Sunday, May 24, 2015

Eating For You

Ever considered that your eating habits are directly related to your emotional and mental state? We all know about binge eating ice cream when we go through a breakup, a glass of wine taking the edge off a stressful day or how comfort food is exactly that, comforting. But what about the other side? Ever notice on a day that is yours, a day that you dedicate to you, your future, your well-being, your happiness, "a you day;" a day where you do what you want, don't worry about any one's needs, wants or desires, that that day effects your eating habits in an entirely different way?

I have noticed during the week my food and drinking habits are regimented, timed and cerebral. I eat because I have woken at a time that is forced. I have to eat because I am going to work and I can't eat at my desk when my body actually tells me I'm hungry. I have to eat lunch at a designated lunch time, because I have to go back to work. Sometimes I have to eat lunch quicker, or earlier, or later than I would like because of work. And dinner is impacted by the remainder of my day at work, my workout schedule, my energy and the energy of my Honey's day too.

The weekend days and days where I don't work, the days that are mine, I eat completely different. Food is not regimented or cerebral. It is a visceral, enjoyable, a non-thought process way of eating. On the days that I do my IIN class for the week, I feel so nourished, emotionally and mentally, knowing I am working to a better more fulfilling future that food is celebratory, nourishing, healthy and fulfilling in a way that is simple, satisfying and honest. On these days and most weekend days I do not immediately wake and eat food. I have no need to. Nowhere to go, no schedule to abide by. I can eat based on my body's need and not the time on the clock. This unregimented schedule allows me the capacity to really listen to my body's needs and real hunger. I think so often we get caught up in the schedule of the weekday hectic-ness that meal times are scheduled regardless of what our body needs.

I notice I eat a lot more on the weekdays that I do on the weekends. I think because my weekday schedule is not natural for me and also I am not as tuned into my body's needs as much as I am tuned into the forced schedule of a 9-5 job.

On "my days", I start with a morning cup of green tea, with the occasional splurge of a single cup of coffee, sit on the sun porch on warm mornings, or even outside, or curled up in the cozy chair with the dogs and a blanket. Letting the morning grace me slowly and naturally. I love quiet mornings, when we are all still a little groggy. The dogs aren't entirely rambunctious yet and they still want to snuggle in bed or on the couch while I read a good book, catch up on my class, or even sometimes watch a DVRd favorite show or movie. (Ever since I was a kid there is something nostalgic and cozy about starting a weekend morning with a favorite show you waited to watch in anticipation of Saturday morning cuddles and tea; or a perfectly reflective, inspiring or romantic movie that sets the tone of the day.)

Oli helping me study

I love to wake slowly and quietly, which is great because although A doesn't wake slowly or quietly, he does like alone time first thing in the morning. We say are morning hellos, kisses and hugs, cuddles and embraces all around, dogs included. We go back to our alone spaces of quiet, him in his office reading the latest news online while drinking coffee and me reading, or learning, or cuddling, watching or doing yoga in silence. It is glorious. We emerge a couple hours later ready for the day together.

Typically we don't eat until mid-day, sometimes skipping a formal breakfast in lieu of a brunch-type meal either leaning toward lunch or breakfast foods depending on the mood of the day. But the meal is always healthy, nourishing, simple and in smaller portions that we normally gravitate towards on a weekday. Maybe it is because we are not rushing out the door to get to work on time. We have embraced our natural rhythms and had our mornings to ourselves that food is a secondary thought, only speaking up as minor hunger pangs arrive. 

Weekends are always the time when I feel inspired to try a new recipe or create an exciting meal and have friends over for dinner. There is something nourishing on a soul level that food is no longer a cerebral process, instead is a relationship between me and the food, me and A, us and our friends, us and the natural rhythm we prefer to have when left to our own devices.

It is funny, you would think that with the regimented schedule of the week we would eat better, more consciously, but when you both are unhappy with your jobs and each workday is an emotional and physical struggle, even when you say to yourself you don't turn to food for comfort, release, stress, what have you, we all do. Even the most strong willed will rely on food, or abstain from food, in an effort to counter something else imbalanced in our lives. You wouldn't think that something so simple as nourishment would be directly connected to our emotional, physical and mental well-being, but it is.

