I Cannot Be Defined

I spent the last 4 years in an anxiety-panic driven mind. It’s been hell. Slowly, I’m seeing the light. I’m seeing possibilities. I’m seeking to stretch the limits, push past boundaries from which I’ve enslaved myself in for so long. I’m finding out how to emerge as a more confident and strong woman who has no toes nearing her down. It’s time to swim. And swim hard. No more treading water or fear of sinking. For so long I’ve allowed myself to watch others achieve what I’ve always wanted. I became bitter and resentful but it was my own fault my own entrapment. I hated the world and I hated myself. I looked in the mirror and saw an image. Just an image. Expressionless. Hopeless and fragile. But it was nothing that could actually be broken . I’m fact, to be fixed, it needed to be broken. I needed to feel the damage that had long held me hostage. I needed to break if I wanted to stand tall. If I wanted to be put back together. I didn’t think I could do it. I lived two separate lives. I lived the life where I said don’t allow your anxiety to define you, you are not your anxiety. But then I lived through the guilt, the pain, and sat back and let it suffocate me and take the life out of me and give it to others to have control over. I was angry and felt like dying. I felt like I wasn’t worth anything; I didn’t deserve anything. I was fragile and breakable. I didn’t want to see myself as anything but. I carried around my shackles that were invisible to everyone else but me. I was my own darkness and I made sure to keep my eternal flame from burning too bright. I would always say, “here you win”, and it became something I would say much too often; more than I should have.
I’m not fully healed. But I’m no longer breakable. These feelings of inadequacy will never truly fade, but all I can do is chip away and hope for the day they just completely shatter. So, that’s what I’m doing. Finding myself. Finding out what in the hell I’m so afraid of. Why am I so afraid of it. Searching for a light that isn’t dimmer than me and one day burning brighter than even I can see.
I’ve now just realized that this journey is a redirect away from using the words, anxiety, panic disorder, weak, guilt, and pain; words that I’ve allowed to define me and to consume me. No. I am done. I am a woman who cannot be defined. A woman who is unstoppable and freely taking each breath, each moment and really truly experiencing it all for the first time.

Catch Me If You Can

My heart.


My head.

Crawling with hopelessness.



Anxiety….there it is again…grabbing a hold of me; endearing, nurturing, yet so..so…stifling. And I needed to get rid of it.

I laced up my running shoes, tightening them, squeezing the top of my foot. I wanted everything tight. Extremely tight. Because that’s how I felt. My neck ached, my arms and legs wanted to sever themselves from my body and leave me vacant. I took a sip of my water and prepared to run. My mind taunted me. Antagonized me. Laughed at me. And I felt it. Every last whisper. But I was determined. I headed over to the bleachers, and slowly jogged up and down until my legs lit up and lifted me two stairs, three stairs at a time. My heart rate was skyrocketing, beads of sweat stung my eyes, burning them; I squeezed them shut. And I ran. And I ran. I was out of breath, but I kept going. I looked at my watch. Five minutes. That’s it? Discouraged, I took off towards the high school track and broke into a sprint. My heart climbing with very leap and stroke of my foot scratching the surface of the track. I heard voices and laughter. What the fuck. Shit. I didn’t realize the time. School was over. A group of high school boys broke into a slow jog. I almost left, but I needed this; I needed to overcome this anxiety building up inside of me. Approaching them, I felt my legs slowing down, my feet pounding the track; I felt tense.  Them just being there. I started to feel like I didn’t belong. And in a sense, I didn’t. It was right after school; their running time. Their track. Not mine. But I inhaled the fumes from my anxious mind, shut out their locker room humor and darted past them, pumping my legs until I felt like I was on a tarmac ready for take off; sprinting until my legs burned hotter than the sun; hotter than the air in my lungs, and the fire inside of my mind. Suddenly, from the distance, I saw a team of high school girls approaching the track. What the fuck. No. I’m not going to leave. Not now. Not yet anyway. I pushed harder. I jogged and then I ran. Hard. Balls to the wall. I was a jet in flight. A freight train. I passed them. I passed everyone. I wasn’t part of their track team, but I came to beat something; to fight for something. And then my gym boss timer went off. I was done. Done. And I had beat it. Beat the anxiety right out of me. It was over. It was time to go home.

