Settled in Tucson

I arrived last night and settled in fairly quickly.  A staff member picked me up from the airport and we laughed the entire way back to campus. Is that what it’s called, campus? I don’t know.  Here’s a picture of me in my yurt:

Yurt living!

Yurt living!

You may not know this, but living in a yurt is on my list of things to do before I die. YEEESS!

It’s day one and and I’m just entering the Honeymoon phase, but I’m in love. The heat. The creatures. The yurts. The people. Everything.

I fell asleep at 9:30 last evening and awoke at 6:00 this morning and went for a run.  If you’ve been reading my previous entries you’ll know I hate to run. Tucson’s elevation is at 2,643 above sea level, whereas Pennsylvania is at 446′. My lungs felt the difference. I probably jogged for 1.5 miles and was like “Alright, that’s enough for today, folks!” and went back home. Ate gluten-free oatmeal sweetened with molasses and some shared watermelon and now I’m here sitting on my bed in front of two fans.  It’s 79 degrees, but it feels like a gajillion.

I’m happy though.

The one thing missing is my dog. There are 4 dogs on campus and though the weather would torture Garvey, and his hair would quickly become home to sharp objects, he would love it.  I miss him.  My next move has to include him. Wherever that maybe, he’s got to be alongside me.

My favorite pic of us.

My favorite pic of us.

10 things that have changed since going gluten and dairy-free

I hate running.

Making muscles on the back porch

Making muscles on the back porch

This afternoon I went for a run and didn’t hate it.  In fact, I liked it.  I ran longer and faster than I have in double-digit years.  As I made my way past tomato stands and cornfields in rural Pennsylvania I couldn’t help but attribute it to my recent elimination diet and resulting gluten and dairy-free lifestyle.

When I first approached my doctor with the idea of being gluten intolerant 4 years ago  she scoffed, said it was just a fad, and waved off my question. At that point, I was less direct and didn’t pursue it further.  Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, I’ve changed and she’s no longer my doctor.  My history with food is pretty busted. I’ve written about it at length here, see Related Posts below for more. After feeling off my game for years, I decided to try a gluten-free elimination diet/cleanse of sorts. I’m in love with Rebecca Wood’s, revamped, book, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia. It’s not a diet book. It’s not a cure-all. It’s information.  I’m in love with information and I want it to be my baby daddy.  The book is just what it calls itself, an encyclopedia about whole foods. Not the over-priced market, Whole Foods but the plants that grow out of the ground you’re supposed to eat.  I learned all about new plants and even picked up a few recipes.  I was able to find any ingredient I needed at my local co-op.  Look for one in your city. They’re worth it.  My life has changed since going gluten and dairy free. Here’s how.

