The Greatest of These is Love

Stop holding your breath, honey, my mom said, squeezing my hand. I was stunned watching the swarm of doctors and nurses and then nurses and then doctors come in and out of the Emergency Room. One took blood pressure, the other started a drip. Another asked how he was feeling for the 100th time.

I wanted to scream at them to just pass along the information so my sick father didn’t have to repeat himself over and over again. I wanted to scream that I didn’t know that my surprise visit to North Carolina would end up in the hospital, trying my best to stomach my panic so my dad wouldn’t see it. I wanted to scream that four surgeries in one year was way too many. I wanted to scream that now, the pressure had broken not only my mother and I’s heart, but my dad’s too. I wanted to scream that this wasn’t fair and this wasn’t what we – the Tigar family – deserve or needed right now.

Not after everything we have been through. Not another medical bill. Not another surgery. Please God, not another surgery.

One hour passed and then another.

Five hours.

I wanted them to turn down these unforgiving, florescent lights and let my dad rest. I stood with the pashima I got in Chinatown last year for $5 wrapped around me, frozen by the air conditioning, while my dad – with a heart rate of 163 and climbing – was sweating. I could have sat down, there were two seats for my mother and I, and the nurse (Angie? Was that her name?), kept motioning for us to relax. You’ll be here a while, she warned. Take a seat.

But I stood anyway – right by the curtain, leading out out to countless other rooms, all filled with people. Filled with strangers with problems and illnesses and worries and fears – the anxiety of the place was so heavy that I felt consumed by it.

I wanted to run.

But I wanted my dad to be able to run with me. Instead, he couldn’t even get out of bed without his heart rate raising so high that he needed oxygen. Where was my father, that just last year, after beating cancer, could bike 10 miles on a hiking trail? Where was my father that was a far better swimmer than I’ve ever been? Where was my brave, unstoppable dad that gave me my sense of adventure and my thirst for jumping head first into everything?

Don’t worry Linds, he said. I’m going to be just fine. Don’t worry about me. He repeated himself every hour of so, the burrow in my forehead growing deeper than I’d like at the ripe ol’ age of 25. I tried to keep him smiling and entertained, telling stories of my New York antics and mishaps until around 1 a.m., when he was finally moved to a regular hospital room.

I have to stay the night, then? He asked the nurse. She just nodded and smiled, promising that we’ll all know more tomorrow. As the two hefty EMTs loaded my dad into the stretcher and into the ambulance to transport him less than a mile away, my mom and I held hands silently while walking to the car in the cold.

After a sleepless night, we arrived back at the hospital with hard candies and sweatpants, putting on our best grins to keep his spirits high. We watched Law & Order: Special Victims Unit because it’s his favorite and then 19 Kids and Counting because it was on.

Would you want 20 kids, Lindsay? he asked. I wondered if the morphine was going to his head or if he sincerely thought I’d want that many children. I made a joke and he laughed, and the sound filled my heart with so much joy that I had to rest my hand on my chest to keep myself steady.

Let’s try to do a few rounds around the hall, okay? The nurse asked, unhooking the colorful cords that were attached seemingly everywhere. The three of us trekked slowly around, passing many open doors with sleeping patients. I tried not to look because I thought it was inappropriate, but I did. I later told my mom that all of the patients on the heart wing seemed elderly and it didn’t make sense that dad would be joining them. Sweetie, he does collect social security now, she had said.

How were my parents aging before me and I had yet to notice?

After lap three, my dad had to rest because he was out of breath. While he sat upright in a chair, thankful to be out of the bed, we all watched more Law and Order, and I held his hand, thinking of all the times he had held mine. Walking into grocery stores and to banks, down the stairs when they were too tough for me to climb, when I was scared of jumping off the high diving board, when my heels for prom were dangerous for my ankles, when the snow was too slippery. I knew I couldn’t support him now, not without a degree in medicine, but I could hold his hand.

