Tag archive for "Life"

The Results of My 10-Day Yoga Challenge

Fitness, Healthy Living, New York City, Travel

The Results of My 10-Day Yoga Challenge

6 Comments 11 August 2016

Clearly, I overestimated my newly found mindfulness, because on Saturday morning, hours after finishing Day 5 of my 10-Day Yoga Challenge, I looked down at my feet and didn’t recognize the flip flops I was wearing. They did look very similar to the ones I wore to yoga earlier that morning, same color, same style, and they fit rather comfortably. But there was a little pizazz to the stitching that I didn’t remember noticing before. At first I thought, “Wow, look at me honing my focus to such little details. Yoga is really increasing my awareness.” But upon further investigation, I realized that in my post-class reverie, I had slipped on someone else’s shoes. I feel terrible for the person who walked home or hopefully just hobbled to their car barefooted, which they must have done, because when I went back to the closed studio, there were my flip flops waiting for me outside the door.

If you missed my last post, I’m attempting 10 consecutive day of yoga at Power Yoga Buffalo while away from New York for the summer. Why? You’ll have to read that post which covers Days 1-5.

The first 5 days felt eternal. I was constantly sore, every class seemed never-ending, and I couldn’t help but come out of poses early in order to prevent total muscle failure that would have resulted in me collapsing to the floor. After every class I felt relief that it was over and thought that maybe that would be my last class, but as the day went on I started looking forward to the next one.

Days 6-10 were definitely hard, but each day I felt victorious instead of relieved at the end of class. I didn’t just endure and let it happen. I actually did the practice. The soreness started to melt away, and I became less intimidated by certain poses. Sitting in chair pose no longer felt like torture. I started to flow through transitions, albeit while wobbling, from one pose to another instead of seeing each pose as a separate challenge.

On Day 6 I found my people. My people show up on Sunday mornings at 7:00 when the 20-somethings with the cute yoga butts are at home sleeping off their Saturday nights. But Sunday mornings my people show up. They’re the ones who snuck out of the house before the kids woke up. They’re the ones who are squeezing in 75 minutes for themselves before they haul everyone to church and then cook brunch for the family. They don’t have tatoos or the most stylish yoga gear. But these people work hard. On Day 6, we smoked it.

Day 7 needed to happen at the non-summery hour of 6am in order for me not to break my streak. I had a few things scheduled throughout the day, and believe me, if I could’ve chosen another time, I would have. But I’m actually glad I went that early. I liked these people, too. I am these people. They rolled out of bed, just like I did, but now they will head to work feeling like the hardest part of their day is over. That’s exactly how I felt when I taught 6am spin class. After conquering that mountain, I could do anything. Bring it, Day.

What are the chances I can find a 6am yoga class in New York?

Day 8. The reason I had to take the 6am class on Day 7 was that my sister-in-law invited me to a BodyPump class at her YMCA. I adore BodyPump almost as much as I adore my sister-in-law, so there was no way I was going to turn this offer down. I used to be a certified BodyPump instructor and loved teaching it in that terrified love sort of way, but I hadn’t taken a BodyPump class in about a year because it’s not easy to find in the City. If I had kept up with it even as a participant I would not be the weak-armed, 40-something woman that I am today.


If you have a gym nearby that offers BodyPump. GO to it. You will find that strong self that you forgot was there.

I assumed I would feel the way I always feel when I lift weights for the first time after weeks/months of weightliftinglessness. Like Wile E. Coyote flattened at the bottom of a canyon by that huge boulder that inevitably caught up with him. But something incredible happened in that class on Day 8. Power yoga completely erased any potential soreness from Body Pump. I kept waiting for that delayed onset muscle soreness, which happens to my body like clockwork 36 hours after asking it to do something new. It never came.


On Day 9 I started to feel a little panicky. I only had two days left. And after that I’ll purchase another week, and then it will be over! I will be leaving Buffalo and this adorable little studio. I was already starting to miss it. Now that I know about this, how am I going to get on without it?

