Emancipation

fear

Three months ago yesterday I moved out of my ex’s apartment and into my house. It’s weird…some days it feels like it’s been forever, and other days it felt like it was just yesterday. I’m pretty sure he’s felt the same too, as he was saying it had been three months six weeks ago.

I’ve had my ups and downs. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD over the losses I had back in 2008/2009. Avoidance of things I needed to take care of…like the house? Flashbacks, like being unable to take care of others when they were sick? Nightmares, insomnia, anxiety, depression? I seriously had it all, and just didn’t know how bad it was. I didn’t get the help I needed then, and it became too much.

I was letting the fears get the best of me. Yes, PTSD explains why, but I hate admitting letting something like fear keep me from a positive future.

When our relationship fell apart last year, I didn’t have much to hold onto to get me through it. He said he was sorry for cheating and wanted to try to work things out, and I believed him. I said that working things out meant he had to stop the cheating. He promised he would. So I said I was going to move, but was taking my time because I thought he really wanted me to stay.

I still had a lot of fears regarding facing the house. And the thought being on my own after living with a person for nearly a decade was also scary. Those fears kept me from doing what I needed to do. I convinced myself that things would be all right as they were. That time would handle everything. I didn’t push myself to move.

I let the fears win.

Then I caught him at it again earlier this year. He doesn’t know how much I know. He thought he could lie and say he stopped, but I knew everything. I know what he’s said and done. I know the things he’s called me. He was done with the relationship long before I broke up with him. So much for wanting to work things out….

It all finally hit me. It was the proverbial rock and a hard place. I was letting the fear of moving keep me in a bad living situation. It was the fear of the unknown, being alone, that held me in an uncomfortable but familiar “relationship.” I realized I had a choice: Remain in a situation where I was unwanted, miserable, being used, and not getting the support I needed…or face those fears and give the unknown a shot at being good. It wasn’t a hard decision at that point.

FUCK FEAR, MAN.

I’m not saying that the past three months have been all sunshine and rainbows. I’ve had several days where the depression wanted to bring me down again. But I’ve gained SO MUCH by facing those fears.

Suddenly, I felt free.

I’ve taken to calling February 24th “Emancipation Day.” Sure, it was the day I moved out, but that means it was also the day I freed myself from my fears. Sure, they still linger and threaten to take over from time to time, but then I remember what I gained by facing them, fighting back, and defeating them.

I have a great house. I have a great new roommate. I am getting my health back, both physical and mental. I have friends…loads of friends! Friends who suddenly stepped up out of Acquaintanceville or who came back, rekindling friendships we had before. Friends who are interested in me as a person, not what they can get out of me. Heck, friends who are interested in more than just friendship, but kept their distance in respect for my previous relationship. Now they don’t have to.

I have so much support and love coming from all directions that it’s overwhelming sometimes. I have so much support and love to give, and it feels good to give back.

I’ve gained so much confidence again. I’ve been coming out of that dark place. I’m remembering who I am.

I am happy.

Sometimes I wish I had faced those fears sooner, but I think it happened at the right time. Would my relationship have survived? Maybe. But looking back at everything, would I really want to be in that relationship anymore? Not really. I learned a lot about myself and a lot about him, and it’s better this way.

But most importantly, I am free to be me again. I have learned how far down I can slip when I let my fears rule me. I have learned I have the strength to overcome them myself. And now? Now I have new goals and know I can attain them.

Come back here next February 24th. You will see a VERY changed person.

And I challenge you to do the same. What do you need to free yourself from? What fears hold you back from being the best YOU that you can be?

Face them. Break them. Find your freedom. It’s the most amazing feeling.

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Note to Self…From Myself

GirlsFuckingSweatDear Aili,

You know damn well that weight loss comes from causing a deficit of calories. You want to burn more than you eat. It’s simple math.

But never EVER forget again that there’s such a thing as creating TOO BIG of a deficit, which will impede your weight loss goals. You want your body to burn fat, not burn the muscle you’re working SO HARD to build. You know those big solid lumps in your arms? Those are your BICEPS and TRICEPS. You got complimented on them today. DON’T LOSE THEM BECAUSE YOUR BODY IS PANICKING THAT IT’S NOT GETTING THE CALORIES IT NEEDS! Seriously, don’t be afraid of eating a little more!

I know you don’t like to eat breakfast, but GUUUUURL you GOTTA do it! And you’ve found several recipes and ways to mix things up that you won’t get bored, remember? No one says you HAVE to eat “breakfast foods.” Eat one of those little steaks for breakfast. Cook up a chicken breast. Have some salmon. IT’S OKAY. Save the eggs for a salad if you want. Just make sure you are eating enough.

