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New Years Resolutions? Nah. Life Changes.

We’ve all heard the saying, “New year, new me,” and the running joke that the gyms will be full until February 1st when everyone quits. In truth I’ve always HATE new year’s resolutions because of the stigma behind them that they are temporary change. If you want to make a change you need to do it because you WANT to. Make the change for YOU. Not because it’s suddenly no longer 2018, but because you see the benefit in becoming healthier or making life changes. Change is HARD, trust me, I know. My life has been through more change in the last year, but due to those changes, I have grown so much stronger physically and emotionally.

I am going into 2019 with so many GOALS, but I will never call them resolutions. My goals may evolve through time, but they are not something I am willing to give up on. If there is one thing I’ve learned it’s that my happiness is just as important as the happiness of those around me. When it comes to your goals being selfish is necessary. This is about YOUR change, not your partner, not your friend, but for YOU.

Set goals that are realistic and sometimes you have to start small. For example, one of my goals is to finish the 80 days of my program. This goal is in process, it has a set end date, and it’s totally obtainable! I am already on day 54 and I actually feel sad I am getting to the end of reaching this goal. The fight has been so emotional, exhausting, challenging but I NEVER had a thought of giving up on myself. At the end of January, I will meet this goal, check it off the list, then I can move onto the next one. 😊

My focus for 2019 is on bettering my mental health. I am still having far too many issues with anxiety attacks and overreacting to situations, so I want to discover new ways to prevent them from happening. Currently I use breathing exercises, different painting mediums, and taking relaxing baths. What do all of these coping mechanisms have in common? They all involve my favorite topic SELF-CARE.

Self-care is SUPER important. Whether it’s picking up a hobby, going out in nature to relax, going for a walk, starting a new workout routine, learning a new skill, baking some treats, the list is endless. Even if self-care is as simple as downloading a meditation app and sitting on your floor for 10 minutes to control your breathing, DO IT. (I have done this and it works wonders!)

I have learned so much in 2018 and I wouldn’t take back any of the decisions I’ve made. When I think about what my life looked like earlier this year, I cringe thinking about how sad, lonely and ugly I felt. I HATED myself. I had moments this year where I didn’t even want to live anymore. I developed the worst depression I have ever had in my life. That feeling of emptiness and loneliness will haunt me for the rest of my life, representing feelings I never want to have again. I spent most of the year unhappy and terrified I would never figure out who I am. (Turning 30 next year didn’t help this anxiety.) I just felt like I wasn’t good enough for the people around me, and they would be better off if I didn’t exist.

I AM good enough. I AM beautiful. I AM confident. I AM capable of anything. Most importantly of all I matter. Remember that if people in your life let you down or make you feel insignificant, they don’t matter. My favorite quote from Dr. Seuss is:

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

Why I Broke Up With My Therapist.

I have always been really outspoken about the benefits of talk therapy as my main intervention for treatment of anxiety and depression. I have been in and out of therapy for the last five years, and have had many successes and failures. Medical intervention has never been something I was interested in, and will continue to resist medications as long as possible. Hence why talk therapy has always been my go-to for symptom treatment. Without therapy treatment I am not sure where my symptoms would be, but I am sure it would have been in a much worse place.

I just feel that my therapist and I have gotten to a place where my symptoms are manageable without weekly or biweekly sessions. I did some reflection on what issues I still want to work on, and the problems that are left I feel I am fully capable managing on my own. There isn’t anything that happened between my therapist and I, but I think our treatment plan has run its course. This is not to say I will never be back in therapy, because I think that is almost guaranteed to happen, but for right now I feel good about my progress.

I have accepted that I am a stress crier. If I am really upset or angry about something or someone, there is a 100% chance I will cry about it. That doesn’t mean anything is wrong with me, it’s just my way of coping with certain life stressors. I have also accepted that my anxiety will never go away. I will never have a moment in my life where my anxiety is completely gone, but I have to continue to learn to function with it.

My self-care has improved 100% with the introduction of my fitness and nutrition work. This is the first program I have been able to create great habits from. I’m on day 50 in a row and going strong! I workout every. single. day for me. My nutrition hasn’t always been stellar, but I never blamed myself or felt guilt about eating foods off plan. How can you properly maintain a lifestyle change like this without allowing yourself some flexibility?  You can’t. The minute I start have ANY feelings of doubt I remind myself that it’s ok. The next meal is a new place to start over. The next day is an opportunity to work even harder.

