Holy Yogi

This post is a little long overdue, but I’ve been so much enjoying the process, that I haven’t had the time to share it with the anonymous cyberworld. I started Yoga teacher training on May 12th and since then have attended 22 Yoga Classes (sometimes twice/ day). I started out slowly, by doing a few HIIT workouts and incorporating yoga, but now I am going to class almost everyday and because the changes I’m feeling mentally and physically are incredible and familiar (to when I used to go consistently).

Now, this yoga training would be considered by most serious yogis, probably not yoga at all. But the good thing about yoga, is that judgment is discouraged (or at least that is what I believe to be true). I have been wanting to learn to teach this format of a class ever since I discovered it in 2014. But, the timing was never right. Even now, the timing isn’t exactly, perfect, but something that I’ve learned about life is that there is no perfect timing. As long as there is a crack in the door, it’s prime time to walk through it. Yes, I’ve struggled with a schedule change, closing out the school year paperwork, marital issues, general life stuff. However, I am incredibly happy that I decided to do this because I love the yogi mindset.

The reasons why this is appealing to me varies on so many different personal levels, but here are two:

1. I wanted to be an expert in something I have a hobby in. Because I love so many things, I tend to only touch the surface of many things. Yoga is something that always humbles me and at the same time allows me to grow.

2. Embraces a quiet mind. I have lots of thoughts and have a hard time quieting my mind. Yoga is like a brain massage for me that I need to definitely keep stable and happy. As I go through the practice regularly, I feel more willing to take healthy risks. I also am less negative about myself and others.

I started out uncertain if I want to teach it, but I definitely want to stay as involved in the community I’ve found as much as I can. Working on this new skill has been a powerful experience because it pushes me to step out of my shell. I have a hard time feeling confident when I am speaking to a group of adults. Doing this definitely pushes me to become more comfortable with my personality. I love encouraging other people, but am always scared I will come off as condescending, so this overall is creating more comfort in my overall self. I’ve already noticed a change even in how I treat my students and my daily mentality. The positive people I’ve met have definitely inspired me to continue to cultivate a positive mindset and kick out the negative white noise. Additionally, it’s made me more weary of competitiveness in other people and has given me more space to embrace others. I feel like, back to my social media post, it also makes me want to focus on my present world as opposed to the exterior world. But, this is a struggle I go between with wanting to connect through sharing things I see and seeing negative posts where people complain about trivial things. I guess as long as the intention is positive, I can focus on whatever I want as long as I’m present.

Lastly, I restarted my Whole30 a week ago….I have a sugar demon and I guess it’s hard to tame.

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Sugar is a Helluva Drug

Hi Internet World!! I am finally returned from wedding and honeymoon bliss. Both were, in every sense of the word, bliss. I will definitely share my feelings on traveling to Bali and being married as well. This post however, unfortunately, will be about the delicate balance of my body’s chemistry and the dangers of sugar.

During my honeymoon, I decided that I was feeling so good, I wanted to eat the sweets and things I enjoyed without worrying, and indulge I did. Was it worth it? In many senses of that word, yes it was. I enjoyed the heck out of my honeymoon. However, one week post return, I must report that I am still feeling the awful side effects of depression from my sugar indulgence. Upon returning, I decided to administer my lack of motivation and my devotion to sleeping 10+ hours to jet lag. However, after a few days of this and the napping in the middle of the day until dinner time and then sleeping right after dinner and sleeping in during the morning, it was a positive sign that my depression was back. I definitely worked out every day since my return (and even during some days of my trip), but I want to curl up into a ball and shut out the world.

Thankfully, I married the most understanding human in the world, who tries his best to understand this confusing duality that haunts my life. How I can go from waking up at 5 am, doing laundry mid week, and having bountiful energy to not being able to stay awake long enough to function beyond my work day. How I can go from wanting to talk to everyone to not wanting to leave the house to run simple chores. How I can go from being a positive and motivating person, to someone who only sees hell in a dark hole.