Also: Veggies. Veggies are yummy. Veggies are full of water. You feel cooled off when you eat your veggies. SO EAT THEM. (Doing great on the fruit, though! Awesome idea to start freezing grapes again!)

Speaking of water, good for you on keeping up with that. Just push it a little more. You’re almost back to 3 liters a day. Your skin is looking better. One to two more glasses. YOU CAN DO IT!

You’re kicking ass on the exercise. The entire reason I’m writing to you, Aili, is because you may be kicking a little TOO MUCH ass right now. The amount of ass you’re kicking is fine if you make sure you’re eating enough. So start tracking that food RELIGIOUSLY. Then go kick more ass! KICK ALL THE ASS!

So yeah, eat a little more, track it, drink more water, and keep kicking all the ass!

Your bestest friend,

-Yourself

PS – Don’t let the scale tell you that you suck. It’s a stubborn bastard and a total jerk. Now your clothes…they’re telling you that you’re awesome. Seriously, you look HOT in that tank top.

Let me be your ego boost

GreatPeopleMakeYouGreatTime and time again you hear about people saying they can’t work out in public (gym, walking/running, playing sports, etc.) because they’re not fit enough yet. They feel like people will silently judge them, or snicker in the corner about the “fat ass” who is sweating on the treadmill.

Sure, there are a few of those types. But from what I’ve heard from most of the gym rats, the worst of the criticism is in your own head. When you are noticed, people might want to help you with your form, or are seeing the progress you’re making. To quote Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t!” So relax, you’re probably surrounded by some of the happiest people on earth! (As long as you don’t stand between them and their post-workout meal.)

But yes, you probably are noticed. You want to know my thoughts when I pass people on the trail during my runs?

The following are some actual thoughts I have had…I kid you not…

“They’re walking on their lunch break. Good for them!”

“I think I just passed by the Old Spice Guy! Or at least his twin brother!UNF!”

“DOGGIES!”

“Where did she get those cute shorts? Would my ass look that good in them?”

“I’m a Barbie Girl! In a Barbie wooor…OH FUCK, WAS I SINGING OUT LOUD?!”

“I wish I had a walking/running partner like that!”

“Damn, they look good!”

“I wonder what she’s listening to?”

“Aww, look at the kids! Oh wait, one’s whining. Ovaries have just shut down again.”

“My backpack’s got jets! I’m Boba the Fett! I bounty hunt for…FUCK, I PROBABLY LOOK LIKE I’M TALKING TO MYSELF!”

“Haha! My WoW shirt got noticed! For the Horde, bro!”

“Water…water!” *a minute later* “Oil…oil!  Room service! Room service!”

“They think I look like I’m about to pass out, don’t they? DAMN MY FAIR AND RED-TONED SKIN!”

“Ooh, it’s that lady with the beastly abs that I saw the first day I took a walk here! YOU GO, BEASTLY ABS LADY!”

“I wish I had thought of that. Tomorrow: French braid!”

“Where did she get that cool water bottle?!”

Yeah, that’s pretty much it. Now you might be thinking that I didn’t post any of my negative thoughts or criticisms on here. I know I’ve passed by people who were more overweight or out of shape than I am. Honestly, I’m usually thinking good thoughts toward them, and am proud that they’re out there getting it done. Most of my negative thoughts are toward myself. I think that I don’t look as good, or I’m aware that my butt jiggles when I run, or I know my face is tomato-red.

And then I pass by a stranger and we do the smile-and-nod thing at each other. Suddenly I feel accepted, despite all my flaws.

Give it a shot and get out there anyway. It’s true that most of your worries are in your head. I guarantee you there are plenty people who see YOU as they pass or drive by and think, “Man, I wish I could do that!”

RICE

knee-painSorry, folks. This post is NOT about wonderful starchy carbs (which I certainly enjoy post-workout—I’ve been described as looking like a panther crouching over its kill when I get my post-workout meal). It’s about basic injury prevention and treatment.

A few weeks ago, I went to my ex’s apartment to bring home a bunch of boxes of my stuff. I hadn’t been working out much at that point, and I could feel the flights of stairs in my knees after hauling 25 boxes and box-like items down the flights from that apartment, and back up the stairs in my house. Then, to clear my head, I took my usual 4.15 mile walk.

My knees were sore, but not too bad.

Then that night I managed to sleep with my left leg tangled in my sheets and my knee bent at an angle.

When I woke up? SEARING PAIN.

I treated it as best as I could by staying off my feet and putting ice on it. It was okay, but not fully healed, when I made it worse that weekend when I got the rest of my belongings.

Since then, I have been fighting to get it healthy again. It would feel better for a while, then I’d do something and begin to feel the ache and pain creep up on me again. It felt fine BEFORE Legs Day. The next day it wasn’t so good. Or it was great on Saturday. Sunday? It might not have been a great idea to wear those cute heels just yet.

