Wednesday, January 22, 2014

An Expert's Guide to a Long Distance Relationship

As the months have passed and many of my Facebook friends are leaving college and moving to new places, I've been seeing a lot more posts about entering long distance relationships. As a woman who lived a long distance relationship, I hope I can offer some useful tips! First, however, here are my credentials:

  • I wasn't just in a long distance relationship. I lived in Colorado and my man lived in New Zealand. Our time difference was over a day and flights were incredibly long and expensive.
  • I married him (and we've been happily married for almost 2 and a half years). Read our love story!
  • In the two years we dated before we got married, we saw each other in person a total of 10 weeks.
  • Before him, my very first relationship (at 15) was also long distance. He lived in West Virginia. This one did not work out, therefore I also know what doesn't work.

If both you and your significant other are committed to each other and committed to making long distance work, then hopefully my advice can help you through this incredibly tough time.

1) Daily Face to Face Contact
What worked: I can not stress this enough, SKYPE is essential. If you do not have Skype, download it right this second. My husband and I Skyped as regularly as possible. When we both had a free day early in our relationship, I kid you not, we spent 11 hours talking on Skype. Some days, we'd only be able to Skype for 10-30 minutes. No matter how much or how little time we had to talk, having face to face contact regularly was very important.
What didn't work: In my first relationship, Skype didn't exist yet but we used another video chat software at the time. We would video chat every few weeks and it was always on his schedule. If your relationship is going to work, both sides need to make it work.
How to Do It: Figure out a time that works for both of you every day. Commit to that time. Don't wait by the computer all day waiting to suddenly hear from each other. It's unhealthy for whoever is doing the waiting. If one of you can't talk on a certain day, let the other know in advance, or call instead and tell them you can't Skype that day.

On our first date in New Zealand
2) Phone Calls
What worked: My husband had a phone plan in New Zealand, 2 hours for $2 long distance. It was too expensive for me to call him so he had to call me. If we didn't get the chance to Skype on certain days, he would always call. In the two years we were long distance, only one day passed that we didn't talk (he worked a double shift).
What didn't work: This one is my fault. I've always had issues talking on the phone. I prefer looking at a person when speaking to them and at 15, I was really uncomfortable with this idea. My boyfriend and I talked on the phone maybe once in the 6 months we dated.
How to Do It: Figure out a phone plan that works depending on your distance or download the app VIBER on your phone. The phone calls are free. That's how my husband now talks to his family in New Zealand.

From New Zealand to Colorado: Gwith sent me flowers.

3) Write & Text
What worked: My husband and I would Facebook chat back and forth when we were on the go. If we weren't on the phone or on Skype, we still were communicating. Before we started Skyping and talking on the phone, for the first couple weeks, we would write long emails to each other.
What didn't work: Relying strictly on writing letters here and there. The majority of my first relationship was writing emails. The emails were great (when I'd receive them!) but they weren't the same as having a conversation and they weren't frequent.
How to Do It: Writing and texting should be supporting your relationship, it shouldn't be the key to your relationship. Both should be done to keep up constant communication but should never be in place of Skype and phone calls. If your only option for communication at the moment is writing emails, write them often. Make each other a priority and write daily or every other day.

Gwith's first day in Colorado

4)  Plan to See Each Other and Actually See Each Other
What worked: On our first date (and only date before I left New Zealand), my husband told me he was going to fly out to the states and visit me. I didn't believe a word he was saying but he proved me wrong. He started looking up flights that night and once we started dating, he told me he was planning to come out in 6 months. He kept his word, saved up his money, and came out for 3 weeks 5 1/2 months later. I flew out to see him a few more times after his visit.
What didn't work: My first boyfriend told me he would be coming out to see me that summer. I asked him a number of times when exactly and the date kept being pushed off, month after month. He never came out.
How to Do It: Commit. If you're across an ocean, the price is definitely overwhelming, so it may take some time to save. However, if you are both committed to the other methods (phone calls & skype) the time should pass a lot easier. Also, be honest with each other. If you can't afford to come out yet, talk about it.