I share this because now I know that over-consuming processed sugar contributes a large share to my depression. It must somehow deplete me of my natural endorphins and set off triggers that normally wouldn’t bother me. Alcohol is also most definitely included in this equation, however my need to consume a sweet baked treat is a million times stronger than any need to consume alcohol. Sugar is a dangerous drug for me and leads me to this dark hole. I’m trying my best to ride this out and not let my cravings take over. I am holding onto dear life to get past this (hopefully short) lapse of depression. I could say, what a horrible way to start a marriage, but the sake of my husband is what is keeping me afloat to fight this off as quickly as I can.

Whole30 and Trader Joe’s

My love affair with Trader Joe’s is long and unwavering. I am a TJ loyalist and so when I decided to go on the Whole30, a big part of my decision was, “Can I still shop at Trader Joe’s?” I followed Trader Joe’s from their humble and terrible refrigeration beginnings. If anyone remembers what I’m talking about, their produce ALWAYS went bad (and I found out it’s because they didn’t have enough fridges to keep the temps for certain produce). I almost gave up on the little grocery that could, despite their shelves of delicious packaged goods, but I’m SOO glad I didn’t. (Yes, I think they fixed the refrigeration problem)

There are so many reasons why I love Trader Joe’s and here are some of them:

  • Friendly Staff Members – I love shopping for groceries and having happy people help me out, it makes buying food so much less of an errand and more of an experience.
  • Their Buyers Follow Food Trends – Their buyers know what’s up before a lot of consumers know what’s up. I saw Riced Cauliflower in the case, before most other places started selling it. I die for their Soy Creamer (which is NOT Whole30 compliant) and theirs is BY FAR, the best product out there. They find vendors and brands that make simple, yet quality products and sometimes will repackage it as their own. Since I used to work in produce, I followed produce trends and TJ was always on top of every single seasonal item, from endives to kiwi berries.
  • Their Packs are GREAT for non-family sized families – Whether I was single, or now engaged and living with my fiance, their pack sizes were perfect for my lifestyle. I could buy a variety of produce (pre-packed or pre-cut) without having to throw half of anything away because it was just for one, or two.
  • A good amount of organic items – Almost all of their produce has an organic offering as well. They carry things that are in season.
  • Amazing frozen protein products – I know most people shudder at the idea of frozen anything, but their scallops and wild blue shrimp are great quality and very cost effective.

I could go on, about their snacks mainly, but that’s not Whole30 Kosher, but here is a picture and list of pantry items that I’ve bought from Trader Joe’s that is Whole30 compliant. I’ll talk about each one below.

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Butternut Squash Zig Zags – Instead of breaking down a full butternut squash, this is a convenient way to cook butternut squash. I will recommend steaming or roasting them with olive pepper, salt and sea salt (my holy trinity and typical seasoning)

Riced Cauliflower – I also mix this with their Broccoli Cauliflower and it’s good sauteed in with different vegetables. I like adding green onions to this, but it’s good by itself. It’s a fast way to cook cauliflower.

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I mean, the colors!


Healthy 8 Chopped Veggie Mix
 – I have this almost EVERY morning with my breakfast, the vegetables inside marry the coconut oil so well with scrambled eggs. There are carrots, celery, radish, jicama, green and red cabbage, bell peppers, and broccoli stems. I’m more of a fan of these because I feel that this is a product that saves other produce that would normally go to waste and they repackage it as a convenient item to use. (sustainable and delicious!)

Eggs  – These eggs are delicious, this is the kind I get, they only sell it at TJ (I think).

Jalapeno Hot Sauce – This is my favorite product by far. I got it pre Whole30 and was ecstatic to find out that I could still have it with my eggs in the morning. I love spicy food and it’s really the only condiment I will add.

Organic Tahini – Whole30 wrote a lot about finding Tahini or maybe I read a few things on it…I don’t really eat Tahini, but I bought this anyway. I have yet to try it, but it’s organic and Whole30 compliant. I just thought it was a cool product.

Organic Coconut Cream – I also have yet to try this, but it was a new product on their shelf that caught my eye and I’m still deciding what to use it with. I’m sure it would be amazing with a curry. I saw a recipe for a vegan purple sweet potato pie yesterday, and post Whole30 I am definitely making it and using this to make the whipped cream. (I was a little bummed I missed PI day).

