Tag Archives: health

How I Diet

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I’m a bit of a health nut. My attitude towards my own health has vacillated over the years. I remember a time when I didn’t care how much I ate, nor what I ate. My favorite food was Doritos.

I weighed as much as a grown woman by the time I was twelve.

Being the pudgy kid in junior high isn’t the slightest bit of fun. Granted, a lot of my own pudginess was the result of my ignorance about my own metabolism and how it related to my appetite. Which, as I recall, was voracious.

Of course, puberty being what puberty is, I started to realize that the boxy clothing marketed for teenage girls was completely unrealistic for my evolving (if oversized) shape. And, silly me, I thought that because I didn’t fit the mold, there must be something wrong with me.

So 15 came along, and I dieted.

I did Weight Watchers. I was a point-counting fiend. I ate all the little pre-wrapped Weight Watchers snacks and lived off of canned soup. And I ran. And lifted weights.

The pounds melted off (20 in one summer). I was scrawny, but still pudgy in places where my weight naturally settles (shopping for jeans was a demoralizing nightmare). Weight Watchers worked, but I developed muscle spasms from vitamin deficiency. Go figure.

That was the last summer I followed a strict diet plan…strictly. I tried Atkins for about a month and missed bread and fruit too much to continue.

I decided to focus more on exercise and less on the quantity of food I was eating. I cut back on snacks, of course, but made sure my meals were filling and vitamin dense. Over time, I learned to love vegetables for what they were without doctoring them too much. I learned about healthy fats and ate plenty. I limited, but did not completely eliminate, my consumption of desserts.

And I ran like crazy. The farthest I’ve managed to get my stubby little legs to go in one stretch was 3.1 miles. But I ran.

After second puberty (a little nightmare that slaps you in the face in your twenties but no one bothers to warn you about), I became very conscious of what I was eating. I discovered the connection between the kind of food I eat and my hormones, my digestion, my metabolism, my blood, my brain, and how they all work together to maintain a healthy system. Fad diets don’t cut it as far as nutritional needs are concerned. Food can be the best medicine. food was intended to be eaten, not avoided.

The girl who once wouldn’t touch anything not labeled “low fat” now reaches for the whole fat yogurt and milk at the grocery store. The girl who wouldn’t touch anything with starch now eats sweet potatoes by the pound (undoctored by brown sugar) because of their vitamin content. I discovered kale. I put spinach in just about everything. I buy flax seeds. I voluntarily eat oatmeal. I believe in eating steak and mashed potatoes. My taste for sweets has diminished with my increasing love of honey. I drink green tea instead of coffee. I use coconut oil for everything. I drink diluted apple cider vinegar. I believe in an apple a day. I dose dark chocolate as carefully as I might take ibuprofen. I eat scrambled eggs for dinner and bananas and peanut butter for dessert. I don’t count a single calorie or worry too much about the numbers on the scale. I’m done with feeling remorse when a certain size doesn’t fit.

My definition of a diet is going out and running 2.5 miles, doing a minute plank and 35 squats, stretching every muscle I can think of, then coming home, baking brownies made out of sweet potatoes, then eating half the pan without a lick of guilt.

I will never look like a supermodel, but I feel fantastic. If the jeans don’t fit now, it’s their own stupid fault, and that’s that.

Dialect

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I hab a code.

I dink eberybody on cambus id cubbing down wid subding. My boss had a code. Sub ub the kids I subervise had a code. Eberybody has had a code.

Eben me. And I take egginachea ebery day. My liddle lybmph nodes are swollen and eberyding. I’b gond through a whole bogs of tissues and half a boddle of Airborne.

*Sniff*

Bud I’b had worse codes. Ad least wid dis one my head doesn’t feel fuzzy and I don’t feel sleepy…at lead not more dan usual. I’b been drinking lods of fluids and eading well, so hobefully dis bug will go away sood. Maybe eben by toborrow.

*Sniiiiiiiiif*

Ad lead dis id heppening now, idstead ub durig exam week.

Turmeric: the Wonder Spice

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In my neverending quest to find natural solutions to a pesky and unsettling hormonal imbalance (the details of which I will not here divulge), I have researched the medicinal capacities of hundreds of plants. Plants are powerful things, man. God knew we wouldn’t have conventional medicine for a long time, so He made plants to take care of us while we waited for things like penicillin.

