Archive for January, 2013

A couple weeks ago, I cut out gluten, dairy, certain fruits and vegetable, and all meat excluding chicken, turkey, and fish.

What led to this insanity? Well I didn’t get here of my own accord. My body’s an asshole.

My body would never go for this

Let me be clear, however. I don’t have any life threatening diseases – I can still live my life normally. I’ve just living the past 5 years or more not knowing if the next thing I eat will end in debilitating pain. It’s more than a little annoying.

About two years ago, I started to focus on figuring out why I was having this problem. I went to a couple different doctors, did all the online research I could stand, and spoke with my mom – who had a similar issue that were solved by having her gall bladder removed. After much deliberation, as well as failed fiber and pain medication regimens, I decided to get my gall bladder checked. 6 months and a (confirmed) useless ball of gall bladder later, I went into surgery to have it removed.

They might as well have removed my pinky toe for all the good it did.

A few different doctors and a lot of pain later, I decided to take on the Elimination Diet, which I’d been putting off for a while (mainly due to my insatiable love of bagels).

The basic idea of an elimination diet is to severely cut down on the types of food that you consume, then reintroduce them to test for reactions and sensitivities. The strictest diet I found would have been far too difficult to stick to, and I already know that I do not, in fact, react to some of the foods that are listed, so I came up with a personalized version. The foods I’m testing are:

Gluten

Dairy

Fats

Dark Meat

Several types of fruit (Apples, watermelon, grapes)

Several types of vegetable (carrots, broccoli)

I’m also going to test out beans, but I want to do that after I’ve added in a food or two, because they’re a great way for me to get protein without becoming bored of having chicken all day, e’ery day.

Currently, my diet consists of a lot of eggs, beans, chicken, hot sauce, bananas, smoothies, and oatmeal. The smoothies are great because they are so versatile, and it’s definitely a fun challenge coming up with different recipes with the foods I can eat and all the different spices and sauces available (guaranteed gluten-free, of course).

The most challenging aspect, however, is eating out. It’s amazing the number of restaurants that have gluten or dairy in nearly every meal. Our culture is kind of obsessed with bread and cheese. Unless I find a place that has a specifically Gluten-Free section or options, I’m stuck with a basic salad with (hopefully) grilled chicken. Yay.

ANYWAY. I’d like to use my experience to help others in similar situations. While there are a lot of helpful sites dealing with digestion/intestinal/anything-in-the-stomach-region pains, there can always be more. It’s a very individual problem, and the more experiences shared, the better.

Also, disclaimer: I’m not a professional. I’m not even working with a professional (been there, done that). All I know is how my body feels and reacts to what I put into it.

Signs you may have food sensitivities and/or IBS (you may not experience all symptoms all the time, but if a few occur regularly, it’s highly likely):

Stomach pain

Bloating

Constipation

Diarrhea

Nausea

There are also allergies to food, but those reactions tend to manifest like other types of allergies (rashes, difficulty breathing, etc.)

If you are experiencing any of these problems, first, go see a doctor. There may be something more serious than simple food sensitivities and it’s better to know sooner than later. Already did that? Well, then let me show you path that I took to finding what I can and cannot eat:

1. Keep A Food Diary

It’s a pain in the ass…but it really helps with understanding and seeing connections between symptoms and certain foods. For me, oil was the first to go as every time I ate a fried food or one full of oil, I would feel absolutely awful the next day. I would be in pain and still feel like I just ate that meal, even though I was hungry.

Excel is a great tool for this, as are numerous apps and websites created for this very purpose.

2. Up Your Water Intake

If you don’t already get enough water (I drink at LEAST the recommended amount for my body weight), CHANGE THAT RIGHT NOW (insert bitchslap here). If you do, awesome, I know what it’s like to feel like you pee way more than should be normal too.

Water can help with digestion and keeping everything working properly, so it’s pretty important.

3. Up Your Fiber Intake

This goes hand in hand with the water thing. IF you are not getting sufficient fiber (20-25 grams a day for women, 25-30 for men), and you decide to increase that amount WITHOUT sufficient hydration, you will pay. Severely. Also, up your intake slowly so your intestines can figure out exactly what’s going on.

4. Cut Out Sketchy Foods

Here’s where that food diary comes in handy. If you notice a pattern occurring, over the course of at least two weeks, with certain food items, try cutting them out for 2-3 weeks and see what happens. If that helps and you decide to add one or more of them back in, it should be even more obvious which ones are the culprits. Hopefully only a few foods will need to be removed and you can carry on without a care. If not…well it’s time to get real serious up in here.

