A day for sweet hearts

bea_mine

 

I haven’t posted in a while. For good reason. I’ve become less interested in documentation and less concerned about overthinking/overanalyzing. Just living. Letting go. Being malleable, being present, being conscious.

This does sum it up:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fL6FaI-wJxs

I’m happy right now. Things are going swimmingly well on all fronts.

Split the cost, split the gain

love flickr aleksandra

I am a person who divulges all to those who I find similar wavelengths with. I have no real interest in being fractured or splintered to offer only parts of myself to different parts of people. Probably why I have a hard time understanding people who keep so much of themselves hidden away or held back. I don’t know that discipline or that preference.

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I was watching “Iyanla: Fix My Life” last night because…well, I cannot explain myself and retain any self-respect or dignity so shutup.

ANYWAY. Bat-shit crazy Iyanla, in her best impression of Rafiki, was speaking to a family who were having issues coming to terms with their son’s homosexuality. As the son pointed out that he felt that his parents, specifically his father, didn’t address his sexuality, he didn’t feel that he was being ignored – which Iyanla was suggesting. Her viewpoint was that the father was denying the son’s existence.

Her point was that – whether he felt his sexuality defined him or not, it was part of his fullness and that when he walked into a room of people who would not get to know his fullness, they could easily and simply sum him up as a gay man.

I guess I got the point. I, too, feel my sexuality is just a flavor of my personality but to ignore that part – even for myself – is to deny the fullness of my existence. And for someone else to ignore that part of me is to not fully know me, love me, appreciate me or accept me.

I’ll buy that.

_____

I have these weird moments where I feel unjustifiably ‘wise’ in comparison to other people. Or at least help others come to terms with shit they are unwilling to face head on or deal with in the simplest of terms. Sometimes I think maybe I should have gone into counseling. I guess I still have time to do something about that if I really want it.

_____

This is in my mind on repeat. The drama. The tension. The Bond-ness of it all.

A lack of resolution.

httpa://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fO07POv5IU

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I have been having this itch of ‘What’s next?’ in the last few weeks. I think it’s that time of year where you reflect on the year and your life and get stuck into that weird and unproductive pattern of hindsight judgment.

I learned this week from my training class that hindsight is a trap. The best thing you can ever do for yourself is to recognize what happened and LEARN. And apply what you’ve learned as you continue to move. Motion is more important than planning. The planning is a tool to help organize movement but does not account for the entirety of the journey. If you stick to the plan, you’ll be in grueling pain.

That’s the thing I’ve learned both professionally and personally this week.

_____

I feel released from pain. Released from torment. Released from obligation to this world, from capitalism, from societal expectations, from people’s judgment, from all the baggage of the past.

I feel equanimous and at peace. That state makes others really uncomfortable. Being at ease is so foreign to so many that it it’s terrifying that others don’t understand that an absence of all feeling is a neutral state of bliss.

Those who try to be happy all the time – and I’m talking about the people who FORCE themselves into that state – are no different than coke addicts doing lines one after the other. Addicts chasing the high. The same could be said for those who wallow in pain.

I watched Sarah Silverman’s recent standup special and she made a really good point:

If you quit being cunty the whole world will stop being against you!

Amen. The people who think the world is out to get them are so wrapped up in their own perceptual shit that has nothing to do with the rest of us who have to deal or interact with them. Just stop being shitty.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bZfzscQMjU

____

Photo courtesy: Love/ Flickr by Walisz

 

Surviving the retrograde

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For however long, I kept seeing people blaming and talking up the fact that Mercury was in retrograde. Truth be told I had no fucking clue what this meant so I looked it up.

First – some info on Mercury himself:

Mercury comes from the Latin word merx, or mercator, which means merchant. Mercury is the name given by the ancient Romans to the Greek mythological god Hermes.

Mercury is depicted as a male figure having winged sandals and a winged hat, indicating the ability to travel quickly. He was the official messenger of the ancient gods and goddesses and, as such, governed communications.

In 1782, Mercury became the first symbol of the United States’ postal service. Today, he is the Icon of an International floral delivery service.

In astrology, Mercury influences travel, literature, poetry, merchants, and thieves. He is cunning and witty at a moment’s notice. But he is also recognized as a trickster and prone to misbehavior.

In terms of the retrograde, it’s apparently the illusion that the planet itself appears to stop in its normal rotation and proceed backward.

