Food For Thought

Funny how whenever I’m feeling a bit “off,” I decide to write a new blog post!

Turns out I didn’t think about the things that come along with being a world traveler before planning tons of trips (aka – eating out every meal). I get that this makes me sound ungrateful. Who would spend time and energy worrying about something as simple as food while visiting another country?! That would be me.

Don’t get me wrong, I had an amazing time this past weekend with D visiting southern France. The weather was great, the views were incredible, and the food was delicious! But, starting Friday night after dinner, I began feeling a little guilty with my food choices, especially with the lack of exercise.

D is really good at helping me with reality checks during times like these. He was on board with eating breakfast in our AirBNB, eating lighter meals sometimes, and splitting desserts (even though I know he really wanted his own)! He also reminds me that even though I’m not following my normal lifting routine, I am still getting exercise. By the end of the weekend, we had walked over 30 miles – and that definitely counts for something!

So with some gentle reminders from D mixed with some thought stopping and other coping skills, we made it a very successful and fun weekend getaway!

This weekend we leave for Spain. I’m already beginning to think about food choices there. I want to let myself experience the culinary treats that all of these countries have to offer. I don’t want to look back and regret skipping the crepe in France, the chocolate covered churro in Spain, or gelato in Italy. Instead I will continue to remind myself that traveling and touring a city is indeed exercise, and the occasional treat will not impact me in the long run!

Traveling WILL be fun!

When I first started seeing my therapist, C, she introduced a poem to me. So many times I have assessed where I am at on my journey by using this poem. It helps me to stop and think about where I am at, what decisions and choices led me to that place, and how I should proceed.

I thought about this poem a lot over the weekend and I wanted to share it.

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

By Portia Nelson

Chapter I

I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in.

I am lost…I am hopeless.

It isn’t my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter II

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again.

I can’t believe I am in this same place.

But, it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it there.

I still fall in…it’s habit…but,

my eyes are open.

I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

Chapter IV

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

Chapter V

I walk down another street.

I have seen myself in every one of these chapters. Some days when I should be at chapter 5, I go back to chapter 3. In some areas, I am still at chapter 2. Sometimes I revisit a chapter over and over again. But, I am growing, I am moving forward, I am progressing, chapter by chapter, day by day.

Where do you see yourself in the poem? Where are you currently at and where do you want to be? Food for thought! 🙂

Happiness

Websters defines happy as:

  1. Feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life, situation, etc.
  2. Showing or causing feelings of pleasure and enjoyment
  3. Pleased or glad about a particular situation, event, etc.

So, why is happiness sometimes so hard to achieve? What if you are in a phase of life that isn’t particularly enjoyable? Is happiness still attainable during those hard times?

This is something I’ve struggled with for the past 3 months. Once we moved, I wasn’t sure if happiness was possible.

But, after a much needed weekend home (as in the US) with my best friend, a very negative morning before I was scheduled to leave, and a long flight by myself to reflect, I think I’ve come up with an answer for myself.

Before I start, everything I’m about to write is 100% opinion, so keep that in mind.

First, as someone who struggles off and on with depression (that I have labeled as anxiety because depression freaks me out), I understand that happiness 24/7 is not always attainable. Sometimes in order to obtain happiness, one might need therapy, medication, some type of change, etc. But, I have learned that in myself, is that if I don’t try to be happy (or better said if I allow myself to stay in an unhappy place), nothing changes. I feel like my medicine doesn’t help, therapy doesn’t help, reaching out to friends doesn’t help. When really, it’s my attitude that isn’t helping.

During my 6 hour reflection yesterday (with naps off and on), I realized that when I first moved, I created this irrational idea about living here. This idea was that if I hated the place, that automatically meant I had to be unhappy. But, I don’t think that’s necessarily true. After some soul searching, I came to the conclusion that I can dislike the place I am living, but still find positives, things that make me happy, everyday.

