Diet Chronicles: Day 4. The Sarcasm Phase

Creative Commons via Haystaak Photography

Creative Commons via Haystaak Photography

If you haven’t had a chance to check out why I’m taking on this crazy food challenge, check out my most recent post here.

Healthy Lying

I have something to admit.  While all your very sweet support was pouring in two days ago, I was sitting in a friend’s house eating a homemade brownie covered in mascarpone whipped cream.  Because when your friend makes homemade brownies covered in mascarpone cheese, you take it.  Especially when there’s wine…and it’s snowing outside…and your football team is losing.  But I let go of the shame with the support of my other friends on the diet and we accepted that diets are not made to make you miserable.

Other than a little cheating last night, I am back in sugar detox-land.  It’s like I restarted the clock.  The exhaustion hasn’t turned up yet, but I feel like a bit of sarcastic shell of a human being.  Physically I feel fantastic,  I can stand up after eating without saying, “Uuuggh”….which probably should have been a red flag to begin with. But all in all, I eat a meal and that’s just that.  I don’t want to take a nap afterwards or sprint to our coffee maker in desperation.

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Maybe There Will Be…Green Beans? Diet Chronicles: Day 2

Creative Commons by Sonja Langford

Creative Commons by Sonja Langford

 

Hey team.  I’m in day two of sugar detoxing.  Things are a bit better than last night. I no longer feel like my stomach is trying to eat its other organ buddies and I don’t want to kick the cats as much.  I also went food shopping for some great options and don’t have to make it through the day on carrots and apples.  Let me back up a bit…

Why the heck am I dieting?

I have always been a little judgmental toward diet-fads, mainly because everyone’s body chemistry is so unique that lumping yourself into a specific food detox doesn’t seem healthy to me.  However, The Whole Life Challenge (and no, they aren’t paying me) is an 8- week challenge/game that several of my friends in the area have been playing on and off for the past year. You sign up, choose a “level” that is right for you, and tally your score each day.  This one appealed to me for several reasons:

  1. It’s well-rounded: In addition to diet, you are also encouraged to record your sleep, water intake, lifestyle habits (such as journaling) and exercise.
  2. There’s no body-shaming.  As well-intentioned as many of the programs out there may be, I can’t get behind a diet change that is motivated by fitting into a socially-imposed body standard.  I’d rather diet to fight the Man, opposed to looking “good” for one.
  3. It’s community-focused: Part of the app is about checking in with your fellow teammates each night.  Would I continue along the path without someone keeping track?  Maybe?  Or I may fall into a corner of the house with a container of peppermint patties and a handle of whiskey by week two.  Didn’t want to take my chances.
  4. And above all: it makes me give up all added sugar.  Judging by the fact that I have a blog titled after the emotional dependency on baked goods, I knew this would be hard for me.  I have always managed to remain relatively slim, but you wouldn’t know it from my diet and exercise habits.  It wasn’t until I started reading about the new research on belly-fat and sugar’s effects on the body that I started to reconsider my dependancy.  So above all, this isn’t about telling other people to change their ways, and no diets should be, but more about testing if I can actually give up something that I’m clearly addicted to in order to change my life-long health.

Sugar Detox…a little bit like the flu

They weren’t kidding friends.  Sugar detox is no joke.  I tried to ease into the sacrifice by slowly cutting it out last week but I usually gave in when it came to all the gluten-related products that I would eventually have to give up on the 16th.  This diet cuts out (among other things) added sugar, dairy, gluten, white potatoes, white rice, and all but one alcoholic drink a week.  A friend of mine on our team purchased a Das Boot for his one drink a week, which is amazing.

Anyway, the first thing I’ve discovered about processed sugar is that it’s in everything.  More specifically, everything I love.  So although yesterday was a struggle, since I didn’t prepare, shopping today was pretty awesome.  Here’s are some pros and cons so far of my sugar break up:

Pros:

  1. My grocery bill was less.  I didn’t grab the cookies I’m emotionally dependent on or the bags and bags and pasta I default to each evening I don’t feel like cooking a complicated dinner.  Also, no bread or cereal!
  2. I made a killer omelette.  I’ve been discovering combinations of food I would have normally covered up with mad amounts of cheese.  Oh yeah, this diet cuts out cheese.
  3. Since I partially started the sugar detox last week, I’m beginning to feel the benefits I’ve read about, such as craving healthy foods.  Also, things are starting to generally taste better- without covering them in syrup.
  4. I’m saving money all around.  No drinking means that I sit at the bar and have an iced tea.  I just assume bartenders around here think I’m pregnant.

