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hazards to my well-being

I was too lazy to wash my face before bed last night.

By beauty, don't waste the pretty, hazards to my well-being, not ruling at life, you might learn something One Comment

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I know sleeping in my makeup is so bad for my skin, which is why I haven’t done it in almost two years. But, slipping up on good habits is often one of the best ways for me to stay motivated because it reminds my why I shouldn’t do whatever I did when I slipped up.

Because then here’s what happened when I woke up this morning:

Once I got over the initial annoyance that I couldn’t fully open my eyes to read the six text messages on my phone, I got a little cocky, Ke$sha style (is she still cool?). I thought, Oh man! I went to bed wearing all my eye makeup. I’m such a rock star. And see? I’m not too old to be stupid! Then I began to wonder what happened last night. High heels, cute top, birthday party…oh, yeah. I drank a measly two gluten-free beers, got tired, came home, and fell asleep around 10:30 with my iPhone in my hand because I was brainstorming up ways to improve my LinkedIn profile. So much for that. I rolled out of bed, trudged into the bathroom, and took a peek in the mirror, hoping to see tousled bed-head and sexy, smudgy eyes, but as I cringed at my actual reflection, I remembered this is real life, not some page out of Cosmopolitan magazine. (See above. Does anyone even read that anymore? Their website is awful.) I reached for my Clarisonic and re-pledged my undying commitment to scrubbing my face squeaky clean twice a day from now until forever…or at least the next time I drink six mojitos at dinner. No, even then.

Now I’m going to go wash my face again and reapply my makeup. Normally I wouldn’t even wear makeup on a Sunday, but thanks to last night’s laziness and lots of long hours at work this week, it’s the least I can do to look presentable before I go back to the office for the afternoon.

In other news, this is my first post from my new desk in my new home office (aka my former roommate’s former room). Due to a recent series of events, I’ve decided I don’t share nearly as many random embarrassing stories on this blog as I used to, and as a result, writing in it isn’t very fun anymore. I’m hoping this desk will inspire me to sit down and write about whatever pops into my head a little more in the coming months. That’s the plan anyway.

Hope whoever is reading this is having a lovely weekend. Thanks for stopping by. =)

Gluten-Free, Part 2

By food, gluten free, hazards to my well-being 2 Comments

Gluten-Free-Part-2

It’s been a little more than five months since I posted about my gluten-free experiment, and I thought perhaps I’d report back with a status update. I’ve been (mostly) sticking to a gluten-free diet since about January 2, which was the day I decided to try changing my eating habits to help with my headaches. I wasn’t medically diagnosed with any kind of gluten sensitivity — I just thought it would be worth giving it a try. Here’s what I’ve noticed so far:

In the beginning, I replaced most of my gluten-filled foods with fresh fruits and veggies, lean meats, eggs and dairy. I steered clear of bread, snack foods, beer and almost everything else that didn’t specifically say “gluten free” on the label. I inadvertently cut out almost all processed foods. My sinus congestion cleared up, my headaches disappeared, and I had lots and lots of energy.

After the first 30 days were up, I let myself slip up here and there — never very much. I had two hot dogs and some beer in Nashville. I had a slice of pizza and some pastries in NYC in February. I had two slices of pizza on my birthday. Those kinds of things. Never more than a serving or two in a one-week period. I noticed feeling a little groggy a few hours after I ate those things, and a little congested the next day, but nothing major. I always went back to my gluten-free diet immediately the next day, and I still felt pretty good.

In early May, I went all out and drank a bunch of beer, ate a bunch of pizza, and even had a piece of chocolate cake. That night, I kept waking up in the middle of the night, heart racing, sweating. I felt awful! I did the same thing a few weeks ago in New Jersey — splurged on a bunch of pastries and cookies at my brother’s party. I wasn’t drunk, but that’s how I felt again when I woke up a few times in the middle of the night. Almost like I was having an anxiety attack. It was weird.