Marzano Tomatoes – These are better than cherry, plum, heirloom cherry tomatoes by far. I love that on the package it says to keep it out of the fridge (as you should do with all tomatoes). San Marzano tomatoes are sweet and delicious in salads. They’re the closest to fresh, picked off the bush tomatoes as I could get at a grocery store. TJ also has Kumato tomatoes (which are brownish in color) but if it isn’t tomato season, they’re also great in flavor because they tend to be year-round tomatoes.

Wild Pink Salmon – Canned – This salmon comes out of the can with its’ skin on. I believe it’s a whole salmon. I didn’t have canned salmon before and I know it exists in other grocery stores. Texture-wise, it’s SO much softer than tuna and not as dry. I’m glad I bought this and tried it.

Albacore Tuna- Simply packed in water with nothing added. Still a good product, as good as canned tuna can get.

Organic Coconut Oil – Though I used clarified butter for my cooking, I enjoy the coconut oil when I want the sweeter flavor in my foods (so as mentioned that hearty veggie mix with eggs). Their coconut oil is SUPER coconutty.

Maldon Sea Salt- The most superior salt to any cooking salt. The flakes are larger, so you get more flavor per sprinkle, but also because they’re larger, you end up using less. I really don’t think I got this from Trader Joe’s, but they also have the same thing and it’s called Pyramid Salt.

I know that there is a plethora of other Whole30 compliant items (that I get regularly), but the list is long. So, if you’re looking for a store to shop at, TJ is my choice for Whole30 meals. I know other stores sell these things (like Sprouts, WholeFoods, heck even Costco) but my loyalty to Trader Joe’s stands. There is just a warmth and comfort to shopping at Trader Joe’s that is irreplaceable to my soul.

 

 

Daylight Savings

I’ll always go back to the rule I made at the beginning: I won’t let Whole30 stress me out more than it does me good. For me, wedding planning and first-year teacher planning are equally large beasts I am tackling. So, I officially sacrificed Whole30 optimal plan for sleep, a movie, and working out yesterday. My little brother came over on Saturday and I mentioned going to a birthday party. Well, we stayed out pretty late and then the time changed, so I opted to sleep in (which isn’t very late for me). I woke up feeling great and did my morning workout (later than I normally eat breakfast) and about 3/4 of the way into the workout, I felt WIPED. I finished the workout, realized I burned 600-something calories and decided to eat. Since I had pretty much skipped breakfast, I ate a normal Whole30 first meal. Then, I decided to relax and watch a movie, instead of work/wedding plan, because man, I haven’t touched the TV in a month for entertainment. I actually still ended up grading papers, but because I opted to relax, I kind of had snacks for lunch and then prepped and ate a normal dinner. So, it was my first day on Whole30 that I didn’t follow an “optimal” plan, and damnit, my emotional well-being needed that mini break.Having a few hours of letting my food intake slide off the golden advice should be as blissful as it was to me in the moment I needed it for my sanity. Was everything still compliant, YES…but it just wasn’t the “best” way to eat.  Today, I’m compliant as hell and ready to rock again tomorrow.

Post Whole30 Plan

I was just using my fiance as a sounding board about what I am going to do post Whole30 as I am just a day over a week from being done with my 30 days. I feel like I’m the type of person who does not like planning the details, but I do need a big picture, long-term plan to help me carve out goals. We both concluded that Whole30 has been a relatively easy adjustment for me and that I really haven’t had any cravings for anything non-compliant. For example, yesterday was a day FULL of temptation (bridal shower with chocolates, desserts, a birthday party with flip cup and beers galore) but I felt completely comfortable in my own skin navigating to not indulge. Nor, did I feel like I was missing out on anything. My social anxiety was also less apparent and I didn’t feel the need to drink to socialize and again, I felt more present in my interactions with the people surrounding me.

