So this past week and a half has been CRAZY! My friend and I spent most of last week working tirelessly (and by that I mean in a constant state of pure exhaustion) on the lighting for the show Little Shop of Horrors. It is not a show I am involved in in any way. I just like helping out. Food-wise, there is only one way to pull four all-nighters in a row: eat all sugar, pretty much non-stop. So, needless to say, not the healthiest week. But it was definitely fun, and therefore worth it. For those of you who have been with me for a while, this is a HUGE shift from my high school, and even early college, stance on eating poorly. I used to be obsessed. I couldn’t eat poorly without freaking out. If I had multiple unhealthy days I would fall apart. I’m gonna let you in on a little secret though; you really can be too healthy (therefore, unhealthy. There’s really no winning.) It is an eating disorder called Orthorexia Nervosa and, much like Binge Eating Disorder, it isn’t one you hear about much.

Just to be clear, it is okay to be extra careful when you are dieting. It’s okay to have a strict regime. What isn’t okay is when you physically CANNOT give yourself a break. When eating something you consider “unhealthy” can bring you to tears, because you feel so sickeningly guilty. No one tells you that part. They tell you about Anorexia and Bulimia, but diets train you to think the healthier the better — period. People who say that are assuming that you are going to continue eating lean meats and peanut butter and a reasonable portion of mashed potatoes now and then. They don’t warn you how easy it is to become obsessed. A (god-awful) teacher of mine once spread a rumor through my high school that I was anorexic. I was furious. I ate all the time! I constantly had snacks on hand! The problem was that it was always carrots, red peppers, or a carefully measured two tablespoons of mixed nuts. I had never heard of Orthorexia, so I wrote her off as being crazy and petty (which, to be clear she was) and went on with my unhealthy-healthy life. (Kind of like the Undead — HOW ARE THEY DEAD AND NOT DEAD!? Exactly.) If my mom wanted to go out to dinner, I needed several days notice so I could plan my eating around it, and figure out in advance what I could eat.

Wow, that went off into a direction I wasn’t planning. I was just gonna talk about eating junk and making lasting college memories. But since I’m on a roll here, I’ll just say that this blog has seen a lot of changes and battles which, in hindsight, I am incredibly grateful for. I started it happy and newly-healthy, already on the path to becoming too healthy. I gave tips and encouraged portion-controlled treats. I never took that advice, however, because I was different. I was healthier than that. When I got depressed I disappeared for a while — after all, I was starting to gain weight and was no longer active, so what right did I have to give other people advice? When I started college, I finally recognized that I had severe Binge Eating Disorder. Since every blog I’ve ever read has been a success story, I thought it could be helpful to be real with people during the weight-loss battle. I wrote about the healthy weeks, the resisted temptations, and I wrote about the “bad” nights, which just kept happening, despite my best efforts. This blog has seen me slowly recover from depression and work toward a reasonable diet that is healthy, but not too healthy. This blog met me after I lost 64 lbs, followed me when I gained 90 lbs, and is still with me now after losing 75 lbs. I still am not a model of health. I’m nowhere near active enough and I still put a frustrating amount of thought in the way I eat as I try to find the balance. I’m still here though. I’m not going anywhere. OH, and I got Celiac’s, which I feel like is probably your fault somehow. Don’t lie to me!

So I guess what this is all adding up to is, remember to cut yourself some slack. It is easy advice to give and hard advice to take, but it really is important. I created memories this week that I know I will hold onto as one of the highlights of my college experience. Living off of junk food and coffee was part of that experience, and that’s fine by me. Didn’t change my lifestyle. Just a crazy week.

If this post seems at all stilted, it was originally the introduction to my previous post, Reviewing the Reviewer. After writing everything, I realized that they were to very different and complete posts that deserved their own posts. This blog has touched on a lot of eating disorders and other challenges facing those who are trying to be healthy. If you ever have any questions, or want me to talk about something I haven’t covered, please let me know. Also, I am fully aware of the fact that I often cover the same territory more than once. After six years, I’m bound to repeat myself a bit. Also, there are occasionally new readers (I imagine), so I like to think it eases people in a bit. As always, it has been a pleasure writing for you.

