Monday, July 21, 2014

Back on the road!

Shin splints begone! I am running again!

As much as I wanted to go out there and knock off a 4 mile run immediately, I had to take it easy so I didn't land myself right back where I started. I went for an easy, 2.25 mile run on Friday and started off easy. When I finished, I was surprised at how my pace had improved - almost 30 sec faster than my average.

Of course I thought it was a fluke. So on Sunday I ran again along my favorite route - the Boston Esplanade. I will never, never in my life get tired of running around the Charles River. It's too bad it's so far from my house that I can't just run there. Instead, I took my bike out for the first time this year, biked 5 miles to get to the Esplanade, then ran. (and then biked home! Yeah!)

And my pace improved. This time, 1:20 faster than my average pace. Say what?

One of the things I like best about using Nike+ as my main running app is the math it does. Pace, distance, time, averages, high scores; it keeps track of all of it. And even though I haven't been running a lot (I only average about 6-10 runs per month), my pace has improved significantly, and I'm well on my way to hitting that coveted 10 min/mile. Plus, I've finally pushed past my plateau and I've started to lose weight again.

Monday, July 7, 2014

My long weekend

I broke my 'no smoking, no drinking' streak and hung out with some ex coworkers on Thursday. I'm paying for it now (my weight went up a little bit and I missed 2 runs this week), but I was happy I did it.  I don't get to see Joe and Courtney very often (since one or both of them are always at work or school), and it was a really good time. Plus, I couldn't handle another holiday weekend where I didn't have plans. I had to get out and do something, even if that meant getting drunk.

This is one thing that has really bothered me lately. I'm pretty lonely. I rarely have plans with anyone over the weekend or during the week. And it's not like I don't try. But everyone else is really busy with their own life. They're busy with their own family, or their own projects. Most of them complain that they never have enough time. I'd probably be that way too if I still had a second job. But I'm single, with one job, and a handful of hobbies that don't take up nearly enough time.  I don't have family that lives nearby. My closest family member is 6 hours away, so I don't have the option to 'swing by' for a BBQ or just a friendly visit over the weekend.

I'm not jealous or frustrated that my friends are busy. This is great for them. They're living their life in the happy way that they deserve. If I had the choice, that's exactly how I would want to be living my life too. It would just be really nice to see them occasionally. I call up a friend and ask them to hang out, and I get told that they'll have to check their schedule and get back to me, or that 'maybe next month we can do something.'  Or no response at all. I've just about given up on asking.

So that's why I couldn't handle another weekend of nothing. And breaking my rules in order to hang out with some really good friends was a good deal.

I could just really do with something good happening to me right about now. Losing some weight, having a friend get back in touch, not being in chronic pain*. Any of these will do. I'll take any of them.

* I'm really over this pain. My muscles are constantly sore, even though I take very good care of myself after I exercise and try to eat healthy. It's getting so bad that I'm having trouble sleeping, even with meds. I took a few days off training, and my first run back, 2 hours later the pain returned.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Oh hey, look what I won:
More gadgets to help me on my way!

Thanks to my employer who had a weight loss challenge. I won because I lost over 4% of my weight in 8 weeks. 

Running is my happy place

This image has nothing to do with this post;
except that it makes me happy.
I just wanted to do a little check in (for myself mostly). When I'm feeling good I don't tend to think about WHY I'm feeling good or what I'm doing that's making myself feel good.  It's just as important to assess your mood and mental health when you're feeling great as it is when you're feeling horribly anxious and depressed. I tend to forget this.

I'm feeling alright, and trying to keep it that way.  I quit smoking on Friday and have been doing great since then; staying away from triggers and talking to myself logically when I'm having a craving:

-"This isn't going to fix the thing you're stressing out about."
-"You will be setting yourself further back, running-wise."

Usually the first reason fixes any craving I'm having. Because it's true. Inhaling tar and smoke and getting a mini-high from the nicotine will not fix the boredom I'm experiencing, or the frustration I'm having for myself. And as long as I don't give up and just say 'Well fuck, at least I tried,' I think I can do this. Most times in the past when I 'quit' and then started up again where situations when I just threw my hands up in the air in frustration and thought 'It doesn't matter because everything I'm doing sucks anyway!' Taking care of myself wasn't a priority anymore because I just sucked so I might as well just pile on the suck that I was.