According to astrology, retrograde can apparently cause a lot of friction and mishaps and confusion and the recommendation is to make no big or long-lasting decisions during Mercury’s retrograde. The point of the time, so ‘they’ say, is to be reflective of the past and review the past.

httpa://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stmjb9EHzg0

As if I need the planets to start moving backward to do that.

But interesting, considering the last post I left here. About how my own retrograde is counterproductive, especially in terms of relationships. You just can’t go back to where you’ve been with who you’ve been. Because everything is changed. In life, there’s not a lot of do-overs but there’s plenty of opportunity to learn, grow, move forward and evolve toward a better state of self.

I’ve come to see that you can only open yourself and your heart to other people and invite them in. But you cannot expect others to do the same or to respond. That’s not the norm. When it happens, that’s the magic. That’s the moment of sparks and tinglies. And those aren’t promised to you through life but you have to be open to them and not assume you know where they’ll come from or when.

It’s about being open to things. That’s really hard. To be self-caring and self-loving to a point to think you’re deserving and ready for an influx of goodness beyond the environment you’ve created for yourself. And that’s where I’m at. I’ve created this space for myself where I’m truly happy and content and I see nothing but potential and goodness around me but I’m not truly pursuant of it for the sake of ‘getting.’

It’s about just being present and allowing others to stand by your side and inviting them to be part of what you create and eventually creating something together. That’s the ideal. That’s the vision I still believe in. I still believe I’ll be loved in ways I’ve so far only imagined up.

But even the journey here was rough. But the point is I made it.

Image: Hold me tide/Ibai via Flickr. 

‘Til next time.

Strange.

The need for this space to write and share feels less useful than it once did. A sign that instead of working things out here for myself, I’m more invested and proactive in making the resolution in the moment and being much more honest in life about what I want, what makes me happy, what makes me feel loved, and what makes me want to run for the hills – as an exercise to prevent me from doing so.

So who knows how often – if ever – I’ll be updating this place. It’s served me so well and has bared the brunt of many logic wars I’ve battled with myself. And it’s been my scapegoat for when I was too afraid to deal direct, a somewhat passive aggressive attempt at resolution or closure when I didn’t think I could truly say what I felt too the person.

But also, I had to write all these words in this place to better get a grip on my own abilities of communication. To understand that acidic words can kill and that I need to temper my responses, my use of language in delicate situations when it’s not reflective of the inner part.

I’m eager to get direct without the battle armor.

Thunderbolts cometh

So last night was my first time attending the Pitchfork Festival and my interest was purely in Bjork.

Unfortunately, about an hour into her performance, including “Thunderbolt” appropriately enough – they called the festival for the day because of an impending thunderstorm (which did break from the heavens minutes after we got on a bus). Bjork summoned the lightening and hence it came.

She was decked out in some weird head piece that was like an explosion between cellophane wands and Pinhead from Hellraiser:

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While still promoting the mostly dull ‘Biophilia’ album with it’s lack of melodies and structure, the other songs were truly brought to life and I was very pleased with “Army of Me” and the new rendition of “One Day” from ‘Debut.’

The video below (from the previous Volta tour) just kind of shows you the energy/vibe she puts on when doing the bangers:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2M0p33K1mng

The choir she has support her is amazing.

For more pics & a recap of day 1 of Pitchfork, check out BrooklynVegan.

Whirlwinded

Two weeks ago I was in NYC.

Then this week I went to NYC for an overnight trip that turned into a 4-day misadventure with not enough clean underwear. Lesson learned. Pack more underwear. Always.

It was hilarious/awful/fun/terrible. Native American flute music from the ventilation system. Lost hotel rooms. Surprise visits. Energetic discussion. Oppressive heat. Terrible hotel rooms.

Overall, I won’t forget it.

This weekend is Pride weekend. I’m so ho-hum about it. It feels trite. I think for past generations of gay individuals who lived in secrecy, Pride probably was a great celebration to finally be seen and included and actually have a sense of open community. For me, it just seems like an opportunity for gays to get over-served and be more obnoxious during daytime hours with debauchery that is typically only seen by the moon.

But, to each his or her own. It’s just not my thing. I believe to just have a sense of pride all the time and revel in it accordingly. The last thing a big parade does with half-naked men flouncing about in hot pants and fairy wings is inspire pride in myself.

Call me old fashioned.

Apartment is coming together. Next items are new rug and couch for the living room. Then a bed frame. A bit more prints/art to hang. Then I’ll feel totally like an adult and at ease.

