Anxiety Roller Coaster: The Least Fun Ride Ever

When I was 16 years old, I had my first panic attack. Not a feeling of panic, but a full blown, out-of-my-own-reality panic attack. I felt the intense weight of the depersonalization and derealization as the world seemed to slip away from me. I’ve never been the same since. I’ve been struggling with some pretty intense anxiety for the past 10 years. For the most part it would come and go. I’ve had really good weeks, and really bad weeks. On some occasions it’s been so awful that I became agoraphobic. Anxiety has kept me from meeting new people, taking healthy risks, getting the grades in school I was worthy of, and even getting my drivers license.

ugh

 

More recently the experience has been more akin to waking up on the wrong side of the bed. I feel so wrong and uncomfortable, but I can’t explain why. The little things bother me, the really little things, like having to get cream for my coffee, or not having my clothes hanging in the closet ‘just-so’. When things don’t go ‘according to plan’ – this has also historically been a big trigger for me, as well as being exhausted or hungry. Needless to say, I’ve felt pretty vulnerable.

Anxiety is a slow build up. It’s like the rise before you get to the top of the largest hill on the roller-coaster. You hear the slow clicks as you ascend closer and closer to the top. You know exactly what’s coming. But you can’t stop it. Suddenly it’s that moment before the drop – the beginning of the panic attack – the adrenaline rushing through your veins. Fear takes over, you are in fight or flight mode; feeling like your life is in jeopardy. But it’s not. You’re just walking the dog, or getting bread at the store, washing the dishes, or riding a roller coaster.

It is likely I have some genetic predisposition for anxiety and panic attacks. Of course there are environmental factors at play too. For a long time I felt that it was an inevitable part of life, and the only way to deal with it would be to smother it with alcohol or prescription medication. One day I changed my mind, and I decided that I would figure out how to live life in such a way that my anxiety would always be manageable.

I found a way. Self-care is extremely important when it comes to managing anxiety. I know what gets me in a bad space and I avoid those situations. These are the following changes I have made to better manage my anxiety:

  • Sleep. Specifically, getting more of it. I know that when I’m tired I simply do not function well. I’m not talking about just being a little sleepy. I get complete brain fog, and I can’t think properly. And not thinking properly is a recipe for disaster. I need at least 7 hours a night!
  • Exercise. It’s good for the body and the mind. It gives me a healthy outlet for any of my negative feelings. And exercise releases good endorphins into your body, physically making you feel good!
  • Limiting Refined Carbs. A lot of people with anxiety aren’t aware that there is a long list of foods that can trigger anxiety. I found this out in a very round about way: I cut out refined carbs during my last cut, and I saw a noticeable decrease in my anxiety. In general I had a greater sense of well-being and more balanced moods.
  • Spending time with positive people. It’s the worst to spend hours and hours in a downward spiral of negativity. Energy is contagious. It’s important to be around people who want to talk about hopes, dreams, and possibilities. Not people who will get you thinking about all the difficulties of life.
  • Limiting Alcohol. I don’t go out partying like I did before (I’m getting old now anyways). In the moment I always feel great. It’s the next day when my body is recovering and all out of whack that I struggle with my moods. One night out every one in a while is okay. Binge drinking every weekend is not an option for me.
  • Relaxing, or “me time”. This one has always, always been hard for me. Sometimes I have to force myself to sit down and relax. But I absolutely need to do it. I need to stop and hold time every once in a while, whether that means sitting down for a movie with my significant other or taking a half hour at the coffee shop to read, I take downtime now.

The worst thing about having anxiety is when it disrupts your relationships. Yes, I’ve cancelled plans with friends before because I wasn’t practicing proper self-care and just felt overwhelmed with anxiety. I’ve lashed out at people I love because I didn’t know how to deal with the feelings I was having inside. No one should have to live that way. Anxiety is a cruel monster, and I won’t let it creep up on me anymore. I have daily practices in place to keep my anxiety under control, and when I follow those guidelines to a T I’m at my very best. No panic attacks. This is my way of beating anxiety – the natural way – so I can bring my best foot forward every day and live a happy, healthy, and full life.

I was on TV once

Sometimes you have those moments that are just so cool that you are just like Universe, thank you for all that has happened, the good and the bad, in my life up to this point. Because everything that has happened has lead me here.

