The End is Near

I am nearing the end of a 4 week elimination diet.  And for the most part, I have done not too badly with it.  I had one day where I ate just about every carbohydrate I could find – luckily I had a total of 1/4 cup of rice and a can of kidney beans at home, and about $5 dollars in my pocket which was enough to buy a latte and a croissant at the cafe down the street.  And other than going out for dinner one time in the last 4 weeks, and had 3 bites of a very chocolatey dessert which resulted in the most wicked headache ever, I have pretty much toed the line when it comes to this diet (holy long sentence – and breathe!). And I can now pronounce that sugar is evil.

I feel FANTASTIC.  Here is the list of changes that have happened:

  • My anxiety has been greatly reduced
  • I have loads of energy
  • My jeans fit better
  • I have lost an entire shoe size (figure that one out – because I cant)
  • The only real noticeable weight that I have lost is in my chest, because I no longer have any bras that fit (figures I would lose there first). But yay for shopping days!
  • My hair is healthier, and doesn’t fall out nearly as much
  • My skin is much less dry – and dare I say, almost glowy
  • I feel terrible when I sneak in a carbohydrate
  • Berries now taste like mold.  They don’t have mold – I checked, its my taste buds that are wrecked.
  • I am managing to save a few extra $$$ a month – probably because I have to stay home now.
  • I am happier.  Like way happier.  Like super happy.

And this is what I look like after almost an entire month on this diet.


For those of you who don’t remember what I looked like when I started this journey – I looked like this 4 weeks ago.



Go ahead and tell me I look much better now – I love hearing that. Check out the fact that I no longer have humongous black circles under my eyes. I can only speculate of course, but I think they may be gone for good.

And here is the best news – because Im feeling so much better (the lack of anxiety especially), I am going to continue on this journey – with a slightly altered diet. I simply must have oranges. And tomatoes on second thought I don’t need tomatoes.. But chilies – my chamomile tea really misses those things. I’ll try it out, anyway.




When A Diagnosis Gives You Back Your Life


Five days ago I started an elimination diet for thyroid dysfunction after I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease.  The photo on the left (where I look like a serial killer) was taken on Sunday (day 1). The photo on the right was taken this afternoon (day 5).  Neither photo has a filter, and the only makeup I am wearing in today’s photo is lipstick.  Even I can tell that the difference is fairly amazing.

So what causes the difference?  A diet that has no sugar, no dairy, no grain, no fruit, a considerable less amount of vegetables that I am used to eating, way more protein than I want to eat – which forces me to drink twice the amount of water than normal.

This is what has happened to me in the last 5 days:

  • I had a really rough start – I woke up having a panic attack in the middle of the night, and ended up in the emergency room.  I can’t 100% be sure that it is diet related (considering it happened on the first day), but eating animals is not natural for me – so it might be related. A little valium and some rest, and I am fine.
  • My skin is a lot clearer, and brighter.
  • My eyes are clear.
  • I am hungry all the time. I am obsessed with food now. If I am not eating or cooking, then I am counting down the minutes until I can be eating or cooking. I hope this passes soon – I am so tired of looking at photos of food on pinterest and instagram.
  • I have lost 7lbs in 5 days (without trying).
  • I walk faster
  • For the very first time since I have been living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome I don’t have huge dark circles under my eyes.
  • I don’t crave salt! Seriously for 20 years I have basically wanted to have a salt lick installed in every room in my apartment. NO MORE!
  • I am still exhausted but its a different kind. Its the kind that is caused by over scheduling ones self.  I understand its early days still – but I am hopeful.
  • Today, I feel pretty.  And I can’t tell you the last time I was able to say that.
  • I smile

I feel a little like I am getting my life back.  I have a long way to go, but I am definitely healing. And a healing journey makes me happy.

One final lesson that I learned  – a single cinnamon red heart is enough to cause a headache for an entire night. So now we know, sugar really is detrimental.











A New Start

I got tired of waiting for Monday to come, so I thought I would start on the elimination diet today.  I’m still overwhelmed about what to eat/what not to eat, but I’m getting a better sense of it than I did a week ago.  So I decided to just jump in.

