Tag Archives: wellness

Sometimes the greatest gift you can give yourself is permission to be lame

The life I lead currently and the life I lead 3 months ago are two very different animals: like, I was a hamster, running on my sad little wheel, and then overnight I evolved into a carnivorous capybara.

(Attempted Pokemon reference FTW!)

You see, approximately 2 hours after I became a single girl, before I had even packed my first box or properly grieved my newly-ended relationship, I informed one of my friends–Jessica, single girl extraordinaire– that she and I would be spending a lot more time together. Well that lovely girl went all momma bird and took me under her wing, and I have been her apprentice ever since.

Most nights of the week I am instructed to meet her and her partner-in-crime Jen at one bar or another. I am resistant to this midweek debauchery: it’s a foreign concept to me, drinking on a Tuesday (a.k.a. Boozeday). But I have pretty swiftly adopted their live-for-the-weekend mindset, and I look forward to putting on my Hot Girl Disguise (thank you to Jenna Marble’s for inventing that term) and tipping back a drink or two at the bar with the girls every Friday. I can count on J & J to be doing something fun (if not certainly alcohol-related) at any moment of the day, and I feel honored to have been accepted into their topsy-turvy Do-I-Look-Hot-in-This? world.

The funny thing is, as much fun as I have been having with them, your average person find my recent behavior very strange: I wear sneakers and pigtails; I laugh at comma placement and enjoy children’s television; I listen to alternative music. So when I don 4-inch heels and dance to Usher songs in a crowded club, it seems out of character. I understand that viewpoint, I do; frankly, it felt very odd zipping up that first cocktail dress and walking around that bar looking for my friends. But I think that’s why I’m so enjoying it: it’s not the norm for me. It’s an Amp-like thing to do. Or, as Jess and Jen have taken to calling me, Spicy Pam.

So for several weeks, this has been my life: receiving text messages all week from the girls asking, “Is it friday yet?”; getting instructions on Friday about what time to meet them at the bar, and to dress cute, goddamn it; sipping Manhattans till midnight, then I sober up so that I can drive; dancing, and rejecting the weird men who attempt to molest me on the dance floor; Coney Island at 2:0o in the morning; finally, gloriously, sleep around 4:00AM. Repeat (sometimes) on Saturday, and once on a very odd Sunday. Wait for the next weekend all over again.

It’s not a bad life. I have had a lot of laughs, quite a few cocktails, and a couple hangovers; I have made a few good friends, a couple great friends, and maybe one or two enemies (well, maybe I wouldn’t go that  far, but they are certainly persona non grata);  I have kissed a girl, a couple boys, and have taken many ridiculous OMG-We’re-at-the-Bar! photos like so:

So cliche, so tacky, so fun

I have had very very much fun and do not regret a minute of it.

So all of that said, I am so fucking tired.

Having a life is exhausting.

I just a need a friggin’ break.

Jess is leaving for Law school soon, so I have been trying my best to power through and keep on partying it up till she departs.  This past Friday, come 10:00PM, I was tired and cranky and had resolved myself to simply staying in, but instead of sticking with that healthy plan, I stayed up until 5AM playing monopoly and drinking too much wine. Fun, but not smart. I was a zombie for most of yesterday, nearly falling asleep at the wheel and barely able to sit at the dinner table without collapsing with my face in the jambalaya. When I returned home from my aunt’s house, I was just passing out when I got the “You coming out?” text. I said I needed a nap and I’d meet them at midnight. Well, that never happened. At 11:30 when my alarm went off I said, “Mmm mm, no way, fuck it,” changed into more sleep acceptable clothes, and curled up with my dog.

But oh shit, it was a Saturday night! I was supposed to be getting hammered or getting hit on or complaining about how I don’t know how to dance with guys! Well, at least that’s what I was thinking last night as I was dozing off. Just as I’d drift off I’d pop back up and think about how pathetic it is to go to sleep early on the weekend and how my friends were out expecting me to join them and I felt vaguely guilty and very very lame.

But I finally told myself that maybe, just maybe, it’s ok to turn the Amp off once in a while. Maybe Spicy Pam can go in the closet for a night and I can be just Pam. Maybe I’m allowed to be lame. Once I granted myself that it was like the Heavens parted and the angels sang and it was raining gumdrops and my cat’s whiskers were rainbows and…

You get it. I got to sleep. And it was amazing.