Also, look at this gluten-free pizza I had in Indiana. It was so good and had “butter cheese crust” — Just sayin’.


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Reviewing the Reviewer – Sherman Ave Edition

Well hi there! For those of you just joining us, this is going to be me picking apart a poorly written review. Now I have worked as a theatre reviewer, and the first review I wrote was a negative one. So I completely understand that negative reviews can be important and informative. My negative reviews were not, however, unnecessarily mean, and I was not desperately trying to sound clever. So, let’s get started.

  1. Alright, so right of the bat, the beginning of the review has NOTHING to do with the show. The annual production is known as The Dolphin Show, so it’s only natural that your mind would jump to sex. No? Huh. Well, that is where this review started off in a ham-fisted segue that says dolphins (the animal, not people working on the production…I’m pretty sure) are an animal that has recreational sex, but you wouldn’t want to after…seeing the show. If you’re a little lost, welcome to the club. I get it, the website Sherman Ave likes to seem raunchy and edgy. They don’t play by the rules! This review quips that, “It’s quite a feat for a musical to lower the sex drive of its audience members.” Is it though? Call me crazy, but when I hear “musical” my first thought is not about how hot it gets me. Don’t get me wrong, I get it. I mean, I haven’t seen it personally, but I hear Seussical gets pretty crazy. Still, this opening paragraph just seems like it really had to reach on that one. With enough effort, absolutely everything can be connected to sex. Waa-mu? Like cats? Cats in heat? (and that’s just the cleanest thing I thought of). My Daily ‘Gurts? Yogurt is a food that you could eat off of a person, or post hanky-panky. You’ll notice I never have made this connection until now because it is irrelevant and has nothing to do with my blog. But that’s me.
  2. Next, the weird and unnecessary comments about the house not being full. Little Shop did not have a full house opening night, that is completely accurate, and was pointed out by other, more professional reviews as well. It was what followed that came across as…well, you read it. It read, “In those empty seats, one might have seen the empty dreams of the actors–soon-to-be service industry workers–that were about to take the stage of this theatrical tour de bores.” Soon-to-be service industry workers? Really? Say what you will about theatre majors (hell, I am one and I have said PLENTY), but these ones did still get into Northwestern…That is a weird insult to begin with, and it covers a lot of bases. It simultaneously makes assumptions about the talented actors on stage, and insults service industry workers. I’m not easily “offended,” but no one deserves to be insulted for the job they have. So if you want to throw out oddly personal insults, say that they will work as the staff in YOUR home or company, since clearly you are not a very kind and would likely be a difficult employer to work for. (By the way, that was an educated guess based on the review I read, not a random jab at a group of hardworking students.) I am a HUGE pun fan, but “tour de bores” had no kick because of the sudden and radical change in tone. Unnecessarily mean commentary to dad-joke-esq. puns? Why?
  3. I’m just going to skim over the complaints (and I am paraphrasing) about “how much did this production cost?” and “is this what my tuition money is going toward???” The show did kick off with tech problems, completely accurate. The sound wasn’t working and people were confused. Then, after about two minutes, the show was paused and the sound was fixed. The show started over and went off without any big issues (which is a feat for ANY live theatre). As far as your tuition money…really? All of our money goes toward everything. That’s what happens when you attend a college that offers multiple majors. If you were so worried about your tuition money, you should have looked into the school before attending. This is the 75th year of the Dolphin Show and, I hate to break it to you, but that means it has happened 74 times already. Some might even say it is associated with the theatre department of this school (but that’s just conjecture). Also, I know the editor’s note was added later, but I cannot help but chuckle reading, “Throughout the play, the plant grows and grows, much like my anger at knowing that my tuition money went towards building a giant, green, political statement” and then reaching the bottom of the page and seeing, “Editor’s Note: Congratulations to all who performed in and worked on “Little Shop of Horrors,” you were marvelous.  Also fuck Trump.” First, thank you to the thoughtful editor who gave the actors a shout out. That was sweet. But back to the point, my anger just keeps growing that my tuition goes toward student groups like Sherman Ave, smacking me in the face with political opinions right after complaining about exactly that.
  4. Alright, next comes a paragraph complaining about the plot of a notoriously goofy play that was based off a film by Alan Menken (not written by students). Really? You are going to nit-pick about whether it is romantic to grow a flower, (which, for the record, is also not what happens, but whatever) in a show about a talking plant that SPOILER: eats people and then takes over the entire world? An interesting approach, though not a terribly effective one.
  5. I think my favorite part of this review is referring to the show as, “a major offense to American musical theater as a whole.” That is assuming a lot about musical theatre. I mean, I have seen some ROUGH productions. But since you have apparently seen all of it, I would like to speak on behalf of all Sherman Ave readers and thank you for your insights.

