Raise your hand if you are new to a vegetarian, dairy free, gluten free lifestyle...
I am sure that you've noticed a lot of restaurants do not accommodate such a lifestyle. As I find myself on a quick weekend away realizing that along with my husband and I two of our three kids are gluten free and one is also an aspiring vegan the question is often "Where do we eat?". Well we finally hit gold in that department and I feel inspired to share with you the delight of eating in a Greek restaurant...literally any Greek restaurant, we have never been disappointed!
Being a chef I have a lot of food memories, but I will never forget the very first time I had a lamb gyro. I was just 9 years old, and my cousins were here visiting from Germany for part of the summer. We were downtown in Philadelphia and my aunt gave my cousin Phillip (10 years old at the time) and I money and told us to meet her back at that spot at 1PM (we were late). Phillip brought me right to this place with fluorescent flashing lights and a man standing behind the counter with the hairiest arms I had ever seen. I was so nervous, my mom wasn't nearly as daring as my aunt. My mom would have lost it if she knew my aunt let us loose in the gallery and somehow we ended up in reading terminal market with no adult supervision.
As Phillip ordered he told assured me I would love it. He told me I was eating chicken with cucumber salad and mayo in a wrap...he was close but I knew something was up! When we were finished he says with the biggest grin "did you like it?", my answer was obviously yes, I loved it! He then filled me in that I had just eaten lamb for the first time and tzatziki sauce. I was truly in love! No surprise that to this day we both still have a deep a passion for good food!
While my love for Greek was born such a long time ago, like any true love it has grown deeper over time. In every Greek restaurant they label the menu so you can clearly see vegan, dairy free and gluten free options. Their love of food shines in every dish and it's always based on fresh whole ingredients. So as you can imagine the first thing we do is look for Greek restaurants to eat in whenever we travel. I promise you won't be disappointed if you try it for yourself. Shout out to www.zorbascafe.com/ for dinner tonight and thanks in advance for lunch tomorrow!
This month, I have had the opportunity to get back out on the hiking trail. More specifically, the Appalachian Trail. Before this month, we hadn’t been hiking since September. Wow, almost a year! While it generally seems like time flies, in this case, it felt every bit of 10 months since I had hiked. My body surely felt it and I was glad we had decided to “ease” back in with a 6.8 mile hike. If you can call that easing….
So, as you likely know, I opened a new business this past year with 2 other ladies and the amount of work has been, at times, overwhelming. I have spent a lot of time creating and designing and working with Clients that I started to kinda forget what it was like to do something for me. To take time to think, to relax, and not be working. The trail is a place that can do that for me.
There was a day that we decided to just take the time to pull out the calendar and pick a couple days to schedule in some day hikes and a couple of weekend hikes as well. I’m a pretty task oriented person, so when I schedule something, I rarely cancel it or schedule over it. If hiking is on the calendar for July 2, then I’m hiking that day. So I knew that if we took the time to schedule out some hikes, we would make that our plan.
I think there are a couple things that happen during the time that I’m hiking. I feel a bit more free than usual. I love being outdoors. There is a peace I feel with nature, and the trees, and the sun (when it’s out). Being able to see the sky, and the clouds, and the twigs, and leaves, I feel contentment. I love having my best friend to hike with and the 2 puppies that come along as well. They might love hiking even more than I do! It’s a time to re-balance for me. I’m doing something good for myself, not just my body but my soul as well.
Hiking is also one of the times I choose not to see any wildlife and they don’t see me. That is one of the mantras I spend a portion of the hike repeating. Sometimes silently, just in my head, and sometimes out loud, especially when I hear the groundcover rustle. It has served me well, as I haven’t had a wildlife experience to date. Happy to report that.
We could easily go to a local trail to go hiking. But now that we have set foot upon the Appalachian Trail, I really have that desire to see how much of the trail we can do. It’s like a challenge. I like challenges! The Appalachian Trail from beginning to end has about 2178.3 miles. Our first 3.5 day overnight backpacking hike was a total of 40.6 miles. That was a rough 1st outing. Fast forwarding to this month, we have done 2 separate day hikes for a total of 15.3 miles so far this month! Not like our first hike but still a good amount, and the day hiking with a lighter day pack is more enticing these days. ;) I think it has become less about the amount of miles we can cover in a day or a trip. The experience and the way I feel has become more important. Doesn’t mean I’m not keeping track of the amount of miles completed….cause I am. All 109.9 miles.
