Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A Springtime Trip

Brittney and I landed in Long Beach on time, just before 10am. We wandered out and over to Hertz Car Rental, where we waited in line for a ridiculous amount of time because people didn’t make reservations and thought they did, or they didn’t know the license and credit card had to match. Normal things I feel adults should know, but I guess I expect too much.

We got a free upgrade because they were out of compact cars, so we chose a Ford Fusion to save money on gas. We never had to fill it up—only used a half a tank the entire time.

We went straight from the airport to Wal-Mart, where we bought some sun block and high protein goods and healthy snacks, like tuna packets, jerky, sugar snap peas, and pre-cut mixed fruit. Brittney got herself some protein shakes, but I can’t do those because whey. The one thing we forgot here was a massive water bottle. So we stopped at CVS on our way to Seal Beach and grabbed ourselves some big water bottles.

At the beach, the parking meter thing wasn’t working, so Brittney had to set up an account to pay for it and stuff. Super annoying.

It was cloudy and somewhat cold that morning. I still covered up with sunblock every hour or two, and came away with a decent tan and no burn. Sadly, Britt burned herself. But some lotion at Jason's and some aloe later helped her feel much better the next day.

We spent a few hours on the sand and put our feet in the water. I even fell asleep. It was an early morning for me (I got up at 5 to work out).

We left around 2:45 to head to my brother’s apartment. We got there on time by 4pm. There was more traffic than anticipated, of course.

That night was probably the most special of all my nights at home. Jason and Kellie’s apartment was decorated so cute and Bohemian. We sat around and chatted for a bit, then took the food out to the apartment complex grills. Jason had a heck of a time lighting it, but thankfully a groundskeeper came by and helped us out. He also had a heck of a time cooking the chicken because he didn’t spray the grill, and the chicken was sticking to the foil. Still, after all this hassle, the chicken turned out so, so good. Kellie also made a delicious salad, garlic bread, and mashed potatoes.

It was so awesome to me to have an adult dream realized, and a hope fulfilled. I thought and still think all the time about hanging out with my brothers as adults, at our respective homes, eating food, and having adult conversation. I honestly never thought Jason would be the first to arrive. But it was so special to me to be at his home and have him and his girlfriend cook me dinner for the first time ever. I’m so proud of them and how far they’ve come in their sobriety and in all they’re doing.

After that we headed back to Glendora, and stopped at Stater Bros. where we got some spinach, almond milk, egg whites, and drinks.

We hung out and talked with dad for a bit, and said hi to Jake really quick. But then we left to get a treat because we ate so well early in the day. We went to Donut Man and got a half dozen: maple donut, crumb donut, raspberry cream cheese donut, strawberry donut, tiger tail, and a buttermilk bar that was disappointingly dry. Don’t worry, we didn’t eat all the donuts. We each ate one (Brittney had maple; I had crumb), and took a couple bites of the others.

We went to bed super exhausted and woke up ready to seize the day on Sunday. I checked out breakfast options on Yelp. We decided on a cute café in San Dimas called Rail Side Café. They were full inside, as it’s a tiny place, so we ate outside under a covered table. It was cold and misty rain. I ended up ordering a nonfat Earl Grey latte (with no stomach issues later?) to go with my bacon, egg, and cheese croissant sandwich. Brittney had a chai tea latte. It was a slow and magical morning just sitting there, enjoying the ambiance of the place. The manager came out and offered everyone outside blankets. I thought that was such a cool, personal touch. It was just a really great time.

After that we went to the Dollar Tree where I got a few necessities (including slippers because I can’t do hard wood floor and tile barefoot). We stopped at Robek’s so I could get Jake a gift card, and then we shopped at Old Navy. We made ourselves a protein shake and then headed to Venice Beach.

My GPS didn’t take us south enough. We paid to park and walked down to the boardwalk, and saw Santa Monica pier wasn’t too far north, so we headed there. We looked around and took some pictures. I loved all the Route 66 stuff. We wandered back to the car, and honestly didn’t mind the walk because we were pointing out cute houses on our way.

We headed further south to Venice Beach and had quite the adventure looking for parking—all the lots were $10 and $15, and we weren’t going to be there for very long. Thankfully, smart Brittney said we should try the Post Office. There was a spot in there, and USPS is closed on Sundays, so we should be OK. It was right on Main street, making our walk to the boardwalk really easy. We stopped at a little café where I got a Taro Thai milk bubble tea, and Britt got a passionfruit bubble tea. So good.

