Space to Breathe

Giving myself space to breathe is a really tough thing for me to do.

Why?

Because I laid in a bed or on a couch and stared at a wall or nonsense TV for 5 months straight. FIVE MONTHS.

I am seriously terrified my brain will talk me into going there again. Giving up. I equate rest with giving up now. I know that’s not a logical thought but that’s the thought.

I am trying to rewrite that thought because your body needs rest and recovery time to heal from intense workouts. I have started to change my body significantly, I can see the muscles and I know how much stronger I am.  I need to slow down before I burn myself out. Also, I’m still dropping weight and figuring out the right nutritional balance – I am in just the right place now to make changes for the NEXT 100 day commitment.

So here’s what I’m doing to try and get out of my own head as it relates to exercise:

1. Calendar Commitments

Write out my minimum exercise routine: duration, frequency and type. Buy a calendar and put in in writing so I can physically see it every day. It can be adjusted as necessary (it will be in pencil) but start with the schedule as planned. Make sure to include high intensity days as well as running.  Adjust every 2 weeks as necessary but try to keep a routine.

I joined a few challenges within my Peloton tribe and I won’t embarrass myself by not sticking with them – the only one I’m challenged with currently is finding more time to add in yoga. I may take off a cardio day and do yoga instead.

One of the goals I am committed to is my sisters wedding in November. I want fabulous arm definition by then and I have plenty of time to make that happen.

Track another 100 days. and commit to a consistent routine within that time.

My sons birthday is the 100 day mark – October 1st.  It seems years away at this point when I am only 7 days in!

2. Recover

Allow myself recovery time. Decide if there are actual off days that include only meditation or yoga and active recovery days that include walking or a low impact ride. Stop the guilt.

Summer is here and there will be days away from the bike, plan for them now.  I know I can’t commit to the bike or tread for the next 100 days, but I can commit to a Peloton activity on the app.

Don’t beat yourself up over missed days when your body or mind need them. On day 105 when I was being lazy (Memorial Day) I got on the bike and 10 mins in, I clipped out for the first time ever. I just didn’t want to. Tomorrow is another day. The difference now is that tomorrow will be a hard work day, period. No excuses. I know I will do this so I forgave myself the rest.

Did I have a good reason to rest on Monday? Not so much. I had been on a beach vacation and exercised a bit each day. Nothing intense but I didn’t skip. When I came home I just wanted the day off even though I didn’t have anything special to do. I took the rest day and just decided I didn’t feel guilty about it. I wrote some blog posts instead! I already know which exercises I have to accomplish for tomorrow and I don’t have anything special on deck, so I will get right back on track.

It’s the thinking I have to change.  I did get on the bike and clipped in, and rode for 10 mins.  I would have been better served doing 10 mins of restorative Yoga.

Why is this such a issue? Because I told myself I would do better month over month. In my head, better meant more time and more miles March and April were like beast mode for me so when I looked at May, I was instantly disappointed with my time and mileage because it was so much lower. I need to acknowledge that my output (strength) was higher, so I am getting stronger in each workout even if there are less workouts. I am still angry at myself for May though, so I better dig deep to find the right balance that I am not chastising myself over at the end of the month.

So this is a tough one, commit to 100 days AND commit to resting when my body needs to rest.  Finding this balance is going to be tough for me as I tend to be all or nothing.

3. Practice

Meditate several nights a week and continue reading or listening to self-help books. Begin to reduce useless social media scrolling or limit it to coffee time in morning.

Encourage others as you like to be encouraged – that means intentionally posting positive vibes in my group pages and participating in group events on the Peloton. This was such a positive experience for me in my first 100 days I don’t want to let it slide!

Practice being positive with the kids – how can they benefit from what I’ve learned without thinking it’s totally corny? Practice keeping my cool but still getting them to do what needs to be done in their lives. Learn how to partner with them.

Forcing myself back to reading or listening to self-help books is a good addition in the next 100 days.  I had fallen into way to much social media.  I do consider my Peloton social media to count as self-help because it’s all positivity and exercise centric.  Reading about others real life challenges and successes is very motivating and reminds me I have a massive tribe behind me.

 

So, thats the next 100 days….I believe I am committed to do it!  It will be interesting to see what tricks my mind is going to play when I get back to work – which I expect to happen before the end of June, at least a freelance role.  I think thats’ my next biggest challenge up ahead.

No More Excuses – 100 Days of Action

I did it!

On Wednesday, May 22nd I completed 100 days of commitment to creating a healthier life. I beat myself up over 5/6 missed days, but the truth is, I never missed a day of trying – I may have meditated or done yoga those days because I wasn’t well, but I didn’t actually just skip a day entirely. In hindsight, it’s not the days I missed that I was worried about – it was not keeping my promise to myself.