We have to get you back on the drip and oxygen, Jim, the nurse rushed in and told us. I didn’t like her, she was too abrupt and not sensitive to my dad’s many questions. A team helped him into bed and got him hooked up to monitors that kept beeping, and then they talked outside. We watched them chatter, unable to make out their words. And then my mom and I looked at my dad.

He looked so scared that I started holding my breath again.

While I sat frozen, straining to hear the secret medical huddle going on outside, my mom raised and hugged my dad and whispered something I couldn’t hear into his ear. They stayed in a hug – or at least as much of one as you can have in that position- for a few minutes, and I watched my dad’s heart rate go down. 10 beats down. Then 15. Then 25. He stopped crying. The fear left his eyes.

They kissed.

And though I’ve never been married and I have never loved someone so unconditionally like my parents feel for each other, when I witnessed their embrace, I couldn’t help but think:

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

The kind of love that’s worth everything, endures. It is not about fancy dates or finding the most attractive person to wed. Instead, it means it when it says for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. It is not about romance and diamond rings. Instead, it doesn’t judge. It is not about having the most spectacular sex or having the highest paycheck. Instead, it is patient and it is kind.

It is the love that my parents have always had.

While I pray for faith in the universe as my father heals, and I hope for better answers and less stress for all of us, I rejoice knowing that even if I can’t always be in North Carolina to help my family, I know we have the greatest truth of all between us.

Love. And even if hearts beat out of their chests, there will be love to steady the rhythm.

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Portion Control is a Bitch

For the past three weeks, one of my dearest friends, M, and I have been following the Women’s Health Diet Challenge that’s supposed to shape your eating habits to be healthier.

I’ve been incredibly proud of our dedication: we’ve been recording every little thing we eat, including any late night snacks that we aren’t supposed to have, along with our exercise and how many drinks we consume. We encourage each other to meet our goals, like not eating sweets and running a certain amount of miles every week – and when one of us falls off the wagon… the other one helps them up…

…or you know, falls right down with them into a cave of red wine and brownies. Or tequila and cupcakes.

Though we’re only half-way through the cleanse, we’re both already seeing changes: losing weight, saving money (bringing your lunch and making it at home is so cheap!), running more and faster, and overall, just feeling slimmer. We’ve each had our own struggles but have pretty much kept to the diet, minus some exceptions that make sense with our lifestyle. (Girl’s night out must have some sort of wine! You can’t eat in every single night in New York City!) But the one thing that’s made the past few weeks so hard for me is portion control.

It’s a total bitch.

I never realized how much bigger my serving sizes were than the recommended amount – 1 cup of brown rice looks a lot different than the two cups the Chinese restaurants give you. And 25 almonds for a snack might seem like a lot, but if you grab a handful or two, you’re probably consuming 50 (and 500+ calories!). The first days of the challenge, I basically felt like I was starving to death because I was eating much less – but now, I noticed how much easier I feel full and satisfied compared to before.

N, my friend and the blogger behind Mrs. Healthy Ever After made an amazing transformation last year and lost weight by changing her eating habits. Since she’s my go-to person for making yummy, hearty but healthy meals, I asked her to give some awesome tips on how to manage portion control, make good choices and lose weight:

When I served my brother the same portion of pasta I had just served my then boyfriend (now husband), his eyes grew wide as if to say “Challenge accepted.” But half-way through, he gave up, groaning that I shouldn’t give him “Addison-sized” portions. It wasn’t until that moment did I realize I had inadvertently been trained horrible portion habits because of my garbage disposal man.

Once we got married, we vowed to get our eating habits under control, and thus, Mrs. Healthy Ever After was born. One of the first problems we tackled was portion control, and trust me when I say these really do work. Even my pasta guzzling husband agrees.

