25 January 2015

Who's Up for Juice?

In the spirit of trying new things (and my fast-approaching trip to Jamaica), I decided to start my New Year off with a juice fast. Yes, I totally know that your body cleanses itself, however after some overly indulgent evenings over the holidays I couldn't help but feel like I needed to reset.  Or at least consume large liquids that didn't have olives floating in them.  I had been looking at Joe Cross's plans for a while, so I decided to do a 5 Day Reboot. This plan involves 5 days of juice-only meals. Basically, you choose  from a variety of juice recipes based on color (i.e. breakfast = orange or red juice, lunch is a green juice, afternoon snack is a yellow or red juice, etc). What follows in an account of my experience of a 5 day juice fast, or  as I like to call it, 5 Days Without That Pesky Chewing.
To start things off on the right foot, I prepped all of Monday's juices Sunday night. Any other time I've tried to juice, I never prepare ahead of time and end up eating something else instead. So this time I headed to the grocery store with a juice plan and a list in hand of everything I'd need for Day 1.

The chopping, juicing and cleanup probably took about an hour, which isn't bad for a full day's meals. And there were no pots and pans to scrub. One thing I didn't like was how wet my hands were for the duration from the produce washing and the dribbles of juice from slicing. But that's just one of my personal foibles. Other than that, it was pretty simple.
Many of the recipes make 2 servings, so I divided everything up into mason jars and put happy little labels on each "meal". I admit, that was pretty satisfying for me - seeing the jars all lined up and labelled with juicy goodness.  I felt organized and self-righteous. This must be what it feels like to be Gwyneth Paltrow.

Only Tushie brand carrots from O'Leary are good enough for my juice!!
Monday, January 5th 2015

I woke up much earlier than usual. Perhaps it was the excitement of all the juice that awaited for me that day.  As per the plan, I started my morning with hot water and lemon. I like hot water and lemon, so this was a nice treat. Then I had my "orange" breakfast juice - Carrot Apple Lemon. The plan recommends that you reduce or eliminate caffeine during the juice fast, however I can't afford a criminal lawyer for any potential murder charges, so I opted to try to reduce my morning coffee intake instead of completely eliminating it.

Mid morning snack was a Pine Lemon Lime juice (yellow).  Very tasty and actually left me feeling full until lunch. Lunch was a green Garden Variety juice. Tasty, like grass. If you're into that kind of thing. Luckily, I am.

One thing the plan recommends is to drink lots and lots of water. By 1:00 PM I'm debating moving my computer into the office loo.

After work, I taught a spin class and I was curious to see how I felt. Some people on the Reboot with Joe website indicated that they felt weak/tired/headachy for the couple of days - enough that some took time off work. Really? Hmm. Ok. Well, not this cat. I plowed through the class with no noticeable change in my energy levels. I think perhaps it helps that the juice is fairly high in carbs. I was a bit headachy through the day, but not bad enough for me to blame on the juice.

Supper was another Garden Variety juice, and "dessert" was the left over Carrot Apple Lemon from breakfast.  The day overall wasn't too bad. I had hunger pangs from time to time, but they tended to ebb and flow. It was never completely intolerable.  What I really noticed was how much of a habit putting food in my mouth is. I'd mindlessly open the fridge and reach for something and then realise that it wasn't in the plan this week. It was an odd feeling to catch myself in the act. Almost like sleepwalking. This just might explain why I'm fat.

Tuesday, January 6th 2015

Last night's prep wasn't as easy this time. Maybe because I was tired or rushed (I got home late), but it was a complete mess. I have learned that my cheap juicer doesn't appreciate making so many servings in one go. It seems to get clogged up and not much juice comes out.  One hint I read was that you can take the pulp and run it through the juicer a second time for more output, and this was a disaster. My juicer has a small opening, so the pulp was hard to corral into it without it mooshing all over the place. And the 2nd-round pulp was a fine, soggy, cloggy mess. 