  1. Energy: I’m anemic, I have Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD), Polycystic Ovaries, Lactose Intolerance, I have allergies that rival Bubble Boy’s, and I’m an educator starting 3 companies simultaneously.  My body is put through its paces regularly.  I assumed that all those issues were the reason I was so tired. Cutting out gluten and dairy reset my body to “normal” and I’m no longer fighting “the itis” or ethnic fatigue.  I feel like my body came back to me.
  2. Waist size: 3 or more inches have disappeared from my waist. It might be weight loss, but I think it’s bloat. Probably both. I was constantly gassy and bloated. My clothes rarely felt comfortable and I  never felt completely empty even if I was famished.  My midsection is notably smaller.  I’ve also stopped farting like a frat boy after drinking PBR.
  3. No joint pain: After I stopped skating derby I started seeing a physical therapist.  My hip was hurting and my ankle quickly followed.  She gave me exercises and the pain started to go away.  I attributed it to the exercises, but I noticed that the pains came back after I’d been “glutened.” My joint pain has disappeared. It doesn’t hurt to move.
  4. No more insomnia:  I have a history of my body hating me.  That would manifest itself in the form of 3am wake ups after midnight fall asleeps. That’s no longer the case. I often arise with the sun if I’ve gone to bed at a decent hour.  More importantly, I sleep for 7-8 hours regularly and awake feeling refreshed and excited to get my day started.
  5. Wheezing: I was diagnosed with exercise induced asthma a few years ago. I attributed it to being out of shape. My Ear Nose and Throat Doctor said it was asthma and prescribed an inhaler.  I filled the prescription once and then never again.  If my breathing became labored I would just stop the exercise until my lungs stopped punching me in the chest.  Since cutting out gluten and dairy I can run for at least 1-2 miles without encountering labored breathing. Even then, there’s no mucous, and I don’t end up bent over fighting for air.  It’s nice.
  6. Weight loss: Of course. It just seems like a natural progression. If one cuts out breads and cheeses (the only meat I eat is fish) they’re bound to lose weight.
  7. Uncontrollable Cravings: My current doctor (and physician soulmate) prescribed (or rather suggested) I start taking digestive enzymes after I told her how I CRAVED sweets and bread.  I don’t mean, “Oh, I could go for a piece of chocolate.” I mean I’d be sitting in my apartment feel the craving and somehow find myself teleported to Safeway with a basket full of Spicy Nacho Doritos, sugary drinks, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, Snickers, and whatever else I stumbled upon. It was bad, folks.  I took the enzymes for awhile.  I’ve since stopped.  The cravings have also stopped. Also things taste different. Processed food has started tasting…well…gross.
  8. No itchy Skin: For the longest time I thought I had lice. It felt like there were flies on random parts of my body.  This might be a result of my recent trip to Morocco where there were literally flies on me all the time, but I doubt it. The itch has gone away and I’m grateful.
  9. Mood swings: I’m pretty even-keeled at this point. Granted, I’m not as stressed as I was previously.  Well, at least I’m not stressed in the same way.  My grandfather is still dying. I’m a new entrepreneur. My salary technically makes me impoverished. I’m writing and acting in a one-woman play that goes up in 8 months. But I’m not snapping at people. My emotions aren’t all over the place.  I feel like….a person.  I’m different.
  10. Pooping:  It used to be weird. Now it’s not. I’ll leave it at that. 🙂

This is not a post to convince you that you should eliminate gluten or dairy.  If I could go back I would jump buck naked into that pool with the quickness.  I can’t though. My body has been sending me messages for years. Things like poverty, lack of knowledge, and plain ol’ stubbornness have preventing me from hearing them.  I’m walking away from this experience feeling like I have more control over my health than I previously believed.  That’s what I’d like you to take away from this experience.  Your have more control over your well-being than you think.

Related Posts:

Emotional Eating

Body Image

Fasting and Babysitting Leads to Reconciliation

Pooping

Sugar Cravings in an Athletic Woman

Emotional Eating

Kale salad

I have this thing with food. I’ve talked about it at length in other blog posts like here and here.  It’s a process.  I’m back in Georgia and I’m stressed.  As I’m typing this my grandfather is taking a shower and I’m sitting outside the bathroom door as a precaution.  He’s already had 2 or 3 near falls this morning. Luckily I was there to catch him.  What do I mean by near falls?  His breathing becomes labored. His eyes roll to the back of his head. His body becomes rigid. His spirit goes away. When these “spells” occur, he has no control and will often fall or clutch the nearest object with the death grip to win all death grips.  Two or three times I was there. Once I wasn’t.

I heard something that sounded like marbles against a wall from the other room. I walked into his bedroom found him in the closet in an awkward diagonal with his head against the wall, stomach on boxes, and feet on the floor. I put him in the rescue position on the floor of the closet and put his head on a pillow.  He resisted told me he wanted to “bade” (take a bath).  I responded that I wanted him to stay there for a few minutes because he’d just hit his head.  He argued that he hadn’t and that he was fine.

He wasn’t fine.

It’s always difficult when I find my grandad after he has fallen.  The last big fall he had left him bloody and covered in his own urine.  Afterwards, I craved Cheetos. It was immediate. Once the adrenaline settled the craving took its place.  That time, I ate them. This time, I did not.

I’m on day 6 of a 21-day gluten-free elimination test.  I craved Cheetos last night and refrained from eating them. After his fall this morning, the craving returned and I refrained from eating them again.