Spending time at the restaurant Gwith worked at in New Zealand
Gwith keeping me company while I recorded my EP in the studio

5) Spend Your Time Together and Share In Each Other's Lives
What worked: When my husband and I would see each other, we would spend a lot of our time just the two of us. However, I also visited him when he was working. Some days were long and it was harder to be there and not see him but it also prepared me more than I even realized for his job as a chef. If you're going to be together, you have to know each other's actual routines. That said, you're still visiting and your significant other should not spend every day with his buddies.
What didn't work: My first boyfriend and I never actually saw each other after our first date and Skype dates would be missed or cut short because he was too busy with his friends.
How to Do It: Communicate. If you've been spending many months talking on the phone and Skyping, you should already have a deeper understanding for each other. If you're there and feeling ignored, talk about it. My husband got carried away one night cleaning up his apartment and chatting with his flatmates. He had been at work all day. He said he'd be done in 30 minutes and 3 hours later, finally came in. I was upset but we talked about it and worked through it.

In the end, the key aspects of a long distance relationship (or any relationship for that matter) are commitment and communication.

The difference between living in the same city or thousands of miles apart is that your relationship is tested a lot sooner. You can't rely on the physical aspects of your relationship to keep it going. In the end, you're testing how strong your relationship truly is.

In no way am I saying that long distance is easy. It's not. It's a challenge. But so are many things in a relationship. If you and your significant other can make it through a long distance relationship, then in my mind, there is nothing you can't face together.

My happily ever after.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Cake Decorating!!!

For the past two weeks, I have been taking a cake decorating class at a local Michaels. I cannot express how much I love this class. Although, if you plan on taking it, do not be fooled by the ridiculously low price ($25) for all four classes. When they say you need to purchase the "supplies", they do not just mean the $30 Class 1 Decorating Kit. By the time you're done, you will probably have spent around $200 on all of the supplies. In some ways, I wish they just provided the supplies in class and had you pay $200 upfront. It would make it less confusing.

The class, however, is awesome. I've been wanting to learn cake decorating for quite a while now. I've learned a lot so far... and eaten far more cake than I should have. (I had been sugar free for a few weeks and was feeling so proud).

For the class, you have to bring your own cakes. I've been baking with the Betty Crocker Gluten Free Cake Mix, which tastes delicious. I made my very own homemade frosting for the first time and it turned out pretty good!

Here's a picture of the first cake I've decorated:

For the next two weeks of class, I will be decorating cupcakes and another cake. After that, I can't wait to sign up for the other courses where I will learn how to make flowers and use fondants.

My Love for Cake Decorating

My love for cake decorating stems from many years of my parents making and decorating cakes for my birthday. They never bought one from a store. Over the years, the cakes became more complex as I started challenging my mom with new ideas. As my mom started carving cakes, I ended up with awesome cakes that looked like The Titanic, The Potter B&B, Sunnydale High School (or West Beverly High), a Volvo C70, the "Friends" Coffee Mug, and The Auckland Sky Tower. Last year, my husband accepted the challenge and made a Sushi cake. It was so fun eating cake with chopsticks!
Titanic (15th Birthday)
The Potter B&B from "Dawson's Creek" (16th Birthday)
Sunnydale High School from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" or West Beverly High from "Beverly Hills, 90210" (17th Birthday)

Volvo C70 (18th Birthday)
Central Perk Coffee Mug from "Friends" (19th Birthday)

Auckland Sky Tower Cake (20th Birthday)

Sushi Cake (21st Birthday)

My birthday is coming up in February and I have no idea what I'm going to want this year... although I have been begging my mom for an Eiffel tower cake for years! With my husband and I heading to Europe this year, it might just be the perfect time for that cake!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

An Introduction to My Life Long Editing Project

For the past year, I've been working on an incredibly large project: editing 60 years worth of footage from our family! I started with footage as early as 1952 and have so far progressed up to 1987! My absolute favorite thing to do when editing is recreate TV intros.

I finished this one late last year and I am incredibly proud to share it! It was the most complex intro I have recreated so far. It's a recreation of the intro for the show, "American Dreams". If you're unfamiliar with the show and the intro, watch it first:

American Dreams Original Intro

Here is my recreation of the intro, using footage from 1952-2013!

My Family "American Dreams" Style Intro

I look forward to sharing more videos from this project in the future!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I'm 22, Married and My Life Didn't Stop!

It's always interesting to me how so many people frown upon the idea of marrying young. In my mind, getting married isn't about your age, it's about your life goals and expectations. One of the most ridiculous articles I read was "23 Things to Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You're 23". There is only one thing that article made clear to me. The person who wrote it is definitely not ready to get married.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to be single and free to do whatever you went, whenever you want. Of course, if that's your mindset, you probably aren't ready for marriage. You're also probably not ready to accept adulthood and all of the responsibilities that come with that either. However, if you're 20 years old and you're ready to share your everyday life with someone (the ups, the downs, and the adult responsibilities) and aren't expecting marriage to be a "passionate adventure" (like the girls on The Bachelor), I don't see the problem.