Obviously, we wandered around for a good portion of time. There weren’t too many weird folks, but there was a family exploiting their children, who weren’t especially talented. All the usual artists were there, and some musicians/performers. We went to a couple of shops where I picked up a Muscle Beach tee, and Brittney got herself a California hat, and some souvenirs for friends back home. We got some churros from a Mexican lady with a cart, which sadly weren’t that good, especially since they probably needed to be heated up.

We found Afters ice cream, and a chimney place with soft serve, but we resisted those temptations. We drove home. Dad took us to Casa del Rey. We split a burrito, but I ate way too many chips, obviously.

We ended up getting no treats that night, but I did have half of an Almond Joy along with an apricot. I always need a treat, you guys.

On Monday morning, we got up and did a workout. We each used a 15 pound dumbbell, and I just traded Wednesday and Monday’s workouts (so I did Monday’s today). It was hard but so fun to have someone to work out with. It’s funny, it seems harder having someone else there. Like I just do my workouts and maybe forget that they’re challenging. But then having someone else there reminds me how hard the movements are for me, because I have someone to complain to.

It was sunny and beautiful that morning. We had shakes and left just before 9am. We first went to Donut Queen, where I got a buttermilk, and Britt got a maple bar. She wasn’t disappointed. We then went to Starbucks where I got a nonfat matcha latte (again no stomach issues), and Britt got her beverage. We headed to Huntington Beach. Traffic was pretty bad trying to stay on the 57, as usual. We got to my aunt’s house about 10:15, where I pulled up as my cousin Josh was walking up to the house.

He was our chauffeur for the day. We left pretty quickly, had to get gas, and aunt Lisa wanted a Banzai Bowl (acai bowl). Britt and I were still full, so we split one. We walked from there to the Huntington Pier, where we enjoyed the breeze and the smells, and took a few pictures.

We walked back, and Josh picked us up in the parking lot. We then headed to a few different spots. The first spot was a lookout point. There were a ton of amazing smelling flowers, and you could see the beautiful clear water.

The second spot had a toilet that we used right away. The tide was low enough that we could climb past some areas and get over to tide pools. We treasure hunted a little bit. We also went to Victoria Street and saw some beautiful homes, one of which has their own private castle spiral staircase down to the shore. Not sure who these people are, but holy cow.

The anemones scared her

Due to traffic and Jake’s birthday, we had to cut our visit somewhat short. We left my aunt’s at 2:45 (after I took a really long pee and brushed the tangles out of my hair). We headed to Stater Bros where we got some cake mixes, scratch frosting supplies, frozen California style veggies, some chips, and pineapple and cantaloupe to add to the mango and strawberries at home for a fruit salad. Dad made steelhead and salmon on the grill. Everything was so delicious, and I finished off those damn barbecue chips by myself. Chips are a no-go for me, guys. It’s so hard. I made Jake a lemon cake, made myself a chocolate cake, and made cream cheese frosting for both.

 Jared and Amoreena came over. They hung up a birthday banner for Jake, and also brought him a funfetti cake with sprinkles in a marijuana pattern on the cake. They brought him a present: a banzai tree and care kit for it. They also bought me a present: a Harry Potter Sweet Shoppe kit—to make chocolate frogs and other treats. So, so thoughtful! Those cute kids.

We ate dinner around the round table outside. We took some family pictures on timer—everyone together, just the siblings, siblings and dad, Jake and each person, etc. It was nice to get some current photos.

The conversation and fun at the dining room table went on as normal, us cracking our weird jokes and sharing strange humor. Jake was very appreciative of the cards and gifts. He got a little teary-eyed with dad’s card. It meant a lot to him. He hugged me and thanked me for making his birthday special.

We went to bed—Brittney first, and me just after 11pm. We were up at 5 and out the door by 5:20 to head back. We had an ordeal trying to find a gas station off the freeway exit to the airport. We ended up having to turn around, and then there were two. All we had to do was turn left. Eye roll. We turned in the car with no issues, went through security with no issues, and headed to the gate. I filled up my water bottle, went potty, and Britt got her coffee. We were in zone 1, and in the very back row of the plane.

