Does Gluten Make Me Anxious?

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I have been inspired by Leah’s post over at the Millie and Kate blog; she re-capped her first 10 days of GF (gluten free) living! So, here are my So-Far FAQ’s to catch you up:

Why did you select going GF as a 30-Day Challenge?

During Christmastime we had dinner at my aunt’s house, and she had a book called Grain Brain on her counter. I read the back, and was surprised to see…“Renowned neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, blows the lid off a topic that’s been buried in medical literature for far too long: carbs are destroying your brain. And not just unhealthy carbs, but even healthy ones like whole grains can cause dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches, depression, and much more.” WHAT??!! I have read a lot of stuff about carbs causing weight gain, but affecting my brain? I wanted to read it, AND test it.

Test it? What do you mean?

I mean, find out if gluten is what causes my unexplainable and inconsistent anxiety. I have been unable to pinpoint what triggers this feeling of being overcome with fear, loneliness, lack of motivation and helplessness. It is even difficult to describe it as it is happening because it doesn’t make any sense! If a stranger on the street walked by and said to you, “You’re stupid;” you know it’s not true, wasn’t warranted, and doesn’t make sense, but you still felt like shit about it. What I know about this feeling, is it happens 1-2 times per month, and it will typically last for just a few hours before I am back on track buzzing around the house getting stuff done. Being that it comes and goes, and “passes through” in that way, I thought, maybe it’s something I’m consuming. I feel like I could write a whole post about this, so I will have to come back to it someday.

Are you actually reading the book?

I read the first 3 chapters. Then, I searched “anxiety” and skipped to all those parts.

Do you feel any different?

I’m not sure yet. Definitely not worse, just stable (?)…that’s a scary word. I guess I’m afraid to commit one way or another yet if it is truly affecting me one way or another.

Have you messed up and eaten food FULL of gluten?

Oh YEAH! Both absentmindedly (lots of wine on Super Bowl = Yes! I would love a brownie. AND a cookie!) Also intentionally: “I’m starving. I don’t care. I’m eating the entire brown loaf of bread at Cheesecake Factory. This isn’t making me feel different anyhow.”

What has been the most surprising?

The support from my husband. He is reading labels, making GF meals, and not bringing home baguettes. He continues to surprise me with his willingness to try new things and take on change with me, because he doesn’t typically initiate change himself. I suppose I am more the adventurer and risk-taker between us, but he is happy to come along for the ride. And I’m grateful for that. He makes me feel like I have good ideas, has a “why not?” attitude to push me along, and then we have stuff in common and can talk about results! Or the lack thereof.

What has been the most difficult?

Not knowing if it’s making a difference or not yet. I want to know NOW, but when I make mistakes, it certainly doesn’t help to figure that out. Also, I have gained 2.5 pounds…but I started a running program so everything is whacky. OH, and I went to an amazing baby shower on Day 1 and had to skip the pasta salad.

What has been the best thing about it so far?

It has forced me to really think about my meal choices. Before, I could eat simply based on hunger level and convenience. I am much more mindful now, which I know is causing healthier choices.

My next Challenge update will include my favorite GF blogs, recipes and products I have discovered! Also, what I have been eating day to day, and if this is doing anything to help my grain brain!

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Jealous of You List

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My perspective has almost done a 180 today. I began the day thinking about qualities others possess which I wish were mine. While driving to work this morning, I pictured people in my life and the natural skills they possess that I wish I had. For example, I have a friend who isn’t afraid to voice her opinion, and isn’t afraid for others to disagree with her. I struggle with speaking up, being wrong, fear of sounding like an idiot, and would like to become more like her in that sense.

Here are the other items I put on my “Jealous of You” list while commuting this morning:

  • People who aren’t afraid to act without a lot of preparation. Quick on their feet.
  • People who work for themselves –> building their own dream instead of someone else’s.
  • People who are dedicated to their exercise schedule & enjoy it. Or at least pretend to.
  • Those who consistently travel to faraway places they have never been. People who go on adventures regularly.
  • People who are passionate about their careers.

So I list all this stuff out, ready to figure out how to grow these opportunities of mine.

And then I began listening to a podcast I downloaded last night, which so happened to be about honing in on your strengths. It’s called Take Control of Your Career and Your Life with Marcus Buckingham. He did a workshop with Oprah and about 20 women and I stumbled across it while jumping from blog to blog last night. I found so much good stuff! My mind raced until 11. It was dumb.

So I’m listening to the podcast at work, and Marcus (in his British accent) says, “your greatest opportunities for growth come out of your strengths, not your weaknesses.”

That’s weird. Think about that for a moment. Greatest growth, from strengths.

As we go along in life, in school, at work, we talk for very few minutes about what a great job we did on one thing, and spend a large amount of time discussing what we can do to improve on all other areas. Makes sense to me. I’m already really good at organizing and executing meetings, so there’s no need to put any more focus on it or time into it. Right?

For example, Marcus hates mingling and small talk at parties. He has learned that about himself; it’s his truth. So why do it? Why should he push himself from being dreadful at making small talk, to becoming kind-of-still-bad-at-it years later? He prefers to hang around those he already knows, and have meaningful conversations with friends while at cocktail parties.

As I’m writing this, it just seems wrong, but relieving at the same time! That example I could identify with. I SUCK at talking to strangers, which is why I made it a 30 day challenge for this year! But, should I be placing my efforts elsewhere? Should I be focusing on something I’m already good at in order to benefit from the most growth?