Day 10 was a powerful class. There wasn’t anything drastically different from what we normally do, but it was a powerful class because I felt powerful. There’s a lot of repetition in power yoga. The flow is repeated, poses are held multiple times, and it’s easy to get lost in the “one more time” mentality. In fact, on Day 9 the only way to keep my mind present was to count the vinyasas. We did 32.

My instructor uses a phrase that I’ve come to love. “You’ve never been in this warrior before…you’ve never been in this chair pose before….” Even though we’ve done it 10 times already today? Even though. This one is brand new. What does this do for me? It gets me out of my head, out of my preconceived notions about what I’ve done before and what I am capable of today. Yesterday’s successes and failures do not define me now. And this reminder pushes me to do my best. Be my best. Open myself up to new possibilities. This is something that I can take with me.

  • I’ve never taught this lesson before.
  • I’ve never run these 3 miles before.
  • I’ve never had this day ahead of me before.
  • I’ve never had this conversation before.
  • I’ve never had this opportunity to love this person before.
  • I’ve never experience this moment before.

If this had been the only thing I’d learned from this yoga challenge it would’ve been enough. But after 10 days of power yoga, here are my other takeaways:

  • Showing up is half the battle.
  • Breath is power.
  • I’m stronger than I think.
  • Being present on my mat spills over to being present in my life.
  • There is no such thing as a yoga body.
  • I need to make yoga a priority in NYC.

And in just 10 short days I’ve noticed these surprising little benefits too:

  • Defined arm and leg muscles
  • Tighter abdominals
  • Better posture
  • Deeper sleep
  • Improved flexibility
  • More positive attitude
  • Increased patience (confirmed by the Husband)
  • Disappearance of “age” aches and pains
  • Brighter complexion
  • A sense of gratefulness

Buffalo friends, give Power Yoga a try! I’ll join you there every time I’m in town!

Readers, dish!

  • NYC friends, do you have a studio to recommend?
  • In what area of your life can you remind yourself that you’ve never done this one before?
  • What positive effects do you experience from exercise?
Summer Goals and a 10-Day Yoga Challenge

Fitness, Healthy Living, New York City, Travel

Summer Goals and a 10-Day Yoga Challenge

7 Comments 06 August 2016

Summer flies when you’re a teacher  Most people think we have 3 months off, but we really only have two. I know. Cry me a river, right? But you really do want us to have two months away from your children. Those 2 months are why we can welcome your kids back to school in the fall with genuine excitement and pour every last ounce of energy and creativity that we rebuilt over the summer into teaching them for another 10 months. By June, we are exhausted and running on the fumes of a distant memory when we passionately decided to change the world one student at a time.

Summer is also time for taking care of things that we let slide during the school year. Things like healthy eating, visiting family, decluttering cupboards, reading books above a fifth grade reading level, lunching with friends, and annual mammograms.

Summer is a great time for setting personal goals. Teachers are required to set goals. We have professional goals that we discuss with our principals, class goals that set tone and expectations, learning goals for each unit, individual student goals that can be educational, behavioral, or social. We are so driven by goals that when I have a few weeks without a goal I feel a little rudderless. I’m really not sure if I could function for two entire months without a goal of some sort.

One of my summer goals is to get back to my yoga practice. I have never been a yogi. When I taught fitness classes, I made sure to attend a yoga class or whip out a Baron Baptiste Yoga in a Box once a week. With all of my spinning, running, BodyPump, and sculpting classes I needed yoga to keep any kind of flexibility. But when I moved to New York, yoga was the first things to drop off my fitness plate. Then lifting weights soon followed. Now I’m lucky if I run or spin 3-4 days each week.

Yoga back in the day

Yoga in my favorite place

So enter this character in the Summer of 2016. Not the character pictured above. Enter a weak-armed, 40-something woman with the memory of yoga being a nice challenge that was pretty great for you. I needed to find a yoga studio.

