Round 2, Day 9

For anyone who is a recent reader of the Chronicle, you may not know that back in April, I completed my first Whole30 (read about it here, I’m not going into it). It was challenging and wonderful all at the same time, but at the end of the 30 days, as I went to bed, dreaming about the nice bottle of wine waiting for me when I got home from work the next day, I remember thinking that sure, I felt great and had energy and I’d even lost a few pounds – but I didn’t think I’d ever want to do another. In fact, I think those were my exact words, when I went into the office the next day and my coworkers all stopped by my desk to ask me what my final thoughts were: “Honestly, I feel amazing, but I don’t think I’d ever do it again.”

So why is the title of this post Round 2, Day 9?

I could list a million reasons why I wanted to do another Whole30 after saying very insistently that I never would – I miss the mental focus! I like having solid nights of sleep and a steady mood! I love how much I can eat without the mental restrictions I’d imposed for years as an anorexic! – but I don’t actually care to justify my reasons for doing another round. Truth be told, I’ve been met with a lot of side-eye over this, from friends and family alike, and it all comes back to one thing: “but can’t you just do a Whole30 and still drink?”

To be clear: wine is my favorite food group. If anyone ever told me to stop drinking wine forever, unless it was imperative to my staying alive, I would laugh in their face as I popped another cork. I love the social aspect of going out with friends for a quick drink, and there is no better feeling after a long week at work than changing into sweats on a Friday night and pouring a big glass of wine. But it started to become abundantly clear to me just after finishing my last Whole30 that excessive drinking and I don’t really get along all that well. In all the other changes I’ve made in the past two years, I’ve neglected to learn my limits with alcohol in public settings. Since just May 1 of this year, that’s led to such lovely half-memories as: falling asleep in the middle of M and N’s engagement party that I technically hosted, losing my wallet in a cab, losing my phone in an Uber after an embarrassing display at R and H’s rehearsal dinner, and most recently, loudly fighting with an Irishman outside of the bar at H’s birthday (though to be fair, that last one ended pretty alright for me).

And also since May 1 of this year, I’ve: watched two wonderful friends get married, turned 27, made a decision for next year that will change my entire life, watched my twin sister marry her soul mate, said goodbye to a beautiful creature that helped me through some of my darkest days, and permanently altered my right forearm. In the two months to come, my best friends say forever under the Spanish moss in Savannah and I tick off a second year on my own, before we go into 2016, the year of yoga training and saying YES to moving on. There is so much love coming our way in the next few months and years, and the last thing I want to remember when I look back at the end of 2015 is how I did something else fucking stupid and ended the night in a blackout shame spiral, not learning from the past, yet again.

Whole30 means something different to every person, and it means something different to people at each round. I went into this round not so concerned with the food aspect, but hoping to reset my mind in the excessive drinking part of things. I want to take 30 days off from numbing emotions I need to feel about all of these insane changes in the past few months, and feel them. I want to remember that girl at 22, 23, 24 with crazy anxiety that drank first to loosen up and then because she didn’t know how to stop; and I want to remember how much I’ve grown from that girl, so the next time I go out with my friends I’m not a complete disaster, something that’s felt too familiar since finishing Whole30 the first time. Maybe the biggest surprise I’ve noticed in just this past nine days is that I don’t really miss drinking the way I thought I would, even a little bit. I don’t miss the social aspect because I’ve been out twice now in the past week where I’m drinking seltzer and no one blinks an eye; when we got the sad news last week, my instinct was not to reach for a liquid escape, preferring instead to cry and look at old photos, reliving memories rather than suppressing them. This round has felt like the very small introduction step to a new life that I’m chasing going into 2016, and while I know that myriad challenges lie ahead, I also know I’m ready, willing and able to take them on.

But I tell you this: come Day 31 on November 25, the VERY first thing I’m doing when I leave the office is buying myself a nice bottle of wine and enjoying as much of it, or all of it, as I damn well please.

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Paths

If your path is more difficult, it means your calling is higher.

Maybe I’m spending too much time on Instagram lately, and like 90 percent of the people I follow are yogis so we’re all about mantras and good energy, but I seem to be finding a lot of inspirational quotes there lately. The one above posted late last night, as I scrolled through my feed while waiting patiently for all the essential oils treating the poison ivy on my torso (oh yeah IT SPREAD) to dry, and it made me stop for a minute. The person who wrote it talks about her faith a lot, and while I don’t necessarily share the same world view, there is something about that statement, especially when you’ve had a week like I have, that makes you think.