My first therapist told me to think about my anxiety as a separate person. When I am feeling anxious I have dialog with them, to ask “is this anxiety I’m feeling really necessary?” It’s like that quote from the hangover, “but did you die?” In truth, no I didn’t die. My life has never been in danger, and if it ever is I will be thanking my body for having the ability to have an anxious response.

You see the world will tell you your anxiety is unnatural. If you cry too much that means you’re way too sensitive. If you get upset with people because of miscommunication, you’re overreacting. When you have a panic attack and lose the ability to think and make logical decisions, you’re crazy. No matter what you struggle with there will be someone out there telling you that something is “wrong” with you. Everyone experiences some level of anxiety in their lifetime, but the level at which people truly suffer from anxiety will never be understood by those that cannot feel it.

If you have someone in your life you know is struggling with anxiety, depression or seasonal effective disorder, reach out to them and ask if they’re ok. Sometimes it’s a simple conversation with someone you love to make all the difference in the world. When I have panic attacks, many times people message me during them and have no idea the impact they made in my life at that very moment. I can go from crying uncontrollably, unable to breathe to cracking a smile or even laughing. We all deserve a little bit of light in our worlds, and you can be that for someone.

Life is about overcoming obstacles and growing, but you cannot grow without change. I made the decision to accept the changes that I have made, and have a plan in place for changes that I need to continue to work on. I have some great people that are a part of my life, both new and old, that made this decision much easier for me to make. I am not afraid to admit I will never be “fixed” but I will continue to surround myself with love from people willing to accept my flaws.

It’s Perfectly ok, to not be ok.

Life can sometimes be awful. Some days (or weeks) feel like no matter how hard you try, you just can’t turn it around. The past week has been emotionally devastating and character building all at the same time. Without going into too much detail I will give you an overview on what’s been happening.

My dad has been sick basically my entire life. He has type 1 diabetes and was diagnosed when he was a kid. Since then, he has had a number of medical issues including a kidney transplant, double leg amputations, a stroke, MRSA infections, heart issues.. the list goes on. Our family joke is that he gets bi-annual hospital visits, and the medical staff at the local hospitals know him by name. This year I believe we are up to 3 or 4 hospitalizations (possibly more?), and this one has hit me really hard.

Growing up I wouldn’t say I was a daddy’s girl. He was always the parent that pushed my buttons just to see how angry I would get. He always told me I couldn’t have a boyfriend until I was 16 (like I ever followed that rule). If I was ever injured from a sport, he always told me about the time he broke his foot playing hockey and just tied his laces tighter and finished the game, so I needed to suck it up and not baby my injury. As I’ve grown into an adult, I’ve realized how lucky I am to have two parents that care deeply for me, and how blessed I am to have him as a dad.

Seeing a parent sick is not easy. Being in a hospital, watching them suffer feels like someone twisting a knife in your heart. One way my family deals with these tragic situations is with humor. My dad is always the first one to crack a joke if any of us are crying. He loves to play pranks on the nurses or say ridiculous things just to see someone else smile. It doesn’t matter how much pain he is in, he is always trying to cheer the people up around him.

Through him I have learned what it means to have strength. I have learned that even if obstacles seem impossible to overcome, it could always be worse. I have learned that when you feel at the lowest point in your emotional state, the best way to deal with it is to just laugh. Watch a funny video, replay a memory in your head, surround yourself with people that make you happy, but most important, remember that positivity will concur all.

It’s really easy on social media to portray that you have the perfect life or you are positive all the time. It takes courage to be vulnerable and admit when you’re not ok. It’s perfectly ok, to be not ok. Tragedies will continue to happen, but how you respond to tragedy is where you grow in strength and perseverance. I never take for granted the physical activities I am able to do, that my dad can no longer do. Taking care of my body has become so important to me, because he was never given the chance.

Imagine what we would all be capable of, if we used our strength to help others. The story that I am trying to tell through my health journey is just that. Over the last week I have received some of the nicest comment I never would’ve imagined reading. I decided to be like my dad, put myself out there as authentic as I could possibly be, and let others see it’s ok to be themselves. I could easily play into a character or a role to get people to like me, but I’ve always been unique and haven’t cared about being popular. By being a weird, awkward, goofy person (a replica of my dad) I believe I can break through the “perfect life” mentality that plagues us all and encourage anyone to always be authentically you. 😊

Pushed to the Limits

My life feels like absolute chaos.