Back to my usual routine this morning i.e. staying in bed until the last possible moment.  I felt pretty good - unlike the bloated ball of goo that I had been feeling like over the holidays. The scale even rewarded me with a 2 lb loss! Sure, it may be water weight or poo or the complete lack of food in my stomach, but I don't care. It's motivating.

By mid morning, I can't stop thinking about steak. And eggs. As per the plan, I knock back some coconut water, but that doesn't help so I make an herbal tea and start counting down the minutes until "lunch".  I use this term loosely because today's lunch looks like the remnants of something hosed off the underside of a lawnmower.

In the afternoon, the hunger really kicks in. Like, crazy hunger. That's when I start renegotiating this whole juice fast thing. I'm tired. I'm crabby. Still, I force myself to BodyPump class and I don't notice any measurable lack of energy (mind you, it's the first class I've done in a couple of months, so I was prepared for it to suck anyway). When I get home, I just CANNOT have juice for supper. I end up eating some ham.

I run a hot bath in order to avoid eating any more. See, here's the other challenge with this juice thing: it's -13C with a wind chill in the -20s. I'm effing cold and the last thing I want is a big tall glass of ice cold juice. I want stew. All I can think about is beef and Guinness stew from the local pub. I get out of the tub and beg Miguel to make me some tomato soup. Because that's like juice, only hot, right?

I end the day on the couch and I don't prepare any juice for the next day. I still have 1 "supper" and 2 "snack" juices in the fridge. I'll have those instead.

Wednesday, January 6th 2015

I start out the morning feeling puffy and bloated again. I convince myself it was the ham and soup. Too much sodium. I start to plan how I'm going to make up for the fact that I'm a couple of juices short today, when I realise that I have a lunch meeting where pizza is served.
We need to talk about my love of pizza. It is immensely deep and passionate. But the problem isn't just with my love of the wonderful combination of cheese, meat and bread, it's the fact that I cannot control how much of it I eat. A normal person would be happy with 1 or 2 pieces. I, on the other hand, lose count after 5. I can eat a LOT of pizza.

Lunch is served. Yum.
I spend the better half of the morning fretting about what I'm going to do in a room full of pizza - never mind the fact that I haven't finished a document that I need to discuss in this particular meeting.  In anticipation of the overwhelming temptation,  I save my breakfast juice and drink it a half hour before the meeting. Maybe a tummy full of juice will make hot, gooey pizza seem disgusting. One can only hope. Maybe I can just use it to warm my hands? It's -15C outside. Feck.

The day ended much better than Tuesday did. I did have the pizza - 2 slices of veggie that had very little cheese. I skipped the lunch and midday snack juices and ended up being in the same nutritional target as if I had juiced 100% instead of having the pizza. 

I ran 5k on the treadmill after work and it was brutal,  though I don't know if my lack of energy was due to the juicing or the soreness from the previous night's Pump class.
I decide to make only 2 juice recipes for the next day instead of 3, and swap out a "snack" juice for protein the next day. I have to teach a spin class and I really need the energy.

Thursday, January 7th 2015

The morning is rushed as I am super late for work. I don't have time to drink the hot water and lemon before I head to the office.  I take my breakfast and lunch smoothie to work, plus 2 hard boiled eggs for protein. When I get to the office, it  feels like my stomach is trying to digest itself.  I feel nauseous. I'm hungry, but the thought of the juice makes me queasy.  The thought of any food makes me queasy. I want to head over to the juicing message board and bitchslap all the people singing the praises of juice. Some of these people do this for 30, 60, even 90 days. They need their heads examined.  Sitting at my desk, I can smell the juice even though the jars are still buried deep in my bag. Kind of like how someone's body odour sticks in your nose long after they've left the area.