I fucked up this week. There’s really no better way to say it. After all of the great things that have been happening personally and professionally lately, this week threw me a real curveball. From one perspective, I’m not entirely surprised – it’s a new moon today – but from the others, I hate that I can work so hard and juggle so many pieces in the air, and do it well, only to have a gust of wind come by and cause everything to drop in a panic. Mistakes are learning experiences, and to some extent I know they have to happen for growth, but it does suck to be in the same position I was in this time last year, feeling once again like I’m making the same mistakes, if a little different as well. After a few meetings with my bosses yesterday things are making more sense, pieces are coming together, but I kept waiting to find myself in a ball under my desk, fist in my mouth to keep from screaming, entire body rigid to keep from crying. And yet, I managed to finish the day on a stronger note than I’d started, and instead of taking on my usual coping technique of “a large bottle of red wine alone in my apartment,” I took a walk after work to call my anchor G, made it back to my apartment before the sun went down, and spent an hour doing yoga, letting the stretching and balancing reset my whole perspective.

There were times in my life where things would happen and immediately everything looked bleak, like a black night, no moon, nothing ahead but darkness, searching feebly for a ray of light to hold onto. There were times that the darkness was a twilight, where I fought to find the light without realizing I was letting it fade slowly and on purpose, despite insistent screaming for it to come back. Around this time last year I ran around telling everyone who would listen that I could see the light, I found it, I took it, it’s mine; but it was a flashlight, artificial, I thought I was taking charge of it but I was anxious for the day that the battery would run out. This is what I’m used to in my life, reacting to situations by falling into the darkness accidentally on purpose, and working hard but not at all to pull myself out. And now something happened this week, which was similar to something that happened last month, which was similar to something that happened last year, and I spent all yesterday waiting to enter the slow descent into the dark tunnel, the kind where you don’t realize how deep you’re in until no one can see you to guide you back out.

Sometimes it feels like I make a lot of mistakes, all in the name of growth. The paths I’ve chosen for myself, living in NYC, working in the field that I do, the terrible decisions that I make fueled by vodka and an instinct for self-destruction, are difficult paths to walk. Yesterday I acknowledged that the darkness that has tortured and comforted me since my teens wanted to take over, wanted to let me wallow in What Ifs and Why Mes. Instead, though, this time I acknowledged that it was there, and I stared back at it. I let it scream, and call for me, and I didn’t answer; I continued on with my day, letting that voice fade into the background by the time I made it to my mat at the end of the night. What would normally put me into a tunnel of depression instead made me feel stronger, and guiding my practice with my favorite mantra of I will do well contributed to my waking up this morning with a smile on my face, knowing the past can’t change, so all we can do is move forward.

There are paths that we’re given and paths that we choose, and each of them converge into a wild ride of life. Maybe the paths that I’ve chosen are the difficult ones, or maybe the ones I’ve been given are driving me to something more. Whether it’s divinely decreed or written in the stars or whatever else you believe in, I think that the quote above makes sense for everyone. Instead of crying that our paths are harder than everyone else’s, or wallowing in the belief that things will always be exactly as they are right now, we should all make a point to remember that there’s a light somewhere in every tunnel. Let the mistakes that can tear us down instead fuel us further, higher, better, more. Remember that we all have a higher purpose than stewing in the misery of a moment, and we’re all capable of watching the tunnel from afar instead of charging into it like it has the answers. The quote at the beginning of this post inspired me to make sure that I’m carving my path, and letting the rocky mistakes along the way call me to the best version of myself.

Perfect, then…

Last week on Thursday, I kept smiling. Despite having worked a full twelve hours, I’d texted my lovely friend M on the way out of the office to complain a little, and it turned out she was around the corner, so we met for some much-needed margaritas and maybe a tequila shot (or three) as well. The weekend ahead promised so many wonderful things: a yoga workshop in Central Park with M and my cousin, who I’d convinced to come in from Connecticut for the afternoon, followed by dinner at a different cousin’s restaurant in Nyack, and ending with a pit stop in FiDi to say hi to the rest of the group, as my partner-in-crime R, her Scot H, my fashionista C and N planned to spend the afternoon and evening on rooftops, drinking in summertime alongside Oyster Bay. I’d also promised D&D that I’d watch their dogs this weekend, so in between all of those wonderful things, I’d get to come home and snuggle with my favorite pug and pitbull, So as I took the last tequila shot on Thursday night and started the long trek back to Washington Heights much later than usual, I had this overwhelming feeling that life couldn’t get any better.