5. The Last Ditch (Seriously, You Gotta Be Desperate To Do This)*

Here’s the hurdle that I just recently jumped. Cutting out HUGE food groups that make up large portions of the average diet. It took me quite a while to get here…I thought I could live with and manage the pain, but I was wrong. After my most recent break at home (which included the holiday eating fests), I just constantly wanted to curl up and ignore the world. I figured this called for a drastic measure.

And, after two weeks gluten and dairy (and a few others things) free, I’d say I was right. I no longer dread going to class after I eat for fear of having to stay in an upright position while my tummy attacks me, and I feel energized and noticeably not bloated at the beginning of each day. It’s a wonderful thing.

*If you want to do an Elimination Diet, here are some great links to get started. And please make sure you’re getting enough calories to remain a functioning member of society!

http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/allergies-elimination-diet – Describes the process of this diet

http://www.nourishingmeals.com/2010/01/elimination-and-detoxification-diet-its.html – Lists foods you CAN eat and has a number of great recipes

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/elimination-dietThis has the chart I based my diet off of (although I included a couple foods it excludes)

Now go get better and tell me how you did it!

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Band of The Week: The Von Bondies

Genre: Alternative Rock, Garage Rock, Punk Blues

Listen If You Like: The Dead Weather, Harvey Danger, Them Crooked Vultures

 

 

 

 

 

I have made a decision. I’ve decided to come out to the world (meaning a very small portion of the Internet) as a feminist. It wasn’t an easy decision – there’s an egregious amount of venom towards the feminist community and I’ve always been the type to shy away from opposition and inflammatory stances.

But I don’t want to do that anymore.

I’ve read a lot of articles (This turns me into a GIANT SQUID OF ANGER), statuses (Labelled “Virgin Test”), comments, and memes that give me that burning feeling of injustice deep in my gut.

Buzz knows what I’m talking about

It comes from all sexes, genders, and ages…and it’s not a fun experience. I’m hoping this will ease the fire, if only briefly.

To mark this point in my journey, I’d like to first dispel some myths of feminism and what that term means. Too many people, male and female, have ill-conceived notions of what feminists stand for.

1. Feminists Hate (or dislike) Men

Hell no! We feel no differently about men than we do women (unless you’re talking about sexual feelings of a hetero woman, but that’s not the point). To a feminist, men and women are simply people, and deserve to be treated based on the way they act and who they are. Are you a man who finds kitchen jokes hilarious and thinks women should wear more clothing to avoid being assaulted? Yes, we hate you, but not because you’re a man. Because you’re an asshole.

2. Feminists Want To Flip Sexism

Maybe the fact that we are focused on women’s rights somehow makes the movement come across as fighting for women to be the dominating sex. That’s not what feminism is all about. Are civil rights activists trying to oppress those of us with pale ancestry? Not that I’m aware of, and it’s the same thing here. The sad thing is, women aren’t even a minority and yet we’re still treated as “other.” There’s something I’ll never understand.

I stumbled across this article recently, which uses the device of satire to get the point across that women (the most common victims of sexual abuse), are told by society that it’s our job to protect ourselves, and that men (as a section in society, not all of them) are told they “can’t help themselves” (which is also derogatory to men!). This article is NOT to be taken as a serious suggestion. Many times feminists “flip” the double standard to gain understanding and point out a ridiculous notion. We are not seriously trying to take away male freedoms.

3. Feminists Oppose Expressions of Femininity

Misguided feminists do, maybe. I was once a young tomboy who refused ANYTHING feminine. In high school I refused to carry a purse or wear the uniform skirt purely out of defiance of all things feminine. But that’s not helpful for anybody. There’s nothing WRONG with femininity, it’s an expression of personality and shouldn’t be limited. As Iggy Pop once said, “I’m not ashamed to dress ‘like a woman’ because I don’t think it’s shameful to be a woman.”

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to view femininity in a healthy way when society is constantly glorifying masculine traits and weakening feminine ones. That’s a little deeper than clothing, but is a subject for another day.

4. Feminists Find Chivalry Offensive

The only thing that would be offensive about chivalry is if the “chivalrous” person believed women to be incapable of certain things. Otherwise, it’s just common courtesy. Hell, I’m chivalrous all the time. If I’m the first person to the door, I’m gonna hold it open for the next person, because that’s the awesome thing to do. If someone weaker than me (a young child…maybe) is carrying a heavy bag, I’ll take it from them to make their lives easier. It’s just nice.

Now that you know what feminists aren’t, here’s what a feminist should be:

1. Feminists Want Men and Women (and anywhere in between) To Be Treated Equally

Fuck gender norms and fuck stereotypes. We want a world where a guy can wear a skirt and a girl can shave her head without mocking, without hate. Where women make equal pay and a stay-at-home dad is as common as the reverse. Personally, I don’t want to have to try twice as hard (at least) to be taken seriously.

