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.

But I’m happy. That’s all that matters.

Money. Cars. Kids. Business Owner. Health. Knowledge. Travel. Relaxation. We all desire different things out of life. Some things are higher up on the list than others. At the top of my list is health, freedom, and enjoying the moment. Many see their success as power, or money, or travel. No one is wrong, we are all just different.

Success cannot be measured on a universal scale – it can’t be measured in any particular way because success means something different to each and every one of us. My priorities in life are optimal health and freedom. Freedom to enjoy life, express myself, and live on my own schedule. To me, success is enjoying the little things and living mindfully. I might never be rich. I might not be able to live off the interest accumulating in my bank account. But I’m happy. That’s all that matters.

Other people want the picture perfect family, create beautiful babies in their beautiful house and to take vacations twice a year. I think if that’s what you want, go for it. It sounds brilliant. It might not be for me, but that’s brilliant.

Other people want to travel 365 days out of the year and live out of a backpack. I think if that’s what you want, go for it. It sounds brilliant. I myself would inevitably get homesick, but for you it might a dream coming true.

I could go on forever, but I know you know where this is going.

The people around you might not understand your journey – they might not see your vision for yourself, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you strive towards it, that you remember that your success is defined only by you. Nothing and no one else. Remember that.

Moving Forward (onward and upward)

I’ve made my share of mistakes in life. I’ve said the wrong thing, done the wrong thing. I’ve acted selfishly. I’ve had one too many drinks before and thanked the lord I woke up safely in my home. I’ve blown up in anger, I’ve missed opportunities, I have been stubborn once or twice in my past.

I have embarrassed myself like you wouldn’t believe. I’ve tripped, I’ve fallen, I’ve realized I’ve said too much when it was too late to take it back. I’ve had panic attacks in public, and I have cried in a chair all by my lonesome in a nearly packed Starbucks.

I have been hurt. I’ve trusted the wrong people. I’ve been absolutely crushed by people I invested in. I’ve spent hours trying to understand how any decent human being could treat me in such a way.

But to be honest, I haven’t thought about any of that in a very, very, long time.

Why?

Because that’s all in the past, and I don’t live there. What purpose would it serve me to think of it, to revisit it over and over again?

I’ve learned from every mistake, every hurt, every failure. I carry the lesson with me, not the pain.

So often lately I find myself in contact with people who are very much stuck in the past. They just can’t get over that one, or sometimes the many events that have been negative experiences for them. The friend who lied, the boyfriend who left them, the opportunity they missed. They can’t let it go.

In order to move forward, you have to be facing that direction. No one walks down the sidewalk with their head turned around backwards. Why would you operate in such a way in your mind?

The past can be such a distraction from what really matters, which is the here and now. That’s all we really have. And if you are too busy dwelling on things that have already happened, you are bound to miss the precious seconds passing by. Moments meant to be cherished and appreciated. You will miss that if you’re stuck.

I think a lot of people get stuck in their past because they are still looking for answers. If only it were so easy. Those black-and-white answers are not so readily available in life, and you may never find the one you are looking for.

But don’t be discouraged, because there is one thing you can always find: Meaning. What you have been through, the hurt and the pain and the agony, can mean something. But that’s up to you, to attach a purpose to those negative experiences. You might never be able to say “This happened because…” , but maybe you could say “because of this the positive change I made was…” . That’s your meaning right there.

I know it’s easier said than done, I know this. That is the rule for most things. These are the emotional growing pains, even positive change can be a painful process. But you have every right to live a happy life.

You deserve to move on.
Onward and upward !

 

Need a little push?

Ever just wake up on the wrong side of the bed?

Of course. It happens to all of us.

We all have different techniques to turn our day around. Today, I’m sharing one of mine.

When I first started my health journey, I was introduced to motivational videos on Youtube and I fell in love (okay, became obsessed… you caught me!)

We all need a pep talk sometimes… something that can speak to that voice inside of us, something extra to get us going! In my last semester of University I was getting up for school everyday at 5 am and it was rough. I would play these videos every morning, and they would help to get me pumped! I mean, I’m a morning person but not a “5 am” morning person!

But I digress. Fast forward a few months later and I stumble across the channel ‘Your World Within’ . This channel is amazing! Not only are the messages really beautiful and inspiring, but each video has a message that really resonates with me. Imagery is also quality but I typically just listen to the videos as I go about my business.

Anyways, if you need a little push today or any other day, this is my sneaky suggestion.

(I just had to share!) 

 

Have an incredible existence today!

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!

Is Anxiety a Weakness?

All of my closest friends have been hospitalized. The mental and physical wear and tear of life affects us all, no one is exempt from struggle. The only thing that sets us apart is the way in which we struggle. For some people, that struggle is anxiety.