Next time you have a "you day," a day that is structured, or unstructured for that matter, just the way you like, the way that feels the most natural for you, a day where no one else's needs are of your concern, take note of your connection with food. Pay attention to what you eat. When you eat. How much you eat. Your emotional and mental connection  to what you are eating. Is there even an emotional or mental connection? (And if don't allow yourself "you days" - that is no longer acceptable. Start with just a single day a month. Get a babysitter. Tell your Honey to go off with his buddies. Whatever it takes, allow yourself a day that is entirely yours. You need and deserve that day. So start now.)

If you are anything like me, those "you days" are the few days a week where food is an afterthought, a non-thought for that matter. I go about my day and then go oh, I guess I'm kind of hungry. I always reach for something light, nutritiously dense and healthy. I lean towards a more liquid diet naturally. A diet full of fresh pressed green juices, or smoothies, lots of greens and fruit. Only eating perhaps 1 or 2 formal meals in that day; rather then my standard, almost mandated work week of 3 square meals. And my portions are noticeably smaller. The food tastes better, maybe because I am allowed the time to really taste it and savor it. And the concern of healthy vs not, nourishing vs filling a void, all goes away. 

It is simply beautiful, uncomplicated foods that make me feel amazing. The food and my connection with the food is an extension of my day of connecting with myself, allowing me to be me, whole, unabashedly "selfish" and learning to listen, acknowledge and let myself be. Be nourished, loved, whole, healthy, beautiful, happy, fulfilled me.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Bad Timing to Cut Out Wine and Potato Chips When You are PMSing

These last two weeks have been chaotic, emotional, exhausting, frustrating, tumultuous and libated beyond healthy. For lack of any better word these last two weeks I have been on a bender. And no, relax, I don't need help, I don't need to check into a rehab facility. I am talking about my type of bender which is most people's typical weekend nights. 

For the last two weeks I have eaten everything and anything in sight, in mass qualities (minus gluten, I still chose to breathe) not giving a care what it was, if it nourished me or if it made me feel like shit. Potato chips, meat, dairy, Doritos (!), french fries, pie, fried chicken, fajitas, Irish nachos (lots of eating out), times 2 and then all over again. Yeah, there has been a couple of green things in there, but not much, and probably just as a garnish or in a "salad." And I am still taking my vitamins and probiotics like somehow they're going to offset this indulgent eat-whatever-bender I have been on. Ha! And don't even get me started on my alcohol consumption. Let's just say it is WAY too frequent and too much. And now my body hates me. I have lovely puss-y pimples (which I never get), my skin is dry, I am irritable, I am anywhere between constipated and having diarrhea, and now my hemorrhoids from years ago are screaming at me. My body pretty much is saying F-YOU to all the damage I have decided to force upon it these last 2 weeks. 

Why you might ask? Because of a multitude of things - mostly a shitty job I hate. I want to run screaming from the building most days of the week. The fact that I am still at said job, when I wanted to leave over a year ago. That at said job my boss who has come in, stirred the pot and left it to overflow, boiling scalding hot, spewing all over the stove, is now leaving because the company has "sucked the chi" out of him and he has "other callings."(Don't we all!?) Leaving us to deal with the mess and frustrations and loose ends of the many things that never got accomplished or straightened out. Also on his second to last day he felt the need to criticize that I did not handle a situation as he would have and that I was "too emotional" Who? Me? Nahhh...not this week buddy.... This also means that owner, ie boss's Dad, comes back in full swing, in all micro-managing glory. It is also because it is officially spring and all I want to do is be outside in my garden with my dogs and my man, getting dirty, growing beauty and creating life and nourishment for us and our home. 

But no I am stuck in a stupid office, doing a stupid job that sucks every iota of life out of me. Also I have yet to muster up the courage to tell owner/boss that I cannot and will not be working Friday's anymore because I need to focus on my health coach certification (I know the hypocrisy given my recent misgivings, hey, I'm only human). And the anticipation and fear of that conversation is filling me with terror, frustration and anxiety. Because really all I want to do is march in there and quit tomorrow. And OF COURSE they keep asking when am I going to start working Fridays again. 