The most recent one to come to my attention is turmeric root. Turmeric roots are ground into powder and are most commonly used in curries and other spicy Indian foods. The powder is orange, but has a distinctive yellow color when cooked.

Turmeric is a potent antifungal agent. It prevents bad bacteria and intestinal funguses (yes, you read that right, intestinal funguses) from latching on and taking root inside your system. It’s a potent natural painkiller when combined with ginger root. Made into a paste with whole milk (or coconut milk, for the lactose intolerant), it can be used a as a face mask that removes dark circles and sucks toxins from your pores. Some really…enterprising people use it to battle cancer sans chemo. (I will not go that far. If I get cancer, that sucker is getting pummeled by chemo, end of story.)

Turmeric has traditionally been used as a clothing dye. Its golden-yellow color found itself splashed over garments in India and other places where turmeric is grown. Once applied to fabric, that vibrant color would be irrevocably stained into its fibers.

And, thanks to an unfortunate cooking incident, the same will be true of the front of my favorite linen dress.

Oil City Update

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Just in case any of you were wondering about how not washing my face was working out for me…

(I promise this will be short, but I figure there’s a fellow acne sufferer/hippy or three who follows The Rambler who would really be interested in knowing.)

…it worked surprisingly well.

I didn’t expect a miracle, but I got a little bit of one. After 2 and a half weeks of not washing my face, my skin stopped being oily, all the big red bumps went away, and almost all the little bumps were completely gone.

My skin was the clearest it’s been in over a year. No soap, no special expensive cleanser, no powder, barely even any water, but stopping the obsession and enjoying things like I did as a little kid when the only soap I used was body wash.

This lasted for a little over a week.

Then it all came back.

Well, not all of it. The oil came back, but not as much. A few nasty red bumps came back, but not as many.

It could be the shampoo. You can’t really keep that off your face when you shower, no matter how hard you try. So I switched to using baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Yesterday. Still nothing on the face. We’ll see what happens. 

There you have it. Even though nothing on my face is perfect, I realize it doesn’t have to be. I feel a lot less encumbered, and getting ready in the morning only takes as long as picking an outfit and brushing my hair.

The experiment continues.

Running

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I can run again.

After my surgery in September, I couldn’t. One, there were three slowly healing holes in my abdominal wall that weren’t there before, and two, the organs that received treatment took way longer to heal than the surgeon said they would. I suspect scar tissue glued things to my core muscles that aren’t intended to be glued there. Whatever it was that went on inside of me made running a painful business. After ten minutes of running, I’d get gut-wrenching cramps and would have to stop.

All of that for the girl who used to run 3 5ks a week.

I’d try to run, but couldn’t do more than ten minutes. It was like my own body refused to allow me to coax it back to health.

But now, after months and months of waiting and herbal supplements, I can run.

I’d forgotten how much I missed it. There’s a simple, but inescapable challenge with myself to run faster, more steadily, longer, harder. And it’s excruciating. It’s exhausting. I’ve never experienced what dedicated runners call “runner’s high” where you forget about the pain after the first mile or so. Nope. Running always hurts while it happens. But afterwards, my heart calms down and my muscles unanimously agree that running was a good idea. I sleep well at night, I breathe more deeply during the day, and I have more energy. Short term pain, long term gain.

And I’m so glad I get to do it again. 

Gratitude Post: Little Things

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  1. I got up ludicrously early to study for a test I promptly and decidedly bombed. But I got a long, uninterrupted nap later. It was awesome. I even dreamed.

(Let it be understood that I never get good naps in the dorms.)

  1. The weather today! My goodness! Could it have been lovelier? I think not!!
  2. I avoided desserts all day. I am so proud of myself.
  3. I got to do thirty minutes of power yoga. Running is painful right now, so I’m turning to alternate ways of staying healthy and stress-free. Yoga is quite fun, and surprisingly difficult (in a good way).
  4. Because of the aforesaid yoga session and nap, I didn’t fall asleep while I was trying to do homework. This is a first for the semester. I even worked ahead. What.
  5. The salad I had at lunch was delicious.
  6. I found out that I will be living in an apartment next year instead of the dorms. I may or may not have danced up and down my room when I found this out. I also may or may not have been squealing for joy. Yo ho, yo ho, apartment life for me!
  7. I have food from home in my fridge. I love home food.
  8. I didn’t have to wear a coat today. I love my coats, but they’re one more thing to unlayer once you get into a classroom.
  9. …I’m sorry, I still just can’t get over the fact I got a nap. Whoa. Just whoa. 

