Experiments in Health and Wellness

by a Human In Recovery

It’s official, I’m diabetic now

I made a significant change in my life at the end of 2013. I chose to stop living with the person I’ve been in and out of a toxically co-dependent and detrimentally dysfunctional relationship with for almost 18 years. I’m not sure that we won’t wind up together in the long run, but, if so, it is only going to happen if we BOTH focus on our individual healing and growth and IF we are able to create constructive solutions for co-parenting our five year old daughter while living lives separate from each other. If you want to read more about all of that and find out what else is going on in my life, you can visit my primary blog, Human In Recovery.

Complicated? You betcha’! Story of my life.

A significant component of my wellness journey means getting serious about Twelve Step recovery for my codependency and compulsive eating issues. The chronic physical and mental health issues I experience, dysthymia (cyclothymia?) and fibromyalgia, are exacerbated by the codependency and compulsive eating, which have both been lifelong issues. All of it has mish-mashed together within the context of this nearly two decade relationship to grow me into the woman I am today, the good and the not so good. If you want to read more about my recovery processing, you can do so here.

In addition to the emotional and mental health healing and recovery issues, there is the physical healing and recovery that needs to be consistently and constructively addressed. Due to the compulsive over/under eating, emotional eating, and self-harm through eating behaviors I weigh 263.6 lbs (down from 268.8 on January 1st, yay!). Between the episodes of depression, the fibroflares, and a lower back injury, mixed in with sheer mental/emotional laziness/fear about pushing myself physically and the repercussions I always seem to experience, I really not in good health, although it isn’t has bad as it could be. The truth is, my five year old calls all my body parts “poofy”: belly, legs, arms, and face. She isn’t judging me, but she instinctively knows she wants to be “straight” like daddy and not “poofy” like mommy.

The truth is, the weight, fibromyalgia, depression, hypomania, and codependence are all so convoluted and linked together, I know I need professional help in all these areas. However, I haven’t had insurance or access to the mental health or medical care I’ve needed.

The last time I had a primary care physician was 2010. I hadn’t seen a doctor since then – not even an Urgent Care or ER visit.

I’d sort of given up on having insurance or state medical coverage. I’d been in the state’s lottery based wait list for state sponsored medical coverage for awhile. Thanks to the very controvercial ACA, I now have medical coverage and had a new patient appointment a week and a half ago. My doctor called me with the results a couple of days ago, while there’s nothing to panic about, it is definitely time to make self-care and physical health a priority. I am officially diabetic and while my overal cholesterol number is acceptable, the underlying numbers for the LDL & triglycerides is not. Based on other things I experience with the fibromyalgia and mental health issues, I know that changing my dietary habits is going to be critical.

I’ve known for a long time that transitioning to a more Paleo/Atkins like nutritional lifestyle would be optimal for the conditions I experience and the things that need to change for me health wise. Going with raw/fresh veggies, lean protein, and maintaining low-carb/gluten-free nutritional intake will be the best thing I could do for my health, even if I can’t go organic.

It also requires a lot of changes in mindset, planning, organizing, balancing, and commitment ~ all things I have struggled with in the past. That being said, these are also all things I continue to seek out and have been practicing more of in the past year or so. I’ve also built up more of a support network and have actually reached out and made known what is going on and what my needs are for recipes and resources, as well as encouragement and support.

I started doing green smoothies the first week of January and walking 1 – 3 miles a day. Then I got sick with the flu and didn’t eat much for almost a week. During and after the flu I’ve struggled with my compulsive eating and poor food choices. That being said, I’ve already made progress this month. Today I measured my hip area, which includes a significant belly overhang, panniculus to be technical, which is a combination of the dense fatty tissue, but also a symptom of bloated and/or blocked intestines. I’ve lost an inch around there.

I’ve got an appointment with the Diabetic Nurse, they really should provide a different title for her, in a week and a half. In the meantime, I’m starting with the green smoothies again and planning to get back to walking and increasing my physical activity. I’m also seeing a therapist, participating in a couple of face to face educational and support groups, one faith based, one DBT based, participating in daily online Overeater’s Anonymous meetings, and preparing to work with an organization that helps people write through their abuse trauma to achieve healing and recovery.

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Day 16 of June 2013 28 Days To A New Me

The shiny, happy, joy, joy has worn off. The honeymoon is over, and the facade is wearing thin.

I’ve lost eleven pounds, and that felt really great to realize and to know, but it doesn’t seem to be enough to keep me motivated.

I stated that this month’s activity and food tracking goals are about raising my self awareness and managing the symptoms of fatigue, pain, depression, and hypomania.

Well, that has been happening, somewhat. I’ve had some break throughs, successes, failures, and growth.

It feels like all of May was rising to the mountaintop after winning what felt like a major battle, only to crest the peak and look out on the horizon and see enemy troops carpeting the valley below.

After two weeks of white knuckling my way through anxiety and not succumbing to panic, I had a significant spiritual breakthrough on Saturday, which led the way to some real intense work regarding my history and three of the most formative and significant father relationships in my life.

Last Monday I had a major episode where I let myself fall into the inertia of the depression, for one day, and didn’t move much at all in addition to major over-consumption of food. This time, Saturday was very full, active, and busy with a lot of breakthroughs, happiness and peacefulness. This led to a two hour conversation with my dad and a half an hour conversation with my uncle, which sparked an all day marathon of writing and processing of emotional and psychological issues that have driven a lot of the problems I have experienced and perpetuated in my life.