Oh and top it all I am PMSing like no one's business. I want to punch everyone in the throat and ugly cry all at the same time - mostly everyone at work, the poor cashier lady, the driver of the car in front of me, my man, my mom, you name it, I am on a Doritos cheese fingers-covered-wine-induced hormonal war path and you best get the fuck out of my way. 

I know, I know, I know.....not healthy, not addressing the "true" problems, not rising above, not finding peace, and knowledge in "the master plan" (of which there is one. Trust, I do not plan to wallow in this misery forever. It fucking sucks and I want to get on with my life.) and all in all not being very namas-fucking-te. But honestly I don't know what to do, except wallow and eat and drink. All I want to do is run away from all of it, which is not realistic. I want to quit tomorrow and spend the rest of my summer doing what I want - which is gardening, writing, doing yoga outside, painting, playing with my dogs, working out, cooking delicious healthy yummy meals, teaching myself how to cook more vegetarian/vegan foods, try a raw diet, have more time for my health coach courses, start taking on health coaching clients, swimming in the ocean, taking the boat out, maybe becoming a certified yoga instructor, but no, I am wallowing, throwing a tantrum and hurting my body instead. AND even though I know better I can't seem to stop this vicious cycle. 

It is such bullshit that something so simple as a "job" can effect so much else in our lives. It makes sense intuitively, but I have never gotten it until now. But if you spend 30-40 hours of your 168 hours in a week doing something that you hate, that kills you, that sucks the life force out of you, that you know is broken, can't fix, don't want to fix and don't believe in, then let me tell you that 24% of your weekly life royally sucks. 

I need to do better, find peace, have my period start (and yes I know the wallowing and binging and booze and bad eating has brought on the raging bitch PMS), drink less, eat more veggies, eat less dairy and meat, do more yoga, find that peaceful head space about work again and continue on, because there isn't much more time for "the master plan" to unfold I am just getting antsy and I want my way out now! 

My body and digestive tract is yelling at me and I must listen or it will only get worse. Sometimes I get so tired of being sensitive because I can't "do what everyone else can do," I can't drown my sorrows in booze and junk food. No matter how hard I force it. I only get a few days before I get aggravated, constipated, my sleep is effected, my mood is effected, the zits appear and the bitch comes out. So two weeks is pushing it WAY too far (sorry to those loved ones around me, thanks for loving me still). 

So I am going to be good, eat better, stop drinking alcohol for a while, stop buying potato chips, make my green juice (gagging right now just thinking about it), start getting up earlier in the morning to meditate, practice healing yoga and be nicer to myself, my heart, my emotions, my head space and my body. I am using the wallow as my excuse and work as the evil monster, which it may be, but it is my reality and I can't blame it, when I am working towards a better, brighter, more fulfilling, healthy future.

"Patience my dear, patience." 

PS Muster up the balls to ask for Fridays off. Stop with the game and the anxiety.

Me (your better knowing conscious self)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

My Banana Bread Gave Me a Lump - Gulp!

My seasonal allergies have tremendously lessened since I have changed my diet to no gluten, no dairy (except fermented), limited-to-no meat, no refined sugars and no processed foods. They are almost non-existent. 

I have always had allergies of some kind, even as a kid – be it unidentified food allergies or seasonal allergies; they were never as bad until I moved to Maine. I think the culmination of moving to a densely forested environment coupled with my immune system being on it's last leg with horrible inflammation – my body finally gave out. After a lot of time and experimentation I finally figured it out and I am living an allergen free life. Yay! 

Sure I sneeze often, but not nearly as much as I used to. I blow my nose as soon as I wake (which Dad endearingly mentions every time I visit, of how much he loves to hear me honk first thing in the morning) otherwise it is not too bad. Even this time of year when my coworkers and friends around me are suffering, my allergies are manageable, actually they pretty much doesn't exist – especially in comparison to where I once was. Occasionally my eyes will itch and I won't wear my contacts. I will be a little extra snotty-drippy, but normally if I go to an extra clean diet of dark leafy veggies and lots of pre- and probiotic foods, I am a-OK. Read more about my allergy diet in my post Seasonal and Food Allergies.