Well, I was on tv this morning! For 30 short awesome seconds. If you wanna see the clip, check it out here!

I’m proud of myself for overcoming my anxiety to a point where I am now unafraid to take on almost anything. It was such a blast!

All the clothes are from Salvedge Botique. I worked for the owner for years and I truly love the clothes, the value, and the atmosphere of shopping there. That extra bit made this morning extra special for me.

Thanks for letting me share this special moment with you guys! I am forever blessed.

Check in – December 15/15 

Hello beautiful people

It’s the last check-in of the year and I honestly can’t believe it. So much has changed in 2015. I’ve learned more about myself this year than I ever imagined. I chased the goal of becoming a more “muscular” me. I’m proud to say that I am where I am because I worked extremely hard.

In honor of this, here is a little throwback picture of me! :

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And here is where I’m at today:


Currently me

Sorry for the grainy picture. Getting good natural lighting has been a challenge, as it has been pretty overcast in Calgary for the last week! Overcast or snow. That’s all we’re getting here!

Improvements: I’m getting bigger everywhere except my waist. Yay. Finally in a place where I am able to lean out physically. I haven’t consciously started that process yet, but my body has done a little natural work towards that on its own.

Current Focus: My joints have been hurting a lot lately during workouts. I really want to work on form and stretching, and perhaps start taking some joint support to try and combat this. I’ve been focusing on on leg growth for the past few months and I’m happy with my progress. I would love to build a beautiful back for the summer, so I may start focusing more on that moving forward… but I will still be putting the work in on these stems!

Eating: For the last week I have cut back on dairy and eliminated gluten. This is all a part of the process of trying different ways of living and seeing how my body responds. I can tell already that my anxiety has been much better. I suspect it’s the gluten and not the dairy. However, I had been on a complete dairy binge at the beginning of the month, and because dairy is addictive I decided to scale it back a notch.

Feeling like: I’m finally gaining control of my body again. I just want to increase the momentum within me right now. I’ve taken on some extra responsibilities lately, and of course I have to sacrifice something in its place. Sometimes that’s sleep. Sometimes that’s time with loved ones. Sometimes a workout gets lost. I never let that hold me back. I never let that make me feel bad, because I still make every workout count!


Looking back on this year, what improvements are you guys proud of (outside or inside) ?

Check in – November 17/2015

Hello everyone!

It’s that timeeee it’s that time again! Buckle in for a check-in that’s only slightly longer than my previous. I try to keep things short and sweet but I need to touch base about a couple of things before I get started.

I’m going to make my long story incredibly short, because I plan on getting into the details in a later post. Here we go: I have taken medication which has had varying negative effects on my body. One of those things has lead to my inability to lean out like I had planned. What’s more, I’m actually gaining weight. Easily. I eat pretty healthy and I live an active lifestyle. But that hasn’t hindered my ability to gain 2-5 lbs in one week.

Am I overweight? I don’t know if I could really say that about myself; I am still a “smaller” person. But my relationship with my body is no longer in alignment. It has its own agenda. And for a person who has prided themselves for so long about the close relationship I have with my body, this has been hard on me. The medication should wear off in the next 4-6 weeks and I anxiously await that.

But I digress. I’ll get back to this check in and save the rest for a post later this week!

 


Tricep Flex! 

Improvements: My shoulders have been finally starting to get that capped look, which is something I looked forward to even at the beginning of my fitness journey. I’ve also noticed that my mind-muscle connection has improved quite a bit, and I think that is a sign that even greater gains are in my new future.

Current Focus: Currently I’m focusing on getting to a more grounded place in my workouts. I’ve been noticing especially lately that my mind has been wandering. I really want to make the most of my time during my workouts, so I want to stay focused on me and my goals so long as I am in there.

Eating: My eating has been centred less around my gym goals lately and more geared towards stabilizing my blood sugar. When my blood sugar gets low, my anxiety starts to creep up on me. So eating frequently has been my main concern but stay tuned for a post coming up shortly about what I’ve been munching on lately!