I’ve been reading and listening to some great self-help books lately and one of the statements that stuck out to me was “why do you keep breaking promises to yourself?” I hate breaking a promise to anyone else, but I will give up on myself almost immediately. Well, that stops now. I am putting myself first – and while that might sound selfish to my children the fact is that if I care for myself well, then I can care for them better than I have been.

I have done a really poor job of taking care of myself. When things get rough, I bury myself under piles of work. It took being out of work for 9 months to realize how unhealthy that was. I wasn’t doing anyone a favor. Corporations don’t care. I was burning gas I didn’t have and they weren’t getting the best from me and my job took way too much of my family life from me. I can’t go back to change that now, but I sure can affect what happens go forward.

So here’s what I’ve learned in my 100 days. It’s actually quite simple, unfortunately. There really is no way around it – and not one person said any differently. Everyone’s advice was quite similar:

“You must take action to move forward. “

Sounds so practical, right?

You can’t get where you want to be by wishing for it. Or waiting for it. You have to put in the work. One foot in front of the other, just like that. Again, and again, and again.

“No one else can do it but you. “

No one gets you out of bed or off the couch every day. Only you can help yourself. Get up and get started, Lady. Every. Damn. Day. Show up for yourself.

“Build the habits, slowly, step by step.”

That was a big one. Finally releasing my big-old-type-A personality to do something slowly and steadily, Day after day. Not jumping right into 2 hours of exercise every single day forever, but building up to what felt right, and adding in more as I became stronger. Honestly, I have never been so surprised by waking up thinking: what am I going to do for my exercise today? Now it happens regularly and I feel off when I don’t exercise, even if it’s just a little, very day.

“Just do it. No secret sauce.”

Nike has it right. There is no other way. Stop letting your brain give you all the reasons not to do something and just do it.

“Practice Gratitude”

Wake up every day thankful you opened your eyes. You GET to do this, you don’t have to do this. Life is a privilege so start acting that way.

I needed to replace the negative thoughts with good ones. Consistently and repetitively. How did I do this? I practiced.

I reminded myself over and over.

Long ago, more than one person suggest I meditate. I tried it and blew it off as not for me. This time, I kept trying. I practiced meditation the same way I practice my exercise. I show up and try over and over. Some days I’m more distracted than others but practice makes progress and it’s sinking in. Meditation is simply a way to focus your mind.

I realize I have never actively trained my mind to focus quietly. Sure, I can focus on projects, peoples, conversations etc. I’m good at active focusing – actually I’m so good at it I get addicted and obsessed when I’m super interested. But this is different. This is learning to focus my mind, guide my thoughts, in a positive and purposeful way. I’m retraining my brain and that takes practice. It may take me forever, but hey, I’ve got all the time in the world!

I really like meditation when I let it work for me and concentrate on the guidance. I notice I can apply some of the practice when I’m not meditating – slow down and pay attention to what I’m feeling, where I’m feeling it, why did that feeling come up? If that emotion is not serving me purpose in that moment, I can attend to it later, but for now, learn to package it up and put it away so I can focus on whatever it is I should be focusing on. I also remind myself that my thoughts are not what define me – my actions are. So if I have negative thoughts, I must act with kindness and positive intent. In order to do that, I have to stop and think “is what I’m about to say or do going to be kind? Is it necessary? What do u want to accomplish and how am I going to hold myself accountable?”

I obviously cannot do this when I allow Trixie to get hold of a nuclear bomb and annihilate everything in the way. I need to do this in order to avoid ever getting to such an utter loss of self-control again. I will say one thing about Tony as it relates to this: I do not feel regret for telling his wife. I cannot exactly explain why I felt I “had” to do what I did – but that needed to happen for me for whatever reason. I am sorry it made it so I can never, ever reconnect with Tony again but there are times when I think that might be the reason I threw the nuclear bomb – so I COULD never reconnect with him. I’m not pleased with myself that I hurt a woman who never did anything to me, and part of me knew there was nothing I was going to say or do that would make her want to leave him. I’m not trying to make an excuse, just laying out my thought process. My goal is no more nuclear bombs ever in my life. For any reason.

I threw 3 of them last year. One to destroy my job, one to destroy that relationship and one to almost take my life. I never want to revisit that feeling again so it means I have to actively retrain my brain how to speak to me. That all started with my healthy and positive commitment to my 100 days journey.

So how did I complete my 100 day journey? I had a fabulous exercise day with Peloton with my favorite trainers. I publicized my ride on social media so I rode with many Pelo-peeps who support and encourage throughout the ride and my output was actually a personal record. I bought those huge Mylar number balloons for “100” and took a photo and posted it all over social media. And then, well then I went and got a tattoo! I had been thinking about it for a while so this was my gift to myself. I got the Sanskrit word for “strength” tattooed on my wrist. I never thought I would get a tattoo but I love it! I had polled my family and friends on several words that resonated with me and that’s the word they most closely associated with me. It hurt like crazy but it carries a lot of significance and meaning to me, and reminds me of the fire I walked through to get here.

