Positivity is a Choice

I wake up every single day and make the choice that I am going to live my life in a positive mindset. Optimism comes second nature to me, and through everything I have overcome in my life, I have always tried to maintain that sense of balance. The one thing I’ve learned over the last year is that I can’t wait for good things to happen. I can’t sit on my couch watching Parks and Rec, drinking wine and waiting for the changes I want to see to magically appear. I have fought so hard, and continue to fight every minute of every day to earn my happiness.

The traumas and hardships I have overcome cannot be compared to the journey of someone else. In reality, I come from a strong, family-oriented background. We had nightly family dinners, took road trips together (mostly for hockey tournaments), lived in relatively close quarters, and always attended each other’s events (no matter how boring ). I remember growing up and not getting along with my siblings most days, but that frustration had an underlying layer of love attached. I never experienced any standardly classified traumatic event. I didn’t lose my first loved one until I was in middle school, my dad didn’t have his amputations until I was in high school, and I was given unconditional love from my parents. By textbook definition, I should not have a reason for anxiety.

In all of my years of therapy, my therapists have attempted to “get to the bottom of the issue.” They were under the clinical mindset that something within my past triggered my brain to develop anxiety to use as a defense mechanism. My earliest memory of anxiety was first-grade taking timed math tests and having such extreme testing anxiety I couldn’t even answer a simple “1 + 1 =” question. When I would go on field trips I would get physically sick the entire night before and the morning of the event. Was I ever in any risk of physical harm taking a test or going to the zoo? Absolutely not. My body’s reaction to those situations was extreme and inappropriate.

I have been under the belief the past year and a half that my brain was built differently. I don’t have the same chemical makeup as a person without anxiety. My body lives in a constant state of defense, and I can feel my anxiety living inside of me like a gentle hum of energy. I find very rare moments in my life where I can truly relax, but when I find them I cherish them. When I feel anxious I get so uncomfortable in my own skin that I wish I could take my body apart and clean it piece by piece. It’s almost like part of my consciousness views the experiences in the 3rd person, and wants to help the version of me trapped inside. I live under the constant threat at any little thing could set my anxiety off. But my mental toughness and willingness to fight this battle is what gets me through every day.

I have always believed that psychotic drugs serve a beautiful purpose for people who need them, and should be used as an aid to help balance some of those imperfections we are born with. I also am vocal about the fact that I do not take medication. I was put on antidepressants in my early 20s, but I didn’t have depression. I was misdiagnosed, and given drugs to alter my brain chemistry that was not even out of balance. As a result, I became an emotionless robot that lost the ability to feel anything. I went 2 years not experiencing joy, sadness, excitement, absolutely nothing. The thought of that happening again terrifies me, and I decided I would rather feel too much all of the time then to ever lose my senses like that again.

I acknowledge that if I had been properly diagnosed and treated, my experience would have been different; however, life tests us so we can learn and grow into the people we were meant to become. I have grown into someone that is intelligent, witty, understanding, empathetic, and strong. Looking back, I have come so far from the girl that was insecure and sought validation from people around her. I am now at the point in my journey where reflecting on my progress is important, and I can see the milestones I’ve hit in my recovery process. I went from 5 years ago almost losing my job because my anxiety made it impossible to function, to use my own experiences to help others find their balance.

I use humor to combat my sadness.

I use music to soften the buzz in my head.

I use goals to hold myself accountable.

I use blogging to get my thoughts on paper.

I use exercise to release endorphins.

It takes time and dedication to figure out what works best for you, and sometimes you will experience moments of failure. My journey certainly hasn’t been perfect. I continue to have moments of doubt with what I’m doing. Some days giving into the darkness feel comfortable because that feeling of emptiness is so familiar, but I know deep down that’s not my answer.

I have met some incredible people through this blog, and to everyone I have ever impacted, thank you. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Thank you for supporting me and offering kind words. Thank you for knowing me well enough through my writings to know when I need help. Being open and being vulnerable to complete strangers is incredibly difficult. If it wasn’t difficult more people would do it. Find your passion and share it with the world as I have. In a society where we thrive on the darkness, decide to be the light.

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!

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.