This is what I have eaten today:

Rocket tea latte – its actually quite delicious, I adapted it from a Ketogenics cookbook, and just removed the ingredients that I can’t have.  Basically it consists of black tea, coconut oil, protein powder, vanilla, and cinnamon.  The only problem I had, was that it took me so long to make (kept trying to find things I could use as a substitute – and found none), so it wasn’t very hot when I finally got to drink it. But I will get better at making them. It looks like this


Then I made muffins – and they aren’t at all delicious.  But they are healthy. They contain no dairy, no flour, no sugar, but they do have a ton of egg yolks, and cinnamon in them. I ate one – and promptly put the rest in the freezer, where they will remain until I remember that I should be eating healthy and don’t feel like baking. I won’t share the recipe, because its guaranteed that you will hate them.  But to prove to you that I made them – here is the evidence.


I also ate a little bit of spinach salad, with a tiny bit of chicken on top – but since that is almost normal eating for me, I chose not to take a photo.  I might document it for lunch tomorrow though.  Depends on how I am feeling.

Lastly, here is the photo of me- without a filter, without makeup, without even combing my hair – to document the beginning of this journey. I will try to take photos at least weekly to gauge the process. If I look less than thrilled, its because I just ate one of those muffins.


Now I am off to get ready  to go to the movies where I can have bottled water and maybe trail mix with carob. I’m really not sure about that one, will have to research before I leave.


Jetlag: A Variant of Depression


I have been home for 4 days now, and I feel awful. Each day is worse than the last. What I am experiencing is not so much jet lag per se, but more like some combination of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome + Depression.  I sleep at weird hours, and when I am awake I am basically a zombie. I can’t stand sunlight right now, so I have been wearing sunglasses inside, for the entire 40 minutes of sunshine we have had since I got back.  My lessons yesterday were unfocused and scattered. Could it be that I am just missing Europe?  Yes, that is definitely part of it.  But I am not even interested in doing things that I missed when I was over there. Walking the trails – no interest. Reading books – no interest.  Talking to my friends – can barely stay awake. Seeing friends for tonight’s Super Bowl – no thank you. What do I want to do?  Sleep, eat artichoke hearts right out of the jar, drink lemonade, and watch back to back episodes of Doctor Who and Rita on netflix.

I have never really suffered from jet lag before – and so this is my first real experience with it. Usually I don’t give myself time to recover. And this trip, I gave myself 4 days of rest before heading back to work. This could very well be my problem. I feel like a loser complaining – such a privileged white girl going on and on about her recovery time after a trip to Europe. But there you have it. I’m a mess right now – and I don’t see it improving anytime soon. Despite the fact that I am totally inspired and ready to embrace some change. I just can’t seem to get out of bed, or dressed, or ready to face the day.

For now, I am just going to let the pile of bricks that have fallen on top of me win this round.





My Search For Meaning



When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves – Viktor Frankl.

20 years ago, I was introduced to logotherapy and Viktor Frankl through the book, Man’s Search for Meaning.  This book was given to me by my doctor, to assist me through a particularly rough time in my life. It helped me to come to terms with some stuff that I was living with, why I was living with it, and it allowed me to find a way out, and start saying yes to life.  Today, I got to visit his museum.  His book changed my life – and today, I got a big reminder of why exactly it did.

20 years ago, I thought I was losing my mind in a big way. I was so exhausted that I couldn’t remember my own name.  When I improved enough, I slowly read (that was the only book I read that year, and it took me the entire year) Dr. Frankl’s book. I learned how he survived the holocaust, and lived a life full of meaning, and without hate. I am still learning how to live without hate – but I do live a life full of meaning.  It took me until today, to realize that I actually do have a very meaningful life.

According to Viktor Frankl, a meaningful life happens when you are a creating, experiencing, suffering person. Suffering doesn’t necessarily happen, when the first 2 are absent.  The museum shows you how to understand and apply logotherapy in a fairly easy fashion. I won’t explain it here- but its worth reading about. I have found that its a great way to explore empathy.

Today was a profoundly positive experience – one that contained some emotional moments (that I don’t quite want to get into tonight, better to just process them for awhile). But there are 2 things that I want to  mention.  The first being that when referencing anxiety, Frankl suggest that you take your anxiety out for a walk – like you are walking the dog.  This conjures up great imagery for me – and will be doing exactly that, from now on.