I think that was the biggest crux of my current stage of unhappiness. The very real (but irrational) thought that if I am happy, a – people might mistake that for liking living here, b – people might think I no longer miss them, and c – fear that I just might find something I do like about living here. But none of that is rational or true. I can find things in life that I am happy for that don’t include living here, which in turn will help me to be happy. Happiness has nothing to do with if I miss my friends or not. And finally, finding something about this place to like might not be the worst thing that ever happened!

So, first realization – happiness does not equal loving the place I live just as hating the place I live doesn’t have to equal unhappiness.

Second realization – a routine can help minimize downtime where I sit and dwell about disliking living here, or how much I miss people. When we first moved, my routine was completely destroyed. That was a routine that I had worked hard to create and maintain. A routine that was working well for me. But, just because one routine dies doesn’t mean a new (and equally effective one) can’t be created! I plan to create said routine today.

Third realization – sadness, unhappiness, depression, anxiety – whatever you want to call it – it thrives on loneliness and isolation. Sitting inside all day, with only my dog S to keep me company, is not promoting happiness. Don’t get me wrong, I love my dog. But, I also need human interaction, and more than just the 5 hours I get at night when D gets home from work. I didn’t have this issue at home because we were 10 minutes from our friends. Plus, I was working and interacting there. But here, I have to find a way to interact with people.

This is one that both D and my best friend helped me realize and contemplate over the weekend. When we first moved, I vowed that I wouldn’t make friends. We are only here for a year, then we will pack up and move somewhere else away from people I just met. Not exactly what I wanted to do right after I just said goodbye to my best friends. But, after a long talk with C (who is very wise when it comes to friendships), she explained that there are different types of friends. C and A are friends that will be there forever. It’s a bond that doesn’t go away. Moving doesn’t break it, life doesn’t break it. It may change and adapt, but it’s there. Other friends can be like this, or they can be there for a certain season of life. It doesn’t make them any less of a friend during that point. But, they are there for a reason, a season, and that is okay. That’s a very hard concept for me to grasp. But I understand now that I can’t just avoid people because I’m scared of making (and ultimately losing) friends here. I have to put myself out there, make connections, and experience human interaction. If not, it’s going to be harder to find happiness while here.

Final realization – being positive will in turn lead to being happier. I was very negative yesterday, and looking back on that, I regret it. Being sad is okay, being upset to travel back is valid, but the negativity I felt towards heading back wasn’t okay. It shrouded the day. A day that should have been spent enjoying the last little bit of time with C and her sister, not sulking because I have to leave. I don’t want anymore trips to be like that. And so I am choosing to be more positive. To look on the bright side and be thankful for the fun weekend I had the opportunity to spend with them and celebrate C’s birthday. To be grateful for the ability to travel home (or friends travel here to visit). Again, I’m going to allow myself to be sad and miss them, but not allow my day to be full of negativity because of it!

Ultimately, being unhappy for a year of my life isn’t worth it. It’s not worth my health (physically or mentally). It’s not worth my recovery. And it’s not worth putting my marriage or my friendships through that kind of negativity.

Will there be hard days? Absolutely. Will there be days that I am still negative, still unhappy, and don’t cope healthily? I’m sure. But, starting today I am making a conscious effort to choose positivity and happiness. And I know I am strong enough to do so.

I’m going to include another coping skill in this post. I use this one a lot!

Motivational Quotes.

Words matter. Words can bring you up or push you down. Quotes, sayings, phrases, lyrics – anything positive that sends a good message helps brighten my day a little! C and I have started sending each other screen shots of these whenever we stumble across one. K sometimes tags me in one on Instagram. They never fail to make me smile. Make me stop, think, and remind myself to be positive, hopeful, and stay strong.

Sometimes I post these quotes around the house. In college I taped them all over our bathroom mirror. I like to keep them close by so that I can go back and look at them whenever I need a little pick me up.

Here are a few to close on. I found some of these about happiness as I flipped through a book A gave me. Some are about staying positive. Feel free to share any you want to add in the comments!

