Cycles of Self-Respect and Self-Neglect

I haven’t been posting too much recently because I haven’t been in the best of moods, but I’ve felt that if I’m trying to post stuff that makes other people feel good, I should probably feel good myself.


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Unfortunately, the truth is, I’ve been in something of a slump. I haven’t been going to yoga, I’ve been eating lots of ice cream, and I’ve been spending hour after hour locked in front of my computer watching Project Runway on Hulu. (By the way, I’m officially out of Project Runway episodes to watch, does anyone happen to have seasons 1-6 on DVD that I could borrow and watch obsessively?)

I’m getting dizzy spells when I stand up and I’ve broken out in my yearly summer rash. I’m a non-stop itch machine. Green and I are trying to move out of our apartment and all I want to do is lie on the floor and play Animal Crossing. (That’s not true, all I want to do is lie on the floor and watch Project Runway. But I’m out.)

In addition, I’ve noticed my waking temperatures (which I’ve been tracking every morning since going off the pill) are extremely low, in the 95 – 97 degree range. This could be a sign of thyroid issues, which might explain my dizzy spells, my rash, and why I’m lethargy-prone. I really don’t want to get it checked out, though, because I’m terrified of a positive diagnosis, and I do not want to be on thyroid medication.

The tipping point came yesterday, when I broke down in a fit of tears for no discernible reason.

And all this time, I’m thinking, “I should really blog about something,” but I’ve been avoiding blogging about my miserable mood because Jessica Mullen recommends only blogging about what you want more of, and I certainly don’t want more of my miserable mood. The “post-what-you-want” method works in theory, except for the fact that avoiding posting because I’m not in a great mood is just making me feel worse, and less authentic.

The truth is, I am a cyclical being. Ever since I started to be more health conscious, I’ve gone through cycles of being super on top of things and feeling great, to lying in slumps of absolute misery. It happens. I think it’s almost worse to get my hopes up thinking THIS TIME it will be permanent, because then when I fall off the wagon, I spend extra time beating myself up about the fact that I’m not being healthy like I know I should (and can) be. Which sets me back even further.

So my new motto, which I’ll repeat once more, is: IT HAPPENS. There are times when I let my health slack and I pull inward, staying home more than I go out. It happens, and I know I’m not the only one it happens to, either. So perhaps reading about my current temporary setbacks might make someone else feel less guilty about their own, because I think it is natural to be cyclical. It can’t be summer all the time, there has to be winter to balance things out.

Learning this stuff is a lifetime journey. Living healthfully, especially in a society that promotes dis-ease and quick fixes, is tough.

The good news, however, is that the more years I spend learning about health, the shorter my slumps get, and the longer my good stretches last. If nothing else, I can look forward to the fact that it can only get better from here. Not only that, but because of how much I’ve learned in the past, I know exactly how to fix it.


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My constant search for curing the problem and not the symptoms will never end. When I get to the point where I feel so bad that I know it’s time to get back on track, I ultimately find articles or books that point me in the right direction. This time, I’m giving cutting out sugar another shot. Five years ago, I did it for a month, but I ate lots of fruit and honey and felt miserable the entire time. It turns out that honey and fruits are just as bad for your system as refined sugar.

The stars seem to be aligning on this one: I know it’s sugar that’s slugging me down, and I’ve been reading Sarah Wilson‘s “I Quit Sugar” series on her blog for tips and support. Incidentally, Sarah Wilson also blogs about naturally healing and living with auto-immune disease (which includes thyroid issues).

The icing on the cake: A friend of mine on Facebook announced that she’s about to start her own 60 Days Without Sugar Challenge, and would anyone care to join her? Well, I love me a good challenge (and this one comes with a prize for the winner! A $25 gift certificate to Amazon.com, heck yes!), so I’ve signed up. The challenge starts July 6th, but I’ve already started, because I’m sick of feeling terrible. If anyone else wants to try this with me, check out Sarah Wilson’s blog and we’ll rock this out.

During slumps, it’s important to remember that they are only temporary, and that you have the power to get yourself back on track. At the same time, it’s just as important not to beat yourself up. We are human beings after all, and if the worst thing we’re doing to ourselves is having a few pints of ice cream and sleeping late for a month or two in between long stretches of honoring our bodies, I’d say we’re doing pretty well.

