Year of the Shark- January Recap

A full month has passed since I declared 2018 The Year of the Shark time flies when you’re busy sharkin’. Looking back, I feel like I’ve actually accomplished a lot over the past month. Here’s a recap of what I’ve been up to.

I took the GRE. While working on grad school applications, I just decided to take the plunge and take the GRE so I would have scores if I need them. I signed up and gave myself a whopping six days of prep time to re-learn all of the high school algebra and SAT vocab that I haven’t used in 15 years. But I took it, I did well, and I was very happy with my results.

I passed my CEN. Apparently January was the month of test taking for me, because once I took the GRE, I started studying for my Emergency Nursing Certification.  Again, I didn’t give myself nearly enough prep time for the test, but I wanted to take it by the end of the month to hopefully include the certification on NP apps due at the beginning of February.  I studied feverishly for about a week, took the test, and passed- barely, but I passed! Phew! I’m off booze at the moment, so I indulged in a celebratory pizza in lieu of a cocktail, with my Mom.

Mom came to visit! It’s always a highlight of any month when Hazel is in town. Unfortunately, this time I was hunkered down studying for the CEN, but she kept me supplied with cups of tea while I trudged through page after page of the intricacies of emergency nursing. She also did some serious organizing, painting, yard clean up, and of course, spoiled the Ginger Hounds.



I went to a last minute Mardi Gras Ball, which is always a fun time. A bunch of my friends were going and a last-minute ticket was offered to me, so I snagged it. My friend Diane even had an extra dress that just happened to fit me- it was meant to be!


Terry, myself, and Jenn



Louisiana froze. Like, really froze. This is a big deal for us southern residents. We had freezing rain that left a solid inch of ice over everything, and then a pretty sprinkling of snow on top of that. Our temps stayed below freezing for about 48 hours, which has to be some kind of record for us, as usually if we get any kind of wintery precipitation, it is gone within the hour. Needless to say, this northern girl was loving it. Alas, although I fared well, it was not all fun and games for many, as freezing temps were accompanied by freezing (and busting!) pipes, school closures, road closures, and a citywide boil-water advisory for 3 days. The Ginger Hounds loved the cold weather and the crisp smells of winter, something they don’t get to experience too often.


Ruby and Pepper in Louisiana snow









Now looking forward to February, there is lots coming up. Mardi Gras is coming which means GLITTER, GLITTER, GLITTER! (Have you ever googled how to glitter your dog? Because I have…). NP applications will be submitted, hopefully I will figure out my triathlon schedule for the upcoming months, and I’m sure there will be some adventures with the Hounds.

Until then, keep sharking, my friends!

Year of the Shark

When I was a kid, I used to love going to the local Chinese restaurant and reading the back of the paper placemat that showed a diagram of the Chinese Zodiac. Beside each zodiac sign was a list of attributes assigned to each zodiac sign. Ox: dependable, hardworking, stubborn, intelligent, loving. Rabbit: stubborn, loving, hardworking, intelligent, dependable. Snake: intelligent, hardworking, loving, stubborn, dependable. You get the idea. Then they would list your best love matches- Pig + Goat (boring), Monkey + Rabbit (sounds like a magic show act), and Tiger + Dragon (now that is a bad-ass power couple!). Each zodiac sign comes around every 12 years making each new year The Year of the _______. This year I’m so excited that it’s finally the Year of the Shark!!

Yes, I know, there isn’t actually a shark in the Chinese Zodiac, and it is actually the Year of the Dog (which I love), but to me, it’s the Year of the Shark, I have declared it so. Why the Year of the Shark, you ask? Well I got my inspiration from one of the silly internet memes I saw on Facebook (Mr. Big posted) a month or so ago.

For some reason, I just loved it. January 1, 2018 was a Monday this year, which I felt made the meme all the more applicable as my inspiration for this new year. I pondered on what the attributes of the Shark zodiac sign might be if there really was one. Shark: strong, vulnerable, motivated, intense, spirited, and complex. I thought that seemed accurate.

As I continue to make some changes in my life and lifestyle this new year, I decided to forego resolutions (because, let’s be real, they are mostly bullshit) and just aim for a better outlook and presence in my life. For me, that means stop making excuses, stop settling for mediocrity, let go of apathy, set attainable goals, explore new expressions of myself, become comfortably uncomfortable as I stretch out of my safe zone, and allow my well-bring to be my main focus. Basically, be more sharky.

So that’s it. 2018 is going to be my Year of the Shark. Even though sharkin’ ain’t easy, it has to be done, and I’m ready to get to it.

Whole30… holy hell!

