On Being Wrong

I’ve had the experience over the past two days of being shown that I am wrong.

I have long held the belief that people don’t actually like being told what to do, that they can think for themselves, that they WANT to do things for themselves.

I’ve held this belief counter what many people were asking of me.

I’ve held this belief counter to what I now understand to be completely valid professional advice.

Turns out I’m wrong. Very wrong.

The only person who doesn’t like to be told what and how to do things is me. And I’m an outlier.

Yes, I know I’m not unique in this. But I’ve yet to meet anyone who holds to this as strongly as I do. But I know there are others and they probably fall into the Rebel tendency of Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies.

I happen to be a Questioner with a Rebel overlap. I’ve written about this before. If you want me to do as I’m told, I have to both ask you tell me and then you have to convince me.

Good luck with that.

But I get it. I think. People want easy. You want it done for you. You don’t want to think about what to eat or why or when. You want to be told and given that direction. And for a multitude of completely valid and human reasons.

I’ll admit to having a hard time empathizing with people who can’t make themselves do things. Not because I ALWAYS can make myself do things, but because once I’ve decided there is literally no stopping me. It’s the deciding part that can trip ME up.

In a way, I envy those of you who can simply say “tell me what to do” and can then just do it. I don’t say that to diminish in any way what appears to me as an easy accountability.

I know it’s not easy. For me, it’s the deciding that isn’t easy. For me, it’s the following directions that’s hard. As soon as someone else is telling me what to do, I will find ways to subvert it.

Exhibit A as to why I did not join the military.

I’ve fallen into the trap of thinking everyone is like me. You aren’t.

So consider this my apology and my commitment to doing better, to giving you what you need in order to be successful.

The different in me honors the different in you.

Who were you before you were told to be different?

This is a prompt from a writing challenge I’m hosting over on Instagram.

I was many things
before
the weight of expectation
and societal norms
fought
to crush me

unafraid
wild and wide-eyed
passionate
engaged
bright
free

Somewhere this child
still resides
deep within my soul
As I strip away the
years and layers
I slowly become whole

Not Another How-To Article: PCOS Remission in the Making

How to articles abound in the blogosphere so I typically resist writing them. But every once in a while someone (or multiple someones in this case) will ask me how I do or did something and I think “hmm, maybe I ought to write that…”

By now my journey from PCOS hell to PCOS remission is well known. What I’ve never really done is chronicle how I did it. I think my reservation in doing so stemmed largely from the fact that how I did it isn’t necessarily the way someone else should do it nor might it be the right way for them to do it. The steps I took were based on my research, my living in my own body, and 4 years of self-experimentation. That said, reading other women’s accounts of how THEY did it was something I found helpful because it gave me both hope and a reference point, especially because my doctor insisted that it wasn’t possible.

I’m his one success story.

Step 1: Clean up your diet

I may or may not have mentioned before that in the early part of 2014 I weighed 200lbs. I’d already completed an elimination diet and found that gluten and dairy were not my friends. I actually fought this for months, eliminating both for a few weeks then succumbing to the siren song of pasta or a burrito or a sandwich, only to pay for it pretty instantly. A burrito was actually the thing that did me in, the thing that made me FINALLY just accept that I could not eat wheat.

So I went gluten-free. And I ate all the gluten-free things, most of which were not worth it and tasted awful.

And I ballooned.

Weighing in at 200lbs was my come to Jesus moment. I knew it was coming and I was unsurprised. What struck me though was the intense anger I had towards myself, the instant acceptance of responsibility, knowing and understanding that I was the one shoveling all the foods into my mouth. There was no “poor me”, no depression, no tears, and no wallowing. Just instantaneous pulling myself up by my bootstraps, acceptance of what was, and an unwavering commitment to fix it.

To be clear, my anger wasn’t self-hatred. For the first time in my life, I was angry because I knew I deserved better. I was angry because I’d hated myself to that point and it was clear that was getting me nowhere. No, this anger was because I LOVED (and still do, obv) myself.

From there I jumped into Paleo and in the last year or so switched to a more ketogenic diet. I’m finding that as long as I stick within these boundaries, I continue to move my way to where I want to be. I’ve lost 25% body fat and 60 lbs over the last 4 years and I’m working on losing another 5% body fat and improving my carbohydrate tolerance which is still quite low. But I know that those are things that improve with time.

Step 2: Remove/reduce endocrine disrupters

Hormones are generated in the endocrine glands. PCOS is a hormone disorder. So when I really got serious with reversing this, one of the first things that jumped out at me was all the chatter about endocrine disrupters in our lives. Don’t know about them? Google “endocrine disrupters” and be prepared to utter “WTF”.

