Day 8

I’ve been doing this hormone reset diet all wrong. But who cares. The book is in audio form so I wasn’t able to skip ahead to see the full outlook for the meal plan…I guess I was supposed to cut out meat, then sugar and alcohol and so on. It seems like a good one to try after the holidays when there are fewer reasons to have a cocktail with friends-which I actually had the chance to do this past weekend, and of course I didn’t pass up the chance to sip sparkling wine on a warm afternoon with friends. So yeah, I blew it with this thing.

But-I have been incorporating a lot more fiber into my meals. I’ve had tons of energy…and several times I felt incredibly strong cravings for sugar and managed to breathe through it, or at worst, have a piece of fruit to soothe my desire for sugar. For the most part I’m maintaining a small calorie deficit, thanks to some extra exercise, and I’m consuming about 1/2 as much sugar since I’m paying more attention to labels, and skipping dried fruit, sweeteners and ice cream. Those are all improvements I can see immediately. Who knows if any excess weight will come off. I know I’m working toward a healthier inside, and hopefully that will show on the outside too.

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Intentions for Wednesday 7/13/22

Yesterday I allowed myself some chicken-apple sausage with a plate of steamed broccoli and asparagus. I did some intellectual gymnastics to convince myself that eating a healthy serving of fiber with my processed meat would make it less of an offense. I kept my sugar intake under 35g which felt like an improvement over the previous day. Went to bed feeling tired and headachey, and assume it is because I’m switching up my emotional eating behaviors. I definitely sense the “loss” of my favorite crutch, food. Today I march forth in pursuit of better hormonal health. A serving of eggs, spinach and asparagus leaves me pretty satisfied and ready for my day.

Intentions for Tuesday 7/12/22

Reflecting on yesterday’s eating patterns and mindfully planning my meals for today:

Yesterday went well, with one exception. I used processed dressing and tomato sauce which considerably raised my sugar consumption compared to if I had made both from scratch. So today I’ll try to do better.

I gathered a gallon or so of fresh Mesclun lettuce from the garden. Putting in the fridge for a nutrient dense lunch and dinner. Need to pick up some zucchini, asparagus, broccoli for added fiber.

Used the leftover lettuce from last week’s forage to make juice in the Breville (combined with apple, pineapple and carrot).

Took some time to weigh my opinion on caffeine. I woke up with a dull headache and reached for coffee as a remedy. I know it’s an addiction and will treat it as one, but will also be kind to myself and not cut it out cold turkey.

The summer heat returns today. I’ll do some dumbbell exercises and an interval session around dinner time-a few sprints with walking recovery in between.

Intentions for Monday 7/11/22

Today I’m beginning a new health journey-and saying it like that makes me feel so pretentious, but I want to take a minute to instill in myself why I need this, and why I deserve this.

I saw myself on a video I made over the weekend. I stepped into the frame to show how I expose a canvas to the sun, and stepped out again. My body looks so much older and saggier at age 48 than it did only a couple of years ago. I accept that aging isn’t something I can control. But if there is a way to control the pounds that have crept up in spite of regular exercise, I’m willing to try.

According to Dr Gottfried’s Hormone Reset Diet book, I can control weight gain and nutrition deficiencies by eating according to her plan, and choosing interval and strength training over long grueling runs (my old go-to for losing weight, which now causes me joint pain, dehydration issues, and a few other embarrassing problems).

So, without being all “Day One of my New Program,” here goes nothing. Reduce/eliminate caffeine, sugar, dairy, grains, meat; choose colorful vegetables, eggs, and fish instead; incorporate short bursts of activity with adequate rest between. Focus on cortisol management by paying attention to stress levels. Do mindful breathing exercises to fight against food cravings and addictive behaviors. Sleep 8 hours. Be consistent.

11/25/21

Thanksgiving is here. A day that is entwined in family traditions, gratitude, and an assembly line of food preparation that culminates in a meal with loved ones and with any luck, a nice afternoon nap.