Notice I said “feels” and not “is”. In truth I refuse to believe my life is totally out of my control, however, my anxiety has been extremely high while trying to navigate through this week. I like to consider myself I strong person, and someone that always looks at life “glass half full”. But even the most positive people struggle to maintain that balance that allows for a brighter outlook on life.

Since Monday alone I have been dealt some major blows, and it has caused my moods to be in turmoil. I am usually really good at identifying the problem, addressing the problem and finding a solution. This time some of the problems are not mine to fix. My dad is back in the hospital for reoccurring health reasons, and the doctors still do not have a viable solution. My job is testing my patience with all of the unrealistic timelines and changes pushing a go-live through prematurely. I also was informed today that our physical office location MIGHT be moved across the cities (further away from home). I’m still trying to get my new coaching gig off the ground, and figuring out how to turn myself into a business. AND my school work has been taking a lot more mental energy than available at the end of the day.

I woke up this morning having a major anxiety attack and tried to center my mind and connect to why I am feeling this way. I had to accept that I cannot control every problem in my life, nor can I always solve them. I have to be ok with letting negative things happen and focus on my reaction to them. My focus for the rest of the week is to keep highlighting the positive things that happen.

Self-care is so, so, SO important. Taking time to yourself to reset your physical and mental state is what helps you improve your overall quality of life. I have proved this by refusing anti-anxiety drugs and anti-depressants to treat my symptoms because I believe my body is an amazing machine that is capable of healing itself when given the correct tools to do so. Self-care to me now means working out for an hour a day and pushing my mind and body far enough to see positive changes. I have struggled with weight and confidence for so long that to be seeing changes now mean the absolute world to me. I want to shout my excitement from the top of the world. I FINALLY FOUND SOMETHING THAT WORKS FOR ME. I cannot remember the last time I felt so great, and because of that, I have been getting through this week.

“You can do hard things,” – Autumn Calabrese

Who’s Ready?!

2018 has been a heck of a year. At the beginning of the year I wrote myself a letter to read on December 31st trying to spell out what I hope I have accomplished over the last 12 months. I am excited to see how wrong my predictions are, because honestly, it’s been a ride. Coming into the holiday season I have been reflecting on the current status of projects I have going on, and taking time to appreciate how far I’ve come. My job has been amazing. My relationships have grown so much stronger. I’m taking much needed time for self-care. But since the year began, it always felt like something was missing. That was until recently when I made a shift in my life to start inspiring others to seek out their physical and mental health goals.

Last Thursday night I was on a conference call with my Beachbody coach (Andrea), a few other coaches, and people like me, future prospective coaches. I do not know what I expected joining that call, other than to hear about their experiences with coaching and how they got into it. Listening to their journeys made me realize that I can do that. Not saying it won’t be challenging and a ton of hard work, but what a better time to add coaching as a part of my life then when I’ve dedicated myself to change.

I have struggled with weight loss and self-image for YEARS. I almost started to believe that I would never become the person that I know I can be. I am turning 30 in July, and as part of that huge life milestone I realized I have spent my entire decade of “20’s” being so unhappy with myself and so unhealthily trying to reach a goal without dedicating my entire being to it. I decided that by the time I hit my 30th birthday I am going to be the BEST version of myself that I can possibly be. Starting with a workout and nutrition program that will challenge my mental and physical strength. That’s when I turned to Beachbody using their OnDemand product that allows you to stream any of their workouts from a TV or device. I tried a few programs before I absolutely fell in LOVE with one, which was 80 Day Obsession.

80 Day Obsession is a workout and nutrition program that spans 7 days a week for 80 days. If you look at the video schedule it says you have “rest days”, but even on those days you are participating in videos for stretching all of the muscles you worked all week. I just completed week 3 last night and I can tell you, I FEEL AMAZING. Am I losing weight? Maybe. Do my clothes fit different? Some of them. But at the end of the day my mood has improved, my ANXIETY has improved, my CONFIDENCE has improved, and it’s all because I am taking time out of my day to listen to what my body needs and am working hard towards that goal!