Plate size matters
We hear a lot about how half the battle of weight loss and health is psychological. It really is true. Plate sizes have grown exponentially over the years, making us think that we really need all that space for food. The truth is, most plates are more than double the size we need. If you put your food on a smaller plate, your brain will register it as a significant amount of food. However, if you put the same size food on a bigger plate, your brain will tell yourself that you are being deprived and need more. Reach for the smaller plates to help trick yourself into better habits. Half the time, my husband doesn’t even realize I’m using different sized plates.

Plan ahead proper portions
Buying individual sized, portion-controlled snacks can get pricey (and let’s be honest, who eats just one of those, right?). Save money by buying your snacks in bulk and researching portion size yourself. Separate them into little zip lock baggies (you can even get extra small baggies to go hand-in-hand with the psychology of tip #1). If you always have perfectly portioned snacks on hand, you’re not going to be tempted to eat the whole bag of pretzels—especially if you refuse to keep a whole bag in your house.

Do the Half-Plate trick
My husband really struggled with wanting to eat large portions of meat. For myself, as the Italian of the relationship, I was more carb driven and always wanted pasta or breads. When you have a meal that showcases something scrumptious but not necessarily healthy when eaten out of proportion, do the half-plate trick: fill half your plate with veggies. Have a separate bowl for salad when you’re eating pasta? Trying putting it on your plate next to your main course. Eating a steak dinner? Measure out your portions and place it alongside half a plate of grilled vegetables. Remember, you can never O.D. on veggies so take advantage!

Don’t trust restaurant portions
Very rarely do restaurants actually give you a human amount of food—in that, sometimes it’s even three times more than you should ever consume in a setting. If you don’t want to eat a “healthy” item on the menu or focus on a green salad, then opt to split your entrée in half. Most restaurants will even box the other half before serving you your meal if you ask. Two meals for the price of one? Yes please!

Educate yourself
How can you eat proper portions if you don’t actually know what they are? Many people struggle with either eating too much or too little. Both can be detrimental to your weight loss journey. Do your homework. Learn that 4 ounces of meat equals roughly the size of your palm or a deck of cards. Still struggling? Invest in a food scale and literally measure your food until you teach yourself the visual cues you need.

Don’t think you struggle with portion control?
Try the sure fire test that will open your eyes! Pour yourself a bowl of cereal without measuring it, serving yourself your typical portion. Afterward, actually measure it out. Chances are, you will have served yourself between two to four times the amount recommended.

Check out N’s awesome blog here

This Valentine’s Day, write a self-love letter to yourself and it’ll be published (anonymous or not) on Confessions of a Love Addict! And you enter yourself to win a prize pack of beauty products and a Home Goods gift card! Learn more here. Submit here.

14 Things I’m Giving Up in 2014

The past week has been unusually warm in Manhattan. The air feels crisp and inviting, the atmosphere of the streets lively and fresh, and the people – myself included – invigorated for a New Year. I always make resolutions and oddly enough, I do actually keep them. There’s something about January 1 that makes me feel like I get a second chance (or a 26th one…) to improve bad habits or start great ones.

In 2012, I spent a lot of time holding back and not compromising. If my friends wanted to go out, I almost always selfishly insisted on the west side so I’d have an easier commute. If I was asked out on a date by a potentially wonderful man – but he suggested the Lower East Side on a Tuesday – I would have politely declined. But in 2013, I made a vow to say “yes” more – and that’s exactly what I did:

I said “yes” to Mexico in April. I said “yes” to late nights and early mornings. Yes to training for (and completing!) a half-marathon. Yes to kissing a nameless man on the corner of West 4th at 2 a.m. Yes to walking all the way across the park with Lucy in tow to the east side to visit friends. Yes to going all the way to Brooklyn for brunch — and thoroughly enjoying myself. Yes to trips to North Carolina three times, yes to new foods and new drinks, new clothes I normally wouldn’t wear, yes, yes, yes!

But in 2013, I also said “yes” to a lot of negativity.

