Juice Fast City, Population ME.

So, I'm on a juice fast. 

I never, ever thought I would be on a juice fast AGAIN. The last time I tried it was when I was planning a wedding and stressed out of my mind. I made it one day. The fast abruptly ended when I started bawling in front of a group of people because I couldn't find a pair of scissors. 

Fast forward to now.  

I have been battling an autoimmune disorder for the past fifteen years. My problems all involve connective tissues; skin, eyes, gums, etc. Oh, and occasionally my joints. I'm TIRED of it. While my health is relatively stable right now because of the medication I (thankfully) can afford, there are always reminders that I'm not well. Recently, my heel started to flare up... AGAIN. I don't know how to explain this other than it feels like my right heel bone starts to swell (not the muscle, the bone). I eat about 90% paleo and have done a successful round of Whole30, but I haven't been able to kick my feelings of fatigue long-term. Basically, any time I eat a meal that's average-sized or larger (a.k.a. what normal humans eat) I need a nap. It sucks. Also, any time I'm able to sit for more than 5 minutes, I pass out. Even with a full night of rest. It's incredibly frustrating. 

I watched "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" about two weeks ago, and that lit the fire under my butt to give fasting one more try. To see several people try fasting and alleviate their symptoms was incredibly compelling. Check out this film for free on Netflix if you haven't. Everyone should see it!

I brunched with my friends last Sunday and started the fast last Monday the 10th. It's Wednesday the 19th, and I feel amazing! I've had a few bouts of fatigue, but only the first few days. Drinking fresh juice (the greener the better) has been awesome. Aside from the fact that I've lost ten pounds (that's always cool), I've had consistent energy, my skin has cleared up, and my body feels great. I'm planning to go a total of fifteen days and then transition in to a few days of vegan eating. From there I will probably transition back to paleo with a heavy emphasis on eating/juicing my veggies. 

Jury's still out on my autoimmune problems. I need to go get some bloodwork done and consult with my rheumatologist to see if any changes are really taking place in my body. But this experience has taught me a few things:

  1. Occasional fasting is okay. And it is manageable. 
  2. GREENS ARE IMPORTANT. They are chalk-full of goodness! I love eggs, bacon, steak, and potatoes, but I need to be more moderate about my consumption of them. 
  3. I don't need as much food as I think I do. And I often eat because I'm bored. 
  4. I truly believe that I'm on to something here with juicing and even though I wish I had discovered it a decade ago, I'm thankful that I'm in a space right now where I'm willing and able to do it. If juicing alleviates some of my symptoms, AWESOME. 
  5. This isn't easy. Most good things aren't.
  6. I have no interest in posting before/after pictures. Maybe if you're lucky I will.  

All the reasons I think I shouldn't act (but I'm doing it anyway)

I've had some fun acting opportunities come up recently. I got to be in a comedy sketch called "Wanderlust." I'm currently working on a short film called "3 Dates." I auditioned today for another fun sketch with a group based in San Francisco (YAY!). I'm working on a quirky musical with my friend Emily that I hope to also perform in. Life is good and acting is fun. 

However, I (like many humans) suffer from many near-crippling insecurities. Here are all of the reasons I am insecure* and probably shouldn't continue to pursue acting:

  1. I'm broad-backed.
  2. I'm not a size 0, 2, 4, OR 6. Heck, sometimes I'm not even an 8. 
  3. I'm not a size XS or S. Heck, sometimes I'm not even an M. 
  4. When I take off my glasses and I can't see I get cross-eyed. 
  5. I'm almost 30... 
  6. I am missing a chunk of my gum right in the front of my mouth. Thanks a lot, "large cell granuloma."
  7. I have an autoimmune disorder (part of the reason I got "large cell granuloma").
  8. Don't look up "large cell granuloma." It's SO gross.  
  9. I didn't go to school for acting. 
  10. No one in my family has been an actor. 
  11. I'm like, "girl-next-door" cute but not hot. 
  12. I'm so insecure. Can't you tell?
  13. I have "thunder thighs," and according to my mother, I got them from her. 
  14. I have a "build like my Polish grandmother," according to my father. 
  15. My boobs are too small by societal standards, but way too big for my standards. If I could successfully be bra-less like Kate Hudson in "How to Lose a Guy" all day erryday I'd be satisfied with my chest size. 
  16. My haircut is weird. Growing out a pixie is way harder than anticipated.  
  17. ... I wish I owned a cat. All the wishing takes up too much brain power to have time for acting.  
  18. ... I'm obsessed with podcasts**. All the listening also takes up too much brain power have time for acting. 
  19. ... I can memorize lines okay! Wait... that's a good thing. 
  20. ...
  21. ... I like to improvise... wait... also a good thing. 
  22. ...
  23. Bruce Springsteen!
  24. ...
  25. Okay, I guess I ran out of excuses. And every insecurity I have is apparently linked to my appearance and not to whether or not I can play a character. WOW. Way to be vapid, Hennessy. 