We all need to be kind to ourselves now and then. A little self-forgiveness for our inadequacies, a little sympathy, it goes a long way to maintaining our happiness and our sanity. And as someone with a weak ass immune system, being kind to myself means letting myself rest. Telling a friend recently that I am old and get tired early prompted him to say, “Psh, sleep when you die.” Well, let’s be honest, if I don’t sleep I will die. So, I am not taking that sage advice.

I can be a “spicier” version of myself. I can say “yes” to experience and “no” to boredom and loneliness. I can Amp it up. But I am also allowed to know my limits and have the self-love to act accordingly. I am allowed to have mercy on me. And I am 100% allowed to sleep on a Saturday when I am deathly tired and not feel like I wasted my weekend. It takes a certain amount of courage to do what is right for you even when it’s not the popular option. So, frankly, by being lame, I was Being Brave (yay Return of the Mantra!). By turning down the volume I was actually being totally Amp: she is not afraid to be true to herself. EVER.

Awesomeness through lameness. It happens.

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Shins don’t fail me now

For the first time in…god, easily over a month, I went for a run tonight. The humidity finally took a chill pill, so once the sun got a little low in the sky it was prime conditions for lacing up my cross-trainers, and I actually had the drive to just effing do it, and so I did.

And my goodness gracious, was it wonderful.

I forget time and time again how much I love running. I forget how the rhythm of my shoes against the pavement can clear my head unlike anything else. I forget how the strain in my lungs is actually wildly refreshing, like a challenge presented to me by my own body to push on. I forget all these things, so I end up going without running for weeks on end, and then when I finally get my butt out the front door, I find myself wondering what took me so fucking long.

So, in the hopes that I won’t have yet another workout dry spell, I’m enumerating my How I’m Gonna Get My Track Legs Back (Sans Shin Splints) plan here for all to see, so that maybe I will actually hold myself to it.

1. Use and abuse the nearby stadium: One of the perks to living with my ‘rents is that I am literally 45 seconds from my old high school, which, gloriously, comes equipped with a track and a stadium just begging to be used by yours truly. I enjoy a nice long run now and then, but I was and will always be a sprinter at heart, so I LOVE a good ol’ fashioned speed workout: running 400M at 80%, sprinting full out 100M, walking till my heart rate returns to normal; jogging the stairs of the stadium until my quads burn; timing myself in the races I used to run as a teenager. The track is right there and I am still small enough to squeeze through the gap in the fence, so why the fuck shouldn’t I use it, right?

2. Something is better than nothing: Back in college when I had ready and willing running buddies coming out my ears, it was easy to find the drive to go for a run. But now, it’s just me, all by my lonesome. And sometimes going for even an easy 2 miles seems daunting. But why should I force myself to do even 2 miles? Isn’t it preferable that I get outside, get my heart pumping, get a quick burst of endorphins, if only for 10 minutes? One pathetic mile is still a mile. It’s still calories burned, fresh air breathed, mind cleared. So even on those days when it’s hot or rainy or I feel lousy, I need to remember that I can dress, run one mile, and be home in 12 minutes. A little rain or heat won’t kill me in 12 minutes.

3. A day off is good; 12 days off is bad: I always read about how giving your body a chance to repair is paramount to being fit; your muscles need time to recover. But what I tend to do is take a day or two off and then…never go back. Or I get on a roll and run as many days in a row as possible and burnout. I gotta stick with 2 days on, one off. Or Day 1, long run; Day 2, a quickie; Day 3, a hard interval workout; Day 4, rest like god did on the 7th day.

4. There is pain and then there is PAIN; know the difference: When aiming for a good 4-5 mile day, I usually wimp out around the 3rd mile. Either I get a stitch in my side, or my breathing is haggard, or my feet are hot, or my mouth is dry, and I make excuses to myself about why I am allowed to give up and go home. THAT MUST CEASE. Tight calves or tired lungs come with the goddamn territory: I will NEVER get into better shape if I cave in to a little pain. I need to use my mind to work my way through the pain; as my father always says, “MENTAL TOUGHNESS!” I hate to quote him, but the man has a point. There is a big difference between discomfort and, “Holy shit, I just tore my ACL.” I’ve had migraines my whole life, I can deal with a little pain to achieve the pride that comes with running your entire pre-planned course and then getting home and realizing, “Hey, I can keep going.” C’mon, Pamela. Suck it up, bitch.

