My Experience With Food Intolerance

Before I began competing in 2009, I could pretty much eat whatever I wanted without any digestive or reactive consequence. All that changed by the time I earned my IFBB Pro Card in 2013, when I developed a number of food intolerances which forced me to change the way I ate and what I consumed. It was so bizarre for me to mount reactions to healthy foods which had never caused an issue in the past. During one particular contest prep regimen, I began to notice that every single time I ate broccoli, I would get severe abdominal cramps and a headache which persisted for an entire day (now they last for 3-5 days if I am stupid enough to eat even one small floret). I honestly believe that the extreme and repetitive meal plans which I consumed while competing were major factors in the development of my food intolerance issues.

I retired from competing in June of 2014, yet I developed even more food issues. I noticed that other foods were aggravating my gut, my skin, my head and my mood, so I decided to eliminate them. In January of 2015, I had an ALCAT food intolerance test, and discovered that broccoli on the list of offending foods for me. I also had SEVERE gluten intolerance, as well as intolerance to coconut, flaxseed, mangoes, casein, blueberries, and a number of other foods which are considered healthy. In an effort to allow my body to calm down, I eliminated every food which I had any intolerance to (there were about 30 foods) for close to a year. To this day, I am very careful about the foods which my body rejects, and keep my exposure to a minimum.

I will allow myself to have blueberries, coconut, mango, lobster, cashews, bison, and spinach on rare occasion, and have noticed no reactions. However, I mount strong reactions to other foods and food combinations. For example, within two consecutive days of eating flaxseed, I develop one or two deep, painful, cystic pimples on my face which will not resolve until I stop eating flaxseed. When I eat gluten, I become irritable and emotional, I get headaches, my belly aches, and I don’t sleep well. Of course I didn’t know that this was the case until I did an elimination diet and gradually began feeling better, then tried eating gluten after many months of avoiding it. Every time I ingest gluten containing foods, I notice symptoms which can be mild or severe depending on the food and the quantity eaten. Pizza is VERY dangerous for me now, so if I am faced with the prospect of eating the cheesy, gluten filled meal, I have to take a Glutagest (which breaks down gluten in the food eaten) if I want to avoid the ugly consequences of allowing gluten to enter my body. The combination of pizza and wine is even worse. I might as well forget about functioning like a normal person for a couple of days if I dare to consume this food and drink duo.

I agree that the whole gluten-free trend has gotten a little out of hand, but I also strongly believe that there are many people walking around with gluten intolerance and other food intolerances who have no idea that the foods they are consuming are affecting their health and well-being. I have personally benefitted from going gluten free and avoiding foods my body rejects, and have been rewarded with more luminous skin, thicker hair, better digestion, better overall mood and energy, and much better sleep.

If you suspect that you have food intolerance, try eliminating the suspect food to see if it makes a difference. Trust your body’s signals. And if you want to get a food intolerance test, check out ALCAT.com and Everlywell.com for the kits they offer.

Contouring

kim kardashian Before-And-AfterInstagrammers who are into the concept of applying face makeup in a manner similar to warpaint, then blending it in like mad to create a “flawless, airbrushed finish” have been littering the site with countless images of the process. It is now commonplace to see a “before” image juxtaposed with a “during” image in which the subject is covered in a pattern created with highlighter, foundation, and contour shade, and the “after” image. Major makeup lines have launched contour and highlight kits in answer to this makeup trend. Now Kim Kardashian wannabes can use these kits to create an overly “done” look which can transform a person’s face, often to the point of making the person unrecognizable.

While I understand that contouring and highlighting can do wonders for uneven skin tone, uneven texture, dark eye circles, wide noses and indistinct jawlines, I have a couple of problems with the current trend. First off, I see no reason to go through so much contouring and transforming for a daily look. Photo shoots and special events, yes. Going to the grocery store, uh, no. The second issue I have with the contouring trend is that suddenly, every woman thinks she is a makeup artist. Though makeup companies have taken the fuss out of purchasing everything a la carte, using one of the contouring kits requires some skill, especially if a woman wants to do corrective makeup. I have seen women who are relatively clueless about BLENDING. Another thing I have seen is women who pick the wrong foundation shade, which makes the contouring and highlighter look garish. Even men have jumped in on the contouring frenzy (admittedly, most of them are makeup artists), and have developed a regular habit of posting contouring videos featuring themselves as the models.

before-and-after-contouring Mona Lisa

I don’t have a problem with people wanting to improve their personal appearance so that they can look their best, but I honestly think that the makeup frenzy which has become so popular is getting out of hand. Slap a bunch of contour onto a face to create angles which aren’t there, use brow stencils to draw in brow shapes, apply false lashes, draw in a false lip line to create the illusion of fuller lips, and voila! You no longer have to look like yourself, especially if you have jumped on the injectable filler bandwagon and don’t know when to stop filling your cheeks or lips. Allow your natural features and your true beauty to show a little.

