, watching TV, when I need silence and a hot shower to recover from my day. The knowledge that when I fall asleep at night, I can angle my body across the bed, and the only thing that might wake me up is a cat walking across my face (This is Isabel, every time. The cat has no shame.). An understanding that I can wake up at 7am and turn on every light in the house, even bang the pots and pans if I feel the need, no keeping my noises in check to avoid upsetting anyone. The ability to make every single choice in my space for myself, with no internal checks to make sure I wouldn’t be hurting/disappointing/irritating/in any way affecting another human being. Not feeling judged or inadequate about anything I choose to do, from cooking to reading romance novels to letting the floor go without vacuuming for way too long. Just living life on my terms, and getting to forego the exhaustion of constantly weighing my actions against the needs of others, even in a space that should be 100% my own, and free of judgment (but is not, of course, because I’m still in it).

Over the last couple of days, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with my finances. My freelancing job has dried up. I was having a hard time working 8 to 10 hours a day at my hotel job, a trip to the gym, a walk home, then fitting in freelance work on top of all that, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t need the extra income. Munky’s illness over Mardi Gras ensured that I started out March $500 in the hole, and I had an unexpected bill come in yesterday, as well. To be honest, adopting Charlie last summer was the first step in creating my current budget woes – all those checkups and shots and getting fixed, plus the little sprained leg when he first came my way. I love all of these cats, but they’ve really pushed me. Let’s not even consider what will happen as Isabel gets older. But it’s not all their fault. My biggest spending area has always been eating. Let’s not sugarcoat it. I have an addiction, and I keep it fed and fat and sassy. It has to stop. I’ve spent the last couple of days working and reworking my budget, trying to figure out how to make things work right now. I had a nightmare last night that the landlord raised my rent by $50, which in reality is the only padding I have at the end of each month. I woke up in a cold sweat.

On Monday I’ll talk to my manager about picking up some front desk shifts, even though I don’t know if I have the stamina for a full week of my regular job (which also regularly includes some overtime hours) plus 16 to 24 more hours standing at the front desk, smiling at all of those people overwrought from countless hours of travel, needy in ways I’ve yet to intuit, demanding a level of coddling that goes above and beyond everything I’ve previously known about hospitality. And this is assuming he can fit me in there; I don’t know if there are even any shift possibilities.

I don’t have the option of quitting my job to find something that pays better. For the first time in years, I really enjoy what I do. And I love working for Marriott; it’s a great company. All I need to do is hang in there, and eventually raises and promotions will come, and I’ll be fine. Just have to find a way to survive in the meantime.

In a weird way, this is going to be very good for me. It will help with the compulsive eating, as it’s hard to binge eat when you don’t have the money for food. I can make my budget stretch – eggs for the morning (free bacon at work), a crockpot of curry for my lunches, salads for dinner. I’m not sure how I’ll pay the donation at my Refuge Recovery meeting tomorrow night, but I might scrounge up change in the couch cushions and just explain I’m in a tight spot. My biggest worry in this particular moment is that I started getting a cold a few days ago, and at first it felt like nothing, but today I woke up with chest congestion and a deep, rattling cough and what seems to be a sinus headache. I’ve resolved to walk to the Dollar General at the end of the Bywater to see if they have any discounted medicine in the sale aisle. I also need to pick up some eggs, diced tomatoes, and coconut milk for the curry. I seem to remember that their canned good prices are pretty cheap. Much more of a savings than the food co-op, that’s a guarantee. Nothing organic, and probably everything low quality, but such is life.

In other news, it’s Day 18 of the social media detox, and I’m not going back to Facebook. It’s weirdly both an anxiety-machine and an anesthetic. I’ve gotten more reading done in the last three months than in all of last year, and my anxiety levels are significantly diminished. I’m talking to less people on a daily basis, without Facebook to encourage some conversations, but when I do talk to people, there is purpose and fullness. It is real.

I’ve also had some great one-on-one interactions with friends in the last week; it gives me hope for perhaps having a life in the future. I re-joined Meetup.com, and found two groups of outdoor enthusiasts who hike and camp, go birdwatching, etc. in Louisiana. I don’t have the money to participate much at the moment (still missing some basic equipment for backpacking trips), but it makes me excited to think that I could start shaping my life to include more of my interests, and finding friends who enjoy the same things I do. Maybe I wouldn’t have to try so hard or worry so much about fitting in. Which is really a funny statement to write, because my solution to worrying about fitting in has always been to just forgo it, entirely. Anyway, that’s a thought for another blog post.