So, I think my post Whole30 plan is really to stick to Whole30. As recommended in the book, it is of course exhausting to be 100% Whole30 for the rest of my life. So, here’s my general guideline:

  • I do love travel and I do love food and drinking, but I think I will reserve all of the non-compliant foods to special occasions (like my wedding) or to taste other people’s creations.
  • I will continue eating Whole30 as much as possible and stop calling it Whole30 after these 30 days :P.
  • I also LOVE baking, so I want to be able to do that and taste my creations without overindulging.
  • Whole30 has changed my relationship with food and I do hope it’s for the rest of my life. But if I ever feel like I need a realignment, I will just jump back in 100% for 30 days.

I know I still have a few more days so I will update as things come up. I think my final thought for today is that if anyone decides to do Whole30, read about the many different perspectives out there. My friends have all gone about the Whole30 in their own personalized ways and all that matters is that it works for them!   I use this blog to journal how I’m feeling day to day and about my journey, but I have a friend who shares amazing recipes she’s doing. There are many other resources too,  but here are links to their blogs : So Pretty So Skinny  &  The Whole Pony. Lastly, I’m also not saying Whole30 is the only way to change your relationship with food, but it’s the one I can say worked for me :).

80% vs 20%

I remember in my nutrition class for school, our teacher kept reiterating that 80% of the population knows what it takes to be healthy and only 20% actually follow the guidelines. Well, I’m definitely in that 20% and I am just going to say, it is SO worth it! It helps that my friends have also reached this level of clarity, energy, and overall kick-assedness.  I’m not sure if I ever want to go back to how I was eating before, even though it was considered “healthy”. I don’t think anything would stop me from continuing to eat this way. I am way more in tune with my body and for the first time ever, food fuels me. I’ve always felt sluggish after a meal and have on occasion, just passed out after eating. Now, I know when I need food and my body thanks me for the food I’m putting into it. So, now that I have all this energy, I feel like I can accomplish anything (including cleaning the house and doing all of mine and my fiance’s laundry on a weekday). Today, I got a surprise observation by my principal (which usually completely gives me anxiety), and I couldn’t feel more confident and alert. But “tiger blood” is not immune to everything, as evidenced from my energy dip after Austin, TX. So, my word of caution is to be mindful of how much you are taking on and knowing when to harness the energy to relax. I did cut down my portions (not on purpose, I think I’m just feeling less hungry) and I also think that contributed to my two sluggish days. So, I’m amping it back up to compliment my workouts. Below are some of the meals I’ve had these past few days…

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(Left) Salmon with a cilantro/olive oil/lemon juice blend, kale, spaghetti squash, zucchini, tomatoes and mushrooms. (Right) – Kale, scallops, cauliflower and broccoli rice with eggs and green onion.

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Today’s seafood blend mixed with oregano, lemon, and salsa with brussel sprouts and tomatoes.

Takeaways from the day:

  • It’s nice to have friends who understand this new sense of clarity. In fact, it feels a bit pretentious to talk about how great I feel to other people.
  • My relationship with food has changed a LOT.
  • I now feel the need to share with EVERYONE what they can cut out when they tell me a body ailment. But, I totally refrain.
  • Today, I tried to convince some of my students to do this as a science experiment for the science fair.
  • My mindset has changed completely and I am consumed with staying healthy. My priorities have become working out and eating Whole30
  • I’m exactly one month away from my wedding, so of course that is my other priority :).

Travel Hacks on Whole30

I made it back from Austin, TX compliant and filled with the happiness that I got to spend with my friends :). For the purposes of this blog, I am keeping track of my days and I am more than halfway done with Whole30 at Day 16 (WOHOO!). However, I really have to check and count what day I’m on at this point. I guess what I’m saying is, I don’t mind where this is going at all!

With all of this said, traveling on Whole30 is possible! If your goal for the travels of course, is not to eat the food specific to the city. Since, I can’t eat most of the BBQ meat anyway, I didn’t feel I’d be missing out on much. That is not to say that I do not enjoy nor appreciate the smells, the look, and the feel of all of the restaurants and food. Also, this was a short weekend trip within the country, so nothing felt complicated or awkward for me. It all depends on your boundaries, and I have very little when it comes to customizing orders at restaurants since, I worked in and with them for many years.

Here are some essentials I packed for this trip and a little description/what I did with each.