Alright, that’s all I’ve got so far. But you get to hold me to this. I ran today and it was wonderful and the endorphins coursing through me right now are demanding that I keep it up. But tomorrow, when my little natural opiates have faded away, this post is going to be my reminder that I have goals, and for once, I’d like to actually meet them. Any words of encouragement or advice (or trash talk) you, my readers, can offer, would only serve to spur me on all the more, so comment comment comment. Please.

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Life as a Walking ‘House’ Episode

One of my doctors this week instructed me to change my name to “Bizarre.”

That was not the first time I’ve heard that.

I’ve spent the majority of my life puzzling medical professionals. Remember, I was the four-year-old tot complaining of throbbing headaches that turned out to be migraines. I’ve had a weak-ass immune system for the last decade because I was a dummy and didn’t feed my body what it needed. And just this week, I have two brother ophthalmologists bringing their sibling rivalry with then to work and arguing over what to do about the apparent contact-resistance my eyes have developed, as well as a father/daughter dermatological team trying and failing to figure out what these tiny flesh-colored bumps I have on my hands are. Frankly, it would be funny is it weren’t so fucking frustrating.

Seriously, seriously, I think I’ve had enough funky health crises to last a lifetime:

When I was in kindergarten, my class was going to perform 3 short plays for our parents on Open House night or something. I don’t remember what all three plays were; what I do remember is one of them was The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, which was my FAVORITE, and that I was the only kid in the whole class who had a role in all three plays. I was beyond proud and excited for my on-stage debut, but I never saw showtime because I came down with scarlet fever, of all things. I just remember lying on the couch the night of our performance, feeling like the dead, the lights in the house just agony for my eyes, and begging my mom to let me go to school to do the plays: “I’m OK! I feel fine! Who’s going to wear all the hats?” Even in my fever delirium, I was devastated.

The summer before 9th grade I attended a Catholic church volunteer work camp. A couple days into the trip I started feeling really awful: headache, feverish, weak, nauseated, WEAK. The third night, after singing “American Pie” in the common area and making friends with these great kids from around the country, when they announced it was time to head to our dorms, my legs wouldn’t work. I tried, but I couldn’t stand for even a second. I got a piggy-back ride up to my room from one of the nice boys I had just met, and the girls from my youth group called me a slut for the rest of the trip. The next two days I was completely out of commission: a 104 degree fever that had me hallucinating, no strength, throwing up, blinding head pain. No one thought to take me to the hospital; no, instead, they thought it appropriate to pray over me when they thought I was asleep. (Guess what guys? I was awake! And nothing scares a girl suffering from an unknown illness like strange people laying hands on her while she tries to recuperate and asking god to make her well. Pray for lepers; you should have gotten me medical attention.) It wasn’t until returning home and already being on the mend that a nurse friend of my mom’s said, “Oh, honey, you had West Nile Virus.” Hubba what? West Nile Virus?! Are you fucking serious?

Then there was the lovely time freshman year of college when I was falling ill every other month or so, heading to the clinic on campus, and being unceremoniously prescribed antibiotics for one arbitrary thing or another–strep throat, tonsillitis, you name it–without them even, say, swabbing my throat or trying to determine what I actually had. They misdiagnosed me 5 times. When I returned home for the summer, a capable doctor found out that I had an advanced case of mono, equipped with anemia and a spleen-on-the-brink, and demanded I sit inert on the couch for the remainder of the summer.

These health freak-outs have given me a shit-ton of interesting stories to tell, but living life like it’s one long TV medical drama can be exhausting. I keep waiting for my own personal Dr. House to come sweeping in one day and find the underlying cause, the obscure disease that ties all these seemingly unconnected illnesses together and either he can heal me, or he’ll tell me I have 4 days to live. Either way, at least I would know. I would know what the hell is wrong with my body that I seem to contract every bizarre disease in the book. I would know why I have spent as much of my life sick in bed (or worse, sick and out in the world trying to pretend I’m not sick) than I have healthy and spry. And I would know, for certain, that I’d never have to see another doctor look at me with their big dumb eyes and say, “Well, I don’t know what to tell you.”