Been reading a ton – despite loving the texture of a book, this Kindle is just making it so much easier to read and commute and travel without the weight or bulk.

Saw John Grant this past week and he was amazing. His music is so odd and peculiar and fantastic and sad. Show was so great. He did not sing my favorite song though. But that’s probably for the better – so I wouldn’t openly weep.

Had been seeing a boy but that has come to an end. Sadness, yes. But understandable. Much to learn and much to work upon.

In other music, this is driving me wild.

Had therapy yesterday for the first time in maybe 6-8 weeks. Good to space things out and get better perspective. I feel more whole than I have before. And steady. And I’m okay to be more self-protective and selective. And see the translations between all my relationships and how they work and can lend knowledge to one another.

Things are good. I am good. Life is good.

Photo courtesy William Hundley/Flickr

 

Fresh coats of paint.

ee0df501768db4d82a9be45da55f955ae1ddd366_m

New colors and painting can change a perspective, can change an outlook, can change a demeanor, can change an aura.

So refreshing.

Who knew ‘Africa Violet’ would be as calming as it sounds? (Note: Photo above is not my apartment. Salmon is not a color I’d ever use.)

Life is good. This abode is starting to feel like a home lived in. Work is expanding and exciting. A sense of wholeness. A sense of happiness. A sense of satisfaction, however usually fleeting before I’m on to my next mountain to climb and self-imposed hurdles to jump over to attain a better version of myself.

But for now…just peace. Just calm. Just mirth. And letting chips fall where they may when it comes to getting that icing-on-the-cake kind of guy.

Haunted.

dr_tj_eckleburg_by_hasunkhan-d5hwgkj

This simple thought:

All loves will haunt you for the length of your life.

You cannot recreate them. You cannot replicate them. You cannot return to them. They are finite moments. Unable to be captured but burned into the visceral memory of the heart.

That’s what I’ve learned.

Sometimes it’s so disappointing. Sometimes it’s such a relief. And most of the times you feel in flux and wishing for moments past and moments future that will take you away from the moment you are in.

The fallibility of human cognition.

Knowing what’s come before and what could be without just living for the moment. Chasing the dream or chasing the past.

Sometimes I see myself doing that – for love. For the love I felt. Silly me.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_1aF54DO60

Counting everyone: A post about HIV.

hiv_virus

I recently met someone who told me he was HIV positive. It was interesting because, being a gay man, you’d think I would have already encountered someone who was poz. But nope – first one. So it caught me off guard. Less about him having it and more about my ‘Ignorance is bliss’ attitude toward HIV & AIDS that I adopt outside of my regular STD testing.

Although, if I’m being totally honest, I’m not ignorant about the virus. As a gay hypochondriac, you can only imagine that with each STD testing I’ve assumed I’ve contracted this terminal illness. Even though I practice nothing but safe sex and ask all my partners to be open about their status and last testing date (because I’m upfront with that, I feel others should be as well), there’s still the chance that someone who is infected may not know and there’s still a chance I could contract HIV or any other number of things that are less stigmatized.

My issue also became a debate about whether I could discount someone as a partner because of being HIV positive. He told me he was poz but undetectable. Because I had no idea what that meant, I had to educate myself. Essentially he’s on antiviral medication, which makes HIV undetectable from a blood test, but he still carries the virus and he still can transmit it. So even through protected sex, open communication and frequent testing, could I still discount someone as a partner? For me: yes.

Here’s why. I’m chronically worrying about my health. I fear I have cancer, or a brain tumor or that my heart is going to explode in my body. In the few instances where I had STD scares (mind you – none of them actually were, they  were all overreactions and unfounded), I lost my shit. I just cried and went to a dark place, thinking about my slow death and how my family couldn’t cope, that I’d be alone forever because no one would willingly date someone with such an illness.

So I can’t imagine trying to enter into a relationship with someone where I would be worrying all the time about my health. And in the time I wasn’t worrying about my health, I’d be worried about his health. If he got a cold, would it kill him? If I got the flu, would I pass it on to him and then be responsible for sending him to the hospital? God forbid he’d die – then what? As you can see, my mental capacity to process this is is already in overdrive. And that’s not a healthy relationship for me or for the other person. That much emotional weight and worry can’t be fun for anyone and can’t be alleviated.

And I’d never truly feel comfortable having sex. That’s a huge part of any relationship. And not one that can just be ignored.