All of this factored in with current circumstantial crises and triggered apathy, pain, and fatigue which drained me of all motivation and ambition yesterday and is still asserting itself today. I feel numb and just want to sleep. I am forcing action and trying not to give the negative self-talk room to take root.

I’m not giving up or giving in, but I REALLY want to. My mood and thoughts are saying that nothing has really changed, even though I know different.

Time to get busy.

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June 2013: 28 Days To A New Me – Round 2, Day 10

Since it’s been over two weeks since my last post, the few of you who have been following this journey of mine may be wondering whether I’m sticking with my program. Let me assure you that I am. As a matter of fact, it’s part of the reason I’m not posting here or on my Human In Recovery blog more frequently. The other two factors are lack of regular access to a functional computer and that I’m battling life circumstances and mental health symptoms, which make using my phone to blog even more of a challenge than normal.

I’m posting a bit more regularly on my Human In Recovery FB page and the apps I’m using to track exercise and nutrition are tweeting @HumanInRecovery – I think. Twitter and I remain mere acquaintances instead of social confidants, so I’m not really much of a tweeter. I have also been uploading short videos onto the Human In Recovery YouTube channel. I’ve missed posting days 6, 7, & 9 (nothing recorded for day 8), but I’m working on getting those put together and posted soon.

June has been more challenging for me, all the way around, in most areas of my life.

During May, I still had my adult daughter and her boyfriend staying here, so it was easy for me to just go walking or swimming while everyone else was still sleeping, secure in the knowledge that my 4 year old was safe and cared for while I focused in self-care. They moved out a week and a half ago.

When the 28 Days began in May, my SO was out on the road doing his long-haul truck driving job, so, I had a routine established for meeting my daily 15 minutes of physical activity goal in place when he came home. Since we only get to have him home less than a week every four weeks or so, it’s a pretty high priority that as much time and attention as possible are given to him, our relationship and our family. Therefore, when he wound up home a week early, due to the foibles of his previous co-driver followed by the transition to another new co-driver whose home time was already scheduled, it was during the beginning if June’s 28 Days.

In addition to that, there is the added stress of what amounts to four months of extended home times combined with shortened road times because of co-driver turnover (he’s with his fourth co-driver and third fleet manager since February) and the financial strain of it all is reaching crisis proportions: we’re facing potential eviction, service interruptions, and loss of property in a storage unit because we haven’t been able to stay caught up on bills or save ahead for rent. Anxiety and frustration over these things shortens his fuse and disrupts my sleep, increasing our relational stress and the symptoms of my fibromyalgia and depression/hypomania.

Two thirds of the way through May our laptop got broken and there’s no money for replacement or repair. The hand-me-down, hand-me-over, XP laptop that was given to me has a third party wifi administration app that won’t accept alpha characters in the access key to our internet, which is one of the services that could get interrupted at any moment.

On top of it all, even knowing all of this was looming on June’s horizon, I thought it would be a fabulous idea to increase my commitment to an hour’s worth of exercise daily AND track all of my eating. Meaning that just as every situation and circumstance that triggers my binge eating, I committed to go public with a record of what I eat, at the same time as I lose the regular Childcare to enable me to exercise goes away I make a greater commitment to exercise EVERY DAY.

Now that I think about it, I can see this is part of an overall lifetime pattern of self-sabotage. I’ll have to chew on that one a bit and process it on my main blog.

Not all is doom and gloom though. I have some really good things to report.

1) I have completed daily food and activity logs, using My Fitness Pal, which is available in app form and online, with interfaces to Facebook and Twitter.

2) With the exception of Monday of this week, June 11th, I have been in motion a minimum of 1-2 hrs. everyday and logging/recording my walking and swimming activities with the Map My Walk app (also available online and with other social media interfaces).

3) I’m having my little girl be more physically active by walking with me and I’ve taken her swimming twice in the past week.

4) I’m getting more consistent with housekeeping!

5) I’ve lost three more lbs. in June, so far, for a total of 11 lbs. missing in the past month.

6) My sleep is improving, my pain is decreasing, my stamina is increasing, and my moods are leveling out.

7) I’m doing a better job at connecting with other people, not just to get support and encouragement, but to offer it as well.

8) I don’t spend nearly as much time on the couch or in front of the television as I used to.

9) The way I feel about and treat my body is less negative and more constructive. I’m less averse to my reflection than I used to be.

10) For the first time in an incredibly long time, my emotional reactions and responses aren’t at the mercy and whim of the emotions, words, and actions of those around me and I’m able to be less defensive, more intentional, and grounded in my interpersonal interactions.

Committing to the daily actions of the 28 Days To A New Me process in the midst of everything is one of the most challenging things I’ve done for myself in the last 23 years. It reminds me of the 12 Step meeting closing mantra:

“Keep coming back. It works, if you work it. So, work it because you’re worth it!”

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28 Days to a New Me: Day 28 – Just the beginning

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Exercise is helping me to recover, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.

I have mentioned that I deal with Cyclothymia – a low level bi-polar disorder. It includes a component in the cycle known as hypomania. I have written about it on my Human In Recovery blog, in the past. Last week I wrote about it again in Hypomania Interrupted.

