This week has been tough as an educator. It doesn’t matter if you teach public or private school, it’s been a tough start to 2018 for schools across the nation. Personally, after Wednesday’s school shooting, as I left school for the next day knowing I […]
A lesson we’ve heard since we were little: Think before you speak. It’s pretty common knowledge, but it is never really followed much these days. With the ability to hide behind social media, everyone seems to be saying what they want however unkind and untrue […]
As of late, my counselor and I have been speaking about friends and coworkers who seem to be causing me some anxiety when I think about interacting with them. I have to try and explain the anxiety they cause me and why I feel anxious around them which isn’t always easy.
When I anticipate the interactions I have to have with certain people (friends and co-workers), my chest tightens, my imagination plays out the potential conversation we will have and I am instantly spending the rest of the day, sometimes the week feeling stuck with pins and needles all over my body at the idea of having any of the idealized conversations with them. I turn into a stressed out mess of a woman and I shut down. I can’t focus on my own work because I am living in a conversation that hasn’t even happened yet. The worst part of this is I replay the imagined situation again and again and again, so by the time I actually have the conversation I have no idea what I want to say to this person and all I see is the negative outcomes I’ve dreamed up.
Per my counselor’s help I have worked on writing down agendas or thoughts before the interaction in order to stick with the point I want to get across. This helps my brain say, “Hey, this is the stuff you want to talk about. Stick to this and you will be ok.” Does my anxiety tell me to think of the reaction of the conversation and turn it into the worst conversation ever? Yes it does. My anxiety will always put the worst possible outcome in my face, but I can combat it. I do what I can to make sure it doesn’t paralyze me before a meeting. The agenda is one way.
Another way I have found to combat anxiety’s voice is to visualize a positive conversation and interaction with others. If my anxiety decides to put a negative image in my head then I replace it immediately with a positive image. This is not easy. I fight daily to keep positive images and thoughts at the forefront of my mind, but there are days where anxiety sits on my chest and forces me to inhale the worst possible outcome for the entire day. Those are the days where I cannot fight anxiety off and I have to force myself to stand up while anxiety clings to me and go for a run or a walk and force fresh calming air into my lungs and my mind as I pound pavement.
When it comes to my friends that cause me massive amounts of anxiety, I tend to do the same things just a little differently. I will journal about the scenario we might be in and try to focus on the positives. I try to play out a positive conversation in my mind and visualize where we will be, topics we can cover safely, and actions I can take if I am starting to feel in a panic.
The other thing my counselor suggested I do is maintain a distance from friends that make me feel super anxious and don’t really understand why they make me anxious. Part of the reason she suggested this is because I expressed to her how I don’t feel like I could have a conversation with these friends and feel like I have been heard. These are the types of friends that I value from afar, and the reason for this is because I don’t always feel like things are reciprocated in the friendship and/or I feel like we have just gotten into different paths of life. The first one hurts the most because anxiety kicks in and says I must not have done enough for them in there time of need or it tells me I am of no value to them unless they need me. Anxiety forces these thoughts the most into my mind and imagination because as soon as it sees an opening for more pain, anxiety pounces on it like a cat on a mouse. I distance myself from them. It’s hard. I have found though that I am happier without their constant presence in my world, and I do maintain a healthy level of conversation with them but not as often as it once was. There are times where our conversations are a little more frequent, but more often than not they are very casual with a meetup on occasion. My counselor told me this is the best way to handle sometimes toxic friends that spur anxiety in me because then you aren’t cutting them out completely since that can cause more harm than good for both parties. For me it’s not that I don’t want them in my life, but it is that I want some distance since I do pick up on every little thing said, action done, or even side remark made and let it take over my thoughts for days on end and I need to have space from them in order to feel positive about myself and the progress I have made.
It’s never an easy thing to do when you want to let someone go out of your life either completely or partially. Sometimes it is necessary for your own well being though, and I wish I could say I have it all figured out… I don’t. Even writing this post anxiety is telling me all of the negative reactions and things that people will say about me. I write this more for hope that some people might understand more about why I have a hard time reaching out in work and in life, not to hurt anyone or make them mad. Trust me. That is the last thing I want is to be on the other end of someone’s anger for sharing my feelings on letting go.
