GAPS Diet Days 24-26: Learning to be Comfortable in my Skin

My first selfie
My first selfie

I took my first selfie this week.  They usually turn me off.  But I felt inspired to capture a moment where I could feel my true essence spilling out of me.  I can’t remember a time where I’ve felt more radiant in my skin (in part because the GAPS Introduction Diet is making my formerly acne-prone skin the clearest it’s been in years).  I feel beautiful from the inside out.  It’s been a journey coming to this place of acceptance and self-love. Not long ago I took pride in being a chameleon.  Upon entering a new environment, I would carefully observe my surroundings to determine my role.  I could fit seamlessly into any situation.   I was the driven go-getter in the office.  The perfectly poised hostess among my circle of friends.  The wiry and tough little athlete on the soccer field. The always-up-for-an-adventure party girl.  The well-read overachiever in the classroom.  So many different parts in the play that had become my life.

For as long as I can remember, it was the same old song and dance.  Especially when it came to romantic relationships. I had my routine down. On the first date, I’d talk about the same things – hanging out in LA’s gay bars, that awesome night in Morocco, adventures living in Spain, my favorite surf story. Then would come the first kiss, then a surf or hiking date, impress him with my cooking skills, maybe we’d have sex, blah blah blah.  An unemotional and disconnected routine.  It was always fun, sure, and there were even moments of possibility for true connectivity.  But I was mostly just floating through the motions, never really letting my true self shine.  Two, three, six months would go by and my partner’s and my respective roles would be more a reflection of the other person’s expectations than our own true selves.Talk about co-dependency.

Every romantic relationship (except one where I let myself go completely) has ended with more or less the same outcome.  We broke up.  Maybe I cried over another lost opportunity for true human connection, or over another period of time spent losing myself to someone else. Then I would put on another mask and continue on with my emotionally aloof way. The grieving process is much shorter when you never really go all in.  I got really good at pleasing other people.  It was a game of trying to figure out what they liked and how to deliver on it.   In this space, I would feel a short thrill (an ego boost) of knowing how to make someone happy, but I always felt a certain degree of numbness myself.

The past few months changed everything.  I’m not entirely certain of the catalyst.  Maybe it was my most recent romantic partner’s uncanny ability to see and love the true me no matter how thick of walls I tried to put up.  Maybe it was the Burning Man decompression event last fall that opened me up to the possibility of wholehearted connections with strangers. Maybe it is being on my own in a new city with a blank slate for redefining myself.  Maybe it is my Hellenistic Time Lord’s astrological shift from a free-spirited Sagittarius period to a more grounded Capricorn phase.  Whatever the reason, I am entering 2014’s Chinese New Year with one thematic word on my lips: authenticity.

I have spent more time in the past month reflecting on myself and my identity than I have in the past 10 years combined.  It’s amazing how eliminating toxins through the GAPS Introduction Diet has helped to clear up my mental and spiritual space for grounding and healing as well.

What does it mean to be authentic anyway?  For me, it means to be really honest with myself – to stop pretending that nothing phases me, that I can do it all myself, that I never get angry/sad/exhausted/scared.  It’s learning to ask people for help - to allow people the opportunity to fulfill my needs.  It’s going throughout my day with an open heart and an intention to wholeheartedly embrace the world.  I am learning to lead with my insecurities in a way that honors my true nature and fosters human connectivity.

Authenticity is a scary place.   

Admitting to myself that I am human (flawed) has been a challenge in and of itself.  Let alone embracing and loving these flaws as unique and beautiful components to my essence.  It’s a daily practice in changing perfectionist and ego-centered thought patterns that no longer serve me.

Just as difficult as the internal work, however, is relearning how to navigate the social world around me.  When I meet people for the first time now, I don’t know what to talk about.  How do I express my true essence?  I’m not sure where to begin.

Hi, I’m Kathryn.  I’m a communications strategist, a health blogger, and surfer…  Okay, wait, those are things that I do.  But who am I, really?

Let me try this again.

Hi, I’m Kathryn.  I am an advocate for food justice.  I am intensely passionate about sustainable food sourcing.  I am strongly tied to my family and wish I could see them more often.  I believe in the power of positive intentions and actions to change the world.  I am still figuring out what I want to do with my life.  I am committed to learning more about myself.

Are these things that people even want to hear?  Maybe some people.  People who are entirely different than those I’ve surrounded myself with in the past.  I feel like a little kid discovering my identity for the first time.  I am timid, shy and awkward.  This is an entirely new experience of learning how to relate and face the world as my true self.

My soul mate friends – the ones who somehow made me comfortable from the beginning of our relationships – and my immediate family are really the only people who have ever truly seen me.  The real me.  The good and the bad.  We can literally talk about anything and everything.  We are comfortable and free to just be ourselves.

