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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.

 

Aware of the Pain

I have been suffering through more than words can express, for a far longer time than I care to admit. I find myself acting as a character rather than actually being myself. That denial of pain has caused great strains in my closest relationships, and has resulted in needing to increase the frequency of my mental health treatments. I feel broken more often than I am whole. I feel lonely more often than I have company. I have cried more days this week than I’ve smiled. I am so tired of being a victim of my brain chemistry, and I need to look beyond myself for answers.

On Friday I left work early to deal with some personal issues, and thankfully I have a boss that understands the urgent needs of self-care. At that point in time I hadn’t eaten in 3 days and I had slept a total of 5 hours. As a result of all this I am still exhausted, and want nothing more than to take a vacation. I don’t know where my mental health would be without the support of my loved ones, and acknowledgement from others that my condition is real.

Yesterday I was able to run a little over 4 miles, which is something I haven’t done in almost 4 years. I realized this weekend that I need to force myself to participate in physical activities in order to gain anything of value for my health. Sure I would rather lay on my couch and watch Netflix, but feeling the sense of accomplishment I do today is worth it.

Over the last week I’ve learned it’s ok to cry, it’s ok to feel sad, it’s ok forgive yourself and others for wrong doings. We’re all human, and sometimes in order to move forward in life you need to forgive and forget. It just doesn’t always seem fair to deal with so much hardship at once, and see the world pass you by while you deal with roadblocks. But once you get over those hardships, life becomes so much more rewarding. I have a tendency to get stuck replaying things from the past in my head, but no matter how many times I watch my memories, I cannot change them.

As a write this today I am still sad. I still am on the verge of tears and I want to crawl back into bed and never leave it. I make a vow to myself today to just survive, and I make the same vow for everyday here on out. If I cannot control the outcomes I can be in control of my own reactions. Just remember that when you feel alone, there is someone out there that loves you. When you feel overwhelmed, someone is waiting for you to speak up so they can help. When you feel like life isn’t worth living anymore, it is, I promise you. I choose to never give up on myself, because I am the only person in the world I can control. Now it’s just about moving forward, forgiving myself for all the negative things I have done and most of all forgiving others when they have wronged me.

Life is a hell of a ride, but you never suffer alone.

Depression Doesn’t Just Mean You’re Sad

Having a licensed professional tell you that you are exhibiting signs of depression is devastating. Depression has always been a real possibility for me, because of how closely intertwined it can be to anxiety. Anxiety tends to focus obsessively on the future state and depression focuses on the past, and when combined together it’s impossible to move forward. Being told I have depression made my anxiety spike and I immediately thought I was given a death sentence. My brain thought “great, now we are destined to live a sad existence and be labeled even more of an outcast than we were before.” I’ve been taking some time to reflect on my emotions over the last couple of weeks, and what I’ve found is both frustrating and enlightening.

A common misconception is that depression means you’re sad. I’ve heard other people give the advice of “just get over it and be happy.” Ok cool. That’s like telling someone with anxiety to “not worry about it.” Your advice has just solved the world’s mental health problems and I will just be happy and not worry about it. I wish with my entire soul it was that easy. Over the last few weeks I have noticed a shift in myself that I was trying to ignore. I started losing interest in activities I used to love, like working out. I didn’t want to have any social interactions, I was always tired, and I felt my moods shift drastically from being ecstatically happy to feeling like I have a pit of blackness inside my body. Being on a self-discovery journey gives me the opportunity to reflect and analyze the way I feel and why I might be feeling that way.

My therapist let me know he thought I was having a depressive episode, and expressed concern for my well-being. He immediately suggested looking into medication, but I am resistant to jumping to conclusions without trying alternative methods. I think I was choosing to ignore what was happening and the downward slide because it was easier to live in a bubble of denial than to accept the truth. Being told I have depression is not much different than being told I have anxiety, but for some reason it had a greater impact on how I viewed myself. Instead of focusing on where to go from there, I decided to dwell on the fact an external source was telling me I was sad (not a productive way of thinking).

I also feel a sense of guilt for being depressed, which I know sounds weird. But many people in my life that have dealt with depression have experienced a tragedy, and I don’t feel like I fit into that category. I feel like I don’t have a reason to be sad. Sure I have a lot of life stressors that I’m working through, so in my mind my anxiety is in a way amplifying my negative emotions. It’s also not ok to compare yourself with other people. No two people experience the life in the same way, because we were not built as robot replicas of one another. I just need to stay focused on not drawing those conclusions, rather put the spotlight on my own experience and process.

Since my therapy session I have been trying to force myself into participating in activities that I love. I spent Saturday working on some art projects and cooking, and Sunday I made myself go outside and workout with my dog. Sure today I don’t feel a lot different, but like anything in life it’s a process that takes time. Isn’t the saying that the best things in life are worth waiting for? Only time will tell if that is true. The one thing that I haven’t lost is hope. I am hopeful that through the process of challenging myself to change and grow, that I can change my behaviors without the need for medication. Similar to anxiety I believe that my mind can heal itself, and in the event that is not true I will seek other interventions. Right now it’s time to stay in a positive mindset and start the process of healing.