We landed early at 9:55am. We ordered an Uber WAY too soon, thinking they would come later. So we had to book it out to the pickup area so our ride wouldn’t leave us behind. I got dropped off first, around 10:31am. I put on some makeup and some different clothes, and fixed my hair. I was out the door by 10:53am to head to work. I got myself a DDP from McDonald’s because work. And I clocked in at 11:15am.

The only hiccup in all this was the fact that my phone went haywire on Monday during our beach explorations. Brittney had to be my navigator and middleman texter. I was thankful to have her there because what on earth does anyone do without a phone?

I miss my family and I miss California more than I can explain. I got a little emotional in the Uber, and tried to let myself feel the sadness. But then I had to pull it together because life goes on.

This was one of my best trips home in a lot of years. I am glad Brittney could be there to share it with me. She was such a cool travel companion—so easygoing and didn’t seem irritated with me or my family. I’m feeling all kinds of good feelings and gratitude for this trip we decided to take on a whim because of a good flight price.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Unwanted Photographs

What is it with dudes wanting to send pictures of their wieners to girls?

What. Is. It?

I do not understand. I do not know of a single woman who admits to getting all hot and bothered when she is involuntarily subjected to this nonsense.

I’ve had the brother of a guy I dated send me a wiener picture. He was engaged at the time.

I’ve had a former student send me one. (scarred for life; my eyes cannot unsee this)

I just do not understand.

Last year I went out a few times (really we hung out, as I paid for myself because I wasn’t sure of my interest level) with this dude who just seemed and acted really young and innocent in a lot of ways.

He didn’t get my sense of humor, and really just didn’t give me the vibe that he could keep up with any of what I was saying, to be honest. Mostly he lacked a lot of confidence and seemed to be super insecure with me.

But at some point I made a smart remark in passing like, “As long as you never send me a dick picture, it’ll all be OK.”

He laughed, so I figured it was an, “obviously I wouldn’t do that,” kind of laugh. I mean, my comment was just meant to be funny, because it goes without saying that I do not want a picture of your wiener. Neither does anyone else.

There were several strange requests via text for me to wear a certain pair of jeggings on our next outing, and to send him a picture of my rear end. So I knew he wasn’t as innocent as he was making himself out to be. I told him anything on my Instagram was about as good as it was going to get.

At one point things just got wildly strange. He must have thought I was incredibly naïve. This dude tried to pull a big one over on me. Nope. Not this girl.

Honestly, if I had it to do over again, I probably would have been much more rude and harsh in my response. But in not wanting to hurt his feelings in case he was being serious (he wasn’t), I responded calmly and seriously.

Are you ready for this madness?

Out of the blue on a Sunday, after interest had subsided substantially, dude says he has a very serious question for me. He’s researched it online and still hasn’t been able to figure out the answer. He even has done an image search. And he sincerely couldn’t figure out if he was circumcised or not. And could he please send me a picture so I could tell him if he was or not.

Are. You. Serious?

No. You’re not serious. This is ridiculous. Dude is in the army reserves. He’s grown up in male locker rooms. Sorry, but you’d know it if you weren’t circumcised. There’s no way you’d make it to almost 30 and not know. No way.

After being totally taken aback, I first called out the obvious—that it’s basically impossible that he wouldn’t know this already, and so I don’t feel like I should gratify his question with a response. But in case he was being serious, I would attempt an answer. Yes ladies and gentlemen, I actually took the time to explain these things—that other boys would have made him aware LONG AGO if he weren’t circumcised. And that he would have had to take extra steps in his hygiene if he weren’t. And it’s pretty standard at most births. And why don’t you just ask your mother? (because we don’t have a good relationship, was his answer to that)

And NO YOU CANNOT SEND ME A PICTURE OF YOUR WIENER. I believe I explicitly mentioned that a long time ago. If this is a ploy to interest me, you’ve got the wrong girl.

Somehow I even got into the Biblical discussion of circumcision, though I don’t remember how it got there. He acted ignorant of all the religious implications as well.

But in the very SLIM case that this guy was serious, I actually took the time to discuss it. I successfully dodged the picture. I guess it says something that he respected my response enough not to send me a picture anyway, right?

Needless to say, we didn’t talk after that. Though he did try to text me a month or two ago, apologizing for how long it had been since we had talked. Bro, no apology needed. I didn’t miss you.

Or your wiener.

Only me, you guys. Only. Me.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

My Drinking Problem


I need to confess it here and now.

