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.

August Fitness Update

It’s time for my favorite post of the month, my fitness update!

During my Strong to the Finish challenge, I got so used to doing fitness updates, so it is weird to be back to doing them only once a month! I really enjoy writing these posts because it gives me a chance to do some reflection and introspection on my own wellness journey.

So I guess the big question is: how have I been doing since the challenge? Really good, thanks for asking!

Since the challenge I’ve …

  • Maintained my weight loss
  • Cleaned up my diet for life
  • Gained a whole lot of confidence

 


I’ve never been so comfortable in my own skin!

I’m not going to say I wake up every day thinking I’m ‘one hundred’ because I’m vulnerable like the rest of you! I have tough body image days. But I’m much less hard on myself now. I love the body I’m in, and I appreciate how hard I’ve worked for it!

My plan moving forward is to spend time improving my strength, focusing on major lifts like squats, deadlifts, and bench.

I’ll basically be alternating between powerlifting and bodybuilding; I’m really looking forward to seeing just how much I can improve over the next 6 months!

 

Back Progress

So how do we maintain the progress that we’ve made? In my experience ya been this: Don’t just make it a habit, make it a lifestyle change. And as cliche as it sounds, it’s true. Embody the change. Don’t try, just do.
And lastly, be persistent. I’m over two years into my journey, and I’m no fitness model, but being in the gym week in and week out has brought me to where I am now, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me!

I believe in every single one of you.

Foolin’ around 🙂

 

Thanks for reading my fitness update! I’ll be posting these updates at the beginning of every month.

 

Until next time folks!

Strong to the Finish Challenge – Week 4

We finally hit the halfway point of the Strong to the Finish challenge!

After some slight apprehension, I started counting calories at the end of last week so I could better track my diet. Firstly I have to say, I have mad respect for people who continually count calories or macros as part of their lifestyle. It definitely takes a certain level of dedication, and I feel like I have really tuned up the approach to my diet using this tool. The first day I counted I realized that I had been taking in way more calories previously than I even guessed. I was eating clean I was just… Eating too much haha.

If I wanted to meet my goals, I needed to make a change. So I’ve been keeping to a certain amount of calories each day, and glad to say I am reaping the benefits after losing another couple of lbs last week. I am currently weighing in at 130, my goal now is to finish the challenge at 125.

That being said, in my own mind I am actually happy with my weight right now. I feel healthy and balanced, and if I didn’t lose another pound I would certainly be a bit confused but I wouldn’t be upset about it.

A pic where I’m not smiling?! Must have been an off moment!

 

3 weeks between pictures

I wish I was a little better at taking these comparison pics, but I can never seem to get the lighting the same! Something to work on. But I digress. Even through my stomach is the ‘last to lose’ on my body I can still see a great noticeable difference! You cant see too much from the shorts, but my legs are leaning out a lot too – probably the biggest difference I have noticed.

Regretfully I don’t have much in the way of food photos to share today! I had special training going on this week and was kind of off my kitchen game. But I do want to share with you guys this recipe I found and used last night for peanut sauce- seriously the best peanut sauce I’ve ever made! Check it out here on She Simmers. I also added a bit of miso paste, but if it’s not something you keep handy the sauce doesn’t really need it.

Time to start upping cardio even more. I don’t hate cardio, but I find it really difficult to do the same exercise for any more than 7 or 8 minutes so I’m guessing that will be a challenge for me!

Ahhh, I’m getting excited for what the next few weeks will bring!

Strong to the Finish Challenge – Week 1

Hello beautiful humans.

I’m here to recap the first week of my transformation challenge!

My “all business” face

I am almost astonished to say that this week, diet was easy. I enjoy healthy nutritionally dense food, so most of it has been a walk in the park. That being said, I haven’t gone “all out” on the dieting yet. I’m eating clean, but I haven’t completely cut out all carbs. I’m not counting calories. I’m focusing on eating my meat and my veggies, and I’m feeling good.

In this way I have noticed that my approach is really different from my other coworkers who are also doing this challenge alongside me. Their approach to diet seems to be more intense. But you know what? Different things work for different people. I think if I completely restrict myself this soon into the challenge I will drive myself bananas and end up on a binge! So I’m happy with my approach and as the challenge continues forward I will adjust my diet accordingly.

Chicken and veggies on spaghetti squash

 

Strawberry, banana, and caocao smoothie

I’ve gotta be honest, workouts have been a tough one for me this week. My gym has gotten increasingly busy over the last few months, and it does cause me a little bit of anxiety when I walk in with a plan and I have to do all sorts of maneuvering and adjusting!