Not only is this piece needlessly hostile, it doesn’t flow well. My advice: nothing sounds stupider than trying to sound clever. Just write. For reference, picture a little kid who just learned a bunch of big words. They use them constantly to try to seem grown up, but it just makes them seem younger and more naive than ever, because they are reaching and you can hear how hard they are trying.

If you think this review was too mean, it is very possible. Which is why I wrote it on my personal blog — because people read this with the full knowledge that they are getting my take on things (or, they choose not to read it because they are getting my take on things).

Also, I realize that I did not provide the full text. If you are curious, it can be found on the Sherman Ave website.


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New Schedule

Hey Everybody! So, things have been sort of weird since the holidays. Not having classes after having them all the time (even 2 out of 3 summers) is very strange. Also, I tend to work nights, so it’s just a whole new schedule. I’m hoping to start nailing down some kind of regular routine next week. Until then though, I just thought I’d check in.

The holidays are pretty much in the rearview at this point, and I’ve managed to shake off almost all of the holiday weight. If you haven’t yet though, don’t worry about it. From everything I’ve seen and heard lately, the world may well end in ten days anyway. Might as well enjoy what’s left of it. Not to make a blog that is ostensibly about food political, but come on. How is this even real? But let’s not do that. I generally write when I’m in a good mood, so there is really no point in rehashing America’s NIghtmare-That-Just-Won’t-End.

So…um…work has been fun. My school is putting on Little Shop of Horrors, which is also the show that my high school put on back when I was a Freshman. Wasn’t in that one and I’m not in this one — so we’ve really come full circle. This is related to work because I have been using my shifts to help build sets, hang lights, put up train tracks, etc. I love when my work happens to get me involved for several reasons. First, it’s just fun and second, I am getting paid to do it while everyone else there is not. Hahahahaha. I win. There isn’t much else kickin, but if anything interesting comes up I’ll let you know. Until then, just gonna be figuring out how to have a life outside of work. Maybe. We’ll see. Work life is pretty entertaining. Talk to you all soon!

In the meantime, enjoy this horribly haunting comic that I came across online…


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Holiday Tum

Hey ‘gurts fans! ‘Tis the season of finals, holidays, and a dangerous blend of stress and decadent holiday foods. I don’t know about you all, but I have definitely felt the physical effects of the season. That’s the thing about not being as overly-obsessed with my eating lately, sometimes my weight can fluctuate. But ya know, it is the holiday season. It is cold and dark and all we want to do is curl up somewhere warm, eat, and hibernate. It’s okay to indulge a bit. Just, try to pay attention to how frequently you do it. For instance, I have been making my fair share of excuses, which is why I have gone up a bit. First, I was in finals, and not just any finals – my final finals. So of course I was gonna cut myself slack that week (or two). Once I finished, well come on; I was DONE COLLEGE! I had earned some lazy days of just eating and not really moving…at all. In my head, it was kind of a week by week thing, but now I realize that I’ve been eating poorly and not moving for like a month…it creeps up on you.