The next are the 10 Theses on the Human Person – these are as follows:

  1. Every person is an individual.
  2. Every person is un-summable, cannot be constructed by adding individual characteristics (the person is more than the sum of separate individual parts).
  3. Every person is a new creation.
  4. Every person is a spiritual being.
  5. Every person is real (exists in reality, is existential).
  6. Every person is self directed
  7. Every person is a united whole (of body, mind, and spirit).
  8. Every person is not a closed system, is dynamic and open to others.
  9. Every person can self-transcend the situation.
  10. Human beings understand themselves to the extent that they transcend (reach beyond themselves).

Sometimes we forget these things, especially if others are not like us.  I really enjoy #3 – Every person is a new creation. Saying it this way, gives us permission to make mistakes, to learn – to experience something differently.  It gives us an opportunity to not judge. To view in kindness.

All we can do is our best – The Viktor Frankl Museum reminded me that I often do my best – but I can still do better. But more than that, this museum helped me to realize how strong I am, and that I do have a meaningful life.





Who Needs Sleep? 15 Things You Can Do Instead


I have bouts of insomnia throughout the year – but January is when my insomnia game is the strongest.  I don’t know if its the pressure of starting a new year off right, or what. But when January comes around, my circadian rhythms decide to pack a bag and go on vacation.  Over the years I have come up with a way to deal.  It doesn’t involve tossing or turning, or laying in bed waiting for sleep to come, or even watching netflix documentaries.

Here is my list of 15 things you can do to stop stressing about your lack of sleep and have some fun.

  1. Get some crayons, paper, and maybe a colouring book or two. Go to town. Colouring is a great way to relax and destress – and it engages your brain just enough to help you forget the stuff that is actually keeping you up at night.
  2. If you aren’t a classical musician, I would suggest listening to some music written before the romantic period. If you are a musician – may I suggest listening to ambient music written by Brian Eno (or someone similar), Music for Airports is my go to work for nights when I can’t sleep.  And if I’m still awake, I listen to Keith Jarret’s The Koln Concert. Here is  a snippet of him talking about some of the problems that came before the recording. *Not so fun fact- Keith Jarrett has lived with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – and so he knows insomnia.  Why not commiserate together.
  3. Make art. Try to make art without using any electronics – the light that comes from that equipment is not your friend. Find other means.
  4. Clean. Get up and sweep floors, wash dishes, scrub your bathtub, make your bed.
  5. Write mantras in lipstick on all of your mirrors. Use sports quotes – In the past I have used quotes from Wayne Gretzky (but you will need a big mirror – he is wordy), words of wisdom from grandfathers work well, as do bon mots spewed by members of the Algonquin Round Table. This morning I wrote a bunch of hideous lipstick mantras about how failure makes you great – and that its healthy to fail – and then I cleaned my mirrors. Wiping out words about failure made me feel powerful – which is something we don’t often feel-when we can’t sleep. And fear of failure could also be the reason why you are still awake at 3am.  *side note – only use lipstick that is so hideous looking that you can’t believe you ever bought it.
  6. Resign yourself to the fact that sleep isn’t going to happen for you. Get up and start your day.
  7. My favourite insomnia activity (best done in the spring and summer) is to go outside with your camera every hour on the hour, and take photos of your street – notice how the light changes, if the cars have moved, wave to your neighbours, capture the trees blowing in the wind, or the crows digging for worms.
  8. Do some yoga. Im new to yoga – but am finding a lot of peace and enjoyment out of sun salutations. A couple of these will totally wake you up – and you will be ready for some coffee.
  9. Call a far away friend.  Just call someone that is several time zones ahead of you. Don’t interrupt someone else’s sleep – that’s a bit rude.
  10. Read a book. May I suggest opening an actual book made of paper – remember screens are bad.  I read 110 books last year, mostly during hours I should have been sleeping. You can find what I read here. Try reading the book backwards – read the last word first and make your way to the front of the book. This will help tire your brain – and you may find yourself back in bed sooner than you think. Hat Tip to Casper for this.
  11. For me, simple math is hard. And when you are in the throes of Chronic Fatigue – doctors will often ask you to start at 100 and count backwards by subtracting by 7.  Try doing these exercises – if you are anything like me, you will give up and fall asleep long before you get the final answer (its 2).  Its way better than counting sheep.
  12. If its safe to do so, go for a walk. A little bit of fresh air and exercise might be just what your body needs. I usually walk just before 5 am, head to Starbucks (because thats the closest place that is open) and walk for about an hour or so- but only if I am restless.  I won’t go earlier than that because when streets are too quiet, I find it a bit too scary to stray far from my home.
  13. Organize a closet. There is a strange clarity that comes at 2am that you don’t get during the rest of the day. Its an optimal time to do a clothing purge. Be quiet though, if there is someone else is sleeping in your bedroom.  Best practice would be to weed out a closet in a room where no one is sleeping.
  14. Make coffee, cinnamon rolls, and bacon. It’s a gentler way to wake up the other person/people in your house, if you are feeling a bit lonely and want someone to talk to. Chances are they would appreciate this method a lot more, than being pestered to wake up by being poked and nagged.
  15. Practice. Surely you have something going on that needs to be worked on. For me its guitar. But for you in might be a keynote you are preparing, or math problems, or getting ready for baseball season. Whatever you are passionate about find a way to work on your craft.  If you can practice full out – great! If you are sharing your space, find a way to practice quietly.

