Tag Archives: health

World Mental Health Day 

This post was inspired by the shortness and sweetness of this blog post, (which I found to be incredibly beautiful, poignant, and full of courage. Thank you.)

We all have a story, and creative platforms such as music and lyrics, film and television, theater and spoken word allow such discourse regarding the most tangled up parts of ourselves. For all else, perhaps, there’s this.

Sometimes I’m so overwhelmed that it can feel like I’m screaming inside, that I hope so much that I am still calm on the outside.

I feel, very strongly. The peaks and highs are fantastic, the lows are horrible, and the sparks are powerful at best. Always in need of harnessing.

I constantly worry about whether or not I’ve done the right thing. There have been instances where I’ve been physically incapacitated in doing so.

I think about death a lot, mainly about how one day we, too, will be gone, and not many people will be aware of the difference. It keeps me in check, but mostly, it has me on an even albeit downward-facing keel.

I have been recovering from eating disorders for 17 years and probably will never recover completely. However, I have made major improvements and tend to operate with logic more than impulse. I do hope to recover in the physical aspect, and realize that will take more mental recovery as well. Never one without the other. 

I am very much obsessive compulsive. Rituals and numbers and the ability to escape are important to me. I have rationalized some fears in relation to the disorder, but sometimes, it’s black hole central. Talking myself down is never fun, but at least I can. 

I rarely get sick in the traditional sense,  but there have been times where facing the outside world and being functional just wasn’t going to happen so… mental health day for the win. (I’ve only taken one this year.)

I have found that holding myself accountable in a personal journal or check-in via the mirror has helped me iron out some things. I don’t intend to be on medication but I definitely would like to enter therapy, hopefully by year’s end.

I’d like to think that I’m crazy enough to work.

That’s all.

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Impromptu Naked Yoga

Sometimes clothes feel like a complete waste of time, which how I felt when heading to one of my favorite spas in Koreatown the other day.

Visiting a Korean spa for the first time can be a  bit of a different experience than visiting a traditional spa. While it absolutely bodes well that one wlll leave refreshed, there may be certain challenges one has to go through to get there — this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 

For one, nudity is a requirement in the sauna and bath/shower areas. Also, the temperatures of the dry and steam saunas are a lot more extreme than standard, so listening to one’s body, taking breaks and drinking water is a must, too.

(But seriously, Life Pro Tip: If really concerned about being naked in front of others, you will learn really quickly that no one cares — largely because they, too, are in the same state of undress as you are. It’s very a freeing thought once it sinks in.)

All in all, it always ends up being such a cathartic, refreshing experience. Fast-foward to me in the dry sauna, though, remembering that I forgot to do any sort of stretching or pose holds during my workout earlier in the day. 

Then I thought: well, why not do a few poses? People have surely done stranger things. 

So I grabbed my towel, laid it on the floor, and eased into a few variations of seated split stretch. I sat cross-legged and pushed my legs down at the knees, did a few neck stretches and seated supine twist. I also practiced pigeon pose and finally goddess pose, melting into unintended savasana for the rest of my visit. 

Turns out it wasn’t at all awkward or uncomfortable as I thought it’d be. Working with a body uninhibited by waistbands or give of fabric drew my attention away from my thighs and stomach to release of interal and perceived external tension, both rooting myself in the moment, and in relation to circumstances outside of myself. 

It was actually quite nice.

ttfn~

Keeping It Simple – Never Easy, Always Worth It

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(Editor’s note: Somehow I mistook today’s daily prompt for “simplicity” when it is actually “solitary”…. will work it in somewhere. And if not, there’s always next time!)

“Nothing worth having comes easy.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Everything as we know it to be in its past or present form has come to be the result of an implemented process. Clean water is made available by filtration. Minimalism is achieved by letting go. Good relationships stem from communication, compromise. Peace is accomplished by war.

I recently wrote on the concept of intuitive eating and about how it is essentially an over thinking of a simple function. I still feel that to be the case, but thought I’d dive a little bit deeper, as I also feel that this applies to much than diet and nutrition.

Eating well, often, and with a clear head can involve reverting to the most basic of mindsets — “I’m hungry. I’m going to eat.” But it also means having the resources, the funds, and the federal regulation that allows good, affordable food to be available, to everyone. But we all know that this is not always the case around the world. 

(As an example: I recently read a U.S. news story about kids at a Florida middle school being allowed to the front of the lunch line if their parents “donated” $100. Instead of teaching impressionable minds that life rewards privilege, couldn’t we perhaps just feed the children?)

