Monday, January 28, 2013

Se sentir bien dan sa peau

(suh sawn-teer byeh(n) da(n) sa po): to feel comfortable in your own skin
The idiom in French, as in English, is most often used to describe one's self-esteem or mood, but is equally applicable to descriptions of one's physical well-being. The two are, after all, linked, right?


Me, soaking up the glorious springtime sunshine at the théâtre antique d'Arles in March 2011. I had just bought this skirt and felt oh-so-glamourous in it so I struck this pose in a few photos. (Photo by my friend and travel-buddy Emily, read her account of our trip to Arles here.)


When I got back from France almost two years ago, I realised that I didn't feel bien dans ma peau. I surprisingly didn't totally gorge myself on all the delicious cheese, bread and pastries.  I don't think it was until January that I bought a baguette and chèvre for dinner one Friday. For this reason, I don't think it was due to overindulging in France (although it would have been strange to come back from France without a few extra pounds), but rather different factors that had accumulated for almost a year at that point.

The first of these factors was writing my thesis in spring 2010. Because of the time crunch, I wasn't eating very healthily, resorting to pizza for a quick lunc hon campus and cinnamon buns and coffee to fuel my writing late into the night. I distinctly remember riding the #44 bus from campus to the public downtown and just feeling so gross, and knowing poor diet was exactly why.

Then I move to France to teach English. As I said, I don't feel I ever overate, although my wine, cheese, baguette, and pain au chocolat consumption was higher than it otherwise would have been. I ate without inhibition, trying local dishes

It wasn't until I was bedridden for two weeks that I really started to not feel bien dans ma peau. I mentioned this to my mum when she came to visit, but she didn't think I looked any bigger, and maybe I didn't, but for me it was more of a feeling.

It wasn't until I got home and felt so overwhelmingly tired all the time that I went to the doctor. Blood tests revealed that I was anemic. Taking iron supplements and consciously trying to increase my intake of iron-rich foods helped somewhat. Overcoming fatigue was also one of my motivations for my 2012 resolution to exercise. After a year, however, I noticed that I was still always sapped of energy. 

Over Christmas, my mum told me about The Wheat Belly, which she had read (and I am wading my way through). The author claims that eliminating wheat cures fatigue, among other things, so I figured why not give it a try. Starting January 1st I tried to cut wheat (for me meaning mainly bread and pasta) completely from my diet. I haven't been super strict though and have had a few pitfalls (did you know couscous wasn't it's own grain?). 

Anecdotally, I noticed a major improvement in my energy levels after only about a week of avoiding wheat. I stopped getting a mid-morning crash at work. I still get a crash in the afternoon, but it's not as bad as it used to be. I am also more conscious of it so I make sure to get up for a cup of tea and a walk around. I think this afternoon one is at least in part related to lunch.

All of this is affirming my decision to do a 3-day juice cleanse, something I have been thinking about doing since at least September. It's the new year, and it feels like spring is just around the corner, so it feels right. I've decided I'm going to start my juice cleanse February 1st, so I'll keep you updated on how it goes.


Amanda Raponi said...

I'm curious to see how it goes Vanessa! Good luck! I've tried to cut wheat from my lunches and have replaced it with quinoa--it definitely keeps me fuller longer.

Vanessa said...

Thanks Amanda! I think I'm going to keep track of observations somehow, maybe twitter, or physical pencil-and-paper journal. I definitely think I'll share my thoughts here.