I imagined the first week in I would be a lot more “fired up”, but for some reason I was really missing that this week. Maybe it’s just the business of life spilling over into places it has no business being. I would hate to look back and think I let anything distract me from or during my workouts.

I am a solution-oriented person so as soon as I figure out the problem ( which is typically what takes me the longest ) I decide how to tackle it. I think in this case the answer is simply to be creative. Busy gym? Take the workout outside. Busy and stressed? Switch it up and do some hot yoga. Bored with the same old stuff? Incorporate some lifting moved I haven’t done in a while.

I snapped a quick pick this morning post-breakfast:


I am still a bit bloated from last night, but all in all this is a pretty accurate representation of my core currently. Knowing I am no where near where I want to be is really motivating me today.

It’s time to step things up a notch you guys!

Diary of the Best Friend of an Alcoholic

It’s so much easier to write about what you know.

That’s why this blog isn’t about knitting, or beauty, or scrapbooking.

That’s why this blog is about struggle. That’s why this blog is about overcoming.

These are the things that I know. Not just in myself, but the people who surround me.

Now I understand why they say “like attracts like”. I know a lot of people who are engaged in mental struggles. This is no coincidence. I know my energy has brought those people to me. Like most people, I find that these friends and acquaintances seem to come and go with time, but a small circle of ‘strugglers’ around me always remains. None the less, I am blessed by their presence. They show me what it means to be truly strong.

Amidst the transients, one person always remains.

She has anxiety, and depression, and she’s an alcoholic.

She’s also my best friend.

From the outside, we might look like opposites. I am the routine-loving, health conscious, gym-going, middle class almost-27-year-old.

She is in and out of recovery.

They are two different worlds. Worlds that seem to collide. And when they collide: sometimes they mesh, sometimes they explode.

I want to share with you guys about my best friend, because she is what I know.

If you’ve never met an alcoholic, you might be so inclined to first picture in your mind an older man, bearded, worn, leathery skin, homeless, sad eyes.

My best friend couldn’t be further from that. She is the epitome of energy. When I show up at a gathering, people always ask me, “is she coming?”. They anticipate her arrival like a beautiful spring after a long winter.

She is also highly intelligent. Existential and philosophical conversations are a breeze for her. She is boundless potential. She is smart energy. She is so freaking beautiful.

She is also very sensitive. This has manifested itself into making her somewhat of a people-pleaser. She want’s everyone to be happy. If I asked her to, she would drink lava. She would do it just because I asked, and she wouldn’t flinch question or hesitate she would just do it, sometimes to the point where it’s annoying, it annoys me even when she puts me before herself.

Because I know what her priority should be.

My best friend’s life is a minefield. I never know if the next step she takes is going to be a good effort forward, or blow her leg off. I don’t think she knows either.

She’s had anxiety since she was five.

She used to being afraid and has worried about her future ever since.

I don’t struggle with alcohol addiction but I know all about it. I’ve seen the highs and the lows. I know the process isn’t an easy or a straight road. I know that it’s hard for non-addicts to remain sober, so I can’t imagine what it’s like for her.

I have often described myself as “ever the optimist”. This is a gift that my best friend has given me. I’ve progressed to a place where I couldn’t go on always assuming the worst with her (of course, I have my moments). I choose to believe. In my heart I think she will overcome this. Years down the road, I see her helping people just like her younger self. I see her strength, intelligence, and tenacity being put to good use in the community. I look forward to watching her grow.

I could focus on the bad. I could maintain my attention on all the horrible shit we’ve been through. I choose not to,

because she chooses not to.

Her soul is resilient. She takes every down in life in delicate stride. She’s taught me so much.

In the most insane way I can explain, I am grateful for her struggle. It set me on the path on which I embark upon today.

If you ever wonder why I chose this life, it’s because she chose me.

 

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!

Where are all the Gym Resolutioners?

Hey everyone!

So there I am in my room the other night, readying myself for bed, when my boyfriend turns to me and notes that he hasn’t seen the typical influx of “gym resolutioners” this year. This observation struck me. When I thought about it, I realized that he was right; the gym didn’t seem to me to be any more busy than usual. I haven’t noticed any new faces.

Hmmmm. Where is everyone?

I was looking forward to seeing all of the new people pursuing their fitness goals this year!

We are about three weeks into 2016 and for most of us, motivation to make this the best year yet is still high.

So what do you guys think? Are newbies discouraged from joining a gym because it can be intimidating? Are they finding other avenues to pursue their fitness goals (yoga, Zumba, ballet barre classes)? Or is fitness just not on people’s radar this year?

Let’s talk about it!

Comment below and let me know what you think!

Advocate for Yourself

Being an anxious person with any kind of actual physical health issue comes with it’s own special set of challenges.