Travel is a bigger headache than ever. Even with boosted immunity, it feels too risky to go beyond the city limits, or spend the day with people I don’t know well. I’m very fortunate this year to have 2 loved ones with whom to share this day, and I live in a beautiful, uncrowded place that allows me to spend a large part of my holiday enjoying the outdoors.

I haven’t kept great notes on my health this month, but I want to put some extra intention toward it today. Overall I’m doing well, but have noticed a persistent fatigue, especially during uphill hikes. I’ve cut down my meat consumption by about 75% since summer ended, and my iron levels have dropped. So I’m making extra efforts to bring up all of my vitamin levels to see if I can get back my energy and stamina.

In addition to the usual Thanksgiving suspects in my fridge, I’ve got plenty of spinach, Brussels sprouts, and citrus, and a pantry full of chick peas, black beans and lentils. And for extra boost, I picked up a daily multivitamin that contains iron, along with my other dr recommended supplements to protect against migraines, butterbur and magnesium citrate. It’s a much more proactive approach than I’m used to, but the intent is to make me more likely to exercise, to treat my biggest problem, my predisposition for anxiety.

Focus on what’s good

From today until June 30, I’m making an effort to eat unprocessed plant-based foods. I’ll make some exceptions in the first week or two, and maybe still incorporate some fish and eggs. But I’m really looking forward to seeing how my body reacts. Rather than dwell on the foods I’m cutting out, here are the foods I’ll be enjoying: avocado, tomato, pepper, cucumber, carrot, leafy greens, celery, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, sweet potato, apple, berries, mushrooms, garbanzos, peanut butter, grape nuts, rice wrappers, almond milk, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, unsweetened black coffee or tea, and super dark chocolate.

30-Day Plant-based Eating Challenge

Today is May 25, 36 days away from my 46th birthday. To say the least, it’s been a hard year so far. We are collectively suffering in one way or another from the stress of having our autonomy limited by the pandemic.

This week I tested my courage by heading back to my small office where apparently no quarantine rules apply. I’m pleased to report that no outbreaks have resulted from our low key breach of the county’s mask ordinance. In all likelihood, we were all exposed early on when at least one office mate had an “unidentified” severe respiratory illness. Our risk to one another now is relatively low, especially with distancing and disinfecting.

One of the most challenging parts of restarting office life was getting back my confidence. I hadn’t exposed my face-and my severe breakouts-to anyone except family and close friends for a while, and I felt especially insecure about the 5 lbs I had gained from all the comfort food I had been consuming. I was fortunate enough to get out for some uphill hiking on a warm afternoon this week and was stunned at how winded I am now after having lost my stamina from weeks of little to no daily exercise.

This weekend, being one of America’s big grill-out holidays, I encountered a surprisingly well-stocked grocery store. I filled my cart with meats, dairy, eggs, salty chips, sweet beverages, and some veggies and seasonal fruit, and thought about what a great dinner party I could throw if it wasn’t a quarantine (and if I was more inclined to throw parties). And while I’m filled with gratitude for all the conditions that made it possible for me to eat my fill of just about any food I wish, I recognize I need to be a lot more conscientious about what I’m choosing to consume.

My age, metabolism, hormone fluctuations, and food intolerances are all catching up to me. There’s an abundance of information (and common sense) that tells me if I made better choices with my diet, my weight, appearance, and mental state would all improve. Over time, it could prove to be a meaningful way to create less waste. Transitioning to plant-based, and eliminating meat, alcohol, sugar and dairy, is something I’ve been wanting to try to see if my body responds positively. Along with daily exercise and more water consumption, I can’t help but believe it will make me look and feel more like my old self, with fewer headaches, breakouts, mood swings.

So it’s time to do some homework and make a plan for a trial. For the month leading up to my birthday, and as a gift to myself, I’m going to treat my body to healthier food and lots of outdoor exercise.

Thriving in lockdown

I admit it, there were some tense moments during the past 9 weeks and every day is imprinted with a dull anxiety of wondering what I could be doing better to prepare for an uncertain future. But today I woke up early, sat in the chilly morning air with my coffee, and went to work on a project I suddenly felt inspired to conquer, and I finally felt like myself again.