Insomniacs Anonymous

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Some people are way too tired to fall asleep.

Most of these people are college students.

At this point, a lot of us seniors consider the biggest perk of graduating to be the chance to have a job where we can work for about eight hours a day and then go home without having to take work home with us that will be graded the next day.

My readers who are out of college and in the work force are scoffing. I’m just telling it like it is, people. We just want a decent night’s sleep.

But all of us in our undergraduate years (and those of us in graduate studies) know perfectly well that sleep will not come. It will not come for another nine months.

There are things we do to help ourselves sleep in the limited time we have for it. Some of us turn to herbal teas and melatonin tablets. Some guzzle Nyquil. Soft music. Reading the most boring textbook they own. I’m sure there are those of us who still turn to warm milk. We will do anything for a good night’s rest, as futile as we know the pursuit may be.

Tonight, my sleep potion of choice is herbal tea, ibuprofen PM, turning the lights off, and writing this really, really boring blog post.

I, and many of my overworked and overwrought associates, will be awake for another hour. Or more.

That’s just the way it goes. 

Self-Diagnosing

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The thing about self-diagnosing is this: it almost always does more harm than good.

When you’re too cheap to call in to the doctor’s office to report a problem, the modern recourse is to search the interwebs for a solution. WebMD is allegedly helpful, but 99.9% of the time, that and other sites will tell you that you’ve got cancer. You could be checking for symptoms of a sprained ankle after falling down the stairs, and the site would try to convince you to talk to an oncologist.

False diagnoses lead to worry, not solutions. You’ll prescribe yourself ten different supplements and make lifestyle adjustments only to find out you never had a problem after all, and now you’ve got a stomach ulcer from worrying too much.

This is especially a problem for those with active imaginations. Once a good imagining latches into a person’s mind, that’s all they can think about. This person may quickly diagnose themselves with lung/brain/stomach cancer and immediately start mentally penning letters to loved ones spelling out their final goodbyes. Then there’s the bucket list. Then the weeping over an imagined funeral.

Goodness, why do hypochondriacs do this to themselves?

There is within all of us the desire to control our circumstances. When we can’t control them—an increasing problem in an increasingly chaotic world—we try to control other things. Like our health. We want to be in control of something, so we self-diagnose, not wanting the assistance of a licensed physician (for whatever reason) and choosing to fret about the problem instead. Really, this helps no one.

There’s a lesson in here, somewhere. In life, it’s much harder to let go of control than to keep things under control. Sometimes—in fact, at all times—it’s better to trust God instead. To be safe to the Rock that is higher than I. After all, He’s the One Who wrote the story. He knows the beginning from the end. It’s always better to trust the guidance of the One who drew the road map than to forge a path of one’s own. 

Seven

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Wait For It

Impatience is a common college-age problem. In fact, from my observation, impatience is an any-age problem. Add into the mix a culture of instant-gratification, and you’ve got a nation full of impatient, unhappy people. Unhappy, of course, because they didn’t get that thing they wanted the moment they got it.

I am not by nature a patient person. My friends are always telling me to slow down, to wait up, not to rush, to take smaller steps, to stop and smell the roses. I try my best to be an efficient person, moving quickly from point A to point B thanks to the narrow time constraints college inevitably brings. As a result, I can get frustrated when something (or someone) gets in the way of my progress. This frustration rarely produces any good fruit.

On a larger scale, I tend to get impatient when certain life processes don’t go as quickly as I’d like them too. Waiting for an email from someone, for instance. Waiting for a publisher to get back with me. Waiting for Christmas to get here. Waiting for the school year to be over. Waiting to be out of grad school. When I can’t to my goal as fast as I’d like to, I get frustrated, and therefore not very fun to be around.

For example, I’ve been waiting for the skin on my forehead to clear up since March. It won’t. In fact, it’s worse. Nothing helps. So I figured all I can do is ride the ugliness out until the nice, clear skin I’ve had for 20 years decides to return. I can’t rush the healing process, apparently, since rushing things only makes the condition worse.

Good things come to those who wait. When life holds me up, I have two options: 1) get angry and make myself and everyone who knows me miserable, or 2) wait it out. Hang in there. Take a deep breath.

Every time I’m held up in traffic, I remind myself that maybe, just maybe, if I had gotten through that light like I’d hoped to, I might’ve been hit by another car. Everything happens just as it should, with just the right timing. That is beyond my control. With this knowledge, I can relax, enjoy the ride, and be a much more fun person to be around.