What do you do when you can’t sleep? Do you have an insomnia regime?  I know that the usual form is to do something to get you back to sleep. That rarely works for me – so I find ways to distract myself. But I would love to hear your tricks. Please share.

Its Gonna Be Great

IMG_1953The past couple of years a lot of us have moved away from making resolutions, and instead have chosen three words to focus on for the coming year.  I have been one of those people.  In the past, I have chosen words like: practice, learn, imagine,  sparkle, engage.  Some of the words I have chosen were completely within my comfort zone, and some were ones that I simply wanted more of in my life – because at the time they were nonexistent.

For example, practice is something I do everyday – if I am referencing my guitar.  Sparkle on the other hand – is something I am still lacking, unfortunately.  But I am not going to punish myself for being a bit dull.  I will simply add it to this years list – along with 3 more.  But I am going to do something a bit different this year- and that is add some specific action items to go along with each word.  I will say, that I plan on keeping up with my regime from 2017 – practicing every day (trying to reach 90 minutes), reading every day, and cooking at home as much as possible (maybe even try to learn proper spanish cooking this year).

So here is my list of 3 words + 1 word from last year.

Broaden – this refers to my outlook.  So I plan to travel, go outside, talk to strangers (good luck Laura), take myself out on solo dates once a week, learn a new language, look for new opportunities (purposely vague) and listening to podcasts.  Things that i plan on continuing – reading every day (incorporating more non-fiction).

Float – this is to remind me that I need to let things go.  If a plan doesn’t work out -I shouldn’t get upset, rather I should learn from it – and understand that there are reasons for things not working out.  Just let things happen, and don’t force them.  It’ good to paddle.  But sometimes we need to let go of the control.

Energy – I spent most of 2017 in rehab for an injured elbow.  I have come a long way – and I am ready to move into more intensive forms of exercise.  Along with a physical therapy regime that puts me in the gym/therapy offices 3 days a week, I will commit to a daily yoga practice – which I will steadily improve on, with an aim of getting to an actual class in a yoga studio by the end of June.  I have already gone back to a vegetarian diet – and am looking forward to getting into a stricter vegan diet, because that is I feel best when I don’t eat or drink animal products.  As well, I am going to practice becoming less introverted this year. I spent 2017 turning down invitations and instead spending time reading or alone thinking.  Its time to add some people into my life.

And last but not least – Sparkle.  The only thing I managed to do last year, is grow my hair, and get my skin looking healthier.  Im not really sure what sparkle really entails – but I think its along the lines of looking and feeling my best – and maybe smiling a little bit more than occasionally.  So thats the plan for 2018.

Do you have any resolutions/focus words for 2018? If you feel like sharing, I’d love to read them. Maybe we can help each other reach our goals.