Steps Forward and Back….the Dance of Depression

When I initially set out to create a habit, I was a bit stubborn, determined and a lot bored. I have so much time on my hands, excessive amounts of obsession and depression that I knew I had to do something or succumb to another black hole. My goal was to see if I could break the behavior in 90-100 days and set myself up for real and lasting change.

The one commitment I started with was to ride the Peloton Bike EVERY day. I was going to make that investment worth it come hell or high water. I also really wanted the Peloton Tread and told myself that wasn’t happening until I could prove to myself I was going to use it consistently . The cost of $$ investment was too high to make a frivolous decision. Based on what I knew about myself, 30 or 60 days wasn’t enough. Nor was a 3/5 day a week commitment. Nope, I was going gangbusters on my own ass.

Shit, if I could obsess over Tony for a year every day I should be able to commit to taking care of myself in a positive way for 100 days. At least, right? And maybe, just maybe, a new obsession could replace the Tony obsession. A new focus. The right kind of focus.

May 11th was 90 days from my start on February 11th.

I did not ride the bike for 6 days in that 90 days. 2 from a hospital stay, 3 from a stomach virus and 1 I have no idea. I did do “something” Peloton related those 6 days, even if that meant a meditation. Those 6 days bug me and piss me off. I should allow some leeway but it only makes me feel I can’t commit to anything sometimes. I am forgiving myself because I did realize this past week, when I had the stomach virus, that my body REALLY needed the rest. When I finally did ride again, I rode stronger. Also, I suddenly started to bleed – now I don’t know if it’s a period or not but it would sure explain the utter exhaustion combined with the stomach bug. I get blood tests next week – I’m at my full 5 month mark since my last infusion. I’m banking on a massive drop in iron because I’m having trouble just getting out of bed and I truly can’t find energy within myself.

Once the activity started I realized I was capable of more.

I am learning that healthy habits are what’s going to get me through life. If I do right by myself every day as a way of life, and I fall off the wagon, it doesn’t matter. One day, one weekend or maybe even a week to allow myself space either physically or mentally isn’t going to make me gain back the 75 pounds I lost. What made me gain over and over and over during the past 18 years was the fact that I allowed myself to keep failing. I did not have a healthy habit I was committed to.

For instance, in the past, one cookie on a Friday would mean I could eat a whole box before Sunday. Mid week I could eat poorly again because I had already eaten the cookies. The behavior was a loop and a very bad one. That’s gone.

Now, I eat a cookie if I want a cookie. I drink. AND I watch what I eat all the times in between that and I feel just fine. Every day doesn’t need to be a food party. I am still learning what my balance is, but now clearly have a better relationship with good and healthy eating and make better choices. Eliminating most carbs has removed the carb cravings. I don’t struggle to avoid foods that are not good for me. I have actually lost the appetite for most of my old fatty food choices. They just no longer appeal to me, as if I have lost the taste of them entirely. I also just make better choices for myself and don’t allow myself to feel penalized when I go off. Now I understand healthy eating habits. I almost don’t know why this felt so hard before (yes, it helps that I can’t eat much in one sitting so making better choices makes sense).

I’m off Keto now because my body wasn’t responding well with all the working out. I needed more protein and carbs. I’m working with the nutritionist to find the right balance for that.

So I’m 90 days in and heading towards that 100. I’m contemplating what happens post 100 and what makes sense for me to maintain once working again. I’m speaking with a nutritionist and many trainers about constructing the best “road ahead” for my goals.

That all sounds good, right?

But, and there’s always a but……There are two immense things I struggle with.

One is “encouraging” self-talk. Being my own cheerleader. Congratulating myself. Egging myself on. Encouraging myself. I don’t know how the people who do this (all over my Facebook and Peloton groups – here on the blog too – Maggie is a master ❤️) do it every single day. Are they for real? How can anyone be so positive and encouraging? Do they have a book of positivity quotes? Do they really wake up and make gratitude lists? I want to learn how to do this as I believe I am mostly a critical person (hello, Virgo trait). Not just do it but BELIEVE in it, drink the koolaid, buy the farm.

I chose one thing to try: every day I post my exercise achievements. I was always annoyed by people who did this so have no idea what prompted me to do so, but it seemed easy enough. An unexpected side effect is a lot of my friends congratulate me and encourage me – and many tell me how I’ve motivated them to start their own journey. Two have even bought a Peloton! I guess I realize that if my exercise posts are annoying they can skip over them, but many seem interested. I never expected anyone to care. People are really happy to share their own fitness journeys and tips as well. I use this for my mental well being – it’s like having cheerleaders. I am my own worst enemy with all the positive self talk – – and I do realize this is what coaches and trainers and support groups are best at – reminding you to do your bets every day! I try so hard to be encouraging for others but find it tedious…I wish I could tap into all that positivity consistently. Maybe I should do a 90 day positive energy journey next? I really feel like this is a key to unlocking something for me. What if I HAD to be grateful, satisfied, and positive for the next 90 days?