Becoming a mother, without my mother was something I thought would never happen to me or any of my younger sisters. It’s something I never imagined I would experience given the relationship my mom and I had. My mom and I were best friends. I […]
Are you feeling lethargic and bloated all of the time lately? Yeah, I’ve been there. I was there for a long time before K. Sullivan told me about the effects of soy and what it really does to our body. She suggested I cut it out. Here’s what happened when I listened to her suggestion:
Now I had never read a food label, I’d not felt the need in my life. I was on the lookout for high fructose corn syrup in foods since I have been avoiding that for about 4 years at this point. I don’t have food allergies and reading labels felt like a waste of time. You can trust manufacturers to be feeding us real food right? Wrong.
K. Sullivan told me to start looking at what all contained soy and see if I’d been consuming a lot of of it. Well I was shocked to find that soy is in pretty much everything.
So I cut it out. I decided I would cut it out for a few weeks and see if I felt different.
Well my first trip to the grocery store after making this decision took forever! I made sure to check every label before adding it to my cart, and I have to scour the labels sometimes because soy is labeled a million different ways:
- ANYTHING with Soy, Soya, Soja, or Shoyo in the name
- ANYTHING with Lecithin (variations on spelling) in the name.
- ANYTHING with Vegetable, Plant, or Bean in the name*
- ANYTHING with Guar in the name*
- ANYTHING with Xanthan or Zanthan (variations on spellings) in the name*
- ANYTHING with Vitamin E or Toccopherol (variations on spelling) in the name*
- MSG (Mono Sodium Glutamate)* (Please note that the terms "yeast extract/autolyzed yeast extract" refer to natural/hidden sources of MSG without having to be labeled as MSG. Though they are NOT soy, some people with MSG sensitivities also have trouble with these ingredients. For more information, see this website or Google "natural sources of MSG" or "hidden sources of MSG".)
- Natural and Artificial Flavor or Flavorings*
- Mono-diglyceride (variations on spelling)*
- Okara or Akara
- Glycerin/glycerine/vegetable glycerin*
- Gum Arabic
- Bulking Agent*
- Protein or Proteins*
- Protein Extender*
- 28. Stabilizer*
- TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein)*
- HVP (Hydrolized Vegetable Protein)*
- Alkyd Resin Solution
- Quaternary Ammonium Salts
- Quaternary Ammonium Compounds, Ethyldimethylsoya Alkyl, Et Soyethyldimonium Ethosulfate
- Dimethylsoya Ammonium Ethosulfate
- Alkyd Resin
- Linseed Oil, Polymer with Pentaerythritol, Phthalic Anhydride, Oil, Styrene and Vinyltoluene
- Soyaethyl Morpholinium Ethosulfate
- Morpholinium Compounds
- Ethyl Sulfates
- Soyatrimonium Chloride
- Quaternary Ammonium Compounds
- Alkyl Chlorides
And the list just goes on… See the link at the bottom of this post for the rest of this list and more resources.
I mean just look at that list! What?! I was overwhelmed looking at labels trying to figure out if I could put this food into my body or not. So I did my best. I got the food I felt safe enough to put in my body, and I went home.
The first few days, I felt like my body was going into a withdrawal. I got headaches and I wasn’t feeling great. My stomach seemed unsettled like I had food poisoning and I didn’t feel like I could put anything into it. These detox feelings lasted me probably four to five days. After the initial shock to my system I started to notice a change in the way my pants were fitting, and I wasn’t really exercising more than usual. I noticed my energy levels were higher than normal because I wasn’t coming home and falling asleep on the couch before getting dinner ready. I also noticed a change in my mental health too. I was starting to feel more positive about work and playing with my daughter.
As the weeks went on and turned into months, I have never felt better about cutting soy out of my diet! I have found the desire to exercise more and make sure I am eating right has increased. I have found rejuvenated love making my own meals. I know exactly what my family is putting into their bodies. I am recommending you to give it a try, and if you can make it the first few weeks of reading labels and having your body detox the soy out of it. You will feel like a completely different person.
*List of soy labels: http://naturalandfree.blogspot.com/p/alternative-names-for-soy-and-soy-free.html
For more information on why soy is bad check out these readings:
The struggle to maintain and lose weight is a struggle most women (and men) face throughout their lives. It’s a constant battle of the right food, correct amount of intake, right exercise, finding the exercise you prefer to do...The list is never-ending.
Here’s the truth- you have to do you. You have to do what feels good and right to you! Not anyone else! You need to do whatever it is that will make you feel good in your own skin.
Here’s the hard part- not letting society dictate what to do. We live in a world where skinny and lean is the expectation of what is sexy and healthy, and there is a constant pressure to live up to that impossible expectation.
