Day Six: On the Up & Up


I think I've turned a corner.  I've leveled out, emotionally speaking, and have my cravings in (relative) check. I seem to have my patience back, didn't shed any tears today, and I feel pretty good all-around.  I think part of it is that I went back to work today and was able to get out of my own head for a bit.  It felt freeing to think about something other than tortilla chips for awhile, if even for a few fleeting hours.  Plus, it was therapeutic to commiserate with my two fellow detoxers and share in each others ups and downs thus far.   

After work, I was hungry and went to town in the kitchen- snacktown, to be exact.  And then I chowed down.  I made the most delicious salty/crunchy grain-free seed crackers and a bowl of fresh guacamole.  Swoon!  Hit the spot like nothing else.  I am SO grateful for almond flour and avocados; they are miracle workers in my life right now and are making all of my detox dreams come true.  It's the little things in life, I tell ya. 

So, that's day six in a nutshell.  Back to work and back to feeling like me.  Other observations include:

- I've been sleeping like a rock every night.
- I wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start my day (this is all new to me)

- I'm learning that fat is my friend.  I feel the best after eating bacon, or an avocado, or a bacon-wrapped avocado cooked in butter.  Now we're talkin'.

- I have a desire to be in water.   Been wanting long showers and hot baths; been dreaming about being buoyant in the ocean, diving into pools and floating down lazy rivers.  I don't know what that's all about.  Is it that I'm drinking so much water that I'm becoming one big body of water myself?  Detoxing, water- it's all so cleansing.  And I want to be totally immersed.  

Well friends, I'm taking my weary and grateful self to bed.  Tomorrow - day seven - marks one week, and I to hope celebrate with bacon and a bath.  It's the little things ;)   

Day Five: BAD


Allow me to cut to the chase: Today was awful.  Absolutely, undoubtedly, one of the most frustrating days of my life.   The good news is that I'm pretty certain that it had little-to-nothing to do with the detox. Today's fiasco aside, I feel good.

My intention for today was to get a very time-sensitive outpatient procedure done (had to be today) in the morning and then go to work in the afternoon.  What wound up happening was this: I was on the phone from 7:30am to 2:30pm with my primary care physician, my insurance company, my specialist and the hospital, and it all resulted in a big fat ball of nothing.  All that talk and no appointment.

Here's a very brief recap of the highlights:

Jen > Hospital: Hi, I need to come in today
Hospital: Ok but first we need your doc to call
Jen: Ok I'll have her call

Jen > Doc: Hi Doc, I need you to call hospital and tell them I need this time-sensitive procedure.
Doc: No problem, we'll call them.
Doc via voicemail: FYI we called and faxed over the scrip, you're good to go, just need to call and schedule you appointment.
Jen: Yay!

Jen > Hospital: Hi, I need to come in today, and my doctor already called and faxed over scrip.
Hospital: Sorry, patients cannot schedule their own appointments for same-day procedures, your doc has to call back and do that.  
Jen: Really?
Hospital: Yep

Jen > Doc: Hi Doc, you need to call back and schedule my appointment
Doc: Really?
Jen: Yep
Doc: I don't think so.  When I called, they said I just had to fax the scrip and then you had to make your own appointment.
Jen: Hmmm.  I'll try again, maybe I got a misinformed rep
Doc: Yeah, try again.  I spoke directly with the folks in radiology
Jen: Ok

Jen > Hospital: Hi, I need to come in today and my doc already called and faxed in the scrip.  She was told that the next step was for me to call to set up my appointment.
Hospital: Sorry, patients cannot schedule their own appointments, your doc has to call back and do that.
Jen: But, but, but-
Hospital: Your doc has to call so and so in this office and then fax the scrip to the other office.
Jen: yeah, I'm pretty certain she's done that already.
Hospital: No, we have no record of that.
Jen: Ok well then you and I have to conference call over to her so that you can tell her directly what she needs to do.
H > J > Doc: (We finally connect to doctor's office and hospital lady hangs up)

Jen > Doc Office: I'm losing my mind
D > J: Ok, I'll take a message and will have a nurse call you back.