There’s a story in each and everyone of us, you just have to have the will to stay part of it. 





One Rep At a Time


Everyone has pain.

You just have to choose which pain you want to feel.

I don’t think I’ll ever win this fight.

But I don’t think I’ll lose either.

Instead, I’m going to live each day remembering I have choices;

I can go to the gym, or I can surrender to this mental bullshit labeled as anxiety and panic disorder that’s trying to attack my mind; my spirit.

I might not ever win this fight, but I’ll stay focused;

I will strive to overcome each moment; each day;

One rep at a time.

That’s my choice.

That’s my pain.


I Am an Addict

I’m an addict. I sweat. I suffer from withdrawals. I feel pain. And I feel weak without it.

I’m an addict.

It feeds me adrenaline. It wakes me up inside. It makes me feel strong… And powerful.

I can do anything, I am unstoppable. I am an addict.

I become miserable without it. I have mood swings. I need it; it’s my only drug.

Weight lifting.

Feeling the weight of another rep; overcoming it… defeating it. Pushing hard. Through the sweat. The pain.  I do it over and over. Again and again.  I love it; the noise; the sound of the weight against the machine, the grunts of power and pride of lifting another rep; doing another set. Control. Failure is not an option. Progressing is; seeing change. I need it. Feel it. Breathe it. I am an addict.

We are all addicts. Addicts of something.

Or maybe you’re not.

 But, we all want something to make us happy; something to make us forget our pain, hurt, and anger. Just for a little while. Rather than succumb to feelings of helplessness, we may want to become numb, and just keep moving instead of dwelling on it.

But sometimes, the fear is so deep within us, that we ultimately lose consciousness of our surroundings. We may take steps and use words, when, in reality, we’re not really concentrating on what we’re actually saying or doing. But no one can tell. No one can tell, because we hide it so well. We’re used to it. At least that’s what we tell ourselves.

We all need an outlet to be ourselves; to let loose all of things that are casting shadows around us. Without judgment. Without fear.

I go to the gym. That’s my place. My time to feel peaceful and hopeful.  Feel powerful rather than helpless. I feel that if I can just overcome one more rep, force it up, defeat what is trying so hard to bring me down; to fall or stumble; to know that if I let it go, drop it, it could leave me severely injured, but if I could lift it against the force of gravity, then I could fight back and overcome a lot more. Sometimes it’s difficult when it hits so close to home. It becomes more than just a metaphorical dumbbell or barbell that you’re trying to overcome and resist against. And sometimes, you don’t have a single clue as to what to do to fix things and make it better, and all you have are these videos flashing through your mind on fast forward; giving you tiny glimpses of what you’re so damned afraid of. No stopping, no pausing, just heart beating, skin crawling, loud clamoring adrenaline pumping, hard-core-drop-and-give-me-100 frightening situations that’s either going to control you or be controlled.

Because you just have to keep going and try to keep up. There is no other choice; it’s not going to stop just because you do.

You’re just going to have to overcome defeat, get back up and get ready to tackle the world from every angle.

Think Outside the Mirror

I have to be honest here. I have to look back and tell you all the truth. I haven’t been feeling like fitness anything lately. I’ve been feeling depressed, sad, and discouraged. The main reason is because I struggle to become independent and free from anxiety medication and I feel like the glimpse of hope I’ve had left me floundering. You see, I thought I had it all figured out, I was going to try to get into a program designed to help me deal with the number one fear that has taken over my life little by little. I was so excited to think that I could be free from taking Xanax. Free from the withdrawals, free from the struggle of having to fight every night against taking them. Unfortunately though, the program wasn’t accepting anyone else. It was at that moment I felt hopeless; a flood of fear and helplessness flooded over me…

Was I going to be on this medication forever? Was I really trying to be free from it completely? Yes and No. I want to regain control. I  don’t want to feel like I  have to rely on it.