Trust me, I have given every excuse in the book. “I’m too busy.” “I’m tired from work.” “I’ll start working out tomorrow.” “I’m not feeling good today.” I am DONE with using excuses for why I am not achieving my fitness goals. I work a full-time job, am in graduate school full-time, I have family, pets, friends, social event commitments, but I will never use one of those for the reason why I chose not to work out. Because dedicating that time to yourself is a choice. I feel SO much better at the end of the day sitting down to watch one of my favorite shows, knowing that I EARNED that relaxation time.

2019 is going to be the year of big changes. It will be the year that I finally believe in myself, and start to reach goals that I never thought were possible. THAT is why I became a coach. I’m not here to sell you products because I make a commission, or to make false promises that you “can lose __ lbs in 4 weeks”. I am here to PROMISE you that I am so dedicated to improving myself, and I want you along on the ride with me. Don’t wait until new years to start thinking about committing to yourself. START NOW.

WHO IS WITH ME ON CREATING THE YOU, YOU WERE MEANT TO BE!?

I Am Worth It

If a diet program exists, I’ve likely tried it. I have experimented with so many in the last 10 years I don’t know how my body hasn’t completely revolted. I have spent my entire life feeling like I physically wasn’t good enough, or pretty enough, or thin enough. I’ve developed this awful habit where I compare myself to anyone and everyone around me, sometimes without even trying. My anxiety is always a voice in my head focusing on the tiniest negative details with my life, from interacting with people I perceive to be attractive, to the nutrition in my diet programs. A few weeks ago, I decided I’ve absolutely had enough. I’m DONE with the excuses. I’m DONE with hating myself in the mirror. I’m DONE with the lack of confidence. I’m DONE giving up on myself. I’m DONE with the negative messages.

In August I was posting a lot on Instagram about mental health positivity and making good improvements to yourself. These positive messages attracted quite a few coaches from Beachbody asking me to either join their teams or become a coach myself. I have a few Beachbody workout programs that were really intense and as a result I gave up on after only a week. I do not like the idea of having someone checking in with me to see how my workouts are going, because my anxiety would tell me I’m disappointing my coach or not meeting their expectations.

There was a girl in particular that I decided to keep following (Andrea- thatfitagvocate). She posts about 5-10 stories and 1-2 feed posts per day. She has never directly messaged me asking me to join her team, and for that she is a winner in my book! Her messages are always super positive telling you that it’s ok to feel stressed out, it’s ok to feel discouraged, it’s ok to have negative thoughts, but you are the ONLY person who has the ability to challenge those ideas. I continued to follow her page for another month and watched the dramatic transformation her body undertakes with each program she completes. I was inspired and motivated to figure out how to feel more confident about myself.

I decided instead of using a coach or joining a team, I signed up for Beachbody on demand. Basically, this is a monthly subscription that allows you access to all of the Beachbody programs (like P90X, PiYo and Insanity) and stream the videos through any TV or device. I took a few days to try the the first videos in a couple of the programs unsure of what exactly I was looking for. Then I happened to see a program called “80 Day Obsession”. I read through the companion guides for nutrition, supplements and workout calendar. The more I researched how the program worked, the more I wanted to make it happen. I decided to make the 80-day devotion to myself and started the program.

To say everything has gone according to plan would be a lie. My first day of actual workouts didn’t happen, because we spent 10 hours that day moving furniture around our house for new carpet to be installed. My first instinct was that I already failed myself. Day 2 of the program and I was already discouraged. That feeling of discouragement was not going to break me down this time. I told myself that is was ok and I physically changed the workout calendar to begin on Tuesday instead of Monday. That one simple change on paper, mentally made a world of difference.

My nutrition also hasn’t been 100% according to plan. In the past nutrition has made me go completely insane. If the plan listed very specific food items and weights, I would be so strict with myself I would start feeling guilty for even eating the allowed foods! Nutrition plans would turn me from having terrible eating habits (pizza, sugar coffee, no portion control) into borderline anorexic. For this program, I purchased the measuring containers required, highlighted the allowed food list to indicate what foods I know I like to eat, and then I made a list of what I consider “failing”. My list includes:

  • Having two “cheat” meals in a row
  • Drinking more than 1 alcoholic beverage a week
  • Not measuring my food

I am using this list as a guide and not as a rule book. I am the person that decides when I’ve failed this program. I am not perfect. With the holiday season coming soon, I know the increase in food consumption has the potential to ruin all of my progress. In reality it’s ok to eat food that is off plan, and enjoy being a human being celebrating with friends and family.