Untitled. Watercolor and gouache. 4.5” x 4.5”.

My #artalonetogether2020 project was sputtering along these last few weeks. Some of the others who participated started to submit their work to the group Instagram page. I thought I would create a sketchbook with 36 pages, each page depicting a daily element. I got about 8 pages along and didn’t know how it would translate without any ties between the elements. So I recalibrated, and started with a blue square on my 4.5” x 6” card. Then drew 4 intersecting circles in the corners, and one in the center. That became the peach. I picked a cilantro leaf (herb) and traced it. Googled waffle cone and added that in the corner, same with circus tents, lace, seeds, and so forth until I checked off all 34 items. I had to brainstorm for an item starting with the letter “j” and chose jewels (also a nod to my Granny Jewell). I started when the sun was just coming over the east fence, took a cereal break at 1pm, and finished as it set over the west fence.

I’m so grateful for the friends who invited me to be part of this group. We are all creative types with day jobs that pay the bills. In spite of the narrative we keep hearing about how hard it is to be socially distancing, we are secretly thriving. As we go through our days with fewer interactions, we find comfort and strength from looking inward for answers. Today was a huge breakthrough for me, and it gave me the confidence to begin practicing my skills with a new goal: honoring my creative decisions from the beginning to the end.

My 46th 4/26

It’s early on a late April Sunday morning, and I’m gently awoken by the achingly familiar song of robins in the distant trees. No longer silenced by winter’s command to shelter in silence, their orchestrations slowly build; a song that could have begun hours ago hundreds of miles away in an eastern mountain forest, carried across vast plains and bluffs until arriving in time with the first glimmer of daybreak on the land, and penetrating the window I’ve left cracked open.

I peek out from under the covers at the predawn shadows on the wall. As I blink, the blurred face of an old love flickers like a faded film strip projected behind my eyelids, and I swim back down into the warmth of my bedding to catch another glimpse of him, longing to inhabit this scene a little longer. We are lazily getting dressed, talking in hushed voices about the friends who are coming to visit, and he is telling me stories about the small Illinois town where they met. I reach for the soft peacock blue corduroy jeans I bought before freshman year, pulling them over my feet, only to recoil from the sharp metal staples at the ankles, maybe a misguided attempt to shorten the hem. The jarring sensation sends me upward, and my silken dream state begins to dissipate. I linger there, inhaling the dream’s vapor like the smoke from a candle that’s just been extinguished. The weight of my consciousness begins to pull on my insides, and my eyes turn to the window, framing a lavender sky barely ripening to pink. Silhouettes of trees begin to take shape, and the occasional car passes on a nearby road. I feel as though I’m coming around the same bend of track that I associate with Aprils past.

The last time I rose before dawn, I raced out the door, throwing a coat over my pajamas, and headed East to the park for the best view of what promised to be a colorful sunrise. The pond had just begun to freeze. I couldn’t contain my urge to press on the surface with my toe to hear the crackle and creak of ice giving way. Losing my balance, I cursed as my foot quickly got soaked with mucky ice water. That was December, and a desperate quiet escape from a busy week of work and travel and family gatherings. It feels like another lifetime, many bends and turns behind.

Now the ice has melted, and no coat is needed. But I leave the house only for fresh air and essential food runs. For the last 6 weeks, a pandemic has threatened the health and safety of an entire nation. Countless warnings and breaking news alerts have required us to vacate offices and schools and remain home until it’s safe to gather again. We are all vulnerable, and we threaten those around us as carriers, even if we don’t exhibit symptoms. It’s like a plot from a horror film, but it’s real life. And yet, isolated in my home with my closest family member, without any emotional connection to this disease, it’s hard to believe that it’s real. Being a shut-in is challenging for anyone, but for those of us who have a history of mental health issues, it’s utterly terrifying. The waves of loneliness, and the highs and lows of having almost no answers to my questions and no structure in my day, are taking a toll.