I have a drinking problem.

That’s right. The problem REALLY all started about three years ago when I started counting macros. When you have only budgeted a certain amount for carbohydrates, you don’t want to waste them on soda or juice. Not that these things aren’t delicious, but you’re still hungry and now you’re out 35g carbs for your day (and you only get 165g to begin with!). Thanks, but no thanks!

So I started learning the true joy in drinking things other than water. Which, don’t mistake that last sentence, I LOVE water. But sometimes you just want to switch it up, you know? 

To be honest, my love of calorie free drinks was spurred when I was about 20 years old and dating my first fiancée. His family did diet sodas. My first real diet love was Diet Dr. Pepper. To me it tasted as close to the regular soda as it could have, so it didn’t “taste like diet” to me. I loved it. 

From there I gained an appreciation for Diet Coke Plus, which soon disappeared. I guess people just didn’t appreciate the added vitamins in a nutrient deficient beverage. 

Vanilla Coke Zero was an equal favorite in college. I loved getting a 12 pack as a present from my close friends. 

Even as a lover of diet soda, it was a pretty rare thing for me. It was never daily. It was 1-2 times per week. I’ve never been one to do anything excessively. I even had lots of diet soda expire because I wouldn’t drink it in time. Also, I’m aware that diet soda is terrible for you. But if it’s not a frequent thing, then I don’t see it as a major problem. Plus, especially during calorie deficits, it’s just a really great treat, you know? 

For a little while, I went on a coffee kick. I still love coffee with all the sinews of my being. I would usually get a nonfat latte. I’d sweeten it with stevia, and my favorite part was the milk foam. To me, it was (is) a lot healthier than soda. But I had other priorities spiritually, so I gave it up and went back to soda. 

Fast forward to working at Alpine in 2016, during the summer, where Swig was located right around the corner. Yikes. I own not one, but two refillable mugs from Swig, and their cookies are man’s greatest creation. But while tracking, I have to do my own sodas. So, I make my own Diet Dr. Pepper with Torani sugar free vanilla, and 1-2 tablespoons of coconut creamer. I can make it pretty close if the soda comes out of a fountain. I have been known to refill my DDP at a restaurant on my way back to work, and add my other stuff at work. 

I wanted to share my other favorite zero or low calorie beverages:
- Low calorie hot chocolate (1 cup almond milk, unsweetened, 1.5 tablespoons cocoa powder, and sugar free peppermint syrup, or stevia)
- Bai drinks (Molokai coconut)
- Bai Bubbles (Waikiki coconut lime)
- Core drinks (tropical coconut)
- Vitamin Water Zero (pineapple coconut, strawberry lemonade, lemonade)
- Minute Maid Light
- Pero (3/4 cup hot water, ¼ cup almond milk [coconut milk is better], stevia)
- Tea (Yogi vanilla spice, Bigelow mint medley, Celestial candy cane lane, Celestial Bengal spice, or 1/2 Earl Grey and 1/2 warm almond milk)
- Protein water (70 cals each, pink grapefruit flavor)
- BCAAs (Optimum Nutrition fruit punch)
- Bolero (exotic flavor powder, add to water)
- Perk Chill (mint hot chocolate, 100 calories, at bedtime)

Protein water


I’ve recently tried some IdealBoost water flavors: tropical punch was the best one. Coconut wasn’t very good; it tasted chemically. The hot chocolate and hazelnut hot chocolate are 10 calories each. They aren’t awesome tasting, but they can get the job done if you’re counting and need a sweet tooth fix. 

The short of this is that I have come to appreciate beverages in the last few years. They bring me some guilt-free variety and joy. What are your favorite calorie free beverages?

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Made Whole

From January 7 to February 17 I participated in a six week long cleanse of body and soul led by my lovely friend Mary of Made Whole. She's an amazing, empathetic healer. She emanates light and love, and she makes you feel like she will accept you in all your obnoxious imperfections.

I reached out to Mary after three months of battling sinus issues during training, and with a host of other emotional stresses I wanted help managing. She sent me information on her cleanse, with no pressure at all, and encouraged me to ask questions and decide if this was right for me at the right time.