YOU ARE A DOCTOR. IT IS YOUR JOB TO KNOW WHAT TO TELL ME. THAT’S WHAT I’M FUCKING DOING HERE!!!!!!!!!

*deep breath*

*exhale*

Sorry about that. It’s just that, I get through my day to day ignoring the little aches and pains, bumps and bruises, sneezes and sniffles that come my way. Feeling less than stellar is a part of life, and I am not above taking an extra Vitamin C tablet and drinking some hot chicken broth, or wrapping my own strained ankle and icing it every few hours. But when there arises a health problem that I can’t handle on my own (like not being able to see, or painful welts growing out of nowhere on my fingers), and I decide to fork over my hard-earned money so a medically-trained fellow or lady can help me get back to healthy and they say, “Well, sorry, you’re a mystery” it makes me want to terrorize their waiting room, tearing up back-issues of People magazine and upending Ikea coffee tables. It’s. Just. Not. Fair. I am actively on two different eye drops and three different lotions because I have 4 doctors working hard to make me better but simply FAILING. They are failing miserably.

I JUST WANT TO BE WELL. Ugh.

I really thought recently that because I haven’t had a cold in a few months that beating my iron deficiency and going paleo might really be the keys to immune success, but my body is just as wonky as ever. So I’m not plagued with sore throats and stuffy noses; now I’m being plagued with useless eyeballs and stupid skin. (I know that sounds juvenile, but I’ve been struggling with this my whole life: I think I’m allowed to pout a little.)

Maybe I’ll call up Hugh Laurie. He probably would have as good a shot of healing me as my real doctors.

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Two Weeks and Counting (AKA The Battle…Vol. 4)

Two weeks from today I shall turn 23 years old, so I feel it’s time for another Get Fit Quest 2011 update.

I’ve been sorta struggling to get over the health fence recently. I’m trying, really trying, to be good, to avoid sugar, to blaze the Paleo trail, but it’s been a bumpy road. I keep finding reasons to give in to my addiction, even though they are piss poor reasons: “But it’s my cousin’s 1st communion!”; “But I started my period today!”; “But I really want that chocolate!”

All that said, the scale tells me I’m succeeding still. I guess even though what I’m eating isn’t ideal, how much I’m eating seems to be acceptable, and those 3-mile walks I’ve been taking with my dog are doing their job. My jeans, even the new pairs I’ve bought for my smaller hips, are falling down, my bras are fitting loosely–though not loose enough to drop a cup size :/ –and I’m seeing parts of my body that have been hidden for a decade: my triceps, my hip bones, my abs. It’s pretty awesome.

Now, here’s where I slip rather big news in casually so it won’t cause a fuss. If you’ve read waaaaay back to the start of this webpage, you just might remember that I had a boyfriend. And if you saw my “About” page before I edited it, you might even know that I lived with him. Well, that, uh, ended. I don’t want to go into it. I could write a whole post (or a series of posts) about it that would probably be very interesting and possibly even helpful to my readers, but I won’t because A) I don’t want to be that person that is defined by her relationship or lackthereof and B) he’s still a wonderful person and I won’t let his life become a link on his ex’s website–that would just be SHITTY. However, I need to mention it simply because it is going to affect me whether I like it or not. He was a part of my life for many years, and that’s going to leave a hole. Or many holes.

So how does this relate to this post about health? Well, as of this moment, one hole his absence has left is my appetite. I have no desire to eat ANYTHING. I nibbled some left over shish kabob this morning because I knew I needed to eat something, and I’ll eat some dinner later tonight. But my tummy is quite empty right now, and I’ll allow it to stay that way. Who know how long this will last, but I’m thinking I will reach my birthday weight goal even if I continue sampling foods I know I shouldn’t.

Aaaaalright, well that’s out of the way.

So, yeah, the Get Fit Quest hasn’t (so far) been the complete lifestyle shift that wakes up my system, but I’m improving. And that’s what’s important, right? I’m working towards a healthier, better version of myself, even if it’s slightly slower going than I had hoped.