(INSERT LOTS OF SWEAR WORDS HERE.  Also, about three hours have gone by at this point)

Doc Office > Jen: Hi, please call Joy at the hospital at this number.  I just spoke to her and she said that you can schedule your appointment.
Jen: Praise God

Jen > Joy: Hi, I need to come in today, and I understand you just spoke to my doc's office.
Joy > Jen: I need your doctor to fax over the scrip


Jen > Joy: Um, no.  I'm certain that she's done that.  Also, I have a copy of the scrip and am happy to bring it over.
Joy > Jen: Oh ok, well then let's get you registered.  

I then proceeded to give her all sorts of information to become a registered patient, and was doing a happy dance cause I was on my way to getting my appointment!

Joy: Ok, looks like we can get you in here on Thursday.


Jen: NO, NO, NO.  The whole point of this call is so that I can come in today.  It's a time sensitive procedure.
Joy: Ohhh, well then your doc needs to send the scrip with the word "stat" on it.

(This is where I started to break down, and Joy knew it)

Joy: Please hold while I call your doc.
Jen: (holding)
Joy: Thanks for holding, your doc will add the word "stat" and will re-fax, and you should be good to go.
Jen: (happy dance)
Joy: Please hold while I check the schedule with radiology
Jen: (holding)
Joy: The radiology folks want to talk to you.  Please hold while I transfer.

Radiology: Hi, what do you need done today?
Jen: (I explained what I needed, and read the scrip to her)
Radiology: Please hold
Jen: (holding)
Radiology: I'm sorry, that's the one procedure we don't do here.

As her words echoed in my ear and the reality hit my brain, I didn't know what else to do but start sobbing.  It was now 12:30.  I had spent 5 hours trying to make an appointment for the one thing this hospital doesn't do.  Again I ask, ARE YOU F*CKING KIDDING ME???  I had been sent to this particular hospital because that's where I'm capitated to through my insurance, yet this hospital doesn't have what I need.  Which, by the way, is a pretty standard procedure.  Nothing fancy.  

I then spent the rest of the afternoon calling my insurance company and other hospitals to try and get in same-day using the same process, but it was a futile attempt.  No one could see me.  My window of opportunity has passed and I have to wait for the next window, and hope things work out better next time.  So incredibly frustrating.  Oh well, at least I can grab a beer, I mean a water, and drink my sorrows away.  

Tomorrow will be better.  Tomorrow will be better.  Right?  

Day Four: Frustrations and a Mini-Meltdown


Today was tough, not gonna lie.  It was just one of those days where every little task overwhelmed me completely and left me feeling deflated and incredibly frustrated.  Ugh.  

I woke up and felt fine, but quickly spiraled downward as I realized how much I had to accomplish during the day.  The first piece of business was thinking about and planning every single meal and snack I'll have over the next seven days, and then making a shopping list.  Even on the best of days, making a grocery shopping list takes me at least an hour.  It's just the most arduous task that brings my ADD to a whole new level.  So, it took me almost two hours and I still didn't feel organized or accomplished afterward.  I felt scattered, overwhelmed, and on-edge.  

As I tried to get myself ready to head out to the store(s), I just couldn't get it together.  Everything I touched fell apart.  I touched the sink and the drain broke; I tried to defrost meat and I cooked it; I pulled one thing out of the closet and everything else fell out.  The house was a mess, there were dishes in the sink, laundry was piled everywhere, and I still had to prep and cook so much food for the week ahead.  I was completely overwhelmed and couldn't comfort myself in the usual ways, ya know, like with a handful of tortilla chips or a piece of chocolate.  

So, without my usual vices, I had nothing left to do but melt down and have a good cry.  I stopped trying to fight it and just surrendered to feeling out of control, overwhelmed and totally impatient.  I had to remind myself (and Jay, God bless him) that these types of emotional responses are normal when detoxing, especially during the first few days.  And with that, I blew my nose, dried my eyes, and was off to Trader Joe's.  And Whole Foods.  And Pathmark. 