Going through this experience of self-(re)discovery, I keep coming back to same question:

Why can’t every interaction be like this?

There’s no good reason it can’t.  This is the level of authenticity I seek in all facets of my life.

The only thing I need to do is let go of fear.

If someone meets me now and doesn’t like me, they really don’t like me. Me, me.  Not the façade that I had created for myself (something that’s much easier to change or write off).  No. They don’t like me as a human being.

But so what?  This journey isn’t about winning the favor of others.  It’s about being true to and honoring myself.  My reward is an entirely new experience of connectivity in my life.  I am beginning to attract more people who do love and honor me for my true self because I am coming at them from a place of truth, love and respect for myself.  In turn, this is opening doors for them to be their true selves, and for me to love and respect them as well.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve been having deep conversations with old friends and new.  People are coming up to me and volunteering to be open with their current struggles and past experiences.  I must be doing something right in working to open myself up.  Fostering real, human connections is exciting!

I think we’re all guilty at times of wearing masks.  Of worrying about fitting in or doing things to please others instead of doing things that fill us up and make us feel whole.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.  Every day each of us has the power to embrace the world with loving and open hearts.

And so, in the midst of an existential identity crisis, I sit here today sharing with you my first selfie.  Because for the first time in more than a decade, I am brave enough to let my true essence shine.  I am willing to look myself in the eyes and say, “Nice to finally meet you.”  And my bright eyes smile back and say, “We’ve been waiting a your whole life for you to get to know you.”


Day 24 Foods

Probiotic, bone broth, soft boiled eggs, avocado, boiled chicken, sauerkraut, steamed beets with ghee, steamed butternut squash, organic green juice, slow-cooked pulled pork (plain, not sustainably raised), Moroccan olives cured with olive oil

Day 24 Symptoms

  • Improvements in mindfulness during last night’s meditation
  • Slept well – feeling relaxed, but not enough sleep
  • Skin tender and hot upon waking at 6:30 a.m.
  • Itchy scalp and eczema around eyes
  • Dry skin and nostrils
  • Feeling energized, giddy and wildly blissful
  • Sore throat
  • Focused, driven, confident, radiant, productive and energized
  • Feeling strong and beautiful
  • Low energy and itchy scalp beginning at 1 p.m.
  • Feeling tired and fatigued from 5-10 p.m.
  • Anxious, emotional and ego-centered from 7-9 p.m.
  • Fuzzy thinking from 7:30-9 p.m.
  • Feeling guarded and antisocial – social anxiety
  • Dehydrated after swimming in chlorinated pool

Day 25 Foods

Probiotic, bone broth, organic green juice, avocado, soft boiled eggs, steamed butternut squash, sauerkraut, boiled chicken, steamed beets with ghee, cauliflower and butternut squash soup, two macadamia nuts, ground beef cooked in spices, organic lettuce cups, cauliflower with garlic, organic dried mango

Day 25 Symptoms

  • Slept well, but not enough
  • Woke up feeling calm, mellow and embracing the flow of the world (not manic)
  • Feelings of loneliness at 8:30 a.m.
  • Headache at 9:15 a.m.
  • Improved complexion
  • Itchy scalp
  • Enlarged breasts
  • Oily skin
  • Improved mood and confidence at 1 p.m.
  • Feeling energized and silly at 2 p.m.
  • Feelings of joy and gratitude from 6-10 p.m.
  • Sugar cravings beginning at 10 p.m.
  • Up late and feeling manic/addictive from 11 p.m. – midnight

Day 26 Foods

Probiotic, bone broth, soft boiled eggs, avocado, green apple (not organic), boiled chicken, sauerkraut, steamed butternut squash, steamed beets with ghee, handful of dried carrot chips, raw honey, Paleo Shepherd’s Pie, steamed broccoli with ghee

Day 26 Symptoms

  • Not enough sleep
  • Woke up early (5 a.m.) feeling energized and happy
  • Slow to get out of bed
  • Thoughts of wasting time – working on strengthening my commitment to myself and my continued healing (and sleep more)
  • Hot, reddish face
  • Bloating and constipation
  • Sneezing and sleepy at 11:30 a.m.
  • Congestion and headache after eating small green apple (not organic) at 12:30 p.m.
  • Feeling grumpy at 1:30 p.m.
  • Itchy, sticky skin
  • Sleepy, exhausted and lack of focus from 2-5 p.m.
  • Energized after yoga class at 6 p.m.
  • Giddy and blissful from 6:30-10 p.m.
  • Clear thoughts and intentions from 8-11 p.m.