Anyways, the list in that article made me incredibly annoyed and I wanted to give my own responses to it as a 22 year old married woman. Here's the list, with my answers in red and a few pictures that show proof that life does go on after marriage.

1. Get a passport. 
I'm not entirely sure why you can't travel after you're married. I feel like someone needs to call the airlines and find out! I had a passport long before I turned 23...and I went to visit my now husband in New Zealand three times with it before we got married. We flew to Brisbane, Australia for our one year dating anniversary and we're also going to Europe this year for our 3rd wedding anniversary. 
Meeting Gwith in Auckland, New Zealand

2. Find your “thing.” 
I'm still searching for my exact "thing" but my husband isn't telling me to stop. 
3. Make out with a stranger. 
Read my "Worst Dates Ever" blog. I'm more than happy not making out with strangers. They tend to be creepy.
4. Adopt a pet. 
My husband and I decided to adopt our pet bunny, Willow, together. Honestly, I have no idea how I would manage her on my own. I would never be able to lift her giant cage. Plus, getting a pet makes #1's "Getting a Passport" really silly. If getting a husband makes traveling impossible, imagine getting a pet! They rely on you just to eat. 
Holiday Photo 2012 with Willow.

5. Start a band. 
I'm a singer and my husband isn't stopping me from following my dreams. 

6. Make a cake. Make a second cake. Have your cake and eat it too. 
I'm actually taking cake decorating classes for the next three weeks. So I made a cake yesterday (my sweet husband went to the grocery store 3 times for me because I kept messing up on ingredients), I'm making another cake next week, and I will be eating it because my husband doesn't actually like cake. I know this isn't *exactly* what the writer meant by "make a cake" (or at least I don't think it is!) but I'm just saying... 
7. Get a tattoo. It’s more permanent than a marriage. 
Ha! This I can't even read without laughing. I hate needles. HATE. HATE. HATE. I love my husband. I'd rather have him be permanent.
8. Explore a new religion. 
I'm not religious and neither is my husband...and again, we don't sit around telling each other not to do things. 
9. Start a small business. 
We're always throwing ideas around and we eventually hope to have a restaurant. 
10.Cut your hair. 
No. I'd rather someone else do this. It sounds scary... If this isn't what you meant, I can still make changes to my hair now that I'm married.
Haircut post-marriage! Unheard of, I know.
11. Date two people at once and see how long it takes to blow up in your face. 
This is just stupid. How old is the person writing this list? There is never a reason to date two people (without them knowing about it) and let them get hurt. No wonder you're not ready for marriage. 
12. Build something with your hands. 
I'm a very artsy person so I did this long before I got married and I can still do it now. Imagine that! I got married and didn't lose my hands! 
13. Accomplish a Pinterest project. 
I don't really spend time on Pinterest but I've got plenty of my own projects to keep me occupied. 
14. Join the Peace Corps. 
Not really my thing. 
15. Disappoint your parents. 
Again, why? First of all, my parents love me unconditionally. Secondly, I'm not 13. I don't feel an overwhelming need to rebel against them at 22 years old. 
16. Watch GIRLS, over and over again. 
I've never seen that. 
17. Eat a jar of Nutella in one sitting. 
Stomach aches aren't fun at any age, single or married. 
18. Make strangers feel uncomfortable in public places. 
I'm again wondering the age of this person... 
19. Sign up for CrossFit. 
Is there a clause on the sign up form that says "not for married women?" 
20. Hangout naked in front of a window. 
I wouldn't feel comfortable doing this even if I was single. 
21. Write your feelings down in a blog. 
Done. (Read some of my most personal latest posts: A New Beginning, Don't Be Jealous of The Girl Trying to Gain Weight, and Confessions from a High School Drop Out)
22. Be selfish. 
What does this even mean? I think about others all the time so I can't just turn that off.

In my opinion, that list isn't written by someone who understands adulthood, let alone marriage. So I agree, if you read the initial list and you still want to party, make out with random strangers, break hearts, and make people uncomfortable in public, don't get married. Instead, jump into your time machine and go back to being in high school.

