Jan. 10th, 2013

radicallifechange: apple. (Default)
I'd like to talk about why I decided to do this.

Over this last winter, I wasn't in the greatest place. Winter tends to be a rough time for me anyway - the seasonal change, less light, and my body doesn't react well to the cold, in particular my extremities. I've dealt with depression before and the times I was most likely to be depressed were during winter.

Food. Food was all over the place for me this winter. At some point I realized I wasn't getting enough homemade food and my mom and I worked out an arrangement where I paid her to cook lunches for me, so then most days I'd have at least one homemade meal. (When I didn't forget my lunch, or not go to work, or not eat my lunch because I didn't feel like it, etc. In other words, a lot of days I didn't even get that one homemade meal.) But other than that, a lot of times it was going out for dinner, eating with my boyfriend's family sometimes, sometimes eating stuff my boyfriend brought home from his job (pretty gourmet stuff but often pretty rich). I also started eating a lot of sweets. It began with here and there and just increased and increased to the point where I was eating candy or chocolate daily, and amounts that I didn't feel good about but didn't feel able to stop. It didn't help that my boyfriend would also bring home LOTS of gourmet sweets from work, at least weekly, and literally usually enough to share between a whole family - which I did, luckily, sharing with my parents, so at least I wasn't demolishing all that stuff by myself.

With this also came a decrease in fresh foods and veggies and an increase in wheat, dairy and processed foods. Some nights I would come home and make myself a frozen veggie pizza and eat most or all of it with some kind of sugar afterwards.

Sleeping. Some nights I'd be going to bed as early as 10:30pm, some nights as late as 3:00am. Mornings I'd wake up typically later -- 9am to 11am -- but then some mornings for work I'd have to get up at 6:00am. That definitely didn't feel great after a night of not much sleep. I also found myself sometimes sleeping through morning appointments more than once, which often led to me waking up with a feeling of panic - "oh, #(*@&$#*, I'm supposed to at the vet's right now dropping the cat off!" - and also a sense of hating this feeling, hating this feeling of being totally off-kilter and unprepared because I wasn't grounded enough in my own life to remember everything I had going on. My boyfriend and I were also going back and forth between houses a lot and spending the night at different places and I found I really didn't like that and this year wanted to settle myself into one place.

Work. Because I was often waking up late I'd find myself skipping out on work more. Sometimes I'd play hooky with my boyfriend, who works mostly at night, or sometimes I'd just be by myself and then I'd typically do one of two things, 1) sit around watching TV all day, 2) going out and running errands and doing random shopping with my mom. I didn't feel so terrible about #2 because at least I was getting out and it was fun to hang out with my mom, but #1 happened a lot more often, and I never felt okay about it, but somehow felt compelled to keep doing it despite that. My boyfriend would sometimes end up being very late to work or playing hooky, as well, because once I'd already done so he would then want to.

Money. I overextended myself financially at work - spending money for the company and taking a temporary paycut with the knowledge that I'd get paid back in a few months. I also overextended myself personally, eating out too much and towards the end of the year I picked up a stray cat with a broken leg and probably since then have spent close to $1,000 or more on various vet visits he needed as well as supplies. I got behind on rent and even paying my mom for making my lunches, my credit card always started being maxed out, and I had this constant feeling of being unable to even save anything because it was always going OUT. I finally collected my money back from the company and that gave me a boost in the right direction, but I'm still bouncing back from that, some more of which I'll discuss in the post where I talk about how I'm planning to implement this plan and what the different aspects are.

Exercise. I wasn't exercising much. I had my trainer who I saw once or twice a week, from 3-5 hours, and he developed a routine for me to do whenever he came that I could use to get some improvement in my flexibility and also something that I could memorize so I could get the satisfaction of making progress with something and also having something stable amidst all this instability. That I did like. Of course around the holidays we took a lot of time off and I didn't do much on my own during that time.

Health. Needless to say, all this didn't leave me feeling too good. The food I really felt was causing me bad reactions - feeling phlegmy all the time and just generally low on energy, as well as my digestion not being so happy. A combination of working more at a desk and not exercising much was creating immense amounts of pain in my shoulders, neck, and a point on my midback right between my shoulder blades. My legs also got incredibly tight - I am a naturally flexible person, but when I go the other way, it tends to be extreme and even basic stretches were tough.

Emotional state/wanting to change. I was also dealing with feelings of shame, dissatisfaction, and general frustration because I could feel the changes I wanted to make but I just wasn't making them. I'd try here and there -- "okay, in the morning I'm going to start waking up earlier" or "okay, my boyfriend and I are going to sign up for a gym and work out a lot" -- but nothing stuck, and sometimes I never even got started on any of these lofty goals.

Honestly, what I really had was this feeling of... the whole thing was off. This wasn't just one little aspect here or there that needed slight tweaking. Everything was somewhat off, and everything was also feeding into everything else. I was getting into a negative feedback loop -- the less I'd sleep, the less I'd want to go to work, the more likely I'd be to stay home, watch TV, eat out of boredom, and do the same thing the next day because I always find the more days I have like that the more days I have like that. Momentum, and all that, just going in the direction I didn't want.

The other thing that I've really noticed is that what I don't like is constant change. I was craving regularity. I didn't want to be going to bed one night at 10am and the next night at 2am. I wanted to have a regular bed time that I stuck to every day. What I really wanted? Little things, like to know when I'm going to fall asleep. To know when I'm going to wake up. To know that I'm going to have a good meal to eat. To know that I'm going to get a certain minimum of exercise in weekly, and if I get in more, great, but to know that I'm at least getting the amount done to keep me moving in the direction of better health. I wanted a feeling of security. I wanted to be able to relax into a secure, stable structure.

Hence, this whole idea.

Now, to talk about the other very important reason I'm doing this.

Chronic pain. I've had chronic pain since I was around 11 years old. We think it started when I had to begin carrying much heavier books for school, to and from school and to and from my classes. From what I remember we didn't have lockers in middle school.

Sometime I might post pictures of myself from that time, but let's just say that what happened in conjunction with this was a bad posture. Hunched shoulders I think was my big issue. When I was a pre-teen and teenager most of my hobbies were also sedentary -- reading, internet, drawing, etc. -- and I didn't get very much exercise. I did horribly in P.E. I think it was one of the few classes I almost failed when I was in highschool. I somehow managed to scrape by, though I wonder how considering I hardly ever dressed out and I don't even remember being able to finish the mile due to athletically-induced asthma, and the fact that I went from running not much at all during the year to trying to do a mile at the end of the semester.

There was a point in 2011 where things got really bad. Towards the beginning of the year I had:

- wrist and finger pain that felt like carpal tunnel or something similar (overuse of laptop)
- low back pain
- mid-back pain
- hip/butt pain
- neck pain
- shoulder pain
- tingling in the bottoms of my feet

Plus, that pain would often travel and end up in my legs, ankles, mid-arms and whatnot. It was awful. My worst point was when I could hardly walk, stand or really do anything for any longer than 10 or 15 minutes.

My journey with exercise and such would be a topic for another post, but let's just say that through the whole process of trying to bounce back from that low point, I discovered that the only thing that really seemed to surefire help (and I tried a number of things, from physical therapy to acupuncture to massage to herbs and on and on) was regular exercise, especially a combination of stretching, cardio and strength. It seemed like the strength and stretching never went as well without the cardio, in particular.

So one of the big reasons I have decided to do this is because of where I was -- in chronic pain, at some points very debilitating chronic pain -- and where I ultimately want to be -- healthy, strong, and happy.

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