Last week on Friday, as I prepared to leave the office on the earlier side, I kept smiling. It had been a productive but simple day at the office, and I was just on my way out to meet my sorority big for a short walk along the High Line and then a long and leisurely dinner/happy hour at Montmartre, a cozy French bistro in Chelsea. The Supreme Court announcement led to a giddy elation that permeated the neighborhood streets, rainbow flags and songs about love every which way you looked, people gearing up for a pride weekend that celebrated so much more than they’d originally planned. As my big and I moved into our third hour of sitting in the backyard patio, munching on pickled vegetables and sharing a cool bottle of rosé, I had this overwhelming feeling that life couldn’t get any better.

On Saturday, I woke up early and met up with M to head to the Upper East Side, her to babysit for a few hours before our yoga class, and me to drop my things off at D&D’s and hang out with the pups for a few hours before it was yoga time. We rode the bus and chatted excitedly about dinner later that night in Nyack, and bounced in our seats at the chance to train with Superhuman Yogi. I felt my phone buzz twice, the rapid cadence of an incoming text, and checked my phone, assuming it was my cousin with travel plans or brother reminding me to take home the toy he and D had picked up for little miss a few weeks back.  Instead I saw a number that I didn’t recognize but I immediately knew who it was. Before I’d looked at the text, before I looked up the area code to confirm, I knew in the bottom of my heart that The Child had just sent me a text. After thinking all weekend that life couldn’t get any better, he had some fucking nerve sending me anything, especially seeing as today is exactly a year since he told me “I can’t.”

You can see why we call him "The Child" after that final response.

You can see why we call him “The Child” after that final response.

That’s our conversation. M and I debated hotly about what to say in response – should I take the opportunity to be a bitch and tell him to fuck off? Ignore it completely? Play dumb and just say “who is this?” In the end, I realized I just don’t care anymore. Maybe he thought about me for a split second this past weekend but I take that train every day, and I stopped thinking about him months ago. And as I crafted the perfect response to acknowledge I read the text, know who sent it and now want nothing to do with it ever again, I felt an eerie sense of calm. This text three months ago, six months ago, would have put me in an emotional tailspin. And all it did this weekend was make me angry for six minutes and then I didn’t think about it again until the next day, when I was scrolling through texts and noticed I’d forgotten to delete it. What a different place to be in from this time last year; what a different way to approach hearing from someone who used to hold a piece of my heart. What a great way to start a new week, a new month and a new season: surrounded by so much happiness and people I love, no longer preoccupied with the things that caused me so much pain in the past.

She Cray.

Yesterday one of my coworkers came into the office a few minutes late looking miserable. She has a pretty intense commute in every morning from New Jersey, so I assumed it was one of those mornings where traffic was crazy through the Lincoln Tunnel, or a stranger was rude to her on the subway on the way in. She sat at her desk across from me, and within a few minutes I heard a ping as she sent me a chat through our in-office AIM of sorts. “I’m dying,” it said. “Do you have any oils for nausea?”

My coworkers think I’m crazy. That’s neither a bad thing on either their part or mine, nor is it an exaggeration – but in the four months that I’ve been working here, they’ve come to know me as a yoga fanatic who does things like Whole30 and carries around a bag of essential oils that I claim can help with just about anything. At my last job, the dynamic between myself and my team members didn’t lend well to this part of my personality, and in an effort to fit in during my short stint there, I tried to hide the things that I was most proud of, like the yoga Instagram account and even the blog, and downplayed how I feel about healthy eating and natural living. It feels really raw sometimes, sharing those pieces of me with the people I work with, like it could be too personal or too much. I mean, the blog is frequently filled with mishaps related to excessive drinking. The Instagram account mostly features me in sports bras and healthy eating is important to me because I eat more food when I’m eating healthy, which is always something on my mind. I hesitated for a few days in adjusting to this job before slowly starting to tell more people about these pieces of me.

My life has undergone a radical shift in the past 18 months. The way I dress, the way I speak and act, the way I think and the way I treat myself and my body are so completely different now from who I was before 2014, and though there have been some major learning experiences and growing pains along the way, I can absolutely say with confidence I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. Part of me wants to attribute this happiness to yoga-brain, to the foods I eat/don’t eat, maybe to the new job or to any other lifestyle changes I’ve made; but the more I think about it, I think it’s because I’m not trying so hard to hide the things in my life that make me happy. I spent a lot of my early 20s trying to make other people happy, between my job, my friends, my relationship at the time, but I never really had something for myself that made me happy. I didn’t really work out, I didn’t have any specific hobbies or ways to occupy my time. I was learning to navigate New York, and learning to navigate real life and relationships and money and oh god my head is spinning just remembering how hard it was to adjust to everything. I didn’t have time for a hobby or a passion until my entire life blew up in November 2013 and I was forced to focus on myself for the first time, maybe ever.