Cons:

  1. I’m exhausted half the time.  I’m told this will pass in two days.  But sometimes people say things to me and it takes a few more seconds to process anything has been said.  So obviously, I’m super cool to be around.
  2. I kinda want to punch a wall.  I asked my husband yesterday if he ever just felt “dusty.”  He thought I was a little nuts. Generally, I feel antsy and uncomfortable.
  3. I’m always a little hungry.  Now don’t get me wrong, I have basically been eating non-stop since I started this.  I can’t seem to stop, and again, apparently this is normal.  Sugar activates your brain’s reward system, assuring you that everything is okay.  So as each meal goes by without this sweetness to fill the void, my brain things something is wrong.  Great.
  4. Last night, the nausea was no joke.  I’ve read that sugar withdrawal is comparable to some drug withdrawal, though I can assume I’m doing better than that, seeing that I can generally go about my day (even if I want to punch something).  But around 8pm I thought I was actually sick.  I finally calmed it down by eating several beets.  Just beets, like a crazy person.

At the end of the day, I’ve always been a huge supporter of listening to your body.  But if my body is telling me to fall back on chemically engineered foods that are sending me into an unhealthy spiral, then I think it’s a good day to tell my body that it needs to see other people (or in this case, food).

Will keep you posted on my occasionally discoveries or inevitable demise into eating Ben and Jerry’s on the floor of our local CVS.  Either way, it helps me to write and hold myself accountable during this crazy project.

Thanks for reading, everyone!

January List of Awesome for Your New Year’s Resolution

Creative Commons Photo from Morgan Sessions

Creative Commons Photo from Morgan Sessions

At least in the world of blogging, I have remained rather silent the past several months, only emerging out from under my writing rock yesterday, just before the New Year.  While comfortably hibernating, I have been surprisingly busy otherwise, mainly focusing on trying to get my stubborn creativity rolling again.  It happens — you have a huge burst of motivation, make all these super tangible and well-thought out goals, and suddenly your brain is physically incapable of producing anything new.  Blank pages, deleted blog posts and cancelled yoga plans abound.  But it doesn’t need to all be for nothing. These periods of rest are vital to having anything to write/act/sing/create goals about in the first place.  Without material and space in your mind to organize it, you’re just shuffling through a busy frustrated brain of jumbled and misguided creativity.

So as you embark on your New Year’s Resolutions, here are some tools and recommendations I used throughout my silent days of creative solace.  Please feel free to add your own in the comments of this post, I would love recommendations throughout January!

For the Creative Soul:

The Compass Podcast by Leah Walsh

I’ve written about this lovely podcast in the past, but it has seriously helped me through the fall, while taking a rather challenging acting class.  Leah is a friend of Ben and I and a very talented NYC actress.  In the Compass, she interviews artists from across the theatre world, and explores how they avoid “going to the dark side” and what the “dark side” itself means to them.  The podcast uniquely reveals the vulnerabilities that artists face in an unpredictable and emotionally exhausting field, while reminding you that you are not alone when you have to take that lousy side job or feel as if you are somehow professionally behind your peers.  If you need a creative boost, check this out.

The Artist’s Way and Blog by Julia Cameron

I realize this book has been around forever, but in case you have never read it or haven’t picked it up in a while, I cannot recommend Julia Cameron enough.  She mixes discipline with creative kindness to spark you writing/creating again.  Even if you are not a writer, but feel stuck otherwise, her philosophy will provide you with a practice to slowly climb back into the the light of day.  If anything, check out her intro’s for Morning Pages and Artist Dates.

For the Spirit and Mind:

Notes from the Universe

When I roll out of bed, I reach for my phone, no matter how many times I have tried to train myself otherwise.  Old habit.  But adding Notes from the Universe was guaranteed was to add some positivity to my inbox at 6:15am.  It’s always there, ready to be perky and motivational.  It’s literally just a daily personalized message that sets you rolling.  One of my favorites, as an example:

“Never compromise a dream, Ginny.
Do what you must. The fears, beasts, and mountains before you are part of the plan; stepping-stones to a promised land; to a time and place that is so much closer than even you suspect.Don’t let your eyes deceive, Ginny, for even as you read these words, your ship swiftly approaches.

Tallyho,
The Universe”

Clearly, they are a delight for difficult mornings.

Pema Chodron

If you’ve met me, then you’ve probably been told to read one of Pema Chodron’s books.  I try to pawn them off on everyone because she is magical.  She is an American Tibetan Buddhist monk and speaker with the personality of your favorite friend that always knows how to break you out of your head.  I also preface giving out her books with, “I know the titles sound like cheesy self-help books, but don’t be deterred by that, they’ve changed the way I see the world.”  Even if you are not interested in Buddhist practice, the philosophical viewpoints of Buddhism are practical for everyone’s life and challenges.  She rocks.  In my opinion, start with When Things Fall Apart.