Honestly though, it happens. I am hoping to start working in acting, and am very aware of my physical appearance, but I’m not letting it make me crazy anymore. I am spending the week with my family in California, and I’m not going to obsess over feeling bigger the entire time. I’ll try to keep the junk food in check, but I’ll still have fun food with my family as we celebrate Christmas and later New Year’s Eve. We have “resolution season” for a reason. Besides, no one really sees you under all that winter gear anyway.

I know it sucks. I know that you are more aware of your size than anyone else. I am eager to lose the weight I have put on, too. Just don’t let it wreck your holidays. The diet regime can wait (I promise that the extra pounds will still be there). Just make the smart choices when you can, and cut yourself some slack.* Meanwhile, my plans for this week include trying to be relatively active and the following:

Good luck, enjoy the holidays, and if I’m not back within the next two weeks – HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR!

*Feel free to do what I do, and befriend your food baby.**

**Mine is named “Meatball.” Adorable, I know.

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The Next Chapter

Hey there everyone! Since I started this blog almost five years ago now (dear God…) I figured a brief recap would be in order. You know, on the off chance that anyone could possibly have started following the ‘Gurts more recently than April of 2012.

So here’s the deal:

As a little nugget, I was a pretty big nugget. I didn’t love being over-weight and I didn’t know how to eat healthy. My Freshman year of high school, I looked like this:

(This may have been a spirit week…it also may have just been any given Tuesday)

I decided it was time for a change, and talked to my parents about going on Jenny Craig the summer before Sophomore year. They agreed, and did it with me for that year. I didn’t mind the frozen food and I liked the structure. When the weight-loss stopped, I added exercise into the mix.

Flash-forward to the summer after Sophomore year, my first time being off Jenny Craig since I had started losing weight. I was a little paranoid since I was going to England for a month and a half and would have all new foods and restaurants to contend with. I was careful, and it worked out; I came home having dropped another ten pounds and having found a comfortable weight. I spent junior year eating healthy (a bit…super over-obsessively, I’ll admit) and learning about nutrition until one night during spring break I woke up in the middle of the night and started writing My ‘Gurts.* I wanted to tell people about nutrition info that I found interesting in a way that (hopefully) wouldn’t bore them to tears. And that was good for a while, while this Dana was still running things:

Things started getting rocky Senior year. Though I didn’t understand it at the time, depression was creeping up on me and I was starting to binge eat again. For anyone who doesn’t know, binge eating is not the same as overeating. Feeling like you ate too much happens to the best of us now and then. Binge eating is different. It has nothing to do with what you’re eating (which generally starts as one thing and expands throughout the kitchen). It is a compulsion to eat (and be sneaky about it) that doesn’t go away when you are full. It also doesn’t go away once you start to feel nauseous, or once your body is physically hurting. I have been through it and I still can’t understand it. But it’s awful. When senior year ended it got worse than ever. I struggled to leave my house, never wanted to go to bed (even though I wished I could just sleep until the bingeing passed), and spent everyday hoping that this was it, this was the last time and tomorrow would be better. I was in pretty rough shape by the time I was packing up for college, but I was optimistic that things would be different. A change, that was what I needed. Below are two pictures. The first is me on Christmas Eve of my Senior year of high school. The second is me getting ready to leave for college. The third is me in my Freshman dorm.^

I liked college. I liked my classes…but nothing really changed. I seldom left my room and, despite my best efforts to be healthy, I was still binge eating, and frequently. It wasn’t until then, when I was in college (which I had been looking forward to for AGES) that I recognized that I was depressed. Though I hated it, I realized that it might be smart to keep writing the blog. Instead of nutrition info, it would be a blog about binge eating and weight-loss. It would be a weight-loss story that a person could follow along with, so that it didn’t seem like someone just got skinny one day and made the rest up. I included the challenges and slip ups, because all of the blogs I had read always made it sound so damn easy. Like, “I decided to get into shape and now I run ten miles a day!” Umm…I feel like some steps were skipped there…