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Training Yourself to Like Healthy Food


Dinner Green made for us the other night

I don’t drink alcohol. I don’t smoke cigarettes. I don’t do drugs, I don’t pop pills, I don’t even drink coffee (okay, I do occasionally, but as a treat, not a way to get out of bed).

But I do eat food. I love food. Actually, I think a better way to put it is that I love eating.

When I was a kid, I adored junk food. Chips, pizza, soda, Girl Scout cookies (Thin Mints are my favorite!), I loved it all. I probably loved it even more because it was never in great abundance at my house. I saw my friends at school get nutter butters and mini-bags of chips in their lunches at school. I always felt envious of them.

When I finally lived on my own, I would treat myself to an entire bag of chips all for myself. Or an entire pizza, an entire pint of ice cream, whatever I was craving, I let myself lavish the experience of not having to share with anyone.

And I HATED vegetables. I wouldn’t eat them. If they came mixed in with food I’d ordered at a restaurant, I would painstakingly pick them out. If I accidentally crunched into one, I’d gag involuntarily. The meal in the picture above would not have made my mouth water like it does now. Instead, it would have sent me in the opposite direction, looking for the frozen pizza.

So how did I turn all that around? How did I get from a place where I waited until my mother’s back was turned so I could throw my vegetables in the trash, to where I now eat them happily, and consider spinach and onions a luxury as opposed to a family-sized bag of Doritos?

It wasn’t overnight. I first started actively shifting my diet toward healthier eating almost a decade ago, and I know now that the “transition” may never be complete. There’s always new things to learn, new foods to try, new ways to look at eating. The best advice I’ve gotten as far as healthy eating goes came from my dear friend Shellie White of The Healthy Hooper: Learn as much as you can, then use what works for you.

You are the only one who can change your eating habits. You have to want to do it, and you have to know your reasons. I decided to start eating better because I kept hearing about centenarians on the radio. You know, the people who live to be 100 or older. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I decided I wanted to become a centenarian myself.


Look, you even get an award for making it to 100! (source)

I was out of high school and working at Subway when I realized that I probably wouldn’t become a centenarian if I didn’t learn to like vegetables. Being around them all the time likely helped prod me in the right direction as well. I had to chop the tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and cucumbers that I didn’t eat in preparation for the people who did. It was during my time at Subway that I decided to start training myself to like vegetables.

Nine years later, I live with a boyfriend who works at a restaurant that makes its meals from local organic produce. He cooks delicious, veggie-rich meals for us that I eat with pleasure.

Here’s what I’ve learned over the course of my healthy eating journey:

1) Know your reasons.


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WHY do you want to eat healthier? To lose weight? To feel better? To avoid disease? To widen your food vocabulary? As I mentioned above, I knew I wanted to live to be 100. I also knew my family has a history of heart disease and diabetes, and if I was going to live to such a ripe age, I would have to get my eating under control.

What are your reasons? Make a list. Write them down. Think of as many as you can, then see if you can spot a common theme or goal among them. Do you want to stave off a family illness? Do you feel crummy and sluggish every day? If you don’t have a solid reason for changing your diet, you are less likely to push forward. Understand that healthy eating is a decision, a choice. Every choice has a reason and motivation. Find yours, write it down, and put it in a place where you will see it.

2) Start small.


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If you’re where I was, eating nothing but Tombstone pizzas, Taco Bell and Dr. Pepper, the idea of transitioning to eating 100% healthy can seem daunting. So pick something small, something doable, and do it. For me, it was cucumbers. I challenged myself to eat one slice of cucumber every time I went into work. How’s that for small?

Other first steps to consider: Eliminate soda, replace it with water. A lot of people addicted to soda claim to “not like” water. I know, because I did it, too. But try it. Try going one day without soda. Now try going another day without it. Go a week, drinking only water, and then when you crack into that Dr. Pepper, it will taste sickeningly sweet and you may wonder how you ever drank so much of it in the first place. I decided to give up soda when I watched Supersize Me and learned just how much sugar was in one can. Knowing my family’s history of diabetes, I understood that if I didn’t get my sugar intake under control, I could end up giving myself insulin shots every day. And I’m terrified of needles. Just thinking of stabbing myself every day proves motivation enough to steer clear of too much sugar.

You can also try replacing dessert with fruit, trying to cook one meal a week at home rather than eating out, anything that points you in the right direction. Be patient with yourself, don’t expect to get there all at once. Let yourself try new things and see which ones stick.