When People Are Full Of Hate

in-order-for-you-to-insuld-me-i-would-first-have-to-value-your-opinion

One of the hazards of posting on social media is that you run the risk of catching the attention of complete sociopaths who seem to have nothing better to do than to spread hate by posting negative comments on other people’s posts. I was utterly shocked to see a very negative comment added onto a Tweet I posted just now. It was ugly and mean-spirited, and it definitely hurt me to my core. The gist of the comment was that I was a dime a dozen, and will never win anything (hmmm, good to know). This was posted by a guy who had the look of a sociopath in his soulless eyes. I briefly scanned his profile before blocking him, and noticed that EVERY single Tweet he had (I scanned about ten posts down) was hateful and negative.

It truly blows my mind that a jerk like the guy I had to block would exert such an effort to spread negative energy. I have no desire to fend off creeps like this, so I block them immediately. They are loose cannons who look for victims to cyberbully, and there is no way to predict how far they will take their hatred. I will not tolerate such energy and always automatically block them, and if they are especially nasty or threatening, I will file an official report of abuse. I realize that I am more susceptible to such contentious people because I have built a name for myself and I put myself out there constantly, but it is not fair to blast me when my posts are primarily meant to inspire my fans and followers and entertain friends. The fact that some people go out of their way to be mean and to spread hate is mind-boggling to me. I begin to wonder what kind of karmic load they are carrying to spread so much negativity.

What is the best way to defuse hostility? It is always best to refrain from reacting to it. Physically walking away, ignoring hateful statements, employing the blocking feature on social media sites, email, and cell phones, smiling at the person who is being difficult can all work in neutralizing the bad energy.

My Experience With Banishing Gluten

gluten

Yesterday I posted a piece which was written by a woman who has suffered from celiac disease for many years. While I don’t have celiac sprue, I have gluten intolerance which was verified last January with an ALCAT blood test. When I eat gluten, I become irritable and emotional, I get headaches, my belly aches, and I don’t sleep well. Of course I didn’t know that this was the case until I did an elimination diet and gradually began feeling better, then tried eating gluten after many months of avoiding it. Every time I ingest gluten containing foods, I notice symptoms which can be mild or severe depending on the food and the quantity eaten. Pizza is VERY dangerous for me now, so if I am faced with the prospect of eating the cheesy, gluten filled meal, I have to take a Glutagest (which breaks down gluten in the food eaten) if I want to avoid the ugly consequences of allowing gluten to enter my body.

I agree that the whole gluten-free trend has gotten a little out of hand, but I also strongly believe that there are many people walking around with gluten intolerance who have no idea that the glutinous foods they are consuming are affecting their health and well-being. Gluten-free foods have become trendy these days, and people are quite willing to pay extra for gluten-free foods which are frequently tasteless and odd in texture, even if they have no health issues with gluten. One great feature about the new trendiness of gluten is that there have been great improvements in the taste and texture of these foods without having to throw in a ton of fat and flavorings, so even those who aren’t suffering from gluten intolerance or celiac are happy to consume gluten-free dishes.

Going gluten-free is definitely not a guarantee to weight loss or any other magic cure, but it can certainly help those who suffer from celiac disease or gluten intolerance. I have personally benefitted from going gluten free in the past year, with more luminous skin, better digestion, better overall mood and energy, and much better sleep. If you suspect you have gluten intolerance, try an elimination diet in which you avoid any foods containing gluten for a period of time (I recommend at least 4 weeks). You may notice a difference in how you feel, in which case you may want to continue avoiding gluten. If you prefer objective data, you can ask your doctor about getting tested for gluten and other types of food intolerance.

Great Piece By A Celiac Sufferer

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I love this piece, written by a celiac sufferer who laments the current gluten-free bandwagon which many people are adopting. Tomorrow’s piece will be a contribution by me on my personal experience with going gluten-free.

Original post can be found at:

http://jezebel.com/5991724/will-everyone-please-eat-gluten–please-because-you-are-literally-killing-me-kind-of

Will Everyone Please Eat Gluten? Please? Because You Are Literally Killing Me, Kind Of

Written by Elissa Strauss

A new study by the NPD group shows that 29% of Americans are now trying to cut gluten out of their diets, most of them just cause. Every time another person makes this foolish decision, my life gets harder.

