Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Where is alcohol not?

Whole Foods is putting bars in their stores. Can really nothing be done sober anymore? Granted no one is forcing you to buy alcohol if you go into Whole Foods, but why are they even offering it? Yes yes, I understand that the majority of people are thrilled by this idea…but I am not (and it is okay to disagree). For more widespread reasons, I dislike this idea because Whole Foods is most certainly going to take advantage of shoppers after they’ve had a couple of drinks…you shouldn’t go shopping when you are hungry and you DEFINITELY shouldn’t go shopping if you are buzzed/drunk. Whole Foods is expensive enough when you go WITH a list, but I can only imagine the financial damage you’d do just stumbling down the aisles. Second…I dislike this idea because if people are actually going to shopping while they are there and don’t want their food to go bad/get warm…then they are going to drink their drink and immediately hop in their car…unless of course they are going down everyone aisle and spending hundreds of dollars, in which case hopefully their buzz would wear off by time they got to the checkout line. But I think the reason why this bothers me most is why? Whole Foods is a “healthy” store…you go there to get organic healthy items and try to live a healthy lifestyle…why does alcohol need to be served to enhance your experience. And I think why this really bothered me was because I was listening to this announcement on Elliot in the Morning (DC101), who is a gigantic douche bag anyways…but…he was saying how being drunk would make shopping so much more tolerable and yada yada…and personally (as I struggle with rationalizing my decision to stop drinking when it is the societal norm) I think it’s sad that we live in a society that has to medicate any mildly boring/mundane/stressful task. I completely understand that people drink in the evening after work, on the weekends to relax, at dinners/happy hours, at parties and celebrations, and whatever else…but why do we need to drink at grocery stores and hair salons and basically throughout the day?

I am sure most of my wonderful foodie friends are excited about a bar in Whole Foods and please don’t take my rant personally, because I understand and I am sure my mindset would be different if I drank! But, for someone who doesn’t drink…another arena where drinking is prevalent really isn’t what I need.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Affirmation...should come from within.

Over the course of my recent revelations and past sessions with my therapist, I realized my need for affirmation was driven by my anxiety and low (but growing!) self esteem. This constant need for affirmation caused me to doubt many relationships in my life and question whether people were happy with me or appreciated me in their life. Without a doubt, this constant need for affirmation is draining on my relationships which is why I am continuing to work on finding my affirmation within. For most people it is obvious when someone values you in their life and you can tell through their actions whether they are mad or happy with you…and I am continuing to work on being aware of that and not questioning the obvious. Over the year it has become clear to me that all of these “issues” are obviously interrelated and by slowly working on each of them, they will all resolve themselves. The need for affirmation is derived by my low self esteem which manifests itself in anxious habits and concerns about my image (both socially and physically). They always say that knowledge is the first step, right? Well I have been aware for some time now…and I believe that the first step was knowledge, the second step was surrounding myself with positive people and positive reinforcement, and the last step will be positive reinforcement from myself and a positive outlook on my life and who I am. And I think that the last two steps go hand in hand in regards to me working on my need for affirmation…because if I know that I am surrounded by people the genuinely love me and appreciate me, and I am confident in myself and my actions…then naturally I can be confident that those people in my life do, in fact, truly love me and want me in their lives. See how that works? Now if I can just repeat that to myself over and over!

The reason all of these rambling came up was because I was thinking about my love for school and my apathy towards working in an office, and I realized that my love for school also steps from my need for affirmation. In the office you receive feedback that is somewhat ambiguous (if you are doing an average or good job at your tasks) and you complete your job for a purpose that is eventually achieved by not really “judged”. However, in school you receive letter grades for your work. You know whether you did a great job (A) or were terrible (F). And I think that is why I really like school. There is no grey area on my performance and I am able to get exact feedback on what I did incorrectly and how the professors view me as a student. Now this isn’t the only reason I love school…I also love learning, the academic environment, and research. And I am incredibly excited/terrified to start my PhD program in the fall. I am hopeful that this academic environment (scholars, experts, dissertation critiques) will really push my confidence to a new level because without a backbone I will probably fail…and failing is not an option!

