She lives!

Hello, Friends. It’s been a while. I’ve been thinking about making my triumphant return to blogging for months now.. I even drafted a post back in January that never got finished. The last few days, though, I’ve been especially itching to write.

It’s been a rough year, folks. The things most important to me that I’ve been working hard for over the last several months (and some things for years) have begun blowing up in my face one by one, week after week. Exercise has been a true solace, but some even bigger explosions this past week threw me off my routine and schedule and as life becomes more stressful I find myself bringing focus in on my body. This is certainly a pattern; things get stressful and my body image tanks. Is this because I think if I can’t control the outside world I can at least control my body? I’m sure that’s part of it. This manifests in what I do to my hair, the type of clothes I wear, and how I do my makeup; in 3 months I’ve gone from long blonde hair to a brunette pixie cut and while I’m not unhappy with my haircut or color choice, I am already bored with it and ready for my hair to be long again and the darker color to fade out a bit.

It’s a constant battle between controlling the change in my life and needing familiarity.

And as I hunt for familiarity, I find myself leaning back towards the all-too-familiar landscape of dieting and searching out exercise plans in order to shrink my body. It is a familiar punishment. A way to control my world by “controlling” my body.

I’ve spent the last two weeks trying to recenter, paying more attention to the body positivity advocates I follow, reading back through stories and articles that spoke to me in the past, trying to focus more on how food choices and regular exercise affect my mental health rather than how they change my body aesthetic. But mostly, I’m trying so hard to be patient both with myself and for the dust to settle from all these life explosions happening day after day. And it’s really tough. I am terribly impatient even in the best of times – but during times of turmoil? Oh, boy… any inkling of patience just flies out the window.

Basically this all boils down to: I’m struggling. I’m highly anxious, I’m sinking deep into a depressive period, and there is very little light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe by starting to write again, I can keep my head above water long enough until a piece of driftwood floats by.

Shrug

 

 

Indulgence

I have spent the last couple days indulging the hell out of my depression and today has probably been the worst of all. I’m reaching the point where a piece of me is enjoying the familiarity of sadness and ennui and actively battling against taking the proper steps to work through and out of this growing pit.

Coming down with that tiniest bit of a cold last week combined with the rainy weather this week has me completely off my daily walks even though I have access to a treadmill and a YouTube playlist full of yoga, cardio, and strength training videos. Sleep has also either eluded me (insomnia) or I’ve neglected to make it a priority (fear-of-insomnia) all week this week.

I keep justifying these poor self-care choices by telling myself, “At least you’re not smoking!”

Well, yes, at least there’s that.

…oh, yes, by the way… I quit smoking. 27 days ago, in fact. It’s going really well! I’m really fucking proud of myself! I’m all buying into the process of it… the mantras… the implementation intentions… all of it. It’s hard and I still have cravings here and there… mostly when I’m feeling like this or drinking heavily or both… but, overall, I’m really happy with my decision to quit.

Okay, okay, great. So, that’s really super. But continuing to honor my commitment to myself to quit smoking does not justify being crappy to myself otherwise.

My plan is to go for a long walk despite the rain later today and maybe, like, go to bed at a decent hour even though it is a Friday night and Friday nights are generally reserved for alcohol and staying up too late… but… yeah… also, like, maybe get up in the morning and maybe walk some more or hike a trail or some such physical activity type thing. Despite the rain. Despite. The. Rain. 

Writing this out has really helped. I’m feeling a little less sorry for myself. Thank you, Reader, for indulging my down-ness so that I might process and move past it.

Daily Prompt: Pretend

Funny that today’s Daily Prompt subject is “Pretend,” since I was just thinking about the half-truths we tell ourselves when it comes to our health.

Stay with me here…

I came down with a cold last week, probably around Tuesday-ish? No big deal, just a little stuffy, throat a little scratchy, a little sneezy, and a little fatigued. I was diligent about my bedtime all week, remembered my vitamins everyday, steered away from junky food for the most part, etc. I took Friday afternoon off work to catch some zzz’s and try to avoid full-blown sickness, which, for the most part, was successful.

Friday I wasn’t as active as I normally am. I pretended this was okay; I wasn’t feeling well, rest is important, etc. Saturday followed suit. I felt pretty down and emotional most of Saturday. It was a day full of Fat & Ugly Attacks. The fact that I had a wedding to attend that afternoon and not a single dress that fit that would be appropriate for the occasion just exacerbated the situation. I was almost in tears by the time I threw something together at the last minute (after hours of shopping for a new dress or outfit and coming away unsuccessful) – but I sucked it up because, really, who’s looking at what the guests are wearing at a wedding? The focus is on the bride. I had a wonderful time and didn’t stress too much about not being 100% comfortable in my outfit of choice. After three glasses of wine I really didn’t care! Funny how that works, huh?