Yes, since I got into exercise and nutrition, I have found an outlet; a way to cope with it, a passion; if you will, to help me heal; help me feel better. Physically and emotionally. However, I still have panic attacks. Why? Because I’m not perfect. There are some days I don’t want to eat healthy; days where I want to live in the moment with the rest of the population, days where I want to give in to the loud obnoxious flashbacks that I have of me when I was still in my twenties having fun, living life carelessly and without all this dedication and medication.  In lieu of that, I find myself pushing the limits to see how far all of that hard work at the gym as well as  the time that I take to focus on nutrition could resist the copious amounts of not so healthy food.

Some days I don’t want to work out either. I want to curl into a ball and cry my heart and soul out until I become numb.  I am mad.  I am mad because my doctor wrote me a prescription two years ago and assured me that it would be temporary. I am mad because I feel like I gave in too quickly. And now? Now I’m still taking it and I can’t seem to find a way to escape it without withdrawals. And I worry, I worry that I’m going to be lying awake one night and I’m going to need more that just the normal maximum dosage because after awhile your brain gets lazy.  Over time, the Xanax is doing all the work and soon you need more to get that relaxed feeling or to suppress what I will refer to as withdrawals. 

I love fitness. I love nutrition. But I don’t love Xanax. I don’t love medication. I want to be free. I want to live without pain and tension and stress. The truth is, the reason I’ve been away for so long, is because I was beginning to doubt the power of nutrition and exercise. I mean, here I am eating all of the right things, exercising, but when that’s all over, I still feel afraid. I still feel dependent. I feel like I’m being stifled from living my life and sharing my passion due to the medication that I feel has imprisoned me in my own mind; my own skin.

Exercise and diet is only a counterpart towards healing any ailment or disease; once you give into medicine, you have to learn to deal with the side effects. You have to learn to cope with them and they can make you more miserable, depressed and bring a sense of helplessness.

Sitting across from a doctor who is providing  you with a checklist over and over again of things that you could do to manage anxiety or any other ailment you may suffer from, makes you want to yell at the doctor and tell them that they have no idea what they are talking about. You doubt them because you have tried all of those things, and nothing seems to work. But then they’ll probably just write you another prescription….

You find yourself hovering over the computer all hours of the day; all hours of the night. Why? Because you have a huge vacancy; a huge question mark.


 Like I said, I even started to question nutrition and exercise.  I asked myself if it was really all just a bunch of bullshit? But sitting here, with time to think, fully carb loaded, muscles still sore from my daily workouts and the tension that inflames my body,  I was given a brief moment to open my eyes and reveal a little bit of clarity. Even I still felt a tad shaken. But I could truly understand that yes, yes, diet and exercise are beneficial.  It is just the side effects of the medication that I am at war with. I am at war with medicine and doctors who don’t believe in anything but treating you with medicine.

I recently discovered the oath a doctor has to swear to, and it is to do everything you can to help the person without putting them at further risk for disease….I suffer from panic attacks, I had my first one in 2009 and didn’t get into fitness and nutrition until I was well under way to being treated with Xanax. Sure, no one put a gun to my head, and I did seek out additional services to learn how to cope,  but Xanax is a powerful drug.  I’d have a panic attack and I would try to do all the breathing techniques, the relaxation techniques,  but it wasn’t that I wasn’t doing it right; I just couldn’t find a way to relax completely.  

I was once told that I need to think of it as taking medication for diabetes. Without it, I’d be “unhealthy.” But all I heard was the doctor telling me that I needed to succumb to this mental war that was going on inside my head and shut it up with medication.  

