Wednesday, February 24, 2016

paleo t*ts

Picture it. Chicagoland. Early 2016. A nearly 40-year-old woman heads to her doctor's office to help her get some supervised direction on living healthier as she enters that territory otherwise known as 'over the hill.'

Doctor recommends something similar to a Paleo diet -- and after six weeks' worth of drinking, eating like a sloth, and growing out of clothes around the holidays -- said nearly 40 year old somewhat begrudgingly hops on the Paleo Train.

I am that (now) 40 year old, and the Paleo Train has led to a case of Paleo T*ts, for which I'll forever be grateful.

Carb Flu and the Halo Effect

The first week on Paleo was the hardest. I'm a woman of extremes, so I didn't do cheat days; I cut out all alcohol, soda, and anything that resembled a carb, dairy, cheese, etc. I existed on eggs, grilled chicken, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, vinegar and oil dressing, and mixed berries.

I dealt with my Carb Flu like any single, Midwestern-Winterliving woman would: with a robust Netflix queue and the fantasy that I would drop 20 pounds instantly. I photojournaled like a pre-teen so that I could see how my body changed.

Once the first week passed, Paleo became a game. I started to write about it on Facebook (dubbing it the #paleochronicles), and about how I'd successfully navigated a week's worth of social events without a drop of alcohol or carb passing my lips. Restaurants became my new Halo and I hunted out grilled chicken salads with vinaigrette dressing like MasterChief hunted down targets.

Houston, we have muscle definition. 
After my first 30 days, I revisited my doctor. 15 pounds and 3 inches lost, I'd picked up a happy, healthy glow. My hips were smaller, my waist was trimmer, and for the sake of metabolism and definition, it was suggested I start to step up my workouts even more in month 2.

Paleo T*ts
The week of my 40th birthday I started working out with an awesome trainer who specialized in martial arts training. Coincidentally, my FitBit suddenly started talking back to me with exciting new achievements. You've acieved this! You've eaten that! You drank this! Good job Erin!!!!! The FitBit gave me progress reports before, but suddenly it's like I was playing in a new league.

Three days after my 40th birthday, I also found my very first bona fide breast lump. At first, I thought I'd bruised something at Karate, but the more I felt it, the more concerned I was. My family tree has an entire section dedicated to breast cancer, with everyone except my mother getting it in their 30s (mom was in her 50)s. The tree, the math, the 'oh shit' moment sent me straight to my electronic medical portal and within 10 days, I was set up to see my OBGYN.

Hourglass and obliques on fleek
(but no boob for you).
I was petrified. I was befuddled.

Here I was losing weight, getting healthier, and NOW I get breast cancer? Like 'What the actual FKCU' God? With almost 2 months of no alcohol, no carbs, no cheat days Paleo, I'd convinced myself that if it was cancer, I was downing a beer and a pizza and saying sayonora to the Paleo diet.

The last few days have been a whirlwind. My OBGYN agreed that there was a definite lump. She fast tracked me to radiology, where I spent 3 1/2 hours being smooshed and scanned in diagnostic mammograms and ultrasounds. The radiologist wasn't overly concerned, but he did see some concerning spots. One referral to a breast health surgeon and an appointment later, this is what I know:

Turns out, the lump is probably just a benign mass of crud that was probably hanging around for a while, but only 'popped' out once I lost weight. The lump that scared me and got me into mammograms also uncovered a few other things that I'm getting an MRI to learn more about. I managed to hit a trifecta of good insurance, perfect time in my cycle, and a Friday morning opening....I'm going in for my MRI the day after tomorrow.

From here on out, I'm calling them my Paleo T*ts. Because had I not started Paleo, I wouldn't have lost weight, the lump wouldn't have popped out, and I would have probably just kept ingesting alcohol and other not-so-healthy stuff.