I continue to be amazed at how connected I am — at a chemical level– to food. The events of this morning have renewed my sadness and reminded me that he is going to die.  I will have no grandparents left. I will no longer be tethered to this family that hurts. At least not tethered through obligation merely bloodline.  As I continue to explore my odd position in this family and the oddities of this family I can’t help but wonder what will happen to me when his life goes away.

The reluctant gluten-free vegetarian

Alright y’all, I’m LOSING it.  Its 5am I haven’t been to sleep all night because I was up watching, “Orange is the New Black” on Netflix (bomb), painting, and “cleaning.”  My stomach is rumbling and my head hurts. My hips and ankles are sore and I keep clenching my teeth even though I basically shattered a molar two months ago.  Being in Morocco was an exercise in controlled starvation.  Let’s just say there were a lot of potatoes and white bread involved.  I will not deny the presence of Pringles as well.  When I returned to the States I craved vegetables.  That’s all I wanted to eat. Veggies. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. I regained some of the weight I’d lost, but I felt better.

I’ve never wanted to be vegan. If that were a choice I had to make it would be for health reasons and not ethical ones. I’m lactose intolerant. I rarely eat meat.  When I do, it’s seafood. Now I think I may have a problem with gluten.  Seriously?! This is getting ridiculous. There has to be something behind my joint pain, stomach cramps, weird cravings, head aches, and SERIOUS allergies.  That’s why I’m eliminating gluten, dairy, and meat. I will still e eating eggs. They’re not actually dairy, just an animal byproduct.

I’ve been thinking about going gluten-free since 2009.  A co-worker of mine and his family were gluten-free and pretty much had me convinced to do it then. I didn’t.  So when I came back from Morocco, I figured this was as good a time as any.  My stomach was basically empty anyway.  I’m also planning to do a juice fast a la “Fat Sick and Nearly Dead,” but first things first.  It doesn’t feel right starve my body of basic nutrients by being in a veggie dessert for a month to then fast on only fresh squeezed juice for 60 days.  So I’d like to balance my system by going on a 21-day gluten-free elimination diet. If that goes well and answers some questions then I probably won’t fast for 2 months. I’ll still fast though.  Fasting clears my head and centers my spirit.  Plus, I think it will help me address some of the questions I have about food related allergies.  It will also allow me to get a better result from introducing and eliminating problematic foods. I just want to feel better.

While visiting a friend in Oregon I went shopping for the basic grains and goodies at Trillium Natural Grocer in Lincoln City, Oregon.  There aren’t any food co ops near my home in Georgia so my friend suggested I mail things home.  I did.  That shopping trip cost me $200+. Mailing the package cost another $69.  I know. I know! I got excited. Bulk food shopping is a spiritual experience for me.  I bought enough short grain brown rice (it’s the business, y’all!) to last me for like 6 months.  I bought a bunch of quinoa as well.  Copious amounts. In the end I felt good about my purchases.  Quinoa here in the suburbs of Atlanta is about $6.79 a pound and I think I paid $3 -$4 at Trillium.  In Seattle, I’ve paid as little as $1.79 for a pound so nothing beats those prices.  As I type that I feel IMMENSELY guilty about how the surge of interest in foods like quinoa in the United States is making it nearly impossible for residents of small towns where the quinoa is sourced to afford this common food. And still I buy it.

Overall, I’ve set myself up for a successful gluten-free journey.  In my package I included gluten-free flours, mixes, and oats as well as other grains.  I had to grab some groceries when I got here so I’d have something to eat while waiting for my food bundle of joy to arrive from Oregon. I wanted to try new grains and I’ve never eaten barley so I got excited and bought some. Weeellllll, for those of you that know anything about gluten, barley is NOT gluten-free. It’s like the epitome of gluten.  Soooo, I’ve been super gassy and my stomach has been bloated and crampy for the past 48 hours.  Whoops. Experience is the name we give our mistakes, right?

My package should get here on Tuesday and in the meantime I’ll be eating gluten-free by cooking with veggies, nuts, fruit and whatever else I can find.  If you have any suggestions or similar experiences I’d love to hear them. I need some serious help, family!

Sala Kakuhle!