I head to spin class after work and have good energy through out the class. But I do realise that I have felt queasy all day. I'm no longer hungry, I feel sick. All the time.  I start thinking about my "supper" juice and I literally start to gag. At that point I decide that I need to eat some solid food. I get home and I make a wrap with chicken breast and, lettuce, low fat sour cream and cheese. And it's HEAVENLY. Seriously, pure bliss. It was a healthy option and again, my nutritional profile ends up looking similar to what it would have if I had juiced the entire day. In fact, my carbs were actually lower even with the tortilla for my wrap.

Friday, January 8th 2015
Back to regularly scheduled programming.  I can't take it anymore. Not for lack of trying, though. My willpower is pretty strong, but I feel like throwing up just thinking about the juice regardless of the concoction of flavours. I don't think I can even stand to smell it at this point.

I have toast and peanut butter for breakfast and it's so lovely. At lunch I'm enjoying some hard boiled eggs when I get a waft of a colleague's lunch. Smells like chili! I get downright giddy at the idea that I will make chili for supper on the weekend! See, that's just not normal. Initially, I had expected to crave foods like pizza or burgers - the kinds of things I want to eat all the time. But I was craving food in general. Food I could chew. Food that would quell the rolling in my stomach. Salad, protein, anything. The greasy stuff wasn't even that appetizing. I just wanted anything that wasn't served to me in a jar.

The Results

It wasn't all bad. I did lose 4 lbs in 4 days. Hopefully that's some momentum to keep me going for a while on a less restrictive plan of healthy eating. And for the most part, the juices were tasty - except for Red White Blue and Green (blueberries, watermelon and chard) which tasted like sweet compost and was effin' expensive to make.  They did actually fill me up when I consumed them, though that feeling didn't always last. And nutritionally speaking, they do have substance - which is why you shouldn't drink a lot of juice on a regular diet. Some of those juices were well over 200 cals a serving, tons of carbs and a little tiny bit of protein. Not a lot of fibre, though.

Now for the cons. It's expensive, especially in the dead of winter.  This would be better in the summer when I can grow a lot of what I need and other ingredients are in season. For Red White Blue and Green I spent over $20 alone in blueberries for 2 servings and the end result tasted like crap. And if you start a juice fast right after New Year's, expect to find empty shelves where there kale and parsley are supposed to be. Apparently I wasn't the only one with this great idea.

If you're prone to binging, juicing is not for you. There were several moments where I felt the overwhelming physical and psychological need to shove food in my mouth just to satisfy the hunger pangs. The feeling was so powerful that the only think I felt was preventing me from binging was the fear that once I started, I wouldn't stop until I was ill.

Would I recommend it? Maybe the 3 day version if you want a jump start on resetting your eating habits. Any longer than that, and you run the risk of losing friends because you're so hangry.  I think it would be better as a supplement to a healthy diet, especially if you struggle to get all your servings of veggies. I don't have a problem with this, so overall the juice fast thing is just not for me.

Now... who wants chili?!

06 January 2015


"A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers." ~Plato
So it's another New Year. A time when we look back and reflect on the last 365 days of successes and failures and everything else in between.  I tend to focus a lot on numbers - the numbers on the scale, the numbers of kilometers run, the number of inches on the measuring tape, the numbers of people in the spin class on a given day.
Recently I hit a pretty big milestone. I tracked using MyFitnessPal.com for over 1000 consecutive days. 1102 to be exact. While that may sound like an impressive achievement, I can assure you that it's not as great as it seems.  Sure, I logged in to the site, and I would say more days that not, I would track everything I ate. But that doesn't mean I'm a weight loss rock star. Far from it. If you look at my weight loss trend for the past year, it resembles a lovely urban sky-scape. In fact, I weigh much more now than when I started tracking in the first place. And that sucks.

When friends on MFP see my log in count and congratulate me on such a high number, I usually respond with "Yep, I sure am good at logging in!".  I feel almost like a fraud - there's no accomplishment there other than a ticker reminding me that for every day I log in I'm still not reaching my weight loss goals (and seem to be going in the opposite direction).

