Beginnings, emotions, mental health

everything ok?

Peonies in my neighborhood…so gorgeous.

Hello, friends! Did everyone have a good weekend? I certainly did. I didn’t do anything special. It was just relaxing. Who all watched the Game of Thrones finale? I might be the lone ranger in this opinion, but I liked it. I went into this last season with no preconceived ideas on how I wanted it to end. There are so many characters, so many story lines, so many subplots that have been built over the course of 10 years that it was a near impossible task to tie them all up to EVERYONE’S satisfaction. I think it ended beautifully. Even the violence in the end was graceful. (No spoilers.)

ANYWAY. Moving on.

I heard a quote this weekend that I’ve been mulling over. Here is is:

The disease to please is a form of addiction.

Any folks out there struggle with the need for approval? People pleasers? Worry constantly about what people think? Just me?

For me, I don’t need constant pats on the head, or constant words telling me (like a dog) “Sarah, you’re such a good girl! Such a good job!” My anxiety and stress comes from the constant worry of making sure everyone is ok with me. I hate telling people “no”, and worry when I do that I’ve immediately made that person upset at me. I’m forever giving up whatever I do want to do, for fear of hurting someones feelings or disappointing them. I’m positive every person who has ever texted me (about anything) has also received a text from me that says, “Everything ok?” And I usually send that solely because I hadn’t heard from them in a while and I’m worried some action I’ve done has made them upset at me.

I. WORRY. ALL. THE. TIME.

So, in this way, that quote is very accurate for me. I can’t stop.

But I need to.

It’s a hard pill to swallow thinking that there will be some people that will be disappointed in some of the decisions I make, or words that I say. But here’s the deal: do I expect this same level of care from everyone in my life? NOPE. Not even close. Things are said to me all the time, off the cuff, that hurt my feelings or make me feel little. But then I get over it and move on. People tell me no, why can’t I do the same? Why am I holding myself to such an unreachable standard?

Of all the things I’m trying to correct in my life, I need to make this a focus. It feels like I have so many irons in the fire to help my anxiety, but if I keep living and curating my actions based on the perception of others feelings, I’m never truly going to heal. This is a tough one for me.

TODAY I LOVE: the smell of peonies
SONG OF THE DAY: “Breathe Again” by Sleeping at Last (cover)

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emotions, health, mental health

a weighty perspective

I think if I tried to summarize this blog 5 words it would probably be “Sarah Struggles to Lose Weight.” I’m frankly kind of embarrassed that is what the sum of my thoughts have centered upon. It’s pretty boring too.

Anywho, in light of my recent attempts to shed some of the mental and emotional weight of STRESS AND ANXIETY, I’m making some more changes. This time in regards to how I’m facing my body image and what I’m going to do about it.

I’m not going to blather on about how I see or feel about myself, I mean, if you’ve read this blog for any length of time you know homegirl has issues. As I said in my post earlier, if I can get some other things in my life in alignment, some of the other pieces will just naturally fall into place.

I’m going to admit something publicly to you all that I’ve only recently been admitting to myself. I have become obsessive about the number and the scale and the calories and everyone’s perception of me. And not obsessive in a good way. I’ve been weighing every day to track trends and it just brings me down first thing in the morning. I follow my macros/calories 85% of the time, and that other 15%…I don’t (not intentionally). And those 15% I make myself pay – mentally. I lay in bed after the day is over and beat myself to a pulp over the mistakes I made. It takes all the enjoyment out of what might have been a lovely dinner with my friend. I have single-handedly taken all the joy out of food. I love to bake and I haven’t in ages because WHAT IF I EAT IT AND IT HAS REAL SUGAR AND BUTTER AND CALORIES OH MY. That is no way to live. Not everything in life should be all about the calories and nothing else.

So what am I doing about it? For starters, I’ve taken all the pressure off. Over and over and over again, every single day, I’ve started telling myself that I’m an awesome and lovely human being. And if someone can’t see me for that rather than what I [think] I look like, well bully on them. I’m ok. And I’m great whatever size I am. Do I want to look and feel better? Sure, but it’ll happen. It’s not going to happen as I’ve been going though.

Second, I’ve stopped weighing every day. The last few weeks I’ve done it every few days or so, or honestly when I feel pretty good. While I still care about the number, I’m working harder to just go by feel.

