Who’s Afraid of Needles?

Not Me. Not anymore.

I get pricked with dozens of needles each week (willingly) at this place:

Philadelphia Community Acupuncture. It’s up the road from my house and it’s awesome.

But real quick, a little acupuncture 101. Here’s what goes down: an acupuncturist sticks super-thin (and I mean thin, like hair thin) needles into various points in your skin. This is supposed to improve circulation, as well as release endorphins and serotonin into your brain. All of this allegedly makes you feel like a rock star and cures a variety of ailments.

In the US, acupuncture is usually performed in cubicles or other sectioned-off spaces, but this place treats everyone in the same room, in recliner chairs. They say this is more in line with traditional practices in Asia. Something about creating a collective energetic field and blah, blah, blah. You can choose to sit in a fancy modern mesh recliner or an old-school plush lazy boy with a blanket over it. I always go for the lazy boy.

Sound weird? It is, a little, at first. But the treatment room is in a huge old firehouse with brick walls and high ceilings. Light filters through big windows, making everything look warm and soft. There’s usually soothing music playing on low in the background and everyone talks in whispers. It’s very calming. Plus, the style of acupuncture they use only inserts needles on your arms up to your elbow, your legs up to you knees, and your head. So it’s not like you have to strip down or lift up your shirt or anything. Because that would be weird.

Does it hurt? Nah, not really. The needles are so thin and they don’t go very deep. Once in a while, they’ll put one in a tough spot, like the side of my foot or the web between my thumb and index finger, and that will hurt. But usually only for a second.

Here’s the cool part. After the acupuncturist finishes inserting the needles, covers me with blankets and tells me to have a good rest, something happens. I close my eyes and, bam, I get a rush. My body feels light and heavy at the same time. I feel instantly relaxed. After a few minutes, I find that I can’t really open my eyes, even if I wanted to. And, sometimes, I fall asleep.

I fall asleep.

I do not take naps. Ever. My mind is constantly humming with all sorts of anxious-making thoughts. I am mentally wired, always. So the fact that I can fall asleep in a room that is not my bedroom, surrounded by dozens of people, in the middle of the day, is a small miracle.

I originally started going to Philadelphia Community Acupuncture to treat carpal tunnel and irregular periods. My carpal tunnel, which had been bothering me for a couple of years, was gone within a month. Poof. The irregular periods? Well, that’s just taking a little longer, I suppose.

Regardless of what acupuncture cures or doesn’t cure for me, every time I get up from that recliner, I feel rested, relaxed and calm. To me, that is worth a million bucks. And then some.

Marriage, Year One

One year ago today, I married this guy.

The person, not the llama. Although, that llama is pretty sweet.

A lot has happened in one year: no less than five dental surgeries (all mine), a cancer scare, fertility issues. The death of a childhood best friend. Life outside our home was rocky, but now that I’m looking back, I realize all of these things brought the two of us closer.

I’ll be honest here. When we married, I didn’t feel like Tim was my other half, my missing puzzle piece or any of those other cliché phrases. I didn’t even necessarily think of him as my best friend. I refused to use that title, on principle. I’ve had the same best friend for thirteen years, thank you very much, and I felt that calling Tim my best friend would in some way erase my past history. I worried it would negate the strong female friendships I had worked so hard to develop all of my life.

All I knew, for certain, was that I loved the crap out of Tim. And he loved the crap out of me. So we got hitched.

At the time, it felt like a huge leap of faith. And I suppose every marriage is. I remember telling my friends that I felt like I was jumping off a cliff. A cliff of awesomeness, but a cliff all the same. I had only known Tim for two and a half years before we tied the knot, so it’s not like we had years and years of shared history together. We had very little past experience to tell us how well we would weather future troubles.

But now, one year later, everything feels different. Obviously, I believed that Tim and I could make our marriage last a lifetime or I wouldn’t have entered into the commitment in the first place. But now I know it. I know we’re good for the long haul. I just do. I don’t know if it was all of the external stressors that did it, but I feel closer to Tim than I’d ever thought was possible. He is my partner in the truest sense of the word.

And dare I say it? He is my best friend.

So when I get all crazy in the head and start thinking things like, “I don’t have a baby and everyone else on the planet does, Aaaaaa!” I have to take a step back from the craziness and count my blessings.

I am incredibly blessed. Baby or no baby, I’m still Tanya. I’m still married to the best man I know. And I have a very wonderful life.


I first heard of wheatgrass and its magical properties in the book Inconceivable by Julia Indichova. She talks about wheatgrass quite a bit, describing how she walks to her local juice bar each morning and orders a shot of it. She believes that her daily wheatgrass shot, among other natural methods, helped her get pregnant, even though by western medical standards she was a lost cause. (The book is awesome, by the way, but more on that in another post.) She also says wheatgrass tastes totally disgusting.

Naturally, I was intrigued. Weird food? With the added bonus of a potential fertility boost? I’m IN!

For those of you reading this who don’t care a lick about boosting your fertility, the good news is, wheatgrass is great for everyone. Weird food for you, too!

Basically, it’s contains tons of chlorophyll, which is supposed to be OMG the best thing ever for you. Why? I don’t know. Don’t ask me for too many details. Among other things, wheatgrass claims to give you an energy lift, detoxify the crap out of you and boost your immune system.