We all have different body types and needs. What I do to stay in shape may not work for you, but parts of it might work for you. Take it or leave it.
This is a hard truth that I have had to try and face myself. I have tried several different programs and diets and none of them made me happy- working out and eating became a chore after just a few weeks of trying to stick to a diet and exercise routine. I couldn’t commit to one program for more than a month at time. No joke. I would lose interest and gain back any weight I may have lost right away. (I am here to tell you, after you have a kid your metabolism goes out the window.)
Finally I stopped and asked myself why do I want to be in shape? Why do I want to lose the weight? What is the point if I simply hate all the workouts I try? Was I supposed to hate the process? Everyone in the videos or posters or books seem so happy to be working out and being health, but I was so miserable that I didn’t want to do anything but eat right.
While eating right is 80% of process and I was feeling better about myself. I knew I was missing out on the endorphins from my runs and the burn of lifting weights. I had the drive deep down to do those things but not on a consistent enough basis to see any results from the sporadic workouts. Finally, I took a moment to just sit in the mess of thoughts about my workout habits and sorted through all of them. (Mindfulness works people! Try it)
Here’s what I came up with:
- I don’t do well with a prescribed workout regime or program. Probably because I don’t have the discipline to follow those fad quick fix plans- I need the advice and help from a person, in person.
- My eating habits need to fit my life. I have a picky husband and three year old. I can’t force quinoa and feta down their throats if they don’t like it, so I need to find meals that I can make healthy without having to make six different meals for three people.
- I am freaking busy! I don’t have time to work out twice a day five days a week. (That’s just extreme and I am not training for an Ironman or anything)
- I need downtime. I have to force myself to sit still and recharge or I hit a breaking point and I can’t function.
So what does my workout look like? Well I go to a bodypump class twice a week if I can wake up at the ass crack of dawn to make it in time at my local gym. Even if I am only able to make it once in a week I feel better knowing that I was able to fit a full body workout in. One or two days a week I try to go for a 3-4 mile run, and if I can’t do that I go for a really long walk with my pups in tow. They need and love to walk with me plus it gives me a reason to practice some mindfulness while I spend time with them. Do I always get four days of workouts in? No. I do strive for it though, but I don’t put myself down if I don’t get that workout in. I don’t let the unrealistic worldly expectations fee the guilt surrounding a missed workout. You have to stop thinking that way right!
I watch what I eat. I make sure I have three big-ish meals a day and 3 healthy snacks in between meals. The hardest part of a diet for me is giving up sweets. I hated not having something sweet after dinner or in between meals. Do I have ice cream every now and then? You bet your ass I do. I don’t starve myself (I have been there and I don’t need to go back) and I do indulge in the OCCASIONAL treat. I say occasional because I have been in the habit of saying, “Oh, I worked out today. I can have a cup of ice cream.” everyday I work out. Well as you can imagine, that was counter productive to my weight and body goals and would cause me to give up. So I treat myself with sweets that are healthier for me- homemade banana ice cream, oatmeal energy bites, breaking off a corner of dark chocolate. So I make sure it isn’t in the house so I am not tempted to just dive right in and eat all the junk. The beauty of it is I do the grocery shopping so I have the control over what goes into my fridge. I consult my husband on meals he thinks sound good and I put my own healthy twist on them. I have my daughter eat the same food as us to start to instill healthy eating habits for her.
Downtime is probably the most important part of my self discovery. I recently lost my grandma, but the month long process of waiting for her to go almost broke me. My anxiety levels were through the roof and I kept thinking I needed to get a workout in to relieve stress, but my body kept telling me no and forcing me to sleep. The anticipation of a phone call about my grandmother passing, my PhD workload, and maintaining the rest of my life was too much. I hadn’t stopped moving and thinking for almost a month straight until I finally hit my breaking point. I was on the verge of a panic attack and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I finally realized (even though everyone I talked to said it too) “L. you need to take a break. Just zone out for a minute and let your mind stop.” I may have to force myself to take some down time, but my body and mind are so much better for it. My downtime looks different everyday. One day I play tea party with my kid and allow myself to just be with her fully, another I write posts like this or work on my novel. Somedays I just sit still and watch a movie. (Ask my husband, that is very hard for me)
The fact of the matter is you gotta do you. You need to find what healthy habits you can and will enjoy attempting to incorporate into your life permanently to help boost you towards your goals and fuel your body’s needs. I encourage you to remember: It’s your body. You choose how to treat it and what fuels it.