One of my girlfriends told me the other day that she’s planning to sell her condo and buy a house, preferably a double shotgun so she can rent out the other side. She told me that I was the first person who popped into her head, and she wanted me to be her tenant if she finds a place that she can afford to buy and I can afford to rent. I told her where I am right now, budget-wise, and that I’m happy to pay with additional elbow grease as she gets the house fixed up. We’ve known each other for over 10 years now, and I think we’d work really well together in a landlord/renter situation, sharing two sides of the same house. So I’m excited about that, even though it’s probably months away. Now to just cross my fingers that my rent here doesn’t go up $50 in the meantime…

It’s Day 13

Trinity’s newest little boy was born today. He’s huge, almost 8 lbs. She’s quite petite, so he was looking like an extra-large watermelon there at the end. I’m sure she’s very relieved to no longer be pregnant, and happy that he’s a healthy little dude. I’m not the best judge of baby looks, but he seemed chubby and sweet, in that way of all sleeping newborns.

Today has been off and on for me. I went to a meeting of Refuge Recovery last night, a Buddhist recovery program for people dealing with addictions of all kinds. I’m finally ready to come to terms with the fact that I have an unhealthy relationship with food, and I need help. Coming off of social media, taking one onion-layer of anxiety out of my life, has given me the strength to look at what else is there, how I’ve been suffering, and ultimately, how I’ve been adding to my own suffering with a cycle of negative behavior.

Anyway, I heard about the meeting at the beginning of the week, attended it last night, and liked it. There’s this duality to dealing with binge eating, where it’s easy to look at this and go “but people have to eat, and I’m a person – clearly there’s nothing wrong with me, I’m just eating like any other human.” Then I eat a whole pizza and side of wings by myself, and feel like a total sack of shit for the next few days, until I get sad or happy or angry and do it again. So I walked into the meeting feeling like a fraud. I knew I needed it, I knew I have a problem, but I was still able to convince myself that perhaps I was just being overdramatic.

But then people started talking, and it was painfully obvious that, though I might not be smoking crack or guzzling booze, the things that lead me to eat compulsively, and the way in which I do it, and the way I feel about it in my general life, these are all things I had in common with the rest of the circle. And no one judged me the way that I constantly judge myself. They were friendly and welcoming, and just normal people who have some flaws they’re working on. I felt at home there. I plan to go back next Sunday, but in the mean time, I also want to start reading the book on which the group is based, and start working towards meditating for general purposes, as well.

Later:

I just took a break to watch a weird IFC movie on Hulu where a lady’s husband is killed right before Christmas, and she goes on to have a mini nervous breakdown involving strippers, drugs, compulsive shopping, and slightly less compulsive shoplifting. Typically that kind of movie would be my thing, but tonight it just wasn’t cutting it. But now I’m back, knowing that it’s almost time to get in bed, realizing that I haven’t talked about my day just yet. So here goes the 1 minute recap:

Work was good, with a few “house on fire” problems that weren’t my fault (yay!) that I was able to handle quickly (double yay!). I had fun talking with my coworkers, and saw one of my coworkers who typically works remotely. She and I sometimes joke back and forth a little via email, but she’s very efficient and business-like. Today was the first time getting to interact with her a bit more casually, and I really like her. If she’s in the office tomorrow, I plan to ask her how I might plan to go about working up to her job. She does the same thing that I do, except that while I take care of room blocks for events at one hotel, she coordinates the citywide room blocks, where one large convention might have blocks of rooms at 5 to 10 hotels (or maybe more, I don’t know). I’m not up to that level of awesomeness, but with enough practice, I think I could handle what she’s doing one day. More than that, I think I’d really enjoy it.

After work, I went to work out at the gym. I didn’t make it there in the morning as planned, though it’s not a huge surprise. After I’d finished working out, I ran into my friend Theo, and we planned to maybe meet up tomorrow afternoon. So that’s nice. Low probability of gym in the morning, but nearly definite probability of afternoon gym time, so I’ll take it!