Fast forward to Sunday morning… I wake up feeling well-rested, but otherwise like garbage both physically and emotionally. I’d developed a cough and my congestion was worse. And, boy, did I feel real sorry for myself. I did a little cleaning, ran to the grocery – all in a fog of random sadness. I slept the entire afternoon and when I woke up that familiar, negative voice began its diatribe in the back of my mind; “Way to waste the whole day, lazy.” “This is why you’ve gotten so fat and are just getting fatter – you’re lazy and have no self-control.” “You think that apple fritter you ate this morning is going to help with your weight loss? You think it’ll help you recover from this head cold? Way to go, stupid.” And so on, and so on, and so forth… By 6pm I was beginning to give myself over to it all, beginning to indulge those nihilistic thoughts of how meaningless it all is and why even bother with taking care of myself, with life in general.

And, finally, after 6 years of never managing to remember until it’s too late how directly connected my depression is to lack of physical activity, it has sunk in. Even though I have this head cold and was feeling pretty crappy, I went and put on my running shoes and some sweats and headed out for a walk. I walked 2 miles and I came home feeling like a completely different person. Not just that, but my cold symptoms weren’t bothering me quite as much anymore.

Yes, rest is important when you’re sick and if I were running a fever or experiencing any type of body aches/flu-like symptoms, etc., I likely would not have made myself go take a walk or any other type of exercise. I really had to think about whether or not I was making this decision is the name of punishment (for the apple fritter, for the depression, for my body fat percentage), or if I was honestly trying to help myself. And, it turns out, Little Miss Negative hadn’t totally taken over my brain and I was making a good decision and was genuinely trying to help myself to feel better – and, better yet, it worked!

via Daily Prompt: Pretend

Revelations

A few days ago I had a Fat-And-Ugly Attack, which means a moment (or an hour, an afternoon, or a couple days, or even sometimes a couple weeks) where I am really unhappy with my weight/body shape/hair cut or color/acne/insert-random-looks-related-insecurity here. Now, over the last 6 months I’ve really bought into all that cognitive behavioral therapy I’ve been paying to receive for going-on three years, and started preempting and battling these “attacks” with positive affirmations out the wazoo – but it really wasn’t until this last week that I realized how well they actually work and how much easier it is for me to push through those feelings of insecurity and bring my mood back up. I realized, holy moly, I actually am super comfortable in my skin these days. I might actually like myself. I am finally, finally!!, working on weight loss from a place of love and health instead of hate and punishment. I move my body on a daily basis in ways I thoroughly enjoy and because it makes my brain feel good; I watch my portions and casually track calories because my body feels better when I’m not overeating or overindulging in sweets and other high-fat foods. As a result of these things I am slowly losing some pounds. But I realized, even if I don’t lose a bunch of weight, that’s okay. I’m still really happy being me and I like the way I look a majority of the time – and, really, am finding so much more worth in spending time with friends and family discussing thoughts and ideas instead of focusing on what my body looks like all the time. I think that’s really about the best thing a person could ask for after years of struggling with nasty self-hate spirals.

On another positive note: I upped my Vitamin D intake a couple weeks ago and it seems to be really helping me manage my SAD. Between that and my commitment to 2-3 short outdoor walks during the day on work days, I’m very hopeful that this fall and winter will be a bit more manageable than the last few years. This, coupled with my positive affirmations, should be a big help in keeping up with my diet and exercise through the colder, darker months. November through late-February/early-March has always been a huge roadblock for me when it comes to successful weight loss. During these months I’m tired, I’m angry, I’m depressed. I want to hide under blankets and drink a lot of alcohol and feel sorry for myself which almost always leads me to minor binge episodes, a complete lack of motivation to exercise, and, consequently, weight gain – or, at the very least, plateau. That gain or stall then further fuels my feelings of hopelessness (just one more thing to add to my list of failures!) and so the cycle continues. But this year, I have implementation intentions… just a fancy way of saying I have a plan to avoid failure. I’ve already spoken to my mother-in-law about using her treadmill in the afternoons and/or evenings when the weather is either too cold or rainy/snowy to walk or run outdoors, I’ve begun implementing a strength training routine that I’m enjoying and look forward to doing a couple times during each week, and I have a YouTube playlist filled with various yoga, dance fitness, and low-impact cardio videos to fill in the blanks around outdoor cardio and strength training. Earlier this year I purchased a goal planner and am dedicated to using it to track my workouts, mood, and sleep and it’s been a big help in keeping me focused on my end goals. And speaking of sleep… I believe this will be my secret weapon in battling my fall/winter depression. I’ve been really dedicated to hitting my sleep goals as many nights each week as possible and I’ve become really conscious of how not getting enough sleep effects my emotional well-being. I’ve even had times I’ve been able to curb random sadness or irritability just by recognizing I didn’t sleep enough and promising myself an earlier bedtime or even a short nap when possible.

A lot of what I’m doing right now is basic self-care, but feels like a huge step for me. There have been many times over the last couple of years where I’ve felt like it would be absolutely impossible for me to ever get to this place. This is not to say I don’t still have days where I struggle (see above Fat-And-Ugly Attack) and where I’m just not great at using the tools available to me, days where I sort of wallow in the self-pity – but those days are becoming fewer and provide great perspective in helping me recognize the good days and appreciating them even more.

