Conor Does Whole30: Introduction

I feel like shit because, well, lately, I’ve been eating shit. As a former fat guy who shed 150-plus pounds between 2010 and 2011, even a pound of weight gained sends me into a panic. Unfortunately, I’ve panicked around fifteen times in the last year-and-a-half. My disdainful attitude towards all gym-based exercise hasn’t posed an issue for me in the past; typically I burned calories by walking. Living in New York City throughout the bulk of my weight loss, I chose to hoof it wherever I could instead of using public transportation. When I relocated to Philadelphia, I quickly secured a job providing caffeine to the masses at Starbucks––a position which resulted in walking an average of eight miles per shift. With its plethora of hillsides, living in Los Angeles introduced me to hiking; a form of exercise which not only helped me maintain my weight but also left me toned.

Now, as I approach the age of thirty, most of my jobs have me sitting either at a desk or in my car (the exception being the few opportunities I get to assist photographers on location). I’ve fallen back into the pattern of choosing take-out over a cutting board. Foods I vowed never to eat again have found their way back into my diet. With a vacation to a resort in Antigua on the horizon, squeezing into my 32-inch jeans (which at one point required a belt to stay on my body) is no longer an option. Fad Diets never work for me, and something crazy like CoolSculpt doesn’t really lay within my budget. I must once again transform the way in which I look at food; eating should not be a fun activity––it should be done purely for energy and nutritional purposes. Enter this “Whole30” nonsense everyone’s been chirping about over the last few years.

My 2010 extreme weight loss was achieved by shifting how I viewed food. I cut out fast food entirely, opting to cook my own meals whenever possible. For the occasions I did eat out, I made smarter choices, as restaurants in New York City are legally obligated to publish the calorie count of their dishes on their menu. Steamed is better than fried; turkey burger without the bun; side salad instead of french fries, and so on. If I ate something super crappy, tomorrow was a new day! From what I’ve read so far, the “Whole30” is like that, only on steroids. Seeing as I’ll be sitting on a Caribbean beach in a little over two months, my plan’s got to be super-charged.

On a recent episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, new cast member Teddi Mellencamp Arroyave explains to the other ladies that she is an “accountability coach.” This woman has literally made a living out of texting her clients, “Go to the gym,” and “No, stop. Don’t eat the cookie.” Because having to hire someone to tell me not do something would be fucking embarrassing as an adult, this blog will act as my “accountability coach.” Here I will bitch and moan, complain about wanting a cocktail on Friday night, and lament on how traveling twenty minutes each way to the gym in wind chills below-zero is corporal punishment. Should I see results, here is where I will log my excitement, ostensibly followed by a realization that I’m only halfway to the finish line, and how shitty is this?

Writing my feelings somewhere publicly will ensure I hold myself accountable for thirty days. I can’t promise daily updates but committing to bi-weekly recaps seems realistic. If a week goes by without an update, assume I’ve died on the elliptical.

Note that this is not a “New Year’s Resolution;” this is a solution to, “I’m turning 30, I feel like shit from the inside out, and I have to remove my shirt on a beach in a foreign country.”

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Sonic Flashback: “It’s All Over But The Crying” by Garbage

I experimented with acid once in my early twenties, but I didn’t care for it.  The trip was uneventful; colors appeared a bit brighter, but that’s all I can remember.  Many hardcore LSD users have spoken of “acid flashbacks” which from my understanding are lucid flashbacks to hallucinations the drug user experienced during a trip.  While I haven’t experienced an acid flashback, I have been in a situation in which a particular song plays, transporting me back to a moment in time I associate with that song.  Any emotions I had come surging, and I can close my eyes and see the exact location in which the event tied to the song transpired.

“Sonic flashbacks” can happen to anyone, and if you spend as much time listening to music as I do as a music photographer, you probably have a host of stories about the phenomenon.  An article written in 2013 by journalist Christopher Bergland for Psychology Today explains the science behind such flashbacks.  Recent scientific studies have found that “listening to music engages broad neural networks in the brain, including brain regions responsible for motor actions, emotions, and creativity.” [x]  Furthermore, the “neural tapestry” representative of a specific song will cause an even greater emotional waterfall if you listen to it less frequently.  Overplayed songs water down the brain’s response because “the neural network is constantly being updated” (sorry Taylor Swift fans).

My most recent sonic flashback occurred just this past weekend in the car with my friend Danielle.  I suggested she put Garbage on shuffle, and the moment she did I heard the intro of the one song in the band’s back catalog that elicits the heaviest of emotions.  My eyes widened; days prior I had broken up with someone, so I knew the emotional waterfall was coming.  Warm up your neural tapestries, because we’re going back to 2012 and this one is a doozy.