Truth is, I think acting is fun and challenging. I like when I can make people laugh. I like when I can share a story or an idea that people relate to. I might be ill-proportioned (or just way too insecure about it) but WHATEVER. SERIOUSLY, WHATEVER. 

*I know how absurd this list is. My goal this year is to be honest about my struggles. I'm not fishing for compliments or searching for gratification. If I can make one human feel less alienated because of their body image struggles or other feelings of inadequacy, I will consider this post to be 100% worth it. 

**Currently listening to wayyyy too many comedy podcasts: If I Were You, Hello from the Magic Tavern, Improv 4 Humans, The Blacklist Table Reads,  With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus and probably a million more. 


Whole30, We Meet Again.

I did the Whole30 this summer. It was AWESOME for a lot of reasons. People complimented me on losing a few pounds. I felt AMAZING and EMOTIONALLY STABLE (abnormal). I fixated less on food (it's hard to when pizza and donuts are out of the running). Probably the biggest pitfall of the experience was, well, not eating pizza and donuts. Oh, and margaritas. And whiskey. And rice. That's it, though. And parmesan cheese. 

I went to visit my parents for a week and that brought my Whole30 (extended) experience to a close. There's nothing like food your parents cook for you and insist that you eat, am I right?

I started teaching again and since September I have basically fallen into a ritual of five days Whole30 (Whole5?) and then two days off. Sometimes it's more of a Whole3 or a Whole1/2. It's been a hard school year so far, and there is a lot of choice candy in our school office. 

I'm starting again, right in time for Peppermint Mocha season. I'm actually on day 3! Congratulate me!

I'm nervous about navigating the holidays, but mostly about navigating people I will see during the holidays who will silently (or very vocally *cough* DAD *cough*) judge my choices. I know it's the right choice, and that's why I'm writing this. I'm finally going public. No more Whole1/2. Just a Whole30. If I really miss the marshmallow yams on November 26th I will make myself a giant vat of them on December 7th. 

The Autoimmune Monster

"Oh, wow, you're gluten free? And paleo?"

"Kind of. I mean, I try to be."

"Why do you torture yourself?" 

"Well... I mean, I have this autoimmune condition. My rheumatologist hasn't really given me an official diagnosis. I mean, yeah. A doctor a few years ago thought I had Behcet's Syndrome, but it's really only found in Middle Eastern men..."

These are the kind of conversations I end up having with other humans about my autoimmune problems. It usually starts with an observation about what I eat (or don't eat). Then I'm forced to talk about my vague experience battling an autoimmune disease. People usually ask me if restricting my eating actually makes a difference, or if I fart a lot when I cheat and eat a donut. Some humans have the audacity to ask if I actually just do it to control my weight. The answer to that is "NO!!!!" if you were wondering. I would probably enjoy my dietary restrictions more if they did result in me looking like a supermodel. 

The other day I went to see my rheumatologist for a routine visit. He has lived in the Bay Area for decades but still has a hint of a Brooklyn accent. A few years ago, when I moved to Santa Cruz, I was forced to seek him out when I experienced an outbreak of skin lesions on my left shin, because that's the kind of thing that happens to me. The medication I take had successfully eliminated this symptom from my daily life. Then, one day in May, about five of them cropped up, forcing me out of lesion remission.

My rheumatologist looked at my blood panel results, which were stable. He did the usual routine checkup things. He commented on the fact that my gums looked healthy. Yep, I have annoying gum inflammation too. Then he said, "you appear to be stable. Let's see how things go over the next year. Maybe we can get you off medication. Who knows. Maybe you don't even have an autoimmune condition." 

"Who knows. Maybe you don't even have an autoimmune condition."

Such has been my life with an autoimmune condition. When I was fourteen, joint flare-ups began that led doctors to believe I had Juvenile Arthritis. Only a few months later this symptom disappeared, only to reappear during my junior year of college for a few painful weeks. When I was fourteen the skin lesions began to appear. Doctors would put me on different doses of medications that would alleviate the lesions for awhile and allow my legs and arms to heal. Going off of gluten in 2009 made these spots almost disappear entirely, and then going on a low dosage of a medication called Dapsone eradicated them. Until the left shin outbreak, that is. 

There are countless other weird symptoms and experiences that have happened to me over the last fifteen years. Do I believe I have an autoimmune disease/condition? Yes. Does it keep me from doing some things? Yep. I didn't even try to apply for the PeaceCorps, because when I emailed them with a description of my health problems and asked if I could work for them I received a prompt "no." Additionally, I am not allowed to give blood anymore because of the medications I take, but I'm not that sad about it. 

I do not regret this circumstance, but only that I have occasionally allowed it to direct the course of my life. At the same time, we all have something that can direct the course of our lives if we let it, right?