Eventually, I told my doctor that  I didn’t want to take it anymore, so she had me wean off of it as slowly as possible. However, regardless of the fact that  I was on such a small dosage to begin with (1.5 mg max per day), the withdrawals were still way too intense, and by the end of the night, I felt like I could have unzipped my own skin and took off.  I seriously felt like a real life character in a movie who was a heroin addict. More defeat. More hope was lost. I started to think what was the point of me being so hardcore into fitness and nutrition, if I am a prisoner in my own mind and body?  

So that’s the truth, now here’s reality:  

Balance isn’t just about how to find a way to make fitness and nutrition fit into your life, it’s about finding inner peace within yourself; psychologically you can’t be at odds with yourself or your physical self will still suffer. I’ve had to take a step back, just a small step, and realize that I need to get right with my psychological self so that I can be continue to reach for the unknown.  

I’ve had to realize that regardless of how much you sweat physically, or how many healthy choices you make, you cant disregard the inner self. You can be physically fit, but if you’re not mentally/psychologically fit, then you haven’t become any closer to the happiness that you deserve.  And that’s just it. I feel like I allowed myself to surrender to medical science and let it slowly stifle my inner self; my soul, my mind. I was only focused on the outside; thinking that’s what made me strong and in control, but I  continued to ignore the other counterpart that was a crucial element to this process of healing. I ignored the pain in my eyes because I only felt the ache in my heart, the ache in my lungs, and the soreness of a worked muscle.  I forgot that your outside appearance doesn’t always reveal the true self; your authentic self. And the night I wrote this, and the tear scratched out the ink on the paper that I had originally wrote this on, I sensed a glimpse of clarity.


I believed that I had to become more aware and respect that my mind needs to be trained just like I trained my body. They were one unit, working as a whole, and  I had to learn to sweat emotionally not just physically.  After all, I know that I can’t beat myself up for giving into medicine, I was in a desperate moment and thought that medication was the best, but for now, I have been doing a lot of research about the correlation between anxiety/moods/energy levels and nutrition. As a result, I have been focusing on eliminating grains from my diet (which I will discuss in a later blog post).  

And just in case you’re wondering…

I am trying really, really hard to stave off the withdrawals from the xanax, and I look forward to one day being able to say that I am free from the side effects, free to really just reap the benefits of what I have come to believe in over the past few years; and that of course are my two sidekicks, nutrition and exercise. And I also vow to never, ever doubt the power of nutrition and exercise. Ever again.

And I will continue to look for ways to achieve balance within myself. Mind, body, and soul. 

I will always remember that there is always room for change; if you think you’re doing everything you can to fight, you’re not. Change something. 


Goodnight xoxo

Make Goals; Not Excuses

Dedicated to my father, who passed away eight years ago (8-14-2005) as of today…

Lately, I often hear the question, “So when’s your next show” and then I have to go into a long story as to whether or not I am, and if so, when, and if not, the reasons and so on. Small talk? Maybe. But, I can’t help but feel like every time I get asked that question, a piece of me gets shaved off; a piece that gets thicker and thicker each time threatening to unveil the most vulnerable part of me; my core.

 You see, I am not defined by one thing. There are many components of me. I am complex, neurotic, and definitely a nonconformist; I don’t choose to be this way, it’s just who I am. When someone asks that question, to some it may seem like they are expressing interest, but to me, I feel like they are shoving me in a box and stifling my potential for growth. I am not done growing. I don’t have everything all figured out. My entire life, I have tried to run the other direction from being defined as any one particular thing. I believe a lot of the anxiety I feel stems from the fear that I have to be “something” in order to well, just BE.

I strive to be healthy, fit, and perhaps, compete in a show when the time is right—for me. Not just because I need to be defined. Living healthy doesn’t mean, you have to focus on doing a fitness competition; it doesn’t mean that you’re weak if you don’t choose that path. The important thing is to know and remember that you just have to find the purpose in what you’re doing if you want to be successful at it. And if you don’t have a goal, then the outcome will be far more difficult to reach. Not impossible, just more difficult.