And even more fear. I said “yes” to those really terrible thoughts that made me feel like everything that could possibly go wrong, did. I said “yes” at the expense of myself, sometimes sacrificing what I really wanted to make someone – anyone – happy. I said “yes” to thinking the absolute worst in every situation, every person, every date that left a bad taste in my mind. I did learn how to take those chances and change my attitude, but in ways that made me stronger.. and weaker, too.

What I want the most out of 2014 is to be happy. And so many things can contribute to happiness: health, friends, career, love, travel, new experiences. I don’t want to limit myself or put pressure on a timeline, but I do want to live better. I want to live with the same kind of passion, that same drive and hopefulness that made me who I am and made me a success in New York. I miss that beat in my step, that faith in my heart, that smart, sharp, kind, enthusiastic spirit that made me feel unstoppable.

And to get that firecracker Tigar back, I need to let go of some very small and very big things that are holding me back or keeping me down. These aren’t quite resolutions – just a little guide to help me along the new journey of 2014. Because really, with some of these out-of-the-way, my resolution to be happy again, might just be a reality.

In no particular order, here are 14 things I’m giving up in 2014:

1- Duck Face
Guilty as charged: if you stalk my Instagram, you’ll see so many duck face examples, it’s quite embarrassing. Sure, it can be cute. If you’re, like, 15, not, ya know, 25.

2- Investing in People Who Don’t Invest in Me
One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn as an adult is that friendships change. We all expect relationships to be difficult, life-changing experiences, but friendships are that way too. Even if you’ve been friends for years or just a short period of time, if someone isn’t making your life better by being in it, then get them out. People who are worth your time, will make time to invest in you.

3- Biting My Tongue
Maybe it’s my recently damped self-confidence or just the anxiety of saying the wrong thing, but in my life and in my career, I’ve had a tendency to not say what I really think. But this year, it’s time to lean in. I can’t move up – or move forward – by being silent.

4- Hitting Snooze
I desperately want to be a morning runner but snuggling in bed with Lucy is so much nicer than a 6:30 a.m. wake up call. But think of all the time I’d have to do things post-work if I got that 3-5 miler finished before my morning coffee!

5- Having Another Drink When I Don’t Want One
Sure, Saturday nights are great for having a bit too much. But a random Wednesday? With a guy I know I will never, ever want to go out with again? Forget saving feelings or following the crowd, my liver demands better. And I’d rather have less of those paralyzing hangovers post-25.

6- Judging People For Their Choices
I try my very best to be understanding and considerate, but it’s human nature to raise an eyebrow when a friend (or even a stranger) does something that isn’t quite the route you’d take in the same situation. You can’t change people, you can only be honest and caring, and thus, changing yourself. We’re each climbing our own hill and we’ll all get to the top in our own way.

7- Forgetting to Dream
I put in the hard work to get to New York and once I landed in my little apartment with my big NBC job and my big, popular blog, I sat down. It’s time to get up. I’m not finished yet – I’m merely getting started.

8- Buying Lunch Every Day
I work in Chelsea Market. For New Yorkers, I need not say more. For everyone else: imagine every delicious, decadent, expensive food you could ever imagine – from lobster to truffle tacos – a few steps away from you every. single. day. I could save so much more money (and travel so much more often) if I could plan ahead better.

9- Keeping Up My Routine
I’m a Virgo, and I love, love, love plans. I’m often the person sending out a group e-mail, trying to get my friends on-board to a new idea. But I go back to the same restaurants. I do basically the same thing every weekend. Not anymore though: I already signed up for Italian lessons and philosophy (yes, philosophy!) lessons. Time to switch it up.

10- Using the Word “Should”
It’s a dangerous word, that one. And it creeps it’s way into every worry I have: I should make more money. I should be thinner. I should have a boyfriend by now. I should live alone at this point in my life. I should save this extra $100. I should be more responsible. The only should I’ll say this year is: I should be me, exactly how I am today.