I've personally had more experiences in my life since I got married. My husband completes me. He helps me find the courage to try new things and discover more about myself. Since we got married I've gone parasailing (I hate heights and I want to do this again), snorkeling (those masks always freaked me out), jet skiing (which I love now!), I got a pet (I've always feared animals), and so much more.

We handle our adult responsibilities as a team and we support each other through thick and thin. When my grandpa died last year, I was afraid to feel attached. I distanced myself from my family and my husband. I told my husband this and instead of getting upset at me, he held me in his arms and understood without any questions. He helped me through this challenging time and I've been able to find my way back to everyone I love.

I'm incredibly happy sharing my life with him. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Confessions From a High School Drop-Out

Today, I'm going to tell my story of why I left high school at sixteen years old. Before I begin though, I don't want anyone reading this story with pre-concieved notions and judgements, so let me clear some things up. No, I wasn't a lazy student. I didn't lack motivation and I didn't lack intelligence. I did not leave high school to sit on my ass all day and do nothing. In fact, the year everyone was graduating, I was co-creating and co-producing a TV show pilot with a cast of forty actors from around the country ranging from ages thirteen to sixty, twenty teenage background actors, fifteen locations, and eighteen hour days. No one forced me to spend a year of my life working like that. I chose it. I created it. And I loved it.

But working on "Little Blossom" is not what I'm here to talk about. I'm here to talk about my decision to leave high school with the full support of my parents.
"I did not fail the school system. The school system failed me."

From 2nd grade onwards, I had a lot of trouble staying healthy. I was susceptible to any and every virus that wandered the halls and I always got it. I never faked being sick (okay, maybe once or twice in early elementary school!). My family has always believed in health. They'd rather take care of their sick children instead of unleash their germs onto everyone else. Imagine that, right!? Wanting your kids to get healthy. Anyways, as we found out years later, my immune system was low due to many allergies my family was unaware of at the time.

The Cherry Creek School District never supported my health issues. In 2nd grade, my teacher wanted us to walk everyday. Okay. That's healthy. I understand that. On the day of a very cold blizzard though, she still wanted us to walk. I've always been sensitive to cold temperatures and I told her I didn't want to walk that day. She called my parents and told them that I was afraid of the snow. It was absolutely ridiculous. I played in the snow all the time. I just didn't want to freeze for twenty minutes with snow blasting in my face. I still don't want to do that. This caused an entire ruckus that led to my parents having to come in to meet with my teacher, the principal, and the school nurse. Needless to say, my dad, who's a world renowned doctor, was not pleased when the school nurse tried to teach him about health.

In 5th grade, my class was going on a field trip and I realized I forgot my jacket. My teacher scolded me in front of the class to the point where I began to cry. She was upset at me, an eleven year old, for not thinking ahead of time and bringing my jacket to class. All I wanted was to stay warm and she didn't care. Thankfully, my art teacher saw me crying in the hallway and brought me a jacket.

In 6th grade, I began getting sick a lot more. I was out for weeks at a time back and forth. I had piles of makeup assignments and I would spend every day working on them. One day, I went into my science class to get help from my teacher during recess. She yelled at me, told me I was lazy, and accused me of being truant. I fled from the room, tears in my eyes. I was just a student trying to get by and learn what I had missed. If I was truant, why would I come in during recess for help? Why would I care enough? I didn't understand why I was being treated so horribly. I believed that it must've been my fault in some way. Afterwards, I sat in the hallway outside of my social studies teacher's class. He was my favorite teacher. In fact, I visited him every year up until I moved two years ago. He came out from his classroom and saw me crying. He sat next to me, listened to my story, and sympathized with me. He talked to me and encouraged me. I was able to go to the rest of my classes that day because of him.

