On Frustration and Resting Bitch Face

“Yes, I’m okay.”

“No, I’m not upset.”

“That’s just how my face looks.”

Though I’m not a fan of calling myself a bitch, I suffer from the commonly known phenomenon known as Resting Bitch Face (RBF). I had this “problem” long before people decided to name it—long before people considered it a problem and saw my supposed bitchy face as just as face. The diagnosis, however, also has an upside. When people ask if I’m okay, I simply point out the RBF phenomenon and they nod in understanding.

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But when I worked last Saturday night, it was different. My face the pent up frustration of work, school and life in general.

As a server, I’m used to dealing with the ups and downs of a restaurant—the complainers, the bad tippers and yes, even the assholes. In the kitchen, we servers talk about these jerks as we serve them (and about out golden customers as well). Yes, we are allowed to be annoyed by your excessive neediness. And yes, we will comment on your shitty tipping.

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But most of the time, there is a balance between good and evil. I’ll even go as far as to say that most of the time, the good outweighs the bad. The couple that tipped extra will make up for the family that didn’t tip. Most of the time.

Saturday night was not one of those days. On a day when the restaurant was full of parties, I was stuck with the usually coveted booths. On a night when we needed 10 servers, we had 13. On a night that we had a shot contest, people only wanted waters.

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And there was no balance. I was stuck with one bad table after another. Most of the time I would say “fuck it” and move on. And I tried until one of my friends asked me how I was at the end of the night. “I’m alright,” answered before saying, “Actually, no. You know what? I’m frustrated.”

And I won’t call it catharsis because calling my attitude for what it was didn’t help the frustration go away. In the moment, though, I felt relief that I didn’t have to pretend. I didn’t have to go back to the RBF excuse. I didn’t have to lie.

 

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I was FRUSTRATED. And I’ve come to the (late) conclusion that the simple act of admitting that something’s wrong can ease the weight of having to keep something hidden.

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Giving up: On Health and Lent

After reading this title, you may ask: what does Lent have to do with health? Actually, there’s no direct connection between the two. However, it does present a good opportunity to get rid of a bad habit.

As many of you may know, the 40 days of Lent preceding the Resurrection of Christ are meant to be a time of self-reflection. One of the ways in which Christians celebrate (if you can call it that) this time is by giving something up for 40 days. Now I’m not here to preach about sacrifice and bad habits because while I abstain from eating meat on Wednesdays and Fridays, (another thing you’re supposed to give up) I have never sacrificed a bad habit. Yes, it makes me feel like a bad Catholic (under category: Catholic guilt).

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Anyways, this year I decided to give up something up. Though it may sound very selfish, I feel like I’ll hold myself more accountable because—not to be preachy but—I have to answer to a Higher power. The other thing that helps? Literally, everyone else around me is doing something similar.

My theory is that everyone knows they have a bad habit that they need to break. Obviously, that’s why they sacrifice that habit—it’s supposed to be hard. But I’ve also noticed that most people give up habits that will improve their health.

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Every year, my mom gives up drinking either coffee or Coke. This year, two of my co-workers are giving up eating takeout and drinking soda, respectively. Me? I’m getting rid of my Coke habit.

So, I’ve had to ask myself: is using Lent to be healthier selfish? Well, yes, a little, but this is something I’ve wanted to do for years. I don’t want to say “now I have an excuse to do it” because I also don’t want to lie to myself. The truth is that I’ve had other opportunities to stop. However, this time it feels different. I have other people around me who are working towards the same thing and I have it published on a blog that I’ll stop.

So until, April 15, I’ll be sipping on water instead of Coke. We’ll see if the habit sticks after that.

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DIY Face Mask

I hate it when people tell me how to live my life so I won’t tell you how to live yours. I will, however, suggest that if you can spare a few minutes, you should definitely try a DIY face mask.

And I should probably start by taking my own advice. You see, I LOVE face masks, but most of the time, I’d rather invest 30 more minutes on homework than feel like I’m wasting my time with a face mask. But recently, my attitude has started to change (though not by choice).

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Stress, as we all know, causes different reactions in different people. How does my brain react to stress? It demands food. All. The. Time. And not the apples I so carefully picked out or the grapes I divided into snack bags. Nope, instead, it tells my body that only sweet things count as snacks. More specifically, it makes me crave Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Peanut butter, in turn, makes me break out. As if the sleep deprivation weren’t enough, my body literally wants you to see the stress on my face. My problem with this is not about feeling self-conscious—I’m past the high school years of uncontrollable breakouts. You can stare at my pimpled face and get little to no reaction from me.

But to put things simply: I’m over it. For my sake, I want my skin to look good. And taking 30 minutes to do nothing—though sometimes frustrating—is ultimately relaxing. As someone who values comfort, (AKA laziness) not having to go out and buy a face mask is an added bonus. The prep time is short, the clean-up is quick and the results are great.