Exercise and I have a long love/hate relationship. I think there hasn’t been a year in my life where I haven’t attempted to rekindle the affair only to bail when the pain of too much, too soon got too real.

This month of May 2013 is the first and only time I have ever exercised for 28 consecutive days! It is the first time that I have pushed through the exacerbated pain and fatigue of the fibromyalgia. It is the first time I have consistently pushed through the mental and emotional barriers of depression, anxiety, and oppositional excuse making to exercise anyway.

There are a great many people and resources that advocate for and teach the benefits of exercise. However, partially due to the effects of the fibromyalgia and how its symptoms manifest for me, in combination with the impacts of both the depression and hypomanic aspects of my mental health issues, exercise and I have had a love/hate relationship.

I didn’t realize it until recently, but I would get all “gung-ho” and decide to start exercising. I would jump in and formulate a grand & complicated plan with some HUGE number goal, trying to calculate BMI, calories, exercise, and eating plan all at once. Graph paper, notebooks, and a collection of recipe books, exercise program cassettes/VHS tapes/DVDs, and DIY celebrity/health guru resources would be obtained: Jane Fonda, Victoria Principal, Susan Powter, Richard Simmons, Oprah & Bob Greene, Andrew Weil, Prevention, Weight Watchers, Atkins, and the list goes on . . . and on and on.

Armed with my resources, formulas, plans, and end goal in mind, I would go forth and subtract!

The first week would generally entail me going all out, blasting through aerobics classes, gulping down whichever weight loss concoction and nutritional supplements – Slim Fast, Herbalife, Atkins, Medi-Fast – I had chosen and congratulating myself in hopeful reassurance that I was going to “Just Do It!,” this time.

Then something would shift: Insomnia, fatigue, the sharp pain of numbing & tingling hands and feet, injury, illness, loss of child care, family/relationship/financial crisis, or some combination of these things would arise and I would lose momentum. Then depression and anxiety would suck me under and I would stop moving.

I’ve been riding this weight loss roller coaster for about 30 years, ever since I was about 14 years old. I turn 44 in June. I think the lowest I weighed during this time was somewhere in the 140 – 160 range when I was in my early twenties after having gone over 225, the weight I was at the time my son was delivered when I was 17 years old.

By age 24, in 1993 when my oldest daughter was delivered, I was back at 225. By 2003 I was up to 280 lbs. I was so debilitated by the weight, the fibromyalgia, the depression and the cycles of chaos, conflict, and self-destruction that if it hadn’t been for my teenage son, I might not have made it out of a house fire that happened one night at a family shelter we had been living in for almost three months.

After that, I managed to lose 20 lbs through exercising at a gym and my weight would fluctuate up and down between 250-270 until 2006, when I got into a medication trial for depression. At the end of the trial I got to choose the anti-depressant medication I wanted and choose one that was already approved for depression and was entering trials for its effects on fibromyalgia – Cymbalta.

I never felt so good!

In what I now recognize as a severe and prolonged hypomanic episode triggered by the Cymbalta, I made some really drastic changes in my life (another story for another time) and got down below 225 in 2006.

I walked, I swam, and I danced! I socialized and sexed it up. I was happy and energetic, focused and intent on what I wanted – in the short term. I also severely damaged important relationships with people I loved deeply, namely my two children.

When all of that came crashing down around me after about six months, the depression rose up in force. I was a basket case. I wound up taking a very low-paying and physical job as a care giver in a group home for adults with physical and developmental disabilities. I fit right in with all the other care givers and their chaotic lives and emotional disturbances.

As my physical activity increased, I got insurance and went back on anti-depressants, which eventually triggered another hypomanic phase, less severe than before, and weight started coming off again. Just before I embarked on another grand plan to return to college, the rabbit died and, at 37 with a 14 year old and 21 year old, I was going to be a mommy again.

Gestational diabetes and the pregnancy itself took me out of work so early because I could no longer meet the physical requirements of the job. I went off of medication for the sake of the baby. Between that, the financial stress of being at 60% FMLA disability income, and the pregnancy hormones I spent the last four months spiking and dipping on the see-saw of depression and hypomania with a good measure of anxiety and relational stress thrown in for good measure.

In late November 2008, I went for my 38 week check-up and ultrasound, Luna was measuring the size of a 42 week baby and a c-section was scheduled for the next Saturday. 9 lbs 7 oz was the size of my smallest and youngest child, born a week early. I weighed around 278, if I remember correctly.

Four and a half years later, as my weight was hovering, just under the 270 mark, I finally learned about hypomania and I realized that cyclothymic bi-polar symptoms explained so much of my life’s ups and downs. That understanding came just before I met Robert Kennedy III online and found out about the 28 Days To A New Me process and accountability group

Perfect timing!

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28 Days to a New Me: Days 14 -19

When last I checked in, I indicated that I had been struggling a bit emotionally and psychologically, the primary trigger being me grieving over some realizations around Mother’s Day. Since that time, additional things have been weighing on me: circumstances and people outside of my control that affect my family’s financial well-being which have a domino effect by triggering attitudes, actions, and emotions in those around me.

For 20 years I’ve been engaged in mental and emotional guerilla warfare of the mind and body with a collection of symptoms that have been diagnosed as depression and fibromyalgia. Recently, I came to understand that there were also symptoms that indicate hypomania is also present, meaning that there is a bi-polar element to the depression.