When you set a goal, you have to break it down into smaller components. You may have an idea in your mind as to how you’re going to reach that goal, and you may even envision in your mind the sweet reward at the end. Unfortunately, if you don’t break it down into smaller feats and follow the steps that are aligned with your goal, the sweet reward can quickly become sour, or just simply farther to reach.

 How many of you just want to be healthy, active individuals, capable of living a fulfilling life without a lot of limitations? What you don’t realize is the limitations that you place on yourself by not taking the action necessary to complete the goals that can open up new doors. You know, those limitations that are disguised as little excuses that manage to catch you every time you fall???

Excuses tend to keep you right in your comfort zone.

You see, a goal doesn’t have to be as dramatic as a fitness competition; maybe you just want to be able to walk more than a few feet or jog; or maybe you just want to run around and play with your kids a little bit more…

 I get mad at myself when I stray from my usual ‘healthy way of living’.  For example, if I take a break from exercise or the lifestyle/diet, I worry and allow the anxiety to creep in to pollute my mind with the idea that if I take time off from exercise or my ‘diet’, I have somehow lost my passion. Crazy. I know. But sometimes, something that you can be so passionate about can also consume you.

That’s when it’s time for a rest; mentally, physically and emotionally.

There have been times where I have felt like even rest is a sign of weakness, but then, I get upset for being so hard on myself. Sooner or later though, I realize that what’s most important is that you always get back up. After all,  weakness is lying down for good and never reaching for the courage to get back up.

 My father’s health issues gave him a reason to just sit and do nothing. His health issues were a great excuse to let go, but he never did. Never. And he never allowed them to slow him down. When my father was holed up in a hospital room or even a hospital bed in our living room, as soon as he would get better, rather than let it deter him from living his life, he just kept going; just kept living.

 And each time he had a set back, he’d recover and go back at it more determined, powerful, and stronger.

My dad never made me think that a setback means that you’ve surrendered; he never made me feel that it was okay to whip out the party hats and toot the horns once you are able to find a ‘valid’ excuse to throw in the towel. No. He made me realize that each day is a day to propel towards your goal;  that you shouldn’t waste time trying to seek out reasons to justify why you should just give up. It’s important that you always get back up; and if you’re still breathing, then there are no valid excuses.  

He made me realize that no one should have to take their last breath, until they have realized the value of all of their breaths that came before.

His goal was to take each day, treasure it, live it, and love the best to his ability, and he did just that. With every health issue that had arisen, it became a tool rather than a crutch; a tool in his quest to live an extremely fulfilling life. To move forward and yell, well, “Check Mate”

 Decide on a goal. Remember, if you fall during the journey, get up, and plow through, stronger than before. Plow through and yell, “Check Mate” each and every single time.

Anything is possible. Anything.

And to answer the question: I do not know when my next show is, but I do plan on competing in the near future, I just haven’t decided on a show yet.

“A setback is a setup for a comeback” -T.D. Jakes

Don’t let a setback become an excuse, and don’t let an excuse become a setback.


Strength by the Moments

Having had defeat trying to knock down my door, I now know strength. 

 Q. Am I weak?

A: Absolutely not.

Q. Am I strong?

A. I have my weaknesses.

Only in our most vulnerable moments do we look for those who passed on.

(I found the following while looking through my files on the computer. I wrote it when I experienced the deepest sadness I have EVER felt; the death of my father.)

I went and looked for you today but to my despair you couldn’t be found anywhere…

only among the morning mildew did I feel you take your last breath, only in the afternoon sun did I see your shadow walking away from me. Only when the sky spread open its wings and let the last of the rain fall, did I feel your heart beating

and only when the snow covered the ground did I feel your fingers let go. And then I cried. 


Strength comes from having lost a loved one; having to experience pain and sadness of any kind; in any form.

