is pissing me off lately.

I’m sick of looking at pictures like this.

And this.

I think these are supposed to be inspiring but they send the wrong kind of message.

The message: You are only allowed to feel good about yourself if you look a certain way. Specifically if you have a 22 inch waist and a DD cup size.

The message: The only advantage to working out is to look better.

The message: If you’re not injured, you’re not working hard enough.

The message: The only way you can impress people is if you make sure they know that you ran farther than an olympian in training.

The message: You’re weak unless you’re in pain.

The message: That the Lord Almighty actually cares whether or not you make it through your crossfit class.

The message: That if you do this specific workout, your body can look EXACTLY like this.

Well guess what?

You can do that workout 7 times a day and your body will NEVER look like that.

Many of the “inspirational” pictures on pinterest are actually pinned from major publications.

Which means you are looking at pictures of air-brushed models.

I hate that Pinterest has become another form of media used to make women feel weak, inadequate, and worthless unless they look a certain way or do a certain amount of exercise.

If you look really hard, though, you can find truly positive messages about health and fitness.

The message: Size is not an indicator of fitness.

The truth: Being skinny doesn’t equal being fit.

Even skinny people can suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other health problems.

The message:

Do exercises that you like.

Do exercises that make you feel good.

Do exercises that make your heart stronger.

Do exercises that strengthen your core so that you pick up your kids without getting a hernia.

Eat food that feeds your muscles, your brain, and your soul.

Eat food that makes you feel your best.

Just eat real food.

Don’t use pictures from magazines as your inspiration.

Be your own inspiration.

You are worth more than your exercise routine, eating habits, or level of fitness.

And you are worth getting healthy so that your friends and family can spend as much time as humanly possible with you.

I think for today’s workout, I’ll work on getting down from this soap-box.

But seriously, if I have to look at another picture of isolated abs, I’m going to kick someone’s gluteus maximus.



In Shanatopia, I would grow, pick, and prepare all of my own food.

A 9-5 job and an extreme lack of any agricultural skill make this next to impossible.

The "garden"

But learning how to choose minimally processed and wholesome foods has been a continuous and utterly confusing journey.

You know, I guess it’s not the processing that bothers me because almost all foods are processed in some way or another.  Highly nutritious foods like milk, yogurt, olive oil, and grains undergo some processing before they hit store shelves. Even if you frequent your local farmer’s market and select the freshest, organic produce odds are that you are going to take your juicy beefsteak tomatoes or zucchini and make your grandmother’s famous spaghetti sauce or maybe a loaf of chocolate zucchini bread. However you prepare your produce, it usually goes through some sort of process before it goes in your mouth.

So it’s not so much the processing that is bothersome, it’s all the chemicals, additives, and artificial flavorings that are so disturbing.

Take seemingly innocent yogurt for example.

I eat it almost every day.

Blame it on those darn Yoplait commercials that sucked me in with their enticing dessert-like flavors. Boston Creme Pie! Strawberry Cheesecake! Pina Colada!

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But some of the yogurts  have ridiculous amounts of added sugars, sweeteners, colors, and other scientific and non-food sounding ingredients (exact ingredients aren’t even listed on the Yoplait website).

If blueberry yogurt is going to be blue, I prefer it turn that color from actual fruit and not FD &C  Blue # 2

Not to mention that original yogurts (not fat free) have almost as much added sugar as a Snicker’s bar.

That’s just silly!

It’s just as easy to buy a big ol’ tub of plain yogurt and add whatever fruit my little heart desires that day. Throw some frozen blueberries and yogurt into a small container in the morning before work and the blueberries will be thawed and ready to mix by lunch time.  I save myself from ingesting unnecessary ingredients, get the added benefit of real, whole fruits, and I save money in the process.

Yogurt bowl: 3/4 cup plain yogurt + 1/2 cup pumpkin mixed with 1 tsp. molasses and sprinkle of cinnamon + 1/4 cup granola.

