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What I Learned on Vacation

OMGBackAgain

I just spent the past 10 days away from home, away from my computer, away from my fitness equipment and stocked kitchen, and went on vacation to see family. You learn a lot about yourself when you are trying to get fit and healthy, and you learn even more when you are forced to improvise away from your “natural habitat” and live with people who are not used to your habits.

The first thing I learned is that my stomach does NOT like fast food and grease anymore. I spent more than one day in stomach discomfort (the worst time was when we went to see the Avengers movie and I REFUSED to get up to run to the bathroom), and while I was glad I brought the Pepto tablets, they turned my tongue brown for a few days. That’s the problem with vacation: you are often at the mercy of what is available to eat, and when it’s a case where you’re going to be socializing a lot and eating out, even trying to choose healthy choices doesn’t always help. My belly missed veggies and fiber, and hated having so much salt on EVERYTHING because that’s what “normal” people are used to. I didn’t get as many fruits and veggies as I would have liked. We got Chinese once and I only had the option of white rice, fried rice, or chow mein noodles…no brown rice. So you make choices, and I made mine based on whether or not I thought my stomach would get upset or not. Hey, I’ve had vacations where I laid awake at night with heartburn, and did NOT want to go through that again!

Speaking of food, the other issue I had was getting into a cycle of binging/starving, even though I tried not to. When you’re used to eating 5 small meals a day, switching to 2 or 3 meals proves difficult. For breakfast I usually eat 2 eggs and an egg worth of egg whites, with veggies, maybe a piece of fruit, and sometimes some nuts or cheese. So having a bowl of cereal or one egg and a piece of toast usually left me pretty hungry. When lunchtime hit, I would be STARVING. I would do my best to not wolf down my food (I wanted to give my body time to register that I had eaten) or take more than I could handle. There were a few meals where I know I ate more than I normally would have only because I didn’t eat as often as I was used to, and by that meal my body was CRAVING more fuel. I could feel the differences in my body temperature at night when I tried to sleep depending on what I had, how much, and when we last ate.

The next funny thing I learned? Usually when I DID get a large meal (like at a restaurant where everything is served as a “platter”) I could never finish it. I used to be able to finish that much food…AFTER having an appetizer and THEN having dessert! I kinda felt bad going to Chili’s and leaving *A* chicken crisper strip and most of my fries (Hey, I TRIED choosing from the healthy menu, but didn’t ALWAYS succeed. >.>), and tapped out early once when we got pizza. I brought home leftovers from the seafood restaurant. Blasphemy!

I know I also drank a lot of soda, and not enough water. Ugh, my body was CRAVING water the entire time. According to my weigh-in this morning I put on about a pound and a half over vacation, but I can pretty much guarantee that it’s water weight bloating from the salt and not drinking enough water. Give me a few days and it’ll come right off.

Because of the change of eating habits, my skin and hair felt icky most of the time. My skin was dry and flakey, and my face felt puffy. I felt like I always needed to exfoliate, but because I have sensitive skin I knew I couldn’t or I’d make things worse. My hair felt greasy quickly too. It was strange how quickly I recognized the changes in my body due to changes in nutrition. I was okay for the first few days, and then WHAM! It was like a sudden bout of PMS complete with the acne, bloating, and my sweet tooth being reactivated. Heck, for all I know it COULD be PMS, just made worse with the diet change.

Of course, I’m not just writing to complain about vacation completely derailing my efforts or anything negative like that. Overall, I think I managed to keep my calorie count around my normal level, even though it wasn’t as healthy.  I actually managed to get some exercise in! I found several bodyweight workouts for strength and cardio (squats, lunges, push-ups, crunches, etc. with cardio in the form of jumping jacks, running high-knee, butt-kicks, etc.) so I was able to stay active. It was tempting to not exercise because I was on vacation, but I told myself, “You never regret the workout you did, though you’ll probably regret the one you didn’t do.” Sure, we did a lot of walking, but not at the pace, time, or distance I’m used to, so I made sure to get some extra in.

And vacation had one other good effect: DESTRESSING! I’ve been the caretaker of everyone and everything for so long now that it felt good to finally get some time away from home to relax. I came home last night making plans for what I need to do, and for the first time in a long while I didn’t feel overwhelmed with “OMG THIS STUFF ALL NEEDS TO BE DONE YESTERDAY!” I feel more calm and focused.

The first “deadline” coming up is that my birthday is in 2 days. I’ve been debating a birthday present for myself: First I thought about getting new running shoes, but then I thought that maybe I should step it up a notch and treat myself to a gym membership and a few personal trainer sessions to check and correct my form. I’ve been wanting a gym membership for over a year now, and the only downside to the place near me is that they don’t have a pool. I really miss swimming laps (I used to swim competitively when I was young) and would love the option. But if that’s not to be, then I’ll make do. Another option is to get a Fitbit Tracker or similar gadget. I’m especially interested in the sleep tracking function.

No matter what I end up doing, I’m pretty excited about this year. It’s nice to know I’ve motivated some people and have some friends on the wagon with me. Vacation had me thinking about this year’s “Bucket List” of things I want to accomplish by the end of the year and by my next birthday. At the top of the list was getting into great shape again, complete with quantifiable goals. Lower weight and body fat are obvious, but the gym I’m thinking of joining has a 5K race in September I might sign up for. It’s easier to have goals to work toward, you know?

Vacation was a nice end to a previous life chapter. And now it’s time to move forward. I’m pretty excited to see what happens this year!

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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.

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!