Elimination Diet Experiment

Hey folks,This post comes with some hesitation from me because I don’t feel super comfortable sharing my health issues with the world, but I am posting it anyway in case others have useful info or if it helps someone else.  So here goes…I’ve been struggling for about a year with acid reflux issues.  It started with a stressful semester in grad school and I would often feel nauseous, wake up with a sore throat, and burning in my chest.

I immediately took action by significantly reducing my alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, and tomato intake, which was NOT easy.  I also stopped eating huge meals when possible, but the pain continued.

I’ve been to the doctor and a GI specialist numerous times.  I’ve done tests and taken meds, but the pain continues and has only escalated.  The doctors don’t seem to know why I have this because I’m not overweight and the dietary changes and stress reduction didn’t help much.

Recently, I had the bright idea to try home remedies (e.g., apple cider vinegar at mealtimes), but they only led to worsening symptoms.  My doctor recommended stronger meds, which also led to increased pain.

So here I am–medication-free, but not symptom-free, and I’m looking for a cure.  All of this led me to try an elimination diet (a drastic measure, to be sure) to help identify foods that might be the cause of my pain AND to give myself a month of clean eating so my stomach can get it’s act together.  After a few weeks of this diet, I will slowly start adding foods back into my routine.

I’ve been reading up on different elimination diets and talking to friends who have tried them, and here is what I plan on doing for the next month:

-Eliminate gluten, dairy, eggs, citrus fruits, and nightshade veggies (e.g., tomatoes, eggplant)

-Continue eliminating alcohol, caffeine, and chocolate.

Good for you foods:

-almost all fruits (except citrus like oranges)

-almost all vegetables, leafy greens

-rice, quinoa, other gluten-free grains

-chicken, turkey, beef, and other meats


-coconut oil, olive oil, and other healthy fats

Sounds terrifying, right?  I have no doubt it will be a challenge, but I’m really hoping for positive results.  I have a food journal to track what I eat and how I’m feeling, and I will also blog my weekly menu and a few recipes.

Have you ever dealt with health issues that forced you to change your diet?  What words of wisdom can you pass onto me?

Thanks for reading this exceptionally long post!


New year, same old me

I have set broad New Year goals for myself each year I’ve been blogging, with some success!  I know goals are supposed to be specific, attainable, and measurable in order to succeed, but somehow I find broad overarching goals are more attainable and easier for me to remember.  For example, my goal of eating less and moving more is way more attainable than working out three times per week and eating 5 servings of vegetables per day.  My life isn’t that rigid and I’m much more inclined to actually follow through if there is less pressure.

Does that make sense?  I guess what I’m trying to say is, the more specific I make my goals, the less attainable and more stressful they become

In any case, I thought a lot about my goals for this year.  I have the standard big goals like getting a job, moving into a house, etc., but I also feel like I need something more.  Some way to improve my life and to extend myself.  So I came up with a list.  I hope to accomplish some of these this year, but the real goal is to at least start on these before I’m 30.

  1. Attend a concert in a new venue with a band I’ve never seen before.
  2. Get my thesis published.
  3. Create a morning and bedtime routine that reduce stress and can easily be incorporated into my life.
  4. Volunteer for an organization working with animals.
  5. Reduce meat consumption and maximize vegetable consumption.
  6. Keep a sketchbook journal and start creating.
  7. Attend a photography class and practice honing my skills.
  8. Send letters/cards/notes to the people I love.
  9. Join a recreational sports team.
  10. Practice cooking more Asian food.

Whew!  That’s a tough list, but I think I should be able to get to most of them over the next three years.  I’ll check back in throughout the year and mark my progress.

Do you have any New Years resolutions?  What goals have you had the most success with in the past?



Hello internet friends,

I finally graduated from my masters program!  Two and a half years flew by, but it also felt like an eternity, if that makes any sense.  My classmates and I went out for drinks after our last class of the program and that was the moment I started to have an existential crisis.  I have been in academia my entire life (with only a brief hiatus to move across the country) and I’m not sure what life looks like without it.  I will certainly enjoy not having to walk back and forth across campus all day, but there’s something about school that always reels me back.  While everyone else was celebrating and cheersing, I was wondering what the hell I was going to do with my life and what goals I had for myself.  Switching gears to something new is hard and scary!

