Some day, I just want to be happy… (Warning: some spicy language)

I know that my last post was all about physical wellness and weight loss. I apologize if you may have been hoping for part 2 to be the next post and are finding that you are disappointed in a mental health post showing up instead. Being that I am supposed to be covering health, as a whole, mental health plays a HUGE role in an overall feeling of wellness.

As I have told everyone before, I write mostly from a place of experience. I write about what I’ve done, where I’ve been, how I started, and the result of that journey. This post is no different.

I am struggling. And that’s ok.

I, like plenty of others, am fighting with more emotions than I know how to handle. I am angry and sad and hurt and feel like I am going nowhere and haven’t accomplished much in my 34 years of life. I feel disappointed in myself and that makes me angry. I feel weak because I’m disappointed and angry with myself and that makes me sad. I think you can see where I’m going here. It’s like a huge horrible circle that works its way into self-loathing. I know it isn’t healthy. I’ve been here before. I know how hard it is to turn it around. That’s why I also know that I needed to reach out and ask for help.

I was scanning through my Twitter feed yesterday and one of the fitness bloggers that I LOVE posted a lead in to a link to read what I’m sure is a WONDERFUL article. I didn’t even click the link because the lead in triggered me to answer immediately and out loud with a response that stopped me cold.

The tweet: “What do YOU want to be when you grow up?” My response: “One day, I just want to be happy.”

I felt like I had just slapped the shit out of myself. 

I know that I hadn’t been super happy lately. I know that I’ve been grieving and that my entire life has kind of felt like a series of pointless actions over the last few months. But that response? TOTALLY unexpected. I have moments throughout the day where I’m laughing, something makes me smile, or I enjoy what’s happening at that moment, but I am not really happy. The crap reality is that I’m pretty miserable right now. It’s grief, and depression, and bipolar disorder. But it’s also not having any sense of self. It’s not knowing what I want or need. It’s not knowing who I am or where I’m going. But it’s just temporary. 

I started counseling last week. Again. This time I am aware that it is going to be an extremely long road. A lot of it is going to SUCK GIANT BALLS. It’s going to be really hard work and it’s going to HURT LIKE A MOFO. I also know that it is going to be totally worth it, because I am. Because my family is. Because I am no good to anyone as a mother, daughter, friend, lover, or an advocate, if I feel like I’m no good for myself. There will be better days. And I’m sure there will be worse. I just have to keep saying OUT LOUD to myself that it’s all just temporary. I may not be ok right now, but one day I will be. We all will be. We just have to ask for help and work REAL DAMN HARD to get there. I know all about hard work. Physical and academic. This is a bit different because it’s emotional, but hell. I have kids. I gotta be able to handle something this simple, right? We’ll see. 

First step has been taken. I’ve been given an assignment by my counselor to make lists. HOT DAMN! I love lists. These are a bit harder than the lists I usually make. I have to make lists of things I want and things I need. That’s just the start. That (without being instructed to do so) usually evolve into even more lists like what my strengths are and what I need to work on. I also have quite a talent for getting way off track, because I am making lists, to start making lists of stuff I need to do around the house or stuff I want to look into or books I want to read. Yeah, it’s a bit LOOK A SQUIRREL, but at least I know that part of me, right?!?! It’s a start.

Essentially I m sharing all of this with all of you with the hope that it reaches someone else that may be struggling. It doesn’t matter what you’re struggling with, because it’s still struggling. Sometimes it can feel like you are suffocating, but I want every one to know that there are people out there that will grab your hand and walk you through the darkest moments of your life. Even strangers. You are NEVER alone and you are always worth more than you give yourself credit for. You just have to take that first step and just say to someone that you are not ok and then realize that it’s just temporary. Hell, if you don’t have anyone that you’re comfortable with enough to tell them, tell me. There is no judgment here. I’m too busy judging myself, but I will listen and I will help where I can. 

My sociology professor told my entire class at the end of class every day, for the entire semester, that happiness is a skill and like any skill needs to be worked at. Everyone deserves to be happy, but you have to work for it. I’m willing to work as hard as it takes, because some day… I JUST WANT TO BE HAPPY.

Truly.

Inexplicably.

Enviably happy.

Until next time, I wish you all health, happiness, and a beautiful day.

The first part is the hardest. Part 1

Well, everyone… Summer is here. (Well, in Florida it has been for over a month.) It’s warm out (or getting there) and I’m sure that everyone is getting assaulted by all of the “GET YOUR BODY BIKINI READY” and “LAST MINUTE BEACH BODY WORKOUTS” emails, print, television, radio, and social media advertisements and articles. I’m sure some of them motivate a few of you, but I am also pretty sure that there are at least a few people out there that are as sick of the hype as I am.