I have a few platforms on which I can do this. I can help young women with career roles, I can participate as an admin in a Peloton Facebook group and support others along their journey, I can start a gratitude journal. I will just need a place to vomit after I spend the day smiling and performing – at least in the start. I truly don’t know how people wake up and make a choice to be happy. I listen to these coaching mantras and they make sense – but they don’t make me cry and evaluate my life and affect me the way they do many people I know. Church also doesn’t have that impact on me. I have to figure this piece out – the part of me I want to put into the universe to grow and make better.

The second one is my absolute fear I will give up. Why? Because I have ALWAYS given up in the past. I don’t give up on obsessing over Tony so clearly I can obsess where my brain wants to -but obsessing about my exercise and health? Welp, that’s partially how I ended up in Mexico in the first place. Although I had legitimate reasons this past week for not exercising to my normal capacity, I feel immense guilt and worry that every day I can’t is simply going to lead to another day I don’t want to. I’m worried that if I can’t get my iron for 2 months or so (which is highly likely to happen, thanks insurance) I will allow myself to remain exhausted instead of pushing through. And once I stop for too long, all that hard work disappears.

When your body is depleted it’s so hard to get your mind to work. I’ve been sick and tired for so long, so very long, that the thought still crosses my mind that all this is just too hard, too much work and I’m tired, really tired of trying so hard just to wake up every day. Will positive self-talk change this? Will more exercise? Will better body acceptance? Will falling in love? My kids treating me better? Self-acceptance? When this exhaustion hits, the depression grabs hold of the thought and runs away with it….and that is ALWAYS a fear.

Shut My Brain Off, Please. Obsessing.

Not sure that I ever shared this but the therapist I was with at the end of last year diagnosed me with OCD.

I had never been referred to as OCD before so spoke about it a long while. My x was a clear OCD and son is S2. They have the kind of OCD that relates to unseen germs, repetitive habits or people touching their things etc. Theirs is pretty physical obviously when you know them a little while. I was surprised, but not shocked when we spoke about my ability to obsess over things not going the way I want them to. I obsess on the thoughts and feel the need to take action.

We covered all the basic steps of how to circumnavigate the debilitating repetitive ruminations and how to break the cycle. I have actively engaged in doing this. I consciously stop when I begin to ruminate and distract my mind. When I cannot distract my mind, I engage in physical activity. I amp up the activity to higher heart rates where all I can concentrate on is the activity if I’m really struggling. This has worked well (enough) most times.

But, my killer time is bed time. When I lie down to sleep and my mind begins unwinding, it always (and I do mean always) unwinds right to Tony. I started bedtime meditation to help with this, so that I have to listen to the guided meditation and put away the rumination. Again, this mostly helps. Last night was a killer.

As I normally do, when I am obsessing on something I start researching how I can help myself. I found a simple technique I’m going to try this week. Ask myself some questions.

The first step when I get so stuck in a loop I can’t stop ruminating has always been to acknowledge that I fixating on something negative. This part I have down pat. I have a series of answers lined up, such as:

Remember he doesn’t want you

You deserve better

He is a liar and a cheat and you don’t want that

Generally, on a good day, I can stop there. But on a bad day or night, there is another voice that’s says:

How did he get on with his life?

What is his marriage like now?

Is he happy? Or would he just lie some more?

What happened after their DDay?

What did he say about me?

As you can see, none of that is relevant and doesn’t require any answers. It’s none of my business and he’s not my concern.

So, when I get here, my new tactic is to use this technique which involves asking yourself a series of questions and then answering them. The technique is simple and quick, requiring only a minute or two of my time: (pulled from Psychology Today)

Wherever you are, ask yourself the following questions.

  • If I had to guess, what is the exact temperature now (inside or outside, depending where you are)?
  • What is my body temperature like now? Do I feel a little cold, a little warm, or perfectly comfortable?
  • If I don’t make any noise, can I identify every single sound that I hear?
  • Outside, what is in the sky? Are there clouds? How would I describe what I see in the sky?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how hungry am I?
  • If I could choose any dish right now to eat, I would choose….”

I’m sure, you got the idea. The value of this exercise is to distract my mind from any obsessive or upsetting thoughts and feelings I’m stuck in and to redirect my thinking to specific, tangible distraction-based questions by using my senses.

I can come up with my own questions.

