Friday, June 20, 2014


                I’m back! I just couldn’t stay away for too long. Last week was a rough one. I honestly don’t know what came over me. I was just feeling overwhelmed with life. Having no clue what’s in store for me was giving me severe anxiety. My whole life is up in the air right now and riding on if I get into the paramedic program or not. I let stress take over and ruin a lot of things; however, I learned something. It’s all about perspective. How you think about things is everything. You are what you think and I was definitely thinking negative. I should have taken the time to step back and look at the whole picture before I let the negativity consume me. When I applied for the program, I had the attitude that I was just going to let the wind take me wherever it blows. Then all of a sudden, I was fighting it. Trying to control my own life but sometimes God (or whatever you believe in) closes a door to simply tell you “wrong direction.” And that’s okay. It was an eye opener. Trying to force things that just don’t make sense was the wrong thing to do and because of that, I destroyed the few good things I had going for me. But today is a new day and I’ve changed my perspective. Shit happens, life knocks you down and sometimes you just feel hopeless but I woke up yesterday morning and decided to find the positives in life. Life knocked me down pretty good, but I stood back up stronger than ever. The day has color again, I’m smiling again, I’m laughing again and I feel better than ever. Funny what the mind is capable of. Old Justine would be lying in bed right now wallowing in self-pity, but the new Justine, the Justine I’ve been working on for over a year now got out of bed this morning, worked out, drank a green juice and soaked up the beauty surrounding me. Because life is beautiful, even when you can’t see the light, it’s there. It’s all about how you look at it.
                Being human, it’s normal to feel something. Our emotions are powerful. Instead of blocking out painful emotions and shoving them down, I let myself feel them. I cried. Then I wiped my tears and moved on. I acknowledged what I was feeling and then let it go. I’ve spent my whole life thinking that showing emotion wasn’t okay. I’ve been called an emotional black hole on numerous occasions. No more. When I feel something, I LET myself feel it because it’s okay to feel hurt, sad or angry. It’s okay to cry every once in a while, it’s okay to break down and feel sad but it’s NOT okay to let yourself be consumed by those emotions. Pick yourself up off the ground and keep moving. Despite some shit that went down, I feel good. Like years of pent up emotions has been lifted off my shoulders. It’s a crazy feeling. Just because I let myself actually feel something for once, I got my sunshine back. Let me tell you, feeling numb and empty is a hell of a lot worse than feeling sad or hurt. I would take any emotion over feeling like your soul has been ripped out of your body.
                I also want to thank everyone who has been so, so supportive and kind to me through this whole mess. The messages I received and the kind words that were spoken to me nearly brought me to tears. When I write this kind of stuff, I’m not looking for attention. I don’t do it so people feel bad for me. I do it so maybe someone who is going through the same thing doesn’t feel alone. I want people to know that they aren’t the only ones going through this, that there’s a silver lining. Because if I can get hit hard by life and get back up, so can you. I write to inspire, not just to live a healthy life, but to keep smiling and stay strong. Life’s a bitch but it’s beautiful. Everybody has bad days but it’s all about perspective (:


 I’ve had a ton of questions from people about my lifestyle so I’ll answer them here just in case I didn’t get back to you (:

Q) Do you count calories?
A) NOOOOOOO. Just the thought of counting calories stresses me out. I’m the type of person who obsesses about things like that. Before I found my way to whole foods, I counted calories. There was a time when I went over my calories by 5 and I broke down and worked out for an hour after I had already worked out that day. 5 calories! That’s all! I don’t think counting calories is healthy. I believe when you eat whole foods, counting calories isn’t necessary. Your body sends out a hunger signal when you need nutrients, when you eat a high nutrient density diet, you aren’t as hungry because your body is getting all the nutrients it needs. But if you try to ease the hunger signal with a high sugar meal or a burger and fries, you're essentially getting little to no nutrients, so a few hours later you’re starving again. 
Q) “I’m really self-conscious about my mid-section, but I’m okay with the rest of my body. How do I reduce just my belly fat?”
A) You cannot spot reduce. You cannot spot reduce. YOU CANNOT SPOT REDUCE! Overall body fat loss is the only way to lose the belly pooch. Sorry!
Q) Are you vegan?
A) No. I’m “selectively vegan”. Meaning that I like to stick to primarily plant based diet; however, put a grass fed steak in front of me, chances are I will devour it. As long as I know exactly where it comes from and what’s in it, I’ll eat it.
Q) “You don’t eat gluten, you don’t eat sugar, you don’t eat corn and you don’t eat animal products or byproducts, what do you actually eat?”
A) Fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and grains and the occasional grass fed beef or organic chicken and fish. My menu is basically endless. I still eat pasta, I still eat hamburgers, I still eat cake and I would never give up pancakes. But I’ve found that nearly every unhealthy dish can be made healthy with a few twists and kinks.
Q) What is your workout routine?
A) My workout routine never stays the same because I get bored too easily. I try to run once a week, sprints 1-2 times a week, lifting 2 times and week and I usually try to fit in a HIIT workout in there somewhere. Honestly, when I don’t feel like working out, I just try to move as much as I can, which means dance parties in the middle of my kitchen!
Q) How do you stay on track?
A) I don’t! I lose motivation, I get too tired, and sometimes I just don’t feel like getting out of bed. But I’ve found that reading books that inspire me to be healthy works. I always have my nose in a book, might as well use that for good! I’m always looking for new health material. Also, when I eat like shit, I feel like shit. That right there is motivation enough!

If you have any more questions feel free to ask! Once again, thank you to all the people that didn’t give up on me. You’ll never know how much I truly appreciate it (: 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Finding Myself

            It’s funny, the older I get and the more I learn about myself, the more insecure I become. When I feel like I have my shit figured out, it all comes unrivaled soon after. Truth is, as far as I’ve come, I have so much more work to do. I’m learning that happiness isn’t some destination down the road; happiness should be in the here and now. I keep waiting for happiness. “if I lose just a few more pounds, then I’ll be happy” “If I get into this program, THEN I’ll be happy” “If I move away from Portland, then I can be happy” No, if I ever plan to be happy, I have to be content where I’m at right now. My brother always says to me, “stay present”. I never understood. But now I do. I live 50% of my life thinking about the future and 50% living in the past. Of course I can’t be happy if I’m not focused on today. Thinking about my future gives me anxiety, living in the past and reliving all my past failures brings me pain. If I focus on my life right in this moment, I don’t feel any of that. The future will come eventually, but if I’m not happy in the present, my future will be no different.
                I feel like a hypocrite, I promote self-love but struggle with it every single day. I’ve come so far in my journey to find self-love, but I have a long way to go. I let my insecurities get the best of me to where I ruin, no actually I destroy my relationships. No one deserves to put up with someone who can’t put away her insecurities and just enjoy what she has. I let those inner demons consume me. Everybody has insecurities, but if you’re confident with who you are, you’re able to brush them off or just accept them for what they are. I’ve never been able to do that. And that’s something that I’ve been working on. Normally, I don’t deal with my problems, I hide from them. I hide them from everybody. If I could just work through them as they come, I could let them go. But instead I let them build and build until they all come unrivaled for some poor bastard to be left picking up the pieces. NO ONE deserves that.  I’m learning to love myself and it’s one hell of a roller coaster. If I don’t love me, then who the hell will? I’ve been pretty lucky to have the people in my life who love me unconditionally. That’s the great thing about love, no matter what; you’re still there for that person. My mom, God bless that woman, has put up with my crazy for almost 21 years now. I’m pretty sure she is the only human being on this planet who would do that.
                Self-love is something that I wish everyone had. Society really is fucked up. So many women out there deal with eating disorders because it’s engraved into our brains at such a young age that to be beautiful, you have to be a size 2. You have to have that God forsaken thigh gap, you have to have beautifully straight and white teeth and you have to have big blue eyes and long wavy hair. You have to be a certain height, a certain weight, you have to dress a certain way and you have to be as hairless as an Asian.  Big boobs, nice ass, petite nose, clear skin, wrinkle free and graceful.  This is what is promoted in magazines, TV, movies and the fashion industry. The idea that you have to be a babe to find someone to love you is ridiculous. Every woman is beautiful in some way. Sure, you have a few extra pounds on you, rock that shit! Be who you are. Someone out there thinks you’re the most beautiful girl in the world. Fuck the standards of society. I always say that beauty comes from the inside and I will hold on to that until the day I die. My mother told me that when I was just a little girl and I will pass it on to my little girl someday. I have a beautiful soul, I know I do. But my past issues are like a thunder cloud blocking out the sunshine of my soul.
                I’ve never been secure with who I am as a person. Growing up, I never fit into a typical click at school. I was never labeled as one thing. I got along with everybody; the stoners, the jocks, the popular kids, the nerds and the hicks. I was friends with everybody but I never put myself into a category. I didn’t know who I was for a long time, but within the last year, I’ve figured out who I am. I’m not one thing, I’m a little bit of everything. I’m still working on figuring out my life, but there are a few things I know for certain. I’m a small town girl at heart who has a love/hate relationship with this fast paced, ass hole filled city. I suck at math.  I’m a people person when I want to be but choose to spend my weekends by myself. I have a passion for helping people, that’s literally all I want to do. I want to live somewhere where it’s warm and sunny every day. I like sci fi/fantasy and post-apocalyptic books but I’ll read anything you put in front of me, because when I read, I lose sight of reality and that’s all I really want. I will never be as great of a cook as my mom, but I sure can bake a mean cookie. I hate the snow and I love my family. I love fishing and shooting shit. I have zero fashion sense; sometimes I wear things that even Portlander’s would make fun of. My idea of a good time is driving around with the windows down the music turned up. I’ve never understood women’s obsession with diamonds and jewelry. I enjoy watching a football game but listening to people talk about their favorite sports teams bores me to tears. I miss my hometown, but can’t help but find the beauty no matter where I live (even this god awful city).