Ever since then, I’ve been back on strictly gluten-free foods, and I even decided to experiment with some gluten-free cookies and snack foods. However, lately, I’ve been feeling kind of lethargic and gaining a little bit of weight. I think the gluten-free processed snacks need to go. I also started to notice this past week how many vitamins and minerals I’m not getting anymore, due to the lack of enriched and fortified grain products in my diet. Starting tonight, I’ll be working a multivitamin into my diet — something I probably should have done from the beginning.

And that’s about it. Most importantly, the headaches are still pretty non-existent, which is amazing. I’m not sure if I can entirely attribute the headaches to gluten or some combination of caffeine, soda and/or artificial sweeteners, which I also gave up back in January. I’ve also noticed that the chronic little canker sores I used to get in my mouth and blame on orange juice and stress have disappeared completely (and I’ve had lots of orange juice lately), so I’m going to keep going with the gluten-free thing because it seems to be working for me.

I’d love to know…have you ever tried a gluten-free diet or some kind of elimination diet? Did you learn anything? Did it work for you?

P.S. I haven’t had a bagel in five months. Whoa. 🙂

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia and edited with Alex Beadon‘s Like a Painting Photoshop action.

Gluten-Free

By food, gluten free, hazards to my well-being 6 Comments

Gluten-Free

Confession #1: I’m completely addicted to carbohydrates, and I find it extremely difficult to eat a balanced diet because I almost always choose carbs over fruits and vegetables. My favorite foods include bagels, pasta, Cheez-Its, French bread, and pastries.

Confession #2: I’ve suffered from headaches and migraines since, well…since so long ago I can’t even remember when. I hardly ever take Advil or medication for them. I’m just used to them.

Confession #3: I hate fad diets. The only diet I’ve ever tried and stuck to was Weight Watchers. (And even on Weight Watchers, I was a major carb addict.)

Confession #4: Lately, I’ve been tired all the time.

Confession #5: I am not a nutritionist, so take this entire post with a grain of salt.

All that being said, I’m ridiculously surprised to report to you that for the last six days, I’ve been experimenting with a gluten-free diet. That means no wheat, and no other grains that contain gluten. It wasn’t something I planned to do, but after having a headache for a solid three weeks (Christmas and New Year’s included), I finally caved and started Googling headaches. Just as I suspected, headaches and migraines in women are often linked to three things: hormones, food, and/or stress. I also did some research on food and hormones (a potential cause of my anxiety?), and I read some articles on food and sinus congestion (another potential cause of my headaches).

As a result of all this research, I’ve decided to try an elimination diet, and the first food I’m experimenting with is gluten. I’m going to try to go 30 to 60 days without gluten, document my symptoms, and then see what happens when I gradually reintroduce it back into my diet. I’ve also cut out coffee, soda, and artificial sweeteners for the time being (just because three coffees a day probably isn’t that good for me either). I figure if I cut all these things out for a short time, I might be able to pinpoint what (if anything) is triggering my headaches. It could be gluten, wheat, caffeine, Splenda…or it could be none of those things, and I might be totally wasting my energy with this. Either way, I’m going to give it a shot.

Here’s what I’ve noticed so far:

1. Going without gluten forces me to eat a lot more fresh foods, fruits, and vegetables by default. Without wheat, there just isn’t as much to choose from. Cutting out gluten inadvertently means cutting out a lot of processed foods, which is kind of an added benefit to this experiment.

2. I’ve been eating rice, corn tortillas, potatoes and popcorn in place of my favorite carbs. These foods aren’t quite as addicting to me as pastas and breads — I seem to be much more able to eat them in moderation. I eat until I’m full, and that’s it.

3. I’ve been noticeably less congested for the last two days. I woke up this morning (even with a cat near my face), and I thought, “Whoa! I can breathe!”

4. I forgot how empowering it feels to exercise some self-control over my diet. I went to a birthday party Saturday night, and I was so proud of myself for avoiding bread, crackers, and especially birthday cake.