Eight

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Don’t Panic

Those who know me well just read the title and snickered. I do not have a reputation for keeping calm and carrying on during times of extreme stress. In fact, I am better known for long, self-deprecating diatribes, fits of overwhelmed sighing, and overeating when I am facing exams or a hectic week.

However, that’s what I do now. Two years ago, I was even worse. For the sake of your sanity and mine, I won’t elaborate on how awful I could be when stressed.

I have made some progress over the past two years in the area of letting go of stress. It’s gotten to the point where I can laugh stress off, most of the time. That’s right. I can laugh it off.  It’s like I grew a superpower or something.

I’ll admit that this is not always true. Sometimes—okay, a lot of times—stress overwhelms me, and a good cry becomes absolutely necessary, as well as a chunk or two of chocolate. But by the grace of God, I have a much easier time handling stressful situations now than I did as a freshman. Now, instead of collapsing into a fetal position in a dark corner of my dorm room, weeping hysterically, I can look at my heavily congested planner pages without my eyelids starting to twitch. In fact, I can get things done pretty quickly these days, if I tell myself over and over that in the big scheme of things, this hectic week is not that big of a deal.

We’ll see how well I keep calm and carry on in this upcoming year, the final year of my undergraduate years.

Packing It In

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Two things about travel that I think I’ll never cure myself of:

Packing too much.

Eating too much.

My suitcase was ten pounds too heavy on the way over to Croatia. This was largely due to a big blue file box that held all the Level Two lesson material, which weighed about ten pounds by itself. Now that box is gone, safely stowed in the house of my missionary friends. However, my suitcase in inexplicably just and heavy as it was two weeks ago. I’ve not added more than one bag of very light souvenirs. Other than that, I’ve used up the soap and other sundries that I brought with me. Why my suitcase is so heavy is a mystery to me.

However, there is no mystery as to why I am heavier than I was on the flight over. Croatian food is carb-heavy, fat-heavy, low on vegetables, plentiful, and irresistible. This is a hard combination for a foodie with no self-control. My friends wonder why I’m a salad addict. The reason is simple—if I eat anything else, I won’t stop.

As a result, staying in a country mysteriously void of vegetables has left my clothes hanging a little differently on me by the end of two weeks. Even my face looks bigger. Looks like I have a few weeks of salad for breakfast ahead of me—at least until I assume some shape other than that of a hippopotamus.

Running next Wednesday is going to be utter torture.

So as I pack my clothes and toiletries and try not to think about the sheer quantity of food I’ve consumed in the past two weeks, I have to remind myself that trips like this only happen once or maybe twice in a lifetime—and a few extra pounds are probably worth the price. I’ll shed the weight, but the memories will last a good long while. 

Why This Post is Short

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Travel has its consequences.

Thankfully it has more benefits than consequences, so travel is still awesome.

The fact remains, though, that every good thing comes at a price.

When you travel, you have little to no control over what you’ll be eating. The food may be wonderful, but it’s not the balanced meals you may be used to. Meat and potatoes are great, but a digestive tract that is accustomed to eating like a rabbit will be thrown into a kind of gastronomic shock after days of nothing but carbohydrates.

Also, you have no way of exercising the way you’re used to doing it. Sure, not everyone exercises—but I do. I’m used to running four 5ks a week—on a treadmill, and not on a stomach full of meat and potatoes.

Also, you may not be accustomed to the time the sun happens to rise in the area of the world that you’re visiting. In most US states, the sun rises at 7:00 AM. Abroad, it may rise later—or three and a half hour earlier, waking you up prematurely.

In short, going to bed early is a necessity for getting a full night’s sleep, and for rising early enough to run while it’s still cool and uncrowded outside.

Therefore, I am going to bed at 10:30 to rise at 6:00.

That is why this post is short—because it is 10:04 PM, and I still have things to do before I sleep. 

A Few Comments Rising from a Debacle at a Consignment Store

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The fashion industry is dumb. I have made my opinion clear on this issue a few times, so I won’t elaborate much further other than to say:

1. Most pairs of women’s jeans are manufactured under the erroneous assumption that

A. women are all built the same way,

B. don’t eat,

C. and have no bones.

2. All the brand-name chieftains need to organize a powwow where they

A. figure out a standard for sizing so that

B. a woman can always pull a pair of “her size” jeans off the rack and know they will fit, or at least zip, no matter what brand they are,

C. because as it stands, she could fit into her size in one brand and have to go ten sizes up in another—besides, if

D. a guy can walk into a department store, tell the salesclerk his measurements, and walk out with a pair of pants without even trying them on, why can’t women?