Having a passion in life is a scary and wonderful thing. I don’t mean having passion for things in life, like how I feel about Taylor Swift (QUEEN) or the serious importance of red wine after a long week at work. I mean A Passion, something that pushes you and makes you work harder, constantly working to excel, always understanding there is room for growth. It’s the thing that hones your ability to focus, that fuels your drive in all areas of life to do more and to do better; it doesn’t matter if it’s fashion or volunteer work or running or food, it could be all of those or none of those, but it’s just something that gives you that push. Yoga and healthy living has been that for me. Yoga gave my life a new direction and made it easy to set a plan for my life for the next few years; healthy living has given me focus and an appreciation for a body that I abused for too long. For a while I thought I had to hide these parts of me, keeping them sacred and close to home. Getting messages like the one above from my nauseated coworker reinforce just how much happier I’ve been since removing the wall around those parts of me so everyone around me can enjoy the new me too.

I gave my coworker some peppermint to dab behind her ears and ginger to rub on her stomach; she laughed and said she felt weird rubbing oils all over herself. I laughed with her and went back to my desk, and within a few minutes she sent me another chat that just said “holy shit that stuff works.” Another coworker has been one of the most supportive and wonderful followers on my Instagram page, asking me constantly to do some yoga with her in the office when we’re stressed, and wanting to take classes with me so she can grow her practice as well. I know they all think I’m this crazy, curly-haired hippie chick stereotype with her natural remedies and yoga exercises for stress, and frankly I think I’m pretty crazy as well. But I’m also crazy happy on a deeper level than I’ve ever been in my entire life. Turns out in the end, embracing the crazy Passionate side of me that I suppressed for years is the sanest thing I’ve ever done.

Friendly Conversations: Tres

On the future
M: I can’t even imagine where we’ll be in 5 years, let alone 10. I mean, when I was 17 there’s no WAY I thought I’d be a nanny in New York City and living with a long-term boyfriend at 27. Not in a million years! What about you?
Me: Hmm. Did I picture myself 26, single, and living alone with a cat… Yup that’s pretty much the dream.

On technicalities
Friend: So I read that blog post about change where you say you’re not dating… dare I mention the trend of you at birthday parties this year?
Me: That is TOTALLY different. I’ve sworn off actual dates, not making out with strangers in public. Totally different.

On healthy living
Aunt: So I hear you’re on some kind of special diet. What’s that about?
Me: Yeah, it’s called Whole30. I’m not trying to lose weight of course, just make myself healthier!
Aunt: OK good, you don’t need to be any skinnier!
Me: (exits the room)
Aunt (loudly, to cousin): Why is she trying to lose weight!??

On breaking news
IMG_1408

On high school reunions
Papa B: So that guy I introduced you to was my old football buddy from high school!
Me: Wow! Why haven’t I heard of him until now?
Papa B: Ya know, he was in jail for a while.
Me: Wait what?!
Papa B: yeah selling cocaine of something.
Me: WHAT.
Papa B: Eh it was the 80s, who didn’t.

On college reunions
IMG_1476

PLD Montage: Vol. 2.2 (Whole30 Edition)

30 days is not a long time, all things considered. Breaking it down, it’s four weeks at work and four weekends, it’s two paychecks, and maybe four trips to the grocery store. But when you’re on Whole30, those days break out a little differently. That’s 90 meals that need to be planned, prepped and consumed all on my own. That’s four weekends of no wine, four weeks of no chocolate, and two paychecks largely sacrificed to food-related purchases. It’s 30 days where you feel sick, and bloated, and depressed, and over it for a large portion of the time; it’s four weeks of your brain taunting you with all the things you “can’t” have and maybe a night or two where you dream about swimming in a pool filled with pinot noir.