Each summer we spend about a month out of the city. It’s refreshing to temporarily re-enter suburban life and remind ourselves that there is normalcy in rest of the country. Driving to the grocery store instead of walking seems a luxury. Buying a full cart of groceries, not limiting my purchases to whatever will fit in my backpack and two grocery bags, one for each hand. Wheeling that cart to the car, or better yet, having a clerk wheel it out for me. Then driving the groceries to the house where I unload directly into the kitchen which is 10 steps from the front door. Suburban normalcy.

I expected to have to drive to a yoga studio in the burbs, but to my surprise, there is a Power Yoga Studio literally at the end of the street where we’re staying. So in quintessential NYC form, I strapped on my yoga bag and walked a block to this studio.

They have a new student special consisting of 10 consecutive days for $20. It doesn’t take a Common Core math teacher to figure out that this is an incredible deal. Obviously the deal is sweeter if I go all 10 days. Two dollars per class? You can’t find that in NYC.

Motivated by a good deal, my goal began to clarify. Could I go to power yoga for 10 days in a row? Power yoga translates to hard and fast, and I’m coming from a base of zero. And it’s a 75 minute class in a 90 degree studio. That doesn’t sound too terribly bad, especially when it’s about 95 degrees outside. That’s what I told myself anyway. But I sweat while sitting on my mat waiting for class to start.

Don’t forget that the character in this story is a weak-armed, 40-something woman with the memory of yoga being a nice challenge that was pretty great for you. 

Her memory…


Yoga with a beach view

Well, I started the deal and tentatively set my 10-day goal.

Day 1 was a wake up call. I know that for some reason, whenever I get back into yoga after a period of yogalessness, I have to be careful how much time I spend upside down. A simple downward-facing dog will cause my head to pound so hard that blood vessels burst in my face. I learned this the hard way, by pushing through the discomfort. Pushing through and not listening to your body is very non-yogalike. So I warned the instructor that I’d need to come out of most inversions early. I flowed. I bent. I twisted. I held. I tried not to think about the 20-somethings with cute little butts who made it look so easy. I flowed some more. I wobbled. I warriored. I warriored so many times I wondered if she forgot the rest of the sequence. My face felt like it was going to explode each time I went down, I took breaks, and I made it through. I was so glad that I thought to bring my yoga towel left over from that Groupon package that one month I tried Bikrim. Beads of sweat dotted every inch of my flesh from the start. I left drenched but with my complexion in tact, and I knew that I probably wouldn’t be able to move the next morning.

Day 2 hurt to get out of bed, as expected. But I went. And it was so hard! I had no idea one’s arms could shake like that.

Yoga Text


And this text pretty much sums up my intention not to continue with my goal.

Yoga Text 2

Specifically the “Bahahahahaha!”

But I went back on Day 3 for Power Yoga Hour. This meant that the class was literally an hour, a 60 minute class instead of the 75 that I had been doing. Choosing this class was the only way I could convince myself that I might be able to make it through the third day in a row. It would be shorter.

There are no clocks in a yoga studio. Why aren’t there clocks in a yoga studio??? For teachers whose days are run by the clock with every minute accounted for, time is a huge part of the day. We are constantly looking and checking the clock. Are we on schedule, behind schedule, miraculously ahead of schedule? Do I need to modify the lesson to get to Gym on time? Are they glazing over because they’ve been in their seats too long? How long have Suzie and Sally been in the bathroom? Even outside of school I’m addicted to the clock. I just need to know what time it is. I do have an uncanny ability to guess within minutes the time at any given moment. But then again it could just be that I checked 5 minutes ago.

There are no clocks in this yoga studio, but because of my ability to feel the minutes tick by I knew that this class was soon coming to an end. It just had to be almost over. I was drenched. I was spent. But it kept going. And I kept going. I reached the point where I wondered if the next chaturanga dandasana would be interrupted by a face plant on my mat, because I had no strength left to prevent it. Each vinyasa became a prayer, please don’t let me hit my face, please don’t let me hit my face. The first thing I did after class ended, after I dragged my limp body out of the studio to gather my belongings, was to check the clock. 75 minutes! That hour was not an hour at all! I felt tricked.