It is then that we can truly appreciate and recognize that we are capable of moving on, pushing past defeat, and remaining strong despite any major obstacles or diversions that may come our way. We strive to do our best in moments, not in life; For the pressure is far too demanding…





Beast Mode. Power:On

My last couple workouts have been officially labeled as “panic attack” workouts. They go a little something like this:

 I workout, moving from exercise to exercise with very little rest in between, my heart starts to pound, and I feel as though I’m about to throw up. I’m working hard, and I’m not going to back off. I continue. My muscles are being trained to failure, I say to myself,

“one more rep” fighting with the bully inside of me trying to get me to back down. My blood is pumping, I feel it through my veins, I’m sucking in oxygen, maximizing all of my energy into pushing out one last rep. I keep pushing, waiting for the climax; the rush of simple euphoria. I feel every bit of oxygen crash and erupt with every rep; my body pushes harder and harder. I let go. I am finished. Sweat thickens and beads; it starts to brush past my eyebrows, misses my eye and continues on down my cheek and rolls off my chin. I continue. Next set. I don’t stop. Heat emerges within my muscles, fire erupts, my body pushes; my mind pushes back. It tells me to stop; it wants me to stop. But I can’t. I have to get to the point where my mind lets go; I have to keep pushing. I have to let my mind know my body can do all the work; I have to let my body take over. With every rep, I feel the muscle contract. It feels good. It feels powerful and controlled. Yet, somehow I begin to panic.

 My heart beat has become louder;  like it’s going to burst. “I’m fine.” I try to reassure myself, but I can’t take my mind off of the cold, clammy feeling that has suddenly numbed my skin.  Again.  “I’m fine,”  I pick up the weight and lift. My mind shifts as I start to turn my focus on the lift of the exercise.  I complete the set and put the weight down. I look at the clock and wait for the next set to begin. Again. It happens. The blood in my veins start to feel like slivers of ice; frozen.

 “Oh my God, Oh my God, something is wrong with me” I dread what comes next.

“Everything is blurry. Why is everything blurry. Is it my contacts? Would if it’s that medication. I remember reading the side effects. Shit. My head hurts, I feel dizzy, my throat feels like it’s locked …I can’t swallow…I can’t breathe…Shit. Would if something is seriously wrong with me?!!

  Panic mode.

 I pull back. No. Beast mode.

 I have one last set to do. One more set. I can handle it. Focus. Breathe. I can do this, I’m not losing it. Not this time.

 I wrap my hands around the cold iron dumbbell and I feel a sudden surge; like an electric shock. Confident; fearless; I let the weight dig into my muscles and just like that. I am standing there, weight in my hands; barely over my head; controlled, calculated. I am ready. I see a person that resembles me in the mirror. I look away. That can’t be me, quickly, my mind relapses. I power the weight above my head. Damn it. That is me.

That is me.

Fight Anxiety and Panic Attacks

I have a headache. Why won’t it go away? I just want to sleep. I’m not getting enough sleep. I can’t fall asleep. I can’t stay asleep. My brain feels foggy during the day. When I wake up, I don’t ever feel like I’m waking up. Instead, I feel like I have a major hangover and I can’t go back to sleep. At night, my mind runs freely. The ideas flow and my imagination escapes. I have a headache. My skin starts to tingle and feel cold, my heart races, my mind reacts to the discomfort that I feel from the headache. Unfortunately, it overreacts. It goes into overdrive and I blackout.

Not a lot of people understand panic attacks. I find that it falls into the category of “mental patient” and that bothers me. I often use the hashtag, “panicattacks” on Instagram, but if you happen to get a chance to look at the photos correlating with that particular hashtag, you will find sadness, despair, suicidal photos and thoughts, darkness and self destruction. There isn’t anything really positive. And that saddens me. I almost feel like anxiety and panic attacks have been, by default, shoved into this category of walking zombies that self mutilate themselves and pop pills, forever see darkness and never see any light. That’s what I fear; feeling ashamed for suffering for something that can be debilitating if you only use it to be a victim rather than be a fighter. Having a panic attack. Check. Suffering from Depression. Check. Insecurity. Check. Anxiety. Check. Approved. Hashtag, “PanicAttacks” Check.