Humans are complex beings with, I feel, good intentions. We have a brain that takes up 2% of our total body weight. It receives, filters through, and absorbs massive amounts of information, and responds to internal and external stimuli, including stressors and pleasures. Science has allowed us to know so much about this powerful, complex organ — the very command center of our existence — and yet there is so much more that we don’t know. Overcomplicating things sometimes only makes sense.

Back to the outset, what is perceived as simple usually is the result of some sort of process that involves time, willingness, and resources. What is easy or more feasible for some may be very difficult or less possible for others, but it is also entirely possible.

For all you may know, real progress for our shared pain points — mental/physical, economical, political, to name a few — may merely involve more input from our heart, or gut, than over-input from from our head.

It may never be that easy, but it is almost always that simple.

Photo via Pixabay

Intuitive Eating is Eating — Period

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The idea of “intuitive eating” has helped many recovering from eating disorders by putting a purposeful label on a naturally-occurring function of survival. However, it has also earned its place within the health and fitness world as a way to eat, usually after a fitness competition, event, or photo shoot. In fact, it has such a gimmicky sheen on it that it’s pretty much begging for clarification.

So here we go: intuitive eating is not a diet, and it is not a program. At its core, it is a well-intentioned philosophy to listen to your body’s cues, eating when it’s hungry, and not eating when it’s not.

Also known as EATING.

Therefore, in the case of the everyday individual, I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing the phrase “intuitive eating” completely eliminated from public use. Here’s why:

1. The act of eating is really not that complicated. Eating is (a) putting food into your mouth, (2) chewing or slurping it, then (3) swallowing it. Without interference, the brain and body knows what hunger means. It knows how to eat and process food — it is designed to do so. While the act of eating requires that one not ignore the signals to do so, putting the word “intuitive” in front of it is insulting to people’s intelligence. Please, let’s call a spade a spade.

2. Marketability (“shut up and take my money”). People like to feel included, and generally will do whatever it takes to rise above something weighing them down. That’s why I wasn’t shocked with “zendoodling” i.e. adult coloring books became popular within the last year. I have a coloring book myself, with some truly beautiful designs. However, I (and hopefully others) refer to it as a coloring book.

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                                       Zendoodle pattern.

I just find there to be something inherently wrong in making a buck off of another’s desire to improve their lives. Zendoodling is just coloring, and intuitive eating is just eating. There’s no need for crutch words. Call it what it is.

And the final reason I have issue with this concept…

3. It’s yet another thing to obsess over. Clean eating. Carb cycling. Fitting macros. All green everything. Buzzwords galore and now — intuitive eating. With obsession comes wasted energy, and I find it very unfair that people who want to enjoy life on such a basic human level look up to influencers that irresponsibly spread this so-called style of eating.

I will say it again, one more time: intuitive eating is not a style or trend. It’s not even new. It is eating when you’re hungry, stopping when you’re full, and hell, maybe eating a few more bites.

Intuitive eating is eating. Enough is enough.

Just eat.

Life Lessons Learned from My Eyebrows

I have many running comments involving my eyebrows: “I won’t leave the apartment without putting on my eyebrows.” “[Such and such movie] was so sad that I cried my eyebrows off.” Et cetera, et cetera.

It’s true, though; my eyebrows have take a little bit of precedence largely because my face is the first thing that people tend to focus on.

In the beginning, everything I learned about my eyebrows was a direct result of Megan Fox. Transformers was the perfect summer movie of 2007. I will never forget it, giant soft drink in hand, cushy theater seats in an icy air-conditioned theater. There was nowhere else I’d rather have been than watching the first of four highly unnecessary Michael Bay films while still in the demographic to do so. 

And yet, while most everyone else was fawning over Megan’s body and hair, I was absolutely transfixed by her eyebrows. Their existence  literally changed life. I had to have them.

At the time, however, I’d been the guinea pig of one too many hair removal experiments gone awry, so that wasn’t about to happen any time soon. Now, ten years and some follicle recovery later, my eyebrows have taken a much more convincing center stage role on my face.

That said, there was a time where I didn’t really worry about that sort of thing – my looks, that is. While there was a conscious effort to look presentable as the occasion called for it, there was no obsession over it. I won’t say that I’m obsessed with my brows now, but I do care enough to actually try to not leave the house without them being defined, styled, what have you. (That somewhat-joke at the outset? Obviously based on truth.)