Not much after that. I meant to go to a community kirtan class at my yoga studio, but I got excited about going a little earlier in the day when I thought some friends might go with me, then when I found out they wouldn’t be able to make it, I got a little sad and decided to stay home. Which makes absolutely no sense, yes, I know. I skipped doing a thing I love because I didn’t have anyone to share it with (except every other person in the damn class). But there’s no reason to be down on myself for any longer than I have been. I ate a really nice shrimp caesar salad, watched the aforementioned movie, and am now about to hit the hay with the intention of getting at least 7, maybe even 8 hours of sleep. Heavenly.

Oh yeah, I forgot the most important part. My anxiety has been seriously down. I’m feeling even-keeled. To be fair, I have been living in my fantasy world again pretty heavily for the last few days, and making all these future plans willy nilly. But if I’m not feeling like I might implode at any moment during the day, I’ll trade it out for a little dreaminess for awhile, and keep making little steps in the right direction. Still need to find a therapist, but I’m having trouble figuring out how to pay for it. Maybe if I can watch what I’m eating, I’ll find that my food bills are much less, and will carve the way for me to pay for therapy. Who knows.

 

 

Lent (Terms & Conditions)

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This is just how it is. That’s important for me to note. I am an optimist, and I believe that we are constantly evolving, changing, shifting our perspectives and thus, our realities. However, it’s key for me, at this junction, to realize that I have been fighting a losing battle against an immovable foe, and have finally tired out enough to realize that I haven’t budged an inch in all the struggle. I have been fighting for the wrong thing(s), yet again. And in coming to this realization, I also find that I’m not new to this knowledge, or rather, that the knowledge is not new to me. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing, over and over, and expecting different results, go ahead and ship me out to the bin. I am not coming back from myself.

The other day, I was reading this comment on an online forum for ex-Fundamentalist Christians in various stages of deconstruction. The original poster was discussing how problematic it was for white, middle class, Christians to tell people from different backgrounds to stop expressing their fears, because “God loves you and all you need is to go to church more.” I don’t want to make this a political post, so I won’t explain more than this, just that the comments under the original post broke the sentiment down and explained it in various ways, some people agreeing that it was at best short-sighted, and at most classist and racist, while other people tried to explain that with God at your back, fear is pointless, blah, blah, blah. I refrained from sharing my perspective, because I intuited from the overall tone of the comments section that I wouldn’t be understood properly.

But here’s what I think about it: we are all going to die, fear or not. This is not a dark thing, or a pessimistic thing, or a sad thing. It’s just the truth. You are going to die. There’s no way around it. Repeat after me: I am dying right now, and will be dead soon. (Whether by bus tomorrow afternoon, or in sleep 50 years from now, the individual human timeline is a minuscule thing.) With nothingness on the imminent horizon, why waste any time on fear? Physically speaking, after that first jolt that gets you moving, fear is pretty pointless. Overall, it’s an impediment. Long term exposure can be quite harmful – just ask anyone with an anxiety disorder. If you want to fight, fight. If you want to seek pleasure, seek it. Your life is your own, your death is inevitable, and it is not my place to tell you that you’re an asshole. Why would you believe it, if you can’t see it already? When we die, we are gone. There’s no heaven, or hell, or great beyond. At best we are energy that gets recycled. We are worm motels, and if we’re lucky, there will still be trees left to nourish when we’re done making a terrible mess of this beautiful place.

So with my impending death and the pointlessness of fear laid out before me, I am changing my tactics. I have come to terms with the fact that I’ve been going about this all wrong, and I’m not too proud to admit that it’s time to change.