Right now, the sense of oppression has been increasing and getting heavier over the past week. The past two or three days has seen a marked increase in the numbing and tingling in my arms and hands, the lower back and sciatic pain, soft-tissue pain exacerbated by my concentrated efforts to walk and work out on the elliptical machine. Pain and stiffness has been increasing, the desire to sleep has been overtaking me, frustration levels are getting higher, interest in pushing through to do the things I usually enjoy doing is waning and becoming more of a chore.

The thoughts to give up and give into the circumstances and barriers against doing the things that are critical for moving forward and getting through this phase have been getting stronger.

The good news in all of this is the fact that I’m still pushing through. I don’t think I would be able to keep pushing through if it weren’t for the online communities and support network that is growing up around me thanks to the 28 Days accountability group and the Dream Stoker Nation group, both of which are on Facebook.

I started off strong in the 28 Days group, with approximately 30 people whom I’ve never met in person, and only one person whom I’ve gotten to know through the Dream Stoker group. The praise and validation I got for how I was doing the first two weeks, which didn’t really feel like a struggle for me, just fed into my desire to keep performing well and to show my best efforts.

Historically, when things like what have been happening, start triggering my symptoms, that’s when I withdraw and isolate. I pull away from the very people who can offer me continued support and encouragement.

Friday night was when the scales began tipping into the negative and my internal struggles began increasing. Instead of falling into all of the old patterns and behaviors, I was able to change a few things.

1) I reached out and got real – I posted this in both groups:

My family needs your prayers. Keith has been on home time from his job since Monday and is supposed to pick up a load tomorrow that was supposed to be the beginning of a lucrative, regular run that would have allowed our family to catch back up with our bills. His co-driver waited until just now to tell him he wasn’t going to get back on the truck at this time.

This is another major blow for him and for our family. The way it looks at this moment, we will fall farther behind on all our bills and will be hard pressed to make June’s rent.

2) I was open to receiving the support and encouragement offered. The outpouring of prayers and words offering compassion, understanding, and wisdom was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, or like I’ve never allowed myself to experience before.

3) I stuck to my commitment to myself and stayed in accountability with the group.

Day 14 – Arrived 20 minutes before opening then walked through different exhibits for an hour. Sat for 10-15 minutes then walked through another exhibit before making our way out of the zoo. The last 10-15 minutes walking out I had my 37lb child riding on my shoulders as I climbed a short set of stairs and an incline the rest of the way out.

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Day 15 – End of day totals: 6.75 miles walked, 1,517 calories burned, 19,090 steps taken. 1:54:26 minutes walked. My legs, ankles, knees, & back all HURT!

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Day 16 – I’ve logged over 11,000 steps and 4.1 miles walked, although I’ve walked a bit more than that so far today. Final count forthcoming tonight. [Final step count for Day 16 is 13,330.]

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Day 17 – Woke up w/migraine during 4 o’clock hour. Took OTC meds. Two hours later still in pain & not sleeping well. Went to parks & rec fitness center across the street & worked out: 60 min on elliptical and 40 min lap swim (24 laps in 25 yd pool). Head still hurts. Ugh.

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Day 18 – Started the morning by visiting a local prayer meeting. I only walked a little over a mile for about 19 minutes – shin splints, ankle pain, and sciatic pain are starting to flare and I want to be able to give my all in worship and praise at church in a few hours. So, I’m sticking to my commitment and budgeting my energy for later. Shabbat Shalom for those celebrating the Sabbath. May this day overflow with joy and peace for all, regardless of faith.

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Day 19 – Fighting against fatigue – atmosphere of oppression – I am feeling the symptoms of a Fibro flare & depression trying to assert themselves – pain, numbing & tingling, an increased desire to sleep, and losing interest are all increasing. No walking or elliptical today, but I did get out and go to the pool and swam foe 31 minutes, so I’m counting it as a win.

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With 19 days completed and nine days left on this leg of the journey, regardless of the negatives, I can truly say that I’m already a New Me and I have to give credit where credit is due, I didn’t do this alone. Without the support, encouragement, and accountability from the new friends and new relationships being built in this group, I probably wouldn’t even have bothered to write this today, much less have a record of what I’ve done and what I’m capable of to remind me that how I feel and the ingrained patterns of thought and behavior do not define who I am or who I am going to be.

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28 Days to a New Me: Days 10 – 13 – CPR

It feels like it’s been a lot longer than four or five days since I blogged about my 28 Days to a New Me: A Journey of commitment.

In the past, not posting would have been a sign that I had given up and stopped trying. This time it is completely different. I may not have been posting proof here, but I have been following through with my commitment and I have been posting my proofs in the Facebook accountability group.

I’m not going to lie, I was struggling mentally and emotionally, especially yesterday – Mother’s Day. However, I was able to push through, and even stepped it up a bit.

Here are the updates from the 10th through today, the 13th – almost halfway through!

Day 10 – Walked 40 minutes on a 2 mile round trip. On the return trip, I paused the stopwatch to meet James & Milla. James was fixing up an old roto tiller to help a neighbor lady with her community garden plot. He also seems to be the neighborhood “go to” guy. Milla lives across the street from James and was asking him if he knew someone who could install her new window A/C. She’s from Romania. Go Team FORCE

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Day 11 – Shabbat shalom to those celebrating the Sabbath & happy Saturday to everyone else. Adapt & Overcome is today’s encouraging advice to those experiencing that pesky resistance.