I started by replacing household cleaners and personal hygiene products with safer options as I ran out. As much as I just wanted to throw everything away and start with a clean slate, safer products cost more. They cost more because they have to be processed differently and, with personal hygiene products, they have a MUCH shorter shelf life.

I have seriously questioned this move more than once due to the cost and some performance issues but I always come back to this: if you want your hormones to come back into balance, don’t introduce something into your system that’s going to block you from doing that.

Step 3: Supplementation

I do a lot of research. I’m constantly listening to summits and podcasts and reading emerging research. Supplementation was the next thing I jumped into. I’ve tried many, many different supplements (see my Resources page to see what I recommend). There have been many I tried that I didn’t find any benefit to me and a handful that I’ve tried that, with time, have definitely had the desired effect.

The key to this experimentation has been this: time. You HAVE to give anything you try at least 6 months before you write it off. The other thing to note is that your hormone balance is different than mine, so you have to be willing to experiment knowing that not everything is going to work.

Step 4: Move

For me, insulin resistance was a major issue. As a matter of fact, PCOS is CAUSED by insulin resistance. I’ve probably been insulin resistant since I hit puberty to varying degrees. This is why my attempt at veganism actually made me sicker – I just substituted grains for the animal protein. While diet is powerful, certain types of exercise can help change your body composition.

Body composition is far more important than body weight when it comes to insulin resistance. I’ve always preferred some form of strength training, mostly because I find cardio BORING. I did really cool things with strength training when I was 17 and that’s stayed with me. Knowing what works for you and what you like is important.

Here’s the thing: straight cardio isn’t your friend when it comes to insulin resistance. And there’s plenty of research on this. Hypertrophy did some really cool things for me. But it’s important to remember that you cannot out exercise a bad diet. No amount of strength training is going to help you change your body composition if you continue to feed the insulin resistance. This is a do not pass Go, do not collect $200 issue.

Step 5: Natural Deodorant

Okay, shouldn’t this be in the endocrine disrupters? Well, yes but…

Deodorant is typically the last thing people change and for good reason. None of us want to stink! I finally switched in October 2017 and yes, there was an adjustment period.

For starters, they aren’t antiperspirants. I now sweat and I’ve had to get used to that. But since I eat quite clean, all the gross standard American diet smells don’t come out of my pores so I don’t STINK. I smell like me. Stress can be a little aromatic but that’s nothing a quick trip to the ladies room for a pat down and reapplication can’t fix.

Yes, I sometimes carry deodorant around with me. Call it an anti-stink insurance policy.

Did you see the underlying theme through all this?

Time.

I didn’t get sick overnight. I didn’t get well overnight. Neither did nor will you.

The asterisk to all these steps is that I came to this from love and compassion. No amount of self-hatred or self-abuse could have done this for me. That’s why I haven’t kicked back and said: “I’m well, I can coast now.”

I’m working on improving my carb tolerance (I still get food coma if I eat potatoes or any simple carbohydrates) and losing another 5% body fat because I’d prefer to be on the lower end of the healthy range than at the top.

But make no mistake: this isn’t a walk in the park. It’s hard work. It’s often isolating. Sometimes it involves legitimate suffering.

Being pharmaceutical free, menstruating on a NORMAL schedule (menstruating AT ALL), being comfortable in my body and acne free – those things make the work worth it.

I promise.

 

 

Old School: Thoughts Gone Awry

Sometimes I read through old stuff and come across rough gems. I thought maybe I’d start to share some of that here. Posted below is something I wrote 2 years ago and it still has much merit. Let me know what you think:

Fear of failure is really just fear of success. It’s being comfortable with playing small, shrinking from exposure.

I don’t fear failing, per se. I’m afraid of the fall, of what comes after I realize I’m soaring and instead of realizing that belief is what got me there, I allow doubt to bring me crashing, hard, back to the earth.

I’ve broken so many times. I always come back together.

But what if I don’t.

This is worse than having my inner mean girl tear me to shreds. She knows EXACTLY what to say. And I know how to put her in her place.

This is my innate resiliency packing its bags and saying Adios!!

This is my 1st-grade teacher telling my parents that I cheat, that I can’t POSSIBLY be THAT intelligent. This is my 9th grade English teacher telling me my writing is awful. This is my well-meaning dad editing my papers to the point that they are no longer mine and are all his. And though reason does not fail me and I know full well it was DAD’S writing my 9th-grade teacher hated, it sticks with me.