Grocery shopping was a nightmare for two reasons:

1) There was food everywhere and I wanted to eat it all.  The free sample at Trader Joe's today?  Oh nothing, just BBQ effing pizza!!!  No thank you.  That's fine.  I'd rather have some sauerkraut anyway.  Ahem.

2) Every person got on my last nerve and I wanted to kill everyone. 

Luckily, I made it home without eating "bad" food and without committing murder.  Victory!  I rewarded my good behavior with a handful of almonds :/  Also in the lucky category, Jay cleaned the house while I was gone, so I walked into a much less chaotic scene than when I left.  I planned to start my laundry and chill for a while before dinner, but then I remembered that I had to prep and cook for the work week!  Ugh.  No.More.Cooking.  Apparently, there's no rest for the emotionally unstable.

I love cooking when I love to cook, but not always when I have to cook.  That's the thing about this detox - you are always in the kitchen or at the store or thinking about what you need to cook or what you need to get at the store.  It's all food all the time.  So, I headed back into the newly cleaned kitchen and proceeded to muck it up.  I made a batch of egg muffins, which will be my breakfast for the next several days.  I fried 8 strips of bacon, sauteed bell pepper, onion and spinach in a pan, whisked 12 eggs and poured it all into cupcake tins, baked for 20 minutes, and now I have portable breakfast on the go.  Egg muffins for the win.

Just when I thought I was done with cooking for the day, I looked at the clock and realized it was dinner time.  More.Cooking.OMG.  Also, I should mention that we do not have a dishwasher, so when I say "cooking", I'm also referring to washing mountains of dishes per cook session.  

For dinner we had grass-fed steaks, mashed potatoes cauliflower, and garlic green beans.  The cauli-mash was AMAZING.  Light, fluffy and buttery; I honestly think I prefer it over the real deal.  Once again, props to my friend Simone over at Zenbelly for another simple yet scrumptious recipe.  Dinner was delicious.  Like last night, it left me satisfied and blissfully content.  The grass-fed steaks (from America, not Australia!) were tasty, although a little chewy.  There's definitely a learning curve with cooking this kind of beef, and we're getting there.  

I'm happy that this day is almost over, and that I get to crawl into bed and dream about tortilla chips and tequila.  Tomorrow is a new day, and I hope to be in a better mood.  One saving grace is that I roped two of my co-workers into doing this with me, so at least we can all be miserable together.  Us miserable types, we sure do love company.  

So that's all for today, friends.  Tomorrow is Day 5, which sounds like a milestone; a real achievement.  Victory!  I think I'll reward myself with... more almonds :/  See you tomorrow. 

Day Three: Cramps & Cravings

I just ate a delicious dinner, took a hot shower, and am now sitting here on my couch in my jammers listening to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack.  I haven't felt this content since, well, this morning.  All in all, today has been a great day despite some minor physical and emotional discomfort.

I woke up super early for a Saturday - 7:20am.  Yeah, I know.  I had abdominal cramping (not detox related) and just couldn't go back to bed, so I decided to cozy up with blankets and pillows on the couch and watch a movie.  I wound up watching Due Date with Robert Downy Jr. and Zach Galifianakis, which was exactly the kind of movie I was hoping for: light, funny and perfect for cramps.  

Once the movie was over, I got up and made myself a plate of fried eggs, bacon, and raw kraut.  I wasn't sure if my stomach was ready for eggs and bacon and butter, but it really hit the spot and made me feel better.  I still wanted to have a slow morning and ease into my day, so I slipped back under the blanket and got all wrapped up in a mini-marathon of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (RHoBH).  Now that is some good Saturday morning TV; it's like cartoons for adults. 