Lastly, the “extras.” You can bet your booty I’ve had things outside of my plan in the 3-weeks that I’ve actively tried to change. The difference is in how I’m treating it. It’s a CONSCIOUS decision, not an impulse on emotions. I’m also letting myself enjoy it.

It’s probably a good thing that I’m the only person that lives in my mind. Because if anyone knew just how much self-talk behavior modification I’m doing, you’d think I was nuts. But it is working. It’s so, so very hard. But it is working.

If any of you are in the same place that I am…hang in there. And let’s chat. Let me tell you that you’re awesome and a lovely human being. And you are WORTHY of joy.

TODAY I LOVE: a brand new blank Moleskine journal…oh the possibilities!
SONG OF THE DAY: “O” by Coldplay

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Beginnings, emotions, Fitness, goals, health, mental health

but then I stopped.

OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN, Physical video, circa 1981-82

I’m writing this during the day. ON MY LUNCH BREAK. Yeah, I still can’t get over that. 🙂

So this morning I did something that I wanted to write about. You want to know what it was? I didn’t go to the gym and I didn’t feel guilty about it.

At first glance that sentence probably doesn’t mean very much to you. So what? I didn’t go to the gym. I don’t go to the gym several days a week (rest days.) It is the second part of that sentence that makes me smile. I have all the excuses for wanting to sleep: it took me a little while to fall asleep last night, the cat woke me up sometime in the middle of the night yowling as he was chasing a bug (I had to get up and make sure George wasn’t dying or anything), there was a thunderstorm early this morning and it was lovely to sleep to…and when my weekly alarm went off at 4:30am I was sleeping so good that I just turned it right off and went back to sleep. Again, it’s the part AFTER I’m most proud of.

Usually when I make the decision to sleep in and miss a workout, it’s almost a moot point. I will lay there and beat myself up for giving in, for being weak, telling myself that this is why I’m fat, etc. I have very, very ugly self-talk early in the morning. And then I don’t end up benefiting from the extra sleep because I’m so mad at myself! And I didn’t do that today.

Don’t get me wrong, old habits are very hard to break. I started to let it all wash over me. I started thinking about my friends seeing my LACK of Apple Watch activity and thinking me lazy and fat, I thought “Sarah, this is only slowing your goals,” I thought the gym regulars and my workout partner would think me wishy-washy and uncommitted, I thought myself ugly. BUT THEN I STOPPED. I really can’t tell you how hard this was to do, but I did it. I stopped all the thoughts and I redirected them. And I went back to sleep.

Maybe I’m finally putting some parts and pieces of my old Psychology degree in place, and maybe I’m recalling some old tools from counseling I’ve had, but it is slowly working.

Do I still have those ugly thoughts? Yep. They’ve tried to creep up on my several times this morning. And I have to actively and forcibly stop them. After sitting here and unpacking it all (after I journaled it), I’m realizing that I have a lot of internal things to work out, but I also seem to have a big hangup of others judgement of me. And it’s not by their doing – it’s my own mind. I need to think some more on how to help me change that setting within myself. I shouldn’t be having these thoughts to begin with, much less fighting them 24/7. Baby steps.

In the end, that extra sleep was ah-mazing. It was well worth it. It makes me no less of a person because I didn’t get up and go to the gym this morning.

TODAY I LOVE: sleeping during a thunderstorm
SONG OF THE DAY: “The Place Where Lost Things Go” by Emily Blunt (from Mary Poppins Returns)

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Beginnings, emotions, health, mental health

Soft.

It’s been a week since I admitted to you all that I’m struggling with stress and anxiety. Truth be told, I’ve been struggling for a while but it’s just gotten to the point that I didn’t feel I could handle it without help. So I’ve made changes.

I’ve tried several changes in lifestyle this week. Here’s what I’ve done that has worked (so far):

  • Taken a break a work; at lunch. The weather has been super crummy, so I haven’t been able to leave the building, but I’ve intentionally locked my computer, silenced all notifications, and read. I’ve been able to lose myself in a book for at least 30 minutes everyday. It has been so nice!
  • Started having a glass of Nuun Rest before bed. I’ve had 4 nights in a row of great sleep. Only one night have I woken up at my trademark 1:30am and started thinking about work, and I consciously changed my thoughts, focused on some old meditation/relaxation tricks from therapy, and I went back to sleep.
  • Started taking Super You vitamins from Moon Juice. I didn’t get them until Thursday, so it’s only been a few days. It might be all in my head, but I do think they are helping me focus and not overreact at things. I’ll be keeping those up for sure.
  • I intentionally do not talk about my faith here. After my divorce I was very ashamed and I kinda left church or a bit. Looking back I don’t think it was a conscious decision, but it happened. I’ve been to a new church these last two weeks and I can’t explain the joy it brings me. I’m already looking into a life group; to bring more people into my circle. We aren’t meant to do life in solitude.
  • I’ve forcefully (and sometimes audibly) stopped all thoughts of negativity about my weight and body image. I’ve stayed within my macro limits this week and I’ve gotten over every ugly thought (again, sometimes forcefully). Eventually, if I keep training my thoughts, the ugly thoughts won’t come so much.