                This is who I am; just a lonely girl in a crowded room. Screaming and yelling hoping that someone notices me, yet wanting to hide when someone finally does. I feel so much pressure. I put on this front for everybody. Everybody expects me to be happy all the time. I now have this stupid fitness account and I feel like I can’t be real when I feel like life just really sucks. I have to be fit, I can’t gain weight and I can’t be unhappy. People look to me for inspiration and I don’t want to let them down but I’m a human. Everybody has bad days, and in my case, a bad month. I put on a front 90% of the time. There are very few people in this world that I can be real with, who I don’t have to put up a fake persona of happiness with because I know no matter what, they’ll still be there when I’m done throwing my hissy fit. I’m going to take a break from social media for a while. I have some things to work on and I can’t have the pressures of this world pressing down on me while I try to figure it out. I’ll be back eventually but as of right now, I’m just tired. I’m running on fumes and I need to figure out what needs to be done to make me happy. Right now, I’m not even sure I know what that is and I don’t even know where to start. I have some changes that I need to make and all I need is the support of my loved one’s right now. I hope you all understand. I’ll figure it out. I’m a Cooley and Cooley’s are tough. I just need to take some time for myself right now. I only ask that those of you who are close to me be patient. I might be MIA for a while, but don't give up on me! 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Gluten: Satan's Sidekick

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
                This is my life, ya’ll. I find myself falling back into habits I know are bad for me and expecting a different outcome when really; it ALWAYS ends the same way. In this case, gluten. I don’t know how many times I’ve gone back on gluten only to find my body swelling, my face breaking out, my nose getting stuffed up and my depression squeezing its way through the wall I’ve built up to block it. Every. Flippin. Time. This time, I don’t know what I was thinking. Before, when I started adding gluten back into my diet, it was because someone told me that cutting out wheat is bad for me or whatever their reason was. This time, I added it back because for some unknown reason, I thought my body would be able to handle it. Wrong! A couple of days into adding whole wheat bread back into my diet, my face broke out. Not bad, but still enough to make me self-conscious. I noticed I my sinuses were burning and I couldn’t breathe at night because my nose was so stuffy. This morning was the final wake up call. I woke up and literally was swollen from my head to my toes. My ring wouldn’t even fit on my finger. I feel like a fricken balloon.
                I do this too often. Go back to things I know are bad for me. There are studies done that show that gluten/wheat is as addictive as cocaine. I’ve experienced this. People literally have withdrawal symptoms when they try to eliminate gluten from their diets. Gluten is in everything. Even things you wouldn’t think.

