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.

Non-Scale Victory: Acceptance

In the dieting world, NSV’s are a big deal. You may not see the scale move, but something else important happens and you can consider it a victory.

I’ve had a lot of these in the past month and when I found myself staring my wrinkly, excess skin on my arms and thighs, I decided I was going to forgive myself for the first time in my life.

I was trying on some clothes for outfits as I have a few appointments coming up. As I changed in and out of each I watched how my body moved. There are certain angles, positions and movements that exacerbate or highlight the excess skin. I don’t have that much excess skin, but it’s there and it’s wrinkly and in certain positions it’s very obvious. It bothers me. I think it’s ugly and certainly not natural looking (especially my tummy) I analyzed myself for a while, immediately fretting over how ugly it looks. How a man would react to it? How it made me look older. And and and and.

Then I stopped. Can’t go back and change a decision I made that was surgical. Didn’t really understand the potential impact of significant weight loss so quickly, and maybe even never believed I was going to be less than 160-175 pounds in my life. I look great in clothes. I feel great. I am doing everything to care for my new body. I am becoming strong.

And finally, oh my god, finally, I forgave my body for looking the way it does with its wrinkles and scars and instead told it how happy I am with it’s strength and ability to recover. How it feels so good to move freely. How I can sit any way I want with my legs crossed at any angle and not lose my circulation. How amazing it feels to buy clothes that make me look great, that hang beautifully on my frame, that don’t bind me and cause discomfort.

I looked at this bruised body of mine and reminded myself of what it’s accomplished, despite the damage caused at my own making.

Sure, it’s not natural, my body has distorted and morphed in ways that are not beautiful. But, I never had a perfect body. My first surgery on my bowels was at 2 years old and that left awful, deep and ugly scars. I never had a pristine, scar-less body. Then it hit me: I’ve never loved my body.

And the thought grew.

If I never loved my body, and I’ve gone to great lengths to change it over many, many trials and tribulations – why not just forgive my body? It’s doing the best it can with what it’s been given to work with. It’s getting stronger and more defined every day. It moves in ways it never has before.

Why not accept the best of what I have and stop fretting about the rest? I don’t think that happens over night, but I can feel acceptance beginning within me. I don’t have to, I get to…..I get to wake up every day, open my eyes, and be grateful my body serves me so well.

Weight has always been at the top of my mind. My whole life. Even though I have a whole lot less of it now, it’s probably going to be top of my mind for the rest of my life thanks to all the years of negativity surrounding it. But if I can learn to accept the gift I’ve been given, I believe I can break much of the negative internal loop I’ve created and accept all the new positives I’m creating.

Peloton Homecoming Weekend

I committed myself to 90/100 days of exercise and well-being and other than a few sickness blips along the way, have stuck to it entirely. The greatest motivation of all is my Peloton community and I can’t be more thankful to be a part of such a supportive group.

Peloton is about 6 years old and they host something called a Home Rider Invasion once a year. The Homecoming consistents of talks, community events, a sample sale and studio exercise with your favorite instructor. There is definitely an atmosphere of hero-worship with the instructors and everyone wants and opportunity to meet them and ride with them.

I admit, for the first time in my life, to geeking out full fan girl on the weekend. Why not? 3k other riders did! I got a hotel for 2 nights, I participated in all the events, and I rode my heart out and made new friends along the way. I had so much fun. I had invested in a new lifestyle and this felt like coming home to my tribe of peeps.

I wish I could bottle the feeling, but it took me several days to actually recover from the weekend events. I fade very fast now which still concerns me. Doctor appts to follow in the next couple weeks.

I had committed to attending alone, but at the last moment a Peloton friend wanted to come in Friday and don’t have a room so I offered to share mine. I didn’t regret making a new friend and she was super easy to get along with. A bit of a chatty Kathy but I realized I could just walk away from that when I needed. She made my life super easy because she was organized and got us to our locations on time. Friday night was a happy hour and we had a few hundred attendees from the Facebook group I participate in. Some people are very good at this kind of socialization. I have always struggled with it. I wish I was better. I can do a little but can’t sustain. I’m sure there were many more people I would have liked to interact with but I sort of turn inwards thinking I’m bothering people or they are not so interested in me. The night was fun in any case. My roommate was super active in the room but she over ruled any conversation I would have and I eventually grew tired of trying to socialize with her. She’s just a different type of person than I am. She seems to demand attention and desperately wants to share and be part of the group. I’m ok hanging back and enjoying everyone’s enjoyment!