I couldn’t walk this morning since I didn’t have anyone here to be with my little girl while she slept. Also, I was really tired from waking up several times during the night – partly due to late night folks heading home from local hipster venues that have little or no parking, so the patrons park in the neighborhood. The warm weather means windows open at night and I get to hear their conversations. Yay.

So, instead of going back to bed, the way I wanted to, I did a little CPR. I gathered laundry, straightened the living room, and washed dishes. Three trips up & down the stairs and 1.5 hours later: dishes are done, one load of laundry each in the wash & in the dryer, the dishes are air drying, and the counters are wiped down.

Time to get ready to head to church.

My daughter and I just met little Laurel (22 mos) & her mommy, Tam. They had already been out and about to the local Farmer’s Market this morning and were on their way home. It’s not even 9:30 a.m. here! Aurelia is currently an only child.

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Day 11 (Yes, I lost track and it was actually Day 12): Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms. I got a late start this morning. Feeling melancholy and unmotivated. I went to the Community Center across the street and did 30 minutes on the elliptical – Interval program. Wasn’t sure I could make myself do the full 30 minutes, even with my music pumping in my ears.

While I was there, this other lady came in wearing two medical boots. After the super-energetic lady next to me left, this other lady got onto the machine next to me. She glanced in my direction and we exchanged smiles.

So, I took my headphones off and asked about the boots. She has severe tendinitis in both Achilles’ tendons and has to wear the boots for four months.

Her name is Amy and she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia 8 years ago. She’s on leave from her part-time job teaching graphic design at a local high school.

I got her number so we might be able to become workout partners.

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When I woke up on Day 12 and saw all the Mother’s Day posts on Facebook, I experienced some grief and depression. I cried some and I wrote about my connection, or lack thereof, to this day of celebrating mothers. I was feeling foggy and fatigued. I had to force myself out of bed and into my workout attire. The resistance was VERY strong.

But, I was able to push through it and come out on the other side. The rest of the day I was still out of sorts and wound up with a headache and watched several episodes of Bar Rescue, which was enlightening. I napped some and later went to dinner with my daughters and the boyfriend of my oldest daughter.

Financial stress and conflict over it reared its head between me and my life-mate, via text. So, a few more tears happened. Even though that sucked, it was a constructive experience because it didn’t sink me into the depths of the inner darkness – which has been my norm for too many years.

I ended the evening by working with my daughter and her boyfriend to clean and organize the apartment in preparation for Keith’s arrival for his home time break from driving long-haul. I felt good. So, when I woke up this morning, I was energized and motivated again.

Day 13: I HIT IT! 30 minutes on the elliptical at varied resistance with a five minute cool down. Followed by 50 minutes in the pool, 20 minutes of self-paced water aerobics while I met Rebecca who is expecting her second child in a couple of weeks. She works in human resources and her husband teaches German, fifth-grade, at the German-American school. He is going to take a year off from teaching to stay home with the baby. They have a four-year-old daughter. They don’t know what the gender of the baby is and they haven’t told anybody the names they have picked out. When the lap lane open I swam laps for 30 minutes. Go. Team. FORCE

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Here’s what I’ve learned and where I’m at in this part of my journey:

Calling out to my fellow Team FORCE members: Last week, several of us were hammered with resistance.

We were counseled on CPR:
Commitment
Persistence
Responsibility

Well, I have some other words for CPR, and some quotes I hope will inspire and encourage you:

Consistency – “I pray to be like the ocean, with soft currents, maybe waves at times. More and more, I want the consistency rather than the highs and the lows.” ~ Drew Barrymore

Perseverance – “Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.” ~ Marie Curie

Resolve – “Determination gives you the resolve to keep going in spite of the roadblocks that lay before you.” ~ Denis Waitley

(All quotes from Brainy Quote)

The FORCE of our resolve to develop healthier habits of thought and action cause us to persevere in the face of resistance of all kinds, enabling us to consistently choose the path toward achieving our goals and dreams.

As we do this we begin to move through and release the fears that may have been holding us back and keeping us from staining focused on our commitment to persistently work toward our goals and hindering our ability to accept and take responsibility for creating our own happiness.

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28 Days to a New Me: Days 8 & 9 – Resistance Training

Yesterday marked the beginning of the second week of my 28 Day commitment to do 15 minutes of physical activity each day. I’ve met that challenge every day. The other piece is to post proof, which I have been doing, and is the reason I was doing the videos.

The thing is, I did something that is my habit to do and I under committed in the challenge itself and then created this huge internal mental and emotional pressure on myself to over-deliver.

I have this pattern of giving everything I’ve got in the beginning of whatever it is I’m doing and knocking it out of the park. I did this my first term of community college in 1990, I’ve done it repeatedly ever since then. I put it all out front and never hold anything back, creating or performing to the maximum of my ability, all at once, leaving myself nothing in reserve to get me through the long-haul. I guess you could say that in the race of life, I’ve been a sprinter and not a long-distance runner.

With this 28 day commitment, I’m building stamina and learning that giving it all I’ve got is not sustainable for the long-term. I have to figure out how to give it my all, in ways that don’t completely take me out of the game after the first inning. (Yeah, I know, lots of different analogies and metaphors for things I’ve never even done, but you get my meaning).