So naturally, I can’t leave you without this simple recipe. I apologize in advance for my vague directions.

 

Ingredients and Materials:

1 Lime

2 Tbsp. of sugar (or more)

Cup or Container

Spoon

 

Directions:

  1. Cut lime into thirds and squeeze into cup or container.
  2. Add the sugar and use spoon to mix the contents. Add more sugar if necessary.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and let mix sit for a few minutes. Note: the lime juice will thicken and the unmixed sugar will sink to the bottom.
  4. With your fingers, take the mix and spread it on your face. Note: you can mix the sugar that sank to the bottom to increase exfoliation or use the mix as is.
  5. Leave on for 10 to 15 minutes and rinse.
  6. Admire the glow that radiates from your face.

***WARNING: According to my mother, you should ONLY use this mask at night because the lime juice can stain your face if you go out in the sun (or something like that).

My Phone is my Biggest Cheerleader

I need a buzz. Not the one that comes from alcohol (though I occasionally need one of those, too). But what I really need is a buzz from my phone. You know, the one that comes unexpectedly after you’ve been walking for so long that your phone starts to count it as exercise. Right now, that’s what I need.

When I’m working, (as a server) my steps inadvertently rack up and I get that glorious notification from my phone, that silent pat on the back that says, “Brenda, you are amazing.” When I work all day, I sometimes get a special notification that says “Most active day this week (or month, but who cares?)” What I actually read is “Brenda, you are truly the best.” That’s because—like a child,—I respond well to positive reinforcement.

 

Because of my hectic school schedule, I haven’t been able to work as much, which means I haven’t exercised in days. On the days I go to school, I know that unless I walk home, it’s practically impossible to for me to reach my step goal. And without the promise of a congratulatory notification, I have no motivation to exercise. Sad—I know. But that’s how my brain works.

So, I challenged myself to do better. I asked: how can I motivate myself to exercise daily? In a stroke of genius, my brain turned to Jillian Michaels. The former Biggest Loser coach always looks toned on the cover of her many workout DVDs. When I saw that she had 30-minute yoga and 30-minute cardio videos, I thought it was meant to be. I mean, even I can spare 30 minutes. But alas, Jillian and I were not destined for each other. How does the cliché phrase go? You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

Well, it turns out that I’m also like a stubborn horse. The DVDs have sat on my table for weeks. Since I got them, I haven’t even bothered to pick them up. Obviously, the plan is to actually use them so I’ve been looking at ways to reward my healthy actions (since I sadly need a reward system). Most of the reward systems are based on pounds lost and since that’s not really a motivation for me, I have to find something else that works. Before I commit to anything, (and fail again) I want to actually take my time and create a system that will work for me. But since I work this weekend, the buzzes will do for now.

I Need a Snack

Despite wanting to make lifestyle changes, things aren’t always easy. I know: life’s hard; I need to get over it, blah, blah, blah. And I mostly do. Yes, I give myself time for pity parties, but they’re more like small gatherings than huge celebrations. I pout. I sulk. And then I move on.

Now, I’m approaching things differently. But changing my attitude can only do so much. Obviously, I’m learning to embrace change little by little. I’m more conscious of my actions and their impact on my health. But getting rid of bad habits doesn’t mean replacing them with good ones.

Right now I have a problem with food. I eat mostly fruits and vegetables, (because I’m a terrible cook) so my problem with food has nothing to do with taste. Strangely enough, my problem with food is actually a problem with time management.

My work and school schedule is almost the same every week. It isn’t erratic—it just feels that way. I wake up at the same time every day and it still takes me at least five alarms go get up. Despite the constant ringing and buzzing of my alarms, I never get up on time. Usually, this means that I skip the most important meal of the day. And sometimes, it gets worse—sometimes, I forget to pack a snack. Cue the dramatic music.

I’m like a five-year-old child. I need my snacks (and naps, but that’s another story) to have a good day. But now, as an adult, I’m forced to play the caretaker of the five-year-old. And that means making sure that my inner five-year-old has plenty of snacks.

So I’ve approached things with a plan. I did my grocery shopping for the next two weeks and made sure to get Tupperware and snack bags. Every night before I go to sleep, I’ll prepare my snacks so I can just grab them and go. Genius! I totally deserve an adult achievement award. Or maybe I can wait to make that call when my plan succeeds. In the meantime, I think I’ll go grab a snack.

No, I’m not on a Diet

I admit it: I hate making changes to be healthy. Not the part where good health makes improves your sleep, mood, and immune system. Those things I like. I get excited when my phone buzzes to tell me that I’ve reached my step goal for the day. Even after running from table to table while I’m working (server life), I get a sense of accomplishment when I sit down and feel the soreness building up in my legs, signaling that I’ve worked hard. And I even enjoy eating fruits and vegetables—not because they’re “healthy” but because they taste good.