I have noticed over the last few days I am having a problem with some gluten free foods. I don't have many in the house as it is, my though is if I wouldn't eat the packaged glutenous version, why would I eat the gluten free kind? I always have a loaf of gf bread in the freezer, which typically lasts me months. And I had some overripe bananas the other day and it was a cool, drizzly morning and banana bread and coffee sounded delish. So I made both – both of which I never eat. I just used my Grandma's famous banana bread recipe, but switched out the APF for some gf alternatives. I used almond meal, quinoa flakes, Bob's Red Mill gf APF and aside from not having walnuts in the house, it turned out deliciously. I enjoyed my 2 slices of warm banana bread with a decent amount of butter on them and a hot cup-o-jo, curled up in my bathrobe and indulged. It was a great weekend gray, drizzly morning.

As with anything I bake, now and in the past, I have 1 or 2 pieces/bites/slices and then it gets moved from counter on pretty display, into the fridge with plastic wrap over it, ultimately into the freezer. "A" normally helps out, but when it comes to gf baked goods he's not as willing to help.

So the banana bread is now in the freezer as per usual. However, I have noticed over the last week an unusual thing – I am getting the typical "lump-in-my-throat I have eaten gluten reaction" I used to get way back when. It is a little hard to identify now, because I haven't had it in so long and it kind of feels like I am overly hungry, but no, I am pretty sure it is that I've eaten-gluten-lump. Hmmmm. 

So I have wracked my brain for days. Double checked my sealed zip-lock of gf grains (to eliminate cross-contamination) and everything I used was gf and really had no possibility for coming into contact with A's gluten items. He is so hyper conscious and aware, always making sure to use different utensils and equipment (sweet man!). His flour lives in a different pantry in it's own plastic bag away from mine in their baggy. Cross contamination really isn't a big concern in our house, we are a well oiled machine.

So I am 99.99% certain it isn't cross contamination, I haven't had the banana bread for a few days, and the last time I had a small sliver (while it was still on the counter) I had no reaction, huh?! Today I had a piece, thinking to myself it isn't the banana bread. And then I had a piece of gluten free cinnamon raisin bread with organic peanut butter and banana after my run with dogs. And now, low and behold the lump is back!

So I am thinking, and they say trust your intuition, and let me tell you through this whole journey that is the one thing I have learned to really tune into, especially when the "professionals" had no answers for me. I trust my intuition all the time now. So my intuition is telling me what little seasonal allergies I do have now, are aggravated by any form of bread product, even gluten free. The reaction is subtle and most wouldn't even notice it, but I do and it makes me think that in the spring and fall avoiding all gluten free processed products - bread, crackers, even homemade banana bread made with gf grains is the best way to eliminate any undo aggravation and inflammation.

A little helpful tip I have learned, drinking ginger tea when you get a mild allergic reaction aides in the digestion of the food and also for me, at least, helps lessen the intensity of the lump in my throat.

I have never heard of anyone having this reaction in peak seasonal allergy times. Have you? Do you have reactions? I think it is interesting that gf products are bothering me right now. And the only new thing was the homemade banana bread. The cinnamon raisin bread I have been eating for year. So now I am going to test myself even further. The banana bread is in the freezer now. So I will try the cinnamon raisin bread in a few days to see if I get another lump.

And even now a few days later, I had a piece of toast with breakfast. Lump is there!

This really is intriguing to me. I know in the fall I can't drink wine. I get allergic reactions and horrible stuffiness and headaches, but only for the months of September and October. The fall is worse for me as a whole when it comes to seasonal allergies and I typically revert to a very limited elimination diet for those months. But perhaps I need to add gf products as something to avoid in the spring too, just to eliminate any unnecessary irritants and inflammation that my body is already dealing with in defense of the environmental allergens around me.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Poop Patrol

Our lives are centered around poop. Thinking about poop. Cleaning up poop. Observing the signs of needing to poop. No we are not new parents to a pooping bundle of baby-joy, we are the parents of fur babies, two of them and they poop A LOT!

No one warned us about the amount of poop two dogs produce. I guess we could have intuited by the amount of food they eat, but I had no idea how quickly two dogs would go through a 30lb bag of dog food! They say, "Oh two is no more than one." "Two is just the same amount of work as one." Liars! I swear they say the same thing about children. But two dogs is not the same as one, anymore than two children is the same as one. 