Fighting depression doesn't leave a lot of willpower for quitting a nasty habit.

But I'm doing ok. And I'm trying so, so, SO hard to be nice to myself and not call myself an idiot for anything and everything.

I've been doing some CBT work with my new therapist, as well as some work understanding the trauma I experienced and how to deal with it. All in all, it's helping and I really think it's making a difference in how I view myself.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Jungle or the Cliff?

I had this moment this morning, a thought that kept me smiling through my whole commute.

I feel good today.

And I thought about my state of mind and being last week, last month; when I was struggling to just survive. I had no goals, long or short term; wasn't looking forward to anything; and everything felt horribly pointless. It felt like I had been dragging myself through a jungle full of paralyzing objects, when suddenly I found that the jungle ended in a cliff. I could either go forward off the cliff, or turn around and go back through the jungle and HOPE that maybe things would get better some day. And lemme tell ya, after that jungle, continuing off the cliff didn't seem like that bad of an idea. Almost a relief. But I couldn't decide what I wanted to do. So I stayed at that point, in between the cliff and the poisonous jungle, desperately trying to figure out which way to go.

As you might imagine, it's really difficult to do anything worthwhile with your life when you've been seriously considering ending it for any length of time. I had to decide which way to go - and I had to be totally committed if I was going to trudge back through that jungle. Because I had no idea how long I would be in there as I tried to find a way out. If I turned away from the cliff, I had to be determined that I wasn't going to go back that way again.

I can't say for sure at what point I decided to turn back into the jungle. All I know was that I did it without hope of anything getting better for me. I figured that if it was meant to be, life itself would find it's own way of pushing me off the cliff. I didn't need to give it any help. So I kept going, almost in a daze, in no particular direction except away from that cliff.

And I watched the movie 'Warrior' for some reason. I hadn't seen it in years and all of a sudden I HAD to watch it.

Naturally, I started thinking about the few years I spent training in MMA.  Muay Tai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specifically.  And how I stopped because of my divorce. Most of all, I remembered how I felt when I was training: Confident, self assured, beautiful, and mentally and physically strong.

And suddenly a rush of great memories popped up. And I mean great memories. When I was training in MMA I was going through hell. Working 90 hour weeks, my marriage was falling apart, and I fantasized about sleeping more than 6 hours a night.  But when I was training, none of that mattered. I trained hard and was proud of what I was doing. I was considered one of the guys and treated with respect by all of my teammates. My Sensei took pride in training me. And I met one of my best friends on those mats who to this day is an inspiration to me.

And I wanted back in. Desperately. I decided that I have to start treating myself better if I ever wanted to get that comradery again.  I put together a modest workout schedule and forced myself to make healthy decisions.  It's been less than a week since, and already I am a thousand times better.

And I'm so fucking grateful, because at the moment, even if it's only for a short while, I'm out of the jungle, and also not at the edge of a cliff.  I'm in some sort of weird place that makes me happy.  And that's something to celebrate.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Some days, it's good enough.

Yesterday was acceptable. Not perfect, but also far from worthless.

I like making lists. I make lists for just about everything. Mostly to-do lists. I don't know what my obsession is, but I know it used to be much worse. I used to write them on my hand. I had a very complicated shorthand system so others couldn't read what I wrote and they just thought it was gibberish.

I read somewhere once that people with depression should try to do something, even if it's small, on days when you feel like all you can do is lay on the couch and let your thoughts take you to horrible places. Wash the dishes. If you can't wash all the dishes, wash a dish. Cook a healthy meal. If you can't do that, defreeze the chicken so you can cook tomorrow. That kind of thinking has helped me a lot, because I can accept that I'm feeling horrible, and it's a valid feeling, but I can also do something small to help me out of it.  If I can do more than wash a dish or defreeze the chicken, great. But I'm not pressuring myself to do more than I can possibly do.

