Tag Archives: mental health

Faulty Friday: Fallen Off the Wagon?

Nows the time. January is over, you’re vacationing for entire weekends. You’re eating whatever the heck you want and not exercising. It doesn’t matter if you had a New Years Resolution or not, you’re starting to pack on the pounds. I’ve heard this from several patients over the last few days so let me ask you a few questions…maybe they will help you jump back on the wagon.

WeightGain

1. Weekly Vacation Days: When do you allow yourself the freedom to entertain all those cravings? Is it whenever you crumble under the pressure (which is getting more and more often)? Or is it a designated day of the week in which you except that you will be bloated and feel crappy?

It should be the second option. Pick a day each week that you feed on your cravings. On that day, eat whatever the heck you want. Personally, I have half a large Dominos pizza and half a box of cinnasticks. I love those foods but man they’re bad for me. So I eat them once a week and pay the price for 24 hours afterward.

The awesome thing is that, if you eat healthy the rest of the week, your body recognizes a problem with the pizza and voids it pretty quick. As in, you’ll be on the toilet a lot the next day. But isn’t that cool? You’re body will learn how to purge a bad thing?

2. Write It Down: When are you binge eating? When are you ditching your workout? Pinpoint your problem areas and write down your plan for them. For instance, I have terrible trouble limiting my evening eating when I’m at home. I just pile snacks into my mouth like the world is ending.

However! When I go through periods when this is especially bad, I write it all down. Before I start eating, I write down (on a list in my phone) all the food and amounts I’m allowed that night. I give myself some leeway and add in small desserts like 2 gluten-free cookies and some dried apricots, or several squares of dark chocolate. I’m just limited enough that I can pace myself throughout the night and still feel satisfied when I go to bed.

So plan through your worst habits and pull yourself out of them.

3. When on Holiday, Be on Holiday: When you’re away from home and eating out for most meals, do you feel guilty? Do you look at the meal in the beginning and giggle with joy, then look at the empty plate you devoured and feel like a beached whale? Stop it! Take your holiday as an extended Vacation Day (see #1) and enjoy your food! If you do this though, you just have to accept the reality that there might be a few extra pounds on your belly. You’ll have to be VERY good when you’re back home.

A good way to make less of an impact on your waistline is to bring with you a standard meal. I bring along a sandwich bag of my Grainless Granola and grab some milk at a convenience store wherever I’m going. Try to make sure you eat healthy for at least one meal a day.

Also, when you are eating out, eat the veggies instead of the fries. Try to incorporate veggies into every plate of food. It will fill you up with the good stuff and will provide some much-needed support for your digestion and  immune system.

Confession: I will admit that I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit in the last 2 or 3 weeks. But this happens to healthy people! We can’t have rockin’ bods every day of the year. So I will be living by these rules and trimming back that waistline until I’m happy looking in the mirror again.

I hope you’re all having wonderful Fridays. The weekend is here! And today I will be traveling up to Chicago to meet my best friend for a weekend of shenanigans. 😀

 

Thankful Tuesday: Back to Real Life

WineforDinner

I had an incredible weekend. It was full of family and friends that I haven’t seen in a long time. But also lots of rugby, gambling, no exercise, and eating and drinking whatever my heart desires. Mike and I went to Las Vegas for 3 days to meet my family and watch the Rugby Sevens tournament. I went last year too and plan on continuing the tradition for as long as possible.

When I go on vacation, I go all out (yep, wine for dinner was a reality this weekend). It gets all the bad habits out of my system and lets me return to real life thoroughly exhausted and ready to be 100% healthy again.

So obviously I don’t have a new recipe for today since every meal I ate for the last 4 days was from a restaurant but I would like to bring back Thankful Tuesdays.

So on this lovely day in February, I am thankful for:

  1. A job that earns me enough money to travel to places like Vegas for the weekend but also gives me the flexible schedule to do it.

Vegas22. The family that makes a priority out of traveling to meet each other and party.

Vegas3

3. The boyfriend that comes with me and makes it all even more fun.

Instead of having holiday blues, maybe I’ll try to remember how amazing it is that I have these experiences in the first place. You think?

What are you thankful for today?

Gossip Ruins People

Gossip

If you don’t have something nice to say, just zip that trap. We all heard that line (or some variation of it) when we were little. Every one of us has been the subject of gossip at some point in their lives. You know how much it hurts. So here’s the big questions:

WHY DO WE STILL DO IT?

I laid awake for much of the night wondering that. Just before I fell asleep, I found out that there are people who I barely know, in this brand new town of mine, gossiping about me. Rash, hurtful words that pinned me at my most vulnerable point.