So I ordered some. And guess what? I love it. It could be the placebo effect, who knows, but since I’ve been drinking it daily, I feel better overall and more…vibrant somehow. Immediately after finishing my morning smoothie, I feel more energetic.

Look at all that green! How could it not be good for you?

And personally, I don’t think it tastes disgusting at all. I think it’s quite delicious. If you’re a fan of green tea, you’ll like it. The taste is similar.

Here’s a recipe for the wheatgrass smoothie I now drink every morning.

1 scoop wheatgrass powder
1 or 2 TBS of ground flax seed (depending on how textured you like your smoothie)
1 banana
1 cup vanilla almond milk

Pour the almond milk in your blender first to get a good liquid base. Then add the other ingredients.

Look at all the good stuff in there

Blend until smooth. Pretty simple.

Green Goodness
Yummm, a cup brimming with health

Whether this boosts my fertility remains to be seen. But regardless, I’m hooked. Happy wheatgrassing, everyone!

The Weighting Game

Weight, eesh. This is a rough topic for me. I could probably write an entire book on this subject, but for your sake, I’ll try to be succinct.

I joined Weight Watchers in May 2010. On the whole, Weight Watchers is awesome. The program encourages you to eat healthy, unprocessed foods—lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. It’s based on a point system and you get a certain point allotment each day. On average, whole foods, like meat and vegetables, have a lower points value than something processed, like, say, a 100 Calorie Pack.

I had always thought of myself as a healthy eater, but this program required me to put everything I ate under a microscope. And I realized I was eating a ton of preservatives, chemicals and refined sugar. So overall, Wight Watchers changed my life for the better. But an eating plan, even the healthiest eating plan, can’t control what goes on in my mind. Weight Watchers is not my therapist and can’t possibly address all of the BS about eating and body image that plays on a constant loop in my head.

My goal was to lose a few pounds for my wedding. Here’s a picture of me wedding dress shopping in September 2009, nine months before I joined.

It’s not like I was a total whale. I mean, I looked fine. But regardless, I wanted to feel extra-special-beautiful on my wedding day. I didn’t want to look at a single picture and think, well that would be a better picture if my arm wasn’t so chunks.

Because I’m a control freak, I discovered I was really, alarmingly good at Weight Watchers. I followed the program to the letter and I lost weight every week. I was feeling great, and I soon saw the scale drop to the lowest I’ve ever seen it in my adult life, even lower than my high school weight. Slowly but surely, I passed the 10 pound mark, and then 15. And I thought, why stop now? I eventually had to pause temporarily after my last wedding dress fitting because if I lost anymore, my dress would be hanging off of me. All told, I lost a little over twenty pounds before my wedding.

Mission accomplished. I felt amazing on my wedding day.

So now that it was over, I could go back to my regular weight, or at least ease up a little. Right?

Wrong. I became convinced that if I gained a single pound, people would start whispering about how I let myself go. Plus, I really liked the way I looked now. For the first time in my life, I felt completely happy with the way my clothes fit on me. I had an excuse to buy all new pants! It was exhilarating. So I continued to lose.

At my lightest, I weighed 118 pounds. Which, really, is not that small for some people. But on me, it didn’t look right. Friends who had previously said I looked good started saying I looked too skinny. When I took off my shirt I could see all of my ribs, clearly defined. And you know what? I liked it. From then on, my measure on whether I was “skinny enough” was how clearly I could see my ribs.

Kind of effed, no?

Fortunately or unfortunately for me, 118 lbs was not sustainable, unless I said goodbye to my social life. Those of you who know me know I enjoy imbibing a healthy share of adult beverages (and alcohol costs a lot of Weight Watchers points). So after a month or two, I went back up to 125-ish and stayed that way until my recent vacation. But that was hard to sustain, too, especially if I wanted to keep boozing it up every weekend. I put myself on a modified Weight Watchers plan. Basically, I ate less than my daily points allotment during the week so I could drink mass amounts of wine and, inevitably, binge eat on the weekends. Even though I was still eating healthy, whole foods, I cut out anything extra. Instead of olive oil, I cooked with Pam, and so on. This went on for months, even though, logically, I knew it couldn’t be very healthy. And it didn’t help that every time I went to a doctor they assured me that I was a normal weight for my height.

How, at 33 years old, could I have let myself get into such an unhealthy cycle? Isn’t this the kind of crap that college-age kids pull? How did I get so addicted to smaller jeans and hearing people say I looked good that I would endanger my own health? The answer is, I don’t know.

It wasn’t until a few weeks before my recent vacation that something clicked in my brain. All of a sudden I was like, oh, maybe my eating habits have something to do with my missing-in-action period. After that, I began eating a little more and, most importantly, I cut back on the alcohol. Seeing the doctor last week just confirmed what the little voice in my head was already telling me.

The doctor tells me to eat more fat. I’m doing this, with gusto. But this probably means I’ll gain some weight. Which is fine, especially if it means I’ll be healthier and able to sustain a pregnancy. I’d pretty much do anything for that. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t struggling with it. For more than a year a large portion of my energy has been focused on tightly controlling what I eat. And I have to let some of that control go now. And it’s scary.

But so worth it.