Well, I don’t know about you, but I love reading these new blogs from line cooks who love to write about the restaurant industry and what it really entails. I have to say, I’ve seen my share of cuts, 1st to 3rd degree burns, and emotional breakdowns due to lack of sleep. I can actually say, I remember a fellow cook being so tired and frustrated that he ran to the bathroom and did a line in order to take the edge off. Not falling into that category of drug and alcohol abuse, I did find another source of coping and taking the edge off…coffee! I would drink at least a pot of coffee before service and another quart during service. After doing this for four years, I started to get very sick. I started to suffer from chronic headaches, digestive issues, abdominal pain and lack of sleep. I went to several doctors, had extensive blood work done, an endoscopy, a colonoscopy and even a sleep study to be told I was more than healthy and all my levels were PERFECT. How could I be perfect when all I wanted to do was sleep and couldn’t even force a smile because I was so tired? I became easily irritated and very cranky. I actually remember one day, my mom came and told me she was going to eat my bagel that I left out and actually ran away from me because she was scared of my response. I just brushed it off and convinced myself that I’m surrounded by sensitive people. The truth was I was a ticking time bomb and didn’t have a filter as to what was said because I was so tired and overworked.

About a year after my doctor visits and extensive tests, I was now a lead line cook and loved the pressure of a dinner service for two hundred people and the process of multitasking. By all means, I didn’t feel better at all. I now needed coffee and sugar to stay awake. I would always sneak over to the pastry station and steal pastries, have my quart of coffee and then just drink water throughout service until I would get home at one in the morning. I would then have a meal which consisted of something fried with a glass of seltzer and then fall asleep at 3 am. I would wake up at 10 am to repeat the vicious cycle. I was so under appreciated at this point, working 90 hours a week, losing touch with my friends and not even being able to enjoy my fully furnished apartment that I snapped. I walked into work one day, gave my notice and decided enough was enough. After my last day of work, I went home and slept. I remember waking up periodically to eat and shower and then I would immediately fall asleep again. Before I knew it, 3 weeks had passed and I felt AMAZING! All my body was crying for was less caffeine and more sleep. I could finally have a conversation without losing my temper and just slow down and finally see what all my friends were up to in life. I started taking supplements such probiotics, multi-vitamins and omega 3’s. I started weight training again and running. Before I knew it, my energy levels were improving and my abdominal pain, which I convinced myself was normal and I would just have to deal with, completely subsided. I went down to one cup of coffee per day and no longer had dessert as my meals. I started to appreciate whole, seasonal eating.

What a lot of people don’t understand is your body talks to you. It will do anything in its power to help you get the message and the more you ignore it, the more it will make you sick to help you slow down. If you push through that enough, such as going to work when you have the flu, you will get sicker and end up in a hospital bed where you are forced to stay, possibly in quarantine until you are no longer contagious. I picked up yoga and calisthenics training and started sweating out toxins. My energy excelled once I paired my workouts with whole eating. The body works in synergy and everything you do plays a role in how we function. I don’t train for looks, I am addicted to progression. I started with walking 2 miles a day and then I started doing 10 push ups. A month later I started to do 10 pull ups. Before I knew it, my outlook on life changed. I began to see the beauty in nature and understand how lucky I was to have family and friends who truly care for me. I am no longer in the restaurant industry and although I miss it every day, I’ve learned to accept that the industry didn’t love me. I started working with children and am teaching them the beauty of self love. Every day I remind my clients, love yourself, honor your body and thank it every day for doing its best.

Health and Happiness,
Farrah Unger