Last weekend in a moment of brilliance stupidity and curiosity, I decided it would be a good idea to try out the Whole30 program.  For those not familiar with the Whole30 program, it is a form of elimination diet in which the participant cuts all refined sugars, grains, wheats, legumes, alcohol (eeekk!) and dairy (what??) out of their diet.  The premise of the diet is to cut foods that increase inflammation in the body for 30 days, and then to slowly introduce foods back into your diet rotation once the 30 days are up to see how your body reacts.  Sounds interesting enough.

I read some reviews of the program and there were overwhelmingly positive reivews of the plan.  Most people state that the plan is difficult, both physically and emotionally (supposedly sugar detox is rough), for the first couple of weeks, but after that participants experience “boundless energy”, “the best sleep they have ever had”, “relief of chronic inflammation symptoms”, and “feel like they have Tiger Blood running through their veins.”  Tiger Blood, eh?  I’m intrigued.

The diet plan didn’t look too disimilar to what I was already eating (or trying to eat), as I generally try to steer clear of grains and sugary foods.  Admittedly, I’d been a lot more lax with my diet choices recently, which was part of the motivation to try a more extreme program to get back on  track.  Whole 30 focuses on meats, veggies, and fruits and is not considered low carbs, as they encourage plenty of carbs in the form of sweet potatoes, squash, and root vegetables.  Sounds easy enough.  Cutting dairy would be a new step for me, but it can’t be that hard, right?  30 days without cheese…. I can do that!

So I decided to go for it.  No time like the present!  I started earlier this week and am now on day 5.  Here is my experience so far:

Day 1:  Smooth sailing.  I had a ham and veggie omelete for breakfast; tuna ,avacado and smoked salmon for lunch; and braised short ribs with veggies for dinner.  I was eating like a queen!  I felt great, I drank tons of water (with lemon), and I was having fun prepping more Whole meals for the week.  I went for a jog with Pepper and did some yoga (so I can be hot AND bendy when this is all over).  I was OWNING this diet!

Day 2: Woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after a restful night’s sleep.  I had mashed sweet potato, eggs, and avocado for breakfast; left over short ribs for lunch, and seaweed salad with salmon for dinner.  However, mid-morning I started to feel kind of “blah”.  I had a headache, my brain was foggy, and all I wanted to do was sleep.  I chaulked this up to being residually tired from the weekend and a full day of work.

Day 3:  Back at work for 12 hours and I’m dying.  I’ve feel like I’ve been run over by a large vehicle and the only thing that will made things better is cheese.  Cheddar cheese, brie, string cheese, blue cheese, cream cheese, velveta, I don’t care but I NEED cheese.  It’s all I can think about, all I can focus on.  I don’t even know what I ate that day, all I know is it was cheese-less and I was sad.  I had a headache, fatigue, and I had body aches all over.  I had read reports of “sugar withdrawl” but I assumed that was only for very unhealthy people, not someone like me who ate pretty well.  I was wrong.  It really made me realize how much refined sugar is hidden in seemingly healthy foods (read your labels, people, you’ll be shocked!).  I really felt terrible.  Finally, around 5 pm, I felt so bad that I drank my first cup of black coffee ever, and it helped a little bit.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  I did go for a quick jog with Pepper after work and all in all felt better by the end of the day.

Day 4:  Yesterday I flew to Houston to make an Ikea run and drove back to New Orleans from there with Mr. Big.  I knew this would be a challenging day because finding foods that adhere to the Whole30 on the road isn’t easy.  However, I managed with breakfast at home, a coconut milk latte at Starbucks,  sauce-less meatballs and veggies at Ikea, and a salad from Subway.  I determined that the girl at the Subway was a direct agent of the Devil as she tempted me with cheese on my salad no less than three times during the ordering process, but I suffered though.   Mr. Big also opted for a Subway sandwich instead of walking over to Wendy’s, which I think was his way of showing solidarity (as he enjoyed his bread, cheese, and delicious mayo).  I still had a headache and felt tired, and now I was coming out with some congestion (dairy withdrawl maybe?) and swollen lymph nodes.  My body hates me.

So far, day 5 is much of the same.  Headache, fatigue, and body ache.  There is a slight chance that I might actually be fighting off some kind of sickness, but the timing of everything and the symptoms involved really make me think this is some kind of sugar detox.  I’m sticking with everything, though, and hopefully I’ll turn the corner in a few days.  Although I feel pretty crappy, I am finding this process very interesting.  I am always interested to see how my body reacts to different situations (like training for an Ironman, for example), and this is definitely a new experience in that regard.

I will keep posting updates so you can follow me in my misery… and until then, I’ll continue to dream of cheese!