I went to running websites and blogs to try to figure out what exactly was wrong. Shin splints sounded like a possibility since I tend to overpronate. And I won’t lie, the thought that I caused a stress fracture scared me. But I SWORE to not become a “cyberchondriac.” Besides, the pain was more around the knee. Patellar tendonitis looked like a possibility, too, but still didn’t seem to fit the bill.

I finally figured out that it’s bursitis. On one hand, OW. On the other, YAY FOR FIGURING IT OUT SO I CAN TREAT IT!

I had actually been doing the right things for treating it: RICE.

RICE (sometimes PRICE) stands for (Protection), Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. It’s not a cure-all for ALL injuries, but is definitely the go-to first aid when you feel a pain that is not the normal soreness from working out.

Thankfully, I didn’t really need the Protection aspect of it, but it’s something to keep in mind if for some reason you have to keep going despite a potential developing injury.

Rest: This much is obvious. Think of pain as your body’s way of telling you to stop whatever it is you’re doing NOW. If you’re strength training, definitely take at least a day off from that body part. You should be doing that anyway. Don’t follow Legs Day with ANOTHER Legs Day. (I shouldn’t have to say that, but I’ve seen people do it.) If you’re running, take a day off. Or walk, if you must keep moving. (I did have a day where it was annoying me, not painfully, but I also had DOMS from Leg Day and wanted to take a short walk anyway to try to deal with THAT soreness.)

Ice: Pain like this is often due to inflammation. Take an anti-inflammatory pain killer like Advil, and ice the body part that needs it. In my case, figuring out that it was bursitis meant I finally figured out which part of the knee needed the ice. Don’t put the bag of ice directly on your skin, and don’t keep it there for too long. 15 minutes at a time should be enough. You don’t want to give yourself frostbite! Give yourself an hour or so off of the ice, and then ice again as needed.

Compression: Having a brace or even ACE bandage to apply light compression to the area should be applied to accommodate swelling.

Elevation: Try to keep the injured area above heart-level if you can, but definitely elevate it for circulation.

I actually enjoyed dealing with this because it meant I had an excuse to sit somewhere with my leg propped up and do nothing but knit or watch tv. Relax? What’s that?!

When I wasn’t resting, and before exercise, I focused a little harder on stretching my legs and knee. I’d warm up with some dynamic stretching, and was certain to do some static stretching after. My exercise focus has turned to strengthening my knees, and I have been taking my time to make sure I was using proper form. I push hard enough to strengthen the muscles, but not so much to cause further injury.

In my case, it helps that I’m also losing weight. It’s said that losing 1 pound of weight takes 4 pounds of pressure off the knees.

For me, Monday was Legs Day. Yesterday was my walk (it definitely helps with DOMS) and Core Day. Today I don’t have a walk, and it’s Arms Day. Tomorrow is just a walk. I can tell that my knees are feeling stronger, and my left knee is feeling better.

So if I can emphasize ANY point in this post, it’s to listen to your body. Recognize the difference between soreness and actual pain. Treat it immediately, and build yourself back up so you can continue kicking ass!

Product Review: Yurbuds Ironman Inspire Ear Buds

yur_buds_2I normally don’t do product reviews, but I know some friends were interested when I mentioned on Twitter that I got some new ear buds for working out.

I had been using some nice Apple In-ear ear buds, since the ones that come packaged with an iPod are uncomfortable to me. They were great at noise cancellation, and were fairly comfortable for regular use. I love them to wear on planes because of these two factors. However, wearing them on a run was an entirely different story.

I have fairly small ears, so the most comfortable ear tips were the smallest pair. The medium were just a little too large for comfort. But the small ear tips were small enough that I constantly had to push them back in, even for easy workouts like a walk or ride on a stationary bike. Jogging with them was hell.

When I read about the Yurbuds Ironman series earphones, I thought they were worth a shot. I read the reviews, and of course the reviews were never consistent. I decided to give them a shot anyway.

I almost bought the Inspire Pro at Best Buy, but decided I didn’t need the mic. It was fine to trade down to save the extra $10. I wish I had known about the Inspire Duro, simply because I’ve found cloth-covered cords on my mice and gaming headsets to be more durable and less prone to breakage. I’m pretty sure the reason I didn’t know about the Duro was because they were going to replace the regular Inspire set that I purchased, but they just weren’t out yet. Best Buy didn’t have the Duros, and I no longer see the regular Inspires on Yurbuds’ website. *shrug* C’est la vie.

So anyway, I came home with the Yurbuds Inspire headphones. They were definitely different than what I was used to! The package contained the headphones, an extra (larger) set of the molded silicone ear tips, a nylon case, some “trading cards,” and the owner’s manual.