Here’s my suggestion for those that have any desire to lose weight, get more in shape, or just do something a little healthier for their body and soul: IGNORE THE NOISE AND DON’T FALL INTO THE TRAP! Don’t do it because of an advertisement or because someone else wants you to. Do it for YOU!

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I am not a fitness expert, a personal trainer, a nutritionist, or a health nut. I am sure as HELL NOT a motivational speaker. I’m not one of those people that is all *in my best valley girl high pitched voice* perky and super dee duper excited to get on that cardio! (ok, end obnoxious voices) What I am is a woman with experience in losing weight and changing my eating habits on my own, without investing an obnoxious amount of money and without following any trend or fad diet. Well, honestly, I didn’t truly “diet” at all.

“What kind of experience could you possibly have?” you might be asking. It’s ok to judge me based solely on the photos you’ve seen on this site (from behind your computer only, please) or from what little you may have read, so far. I’m not being a self-centered conceited douche when I tell you that I busted my ass for a little under a year to get out of my size 22, almost 24 jeans and into my current size 9/10. It’s possible. It’s SO F^(<!NG HARD AS H{!!, but it is SO POSSIBLE!

Image     Before: around 270-275 lbs Late 2010                                        Image  After losing about 120 pounds, April 2012

 

At my heaviest (my starting point) I weighed 272 pounds and I’m only 5 foot 5-6 inches tall (depending on which 7-11 I’m walking out of). I found out at my Dr’s office after looking at the number on the scale for the first time since I was 15. I started standing on the scale backwards in high school when we were weighing in for swimming, because the number that I saw wasn’t the number that society had told me was acceptable. Let’s just ignore the fact that, at 5’3″ and 145 lbs, I was pretty much solid muscle and that without forcibly flexing, you could see every muscle in my back, shoulders, and legs. I didn’t fit the ideal. I didn’t have that coveted thigh gap. I stopped looking at the number because I started to focus on it more than on health and the fact that I had an extremely athletic build and came from 2 parents with athletic builds and larger than average muscles. But that 272 that popped up, combined with the emotional stress and panic I was dealing with after my father’s cancer diagnosis, full time school, full time work, moving, kids, etc., all culminated in a fight or flight feeling.

I had lost control. Of everything. Of my entire life. Granted my control over any of this was pretty much all in my head and the only thing any of us truly have control over is our own behavior, but I felt that chaotic spiral beginning and I felt like the ground was disappearing out form under me. I honestly felt like I was losing my mind. Having struggled with depression and bipolar disorder for a number of years, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to hang on much longer if I didn’t find something that I could control. I was scared, angry, heart broken, anxious, but determined not to break. Or at least not to show anyone else that I was so close to it. I had kids and family that relied on me. Losing my shit (excuse my language) was NOT AN OPTION! I needed to get some of the anxiety and anger out, at least. The only way that I have been able to do that most of my life was to exert myself physically and/or break things. (Dear GODS, I lLOVE to break things. It’s cathartic.) So, I started with busting my butt to clean up the yard at home. Hours of hardcore raking, digging, bagging, cutting, chopping, planting, and SWEATING. Days and DAYS of being so sore that I could barely move, but hoping that it wasn’t “injury sore” and ending every night smelling pretty close to what I would think a 3 day old corpse would smell like. (You’re welcome)

I struggled every day, at first, just to get out to get started. I have always been VERY self conscious and never liked, let alone loved, my body, my weight, or my shape. I still struggle with most of these things, but I know that the hardest part was and still is just getting off my ass and doing it. It’s that first step. It was back then and it still is, many days. Especially when it’s “Satan’s testicles” hot outside. But I knew that all of this would not only save my sanity, and essentially that of my friends and family that had to deal with me, but it would also help me get out of that morbid obesity category.

Once the yard was done, I decided that I was going to just start going for a walk to get away from the house and give me a chance to just exist without having to do something. Walking was NOT something that I looked forward to doing. I’ve never been a fan of the idea of walking or running, or pretty much any outdoor exercise that wasn’t in a pool. If I was working out, I wanted to do so in the a/c when it’s hot. If it’s cool outside, then I’ll bite the bullet and do it, but I most certainly am NOT a fan of being in the heat. (Yes, I’m a Florida native and YES I have hated it most of my life.) I was going to do something, though. I was nervous, but I was going to do it.

3 rules

Here’s the key: you make a decision to JUST START. Don’t set a goal just yet, realistic or not. Just get up and do SOMETHING. It’s gonna be hard for the first few days, maybe couple of weeks, but JUST KEEP DOING IT. IT WILL PAY OFF and you will feel it before you see it. I know we all want that instant gratification and want to see proof and results of how hard these first steps are, but you won’t. Not right away. But it sure won’t take long.