There are some stories from 7th grade, like the teacher I wrote a ten page essay for, that he then had another student present at a competition. It was my work and I felt incredibly betrayed. 8th grade though, that was the beginning of the end for me. I was out every few weeks, ill, and again, buried in makeup assignments. My makeup assignment folder was jam packed with a hopeless amount of assignments. One day, my history teacher asked me to come in during recess so he could explain a project I had missed. As you can understand, I hadn't felt very comfortable doing this since 6th grade. Every time I tried to talk to a teacher, I had been yelled at. This time, I mustered up the courage to go in. What could possibly happen? He wants to help me with my assignment! Hah. What a laugh. I went in and instead of giving me the help I needed, he saw my overwhelmingly large makeup assignment folder and accused me of being unorganized. I'm not unorganized. I created a booklet listing my DVDs at home by category and by actor. I am far from unorganized. But, he took one look at this pile and decided instead of helping me with my assignment, he would sit me down for my entire recess and have me reorganize my binder. During this time, he paced the classroom and explained to me for forty minutes why I would never be successful in life. At the end of the period, he handed me a piece of paper with information on the assignment. I spent all night working on this assignment. When I turned it in, he took one look at it and scoffed. When I got it back, I saw that he had marked me down because I didn't do multiple things that he purposely left off the list. Needless to say, I switched history classes that year. However, because I was falling so far behind in my classes, my family decided that one class of mine could be dropped. I couldn't keep up no matter how hard I tried. The class that made the most sense was my advanced placement math class. It was a no brainer. It was an advanced class and I could retake it in high school. My parents emailed my teacher back and forth over this matter, explaining to her that I was dropping the class. My teacher agreed to let me read a book and work on makeup assignments during class in the meantime. That same teacher, then went to the principal complaining that I wasn't doing my work. She tried to get my parents in trouble and my parents ended up receiving a letter from the school about my truancy, claiming that I would be taken away if they didn't get it under control. I'll add that I had doctor's notes every single time I was sick. My parents printed out the emails they had shared with my math teacher and brought them into the principals office for a meeting. Luckily, this is where my teacher wasn't very smart. Everything she agreed to had been written down. In the end, I was able to drop the class and retake it in 9th grade.

9th grade my teachers weren't all that bad. I liked most of them. I still was dealing with being sick but overall, my teachers were supportive and I thrived in my math class that year. The only problem I had was that I never saw my history teacher. When I was sick, he was teaching. When I was in school, he was off playing golf tournaments. I literally only saw him twice that year, so I had no idea what was ever going on in that class.

This brings me to 10th grade. The year I dropped out. The year my family and I finally decided enough was enough. Before I delve that year, I have to explain the summer before 10th grade first. My family went on a road trip to Mt. Rushmore. On this trip, I discovered that I was suddenly highly allergic to pine trees; so much so that my body ended up covered in rashes, my ears would clog, and my throat would start closing up. Luckily, I never needed an EpiPen, just some Benadryl, which would wipe me out for days at a time.

Why is that story important? That's coming up now, in my 10th grade science class. Let me start by saying that for a while, I loved this class. I thought the teacher was great, I enjoyed my classmates immensely. Little did I know at the time, this was the class that was going to cause me a complete mental breakdown. Part way through the school year, my class did a study on plants. We went outside and I started reacting to what I learned was a ponderosa pine tree, as I stayed standing underneath it. My teacher saw my reaction and a student led me to the nurse's office. After this reaction, I was sick for a couple of weeks. When I came back, I had missed a "test" on the different plants. My teacher told me I had to take the test. Fine. No problem. She then led me into the supply closet, told me each of the plants were on the shelf and I had to identify them. She told me I couldn't leave the closet until I was done and closed the door. This teacher knew I was highly allergic to this plant and she knowingly left me in a small enclosed space with it. Needless to say, I ended up being out sick for three more weeks because of my reaction. During this time, the class was getting ready for a group assignment, one that I was really excited for at the time. I came back to class with only two days before that project would begin. My teacher then told me that because she couldn't rely on me being healthy, I wasn't going to participate. I was devastated. My parents complained, told her she was discriminating against me for my allergies and illnesses and eventually got me in a group to do the assignment. You would think this saga would end there. No. After a few weeks of making up all of my assignments, I turned them in ahead of the deadline. When the grade reports came in, I had a D because I had supposedly failed weeks of my assignments. What we found out was then shocking. My teacher had taken it upon herself to lock my grade. She refused to count all of my hard work. At the time, I didn't even understand. Part of me knew what was happening but I was only sixteen. I somehow thought that this was just because I was stupid or a failure. I blamed myself. I was so depressed looking at my plummeting grade. I believed that grade marked my level of intelligence. I didn't believe in myself at all. That's what school had taught me all of these years. Not to believe in myself. For weeks, I could hardly find the will to make it out of bed in the morning and one day I finally broke. I couldn't do this anymore. I remember sitting in my parents master bathroom on the floor. Tears were streaming from my eyes and I was throwing a tissue box back and forth against the wall. My mom saw me crying, put her arms around me, and asked me what I wanted to do. What did I want to do? There was no question in my mind. I wanted to leave high school. I couldn't do this anymore. The amazing part was, my parents were completely supportive. They saw everything I had been through and they didn't want me to go through it anymore. For the rest of the year, I had dropped all of my classes except my video editing class. I stayed in that class till the end of the year because video editing was still what I wanted to do.