Several hours and one RHoBH season later, I finally peeled my self off the couch and decided to get going.  Aren't Saturdays amazing?  We had some leftover grass-fed beef from the burgers last night, so I made a few more burgers and had one over a salad.  I thought the beef tasted better today, probably because I didn't cook it so long.  Still not great, but not as gamey and chewy as last night.  

After lunch, I joined Jay in the downstairs apartment to help clean up from our month and a half-long renovation project to get it ready for a new tenant.  From the beginning, this project has been, well, not always what we we expected.  For instance, on the first weekend, we invited a few friends over to help us paint the unit.  We had picked a warm neutral called Cultured Pearl, which looked like a warm white when we slapped in on the wall.  Perfect.  

Six gallons and eight hours later, we had ourselves a pink apartment.  Not warm white, no.  This was 100% certified ballerina pink.  The worst part is that we kinda saw it happening stroke by stroke, but somehow convinced each other that it was just the harsh fluorescent light.  Well, turns out the light of day is even harsher and less forgiving.  We officially declared it PINK at 9:00am the next morning, and went to Sherwin Williams to start over.  So that's how the project began, and that's kinda how things have been going ever since.  But we're finally starting the wrap-up process; the construction is done and now the great clean-up begins.

As the day waned on, I noticed a shift in myself.  I became a touch more serious, had a bit less patience and was very much in my own head.  I didn't know it at the time, but I now realize that this was right around the time my first cravings began.  Not for chocolate nor wine, but for a tortilla chip.  Or a handful.  Or - let's be honest here - a bag.  I wanted a mouth-full of salty-crunchy snacky goodness, and I wanted it now.  I was hijacked by my craving and couldn't focus on anything but the one thing I couldn't have. 

This was the first detox symptom I had experienced, and rather than give in to the craving, I decided to shift gears and go back up to the kitchen to start making dinner.  I snacked on salty pistachios, which helped, but then Jay snacked on tortilla chips and kissed me with his salty lips and tortilla-chip breath.  I learned an important lesson in that moment: I hate Jay when he eats tortilla chips while I can't.  

Deep breaths, deep breaths.

I hated on him for about 2 minutes, but then I was distracted by and overcome with love for the aroma that was emanating from the oven.  Garlic bread!  Well actually, it was garlic ginger chicken, but it might as well of been garlic bread.  It was so damn good, and satisfied my craving as if it were bread.  I made it with snap peas and bell peppers sauteed in butter, with leftover cauliflower rice.  I'm pretty certain that this has been the first detox dinner that felt indulgent and left me deeply satisfied.  After feeling so antsy and distracted by my cravings, it felt borderline blissful to be content rather than filled to the brim with desire for something I'm choosing to forego.

After devouring my dinner, I decided to end the day with a long, hot shower.  Sometimes nothing comforts like warm water, especially in the cold of winter.  It felt nice to be alone with my thoughts, processing the day's highs and lows as I lathered up with a sweet vanilla lavender body wash.  It was all the dessert I needed.

So all in all, a great day.  I'm really feeling the cozy vibe and might end my night with another movie on the couch.  Or better yet, bed.  Mmmm, bed.  Now that's a craving I can give in to ;)  Nighty night y'all.

21 Days, One Day at a Time


It's that time of year again, friends.  Time to walk away from the tortilla chips, put down the Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale down, and shun all sweets for 21 days (crazy, right?).  That's right, it's time for a good ol' fashioned detox.  

Every year, in between January and May, I do some type of detox.  It's always the same general concept (avoidance of sugar and carbs in all of their sneaky and delicious forms), but the format varies.  This year, I've chosen to do the 21-Day Sugar Detox thanks to the recommendation of my friend Simone.  

What I love about this plan is that it's based on the Paleo way of eating, which in a nutshell is all about returning to whole foods the way they were long ago; before food was an industry, before government subsidies, before everything we ate came in a package that we bought in a box store, and before cancer and diabetes became part of our everyday realities.  Unlike other "diets" or lifestyles, paleo just seems to make sense.  There are no points to add up, no calories to count, and no scales to weigh food on (that is ridiculous, by the way).  It's all about enjoying meats, veggies, certain nuts, lots of good fat and some fruit, while avoiding grains, gluten, and sugar. Simple.