Feeling like: Last check-in I said “I weigh the most I have ever been”. This is still true. In fact, I’m still gaining. A mind-fuck to be honest with you. I think that this is a hard thing for any person to accept. Again, I’m not saying that I’m a bigger person by any means, but when you eat well/consciously and workout regularly but the scale continues to climb, it’s difficult. It’s teaching me to love my body no matter what way it looks. Because it’s mine, it’s the only one I have and I cherish it. I feel heavier, as a person. I feel it in my face and my belly.

Fuck it. It’s only temporary. I have a beautiful life and a partner who loves me no matter what the scale says.

I might even be able to manage turning this unfortunate circumstance into the bulk of the century. When I am able to lean out,  I look forward to showing off some awesome gains.

Find the positive in every negative situation and you have mastered your mind!

Until next time everyone!

How to Make Your Goals Work For You

I love seeing the fire in someones eyes when they talk about their goals. If your eyes light up when you begin talking about the things you want to accomplish, then there is a passion there that will drive them to put in the work. But goals are one thing – and reaching them is another.

The coach in me is inclined to try and adjust their perception about what’s possible. Wait wait hold on a second, ANYTHING is possible. However, is it possible or likely within the time they have given themselves? If right from the get-go you haven’t set up your goals to be time appropriate, they are going to work against you.

So that’s tip number 1: Always be time-specific when setting goals – but also, be realistic.

You don’t want to set yourself up for failure. If you try to accomplish something in an unrealistic time span and you don’t get it, you might be inclined to internalize that failure. Try not to think of it that way. Instead, imagine that maybe your goal just needed some slight adjusting.

I also often hear people share goals and I get the feeling that the individual doesn’t know how complicated or difficult the task itself will be. The best example of this would be when I hear: “I want to lean out, and put on a lot of muscle also”.

Well, this is a complicated request. You’re demanding two different processes from your body, and those processes don’t exactly fit together. One on hand, you need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight or “lean out”. The higher the deficit the faster you will lose. On the other hand, you want to make gains – and the absolute easiest way to do this is to put on weight. Bring on the carbs.

I’m not saying lean gains aren’t possible. But what I’m saying is that the process is a lot longer and more difficult and complicated than one realizes. So if you want to make lean gains, give yourself more TIME. Lots and lots of time.

These things don’t just happen overnight. I remember when I first started going to the gym I was intensely focused on getting abs. I thought it would take me a couple of months, max. It took me one year! One year of hard work to transform my core. Fitness has taught me a lesson in patience I’d never known before.

 

 

I think a lot of people put unrealistic and sometimes unhealthy time constraints on their goals. If you want to lose weight that’s great, but don’t shoot to lost 8 lbs every week because there is no truly healthy way to accomplish that!!

Don’t be so hard on yourself and don’t be so hard on your body. Be consistent and give yourself time. Consistency is key!

Of course, there is another polar end to this issue which is giving yourself too much time. Goals are important because they help us hold ourselves accountable. Studies have shown that the more specific the goal, the more likely we are to achieve it. So don’t scrap the time constraint all together.

Any great gym lover knows that fitness is a game of consistency. Sometimes you feel like what you’re doing isn’t getting you anywhere, but those are the days when you need to stick with it and keep going. Keep eating according to your goals, keep showing up at the gym and giving it your all. Keep a positive mindset and believe that you will get there before you even see it.

Create goals that make sense and work FOR you, and you will set yourself up for greater success!

Happy Saturday!

Check-in/ October 21tst 2015

Hey everyone! I’m a little late posting my October progress but here is me 🙂

I aim for mid-month but life does get in the way sometimes!

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I’ve been dieting for the last 3 weeks or so, but I haven’t seen any leaning out. I was definitely frustrated initially. Ugh. You guys know how it is. I just have to hang in there! I’ve been having major stomach issues for the last few months and that has definitely affected me as well.

After thanksgiving dinner, I bloated up like I was 9 months pregnant! And I didn’t even eat until I felt super full! But I dealt with bloating for over a week. And just a general feeling of being unwell. I’m sticking with my workouts and I’m sticking with my eating. And any week now I’ll pull through!

It’s so easy to go to a place where we hate our bodies, especially when we work so hard for one thing and it doesn’t work. But I will continue to love myself towards my goals.

Improvements: My butt is looking better than ever! I’m lucky; my genetics do allow some of my fat to magically float there when I’m a few pounds extra!

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As my boyfriend says: “look at those dimensions!”