I felt the instructions for putting them in (they have a “twist and lock” technology) weren’t that great, but after a few tries it was pretty simple. When you’re used to in-ear earbuds, these were a little strange-feeling at first because you don’t feel them where your previous earbuds fit. So for a while they always felt like they were falling out, even when they were locked in. I’ve gotten used to that, however, and have discovered that it takes no small effort to knock them out of place. They definitely stayed in my ear rather securely, even on high-sweat workouts where the motion from jogging would have knocked my Apple earbuds out. Overall, I find them very comfortable once I got used to them (as compared to regular in-ear earphones).

Some people complained about the sound quality. Honestly, I can’t tell much of a difference between these and my Apple earbuds. The ONLY difference I’ve noticed is that these aren’t really intended for sound isolation like the Apple earbuds. They do block most of the outside noise, but not to the same degree. This doesn’t bother me as I WANT to be able to hear traffic or when there’s a biker coming up behind me when I’m jogging the trails.

The only thing I don’t like about these earbuds is that the cord is VERY long compared to most normal headphones, and feels slightly flimsy (which I’m guessing is corrected in the Duro set). I usually have to fold up a few inches and tuck it into the waistband of my pants so it’s not flopping all over the place. The long cord could get annoying if I wanted to wear these while lifting weights. I have accidentally caught my hand on the cord while I was running, but the earphones did not pop out of my ears. In fact, I think they pulled my iPod off of where it was clipped to my shorts!

I’ve had these for several weeks now and I definitely love them as my workout earphones. Some people have said theirs broke quickly, but obviously I couldn’t tell you my experience with that. I tend to be very gentle on them, and most of my activity with them has been walking/jogging.

Your mileage may vary, but I really like these earbuds. They are certainly the best I’ve ever used for exercise.

Structure

GetDietBackOnTrackFor any of you who have been following this blog, you might have noticed when I tend to fall off the wagon. The number 1 reason? Lack of structure.

If my exercise plan is great, but my diet plan is not, then I will let the exercise slip. Or the other way around. It’s almost inevitable. I need to have enough structure to keep me occupied, but enough flexibility to keep me from getting bored.

For example, when it comes to diet, I’ve done so many types that I’ve lost count. Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem come to mind, because they both had something I needed, but lacked the strength of the other plan. I liked the flexibility of Weight Watchers, but if I could convince myself that 16 of the day’s 20 points can be spent on getting a Chick-Fil-A sandwich and small fries, I’d do it. Justifying “bad habits” allowed me to slip. However, it had the accountability of the meetings and weigh-ins. Nutrisystem, on the other hand, had a structured meal plan to follow EVERY DAY that kept me on track. I lost more weight on Nutrisystem, but then I got bored.

With fitness, barring any injuries or real life issues, I had fewer problems as long as I could work my exercise into the day. I found it easier to set up a plan (workout 3 times a day for 4 to 6 weeks) and remind myself that it only adds up to 12 to 18 workouts.

But if my eating schedule wasn’t figured out (I feel better with about 5 small meals per day), then I was likely to let my exercise slip.

“Oh, I’ll get my workout in a half hour after I eat!” Yeah, but 3 hours later I still hadn’t eaten because I didn’t know what I wanted.

THIS HAS CHANGED!

It wasn’t easy, and I can share the details in another post if people are interested, but I sat down one weekend and put together a plan based on pretty much ALL THE RESEARCH I had put together from last year and previous diet attempts.

I knew I needed: Structured meals that ensured I got the required numbers (calories, nutrient macros, timing, etc.), but allowed for flexibility in foods and schedule. I needed to plan what to have pre- and post-workout to replenish my body’s energy stores as well as feed developing muscles. I needed to figure out how these meals would fit in with a workout schedule, so I had to plan what I was going to do as far as strength training and cardio. The day’s workout would determine my nutritional needs.

I wanted to work on the timing of which foods to eat to keep me sated throughout the day, but I wanted flexibility in those meals so I didn’t feel like I was eating the same boring “Grilled chicken and a salad” every day for lunch. This also had to keep in mind my personal tastes, like the fact that I’m not a fan of the soup-and-salad lunch. It also meant I had to plan meals and figure out which ones I had to cook, and figure out the most efficient way to work cooking into my daily schedule.

Working around the needs of a new roommate posed a challenge, too. I no longer wanted to be someone’s personal chef (even if it was my meal as well), but I had to make sure that if I made a meal for the both of us that it sated both of our needs and tastes. Thankfully, she’s very supportive of this effort.

Finally, I wanted to make sure that I had a “Cheat Day” worked in, so we could still enjoy going out from time to time and not feeling deprived of (most) foods we love. Likewise, I needed to work in days off from exercise to keep from burning out or causing injury.

