Thursday, September 20, 2012

What is Normal?

Anybody here??  I've been a bad blogger neglecting my little spot on the web for a week. You know what it's like to have one of those busy weeks. Anyway, here I am!!

What is normal?
That has been something that I've been struggling with lately.

As a kid in school I was a bit of an introvert and never knew exactly what to talk about in social situations. My best friends were horses, chickens and my dog. I had my "happy place" in the woods or near a pond where I could be left with my thoughts and observe nature.

I tried to be more social as I grew up. Sometimes I succeeded and sometimes I failed. I just wanted to be like the normal folks who knew exactly how to dress and talk.

When I started to finally just be myself is when I made friends. Most of the time it was male friends because they seemed to be less judgmental than the girls. Then boyfriends would come along who didn't appreciate male friends so I'd lose those male friends. That's beside the point.

I really wanted to be normal but I did best when I was just me. People could accept it or not. I could be the honor student who hung out with people across the spectrum (from jocks to druggies) and it didn't matter. I was happy.

Fast forward several years to recently. I don't like having to eat differently than the typical crowd. While having oatmeal for breakfast, a panini for lunch, and whole wheat pasta for dinner followed by frozen yogurt for dinner may be normal for you, it sends my body into a tailspin.

Here's what happens to me when I eat like that: within the hour my heart begins to race followed by pounding of the heart. Within a couple of hours of falling asleep I will wake with a terrible anxiety attack that sometimes literally takes my breath away. The next morning I will wake feeling tired with bags under my eyes and will deal with cravings and slight depression. All day. That's not normal. Friends, I wish I was making this up but Chuck has witnessed this countless times. He tries to sooth me back to sleep when the anxiety gets too bad.

I finished my Whole30 challenge successfully then wondered, "Now what?" Do I eat this way the rest of my life shunning all brownies and wine for eternity? No more pizza ever? That doesn't seem logical but how do I live a balanced life and still be normal?

When I eat a low carb paleo/clean eating way, the anxiety and racing heart is gone. I sleep good and I have energy and there is no sadness. Weight comes off easily and I just feel.....normal!

In my efforts to be more social, I decided to go for a group bike ride with a meetup club. We were to go ride some trails then go to a hot sauce festival. Sounds like fun!

Got a bike rack for Dash.
 Chuck and I met the folks at a park then hit the trails. Got to see the Brazos River. Hmmm....I need to go exploring down there. Fossils are along the banks according to a geologist I met once.
 Chuck and fellow biker stopping for a water break on the trail. Another couple was off riding the tamer terrain of the sidewalks and road on a tandem bike.
 A map of the trails.
 We're riding around and the biking group asks if we'd like to go to lunch before we all head to the hot sauce festival. They want to go to a burger place. Chuck asks me, "What are we going to do?" See? I shouldn't have to worry about having a friggin' burger. That's NOT normal! People go have burgers all the time. It really hit me hard. So I told Chuck, "We go have burgers like normal people."

After burgers we all headed to the hot sauce festival.
 Loved this booth. So many sugar skulls!
 It was a pretty big festival with rows and rows of booths and lots of free hot sauce samples.
 There were so many colorful characters. All very friendly.
 That couple had a VERY hot hot sauce! The lady put one drop on a chip (normal people can have chips!) and gave it to me. My face was on fire! My lips tingled, my ears hurt and my nose started running. I coudln't even talk! This stuff was hotter than police grade pepper spray. It is 6 million scoville units and police grade pepper spray is 5.3 million units. HOT! I bought a bottle. Ha!
 The name is pretty self explanatory.
 In the end I came home with a few hot sauces and a sugar skull shirt. It was a lot of fun laughing over the heat with Chuck and guzzling back a diet coke to try to ease the pain. One lady at a booth took pity on us and was giving us crackers.
 We got home and gave the kids their souvenirs that we had bought and Rachel had this gorgeous cake ready. She did a great job. And she wanted us to all have a slice. Normal people can have a slice of their daughter's cake.
 And a little vodka to toast the weekend. And then it catches up and the heart races then begins to pound. Then anxiety wakes the abnormal person up at 2am and the anxiety persists until 3:30am when the abnormal person can no longer fight sleep while the normal husband rubs her head and tells her everything is going to be ok.