When it Rains it Pours

My favorite song is called “For Good” from the musical Wicked. This song is about two unlikely friends that came into each other’s lives and have had their lives changed because of their friendship. I like to use this as my mantra and something that leads the way that I interact with the people in my life. I choose to believe that people are introduced to you in times where you need them the most. You can call it fate or luck or good timing, but I consider it all of those.  As I wrote in a previous blog (Why I Don’t Have Friends) I tend to attract people to me when they need help and I am able to provide what they need. This can be in the form of needing someone to vent to, go to concerts with, drink wine and watch trash TV with, or be the person that can brighten their day. I can never predict how long we stay in each other’s lives, but very few have stuck with me throughout the years.

My anxiety causes me to be a lonely person. Social anxiety prevents me from having fun experiences with other people, and always gives me an excuse to cancel plans. Even when I am with a group of friends (or acquaintances) I still feel lonely. Imagine being in a room filled with family and friends that love you. You are having great conversations, maybe drinking some alcohol, but for some reason you have this invisible barrier between you and the rest of the room. No matter how physically close you get to them, emotionally you stay distant. I know this is a defense mechanism my brain has created to prevent myself from getting hurt. Most days it feels more like a handicap and something I need to overcome if ever have dreams of creating lasting friendships.

A great example of what I am talking about is from this past Saturday. I went to the Jesse McCartney concert with my friends Bre and Emily, and honestly had a great time. We had dinner at an adorable restaurant in Dinkytown called Annie’s, and drank cocktails at the Porthouse down the road. In line at the concert we made friends with the girls in front of us, and throughout the night we continued to add to this group. We ended with about 20 girls around us laughing, dancing and singing to all of his songs. Watching my Snapchats and Instagram stories showed a girl that was living her best life. In truth, I was in a lot of pain.

When Bre picked me up to head downtown I was an anxious mess. My stomach hurt, I couldn’t breathe very well, and my head hurt so bad I wanted to vomit. I told myself it wasn’t a life or death situation, but my mind was unconvinced. I felt better after having a few drinks, because the alcohol was able to numb the feeling of anxiety. The entire night I still felt like I was distant from everyone around me. It felt more like an out of body experience and looking back on the night I have very little memory on what I was actually feeling.

I am hoping to get to a point in my life where I don’t need a social crutch to get me through a socially stressful situation. The last thing I want people to think is that I am an alcoholic, because I am not. In reality I do not drink often, but only if I am entering in a situation where it will be helpful to get through (or if it’s a weekend in the summer and I want to let loose).

When I reflect on all of the people that have rotated in and out of my life I realized that I do not give anyone the opportunity to help me. I am so focused on what the other person’s needs are that I forget I have my own. I know I do this because I have always felt that my issues should not overshadow someone else. I feel that if someone is having a bad day and telling me about it, I am not allowed to also be having a bad day and share my feelings. Instead I push aside the way I am feel to focus on improving the other person’s day. What I am doing is incredibly harmful to myself, and as a result the relationship suffers.

For anyone that I have ever let down, I am sorry. For anyone I have ever cancelled plans with, I am sorry. For anyone I have pushed away, I am sorry. For anyone that I haven’t been able to help, I am sorry.

I am so exhausted right now. Maintaining this wall I’ve put up is exhausting. Pretending to be happy all the time is exhausting. I just feel like I can’t let the people down around me, but at what sacrifice to me. If I had any solutions in my brain I would’ve used them already. If you truly are someone that considers me a friend, please do not give up on me. This self-discovery project is incredibly mentally draining, and I am doing the best that I can.

Chaos

As I sit here writing this, I feel like I want to claw all of my skin off. I feel like I can’t breathe and there is something heavy sitting on my chest. I have a lot of pent up anger inside of me begging to come out. My ears can sense the bass of the music and my heart can feel every thump, thump, thump of the classic rock. I can’t get my mind to fixate on something else. I can’t get focus on using another task as a distraction. I can’t hear the TV that I turned up from volume 12 to volume 25. All I can sense, feel and hear is the fucking bass on my neighbor’s music.

All of the windows in my house are closed, so I know it’s partially our fault for having terrible insulation. I understand it’s 4th of July week so everyone is having parties. I know this particular neighbor likes to listen to his 80s rock music on full blast in his garage with the bass up so loud it syncs your heart rhythm to it. I know everyone has a right to do whatever they want (within reason) because they pay a mortgage to live in this neighborhood too.

You know what doesn’t care about reason? My anxiety. I decided to sit in my basement with Netflix playing at a loud volume next to me, and in the room furthest from the source of the noise. I want to cry and stick something in my ear until they bleed (like they feel like they do already). I know my life is not in danger, but no matter how many times I tell myself this it doesn’t matter.

My anxiety does not care.

The long term solution is to move away from this noisy ass neighborhood with all of my inconsiderate hillbilly neighbors, but I need an immediate solution. I keep telling myself that I’m not dying. I have lived through almost 7 years of loud neighbors causing me distress. Work today was absolutely terrible and caused an increase heartrate all day. Working on projects with impossible deadlines and feeling like I cannot control any aspect of that part of my life. But to come home and feel like my world is further in chaos does not help.

Home is a place to come when you need to relax and unwind after a long day of work. Sometimes the home in my mind is an impossible place to be. I just want to be able to breathe again. I want to be able to sit in silence and focus my mind in the proper direction. I need to feel a sense of peace in a world that rarely allows for it. Right now the only release I have is to cry about something I cannot control.

Fuck anxiety.