The terrible truth is, it's taken me a long time to not look at myself as a failure. Some days, I still struggle to find my confidence but I push myself everyday to build it back. I left school in 2007 and since then, I experienced so many other things that helped me regain my strength. As I said at the beginning of this, managing an entire film set was not an easy task at 18 years old. Taking charge was something I had never been able to do and it was a life changing experience for me.

In all honesty, had I had different experiences in school, maybe finishing high school and going to college would've taken me somewhere else in life. But to be honest, I'm happy with where I've ended up. If I had finished high school, I never would've had that amazing experience on "Little Blossom". If I had gone to college, I never would've met my husband on a trip to New Zealand in 2009, and he alone changed my world (read our love story here). The truth is, my interests have never needed a degree. I've always been into the arts and I work hard teaching myself new things all the time. My life long dream has always been to be a singer and last year I finally released my first EP, "Stepping Stone". Do I have some big successful career right now? No. Do I know exactly where I'm going in life? Of course not. But who does at 22 years old? Against all odds, my husband and I are happy and financially stable, and that's really all I could ask for.

The hardest part about dropping out of high school is telling people. Few people will take the time to listen and understand. So I want to thank everyone right now for listening to my story. I don't want to feel ashamed anymore. I don't want to try to hide this aspect of my life. This is a large part of who I am. When I say "this", I don't mean being a drop out. I mean the struggles I experienced for nine years leading up to that decision.

I'm not a drop-out. I'm a survivor.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Don't Be Jealous of The Girl Trying to Gain Weight

As I mentioned in my last post, I lost a lot of weight while I was ill over the course of 4 months. Since I've been looking for weight gaining diet plans, I've come across a lot of rude remarks on the internet. There are so few people that understand that gaining weight is just as difficult as losing weight and that being underweight is also just as unhealthy.

I've read comments like: "Just stuff your face with McDonalds or a bunch of donuts," or "Yeah, yeah. You've got it so easy. I wish I had to GAIN weight."

It's incredibly frustrating and I wanted to raise awareness about this. Being underweight isn't a fun experience. I encountered months of dizzy spells, nausea from my stomach having shrunk, fatigue, weakness, constant headaches; you name it, I experienced it. I have a naturally fast metabolism which I've been trying to work with for years. Last August, I didn't expect to get food poisoning along with a parasite and stop being able to eat most food for four months. I didn't try to crash diet and I most certainly, didn't want to lose any weight. But I did. I lost 8 very significant pounds. That might not sound like a lot but for someone like me, that's the difference between feeling normal and feeling sick 24/7.

Contrary to popular belief, I can't just gain weight by eating a bunch of donuts. First of all, I'm allergic to gluten. Secondly though, and most importantly, gaining weight from eating junk food isn't healthy either. After a round with antibiotics to treat the parasite, I experienced an allergic reaction that led to hives all over my body for a week. After that, I was finally able to start eating. So what did I do? I did what everyone online thinks is the natural way to gain weight when your "lucky enough" to be skinny. I started having loads of sugar. My body soon told me that I had enough sugar when I ended up with oral thrush, candida, which is also a reaction that can be triggered after antibiotics. For those who've never heard of candida, it's an overgrowth of yeast in your body, and yeast feeds on sugar.

Suddenly I felt hopeless. I had tried gaining weight and then I ended up with candida. If you look up the candida diet, you'll find that there is no way to gain weight on this diet. You not only have to cut out candy, but you have to cut out every sugar on planet Earth (fruit, rice, breads, etc). If it's a processed food, it's eliminated. I tried this diet for two weeks to treat myself and I experienced a lot of horrible reactions. First of all, if you ever have this, do not try to fight it as quickly and as fast as possible. You will experience a horrible reaction called "die-off". Basically, the yeast fights back while you're killing it and you can get severe reactions. The worst I had was depression. Yes, depression is a side effect of this treatment. Most days it was so bad that I couldn't leave the house. I spent nights just trying to find the will to be alive. My sweet husband even ran home from work mid-day just to check on me.