2. Feminists Encourage Personal Expression of Any Kind

Do you like societal norms for your gender? It’s totally your choice! I won’t judge you. There are no boxes and you can pick and choose whatever sparks your interest. I like wearing Chucks with a sundress. Unconventional? Sure, but I don’t care. And neither should you. Wear whatever you damn well please.

3. Feminists Want To Eliminate The Gap Between Genders

This all kind of ties in together, but we want treatment to be equal between genders. By the way, this doesn’t just mean we want women to get better treatment. There are a handful of times where men get the short end of the stick and it needs to be talked about. Custody laws are a great example of times when men get shafted. Sadly, most women are fighting other battles, but I will discuss these issues on this site.

4. Feminists Appreciate Polite Gestures

Just like anyone, we want to be treated like a person. We don’t need to be coddled, but if you are the type of person that opens doors and helps out whenever possible, well that’s wonderful. The world needs more people like you.

 

I hope this post, at the very least, gets people thinking about how they react to feminists and to women in their lives. It can be difficult to realize the seemingly small, daily injustices against women and femininity, and even harder to put it to words. My only hope is I will be eloquent enough to get my point across on such a complex, mired-in-hate issue.

This week I will be reading syllabi and finding my classes for the last time. My final schedule is set and I’m ready to graduate in May. And I couldn’t be more excited. Really.

Although there is this nagging fear

It’s more than just graduating though. I’ve graduated from things before…middle school, high school, like most people. This is the first time that, when I look at the last day of classes, there is an abyss that is called “The Future.” It’s almost like a cliff waiting for me – I’ve lived for as long as I can remember with the same basic schedule of school, break, school, break, etc. with some extra activities thrown in, but that consistency is going right out the window about mid-May.

It’s bizarre thinking about that change, which I’m sure will feel completely normal after less than a year. I can do anything with my time after I graduate (as of now I have no commitments) and yet I can’t. I have to make the decision to do one thing while deciding to not do the numerous other options that are just as viable. So this semester I’m attempting to find a method to cope with that weighty decision. Here are my thoughts:

1. Decide Short Term

Figuring out the present is always a good idea (duh). What many people don’t get is that you have to choose to do something now to get momentum and be inspired by your progress. By making decisions for tomorrow, next week, and a month from now, you’re setting small goals that you can look forward to.

Currently, I’m planning a ski trip for this weekend, focusing on my classes for this week, and hunting for a part-time job. Oh and I plan out and look forward to a delicious dinner every night 😉

I’ve also decided to take my health into my own hands and do an Elimination Diet, which I’ll get into more in another post as it takes some explaining…

2. Think Long Term

Physically taking the leap and doing something is a great way to get started, but there should always be a bigger plan in place if you want to accomplish your goals – whatever they happen to be. Want to work in the music industry? Go get an internship, you crazy sonuva bitch (because really, you have to be crazy to be in this industry…). Want to be in a financially viable band? Start rehearsing and studying how to actually make it profitable.

I have a few goals for myself as of right now. This summer I am going to take a road trip (hence the part-time job), after summer I will find a job working for a venue in New York or Boston, and eventually I will start my own venue, which I’ve already begun planning. I definitely know this is a lofty goal, but I’ve always been taught that you can’t succeed unless you try…so dammit I’m going to try.

3. Don’t Freak Out (Find People To Help)

There’s not much that’s less helpful than being paralyzed by fear, anxiety, or indecision.  Focus on figuring one thing out at a time instead of peering into the vast chasm of empty space that is your future. Baby steps, my friends, baby steps.

Also, find a handful (or more if you’re an extrovert) of people to be there when you need a friend, a few people who know what you’re going through to be mentor figures, and a vast network of people who can potentially give you advice or opportunities. Focus on meeting friends and get a good foundation, then branch out from there.

I’ve never been one to have a huge group of friends. I generally end up with one to three people I regularly hang out with or talk to and a slightly larger group of people (that are probably friends with my close friends), who I hang out with on occasion. I am totally fine with this. Find what makes you feel most comfortable and do that.

4. Make Decisions For You

I’m just guessing here, but I’d say most people think they do this (myself included). I’ve discovered in my time as a music business student that most people are doing a LOT. Organizing concerts, fundraisers, tech startups, etc. It can be intimidating and frustrating, because really, being surrounded by so much success can seem to diminish the successes in your life if you aren’t careful. I find myself wanting to take on more and more projects, even if they are not directly to the benefit of my end goal. Not such logical decision-making…

Solution? Block everyone and everything out for a while (done). Spend some time figuring out what really interests you (done). Consider every opportunity available to you and evaluate how helpful it will be to reaching your goal (in progress…).

