Monday, March 31, 2014

30 Day Juice "Feast" (Days 1-4)

So last week Nelson and I re-watched the documentary  Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead and decided Hey, juicing for a month can’t be that hard! Let’s try it!
And so Friday I embarked on this crazy journey of juicing, which at first was extremely overwhelming because I had never juiced a day in my life. Nelson ordered a Breville juicer (you can fit a whole apple in it, core and all!) and we went to Kroger and filled our cart with a crazy amount of fresh fruits and veggies. I pulled up some recipes online and I guess you could say the rest is history.
I wanted to document this journey, because really the thought of not eating any solid food for 30 days seems insane. If I can get through it, I really want to have something to look back on and remember it. Also, I figured that if it works for me – maybe it could help some one else!
So before I get started, some things that Nelson and I probably could’ve done better. First, I didn’t eat any foods the week before that would have probably made the transition easier. For example, my last meal was a bag of popcorn and a huge bowl of goldfish. I eat like a toddler; the meal before that was chicken nuggets. I also drink a large iced coffee from McDonald's daily. So if I could do it again, I’d probably try to eat more fruit and vegetable based meals before jumping straight into it. Second, Nelson and I bought our veggies in bulk (seriously – we purchased 40 cucumbers in one trip!) and looking back it’s probably smarter to purchase everything in smaller portions – maybe like enough for a few days max, rather than 2 weeks for 2 people. Our fridge couldn’t hold all of the food, and some of the leafy greens are starting to mold because they’ve been sitting in a wet bag for several days. Gross. Plus there wasn't room for the actual juice, so we had to throw a lot of our condiments out to make room (bummer, I hate being wasteful).
But we did do some things right! I obsessively researched the positives of juicing for almost the entire two weeks before the cleanse. I ignored the “nay-sayers” because let’s be honest, this is tough and it helps to remember the successes and positive results. Also, this article was a good way to get mentally prepared for things to come. So far, everything it’s said would happen has happened. Also, I chose to start on a Friday rather than waiting until the 1st of April. This allowed me to go through the hardest part/initial stages of the cleanse without having to be at work or around people. This weekend I pretty much stayed on the couch or in bed, and it was nice to have that option. Also, I have no self control and one thing I definitely did right was quickly spent all my money on raw fruits and veggies and got rid of all my cash. When I was at my weakest point this weekend, I had no money to purchase food even if I wanted it! Very effective!
So here’s how I’m doing so far:
Day 1 (Friday) – The morning and the afternoon went really well. I didn’t feel hungry at all, and was still on the “high” of trying out something new. I chose two juices that tasted pretty good, considering the icky green color. The tables turned however at about 4:00 pm. I had a celery based juice that tasted like compost pile leftovers mixed with the nasty liquid you would find in a lawn mower bag. Also, it suddenly hit me that I wouldn’t get to have my weekly pizza fix. I wondered the halls of my apartment building, smelling dinners that were cooking and imagining how they would taste. The cravings that night were extremely intense, and I had several “breakdowns” where I just started sobbing. I went to bed early and dreamt of Mexican food;  beef nachos, specifically.
Day 2 (Saturday) – I woke up feeling really great! Unfortunately, the second I got out of bed things took a turn for the worst. This was the absolute hardest day of my entire life and I was certain I would die if I continued the cleanse. I tried watching tv to distract me, but quickly found myself on Red Lobster’s facebook page scrolling pictures of delicious deep fried shrimp, mashed potatoes, rolls…. All the while ugly crying my heart out. I began bargaining (which I read somewhere is normal for this stage) – telling myself that I could just eat raw veggies and it would be ok, or I could finish the cleanse if I just made it one week, or I could just start eating normal and give Nelson $200 for the groceries. The juice was so nasty that every time I drank a sip I would gag it back up. I only drank 2 juices and went to bed around 7pm. I was nauseated, dizzy, had a huge headache, hold/cold flashes, irritability, and little to no energy. I did actually "cheat" on this day and ate an orange, but I don’t regret doing that because it totally saved my cleanse. I felt soooo much better after that and it lifted my spirits just enough to allow myself to keep going. I didn’t dream of food that night, which was a relief!
Day 3 (Sunday) – I woke up around 10 am and was feeling pretty good. I did have some short-lived headaches that seemed to pop up sporadically, probably due to no coffee or processed sugar in 3 days. I had to finish the juices that I skipped over the day before (there were 3 and a half extra nasty ones), which was really tough. These juices tasted so bad at this point that after each gulp I would dry heave. I kept ice water with lemons nearby and that helped. I did cry but not as much as on Saturday. My cravings subsided and (because the juice was so gross) I began to cringe at mealtimes. But I finished the juices and was rewarded by a date at a local juice bar. Nelson (who start’s the cleanse on Tuesday) ate a meal in front of me, and it didn’t bother me. My stomach didn’t growl all day and I was very pleased that I could already fit into a pair of my “skinny jeans”!
Day 4 (Today) – I woke up at 7am and felt energetic and happy! I drank my morning juice (the same one I had on Friday that I liked – see recipe below) and was able to work throughout the day without any issues. I went grocery shopping with a friend/co-worker at our lunch break and the food didn’t bother me, nor did her eating a chicken sandwich next to me on the drive back to work, which I asked her to do just to see how it would effect me. I enjoy smelling, but don't feel like I will die if I don't eat anything. I came back and drank a beet based juice, which in all honesty tasted like dirt and looked like blood, but I didn’t gag or cry over it. I was a little “spacey” but it didn’t effect my daily routine. I came home, drank another juice, and enjoyed the rest of my evening without any tears. My first day not crying! I finally feel like I have the hang of things, and don’t feel quite as overwhelmed. Also, I weighed myself and I am down almost 15 pounds! Not too shabby for a weekend where I typically would've otherwise gained a pound or two.
Weird things I have noticed: My face started breaking out today, but washing it with this soap helps and it's not high-school terrible. My teeth feel gross. Using a straw helps, and extra brushing. Occasionally my jaw will hurt, probably from not crunching on delicious snacks. I crunch a piece of ice and that usually helps. Also, my nails are rock hard and white!
One thing that I have been surprised at is that food preparation isn’t as time consuming as I thought it would be. I think that’s the benefit of getting one of the more pricey juicers – they do most of the work for you. Each night, Nelson and I put together the ingredients for 5 juices. While he is putting one juice into the juicer, I’m cleaning and preparing the next round. It takes us less than an hour to prepare 5 juices AND clean the machine, plus it’s nice spending the time together. We have a pretty good system down, so I’m interested to see if/how things change once he starts the cleanse tomorrow.
I am not planning on going to the gym this week, because I want to give my body a chance to get used to all of the changes. I am going back next week and hopefully will be able to continue on with light workouts 4 times per week. More updated to come!
But first.... a juice recipe that doesn't make me dry heave!!