But it’s only 30 days. And in those 30 days, there are a lot of things you can learn. SO without further ado, I give you:

PLD Montage: Whole30 Edition:

  • After some back-and-forth on the exact start date, my lovely friend M, who was joining me in this round, and I decided we’d start on Monday, March 30. The way I saw it at the time, I had two big “tests” during the month – dinner with a client, and my grandmother’s 90th birthday party – and the rest of the time would be smooth sailing. Work was supposed to calm down after the insanity of March (March Madness, if you will), I had zero plans on the weekends aside from the aforementioned birthday party… what could possibly go wrong, right?
    Lesson learned: Always expect the unexpected.
  • In preparation for the 30 days ahead, I spent a lot of time reading about what to expect throughout the process. I read the Whole30 timeline, read people’s reviews online, asked M and G more about their experiences, and generally thought that I’d done a bang-up job preparing for the month ahead. The more I prepped, admittedly the more I thought I’d “probably just skip” some of the early unpleasantness, like carb flu and any gastrointestinal weirdness. I mean, my diet was pretty aligned to the lifestyle anyway. Was I really eating that much sugar, in the form of work chocolate and wine, to affect me in any noticeable way?
    Lesson learned: You are not the exception to the rule, snowflake. Also CARB FLU IS A REAL AND TERRIBLE THING.
  • On Day 13, I just felt crappy. I’d been dealing with the stress of my grandmother in the hospital/nursing center and trying to help my mother through that time, plus a stressful time at work. I hadn’t seen a single improvement in 13 days of eating foods that were starting to bore me – my skin didn’t look better, my energy was steady but not great, I was still sleeping poorly and if anything, I felt like my yoga performance was getting worse, not better. I was in Connecticut at the time, surrounded by my parent’s incredible wine collection and take-out pizza from my favorite place in the world, and all I had to eat were chicken sausages, sweet potatoes and kale. If there was a single moment this month where I wanted to quit, dear god, it was that one.
    Lesson learned: Putting seltzer in a wine glass and going to the wine cellar to stare at all the bottles actually helped get me through that moment. I swear one of the bottles of Three Sticks was telling me “it’s only two more weeks…”
  • On Day 30, I woke up at 5:45 with a ton of energy, checked Instagram (duh) and hopped out of bed. I made myself a delicious breakfast, packed a big lunch, and checked the fridge to confirm I had enough leftovers from Sunday for dinner. I practiced a little yoga, opening up my shoulders and back for the long day ahead at a desk, and then went into a forearm stand, a pose that I’ve been working on for months, and one I set as a goal to master during Whole30. I smiled as I eased out of the pose, got dressed and quickly checked my schedule to confirm when I’d be able to pop out to Chelsea Market for a bottle of wine to open in celebration tomorrow night.
    Lesson learned: It’s about the journey, for sure, but the destination is pretty sweet too.

It’s been a whirlwind experience, to say the least, and it’s crazy to think it’s just because I tweaked my eating habits for 30 days. I’ve learned a lot about myself on this Whole30, in ways I never expected. I’ve learned that I can and should eat a lot more food than I was eating before, because even doubling my portions hasn’t caused any weight gain that I can tell. I’ve learned that I am mentally stronger than I’d imagined, passing on my favorite foods free in the office kitchen, passing up the best bottles of wine from my parent’s cellar, and passing the candy drawer at work multiple times daily. I pushed myself to try new things and found so much happiness in the little victories, like falling under the spell of Bikram yoga after managing not to pass out in the standing postures, and buying unusual produce to challenge myself, like golden beets and funny-colored squash. I learned that I love foods like olives and beef bone marrow, and most of all, I learned that I can cope with some heavy things on my own, not buoyed by the comfort of a drink or a brownie.

People keep asking me now that the Whole30 is over whether I’d ever do another one. That answer changed daily throughout the past month, one day a resounding “DUH I FEEL LIKE SUPERWOMAN” and the next a loud “HELL to the no.” The answer today is “Definitely, but not for a while.” Because the most important lesson I learned? I could live without dairy, grains, legumes and sugar for the rest of my life. But god dammit, I love a good glass of wine.

Quick Thoughts: Day 29

Today I woke up like every morning, rolling around for a few minutes before managing to roll myself out of bed, eyes heavily lidded with an interrupted dream and a fervent desire for five more minutes under the thick comforter. Once my feet hit the floor though, I was as awake as I am now, four hours later, working my way through emails before the day really gets going. Like every morning, I made my way to the kitchen where I cleaned a few straggling dishes from food prep all afternoon yesterday and made breakfast, a three-egg blueberry fritatta, half a cucumber sliced and a sweet potato, all while packing a salad with chicken sausage, roasted mushrooms, kale, cucumbers, guacamole and homemade dressing for lunch. I scanned the fridge quickly and decided I’d cook a turkey burger with leftover beet greens and butternut squash for dinner later, something that should only take me 20 minutes since most of the prep is done. After breakfast it was time for a little yoga, then rummaging through my closet to get ready for work, allowing myself a few extra minutes to savor the cool spring breeze drifting through the open windows in the apartment, hinting ever-so-slightly at the warm weather to come, calling memories of picnics in Fort Tryon with a cool glass of wine in a sweating plastic cup.