Here is what she says about the purposes of her program:

The first intention of this program is to help you rewire your neural pathways by creating your Ideal Life Vision, which you will create in our I AM workshop on January 6th, 2018, and which I will help you refine throughout our six weeks together. Your IdealLife Vision is a written manifest of the life your heart desires, with great detail and purpose. I will guide you through the steps to make it as powerful as possible, and will teach you how to use it to support your creation of the life you envision. This will help to diffuse the negative thought patterns or beliefs that may be keeping you from leading your life with your strengths and fulfilling your potential. Our work together will help you be very clear about the life you are going to live and create in the next year to eighteen months.

The second intention of this program is to support your body’s ability to cleanse itself of many toxins and patterns that may be causing inflammation, fatigue, mood swings and imbalances, fogginess and excess weight. We focus on cleansing the organs of synthetic buildup, heavy metals and parasites (we all have them). We will do this through a diet designed to restore the nutritional deficiencies you may be suffering from, as these deficiencies often play a great role in your emotional and physical wellness; we will also use supplements, oils and emotion work to support your detox.

The third and highest intention is, through the assignments and cleanse given, that you will trust yourself- with food, with your dreams and potential, in your body, and step towards the vibrant, fulfilled life that has been ordained to you.

Now, I need you all to know (and for those who follow me on Instagram, you know my general approach to health and wellness) that I was skeptical and expressed my skepticism to Mary. Juice cleanses, detoxes, and "allowing your gut to rest," and things like that really aren't backed by science. There are lots of anecdotes, but not a lot of science. Thankfully, I am also of the opinion that if it works for you, makes you feel good, and doesn't hurt you and your health, do what you need to do. I'm not a fan of any extreme measures, as I like to find sustainable approaches that work for people to feel great and confident. Nevertheless, I felt pretty strongly that this was something I needed to do. This was largely BECAUSE of the discomfort this entire idea caused me. I figured the guilty take the truth to be hard, and this was something I would benefit from.

I had a couple of obstacles come up that really tested whether this was something I wanted to do. First, I got accepted to Trainer Lindsey's free 8 week group. She picked four applicants to go through her program and get all of Ideal's supplements for free, with weekly check-ins. It was an amazing, amazing opportunity. I cried and contacted Lindsey and told her the situation. In the end, I passed up this opportunity. I do feel that it would have been great for me in different ways, and Mary's cleanse was great for me in different ways.

After taking our blood sugar and pH level in the morning to send to Mary, the group started on January 6 by spending an entire day creating our "Life Vision." Herein was another conflict. I had volunteered to teach a free class at Core Life Eatery on this date, not knowing when the workshop would be, or what time or how long. I sheepishly had to back out of teaching at Core Life even though they had already printed posters and created the event. I felt awful. But I knew that this workshop would be an important part of the cleanse, so I went ahead and backed out of teaching.

The workshop is where we had to get raw and brave and real with ourselves and unabashedly write what we wanted most in the areas of spiritual, physical, relationships, business/finance, personal growth, and giving back. We met at Mary's family friend's beautiful home in South Jordan. This is where I first met everyone--Mary's sister Lauren, Mary's cousin Chelsea, Mary's DoTerra coach Kindra, and Mary's friend Natalie.

Allow me to tell you how hard this day was. It was so, so hard. In the relationship section, you're meant to focus on all the relationships that matter to you. This means romantic relationships, friendships, family relationships, and your relationship with yourself. I had an especially awful meltdown in this area. I had to leave the house. I walked up and down the side walk and ugly cried. I was out of control and imagine I was loud enough that the neighbors could hear me. To describe my pain to you, I would basically have you imagine that a close relative, someone important in your life, had passed away. It was a grieving moment.

That day didn't get any easier. Having been in health and fitness for seven years now, I knew the work that this cleanse would entail--way more than this anti-food prepper wanted to do. I knew it would be hard. I knew what I was giving up. I knew I'd be hungry and grumpy and emotional. So when I had to shop at Sprouts (and spend a lot of money there) and Harmon's for ingredients for my juice, not knowing what some of the ingredients even looked like, or how much juice these ingredients would make, or how much of each thing to get, I was really stressed and frustrated. Walking to my car in the parking lot, I stopped in my tracks and broke down in tears again. I was so overwhelmed. But I knew I needed to do this.

The first day, January 7, we had to do a salt flush. It was terrible. If you ever need to poop your brains out, or pee out your bum, I'll give you the recipe. Four cups of warm water with pink Himalayan sea salt, chugged within ten minutes. Terrible. Clearly, I didn't go to church. I made my first juice that day, just one serving to test out my juicer and see what the juice was like. I had all day to make more, after all.