I made my to-do list sort of ambitious, even as I was making it I knew all these things weren't likely to get accomplished. But I did accomplish a lot.  I made guacamole and lunches for the next few days. I prepped the chicken for the curry I'm going to make tonight. I did the dishes and folded the laundry. I didn't run though. So I brought my clothes with me today and I won't leave to go home until I at least walk 2 miles.  I know exercise is difficult with depression, (especially when you're just starting) because it's hard enough to get out the door and go to work. Or carry groceries home, or just walking a lot. And even though I know how I'm going to feel even after a few days of running, it is still so hard to get my feet out the door. It's hard to get your feet out the door to run even if you don't have depression. Just type in 'running motivation' to Google and you'll get millions of reasons to run. It's really, really hard some days, especially when your anxiety tries to do this every morning:

Art by Claire Jarvis

Depression can physically hurt. It's not a symptom I think about often, but when I was carrying two grocery bags home yesterday. and I couldn't get a seat on the train because it was too crowded.  And I was miserable and in a lot of pain. These bags weren't that heavy, but the entire ride home was miserable. That's probably why I didn't go out for my run as soon as I got home. I decided to sit down and read for a few hours on my cozy recliner instead.

So, some days you don't get everything done. Most days you're not going to be perfect. But guess what? It's good enough.  And so am I.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of good things. And no good thing ever dies.

Phew, that was a rotten couple of weeks.  Not only because I couldn't do any real physical activity because of the stitches; but also because something triggered some terrible memories I had tried very hard to forget. I also had to survive for 2 weeks with almost no money.

Whoever said 'money doesn't buy happiness' has obviously never lived off of ramen noodles because you were too poor to buy real food. That stuff is toxic for your body. I never even liked it all that much in college. I ate it more for the novelty of it...then again, I didn't eat much in college anyway.  So for about two weeks, I attempted to save money by not buying any new food. I have to say, I got super creative with whatever was left in my kitchen, but none of it was healthy by any means.

As you can imagine:

no physical activity + unhealthy/no food + unwelcome bad memories =
survival mode, and survival mode takes a lot to come back from

I also spent the last 2 weeks trying to get a waitressing/bartending job.  I must have applied to at least 20 places. I got one call back and I didn't get that job. Deciding to get a second job was a really difficult decision to make, and I had kinda hoped I could just get one and get on with the misery (I do really enjoy working in the hospitality business and I do miss bartending; but I know myself. Once I get a job, I'm going to be working my ass off, working all hours, probably going full time again. I won't have a social life, I won't have the free time to do what I enjoy doing, and I won't stop until my body physically gives out on me. So, while getting a second job is a financial solution, I know I don't have the boundaries to keep it as a part time job if I know I could be making more money). But apparently it's harder to get a waitressing job than I thought.  Fabulous.

And today started off no different. On my way to the office, at 8am, I was crying, stressing about my debts, my credit score, how I depleted my savings while I was trying to survive, among a ton of other worries.

And then I paid some bills. Since I had just gotten paid, there was a nice buffer of money to pay off some bills that were 2 months old (oops-what was I saying about having a shitty credit score?). And I felt a little better.

And then I canceled my cable subscription, and made a to do list- filled with things that I knew I didn't want to do, but they would make me feel better.

Then I went to pinterest and typed in 'running.' The reason I love pinterest is because I can always find something that makes me laugh. And also, there's a ton of people out there who are just as nerdy about the things you're passionate about. And then I saw these two gems:

And I remembered how I felt before I got cancer, and how a run was the only thing that could get me out of bed without hitting the snooze button 10 times. And I remembered how happy I was then.

It sparked a little hope.

When you haven't had anything resembling hope in a long time, you forget how powerful just a little bit can be. Like when you've been in complete darkness, and the tiniest bit of light dilates your eyes and can seem brighter than anything else you've ever seen. That's how it feels now.

I hope that I will enjoy my first run in over a month.
I hope that the food I make will be delicious as well as healthy, and it will make me feel better.
I hope I can feel strong again one day.

I hope I can accept that today I am good enough.