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Be On Time or Die

My heart was racing, I was panicked, I couldn’t think straight, and I was speeding. My body always has the same response anytime I think I’m going to be late somewhere. And by late, I really mean being late for being early. Last weekend my sister and I attended Beachbody Super Saturday with some of the other coaches (and my coach) from the team I work on. I had the time management planned to a T, as usual, and thought the morning was off to a great start. Once my sister and I left our meeting point to head to the convention center, my sister realized he left her phone in her car.

Now mind you we were only about 5 mins away from her car and it wasn’t that far out of the way to get back, however, tell that to my anxiety. I immediately felt frustrated and profusely asked her if she is sure it’s not in her bag. I even asked her if she really needed it, which is so mean because I would also need my lifeline. My body was tense, I could feel my blood pressure increase, my breaths became shallower, and my brain couldn’t process why in the world she could be so careless and risk making us late.

In that moment I allowed my anxiety to control the situation. I didn’t use rational thought and reasoning with the part of my brain that was over processing information. Was I really in danger of physical harm by being later than expected to the event? Absolutely not. Should I have lashed out the way I did and made her feel like complete shit, like she messed up the entire day? NO. These are the situations I am still a work in progress.

What I should have done is taken a moment to breathe. A deep inhale, deep exhale. Focus my attention on the task at hand, which was retrieving her phone. I have this weird phobia of being late for anything, and I have had that my entire life. I think this stems from wanting to please people and I associate being late with making others angry or disappointed. I need to remember that sometimes you do everything you can to be timely and there are occasions it doesn’t work out.

We ended up making it close to the time I had mentally scheduled for myself and had an absolutely amazing experience. But I risked potentially losing that experience or ruining it before it began because I couldn’t control my anxiety. I know this is an area where I need to focus more of my attention for improvement. Maybe try being late to a few things on purpose to realize that I am not going to die if I don’t make it to things early. I had someone ask me once what one of my faults is and I replied that I am too timely. That statement clearly still holds true today.

Tiffany, I am incredibly sorry I almost ruined our day together. I love you!

Constantly Spinning

I attempted to write this first sentence about 20 times before I gave up because I had nothing witty to say. It’s Sunday night, and I have been sitting here post homework, post-meal prep, post-workout reflecting on everything that happened this week and weekend. I have met some incredible people and made some amazing strides forward in my business, but for some reason, I keep coming back to the feeling of not being satisfied. I feel like no matter how much I push myself, no matter how much I try to look forward I keep shifting my focus back on shitty things in the present.

I always preach honesty and being your authentic self. We all have a tendency to wear masks to fit the narrative that other people expect us to deliver. With friends, I feel like I need to be upbeat and hilarious, ready for anything. At work, I need to be focused and professional while maintaining my sanity. With family, I need to be caring, loving and compassionate, always available to lend a hand when needed. With strangers or new friends, I need to be sweet and open about who I am. In school, I need to be an overachiever, and capable of performing tasks, but fake it till you make it. In all of this, I have a tendency to get lost.

I lose focus on who I am, who I want to be. Last year offered so many opportunities for growth, that I sometimes am not appreciative of how far I’ve come on this journey. January last year I remember still being new to my job, networking at Epic training, and not having any confidence in myself or my ability to be successful. Grad school wasn’t even a thought in my mind yet and my relationships were suffering because my focus was not in the right places. I have gained SO much in the last few months that I feel like that scared insecure girl again.

I am scared my business will fail. I am scared I will not perform well enough at work or school. I am scared of losing people in my life that I value. That bucket of fear inside of my head can sometimes spill over when I am having moments of high anxiety. But living in this world of being scared and putting too much focus on the “what ifs”, does absolutely nothing to propel me forward.

I have a lot of faults that I need to work on. I look to others to make me feel good about myself, but in reality, I am amazing AND beautiful. I put too much focus on being perfect, but perfectionism is not an attainable goal, it’s not real. I always look to my friends and family to make me happy, but my happiness is controlled by me. I spend too much time assuming someone else’s thoughts and feelings, and not enough time analyzing my own.

This year has been challenging for me in so many aspects. I feel like this “new year” has just been a continuation of last year. I am spinning my wheels trying to figure out how to get out of the mud I am stuck in. I decided that I am going to do “Affirmation Mondays” on Instagram. Allow myself to have 1 story post each week where I express what affirmation I am believing in that week. I am going to continue to push hard through my fitness and nutrition to be the change that I want to see.

At the end of the day I control my happiness, I control my progress and I control the way that I feel. To anyone that has seen the ugly side of me lately, I am so sorry. I continuously have so much to learn, but I really am trying. I need to find the balance in a world that constantly tries to spin me out of control. I just need to remember that no matter what it will always get better.

I believe in myself. I CAN do hard things.

How Did Everything Get So Far Off Track?

2019 and I have gotten off on the wrong foot. I should probably just completely ignore the fact that this year is different, because nothing has actually changed. We just restarted the process of re-writing dates on all documents, and writing a strong ‘9’ over my ‘8’. I had grand plans of being in such a positive mindset and looking forward to the next 6 months of hard work to hit my major goal, but mentally I am not in a good place and feel sidetracked.

I started the year waking up shortly after midnight to discover I caught the stomach flu. It’s a fantastic diet program if anyone is wondering, but not one I would recommend. I honestly miss my workout routine and I miss my diet, but I do not have the strength or the stomach yet to get back to it. The moments I have been able to be on my phone scrolling through Instagram, I am instantly jealous of everyone having such an amazing time. Working so hard on their goals already, while I lay on my couch trying not to die, and googling how long it takes for muscle atrophy to kick in.

My goals are never just physical though. Of course, I want to look the best I have EVER looked by my 30th birthday this summer, but it’s so much more than that. I want to be overall a better person or what I perceive is me being a better person. I want to have a more positive mindset, I want to have better moods, I want to focus on self-care, I want to reduce anxiety attacks, I want to be able to say no more often. But in my current mental state I can’t focus on any of those things.

I feel like I’m beating myself up. Like I am the reason why the universe actually hates me and never wants me to be successful. I have proof I am the reason that I’ve always given up on everything I’ve ever put my mind to. I just need to focus my brain, but when I go into these downward spirals of hell it can be hard to pull myself out of it. I thought about bringing Macie on an adventure, even though it’s cold, just so I can get outside and breathe again. I miss the warmer months when I could just go for a hike or go sit down by the river and clear my head. I need to find a winter escape place. Somewhere quiet that I can go and be alone and process all of these emotions.

Being an emotional person is the absolute WORST. You either spend your time hiding how you really feel in fear of people alienating you for being emotional, or you just let it all out because you can’t hold it in or you no longer care to hide it. I’m at the point where I have so many emotional walls and barriers up it can be hard to get through them. Processing how I really feel about people and situations is something that feels easier to ignore, but I am actually doing myself and those around me an injustice. For someone with anxiety there is a fine line between being emotionally expressive and having an absolute breakdown, so I need to sort some of that out first.

I just want to be in a place where I can cry when I want to. Where I can call someone when I’m having a bad day and just talk to them. If I’m happy I can tell the world without feeling annoying. I need to find my happy place again. I’m not sure where it went to but I need to find it. I have a few more days until school returns and life gets back to normal, and in those few days I vow to find my positive energy and never let it go.

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