The other method that I had researched a while back, but also don’t think I mentioned, is Mel Robbins “5 second rule.” This was so simple I actually didn’t try it for a while thinking it would never work but it does! I had initially read about this as related to how to put something into action, rather than stop action, but the theory works in reverse: (taken from MelRobbins.com)

What do you do?

Just start counting backwards to yourself: 5-4-3-2-1.

The counting will focus you on the goal or commitment and distract you from the worries, thoughts, and excuses in your mind.

As soon as you reach “1” – push yourself to move.

This is how you push yourself to do the hard stuff – the work that you don’t feel like doing, or you’re scared of doing, or you’re avoiding.

That’s it. 5 seconds is all it takes.

If you don’t act on an instinct within that 5 second window, that’s it. You’re not doing it.”

Rather than push myself to move (as above), stopping and counting down when I deep in rumination in order to refocus my thought is like an active recovery stage. It forces me to concentrate on the count and then move into a different thought.

I believe all the work I did with the therapist was good and showed me a lot of ways I can help myself while I can’t afford therapy. Putting these small changes into action isn’t difficult – the difficulty lies in repeating the techniques over and over and over until I’m no longer ruminating.

Frankly, sometimes I say to my mind “go ahead and obsess and lose sleep and get yourself upset because you’re too stubborn for me” I make myself crazy.

I have to think of some questions to ask myself that are simple, don’t require more hard thinking (like work thoughts) and would absolutely distract me.

Tenuous Hold on My Goals

I don’t fool myself that I have my goals in hand. My self-talk is still amazingly good at letting me off the hook for bad habits.

After all, look at all the shit I put Tony through a year after a break-up and him telling me it’s never going to happen again. I still stalk his absence on social media, convinced one day he’s going to unblock me and be curious about me.

If I could figure this one piece of me out, I am sure I would be in an infinitely better place than I am today as well as have much better control of myself in the future.

But I haven’t figured it out.

As much as I have committed to exercising daily, more days still tend to be a struggle than not. When I look back at each week I can see a slow decrease the past 3 weeks. I have felt it tapering off and I know my hold on this commitment is tenuous at best.

I am doing all the right things: I rest when I need to. I hold myself accountable for tracking food and exercise every day. I am in support, training and nutrition groups as well as working with a nutritionist. I literally have moments of high-highs and equal moments of low-lows. I cannot seem to create the pattern yet. I thought I was almost there, I thought I could taste real, lasting change and it’s started to slip right out my grasp the past 3 weeks.

I am obsessed with tracking my numbers: number of steps in a day, week and month. Number of miles. Number of calories. It’s the one thing I can rely on to “prove” my progress in a way and ensure I don’t slip up. This is how I know exactly how much I’ve slowed down. I want it to be a science in a way – something I can control so that, in the future, when I take “days off” or “rest days” I have concrete targets in mind to achieve for the month.

I haven’t given up, just slowed down. I am just terrified that slowing down too much means eventually quitting as I have done so many times before with my physical health. But why isn’t the fear of failure stronger than the mindset telling me it’s ok to give up?

It is NOT ok. Not anymore. I had my moment of quitting life. I almost succeeded at quitting for good but God had other plans for me. I have other plans for me (though I’m unsure what they are yet!). I’m done quitting and ready to continue investing. But, I haven’t built my habit. I haven’t ingrained it in me yet.

I’m writing because I don’t want to stop. I need to continue. I promised myself 90-100 days straight no holds barred. I promised myself I would make my goal weight and get stronger. The side bonus to that was fitting in the smallest size clothes I can ever recall and feeling the muscles growing beneath my skin with normal movement. By the end of my 90-100 days I expect I will see true muscle definition. I’m praying that once I’ve checked all these wonderful boxes and once I see the muscles and see the results, my mind will make the switch from “this isn’t important” to “this is my priority !”

My job at the moment is working out. I’m lucky I can get it in any time during a day or night. I’m praying that my 90- 100 days corresponds with a job offer somewhere and I can take my newly found fit mentality and being that energy into a new role and really start life over again.

I’m terrified of losing this mojo. It’s still so much effort for me most days even at 79 days in. I’m very close to that 90-100 mark, very close, and it feels like this should be more solidified than it is – which is why I’m worried.

68 Days of Me

68 days of commitment. I have worked out 68 days in a row and committed to improving my health and strength, and hopefully, as a by-product, my flabby hanging skin.

This week has been terrible for me. It’s the first week I just DON’T want to do it. It’s taken me nearly half the day to get off the couch. I even napped one day which I haven’t done in months (I try and avoid naps at all costs as I’m afraid one will lead to many). I found myself not doing anything in the mornings and then getting on a struggle bus to convince myself to do something on the afternoon.

Could it be because my son is on Spring Break and I’m out of the morning routine? Could something collapse so easily? Or is this just my psyche trying to win the war and push me back to lazy?

So far, the urge to shrug it off hasn’t succeeded.