It's out there, I said it, if dogs are any indication of children, 2 
 1, period, dot!

It is twice the amount of food, twice the amount of water, twice the amount of attention, twice the amount of poop, twice the amount of poop scooping and twice the amount of time spent making sure both dogs poop when they are supposed to before you have to go back to work. Not. The. Same.

Nub-tails and lots-o-toys - rough life! ;)
I know our dog's pooping schedule as well as mine and I spend a most of my day concerned with their poop. And yes I do pay that much attention to my dog's buttholes! Don't judge. They have nub-tails (which are the cutest, I can't imagine having a dog with a tail!), the butthole is prominent and obvious, especially when it is puckering out or winking at you (both of which, we have the joy of seeing on a semi-regular basis). You notice! Actually it is hard to not notice. (When we saw that video of a dog barking and his butthole opening and closing synchronized with his barking, circulating around, we laughed not because it was funny, which it was, but because of the all-to-familiar vision - we just never thought to video it and make it go viral).
 These are what you call nub-tails! 
And see the opportunity for butthole observation?? 
You can't not look!

We are very conscious of never leaving them too long between potty breaks. Neither have ever had an accident in the house and we never force them to go longer than we could go. We just feel awful to do that. To this end we are hyper aware of their schedule. They poop in the morning when we all get up, they poop at lunch time, sometimes around or before dinner time, and normally before bed. That is a shit-ton of shit.

It never occurred to me that they might NOT need to poop at the same time?? What a crazy idea, right?! Why in God's name I thought two dog buttholes would be synchronized is ridiculous I know. You know what though, they are actually pretty much on the same scheduled. Phew! They both go on the occasional poop protest especially when it is cold or wet out. But they pretty much have the same scheduled, which is nice. However, when they don't, it ALWAYS is when they know we are leaving. One will dilly-dally, but eventually poop, while the other one walks around, walks around, gets distracted by a bug, or a noise, or a rain drop, or the wind, as the pucker in the butthole protrudes further and further out, to the point you are pretty convinced you just saw the poop. It becomes a game of "I don't need to poop, even though you can see my poop."

When we first got Oli he would immediately whimper at the door, run out do his business, run back in. For whatever reason he has picked up Addi's wonderful habit of holding his poop to enjoy all the curious splendors of the world, where the point of protrusion is inevitable. And for you non-dog owners, with puckering buttholes comes stinky-ass dog farts, which are nostril burning, eye watering and frequent, especially when said dog needs to poop and has been playing the I-don't-need-to-poop-game for longer than is funny anymore.

Oli's squishy face in his fav place on the back of the couch.
We joke about the poop game, but then secretly wonder if it is dog mind-poop-control over their humans; which, if is the case, our dogs have mastered it! Although they typically poop when they are supposed to and pretty much on command (because we are so hyper-aware of their schedule) they seem to get a twisted, albeit uncomfortable, pleasure of holding their poop if the conditions do not meet their standards. Full fledged poop protest that we cannot create a soothing zen-spa like poop sanctuary. Bad humans, bad humans.

Addi has a knee injury right now, which we are babying and forcing her to be still (you try to tell a hyper active dog to not run and play and jump, IN SPRING, yeah right! I laughed at the vet when he told us to force her to stay indoors, but we are trying). Typically at lunch time I let them out in the fenced yard to run, and sniff, and play, and pee and poop. Right now they have to go out separately to avoid any chance of running and playing. I don't know about you, but rationalizing with two very rambunctious dogs that they cannot play or run or even go outside together is pointless. Our back door pretty much is a revolving door of "oh please, oh please let me out side," but as the other one comes in, the pleading one, immediately wants in too. 

Addi as a puppy. Look at the nub-tail, awwww!
They no longer can pee on each other's pee. They can no longer poop together and that adds a WHOLE new level of poop protest. God forbid the neighbor's dog is outside, or the wind picks up, or a bumblebee flies by, because then the whole poop-brigade-game continues of pleading to go in or out, farting as they run up or down the outside stairs, butthole winking, protruding and awaiting for the inevitable turd that has been held way too long.

It makes you wonder who is the master here, the mind-poop-control masters or the poop-scooper-humans? Dogs 1, humans 0.

Our babies!