I did have the other thought that it would be just my luck if I, of all people, would meet the man of my dreams and he would have HIV. It would be sort of the balance of someone who is always thinking he’s dying being with someone who is actually trying to stay alive. Tragic, no? But that’s my dramatic side.

After a conversation with Ellen, who adamantly said, “That’s terrible for him. But you can’t do this. Not because it’s not doable, but for YOU – YOU can’t do this.” And she’s right. But I had, for one of the few moments in my life, guilt. I felt sorry for the amount of shame and burden that it would be for this man to have to tell other people this and be discounted immediately. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to have that conversation with EVERY person you’d try to date. Or how you just don’t give up.

I guess it was easier for me to rule people out based on their appearance, their financial situation, their career path, etc. But when it came to something that wasn’t a choice, it felt horrible to immediately discount the possibility of love.

And he was very brave to tell me this as soon as I met him. And because of that, I immediately told him that I couldn’t date him for all of the reasons I’ve listed above. But we decided we could be really good friends, as we had a lot of common interests. But I still felt empathetic toward him.

For being such a large city, Chicago does have quite a lot of animosity toward the poz community here. Unlike places like NYC or DC or LA or San Fran, Chicago doesn’t seem to foster an atmosphere where poz individuals can come together. And that’s sad. It’s as if no one wants to talk about it or associate with it – but it’s real, it exists. Poz people are all around us, but are shamed in many cases to not reveal their status. And not that anyone should have to openly proclaim their status, but wouldn’t it be nice if people could not feel like talking about their status would mean they’d be brandished with a scarlet letter and ignored by a majority of their local gay community?

I guess it all comes back to education. Awareness. And being empathetic. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. And realizing that someone living with HIV or AIDS doesn’t want your pity. After talking with another friend, I realized that there are probably a great many people who contracted HIV from a long-term partner that was cheating or having unprotected sex with others without their knowledge. So not only do you deal with broken trust and the end of a relationship, but you’re also left with the physical and emotional baggage of dealign with an incurable illness.

Another sign that communication is important. But another sign that you just never know what curveball life is going to throw your way. As much as you can protect yourself, you can’t find peace by avoiding life. It’s all a risk. Trusting someone. Having sex. Falling in love. It’s all risky business. And you can’t predict who you fall in love with and why.

There was a recent article by a guy I follow on Twitter talking about bareback sex. I feel like his article, while reflective of his own personal values, was trying to switch perceptions of unprotected sex as ‘unsafe’ to ‘risky.’ That there was society-shaming associated with ‘unsafe’ as a label.

I found the whole thing to be a little misguided. Having unprotected sex – for ANYONE, gay or straight – is risky AND unsafe. Unsafe because no matter how much you trust someone, you can’t know their body and maybe they don’t know or take care of their body. Just as they can’t know yours. And if you’re not in a committed relationship (even then, how long do you continue using protection just in case?), how could you forego protecting yourself despite the pleasure you might feel without wearing protection?

It just seems representative of a juvenile attitude within the gay community by and large that propagates miseducation, disillusionment with the epidemic as it stands, and takes a very Millenial ‘devil may care’ attitude toward personal sexual health and reveals a real lack of care or concern of an individual toward his or her sexual partner. But people will continue to choose to have unprotected sex and we won’t know why. I liken this toward the same attitude of those who don’t wear seatbelts. A seatbelt is a mechanism to protect you and more than likely save your life. When someone is killed in a car wreck and could have been saved by a seatbelt, people shake their heads and shrug and think, “He or she knew better.”

We all know better. But it’s our choice whether to practice better. And don’t we owe it to ourselves and those we’re engaging in relationships and sexual activity with, to protect them as well?

Semi-fatty never forgets: a story about a juice cleanse

ellenjt

Sorry, Ellen. I had to use this picture. But believe me, you look far better in this than I do. This was when we both used to wear all black to work because we were in mourning for ourselves.

But believe me that this photo is much better than this one:

kim and jt at bdubs

I’m pretty sure both of these photos are circa 2006/2007-ish. What I like to call my “Klump” years. (Sorry, Kim. But the good news is – she’s lost weight and looks great now, too!)

It’s time to finally tell you about my fat years, which were essentially from the ages of 15 to 25 I think. Now, when I say ‘fat,’ let’s be fair – never was I morbidly obese. However, I was not within a healthy weight range for my 5’9″ frame. As you can see, I carried (and still do) a lot of weight within my face/neck area. I chalk that up to pure genetic misfortune that no amount of weight loss would reveal a chiseled jaw line.