The easiest way to make sure you’re not consuming chemicals that you wouldn’t touch without a lab coat and goofy looking goggles is to look for short ingredient lists. See if you can find foods with less than five ingredients listed.

Take the SWAP challenge!

Swap out chemical heavy foods with their whole (or as close to whole as you are willing to go) counterparts.

Like cereal? Try quick cooking oats and add your own toppings (You can even eat it cold!).

Like M & M’s? Try Chocolate covered Almonds

Like potato chips? Pop your own popcorn

Like flavored yogurts? Buy plain and add your own fruit, honey, and granola

Like JIF? Try natural creamy peanut butter or sunflower butter

Like Snickers? Try peanuts with a square of dark chocolate

Like ice cream bars? Try a frozen banana dipped in chocolate and covered in nuts

What’s that? It doesn’t taste the same? I know. It’s because your taste buds forgot what food tastes like without a pound of sugar added. Remember how you had to feed your baby peas and carrots 37 times until they learned to like them? It’s the same for adults. You will learn to love and even crave these foods. Try it for a week. You’ll love it. I promise.

I already know what I eat on a day-to-day basis but I want to hear from you!

What swaps will you make this week?

The Run

This probably goes against some sort of runner’s ethical code or something but I actually prefer to run on the treadmill.

You know how some girls look all cute when they’re working out even though they are sweating buckets and their hair is all disheveled?

I am NOT one of those girls.

Therefore, I prefer to run in the solitude of my basement where I can watch trashy reality television while grunting and groaning through my workout.  This also saves strangers the confusion of trying to decide if  I’m exercising or going into cardiac arrest.

Running outside somehow seems much more difficult than running inside.

But since the weather was reasonable this weekend, I decided to wake up early and tackle an outdoor run.

The run started here.

That's our house. Well, actually, it's Bank of America's house but they are kind enough to let us call it 'our house' in return for an arm and a leg, oops, I mean a small payment each month.

And we're off!

Keep running....keep running....try not to vomit....keep running........

My run takes me past my favorite salon, which reminds me, I need to schedule an appointment ASAP.

Oh! TGI Friday's! Man, a drink sounds kind of good right now. Even though it's 7:30AM. Ugh. Keep running.

Ah, finally out of the bustling business district. This is much nicer.

This is the bridge where my dog ALWAYS tries to commit dogicide. How difficult could life be for a Pomeranian? Your name is Diesel for crying out loud. Man up.

Skivvies on the sidewalk! Skivvies on the sidewalk! Someone either had a very, very, good night or a very, very bad night.

Another bar. I'm thirsty again.

Heading into scenic, downtown Dover.

The Lex. Where you can buy shots or get shot, depending on the night.

I'm getting excited! I'm halfway done with my run! Check Garmin. Realize I haven't even gone a mile yet. Trudge on.

Another bar!?!?! Why do I do this to myself? Is it noon yet???

Shoot. I should have brought those books I needed to return.

The best part of Olde Dover is all the creepy looking monster houses.


Running in a colonial city means running on 200-year-old bricks. Trying very hard not to trip and make a spectacle of myself.

You would think living in a coastal state would mean instant beach access. Why go to the ocean when you can have this nice pond?

The water here is so nice it comes with a warning!

Despite its toxicity, it is pretty to look at. Also, my lungs are about to explode. Are we done yet?

Perhaps the person that lost this bike is the same person that lost their underwear? Gee, I wonder why the water is toxic here.

At this point, I think these geese are moving faster than I am. Keep running.

This is where my camera died. I feel like I'm about to die also. Keep running.

I made it!

I really, really wanted to run that extra .1 mile to make it an even 5k but my lungs just weren’t having it.

There’s always next weekend!

I’m off to pick more blueberries so I can stock up on jam like a squirrel  stocking up on nuts for the winter.

Gut Instincts

My digestive system is so mad at me.

Like, seriously pissed.

I think it may have even gone on strike.

How do I know?

Beacause it’s refusing to work.