11- Getting Angry Over Things I Can’t Control
Like a long line at Starbucks. Or train delays. Or friends bailing at the last second. Or a guy with an attitude problem. Or people who don’t agree with me. Or the fact I’ll never be a size two (this girl has hips for miles). If I can find peace in every moment, I can find peace in every outcome.

12- Mentioning the Mr’s + Relying On Tinder
I’ve wasted far too much space (in my heart and on this blog) on the Mr’s I used to love. It’s time to let go of what was so I can find what will be. The archives will always be there. On the other hand, I can’t just rely on a dating app that’s basically “hot or not” to provide me with quality dating material. Bye, bye iTunes Store dating. Hello, just getting out of the apartment and into life.

13- Focusing on What’s Hard Instead of What’s Good
If everything was smooth sailing and easy, then would I appreciate the life I’ve built? If I never had to say good-bye to a friend because they moved on their own or because they were forced? If I never had my heart-broken or my dreams crushed? If I never cried out of frustration or desperation? If I never heard really bad, scary news? Life will always have it’s hard parts, but it’s never without goodness. I just have to breathe enough to feel it.

14- Being Afraid To Do It Alone
My friends won’t always want to volunteer at the soup kitchen with me. Or go to that new pub around the corner. Or sign up for a pizza making class or join a running group. But instead of dwelling in the fear of going alone, I choose to dwell in the possibility that something really amazing can come from taking a leap of faith. After all, that’s what I used to do every single day before I developed my life here.

Surely, I can do it again. Surely, I can do it with even more courage. Surely, I can open my heart to the New Year, and the new me, that’s waiting in 2014.

This Baby Loves Her Back

My boobs were bigger when I was 10 years old than they are now.

Something happened the summer before I started middle school — my mom let me shave my legs for the first time (at our lake house in a bikini, terrified of cutting myself), acne snickered at my skin and well, every top I owned suddenly was a bit too small. And though I had always waited quite impatiently to look like a real woman, when those curves arrived sooner than expected, I wished they would go away.

Having an inappropriate body for a young girl brought all sorts of things — unwanted attention from older guys, untrue rumors at school because surely if my body looked sexual, I must also be sexual in nature. The truth was I found myself wearing a 32 D-cup and sincerely had no idea what to do with such a massive and speedy physical transition. I hadn’t “french kissed” a boy and yet I had a chest to insinuate I was ready for quite more than that.

Sixth grade was really the first year I started cursing my own body. I was too heavy on top. My stomach pooched more than the other girls in gym class. I couldn’t run as fast because my breasts were too heavy. My skin was speckled. My teeth weren’t perfect and I didn’t want braces. The other girls were prettier. They were skinnier. They didn’t have awfully huge knockers that I hated so badly I kept them only in sports bras for years until one of my friends demanded I wear a proper underwire freshman year of college.

Throughout my many growing body pains, my pants and dress size fluctuated too. Following a stressful period my sophomore year of high school, I gained close to 20 pounds and kept it on until I graduated. To compensate for my insecurity, I covered up the extra weight in loose-fitting clothing and cardigans to cover what I saw as embarrassing rolls in every place. When I went off to college, I not only had to walk — uphill, literally in snow — everywhere I went, but I discovered a newfound love for running, too. The thing that triggered my actual shedding of the baggage around my midsection and thighs wasn’t anything healthy though — it was the depression I fell into following that terribly awful thing that happened on my 18th birthday.

And then I was thrown into a dark world of strange feelings about my body.

Not only was it slowly shrinking due to quite a loss of appetite and desire for much of anything, I also felt foreign to my own limbs. And maybe more devastating to me, that power I had always felt sexually since I lost my virginity to my high school sweetheartfaded. I didn’t want to be naked and I really didn’t want to be touched — unless it was a touch of love. And love was pretty much void for most of college. I didn’t know how to get back all of that fire that got me through everything, so I took the advice of someone special and I faked it until I made it. I led one of the sections at the student newspaper, I volunteered, I became an orientation leader and I went on dates with men I knew I’d never actually care about. And inside, I felt like the ugliest person alive. Like this body I had, was damaged or broken, that it wasn’t worthy of what I once thought it was.