However, in an effort to keep my negative self talk to a minimum, there are a few things I've accomplished in the last 1102 days. Here are a few things that I can be proud of:

- 4 Marathons (including the New York City Marathon)
- 8 10k races
- 2 5k races
- 1 7k relay
- 1 50k bike event

Sadly, I've spent the last year injured, so running ended up taking a bit of a hiatus over the last year, but I didn't let that hold me back. I became a certified RPM spin instructor and I rode in my first outdoor event, the  MS Bike Tour. I tried stand up paddle boarding and tennis (stay tuned for more on that one) and I was instantly hooked on all of it.

Sure, I'd be thrilled if the number on the scale was different. But I've had a lot of fun in the last 1000 days. I've had way more fun than I had when I was 20, 30 even 40 lbs lighter.   I am so much happier.

Finding things that you love to do, that challenge you, that leave you breathless... at the end of the day that's what really makes me happy.  I won't give up trying to get to a more comfortable weight. That is a battle yet to be won. But I won't sit here and continue to hate myself for what I haven't done and ignore what I have. 

And you - you there in the interwebs land... you give yourself credit, too. Every little accomplishment counts. Did you go for a walk today? Did you make it to the gym? Did you manage to get out of bed when all you wanted to do was hide from the world? A win is still a win, no matter how small.


17 March 2014

12 Weeks.*

He gang, remember me?

It appears that I took an unexpected blogging hiatus - mostly because I kept waiting for something exciting or meaningful to happen. And then when something did, I just couldn't seem to find the words to express it all. Since I last blogged, lots of great things have unfolded:

Niff and Mouse
We're winners!

- I found a full time job that doesn't make me want to slam my head in a filing cabinet drawer.

- I ran my best marathon time ever in Ottawa - 4:52:34. First time breaking 5 hours!

- I ran the NYC marathon with my most righteous running buddy, Mousearoo. 

- I became a certified RPM spin instructor and started teaching at GoodLife.

- I went to Mexico for the first time and found pure joy for the first time in a very, very long time (and jumped off a cliff, too!)


Dos cervezas, pour four more.
All this is really awesome. REALLY awesome. However, it's not all kittens and rainbows. This week I hit my highest weight of all time. How is that even possible? I run, I spin, I move my body a lot. But clearly, I'm doing something wrong.  I think it's safe to say that has to do with food and drink, and my immense love for all of it.  

So here I am, feeling like I'm enveloped in a fat suit. It actually feels foreign to me, like a big snow suit that I can't take off. It feels wrong. And yet I don't seem to be able to break the cycle that keeps inching me closer and closer to 200lbs.  

Today that all changes.

Today I have a plan. Today, March 17, 2014, I have a plan. I got me a FitBook and a goal for 12 weeks. No more starting and restarting. I have 12 weeks to get my shit together.  12 weeks is manageable.  In 12 weeks, I will lose 11 lbs and drop my body fat from 36.3% to 31.8%. It's not a lot, but it's more realistic  than my usual goals that are too lofty and unreasonable for any human to achieve.

So, here we go. Week 1, Day 1. 

Stay tuned for further updates.

*How many of you thought that this post would be about me being 12 weeks pregnant? HA! Nope.

03 August 2012

Trail Running and Oh, I Hate Snakes

For a long time now, I've wanted to try trail running. I've seen many pictures and write-ups on trail running in various running magazines and it always held a certain appeal to me. Lithe runners bounding through the woods, leaping over rocks and stumps and splashing through streams like happy, CoolMax-wearing deer. Maybe it's because it reminds me of playing in the woods as a child, when my biggest worry was finding string to make a bow and arrow set out of the perfect sticks I found in the woods.

Regardless, it's something I've been pining (get it? pine-ing? HAHAHA!) to do.  So when I found myself with little to do on a perfectly sunny day last week, I decided to go for it. I headed to the  Uniacke Estate in Mount Uniacke.