This sunset pic taken from my balcony felt appropriate here.

This sunset pic taken from my balcony felt appropriate here.

It seems like I should be able to enter the world of full-fledged adults at this point, but I still have to complete 4,000 supervised clinical hours before I can get licensed as a therapist.  I’m 1/8 of the way there! haha

My plan is to search for full-time employment at a job where I can continue to collect clinical hours.  If I don’t have luck there, I will try my hand at starting a private practice, but it’s a dog eat dog world out there.

In the meantime, I plan on taking a long vacation.  Rejoice!

I’ve already started celebrating my exodus from academia by feasting with friends.  With more free time, I plan to blog a bit more and to spend some time fueling my creativity (probably by reading and taking photographs).

Have you ever switched career gears?  What made it easy or challenging?



Balcony Garden Pests

Hello friends,

Summer is in full swing in sunny Ca-li-forn-eye-ay and my balcony garden has come to life!  It’s quite the jungle out there on the 4 X 10 space reserved for a table, two chairs, a grill, and an overflowing garden of herbs and vegetables.

Then and now garden

To update you on a few things from the last post, I ended up not using fertilizer.  About once per week I dumped my used coffee grounds in the soil, but the plants grew just fine without chemicals.

I pruned the basil here and there for sprinkling on dishes, but I also had enough to make pesto every few weeks.  Having homegrown and homemade pesto on hand at all times was well worth the effort.

And it was an effort.  Let me tell you.

About a month into the gardening endeavor I started to notice giant holes in my basil.  Soon the holes spread to my tomato plant and eventually spread to my bell pepper.  Somebody was eating my hard-earned vegetable bounty!

I read about all sorts of natural bug repellent remedies on the internet like creating a beer/soap trench for the bugs to drown in, sprinkling banana peels in the soil, etc.  As it turns out, it is much more effective to identify the pest and then find the appropriate remedy.


I posted this picture on Facebook and instantly got several comments that I had caterpillars (caterpillar=not pictured, caterpillar poop=full frontal).  Sure enough, I found one big beast wrapping himself in a cocoon in a basil leaf.  Filthy bastard!

The trick to killing the little jerks is to mix in a saucepan over medium heat 2 cups water with anything spicy and a small amount of dish soap.  I added what we had on hand, which was chopped garlic, onion, jalapeno, cayenne pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Then I put the concoction in a spray bottle to spritz the plants down every few days (make sure to spray at night because the soap might burn leaves in hotter temps).

The pest situation is finally under control AND the tomatoes are actually starting to ripen!  Tomatoes are ready to eat when they turn red and pulling them off the vine takes almost no effort at all.


I made a lovely caprese salad with these 3 beauties earlier this week.  They were sweet and mild and oh so satisfying.  I highly recommend planting your own mini garden because it is definitely rewarding.

How do you deal with garden pests?  What’s the worst critter you’ve battled?


P.s. If you noticed I neglected to mention the cilantro, there is a reason.  More updates to come.

Weight Loss Motivation

The last time I checked in with you about my weight loss journey (9 months ago), I had lost 20 pounds overall. I wrote about how it took me 2 years to lose that much weight in a daily uphill battle. I pointed to my friends as a source of strength and motivation on that journey. My friends still support me each day.

The biggest change I’ve made to my life is to eat less. I still eat pizza and drink beer, but I do it less. I pound back the caramel banana bread pudding, but I make up for it by eating greens the next day.

How do I accomplish this “eating less” business? By judging myself less. This is not easy. I constantly have to tune out the little voice in my head that says, “You’ve ruined your whole healthy eating plan,” whenever I slip up and have too many brownies. That voice is not helpful. That voice gives me permission to continue the downward spiral of eating all the things. That voice is a judgmental bitch. So I ignore her and tell myself things like, “Wasn’t that brownie awesome? SO GOOD! If you want another one, take a nibble on that salad for dinner. I know you want another one.”
I have lost 2 pounds since my last post on the subject, and I’m happy with that. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of days where I say, “Mads, you can do better! I can’t believe you’ve only lost 2 pounds in 9 months! What have you been doing that whole time?” That judgmental bitch again. But there’s an even bigger part of me, one that knows I’m worthy, that says I’m still moving, inching, crawling, clawing, in the right direction. I know I can keep going and I know that progress is progress.