It’s 6:56am PST. I’m sitting in the home of a dear friend in Seattle.  There are quite a few of items on my yet to be created to do list and I’m feeling fine.  I mean, I was feeling totally fine until I typed that sentence.  For the most part, however, I’m neutral.  Yes, I’m about to travel with a group of students to a country I’ve never been and where I barely speak the languages.  That will be stressful at times, but right now, it’s not happening, so why be stressed?

Leaving my students on Friday was sad because I’ve grown to care for them already.  There are a few that I hope change drastically, and the rest I know will change drastically.  At their core, they’re sweet and caring young people and I’m proud to be on this journey with them.  I just hope I can take care of myself in the midst of taking care of them.

Well, this is it. Le Maroc here I come!

Facilitation

It is important for me to remark that this exhaustion is not one as a result of negative leanings, but one of lying supine after beneficial toil… after engaging in conversations so powerful they have their own area code that doesn’t include numbers but heart and emotion and all of the things that leave people raw.  They’re located in that part of state that’s difficult to access, but worth the endeavor and scary to embrace.

I worked with a group of educators today and was amazed.  Though I set myself on the path to do one thing the day turned into another.  Why am I still surprised that student centered learning will derail what you set out to do in the best ways? I was taught today. I’m working for myself and knew that I would learn, but today, I Learned with a capital “l”.  I want to, and frankly must, remember that I should never position myself as the teacher. It is more powerful to facilitate than to teach.  Yes, there are moments with instruction must take place, but instruction is necessary in facilitation as well. There’s so much I have to learn and I’m going to enjoy cutting it up into bite sized pieces and chewing it slowly.

This is the work I want to do– engaging in conversations around marginalization and the outdoors. This is it — well, not “it” but it is a piece. Thank for those who welcome the work associated with justice.  We are a powerful collective. I’m privileged to be a participant in this endeavor.

 

Preparing for that which I cannot control

The possibility of taking a 23-day NOLS course this fall is the first thing to excite me in years.  I’m responsible for at least 50 visits to the NOLS website over the last few weeks.  I’m not really worried (maybe a little) about my mental capacity to handle the backpacking. I’ve hiked from 2-14 miles in a day in the past and handled it well. I’m used to spending time in the backcountry for long periods while covering long distances and tackling rolling terrain.  This is not to say that I’m under some foolish impression that any part of my NOLS course will be easy. It won’t be.  Many of the difficulties I may have I cannot prepare myself for.

What I can do is address the physical aspect to being on course.  I started jogging again when I was in Georgia and the weather was nice.  I tried to keep it up when I got to Chicago, but couldn’t. The temperatures aggravated my asthma and I was a complete shit show. I don’t have insurance so me going to the emergency room isn’t something I can afford.  So, I started with P90X again and get outside when I can.  Additionally, I started another fast. I’m on Day 4/Day 2 (depends on who you ask) and I feel great.  I’ve been moderately active and I haven’t been able to complete my P90X workouts. I also haven’t forced myself to, either.  This fast is about resetting my system and trying to reprogram old habits.

I have a pretty fucked up relationship with food at times.  Before you start thinking I eat 4 supersized meals and a small kitten for breakfast, that’s not the case.  I love vegetables and the cooking kale for breakfast is a common occurrence.  I was a vegetarian for almost a decade then I started adding fish to my diet.  In fact, I’m more vegetarian than pescetarian.  Soda is rarely my go to beverage and hasn’t been for about 2 years.  I make fresh juices with my juicer and drink homemade teas and lemonade flavored with stevia when I have a hankering for something sweet.  My problem isn’t often with food choices. Mostly it’s about quantity. When it isn’t about quantity it’s about choice in a big way. Go big or go home, right? *She shakes her head* I’ve used food as a coping mechanism for a long time. Probably ever since I was able to control what I ate which hasn’t been long. Let me explain.