Life, after all, is a process. I’m learning that more and more every day.

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My tongue is purple…and happy

I just ate a bowl of beets for lunch, and you know what? I’m full and happy.

And satisfied.

For years and years and…well, let’s be honest here–for well over a decade, I never really knew what it was to be satisfied. I ate so much, but even when I was distended and uncomfortable and considering making myself throw-up just to feel a little bit better, I still wanted more. I don’t really remember a day that I ate a plate of food, sat back and said, “I’m done. I’m good.” I always wanted seconds of something–in retrospect, it was usually whatever had the most carbohydrates–and I always wanted dessert. Always.

ALWAYS.

ALWAYS.

Do you get me here? Do you understand what that was like? If you do, I am sorry, because it sucked. It sucked SO MUCH.

Then, a few months ago, when I started playing with paleo, I suddenly learned what it was to be done eating and OK with it. I had been weening myself off of sugars for a few weeks the first time I really noticed it was happening.  It was a Saturday night, I was going out with friends in the evening, and I didn’t have much time to throw together a meal for myself. So I just steamed a bunch of broccoli real quick, and reheated some grilled chicken. I ate my sad little dinner in about 4 minutes…and I was full. Not stuffed, but no longer hungry. And even better, I wasn’t sitting there thinking, “You what would be really good right about now? Ice cream or garlic bread or 17 Reese’s cups.” I was totally and completely satisfied. Mind=BLOWN

When I eat a healthful, low or no sugar meal, I get to enjoy that feeling. It is only when I allow myself unfriendly foods that I backslide into the hell that is over-fullness and still wanting more More MORE. Last night at a family gathering  I was being “good”: I ate a big salad, some fruit, a couple bites of sub-par pasta salad, and I was pretty much done. But–oh, of course there’s a but, there’s always a but–then the cheesy potatoes came out of the oven. And then the cake was served. (THIS is the problem with having a large Italian family that gets together all the time) And in true Pamela form I caved.

Why, oh why, do I always fucking cave?

It was the only meal I ate yesterday, so I didn’t completely screw myself, but I did leave that party feeling…blah. Just too full. And I had cake on the brain the rest of the night.

[Christ, do I hope this is the last time I have to write about losing another battle against sugar. I know eventually I will win the goddamn war, but I just have too many tales of defeat.]

But then today, I eat my eggs for breakfast and BOOM! Full. Four hours later I’m not yet truly hungry but I know I should eat so I enjoy a bowl of roasted beets, enough that my tongue turns a lovely shade of magenta, and I am totally satisfied. It’s such a fabulous feeling.

Since going (mostly) paleo, I can make a meal of such simple things and truly enjoy it. A green salad with thinly sliced beef and just a little bleu cheese: killer and filling. A can of tuna (yeah, freaking tuna) with capers, red pepper, and celery: perfect and I’m perfectly full. When I roast a head of cauliflower,  I need nothing else. (That said, I will pair it with a lovely protein, but the point is, I don’t need to to feel satisfied.) In fact, roasted cauliflower may be my very favorite food now. Shall I share my recipe?

OK, twist my arm, why don’t you.

Roasted Cauliflower

1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets

1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt, at least

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Note: Just the above ingredients together are fabulous but I add these additional seasonings for something a bit more special.

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon cumin (freshly ground if possible)

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/8 teaspoon tumeric

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Toss your florets in the olive oil and spread on a baking sheet OR grease the baking sheet with half of the oil and drizzle the rest over the cauliflower (I prefer the second method because you may end up using less oil–gotta watch those omega 6s). Evenly sprinkle the cauliflower with  seasonings (and by all means, try any seasoning you like!) but be sure to be generous with the salt. Then pop the baking sheet into the oven until you can smell the cauliflower (it’s a great, nutty aroma, you’ll know it when you smell it), or about 15 minutes. Turn the florets, and then bake another 10-15 minutes, or until evenly browned. The more browned they get, the more condensed the flavor gets, but then the texture is less al dente. So kinda play with the recipe until you find what works best for you. Finally, eat, love, be satisfied.