I’ve been a Celiac for 14 years. My mom was diagnosed back in 1993. I am here to tell you first-hand that going gluten-free is not a almond flour paved path to the GOOP holy trifecta of increased energy, a dewy complexion and perfectly fitting skinny jeans. It is just a diet that is medically necessary for some of us and no better and probably even a bit worse for the rest of you. (If you suspect you are one of those for whom it might be medically necessary, I wholly endorse you giving it a shot, but, please, take it seriously and see a doctor.)

When my mom first got diagnosed 20 years ago our family would take long Sunday drives to the other side of the San Fernando Valley for a loaf of bread that was only slightly better than vile and weighed more than my biology textbook. Lost and vulnerable, she ate a lot of Lay’s potato chips that year. By the time I was diagnosed in 1999 things were a little better. This was about the time when Whole Foods markets began popping up all over America and most of them would dedicate a few shelves to palatable gluten free goods.

So when gluten-free started trending a few years ago and I could finally understand what this red velvet cupcake phenomenon was all about, I was thrilled. Pizza delivery! Deli sandwiches! Whoopie pies! Chicken nuggets! Suddenly gluten-free was everywhere. But this was when things took also took a turn for the worst.

You see, when something that is medically necessary for some of us becomes something cool and trendy for the rest of the world, shit gets messed up. Waiters, thinking I am just another ankle-boot wearing Gwyneth wannabe, no longer take me seriously. It is actually harder for me to eat out now than it was a few years ago because a little dusting of flour on a piece of flounder equals a few days in bed for me.

And those red velvet cupcakes? They are now often stuffed alongside their gluten-containing counterparts in bakery displays. Considering even a few splashes of soy sauce, in which wheat is a minor ingredient, can trigger my celiac, a few crumbs of something not gluten-free is just not an option for me. Now I am nostalgic for the days when we were a fringe movement instead of a Miley Cyrus-endorsed lifestyle.

Though here I am, going on and on explaining why you should stop eating gluten-free food just to protect people like me, when you should really stop eating it to protect yourself.

As I mentioned already, gluten-free is not the answer to your dieting needs. Remember when we all went gaga for fat-free diets in the late 90s and guiltlessly swallowed entire packages of Snackwells devils food cookies and then couldn’t figure out why we weren’t losing weight? Exactly. I have met many a celiac over the years, and I promise we wouldn’t all pass your supermarket tabloids “bikini body” test. Considering that many gluten-free goods are higher in fat to substitute for the missing gluten — which literally holds baked goods together — a gluten-free diet can actually leave us worse off, weight-wise.

For those of you who swear off gluten not because you want to lose weight, but just because you think it will make you healthier: please stick with the whole wheat. Fiber is one of the most important things you can eat for health’s sake and it is extremely difficult (and pricey, see below) to get your hands on when you are strictly gluten-free. Also, for people with no sensitivity to gluten, a slice of whole wheat bread is by no means worse for you than a slice of teff, garbanzo bean and brown rice fiber bread. And the whole wheat bread will be, at least, one million times more delicious.

Also, this life is expensive! Literally, on average, 242% more expensive, according to researchers from the Dalhousie Medical School in Canada. Let me break this down for you: pretzels can run $5-$6 a bag, individual sized pizzas around $15-$20 at restaurants and even $11 for crappy tasting ones from the market, and cupcakes and muffins are in the $4 range. I just spent $12 on a whole-grain gluten-free loaf the other day and didn’t think twice about it, because this is just my life. But it doesn’t have to be yours.

Trends and Outrageous Prices

lash extensions

I am not the kind of person who is easily lured by trendy items and services, nor am I fooled by the grossly inflated price tags which accompany them. It is astonishing how some businesses will take full advantage of newly encountered popularity by jacking up the prices so much that they end up turning away those of us who aren’t fooled by their greed. I recently checked into a certain beauty service which is incredibly popular, and is considered one of the hottest beauty trends. When I checked into the prices in my area, I was stunned. What I encountered was that the new-fangled service cost 5 to 6 times more than the comparable but more old-school service. Come on, really? There is no way in hell that I am willing to fork over a king’s ransom just so that I can try a new service. It’s not that I am cheap, but I am frugal, and I don’t think money should be thrown away like that.

When an item or service is hot and is accompanied by ridiculous prices, I always sit back and wait for the trend to die down. Once the hype has subsided, and the prices plummet, I begin to entertain the idea of making a purchase. If the item is destined for permanent price inflation, I completely and permanently abandon the idea of getting it. After all, it’s just stuff, and I can’t justify spending my hard-earned money on a THING which may quickly go out of style. You will never see me getting the hottest and latest Nike shoe design (the Nike Air Max 2016 is a great example, at $190!), just because everyone else is losing their minds about getting it. I mean, seriously, WHY do I need to spend almost $200 on an athletic shoe? That’s just stupid.