You know what? Once I figured out some basic meal requirements and put the structure in place, suddenly planning meals themselves and even grocery shopping trips became SO MUCH EASIER! I have a regular shopping list, know how many days worth of salads or eggs to have on hand, how much of X type of meat to buy, and what kinds of snacks to get. I know that if I need 32 oz. of V8 for the week, and my 64 oz. bottle is mostly full, I don’t need to buy any more that week. I know I need Y number of oatmeal servings, and can easily see if I have enough or need more. There’s less grocery waste going on, as well as less time being spent at the grocery store. (As well as less temptation to buy things that I know are bad for me!)

When I don’t have to worry about figuring out dinner every night (“Tuesday will be stuffed peppers, Wednesday will be grilled salmon…”) I have more time to focus on my workout and other Real Life Things. No more wandering in the kitchen for an hour, trying to decide what to cook.

It feels good. I finally have a food plan that keeps me on track, and I have checked it against my daily nutritional requirements to make sure I was getting enough. I have an exercise plan that keeps me going. It’s making me stay motivated, yet streamlines my day so I can spend more time doing Other Things that I didn’t have time for before.

And I can even say it works! Last week I got back on track, losing nearly 2 pounds!

Every day I’m shufflin’…

Lapping Everyone On The CouchI’m getting really excited to start C25K in a week. Just a few more times down the paths (my favorite trail is just shy of 4 miles), and I think I’ll be ready. But today I had a breakthrough…

MY WALKS ARE TURNING INTO RUNS!

Not long runs. Not fast runs. Not even continuous runs. But not entirely just walking anymore, either.

I’ve been jogging the last 400 meters of a 5K whenever my iPod says that’s all I have left. It wasn’t a lot, but it was more than I’d been doing.

Today I decided to add a few jogging segments in whenever I felt like I could handle it. I’d look for a target up ahead and jog to that point without stopping, then continue with my walk until I felt like I could handle jogging again. I’d estimate that 1/2 of every other quarter mile was done at a slow, deliberate, almost shuffling trot. And of course, that’s when I’d get passed by these cute guys and svelte girls with like NO BODY FAT loping along like champion thoroughbreds looking like they haven’t yet broken a sweat even though it’s probably mile #16 for them. *whine* Some day I’ll be like that.

But you know what? Once or twice I passed by others (one woman in particular stands out in my mind) who were going at the same slow shuffling pace I was. I remember looking at that one woman, feeling envious because she looked like she’d put in a few miles and had a few left. I knew I was a while away from looking like one of the thoroughbreds, but there she was like a workhorse, huffing and puffing and pushing through it with strength and determination, and I wanted to be HER at that moment. In some way, I was proud of her and she unknowingly became my role model.

Then I thought, “Hey wait…I probably look like her when I’m jogging. I’m not going fast, but I’m going. And maybe…just maybe…there is someone on this trail who has seen me today and thought, ‘I can’t wait to be doing that someday.'”

So my running might not be fast or long or even pretty. I’m making sure it’s not unhealthy, dangerous, or risking injury. But it’s running. It will get better as I get used to it.

I’ve never really been a runner. This year that’s changing.

Run 27 Minutes A Day

Preparation for C25K

If You Run You Are A RunnerI mentioned I’m planning to start the Couch To 5K (C25K) program soon. There are a couple things I’ve learned even BEFORE starting the program that I want to share:

Wear good shoes.
The last time I tried to do it I was using OLD sneakers that I thought were just fine. They were NOT. I ended up bruising my joints so bad (ankles and knees) that I could hardly walk for several weeks.

Know your trails.
I live in an area where we have a great network of bike/walking trails, plus the American Tobacco Trail which actually has distances measured. If you know your trails, you’ll know which ones to avoid during certain weather. Sunny and hot? You’ll know which ones are shady. Rainy weather? There’s actually a trail nearby with a flood warning sign. Bug season? Avoid the ones by the slow-moving creek.

Walk your trails before you run them.
I considered just starting C25K without any kind of “warm up” as far as getting used to moving again. I seriously would have been going from the couch into the program. I discovered quickly that trail-walking involved using muscles I wasn’t used to using anymore! MY HIPS! THEY WERE SORE! So I’ve been spending a few weeks just walking the trails (trying to pick up my pace or increase my distance with each walk) to get used to using muscles that are involved with things like stabilizing my body or climbing up/going down hills.

Check your distance.
SparkPeople has a handy-dandy “Map Your Route” function (Don’t worry, a membership to SparkPeople is free! Tell them Ailinea sent you!) to help you with distance. The route I did today was almost exactly 3 miles. I originally thought it was longer! Glad I didn’t set out to do more only to discover I’d have to keep going!