Gossip Law #1: Even for me, strong, capable, confident me, words DO hurt. I learned this long ago in middle school and, ever since, I’ve realized that I don’t want to cause that pain to anyone else. It doesn’t matter how much I criticize them internally, everyone has weaknesses just like me, and I never want to make someone feel that that’s all I see.

Gossip Law #2: As much as we whisper and make people promise not to tell, the words ALWAYS get back to the person. This most recent gossip about me started in September. September! I heard it two night ago from a well-intentioned friend that was trying to help me become a better person. He was trying to help me and the fact that people talked STILL hurt.

Gossip Law #3: It doesn’t stop when we turn 16 years old, or 20, or even 35. It never just stops. It’s natural for people to talk negatively about others. It makes them feel powerful, like they have an advantage on you. Like they’re better than you. It’s natural, but it sucks and it can be stopped.

Gossip Law #4: It comes in all forms. Gossip doesn’t just have to be a woman whispering trash into another woman’s ear. As I’ve tried to cut it out of my life, I realize that gossip is any negative statement that emerges from your mouth about another person. Anything that, when you really think about it, could potentially hurt that person.

LISTEN UP. This is the most important one . . .

Gossip Law #5: It CAN be stopped. The only way to stop gossip is by filtering your own words. I have a best friend. My heterosexual life partner. She is the only person that I turn off the filter with. She does the same with me. We gossip to each other until kingdom come. But that is because we KNOW that it will never leave that conversation. With everyone else, my negative words are on lockdown. I don’t participate in negative conversations and will even try to stop them if they become about someone I love.

Everyone can do this. It only took me a few months to recognize and learn. So just try it, please. For the sake of all those people who you have yet to hurt.

Now off with you, have a wonderful, gossip-free weekend! I will be in Vegas with my family and friends through Monday so blogs will start back up on Tuesday. I will miss you all until then. But just remember:

KEEP CONVERSATION POSITIVE 🙂

 

The Dark Side of Happy

I recently updated my “about me” to include a few rules. One of them is that I have to tell the dark side of being happy. There is one. And, although it’s not around the majority of the time, it does drop by for a cup of tea every few weeks.

“You can’t know happy without knowing sad.” – My Dad

That’s true actually, you can’t recognize the happiest moments of your life unless you have something to compare them to. On that same token, everyone’s moments operate on a different scale. Your sad may be MUCH sadder than mine. I think that’s the case as people get older and they experience more loss and hardship. But that’s also why, as people get older, they have the opportunity to really find happiness. Because they can find it in the smallest of victories, the smallest of successes and joys. Middle school sucked. I had very little sad in my life so every tiny thing that went wrong seemed catastrophic. Back then, my biggest crush completely ignoring me was heart breaking. My definition of heartbreak shifted massively when he died in his sleep ten years later at the premature age of 24.

With every big life experience, my happy/sad scale shifts, but that doesn’t mean I can ignore the three-day stints of deep melancholy that seem to creep up on me. They happen about once every few weeks in the Winter and once every month or two in the Summer. It’s almost like I can feel when they’re coming. I can fight them off for days but something always triggers a breakdown. Last week, it was my wonderful Google Hangout session with my girlfriends. I’d been sleepless, working a lot, and having some lonely days. Then I saw their smiling, beautiful, happy faces, and my self-pity just threw me over the edge.

So accepted it. I let myself be sad for 24 hours. I forgave myself for the 20 minute cry session and for being morose for a day. Every happy person has to come down from that plateau high up in the sky. Happiness takes work and sometimes you just need a break.

After the 24 hours passed, I put on my hiking boots and started the climb back up that plateau. I talked to a few of the people who love me unconditionally. First I cried to Mike but the poor guy can only take so much. When I felt that he needed a break from listening to my whining (because that’s what it was) I just called my family and spilled my heart to whoever picked up the phone first. By now they know what I need and they just listened to all the reasons my life was “terrible.”

CarWash

Then I spent the day slowly setting up activities for the weekend. First, to perk my mood, I drove my car through a car wash. Who doesn’t love to turn up the music and watch the water swirl around?? Then, that night, I had dinner with some bike girls in the area and got closer with one really cool chick. On Saturday Mike and I went on a lovely afternoon date and that night we went line dancing! (< more on this stuff later) On Sunday I went for Indian buffet with a few new friends from work. I was the only one who could pull myself out of the funk and, for me, I knew I just needed to be around other people.

So here I arrive at Monday, completely exhausted but in a MUCH better mood. I’m cresting the happy plateau today and hopefully I’ll be able to stay up here for a few weeks. Whatever the case I know I can’t possibly understand happy without a little sad 🙂

 

Happy Monday: Weird Love

Saturday was a VERY long day of work for me. Let’s just say I was surrounded by screaming kids in a room with lots of echo. For NINE hours. Teachers: how do you do it?? Anyway! It meant that Sunday involved a whole lot of nothing. Mike and I watched both NFL playoff games and some really terrible television (my favorite kind).