Uniacke Estate Museum Park is a Provincial museum that was the home of Richard John Uniacke, Nova Scotia’s first Attorney General. You can tour the beautiful old home, which is full of artifacts and period furnishings. The house sits on a 930-hectare estate, where there are walking trails that wind through the forest and along Lake Martha. 

I have walked some of these trails before, and recalled that they were pretty easy. The surface was either crusher dust or wood chips.  Not a problem for a first timer, right? Before I left, I reviewed the trail map and plotted out a 5k route. I started at the Hothouse Loop, running to the Post Road Trail, cutting across Wetlands Trail, and then back via the Barrens Trail. I hadn't done this particular route before so it was going to be interesting to see what it would be like.

So far, so good!

I headed out and was instantly happy with my experience. The sun was warm and filtered through the tall trees and the air was filled with the smell of warm pine. Cicadas buzzed around me. The trail was natural, packed earth with various roots and rocks peaking through the dirt.  Within about 10 minutes I knew that it would be a challenging run. I was huffing and puffing as I lifted my feet to navigate the various obstacles of nature.

Gradually, the scene started to change. The path began to narrow and the packed earth became almost entirely roots and rocks. The grass and ferns reached my knees. My paced slowed as I had to navigate the tangle underneath my feet. Well, that and my heart was about to explode from the intensity of the cardio activity.

Awww Bambi!

I came across some fresh deep prints in the mud and stopped to snap a pic. I continued to run and watched for more deer prints, but saw much foot prints that were, uh, much larger. I did not stop to take a picture of these. 

I was bounding along, happily snapping pics of the beauty of nature with my iPhone when suddenly it crashed hard. I couldn't get it to power up at all. At that point I realised that I had done something very, very stupid. I had gone out for this run in the middle of nowhere with no sign of life (with the exception of the footprints of some fairly large wildlife) and the only person who knew where I was happened to be in Ottawa.  

Yep, I had neglected to tell anyone where I was going with the exception of my pal in O-Town, who I had been messaging before I left the house. Now, here I was with no phone and possibly bears on my tail. Can you say stupid? Not to mention what would happen had I fallen and injured myself. Not smart at all. I started thinking about some similar episodes I'd seen of Criminal Minds, and wondered if my heart rate monitor was catching all of this.  I tried to pick up the pace. However, the trail continued to get smaller and more rough, to the point I was climbing instead of running. And then there were the snakes.

Where the hell am I?

I cannot stress enough how much I hate snakes. I've always hated snakes. Seriously, they freak me out. As I tumbled along through the dense trail, not once but TWICE a snake slithered out from under my feet. Yeah, I don't care that it was a little tiny brown garter snake no bigger than a pencil. I HATE SNAKES. I screamed and tried to run a little faster. Funny what a sudden surge of adrenaline will do for you. Maybe someone should throw some snakes at me at the 30k mark of my next marathon?

Snakes? What Snakes?
Man, I thought that trail would never end. At one point, the only way I knew that I was actually still on the trail was the fact that there was a little green triangle nailed to a tree every few feet ahead. And a nice sign posted in the middle of nowhere that said "You Are Here".  Eventually, I emerged from the woods. Exhilarated. Relieved. Seriously out of breath. 

I hiked back to where I had parked my car, thoroughly proud of my accomplishment (and somewhat ashamed that I hadn't told someone local where I was going). Once my heart stopped racing I decided that I would totally do that run again, only next time I would take someone with me to lead the way and scare off the snakes.

The end! Hallelujah!

If you're hanging out in the Nova Scotia and want a good challenge in a beautiful setting, I highly recommend you run the trails at Uniacke Estate. Just be sure to go prepared. Lots of water, a snack in your pocket and make sure you let someone know where you're going and when you'll be back!

A snake statue on the estate grounds.
A warning, perhaps? 