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  • Albacore Tuna – (Not the one pictured actually) – I bought these wild caught albacore packets at Sprouts and they are amazing to travel with. They come in a slim pouch that fit in my tiny purse and brought it with me to a taco restaurant. I had guacamole, salsa and a bed of lettuce (which I poured the tuna over). Mostly all restaurants have some sort of fresh produce, so you can just pour it over any of them.
  • Coconut Chips- I brought some to snack on in case I had to wait between meals to eat or if i got hungry. I did snack on them since we had some late nights and I felt my body needed the extra energy.
  • Unsulfured/unsweetened Apricots – I used this as my source of fiber mainly, since none of the food had very much fiber. I prefer apricots to dates/figs/etc since they tend to be tart rather than sweet.
  • Cashews- I just love cashews, I really didn’t eat these except when I was on the plane (and only then because I brought them). This is my comfort food, if you travel, bring something that comforts you because traveling can be stressful.
  • Almond Butter – Also following the principle of comfort food. I also knew I might need the extra caloric intake since, I would not have been able to eat out much.
  • Olives- The packs I bought are pictured and come in a pouch about the size of your palm. They were delicious and I used them in my breakfast the first morning I was there.
  • Mini Bell Peppers- These hold very well at room temperature and they’re sturdy so they can be packed and jostled without much change.
  • Hard Boiled Eggs – I boiled them ahead of time and left the shells on. I put them into a hard plastic airtight container and put them into a fridge when we got to our destination.
  • Echinacea Tea – I knew we would be staying out late, and I needed an extra boost for my immune system.
  • English Black Breakfast– Just travel with tea, you can ask for hot water at most places and I love tea.
  • Toasted Seaweed Snacks – Easy access to a tasty treat if you’re craving salt.
  • Lara Bars and RX Bars – There are a few Lara and RX bars you can have. I brought them with me for emergencies and really only ate one bar on the plane ride home since I knew I’d be missing dinner.
  • Extra ziploc bags – I brought small snack size bags to put my snacks in for the day so that they would fit into my small purse.

Some of my Meals Documented:

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Both of the above are due to my resourcefulness. Hard boiled eggs, peppers, olives (on the left). The albacore Tuna pack I was talking about over a bed of lettuce, guacamole, and salsa (on the right).

Compliant Meals I had out:

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Omelet with fresh spinach and artichokes.

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Sea Bass with dressed greens (olive oil and lemon).

Final Tips for Travel

  • Find snacks that you enjoy eating and can put together easily into a meal.
  • Stay at an AirBnB because they have a kitchen usually that you can store items in (or cook). Also, it’s usually cheaper.
  • You asking the server/cashier/restaurant employees very specific questions about the food they serve will not ruin their day if you do it politely and graciously. So, don’t be afraid to ask questions, ask for the manager/chef if somebody does not know. The worst thing that can happen is a restaurant cannot accommodate your needs.
  • Ask for the fresh vegetables (greens) they have and you can always bring your own protein to pour over.
  • Enjoy the food that you can have when you’re out as I certainly did.
  • Don’t obsess over food that you can’t have, rather enjoy the company you’re with (as I’ve learned from years of not being “able to have” certain things).

 

My Keys to Prep

I’ve mentioned in my very first Whole30 post that prep is not my thing. I hate eating leftovers. So, the way I prep for my Whole30 has to be extremely accessible and convenient for me. I would recommend this for anyone, but remember, I enjoy the natural flavors in much of my produce and have mentioned how boring my tastes can be. I’ll make another post about how much Trader Joe’s is my best friend, but TJ is heaven sent for my prep life. My first step would be go to TJ and get as much of the processed produce (pre-cut) as possible. I wouldn’t do the onions though, I feel weird about that.

To preface how I prep, I prefer as much hands off time as possible. So, here are my tips and tricks to hassle-free prep.

Stovetop

  • Hard Boiled Eggs – Place eggs in pot, cover with water, bring the pot to a boil on medium high and let it boil for 2 minutes, bring the heat all the way down to barely a simmer and set the timer for 12 minutes. If you have a great gas stovetop, you can turn the heat off after 2 minutes and let the eggs just sit for 12 minutes, it will turn out perfect.
  • Steam Kale – Steamed kale will last a few days and if you steam a huge batch at once, you won’t have to worry about massaging it for salads. I steam about a full bag at once with lemon juice and salt and pepper. It can be added to salads and pretty much any meal. If you haven’t tried it, this is amazing with tahini and if sesame seeds (which I think are an “in moderation” Whole30 approved.