The friends I have seen fight their way through depression and anxiety are the strongest people I know. They have gone places mentally that those who haven’t struggled in that way will never know. If you’ve never had severe depression, you don’t know what it’s like wanting to die to end your pain. If you don’t have social anxiety, you don’t know the overwhelming fear involved in attending a simple gathering. If you have never had a panic attack, you don’t know the sheer embarrassment of losing complete and utter control of yourself. You don’t know the hurt, the pain, and the anguish of dealing with any such mental illness. And you don’t know the inner dialogue that takes place when you’re struggling to pull yourself out.

You’ll never know what it’s like.

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It’s not your journey, and our journey is not yours to judge. No we can’t just “snap out of it”. No we won’t just “get over it”. No we didn’t “ask for it”. There are a zillion factors (genetic, environmental, etc) at play here. If you know someone struggling with anxiety or depression, save your frustration. What that person needs is your patience, your support, and your unconditional love. Be there for them, even though:

You’ll never know what it’s like.

Anxiety and depression are not weaknesses. Overcoming those obstacles creates a stronger person. We’ve fought to be here – every inch, every step, every mile we’ve covered.

I have anxiety. There are so many times I was uttterly convinced that I was going to die. It’s beyond counting. I used to lay awake in bed at night worrying about what might happen to my family, drowning in irrational thoughts about losing them. I’ve had anxiety so bad I became agoraphobic; terrified of leaving my own house. I’ve been through depersonalization and derealization, at the same time, for hours. But I’m still here.

One thing is true: I’m better for what I’ve been through. It’s ignited a compassion and empathy in me I don’t know if I would have had otherwise. By overcoming by anxiety and not letting it control my life, I’ve proved that I am powerful. I used to be constantly paralyzed by fear; now I am (almost) fearless. Now I know that fear is not real. It exists only in my mind, if I allow it.

And you might never know what that’s like too, that sense of glorious accomplishment. I am still here in one piece despite everything.

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I’m not here to guilt anyone who hasn’t struggled with mental illness. What I want for people to understand is that it’s not okay to scoff, mock, or minimize the experience of those who do. Don’t judge something you simply don’t understand. Don’t say that it’s not real simply because it’s something you haven’t been through first hand. And don’t say anxiety is weakness, it has made me the remarkably strong and resilient woman I am today.

How to Create Your Dream Core

Defined abdominals aren’t for everyone, you either want them or you don’t. If you DO want them, this post is for you!

Creating a strong core was something I was initially drawn to in fitness – and initially I worked them out during almost every workout. Not only us a stable core important for fitness in general, but I love the way a strong core makes me feel. It took about a year to get where I wanted to be, but my hard work did pay off!

 Current ab situation, a little less lean than usual nut they’re under there!

Abs: The world doesn’t begin and end with them but damn, they are fun.

Here are a few tips to achieving a more defined core:

1. Reduce body fat. Yup. This is why they say “abs are made in the kitchen”. Because you can have great abs, but typically the ultimate goal is usually to have all that hard work become visible. Reducing body fat isn’t easy – it takes a lot of hard work, determination, and usually a lot of meal planning.

2. Be consistent. Whatever your goal is, you’ve got to consciously work on it. If you really want those abs, be consistent in setting time aside to work them out exclusively – at least 2-4 times per week. Also, when it comes to training don’t be afraid to mix it up! If you continue to do the same boring old ab routine, you will be way less inclined to keep up with it. Lastly, don’t forget to engage your core during the rest of your workout routine.

3. Slow movements. What this really comes down to is engaging your core. You want to do slow, controlled movements to get the most out of your workout. Personally, keeping this in mind was a game changer for me. I highly recommend slowing down and really contracting your ab muscles when working them out.

Try adding this quick ab workout onto the end of your routine: 

  • 15 sit-ups
  • 15 leg raises
  • 15 heel touches
  • 15 boat pose

Good luck on getting those abs girl, and all those other goals too.

Idolize Yourself

In the past couple of days I have been asked a few times: “who is your role model”?

The short answer is: I don’t really have one.

I used to idolize a few women in the fit community: Paige Hathaway, Dana Linn Bailey, Nikki Blackketter. Each one of those women is beautiful and strong. I spent so much time going through their photos thinking “I want to be like them” . But there is a reason that they say ‘comparison is the thief of joy’; the more you compare yourself to others, the less you focus on your own personal positive attributes. I mean, I spent months of looking at their pictures religiously and saying “someday that will be me”.