That said — I was in my sister’s wedding 15 years ago without eyebrows. I worked my first job (and other jobs thereafter) without them. I had a very active social life, rich friendships, and started dating my current long-term partner without them. I went to nightclubs without them, did spoken word and won awards of recognition without them, got a college degree without them. I may very well have started my career without them.

Sure, they may help me feel a little better about my appearance in general, but what will happen if there’s no more brow pencil and powder, or if my skin won’t take to microblading, or something else similar? What will happen when I am forced to work with what I have without any frills?Something to that effect is going to happen at some point, and I sure as hell wasn’t born to have bushy brows.

Like most people, I tend to fixate on things that really have no bearing on actual ability and worth. Appearance is nice and all, but it’s not everything. The energy and brainpower you bring to the table? I’d wager to say that’s everything. To quote Tori Amos (so sue me; I went on a YouTube binge the other day after she’d announced her Native Invader world tour), “You’re just an empty cage if you kill the bird.” The outside doesn’t matter if there’s nothing inside to keep it running.

Sometimes I have to remind myself what I’m here for, and while I may not always know, I can assume it’s for a far better reason than appealing to my vanity. Shout out to Wet n’ Wild’s $0.99 brow pencil and e.l.f. translucent powder just the same.

What do you think? Let’s continue this conversation in the comments, and as always, feel free to touch base on Twitter.

3 Things That Happened When I Stopped Drinking Alcohol

I feel that everyone has said this to some extent, but I used to be a pretty big drinker. I’m not sure if it was way to reduce social anxiety, a coping mechanism, or something to do to pass the time (or all three) — but whatever it was, it was getting to be too much in my life. And so, I stopped.

Of course it wasn’t as easy as that, but I was getting tired of feeling like crap. After a real heart-to-heart and realizing that I was poisoning my body, it was time to make a decision. If my body was so hell bent on rejecting the stuff, maybe it was time for me to consciously do so in return.

So I went for a little over 30 days without drinking. Here’s what happened:

1. I lost weight. I’ve been struggling to lose “the last 10” for years and have been on every restrictive diet and exercise plan out there – really. But nothing, I repeat, nothing broke the plateau more effortlessly than not drinking. I am now comfortably 5 to 8 pounds less than what I was, just by making that one change.

2. I lost some friends. Happy hour and bottomless mimosa brunches are not part of my social routine anymore. While I see some friends a lot less, I’m not upset by it, nor am I surprised. But I did have that moment where I thought, “Wow. Yeah, that actually happened.” See, you hear about it happening – and then it actually happens to you. I consider my friends to be my friends, and still love spending time together and sharing experiences when we can. But things are different, and it’s okay.

3. I saved money. So, rent is due today, and I’ve had the kind of week where I’ve been putting off looking at my checking account (you know the kind)… and I was actually positively surprised when I checked it this morning. Now, I’m not filthy rich by any means, but since drinking considerably less these days, my bank account has had considerably more in it, with relatively little effort.

Here’s a bonus point that goes without saying, yet ties into all of the above: I feel better overall. Right before I made the switch, I found that I was spending more Sundays in bed recovering from Saturday nights out. Monday mornings post-Sunday Funday were getting to be really taxing physically (water retention, brain function, dizziness), and emotionally (self-worth, “Why do I keep doing this to myself?”). Whenever it came time to tackle the work week, I was always unprepared. I felt like an imposter, constantly fighting the tides.

Sometimes it bothers me when people say, “Oh, I could never quit alcohol, I enjoy it too much.” I felt that way, too, except now I say, “I’ll have a club soda and juice”, or even sometimes, “….yeah, sure, I’ll have a beer.”

See, alcohol is not like air or water – we actually can live without it. When going out or hanging with friends, alcohol is no longer the default, or prerequisite. I can make the choice even when surrounded by it. I could absolutely live without alcohol – I did! – and I have a much better relationship with it as a result.

You know about a-ha moments, right? I had one recently when I was grocery shopping. The wine and spirits section is at the front of the grocery store I go to, very hard to miss. I used to buy a new bottle of vodka for the freezer when I ran out, sort of like when I ran out of toilet paper or soap. But more and more, with each visit, I found myself rarely heading to the section. It happened on its own, perhaps subconsciously. Perhaps it was time.

Sometimes I think that I’ll do it again – 30 days without drinking. But more so I think I’ll continue what I’m doing: that is, living a life that revolves around friends and family, not drink specials. I’m just looking to do and be, and all that jazz. I will have a Guinness at an Irish pub, or a glass of wine at a fancy dinner, because I know it won’t take me over anymore. It will, like my life, be about the richness of the people and the occasion, and not a routine that once took hold.