The Path to Happiness Isn’t Where I Expected It To Be -Mitch

 

Oh, hey there. It’s been a while. I’ve been out of sorts. I had a couple more medication changes that fucked me up quite a bit in the past several months, and I kind of hit a wall in my career, personal development, and my relationship, and I certainly didn’t give myself time to grieve the loss of my dog properly. I was exhausted, depressed, and totally unmotivated. I gave zero shits for way too long, and now I’m trying to find my path back to the person I want to be; the best version of myself. I’ve found, though, that I spent way too much time and energy trying to make myself want things that were no longer what was best for me. I was trying so hard to convince myself that my goals should be the same as they were in the past that I didn’t take time to evaluate if those were still things I wanted. I went down a rabbit hole only to finally realize that if I’d achieved those goals, I wouldn’t be happy anyway. I needed to acknowledge that goals change as we do, because it’s tough to let go of things, and that’s totally OK.

It’s hard for me to blog here when I’m not feeling myself, honestly. Our mission is to help women live their best lives, and I was certainly not living mine. Nowhere close. I guess I was practicing self care, if self care looks like eating cookie dough out of a tub. (I mean, I think it CAN look like that, once in a great while, but let’s be honest. Doing it fairly regularly isn’t self care. It’s self harm.) Who the hell was I to help guide anyone else? I was a hot mess. What I guess I really lost sight of, though, is that I’m a woman, and if we’re trying to help women live their best lives, why was I uncomfortable starting with myself? I’m pretty sure there are plenty of people out there going through the same things I am, or who could learn from my journey.

Part of it is that it’s really hard to be totally raw and honest online. The Pinterest/Instagram/Blogosphere corner of the internet is full of people with photoshopped and glossed over lives. I don’t blame anyone for wanting to put their best foot forward, especially in a cruel world full of strangers who sometimes want to make themselves feel better by taking other people down. I find that women, especially, fall into this pattern of behavior. When you’re miserable and things aren’t going your way, it’s a hell of a lot easier to lash out and judge other people than to turn the mirror on ourselves. I know I’ve been guilty of that toxic practice. The nickname Mitch the Bitch didn’t come from thin air. I wear the label “Bitch” proudly when I use my skills to stand up for myself and for people and ideals I love. I’m not so proud if I use it to personally attack people. It doesn’t make me better, it doesn’t make them better, and it doesn’t make the world a better place.

It’s equally as bad when I use my elevated skills of verbal decimation on myself, whether I say it out loud, or I say it inside my head. I’m always up for a good self deprecating joke, honestly, and that will probably never change, but I need to be a lot kinder to myself when I stumble. I need to be a lot more honest with myself, as well. A character trait I’m not terribly fond of is my all or nothing, zero to sixty in ten seconds personality. It’s great to ramp myself up and throw myself into something I care about or to reach towards a goal, but it’s a train wreck when I don’t allow myself room for moderation or failure.

Be real; who else does this? We say, “I stayed on my diet for three days then I ate some fries, so I’ll start again Monday,” or, “I really wanted to start blogging again, and I wrote a couple I’m pretty happy with, but then I ran out of time and motivation and now I look stupid because who the hell wants to follow me?”

The answer to failure shouldn’t be, “Fuck it!” if it’s something you really want. If it’s something that you think will make you really happy, start again today. Commit again right now, and if you stumble, start again right away. Don’t give up, but forgive yourself if you don’t succeed and follow the path that you thought would lead you to your goal. My goal is pretty simple. I want to be healthy and happy. I want to be the best version of myself and I want to help other women do the same. For me, that’s going to require nothing but pure honesty, self love and acceptance, and accountability. I’m going to be honest with myself and right here on this blog. I’m going to love myself to identify self destructive behavior, take some time to analyze why I did it, and find a better way to reach my goals when I start again. I’ve found that what we sometimes think will make us happy isn’t really what we originally think it is. Sometimes, we get so caught up in the minutia of what we are trying to do that we don’t take time along the way to reevaluate and make sure that the place we’re going is still the destination we want to reach.