Music is your friend!
I’ve made playlists of songs that are fun and upbeat, or remind me of my college crew days. For example, I remember “One Headlight” by the Wallflowers had a great beat to row to, so I included it in my “Upbeat Gym Rat” mix simply because it reminds me of those gym workouts. I have HOURS on that one playlist. When I set it to shuffle, I always have something new to look forward to.

Get a good set of earbuds.
I just picked up a pair of Yurbuds Ironman Series Headphones. I had a pair of in-ear earbuds from Apple that I used with my iPod, but they tended to fall out. I’ve only tried these new earbuds once, but so far there’s a vast improvement. They’ll take some getting used to, but they definitely stayed in. (I will do a review of them later after I’ve tested them some more.)

Other motivational accessories!
I love my Polar FT60 Heart Rate Monitor. A pedometer is useful too, and you can get one pretty cheap. Lately I’ve fallen even MORE in love with my iPod Nano (6th generation) because it combines a pedometer with a fitness tracker, has the vocalized “coaching” to go with your runs/walks, and hey! It plays music, too! You don’t even need the Nike+ shoes to use it. When I hook it up to my computer, it automatically uploads my workouts to the Nike fitness sites. I just LOVE tracking that stuff.

Clothing.
I have a variety of t-shirts and shorts/leggings to work out in. Already I’ve worn one shirt that I will NEVER wear again for exercise. The neck was too tight! Good sports bras are also important. And SOCKS! Some of my “athletic” socks have a seam that ends on the curve of my claw-like baby toe. The blister I worked up just from a short (~1.5 mile) walk bothered me in other shoes I wore for the next few days.

SUNBLOCK!
I have very fair skin. Sunblock is a must! I need like SPF 5000 to not get a sunburn! Don’t forget a hat and sunglasses!

Water.
If you can’t carry it with you, have easy access to it when you’re done. Rehydrate even if you think you haven’t sweat that much. Do it for your body.

Do you have any other tips that you can think of to add to this list? Are you a runner with any advice? Leave a comment to help a running noob out! ^_^ 

Rebirth

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." -Anaïs Nin

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." -Anaïs Nin

I know, I know. I keep saying I’m going to get back on track and write more. I’ve finally been getting back on track, just haven’t been writing about it.

Here’s the thing: I have been suffering major clinical depression. There, I’ve said it. I’m not always a strong person. I’m good at putting on a strong face and supporting others when I’m crumbling inside. But the first step to healing is admitting you have a problem, right? Well there you go.

I will post my story eventually. It’s helped to finally talk about it with people. I kept it all bottled in and didn’t get any professional support or help since my world fell apart in late 2008 when my dad died. Things went downhill from there with lots of other major setbacks. Some days I struggled to just get out of bed. Strangers tell me how strong I am and how impressed they are at the transformation I went through last year…all I saw was a fat girl struggling to tread the emotional waters in a deep, dark place. I didn’t ask for help when I needed it. I cried myself to sleep nearly every night hoping SOMEONE would see how badly I needed help. I hated myself every day. Living like that was hard. In fact, there are no words to describe how hard it is, and it certainly isn’t “living.” You have to experience it to know, and I don’t wish that kind of situation upon anyone. It was that bad.

But like losing weight last year, I had to rely on myself. I wanted to change so badly, and only had the words of a few “strangers on the internet” and a few people who knew me to keep me going. I wasn’t working, was finishing school online, and only had in-person social contact with my fiance who really wanted the depression to just go away. So no one really knew what I was going through except maybe two long-distance friends who have struggled with depression themselves. Hell, there were times I considered suicide, but decided that would be too much effort. Yeah, I didn’t even have the strength to actively pursue ways to remove myself from everyone else’s problems. Besides, that felt like a coward’s way out…plus what was left of my inheritance would have gone to my brother and he’s such a cockbite that I wasn’t going to let him benefit from it. =P

I couldn’t stand being in that dark place and struggled to pull myself out. Even my 10-year relationship suffered. I was not able to give my fiance the affection he wanted, so he looked elsewhere. He’d told me that my depression was “bullshit” and I should “just get over it.” In our last argument in late February, he first screamed at me about how he couldn’t stand living with me and couldn’t wait until I was gone. Later he admitted to cheating on me. I said I’d be out that Friday. And I was.

Not gonna lie, it hasn’t been easy. But the scary unknown future is better than the familiar dark place I was in. I moved into my childhood home (I inherited it in the estate and was too scared of the bad memories to move into it before, and finally found some self-confidence when I faced them alone), and one of my long-distance friends later moved into the spare bedroom.

A mix of sunlight, a new place, eating right and exercising again, and having a dear friend in my actual presence who understands depression and actively listens (and on whose shoulder I’ve left a few mascara stains already) has helped a lot. Money is scary now, but I’m looking for a job. That and the remnants of Hurricane Depression are what’s left to face right now…I think I can handle it.