Current Focus: My current focus is on leaning out and building curves. Big legs and big shoulders. If you aren’t born with it, build it!

Eating: My eating has been pretty clean for the last few weeks! I’ve been restricting carbs throughout the day and focusing on having them more during breakfast when I need the energy!

Feeling like: I’m overcoming. I weigh the most I have ever been. I don’t look overweight, but it plays games with your head. I have struggled. But I have also realized that my muscle definition is not what makes me beautiful. My determination and work ethic do. And I never quit 🙂

What is so beautiful about the fitness journey is that I have the privilege of setting and resetting my goals. Overall, I look forward to getting better every day, in one way or another. I would love to be nice and lean over the holidays. I want to show people that it’s not impossible to be lean over the holidays. But that’s a post for another day 🙂 !

Thanks for reading!

Delaying Gratification for the Win

Do you ever feel like you’re being pulled in two directions? Like there are two different sides of you, that want distinctly different things? One side says chicken, the other side says cheesecake. One side says productive day, the other side say Netflix day. One side says reading by candle light, the other side says too many martinis on a Tuesday.

We all have these internal struggles and debates with ourselves, some of which are so under the radar that we aren’t even conscious of them. We’re all working towards being happy, but what is happy? Is it the chicken or the cheesecake?

These are just examples that illustrate what this internal struggle is often really about: immediate versus delayed gratification. It’s that primitive sense of ‘want, want right now’ versus ‘wait, work, fulfill my true desires’.

Immediate gratification is just what it sounds like: that immediate feeling of satisfaction. Unfortunately, it comes with a price. The satisfaction ‘high’ doesn’t last. When you’re too busy responding to tempting stimulus without thinking, this often gets in the way of your long term goals. Why? Because your not thinking long term. Your thinking short term. You’re thinking right now.

You have to put off what you want now in order to achieve what you want in the long run.

This is so much easier to preach than practice. We promise ourselves that we’ll get physically healthy, eat well, save money, get organized, but yet we act in ways that are counterproductive to our goals because of this. Realize that you are getting in your own way. Realize that you have the power to change this.

Here are some tips to delay gratification when working towards those long term goals:

  1. Stay away from tempting environments. If your goal is to save money, stay away from the mall. If you want to eat well, don’t accept the invite for dinner and drinks at Boston Pizza with your friends. You don’t just have to turn these options down. Actively engage in the situation and pick options that are going to be more beneficial to your plan!
  2. Keep a reminder of your goal. It could be a dream board, it could be the background on your phone, but constantly remind yourself why you’re making these sacrifices. Our WHY drives us, it’s the meaning behind everything we do, so you want to keep that in check!
  3. Learn to say no. To yourself and to others. Saying no isn’t supposed to be awkward, it’s supposed to be empowering. In your mind this isn’t as easy as “I don’t want it”. Maybe you do want it. But you say NO and make a conscious, powerful, selfish (yes that’s okay) decision for yourself.

If you can nail this, you not only have a better chance of reaching those goals, but reaching them SOONER.

Eliminate the effect of those road blocks. Delay what you want now for what you need later, and set yourself free from those distractions.

Happy goal setting!

The One Thing That You Should Quit: Quitting

So many of us don’t meet our goals because of one reason: quitting.

The harsh reality is that it often takes much longer to meet our goals than we anticipate – so what do we do? We quit.

Why?

Because when we create the game plan for how we are going to make our dreams a reality, we neglect to take into account that there are going to be obstacles. There is going to be hardship. In all likelihood you will struggle and be forced to sacrifice.

We never plan for this. When we say “I’m going to do _________ ! ” we always picture the most ideal situation in terms of getting there.

But that’s not life is it?

I used to love the saying: “When you make a plan, god laughs”. When I first heard that, I thought wow, that’s a gloomy EXTREMELY REALISTIC way of looking at things. Life experience has taught me that it’s true: almost nothing ever goes according to plan.

Maybe every time we get thrown that curve ball, god is chuckling a little bit. He’s up there thinking ‘”you didn’t think it would be that easy, did you?!”

When we’re working towards our goals and we encounter difficulty, we quit. We say ‘it’s too hard’, or we use that obstacle as an excuse to throw in the towel and give up on our dreams. And we’ve all done it. We see hurt, we see pain, we see sacrifice, and we see struggle so we run in the opposite direction. I’m here today to tell you that you don’t have to run anymore.