Eventually, I decided I couldn't continue on this diet. Gaining weight was too important. However, this time, I decided to do it right. I added back in fruit and the occasional bit of rice (sushi!). I'm still avoiding items with processed sugars. I've been following a weight gaining diet, with the help of my husband. I've been calculating my calorie intake to make sure that I'm actually getting enough on the MyFitnessPal app.

I've only been on this new diet for a few weeks and I haven't seen myself gain any weight yet. Most importantly though, I haven't lost any weight and I no longer feel dizzy. I'm hoping I will begin gaining weight in the next few months but at least I'm eating healthy. I hear it takes time for the body to actually start building the weight.

I still walk around and get comments from people like "You need to eat lots of cake!" or "You need to gain weight? That's easy. Keep eating! Finish your meal! Order more!"

I can assure everyone that I'm doing the best I can. I don't need to eat cake and I can't just keep eating because my stomach is still expanding.

I'm sure it's really hard to lose weight but don't for a second think it's easy for us trying to gain. We all have different body types and our own challenges that come with that. Neither one is easier or harder than the other. They're both difficult, time consuming, unhealthy, and mind-numbingly challenging. The best advice I can give is to just eat healthy and take care of yourself.

For those looking for tasty meals that are low on sugar and high in calories, here's my menu that's in the works! The meals are being created by my husband, who is a professional chef.

Lamb Leg with parsnip chips, butternut squash puree and celeriac puree (682 calories)
Created by my amazing husband, Gwithyen Thomas.

My Menu
These are my dietary restrictions: Gluten Free, Pepper Free, Milk Free, and Processed Sugar Free

Click for full size
Click for full size

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A New Beginning...

"The Hardest Thing In This World, Is To Live In It. Be Brave. Live."

I've been going over this post in my head, trying to think of what to write. I haven't written since October and I feel like it's time again. The last few months of 2013, were some of the worst I've ever had. Most of you don't know this, but I was very ill for the past 4 months due to a severe food poisoning incident at the end of August that left me unable to stomach almost anything until a few weeks ago. In the middle of October, during one horrible week, my grandfather and mother-in-law passed away. I was already suffering from uncontrollable weight loss and then I added on severe depression and anxiety. After a course of antibiotics, the initial stomach problem was fixed but it led to other adverse and severe reactions throughout December. Now, I'm finally eating again and slowly regaining my weight. I've started some new routines, including yoga and a weight gaining diet, and I've been working hard to reprogram my mind to my once optimistic and playful mindset. In the end, I'm hoping that everything I've gone through will make me a much stronger person.

I used to think New Years Resolutions were ridiculous. Like, if you weren't going to do something in the first place, why do you think you'll be able to commit now? But, this year, was the first year I didn't "resolve to not have a resolution". This year, I woke up on January 1st telling myself I would smile and that life was going to improve this year. I wasn't going to mope anymore and I was going to finally enjoy my life out in California.

Then it hit me. In the two years that my husband and I have been out in California, I never actually started a life out here. Before we moved from Colorado, I had things to do and close friends. I had my voice lessons, not once, but twice a week. The first year we were in California, we were so busy with a job that kept us from making any time for ourselves, that my husband and I never had the time to make any friends. I never had the time to take voice lessons. The 15 hour days, 5-6 days a week, I spent working on the computer, ended up leaving me with carpal tunnel, which I'm still suffering from. In the end, I had to leave my job and I left it to only discover that I had no other life in LA. By the time the first year passed, I felt so miserable in LA, that by the second year, I didn't want to make any plans because I figured I'd move from here eventually anyways.

I decided this year, what if I stay in LA? What if we don't move anytime in the next few years? I need to push myself to get out there and actually do things. Not just talk about doing things. 

Which brings me to my resolution: To make a life for myself.

I'm excited to say I've signed up to try out a new voice coach on Monday, I've started taking cake decorating classes, and in the future weeks, I plan to sign up for guitar lessons and krav maga! It feels good to actually have plans! I forgot how motivating that alone can be. Hopefully, with new activities on the horizon, I'll meet some new people and I'll also have more things to write about this year on my blog!

For anyone who's been going through their own personal struggles, I hope it helps to know you're not alone. Don't try to distance yourself from having a life. Get out there and become active. Take control. Let yourself live.

Happy New Year 2014 everyone! May positivity and optimism light your way this year.

Christmas 2013