Something started to happen the afternoon of Day 3. I had an itch on my upper arm and felt something. Not a bug or a loose hair. It was a bump, the beginning of a muscle where my atrophied tricep used to be. I could actually feel my tricep again! Now mind you it was sore to the touch, but it was there! And walking up stairs I had this feeling like a cute yoga butt was in the making.

Day 4. I dreaded this class more than Day 2 and 3 put together, because I felt soreness with every step as I walked to class. Climbing the stairs I felt fatigued and out of breath. But I was also excited. I was getting stronger, and those extra suggestions like “and now you can try firefly” or “pop up into a headstand” or “flip your dog” didn’t cause my eyes to roll. They just hung in the air as a maybe. Not today, but maybe at some point.

Yoga is supposed to quiet the mind. But I find that my mind is still as active as ever. Here are a few things that were on my mind on Day 4:

(In plank) I can watch sweat drip off my forehead and onto my mat directly in line with my hands. I wonder if that means my alignment is on. Or off.

It must really hurt to get a foot tatoo.

There’s an ant crawling on that girl’s mat! (Girl effortlessly jumps from rag doll back to plank.) No! Little ant!! Did she smush him? Oh, there he is under the edge of her mat. Close one, buddy.

“Leg parallel to the floor.” I must be close. (I check myself.) Nope, nowhere near.

Please don’t let me hit my face.


How many of these are we going to do?

Please don’t let me hit my face.

No way! I did it!! (Wobble. Fall.)

How can my heart be pounding like this when I’m just standing still?

Do I feel so good after class because I spend an hour sweating out toxins or because this torture is finally over?

Leaving it on the mat

Interestingly, I haven’t once thought about what I needed to do that day, school, or things I should be doing but have been putting off. So at least my thoughts were truly in the moment even if I hadn’t reached that quiet space yet.

Then today, Day 5, happened. I had to get up summer early to fit in a class before Saturday’s activities. I woke up without feeling debilitatingly sore. I walked the quiet streets of the suburbs, recognizing that my city neighborhood would already be buzzing with dogs on leashes heading to the park, bead-headed dads stumbling into bodegas for coffee, and women in spandex heading to various fitness studios. Here, I was the only person on the street passed by an occasional car.

Laying on my mat before class, already feeling the sweat beads forming, there was no indication that this class would be any different than the 4 previous days. I scoped out a few people with watches and wondered if I’d be able to sneak peeks to gauge the progress of the class.

And then it started. I moved, I embraced the struggle of holding poses, I flipped my freakin’ dog! I noticed things about my movements that weren’t clear before. My balance was more steady. I realized that if I engaged my legs during chaturanga there was no fear of a face plant. Don’t hear me say that it was easy. It was easy like running 10 miles is easy when you’re training for a marathon. But it no longer felt like running 10 miles when I hadn’t run in a year. And at one point I realized that I wasn’t thinking about anything. I even tried to think of something that might distract me, and I couldn’t. Nothing else really mattered in that moment but the practice. Could yoga be the answer to taming the rat on the exercise wheel in my head?

We shall see!

Readers, dish!

  • Do you practice yoga?
  • What kind of yoga do you like?
  • How do you bring your mind back to your practice?
  • What are your summer goals?


Gluten-Free Retreat: Things That…

Gluten-Free, Travel, Vegan

Gluten-Free Retreat: Things That…

6 Comments 01 August 2016

I’m thoroughly enjoying a break from real life, submersing myself in things that I love, learning from others, and sleeping 9 hours each night. I’m appreciating moments rather than moving on to the next one. I’m savoring the flavors rather than inhaling for sustenance. I’m digging into the now and remembering how densely delicious it is. And I haven’t once missed my book of lists with tabbed sections and sublists of lists.

I’m enjoying the essence of things.

Things that are spreadable.



Things that are sticky.



Things that are off balance.



Things that are old.



Things from long ago.



Things that are better with toppings.




Things I had forgotten about.


Things that are savory.



Things that are sweet.




Things that are green.



Things that make this heart happy.

Readers, dish!