“Happiness, not in another place but this place, not for another hour but this hour.” – Walt Whitman

“No man is happy who does not think himself so.” – Publilius Syrus

“Of all the things that wisdom provides to help one live one’s entire life in happiness, the greatest by far is the possession of friendship.” – Epicurus

“Whoever is happy will make others happy, too.” – Anne Frank

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Happiness and misery consist in a progression towards better or worse; it does not matter how high up or low down you are, it depends not on this, but on the direction in which you are tending.” – Samuel Butler

“Love yourself unconditionally, just as you love those closest to you despite their faults.” – Les Brown

“Most important, in order to find real happiness, you must learn to love yourself for the totality of who you are and not just what you look like.” – Portia de Rossi

“Sometimes you can’t see yourself clearly until you see yourself through the eyes of others.” – Ellen DeGeneres

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” – Japanese Proverb

Breakfast Ideas

We’ve all heard it said, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”

Even so, breakfast is also one of the hardest meals of the day for me.

The feeling of emptiness right when I wake up gives me a rush I can’t describe. I feel lean, toned, happy.

But I’ve learned that I can’t focus on those feelings for too long. Focusing on those feelings for too long leads to me laying in bed for another hour (or until S won’t stop barking and I have to get up to take her out) grasping for those feelings to not go away.

So, I give myself a few minutes and then I get out of bed, go downstairs, and immediately prepare breakfast, knowing that after that first bite, those feelings will disappear until tomorrow. But that’s okay. I want to be healthy – and not eating is not healthy.

In order to be more excited and willing to get on with breakfast each morning, I have found meals that I look forward to!

Because I don’t like feeling super full after a meal, I have learned to spread breakfast over two meals – first and second breakfast. I look forward to both of these meals each day! They make getting out of bed and giving up those feelings just a little easier. And I want to share those two meals (and their recipes) with you!

First Breakfast:

Breakfast Burrito

  • 1 egg
  • 2 slices of turkey
  • 1 slice of cheese
  • 1 burrito wrap
  • 1 tbsp salsa

This one is pretty self explanatory – scramble the egg and put everything inside of the wrap. Delicious!

Macros: carbs – 25g; protein – 18g; fat – 14g

Second Breakfast:

Protein Pancake topped with PB2 and fruit

  • ¼ cup oats
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 scoop protein powder (vanilla is best)
  • dash of cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup of milk

Combine everything in a bowl. You may need to add a little more milk (or some water) to get the consistency of pancake batter. I usually make these in bulk on Sunday’s during meal prep, so my recipe is a lot larger than this. But, this should make two average sized pancakes!

Macros (for one pancake, no toppings): carbs – 28g; protein – 17g; fat – 6g

And that is my morning! Get up, give myself a few minutes to feel empty and lean, and then eat a nutritious breakfast that I genuinely enjoy and look forward to while reminding myself that there is so much more to life than feeling empty and lean!

I’ve found that once I eat that first meal, it makes the remainder of the day just a little easier. I can focus on meeting my macros and fueling my body properly so that I can be happy and healthy!

“Without struggle, there is no progress.” -Frederick Douglass

No Equipment Workouts

The past few weeks have been tough.

I really don’t know why. I don’t even know how to explain how – they just have been.

Getting out of bed each morning has been difficult. I lay there and think about how it would be so much easier just to keep laying there. Not really sleeping, but not really fully awake. Just there.

But, eventually I get up. Usually this coincides with my puppy refusing to sleep any longer and insisting that it is time for a walk. But, ultimately I get up because I want to be prepared to lift. Lifting makes me happy. It makes me strong. It helps me cope. And I know that if I don’t get up, eat, move around, and start my day, I won’t be able to successfully lift later on in the day. So, I get up.

With that, I want to share two workouts that got me through the period when we just moved and I had no equipment. One of these is a strength workout and one is a HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout.

I want to start with these because they are the easiest to tailor to fit individual needs.

First is the strength workout.

No Equipment Strength Workout 1

3 sets

Each set to failure or to 50 reps (whichever comes first)

  • Burpees to warm-up (10)
  • Pushups
  • Jump Squats
  • Sit-ups
  • Jumping Lunges
  • Dips

I chose burpees as the warm-up because they are a dynamic move that warms up many of your muscles. If you don’t like burpees, choose another way to warm-up your body!