I didn’t put “30-Day Vegetarian Challenge” on the list because I don’t feel it would demand much of me, or help me grow. As many of you know, I eat vegetarian meals by choice much of the time.

But what would happen if I selected a strength, and poured focus and energy into it?

I don’t know…

What do you think?

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Over It Into It: Glass Castle and Sprouts

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OVER IT: The Glass Castle

I’m on page 63 of this book, and I can’t take it anymore. It started out so promising, and now, I’m stuck in a 6 year old’s point of view. She is just so….childish. Weird, I know. Unfortunately this is not a flashback situation, just page after page of her young mind. I have flipped way ahead to see when we will get back to her as grown-up, so I’m thinking I should just place this book in the give-away pile and move on. Bring on the #ifyoulikedHungerGames young adult series Divergent!

BONUS: Learned about Good Reads from a co-worker and signed up! You rate books you have read, and then it recommends others you may enjoy. She (my co-worker) is alternating between classics and contemporary titles. Very responsible.

INTO IT: Brussels Sprouts

I have not knowingly eaten a brussels sprout until 2013, when my good friend Katie made a delicious brussels sprout salad. I was shocked! I did not grow up eating brussels sprouts, and I assume that is due to my mom being tortured with being forced to eat them when she was young, so they were never served. Also, brussels sprouts have a pretty bad rep, so I never even considered them as a dish. But NOW! I made my first batch last week and they were a delight. Chris described them as the “croissant of the vegetable world” because of their flakiness. I simply halved baby lettuce heads, tossed them in olive oil with salt and pepper and sauteed them and until they had brown crispy bits. Once they were cooked I sprinkled some Parmesan over the top. Mmmmmmmmm! Next, I will be roasting them!

BONUS: I found this recipe Garlic and Herb Stuffed Brussels Sprouts which includes a helpful how-to video. If I were hosting a Super Bowl party, or attending one, I might make them. But I’m probably going to hot yoga and getting my toes done instead.

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A Challenge

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In preparation for Invigorating Owen, I began researching thirty-something blogs to get a feel for what was out there. I found the independent 30-something, the single 30-something, the mother of two 30-something, the oops now I’m a 40-something. Some updated recently, many abandoned months ago. (No judgement here! I love bailing). During my search I ran across a blogger who creates not only New Year Resolutions, but monthly challenges as well. I thought, “I LIKE THIS.” Splitting the year into 12 challenges creates a new focus for each month, and also and end to each challenge. I like end dates. I like deadlines. I like quick-ish results. I was on board.

I had begun drinking green smoothies right around Christmas Day. This wasn’t something I wanted to stop doing, more like, I wanted to be sure to have one daily. So, my January Challenge began without a hitch. I have had green smoothies for about 26 days now, and I just want MORE. So, needless to say, this months challenge hasn’t been very trying. But it has been delicious. And certainly more healthy than December…or November.

At the end of the month I will be sure to update you on what I had daily, my favorite smoothie, the super gross one I had, and of course the health benefits I experienced.

For now, I will give a glimpse of what I’m planning for the upcoming 11 months! The idea is get into a new habit or try something out for 30 days. If there are less than 30 days I’m lucky, if there are more, I get a free day! I selected the below challenges based on things I want to either change about myself, or experiment how they could change me. I will be providing more details about the how’s and why’s as we along.

  • February: Gluten free
  • March: Yoga
  • April: Something New
  • May: Clean House
  • June: Talk to Strangers
  • July: Writing
  • August: No Sugar
  • September: Learning
  • October: ?? I don’t know yet! Any ideas?
  • November: Giving
  • December: Relaxation

Frightens me the most: 30 Days of Yoga

Excites me the most: 30 Days of Giving

Testing. Testing. 1, 2, 3…

Is this thing on?

The first post is always awkward, like making a cold call. Talking as fast as you can just to get it all out.

So here are the basics: I had a blog a while back and I loved writing; & I think people loved reading. It stopped because it didn’t have a clear purpose any longer. At the beginning, I just started without a plan, talking about all sorts of things happening in my life. Then I realized being honest and vulnerable allows you to connect with others, and it makes them want more. But I wasn’t sure what to say anymore. And other life-stuff happened. Other life-stuff was making me happy. So I stopped.

But there has always been something I can’t quiet down or pinpoint. I remember writing a post about a feeling inside of me that has to get let out through words and organized into something. In the post I recalled this excerpt from Eat, Pray, Love:

“Like most humanoids, I am burdened with what the Buddhists call the “monkey mind” –the thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl. From the distant past to the unknown future, my mind swings wildly through time, touching on dozens of ideas a minute, unharnessed and undisciplined.”

I went on to say:

“…but I kind of like my Monkey Mind. It is definitely unharnessed and undisciplined, but I get to contain all of the important parts here. That’s why this was created, to manage my Monkey Mind.”

I am feeling like my MM is out of control at this point. It needs a file cabinet. A landing pad. It needs a voice.

So here we go.

OH! “Invigorate Owen.” Why?

I have been on the hunt for a blog name since the beginning of January. Nothing was quite right. Until I ran across the word “invigorate” and it hit me. I realized this blog doesn’t have to be about one single thing; but it DOES need an overall theme. What keeps me going creatively are things that inspire me and then invigorate me to make something or do something. To make a nautical bachelorette sash for my BFF, or start a 30-day green smoothie challenge, or organize a craft party for my friends. I search for stuff to make me TAKE ACTION. And that’s what I want to do here. Invigorate myself. Invigorate others.

So I’m going to try and not do too much complaining…

And the Owen part? It’s my new last name.