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HALFWAY HELL – My #MovingToLAStory

I feel like “Moving Horror Stories” are to “Big City” as “twerking” is to Miley Cyrus.  It doesn’t necessarily always happen, but it makes for a great tale later on.  Before I relocated to Los Angeles, I had already lived in two “hub cities;” New York and Philadelphia.  Therefore, I foolishly expected to be immune from the “L.A. Story.”  There is a certain level of street smart acquired when inhabiting a big city, and I had my fair share of drama in New York City.  To my surprise, I was being completely naïve because shit did go down.  We weren’t swindled out of hundreds of dollars by a greedy landlord; nor were we forced to live in an illegal basement “apartment” (both of those were actual stories retold to me).

My first misstep was assuming my roommate and I would be able to secure a lease in six days.  I arrived in Los Angeles on May 25th (a holiday weekend) and figured we would find something by May 31st.  Nope.  May 30, 2013 was spent on Airbnb looking for some semblance of temporary housing so we had a roof over our head.  I was staying in a hotel in Culver City and my roommate was in a sublet in Long Beach; we needed to act quick.  My roommate found a shared bedroom in a house (for $1,650) that we booked in desperation.  I decided to ignore the fact that I paid $1,650 a month to live in a two-bedroom apartment in Queens, because it just wasn’t time to be picky.  The listing looked fantastic: although we would have to share a bedroom with two single beds (and one bathroom with however many other guests came), it had “sweeping views of Downtown Los Angeles.”

Hahahaha.

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THE 10 LIST – 10 Reasons I’m Glad I’m Turning 26 in Tweets

I had a first draft of this post, in which I bitched about getting older and everything that goes along with it.  When I re-read it, it seemed like a plot outline for an episode of Girls.  Truthfully, I might be having some growing pains: much lower alcohol tolerance; inability to operate on little-to-know sleep; bills piling up faster than I can make money; but it could be worse.  I could be 20 again.

I turned to old faithful… my Twitter archive (which is thankfully only on my hard drive and no longer on the interwebs).  Unfortunately (or fortunately), my early 20s synced up with the launch of Twitter.  Literally, the Twitterverse became a thing when I was 20 years old.  I sat down with a beer and  hand-picked the absolute best tweets from my early 20s to show you (really to show myself), that some things get better with age.

I still eat food that might be bad, though.

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“GIRLS;” Do I have Hannah Horvath Syndrome?

It’s Monday which means a new episode of Girls aired last night.  Yes, I’m adding fuel to your “I’m sick of hearing about Lena Dunham and her television show” fire.  Last night (Episode 27, “Free Snacks”), viewers watched as Hannah (Dunham) secured an advertorial writing gig at GQ.  In true Girls fashion, it is an opportunity that Hannah almost immediately begins to shit on.  I will spare you from a full episode summary (if you have yet to see it, or if you can’t stand to watch the show Vulture has an on-point recap) and instead provide just a brief synopsis.

The episode appeared to be a step in the right direction for Hannah; she quits her barista job at Grumpy’s and is initially overjoyed to start a job which utilizes her self-described “myriad talents.”  Her excitement quickly dissolves and is replaced with dread after realizing that her cushy new job has become a creative trap for her co-workers.  They all started out like Hannah: trying to balance work with their own personal projects in hopes of making a name for themselves in the literary world.  To Hannah’s horror, the benefits of GQ are too enticing, too comfortable.  Her co-workers have abandoned their dreams in favor of a fully-stocked snack room.  Cue a full-scale Hannah Horvath meltdown: complete with tears and a trip to the bathroom to stick her head under the faucet (An aside: Do people actually do that?  She’s done that twice, albeit one time she was high on cocaine).

“Free Snacks” was one of the more uncomfortable installments to watch.  While last night’s episode did not include anything traditionally unsettling (e.g. Dunham’s character rupturing her eardrum with a Q-Tip amidst a fit of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; Adam’s mentally unstable sister Caroline (guest-star Gaby Hoffmann) suddenly appearing completely bottomless and crushing a glass with her bare hands), I still experienced bouts of anxiety.  Why?  Because I hated to admit that I knew exactly how Hannah felt.  While I don’t necessarily identify with Hannah Horvath’s obscure, borderline-unhealthy detachment from reality, I do recognize some uncanny parallels to myself within the monster character Lena Dunham has created.

Like… it’s sort of eery.  Follow the Yellow Brick Road…

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