After about 2 weeks of just walking, speeding up a little at a time and increasing my distance by a little each day, I started feeling different. I wasn’t feeling like a super model, wasn’t planning to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro, wasn’t thinking of putting on tiny clothes and marching down the beach, but I noticed that I was breathing a little easier. I wasn’t feeling as depressed or crazy. I moved a little more comfortably in my clothing. And HEY! There’s a little bit of room in my jeans, all of a sudden. Hmm, how about that! Seriously. The only thing I did was yard work and walk. For about 3 weeks. Then I consciously started to change up my foods. I would trade out eating a quick handful of crackers on my way out the door to get the kids from school, for a handful of grapes or a tomato. (Yes a full tomato. I eat them like apples) Instead of heating up a corn dog for lunch (like I did for the kids once in a while) I would grab and make a can of tuna. Just a little bit of change here and there. Do that for a week or 2, then change a little something else. I started to unconsciously start eliminating a good majority of my soda consumption during the day. I would have my morning caffeine (as to keep me out of jail and keep others alive) and then I would just drink water. Only because it was hot, I was thirsty and I was feeling fairly clean and soda had a tendency to taste a bit thicker and more syrup-y when it was hot out. Then I would have a soda in the afternoon/evening and continue drinking water before and after my evening walk, which was slowly turning into jogging… OMG I WAS FRIGGIN JOGGING!

This is where I suggest the goal setting starts. Not before. You have to start enjoying the little changes and start feeling the changesGoals your body and mind are going through before you should think of setting a goal. If you succeed at something that you didn’t consciously plan to look at as a goal, then you are going to EASILY accomplish smaller goals. Now you have proof that it’s worth it. The struggle is worth the progress. It’s proof of it. You just have to remind yourself that it’s going to be there, at some point.

 

Most people start their journey into losing weight or getting in shape and healthier, with food. Meaning that people start to plan to diet. This is all well and good, but your body needs to move first. Your muscles need to work. Yes, they need fuel, but they need to be stimulated first. Start with the physical only. You will be less likely to experience a set back if you do things in smaller bits. Break it up. What worked for me was doing everything in 2-3 week blocks. Start moving. 2-3 weeks into it, move faster, more, or do something different. Then, once you’ve been doing something physical for 4-6 weeks, then make LITTLE changes to your food.

I don’t recommend that you disallow yourself certain foods completely, but work on some serious moderation. ESPECIALLY if you love your junk food, like me. I LOVE salty foods. Fries are my downfall. Well, carbs of almost any kind, really. I refer to myself as a carbivore because I couldn’t survive without potatoes and pasta and bread, I don’t think.

I also HIGHLY RECOMMEND tracking your food and drink intake as well as your activities. I’m not necessarily saying start counting your calories in vs out, but some of us just need something that helps put into perspective what types and how much food you consume and helping you SEE how much more you’re moving.

If you use your smartphone as often as most people do these days, there are a ton of free applications out there that you can download. You can use a separate app for food tracking vs activity tracking (some of which are equipped with GPS tracking so you don’t even have to look anything up to log it), or there are EXCELLENT applications out there that will help you track both and calculate your in & out put of calories, aka ENERGY AND FUEL. Most of these apps are available on both Apple and Android platforms.

I’ve used a few different apps, over the last few years. Some of the best that I’ve used are MyFitnessPal, Endomondo (I went ahead and got the Pro paid version and LOVE IT), and SparkPeople.

There are a ton out there to choose from, you just play around with them and see what works for you. A lot of them have goal setting for food and/or activity, weight, and size and there are a few out there that have social communities with discussion forums, where you can find others with similar goals, interests, challenges, etc.

There are also a number of newer applications out there that are built to motivate those people like me, who are a teensy bit competitive. You can challenge yourself or others to various activities or a goal within an activity. These types of applications help people like me that have a tendency to lose interest in activities after a while, or that get disappointed and discouraged when they hit that plateau, which is guaranteed to happen. Take a look at the features of each type of application, ask your friends, family and coworkers for suggestions, try a few different ones. When you find one that works for you, or that you just absolutely love or couldn’t live without, come back and let me know which ones and why you love them.

One last photo, snagged from somewhere on Facebook, that we all need to keep in mind when starting this kind of journey:

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Well, there you have your novel on how to get started. Keep an eye out for part 2 in the next week.

Until then!

I wish you all health, happiness, and a beautiful day!

An introduction

Seeing as this is my first official post on this blog, I thought it necessary to actually introduce myself to those that may be reading.