Today is Day 29 of my very first Whole30. I’ve made it through all the uncomfortable physical milestones, like carb flu and food boredom. I’ve pushed through some personal hurdles, like non-stop working hours and a family emergency. I have prepped every single meal that has gone into my body for 29 days, aside from one client dinner and one lunch at Hu Kitchen with my lovely friend M. I’ve pushed past thoughts like “you shouldn’t eat that much” and “it’s not working for you,” pushed through moments where all I needed was the comfort of a little bit of sugar or just a sip of wine. I haven’t radically altered things in my diet, but even so I’ve learned so much about myself in the past 29 days, and picked up habits I’ll carry with me as long as I can.

Tomorrow I’m going to wake up and everything will be exactly the same, except by the time I go to sleep, I’ll have accomplished something I never thought I could. It’s kind of crazy, that it’s already been 30 days, and kind of wild to think that this is the longest I’ve gone without sugar and alcohol since who even knows how long. Probably at least ten years. Maybe even more. It’s just 30 days in the grand scheme of things, but through all my planning and research, all my mental preparation, all the difficult times in the past month and all the difficult times I’m facing with a new perspective moving forward, there are things I hated and things I loved, and one huge lesson that I’ve learned: this program can change your life. It’s changed my lovely friend M’s. It’s changed my anchor G’s. And now I can say with absolutely certainty, it’s also changed mine.

Stay tuned for a round-up of lessons learned later this week. In the meantime, starting on Wednesday, I have some wine to drink.

All the feels

I love the moments where I can put my phone aside and just enjoy the freedom of not being immediately accessible. Whether it’s the 75 minute yoga class where the phone is on airplane mode, or yoga in my apartment where the phone is on silent, the moments with friends where I leave my phone in another room on purpose or the times in my apartment I lose my phone by accident and don’t feel like searching for it, there is nothing like knowing you’re disconnected, if only for a brief period of time. Inevitably, after an hour or so away from the phone, I’ll have the same anxiety: much as it’s lovely to be off the grid, what if this is the moment that someone actually needs to reach me, and I’m too busy relaxing to text back? Not that this has ever happened to me, of course. And actually, up until Saturday, I’d never been on either end of that scenario: the person taking a technology break for a short period of time, or the one who knows the person isn’t with their phone but desperately, desperately needs to get in touch with them, and fast. Up until Saturday, I would have been happy not to be either of those people, ever. Sadly, my Saturday morning at home with my Twinster and her fiance turned very quickly from a lazy morning preparing for outlet shopping into the two of us frantically calling Mama B over, and over, and over, knowing she was on a walk with a friend and cursing that her one hour of relaxation fell on just barely the wrong side of an unexpected turn in the day’s events.

My default when I’m stressed out or dealing with an excess level of emotions is to grab a glass of wine or something sweet. It’s the emotional comfort of a chance to numb the scary emotions and soothe a running mind for a minute; there’s nothing nourishing mentally or physically about immediately turning to alcohol and sugar for support, but we all have psychological connections to food and drink that rule our emotions, I need a cupcake since I’m happy, I need a drink since I’m overwhelmed. In the few moments after finally getting Mama B on the phone and waiting for her to rush home so we could figure out the rest of the day, my immediate thought was “I am going to need a big glass of…. Oh.” Because I couldn’t turn to any of my coping mechanisms this weekend since I’m still on Whole30. There was no immediate relief in a piece of chocolate; I couldn’t hold on to the promise of a tall glass of California pinot from my parent’s collection later that night after the hospital visit to help numb the image of someone I love covered in tubes and in terrible pain. All of a sudden the weekend went from a series of happy occasions with family to a series of frantic phone calls and shuffling of plans, picking up a birthday cake I couldn’t eat anyway but now no one would enjoy in the way it was meant to be enjoyed, moving a wrapped present lest it make my mother start to cry.