The Paleo Train, which I'd tried desperately for a long time not to hop on, wound up being a saving grace. The number of coping mechanisms and vices which I used the crap formerly known as food and cocktails for is astounding. Now, when life hands me lemons, I simply cut them up and put them in a large pitcher with water. It's been freeing to tell the doctors' offices that I don't smoke, don't drink, and oh yeah, you're right, my weight has gone down from my last visit.

When I look the mirror now, I can see a few more wrinkles on my face and neck, but I also see a svelte hourglass figure, kick-ass obliques, a smaller waist, sweet muscular arms, and a butt that makes leggings look hot.

So, thanks Paleo. You win.

Thursday, February 4, 2016


Don Curry Photography, Aug. 2015

This is me.

Single. Active. Almost 40.
  • Black belt in Karate.
  • Training to be a Pole Dancing instructor.
  • Burlesque performer. 
  • Sr. Digital Strategist for a media company.
  • Board member of large local networking group.
  • Trivia Night champion.
I feel amazing.

Lessons Learned

I didn't always feel that way though. For most of my 30s I wondered if, or how, I'd ever leave my mark on the world. When childbirth and marriage didn't work out, I was convinced I'd blown my shot at being something to someone.

When I think of the highlight reel of my life, it's things that happened in my late 30s that made me the woman I am right now. Some of what I figured out was:
  • Forgive. Perhaps the hardest lesson to do, and to actually mean it. I have plenty of reasons to have hate in my heart, but I choose forgiveness instead. I'd rather practice having a good heart than hate on people. 
  • Don Curry photography, Aug. 2015
  • Love yourself. No, I mean, really. From the time I was a child, through grade school, high school, and much later into my life, I heard plenty of things that would make me hate myself. I wasn't pretty enough. I wasn't thin enough. I wasn't smart enough, etc. It was head-spinning. Then 2015 happened. I was completely on my own. The only men in my life were a few great friends, my stepdad, and my brother. I put a hold on dating, I bought my own car, I did a big solo road-trip, I got a black belt in Karate, I posed for pictures that showed the real me. I did all of things by myself and for myself. Suddenly, I was in love with myself. 
  • Live in the moment. I rarely think ahead past 2 days. I've stopped the 'what-if's' and the 'I wish I would haves...' There are so many things I could have done differently in my life. I could have treated people differently, I could have taken a different path with my education, etc. I could have done many things, but I didn't. There's no use beating myself up over it, just learn from it and move on. 
  • Stop being a victim.  I've unsubscribed from more sites because of this mentality. From websites to online groups, the support systems that are meant to boost women up can become rife with 'poor me'isms. Don't get me wrong, there are legitimate problems in the world and sometimes the only place a person can go to to 'talk' is online. Hell, I ran a blog and a website based on this sort of support. However, there's a huge difference between I need to talk about this to get advice and I want to complain about this because I want someone else to confirm I'm right. Shit everyone. It's how you deal with it that separates the girls from the ladies, the men from the boys. As my favorite saying goes: "Put on your big girl panties, your sexiest boots and kick some ass." 
  • Take care of yourself first.  I live by myself, so 'me' is the only person I need to take care of anyway. Even with that, I've started to push aside the feeling 'oh I should do this because it would hurt people's feelings if I didn't." For most of my life, I'd bend over backwards so people would like me. I was afraid of pissing people off or rocking the boat. Now? I rarely give a fkcu. It took 40 years to realize that the only person really, genuinely looking out for me is me. So if I want to eat like a cavewoman while not responding to someone's passive-aggressive text rants after I slept for 9 hours next to a man who isn't my husband, I will. No apologies. 

Don Curry Photography, Aug. 2015


A friend of mine is hosting a party for me this weekend. Ninety of my closest friends and family will be celebrating the milestone of turning 40.

90 people.

A couple of years ago, I remember bawling on my therapist's couch because I felt like if I died, no one would remember me or come to my funeral. I felt like a failure and that I'd made no impact in the world. As I watch the RSVPs for the party come in, I can't help but feel like the sad, lonely woman of a couple years ago has been kicked to the curb. She's been replaced with a newer, healthier, and happier model.