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I can’t say “here I go again” without a Whitesnake reference. My hair band loving heart won’t let me do it.

So here I go again, but not on my own. I have AK and my family, and other amazing, strong friends and mentors to love me and guide me, and maybe I have you. You have me if you need me. Reach out. I don’t care who you are, or where you are in your process. You don’t have to be spiritually awakened, because I know I’m not there yet. You don’t have to know exactly what you want or how the hell to get there, but if you’re reaching for something and you’re not content, hit me up. I’m actually a lot better at advice for other people than I am for myself. Even if I can’t help, I will almost always say something ridiculous and make you laugh and see things from a different perspective.

When we started this blog, I had a clear idea of what I wanted to do here, of what my role should be, and really, what I thought I wanted and what I thought would make me happy. Some of that is still right, and some of that has changed, but I promise, it’s OK to figure it out as you go along. Don’t stay committed to things that don’t serve you. Seriously, knock it off. If you made a goal to run a marathon but you keep injuring yourself, that might not be the right goal for you. There are other ways to get fit and strong. I’m not saying to divorce your husband or quit your job right now, especially if you love them and see a way forward and a future with them that could be fulfilling. I am saying that the way forward might look different than you thought it would, and you need to be open to that.

I have a lot more to say. I want to talk about spirituality and the divine feminine, and  I started this blog to talk about gratitude. I’m going to write about both soon, but this is what came out right now and I’m not second guessing it. This needed to come out for a reason, so here it is. You’ll see the good, the bad, the ugly, and the utterly ridiculous here, so strap in for the ride.

Love, light, forgiveness, and an appropriate amount of cookie dough,

-Selfish Mitch

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Avoid Me For The Next Two Weeks. I Might Be a Monster

I might be a sugar monster, that is.

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I’m starting my second Whole 30 tomorrow. My plans were to do a prep week this week, gradually decreasing the amount of inflammatory foods I was putting into my body so the next 7-14 days would be mildly annoying as opposed to straight up hell. Wellllp, that didn’t happen. I got busy and I’ve been feeling like crap still. Plus, something about having a start date in mind made me really want to squeeze in those treats I love before they were forbidden for at least 45 days.

Yep, you read that right, 45 days. The Whole 30 book tells us that for people with autoimmune disorders, it may take our bodies longer to work all of the inflammation out so we should plan on at least 45 days. One thing I hate about diseases and side effects of medications to treat them is that they’re never good. You never hear, “Yeah, Lupus sucks, but it seriously improves your singing voice!” or “This medication might make you gain 30 pounds but it increases your coordination so you’ll become a talented dancer and high jumper.” it’s ALWAYS shitty. So, 45 days of what, exactly? What am I committing to?

Basically, I’m going cold turkey from foods that are known to be inflammatory to the human body. I know you’re going to read through this list and say, “Nah. I eat X or Y all the time and I feel fine.” You might be right, or you might have been feeling the effects of inflammatory foods for so long that you have a new “normal”. Some people, however, can eat legit garbage all the time and function at a really high level. Everyone’s body is different, and foods affect us differently.

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These betches never eat vegetables.

The Ferguson Twins from the Bachelor franchise come to mind. (I like garbage television as much as I like garbage food. I usually have it on in the background while I’m doing other things. I don’t think I’m capable of simply watching TV without reading a book, checking email, cleaning my house, etc, at the same time). These young ladies despise vegetables and live off of frozen pizzas, chicken nuggets, and french fries. They have tons of energy for appearing on reality TV shows, shilling products on Instagram, drinking wine on Instagram, and they say they do lots of outdoor sports for fun. They’re also hilariously inappropriate, so I can’t hate them even though they eat total crap all the time and still look bangin’ in bikinis. They just seem to be far more resistant to inflammation than I am.

The fact is, part of learning to be happy and live a fulfilled life for me, particularly, means letting go of being angry that life isn’t fair. Guess what? Nobody’s life is perfect. We ALL have our strengths and weaknesses. We ALL have our share of personal triumphs and deep tragedies. The difference in how these things affect our lives is simply how we respond to everything. That’s it.