At my heaviest, I’m pretty sure I probably weighed at least 180lbs. Again, laughable by other people’s standards in terms of being overweight. The fact is, I ate a lot of junk throughout college. Woofing down buffet meal plans, binge drinking, having 4th meals because of Taco Bell and Waffle & Steak’s around-the-clock convenience, and not exercising all led to a chunky Justin.

You can scour the internet and find every gay man talk about his fat years and how once he came out or realized he was actually gay, he lost a lot of weight. I think there’s some truth to that within my own story, but overall coming out wasn’t the impetus to change my lifestyle or my appearance. However, the results did bolster my self-esteem, but more on that later.

Time to make a change

It was probably around the holidays of 2008 that I had a moment where I couldn’t stand looking at myself.

Granted, I never really did like looking in the mirror. All I saw was a big fat kid who wasn’t attractive. And to fit the other stereotype, I probably developed my humor as a result of not being attractive or fitting in based on how I looked, dressed, etc. Much less that I was weird…and gay.

So as I finished my Christmas meal, I became very aware of my own body. Not so much what I saw in the mirror but more aware that this was something I was doing to myself without even realizing. I recalled how we ate as a family and there weren’t a ton of fruits & veggies. We were a meat & potatoes kind of clan and my best friend after school was Little Debbie.

I had heard of this book called “Eat To Live” and I found it at a used bookstore and snatched it up. Some consider Fuhrman’s book to be filled with scare-tactics, but I think it really aligned with my desire for a complete overhaul of my relationship with food. The concept that food was less about pleasure and more about fuel was perfect for me at the time. Many great insights about how eating more vegetables and fruits can truly impact your health and how many nations that are less developed that have a more organic and less processed diet have far less chronic healthcare issues such as heart disease, cancer, etc. It’s not a diet. I REPEAT – this isn’t a book about how to diet. It’s for someone who needs to do something big when it comes to taking control of the relationship with food.

So I started the changes outlined in the book – more veggies, less refined sugar, no meat, very little dairy and I noticed amazing changes. I didn’t work out for the first two months because I knew I needed to change my behavior more than I was wanting to see physical progress, although that happened naturally.

As I dropped inches and pounds, I noticed that I started having more confidence, better self-esteem and was feeling amazing. Then I noticed that other people were noticing me. Me! The fat kid getting eyed up at the bar or just strolling out in public? Wow. Not expected and I still don’t know how to react/deal. But it felt good to be ‘seen.’ I slowly added a new running regimen and yoga to my life that went in tandem with this new dietary change and the results were great – both mentally and physically.

The good news is that when you change your lifestyle, you increase the likelihood of keeping off your weight and I’ve done just that. My weight generally stays between 135 – 140lbs, but I’ve also been adamant about never denying myself. I have an incontrollable sweet tooth so I don’t keep anything like that in my apartment. I do my snacking/grazing mostly at work but then do have a lot of greens & veggies for my meals and have just recently been more cognizant of my caloric intake. Because when uncontrolled, I will be a Hungry Hungry Hippo and eat everything in sight.

Why the cleanse

I decided to try out a 5-day juice cleanse from Peeled Chicago.

So why the cleanse? Well, I’ve wanted to try one always. And it’s said that it gives your entire digestive system a rest, improves your skin and flushes out excess toxins. I figured – nothing wrong with that, especially after some indiscretions over the holidays. And there was a deal – and that’s always appealing. I picked up my first 18 bottles of juice on Saturday and started on Sunday and this recaps the process:

Day 1:

The cleanse is setup to have six juices in a day; one juice every two hours. And lots of water and green tea.

The first juice is a ‘Green Lantern.’ Lots of greens, some ginger and apples – it’s tasty and the ginger adds a zing but isn’t overpowering. I’m used to this kind of flavor and taste.

Then there was the ‘Haute Lemonade.’ I’m not a fan of lemonade anyway but to have a more tart drink with cayenne pepper was not a great moment to experience mid-morning. It’s far less sugary than whatever you’re imagining with lemonade.

The third concoction is called ‘Maroon Five.’ Lots of beets & carrots with a touch of lemon & ginger again. It’s a little sweeter and more palatable. Only three juices in and and I’m already wanting to EAT something. Not out of hunger but I just want to chew something for flavor.