I am sick. A couple of years ago, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Like an idiot, once I started feeling better, I stopped taking medication. For awhile it was OK, but now it’s not. And it’s been “not” for far too long now. My thoughts are scattered. I have trouble finishing projects (which is nothing new, but worse now). I work myself into a knot just thinking about the wording I will eventually use to write about specific things, then eventually just avoid writing about them, altogether. I am nearly incapable of holding down a conversation in person, and my fear of public gatherings manifests in such a way that I appear aloof, annoyed, and impatient. On the good days, when I can force myself to go out in the first place, I end up just having a panic attack and shaking in silence in the darkest corner I can find. At least then I just look like someone who’s having a bad day, rather than someone who wants to burn down the building with everyone inside it. While I was scared of not fitting in as a younger person, now that I’m in my 30s, it’s come to pass that I never did find a way to fit in, and now I’m sick, so the awkwardness is also wearing a layer of anxious, bad-tempered energy anytime I’m put into a position where I have to interact with people I don’t know that well. I eat and drink to tamp down some of the fear and unease, and frequently find myself eating pure junk in large quantities, knowing that I don’t want it, but doing it anyway as a form of self-punishment.

While most of the symptoms of this have been disagreeable, there are some small positives. The largest of these is that while I have lost the things that used to tether me (music, sensuality, costumes, fantasy stories), I have traded out my appreciation for these things for a new appreciation in being completely untethered. I am wandering. I don’t know who I am or what I am doing here. I have a feeling like I’m walking between rain drops, like I can see more of the world because the world has forgotten how to see me. It does hurt a little, but it is more like a memory of pain than the pain itself. Though my connection with humans is tenuous, at best, I have learned that I feel a deep, energetic connection to animals and the earth. I have also begun to see how very few people actually matter to me, which gives me the ability to wonder why it is that humans feel a need to be loved by many, when they can actually only reciprocate appropriately for relatively few. Why, for instance, pretend that I care about the people with whom I went to high school? We don’t share any of the same goals, other than continuing to breathe. Which reminds me that I need to find someone else to take over the 20-year reunion. Let them eat Rotary Club meatloaf and share photos of their children on someone else’s time. I think I’ll go to Italy that weekend.

Anyway, as you can see by now, I’m stuck. I can’t really see a way out of this particular cycle, so instead of treating the symptoms, it’s time to go to the root. It’s time to take out the anxiety, itself. After that, we’ll rebuild.

Step one is to go on a break from social media for Lent. I really only use Facebook and Instagram, but I use them both to get that dose of dopamine when someone likes, shares, comments, or reposts. I took Facebook off of my phone today, and will deactivate my account on March 1st. I’m still thinking about Instagram, but I’ll probably remove it from my phone in the end, as well. I never actually look at my Twitter accounts, but this is a great excuse to deactivate all but the Compass & Quill account (which I only use to repost blog posts, so I’ll just continue not checking it).

Step two is to get serious about finding a new psychiatrist and therapist, and getting back into treatment. I’ve looked around on my new health insurance page a few times, but they make it so convoluted that I always end up getting confused and giving up. I think I’ll just call customer service and ask for help during a lunch break next week.

Step three is to get physical and get sleep. Those are two things, but they work together. Physical activity is proven to help with symptoms of anxiety and depression, and they will also help address my weight issues, which will also, in turn, help the anxiety. I have been having a lot of trouble getting in my 8 hours of sleep a night, but I think if I’m properly worn out from working out, it will help me climb into bed earlier every night.

Step four is to cut out sugar, dairy, and caffeine. They’re all highly addictive, and are all playing an unhealthy part in my life. I always reach for one of the three when I’m uncomfortable – and I’m always uncomfortable. So I’ll just take a break, even if it’s only for 40 days.

Step five is to finish something. So I’m aiming to finish writing all of my Camino posts by Thursday, April 13th.

What am I looking for? So many things. That’s a whole new post, at some later date. For now it’s time to get out of the coffee shop and home to my cats. Isabel’s going to be very happy about her favorite heating pad’s resolution to spend more time in bed.

Whole30 Round 1 Results

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July was a pretty busy month for me, emotionally. I made the decision in late June to put 100% of my energy into changing the way I eat, for good, using Whole30 as my template for kicking things off. This isn’t a post about how awesome the Whole30 is, how it works, or what it can do for you. There’s already a ton of information online about the program, including a great website with all the information you need to undertake the challenge for yourselves. I bought the cookbook, as well, but honestly found that the Whole30 website gave me everything I required to make some serious life changes, and all for free.