12 June 2012

I Came, I Saw, I Ran


Well, it's been a couple of weeks since the Ottawa Marathon and I'm sure that you are all on the edge of your seat wondering how I did. Well, I finished. I PR'd, but I did not break 5 hours. My chip time was 5:00:39. But you know what? I was thrilled.

Welcome to Our Nation's Capital!
The days leading up to race day were really stressful and scattered. Miguel found out that he had a job interview and the only day they could do it was when we were supposed to be in Ottawa. So we had to scramble and rearrange his flights so he would fly in Friday evening instead of Thursday morning with me. After 3 calls to Air Canada, we eventually got it sorted and off I went.

Unlike previous marathons, I tried to do this one right. This time, no shopping trips to Montreal the day before the race. No staying up til midnight drinking wine and stuffing my face the night before. This time it was a sensible dinner and a quiet evening before an early bedtime. As a result, there was no oversleeping when the alarm went off the next morning. Go figure.

This is the 5th time that I've done this race and third time that I've done the full marathon course. You'd think that I'd be a pro at it by now. But sure enough, when I got up that morning my thoughts quickly switched from "What should I eat?" to "What can I keep down?" I was a bundle of nerves! Luckily my bagel never made a reappearance and I and my nervous stomach settled down as we got to the start line.
Oy vey, it's hot! Can I get a glass a wahtah ovah heah?!
It was an awesome day, beautiful sun. It was a little warm and whenever I tried to pick up some speed I would start to feel ill from the heat, so I knew it would be smart to finish slower than my goal pace instead of in an ambulance.  I mean, it's not like I was in it for the money prize, so why waste a good marathon by passing out from the heat, right?

Taking it a little easy may have stopped me from breaking 5 hours, but I shaved 6.5 minutes off my last marathon time and I came away with some serious new resolve. I *can* do this in under 5 hours if I train right and lose some weight. And even when my training sucks because of all of the obstacles life throws at me along the way, I can still accomplish what I set out to do - run a good race and do my best.

So in the end, I was undefeated.
Will they make me take this off at airport security?
Ottawa Race Weekend is so much more than a race for me. It's a weekend filled with the love and support and kindness and hospitality of my Ottawa family.  My dear friends who follow me around the city for 42.2 km every year - rain or shine, who have waved signs and made t-shirts and have run along side of me when I thought I couldn't take another step.  They make sure I know the route before the race and they celebrate with me after it's done. These people go out of their way every year to make sure that I'm able to do my best.

And then there are the friends and family who cheer me on and encourage me even when they can't be there on race day - though I like to imagine that they're hitching a ride in my pocket.

I hope they know how much I love them.

03 May 2012

I get knocked down...

Hey kids, I'm back.

I wish I could say I have been on a fantastic adventure for the past couple of  months, but alas it's not that exciting.  I've been through some ups and downs and all along training for a marathon.  The most recent "down" knocked the wind out of me pretty good, almost to the point where I wanted to throw the towel in on the marathon.

I've been less than happy at my job for quite some time. Running, as you know, has been my coping mechanism for dealing with things that make me less than happy. Through the winter, running wasn't making me feel any better. Every run seemed slow and painful from head to toe. Zero energy, zero enjoyment. The weather didn't help. Ice, wind, snow, slush. It all sucked.

Then there was a ray of light.

I was offered what I thought was my dream job. I accepted and resigned my old position that I had for almost 9 years. Suddenly I was full of energy; every step I took was a bounce. I was lighter on my feet than freakin' Tigger.

And then there was dark again.

My dream job was cancelled before I even started. Suddenly, I was not only without the job that I had looked forward to so much, but I was completely unemployed. *Expletive*. After I stopped sobbing, the first thing that came to my mind was "How am I going to run a marathon?" Funny, I think most normal people would wonder "How am I going to pay my mortgage?" or "How am I going to feed myself?".  It's not like those things weren't important, but running was my coping mechanism to get through those kind of struggles. I felt truly defeated.  Enough so, that I thought about just giving up and hiding from the world on my couch. 