Everything you want is just past those obstacles. Don’t be afraid of what you have to go through, let it grow you. Every single time you face those difficulties head on, you become a better, stronger version of yourself, even when you don’t overcome them. Even when your efforts lead to failure. It’s a learning experience, and you can show your resiliency and your perseverance. You have to keep trying because whatever that thing is you are trying to master, YOU ARE CAPABLE.

If you are encountering difficulties and road blocks on the way to accomplishing your goals, it simply means you are making progress. The further you go along, the more difficulties and tough situations you will encounter. You’re being tested; the Universe is like ‘how bad do you want this? show me’.

What I’m trying to say is that obstacles are inevitable. What are you going to do about them? What kind of person are you going to be? It’s up to you. If you can learn to embrace the pain of change you can accomplish any goal. I’m serious, it’s that simple. Don’t just say ‘I’m gonna make this happen!’, say ‘I’m gonna make this happen NO MATTER WHAT’.

You are inherently great, and that dream that you have, you deserve it. But you’ve gotta be willing to fight for it.

I believe in each and every single. one. of. you. That’s why I want you to QUIT QUITTING.

Have a great week everyone !

Why Food Prep is Paramount for your Goals

This is going to be a great discussion. Who doesn’t love to talk about food? Food preparation is so important when it comes to creating an efficient wellness routine, especially if you are working towards a specific goal.

Why is food prep so important?

Firstly, it gives you control over what you are eating. I know exactly what’s in my food: I made it. I don’t count calories or macros, so I focus on making good quality, nutrient-dense food. I know the oil my food was cooked in, I know what’s in the sauce, I know when it was made. It keeps me invested in what I’m putting in my body. Forget eating mindlessly –  I created this food!

Doing meal prep also helps to ensure that I’m including the valuable nutrients that I need. On the days that I feel like I’m dragging, I make sure my food is full of the vitamins and minerals I need to stay on my feet. I can also make sure I have the amount of carbs, protein, and healthy fats in each meal required to keep me, as an individual, at my very best.

I’m currently bulking up – the goal right now is absolutely positively to gain weight. So yes, in theory I could go out and eat all the pizza, french fries, and ice cream I want (that dirty bulk). It is prossible that I could reach my own personal goal if I ate out for every meal. So why not? Well it’s not just about quantity, it’s also about quality. I want to make sure I’m putting quality food in my body and ensuring a slight surplus in calories. I want to put on a little weight and feel good. And no, that’s not too much to ask.

Food prep is also an incredible system that you can put in place to prevent you from making a compulsive decision. Think of it as a safety net. Have you ever caught yourself at a restaurant, with every intention of getting something that fits your needs and goals, but instead you go for something totally different? I can’t tell you how many times it’s happened to me!

If you’re prepared and eating your own food, you decrease the chances that you are going to put yourself in a vulnerable situation. If you’re on your way home from work and your dead tired, you might consider stopping for some quick food. But if you have food ready and waiting for you when you get home, then you won’t be discouraged by the thought of cooking.

It’s like that old saying…

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Having meals ready also encourages you not to miss one. If you rush out of the house in the mornings, include prepping breakfast. Your body is an engine that requires fuel to keep burning. If you’re not eating, you’re not only going to be tired but your body also lacks the resources it relies on for energy, and you’re going to feel burnt out.

When you get into the habit of not eating for extended periods of time, your brain tells your body that your environment lacks the resources necessary for life. If you are eating under 1,000 calories a day, your brain is going to tell your metabolism to sloooowwww down. Of course, this is your body’s natural reaction to hold onto what little resources it has.

Lastly, food prep is easier on the budget. Eating out isn’t always expensive, but it definitely adds up quickly. Buy on special, cook in bulk, and eat according to your goals!

My favorite things to meal prep are:

  • A fat fueled salad with avocado, nuts, and seeds
  • Tofu Salad Rolls
  • Stir Fry
  • Quinoa Salad

Now you know why Food Prep is important, but you might still be unsure where to start.

Thankfully, I’ve created an Easy-Peasy Meal Prep Guide for just that. The best part? It’s absolutely 100% free. You can download it here. 

Happy Eating!