How do you keep motivated to stay healthy? Do you use self-talk to stay on track?


Honeymoon in Belize: Part 2


This post is the 2nd in a series documenting our honeymoon trip to Belize. Enjoy!

caye caulker

Caye Caulker is a beautiful island in Belize, where the motto is “Go Slow” and they mean it! After several days of beach-lounging and strolling up and down the coast, we decided it was time for some adventure. Naturally, we signed up for snorkeling in Shark Ray Alley with the sting rays and nurse sharks.


The first stop in the snorkel adventure was a coral reef, which proved to be a little daunting for Jonathan and myself. Jonathan is a first-time snorkeler, so getting him comfortable in the water with a mask on, while trying not to drown myself in the process was slightly anxiety-provoking. We eventually decided that we were holding the group back and to sit this round out. After all, we had two more snorkel stops throughout the day.

The next stop was Shark Ray Alley! Basically, guides stop by several times a day, throw some chum out, and let tourists swim amongst the sting rays and nurse sharks that come to feed. Now, I’ve gone snorkeling with sting rays before, but the addition of nurse sharks (they are about my size) was terrifying. Right before I was about to hop in, I asked the guide if he’s ever been bitten. He proceeded to point out the scars on his fingers stating it was “no big deal”.

The Lazy Lizard--Where Ben and Emily had an awkward date in the sand on The Bachelor

The Lazy Lizard–Where Ben and Emily had an awkward date in the sand on The Bachelor

My thought process ver batem: Right. Ok. Deep breath. I can do this. Count to three. One. Two. Nope. Not doing it. Come on! You’re in Belize and will never be able to do this again. Nope. I like my fingers. Jonathan’s already in the water and he still has all his extremities. One. Two. THE HELL WITH IT–THREE!

It was incredible. I could actually hear the sharks choping through the chum and swishing their fins around. Then the guide picked one up like it aint no thang (no wonder he has mauled fingers) and we got to pet the shark. Amazing. I highly recommend doing really dumb and dangerous things from time to time.


When we got back to the island, we decided it was too early for dinner, so we had cocktails instead. I do not recommend mixing booze with sunburn, swimming, heat, and empty tummies.
Luckily, we found huge bottles of water and pizza with habenero sauce to save us from heat stroke. It was touch and go there for a moment.


The next morning we took our water taxi back to Belize City to pick up our rental car. Something about driving on the open road in a foreign country totally makes you feel like Indiana Jones. We were humming the theme song throughout the entire trip.

Our next stop was San Ignacio!

Have you ever gone on any outdoor adventures that make you question your own sanity?  What did you do?

More to come…

Honeymoon Time!

Hey team!

Jonathan and I are finally going on our honeymoon!  We were planning on going the day after we got married, but I made a scheduling error and actually had to go back to school the next day.  Womp womp.
When I discovered my boo boo, I sat and wept for the vacation that would never be, but then I stopped feeling sorry for myself and planned our honeymoon over winter break.


Click image for original source. From destination360.com

A beach in Belize…yes, please!  Click image for original source. From destination360.com

Honestly, Belize was not our top choice for destinations (Argentina, Bora Bora, and Thailand came to mind), but it was the rainy season almost everywhere that sounded interesting.  Belize was a good compromise for someplace slightly tropical with other interesting landscapes, and affordable.  Plus, Jonathan and I are big travel addicts, so I’m sure we’ll get to those other places soon.
The hope is to do at least 1 historical thing (Mayan ruins), 1 beach thing (snorkeling and relaxing on an island), and 1 Indiana Jones thing (cave tubing).  I’m sure we’ll do much more, as we are there for 11 days, but these are our main goals.
We’ll also be on the lookout for John McAfee’s mansion and any evidence of his bath salt drug kingpin ring and murder charges.  More on that bizarre story here.
If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?  What’s your favorite thing to do on vacation?