After warming up, complete 1 set of each of the exercises either to failure or for 50 reps (whichever comes first).

Once you make it through each exercise once, continue for 2 more sets for a total of 3 sets.

Cool down by stretching after you have finished all 3 sets.

This is a fun workout because anyone can modify it to fit their personal needs and goals! You can make it harder by pushing yourself to the 50 rep max. Or, you can make it easier by modifying the exercise (pushups off of knees instead of toes). No matter what, just make the workout fit your current ability level!

The second workout is a HIIT workout.

25 min HIIT Session 2 (no equipment):

5 minute slow jog warm-up

15 minute interval sprints with built in HIIT

  • 30s sprint/30s walk
  • 1 minute burpees
  • 30s sprint/30s walk
  • 1 minute jump squats
  • 30s sprint/30s walk
  • 1 minute plyo push-ups
  • 30s sprint/30s walk
  • 1 minute mountain climbers
  • 30s sprint/30s walk
  • 1 minute jumping jacks
  • 30s sprint/30s walk
  • 1 minute plank to pushups
  • 30s sprint/30s walk
  • 1 minute walking lunges
  • 30s sprint/30s walk

5 minute slow jog cool-down

This workout involves a lot of the strength exercises from the first workout, but with this workout, you are constantly moving.

HIIT is meant to get your heart rate up and requires you to push yourself to a high level of intensity for 30-40 seconds.

But once again, this workout can be modified to fit your needs! Can’t sprint for 30 seconds? Try to reduce to sprint to 15 seconds and work up from there!

As with anything else, do what works for you! These workouts are designed to push you, but not to an unhealthy point. So, take it easy and go slow!

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to ask!

“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” – John F. Kennedy

Thought Stopping

I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately.

Call it writer’s block. Call it boredom setting in. Whatever it may be, I’ve found creating a new blog post (on either of my blogs) very difficult.

It shouldn’t be difficult – I have plenty to write about! New workouts, coping skills, fun trips D and I are planning or have already taken. I’ve even got one blog post half written with no idea how to finish it!

So, I decided to break down the wall and just write something. Anything.

Thought stopping.

Thought stopping is a coping skill my therapist in college taught me. It is difficult in that it requires you to be present in your day to day thoughts.

This coping skill was extremely hard for me in the beginning. But, I found myself using it as recently as this morning. So, it can be very useful once you get the hang of it!

Basically, when you have a negative thought about yourself such as, “I feel fat,” you stop. Do not move on to the next thought. Seize that negative thought and redirect it to be positive.

You change, “I feel fat” to “Fat is not a feeling. I feel (anxious, scared, annoyed, etc) and that is leading me to have negative thoughts about myself.

You change, “If I eat _____ I will get fat” to “It is not logical that _____ will make me fat. I need a healthy, balanced diet in order to survive and recover. Eating _____ will help me reach that goal.”

You change, “My friends haven’t talked to me today, so they must not care about me” to “My friends have lives and jobs and they are busy. When they get a chance, they will reach out to me.”

See, I told you it’s hard. But, it is possible!

Each time you thought stop, you are using logic to counteract the irrational thoughts that pop into your mind. These are usually thoughts that you don’t actively think about – they usually passively come into your brain. Once they do, they leave you stuck, one thought leads to another and you are on a downward spiral. By seizing that first negative thought, you are redirecting that spiral, making those next few thoughts more positive and logically sound.

Thought stopping has played a huge role in my recovery. It has helped me challenge both ED thoughts and OCD thoughts. It has helped me break free of those thoughts that send me to my downward spiral. But, it takes lots of time, practice, and patience.

So, here is my challenge: Be present in your thoughts today. Try to redirect just one negative, irrational thought into something more positive and logical. See how you feel. Be patient with yourself and practice everyday! If you have any thoughts, questions, or comments, feel free to ask! 🙂

“The ability to be present in the moment is a major component of mental wellness.” – Abraham Maslow