Meanwhile, I was putting in a frustrating amount of work on my end to get connected to someone who could help me with everything I was going through. I finally found a (thoroughly careless and mediocre) doctor and started taking medicine. Once I got to a high enough dosage, the binge eating went away completely. The depression, on the other hand, did not. Still, just being able to control my eating again was such a relief, it wasn’t until winter of my second year of college that I realized things were starting to spiral beyond my control. It was getting harder and harder to go to my classes, or really make myself do much of anything. I took a quarter off (easily the hardest decision I’ve made in college – I was so scared and embarrassed**), and frequently met with my new (not-mediocre) doctor to find the right dosages of various medicines to treat my depression. Meanwhile, I was losing weight, largely just by not binge eating. I finally got to the right dose of medicine, and genuinely started to feel like myself again.

I went to Florida with my parents, feeling better than ever since I felt like me, and I had lost a fair amount of weight. (About thirty pounds just sort of fell off once I stopped binge eating. I was depressed and honestly don’t remember it terribly well, but it really just speaks to how much extra weight I forced on myself by the perpetual bingeing. That, and it may have been a sign that there was something physically off.)

I’m the not-green one. Like, 97% sure

I wasn’t terribly concerned with eating healthy during my week in Florida, so it was a bit of a shock to come home to discover I had lost another five pounds. Don’t get me wrong, I was pleased, but I also knew enough about nutrition to know that that would have been fast even if I had been eating healthy all week…and I hadn’t been. I went to see a doctor, who explained that my recent, rapid weight loss was due in part to the fact that my body wasn’t absorbing nutrients. (Don’t get me wrong, I was working at losing weight, but it was happening faster than it ever had before.) A couple of blood tests revealed that I had Celiac’s and was allergic to gluten. Within a week of quitting all things delicious, my body was back to functioning correctly, and my mood was better than ever.***

Even with the quarter off, I managed to get caught up with my classes, and decided to finish college early. Believe it or not, it had been pretty exhausting thus far and I was ready for the next chapter. I officially finished school on Thursday. 🙂

Which brings us to now. I have lost 75 pounds since things were at their worst, and now I have a holiday break to look forward to, followed by…we’ll see when we get there I guess. But I’ll be here too. If you ever want advice, or the ear of someone who has been there, or just want to read about someone else’s life for kicks.

Me now:

Me and my Freshman roommate, Lindsey, the day we moved in, and the week I finished college.

*Like give us this day our daily bread…but with yogurt…well I thought it was funny. Still do.

^You can probably tell I have cropped a LOT of people out of these photos. That is largely because I don’t like using other people’s photos without permission, and I am lazy.

**It may sound stupid or crazy, but having depression was humiliating for me. It was debilitating and changed my entire personality, but there was nothing visibly wrong with me. I had always known about mental illnesses and was perfectly willing to accept them…in other people. Having to take time off of school felt like a huge failure on my part. I was sure that I would fall behind, wouldn’t graduate with my friends, etc. And a part of me worried that, if I left, I wouldn’t be able to make myself go back.

***Now let me be clear, quitting gluten improves your health and mood if you are allergic to it. If you don’t have an allergy there is no health benefit to cutting out gluten. Many people who see improvement are seeing the results of cutting down on processed foods. So if you just buy all the same junk food, gluten-free, the only benefit is the extra cost and inconvenience to others.

Bonus Image: Me as Jack Black, because it is a classic. Growing out a pixie is hard, okay!?


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Done and Done

Hey there ‘Gurts Fans! Last I left you I was jonesing for pie. Don’t worry, I have had lots of pie since, so we are good. More importantly, I JUST FINISHED COLLEGE! Seriously, just now. About an hour ago to be precise (ish). I know I have to get you all caught up on Thanksgiving and all that good stuff, but for now I am curling up in a blanket with a bunch of french fries and doing absolutely nothing. WOOO! Just wanted to let you all know that the ‘gurts was resting while I finished up school, but I’m done now and we are moving onto the next step…once I figure out what that is. Love you all!

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I really need pie. And I’m allergic to gluten. This is becoming a problem for me because no I am not going to make my own damn pie. I have neither the time, nor the inclination. This problem had better resolve itself, and quick…

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