Save Your Own Life: The Bitch'in Challenge, Week 3

Welcome to Week 3 of the Bitch’in Challenge! You’ve been working SO HARD to get to this place. All that answering your wake-up call, fixing your bad-ass diet, making sure you drink a gallon of water a day, perhaps bumping up your fitness routine…

So A#1) YAY, YOU! and B#2) STOP right now.

Seriously, sit down. I have something super important to tell you:

This may all be for naught, if you and I don’t do something RIGHT NOW about the sneaky sabotaging scoundrel that can rob you of your life as you want to lead it and live it.

You can do everything in the world to get healthier, but if you keep sucking up the STRESS, you are going to screw yourself, and not in a good/fun/happy way.

SAVE YOUR OWN LIFE: Cut out the stress!

Remember how I told you that my holistic doc called me a “Hot Toxic Box“? (And then I started a punk band by the same name? Our first single is “F*ck My Frozen Liver.”)

In that same appointment she put me on a whole regimen of supplements and detoxes to get my body working right since, according to her, I wasn’t digesting my food, my liver was blocked, my adrenals were shot, my iron and thyroid were both running on empty, and there was also a mixed-bag of assorted other conundrums. This was all super new to me, as regardless of the fact that I live in the LA — land of the high colonics and low rider jeans — I’m a New England girl at heart, so the closest thing to a detox I’d ever done was survive a bout of post-lobster roll food poisoning back in ’92.

So the follow-up appointment was important… and I totally freakin’ blew it by over-scheduling my life as per usual. My son had a baseball game hours away from where the doc is located, and so I critically underestimated the time a double header REALLY takes, how much traffic there REALLY always is, and how unlikely it is that I could REALLY ever be in two places at the same time. I called to reschedule, and I was told that it wasn’t possible until days later.

As we hung up, the doc gently said, “You have to start thinking about putting yourself first.”

Was she crazy? What if I were the only parent not in the stands for this pre-season scrimmage game? These are the good old days, right? Of course I felt guilty about missing my appointment, and I was concerned that I’d started one more thing that I was doing a shitty job of finishing (in this case, tending to my health).

My hot, toxic box might have been detoxing, but I was doing a kick ass job filling it all back up with worry, dread, doubt, and anxiety.

Sure enough, at the next appointment, my holistic doc pointed to my mid-section and said, “I can help you get rid of that, but you have got to start putting yourself first. No diet or exercise can change that — it’s all about the cortisol.”

The worst part of all of this was: I already knew that!

Astute readers of this here Bitch’in Suburbia blog may remember last spring when, inspired by the upcoming bathing suit season, I shared a bunch of research I did in a post called, “Middle-Age Spread: What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting.

The spare tire that we haul around is also the very thing that will drive us right off the cliff to our collective untimely deaths if we don’t deal with it now. Fun facts about belly fat include:

• It’s a safe house for some of the nastiest killers out there: diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. • Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, is the only one that INCREASES with age. • Speaking of hormones, the “middle age spread” thrives on hormonal fluctuations. The less progesterone and estrogen and the more cortisol, the more fat that’s deposited on the abdomen… and the bigger the Buddha belly. • “Visceral fat” (aka, belly fat) is linked to dementia.

• The loss of muscle mass that happens with age supports the growth of ye olde tummy by decreasing resting metabolic rate. It also pushes you toward a more sedentary life.

Now that you (and I) are reminded that we wear our stress not on our sleeves, but around our waists and also in our heads, hearts, and at a deep cellular level throughout our precious bodies, what are you (and I) gonna do about it?


While I love my holistic doc saying that I need to start “putting myself first,” modern life — regardless of it you’re a parent or not — makes it extremely difficult to do so. And any good change starts with baby steps. The challenge this week is to let yourself off the hook at least THREE TIMES in a very conscious way. Here’s how we’re going to do it:

Just say NO THANK YOU: The book of the season is Amy Poehler’s brilliant Yes Please , and bless the woman, she’s everywhere — movies, TV, raising kids, dating, being your fave smart girl at the party, and of course prepping to host the Golden Globes again. I freakin’ love her AND would want to be her IF I had a full-time staff. (Not saying she does — Amy might also be bionic.) But I don’t, and neither do you. And since ’tis the season for sign-ups and parties and doing a million extra things, just pick something — anything — to say NO THANK YOU to. Oh, and make it something you’re secretly dreading anyways, and you’ll score extra points!

Stop getting wasted on worry: Worry can be more enticing and intoxicating than any other vice there is. Fear junkies like me tend to mainline that shit straight into little things or stuff that hasn’t even happened yet, and shoot ’em up to horrendous Apocalypse-level disasters, making our heads and hearts feel like they might explode — so fun! Anyhoo, if you get wasted like that every day, before you know it, you’ll be a total wreck and pretty useless health-wise to everyone you know and love. Stay present and work some steps to break your addiction to fear and worry.

Take a breather: This one is literal — go to where the oxygen is. Walk around the block, take a yoga class, or even just gulp in some deep, delicious breaths a few times a day. Ohmmmm doesn’t that feel good?

Play my favorite game, “What’s the Worst Thing That Can Happen?” When you are in the thick of things and stressing about how you’ll get it all done, ask yourself this question: What’s the worst thing that could happen? If your answer is the world will be absorbed into a black hole and everyone will perish, then by all means, continue to stress out. If it just means your holiday cards will arrive a few days later than you’d like (or you don’t even send ’em this year), or you pick one party to attend the night that you’re invited to three others, or you do all your shopping online and never experience the chaotic mess we call the mall, then guess what? You’ve got First World problems, and none of them require you to stress out. Make a call, and move on.

So if you see me this Week 3 of the Bitch’in Challenge, ignoring Monday Envelope messages and Sign-Up Genius invites, buying pre-made meals, chillin’ in Child’s Pose, and letting my nails grow out cuz I’m ditching nervous habits, just know that I’m saving my own life, and I’d love you to join me and save yours. Let’s make a pledge to leave the gigantic cortisol-fueled belly to Santa, who actually has a right to be stressed. How he delivers those gifts to a billion children in one night and fits down the chimney without Spanx I’ll never know — but it’s for Mrs. Claus to worry about, not you or me.

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