Nike Air Max 2016

However, I may consider purchasing a trendy service if it still interests me. A good example of a service which is hot right now, and one which I have been considering, is lash extensions. Though I have great hair and skin, I wasn’t blessed in the eyelash department, as my wimpy, sparse lashes can attest to. The problem is that if I go to the best lash extension artist in L.A., I had better be prepared to shell out a considerable amount of money for the service. The question I have been asking myself is, should I pay significantly more for the best, especially since I would continue the touch-ups on a regular basis? I haven’t rushed myself on making a decision, and have decided to take all the time I need to research lash extensions before taking the plunge. I am even considering going through a course so that I can offer the service to my own patients and clients. You can bet that I won’t gouge my patients and clients for the service either. Inflated prices do not necessarily equate with the best service or product!

Ignore The Haters!

Originally published on RxGirl on Wednesday, 18 September 2013

http://www.rxmuscle.com/rx-girl-articles/9306-ignore-the-haters.html
Watch Me
Many of you ladies are well acquainted with the rigors of contest prep and understand the level of intensity and commitment required. Some of you are fortunate enough to have a great support network in which partners, family, coworkers and friends are in your cheering section and encourage all of your efforts. Unfortunately, however, some competitors may have to deal with people who discourage them or in some fashion try to interfere with their prep. I have heard husbands complain that their wives spend too much time in the gym or cannot eat restaurant meals with them. A few of my clients have lamented that family members or friends actually got angry with them for training so hard or for being so driven. The less the hater knows about the world of bodybuilding, the harsher the criticism becomes, usually as a result of ignorance and the perpetuation of erroneous stereotypes about bodybuilding.
I once had a client who almost talked herself out of competing as a reaction to her ultra-conservative mother’s opinion of bodybuilding contests. Her mother was horrified by the idea that women actually got onstage in bikinis and was deeply resistant to the idea of her daughter doing such a thing. It did not matter that her daughter was in her 30’s with children of her own. What was so sad was that everyone else in my client’s life was supportive and encouraging. For once this woman was paying attention to herself instead of doling out her energy to her spouse, children and parents, and it met with resistance.

Another frequent complaint, and one which I have heard personally, is one in which the loved one bitches about how stupid it seems to chase after a national qualification, IFBB Pro Card or Olympia qualification. Those who do not compete cannot fully appreciate the reasons competitors have to reach for that carrot. The drive is deep and in most cases incredibly personal. There is no question that competing can be extremely expensive, and it can be very frustrating to deal with less than stellar placings which push us to do more contests in order to reach our goals. It is also true that the allure of a Pro Card can fool some competitors into thinking that attaining Pro status will deliver much more than acceptance into the prestigious IFBB ranks (such as supplement company contracts, magazine covers, etc.). However, if you are realistic and are pursuing the next level of achievement for your own personal reasons, then declare that when someone tries to criticize you. My advice is to dig your heels in and fight for your right to do something that is inspiring and empowering.
Negativity
You may have people in your life who believe that you are getting too ripped and muscular. Invariably the people who make such remarks are not weightlifters, so they do not understand the mentality of those who lift and thus are not comfortable with the idea of building and sculpting muscle. If you are in a bulking phase, your appearance can be especially jarring for those who do not appreciate muscle, and the negative comments are likely to increase in frequency. It’s no surprise that those of us who compete tend to hang out with other lifters in an effort to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who can relate to what we go through and who won’t fling negative comments about our muscularity or vascularity our way.

Perhaps you only deal with minimal criticism but still have trouble processing it. I know that the majority of you who compete have been in situations where family, friends or coworkers have tried to convince you to abandon your strict meal plan, telling you that “just this once” won’t hurt you. They may even resort to accusing you of being a stick in the mud for not caving into peer pressure. It is at times like these that you need to remind yourself of your goals and that adherence to your meal plan is an insurance plan to being on point when contest day arrives. You know that every time you fall off the wagon, so to speak, you jeopardize everything you have spent the past few weeks or months to build. Why do yourself such a disservice only to appease others? Do not bother yourself with what they think, because it is not worth it.
haters
Consider the reasons why you compete and what kind of satisfaction you get from competing. Are you really going to let the people in your life drag you down and criticize you for doing something that you enjoy? Remember that your journey is not only about physical transformation, it is also spiritual. You are all grown women with minds of your own, so STAND YOUR GROUND!