I realize that anything, and I do mean anything, can screw up my day. I am so used to having allllll my time and a little schedule that I can manage. But as soon as you throw in any appointment or conflict, and my brain says: no workout today, woohoo!

But the fact is – I feel better after a workout. I have started running – which I really can’t believe – with a program called None 2 Run. I completed my second week and I actually enjoy it. It’s not easy for me, but I feel really good after my effort. I can only Run 45 seconds at a time right now, over 10-15 intervals, but that’s from nothing. I am thrilled with my progress.

I just wish my brain would stop sabotaging the one good thing I have accomplished for myself in many months. I need to create a pattern that I can find time and energy for a workout even when I’m working, I can’t continue to allow the sabotage to happen so easily. At some point I have to work again and before I do, I want the exercise routine to be ingrained and never to be replaced or erased.

I read the book Ann recommend called The Power of Habit and I notice that all of the health and fitness instructors I follow on social media also tout habit as the cornerstone to any healthy exercise regime. While everyone has different quotes on how long it take for a habit to stick, the book suggests (from their analysis) that its a minimum of 66 days to create a habit and potentially even longer.

I tend to agree with this because, at 68 days in, I THINK of exercise as something I WANT to fit in every day. No day passes without the conscious effort to exercise. However, my brain hasn’t programmed itself to say “this is a requirement, no day SHOULD pass without exercise.” If there is a way I can navigate around exercising, my brain is actively looking for it. For instance, last night I didn’t even start until post 8pm. That’s the latest yet. I was home all day. Just that one slip makes me nervous because it eeks in and then affects me the next day and the next. I still need to work on my self talk.

I want to form this habit. I am privileged that I CAN move the way I can and that I have my health back for the most part. I am getting stronger and I love it. I repeat to myself that it is no longer a negative – I can no longer say “I hate working out” – because that kind of negative self-talk is damaging. I reframe that thought into “I work out to feel good and become stronger.” I have to get the thought solid in my head that when I say “I don’t want to” or “I don’t have time” that I am really saying “I don’t care about myself”.

No one is going to care for me if I don’t start working on improving my physical, mental and emotional self. I need to keep reminding myself of that. I need to stop saying “it’s not important” and always say “I am very important” until it’s not a forced decision. Until it comes naturally to WANT to take care of myself, first. Sitting on the couch being some sort of vegetable isn’t caring for myself.

So, 68 days in, some days come easier than others. Some, like this past week, are still forced out of me. When I really feel like I “can’t” I tell myself just to do a light, active recovery day. If I still feel like I “can’t” after a light active recovery, then I don’t. But honestly, most times I find once I get past the initial hurdle of getting started, the energy comes with the sweat and I can go on to do a decent workout.

I need to set my intention to change. I have thought about making a vision board. I think they are kind of hokey, but I’m willing to give it a try.

68 days more than I’ve ever done before. That’s some accomplishment. I need to keep reminding myself every single day that I’m doing the best thing for myself.

Exercise and Activity- STREAKING!

A note: I had been writing this post before I was hospitalized….so in the spirit of positivity and creating new habits, I kept the upbeat tone, even though we hit a pretty big wall 😫

………………………………….

I’m doing it!

I am crushing my exercise goal!

I’m obsessing over MYSELF! I try to focus on myself and my well being for a few hours every day. I have noticed that I have better endurance than I expected, I’m still very flexible, but my balance and strength are gone. So, I focus on something different every day and try to keep going.

I want to look in that mirror and love my body for once in my life….I am really unsure I can ever get there, but I can work to make it look even better clothed! And I have my sisters wedding in November to work towards!

I definitely achieved my goal to go from entirely sedentary to active!

I pay attention to the Peloton trainers and I can now better understand which muscles I should be using during floor exercises. They also have great bike mechanics rides to teach you better and stronger pedal strokes. I am definitely educating myself this time around so I can do well for the long haul and not a quick win. I also make sure to stretch every single day as well as learn a few yoga poses.

I have been making sure I get to that 10k steps a day. The ONLY way for me to do that in my current lifestyle is to get an active walk in. The good news is that this counts as exercise for me because I have to walk a minimum of 45 minutes on a normal day to get those 10k steps – if I was working, I would be closer to 10k without any exercise.

I can see progress!

Week 1: average of 3400 steps/day

Week 2: average of 8600 steps/day

Week 3: average of 10,535 steps/day

Week 4: average of 12,106 steps/day

Week 5: average of 11,636* steps/day

*colonoscopy this week so one day only had 3k steps so really not bad!

Week 6: average of 8200* steps/day

*Friday/Saturday of this week I was in the hospital so there were less than 500 steps each day. I also took off the Fitbit upon returning home Saturday so missed some steps. All in all, still better than where I was even 4 weeks ago!