The next day we attended some Peloton events and then there was an afternoon rush. I had a studio ride, a hair appt then a race to get ready to get to a HH. August was due to meet me at the hotel. The studio ride was amazing with some of my Pelo-peeps! The energy was fabulous and I enjoyed it so much more than I thought possible. Meeting people I had interacted with virtually was really fun! I struggled to make my hair appt and back to the hotel fast enough and finally bagged the scheduled HH (I regretted that in hindsight because it was a great HH and even smaller than Friday so better for networking).

I had a fabulous brightly colored silk jumpsuit to wear that set off my hair and newly formed arm muscles (they are getting there!) but just wanted to slow down for a minute getting ready. August waited in the bar for me as I got ready. A few friends stayed behind and we all met to have a drink. August is a striking figure and personable so the girls migrated to him easily. He really made our night easy as he held bags and took photos, always made sure we had drinks and was generally along for the ride. Honestly, I didn’t pay very much attention to him as I was so caught up in the atmosphere around us. I didn’t have any indication that August minded or was uncomfortable and I did watch him early on for signs of this.

We made our way to the massive evening event (think a small concert) and danced the night away. Everyone had so much fun. August couldn’t get over how people responded to me – and I suppose I don’t see what he sees – he felt that I energized everyone around me and people migrated to me. It’s funny that I don’t feel that at all, I don’t like to impose on people and I’m very forgetful about details so I’m cautious about meeting too many people and gathering too much information I know I won’t retain. I wish I could capitalize on this energy and connection August saw oozing from me – I wish I knew how to lead or group strangers in a way that was meaningful. I can do with a very small groups (an I did have small group with me all evening) but I’m no good at doing it multiple times. It does have me thinking that if other people see this compelling leadership ability in me (outside of work) then I should also consider how to put it to further use.

August was a fun and easy partner for the evening. I honestly have no idea if he responds to me, or I to him, but there isn’t much of a connection between us for one reason or another. I feel as though he’s impressed with me, thinks I’m beautiful and intelligent, but has zero clue how to act on it. He doesn’t do anything, absolutely nothing, that makes me feel like he’s all that interested in me or wants me. Which makes him easy to ignore and, perhaps, creates the loop. He needs a lot of direction and I find that frustrating as it’s a throwback to my marriage. But, on this very busy and engaging evening, he didn’t matter.

I also did not think about Tony even once. Someone asked me later if I saw him at the event and I truthfully replied that I had forgotten to look. 10 points for me. Trixie was nowhere to be seen.

After the cocktail party a group of us made our way back to the hotel for food, drinking and dancing. As we dropped things in the room, August made a comment about sex (don’t recall exactly what it was) and I dropped my jumpsuit, leaned over the bed and said “ok!” And he looked at me and laughed and said no woman had ever dropped their clothes so fast for him! We had a perfunctory quickie from behind, no kissing, no touching, nothing but penetration and his orgasm. Got dressed and joined the group. I had already had too much to drink at this point and it didn’t phase me. In hindsight though, he didn’t so much as touch me or show any interest in more than he got.

Our night was spent dancing and laughing before we made it to the room around 2am. August ran and got tacos for the whole group before we departed – there is nothing better than drunk taco! Lol. Then we made our way back to the room because we were due to be back at the event by 10am. August and I chatted while he climbed into bed and packed up and cleaned up. He eventually fell asleep before I crawled in. I was a little surprised he gave me a hug and we fell asleep. I know we didn’t touch the entire night, again. If it sounds dull, it was. It was fine.

We woke the next morning and he was kind enough to go in search of coffee and a valet cart for me. We checked out and made our way to the event. I could tell he wasn’t super enthused we missed food, but he managed on some protein bars. We did some of the morning events and made our way to a hotel nearby for a disaster of a brunch (no service and causing me to be late to my next event so I was full of complaints – they comped our meal). We had fun walking around and chatting and participating. He was such a good sport about taking photos and patiently watching me be an active fan girl. No hand holding. No hugging. No kissing. I do touch my partners, so my hand is generally on his shoulder or arm when I begin speaking to him. Normally a man will react to this by engaging me in a more physical way, pull me closer, hug me, kiss me, put an arm around me. Not August.