My parents divorced when I was five and we didn’t have much. My mother did what she could, but I spent a lot of time feeling hungry.  She was from the islands and fed us the rural island version of cuisine.  Well, at least what was available here in the states. That was probably fine, but we were in America and when my brother and I hung out with friends, McDonald’s was a go to. She worked something like 4 jobs and we were left to our own devices often. We’d steal money from her coin jar and go to the baseball field, or corner store and buy candy until our faces exploded.  Fast forward six years and I was sent to a boarding school for financially needy and social orphans called Milton Hershey School (MHS). At The Milt, we had access to plenty of food, but I’ll be damned if it was good for us.  We’re talking Pennsylvania Dutch style cooking.  We ate casseroles, potatoes, cream chipped beef, bullseyes (the breakfast egg dish not the seeing orb of a bull), sugar coated french toast, and their nutritionally deficient cousins. Everything  came in the big box truck known as the meal bus.  Not only was the food for shit (props to the ladies in the Central Kitchen even though it was nutritional shit is was pretty tasty… those birthday cakes and cookies?! I still dream about those) it was also controlled by someone who wasn’t me. I did not grow up learning about the food around me. I just remember we had to set the tables with meat first, starch second, and then the vegetables.  Our portions were controlled. If we wanted more it was kinda a no go. If we wanted less, or none we couldn’t.  We had one “No Eat” food and that was it. Because my mom didn’t want me eating pork, that was my “No Eat” food. Everything else, I had to ingest.

That was middle school. High school was a bit different, but not much. The atmosphere of the school changed and we started shopping more often at the local Giant Food store.  Nonetheless, my education did not include food.

In college, I became a vegetarian.  I don’t remember when or why, I just did.  The cessation of meat consumption didn’t really, at least I don’t think, come with knowledge about healthy eating.  It wasn’t until I went to work for Milton Hershey School full-time at Springboard Academy that I began to teach myself about nutrition.  I’d began some studying in Chicago, but I made pennies and couldn’t afford healthy shit anyway.  When I got to Springboard I made enough money that I could live alone AND afford healthy food items.  Hell. Yes. When I learned about quinoa I damn near lost my shit. Stevia? Hell, that knowledge pretty much gave me an aneurysm. Even then, I was in a SUPER toxic relationship with someone who had CF.  You may not know, but people with CF need to consume large amounts of fat.  People with ADPKD like I have don’t. So with this toxic relationship not only was I not strong enough to set healthy boundaries for myself, the person I was with had the exact opposite dietary needs as I had.

Moving to Seattle is what did it for me. I was working as an Outdoor Educator and physical activity was my life.  When I started with Seattle Public Schools, I had enough money, again, to afford the food we all deserve.  My apartment was across the street from a Jewel Osco, and few blocks from Trader Joe’s, and the Central Co-o: Madison Market — my favorite place in Seattle. I spent so much time at the co-op learning about vegetables, buying fresh breads and cheeses, selecting kombucha, and focusing on my overall well-being. This was two years ago. I’m twenty-nine years old and my healthy relationship with food and nutrition just started. I’m still a baby.

My hope is that my fast will tune my brain and my heart to the key of my stomach. I don’t want to eat when I’m not hungry. I want to remember what hunger feels like and associate that with goodness. Like it’s a message from my body that reads,

Hey, thanks so much for that last meal. We’ve sent it on to do great things and are looking forward to more. ”

Instead of,

Holy shit we’re hungry. We’re hungry. Fuck, when’re we going to eat again? Are we going to eat again? Who remembers how to make biscuits?! Flour’s cheap. We can use water instead of milk. That’ll keep us from dying, right?! Right?!

Two very different messages. I’m tired of teaching my body that panic is a good way to approach meeting its needs.

This NOLS course will test me physically, mentally, emotionally, and professionally. I’m worried about meeting my cohort and being the only  Brown person. Worse yet, would be finding out I’m the only Brown person with no White allies.  My standard for interacting with Whiteness is pretty concrete. I’m not going to sacrifice my wellness because of ignorance. I will not allow someone to learn off of my back. My story is not a novelty it’s my life. I don’t know how I can/would/should respond to racist shit that occurs Outside in this situation.  Actually, I don’t want to deal with it all I just want to fucking play outside because it’s my favorite thing to do.

What I can do is prepare (as much as possible) my body for the physical challenges that are certain. Cause NOLS is hard, y’all. I can sharpen my mind and clear out space for frequent visits. Other than that, I can only rely on the me that’s been alive this long and has not gone to prison for reacting to hate — purposeful, or accidental.