5. Eating this way as an experiment for my headaches is a lot easier than doing it to lose weight. I think it’s because I can’t say, “Oh, I’ll just eat this and then go to the gym later…” It doesn’t work that way. =)

6. Hot water with lemon is my new favorite drink. And it’s a lot cheaper than Starbucks.

7. I haven’t had a headache since the day I started this experiment. That’s six days with no headache. Six days. That makes me happy.

Hopefully, I can follow through with this experiment. I’m posting this here because it’ll keep me accountable for what I’m trying to do. I’ve got an upcoming girls’ trip to Nashville that might be kind of difficult (no beer!), but I’m going to do my best. Perhaps I’ll post an update next week.

Got any advice for me? Have you ever tried an elimination diet? Do you get a lot of headaches? Got any other suggestions? Would love to hear whatever you’ve got.

P.S. Just because I’ve made it this long without a bagel doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t catch me dipping a corn chip in a tub of cream cheese sometime soon. It’s the cream cheese I’m really addicted to… =)

P.P.S Did you vote in my poll? Please go take a look if you didn’t! =)

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia and edited with Alex Beadon‘s Like a Painting Photoshop action.

Problems & Solutions

By hazards to my well-being, lists 4 Comments

Problem #1: I needed to cram in some exercise last night, but my hair looked kind of amazing, and I didn’t want to ruin it by getting all sweaty. A walk seemed kind of lame, and it was a gorgeous night…

Solution #1: So I hopped on beach cruiser #2 and pedaled down to the boardwalk for a ride. And I’m glad I did because I saw a number of things along the way that made me smile, including: a father and daughter roller-blading together on the bike path; kids pointing in awe at a pelican flying around with a huge fish dangling out of its mouth; people admiring the Naval Aviation Monument and pausing with respect in front of the flags at half-mast for September 11; a bunch of dudes dancing around a boombox on the beach; sunlight playing on the whitecaps in between long shadows cast by the hotels; and three girls running in sync, each one clad in different color neon sneakers — orange, yellow and pink.

Problem #2: The new shoes I wore today started uncomfortably rubbing the insides of my heels while I was walking around on my lunch break. When I got back to the office and took them off, I realized I was starting to get blisters! Never in my 31 years on this earth have I gotten blisters from a pair of shoes, and I sure wasn’t going to let it happen today.

Solution #2: When my co-worker asked me if I wanted to walk to Starbucks later this afternoon, I said, “I’d love to, but I’ll never make it there in these shoes.” Then I glanced around my desk and schemed up a way I could at least make it across the parking lot. “Can you drive?” I asked. I used Scotch tape to secure squares of napkins to either side of my feet and slipped them back into my shoes for the rest of the afternoon pain-free. No one would have noticed if I didn’t go around bragging about it. =) I guess I need to figure out how to break these things in if I’m going to keep them.

Problem #3: I’m not sure what to do with my other blog. First I had this blog, then I had that blog. Now I have both blogs, but I’m only posting in this blog. I think I was doing myself a disservice trying to split my content between two, but now I’m torn about what to do with the other one.

Solution #3:
I’ve merged a few of my more recent outfit posts into this blog, and I’ve decided to eventually take the other blog down. I’ll also slowly post a few of my favorite recipes and how-to posts over here. The only thing left to do is pick which name to keep. I like this new banner, but LDA apparently also stands for Lyme Disease Association. On the other hand, everyone mispronounces “chicster.” Any ideas? =)

And Now I Have Shingles

By hazards to my well-being, not ruling at life 12 Comments

I don’t know how to effectively tell this ridiculous story without just starting from the beginning and going in chronological order.