The other thing I’m learning is not to give up at the increased pressures of resistance, but to push back against it.

I’ve had technical troubles with my computer off and on since last September. It has been very frustrating and depressing at times when I’ve really NEEDED and wanted to write. Recently, I’ve been seriously exploring how I can take my writing to the next level from personal blogging and break into the world of professional writing, since I don’t have a degree or credentials to enable me to get a foot in the door through traditional employment means.

Yesterday, my computer got broken again.

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The circumstances in which it happened were fraught with highly charged emotional energy. It wasn’t just the fact that this fairly essential piece of equipment was no longer functional, there were layers and layers of mental and relational issues going along with it. Pressures that had been building up due to other circumstances, of which being able to use the computer was an essential component for coping and creating solutions, and the loss of access to the computer was like the straw that broke the camel’s back. The emotional and verbal fireworks were intense and overwhelming.

I’ve gone through many of these kinds of explosive moments before, too many if the truth is told. However, what I can say about it is that all of the previous times I’ve worked through the “resistance” and difficulty of dealing with these kinds of moments and experiences trained and equipped me to handle this one better and more constructively than ever before.

Of course, just like is seen on the ground on January 1st and July 5th, there is remnant debris and litter from the fireworks. My level of energy and ability to cope with typical demands of the day were challenged. There’s clean-up and additional rest and withdrawal that I needed to do in the aftermath. However, because of what I’ve learned previously, the stamina and strength I’ve gained from going through those other experiences, means that my recovery time is quicker and the mess is less and easier to deal with.

As the Team Leader in my Accountability group, I posted this as a source of encouragement for them and as a reminder for me this morning: 

Good Morning Team FORCE! Are you experiencing resistance today? I am and it is NOT a bad thing.In the world of health, wellness and exercise, “Resistance training is any exercise that causes the muscles to contract against an external resistance with the expectation of increases in strength, tone, mass, and/or endurance.”

We push our leg muscles against the external resistance of the ground when we walk. We use weights and other equipment to strengthen our muscles and increase our stamina and endurance.

When the external forces of our lives bring resistance in the form of adverse circumstances- whether it’s a financial, relational, health/physical, or any other obstacle to us engaging in and pursuing our goals and dreams, we need to press into and against that resistance in order to strengthen our resolve and build up our stamina and endurance.Once we have done this and move through it, we will need rest and time for the mental/emotional/spiritual “muscles” to repair. We may feel weak and shaky during this time, it’s normal. Once we have allowed that rest and repair to happen, we will discover we have gained strength and stamina, in preparation for facing the next form of resistance.

If you are experiencing resistance, as I am, do not fear it, avoid it, or hate it. Welcome it and be thankful for it, because it is making you stronger and more able to achieve your goals.

We are Team FORCE and we use resistance to make us stronger!

 Have you found that times of resistance strengthen and increase your endurance and stamina?

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28 Days to a New Me: Day Seven – Shifting focus (lessons from week one)

It’s the end of my first full seven days on this 28 Day to a New Me journey of commitment and accountability. YAY! I made it and survived.

Truthfully? I’ve done more than survive, I have thrived! Although, if I would have been asked last night how I was feeling, I might not have said I was doing more than surviving.

In today’s video I shared that I had a realization about weighing myself at the end of the day, metaphorically speaking. I shouldn’t do it. Just as conventional wisdom says not to weigh oneself at night because the accummulation from the day can cause the numbers on the scale to be higher than in the morning, weighing myself and measuring how “well” I did throughout the day, often is filtered through the accumulation of fatigue, remnant negativity from adverse encounters, unresolved frustrations, etc. Since a good night’s sleep for me us typically 4 -6 hours in length and my average night’s sleep for the past 20+ years is generally closer to 4 hours a night, usually interrupted, if I wait until I’m near exhaustion to evaluate how my day went, my perspective is skewed toward the negative.

Today’s email from the Author of the just published e-book, 28 Days to a New Me: A Journey of Commitment, Robert Kennedy III, had this to say:

“You are almost complete with your first week and you may be tempted to look back to see how much you accomplished.  Well, take a moment and do that.  Great, that’s enough :-).  Looking back is necessary but since we are forming habits, we don’t want you to get in the habit of looking back.  We want you to take those lessons, good or bad, and then move into your action for today.”

In my video for today I stated that I am shifting my focus and instead of evaluating how well or not well I feel the day went, I’m going to do a gratitude list. I have decided to make this post a summary of my lessons learned from these seven days and be grateful for every lesson.

1) Starting from a position of fear and self-doubt caused me to set the bar too low and to expect too little of myself. I’m far more capable, innovative, creative, and interesting than I ever gave myself credit for.

2) Not valuing myself and my needs meant that I was always prioritizing everyone and everything else. Taking the transitional “baby step” to attach doing something for me with doing something else I saw as a priority was the primer needed to start my engine and get going on taking care of me, for me.

3) Being so caught up in my own lack, pain, and overwhelm created a wall of insulated isolation between myself and others. Conciously and consistently making the effort to encourage others and being mindful of how sharing my journey can benefit them, sends that encouragement back to me. Just like in the kids’ song, Love is Like a BoomerangLove is like a boomerang, and all you have to do is send your love around the world and love comes back to you.