What hasn’t worked:

  • I answered a few emails the weekend and I said I wasn’t going to. Grrr.
  • I’ve continued to be negative and a bit closed off at work.

Three times this week I’ve been talking to people and I’ve said something that I want to remember for later. I’ve openly admitted my struggles, and I’ve said that I’m trying to become soft. After I said it the second time I caught myself and then packed it away to examine later. I had become a very hard woman. I’d become jaded and abrupt. I didn’t want to listen to anyone about anything. And I need to become soft. I need to be a sponge. If I’m letting people and words and love wash off me like water off a rock, I’m never going to be better. I need to soak it in. What if what I’m repelling is what I need? What if it’s the cure? While I understand in our culture today it is seen as….wrong…for a woman to be soft. Man or woman…are we sure that’s a good thing? Being hard all the time?

My goal this week, and for the next several weeks, is to continue to be open to change. To be soft. To expand.

Do you need to be soft too?

TODAY I LOVE: the color green…it’s everywhere right now
SONG OF THE DAY: “Love Me Anyway” by P!nk

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emotions, goals, health, mental health

not today

Did everyone watch Game of Thrones on Sunday? One thing I love/hate about social media is that you either love something so much you talk incessantly about it (like me and GoT) or you hate it and you rail on everyone who DOES like it (and you tell everyone about it.) Anyway, I digress, GAME OF THRONES! Man, what an episode. I’m not going to give anything away or really even talk about it. There is one quote/saying that has been around since season 1, and it plays a heavy part in this most recent episode. The quote is this:

“There is only one god, and his name is Death, and there is only one thing we say to Death. Not today.”

Syrio Forel, Game of Thrones

There are about 8 million memes going around with some version of “Not today.” I stole the idea of taping the message to my computer from my twitter friend Amanda (@adocmartin). I’m putting this in front of my face everyday to say “not today” to extra anxiety and stress. It’s my reminder of change and what HAS to change.

I’m trying hard to focus this week on changing my work habits to get a better work/life balance and leave as much of my stress/anxiety in the office as I can. Here are some ideas I’m trying this week:

  • Leaving my desk for lunch. I can’t honestly remember the last time I actually took a lunch. I usually just work right through it. I’m going to attempt to force that break in my day.
  • Ignoring non-important email after I leave and on the weekends. Despite how I’ve trained myself, some things are not essential and can wait. I don’t need to be tied 100% of the time to my email.
  • Planning my agenda for the day first thing when I arrive; the tasks that I desire to accomplish. Even though things change and events happen, I’ll still get things done. This is a change in thinking of just one day chunks of time rather than weeks.

What things do you do to alleviate stress at work?

What do we say to the fire-breathing dragon of stress and anxiety? Not today.

TODAY I LOVE: palomino blackwing pencils
SONG OF THE DAY: “Slow Burn” by Kacey Musgraves

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emotions, health

we aren’t promised happiness

I listened to a podcast the other day. It was very interesting and to be honest I’ll probably need to listen to it again as it has me struggling on a few points. The one thing that stuck with me, that I just can’t let go because of the truth of it, is the statement that there is nothing anywhere written that we deserve or are promised happiness. That sounds like a really bleak statement but we say the reverse all the time: you deserve to be happy. But why?

Confession time. Its taken me a long time to want to admit this, or to even admit it to myself. I’m fairly certain I’m fighting a nasty battle of anxiety and depression. It just might be at the point that I can’t manage it by myself. I don’t sleep well. I wake up tired. I’m tired all the time. I fight headaches every day. I get deep-tissue massages every two weeks and we still can’t get the stress knots out of my back/neck. I emotional eat and can’t lose weight. I worry over everything and nothing all at the same time. I’ve isolated myself to a very small group of people. I’m not finding joy in any of my hobbies.