  • Which picture do you want to know more about?
  • Where do you go just to “be”?
Gluten-Free Retreat: A Full Day

Gluten-Free, Travel, Vegan, Vegetarian

Gluten-Free Retreat: A Full Day

5 Comments 30 July 2016

Most summers I enjoy a long weekend with gluten-free blogger friends in the country. The days are filled with relaxing, walking, art journaling, chatting, yoga, writing, shopping, cooking, blogging, and eating. Lots of eating. Here’s a snippet of my day:

Walking with a sweet friend while being watched.


Making sure this little guy made it safely across the road.


Breakfasting. A throwback to pre-gluten-free days as this tasted exactly like my memories of Entenmann’s.


Fortified with a green smoothie, of course.


And a new product that I’m crazy about.


Swapples! Covered in vegan cream cheese compliments of Valerie of City|Life|Eats. I think this flavor was my favorite.


They were also incredible last night with That Chili with the Mushrooms by Shirley of Gluten Free Easily.


Snacking at Kickshaws Downtown Market, a local whole foods market that caters to the gluten-free vegan crowd.


Jackfruit and sauerkraut on vegan and gluten-free sourdough bread. (If you need your own vegan pulled-pork experience, try Johnna’s recipe. Even carnivores like it.)


And a strawberry shortcake cupcake for dessert. Do snacks qualify as dessert-ending meal?

Just in case I need more to look forward to, these vegan, gluten-free cinnamon rolls are on the counter waiting for breakfast.


Or a maybe a midnight snack.

And just for fun, these caught my eye today.


Ew, right?

Full and content, I’m off to bed.

Readers, dish!

  • What do you do to let down?
  • How do you fill up when you’re feeling depleted?
Gluten-Free Food Fun with Mom

GF Product Reviews, GF Recipes, Gluten-Free, Travel, Vegetarian

Gluten-Free Food Fun with Mom

7 Comments 18 July 2016

Time with Mom is always refreshing. In our family, visiting Mom means time in the country. And this girl needed a serious reprieve from the craziness of the City. I finished the school year, took a day to pack, and was off to the Midwest for some much needed RnR.

We did the small town 4th of July fireworks shows, yes plural, walked picturesque farms, and even picked fresh fruit.



Mom is a gluten-free expert. She has been gluten free for about a month longer than I have. I still remember that phone call 12 years ago when Mom told me that she had tested positive, it was a hereditary condition, and that I should be tested too. Of course I balked that I didn’t have any of the classic stomach symptoms, but at the time I had no idea the full range of other ailments that would disappear within a few short months of going gluten free. So, yay Mom!

Breakfast at Mom’s usually starts with a smoothie, because I know that the rest of my meals will be outside of my normal eating patterns. But at least one morning Mom will make her waffles using Pamela’s Gluten-Free Baking and Pancake Mix. YUM!


The first dinner we made came from Mom’s stack of recipes that she saves to try with me. We LOVED these Zucchini Lasagna Roll-Ups. They’re vegetarian and gluten-free, but definitely not vegan as we used regular cheese. I loved my Mom’s simple little Oxo handheld mandoline slicer. It’s so small and compact that you’d better believe I’m going to find a little nook in my itty bitty city kitchen to keep one.

The thinly sliced zucchini noodles softened so perfectly that we didn’t even miss the lasagna noodles. And did I mention that these tasted amazing? I look forward to making them at home using Daiya and a vegan ricotta. Does anyone have a good dairy-free brand that they like?


My favorite dessert was definitely this strawberry shortcake, and what a festive choice for the 4th of July. Although the cake wasn’t vegan, the coconut whipped cream was. You can find my recipe here.


Mom found the Angel Food Cake Mix at Aldi’s. She’s lucky to have an Aldi’s just around the corner.


It doesn’t make the most beautiful cake.


But slathered in strawberries and coconut cream, who cares?!


I’m heading back to the City feeling rested and happily full. Thanks, Mom!

Readers dish!