I'd like to tell you that I suddenly had a revalation that nothing can beat me and I'm much stronger than this, but it didn't happen.  I sobbed some more. I made some calls and started connecting with people and looked for job leads. And the next day I went out and ran.  I don't think I'm running now because I look forward to the release - not like I used to. Now I run because it's normal. For now, I have no desk to sit in by 9:00. I have no reports due every second Tuesday. My training schedule is what's keeping me sane, like I have a purpose besides sitting at the computer emailing contacts and searching for job postings. 

I used to post each and every run to all my social networking outlets. It was my pride and joy. Look! I ran! I felt great! Look! I ran and it was raining! WOOT! Now, I don't post them at all. I want to keep them to myself for now, because how I feel during these runs can't be summarized by a smiley face or even a frowny face with a bandaid on his head.

So I'll keep plugging away and in a few short weeks I'll run the full marathon in Ottawa. When I cross the finish line, regardless of my time, then I will know that I cannot be defeated.

06 December 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

I realise that I’ve been MIA for a while. When I started this blog, I really wanted it to be purposeful and not just the ramblings of my inner thoughts at any given time. I mean, do you really care what I had for breakfast today or what my commute was like? Something much more exciting than bagels and traffic happened recently. I turned 40.

I can’t say that I completely dreaded turning 40.  I think because I am not married with kids like many of my friends of the same age, I kind of feel like I’m still in my 20’s - but with a better budget.   Anyway, I had been reflecting a lot about how I got to where I am right now and I’d like to share with you what I learned.  So here it is:

What has 2 thumbs and loves cake? THIS GIRL!
Niffer’s First Forty Years of Insight 

I spent a good chunk of my life trying to repress a lot of my personality - things that make me who I am. I’m a high–energy person who is very sensitive, too. As a child I was told to calm down. When I got older, I was told to be quiet, stop talking so loud, don’t take things so personally. Suck it up. I was told that people were laughing at me, not with me. Because this was coming from people I loved, I believed them. I tried my best to be quieter, calmer, more even keeled. But all I accomplished was ending up hating myself and being uncomfortable in my own skin.

In my mid 30’s I found myself more or less on my own with time to think about a lot of things. I also had no one to tell me how to behave. After a lot of time brooding and healing, I started to get a very interesting feeling. I started to feel like “me”. It was a very comfortable place. I started having fun again and I channeled my energy into things that made this feeling grow – running, cooking good, delicious food, spending time getting to know new people and making new friends.

Being 40 also means embracing
your style with no fear.
And you know what happened? I discovered that there are people who love me for who I am. They tell me that they love my energy and spirit and they like being around me. This shocked me. How could these people care so much for me? Many of them haven’t known me for very long. How can they find good in the same things that I’d been berated for by people close to me? 
Don’t get me wrong, feeling loved for who you are is a great feeling, but I was genuinely confused. At first I assumed that they really didn’t know me and once they did get to know Full-On Niffer, they’d back off. But they didn’t. Then I assumed that they were being kind to my face and annoyed behind my back. But they weren’t.  These people actually love me. The real me. The loud, crazy, jagermeister-loving, dirty-joke telling me.

It feels amazing.

A little gift to myself - Tiffany style
 So today, I’m going to stop doubting and questioning and analyzing why people love me and accept it and embrace it. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned in my life is to love yourself. I know that sounds cliché, but it’s really true.  Embrace your own quirks and characteristics. Be genuine. Be who you are with no pretenses and people will love you.  They may not be the people you expected to love you, but they will love the true you and you’ll never spend another moment trying to be someone you’re not. It’s a very wonderful place to be. Trust me.
If you haven’t hit 40 yet, I hope it helps inspire you and if you’ve already surpassed the Big Four-Oh, I’d love for you to add your own pieces of wisdom and knowledge.

PS - I was lucky enough to spend my birthday weekend with many of these treasured friends. Shopping, drinking, eating, laughing. Best birthday ever.