It had been pouring rain all morning and we caught a break so took a nice walk through the city. I enjoyed our time together but realize I can’t get a read on him exactly. Some small things send up some cues for me – like I can’t tell if he’s actually cheap or frugal. He’s observant and kind with some things and entirely neglectful of others. And I really don’t think he has a clue how to behave like a boyfriend. I don’t get the feeling his neglect is intentional. I could be wrong but I don’t know. However, if I make any move towards him that’s affectionate his face lights up but he doesn’t exactly respond in kind. I am no longer the kind of person that will go out of my way for a man if they don’t know how to manage their outward affections. I did it for 22 years and it didn’t work. This is where Tony ruled the romance kingdom – I always felt like his beloved. I adored that feeling and it made me feel like a queen and gave me a lot of power. I know I need that. August doesn’t have a clue how to do that. And as ageist as this sounds, I do think it’s a by-product of his generation and his upbringing. Again, I could be wrong but I think I’ve dated enough now to make these generalizations.

We made our way back to the hotel and gathered our things, loaded my car and parted with a kiss on the cheek. I really enjoyed my weekend, was happy to have August there, but he wasn’t the reason I enjoyed the weekend. Had he not been there I would have been fine and wondered if I should have tried it alone. I bet my luck would have been bad – I would have seen Tony and ruined a perfectly good weekend! 😂

I made some everlasting friendships and August committed to working out after meeting so many average people who dedicate their time and energy to this brand. He was surprise they weren’t all athlete types and so many were just “average Americans.” He was an Olympian (sorry, I was schooled that he IS an Olympian- once and Olympian always an Olympian!). This is why I love this community: anyone can excel. All you need to do is show up and do your best and they’ve got your back!

I know Peloton gave me my life back. ❤️

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.

I Just Realized I’m Scared

Oh, I’ve just had a moment full of tears.

My tears don’t come easily these days. I know it’s the meds. I know those meds keep me pretty clamped down emotionally. I hate it but know it’s critical right now to keep me from any more Trixie antics.

At least I know when the tears come, they are very deeply seated emotions rising to the surface.

For the first time in a long, long time I cried for myself and not for Tony.

I had a date yesterday, which was lovely, and I will write about him, but we hit on two subjects (thankfully very briefly) that struck me so hard that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them.

The first was my own statement that I’m beginning to realize I am most likely undateable to the caliber of man I’m attracted to. That’s because I’ve been out of work for 7 months with no job opportunities in sight. I realize that’s very scary to a divorced man who may have had a family and wife who already took most of his livelihood

The second was his statement, that I come across as disinterested. He is right. I’m not only disinterest but detached. I’m sick of the dating game and all its nuance.

I had the gut feeling when we touched on these two subjects that I should be exploring this a bit more. That’s when I came to the realization that, at the core of these feelings is a feeling I am not accustomed to having: I’m scared to death.

I’m scared of so many things that the tears don’t stop as I write this.

I’m afraid I won’t find a job.

I’m afraid I won’t be able to find another “Tony”.

I’m afraid I will fail again at work and in relationship.

I’m afraid to leave home now that I’ve established routine for the boys.

I’m afraid my body is so ugly now that I can’t have sex.

I’m afraid of the continuous persistent feeling of being demotivated and absent.

I’m afraid of losing the material things I have gained.

I’m afraid I don’t want sex because maybe I’m in menopause. Im terrified of losing my sex drive but it’s gone for certain at the moment.

I’m afraid I’m going to give up the one healthy routine I have created because every day is still a battle of will to get moving. Even after 54 consecutive days.

I’m afraid of not being good enough – the core belief I have struggled with my entire life. I have failed at all my relationships and my recent job. I’m not what anyone wants because I am so broken.

Am I bitter and mean? Have my insides curdled? Have I dried up?

Exercise helps, but now I exercise to chase the boredom demons away and don’t do ANYTHING else. Sure it’s good for me, but it’s all I accomplish now. I joined all sorts of Peloton activity groups and cheer people on – a false attempt of motivation – are people really able to use these groups as springboards for motivators in lieu of having a real support community (physical people around you, not a virtual community) ? I try to immerse myself in their positivity, I put on the virtual game-face and join the challenges and activities, but I don’t FEEL anything.

I feel unhinged from everything. Floating.

I am still an empty, demotivated, decommissioned human.