This juice contains: 1 grapefruit, 8 clementine's (or 2 oranges), 4 apples, and 8 kale leaves. YUM :)

Friday, December 20, 2013

I am a workaholic.

Yesterday I was eating dinner with one of my best friends, who I haven't seen in probably three months, and my phone rang. I felt my stomach tie up into a knot and I knew before glancing at my phone.... that it was work. I run a group home, and one of our girls keeps having seizures. I get the call several days a week around 8:30 pm and robotically instruct my staff to follow her to the hospital, find coverage so that she isn't alone, and notify her workers and parents. I spend the majority of the next morning filling out reports for licensing and human rights and filing internal investigations. It's a lot of work, it's an emotional situation, and it sucks.

The first night it happened, I had been at work much later than intended and 15 minutes after getting home and taking off my shoes I got the call. It was perfect timing, and I still laugh to myself thinking about it - I had poured a glass of chardonnay and the moment the glass hit my lips......... I got the call.

That afternoon, this teenager had been in my office yelling at me for holding her accountable and threatening to harm herself if I didn't give into what she wanted and that it would be all my fault, because "You don't care about me, you just do this for the paycheck!"

It was hard for me to hold back laughter. The garbage man makes more than I do and I have yet to receive my quarterly bonus I was promised when I signed on.

Anyway. I got the call that this girl was in her bedroom, unconscious, and that she was in an ambulance on her way to the hospital. I left my wine on the counter, pulled on my shoes, and ran out the door yelling to my boyfriend, whom I hadn't seen in days, "I have to go back to work! I'll probably be home really late! I'm sorry! I love you!'

I can't tell you how it felt to have my mind racing the entire way to the hospital. How it felt to know that the last thing she said to me was that I didn't care about her. How hard it was to be stern and hold her accountable, when all I wanted to do was hug her and tell her that I love her and wouldn't let anyone hurt her like she'd be hurt before she came to me.

I felt like a fucking parent and I didn't like it. I didn't like it for two reasons: because her actual parents weren't coming to the hospital to be there for her, and because I was not her parent and yet couldn't imagine being anywhere else.