3) Eat your veggies by hiding the fact that they’re veggies.


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When I first started training myself to like vegetables, I had to fool myself into eating them. As I said earlier, eating them used to cause me to gag, so at first, I did as much as I could to mask their natural flavor. When I ate my one slice of cucumber, I’d drench it with ranch dressing. I LOVED ranch dressing, so I tried to tell myself I was eating a chip covered in ranch and not a cucumber. Eventually, I made myself slowly reduce the amount of dressing I put on each slice, until I could eat it without the dressing.

If ranch isn’t your cup of tea, pick a different medium. Italian dressing. Mashed potatoes. Macaroni and cheese. Chocolate ice cream. Whatever gets the vegetable in your mouth.

I found that getting used to the texture of raw veggies was just as big a challenge as getting used to the taste. If the same goes for you, try working cooked vegetables into your meals. They are mushier and a little bit easier to blend into something else.

4) Try cooking.


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If you’re like me, you eat out a lot. You don’t know your ass from a measuring cup. You view people who can throw a meal together from haphazard ingredients in the cupboard as some sort of superhuman rocket scientists.

Challenging yourself to make your own meal is a good way to get more in touch with your food. In addition, you also get that fun rush of adrenaline that comes from creation. You started with a handful of ingredients, and now you have an edible thing! You may find that you love cooking, and be encouraged to try it more. For me, cooking never became a habit, but I have a much greater appreciation for what goes into a meal, and food in general.

5) Challenge yourself.


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I love a good challenge. There’s nothing like specific goal, written down on paper and bragged about to all my friends and family so that they can mock me mercilessly if I fail. On the journey to good health, I’ve challenged myself to write down what I eat every day, to eat a specific set of foods every day, to eliminate sugar for thirty days (my mother successfully did this for an entire YEAR), to try making all my own meals for a week, to try eating small portions every few hours instead of three big meals a day, to try at least one bite of every meal offered to me.

Giving yourself a time frame makes it more achievable, since you don’t go into it thinking you’ll commit to it for life. Every eating challenge you take on will teach you something about yourself and the limits of your eating habits. You may discover something now that you put into practice years later. The point of these challenges is to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try something new, and then pay attention to how you react to it. How do you feel on your challenge? Do you think you could sustain something like it over the long term? Giving yourself bold tasks to accomplish will help you carve out the building blocks for your healthy lifestyle.

6) Learn.


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Read books, watch movies, talk to people, read blogs, browse YouTube. Learn about what your food is made of, where it comes from, what it does to your body, how it’s made, its history, its controversy, anything. The more you know about food, the more attention you’ll give it. You’ll stop looking at it as just something to put into your mouth and instead start thinking about how it will make you feel, what effect it might have on you, and more.

I’m not saying you’ll never eat another piece of cake again. But like anything else, knowledge is power. Knowing exactly what’s in that cake puts the power in your hands, everything you eat becomes an active choice.

Documentaries I love that changed my views on food include Supersize Me and Food, Inc.. Books that helped me learn about food and its effect on the body include The Great American Detox Diet by Alex Jamieson, and The PH Miracle by Robert Young. I also love Kris Carr’s blog, Crazy Sexy Life.

These are just jumping off points. There’s plenty of information out there, and learning is a constant process that should never feel finished.

7) Surround yourself with people who eat healthy.


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One of the toughest things to do when you’re trying to change your eating habits is to hang around people who have no interest in changing theirs. You get teased for turning down cookies and mocked for eating small portions. Going out to eat together becomes challenging, especially if you do as I did and eventually eliminate fast food from your diet.

Sometimes people just won’t understand why you would want to eat anything other than junk food. It can be difficult, especially in the beginning, to try to explain it to them, and to stick to your guns when they offer you your favorite foods.

Find someone, even if it’s just one person, who also has an interest in eating well. Spend time with them. Eat with them. For me, it was my mother. I was lucky enough to have a mom who spent my whole life trying to teach me about health and good eating. I didn’t listen at first, but once I started to make that switch, she became a valuable resource and a trusted friend. I also knew that I could go visit her and get a good, healthy meal. If you don’t have anyone at all in your life like this, find someone! The Internet is full of social networking sites. Make a Facebook post mentioning you’re looking for someone to eat salad with. It sounds silly, but having someone in your corner makes everything easier.