We also had some spare time to talk about our relationship. We do that every once in a while. Just dive into what we think we’re doing well or what is missing for one or both of us. Of course we talked about some stuff that has been a work in progress for the last several months. But we also talked about how close we feel to each other having had to adapt to in this foreign environment: small town in Midwestern USA.

Being here has only increased our love and respect for each other and confidence in our relationship. The way we are learning to work through our relationship and personal problems is pretty awesome.

On that note, Mike sent me this the other day and I think it’s wonderful. Maybe you will too!

WeirdLove

 

I hope that wherever the love comes from in your life, that you’re getting a lot of it today. Happy Monday! 🙂

 

Happy New Year! Now Lose the Guilt…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

photo 5
Hahaha. Sometimes I extra love my new hair.

So first let me say, I HATE NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS. I think people make them too quickly, without much thought, and then break them just as fast. The idea that everyone needs to make one and then spend tons of money and time accomplishing it is commercial and annoying.

However, if there is something you’ve been trying to improve in your life, the first of the year is a great time to take the first of many baby steps. I know the weight loss thing is pretty popular but I think that goal is too broad. Focus on something small, work it in slowly, and do whatever it takes to make it a regular part of your life. Reading this blog is a good start!

My New Years Baby Step (that’s what I’ll be calling from now on) is: LOSE THE GUILT. People in my family happen to be great at guilt trips. That’s means that not only do I get them frequently, but I give them to myself, AND other people. Guilt is a huge part of what used to make me tick but it also made me constantly anxious. So I’m done with it. If someone wants something from me, they can ask. If I need a favor from someone else, I will ask them instead of being passive aggressive and guilt tripping.

I feel guilty when I eat to much of the wrong food, when I don’t exercise five days a week, when I forget to wish my friend a Happy Birthday, whenever! It’s invading my brain and I’m done with it.

This is going to be a tough one. Changing the way I think is probably the hardest thing I could baby step to but what’s life without a challenge? And this one will be worth it I think.

What will you step towards this month?

ps. Sorry about the lack of posts last week. I decided that my vacation was going to be as little effort as possible. And, for the most part, it was! So thanks for understanding. From now on, when I go on vacation, so does this blog.

Monday Confession: Quarter Life Crisis

A friend of mine recently commented on this post (Anxiety to Depression and Back to Life) and I realized how important it is for me to continue writing about my imperfections and how I’m working to overcome them. The purpose of this blog is to educate and inspire but it’s also to help people realize that no one person has it all right. A great person knows that and works with it. So here it goes:

Confession: I think I’m having a Quarter Life Crisis. I work very hard at work, at my primary job and my secondary job. I take care of our apartment and do everything I can to keep Mike and I healthy. I feel pretty well stimulated considering the place I find myself in. But sometimes I get really really sad. I miss my friends. I miss having friends. Where did the days go when we could call each other and meet fifteen minutes later to have a coffee or a quick drink? College held amazing opportunities to be around people but I had so little time to take advantage of it. Now that I have the time, I don’t have the people. I’ve been working at this for months, trying to put myself out there and make friends. There have been small victories every once in a while but 5 months into our stay in Peoria, I still find myself very much friendless.

Misconceptions: I heard so many times while I was in school how awful it was to be graduated. I completely disagree. Thank goodness school is over. It was 6 years of way too much work, an emotional roller coaster. I do not miss it for a second. I now have freedom to do what I want when I want (pretty much) and I have the good fortune of finally spending my own money (instead of the bank’s)! The only crappy thing about being done with school is how my social life is suddenly and completely gone. Would it be different in another city? What about if I’d just gone traveling instead of settling in the US? I’ll never know. What I do know is that this happens to lots and lots of people every year. How do they merge into the adult world? It’s really fricken hard I think.

My Case:  I know I know. I’m being dramatic. Of course I have friends! They just don’t happen to live anywhere close to me. But that’s not enough. My close friends know how much they mean to me. We do everything we can to keep in touch and make sure we continue supporting each other, but I need someone to grab a quick drink or a coffee with.

Solution: I don’t know what the solution is. Obviously what I’m doing now isn’t working so I’m going to have to change my approach. This is going to be a learning experience for me. It may take much longer for me to figure this out but I will. Just like all those years and people before me, I’ll make friends. They may not be quite as awesome or close as the friends I have scattered all over the world, but they at least they’ll get a drink with me!