So, back to the Whole 30. I did my first Whole 30 beginning January 1, 2017. I started last year at 236 lbs. I was wearing size 18 and those pants were tight. I had no energy, and I was in pain all the time from 2 failed back surgeries in the span of about 14 months. I’d had two different doctors, specialists, tell me that I should consider going on disability. I have a dumpster fire for a spine, Lupus, RA, and mental health conditions that could all qualify me on their own. I had decided to go a different route by going back into real estate. It’s a career that is a lot more work than people realize, but I do have flexibility with my schedule, and I have an incredible team to back me up. If I need to be hospitalized or run off to Australia with a Hemsworth brother, the team will make sure my clients don’t miss a beat.

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Liam, Chris, and Luke Hemsworth. Did you know there were THREE?

Sorry, I got off topic again. A facebook friend had been promoting her upcoming Whole 30 free group, and I felt pulled towards it. A lot of people I know had done really well with the Paleo diet and staying in ketosis, but I have decades of experience trying really strict fad diets and know they don’t work for me in the long term. I have no desire to have to permanently remove carbs from my diet, including healthy ones like potatoes and fruits. I also have no desire to regularly pee on a strip to make sure that my body is in ketosis. Hard pass from me.

The Whole 30 is different. For 30 days, or 45 in my case, you remove all known foods that can be inflammatory triggers. Here’s a list.

  1. Added Sugar-including honey, maple syrup, stevia, and other sugar substitutes
  2. Gluten
  3. Legumes (think beans and peanuts)
  4. Dairy. The only exception here is Ghee, which is a clarified butter.
  5. Soy
  6. Alcohol
  7. Grains including: rice, corn, quinoa, millet, wheat, bulgur, buckwheat, etc.
  8. MSG, Carrageens, Sulfites, Nitrates
  9. Junk foods and processed foods

What CAN you eat on the Whole 30? Plenty of good stuff to keep you full and fuled.

  1. Vegetables. You can eat ANY vegetable with the exception of corn, which the body processes more like a grain, and legumes like chickpeas, soybeans, and lentils.
  2. Meat. You can eat any and all unprocessed meat. You need to be careful with lunchmeats and bacon, as they’re generally laden with sulfates, nitrates, and preservatives. There ARE W30 approved lunchmeats and sausage, but you need to know what to look for. That’s why you buy the book and don’t just rely on my blog.
  3. Fruit in moderation. Fruit saved my ass the first time I did the Whole 30. Apples with almond butter began to taste like a decadent dessert.
  4. Fish and Shellfish
  5. Eggs are perfectly OK with Whole 30! I like to make a fritatta with eggs, sweet potatoes, and other veggies I have on hand so I have an easy breakfast or snack when I’m hungry and don’t have a lot of time to prepare food. I freeze individual portions that can be quickly reheated.
  6. Tea. Soda is out, of course, because it has sugar or sugar substitutes, and almost every rational person knows that pop isn’t good for you. I imagine you can have seltzer or club soda, as long as it’s sulfate free. You can have coffee, too, but I’m not a coffee gal. People who are coffee addicts need to exercise caution, because if you’re used to coffee with cream and sugar every morning, straight black coffee might make you sad and tempt you to cheat.
  7. Nuts, excluding peanuts, which are legumes, and seeds, like pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. You need to read the labels to ensure that your nuts aren’t toasted in vegetable oil or a stew of chemicals you can’t pronounce or both.
  8. Oils and healthy fats! Olive Oil, Avocado Oil, and Coconut Oil are featured in a lot of W30 recipes. Just say no to “vegetable oil” because it’s made from corn and it’s terrible for you. Margarine is and always was hot garbage, so just say no to that as well.
  9. “Cheats” that replicate your favorite treats. This includes things like making “pancakes” from bananas and eggs or “pizza crust” out of cauliflower. The goal of Whole 30 is obviously to clear your body of inflammation, but there’s a psychological aspect of it that is meant to nudge you towards “food freedom.” It’s really easy to get addicted to sugar and crap that is bad for you. Americans in particular are conditioned to go on fad diets that are not sustainable. We get cravings for pizza, or cupcakes, or whatever your “thing” is, break the diet and binge, and then feel terrible about our self control. The goal of the Whole 30 is to make you realize that you feel better mentally and physically when you avoid food that is bad for you, and that it’s OK to treat yourself in moderation after the W30 is over. You learn to eat healthy food and like it, and you learn that eating a piece of birthday cake (after you’ve completed your W30) is perfectly fine. You just get right back on track afterwards. You realize that you have control over your food, and not vice versa. Eating protein-powder cake substitutes during your W30 can backfire because it doesn’t program your brain to stop seeing treats are rewards.