I hope that this blog may help others to shed some light on their insecurities and where they are derived from. I think it is important (and interesting) to really think about how your emotions, weaknesses, and strengths play into different aspects of your life and mold you into the person you are (good or bad). And as I always say…there is always room for growth and change and it’s never too late to reflect and assess.

XOXO and Happy Spring!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Path Down the Road Less Traveled..

Happy St. Patrick's Day! The holiday sort of changes form when you don't drink..as I am sure you can all understand. The idea of going to kegs and eggs with 21 year olds just isn't AS appealing as it was back in my youth. But still a fun holiday nonetheless. So as I was thinking about St. Patrick's Day and how basically everyone is partaking in some sort of green delicious beer today, I wonder how it would be for me to go out. Then I started thinking about what I missed from celebratory drinking events...mainly...the dancing. To quote Dane Cook, "I just wanna dance". I always enjoyed going to clubs in college and dancing for hours to hip hop and club music, but I feel like that experience would be completely different sober. Most importantly there is "loss of inhibitions" aspect that I would be missing from alcohol so I would probably be super embarrassed and worried that I was dancing weird (whereas if I was drunk, who cares!). So then I wondered if maybe having a dance party at my apartment would be weird...and I decided...yes, yes it would. So who knows what to do now. Maybe I just need to accept that my clubbing days are long past. Or maybe one of these days I'll test my confidence and try dancing at the club sober...I am going to guess that doing it sober will make me realize that it isn't as fun as I remember.

Now back to St. Patty's Day...today I had to go to College Park to meet with the faculty of the PhD program to start planning for the fall. Being on that campus brought back quite a lot of memories...and being on that campus on St. Patty's Day brought back even more. It was very weird to go back so many years later...now wiser...now sober...now pursuing a PhD...and now quite older. It is interesting that UMD will be apart of so many "stages" of my life. I will have partied my hardest there AND earned (fingers crossed) my most important degree...I will have made mistakes than I can count AND hopefully made the best decision of my life (thus far)...I will have met new drinking buddies there AND met experts in the field of Public Health. But I guess that is what college is. It is a world in itself and a place for you to figure out who you are and what your purpose is. It is a place to test the waters, make mistakes, take leaps of faith, try new things, fail, learn, grow, and at the end of the day...hopefully be a better person from the experience. (I sound like an advertisement for college..ha).

Anyways...I know this blog was all over the place but so is my life right now...and today with yet another drinking focused holiday and being on UMD's campus but for a whole different reason, I felt the need for some reflection. It's been a long and bumpy road, but I think I have made it :)

Cheers. Now go drink some green beer for me...maybe I'll make myself a green smoothie :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Healthy living starts today!

I have been having a lot of conversations with my fabulous roommate, Lauren, about healthy living, making excuses, and the hardships of time management and I have some tips. Hopefully they will be helpful for those of you beginning or working on a healthy living regimen.

First and foremost, make this lifestyle a priority. Yes, sleep is valuable. Yes, sleep plays a large part in being healthy, maintaining strong mental health, and losing weight. But, if the only time you can fit in a workout is 6am, then wake up at 5:30 and get it out of the way! Because exercise is a priority to me I plan each of my days and make sure that exercise is included in my schedule. I aim to exercise in the morning that way I can still do fun things after work and can make spur of the moment plans without having to miss out on anything.

Secondly, and my biggest struggle, portion control. There are a billion and one competing dietary facts out there. Whole grain vs. white bread, organic vs. non-organic, low fat vs. low calorie, meat vs. vegetarian, and so on and so on. And through all of my tests and trials and personal research, I think that the best guideline is portion control. If you limit any food in particular (that you love) then you will end up binging on it later (e.g. peanut butter for me!! Cookies, ice cream, etc). But as long as you have a bit of each food group in your diet and expend more calories than you consume, you will be happy, healthy, and probably losing weight. (I do however thing whole grains are better than white enriched, unbleached flour…BUT if your options are limited, just use good portion control techniques).

Lastly, don’t beat yourself up over things. Just because you went off your diet for dinner doesn’t mean your entire day of exercise and healthy eating should go to crap and you should either be upset or pig out on dessert. If you do feel like you went off your diet too much then just add some extra cardio to your workout the next day. But I believe that when you start to get angry with yourself then you fall off your healthy living path and give up. Every day is a new day and a new opportunity to be healthy.