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Above all, accept and embrace the journey that is health. Every day is a chance to discover something new about yourself. Every time you try a new food, experiment with a new diet, read a good food book, or chat with a friend about vegetables, you learn something about yourself. Your journey is going to be different from mine, and that’s GOOD. Take your time and feel it out. Trust that if you take enough small steps in the right direction, you will get there eventually.

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Hoops & Other Delightful Stuff

First thing’s first: I want to start out with the AMAZING and SUPER YUMMY food Green made us for dinner last night:

All organic, free-range or farm-fresh. The zucchini and green beans actually came from the garden of the hoop student I drove to teach this week! SO. GOOD.

Second: I’ve got a bunch of little bits of spare tubing from the ends of rolls, and I’ve also got little bits of scrap tape, as well as some samples I get when I place orders. I decided to take those bits and pieces and make some mini-samples of hoop sections!

They’re about two inches long. I’m not entirely sure how to carry them around yet. Green suggested putting them on a string. Any ideas? I love the idea of getting to show people an actual sample of color combinations on hoop tubing, rather than just a bunch of random flat samples of tape!

AND NOW FOR THE HOOPS:

This one’s a custom I made for someone that’s getting delivered today!

And the rest are hoops I made for Arts Goggle but haven’t posted yet:


A hoop of many colors!

That’s it for now! Happy Saturday everyone!

AN EXPERIMENT and Some Hoops I Made Today!

Today I decided to try something a little different in my routine. Normally I wake up and go to yoga. If my alarm goes off at 8:00 AM and I don’t immediately feel like going back to sleep, I will get up and go to 9:00 AM yoga. If I feel like going back to sleep, I will go back to sleep. And then get up later and go to 11:00 AM class.

I like to go to yoga first thing in the morning for a couple of reasons:

#1: It’s a good way to start the day

and

#2: It’s out of the way, and I have the whole rest of the day to say to myself, “Even if I do nothing else the entire rest of today, at least I went to yoga.” And then I high-five myself.

TODAY, however, I decided to EXPERIMENT. I’m not a scientist, mind you. This could easily be proven by the Science Fair “experiments” I was forced to do in elementary school and Jr. High. They were usually thrown together at the last minute and it was embarrassing to even put them on display. I used to wander around the gym trying to find display boards and data that looked worse than mine, just to make myself feel better. It was really hard.

Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is, I graduated a while ago and there is no need for me to compile data and display it in an appealing way, I can just babble about it here.

Here’s what I did today: I woke up at 8:00 AM, ACTUALLY GOT OUT OF BED (this is the key to the experiment), and then I ate a little bit of breakfast and drank a lot of water and went to 11:00 AM class. I wanted to be up for at least three hours if I was going to have breakfast, because you’re supposed to go to yoga on an empty stomach. So when I was going immediately upon waking, I’d go with no food in my belly whatsoever. TODAY, HOWEVER, I had a LITTLE BIT of PRE-DIGESTED food in my belly, and three hours worth of hydration.

I am calling this experiment a SUCCESS because class was AWESOME, I did every posture, and at the part of class where I have the tendency to run out of energy, I did NOT run out of energy. SO YEAH. I think I will keep doing it this way and see how it goes.

ALSO, I managed to get some stuff DONE before I even left for class! I felt very productive and important. Suck on that, 5th grade me who always waited until the last minute to work on your science fair project. LOOK HOW PRODUCTIVE AND IMPORTANT I AM NOW.

*ahem*

Before class I put together some bare hoops and taped one, and after class, I taped four more. I MADE FIVE HOOPS TODAY. Would you like to see a picture? Good, because I’m going to show you one.

Would you like to see another? A close-up, maybe? GOOD. HERE YOU GO:

The orange and purple one is the only one that was special ordered, the rest I made for FUN. And to have on hand should someone approach me and say, “Hey, if you have any hula hoops, I would like to purchase one from you!” Which happens more often than you might think.

Oh, but anyway, the orange and purple one is collapsible and I took a picture of it all collapsed:

I’m giving away one of the smaller ones in my class tonight in celebration of my BIRTHDAY. 🙂 (Here’s my official hooping stuff website where there’s information on my classes AND my hoops because I am a PROFESSIONAL.)