Marie Kondo

The very popular new book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up has officially roped me in.  Her tone of writing is not completely up my alley, but her practice and the discipline of maintaining it, changed the way I felt about my home in about a week.  I was incredibly skeptical.  And no, she is not paying me to write this.  I spend so much less time fussing over my house now.  So not only does my home not look like a tornado went through it every day, but it has given me the gift of more time.

For the Body

This is a tricky suggestion section for me to write, since I deeply believe in finding your own relationship with food and exercise that works best for you.  I am not into  most trends and plans, but simply into feeling out what your body needs to be safely and properly nourished.  This is a continued journey for me, and a huge part of my resolution- not for weight loss but more to feel more present and healthy.  I feel it’s my responsibility to find out how healthy I can feel, without ever sacrificing a positive body image or peace of mind.

So here are a few things that have helped me recently, or I am trying this month:

The Whole Life Challenge

Our fabulous friends, the Weisman’s, are not only our new neighbors but also motivating me to join them in The Whole Life Challenge this winter.  In a nutshell, you join a team, sign up for their app, and choose a plan for 8 weeks.  They range from giving up gluten to giving up practically everything processed.  We are taking the middle ground from mid-Janury through mid-March, giving up added sugars, glutens, most dairy, and a range of other things.  This works for me since I have been on the hunt for the ingredient that has been making me feel spacey for quite some time.  So this may narrow down the culprit.  The challenge also gives you points for daily exercise, water intake, and reflection.  It’s all light-spirited and has no pressures about buying their shakes or looking good for anyone else.  It seems to me to be focused on a lifestyle shift.  But I’ll let you know how it goes.

Tastespotting

My love of cooking was sparked by three things: cooking shows, staring at pictures of delicious food, and eating something I created.  Tastespotting had a lot to do with it.  I have never been great at following directions to a t, mainly because I like to take creative liberties (which is why I’m a terribly baker).  But to get me started, I go here for inspiration.  Cooking at home not only saves you money, but also supports healthier and whole-food based meals.  You also get to show off on Instragram.

Jessica Smith TV

If you’re like me, and fitting a gym membership into your budget is just not doable half the time, go make friends with Jessica Smith TV.  I found her one day when I was looking for a barre workout online, since the in-person ones in my area are upwards of $30 a class.  Gaaaah.  She now has a very wide range of videos, a super positive attitude, and most importantly, an adorable dog named Peanut that sits at her feet.

For the Wallet

Learnvest

If anyone in the future ever asks me about how I finally roped in my student loans and credit card debt, I will tell them I have Learnvest to thank (and Christina Kosyla for telling me about them).  Geared toward women taking control of their personal finances, Learnvest pretty much taught me how to budget.  Their articles are also practical, easy to read, and make you feel like you don’t have to fall into the trap of reading those, “Millennials can’t handle their money” articles.  Because that’s BS.

The Financial Diet

If you need a good daily read, check out The Financial Diet.  They are even more down to earth than Learnvest and get straight to the point.  If you have ever felt alone or guilty about any lousy financial choice, this website covers it in a very honest way.  I greatly appreciate that people from our generation are being proactive about rising out of the stereotypes as entitled or irresponsibly spenders.

 

As I got rolling with this list, I realized I have way more I would love to share, but am out of time (and space!).  So I think I will try to keep this list thing going, especially if you find it helpful.  As I said above, please leave your recommendations below and I will happily look into them and spread them around.  I am particularly on the hunt for a website to replace my Facebook binging.

 

Happy New Year everyone and enjoy the day!

Exciting News! I was featured on Blogher!

Photo by Kim Craven

Photo by Kim Craven

Hello all! My recent post, The War Against Office Snacks, will be featured tomorrow on Blogher!  Blogher is a wonderfully insightful and inspiring site that promotes women bloggers.  I was floored by their offer to feature my post and am so thrilled to be a part of their blogging community.  Check them out here!!  My post is up now, but will be featured on their Facebook and Twitter tomorrow: Blogher Post!

And as always, thank you for all your support!  I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your week and when Ben and I return from Cape May, hopefully I will have some lofty posts about the ocean, childhood vacation spots, and getting drunk on the beach.

Woohoo!!!

The War Against Office Snacks

edbadge_Featured

A few days ago, my boss purchased a fun little candy dispenser from Costco.  We’ve been trying to make our office more welcoming for teachers to come work. So when she came across this awesome little candy machine, she went for it.  We filled it to the brim with Peanut M&M’s and mini Hershey bars and placed it by our door.