  1. Tara and I decided to make margaritas at my house on Friday night. We squeezed the juice out of two bags of limes and made our own simple syrup. The kitchen was a mess, but the margaritas were amazing.
  2. Saturday morning, I woke up and my teeth hurt. It was weird, but I didn’t think anything of it. I went to the beach.
  3. When I got back from the beach, the kitchen was covered in ants (I’m assuming as a result of the sugar and lime juice all over it). I cleaned it up, and sprayed down the wall with ant spray. It was gross.
  4. After feeling stressed out from cleaning, I decided to have another margarita.
  5. John and I went to the mall, and I felt really dizzy. I attributed it to the heat and the fact that I drank a margarita for breakfast.
  6. Heather came over and I had another margarita while we watched a movie. My lip started to tingle and feel weird, but I figured it was because of the lime juice. I watered down the margarita.
  7. I took a shower and got ready to go out. I noticed that the lower right side of my face was kind of sore. I figured I was getting a zit or something.
  8. I tried to chew some gum after dinner, but my teeth (on the lower right side) still hurt, so I spit it out into an empty beer bottle.
  9. I woke up Sunday morning, and I had an itchy bump above my ear. I thought it was a bug bite.
  10. The itchy bump became painful and bothered me all day on Sunday.
  11. On my way home Sunday night, I noticed that my hair was hurting when I ran my fingers through it…on the right side of my head. I figured it was sunburn.
  12. Monday morning, I had an itchy bump on my jawline. I thought it was another bug bite or a zit. Thoughts of mosquitoes inhabiting my bed filled my head, and I made a mental note to change my linens after work.
  13. By noon Monday, my entire right cheek was itchy. I decided I must have touched my face while I was cleaning with the ant spray, and I was having a reaction.
  14. Monday night, my ear started to hurt. I thought, “I guess I have an ear infection, unless a bug flew into my ear, latched onto a nerve and died, which might explain the pain in my jaw.”
  15. I woke up in the middle of the night, and my jaw hurt SO BAD. I Googled TMJ on my phone, and decided I had that. I also noticed I was getting what I thought was a canker sore, which I assumed was a result of drinking all that lime juice. I also Googled “canker sores” and found out I must have a vitamin B12 deficiency. I got a little bummed because whatever reliable medical website I was reading instructed me to steer clear of crunchy foods and lots of salt (as in, no more tortilla chips and margaritas). I fell back asleep.
  16. Yesterday morning, I was so tired, and I didn’t even want to get out of bed. I decided I’d better go to the doctor, since clearly, I now had an ear infection, TMJ, hives/bug bites, a bunch of cavities, a canker sore, and a sunburned scalp. It was all that or some infection in my face that was going to result in my needing to get my head amputated.
  17. I start explaining the symptoms to the doctor — first the itchy bumps, then the ear pain. He looked in my ear and said, “Hmm…Your ear looks fine. Have you been having any jaw pain? Or any other deep pain in your face?”
  18. “Yes!”
  19. “Any tingling?”
  20. “Yes! In my chin and my lip.”
  21. “And none of the symptoms on the other side of your body? They don’t cross the middle of your face anywhere?”
  22. “No…”
  23. “I don’t usually see it this early, but I’m 95% sure you have shingles.”

W. T. F.

He went on to describe shingles and how horrible and painful they are and how they usually last about three weeks. He said hopefully mine shouldn’t get too much worse since I caught it so soon, and he prescribed me some drugs. He said they come from the chickenpox virus, which lies dormant in your nervous system after you have them, and then can cause shingles later in life.

He asked me if I had been very stressed out lately because that can sometimes bring on shingles. Yes. Oops.

He said the first symptoms are pain and dizziness a few days before the rash starts because the virus sits on the nerve. Nerves don’t cross the middle of your body, which is why you only get them on one side.

Yesterday, someone asked me what it felt like. I said it feels like the following things:

  1. Someone sticking a screwdriver in my ear.
  2. Someone injecting something into my nerve along my jawline.
  3. Having five cavities all on the lower right side of my mouth.
  4. Having a few itchy bug bites on top of a few painful zits.
  5. And a little tingly all over — the way it probably feels after someone smacks you in the face.

All at the same time.

I guess my body decided it didn’t want to wait just three more days for a vacation. I guess once my face stops feeling like it was run over by a bus, I’ll figure out what to do.