In comparison to how much of the trail there if left to do, it might seem like a small about completed. But I like to look at it as a victory. I’ve done something that huge populations of people have not done. But besides that, I have enjoyed my time spent hiking. Well, most of the time. Maybe not when we have a 2000 foot incline in a distance of a half mile. ;) Those climbs are tough. These are personal accomplishments for me and I’m grateful that I have the ability to go hiking and to experience nature the way that I do. I can’t wait to hit the trail again!
Last week I decided I needed to conduct an experiment… on myself. I struggle a lot with my weight. I also have pretty extensive body image issues. It’s not anything I particularly care to talk about, mostly because I just get upset. I do a lot of self-blaming, shaming, negative talk. None of it gets me anywhere, and I know this.
Truthfully, in more recent times, I’ve gotten better about not beating myself up constantly for being where I am. I understand there is a life lesson tucked in here, and I also understand that I will continue to repeat the same “mistakes” until I’ve mastered what it is I should be learning. Ahhh, always the student…
Not long ago, I would have written off that last paragraph as total hogwash. I’m happy to say that I’ve evolved as a spiritual begin, and, while I can be content with this Zen line of thought most of the time, I still have frustration. Lots of frustration.
Something is not quite right in my body. I know it. I can feel it. I really wish that the chemical disconnect would jump right out at me and pronounce itself “broken” or in need of maintenance [CM1] or something to clue me in as to where to focus and what to fix. I wait, but still no. It’s still a mystery waiting to be solved.
I feel like there are lots of reasons I can attest my frustrations to: I have PCOS, Epstein Barr, Lymes Disease. I seem to have sensitivity to all kinds of foods, packaging, chemicals, and medications. I have autoimmune conditions. Candida, parasites, whatever other gross stuff you can think of, I’ve had it. I’m a new mom. I own a business. The list goes on and on.
But, when I sit back and think about it, I’ve managed my PCOS for years, keeping my weight under control. I know plenty of thin people with Epstein Barr and Lymes disease. I eat well most of the time. I watch portions. I cook at home. I only drink water and coffee. I rarely drink alcohol, I don’t smoke, I don’t eat fast food, I do not drink soda or juices, I mostly avoid bread and grains, I eat balanced meals, I order salads at restaurant, and I often pass on dessert. I’m far from perfect, but in the realm of eaters, I’m pretty darn good. I also exercise. I challenge myself. I put in the time.
So what’s the deal?? I’ve long ago concluded, it’s more than just what you eat. It cannot be calories in, calories out. No way. I’ve tried modifying and changing what goes into my body for a long time, and no combo really seems to lend me lasting success.
I take solace in what I consider a consolation prize – I do the work. I make the right choices. Success will surely follow. I’m on the right path. Obviously, I could be on the very wrong path and moving backwards into negative health rapidly.
So, what’s my deal?? What am I missing? Ahhhh….the light bulb moment. That one thing that gets me every single time.
Stress. I don’t ever deal with the stress. I am a very high stress individual. I run on high octane all the time. Push to the max, don’t take many breaks, days off are for slackers, see how much I can squeeze into every moment just to be disappointed that more appears on my “to do” list. I wake up with anxiety. My brain is always spinning. (PS – don’t be like me. This is not an endorsement or role model behavior!)
I try all kinds of stuff: massage, yoga, meditation, sauna, walking. And, I’m fairly consistent. Once a week, once a month. So that should be fixing it right??
Wrong. I’m not sure why I decided that 1 hour once a week or once a month was sufficient enough to manage my high stress life. Who made up that rule?? I did. It’s a dumb rule. I always hear, you need a few minutes every day. Yeah, ok. Where am I finding a few minutes? Where am creating a few minutes? Get up earlier (this can actually cause more stress), go to bed later (now I’m just giving up sleep), eliminate something from my day (what??).
So, last week I had the epiphany that once a week to manage my stress was not enough. It just isn’t. So, I decided to conduct an experiment. See, normally, I poo – poo the idea of stress. Whatever. You just have to deal with it! That’s life! Stop complaining and just get on with it! Less talking, more action.