Juice 4 is another ‘Green Lantern.’ It’s still weird I’ve not chewed anything all day. I must have an oral fixation.

Juice 5 is another ‘Maroon Five’ and even as I retrieved it from the fridge, I stared longingly at a chicken breast and I was equal parts angry and sad. So, food rage has partially begun.

The last juice of the day, #6, is a ‘Cashew Milk,’ more protein rich & loaded with vitamin E. IT’S FUCKING DELICIOUS. After going through a day where you feel nearly bloated on liquid, this was just what I wanted. It was a little sweet and had some cinnamon/vanilla spice to it. A comfort drink, if you will. It makes me realize how I will crave this every day.

Throughout the day I felt at times energetic and then I’d hit a wall and want to sleep, but I powered through knowing that I’d never make it through the night. I also had a concert to attend, where the odds were stacked against me. The singer, Jessie Ware, hit the stage at 11pm. On a Sunday night. I wanted to cry. I thought, “I’m hungry, I don’t want to go out into the freezing cold much less be around people drinking/eating.” But I thought she might never come back so I had to go. And I love her.

I just hope my ass gets some sleep.

Day 2:

Woke up energized and did fairly well all day. The desire to chew something still remains. I just want to CHEW something and then spit it out. I guess I am orally fixated when bored.

I did find that my energy level dipped in the afternoon but that could have been a result of staying out late last night. But the Ware was worth it.

I’m also craving the ‘Cashew Milk’ like no other. Probably for the protein and sweet, filling nature of the consistency.

Day 3:

Most normal people would have only done the three-day cleanse. Not me, no. Not the masochist that I am. And today I had to stop to pick up the final two days of juices.

The day started off sucking because it was 3 degree outside and I had to go to the dentist before work, where I learned I have a small cavity that I will have to fill on Thursday (yes, faithful reader – Day 5, the final, of the cleanse).

Today I was a bit hungrier than the prior two days and started to just get more loopy or out of it. Could be because my juices were spaced out too far apart or it’s just typical of day 3. Each day I hit my ‘wall’ around 2 pm, and then typically again around 5. I’ll blame it on waking up earlier today and the weather.

I will say that today I sniffed dark chocolate & peanut butter cupcakes someone brought into the office. I sniffed them several times. I’m already contemplating what textures and flavors I want in my first meal after this is over. Sushi sounds good. So does steak. So does Mexican food of any kind. Hell, I want a Big Mac.

Day 4:

I just can’t talk about it. Tired. Hungry or rather I’m wanting to chew/eat something with a different flavor.

Day 5:

Energy returned, either because I’d gotten used to the juices or I was so excited that I only had hours left. I became aware of how heightened my sense of smell was. And how I could smell things (like peanut butter dark chocolate cupcakes) and willingly walk away. I have the inkling that whatever I eat tomorrow will be so rich in flavor & texture. I think I’m going to go light though, so as to not completely destroy my digestive tract after it’s week of rest. Salads, legumes, maybe some sushi.

The end of the road & the beginning 

Woke up this morning and didn’t really think/care about food. I had some oatmeal and got a hot chocolate from Starbucks but after about 3 sips, knew that it was too sugary/milky/fatty. I think that as a result of this cleanse, I’m going to be more aware & picky about what I eat. For instance, I do crave salad & vegetables – not necessarily fruit or anything sweet.

For those who are all about the weight loss component – I lost roughly about seven pounds, which put me at 133. I can already hear the gasps and groans of some of you going, “That’s sick.” To be honest, I don’t think I look much different. If nothing else, the cleanse really does just lean you out – takes off the extra water weight and ‘fluff’ you may have. But I already know the danger of this sort of thing – you then immediately want to eat everything after the fact and you’ll put on all the weight & inches you lost.

So today – and going forward – is more about being conscious of what I’m putting into my body. For instance, drinking is of no interest. Dairy is basically not of interest. That bloated feeling is so much more apparent to me now and I’m more cognizant of how to avoid it (not overeating/drinking).

I think counting calories and restricting yourself to a certain number a day is a great place to be if you’re looking to truly be more aware of your diet. Read nutrition labels – pay attention to fat, sugar, sodium, cholesterol. Eat more greens & vegetables of various colors. Them’s my marching orders.

However, let it be known: I’ll never not eat buffalo wings.

Before & afters (bitch face is permanent)

jt_beforeafter_1 photo-1