The first week consisted of just juice. My juice was pretty spicy due to black beet and ginger and radish. It wasn't awful, but man it was strong, and bless anyone who had to smell my breath.

During the week, I made my juice in the morning, which took a long time and made me late to work. I tried plastic cups with straws for a couple days, but ended up using glass Mason jars and took an ice chest to work so I didn't have to stink up the fridge with my juice. During this phase we were also allowed to have herbal tea, thank goodness. It was hard, and I was hungry, but I think since I already had my meltdown beforehand, I didn't do too bad. I had some moments where I asked myself why I was doing this, reminded myself that science didn't support this, and this wasn't why I contacted Mary in the first place. Thankfully I had Natalie in my group to support me and keep me focused.

That week was especially hard with workouts. I could barely lift any weight. My muscles felt weak, and my energy was suffering. On Saturday, January 13, I went to an Ideal Fit event with my friend Brittney. I had to scale back and take it easy, having only had juice for the six days prior. I made it through by trying places like Ivie Juice in Orem, Pulp Lifestyle Kitchen's juice (with Brittney after the Ideal event), Just Organic Juice in Draper, and Vive Juicery in Draper. I matched my juice choices there as closely as I could to our juice, and it really saved the day and changed things up for me.

On Sunday, January 14, we had yet another salt flush. It was as bad as you'd imagine, not having had any food in a whole week. I believe I went to church and left early. That night was really hard for me. My grandma made chicken paprikas, our family's favorite dish from Hungary, for my mom's birthday. I couldn't have any, but I did get to have bone broth that night. I saved it specifically for dinner while everyone was eating. I was sorely disappointed and sad about my bone broth. I had a small meltdown that night where I told my mom how hungry I was and how tired I was. But thankfully that week, we got to add bone broth, apple juice, and olive oil. This was to prepare for the gall stone flush the following Sunday. The added calories made my body very happy, and my workouts were a little easier.

On Sunday, January 21, we had our gall stone flush. This consisted of Epsom salt water the night prior, along with chugging some olive oil combined with grapefruit juice and lemon juice (I forgot the lemon--oops) and going straight to bed. The next morning was more painful than the two salt flushes prior. I will leave it at that. I didn't end up going to stake conference that day, seeing as I had to jump out of the shower to go to the bathroom and didn't know what the rest of the day would be like.

That day was amazing. We got to reintroduce soft foods, including kefir with Flax oil and berries, steamed veggies, and steamed fruit. I overate that day and got really bloated, but it was so nice to be able to chew. Those foods were our foods for the next few days until we had a good, solid bowel movement. Sorry if that's TMI.

Goat's milk kefir, berries, and flax

Pineapple and apples

Veggies for steaming

After our BM, Mary sent us our recipes. This was the week of smoothies, salads, and soups, designed for our individual nutrient deficiencies. This felt normal to me, as I always have shakes for breakfast and salads for lunch. But the immense amount of fiber made me feel pretty bloated this entire week. I think it was the black bean soup, which was freaking AMAZING by the way. So, so yummy. I didn't get sick of it. I actually ate more than I was supposed to because it was so good. We also got to have boiled eggs for snacks, and trail mix. I ran out of the black bean soup with a couple of days left, and not knowing what foods would be in the next phase, I made a half batch and ended up freezing some of it.

So excited for my first salad in weeks (at Core Life Eatery)

The hardest thing about the cleanse in that period was not knowing when each phase would end and how much food to buy. I ended up wasting a lot of food because we were done juicing, and then before I knew it, the smoothie/salad/soup phase was done, and I had some of that left as well.

The last phase was the least personalized. Mary introduced a lot of fat in this phase. I ate quite a few eggs, and quite a few avocados, and a lot of chopped up vegetables. I didn't want to go to the trouble of making hummus when I'm not a huge fan (I don't hate it, but I don't love it). And the other recipes didn't appeal to me much either. I loved the juice in this phase, which I had 2-3 times and actually am planning on making again soon. It was so yummy. My coconut curry recipe was pretty tasty. This was another frustrating moment because I ran out of the curry with a couple of days left, but two days before I could eat salmon, and making a huge batch of veggie spaghetti seemed like it might end up being wasteful. I made it anyway, and did end up throwing a lot of it away because I didn't like it very much, and it made a lot. We had the option of salad for lunch or dinner as well, so I should have just done that instead of making spaghetti.