Put everything in the oven at once (see below)

  • Spaghetti Squash- I eat this more for convenience than I do for any pasta craving. It’s a huge squash, you slice it, set it face down on a pan with some water and put it in the oven at 350 for about 35 minutes. Your result, is about 5 servings of vegetables (that come out like stringy spaghetti) that you can mix with about any other vegetable. I even put it cold in my salads to add texture and depth. I find this squash to be superior to butternut or other squashes because it’s much lighter, goes with everything, and yields so much more.
  • Sweet Potatoes – Wrap them in foil and cook them for about an hour at 350. I unwrap them and slice them to eat cold. The skin has lots of nutrients, but if you’re not one for skin, scoop it out and eat it like ice cream (but don’t pretend it’s ice cream, because that’s not Whole30 kosher.
  • Salmon/other fish- Place salmon on foil paper, drizzle with olive oil, season with whatever you want (I love it with sliced tomatoes and thinly sliced lemons on top). Wrap the foil to create a pocket and bake for 20 minutes. You can eat the salmon as is, or save it to shred into a salmon salad. This is my favorite way to cook salmon because, it’s easy and mess free.
  • Brussel Sprouts – I like to slice mine in half, put it in the oven with sliced tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic and let it bake for about 35-40 minutes.

Protein Salads

  • Egg Salad – I add olive oil, diced celery, green onion, cubed apples, and salt and pepper.
  • Tuna Salad- I get canned tuna in water, add diced celery, olive oil, green onion, sliced grapes, and salt and pepper.

One major benefit to eating a pescatarian diet is that both seafood and eggs are VERY efficient to cook. Vegetables don’t take much time at all either, but the ones that I listed above are heartier ones that I have on hand always because they last and I enjoy them. You can pretty much accomplish that whole list in the span of about 2 hours. I really just make my protein salads and hard boiled eggs at the beginning of my week. As I cook off seafood, I’ll add the other vegetables if I use the oven. I know this is all super simple, but I hope it helps, somewhat!

The Slump

They say Day 10 & 11 will be potentially the worst day for Whole30 and I feel like “they” may be right. I woke up normal, did my workout, ate a normal meal, but my mood felt some sort of nasty. I also got my period, so I guess this is normal. Got through my day with the normal energy that I usually have with no true cravings.

It wasn’t until about an hour ago that I had a “KILL ALL OF THE THINGS” moment.  I went to my tailor with my wedding dress to ask her to take it out because I’m pretty sure, she tailored it too small (there is no way I was smaller than I am now when I initially went in). And she wasn’t there!  So, I came home, pissed off because I rushed out of work to see her and the rest of my week is filled *AHHH PARENT CONFERENCES. *AHHHH WEDDING PLANNING STRESS* I immediately wanted to seek comfort in food. I ate some almond butter and a banana, which normally for me is a guilty pleasure because almond butter is so high in calories. It’s the first day on the Whole30 that I’ve snacked, when I know I shouldn’t be. It was delicious, and worth it.  I’m still feeling some sort of way…and having my period is always this way on day one. Usually by day 2 of my period, I’m back to normal. But tomorrow is supposed to be another day in the “slump”. Although, I feel no true aggression towards Whole30, just everything else.

So, there I have it a combination of the monthly demon, Whole30 slump, and wedding planning stress. I knew this week would be busy as I mentioned in my beginning of the week post. I was prepared for at least 1 moment of total hatred for all things, and I guess this has been it. I even brought an apple as an after meal snack today because I knew today would be a challenge. I’ve been avoiding too much fruit, but I’m glad I “treated” myself today.

What I ate today:

Breakfast: Hardboiled eggs over a bed of mixed veggies and hot sauce.
Lunch: Tuna salad (olive oil, celery, green onion, grapes) and mixed greens (with lemon juice)
Dinner: Probably salmon with some configuration of vegetables that I have stocked.