Something has to change.

After reading that paragraph you’d think that the podcast I mentioned would have pushed me further down in the valley. Right? Instead it had the opposite effect. It made me stop. It made me pray. And it made me keep listening to the rest of the message. While we aren’t promised a happy life, it can be made better if you live for what matters. You can’t just keep throwing things at yourself to fill a void. No amount of money or things or travel or people are going to fill a hole. I need to work on finding what matters to me and the rest will sort itself out. Where am I investing…me?

For starters, I ordered some new supplements this weekend that are a more homeopathic route to relieving stress and anxiety. I’m going to try this first. See if it helps me take the edge off as I start climbing out.

Second, I went to a new church this week. I haven’t had a true church home since my divorce and I miss that in my life. I cried my way through the songs this morning. It was what I needed.

Third, I’m going to intentionally take the pressure off myself to lose weight. That is a stress I can choose to leave behind. It will happen when it happens. And deep down I know that if I get healthy, it will all fall into place. I have no time-table and I need to stop acting like it.

Fourth, I’m going to try harder to leave work at work. I don’t let things go and I bring it all home with me. That has to stop. I’m still trying to figure out how to implement this one. If you have any pointers I’m very open to it.

Lastly, I’m going to write more. Here. Not just privately. It’s not that I have anything monumental to say, I just know for me that sometimes getting it out there and being held accountable for it, well, it helps.

Thanks for listening and for hanging with me on this journey. 🙂

TODAY I LOVE: freshly mowed grass
SONG OF THE DAY: “Say Something” by Jasmine Thompson

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Fitness, health

Black coffee and honesty

acs_0254-1One of my compromises with myself when I started this blog (in deference to my last one) was to be completely honest. You get the good and the bad, the ups and downs, the wins and the losses. Why be fake? Why try to trick everyone into believing that life is rosy all the time and every single goal I set, I reach?

Somewhere out there (if you don’t have this song in your head right now I don’t know you at all)…anyway, somewhere out there I’ve lost my focus and drive. For some reason the journey seems a lot more difficult this time around. And yes, I’m talking about weight loss. I think I’m always talking about weight loss. When you’re uncomfortable in your own skin (and your own jeans) it is always what you’re thinking about.

I keep finding excuses!

  • I’ve had a rough week, I deserve this treat.
  • PMS…give me all the things I’m craving.
  • Whew…I’ve got meetings all week. They’ll feed me. I don’t need to count.
  • I’m cold and I don’t feel that great. I should just eat what will make me happy.
  • I’m going home and nobody cooks like my mom and grandma. I don’t get home that much, I should enjoy it.

Anyone ever say some variation of those? I usually have really great discipline and can bypass all that stuff. Not this last month. Frankly, I’m scared to get on the scale for what it is going to tell me. I know I haven’t lost but I’m terrified to see if or how much I’ve gained. I’m failing at all my self-talk. I’m failing at saying NO.

I’m failing. And I want to leave it at that. Throw a fit. Say that I just can’t do it; the plan doesn’t work for me. I want to tell everyone how hard it is to be me. But guess what? That doesn’t help me either, it just makes me fail…more.

So I’m not going to do that. Because deep down I know these things:

  • I’m not failing at everything. Those are just lies that we tell ourselves.
  • If I fix my self-talk and start thinking about things on a decision-by-decision basis, I can choose to say no and make better choices. I can make choices that aren’t based on hormones, emotions, and circumstances.
  • I’m not failing at workouts (for the most part – I’ve had to miss a few.) I’m pushing myself and not giving in. I like getting stronger and seeing what new things my body can do.
  • It is going to be hard. It just is. I’m not in my 20’s anymore and things are just HARD. Recognize the challenge, say “game on”, and do it. Just do it.
  • Again – don’t look at weeks at a time. One decision, one good choice, one moment.
  • Plan better.

This post was for me. It was public self-talk and public accountability. We don’t always win. It’s so easy to fall down the social media rabbit hole of how all things are perfect. They aren’t. There is no quick fix. It isn’t easy. I haven’t won; I’ve lost this round. I let myself lose this round.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t win the next one.

New moment. New day. New week. New month. As the character President Jed Bartlet says in one of my favorite shows, “What’s next?”

TODAY I LOVE: finally finishing the “Downton Abby” series on BBC

SONG OF THE DAY: “Forever” by Mumford & Sons

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