Now let me take a step back for a moment so I can explain better why and how this changed for me. Because truly, this is the actual picture that started me on my fitness journey:

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Beautiful mystery woman with amazing core

This is the first picture I looked at and said “this will be me!”. I remember it seeing it for the first time so well, as I was vegging out on the couch scrolling through Instagram. I was fed up with the way I looked and felt. I believe at that moment, I took the leap into fitness and never looked back. And I don’t regret that. But what I realize now is that I will never be this mystery woman. And I will never be Paige Hathaway, Dana Lynn Bailey, or Nikki Blacketter. We are different people with different lives and different bodies. We are different, right down to our genetics. When you set your sights on being just like someone else, you set yourself up for failure. In comparing my own photo to this one, it is clear that we have completely different bodies. Mystery woman has a tinier waist, and her abs are shaped differently than mine. Her hips are also wider than mine. Check it out:

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My fit body, looking nothing like the mystery woman’s

There is not a thing wrong with either of our bodies, we are simply built differently. My fitness looks nothing like her fitness. My best cannot be her best. After realizing this, I decided I would look up to myself. Not myself in the present; myself in the future. I close my eyes and envision the best possible version of myself. I tell myself “that’s the woman I wanna be”. It motivates every day. It’s also a much more positive and realistic way of looking at our bodies and ourselves.

I still look at pictures of other beautiful fit women and think how amazing their lats are, or how much I envy their quads, but I acknowledge that my progress at that point might look a little different, and I’m okay with that. I’m beautiful and I’m only getting better and better.

Tips for Staying Healthy on Vacation

Hey everyone!

I just had the pleasure of taking a trip to Mexico for my big sister’s wedding, which was absolutely phenomenal.

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Me, enjoying the last day on the beach!

Since hopping on the wellness train, I hadn’t yet taken a vacation like this. All-inclusive resorts are amazing, but they also create certain conditions in which it’s easy to let your healthy habits go right out the window! So in this post, I would like to share with you just a couple tips for keeping on track on your vacation. And I want you, the reader, to know that these tips will not get in the way of fun on your vacation! In fact, they are more likely to to actually enhance your resort vacation experience.

  1. I know you wanna look cute in your ‘kini, but I advise eating breakfast within half an hour of waking up on and off vacation. It is SO important to eat and keep your metabolism going! Don’t be relying on those sugary blended drinks to give you the energy you need to enjoy your vacay.
  2. Give yourself a sand scrub! Not only is it good for your skin, but it also allows you to take a moment to work on your self-care; that means doing something that is solely for you and your well-being. Truly, this is a practice that we should be integrating into our lives daily. But if it isn’t common practice for you yet, integrating this into your resort vacation experience is a great way to start!
  3. Give the resort gym a try. I know what you’re thinking! I thought I might struggle with this too, but was surprised when I didn’t. Around midday when I needed a break from the sun, I would wander into the gym for a super quick workout – I’m talking like 30-45 minutes only. I found the afternoon to be the best time because that’s when the facility was empty, so I could get through my workout quickly. Staying in this routine also helped me keep my morning drinks in check – because I was set on making it for my quick little workout I didn’t get carried away with the pina coladas too early in the day! Plus when I returned to the beach afterwards, I was happy, pumped, and feeling beautiful!
  4. Take a moment to breathe/spend some time alone. We were with a group of 25 people and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but taking a moment just to clear my mind really helped me center myself. This sounds so simple and silly, but being in the moment is definitely more difficult in practice!
  5. Go ahead and eat dessert. Bet you can’t believe I said it. You’re on vacation! You don’t have to demolish the whole dessert buffet, but if you do who cares. Treat yourself. Crazy restrictions will cause you to binge, and in the end will affect you worse than any treat you allow yourself here and there.

IMG_5618My typical breakfast on vacation; a veggie omelette under a mountain of guacamole and salsaIMG_5453

The best part about making my wellness a priority while on vacation was how good I felt waking up every morning. I also found I had a ton more energy than on previous resort vacations. This wellness journey is so much more about feeling good than looking good.

Happy vacationing my friends!

June 2015 Check-in

Hey Everyone!

It’s time for my very first mid-month check-in! Being that this is the first month, my check in is a little late. Future check-ins will be as close to the 15th as possible. Nevertheless, here it is!

IMG_4849 (2)Improvements: Obliques are looking solid, upper body is getting thicker.

Current Focus: On my legs, which have been very stubborn to grow! Focusing on quad growth and booty gains.

Eating: Following the 80/20 rule and taking the 20 part very seriously. Donuts are a part of my balanced lifestyle. Lack of proper prepping has lead me to drink one too many protein shakes, and actual food is always preferred. Will step up my snack game and include those in my next food prep!

Feeling like: I’m not at my leanest and meanest, but I feel good. I leave for a week vacation in Mexico tomorrow and although I love the idea of having ripped abs in my bathing suit, I also like the idea of maintaining the strength that I have. Food= growth, and growing is more important right now. I can say for sure that this is the happiest I have ever been with my body. But I also know what it’s capable of, and I can’t wait to take it further. I especially cannot wait to see leg comparison pics a couple of months down the road.