I have been trying to move away from that place. Trying so very hard. But when I took a good look at myself from the outside, I realized that – even though I don’t spend all day on a couch – I am no different than I was back in November after coming home from the hospital.

All I’ve done is dress up an empty vessel – put on a game face – trying to fake it and hoping I make it.

The couch has now become replaced by exercise (ok thats positive ) but there is nothing else driving me. The deep abscess within me feels like an endless black hole of nothingness. I thought I found the edge and was pulling myself back over it, onto solid ground. But I’ve realized I haven’t. I don’t know that I’ve ever been truly scared before. Scared to move, scared to feel, scared to believe in anything ever again – myself included.

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.

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.

March Goals (and those niggling carry-overs from Jan/Feb)

Honestly, I didn’t even get to all my January goals, but I got to most. I set a few new goals for February so I could catch up.

Now we are into March and there’s a bit of financial panic setting in, but strangely enough not to light a bonfire under my ass. I am still disconnected. And there’s a part of me saying this is still ok, I’m not fully ready to function in the real world.

Then there’s the part of me that’s saying “get your ass in gear and stop being lazy.”

Let’s see what I did accomplish in February : (J) means it was a January goal, (F) February and so on…

Work

(J) Review and edit my resume and social profiles: complete

(J) Make a list of contacts and actively begin a search: have not started

(J) Utilize outplacement website and webinars: have completed 3, did not not schedule the 2 I said I would.  I need to pay attention.

(J) Ensure all job search sites are set up properly for my searches: have not completed, needs fine tuning – remains the same

(F) Commit to Mindfulness and set a clear intent: I took a bulletproof confidence webinar AND I won a free 1:1 consulting session based on my participation.  This is something to look forward to! Not started.

(M) Create a Personal Value Proposition (PVP) for interview storytelling – something the outplacement advisor has given me to do for OVER a month.  I keep postponing our TB.  I am determined to knock this out on Tuesday March 5.  Period.

*Not a good track record, really.  WTF.

 

Personal

(J) Choose an exercise to stick with and develop a routine: I set up my screen sharing, turned on the Peloton service, bought a small weight set and set the room up for success. Now, just to actually exercise. Done! 22 days straight of healthy, sweaty fitness!

(J) Learn yoga or meditation: I need to keep reminding myself this is good for me. Done! Started a little of both and still in the practice stage but incorporate into my routine each week.

(J) Migrate addresses and birthdays to phone: started, not completed. No movement.

(F) Fine tune Keto eating by logging and watching macros – I was consuming too many calories. Done! Most of my carb cravings are done. There’s some emotional craving when I see bread, pizza and pasta but not a physical craving anymore.

*Big win here!  Hooray!  Go me!  I am making a new habit.

Finance

(F) Remember unemployment Monday’s. Missed one but otherwise on track.

(F) Follow up on Bond processing. Done! It’s in the treasury hands and complete, just waiting on processing.

(F) Sort out parents trust and accounts. Started with their largest accounts, about halfway there.

(M) Taxes: Did Dad, next is mine.

(M) Determine finances for potential 3 month unemployment ahead: yikes.

*Can I avoid this list altogether?

 

 

Home

(J) Deep clean: bathroom floors/grout: still haven’t given this a second thought. Nope.

(J) Put away Christmas decor: some things were still lingering but got this done yesterday. There are 2 things lingering.  I will get to this before the end of this week.  Period.

(J) Help son re-arrange bedroom: when he’s ready, otherwise, I am not pushing. Nope.

(J) Purchase rug for basement and mop floors: haven’t given this a second thought either. Mopped and bleached the floors! Now for a rug.

(F) Deep clean couch in living room. Done! This felt so good.

(F) Purchase new washer and dryer. Done! They come this week.

(F) Call the handyman for a few necessary repairs. Need to do and have hesitated due to money.

(M) Choose 2 cabinets, drawers or closets a week and clean and purge: have started this and it feels great!

*Ok, half done.  I am going to get to the grout because I realize its really good exercise and counts to my daily activity!

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Wow! After assessing my list I actually accomplished so much more than I thought I did! I feel relief and a little bit of pride!

The true stress of the situation is the job search. I need to now incorporate 30 minutes every day for actively searching.  At least an active 30 minutes if not an hour.

I also need to think about a couple more significant  March goals that I should set  (taxes get me so stressed I didn’t think about much else).