I got to the hospital and she was awake, laughing at me for running to her bedside and obviously holding back big, fat tears. I stayed with her the whole night. I couldn't sleep. I just kept watching her, making sure she was breathing. Smiling to myself at how innocent she looked, snoring and not even realizing that she had scared the living shit out of me.

Before she fell asleep I overheard her talking to a nurse. The nurse was saying that she worked all the time, and she responded: "You sound like Ms. Kara. She loves us. She is always working, and every time we need her she is always there. Even when she's busy, she stops and listens to us."

I keep thinking back to how it sounded to hear some one say those things about me.
It was very strange. Yet, it made me proud; like I was put on this earth to do this work. I think I'm better at this job than I've been at anything else in my whole entire life.

Is that sad?

But sitting at dinner last night, I felt bad. Sometimes I get consumed by my work and I forget about the people in my life that I love.

I think I'm starting to realize that I need balance. That I can be good at my job, and still have a personal life. That it's ok to delegate.

I'm still figuring it all out. But, in the meantime, I hope that my small circle of people whom I keep close in my heart know just how much they mean to me. That I am able to do great work, because I have incredible support.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

My Thoughts on Body Modification

This weekend I made it to 000g. For those of you who don't know, that just means that my earlobes are almost at a 1/2 inch in diameter (they will be on Friday!!). There are many different ways to stretch your ears, but I've chosen a slower process where I go to East End Dermagraphics every two weeks and have my friend, Carli, do her thing. She uses a taper, which is a long metal tube that gradually increases in diameter. I've tried doing it at home myself, and I just can't take the pain. Plus, I really like her company and we have fun picking out jewelry together.
Eventually, my goal is to get my earlobes to about  the diameter of a quarter - 24 mm. This will take me a few months, and is not exactly a cheap habit (my jewelry usually costs around $35-45). People often ask me why, and unfortunately I don't really have a deep or profound reason. I like the way it looks and think it's cool that I can push my body to these limits.
The other day, I stumbled across a blog post that made me want to address this topic myself. The woman, whom will remain unnamed, was venting about how her niece was "ruining her life" (and more importantly: future career options) by stretching her ears to a size 8g. For those of you who don't know, 8g is pretty small and will easily close up once the jewelry has been removed for a few weeks. Also, many of the jewelry options at this size aren't noticeable at all -for girls anyway- because they look like those large, button style earrings that are very common these days. If you have longer hair, even more of a plus if you need to make it less noticeable for work or other reasons.
I'll admit, I have been extremely lucky in my career in terms of my body modifications. I have a large collection of very noticeable tattoos that I don't put a lot of effort into hiding except for the rare instance that I'm on a job interview or some place that I don't feel like drawing attention to myself. My nose is also pierced and of course I have stretches my earlobes. Still, I have managed to build a pretty great reputation for myself professionally and I attribute that to almost 8 years of hard work in the social work field - I have a great relationship with professionals in my community and across the state who are also in the field, I'm good at my job, and I'm smart. My tattoos and piercings don't define me; they are just an extension of who I am. Employers have always understood and supported that. I've never once been asked to cover up anything or take any piercings out.
With that said, I take extra care to make sure I dress nice and that I keep my hair down when I'm working. I understand that there's a time and a place for the attention that undoubtedly comes with body modifications, and work is not that place. I have found that if I don't make a big deal out of it, others don't notice as much.
I think it's important that people understand that you can push societal boundaries of what's culturally "attractive" and the world will not come to an end. If you think something looks good and you are educated in the commitment required, go for it. Nobody hassles some one about coloring their hair or painting their nails or any of the other things that we do to enhance how we look. If you aren't hurting anyone, why should anyone else care?
What I would like to say to the woman who was complaining about her niece is this. Stop judging her for something you don't understand, and at least give her enough respect to do a little research or tell her your concerns in private. Also, as long as you have confidence in yourself, are smart, and are good at what you do - you will find an employer who values you for more than the way that you look.
That's how it's always been for me anyway.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

This is me today. Last Sunday I decided to give up television, and so here I am: straightened hair and make up. Amazing what happens when I have a few extra hours on hand.
I'm on vacation today. My job has really been stressing me out lately, and so I decided it was time for two days home. By myself. Relaxing. I've been reading God Shaped Hole for the trillionth time, listening to sappy girl music, and deep cleaning like crazy. All in all, a successful day. I haven't had a vacation in almost two years... so these two days are pretty special and very much needed.
Don't get me wrong, I love my job. I've actually become one of those annoying people who obsess over their work and talk about it constantly. Eight months ago I left my boring ass case manager desk job and settled into running a teenage girls group home. It's so much fun and obviously very rewarding, but it has it's share of drama and turning my phone off today felt really great. So did not being surrounded by teenage girls in the midst of this moments "life crisis." I love those girls, though.
Tonight I'm going to the opening premier of Thor and am ready to totally nerd it out. Ok, not totally. I'm not dressing up or anything like that. But still. Speaking of nerding it out, I also spent some time this afternoon couponing for my grocery run tomorrow. Who am I?
Anyway, short and sweet. This is just a friendly reminder to slow down every once in a while and take a day or two to do whatever makes your heart happy. In my case, that's books. And cleaning. Whatever. It's important.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