Fasting and babysitting leads to reconciliation

Oy. My head hurts, and my lips are dry. My nose is stuffy, but that’s annoyingly usual. My shoulders are sore and I feel like there’s a cat litter box on my tongue.  There’s a lot going on.

I went to the Zoo with Magoo aka Goober aka Goo, today.  It was nice to be around her in this way.  I was her only option for safety and she clung to me just as her parents said she would.  We had to fake her out though.  Before we left we pretended like Daddy had to go to work, Mommy had to leave, and Grandpa was going to the doctor. She said her goodbyes and everyone bolted to corners of the house, except for me. Heh Heh Heh. We walked down the block and she held my hand. A two-year old’s hand is really fucking small bee tee dubs.

We still have our issues, but it was a good day.  We took the bus, which she loves, and she fell asleep. The little White girl and adult Black woman in public is an eye catching dynamic to say the least.  There will probably be a post about that later.  I carried her from the bus stop to the zoo and the wonderment commenced. That little lady fuckin loves animals.  Like lost her shit with excitement and loves all animate objects not human.

I was nervous about spending the day with her because she cries as soon as I hold her. It’s kinda like I’m the plumber and she’s the drain. Her pores and ducts let loose when I’m around then I look like I’ve kidnapped a small child. Her grandpa joked that he was going to put out an Amber Alert as soon as I left the house, the bastard. I laughed, but was totally willing to chop him in the throat

We met up with my friends who were in town and their two kids. I go way back with those little munchkins. Like since before fertilization back.  I almost delayed moving to Seattle so I could see the youngest be born.  We’re close.  Having the opportunity to hug and love on those little buggers filled up a part of me I didn’t know was empty. Hopefully I’ll get to hangout with them tomorrow.

I sat down with the intention to create a post about this fast I’m on.  It’s the second day and I’m kinda feeling it as I mentioned in the first paragraph. Instead, I talked about the children in my life.  Huh. Maybe I just needed to get that out. In my early twenties there came a point when I wanted children of my own. My biological clock stood in place of my heart and I felt like I would expire if I didn’t procreate.  Being around my Friends With Kids (great movie) over the last 4 years has changed my mind. I love kids — not all of them by any means– but I’m not sure I want to expel any from my vaginal cavity.

My excitement comes from reading the course syllabus for my PhD program. My heart palpitates at the thought of traveling the world. I salivate thinking about sleeping in my car in the dead of winter while driving cross-country for the seventh time.  When I think about dating or having children the part of my heart dedicated to dreams and passion shrinks like a flaccid penis.  I’m not there anymore.  My ADPKD is supposed to flare up when I’m about 37. Dialysis will begin shortly thereafter.  It’s not wise for my body to endure dialysis and pregnancy separately let alone simultaneously.  The longer I wait to have kids the more likely it will be that I shouldn’t.

Perhaps all of this is my body, my heart, and my mind reconciling that I’ll always be,  “Auntie Jéhan.” If it’s not, and I feel that yearning again I have no qualms about adoption. 🙂

Related Posts:

Detox

I am a Mouthbreather

Body Image

What to do about Magoo

Body Image

To say I have a problem with body image is to Mitt Romney might be a Republican.  My struggle with weight has existed since college.  While many put on freshman 15, I put on freshman 40 (+/-).  My face puffed and my calves, which are usually fat free expanded with cellulite as well. I have a pictures where my potbelly looks like I’m 6 months pregnant.  It’s been a struggle. Often a struggle of which I was unaware, but a struggle nonetheless.  During my last Obgyn visit in 2010 my doctor told me I needed to lose 50lbs.  A few months ago I went to the emergency room with chest pains. At a follow-up visit the doctor told me I was strong, but I “needed to lose weight.”  I can pack on 20 lbs in a season without thinking about it.

Photo 326

After proofreading this post I wanted to take this down. I don’t like it, but I’m not going to remove it…for now.