I “agreed”‘with myself that every day must include a ride on that damn expensive Peloton bike. I bought the bike because Tony worked for Peloton and I (as crazy as I can be) thought it would remind me of him (yea it does and now that’s just another hurdle to overcome – talk about bad purchase decisions!).

Straight days of Peloton Bike:

– 19 days streak 1

– 19 days streak 2

Days where exercise is more than 60 minutes per day: 31 days

I have exercised every single day from 2/11 – today, minus the 2 hospital days where I meditated (which counts as mental and emotional exercise, right?!)

I’ve learned I still hate exercise, but am committed to starting every day. Once I start, I can keep going for some time. I should reframe that a little (very little) …. I hate getting started. And I hate working to exhaustion. I love the sense of accomplishment and energy after a work out. That’s the piece I want to get addicted to.

I am finally at a point where I can start pushing hard on the bike. I am literally dripping with sweat and my heart rate is peak zone. I can only do a push ride like this every other day. I think I have also, for the first time, discovered the “runners high”. At one point in two rides this past week I felt a surge of energy and push and don’t know where it came from and suddenly the pain in my legs disappeared and the struggle wasn’t as heavy. It was a pretty amazing feeling and I can see why people would chase it.

However -I still think I would rather take out my vibrator!!

As mentioned, I have to supplement my steps with a minimum of 30-60 minutes on the treadmill. I do some Peloton tread classes, but mostly just challenge myself to achieve more calories or a better time. I’m afraid of committing too much on the tread that my legs will be too weak for the bike. I like the tread so much better than the bike and wish I owned the Peloton tread but mine is doing its job and it’s probably over 15-18 years old. That Peloton tread is a very expensive proposition. I’ve told myself if I can really use the tread every day perhaps that can be my gift for myself when I get a full time job.

I work a small 10 minute body weight routine on my core every day. My core is weak and my form sloppy, but I persist. In the beginning I could not sit up from lying or lift my legs up off the floor while lying on my back. While I can’t see or feel the strength, I can see the difference in my capabilities for the core exercises.

I switch off light arms and legs. I purchased some nice light weights (up to 15 lbs) for various exercises, a floor mat, yoga blocks and kettlebells. Amazon Basics has a great series of inexpensive weight equipment for light home training. Since I really have no muscle tone, this should satisfy for some time.

I mean, I can’t even hold a plank for 30 seconds yet, never mind mountain climbers and burpees!!I’m sweating in a hollow hold. I have a long, long way to go!

But hey, now I even know what those exercises are and how to do them!

Here’s my favorite result, when I stretch (which I actively do after every ride and walk) I can feel form and muscle! 6 weeks and my very old muscle memory is working magic, especially in my legs. 6 weeks ago (this is no lie) the loose skin on my legs made noises from flapping around my bones. It was gross. It’s not all tight, but that ugly noise is gone. I had 20+ years of way too much weight on my body so chances are my skin never fully recovers even if I get decent muscle tone, but the same way I love to feel a mans strong muscles, I’m thrilled to finally be able to feel my own strength.

Sitting in the hospital for 2 days messed with my head big time. It was like I fell backwards in time to when I was so completely broken and weak. I probably could have done some exercise the day I came home but chose to rest so that the next day I could really put in the work. I know I probably imagined this, but I thought I heard my things making the jiggly noises after missing just two days.

There you have it – 6 weeks in of full-on dedication. I have all the time in the world and I’m going to stop wasting it.

I Trapped Myself

I acknowledge that I am stuck in repetitive negative thoughts. The patterns are so immersed that I believe my brain processes the obsession as my normal cognitive behavior. When I don’t “get what I need/expect” I fight for it.

Fighting for it got me into a hole I nearly didn’t get out of last year.

I fought with my boss and had to leave a job. I fought with my children and still have one relationship that needs mending. I fought with Tony until I made him despise me. Even though, at times, I knew I should stop pushing, it felt like I was wired to defeat myself.

I had trapped myself into my own bad behaviors.

I tried to convince myself that going to Mexico was a reset button for me. If I could lose the weight other things would fall in place. Again, really bad thinking on my part. I know part of it was severe depression because I didn’t want to care if I died. I thought if I could feel physically better about myself, perhaps the emotional duress would lessen.

That’s clearly not what happened. I made everything much, much worse before it even started to level out these past few weeks.

Learning to get out of these behaviors is taking a toll on me. I am doing what I can which is primarily holdings myself accountable by writing out the damaging behaviors as well as redirection and create new, healthy patterns.

I actively try to stop my obsessive thoughts by interrupting myself. My brain is so powerful it can bring me right back to the unwanted and uncomfortable thoughts and I can’t exercise it away all day and night. I have disputed my sleep pattern despite including significant activity in my day. I disrupted my eating pattern and found the old habit of not thinking what was going hand-to-mouth too easy to fall back into.

