Some strange things have begun to happen to me as I journey around the beautiful country of Italy. Some may call them miracles and others may consider them nothing more than chemical reactions happening within my body due to changes I have made and a recent upswing in physical activity. I am not sure exactly what the underlying causes are to what I am experiencing, but I am surely excited by what I am seeing.
We all know that Italy is known for having some of the most palate pleasing foods on the planet. I am of course indulging in them on the daily. From buttery, flaky pastries to start my to day to mouthwatering pizzas and pastas for dinner, and of course let’s not forget a bottle of vino to wind down at the end of the day. Despite my unintentional attempt at becoming an Italian, carbohydrate consuming potbellied pig, I have not gained a pound. In fact, I have been losing weight, and my body is becoming less jiggly by the day. This is most noticeable right after I get out of the shower and step in front of the bathroom mirror. It is if I am looking at a stranger’s stomach. My belly is slowly flattening and getting less pillowy to the touch. My pants are also getting notably looser. My skinny jeans are turning into JNCO Jeans; if you are unfamiliar with JNCO Jeans you definitely missed out on one of the strangest fashion trends of my generation. The actual difference in the fit of my pants may have been slightly exaggerated, but they are definitively not skinny jeans any longer.
Now, I am certainly not upset at the change in my body size, but I am some what surprised. I have not been at all conscious of what or how much food and drink I have been consuming each day, which is something I often carefully monitored while I was living in Seoul. It always seemed that no matter how well or little I ate, my weigh would just not go down. It may have been the constant stress that I put myself under to be the best manager and teacher that I could possibly be, or it may have been that I was just not getting enough exercise to combat the consumption of calories that I ingested on a daily basis. I guess chasing after 10 kindergarteners all day and playing dodgeball for an hour a week does not constitute a proper exercise regime. It may have been another reason all together, but we will discuss that a bit later.
Lately, I have been having a bit of difficulty styling one specific section of my hair. Over the past two years this particular spot has caused me some problems because two years ago my hairstylist very dramatically gasped and informed me that my hair was thinning on the crown of my head. I of course was emotionally distraught at the news and immediately began treating my scalp with Rogaine, but even after many, many months of twice daily applications of Rogaine to my scalp, there was no new hair growth. I was convinced that my only hope would be to get hair transplants when the thinning became to obvious to hide. I had given up, but the other day as I was blow dying my hair, I became very curious as to why that area was giving me so much trouble to get to lay down flat. Something had to be causing it to stick up. Upon closer inspection I discovered a bunch of very short, dark hairs were growing out of my balding spot. These were obviously new hair growth because they were not chemically bleached and they were not laying flat like the rest of my hair; they were all reaching straight up to the sun in the Heavens, just like seedlings bursting forth from fertile ground. Nothing about my hair routine has changed since leaving Korea except for one minor thing, Italian water. I have been convinced for years that there was something in Seoul’s water supply that caused my hair to be very dry and damaged feeling. Could this have been the cause, or could it be something else entirely?
The final noticeable difference is my sleeping habits. I have never considered myself a morning person, but something odd has happened since I have been here. Everyday I wake up feeling alive, refreshed, and ready to start a new day somewhere between 5 o’clock and 7 o’clock in the morning. No alarms are ever set; my mind is just ready to start the day’s adventures. Falling asleep has also become instantaneous for me. Insomnia is a condition that I have suffered with for years, and I have even had to rely on prescription drugs, in the past, in order to get an occasional good night of sleep. At times I would lie in bed all night long with out a wink of sleep because my mind was racing with all the things I needed to get done or replaying things that happened that I could have done differently. It seems those days are far behind me now. I am feeling more “Normal”. Now, I don’t really think anyone is normal, but I can certainly say I was not functioning like a normal human being. One can only do so much on two to three hours of sleep a night.
What could be the catalyst for these recent changes be? I was sitting at dinner the other night eating a bowl of ravioli and scowling the Internet newsfeeds. I ran across an article on Vitamin D deficiency. I have never considered the fact that being locked in a classroom for the entirety of the daylight hours almost every day of the week could be causing me to become deficient of a very important vitamin that my body needed in order to function properly, but as I read through the article, I discovered that I suffered from nearly every self detectable symptom that was listed: depression and anxiety, hair loss, fatigue, weight gain, frequently ill, muscle pain, and the list went on. Since I have been in Italy I have spent a few hours outdoors, in the sunshine, walking around enjoying the beauty around me each day. This has allowed my body to produce more Vitamin D, which could very well be contributing to the changes that I have been noticing. The second factor that I think is causing these changes is the drastically reduced amount of stress in my life. I am no longer having to think about work and my incessant desire to out perform everyone else, I don’t have to think about my finances because I am debt free and I have enough money to continue traveling until I tire of it or I figure out what it is that I want to do next, I no longer have to stress about my relationships with friends, acquaintances, or coworkers, and I am not having to continuously put on the “Justin Show” so that everyone thinks that I am doing ok. I can finally say that I am the most ok that I have been in a long time, and my biggest daily stress is what kind of wine will go best with the pasta that I ordered.
I am no doctor, but I think we as humans spend far too much time trapped indoors due to circumstances beyond our control, and we spend too much time stressing about life. These two things I am sure reeked havoc on my mental and physical well-being over the past few years. I am determined now to try to live a more healthy lifestyle by being more active, getting more sunlight, and not sweating the small stuff. Hopefully this will allow me to keep my hair for at least another twenty years.