My golden rules:
- Find an activity that you ENJOY!!! Running and zumba aren’t for everyone!
- Drink lots of water
- Be stronger than your excuses
- Know what you are eating and have the power to say no.
- Make it a priority
- DON’T wait until “Monday” or “tomorrow”…your health starts today!

Hope this helps :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A summer job? Of course! Well, for us...

Over the course of my interesting life I have held at least 15 part time jobs. These jobs have ranged from waitressing to bouncing to promoting cologne. And outside of the jobs I actually held, I can say with confidence that I am sure I applied to well over 50 part time jobs and probably was accepted and turned down 15. Every summer from the age that I could legally work (14 or 15, right?) to the end of college, I, without a doubt, had a part time job. A couple months before the summe break began my friends and I would patrol local restaurants and shopping malls and apply everywhere that we could. We all had jobs..and we all took those jobs for granted and didn't take them seriously. Most of our parents were still giving us money so half of us didn't actually NEED the job to survive, but we wanted the job for extra spending money and because that was just what you did. You worked during the day and partied hard at night.

Now the reason I bring this up is because I recently met with a Native American organization who was speaking about the unemployment rates on the reservations. The current unemployment rate is at 50%. 50% of their population does not have jobs. 50% of their population are trying to get money to SURVIVE by donating blood...or doing much riskier "jobs". And these 50% are adults...and providers for families. The Natives are unable to work at McDonalds at minimum wage (a job I applied for as a joke and was hired and never showed up to) because the closest McDonalds is an hour away. And I think about this devastating circumstance and then I think about how I completely took for granted the luxury of having a job when I wanted, where I wanted, and for however long as I wanted. I took for granted the luxury of my parents being able to financially support me while I worked as a waitress to earn money for shopping, vacations, and going out to eat. I took for granted those opportunities and had no concept of the "opportunity" that it really was.

I guess I just wrote this blog because I was amazed at the unemployment rate for Natives and upset with myself for taking my opportunities for granted...but when you grow up in a bubble like HoCo, its hard to really imagine life outside of it. If nothing else, take from this an appreciation for what you had...an appreciation for all that you have now...and if you have the opportunity to improve the workfoce on reservations, have at it :)


A Special Blend of 7 and 45

As I have gotten older I have noticed more and more "old" person tendencies (and by old, I apologize, but I mean my parents age). Okay I will edit "old"...I have noticed more and more more mature tendencies usually executed by one over the age of 40...better? Out of nowhere this morning I realized that I have started driving with two hands on the wheel. NEVER (with the exception of my driving test) have I driven with two hands on the wheel...or at the very least the two hands were chillin' at the bottom of the wheel. But not today...my hands were at 9 and 2...weird. I also noticed that I can no longer listen to my music loud and the bass I can hear from other cars (much like the bass from my sweet bazooka tube subwoofer in high school) is ridiculously annoying. My bedtime is about 10pm. I enjoy doing dishes. I like to have my bed made and everything closed (drawers, cabinets, curtains, doors). I am getting old...

BUT...I am also regressing to a child. I have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch and drink chocolate milk on a regular basis. I like going to the zoo and learning new things. I like playing board games. And I usually act like a child at least once a day :)

Maybe I am old in habit, young at heart, and somewhere in between in appearance and health haha. I am quite happy with this completely bizzarre blend of age and time, and I am SURE it just adds to my unique behavior :)

Stay young, keep learning and growing, and most importantly, stay healthy! XOXO

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I'm Talking with the (wo)Man in the Mirror

I believe that (unfortunately) I have body dysmorphia. This is not a blog to complain about my lovely eating "issues", but more so to raise some awareness and to give some support and comfort to anyone else who feels this way. I do think that eating disorders (again, unfortunately) never go away...and I have noticed that I have become, again, more concerned with how my body looks. I think that, as I have said before, gaining weight (even if it is to be healthier and supported by all the important people in my life) is very difficult to accept. And regardless of what anyone else says, I am still very self conscious and very aware of any changes in my body. Now, the reason that I think I have body dysmorphia is simple (and common)...I do not see the same thing that others see. Case in point was this morning...I literally looked in the mirror and thought "wow my face looks chubby" then 5 minutes later looked in the same mirror and thought "hm my face actually looks skinny today". That, my friends, is body dysmorphia. It's not crazy, it's not for attention, and it's not absurd (because I am a small person)...it's a disorder. It is a symptom of my anxiety manifested in an obsession with my body shape. And it is a consuming aspect of someones life. It is very difficult to feel a sense of anxiety each time you eat, and feel a sense of paranoia when wearing tight clothing. But it doesn't have to be this way...