One of the biggest issues that comes with these weight fluctuations is a skewed body image.  No matter how much I weigh,  when I look in the mirror I see that 6 months pregnant not actually pregnant 19 year old. This is a picture of my back a few months ago.  My bra is too small and back fat is spilling out the sides.  The thing is about 2 years ago this bra fit perfectly, and was, in fact, an eensy bit too big.

I don’t have a picture of of my back, but this is a random picture of me from that summer when I was at my most fit.  Photo 49

I spent the summer leading backpacking trips and had less than enough food to eat.  I remember cooking a red pepper with an onion, adding salsa, and putting it in a corn tortilla.  I couldn’t afford bus fare to and from work, so I’d bike the 10+ miles to and from the base each day I was in the front country.  Seattle ain’t flat. In the back country I’d carry a pack between 50 & 80 pounds (+/-) and hike 2-7 miles daily.  I was in great shape.

It is nearly impossible for me to maintain that level of fitness in the front country.  Fitness was my entire life. The problem with the off-season is that I was not burning the same amount of calories, I consumed relatively the same amount of calories if not more, and I wasn’t consuming the same quality of calories (Red Hot Blues vs. G.O.R.P.).  As a result, I needed to find a way to burn a large amount of calories + go to work and lead an urban life.  Not simple. I’m not a fan of pretend exercise. I don’t want to go to the gym. I’d rather hike 14 miles to get from one campsite to another. With the hiking it’s mandatory exercise. The gym is pretend.

I started roller derby in June of 2012. I skated about 3 times a week from June until August.  I was in a different kind of shape. Just look at my legs.  Here is a picture of me in July or August of 2012.

Photo 335

My rectus femoris (totally had to look that up) are AMAZING. My gracilis (again with the look up) are lacking.  I know you can’t “spot” burn fat, but that’s a place I would if I could. I’d like to accomplish a few things:

1. Reconcile what I look like in the mirror with what I see in pictures, and what is true in real life. There is a huge disconnect for me.

Photo 317

I had no idea my stomach looked like this until I took this picture and saw it. Even when I looked back at the mirror I couldn’t see myself as I was.

2. Develop an eating lifestyle that is not reward based and does not lend itself to stress or emotional eating

3. Understand that women are different. Websites like My Body Gallery are fantastic.  I don’t need to look like: Michonne.1.2  imagesimages-1images-2

No matter how much weight I lose I won’t be shaped like them.  My body is built to climb mountains not to grace the covers of magazines stocked on shelves in a society that oversexualizes women.  Their bodies are beautiful.  I just don’t need to make them the mile marker for my own.

Taken 3.20.2013

Taken 3.20.2013

Related blog entries:

Chest Pains – She is indeed Undone

Detox – Wearingmyblackness

Knock Kneed Mary – Wearingmyblackness

All images of copyright of their original owners. If you see your photo here and would like for it to be removed just let me know.

Cheers!

I am a mouthbreather.

Initially, I wrote this entry in mid January.

How I’m feeling right now is proof that we are as much in charge of our health as our doctors. It is my doctor’s job to correctly diagnose my ailments. It is my job to understand my body well enough so I can tell when it’s ailing.

For the first time in over 15 years I am breathing clearly. If you don’t know me in person you may judge the previous statement hyperbolic. It’s not.

When I was older than five and younger than ten I visited a friend’s house. This friend owned what I presume was an orange Tabby cat…kitten. I loved that little sucker. I played with it. I cuddled it. I held it up to my eyes and made eye contact love with it. That is until my under lids broke out in hives, TLC’s waterfalls opened up and my adorable little throat began to close. My mother was called I said “I think I’m allergic to cats” and we went home. This is my earliest recollection of allergy symptoms. Traditional allergy symptoms that is.

In high school I was sent to an Ear Nose and Throat doctor for a skin allergy test. If you’ve never had that done let me explain. A nurse walks into the room with several trays which contain vials. In those vials are allergens. Wouldn’t it be neat if those vials were like vaccines and exposure meant prevention? It doesn’t. Exposure means diagnosis. The patient is pricked on their forearms approximately 46 times. Each prick contains a different allergen. If allergic your body responds with a bit of a hive and some redness…usually. Some responses are much more severe. Of the 46 pricks I had hives and redness on 44. Doctors mentioned allergy shots, medicine, saline sprays, the works. I thought my problem was solved.