I’m really, really excited to be the person I’ll become 14 days ago. I just loathe the thought of the next two weeks. I will add, “I CAN DO HARD THINGS” to my daily affirmations, because this will be hard for me. I’ve been taking a new medication that tends to make my stomach upset, and popsicles seem to be the best way to calm it down. Popsicles have sugar, so they’re off the list. I suspect that simply eating fruit will have the same effects, so here’s hoping, but I have a lot of sugar to detox from this body. There have been a lot of recent studies where scientists have found that sugar can be as addictive as nicotine and cocaine, but it’s a lot harder to avoid. Think about it. If you quit smoking and overcome your addiction to nicotine, you don’t run the risk of accidentally drinking a glass of iced tea that happens to be infused with nicotine. You might, however, order a tea at Starbucks that seems like a fruit infused herbal tea, but you take a huge sip and realize it was sweetened with a few pumps of sugary syrup. Sugar is EVERYWHERE, but you can avoid it if you focus on it. However, popsicle faced Mitch is probably going to go through some mild withdrawals near the end of this week, but I can handle it. I remember days 6-8 as the absolute worst last time. Those days are known as the pure exhaustion phase, where you sleep 11 hours a night. Your body is used to relying on carbs and sugar for quick energy, and day 6-7 is when it revolts against you for taking that away. Your body needs to re-learn to operate as it’s designed to. Unfortunately, I didn’t sleep 11 hours a night. I slept maybe 2 hours a night, for a few nights straight. I’m seriously hoping that I have better luck this time and can sleep. I’m not the nicest human in general, but no-sleep Mitch is not a creature you want to encounter. I should probably go buy my husband a suit of armor or get him a room at a nice resort so he can avoid me.

I’m going to blog here during my Whole 30 to share my experience with you, and honestly, as a type of therapy to get me through what I’m doing. If you’re interested in joining me on the journey, leave me a comment on my personal instagram @mvdiz, on this post, or through our contact page. I’m always happy to answer questions as well! Wish me luck and health! I can’t WAIT to start feeling the WHOLE 30 Tiger’s Blood! I also have about 20 more pounds or so to go until I hit my goal, and 45 days of W30 should get me really close.

Love, light, and popsicle sticks,

-Selfish Mitch

 

 

 

 

 

Selfish Mitch of the House of Disparity, First of Her Name

“Daenerys of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Protector of the Realm, Lady Regnant of the Seven Kingdoms, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons.”

As I was watching Game of Thrones when it (finally) returned to my TV screen this summer, I was thinking how cool it woulddragon be to have a bunch of titles and someone to walk in front of me to introduce me like the badass I am, like Dany. If I could somehow get her costume budget too, that would be aces.

But as the thought lingered and finally took hold, I realized that I have a LOT of titles. Most women do, if you think of it. I’m a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother of one human and two dogs, a friend, a Realtor, a fashion lover, a selfie aficionado, an inappropriate joke teller, a person with several chronic illnesses, and an online health and fitness coach.

OK, hold up. If you don’t know me, those last two probably struck you as odd. Chronic illness patient and fitness coach? Yep. Stick with me here.