This update is a little drawn out and self-congratulatory, but, f*ck it, I deserve it!

Hello!

Time for what’s becoming a monthly check-in it seems!

So, I’ve been thinking about my lack of consistency with this blog and I think part of the reason I’ve been so slow with the upkeep is that I’ve all of a sudden become really self-conscious of what I write here – of what people might think or how I might be judged. I don’t know why. I don’t know where it’s coming from. But that’s why there’s been so much radio silence. I’m sorry, Readers. Now that I recognize what’s causing my disconnect from regular writing in this space, I can hopefully feel the feelings, work through them, and move on.

In the meantime, a little update:

August has been, frankly, kind of miserable. My 4-year-old was sick with pneumonia for 11 days, I had to cut short a long weekend trip that I was so looking forward to, my 10-year-old has had the worst attitude about everything (hormones maybe?), I began training for a new position at work (I fear change! So much!), I experienced some heated confrontations within my social circle that brought some things to a head, and once I moved through all that our vacation week was upon us and became more of a Hell Week than Vacation. I had a solid two weeks of feeling pretty depressed, but I think I’m coming out of that now – thank goodness – and on top of all that, all exercise with the exception of walking has fallen completely to the wayside. However, on a much more positive note: I’ve reconnected with some old acquaintances and am building new friendships with those folks as well as making some brand new friends! I’m also focusing more on doing things that I actually enjoy with the people I most enjoy spending time with instead of doing things out of a feeling of guilt or obligation (or fear of conflict); I’m really enjoying my training for my new position at work and am super stoked to begin with my own tasks next week, I’ve kept up with my regular walks, I’ve lost 6lbs. by tracking calories and being reasonable with food choices (and hitting my 10,000 steps goal most days!), I’m motivated and planning to get back into a regular exercise/lifting routine, and really happy with my self-care priorities despite my short depressive episode. Oh! And I’m trying to stay positive about the approaching fall; planning some fun trips and activities to look forward to, etc.

So there we have it. Hopefully I’ll be checking back in soon!

Just some things in my head…

My body image has been incredibly low the last couple weeks coupled with some pretty gnarly depression despite running a few times a week and walking nearly every day. Some rain moved in to the area a few days ago and that’s just adding fuel to my gloomy fire. As a result of this emotional state, I’ve spent more time than I’d care to admit scouring my old internet haunts and bookshelves in search of motivation to go back to “what worked before” …except that it clearly didn’t “work” in the long-run because otherwise I’d still be living that way and doing all those things and maintaining that body aesthetic. But as I scramble to somehow reignite my passion for what slimmed me down 4 years ago, I have these moments where I really stop and think, where I slow down for just a moment and put my neurosis aside, and in that clarity I think, “This isn’t going to help you; the obsessive calorie counting, always spending money on the next great workout program that you’ll only stick to for a few weeks before wanting to move on to something else, the next type of restriction diet that “will work this time”, etc. Just calm the f*ck down, love yourself, move your body often in ways you enjoy, eat food that makes your body feel good and fuels that movement, sleep enough, and just trust the process.”  

…but can we talk about how hard that is when none of your pants fit comfortably, it’s hard to find new, larger pants that fit and look decent, and the scale taunts you with it’s consistently rising number every couple weeks? …I should probably ditch the scale altogether… I try to remind myself all the time that there is so much more to life than what my body looks like; that this is all just shallow and materialistic and I want to live life, not rail against it in the name of thinness. (This was a HUGE motivator behind revamping my blog and moving from Jess vs Life to Jess Has A Blog!) I also know these feelings are closely related to my current emotional state and a couple weeks from now I could be on here screaming about how beautiful and wonderful my body is. …which is equally frustrating. 

Hey, girl, hey

Oh! Hello there! 

I seem to have completely forgotten that I’m attempting to maintain a blog here in hopes to one day be successful! My bad. 

March became kind of a throw-away month beginning around the 15th. Due to a pseudo family emergency situation, I ended up driving two days down to Arkansas, stayed for two days, and then drove two days back. This completely threw off my exercise schedule/routine I’d settled into and I’m struggling HARD to get back into it. Thanks to high stress and then a week of sporadic exercise, I spent about four days in a pretty hardcore depressive episode. As I’ve said probably thousands of times at this point, but am going to say again: regular aerobic exercise is essential to maintaining my mental health and for some reason this fact is the easiest for me to forget and then we end up with situations like hiccup-crying in the bathroom half naked over “being fat forever” but really over “everyone I love is going to die before I want them to” and wanting to crawl under a rock and die and being so angry at myself for “being like this again” and being utterly confused as to how I got there while telling myself “this is just the rest of my life”… but then lifting some heavy things and doing some jumping around (cardio) for an hour a couple days later and feeling like a completely different human and, again, being utterly confused as to why I ever had that meltdown to begin with. Oh, yeah! Endorphins! Serotonin! SCIENCE!

Being me is so much fun!! Don’t you want to be me, too? 

It’s cool. Me either. 

Basically what I’m trying to say is, my plan is to get back into regular updates and all that jazz. Thanks to those of you who have continued to stick around!