IMG_1400

Now overall, this office has been a million more times open minded than anywhere I’ve worked.  I genuinely enjoy the company of everyone who comes by my office, and I am always impressed by how healthy the environment this.  However.  A trend is forming that I’ve seen almost everywhere, from the most corporate hedge funds down to the most liberal middle school.  We’re terrified of snacks.  We think that if we don’t hide them in secret drawers behind the receptionist, that they will force themselves into our stomachs, making a b-line for our thighs!

Ever since we put out these candy dispensers, I’ve had a range of comments:

“You’re evil!”

“That’s so dangerous!”

“No!!  Terrible!  I can’t even be NEAR chocolate.”

“I saw that, did you see that?  Where did it come from?”

Back, snacks, back!

Back, snacks, back!

Yes, I know these are playful comments, I’m not trying to be uptight here.  But let’s back it up a bit.  When I worked at a similar school in the city, the tension between my coworkers and sweets became an outright war.  Someone would buy cupcakes for someone’s birthday and with each bite the room would scream, “Oh I shouldn’t!  Oh this is awful!  Why am I do this?!”  For Christ’s sake eat the cupcake.  Now on top of the processed sugar, that yes, it not excellent when eaten in giant quantities, you are stressed.  So now your body is not only working to break down the sugar, but also releasing all sorts of angry stress chemicals.  All over a birthday cupcake.  If you have chosen to cut back on sweets, or simply don’t like them, that is totally fine.  A simple “No, thank you” will suffice.

The Skinny Myth

high school

At a theatre competition in 2004

Ever since I was in middle school, I’ve gotten passive aggressive comments about being thin.  I didn’t break 110 pounds until I was about 18.  I got a lot of, “Oh be quiet, you can eat whatever you want.”  But did being thin make me healthy?  I think I drank 2 glasses of coke with each meal until high school.  I went through my teenage years making an ice cream sundae a night.  No, I do not have some super-human ability to expel all that sugar from my body, it just didn’t hang around as fat yet.  But that doesn’t mean it didn’t negatively affect my body.  Strangely enough, it wasn’t until I became more in touch with my actual hunger and started eating better that I reached a healthy weight (by gaining some).

But I am literally sitting here eating a brownie as I write this, and happily.  I will not spend the whole day guzzling soda or beer and will not have five more brownies after this.  I am just enjoying the damn brownie.  The problem about these casual comments is the dread and body shaming that lie underneath them.

Awareness vs. Body shaming

The sweets in an office are “dangerous” because eating them (apparently against our own control) will lead to something “terrible”, like weight gain. Heavens forbid!  My “beach body” will  apparently not be up to par with those only drinking milk shakes this month.  Our relationship with food often seems like a direct relationship with our physical awareness.  If we took the energy we put into fighting back the evils of chocolate and the need to complete a certain amount of squats in a day, and used it instead to figure out what our body actually needs and how it works, then we may be able to stop fearing everything we consume.  We may even figure out why we eat and what we truly want to eat.

If there is one main theme I have learned from studying Alexander Technique, it’s that our body knows how to take care of itself if we get out of its way.  Once you do, you will know when you need cardio, or to eat some protein, or to stretch.  Forcing a regimen on yourself that is perfect for someone else is like buying a size 10 shoe when you’re a size 7, just because you liked how that specific shoe looked on someone else.  It doesn’t work.

sailing

How I felt when I stopped worrying about my “beach body”

So I will say now, with complete respect to my Beach Body friend representatives, please stop sending me Beach Body invitations.  Without realizing it, you are inferring that I need to alter my body to go to the beach.  And frankly, I am doing plenty to try and get in touch with my best diet and exercise patterns, but I am not going to do them in the name of a bathing suit.  I am not going to go for a run and check my calves when I get home.   I am not going to chart out my calories every time I take a bite.  I am going to continue educating myself on how my specific body responds to sugars and chemicals, and I will continue to find the best way to keep my energy high and fabulous through whatever exercise I damn well please.  But that is up to me, and it is a timely process to find the balance.  So please cool it.

SO!  Snacks!

Let’s begin by cutting back the snack shaming.  Saying that something is “dangerous” infers that no one else around you should eat it either.  And that isn’t your business.  The snacks can exist in your presence, and if you’re not hungry, you don’t have to eat them.  So until you find that happy place and know what your body needs to feel good, cut down on the accusations.  That poor plate of brownies did nothing wrong, and neither did you by eating one of them.

Feelin' good about my recent ability to run a full mile AND drinking that glass of wine.

Feelin’ good about my recent ability to run a full mile AND drinking that glass of wine.