The hard truth I am learning about myself, is that I need to relax. I plan so much of my life to the point where planning (my anxiety defense mechanism) is causing my anxiety to have a platform to run with. I have already heard messages from my anxiety telling me I’m not seeing results, or amplifying areas of my body that I have not seen a change. IT IS ONLY DAY 10 OF 80! I have 70 days left to make changes and be obsessed with my health. Like any other aspect of my life when I receive those messages, I take a critical look at how valid they are. Instead of focusing on “my stomach is still too big and hasn’t changed”, I am looking at how good my booty looks and feels to far! My clothes already fit better, and I am down a whole pant size in 10 FREAKING DAYS.

If I ever feel like I want to give up on myself within in the next 70 days, I will come back and read these messages:

  • I AM good enough
  • I AM confident
  • I AM beautiful
  • I AM working hard
  • I AM WORTH IT

Do as Faith Hill Says and “Just Breathe”

Life has been insane the last few months with few signs of slowing down anytime soon. Being busy has given me a great excuse to not post an update, but being able to write about my mental health progress is incredibly helpful in my healing process. It comes down to self-care and how we all ignore that when we get busy. Lately I have found myself becoming obsessive over things again because school, work and life have been out of control, I think it’s easier to ignore problems instead of face them.

If you haven’t heard I started graduate school at St. Mary’s University for Project Management on Labor Day. It’s been about 2 weeks of course work so far and I absolutely LOVE the program. The project management career path is full of fascinating information and interactive projects, that it makes me really excited I decided to pursue this as my future career focus. However, as with all education, there is so much homework, coordination and projects to complete my head is spinning. To top that off work has been an absolute nightmare. Between all of the upgrade projects and system enhancements, we have been covering more on call shifts (which we all now I love, insert eye-roll). I feel like I am in a constant state of panic specifically over the things I am not able to control. The need for control has meant I have become obsessive with my school work again, and I’ve been ignoring other parts of my life. I think the difference this time around is I am more aware of the fact I am playing the avoidance game and using school as an excuse, unlike my last program where I had no idea how toxic I allowed my behaviors to become.

Another stressor has been buying a new house. I probably haven’t told you yet, we signed papers last Friday to build our dream house in Forest Lake, MN. I am ecstatic for this next adventure, because the one thing I’ve been seeking my entire life is for a little serenity. I grew up in a neighborhood where houses are so close together you weren’t able to fit a car in-between to get to the backyard. When we move to Cottage Grove there was more side space between houses, but our neighbors are the absolute WORST. Being blessed with the ability to finally build a house that will become a home makes me tear up. This is what all of the hard work and sacrifice has been for, for the last 7 years. While I am super excited about this, I am terrified for what this process means. Selling our current house means packing up all of our stuff, finishing up cosmetic projects, and saving LOTS of money so we don’t end up on a ramen noodle budget in the next house.

Needless to say my anxiety levels have been OUT. OF. CONTROL. I have not been eating well and often find myself forcing food into my mouth so I don’t starve. My workouts have been virtually non-existent due to excuses of “being too busy”, but in reality I have 30 minutes a day I could be on that damn treadmill. I feel like I am constantly on edge and my emotions have been unpredictable. My temperament has been all over the board and find myself happy one minute and the next minute I’m crying. I apologize for anyone that I have been short with or avoiding, it’s nothing personal I just know I cannot give you the care and attention you need at this exact moment in time.

I feel like I need some time to just reset myself and let my brain take a well-deserved vacation. I have always been a person that finds self-care to feel selfish, because I put so much energy into making sure other people are taken care of I often forget about my own needs. This week I vow to take more time for myself. I promise to workout at least 30 minutes a day, eat all of my meals in full, meditate when I wake up and before I go to bed, and spend more time with my dog. Believe it or not, technology has an off switch, so this week I plan to unplug my life for 1 hour a day to allow my body to reset. I believe this will enable me to get rid of distractions (social media) and begin to allow my mind to heal.

Mental health is so incredibly important and something we should not take for granted. Be happy with who you are and take a few minutes to breathe, even if it’s hard.