40 year old Erin makes no apologies for keeping it real, for taking care of her own needs first, and for living life on her own terms.

Here's to 40 and all of the love and wisdom that comes with the next 40 years.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Dear Young One.....

I saw you this weekend. I don't know if you saw me or even knew I was there. I didn't know you were there until I saw your mom walk into the stadium.

Once I knew you were there, I searched high and low throughout masses of high schoolers in your marching band to see if I could spot you. It's been more than two years since I saw you. I didn't know how much you'd grown or if you'd changed a lot. All I knew is that my heart started pounding at the thought that I might get to say one final hi to you. 

My friends -- their children are in the band with you -- and I were just preparing to leave when I saw you with your mom. Dear, sweet young one.... I cried when I saw you. 

I cried over not having the courage to walk over and say hi to you at that moment. 
I cried over not knowing if you still remember me.
I cried over not knowing if you know how much I still miss you and your sister.
I cried over remember that your birthday was last week and that it was always a fun time figuring out how to celebrate for the years we were together.

Dear Young One, I cried because my heart still hurts over losing a child that was never mine to begin with. Please know of all of the people that love you, that I still love and miss you from afar. You may never know and may go on the rest of your life with barely a memory of me, but know that I will always remember you. 


Friday, August 7, 2015

August, Retrograde, and Carpe-ing the f*ck out of the Diem

In my adult life, most of my major life changes have happened in Augusts.
  • I met my (now ex) husband
  • I went out on my first date with said ex
  • I got married (two years after that first date)
  • I found out I was pregnant in August
  • I found out I'd miscarried that same August
  • I closed on the house I sold last year (in August)
August also marks my half-birthday. I'm not super astrological, but lately, I've started to wonder if these major life shifts were a cosmic sign of some sort. Almost like divine intervention to remind me to Carpe the f*ck out of the Diem.

I'm turning 40 in February 2016 and, as luck would have it, a few things I'd always wanted to try were happening in August 2015. I'm excited to say, I'm taking life by the horns and trying out a few new experiences:
  • I'm going to adult summer camp. I leave next week to attend a 4-day event in Ohio where I'll be sipping mai-tai's, beers, and bloody marys while arts-and-crafting, trivia-ing, hangover yoga with 99 of my closest new co-ed friends. I never went to sleepover camp as a kid and the blogger who launched this event is amazeballs covered in awesomesauce, so it was hard to not go. 
  • I'm having sexy photographs taken. Not quite boudoir, but not exactly senior-picture-head-on-hands either. The studio where I take pole dancing and burlesque classes has a photographer coming in to do aerial, pole and other photography done. I've heard a sh*t-ton of negative talk about my body throughout the years -- not only from myself, but from others -- so stripping down to sequin panties and a bra and some 6-inch heels while having black and white photos taken just sort of screams I'M AWESOME AND STRONG AND I LOVE MYSELF BADASS POLENINJA SELF DAMNIT!!!!!!
  • And, finally but perhaps most exciting to me, I'm testing for my black belt in Karate. After 6 years of classes, workshops, bruised bones, sprained ligaments and tendons, physical therapy, a concussion or two, tears, sweat and blood, I'll be testing for my Sho-Dan rank in Isshin-Ryu karate at the end of the month. I'm equal parts excited and nervous. 
If I've learned anything in my 30s, it's that life is what you make of it. I'm giving 40 the same look I give my sparring opponents or people whom I don't trust or like: Don't mess with me.

I've spent way too many hours beating myself up because of what I hadn't done, or what I'd lost, or what I wasn't able to see to completion.

Something shifted this year. I'd had enough of saying yes when I meant no. I've often hid my real, ladylike raunchy personality behind a veil of concern of what-if-people-don't-like-me and that stopped this year. I'm someone you either adore or loathe. There's not a lot of in between with me.

I see 40 as a great reason to stop giving a f*ck about the nay-sayers, the haters, and the douchebags of the world. I leave everyone with this gem of a poem/video post that sums up how I'm looking at 40 and the rest of my life.....