In 2008, I started feeling terrible. I was exhausted, I had major stress, I had severe pain in several areas of my body. I was super stressed out and had no idea how to manage it. I’d recently married my current husband, who was SUCH an upgrade from the last one, made a great career move to the real estate company I work at today, my son was thriving, and I had great friends. Luckily, a sweet benefit of my marriage was health insurance, so I started using it to go see doctors to find out what the fuck was happening with my body. I had so many tests done, and nothing was conclusive. I felt like I just continued to deteriorate, and I was certain the doctors didn’t believe me; that they thought this was all in my head. Finally, I had a doctor diagnose me with fibromyalgia, which I’ve come to discover is often just a long word for, “We don’t know exactly what’s wrong with you, but we do believe something is up.” I even got a referral to a Rheumatologist who said, “OK, your bloodwork is low positive for autoimmune disease, but you don’t check enough boxes to be diagnosed with one of them, so we need to wait and see what symptoms develop, and here’s some pills called Lyrica so I hope that works.”

If you’re a doctor who happens to be reading this, DO NOT TELL A PERSON SHE’S GOING TO GET ONE OF 16 TERRIBLE FUCKING DISEASES AND SEND HER TO WEB MD. Also? All of them sound terrible, because they all can be.

So, here I was, just 33 years old with a 9 year old kid, in pain, exhausted, miserable, with what looked like a pretty shitty life sentence. I went back to my old standby, emotional eating. When you combine emotional eating with a drug like Lyrica and a less than ideal genetic predisposition to gaining weight, it’s a perfect recipe for gaining 25 pounds in three weeks. Super. The doctor who prescribed the pills kind of shrugged when I told him they added to the size of my ass and didn’t help any of my pain, but told me to keep taking them and try to lose the weight. He said, “Eat less and move more.” I stopped taking Lyrica, because the side effects were worse than the problem they were supposed to treat. I’m glad I did, since recent research shows that it can kill new brain synapses.

Desperate, I started seeing other doctors. At one point, I saw a chiropractor who is also a naturopath. He’s amazing and put me on a 30 day elimination diet and ran a bunch of tests to see which foods were inflammatory and caused leaky gut syndrome, which he knew irritated every autoimmune and thyroid disorder, plus some other diseases as well. It was HARD. I was a vegetarian at the time, working diligently towards becoming a vegan, having done my own research on food as medicine. Plus, I’ve never liked meat. Dr Kan’s diet consisted of vegetables, fruits, and meat, mostly red meat, preferably organ meat, and lots and lots of supplements. I made a deal that I’d add seafood into my diet, but not meat. He wasn’t happy with me, probably because he knew it wouldn’t be sustainable for the long term. He was right. I did the diet, and his testing showed that I was VERY sensitive to gluten and should avoid it at all costs, and I should limit dairy and soy. Great. I’m a pizza and beer girl at heart, but I stuck to it for a while. Eventually, I’d let myself slip. It didn’t take long for a slip to become an avalanche, and I was able to sort of rationalize it to myself. None of the other doctors told me what to eat! Maybe this guy is a quack. (Spoiler alert: he is not.)

Years went by, and I was diagnosed with Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Degenerative Disc Disease. The medications I was on for Lupus and RA, particularly, were nasty. I gained 40 lbs in 6 months on Prednisone. I mean, it’s pretty cool that it kept me alive, but being 80 lbs overweight, as I was at that point, wasn’t great for my joints or my back. All of my doctors said I should lose weight, but nobody recommended a nutritionist, natural or otherwise. I was talked into a spinal fusion surgery that failed and caused more pain than I was in to start with. Then they recommended a spinal cord stimulator that also didn’t help and caused more problems. I’d been on and off of so many medications that my side effects had side effects. Try running a career and a life with all of that going on. It. Sucks. It’s honestly not possible. I even gave up on vegetarianism because it clearly wasn’t working either.