I thought back this weekend a lot about how I’ve handled the many stressful and scary situations in the past few years: break-up #1, new job #1, break-up #2, my own health scare and new job #2. It’s crazy, looking back, to realize that in every single one of these situations, I numbed the emotions on the outset with a glass (or two) (… or fine bottle) of wine. It’s not to say that I can’t handle stress, or that I’m a raging alcoholic – but think back to the times in the past year that you’ve been really sad, really scared, really stressed or all three at once: didn’t a whiskey on the rocks or a fat glass of cabernet help you calm down a little bit? Did you maybe turn to a cold beer in the summer or a spiked hot chocolate in the winter? It’s part of our culture, practically: the first thing people tell you after you’re done complaining is to take a deep breath and pour a drink. We’re constantly living in these limbo-states where emotions exist but are dulled, a Stepford-level reality that leaves us in the emotional state of a frustrated toddler once you’re forced to deal with the real issue causing your emotions to percolate slowly, slowly and then spill over the edge. Hell, up until this weekend, I didn’t think I knew how to properly process anything without the thin veil of something to take the edge off.

I planned for a lot of things before this Whole30. I planned to bring my own food for Easter dinner and prepared to pass on the champagne toast and birthday cake for my grandmother’s 90th birthday celebration on Saturday night. I was prepared for my brother to tease me mercilessly about my “diet,” throwing Tate’s cookies in my face under the guise that “they’re all natural, right?” I was even prepared to pass on the wine that flows freely in the weekends we’re all home, bringing my own seltzer in the event plain water started to get boring. But I didn’t plan to learn how to cope when you’re forced to feel everything in a scary situation: I was scared, I was upset, I was emotional and I was relieved. And as much as it felt foreign, I survived. I survived sitting with my own thoughts, and I survived coping with a scary situation calmly, rationally (*mostly) and without numbing the emotions coursing through me like wildfire. Aside from improving energy and breaking my chocolate addiction at the office, I was pretty ambiguous about what I was hoping to get out of the Whole30: I don’t need to lose weight, I’m pretty cut thanks to yoga and aside from extra planning, it’s pretty close to my normal diet. And while my energy has been good, I’ve felt on the upside of “healthy” and I’m looking forward to the “turnaround” that everyone tells me to expect in the next few days, I’m really, really happy already for what the program has done for me. Because it may be foreign, having dealt with all of the feelings in such a short period of time, but it was empowering to know that I can handle them on my own: scary, stressful, and everything in between.

Quick Thoughts: Day Two

Captain’s Log: Whole30 Day 2

Well, after eating compliant for the entirety of yesterday, my lovely friend M and I decided we’d just start our Whole30 a day early, immediately removing the pressure of “DAY 1 WHOLE30 OMG” and setting us on a good path for the rest of the week. I’ve been reading extensively about what to expect on Whole30 for the first few days, largely so I can prepare my coworkers for any unpleasant mood and/or gastrointestinal side effects, but before starting, I didn’t think the rules of the Whole30 timeline would apply to me. I mean, it’s not a radical shift of my eating habits. Was I really going to experience the “Hangover” they tell you to expect on Day 2? I know my body has some gunk to clear out, but I really didn’t think I’d experience things like mental fog, a headache, a general malaise and an overwhelming desire to stay in bed until I remember how to pronounce my name again. Like, that rule wasn’t going to apply to me, right?

WRONG.

VERY WRONG.

I’m working on a post for later this week that I really wanted to put up today, but sorry guys, it’s just not going to happen. I’m just busy enough at work that it would be tough to proof properly on a good day, but I am legit going through these waves of “MENTAL CLARITY!! Nope total mental fog. I FEEL GREAT!! Oh dear god my head hurts.” Since when is a hangover from EATING HEALTHY worse than the hangover I had on Sunday after drinking tequila for 6 hours at my partner-in-crime’s golden birthday this past Saturday? The human body is a mysterious thing.

TL;DR: Everything hurts when you try to be healthy.

“I will do well.”

“Let everything go. Don’t focus on the moment when you fell, or how your neighbor did ‘more’ or did ‘better’ than you. Think about all the love you put into your practice today, and then send that love to the people in your life that need it, the people that support you and share their love with you with no expectations.”