The program is 30 days long, and I’ve found that the easiest way to explain it to folks is that it’s paleo’s badass older sister. For 30 days, you make a deal with yourself to kick everything out of your diet that could cause inflammation, encourage overeating, or just not be all that good for helping your body work at its top capacity. This includes alcohol, all sweeteners of any kind (yes, even honey and stevia), grains, dairy, corn, soy, and a host of artificial flavors, colors, preservatives – basically, if it comes in a package and the label has more than a couple of ingredients, you probably can’t eat it. In fact, it’s easiest to just avoid processed and packaged food altogether. The program also advises against snacking and replacing “bad” items with “good” versions – you know how you went paleo and quickly figured out how to make those “healthy” paleo pancakes and muffins? Yup, none of that allowed.

I have a long, sordid history of eating my feelings. If I get bored, angry, happy, sad, pensive, (insert emotion here), I will treat myself to food. If I’m with others, I’ll treat myself to a regularly-sized meal. If I’m alone, I’m prone to eating whole pizzas, buckets of wings, two Big Mac meals, whatever it takes to drown out the feelings for a little while. It’s been an issue since I was a child, but I was pretty good at keeping it under wraps for most of my life. I’m just now getting to the point where I’m willing to take ownership, talk with a therapist, and start making active changes to the way I process what’s happening to me in order to eat what I’d like, but in moderation.

Though I did hope to lose weight on the Whole30 program, my biggest hope was to give my body a break, time to cut out the cravings so I could hear my emotions more clearly and find ways to soothe myself without food or alcohol. My second biggest desire with this program was to kickstart a health change that will snowball as I get closer to my 35th birthday in November. I’ve got some crazy big birthday plans to hike the Grand Canyon and go horseback riding in Monument Valley, and I didn’t want my weight to get in the way of either of those things (especially didn’t want to end up hurting a horse – what kind of jerk wants to do that?). I’m aiming to be back at college weight AND feeling strong and vital come November. Thanks to this program, I think I’m on track for all of my goals.

The biggest surprise to me on this program was that it really wasn’t that difficult. I didn’t have any strong cravings for junk food until around Day 28, and I was able to easily overcome them. I did have some crazy weird food dreams around halfway through (one dream that I was eating garbage bags full of gooey, delicious chocolate croissants, and another dream that I owned a 24-hour brunch spot and had to taste test all the new dishes).

I did start cooking more, and doing meal prep, and though I’ve kept a pretty simple diet on rotation, I’ve gotten a lot better at the things I make, and am ready to start expanding my repertoire a bit. So far I make a pretty mean batch of slow cooker cabbage rolls, and though I hated the last carnitas recipe I tried, I’m ready to give it another go. I also found out that my “allergy” to garlic, something that had plagued me for years any time I had a drop of the stuff anywhere near my food, has suddenly disappeared. I can only think that I don’t do well with garlic when it’s combined with grains or dairy in my meal. Since I can eat it now (and really like it), I’m learning how to cook with it, finally. Made some simple and delicious baked green beans and garlic the other night, in fact.

Many people report that chronic aches and pains tend to go away during the Whole30, since ditching inflammatory foods gives your body time to heal. I’ve suffered from Achilles tendonitis in my right leg for a couple of years now, and it went away by the second week. I also went off of birth control medication about four months ago, and was just starting to see some acne show up just before I went on the Whole30, which is the biggest issue for me in not being on the pill. I generally get really nasty hormonal acne on my neck, chin, and chest, and the only thing that can make it go away again is taking the pill again, which really sucks since the medication makes me feel terrible, otherwise (but I’m so vain, and I do love my clear skin). I’d just gotten my first painful zit, and was steeling myself for more, but it’s been a month now and my skin looks great. I’m chalking that up to my hormones not dealing well with something I was eating. We’ll figure that out at a later date; for now, I will gladly accept the clear skin.

Many people do a program like this and combine it with exercise for best results. For me, this has always been about making a permanent change in my relationship to food, so I didn’t want to make too many changes at once. I wanted to get this to stick, then eventually work into getting more physical again. So no heavy exercise, just biking and walking to work, like usual.