Now be happy for all the other successes around you (and that you’re in such a positive atmosphere) and keep on chugging toward your goal, distractions be damned.

5. Know There’s Always Another Option

In my college career, I have at least dabbled in all the different paths in the music industry. From songwriting, to management, to social media marketing, to music journalism – everything except law basically. Each time I take on a new endeavor I find a new love. It’s always refreshing and I feel motivated all over again. Will I have to pick something to stick with for a while after graduation? Yes. But I know that, if worse comes to worst, I’m not being forced to stay in that field. I’m free to seek out other opportunities or create my own and that in itself can be a freeing feeling.

If you do decide your chosen path isn’t turning out as wonderfully as you imagined, make sure to bow out respectfully and with your reputation in tact. There’s no worse a feeling than forcing yourself to carry on without inspiration and failing your employer and co-workers.

As for me, I will likely always be doing a little bit of a lot of things, and that’s perfectly fine in this industry. In fact, nowadays it’s almost required.

It’s difficult to say exactly where I’ll be and what my life will look like by the fall of this year, but hopefully I can look into that chasm and find my way across.

It’s official, there are three weeks left until I start my last semester at Berklee College of Music. Am I excited? Incredibly. Am I scared? Definitely.

My entire life, I’ve pursued new places and experiences, always pushing to the next phase – new people, new places, new experiences. I changed schools three times before college, then transferred from my first college to Berklee, each time anxious to get to my new setting, fear very far in the back of my mind.

My first day of college, I brought cupcakes (baked my incredible mother, who rarely bakes) and posted sticky notes on all the doors on my floor and the one below me in an attempt to get to know people.

My first year at Berklee, I volunteered to do a lot of bitch work for the Songwriters Club, which led to planning bake sales, concerts, and being passed the torch at the end of the year.

Soon I learned that those people were not people I wanted to be friends with, but that there were others.

Soon I learned that working with people and creating something from nothing can end with a lot of love, as well as a lot of hate.

I also learned that I get bored…rather easily. There are people out there who can do the same work, every day, for YEARS and still find fulfillment. I am not them.

Now that I’m preparing to go into the “real world” where I get paid for people to tell me what to do, instead of paying for people to tell me what to do, this could be a problem. If my future boss wants me to go through endless files, organizing them or purging the system, I have to do it. If I’m told to do the same job every day for a year, I have to do it. Whether I find it fulfilling or not, if I want to earn a living and rise in the ranks, I have to keep doing jobs that I find pointless and unfulfilling.

At least that’s what I’m afraid of.

BUT, having read all the inspirational and productivity blogs I can in my spare time, I know that focusing on what I don’t want will get me exactly there. So Maybe I should focus on what I do want; someplace where I would excel.

I want a job where I am regularly starting new projects. I want to formulate ideas on how to increase efficiency. I want to find talent and creative ways to promote that talent. I want to imagine events and shows, each one different from the other, each with a purpose I believe in. I want to dive into my work, fully enthralled with it, then be able to switch to another endeavor a few months later.

I want more than to raise the sails or lower the anchor, I want to be given the wheel. Should we take this metaphor further? I think so. I want the seas to never remain the same, to shift from calm and slow to vicious and stormy, so my mind never becomes stagnant.

…Is that even possible for a first job?

Am I the only one who absolutely despises the onslaught of cliched New Year’s Facebook statuses? Are we really so self-important that we believe our year of ups and downs (that we are thankful for nonetheless and we are really hopeful for 2013) will fascinate our friends, who were either there or really just didn’t care enough to be there?

And can we stop blaming or placing our hopes into years? It’s easy to put a blanket statement over 2012 and claim the whole year to be wasted, or even look at 2013 hoping it will provide the answers. I know it’s easier, I’ve done it, but surely a whole year can’t go by without some good experiences and some bad. Instead of grouping things into months and years, maybe we should live moment to moment, always hoping and striving for the best while knowing it could be a lot worse.

In conclusion (is this really a conclusion? I think I was rambling), here are my perpetual resolutions that change as I change, not the year.

10. Cry when you need to, but don’t wallow
9. Talk to people as much as you can, but take time off when it’s overwhelming
8. Listen and console, but also talk and seek advice
7. Surround yourself with people that make you laugh
6. Connect with people who understand when you can’t find anything to laugh about
5. Be responsible and keep the future in mind
4. When the future’s secure, play and be irresponsible
3. Don’t do anything that doesn’t make you happy or lead to happiness
2. Stay away from those who suck your energy with nothing in return

Finally, the most important (and constantly on my mind):

1. Discover a lifestyle that gives you meaning and fuck the haters