But after lots of counseling and even more determination to pull myself back up, I found myself interning in New York and starting to finally feel beautiful. Or maybe glamorous is the right word. My bra was not only significantly emptier but my waist and heavy heart was too, making me feel unstoppable and vibrant in a city that mostly defines itself by beauty. Or at least being surrounded by it, that is. But when you spend your time trying to be social and liberated and basking in the light of a bright new chapter, you also start drinking more. When I returned to finish my last year-and-a-half of college, I found myself staring at yet another number on the scale I didn’t like and pulling out those hefty bras I thought I could throw away.

And so this pattern continued pretty frequently over the next five years… until last summer.

Mr. Possibility was still in my life — in and out — and though he did help me get over my intense hatred of my acne (“Those are only your freckles!“), he didn’t do much for my body image. His love (and constant praise) of those 5’10-and-up skinny, long-legged gals made my shorter, curvier, womanly frame feel unworthy. Unappreciated. Not good enough for any successful man in New York. While almost every guy I’ve dated (Dr. Heart included) has adored the little extra I’ve always packed, I’ve never felt quite comfortable having them like it so much. If it jiggled or wiggled or moved at all, surely it’s not an attractive sight for a man to see.

But in the sweltering heat of the July sun, after a knock-down, drag-out fight that ultimately kicked Mr. P out of my life for mostly good with the shocking slam of a taxi cab door — I made a decision to be beautiful.

Scratch that — to feel beautiful. To embrace my beauty. To accept it. To know it’s there.

And as much as falling in love with myself is more than my mirror’s reflection, a positive, accurate body image is part of the courting, too. I got back into running after a long-delayed absence, I starting drowning myself in water, I went on Accutane to get rid of 15-year-old acne and I stopped comparing myself to every girl that I saw.

That last one was the doozy.

I had been measuring myself up against every pretty lady I passed, wondering if she had all the things I wanted because her thighs were the size I wished mine were. Or her skin had never seen a bad day. Or her teeth were aligned so symmetrically it blinded me. Instead of seeing perfection in everyone around me — and ignoring my own shine — I started reminding myself about how superbly awesome my body is.

And maybe more importantly — how incredible it will be one day.

Now, it can run 6 miles and not be out of breath. It can make it through an intense Pilates session and hit the pavement minutes later. It can endure the brutality of the city and stay in step with the fastest New Yorkers who push by. It’s hand can comfort a puppy who has a nightmare in the middle of the night. It can hold the head of a friend in need or embrace a celebratory moment. It can rock out a black mini and a red dress, and then look equally good — and damn it, curvy as hell — in tight workout pants and t-shirt an hour later. It can curl and go straight, it can go natural or pageant-faced and be just as pretty. Even if the beauty is in the fruitful flaws.

But one day — it’ll even be better. It’ll produce life. It’ll carry a baby. It’ll give birth to that baby. It’ll grow and stretch and sag and wrinkle and change and with all of that, it’ll just get more astounding. It’ll get lines and have scars that hold meaning — ones that were caused by things I survived. Or memories that were worth every bit of pain. It’ll be touched by a man worthy enough to be loved by me for the rest of his life. It’ll be held delicately because it’s precious and one of a kind.

And it’s mine.

So why not love it? Why not be madly in love with it? Big boobs, freckled cheeks, a baby-got’s-back rear end, frizzy hair in all-weather and everything in between belongs to me. And to me, all of it is beautiful.

You Should Go Running Today…

…for the families of Sandy Hook. You can donate any amount you want and run or walk whatever distance you can. Email me your photos and I’ll post them. Send me your running time and you could win. It’s only been a month since Sandy Hook and help is still needed to recover.

Learn more about the Sandy Hook Remote 5K here – and seriously, get up and go for a run! It’s only going to do good.