  • Vegans, what brand of vegan ricotta cheese do you recommend?
  • Where do you go for RnR?
  • What traditions do you have when visiting family?
Banana Chai Chocolate Chip Cookies (Vegan, GF)

GF Recipes, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

Banana Chai Chocolate Chip Cookies (Vegan, GF)

5 Comments 06 July 2016

When I visit my mom we like to experiment in the kitchen. And of course I love the luxury of working in a real kitchen that can fit more than one person! She has counter space galore, every pan and kitchen gadget you could ever wish for, and a pantry filled with gluten-free baking ingredients. In a nutshell, I have kitchen envy.

My mom does the typical preparations for my arrival. She prepares my room, stocks the fridge with fruits and veggies, and prints out a stack of recipes that she’s been waiting to try. Mom lives with a hardcore carnivore, so my visits provide the perfect opportunities to experiment with vegan and vegetarian recipes.

Yesterday, we played with a cookie recipe that really only has two ingredients – bananas and rolled oats. It’s so simple that I could even make this in my itty bitty city kitchen! Mom found the original recipe from Camila’s site Power Hungry, and all we had to do was decide on our add ins. We loved the results so I thought I’d share.

We opted for a chai flavor, so first we made a chai mix.

Continue Reading

Gluten-Free Sidewalk Joy

GF Friendly Restaurants, New York City, Vegetarian

Gluten-Free Sidewalk Joy

5 Comments 05 June 2016

I love hand-lettered menu boards and sidewalk art. In fact, some day I’m going to share a post of all of my favorites. Maybe it’s the teacher in me that misses actual blackboards. These brightly-lettered chalk boards are colorful, quirky, and if they mention anything about a gluten-free item, my heart does a backflip.

It was flipping for sure when I saw this sign.
Menu_Board_Gluten-Free Cat

No, not the turkey burgers.

Check out the bottom.

If a local restaurant provides gluten-free bread, you’d better believe I’m going to try it.

The trouble with being a gluten-free vegetarian is that most restaurants that offer a gluten-free bread option only have meat patties or meat fillings for their sandwiches. So I’m extra excited when there are veggie options too.

At Island Burgers & Shakes on the Upper West Side, I was pleasantly surprised to find several vegetarian options and some pretty delicious sounding salads. But I had to order a sandwich to try out that gluten-free bread. It wasn’t vegan, but it was vegetarian and oh so scrumptious, and I didn’t have to pull an apple out of my purse while my friends at their burgers.


Mozzarella, Pesto, Tomato, Onion Sandwich at Island Burger

Readers, dish!

What was your last fun food find?

Stitch Fix for Summer!

Fashion, New York City

Stitch Fix for Summer!

3 Comments 31 May 2016

I’m always glad to get the box. The box that shows up at my door containing 5 mystery items. Five items that I didn’t have to shop for. Five items that will spruce up my boring wardrobe for the next season. Five items that I have a choice to keep or to return. And all at a reasonable price.

My stylist is kind of awesome. She seems to get me as I’ve purchased all 5 of the items from the box in the last two Fixes.


This time was no exception. When I requested this last Fix, in the little “is there anything you’d like to tell your stylist” box, I wrote:

I need light and airy professional tops to get me through the next two months in a hot classroom.

My stylist did a great job.


This top was definitely my favorite. Light, cotton, airy, and can be dressy or casual.


And how great was this classy top for a day that I had to give a presentation after school?


This one is perfect for work time or play time…a weekend romp that took us to Columbus Circle.


I love that my stylist threw in a bag for my “upcoming summer adventures or papers to grade”.


Yes, they all fit!


Why do I love Stitch Fix?

  • My stylist chooses items that I’d never try on if I saw them on the rack. And most of the time I love her choices.
  • If I don’t like something, I let her know by giving feedback online so the next Fix is more successful.
  • There’s really no need to try on multiple sizes, because Stitch Fix has my measurements.
  • The clothing is reasonably priced.
  • The box of goodies comes right to my door.
  • Everything I’ve purchased so far can be worn in a variety of ways.
  • Anything I don’t want is placed in a self-addressed, postage paid package and dropped in a mailbox.
  • I can order a fix any time I want.
  • They have gift certificates. (Thanks, Mom!)