Body issues (at least for me) are rooted in anxiety. And when I am feeling great with my body is when I am feeling confident overall. Confidence is the root of so many evil things. Confidence can make or break everything including relationships, jobs, family, and happiness. Confidence can be shattered by those around you and reconstructed by those that matter. And confidence is what I am working on. I know that I need to focus on being okay with my appearance and when I do that, the rest will fall into place. I know I am my own biggest critic and I know I see things differently than others. And (as with many things) acknowledging the issues is the first step. I am hoping that from now until the summer (when things get more stressful and wearing a bathing suit becomes the focal point of life) I can work on being okay with myself, understanding that I am healthy and in amazing shape, and being happy with who I am and what I look like. I am 100% confident that this is possible...and (as I mentioned before and stopped doing) it will begin with making positive remarks to myself in the mirror...contradicting the negative and positive every time...and focusing on my assets. This is my goal. And I hope that this can be the goal for my other fabulous friends that are worried about their body. Fight the hate on yourself :)


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A non-alcoholic lac-fruc-tard...say what??

I am still going to leave this blog up here, but I just received a call from the doctor's office that the nurse read the results wrong and I am not fructose intolerant, but fructose sensitive...basically I am just more sensitive to foods very high in fructose (apples) but I don't need to avoid it completely...WOOHOO....but still read the blog, hahah

In the past year I think I have made my diet the most complicated thing on earth. First I quit drinking therefore taking out most appealing beverages served at restaurants (limiting me to soda, fruit juice, and iced tea). Being the self proclaimed health nut that I am, I don't drink regular soda so that pretty much leaves me with diet coke, unsweetended iced tea, and maybe pineapple juice if I don't mind the high sugar intake. Oh and don't forget sparkling cider...boy did I drink my fair share of sparkling cider over the holidays...

Then I determine I am lactose intolerant. So now remove most desserts, usually most items on fine dining menus (however, good restaurants are incredibly accomodating), and a lot of healthy snacks from my diet. Once I removed the dairy from my diet (mainly string cheese, yogurt, ice cream, milk in my coffee), my stomach was feeling better...or, at the very least, I stopped feeling cripplingly nauseous. Fortunately with the combination of soy/coconut products as a substitute for dairy being the latest health craze and more food manufactures being conscientious of food allergies, finding dairy free items/substitutes has been a breeze! More importantly, my loving boyfriend and excellent chef has done a fabulous job of coming up with great dairy free recipes.

So then I realize that my stomach still bothers me. And I have sort of just been accepting that as the norm. Constantly being bloated and gassy (sometimes to the extent of painful cramping) was just a way of life. Until I decided it wasn't. Maybe if I lived by myself and never left my home this could be acceptable...but having stomach "issues" at work, with friends, and with a boyfriend is just miserable. Soo, back to the doctors we go...

His first suggestion- fructose intolerance. Really? So, my body just hates sugar apparently! After some research I decided this must be it. Fructose intolerance is similar in symptoms to lactose intolerance but you cannot take a supplement to assist in the digestion, you basically will always have a harder time digesting this type of sugar. Fructose exists in some of my favorite foods (oh yay! *sarcasm..*): apples, so clearly sparkling apple cider, diet foods/soda (in sorbitol), pears, watermelon, honey, raisins, and (most importantly) high fructose corn syrup. So for the past two weeks I have done my best to eliminate fructose from my diet and have honestly felt a lot better. Sometimes I am not as careful as I should be and indulge and immediately can notice the effects. So this week I went and had a fructose breath test done to confirm my self diagnosis and I was correct. I am now a lac-fruc-tard.