I’m starting over again, but this time I’m not alone. And finally being able to name my demon has been helping me face it.

I’ll be writing more for real this time. I’ve already started exercising again to get my body used to working out, and have added walking on the vast network of trails by my house to get me moving. I plan to start the Couch To 5K (C25K) program in a little over a week (look for that either April 15 or 17) and have just completed Week 1 of 100/200/200 again. I’ve been keeping a mini-journal on paper lately, and will probably move it back/copy it/elaborate here.

I also plan to post more about depression, helping yourself through it, and how to help someone you know who has it. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m not totally out of that bad place yet, but I can finally a light up ahead and am certain it ISN’T an oncoming vehicle! I hope to be able to help others who may be going through the same thing I did but don’t know how to get to a better place in life.

I feel reborn again. I’ve been wearing the phoenix pendant I already own, and haven’t taken it off since I moved. It’s a constant reminder that change is always happening, and you can either just go with the flow or use it to better yourself.

Because this post is of a rather personal nature, I’ve turned off comments. If you feel the need to respond to anything in this post in particular, you may email me at firebudgie (AT) gmail (DOT) com. Thanks for understanding, and I will be back with new posts soon!

How I got started

For myself, this post is a reminder of what got me interested in getting healthy. For others, maybe it will serve as motivation.

To be quite honest, deciding to get healthy, lose weight, exercise, get fit, or whatever your goal both is and is not something you can just “wake up and do.” The main key is that it requires a change in mindset. That change is often gradual. Over a period of time you become more depressed about your favorite jeans feeling tighter. Or maybe you begin to notice those chin rolls in pictures. You know that to change the direction you’re going you are looking at a diet and exercise program in your future. But what’s one more piece of cake right now..?

You absolutely CAN wake up one morning and say, “I’M GOING TO CHANGE THIS!” It’ll be that morning where you pull yourself out of the self-defeating depression and instead are fed up with it. You get angry. You realize you respect yourself more than the way you’ve been treating yourself. You realize you deserve better and you can tell the rest of the world to go fuck itself because you know no one is going to hold your hand through it. YOU and YOU ALONE are responsible for making a change.

I really think that was the biggest step in changing my life. You have to get so pissed off at where you are that you’ll do anything to change it. When you hate the way you look, the way you feel, the way your clothes fit, etc. you can either just accept it, or face it. Facing it is harder. But when you do, and you drop that first pound or do that first push-up, it feels so rewarding. Seriously, get angry. Don’t hate yourself for making bad choices, but hate the fact that you’ve made bad choices. And remember, those bad choices are in the past. This very minute you can make a good choice that will change your life forever!

The catch is coming up with a plan. This is where you can’t just “wake up and do” as easily as you’d like. You have to figure out how to eat again. You have to determine what kind of exercise program you can do that you will stick with. Sorry folks, both food and exercise are required. Eating better without exercising may help you lose weight, but you will likely lose water, some fat, and a lot of muscle tone. Who wants to be “skinny-fat”? (That look of a person who is thin but very soft because they also don’t have much muscle.) And yes, you can exercise without changing your eating habits, but you may likely undo all the hard work and effort by taking a trip to the all-you-can-eat buffet every day. In addition, your body will respond better to including certain foods and getting rid of others in your diet.

As you research this, chances are you may get overwhelmed. I have been there. I have given up and decided that it’s easier to not do anything and hope for the best.

Some people turn to specific programs, like Weight Watchers or Nutrisystem. I’ve been on both. They both work for the right people. If they are not for you, then you won’t stick with them, and all that money will be wasted.

So some people turn to coming up with their own plan. That’s what I did this time around.

FOOD!

Deciding what to eat was pretty easy. My main problem is that I usually don’t eat enough, and when I do, I go overboard. That starvation-binge-starvation cycle screwed up my metabolism. I could tell during the holidays on days when I ate WAY too much (like Thanksgiving…and I even held myself back pretty well!) that my metabolism kicked into high gear and my body temperature was higher than normal as my body was trying to burn it all off. I want to be able to do that every day without requiring a feast that really was too many calories.

So I decided that I wanted to “eat clean.” To me, that means eat foods you can recognize, avoid foods with chemicals and preservatives, and organic foods if possible. I shop around the outside of the store, mostly hitting the produce and meat/seafood departments. I’ve been experimenting with different veggies (who would have thought I could prepare eggplant!?), treat myself with fruit (mangoes, strawberries, and cantaloupe are my faves) instead of ice cream, and chose good cuts of meat, high-quality ground meat, and lots of fish and shellfish.