Takeaways from a few moments of “kill all of the things”

  • I’m happy that almond butter and bananas exist
  • Even though I’ve worked on getting rid of “anger” in my meditation class, I know I have some ways to go.
  • I still am enjoying all of the things I’m eating on the Whole30
  • I’m hoping tomorrow will be a better day for me emotionally.

The Dark and Uglies

Today was a pretty uneventful Whole30 day for me, no new foods, nothing new as far as symptoms go, but it was a very reflective day for me. I guess maybe I’ve been thinking about the symptoms that I’m “not” really feeling. First, I decided to do this during my cycle, so everything coincides with PMS, but then again, nothing has been AS bad as it normally is every month. Secondly, I’ve been contemplating if I’m simply denying the symptoms or if mentally, I feel so positive that what normally knocks me out, can’t bring me down. Get ready for pretty much my life story, so don’t go past this if you’re not into that :).

So, now I’ll get into WHY I’ve taken such an interest in my own physical health. I had a pretty adverse childhood that led to a lifetime of symptoms that can most closely be labeled (and have been) as depression and anxiety. The trauma that I took on led me tumbling through my developmental years and well into adulthood on a hazy path of self-destruction, self-doubt, and self-loathing. I started adulthood, pretty much the same way and realized through a series of very destructive patterns, that I needed to make a change.

Since,  I knew moving my body made me feel good (as swimming was my outlet through most of those years) I started taking yoga classes, and it pretty much saved my life. I learned to become much more present and grateful through taking care of my body. It didn’t dramatically change my life, but it taught me that a new mindset was possible. One filled with gratitude and self acceptance. Through this acceptance, I decided to take more healthy risks.

I went to a therapist, but she recommended medication, which I vehemently opposed to. It was at a time where I was very low, cried almost everyday and had suicidal thoughts. I knew also, that when I loved myself enough to take care of myself, those feelings  went away. So, I fought for myself and decided to workout regularly and that was around the time I became a pescatarian. Slowly, the feelings did subside and I started feeling better.

Then, I changed jobs and the new job set off many triggers for me and I was straight back to the dark and uglies. I knew at the time, I was doing everything right to take care of myself. I worked out and ate healthfully. However, the job was a land mine for old feelings, so I took a huge leap of faith and quit. For a while, I was really happy that I made a change and was working towards a goal.

Fast forward to pretty recently and again, I was sinking pretty deep back into this dark hole. I was using sleep as my coping mechanism and pretty much only woke up to go to work. I had no energy to workout and used sweets and alcohol to help me when I felt “too stressed” and would indulge after school or on the weekends. Even though, I knew both of these things pulled me further down. I had to push myself to attend social gatherings and dreaded that invisible judgment.

Which brings me to the present. I’ve realized about a few years ago, that my depression/anxiety symptoms will never just “go away” unless I actively try to do something about it. I also know now that I have very specific triggers that will shut down progress, if I don’t recognize them right away. I know that I have to actively make sure I’m using positive self-talk because my default is negative self-talk. I also know that scientifically, both depression and anxiety stem from a chemical imbalance. Although I have these symptoms, I have been able to stay resilient because I have always been optimistic. I know, it seems silly to equate depression to optimism, but depression isn’t an outlook on life. Optimism is.

THIS is the reason why I’m open to doing things like the Whole30 and I push myself to workout. Although, I know I’ll look good, boosting my self-esteem through appearance alone is hard for me since, well…negative self-talk. Because it’s kind of essential to my growth and mental health. I am very aware of my body and my mind and when it’s being pulled out of balance. I know that I may always stress out before EVERY social gathering and afterwards. I will probably constantly think my fiance is mad at me, when he’s not. I will also always have days of looming sadness that I have to find the trigger for. However, I am certain that managing those symptoms has to come through managing my physical well being. So, in short, whatever symptoms I’ve felt have really been “okay” so far because the self-love I have overpowers any minor physical discomfort.

I am also happy knowing that Whole30 is bringing whatever balance it means to all of my friends who are doing it and kicking a** at it :).