4) Newton’s First Law of MotionAn object at rest remains at rest unless acted upon by a force. An object in motion remains in motion, and at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by a force. (Thank you Wikipedia). I was a body at rest and the force that acted on me was the force of change wrought by engaging in a community of encouragement, support, and engagement with other people who were in motion, pursuing their dreams.

5) Pain and resistance are not meant to be avoided, they are meant to be used to propel you in a new direction and strengthen you. Pain indicates a change is needed, resistence is also known as strength training. Instead of defining myself by my pain I am learning from it. Instead of absorbing the resistance and becoming immovable, I’m pushing against the resistance and getting stronger.

6) Setting an intention, then taking steps to make it happen, will manifest change. For example: Last night, I was completely frustrated, exhausted, and at the end of my limits – or so I thought. I attended part one of a two night meeting and by the end of it, I was completely NOT wanting to attend the one tonight. However, by setting my intention to shift my focus today and seek gratitude, I made different choices throughout the day. By the time the meeting came around, I was open, relaxed, and engaged. I came out of the meeting feeling the same way as when I went into it.

7) Strangers are friends we haven’t met yet. 

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At some point, I will expound on these lessons. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy today’s video. Thank you for joining me on my journey.

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28 Days to a New Me: Day Six – Getting stronger

When I woke up the final time this morning (I’d woken up multiple times during the night – almost a nightly occurrence), I was on the verge of crying because of a dream I’d been having. I think it was about the grief from realizing how my own choices and inactions have cost me relationships with people whom I’ve cared about deeply and the fear of ultimately and completely losing the relationships with my children. I can’t recall the details of the dream. I probably should have journaled about it, but I let that moment pass and got on with my day.

I was hurting, especially the center of my lower back. The area where I think I herniated the disc last year. My left leg, especially the knee and ankle were singing a cereal tune: Snap, Crackle, and Pop!

I never did get to taking care of the laundry yesterday. Instead, I’d gone out to see a friend who was “hosting” a Cinco de Mayo event at a local food cart hub. Afterwards, I took my little Luna to the local department/grocery store so she could play in their on-site childcare facility while I had almost an hour to myself.

It wasn’t enough for either of us. We were both really tired, hot, and crabby by the time we got home.

I was, and am, feeling overwhelmed.

I’ve turned this little 15 minute a day commentiment to this 28 Day Challenge and have made it so much more than I intended or expected it to be. It’s what I do.

I love the skills I’m learning with doing the videos. I LOVE being engaged in developing mutually supportive and encouraging relationships with the other members in the group. I’m excited that by the end of this 28 day period I’m going to have moved a long way forward in establishing a new habit and will have actually followed through and fully engaged in ALL aspects of what I signed up for.

However, I realize that I haven’t really done something that challenged me at this level and fully engaged and stuck with it until it’s completion. At least not since I earned my H.S. Diploma from an Alternative School for Teen Moms back in 1990 – almost 23 years ago.

I finished the first term of college after that with a 4.0 and it went downhill from there.

So many different things I wanted to do and so many different responsibilities and commitments I wasn’t equipped or prepared to do, in the midst of the chaos of daily living just have consistently overwhelmed me time and time again.

I WANT to do this. I WANT the change. I WANT to use the momentum from this to propel me forward. However, the frustrations and fears keep rising up and choking me out.

I’m not going to let it take me down THIS time.

It’s 11:23 p.m. and I’m still trying to get this post written. The video is JUST now ready to go. The feelings and thoughts from the old tapes saying that I’ve somehow failed are trying to rise up. Never mind the fact that today I have accomplished the following:

  • Daily commitment to the 28 day challenge – I walked a little over 17 minutes. The goal is 15 minutes of activity.
  • Four loads of laundry sorted, sprayed, washed, dried, AND put away – Usually at least one or two loads is still waiting to be put away.
  • Meeting w/Head Start Home Visitor (and an impromptu advising session w/ME as advisor) – Usually I’m the one at a loss for how to cope and deal.
  • Online team support/encouragement given & received (ongoing) – I am the team “leader” for one of the small groups inside of the larger accountability group.
  • Head Start Policy Council Personnel Committee meeting – Approximately three hours, round-trip, for a 20 minute meeting, with my child in tow.
  • Playtime in the park (Luna “pushed” me on the swing) – Instead of rushing her home like I wanted to do, I let her play on the playground after the meeting.
  • Dishes done.
  • Child bathed.
  • Video edited and uploaded – I had to create storage room on my phone for the upload to happen, so, I also transferred all the accumulated pictures and videos from my phone.
  • Still upright – however my eyelids are drooping

I got up and got moving. I kept moving. When someone else was using the computer when I got home, I exercised patience and took care of other things. I didn’t let frustration, tiredness or anything else stop me. I did what needed to be done.

However, because I didn’t get this ONE thing done in the timely manner I wanted to and expected myself to have done, I’ve been feeling disappointed in myself.

I guess it’s time to heed my own words of encouragement that I gave to a team member when I responded to her post where she focused on not having fully achieved her goal:

You got out of bed. You committed. You put in the effort. You followed through. Perfection not required. Consistent effort equals progress – No Matter What. You progressed today and that’s what matters now and in the long run. YOU ARE A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH!

I am all these things. I am a work in progress and I am motivated to stay in motion.