Dreams are especially vivid now. Sleep is a welcome side effect to being confined at home, but when I exceed 8 hours a day, my dreams start to feel more intertwined with my waking life. Lately I’m being visited in dreams by old friends, and also by people I no longer share a connection with. I’m experiencing the pain of loving them and losing them all over again. My senses are heightened. I see colors and feel warmth at recognizing their smiles. I can smell their scents and hear their voices just as though they are next to me. Waking up alone after these imaginary encounters is unsettling.

I watched a new film yesterday to pass the time. The director is one I know well, and after seeing his movies for half my life, I feel fluent in the language he speaks through his art. Maybe it reminded me of being a young, outgoing art student, seeing old ensemble cast members and letting the familiar dialogues wash over me. Like seeing an old friend and letting my guard down while he told a story, comforted to be sent back to an internal state of mind where I once existed so carelessly without worries about the future. His movies provoke a sentimentality for outdated sexist tropes, reckless emotional outbursts, violent confrontations. In a present that requires me to be inhibited in thoughts and actions, this movie provided a welcome escape into a part-fiction time and place where a pandemic doesn’t exist, and melodrama solves conflict.

I dreamed about a childhood friend earlier this week. A couple of days later he reached out, and I felt deep down that this was the right time to connect, that the dream was a fateful suggestion. But I have to question everything now. In the past I have distanced myself because of the emotional toxicity of our friendship. In my reckless pursuit of human touch, I considered meeting up with him, and I fantasized about the possibility of hugging him. When I thought of how this could actually threaten his fragile physical health, I felt so much remorse. But that urge to connect was so strong, like the draw of that thin layer of ice on the pond, begging to be tested, just for the pleasure of hearing the tiny shattering sound.

I fear myself at this point. I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to put a public face on after the distancing restrictions are lifted. I take comfort in the practice of using a mask, sunglasses and a hat now. And I suppress my need to be seen and touched, only allowing it in dreams.

Realizing dreams

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2/3 of the way through a grueling, yet rewarding hike

About 3 weeks ago I wrote on my personal blog about some events that were simmering. I’ll summarize it this way: I’m simply in awe of how fast the world can change when you let it.

I’m learning to say no. Which ironically, frees me up to say yes to the things I really want in my life. And in between running around to do work and shopping, etc., I’m feeling extraordinarily grateful for the way my life is reshaping itself.

This morning I was feeling off. The sun was disappearing into a dark gray fog, I was sitting in the Starbucks parking lot dreading our status meeting at work, and generally not feeling up to doing anything productive. I’ve mentioned an old colleague of mine before, she now writes about her journey toward becoming self-employed. She sent out an invite to view her latest lesson, so I requested the link. The first line was “So you’ve quit your day job. Now what.” I imagined what it would feel like to say that. (Hard to believe I was in that exact position about 7 months ago…and I’ve already found myself wanting to go back.) And it hit me. Every day I rack up 60 miles driving to and from a job that gives me minimal satisfaction, and very minimal pay. I put so much effort into my work some days that I come home feeling so defeated that I retreat to the couch and let myself be overcome by fatigue. It’s a lot of distance to cover, and the only reward is the occasional opportunity to shadow a couple of very talented women who I genuinely admire.

That–right there–seems to be the problem. Why am I shadowing? I know my craft. I’ll never be more prepared to practice my skills. I don’t need permission to do it. I don’t need to follow someone’s timetable. I just need to wake up and do what I love, and trust that I will track down the resources to do exactly what I need to do for as long as I wish to do it.

Maybe the realization came as a result of a small feat that I accomplished with the help of 60 or so determined women whose combined enthusiasm helped me summit not one, not two, but three mountains in a day. I’ve driven past these peaks nearly every day for months, never fully understanding their size and immeasurable beauty. After Sunday, I looked at them differently, and I saw myself differently too, for having conquered them. One doesn’t attempt an 11 and 1/2 mile hike without some preparation. I prepared. I brought supplies, dressed for wind and snow and sun and brought poles for support so I wouldn’t risk another broken ankle, and I succeeded. For once, that was enough.

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Green Mountain Summit

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Bear Peak

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South Boulder Peak