But I hate that people—myself included—sometimes associate being healthy to losing weight. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look like (and feel like) your ideal self. I mean, that’s the whole point of this blog! But I don’t like the judgment that often comes attached.

For instance, one of my roommates is preparing for her sister’s October wedding by losing weight. I pass no judgment. She’s not overweight so she doesn’t need to lose weight, but she wants to. And she has every right to feel comfortable while standing in front of hundreds of people as the maid of honor. My other roommate, who is also trying to lose weight, (ugh, I know) disagrees. Whenever the conversation turns to Roommate #1 losing weight for the wedding, Roommate #2 gets almost annoyed. “You don’t need to lose weight,” #2 says.

As much as I applaud for skill for stating the obvious, I want to punch her every time she says it. “That’s not the point,” I explain, trying to be reasonable, “It’s about her wanting to feel good.”

But with #2, logic often fails. And now that she’s also trying to lose weight as well, my apartment has become full of conversations about workouts, food, and weight. My legs are sore. I wish I could have something sweet. I can’t have sugar. I guess I do it, too, (I’m tired. I need a nap. I didn’t sleep last night, blah, blah, blah) but hearing other people talk like that is eye-opening. I don’t want to be that person.

Beside the occasional doubts or discomfort with and about my body, I don’t look at myself and see flaws. I see things that I’d like to improve but not obsessively. And being surrounded by a person who does isn’t going to help me achieve my goals. So for now, the best thing to do is to stay in my bubble of positivity while she sulks in hers.

 

 

 

Starving and Still Sleepy

Confession: I failed. I trusted in science. I believed scientists when they told me that not eating for 16 hours would reset my sleep cycle. I mentally prepared for the starvation. I isolated myself and then distracted my growling stomach with Netflix. But the distraction worked a little too well. I fell asleep at 2:00 AM, so no, I didn’t wake up at 7:00 AM like I was supposed to. Realistically, I can’t expect to fall asleep so late and wake up feeling refreshed, even if my sleep cycle is regulated.

Not to let one setback discourage me, I tried again—this time with a plan. Right before I started my shift at work, (at a restaurant surrounded by food, because screw me) I ate my final meal: a chipotle chicken rice bowl. Maybe the food deprivation got to me early, but I truly felt like a genius. This idea couldn’t have been born from any other brain but mine. I mean, the sleep study said not to eat for 16 hours, but it didn’t say that I had to be awake the whole time. And with work (instead of Netflix) to distract me, there was no way I could fail!

When my co-workers asked why I wasn’t eating that night, I explained the brilliance of my plan. I defended myself even after they looked at me like I was crazy.

“It’s, like, evolutionary or something,” I explained, trying to remember the article I read. “Harvard did a study on it.” Harvard. Like, can you even find a source that’s more legit? No, not really. I trusted in Harvard and it let me down.

But really, I shouldn’t blame the scientists. I let myself down. And it wasn’t even a matter of hunger. Someone brought birthday cake and I—believing in my grand plan—rejected the cake. My co-workers laughed at me but tomorrow I would laugh at them.

Until I didn’t. I got out early and still fell asleep at 2:00 AM. Apparently, my body has a vendetta against me. I’ve tried to right this wrong for a few days with no results, so now I’m in serious talks with my brain (and body) about actually making progress. So here I am, one week later, starving and still sleep deprived.

Cucumbers with Anxiety

“The human body is 80% water, so we are just basically cucumbers with anxiety.”

—an anonymous genius

Confession time: I have recently embraced the notion that I am, in fact, a cucumber with anxiety. Anxiety not of the mental illness sort, (although there’s no shame in that) but rather of the “I have a project due in six hours and I haven’t even started” type. Or of the “I have no energy because I’ve only eaten a granola bar in the last six hours” kind. Other times, the responsibilities pile up into “I went to school, then to work and I have to come home to shower and eat and finish my homework, so I guess I’m not sleeping tonight” type of anxiety.

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Many times I have tried to address this problem and many times I have failed. I’ve spent hours on Pinterest, creating health and fitness boards, pinning things like “Good Morning Yoga,” “Zucchini Nachos” and “Sleep Hacks.” I either suck at using Pinterest or I just suck, but mostly the latter. My boards attest to my Pinterest obsession. I desperately pin—without bothering to test out the workouts or recipes—and become frustrated with myself when I put more time into creating my boards than actually listening to any of the tips. I still eat too much junk and get too little sleep (although my mom would disagree).

To change these habits, I have to start with something small but something drastic. For once, I’d like to know what it’s like to be just a regular cucumber or even a cucumber with slightly reduced stress. Step one: starve myself. Don’t judge me—it’ll only be for 16 hours, which is probably the longest I can go before turning into a complete grouch. I’m hoping that Harvard researchers are right when they say it’ll reset my sleep cycle. In any case, the challenge isn’t for this to work once or twice—I want my “sleep clock” permanently reset.

So here go into my last hours of good food and self-indulgence.

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