Omelet and sweet potato

Veggies and guac


Quinoa was a breakfast option for 1-2 days if we didn't want an omelet
February 10 was my birthday, and I did well all day with my food, but ended up having that chimney that I won the giveaway for. So I was "done" a little sooner than everyone else.

On Sunday, February 11, we had our story night at Natalie's house. We got together for the first time since January 6 and shared formative experiences from our lives, and what we could glean from those to share with the group. It was really emotional, and Mary brought in two ladies who weren't in the group to share their experiences as well. We brought healthyish treats to share. I brought oatmeal applesauce cookies and PB2 brownies with coconut whipped cream. Mary brought almond joys. Chelsea brought no bake cookies. And I had already had some Dove chocolate earlier in the day since I had that treat the night before. This day was a little out of control free for all for me, to be honest.

That whole next week, we were supposed to slowly reintroduce things. I had every intention of doing that, but I also had all my birthday freebies rolling in by email. On Monday night, February 12, I got myself some theater popcorn. That actually went OK in terms of how my body dealt with it, but I felt really sad afterward. That was kind of weird. It wasn't guilt or illness. It was sadness. So bizarre.

It took me a few days to reintroduce meat. It took me a few days to reintroduce soda also, which I've only had a couple of times since. I ate an entire thing of cheesy bread from Marco's, which was delicious. I continued to have salads for lunch and a few nights had salad for dinner as well. I had a Firehouse Sub, and a Pizza Studio pizza (both free). I just didn't take it slow, to be honest. I've put on a lot of weight--I don't even know how much--which I knew would happen the minute we were done and could reintroduce food. I had sushi and dessert on the 17th for my birthday, and the same on Sunday the 18th--chicken and dumplings and cake.

So now I'm in a weird stage where I know what foods my body does well with, what foods reduce inflammation and help me feel light and good, and what foods don't make me feel so good. And trying to find some self-control and choose my body over my taste buds. I go to sleep and wake up with intentions of making better choices, but then we have dessert day at work, or I have cake that my best friend made, and it's just so hard to choose my body and well-being.

That week of reintroducing foods caused my skin to freak out, made me bloated, made me gain weight, and disrupted my sleep. My improved sleep was one of the biggest benefits of the juicing portion. I just was really irresponsible and too quick about putting all the processed foods back in. And I kind of knew I would be, which is why I am skeptical of extreme measures. Because I know what happens when I restrict for too long--it's totally counterproductive. It makes me frustrated because after all the time, money, effort, and energy put into everything, to just so quickly give up everything I had gained makes me feel annoyed with myself.

In this process, I gained new, amazing friends. I had three emotion work sessions with Mary where we released some emotions in order to break down my heart wall. It was a weird and cool experience. The second and third sessions were better for me than the first. I learned that I can do some incredibly difficult things. I reaffirmed what an amazing machine my body is, and reminded myself how good I can feel by eating the right foods. I've learned that I can invest a little bit more time in my own food preparation, and that I deserve the effort, and the extra money for better ingredients.

I was looking to regain balance, for connectedness in my mind and body. I felt overall that the stress of the food (the shopping, the preparation, etc.) kind of overtook the more spiritual and emotional aspects of the cleanse for me. I also had a meltdown on January 31 about the cost of the groceries on top of the program--I probably tripled or quadrupled my normal food budget. I understand that we learn more about our bodies, and reconnect to our bodies, when we are treating them well. But I needed to devote more time to peace and meditation and processing through my issues. So whatever this program didn't deliver was due to my own inability to muster up the energy and time after dealing with all the food challenges and remembering all the supplements and when to take them.

Still, it was definitely valuable. The friends I gained are probably the biggest benefit for me, second only to the self-love I gained. I'm grateful for Mary and her leadership as well as the encouragement and strength of the other ladies in the group. Mostly I am grateful for myself--for my body's ability to push through and heal itself, for my discipline in completing the assignments, for the effort I put in to loving myself. I DO love myself and am worth the time and effort to have the health and life I want. I am worthy of blessings and of the desires of my heart. And if you don't know your own worth and worthiness, then this program would be a powerful experience for you.