There is an “About Me” section that you may or may not have read, but those always stump me. What do you write there? How much is too much? Do people really read those? Being an amateur “blogger” (which is one of the dumbest words) I don’t always know if what I have to say is actually something that others want to read.

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I’ve never been one to write something “marketable” or popular and never really had the desire to fit into either of those categories. I write from the inside. Sometimes I will write something from more of an academic view, but most of what I write is from experience and struggle. As you read my posts, you will be able to tell which is which, almost instantly. If I write from a personal view, FAIR WARNING, I have a tendency to ramble, over share, use words that aren’t really words, and go a bit off topic here and there. Sorry, not sorry. That’s all part an parcel of who I am. I have a tattoo on my right forearm (which I found via Carla Birnberg and she was kind enough to allow me to have HER BRAND permanently engraved in my skin, see above) that says “UNAPOLOGETICALLY MYSELF” and this is how I try to live every day. I am loud, opinionated, and upfront. I was raised to be a strong and independent woman and think for myself and stand up for what I feel is truly right and to fight against that which I feel is wrong. I will never be any other way and I thank my parents for raising me this way.

I’ve chosen (and been asked) to write on the subjects of mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, and sexual health, and about body image, as I relate to them and as I think they may relate to others. These are all subjects that I have strong opinions on, as well as a lot of personal experience with. I’ve struggled with mental/emotional health/illness issues for a good majority of my adult life. I’ve also struggled with a negative body image from the age of about 16, and weight gain and loss for the last few years.

I am a 34 year old mother to an 11 year old daughter and a 14 year old son. My father passed away on the morning of January 12, 2014 and I miss him every day. I was married to the father of my children for 12 years and our divorce was final as of February this year. I was in love with a woman who I was with for about a year and a half and that relationship came to an end earlier this year, as well. So, essentially this year has turned my entire life UPSIDE DOWN and I am ready to get it over with and have the chance to breathe without the fear of what horrible thing is going to come up next. I am a full time stay at home mother and until last October, was a full time Psych student working on my BA at USF. I know a decent amount about a lot of things, but not a whole lot about one thing in particular. I am an Aries with a love of the water (pools, mostly because I can see what’s in the water around me) and for roller skating. I fight hard for the things I believe in and stand up LOUD AND STRONG against those things that are wrong. I like to read (when I can sit still long enough) and dance and I believe that music can change a person’s entire day. I have the ability to say very smart things and they even make sense, sometimes. On the other hand, I also have a talent for saying very stupid things that are sometimes taken as offensive, but are not meant to be. As I said above, I am an expert at oversharing, but I am also an expert at sarcasm and creatively using profanity to both insult and entertain. (the profanity will be kept in check for the purposes of this blog, but NOT on my personal media pages. Blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) I love to workout and lift weights and do yard work, but I also love to get all dolled up to go out in a dress and heels and all that girly jazz. I’ve been told that I am almost a perfect balance between butch and femme, and I can finally see why. I don’t like to use labels for people’s sexuality, but for the intents and purposes of relating to my readers (all 2 of you at present) I identify most closely with Pansexual. Meaning that I am attracted to a person for who they are and their entire package and not based on the no no bits they happen to have. I find beauty in people for who they are, what they do, who and what they stand up and fight for, how they smell, their walk, their joy, and their pain. I can’t say that there is one specific thing that draws me to a person. I have a very small number of people that I call friends and about the same number of people that I call family, most of which are NOT genetically related to me in any way. THESE are the people that NO ONE should mess with because I will go to the ends of the Earth for them. I can only hope that some of them feel the same way about me. Now that you know just a TEENY bit about me, let’s move along, shall we?

I am not a licensed ANYTHING, so I can not give you professional advice. I can only share with you my own experiences, struggles, victories and set backs. I can not treat or heal you, emotionally, mentally, or physically. I can support you and show you that you are not alone. Yes, we are all individuals fighting our own demons and struggling to get through every day with as little damage to ourselves and others as possible, but I am 98.98% positive that there is at least 1 other person somewhere on this planet that has, will, or is currently struggling with the same thing that you may be trying to get through.

Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Morbid Obesity, Negative Body Image, Grief, Abuse, Sexuality, Identity, Motherhood, Marriage, Divorce, Family, Life, and Death are just a few things that I have struggled with in my 34 years. Many of these things I am still working through. Some days are harder than others. Every day is a conscious decision to NOT GIVE UP AND NOT GIVE IN. Every day.

I think that is all I have to say, for now. Otherwise, this would end up a very long winded post that would be WAY off topic.

Remember always, that you are not alone and it does get better.

I wish you all health, happiness, and a beautiful day.