I stopped the poor eating (there was a different trigger there will talk about in a separate post). Now I am going to figure out exactly what I need to build in my brain to stop the obsessive thoughts. I need a mini activity (even a brain activity, doesn’t have to be physical) that I do each time I begin to obsess. I need a replacement thought.

As much as I currently feel like my life was ruined, I want to begin believing it is simply changed. I have the power to begin making new and different choices. Choices that are better for me. I am not alone. People have lived through heartbreak and come out stronger the other side. I can too.

I hate self talk like I hate exercise but I’ve got to try something different. I may even make a vision board.

Sweat it Out

I did something disruptive today.

I was soooo tired this morning. My alarm didn’t go off and I had to take the boy to school early so jumped up just in time. But, even after 2 cups of coffee I was getting sleepy again by 10am.

I had an outplacement call at 10:30 and couldn’t allow for a nap, but I didn’t really WANT to nap. I wanted to feel better.

So I tried something else – I got on the Peloton for 10 minutes and climbed a hill!

In 10 minutes my heart was racing and I was sweating and pushing myself!

Woke me right the fuck up!

The best news is that I was lively and engaged in my outplacement call and did really well in my SMART stories for my practice interviews!

10 minutes of sweat changed my entire outlook on my morning.

Something is starting to change, not a habit yet, but I am developing an apathy to being sickly/sleepy/sedentary anymore. I had my sick/down time and I have no reason to take it down so far again.

I’m just thrilled that 10 minutes activated me the the way it did!

Follow Through

Did I follow through on the most important goal I set for myself Tuesday?

Yes!

I wrote out 4 SMART stories before my call with the outplacement consultant. Her job is to help me finesse those stories into compelling statements that will say ” this is why you hire me and not someone else.” I actually asked a respected work friend if they agreed on those stories as my strongest in her memory – because I want to be sure this is how others view me as well.

I even sent out one resume and 2 emails for networking. It really isn’t a back-breaker but this morning made me realize it’s something I have to schedule in as a must do.

I was very distracted so it took me a period of 3.5 hours to do this task. The stories are not easy and required a bit of thinking, but I was avoiding them. The emails and networking was a no-brainer. I have firmly decided I am going to be sure to include a FOCUSED half hour each day to be done before 11am.

In my own crazy, cracked way – this upset my flow a little, my mind started thinking “how can we get out of exercise today?” Almost like “we’ve accomplished enough already!” Ummmm, no. That’s become a non-negotiable.

I acknowledge that my mind plays a game of trade-offs “If you do this Mads, then maybe you don’t have to do that other thing you don’t really want to do anyway.” It was fine to start that way when I was tired and broken. It’s not fine to stay there anymore. It’s March and I’ve got to get up off the floor. I’ve lost, I’ve hit rock bottom, I gave up and I gave in. I quit the game as close as possible. But, something (call it a greater power or my own willfulness) kept me around. I’m here. So I can continue to be a wasteful slug, or I can get going.

This is a psychological battle for me that I need to change. Because, seated somewhere deep within is my drive, my desire, to do more.

I can’t quite dig it out from under, my drive, but it’s like digging that never-ending hole in the sand st the beach ….. you know eventually you are going to hit water…. just a little further because you know in your gut it’s there – you can sense it.

As I’m sitting here having my second cup of coffee I realize I have the privilege of time at the moment – a luxury I’ve never had. I’ve already squandered a bunch of precious time in my healing and debilitating obsession and depression, but now that I am almost fully physically healed, I need to strengthen myself both emotionally, intellectually and physically. The only way I can continue to do this is by small changes each day or week.

I’ve committed to adding the half hour work focus at least 3 times a week (I don’t even need 5 days) and believe it’s totally doable to add in before I start my exercise routine.

In order to convince myself, I did find a trade-off I can make, temporarily. If I want a break, a time-out, a pity party or whatever we want to call it – I’m going to take it. But I can’t do it more than once a week. Consider it like looking towards a weekend food or drink binge after a hard weeks work. My brain and body still feel like I’m pushing them too far and too hard and they like to revolt every chance they get – so I’m gonna let them revolt, on a sort of schedule. I’m in the midst of analyzing my last 4 full weeks of effort (I am 26 straight days and refuse to do less than a 30 day streak) and come up with a plan of attack of how I can exercise, work, be lazy, and do life stuff (like any normally human does – but I’m not quite back to normal). I think getting a schedule together after this month is a good idea to begin thinking about how I spend my time and use that time more wisely.

I’ve agreed with myself that a pity party cannot include eliminating the gains I’ve made in exercise. I’ve studied up on active recovery days and that’s how I can use my “lazy day”. I get to shut off my mind and veg if I want, but I’ve got to get in a minimum amount of activity.

I got this.