Being a Stinker (And Other Lessons in Listening)

So…. I used to have a pretty awkward problem.

I was stinky.


Seriously, I was incredibly flatulent. In a very gross way. It was often hilarious, but also highly inconvenient and all kinds of awful.

It really came to a head when I became a vegetarian about 10 years ago. It was so bad, I started taking digestive enzymes to help with it. I had started eating quite a bit more fiber and beans. Took my body awhile to get used to it, but it never really went away. Ask any of my ex’s or my old roommates, it was pretty excessive.

I didn’t think that it was indicative of some kind of issue though. I thought I was just a stinky gal and that was that. It wasn’t until my sister told me she was having issues with wheat/gluten that it even crossed my radar. I started paying attention to when I was stinky (which was most of the time,  making it hard to nail down), but eventually I noticed a correlation between eating things like pizza and pasta or drinking beer with being stinky later. I started trying to eat less bread and such for a while, but that was hard, especially as a vegetarian. I didn’t really change my diet at all. At least, not right away.

A year or two later  I noticed I was getting hives on the inside of my forearms. I thought it might be my laundry detergent, or bed bugs again (I had bed bugs once and had “hives” all over my body and spent a week trying to figure out what I was allergic to before waking up to one crawling on my face. Horrifying). Eventually, I started noticing  they would appear about 12 hours after I ate wheat. It took me awhile to notice/admit it to myself. It took even longer before I really made an effort to take it out of my diet.

I would eat gluten-free for a while and then I would cheat. It would go OK, so I would cheat a little more, and then more. All of a sudden, it would hit me and not only would I get stinky as all hell, and hivey (if that is a word) but other, less pleasant gastrointestinal symptoms popped up. I also became incredibly emotional. It was weird. I would get sad and mad and be basically kind of crazy for no apparent reason. I suspect my emotional instability has to do with the fact that it was making me sick in many ways and I just didn”t feel good. I get kind of crazy like this when I am coming down with the flu as well. I am not a good patient. I’m actually a huge baby when I’m sick. Good thing it’s not very often.

Anyway, I went through this cycle of eating gluten-free, then falling off the wagon over and over again, many, many times. It was during this time I started eating meat again (I always said I would be vegetarian as long as I remained happy and healthy without meat, but it seemed overwhelming to be both meat and gluten-free).  Every time I fell off the wagon and landed on a gooey delicious pizza, I felt worse  and worse.  It’s really only this last year that I’ve been very careful with it, but I still occasionally ate free chocolate cake at work whenever it came available. I was just aware of the sacrifice I would be making (it always seemed worth it at the time).

I had food poisoning on Dec 21,2012. I performed at a super rad Christmas party, stayed for dinner and had to leave around 9 and barely made it home in time. I was 4 1/2 pounds lighter in the morning. I had eaten a questionable piece of fish (I had noted it as a likely food poisoning culprit when I swallowed the rancid bite).  The next few days I ate very sparingly, and was super careful of what I put into my body. I questioned how everything was going to make me feel before I ate it. Any time I tried something that I wasn’t really sure about, sure enough, it hurt my stomach. I started realizing that my body had the answers, and every time I tried to overrule with my brain, it ended badly, with pain.

I felt so good when I listened to what my body really wanted to eat that I decided to just keep going with it. I wanted to explore more deeply and uncover whatever other pieces of wisdom I might find within this bag of flesh. I also started spontaneously loving my body more. Feeling good begets feeling good I guess.

Somewhere along the way, I realized I hadn’t had a drink in a few weeks. Whenever anyone offered me one I declined, remembering the awful sour taste of the wine I had drunk on the 21st as it came back up. I started to relish in my new-found clarity, and realized that the relaxing effect of even a glass of wine made me far less in touch with my body as well as far less productive. I realized my body never really wanted the alcohol. Sure, I love the taste of wine. I have my first Sommelier certification and truly enjoy all the wine babble, but as good as a glass made me feel, it didn’t make me feel good for long. I get sleepy and apathetic after the glass wears off, and if I keep drinking that’s a whole ‘nother set of issues that come up right there.

So, when I realized I wanted to pursue this radical self love project where I listen to whatever my body says, I realized it means staying stone cold sober. For the first time in my life, the idea was thrilling. I’m excited to see how much more productive I will be. In case anyone was interested,  I also no longer stink it up on a regular basis (but being human, I still have the odd moment.)


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