It’s moments like this when I don’t understand why I bother with sugar. I mean, OK, sometimes it’s just worth it, (I will probably go to Inn Season cafe for the world’s best chocolate mousse on my birthday) but normally it’s just…not. I feel so much happier in brain and body when I eat my simple paleo-friendly foods than I do when I ingest even small amounts of  sugar. I need to remind myself in those pathetic moments when I’m considering allowing my addiction to rule my actions that I will feel so much better if I resist the carbohydrate siren call.  I need to remind myself of how I feel right now: happy and satisfied…and proud of my purple tongue.

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The Battle of the Bulg(ing Waistline) Vol. 1

Today, mere moments ago in fact, I ate for lunch some sliced turkey breast right out of the deli package, some pan fried sweet potatoes, and homemade far-superior-to-store bought coleslaw (my secret: apple cider vinegar). One quadrant of my brain—the part that operates independently of the rest of my brain, constantly focused on food all day, every day—will over-analyze this meal for the next hour or so. It will ask such vital questions as: Was that enough sweet potato to get half my potassium for the day? How much sugar did they use to cure that turkey? The butter—argh! The butter!—is that my friend or foe? Was I even hungry enough to warrant a meal?

I do this a lot.

That little anecdote is just a brief introduction to my relationship with food. It will take me weeks of writing and dozens of posts to really touch on all the facets of this complex issue, so for now, I’ll take Sister Maria’s advice and start at the very beginning.

When I was conceived…OK, maybe that’s too close to the beginning.

Alright, my mom. I’ll start there. My mom is a freak of nature, God love her. Her metabolism is that of a…hmm…I don’t have an analogy here. Grr. Her metabolism is insane, let’s just put it that way. She is a tiny little person (5’5” and 115 lbs.) and she eats more than most linebackers. She eats salads that spill out of mixing bowls. One Hot N Ready pizza is an appetizer. In my lifetime I have seen hundreds of waitresses blanch when they realize the stick figure in front of them just ate an entire “serves 4” size plate of nachos. She’s the luckiest woman on the planet.

I hate her.

It’s not that she doesn’t have to make some effort for her figure: she works 12-hr shifts without a lunch break, and she plays soccer sometimes 4 times a week (though she’ll dispute this, she’s the best Sweeper in every league she’s ever entered.) But still, growing up watching her devour a horse every night gave me a skewed idea of how much food is a “serving.” I grew accustomed to downing six or seven slices of deep-dish pizza for dinner. I love, love, LOVED cereal, and ate approximately 3x the recommended serving every morning. I would eat a whole package of Oreos over the course of two days without a second though.

When I was pre-pubescent, this gluttonous lifestyle did seem to be a problem. I was 48 pounds in the 4th grade, 52 pounds in the 6th grade. Yes, you read that right. I gained 4 pounds in two years. I was creepy-skinny and never knew it. But the summer before 8th grade, over the course of a matter of months, I ballooned from 52 to 95 pounds. And the numbers on the scale just kept climbing from there. I was mortified— and a little repulsed—by my own weight gain, and it didn’t occur to me that this change was necessary for me to, you know, be a healthy woman. It may not have been so life-shattering had my mom viewed the sudden appearance of hips on her once bony daughter as welcome. But as she watched me try on jeans at Kohl’s, she grimaced and said, “You’re gonna lose a few pounds before you wear those in public, right?” I felt…gross. And hurt. And…disappointed in myself.

When my period made its grand entrance a few months later, things made a bit more sense, but I still wanted nothing more than to be all ribs and shoulder blades again. I developed an unhealthy liking for Self magazine, especially when you consider it’s only slightly less tawdry than Cosmo and I was 14. I started working out. A lot. I was a dancer, and had 8 classes per week, which is a good amount of exercise. But when I’d get home from dance at 10:00pm, I’d pull out dumbbells and do all the ridiculous workout regimens I read about in those magazines to the point that I couldn’t sleep because I had gotten my heart rate up too high too close to bedtime.

All this time, though, I was still eating ludicrous portions of food. I used to say I looked 7 months pregnant after a meal because my abs couldn’t hold my food baby in. But one time at a family gathering, I sat down next to my aunt who was actually 7 months pregnant and our bellies matched. It was disturbing on so many levels.

Around this time I became a vegetarian. It was something I always felt like I should do, even if I didn’t have a concrete reason why, and I figured it would help me be healthier. Turns out, just because you don’t eat animals, you don’t miraculously become svelte. (The whole Veggie Tale is another post).