I haven't been to this space in a while. I find myself writing less and less yet craving those moments where if I don't get my thoughts out on paper, my head will surely explode and my soul literally aches. I must be a gluten for punishment. I think maybe I should get rid of my television.

I think too much. I know that most of the problems that I've cooked up in my own imagination are not real. I know that I am my own worst enemy. That I have more questions than answers about who I really am and what I'm capable of. That I look stupid when I'm sleeping on the couch because I feel misunderstood by the person laying in the nice, warm bed next to me. Sometimes I wonder if I'm painfully obvious in my attempts to seem like I have my life put together and don't give a damn what anyone else thinks about it. But I don't have it together; I do care what people think. Really though, I feel like I'm grabbing at too many straws and they keep spilling out onto the floor. The more I try to fix my life, the more I realize what a bigger hole I've dug myself into.

When does one start feeling like they aren't racing at light speed into a target which is yet to be determined? I can't believe that I'm already considered to be in my late twenties, and I still feel like I'm palming around at the walls in a dark room. Does this get easier? Ever?

While I'm on this rambling tangent, I just want to say that I hate the phrase when you know, you just know. It actually even makes me sick to write it. I want to shake people who say that and tell them that they don't really know, they're just horny. But maybe they do know and I'm just bitter that I don't know yet. Maybe I secretly just wish I knew something, anything, about what I want. Maybe I just not so secretly hate that all my friends are getting engaged or having babies, while I'm stuck in the "I'm still figuring it all out" phase. This phase is like a bad love song on repeat.

I feel like love is such a huge risk. I thought I knew a lot of things when I was young and stupid and decided to marry my high school sweetheart. When we got divorced 3 years later, I realized that I didn't really know anything. And the memories of that relationship have been following me around like a bad habit ever since. No, I'm not still in love with my ex. What I mean is, I'm afraid to get too vulnerable with anyone because I'm not willing to feel that kind of hurt ever again. I'm not willing to let someone hold onto my heart or my feelings for any amount of time, because who wants to feel like that again? Not me. Shit, I'd rather be alone than feel like that.

That makes things especially tricky considering I've been in a relationship with the greatest guy I've ever known for the past year and a half. He is truly the only person in my whole life that's never been anything but exactly what he's said he was. The only person I've ever met who hasn't stabbed me in the back in some kind of way, or said he would be there when he really wasn't. But not even him, nope... he doesn't even get all the way in. And trust me, I make him jump some pretty crazy hoops.

This is the point of the post where I would normally start to clam up, however since it's just me and about 5 spammers who regulate this territory, I feel a false sense of security. That and the wine that's now going down like water. And the sappy music in the background.

But despite all odds, I'm still in this relationship and I haven't gone out of my way to sabotage it. I'm actually considering moving across the country with this person. And between me and you (you, you 5 spammers you), I am fucking scared about that. My fight or flight meter is off the radar right now. And it makes me want to start a silly argument about anything I can think of, just so I can tell him that I don't think we're meant to be. It makes me sick in my stomach.

Then I also remember how lucky I am to have a person in my life who asks how my day has been, reaches for my hand while we're sleeping, and has my back no matter what. I'm lucky because I have a really good friend in the person I'm dating. He's a really good person and I look up to him in a lot of ways.

The jury is still out. I don't know if this person is "the one" or not. And between me and you, I wish people would stop asking me when we're going to get married. Because I don't know if marriage is in my cards right now. If ever. But that doesn't mean that he isn't right. I don't know what it means, if I'm being honest, but I'm willing to try and figure it all out. We have really good days, and really awful days. But I guess nothing worth while comes without a lot of hard work, right?

Here's to picking up that shovel and continuing to dig, even if I don't know what I'm looking for. I'm sure I'll know when I find it.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The more I learn...

Last week I paid $10 for a palm reading. I thought it would be a fun way to spend an afternoon, but the things that I was told have been racing through my mind on repeat. I have to get them out through words so that I can find some peace and move on.