That little girl understood from the time she was 6 that she wasn’t enough. The 14-year-old got the double whammy of parental AND educational rejection. More “you are not enough.”

Never mind that I won an award for a poem I wrote in 6th grade. About trash. TRASH. I wish I had that still. It disappeared, probably by my own hand since I have a history of destroying the beautiful things I create. They have to be flukes so chuck it.

Never mind that every single professor I had in college that I had to write for saw SOMETHING of note, something worth commenting positively on. A couple went so far as to call me into their offices, me certain that I was about to be torn a new one, only to ask me why I was hiding. I’m so obviously capable of better than what I’m turning in so please give them something worthy of my abilities.

Never mind that every single person who has had the opportunity to read what I write, poetry or otherwise, is constantly checking to make sure I’m still writing. My best friend sends me links to organizations looking for writers, my uncle wants to make sure I’m not wasting a gift, my mom just knows that my sanity and continued happiness is contingent on my continuing to write. Something, anything. Just write.

I never set out to be a writer. Until VERY recently, I didn’t consider myself one. I often wonder if I’m not taking more than I’m giving. I get so much out of writing, but I can’t think of anything I give it. I don’t write because I have something to say.

Okay, yes I do. I always have something to say.

But I don’t write because anyone CARES what I have to say. I just write. I write because I NEED it. Because it’s a compulsion sometimes. Other times, I’m in a drought and can’t come up with a single thing to write. I suspect that’s more a symptom of laziness though, a shrug of the shoulders and instead sitting down with beer, wine, something adult and Netflix to numb out.

There’s a line somewhere though, between keeping things to myself out of self-preservation and keeping things to myself because I have no need to share. Or maybe that’s bullshit too.

Maybe it’s ALL bullshit.

Gourmet, Iraq & Souvlaki

Freshly PennedSeveral years ago I stopped watching food television. No more Julia Child and Jacques Pepin on PBS, no more Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives on Food Network. I also stopped reading food magazines. It helped that Gourmet had folded in 2009, so food magazines really weren’t all that good anyway.

I was trying, for the umpteenth time, to lose weight. Surrounding myself with all that virtual food just made me want to eat. So I gave it up.

This past weekend, I went home to my grandmother’s house for my aunt’s surprise birthday party. On her bookshelf, which I always have to peruse, was Ruth Reichl’s My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life. Equal parts cookbook and personal journal, it’s been on my wishlist since it was published.

Have you ever connected two completely disparate events, understanding that one had absolutely nothing to do with the other, but they happened in such short succession that you can’t think about one without the other?

I connect my brother leaving for his third tour in Iraq with the closing of Gourmet. He left and not two days later I found out about Gourmet on Twitter. I was fine until I read that tweet. And then I lost my marbles. I was positive (and am so grateful that I was wrong) that my brother wouldn’t be coming home and now something that had been part of my life for most of it was gone, something I’d shared for years with my grandmother. I opened up Ruth’s book and was there, in 2009, all over again, tears streaming down my face.

As I sat there reading, I was reminded of the fact that I used to love food: eating it, making it for people I love, and writing about it. But I long ago rejected the idea of being a food writer. I blogged food for a little bit, making other people’s recipes, but I didn’t love it. And let’s face it, we do not lack food bloggers. I wasn’t doing anything original and it bothered me that I was making these recipes and publishing them without permission from the authors.

Reading this book, I started thinking about how my relationship with food has changed. I no longer eat certain foods for health reasons, I no longer spend hours planning meals and cooking, I actually kind of don’t love being in the kitchen anymore. Food has become nutrition, not all of the other things that it can be: love, connection, fun, history, nostalgia.

I read the entire book in a few hours, marveling at Ruth’s writing style and drifting in and out of years worth of memories of cooking with my grandmother. As I closed the book upon finishing, I made a promise to myself that I will fall back in love with food.

Sometimes, something as simple as a book can give you back a part of yourself. Thank you, Ruth.

Sort of Souvlaki

Something that has happened in recent years is that I’ve stopped making recipes in the strictest sense. I do a little research, read a few recipes, then throw something together. Then my mother will ask for the recipe and I’ll tell her there isn’t one. It annoys her to no end. But, I AM my grandmother’s granddaughter, I do this stuff by feel.

I marinated cubed pork loin in lemon juice, fresh oregano, salt, fresh garlic cloves, and avocado oil for 24 hours. Don’t do that. 4 hours is better because the acid in the lemon chemically starts cooking the pork rendering it tough if you leave it too long. I then roasted it on a sheet pan at 425 degrees for 10 minutes.

Throw it on a salad and call it lunch.