This, my friends, has been the most difficult diet news I have had to encounter. Just when I felt I had a good hold on a regular diet (breakfast foods, snacks, drinks, dinners, desserts...restaurant substitutions...all of it), I have to go and make it more difficult! Now, my drink options at restaurants are literally limited to water and iced tea (I do okay with regular sugar/sugar in the raw). No more sparkling apple cider! No more granola bars because of the high fructose corn syrup. No more diet sodas, diet dressings or diet sauces. No more APPLES!!! No more honey in my tea. Boy oh boy. Now on a brighter note...here are some foods I CAN eat...

- POM juice: I can have berries and it is 100% berry, no sugar added (great for mocktails!)
- Bananas, Oranges, Berries, and Pineapples are still safe: WHEW!!!
- Evaporated Cane Juice: I believe this is okay but I need to do some more research...but it exists as a sugar replacement in a lot of organic foods
- Almond Milk: I love you and I love your chocolate version.
- Nuts/Peanut butter: I still love you.
- Eggs: I will always love you.
- Meat: yum.

So while these discoveries have most certainly limited my diet and made eating out super difficult. I have learned a TON more about nutrition and cooking, and have been able to easily adjust.

If you notice that you have any stomach discomfort...don't assume that it is just the way your body is. Keep a log of what foods you eat and when your body isn't happy and take it from there. Given the fabulous organic, gluten free, dairy free, vegan, sugar free, etc etc options out there, it is very easy to eat for you :)


Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Curse of Being Overstimulated...

Waiting for the metro, riding an elevator, sitting at a stop light, running on a treadmill...these are all things that we used to (and should be able to) do on their own. We rode an elevator and thought about the days plans, conversed with the person next to us...we ran on the treadmill and focused on the music or the rhythm of our steps...and we waited for the metro while sitting peacefully (or maybe reading a newspaper). Now, we need constant stimulation. The misfortune of my (and probably your) generation is our constant need for stimulation. The constant need to be informed, up-to-date, in contact with others, and seeing and hearing as much entertainment as possible. It is exhausting.

I've noticed this a lot in myself (and I strongly dislike it...but it is quite the hard addiction to break) when I am riding the elevator at work and constantly checking facebook (the most disappointing moment being that there are no new updates since the last time I checked 2 minutes ago...), when I am running on the treadmill and want a good beat in my headphones and an entertaining sitcom with subtitles on the small tv attached to my machine, and when I am sitting at a stop light and even the radio has become too mundane for me and I need to check my email (absolutely unsafe..I know.). This constant need to be stimulated by all sensory organs is exhausting and I do believe that it cannot possibly be good for us. My generation no longer appreciates silence. No longer enjoys sitting and just being....sitting with a cup of coffee and watching the birds chirp outside the window. I believe that our need to be stimulated by so many channels (audio, visual, etc)takes us out of our own...leaves us with little time to think and reflect and keeps us craving even more. I think it is disappointing that many cannot enjoy a good workout without watching tv, reading the newspaper, and listen to music (or even watching a screen that simulates a workout in the outdoors!)...but I guess if the individual wouldn't workout in a normal setting with them and the treadmill, they wouldn't do it period. I guess that the stimulation can modify unappealing situations to be more tolerable. I guess...

So maybe the gym is different...and just because I enjoy exercise in its most basic form, doesn't mean that everyone else will...and I should be happy that these stimulations occur to engage non-exercisers and keep them coming back. But my position still stands on the negative side of stimulation in terms of every day living and what could be considered peacefulness. The need I have to check my phone at every point in the day when I am not speaking with someone else, busy, or doing work is sad. I am trying to work on it. But I have become so accustomed to this lifestyle that I will admit it is hard. The abilty to converse with multiple people in person, over the phone, via text, on email, and through facebook at the same time is absurd...but common.

Now in the time that I have spent writing this blog I have missed a couple of text messages and some facebook posts...so I need to check those :)

PS- Take some time out for you. In silence. Just enjoy you and reflect. It's nice, I promise.


PPS- Post blog writing I noticed another necessary stimulation for running (at least for me)...my need to change the speed, incline, or something! Running on a treadmill is far too mundane for me...and even if I am looking at a magazine, listening to great music, and staring at myself in the mirror...I still need to change something about my workout (speed or hill) every minute or so! Ahh!