It could perhaps mean you are going to engage in circular cause and effect arguments with yourself trying to figure out your symptoms. It could mean googling your symptoms until you convince yourself you are probably going to die. It could mean making your illness worse by having your stress levels burst through the roof.

Or it could mean not getting the help that you actually need.

In the last ten years, whenever I have paid a visit to the doctor, I have felt dismissed. I’m guessing that somewhere on my chart there is a little note that reads “anxious person”. I am also very forthcoming about my anxiety; if the doctor asks me if I’m anxious I’m going to say yes.

Usually it’s at that moment, I look at the doctors face, and I can see that he or she has stopped listening to me. They already know the answer. Whatever I am dealing with can be easily explained (or if you ask me, dismissed) as anxiety.

I get that anxiety can manifest itself in physical ways. And I’m positive that people with anxiety sometimes seek out medical help for these issues.

But wait…

Don’t anxious people deal with legitimate health issues too, just like everyone else? (rhetorical question).

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been through this.

All we want, all we really want, is five minutes of the doctor’s time in which we are actually heard and listened to. And you know what? If by the end of that you still think it’s anxiety related, I personally will accept your opinion.

But when you stop listening (and stop caring) as soon as the word “anxiety” comes up, I don’t know how else to feel but angry, disappointed, and unheard.

In this case you have to advocate for yourself. If you feel, like me, that you aren’t being listened to, then you need to do something about it. Don’t give up. Don’t let that be the end-all be-all. Find another doctor, find another way. See a chiropractor, dietitian, naturopath, do whatever you have to do to figure it out. You deserve a healthy body operating at full capacity.

Don’t give up on your health! Advocate for yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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! :

IMG_9951 (2)

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) ?

What I Lost to Fitness

When it comes to what I’ve lost to fitness, it’s not so black and white. You see, I’ve lost good things, and I’ve lost bad things. It’s just change. It’s just life. It’s a part of my journey that I want to share with you.

This is what I lost to fitness.

I lost that “not caring” mentality.

I do care. I care so much. About how every hour of my day is spent. The #fitlife has inspired a passion in me that never lets me go. And I mean that. I care what I put in my body. I care if I have a good workout. I care if I’m making a step in the right direction. I remember not caring; I remember floating around aimlessly in the Universe under a cloud of beautiful, light, blissful ignorance. I remember when the thought of “what should my workout be today” never crossed my mind. Fitness changed me, I lost my apathy. I realized I cared, and I want to win the challenge of me vs. me.

I lost my old body.

I had to say goodbye to the girl whose outside didn’t match the inside. I was never athletic my entire life. But inside I always felt strong. I had to say goodbye to the body I knew, to realize the body that was becoming. I lost the body I was estranged from. I traded it for one I’m so close with, we’re like best friends. I have a better connection with my body than ever before, and I’m so thankful for that.

I lost my connection.

I feel like I got along better with people when my values weren’t so different from the rest of my family and friends. Sometimes I feel like when I talk to people that they think I’m some crazy banana hippie who doesn’t believe in modern medicine and wants to cure the world with epsom salts. Of course, my healthy lifestyle is really not that extreme. I just know what I like. I love holistic health, fitness, and being productive. When I changed, the way I connected with people changed. And in some cases, the connection just got lost.

I lost my friends.

It’s so hard to say, or rather to admit. Is it because they don’t feel like they have anything in common with me anymore? But I’m the same person I always was, only with a few new interests. I’ve found happiness, and I have joy to give. I want to share and give all that joy away, but there’s few to share it with. Maybe people feel like they can’t talk open up to me, because on social media I seem like I “have it all together”. Who really does though? We’re all human.

I need to say this: being into fitness isn’t a prerequisite to be my friend. I’m like an onion, I have layers. I have other interests: cooking, horror movies, true crime, minimalism, and more. As ludicrous as this sounds to even read as I type it, I know this to be true: I lost friends to fitness and this is a sorry thing.

I lost my fear and inhibition.

I used to struggle with my anxiety every day. I used to drink to numb the pain of being extremely depressed. I used to get through every day just praying that the next one would be better, desperate to pull through. It wasn’t easy. It took me one year to completely turn my life around. I started to believe that wild things were possible for me.I proved to myself that I am a strong woman. I’m a woman who can do anything she sets her mind to. Now I have the life I only dreamed of when I would lay awake in my bed at night wishing for something better.

I lost being lost.

I found myself in the gym. It’s both cheesy and it’s true. In fitness, I found a safe space in which to challenge myself, to overcome, to dedicate all my hard work and focus. I welcomed the challenge of growing both physically and mentally. I found the person I was always supposed to be.


Have you gone through a transformation that changed you? What did you lose?