I plan on using these three weeks to purge some other bad habits (staying up too late, not drinking enough water, drinking too much heavy beer, playing Words with Friends too much, not reading enough, not writing enough, etc.) and get back the things I love most - sleeping, reading, writing.

And speaking of writing more, I'll be blogging each and every single one of these 21 days, and will be sharing the ups and downs of this journey with you, my dear reader.  Today is day two, so let me back it up and cover day one.

Day 1
They key to being successful at any detox is being prepared, which I was.  I had made meal lists and had done my grocery shopping a few days prior to day one, and I had brought food to work and stashed it in the fridge.  I definitely gave myself a gold star for a solid prep effort.  So, I woke up on day one and made myself a hearty veggie and egg scramble with a few strips of bacon.  I left for work feeling good and ready to take on whatever the day would bring.  

Well, one thing the day brought was a rather last minute outreach event that I had to attend for work, from 11:00 - 2:30.  Normally I would just grab lunch on the road, but not on day one of a detox.  I figured I'd snack on some almonds until I got back to the office.  Well, by the time I got back to the office, assembled my salad, and chatted with a few co-workers, it was 3:30, and I was ravenous!  I had let my blood sugar crash, and I paid for it the rest of the day.

While my lunch helped the feeling subside a bit, I just never fully recovered from that head-achy, depleted, grumpy feeling.  I went home, grabbed a beer, did dishes, cooked dinner (delicious green coconut salmon with bell peppers and cauliflower rice, recipe courtesy of Zenbelly), and was literally in bed before 9:30.  For a girl who normally hits the hay around midnight, this was nuts.  

So, I learned two valuable lessons on day one:

1) I ate breakfast way too early and lunch way too late.  I need to eat breakfast around 9:00 rather than 6:30.  I'm not at all hungry at 6:30, plus, it puts too much space in between breakfast and lunch creating unnecessary hunger.  

2) I cannot allow my blood sugar to crash like that again.  If I have a busy day and need to be on the road during the lunch hours, I need to pack my lunch and bring it with me.  

With those lessons learned, I moved on to day two.

Day 2

After nine hours of scrumptious sleep, I was ready to rise and shine at 6:30am.  Rather than make breakfast and eat too early, I decided to throw dinner leftovers in a Tupperware and bring 'em to work.  Perfection.  I think this how I'm gonna roll from here on out.

A few hours later, I assembled a hearty salad with mixed greens, grilleld chicken, avocado, bell peppers, onions, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and goat cheese drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette.  It had plenty of protein and fat, not to mention flavor, so it was totally satisfying.  

The rest of the day rolled on fairly quickly and without incident.  I snacked on some almonds around 4:30, and wasn't hungry for dinner until after 8:00.  We had grass-fed beef burgers with all the fixins' and brussel sprouts sauteed in butter and garlic.  This was my first time cooking and eating grass-fed ground beef, and it was just ok.  I got this particular meat at Trader Joe's, and couldn't help but notice that it was from Australia!  First of all, that's a l-o-n-g way for meat to travel.  Secondly, one of the things I remember from my visit to Australia is that the meat was awful- like really, really bad.  So, I'm gonna chalk up the iffy flavor and texture to Australia (no offense Australia, I love everything else about you!) and hope for better beef next time.  

Lessons learned/observations from day two:

1) Getting plentiful sleep set the tone for the entire day.  For the first time in months, maybe even years, I was early for the train today.  I got to the station and had five - yes FIVE - minutes to kill.  Who knew mornings could be so leisurely.

2) I've been drinking a ton of water, and while my bladder is less than thrilled, the rest of me feels hydrated and happy.

3) I should probably quit getting my meat from Australia and look for a local farm.  Lesson learned.

Well, that's all I've got for now.  I'm off to bed to rest my weary head.  Stay tuned for day three!