What the hell? I don't know of anyone else who goes through this. And if they do they haven't told me about it. I don't remember reacting this badly before. Is it getting worse? Or is it a sign that I'm getting better and becoming more sensitive?

And so I stop fighting it. I think it was Patsy Clairmont that said, "Normal is just a setting on your dryer." There is no normal. There is only what works for you. That is your normal.

I accept the fact that if I choose to indulge I will pay for it. Realizing that there will be consequences kept me from indulging in a treat yesterday. It just wasn't worth the cost.

Sometimes a splurge will be worth it. Special occasions, lunch with a friend, birthdays, bike rides with a group, vacation, etc. Then I will allow myself to enjoy it.  I only wish there was a way to avoid the side effects.

My normal will include using chicken breasts as bread for my BLT.
 My normal is usually wearing race shirts and shorts. I went shopping for some new blouses so that my normal will be wearing nicer clothes.
 My normal is eating good things like curry chicken and revamping my favorite recipes to make them lower carb.
I have fought and fought this but the fact is that normal for me may not be normal for you. And that's ok. We don't all have to be the same. It doesn't mean that one of us is better than the other. We all have to find what works for us.

I'm still working on finding the right balance after my Whole30. It may take a while but I'll get there.

By the way, I mentioned my first mammogram a few posts back......the results came back and everything is fine. YAY! We'll find out more about the atypical cells found at the gynecological visit in 3 months.


  1. I can sum it up for you in one word: acceptance.

    Everyone has their normal. My normal is to not drink alcohol. Is it easy to socialize with people who do drink? Not always...but I still do. It's something that I can't partake in, just like you can't partake in a lot of carbs. I know it feels like you're the odd man out, but trust me - everyone is the odd man out in some way or another.

    Big hugs to you for figuring out what works AND for sticking to it.

  2. Oops, hit enter too point was, to accept your normal. The sooner you quit fighting it, the happier you're going to be. And this is coming from my own experiences, but I'm pretty sure it will work for you, too.

  3. I guess the question is normal compared to what? To someone else? Nobody really feels "normal".

    My husband and I try to eat ethically raised or local meat. That is our normal. That becomes very difficult at family barbecues unless we always bring the meat. We just have to deal.

    I will say that if I eat a lot of sugary stuff or tons of carbs, I will have bad insomnia that night, so I don't think it is all that uncommon. I think people just don't make the connection.

  4. There is no such thing as normal. What is normal for others may not be normal for you! I know this for a fact as I live with someone who normally eats a bowl of ice cream every single day. Plus a cookie or two, plus chips and all sorts of things like that. If I try to make that my normal, I gain weight like crazy. So his normal is not my normal. My normal is not your normal.

    What you want is to feel in excellent health. Think of that as your normal!

  5. Hmm, normal where I work is women my age who are overweight and have difficulty moving. So for today I say, "No thanks, not for me." I'm on day 21 of my Whole 30 and I've certainly saved a bunch of money since I'm not eating for entertainment this month. What a concept. Keep up the good fight until it doesn't have to be a fight and once again thanks since you planted the seed for me to try this food plan.

  6. I agree with Shelley. Everyone's "normal" is different, so I guess we just have to find our own normal, and enjoy. As an aside, wow...Rachel is UBER talented. The cake was beautiful!! Take care Kelley.

  7. Normal ! I'm far from it so good luck with all that!!! I think I'm the opposite of normal lol


  8. Interesting- have you ever consulted an allergist to see if your physical symptoms can be caused by foods? Are you ever able to drink any alcohol without feeling bad later? I can have 2 small glasses and that is it or I will feel hyper and not be able to get back to sleep. Food doesn't seem to bother me although I never have caffeine after 4 PM. You are so disciplined- look how you were this past month. Figure out what you can eat and go with it- as others have said your normal is yours!

  9. I agree with Nan, I can have 1 or 2 glasses of wine and wake up 4 hours later with the pounding heart and anxiety. Never happens with just food. Perhaps it is just the alcohol,try drinking a lot of water before you go to bed...just a thought!


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