Almost any kind of alcohol
Food coloring/fillers/texturizers/thickeners ect
Clif Bars
Power Bars
Breaded meats
Hot dogs
Lip gloss/balms
Nutritional supplements
Sauces/salad dressings/condiments

                These are just a few of them. This shit is in everything. Why? Because it’s addictive and those food companies know it’s addictive. It keeps people coming back for more. What does that mean for those companies?? $$$$$$$$
                For me, the part that freaks me out the most is the neurological effects it has. Every time I start eating wheat again, within a couple of days, my depression hits. I never see it coming. It just slowly creeps up on me until I’m consumed by thoughts I thought I had gotten rid of. Day’s become less colorful, I find it harder to get out of bed in the morning, I stay home all day and lose myself in some stupid, mindless book and I start to withdraw from my loved one’s; all because of wheat. Before when this happened, I just thought I was being a typical over emotional girl, however; the more it happened, I finally made the connection. When we consume wheat, once it has gained entrance to our brains, it crosses the amygdala, hippocampus, cerebral cortex and other major brain structures. Wheat polypeptides bind to the brains morphine receptor, the same receptor that opiate drugs bind to. Morphine-like compounds, for example, occur during “runners high”. Wheat literally induces a form of euphoria. Anybody who’s had or currently has an addiction knows what it feels like to get that first high or that first buzz. That’s usually all it takes before you’re hooked. Once we reach our body’s pleasure center, there’s no going back. You’ll do whatever you have to do to get that feeling again. Some people grab a pipe, others reach for another cigg or in this case, you reach for that sandwich. Because it’s so addictive, you need to feel the euphoria that wheat gives you. The crazy part is that you don’t even know you’re addicted to it! But as soon as you try to eliminate it, you’ll start dreaming of bread, salivating over it, talking about it and constantly thinking about it.
                Wheat doesn’t just affect you neurologically; it also has some effect on your weight. One piece of bread can spike your blood sugar just as much as a tablespoon of sugar. Studies have shown that wheat is also an appetite stimulant. Maybe it’s my lack of self-control, but I could probably eat the whole bread basket that Olive Garden puts in front of you before your food is served. I could down that and still have room for my dinner. I could also eat a whole bucket of movie theater popcorn and still feel hungry, however; swap the popcorn for a bucket of grilled chicken? No way. These empty carbs allow us to eat way more than we should. What does that mean for these food companies? $$$$$$$$. Big money. The more they can keep you coming back for more, the better.
                Cutting out wheat is tough. Trust me; I’ve been through it too many times. There are so many alternatives to this addictive substance. Oat flour, buckwheat flour, almond flour, rice flour, potato flour and tapioca flour are all great alternatives. They don’t bake the same as wheat and they sure as hell don’t taste as good, but it does the trick when you start craving wheat. Growing up in an Italian family, pasta was a main staple in out diet. I’m pretty sure we had some sort of pasta dish every day.  I’ve found that brown rice pasta or quinoa pasta have nearly the same exact taste and texture of regular pasta. Whenever I have a crazy carb craving, I’ll make brown rice pasta tossed in a little olive oil and salt and pepper with cut up cherry tomatoes and spinach. I get my pasta and it’s about 50 times healthier.
                These past few days have been a bit rough. I’m going to blame it on the gluten and keep it at that. No more. I can’t keep doing this to myself. Gluten just doesn’t work for my body. I think that everybody has a gluten intolerance of some sort. Whether it shows externally or not, the internal effects of gluten are all the same. Our bodies just weren’t meant to have a “food-like” substance in it. It’s not natural. I don’t know how many times it’s going to take me to learn. Wheat makes me feel like utter shit and this will be the last time I ever do this to myself again. Moral of the story: wheat is Satan’s sidekick. Get off wheat. Seriously, your body will thank you later.

                If you’re interested in eliminating wheat from your diet, “Wheat Belly” by William Davis is a great place to start. This book changed my life. It’s an easy read but it’s powerful. Sometimes I’ll reread it just to remind myself why I pass up that French bread at dinner every night.