If you decided to give Stitch Fix a try, I’d love it if you’d use this referral link. I get $25 off my next fix for every friend who gets her first Fix! You will too! Seriously. Free clothing. So far, 9 of my friends have tried StitchFix, which means $225 in free clothing for me. Thank you, friends!

Readers, dish!

  • Are you a shopper?
  • Have you tried Stitch Fix?
  • Where do you like to shop?


The Glutening

GF Resources, Healthy Living, New York City, Travel

The Glutening

18 Comments 24 May 2016

It began the way most of my favorite New York evenings begin. A much anticipated evening with friends, a train ride with laughter, a new restaurant selected, and theater tickets. This evening was particularly exciting, because our train was taking us out of the city to see a play starring a friend of ours. When I made these plans, I had no idea that the evening would end with a pineapple-infused cloud of impending doom hovering over my head.

The Glutening

I’m not going to slam this restaurant. I’m not even going to mention its name. Despite the fact that I was horribly glutened, the waitstaff and manager did the best they could in the moment, and they did comp the entire dinner for four.

We selected this cute little pizza joint because they had gluten-free pasta, not pizza, but pasta, and it was walking distance to the theater. My friends ordered pizza, and I ordered the gluten-free pasta. I clearly ordered gluten-free pasta. When the pizzas arrived, I assumed my pasta would follow shortly. When my friends had almost finished their pizza, I inquired about my order. “Don’t worry,” the waiter reassured. “Gluten-free pasta takes a little longer to prepare.”

I felt confidentbecause clearly the waiter remembered that I had ordered gluten-free. Clearly the staff knew enough to prepare a new pot of water instead of tossing gluten-free pasta into boiling poisonous wheat water. I sipped my wine, and minutes later a plate of pasta was placed in front of me. I didn’t even question whether this dish was mine. I was the only one without food, I had just asked about my meal, and this plate was served to ME. Clearly, it was mine.

The first bite only served to verify that this pasta was gluten free, because it was a bit chewy like bad gluten-free pasta. It wasn’t going to be a great meal, but I wasn’t going to complain. At least they offered a gluten-free option. I was a little confused about the sauce as it didn’t seem like the marinara and veggies that I’d normally order, but I had hemmed and hawed over the three vegetarian options on the menu. Maybe I didn’t realize I’d ordered a dark sauce. It was marked gluten-free, so I didn’t worry.

I ate the entire plate of pasta minus a few spoonfuls shared with those who wanted a taste. As soon as I put my fork on my cleared plate, a waitress appeared announcing, “And here’s the gluten-free pasta!”

That’s when my memory gets a little fuzzy.

I remember the waitress confirming that I’d just eaten a full plate of gluten-filled wheat pasta.

I remember involuntarily saying a word that I never say.

I remember everyone asking me, “What’s going to happen to you?”

I had no earthly idea what was going to happen to me. I hadn’t ingested that much gluten since before going gluten free 12 years ago. Was I going to get violently ill? Did I need to take the hour-long train ride home right now instead of staying for the show? Did I need to remain close to a bathroom? Was this going to get ugly and embarrassing?

I remember the waiter asking, “What can I get for you?”

He wanted to bring me more pasta on the house! That wasn’t going to make anything better. And I wasn’t going to put another piece of food in my stomach since I had no idea if the food already in there was going to stay put.

I remember the waitress suddenly realizing the severity of the issue and saying, “I will go to CVS and get whatever you need!”

I remember the Husband flying like a superhero to the manager. Their words were lost in the buzzing restaurant noise as the waitstaff swirled around my already spinning head. I just needed them to leave me alone so I could think. And within 60 seconds of hearing the news that sent this perfect New York evening careening off the magical evening track and into unknown waters, my head cleared enough to have the wisest thought of the evening.

I remembered Shirley. I had a blessed vision of Shirley. If you’ve been gluten-free for more than 12 seconds, you most likely already know Shirley of Gluten Free Easily. Shirley is the mama of the gluten-free bloggers, the teacher of newbie gluten-free eaters, and an inspiration to the gluten-free community as she demonstrates to her readers, year after year, that eating gluten free is easy, healthy, and delicious if you focus on foods that are naturally gluten-free. And I’m lucky enough to have Shirley as a friend.