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28 Days to a New Me Day Five – All activity is NOT created equal

Happy Cinco de Mayo everybody. Interesting thing about this day that came across my Facebook news feed this morning:

“Happy gringo taco and beer marketing day!!!! -One American traveler, after spending a lackluster Cinco de Mayo in central Mexico, learned from a shopkeeper that it was just “a gringo holiday made to sell Mexican beer to Americans.” ‘ ~ Cinco de Mayo on Infoplease

Yesterday, when I mentioned to someone at church that it was Star Wars Day, she scoffed that people can make a day of ANYTHING! Which seems pretty true in the culture I live in, anyway.

I wonder why that is? Is it possible that in the lives of most people, in my society at least, there is so much striving to support lifestyles that people don’t truly enjoy and appreciate, so they don’t see any reason to celebrate just being alive every day? There are many who feel as if every day is a struggle for one reason or another. I know I’ve lived a significantly large amount of my life that way.

I don’t need to go into details at this moment. If you want to explore the TMI FYI on me, you can head over to my primary blog, Human In Recovery and start with the December 2011 archives to get a better understanding of what I’m talking about. Suffice it to say, I have struggled with what I have frequently considered more than my fair share of trials and troubles – consequences of less than good decisions on my part and the part of others in my life.

I’ve always kind of figured that my early life with the disruptions, dysfunctions, and chaos was simply by chance. I attempted to fight against family patterns, however, as I progressed, I found myself repeating them with my own personal little spin. The harder and harder I fought – with resentment, bitterness, frustration, and, let’s face it massive amounts of self-pity and an overdeveloped sense of the unfairness of it all – the deeper into the pit of depression, toxic co-dependency in ALL of my relationships, binge eating. I was in a negative feedback loop of monumental proportions.

I kept looking for fixes: therapy, education, groups, religion, 12 Step Recovery meetings. The thing is, most of the time, these actions and activities weren’t about fixing me, they were about manipulating and controlling situations, and the people involved, in order to let me stay the same and make my life easier. It has taken me over 20+ years to reach the point and to be the person I am today, on both the inside and the outside.

None of the external changes I attempted ever really “took” or lasted long. I could intellectualize, analyze, and give the proper and expected responses. Yet, even as I would go through the motions and pay lip service to the accumulated knowledge, none of it really “sank in” until I was able to reach the point where I finally had to admit that it wasn’t everyone and everything else in my life, it was me that was broken and I was powerless to get me out of the mess I had created as long as I relied on my own will, my own understanding, and continued to focus only on my pain and misery.

The Day Five motivational video for the 28 Days to a New Me series is called, “Not By Chance, By Change.” Robert said something that struck right at the heart of what I’ve done for the past two decades:

“A lot of people wallow and whine inside of themselves, but they never commit. They never make a commitment to change.”

As recently as two months ago, if I had heard that statement, the internal whine would have started up right away. Perhaps, even as recently as a few weeks ago. I would have pointed out all the obstacles, barriers and challenges I have: finances, physical health, mental health, family structure and relationships . . . and probably a lot of other things.

All of these things are real and valid concerns and issues in my life. They really are. But, somewhen down the line, probably in early adolescence, I concluded that I was more committed to my problems than I was to overcoming those problems. They defined me, they factored into every decision ever made to change my life, simply because each time I decided to do something to better my life, I went into it believing at the deepest levels that nothing was going to change.

What’s different now?

Change-happens-when-the

The pain of staying the same outweighed my fear of the potential pain that changing would bring.

Let me put it this way.

The pain and fatigue from the fibromyalgia, as far as anyone has been able to determine, is for no apparent reason. The root cause of it is not identifiable. Pain and fatigue cannot be measured in tangible terms. Although, new technology, fMRI can track the neurological pain responses in the brain of someone who doesn’t experience fibromyalgi and in the brain of one who does and identify that there are measurable and significant differences in the pain response mechanisms. However, it’s still subjective and specific to the one who experiences it.

The pain and fatigue of exercise is also subjective, but it has an identifiable cause and has been proven to have beneficial effects on the mind, body, and spirit.

I let the fibromyalgia define me and slowly, over the course of two decade change who I was on the inside in the way I thought and the actions I took or didn’t take. That life of a morbidly obese, anxious, depressed, sometimes manic, emotionally toxic person did not happen by chance. It happened by change.

That change continued until I had virtually lost two of the most important relationships in my life, the relationships with my adult children. That change continued until I recognized that the behaviors and actions of my youngest child, now four years old, were not conducive to her learning and growing up to be the healthy, functional person I dream of her being. Some of it may be just normal development for her ages and stages. Some of it may be organic, since I and my family have histories rife with mental illness, substance use and abuse, and probably an undiagnosed personality disorder or two AND her dad and his family have histories with those things themselves, it’s likely some of it is programmed into her DNA. Spiritually speaking, I do believe there are such things as generational curses, in the sense that the behavioral and thought patterns, the conditioned responses to challenge and conflict, and the cause/effect cycles from decisions put into play in prior generations, have a cumulative impact and effect on the current generation. Especially if the people in the generation preceding it were unconcious of it and unwittingly perpetuated the patterns.

The pain at the prospect of never having the possiblity of functional and healthy adult relationships with my children and the fear of living out the end of my life the way I witnessed my maternal grandmother live hers out, became greater than the pain of doing the hard work and looking inside of myself to see my own culpability and responsibility to make a difference in my own life and, hopefully theirs.

My life is being forged by change, not by chance.

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