For next decade I lived trying different medications and living the life I assumed was intended for me. In the morning I’d blow my nose like a bugle boy for 20 minutes. This matinal horn blowing would persist throughout the day. Throughout my life. I can go through a box of tissues in 3 days… during one of my better weeks. Many of my friends, most of whom don’t know one another have boxes of tissues waiting for me when I come to visit. It’s like our little joke. My nose is always stuffy and runny.

On Tuesday one of my best friends wrote to me about juicing. It’s not abnormal for me to juice. I drink wonderful smoothies frequently. I bought a juicer a few months ago and it’s one of my favorite things. I thought it’d be neat if we did a juice fast together so I hopped on her juice train (that’s not a sexual thing is it?). I began my detox by eliminating most solid foods, drinking peppermint tea (which I do every day anyway), drinking water and taking some of the psyllium husk pills I made. It’s been difficult. My cravings have been pregnancy specific. “I want to eat an entire Panera Bread danish ring.” I haven’t succumb to those cravings though. Well, last night I had 4 dinner mints. For the most part I’ve been great. Mostly organic all plant-based fruits and veggies. As I’m writing this my head hurts a bit -I went without water for most of yesterday — my stomach is grumbling, but I feel bright.

I feel bright.

In Seattle the Sun is like crappy ex partner who comes around when they feel like it. I don’t think this feeling is attributed solely to the sun. In fact, I know it isn’t. I’ve been in Texas for almost 2 weeks and this is the first time I’m feeling this good. I’m obviously allergic to something I’ve been consuming. Disclaimer – I don’t eat like the average citizen of the United States. I eat mostly plant-based, whole grain, organic, local, homemade foods. I rarely eat meat when I do it’s shrimp or salmon whose origin I usually know. My dairy consumption consists of cheese, sour cream, and I don’t drink milk, but I do eat milk based yogurts, occasionally.

My body’s response to the lack of whatever that was, is astounding. If I remove it from my diet altogether I’ll be able to breathe through my nose. Say what? I’LL BE ABLE TO BREATHE THROUGH MY NOSE. Heeeeyyy! In the communities in which I spent the majority of my time holistic naturally based health is never mentioned. Yes, I said never. The thought that I’ve lived this long suffering as I have is saddening. Look at how much power I have over my own body and lifestyle. Eating differently has changed my life. If only more people in my favorite communities had access to this knowledge as well.

UPDATE:I regularly read Staying Healthy with Nutrition . There’s large section devoted to allergies. I read it this morning and thought, “Allergies are a bitch.” Between the random ass triggers of stress, overexposure to chemicals, overintake of refined foods, temperature extremes, and exposure to genetically modified foods no wonder this girl lives her life in tissue boxes and saline rinses.

I’m sad that it’s taken me this long to learn the severe impact allergies can have on your life. This knowledge, however came at the perfect time.

Detox

What is it about the night that makes me want to eat my boredom?  Makes me want to eat boredom, hunger, joy, loneliness, pain. With the night comes my inability to be satiated. Crawling through my intestine this monster reaches for my weakness and offers it strength. The strength to do that which makes me weak.  Consumed by my inability to control myself I often give in regrettably, immediately.  Full from follies far from significant I offer my regrets simultaneous with relief.  It’s good to consume without consequence.

Seemingly without.

Yet the results are always there. Each season with skimpier clothes attempting to hide a larger body I take note of my mistakes from colder days.  I acknowledge my habits and vow to do better. Not lying, my habits change with the season. Exercise. Food. Outlook.  All different. Yet, the same come the same months. Always the same. Exercise lessens. Motivation plummets. I expand.  Always with the expansion.

The middle of this season is not the same. Armed with different tools my behavior is different. Slightly. Enough.  The onslaught of these colder months has introduced itself to a different me. And so I fast.  I’ve become accustomed to routines that are better than before but not good enough for yet. This depletion of the nutrients in me is giving way to passage of the toxicity in me as well.  I will meditate, exercise, grow, and accept all which greets me as enter I into difference.