The Rescue

I sent an SOS email to Shirley. Then the Husband and I walked to CVS and found this.


I’d never purchased the product before, but I was desperate to try anything that could help. The directions said to take the capsules before ingesting gluten. A little late for that, and confused as to why anyone with a gluten problem would willingly ingest gluten, but I figured it couldn’t hurt and I downed four capsules before even finishing the transaction with the cashier.

By the time we walked to the theater, my phone buzzed with a message from Shirley! With 8 minutes until the show started, my superhero Husband flew back to CVS to get Shirley’s recommended activated charcoal capsules and pineapple juice.

When was the last time that you purchased pineapple juice? At least at CVS, it still comes in a gigantic can that requires that special pointy-tipped can opener that you may remember from snack time in preschool. CVS didn’t have one of those. But the manager found a regular can opener for sale on a shelf and let the Husband borrow it to start the opening process. He ran with a semi-opened can of sticky juice to the theater parking lot.

This was the next step. Two minutes before show time, standing in the rain, we dripped the juice from the can into a water bottle so that I could smuggle it into the theater. Frustration and anxiety turned to hilarity as we realized that at this drip rate we’d be lucky to get to the show by intermission. Thankfully, my superhero made the hole a little larger with a key.


We did make the show, during which my friend wowed us all with her talent, and I slugged water and straight pineapple juice until I got home.

The Recovery

I firmly believe that Shirley’s timely answer to my frantic email took days off my recovery time. The pineapple juice provided enzymes to break down the gluten, and the activated charcoal helped to absorb it.

For the next week, my body was shock. I wasn’t hungry. I didn’t feel sick to my stomach. I didn’t feel like I had a digestive system at all. When I’ve been glutened in the past from cross-contamination, my biggest symptoms have been irritability, tiredness, and a brain fog that lasted a day or maybe two. This time, I felt like I had mono. I woke up exhausted after sleeping for 8-10 hours each night. Moving from the bed to the couch felt like I had just climbed a flight of stairs. The weirdest symptom I had was the sensation that my entire body was buzzing. If I had a normal job, I would have taken multiple days off. But I taught school that week through a mental haze because there was something I had to take care of each day that was beyond the scope of a substitute teacher. So I fumbled for words, lost papers in front of my face, and did the best I could to shape the minds of our future. I really can’t remember much of that week, sorry students. Thankfully I have great support teachers that helped me keep the class running.

And I had Shirley’s wise counsel ringing in my ears to take care of myself. I came home by 4:00pm each day and napped with Maggie until bedtime.


I continued taking enzymes, activated charcoal, probiotics, epsom salt baths, and I flooded my body with juices and water. Just when I was wondering if I’d ever feel like myself again, some energy and clearer thinking returned. It took six days for any improvement. I still don’t think I’m back to normal. Shirley warned me that it could take weeks, not to be discouraging, but to remind me to be patient and take time to take care of me. So I’m listening to my body, getting lots of rest, and eating well.

I want to thank my two superheroes. My number one hero is always the Husband. I’ll never forget him running to my rescue with a dripping can of pineapple juice. My number two hero is Shirley. After my brain fog lifted I remembered that Shirley wrote a post in 2011 called How to Recover After Being Glutened that you must read so you’re prepared for that inevitable moment when you will say, “What do you mean this isn’t gluten free?”

A Curious Girl in the Gluten-Free World

I'm a curious girl, wife, teacher, fitness fanatic, gluten-free foodie, high-raw vegan, and Mama Cat living in NYC. I've made the transition from baking and cooking gluten-free to creating raw vegan recipes that are naturally gluten free. My gluten intolerance opened up my diet to a whole new world of nutritious plant-based foods. While I'm not 100% vegan, it's my favorite way to eat, and making and sharing raw foods makes me giddy. Living in the City has its joys and challenges, and I enjoy sharing my experiences with you.

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