Have a fantastic day! *HIGH FIVES*

BERFDAYS!!! (Why I Love Them and How I Roll Mine)

IT ARE MY BIRTHDAY.

Listen. I want you to know something. If you’ve ever wondered what the most beautiful sounding date is, it is “May 7th”. And I’m not just saying that because it’s my birthday. (Okay, I’m probably saying that in large part because it’s my birthday.) I could just be super lucky to have a birthday on the prettiest sounding date out of the entire year. Because May is such a lovely name for a month, it’s simple, it’s sweet, it’s when pretty things are happening outside. And then 7 is a prime number, and it’s a lucky number, and if you say “May 7th” and try not to think of it as a day but rather just a pretty word, it has a nice sound to it. 🙂

OKAY OKAY OKAY so today is my birthday and it started off by going to yoga and having everyone in class sing to me right before final breathing. 🙂 This happened last year, too, purely by accident! The teacher was like, “Is it anyone’s birthday today?” and I raised my hand and she was like, “Awesome! Well, we’re going to sing to you in Triangle.” So this is the second year in a row I’ve been sung to at yoga on my birthday and I think I really like the tradition, because both times I didn’t expect it. (Apparently this time, the lady working the desk snuck in at some point during class and told the teacher it was my birthday, or he would have had everyone sing during Triangle again.)

And then I went to Potager with Green and Freya and if you live in the Arlington area and you have never been to Potager (You say it like this: “Pot-uh-JAY” with a soft “J” sound) YOU SHOULD GO because it is the most delicious and “hummy” food in town. On the wrappers for Lara bars, they describe the snack as a “hum food”, or a food made of all natural stuff so that when you eat it, it feels like everything inside of you is humming. I really like that, and I feel that everything served at Potager is “hum food”. 🙂

No exception today, everything was DELICIOUS and I wish I could just live there and spend my whole life eating amazing, yummy, hummy food!!

I want to talk to you a little bit about “the birthday” in general. For the most part, I’m not one to celebrate holidays because I find them somewhat stressful. You have to get something for everyone you know or you have to do this or plan this or remember this only to have it happen again in a month or so. I like the concept of holidays, I like the concept of celebration, I just don’t love the expectations and stress that comes from them, especially if you’re someone like me who has a tough time remembering day to day stuff as it is. Dropping out the holidays just makes it easier on me, and I’m okay with anything that makes life easier for me. 🙂

The BIRTHDAY, however, is something different. I love my birthday, and I love other people’s birthdays, too. Because I think it’s very nice to have one day out of the whole year where you genuinely let yourself do anything you want, and be OKAY with doing the anything that you want to do. Want to spend the entire day lounging around in bed? OKAY. Do it and enjoy it. 🙂 Want to spend the entire day hanging out with friends? OKAY. Do it and enjoy it!

I used to find some stress from my birthday, too, because I always wanted to try and have this elaborate party and invite everyone I knew in the whole world and we would all hang out and do a series of awesome activities and it would be awesome. Which, I will admit, still sounds awesome! However, what ended up happening is that all of the people I loved wanted to do something different with me to celebrate, at different times, and by the end of trying to figure out how to make everyone else happy on my special day, I was tired and miserable and ready for it to be over.

So now, I plan my birthdays by leaving them completely planless. There is no party, there is no expectation of friends to shower me with gifts (though if that’s how they roll, they are more than welcome to!), there’s no special dinner, there’s no special movie, there’s no special activity…the whole day is just open. Open to me to explore what I most want to do in the moment of that day.

Today, it’s looking like I might want to spend the rest of the day either reading or napping. I feel like it would be silly not to hoop on my birthday, but I’m not going to beat myself up about it if I don’t. Burgers sound delicious, too. I might get a burger. We’ll see!

The best gift I can give to myself for my birthday is the gift of a stress-free day. And if you have a birthday coming up, I suggest you try this yourself! Let the day happen. And just keep reminding yourself, “This is my day to feel special.” Because EVERYONE deserves at least one day per year of guilt-free specialness.

And THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone who has wished me Happy Birthday, either in person, by text, by phone call, or by Facebook. I can’t tell you how loved I felt when I loaded up my Facebook page this morning and saw all those well-wishes. I am truly, truly grateful for every single one of them, and the people that left them.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! And if it’s not your birthday today, MERRY UN-BIRTHDAY!