3. Some of us are waiting for

A. the pendulum of popular opinion to swing in such a way that

B. wearing skirts and dresses can be the accepted norm for casual attire again, just so we don’t have to shop for stupid jeans anymore.

And don’t even get me started on swimsuits.

 

Mind over Mango

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Maybe it’s because I’m about to finish college. Maybe it’s because I just turned twenty-one. I don’t know what it is, but for some reason I’ve gotten the urge lately to try almost everything (legal) that I’ve never tried before.

One item on the list was to eat a mango.

Part of my recent healthy-eating kick has been to make a meal out of fruit-and-veggie purees, often listed under the cutesy yet exalted title, “smoothie.” This has involved trying to combine fruits, vegetables, and yogurt in way that approximate the taste of other foods. For example, it is entirely possible to get carrot juice to taste like an orange creamsicle. It’s even possible to combine bananas, blueberries, spinach, and kale (kale!) in such a way to make it taste like mint ice cream. It’s like alchemy, but with fruit.

I went grocery shopping with my mother. As a budding smoothie-foodie, this may or may not have been the wisest choice. I found myself in the produce section for most of the trip, and not just because Mother kept sending me back to get things. No, I was mesmerized by the fruit. And I noticed there were mangoes.

One of the smoothie recipes I’d found (yes, they make recipes for these things) called for oranges and a mango. So I picked up a mango—an odd, bicolored bulbous thing that looks like a pear having an allergic reaction to itself—and gave it a squeeze. I have no clue what a ripe mango is supposed to feel like. This puppy was hard as a rock, so I figured it wasn’t ripe yet, and bought it.

It kept company with the oranges in a bowl on top of the refrigerator from Friday until today. Out of curiosity, I reached up into the bowl and found a rather squishy mango at my fingertips. I don’t know about your personal experience, but I know that in mine, squishy fruit equals rotten fruit. There are few things more depressing to me than a rotten piece of fruit—all that potential delisciousness gone to waste.

Bracing myself, I pulled it out of the bowl and looked at it. It still looked like a pear with asthma, as opposed to a brown pulpy mess, which was what I’d expected. Still, I thought, I had better eat it now before it starts attracting vultures.

Grabbing my trusty paring knife, I plunged it into the little bugger and cut one pivoting slice around the thing’s pit. It felt like cutting an avocado or a peach. The first mistake I made, I now realize, was assuming that the mango would behave like a peach. Rule One about mangoes: a mango is not a peach.

I realized this after trying to tug the two halves apart. They wouldn’t budge. Yes, I managed to wring out a puddle of yellowy-orange juice onto the countertop, but that fruit wouldn’t let go of itself. Since it became clear at this point that there was no tidy way of finishing my mango experiment, I did what any self-respecting twenty-one year old with a fruit fetish would do: I put the knife down and sunk my teeth into that mango like a vegetarian Dracula.

Rule Two about mangoes: if ever you want to do a mango-based facial, all you have to do is eat the mango. Those suckers are explosive. In seconds, I had mango up to my hairline. There was a mango-juice Niagara Falls coursing down my chin and cascading to my elbows. There were stringy bits of mango between every single one of my teeth, molars included. I was covered in what felt like head-to-toe mangoeyness, dripping in sweet, yellow-orange, and utterly delicious sap. Yes sir, that mango went where no mango has gone before.

I’m positive that I was doing something wrong. The mango was probably overripe. Or maybe it wasn’t ripe enough. Who knows. I grew up in the land of apples and peaches and strawberries—where everything grows in tidy little packages that are easily eaten off the stem. Not so much, it seems, with something exotic like a mango.  

I’d hardly call it a failed experiment. Before today, I never might have thought of eating fruit as anything more than a way of being healthy. It is a way of eating healthy—but more importantly, eating fruit can be fun. A mess, absolutely. But something as mundane and necessary as eating healthy food can be a whole lot of fun. This thought is a little revolutionary: who knows what else might pop out of our kitchen now that I’ve discovered food can be fun?

Life needs to have both a little of the mundane and a little of the fantastic—but what law says we have to separate the two?