On Valentine’s Day, rather than doing the typical single-girl stereotype of watching chick flicks and/or slasher films on Netflix, surrounded by chocolates, wine and my cat, I decided to treat myself to a workshop with my VERY FAVORITE YOGI, who had traveled up from Florida for the weekend to share her fantastic skills in Core (abs) and Inversion (upside-down) work. I spent two hours in the afternoon stretching every which direction, working my core in ways I never have before and spending more time upside down than if I’d spent a full day on the same roller coaster, over and over and upside down again. It was rewarding and fulfilling in a way that I’ve never experienced in a yoga class, but also FREAKING EXHAUSTING. I was so relieved to sit in savasana (non-yoga people: that’s when you basically take a mini-nap at the end), and the yogi started guiding us through meditation with the lines above. Intense practice like we’d done those two hours can bring up a lot, and as she spoke I felt tears bubble up and start to trickle down my cheek, one after another. It was as powerful laying there, absolutely still, a clear head filled with love, as it was in the moment ten minutes prior, where I held a handstand (if briefly!) for the very first time.

Before I really started with yoga, I had this image in my head that yoga people were these granola hippies, talking about negative energy and chanting mantras, crowing about how we carry bad feelings in different parts of the body, making this huge deal out of arm movements that “opened your heart” and all other sorts of corny statements. My first experience in a yoga studio a few months into my practice was mostly a series of me rolling my eyes at the instructor, not focusing on breath, just trying to do “better” than the girl next to me, and go deeper into postures to impress the instructor. I mean, I started yoga because yoga people are in really great shape, and I wanted to be in really great shape. Not a joke. I wanted the yoga butt, and the yoga arms, and so what if I had to listen to someone say corny things about “listening to your body” and taking “healing breaths” (which FYI is basically normal breathing), so long as I got those things. As my practice started improving, I started following yogis on Instagram to get “ideas for cool pictures,” looking at yoga as a series of “impressive moves” to show off what I’d learned, rather than taking the time to understand how to move my body properly into the postures. Mantras were foreign, as were terms like “pranayama breaths” and “releasing energy,” and it wasn’t until I injured myself pretty seriously in September trying something I wasn’t ready to do (anything for dat Instagram!) that I had to take a step back and look at yoga as more than a means to a great ass.

February has been a really trying month. Between leaving a job, two trips to Connecticut, the Atlantic City weekend and of course, adjusting to the long hours of the new job, I’ve tried so hard to push through emotionally, staying as positive as I can and telling myself it won’t be like this forever. But last night, for whatever reason, I couldn’t. I stared at my yoga mat and tried a few stretches, but I eventually just sat on the mat and started taking deep breaths. I’m exhausted. I’m physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted, and February isn’t even my busy month this season. I was trying to quiet my thoughts in the mini-savasana (reminder: yoga nap), counting breaths, but my mind kept racing; first I was berating myself for not making it through a full flow, then encouraging myself that if this were a year ago I’d be half into a bottle of wine and waiting for pizza delivery. I finally had to resort to the ultra-yoga-hippie nerd move, and started focusing on a mantra that I’ve used in the past when I can’t get my thoughts to turn off: as my mind continued running faster and faster, I started taking a deep inhale, deep exhale, deep inhale, and simply telling myself between each breath: “I will do well.”

Mantras are whatever you want them to be. They can be long, short, complicated, simple, whatever helps you focus and set the intention for a practice. As I sat on the mat last night, exhausted by my life and the general state of being, it was hard to tell myself those four little words. It’s hard to stop moving at lightspeed for a minute and just tell yourself that the best you can do is to do your best. Despite having not done an intense practice, like I had last Saturday, as I took those deep inhales, exhales, and told myself “I will do well,” I felt the same emotions start to percolate deep inside me, spilling over the tip of my eyelids like the slow crawl of a frothy fountain soda. I stayed there for a long time, quieting everything down in my marathon mind, and finally rose from the mat feeling as mentally refreshed as if I’d practiced for hours. I started laughing almost immediately upon standing – look who’s turning into the total granola hippie stereotype she scoffed at less than a year ago.

While I’m so proud of myself for the advances I’ve made across my entire practice, from new arm balances to finally getting into a full split, It feels good to know that instead of focusing on how great my ass looks in a pair of leggings (*which it totally does, but not the point), I’m just focusing on doing my best. It’s a simple goal, certainly not as lofty as “I’m going to get into that great pose for Instagram,” but in that simplicity, it’s the most powerful thing I’ve done for myself in a long time. There will be plenty more weeks of nonstop travel, long nights at work and a whole host of confusing situations that get my mind running, and I’ll definitely be this exhausted and more in the coming year. So I’m glad I have the granola-hippie,  yoga-nut, crazy stereotype in me to remind me in the worst of times that “I will do well.”