I know I am a carb addict, so I try to avoid pastas and breads. I will eat carbs in the form of fruit, veggies, and even rice and oats (steel-cut oatmeal is DELICIOUS), but going back to my original statement: I can’t identify pasta or bread according to its original form. Believe me, eating more fruits and veggies gives me the carbs I need and crave without me needing to launch myself into a huge bowl of cereal.

I also learned that eating healthy fats is required for a good diet. I’ve come to love avocados, usually cook in olive oil now, and keep nuts and olives on hand as snacks.

End result? I don’t follow a low-fat or low-carb diet, even though it may seem like it when you glance at my plate. My favorite dinner is a piece of fish (like salmon) or meat (yes, even red meat), and a HUGE spinach salad topped with fruit and avocado. With fruits like strawberries and mandarin oranges on my salad, I never needed any kind of dressing…which is good, because I don’t like salad dressing to begin with. Lunches were often something like my broiled tilapia, salad, and an apple. I always kept apples and almonds on hand for snacks. Breakfast was always the hardest, but usually involved eggs of some kind, a piece of fruit, and either veggies in my eggs or V-8. I’m still trying to find more breakfast options because I have never been a good breakfast eater, and that’s the #1 way to kick-start your metabolism in the morning.

With this in mind, I got started by going to the store and wandering the produce and meat sections, while avoiding the siren’s call of the pre-packaged foods sections. I’ve found recipes that involved cooking meat and fish in different ways, and have avoided all the “pasta bake” type recipes. I use ground meat in foods like chili and meatloaf, as well as for salmon and other “meat” muffins and burgers. It’s more satisfying to me to bite into a piece of meat than eat a spoonful of pasta melange. Heck, I’m not even that fond of soups and stews for that reason, although when you make your own you have more control over what goes into it. I will admit that becoming familiar with the slow cooker has been wonderful!

EXERCISE!

Deciding on an exercise plan is the hardest for me. I started with the 100/200/200 plan and got thoroughly hooked! I found it easier to make a challenge for myself: 6 weeks of a plan that happens on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday was do-able. It didn’t require any special equipment. I remember the feeling of finishing each week and saying I only had X number of workouts left. On the off-days, I’d hop on the stationary bike for a pre-determined amount of time, distance, or calories burned depending on how I was feeling that day.

If I didn’t have a bike, I’d probably go for walks. I might even jog an interval or two. We have a great trail system around here, and I really want to take advantage of it. Of course, there’s always that embarrassment of wondering what people will think of you when they see you. Honestly? I realized what I thought when I saw them jogging past me: “Good for them! I want to be like that some day!” And maybe it’s because I live in the South, but I’ve noticed that while they often mind their own business, usually they smile and say hi.

So the key for me was coming up with a plan, making sure that plan had a challenge to it, making sure it had a determined length (it’s easier to say I’ll stick to it for 6 weeks than doing something until…I can’t take it anymore), and sticking to it.

MOTIVATION!

Blogging about it also held me accountable, and it was helpful to tweet about it too. On days I didn’t feel up to doing a workout, I’d tweet for someone to motivate me. I’d get multiple responses of “You can do it!” as well as challenges (“I’m about to go on my run, so let’s see who works the hardest!”) and words of encouragement (“I can’t do my workout today for a valid reason and feel bad about it…don’t make yourself feel bad when you can do this!”). The next thing I knew, I was pumped up to do my workout.

And hey, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of getting to brag that you did 100-something pushups! Or saying that you FINALLY mastered a move that had been giving you trouble!

If you have a social network, take advantage of it!

In addition, hop onto Google. Do image searches for “fitspo” (a variation on “thinspo” which was a mixture of “thin” and “inspiration,” only this is emphasizing “fit”), or look up recipes. I love Allrecipes.com and Sparkrecipes.com to come up with tasty new things to cook.

Join a community, even online. I love SparkPeople.com since it’s free and an amazing resource for all the things I’ve talked about here. When you are feeling down about how you feel, there are plenty of people willing to lift you up again. And I love the personal challenge of collecting points and getting higher levels just by doing (and tracking) the healthy things you should be doing anyway.

Make your own goals, too. It’s great to have long-term goals of what you want when you reach your ultimate goal, but those can feel so out of reach when you get started. So set rewards for losing 2 pounds in a week, or every 5 pounds, or getting through 6 weeks of your exercise program. Heck, even a “I got through this week and am going to reward myself with a long soak in the tub” reward gives you something to look forward to.

If you’ve stuck with me this far, that pretty much sums up what I did. Changing my food habits was pretty easy, setting rewards kept me going, and the hardest part was deciding on an exercise program and the 100/200/200 was a great start that got me interested in doing more.

Hopefully this will help others as much as it helped me by serving as a reminder as we launch into 2012!