I opened the door and looked up at a very steep staircase and instantly my heart started racing and I seriously thought about turning back. But I didn't. She didn't tell me anything that I didn't already know about myself, but it was unsettling that a stranger could know so much about my deepest inner thoughts and struggles. Maybe she was spot on because what she told me could be applied to almost anyone. I'll never know - but what I do know is that the more I learn about life the more I begin to realize that I have so much left to understand.

She told me that I will live a very long life. That I will be successful in my career and that people will know my name. That the people whose lives I touch on a daily basis will forever be touched by my work. That the changes I've made in my life within the past year were exactly the changes that I needed to make.

So far, so good.

Then she shifted her body and began with "Sorry if I offend..." and I sunk deep in my chair, eyes wide... I'm sure at that moment she knew "I've got her right where I want her." I tried to smile through the knot in my stomach; not wear my emotions on my sleeve. I tried to look unfazed, but I'm sure she could tell.

She said I have been through two traumatic events in my life and that I have been through far too much suffering to be so young. She said that rather than dealing with these events, I have continued to push them deeper and deeper inside to the point that they were starting to change me. Starting to change me emotionally - by my outlook on life, hope in people that I trust - and physically - through nightmares and headaches. Both of these things are very true.

She said that I am on the wrong path and I know it, but I continue because I'm afraid to be alone with myself. That I have met my soul mate and because for some reason a connection wasn't made, our relationship didn't progress. That I will have one more chance in the future to connect with this person, and that's it.

She also mentioned some sort of health issue that was building due to my constant stress. But that it was treatable and in early stages and possibly preventable.

It was overwhelming, and I sat in my seat in silence for a moment. She asked if I wanted her to go on, and I said that I couldn't take anymore. She asked if I had questions, and I shook my head no. I brushed some tears off my cheek, clumsily stood up, and then got the hell out of there.

Some things are just too hard to hear, and I felt like she was connecting with a part of my soul that I hide from the rest of the world. I felt too exposed.

Don't get me wrong. I have a wonderful life. I am in love with my career, I have a happy home life, and the people in my life are genuine. But I do struggle with my past and it can be a stumbling block for me.

I don't know if I believe in the idea of a soul mate. There was a time that I did, but in my experience it's far more realistic and equally beautiful to find a person that forces you to grow into something bigger and better than you were before. A person that you continue to fight for and struggle with. Some one who has your back, even when there's nothing they can gain from doing so. A partner who, despite the odds, is there with you through all of the ups and downs.

I think what I took away from that whole experience was that I need to get back to the things that I love. The things that I've stopped doing or pushed aside because I've tried so hard to change the person that I was and the person who went through those hard times. The things that make me feel alive, like reading and writing and being outdoors. Feeling emotions deeply; especially the scary ones.

I need to find a way to make peace with my past. Because the past made me who I am, and the person who overcame those battles fought hard for the person that I have come to be. Fought so that I could have this second chance at this life I've created. I need to be ok with the idea that I was not the problem that needed to be fixed in those situations, but the being that needed to grow and move on. And I have. And I'm so proud of who I am, and that's exactly what I need to be remembering.

I didn't need to pay $10 to know these things. But I guess it was a not-so-subtle reminder that this life is it, and I need to keep fighting for the life I've always dreamed of.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Staying Active & Finding Encouragement

I haven't done a Workout Diary in a while now, but I wanted to let you know that I am still keeping up with my fitness goals and staying active!
I have completed 3 races this year and I have 3 more in my future this summer.
I have been getting up to run at 6am before work.
I continue to stay active on the weekends and eat healthy every day.
What makes all the difference in the world is having a support system; a group of friends who share your goal of staying active, who hold you accountable, and who cheer you on and encourage you throughout your journey.
For me, joining Pure Warrior Fitness was a turning point. It's a group of friends who is always finding ways to stay active and even though we are working hard and getting in shape, we are also having so much fun!!!
This weekend we walked several miles to and from the Dominion Riverrock Festival and had so much fun learning about the different outdoor activities that Virginia has to offer. This summer, we plan on doing a lot of hiking, camping, ziplineing, rock climbing, and biking.
Photo: BFFs
Saturday and Sunday we watched slack-line competitions, speed climbing matches, dog-jumping contests, and listened to some great music.
We also explored the City and checked out some murals that we hadn't really paid attention to before.... my favorite:
(gotta love the James River ;)
There are so many free and fun things to do, no matter where you live. You really just have to know where to look for them!
If you are in the Richmond Area or are just looking for some online support and encouragement, check them out -