Lately, whenever I eat anything, my stomach immediatately bloats out and distends to the point that I look pregnant. That’s a hot look to rock when you’re 27 and very, very NOT pregnant.

The more I talk about my digestive issues, the more I realize everyone seems to have difficulty with their GI health in some way or another. What is happening to all of us?

I’ll admit it. I got desperate. After being cleared for celiac sprue, my GI doc casually added that I might be gluten sensitive, though there is no way to test for this. So I may have a kind-of sort-of illness that may or may not be an accurate diagnosis?

In my heart (and my gut), I do believe that whatever is happening is somehow diet related. I mean, how could it not be? After trying a medication in which one of the side effects is abortion (yes, the label actually said that. How can a medicine that causes death be good for me in any way, shape, or form?) but at this point he could have suggested shooting rat poison in my veins if I thought it would help relieve my symptoms. But even the death pill couldn’t cajole my colon into doing its job. This was going to require some drastic measures.

I carefully researched an elimination or food challenge diet, which is the most effective means of testing for food allergies and sensitivities. I know I don’t have an allergy because I don’t break out in hives or choke on air or anything of the nature. Sensitivities are much more sneaky and can be dormant for days without producing symptoms.

How fun.

There are different kinds of elimination diets and the more intense ones basically have you eliminate all foods save a select few fruits and veggies. Another approach is to eliminate only suspected foods, reintroduce them one by one, and monitor your body for symptoms. As much as it would suck, I decided to go that route.

I started by eliminating soy, because I eat so much of it, and gluten because the GI guy recommended it. I was kind of on the fence about the whole gluten thing because it seemed like it was another trendy, cure-all piece of diet advice that had no real scientific standing.

Eliminating soy and gluten eliminated half of my diet. That meant no soy lattes, no soy burgers or dogs, no tofu on my salads, and no crunchy, delicious soy crisps. No gluten meant no more PB & J on Wasa crackers and no cereal for my nightime snack.

I kind of wanted to have a small funeral to say goodbye to my most favorite foods. I was that sad.

The first couple of days were ok, and I was definitely less bloated, but my digestive system was still not happy with the terms of the agreement. It launched an assault on hard-boiled eggs. Ok, intestines, I won’t make you eat stinky eggs anymore either. This pacified the union for a short period of time before it waged a full on blitzkrieg against vegetables of any kind.

This meant war.

During peace talks with my GI tract (let’s just call her GiGi. We’ve established enough of a rapport), so during peace talks with GiGi, I agreed to a cease-fire with the vegetables in hopes that it might consider backing off on all the backing up.

I agreed to a (mostly) bland diet that goes against everything I believe in.

Gigi seems to have some sort of alliance with low fat dairy, fresh fruit, rice chex and Pb2 so I agreed to eat only these foods long enough for Gigi to get over her little huge tantrum.

You know how there is always cottage cheese on the menu at restaurants that old people frequent? Now I know why.

Packing lunch got a whole lot easier.

I think we’ve moved closer to a pact, people.

. Maybe my body really isn’t ready for all fruit and veg all the time, even though my head and all the books that I read would argue the exact opposite. I also came across this interesting article about a super scientific sounding illness called leaky gut syndrome.

Ultimately, I’d like to give GiGi some time to recover and then try to incorporate a balance of fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains.

On that note, I’ve seem some serious improvements with the whole gluten-free thing (as reluctant as I am to admit it) and there is a mountain of evidence (do your own research on that one) supporting its efficacy.

In a desperate attempt to find anything to eat that's not dairy, I discovered a bag of corn grits hanging out all lonely in the cupboard. I topped it with jalepeno tangerine jam and it turned out surprisingly awesome!

But the pasta I made for hubby was looking pretty tantalizing too. I don't even like pasta. I think I just want it because I'm not supposed to have it!

I’ll keep you posted on any Operation (Colon) Freedom developments.

Thanks for listening to me talk about this shit.

(insert juvenile giggling sounds here)