Anyway, that’s my confession. That is one of the many things I’m struggling with right now. I think that recognizing problems and making steps to solve them is a continuous, life-long process. And the fact that these are the type of issues I’m dealing with in my life makes me a VERY lucky lady.

ps. Thank goodness for all the love in my life. I may not have friends here in Peoria but man there’s a lot of love floating around for me outside this town.

Happy Monday everyone! Keep on keepin’ on 🙂

Motivational Monday: Are You a Realist?

Realist, cynic, sensible, unindealistic…are you one of those people who considers yourself rational and grounded? I’m flippin’ tired of people trying to make these qualities sound good! Of course, there are times when rationality can solve problems and levelheaded people are great in crisis situations. I pride myself in my ability to show these qualities when necessary. HOWEVER, too often people use those terms as a cover up for their pessimism.

Anger and pessimism are something that I have been trying to cut out of my life for some time now. I decided, around the time I graduated college, unchecked anger would fester inside of me; not only ruining my day but affecting my relationships with loved ones.

Getting the anger out was surprisingly easy. I am very self-aware and it was just a process of recognizing when anger was brewing and quickly repeating to myself, “it’s not worth the energy, it’s not worth the energy…” and taking deep breaths. It works! Anger is no longer a factor in my life and it’s wonderfully freeing. Of course I still get the random bought of uncontrollable fury but at that point I remove myself from the situation until I’ve calmed down.

The part I’ve really be struggling with is learning how to STOP COMPLAINING. Did you ever have a person in your life that complains, a lot. Not that they know it or would even be able to change it but boy is it a downer. I’ve had lots of people like that in my life and can’t help recognizing that I was one too. Yep. Me, a complainer. So this is my next step in personal growth. Learning how to cut out the “realism” and pessimism and just learn how to appreciate anything and everything.

My current personal growth activity: say or think a bad thing – say out loud 3-5 great things about the same subject.

example: Man this rainy weather sucks…but…it means I get to snuggle down with a cup of tea without remorse, and that my car is getting a rinse, and that the horrible drought this summer is finally ending!

See, it’s not so hard and it’s starting to make a world of difference. So try it, I dare you. It’s a real way to flip your brain to the happy side.

Freedom Friday: Axccepting Imperfecshuns

I was talking to a patient the other day and, after reading my blog for a few weeks, she told me a that she is a perfectionist like me. I had always thrown that term around loosely, knowing that I have a tendency to focus on things that cannot be fixed, but I’d never truly thought about it. Being a perfectionist means never accepting when you’ve made a mistake or can’t do something as well as you’d like to. Boy am I a perfectionist! But it wasn’t until she pointed it out that I realized how useless it is to be this way.

The truth is that none of us are perfect. Stop. Think about it. Really think. NONE OF US ARE PERFECT. None of us are even close. Everyone has their cravings and addictions. Everyone has an area of life that they wish they could be better in. I am terrible at being single (I need love 24/7) and I can’t locate Hong Kong on a map for the life of me. Some people need to eat fries on a regular basis, others can’t compute the square root of 144. It’s ok!

 

 

^ There it is! (photo credit)

You can’t overcome your fear of imperfection until you understand it. So next time before you start beating yourself up for doing something silly, catch yourself and think, “It’s ok, no one is perfect.” Once you have a list going of things you would like to make better, pick one and concentrate on it. And this is where the baby steps come in. Take baby steps. Right now, I’m taking baby steps to eat much less sugar and to get off of my evening-time addiction. Each goal could take me months but it will probably take years. That’s ok, as long as I recognize it, and have a plan to progress. To reach the next place in my life as an even better person.

One more thing, sometimes the imperfections turn into happy things! Like the fact that I’m terrible at dancing and have learned to just not care. How liberating and fun! It means that my dancing makes people smile and maybe do their terrible dancing right along with me 🙂

Ok, that is all. I hope you have a great Friday and a wonderfully imperfect weekend. 🙂

Now tell me: What is one of your imperfections?

 

Thankful Tuesday: Health

What are you thankful for? Yes, there may be a few negatives floating around in your head but the more you force the good stuff to the front, the happier you will be. I don’t do this as much as I should but today is a day to focus on the positives!

I am thankful for:

1. My innate understanding of health. My parents (especially my Mom) raised me in an incredibly healthy household. I have found that I can teach people about health mostly from what I already know. That’s pretty awesome.

2. My body’s ability to fight the flu! It took over a week but I am 99% back to normal health. Yay! < and that without ANY medication, not even ibuprofen.

3. The happiness and health of my loved ones. I have had so little illness or loss in my life. I am SO SO thankful for that.

Ashley Life Updates: Shout out to my Gran! She was feeling really sick too last week. Get better Gran, love you.

So seriously, what are you thankful for on this fine day?