But… what if the message I’m missing is to slow down? What if I will never get my health under control without fixing the stress? What if I don’t, in fact, have to work HARDER and strategize more… what if I have to work LESS?
What can I do to manage my stress? Well, a huge portion of my business revolves around the float pod. What’s a float pod? It’s a super cool tank that looks like a pea pod, filled with 800 pounds of Epsom salt and water. It’s warmed to 94 degrees. It has fun meditation music and LED lights. It’s simply amazing. Amazing. It has so many positive health benefits. People drive a good distance just to try it! The best part about the pod, is that once inside, you’re in there for 45 minutes to an hour. No cell phone, no distractions. You’re just floating.
How often do I use it? Once a week. Maybe, if that. Why? Because I’m busy.
This is ridiculous. My business invested in this awesome piece of equipment and I barely use it for myself?? People get out of the pod claiming it’s the most relaxed they have ever felt in their whole LIFE! Why am I not the most relaxed I’ve ever felt after a session? Probably because I’m more messed up, more intense, and more anxious than the average person. Simply put, perhaps I just need MORE of it.
Last week I decided I needed to conduct an experiment. Float pod every day for a week and record the results. Maybe it will do nothing at all and I will finish the week as stressed as I began, but it doesn’t hurt to test out my theory, so here goes:
Day 1 – Sunday. I was going to start my experiment 2 days ago, but every day I can’t find time to get started. I’m starting today! I don’t work on Sunday, so it’s the perfect time to get into a new routine. I floated for 45 min. Feeling pretty good, much like I do after any float session I’ve tried. Although, I’m stressing (of course) on figuring out how to schedule this damn experiment into the rest of my week. I sat down with the calendar and wrote it in for every single day. Let’s see if I can stick to it!
Day 2 – Monday. I made it into the pod again today! 45 minutes. I think I fell asleep. First time I’ve been in there and made it the entire 45 minutes without stressing about the time or wondering anxiously what time it is and how long I’ve in there for. I feel pretty darn good after today session. Noticeably more relaxed than yesterday.
Day 3 – Tuesday. I love Tuesday’s. I don’t have any clients and my day is much more “relaxed” in my schedule. It doesn’t affect my never ending “to do” list, but still…I woke up today feeling much more rested than I have in a pretty long time. But my back was pretty sore. Did I tell you about my back? Two Sunday’s ago, I hurt my back. I really don’t know what happened but it’s been pretty painful ever since. Had two chiro adjustments last week, and one planned for today. After today’s session, I was SORE and very uncomfortable. Wow. Standing, sitting. It all hurt. I couldn’t wait to get to the Pod. I pretty much crawled in. After 45 minutes, my back is significantly improved. Whew.
Day 4 – Wednesday. Back is still hurting. Still sleeping better. I think I feel less frantic, but sometimes I’m not sure. I’m realizing that I fall asleep during my float, and I now enjoy nap time. It feels sneaky because no one knows I’m actually sleeping. :)
Day 5 – Thursday. I only got in 30 minutes of floating today. Figured that was okay, and better than not getting it in at all. I floated before my chiro adjustment, and I think it helped! I am noticing bubbles coming from my neck while floating. It’s a weird feeling, like I’m a carbonated drink, releasing fizz. It’s not my ears – I’ve been focusing on it intently to see the origination point. I think they are from behind my head, back of my neck. I hopeful it’s my lymph system opening up.
Well, in all honestly, my weight hasn’t changed much in this experiment so far. But, I feel like I am finally reaching a deeper level of muscle relaxation. Recalling there are several layers of tension, it has to be peeled back, like an onion. It’s going to take 5 days to get a little deeper and peel back years of tense muscles! How long till I’m actually relaxed??
Perhaps I had too high an expectation of one week of floats, but it was an eye opening (not while in the salt water J) experience. On one hand, I’m actually feeling just how tight I really am. I’m also recognizing that reducing stress takes effort and planning; it’s not just going to magically work its way into my life unless I put it in purposefully. This experiment also got my mind going on other strategies on when to incorporate floating into my life. Stay tuned…