The end result is that I lost almost 11 pounds and quite a few inches (see below), didn’t drink for a month and didn’t miss it, and was able to start rationalizing my way through any occasion where I’d feel like bingeing on unhealthy food. I took the day off on July 31st to eat pizza and ice cream (definitely not part of the plan, but I’m not going to down myself over it), and started Round 2 on August 1st, with a plan to wrap up on August 30th. I’m not completely sure of what I’ll do after this month is up. Since I’ve been eating very well and feeling good this entire time, and not feeling too put out, I’m guessing I’m going to stay Whole30/paleo 99% of the time, and then have a treat every now and then if I feel like it. I might also do what I did this month, and be really strict for 30 days, have one day to eat whatever I please, then back on the wagon again. We’ll see what feels right when I get there. I’m not gonna get too worked up over it just yet.

Here’s what I lost this month. I’ll keep you up to date once Round 2 is over; hoping that with added exercise, I can do as well as I did on the first round.

Start – July 1st, 2016

  • Weight – 193.6 lbs.
  • Waist – 35″
  • Lower Stomach – 44″
  • Hips – 47″
  • Chest – 39″
  • Arm – 16″
  • Thigh – 29″

End – July 30th, 2016

  • Weight – 182.8 lbs. (Loss = 10.8 lbs.)
  • Waist – 33″ (Loss = 2″)
  • Lower Stomach – 42″ (Loss = 2″)
  • Hips – 44.5″ (Loss = 2.5″)
  • Chest – 35″ (Loss = 4″)
  • Arm – 14.5″ (Loss = 1.5″)
  • Thigh – 27.5″ (Loss = 1.5″)

Total Weight Lost – 10.8 lbs.

Total Inches Lost – 13.5″

Scrambled

Life’s kind of crazy at the moment. I keep thinking I’ll get on here and write a proper update, share some photos, talk about important things, but then I have a million and one things to get done IRL and never seem to make it back to the blog. I’d apologize, but I’m trying hard not to say “sorry” for being myself and living my life. I trust I’m not hurting you by being away; hope you’ve been having your own adventures, too!

I started a new job a few weeks ago, and am now working 40 hours a week as a front desk agent at two local boutique hotels. It’s not something I ever planned on doing, though I had mulled over being a concierge at one point. But funds were getting low, and one night as I looked through the New Orleans job listings yet again, one posting jumped out at me. The poster said that he was looking for “misfits” to join his team. My heart said “pick me!” I applied immediately, went in for an interview two days later, and got the job on the spot. Best of all, I LOVE it. It’s all the good parts of waiting tables, with very little of the bad. My job is all about making people happy while they’re on vacation, and since I love to travel and know what makes ME happy when I’m staying somewhere new, it’s all pretty intuitive. So far, people seem to be digging me, too. I’m really looking forward to getting better at the job and moving into a more confident role as a concierge/front desk agent/all around travel enhancer.

Besides that, I’m still working as a freelance marketer, though at the moment I’m mostly just doing proofreading and copyediting, which suits me just fine. I’m also back in school again, this time for a Copyediting Certificate at UCSD. I got an A- in my first class, Grammar, and am currently taking Copyediting I. My goal is to eventually transition into having my own copyediting agency. I love that it’s something I can easily do on the side while I’m at my hotel job. Nothing like making money at two places at once! Especially when you love both jobs 🙂

Let’s see, what else should I fill you in on? Oh yeah, I started selling Jamberry nail wraps. Actually haven’t kicked off my sales career just yet, but I signed up as a consultant. I love wearing them, and figured it couldn’t hurt to get a 30% discount on my own wraps while making a small commission on other orders. They’re so cute and easy to use, and I’ve been having a lot of fun playing with crazy patterns.

The only other bit of news is that I’m going pescatarian again, and maybe eventually back to vegetarian. I just can’t be trusted to eat meat without going overboard and eating an entire pizza or multiple Big Macs at a time. I’ll be turning 35 in November, and my biggest birthday wish is to get back to a healthy weight, seconded by wanting to have a healthy, young-looking complexion. People can never believe that I’m as old as I am, but I really want to keep that up for as long as possible. More water, more veggies, and paying plenty of attention to getting the right nutrients will take me very far. After I’ve got my food under control, I’ll add in daily yoga and running. But for now I’m just focusing on not calling Domino’s.

Haven’t gotten my hair dyed yet, but will update you once I get my next paycheck. Gonna get my hair fixed and buy a couple of cute work outfits – yay!