When I joined the track team my sophomore year, that made a bit of a difference in my body. My weight didn’t decrease but my muscle mass certainly did, so I was a bit more confidant. But the night before a meet I’d eat half a pound of pasta. And after the meet I would go home and eat an entire pan of rice krispie treats. I took carbo-loading to a whole new level, and I was only a sprinter.

My senior year, I was Captain, I was aiming to beat the school record in the 400M, and I was in great shaped thanks to the sports conditioning class I took with the football team. I quit dance so I could my all into track, and I should have kicked ass…were it not for the new head coach. I’ll admit it, I’m still bitter. If I could have stuck with the training regimen my coach for the previous two seasons had designed, I’d have been great. But little Coach What’s-Her-Face thought she knew better and started to have me train with the distance runners. And while I was still fast as hell, my legs aren’t built for distance. I got shin splints within two weeks, and a stress fracture that had me sidelined by midseason. I was the Captain, standing inside the track taking times, watching a freshman take my record in the 400. I wanted to die. I had no physical outlet and my dreams were dashed, so I ate. Even more than usual.

By graduation, I was 157 pounds. My highest weight and my lowest point.

College was my salvation. Escaping the unhealthy view of food in my parents house allowed me to see that you don’t have to eat as if every meal is your last. I learned to eat until I was full, not bursting at the seams. I learned that even if the caf is offering your favorite Turtle cheesecake, if you don’t feel like eating it, then DON’T because they’ll probably have it again next week. I was taking off weight just a few weeks after school started, but when the weight started to fall off, I should have been suspicious.

It wasn’t until the following June on my summer vacation that I learned I had had mono for the past 8 months. So my decreased appetite and sudden shrinking was due to a virus that could have killed me, not my own improving food views. And when your doctor, commands you to sit on the couch and NOT MOVE for one month, well, poundage finds its way back to you.

I could keep cataloging each weight fluctuation I experienced, but I won’t. I’ll just say that I ended up learning about moderation and eventually my weight leveled out at 140 pounds. I told people I was 130 pounds, even when my weight crept up to 145, and I secretly always wished I weight 125. It wasn’t ideal, but I sorta just figured I was stuck at that weight. Like it was my metabolic destiny.

Then, a few months ago, my cousin tells me about this amazing diet she’s on: the Paleo Diet. I am, at first, a total skeptic. I love food, and any diet that says “NO CARBS AT ALL” just sounded insane to me. But she looked great, was healthy, and just had so much to say about how great and happy she felt. I just thought, “Well, I want to be happy. And healthy. It’s worth a shot.” I looked into the science, it all made sense, so I decided to test the waters of this new diet, even if I was still hesitant to say goodbye to pasta (I’m Italian for God’s sake!).

I started really making sure I was getting enough protein, and was cutting sugar out of my diet as much as possible. I lost 4 pounds in a month or so, and that was nice. When I decided to wade into the Paleo pool a little deeper and stopped fearing fat and started really shunning carbs—as it happens, saying goodbye to pasta isn’t so hard—another 6 pounds fell off in less than 2 weeks. I was dumbfounded. I had abs. I’ve never had abs before. EVER. But the most beautiful part wasn’t the weight loss: it was that my hair was growing back (will discuss more in future posts); it was that I had so much energy when I never even realized I was tired before; it was that I didn’t get a cold for 2 months, and I am the perpetually sick girl (again, more about that later). I finally found something that seemed to be working for me.

As I sit here today writing this, I am actually 130 pounds, sometimes 128 depending on the day and how generous the scale is feeling. I feel pretty damn good. I have new issues with sugar binges that I never had to worry about before, and I think about what I’m putting into my body more than I’d like. But all those years I was feeding my belly, not my body. I think it’s reasonable to worry a bit more about your diet when you’re actually concerning yourself with your wellness. And that’s what I keep telling myself here. For years, over a decade, I was unhappy with my body. But more importantly, I wasn’t healthy. Now, I’m a limit approaching healthy (if you don’t get that, study up on your calculus!).

Wellness. It’s the new cool.

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Filed under self-reflection, The Good Foods, Uncategorized, Wellness