In December of 2016 I had a surgery to revise the spinal cord stimulator. It didn’t “fix” me, but it took my pain levels back to where I was at the time of the failed fusion. I now have the diagnosis of “failed back syndrome.” For several months, a friend of a friend of mine who was an online coach had asking me to join a challenge group. I’m not even sure why I stayed Facebook friends with this tall, thin, pretty, positive human. Honestly, with where I was mentally and physically, the workouts she posted sometimes made me sad that I’d never be able to get fit like that. I turned her down politely many times, but she started promoting a free Whole 30 group beginning in January of 2017. I remembered that Dr. Kan’s elimination diet did, in fact work for me, even though I talked myself out of believing it. This group Katie was running was free. It was just the diet, no burpees or cross jacks. I could do that, right? I had to try.

The first two weeks of eating veggies, lean meats, fruits and nuts were hell. My body did NOT enjoy all that detoxing. Once I got through the hell though, I was pretty amazed and how GOOD I felt. The book said that people with autoimmune issues could take longer to get the full benefit, because of leaky gut syndrome, which IS A THING, so I stayed on it for an additional 60 days. I’d lost over 20 lbs at that point. I was at a stage in my life that I’d hit rock bottom so low with my terrible relationship with food and with myself that I was open and ready for change. Katie had believed in me that I could do this Whole 30, so when she told me that I could buy a 30 Day Challenge Pack from her and join her accountability group full time, staying on track with my eating and doing the low impact exercise routines at home, I chose to believe her. Money back guarantee and all, right? I would be stupid not to try. I started with a country line dancing program for 45 days or so. I’m super uncoordinated but I started getting hooked on those endorphins and how great I felt when I avoided my inflammation trigger foods and took care of my body.

To date, I’ve lost over 60 lbs this year. I became a coach in early summer because I KNOW there are women out there right now who are in a similar mental/or physical health decline. They’re where I was last year. It’s an ugly, lonely, and horrible place, and if I have a way to help someone help themselves out of it, I will. I’ve stumbled a bit emotionally and physically after a Lupus flare knocked me on my ass in September. I’d been busy as hell at work and had some pretty severe stress, which lead to a lack of sleep and me giving myself excuses that I didn’t have time to meal prep, so I started eating more sugar and splurging on gluten too often. It resulted in the Lupus flare. Amazing how it all happened almost like clockwork.

I will tell you that I am PISSED still. I’m so angry that I had to experience almost a decade of straight hell because the traditional doctors and specialists I trusted gave me pills to deal with everything. Obviously I was desperate for ANY kind of relief, so I took them. I took the steroids, the low dose chemo, the pain pills, the $2600a month biologic shots that insurance covered until they didn’t and the antidepressants (even though I wasn’t depressed and nobody bothered to check to see what kind of havoc they could wreak on my brain, that apparently had an underlying chronic illness of its own that came raging on in full force because antidepressants are a trigger). I went through HELL for so long, and it almost cost me everything I care about, and not one of those doctors said, “Hey, why don’t you try eating whole foods, and whole foods only. Eat lean meat that’s grilled or baked, and nothing out of a deep fryer. No processed shit, no grains, no sugar. Just food that grows out of the earth except for grains and legumes. Give that a shot for like a month or so, and then add back in those other foods we all like so much one at a time and see how you feel.

Why don’t they do that? It’s fucking magical when you find the right foods to fill your body and learn which ones make you miserable. Do they not know? One would think that spending 13 years or so in post-secondary training and schooling would somehow cover it. Either the way medical schools, teaching hospitals or clinics, or however specialists like rheumatologists are trained are sorely lacking on information and evidence on how the common American diet keeps us fat, sick and nearly dead, or they’re giant fans of the kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies when they give me drugs that destroy my life. Fun stuff, America. If you’ve never had to see a specialist on a long term basis, consider yourself lucky and take what I’m saying as information from someone who has been through it. I’ve sat for two hours in a waiting room in a great deal of pain while I watch the pharma girls bring in catered lunches for the staff, balancing bags of gluten and fat (lots of bagels in the mornings, Applebees and other garbage in the afternoon) on their stiletto heels that look great with the pencil skirts on their 25 year old perfectly healthy bodies. It happens everywhere.

SO this is why I coach. This is why I care. This is why everything I do seems really incongruent.  Someone has to do it, and why not me?

Gentle Hugs, Selfish Mitch