No. It’s not all darkness, or at least it doesn’t have to be.

You’re basically at war with your mind and you have to fight like hell. Fight to the death to win and tell your mind to shut up and sit down. It’s like a bad night of drinking followed by a hangover. You black out. You don’t know what’s happening and you are confused. You react impulsively; you think you’re saying one thing, but you’re mind is racing. You don’t know what you are saying. You feel dizzy; like you’re going to vomit. Heart is pounding, ugh you drank too much. But no. Wait. You don’t have a drink in your hand, you aren’t drinking, and you don’t have a hangover. No. You are having a panic attack.

The only way to prevent getting sick or having a hangover is to not drink (or not drink to extreme). The only difference with drinking alcohol and suffering a panic attack is that when you drink, you are willing to lose control; you actually want to numb your mind, slur like you just had Novocain for shits and giggles, and be able to refer to your jerky movements on the dance floor, top of the bar, table…the list goes on…as well, dancing. Nothing matters. Everything goes. That’s the spirit. Way to go! Woohoo! (I compare drinking and panic attacks because they are two things that hit close to home for me.)

If you suffer from anxiety, you get irritated, agitated, annoyed, you’re like not only a member of the P.M.S. clan, but also the President-type deal. The smallest things can make you tense. Once you tense up; that’s it; it over. Back off Midol. This is now serious shit.

I am writing this to tell you what works for me. It is not a fool-proof plan. It’s what works for me for the past four years. I keep saying two out loud, but it really is four. It just feels like I’ve learned so much about myself in such a short amount of time. But believe me, it certainly hasn’t been fun. I don’t care what they say, (time flies when you’re having fun). That’s a lie.

At first, I was directed by my doctor to do breathing techniques in the morning as well as tension building exercises. You know, squeeze all of your muscles, breathe in this way, breathe out this way, blah, blah, blah. Do yoga. I got it. All of it. My personality was missing out of this lovely “one size fits all” program. I am impatient. I love instant gratification. I gave up on things because I was always comparing myself to other people; their experiences, their success stories. I wanted that. All of it. When I graduated from college, I wanted 20 years of experience in one day. . Yes. That’s my definition of instant gratification.
I admired people who had careers, who had a background; who had experience. I didn’t think what I accomplished was ever good enough. I was unsure of myself. Still am. Not going to lie.

But I have found what works for me, and maybe it may help you…

Maybe it can help you, if you’re suffering from anxiety, depression, panic attacks, or “mark the all of the above box” or check other.

First you have to admit who you are. You have to accept your personality; are you introverted, extroverted? What keeps your clock ticking? Who are you? Don’t you try to change to be a different person; if you’re a shy, quiet person, don’t feel that you have to try to be a social butterfly. However, if you want to try to work towards that; by all means, go for it. You will actually feel and notice over time, small changes in your personality; you will grow and evolve.

Don’t be afraid to analyze yourself. Be truthful with who you are. It’s okay if you’re not perfect. It’s okay to admit who you are as a person; who you truly feel you are deep down inside. Again, when you lie about who you are, even to yourself, you are allowing anxiety to defeat you. You’re mind is in control. Other people are in control. Things are in control. When you express yourself openly, even if you’re just saying it out loud to yourself, you can start to determine the relationship between who you are and why you are anxious, depressed or having panic attacks.

I remember when I first started having these panic attacks, the doctor would tell me I’m, “tightly wound”. Another doctor advised me that I should set boundaries and limit myself to people who may cause tension or stress in my life. Sounded like a good plan, however, reevaluating it, just made me feel like I was giving in and allowing anxiety to become who I am. And it’s not. It’s a part of me; it makes up a percentage of who I am, but I am not going to be standing in a room full of people with a name tag that reads, “anxiety” on it any time soon. Also, I decided for myself that I would be catering to this anxiety by letting it take control of the steering wheel. I’m not a back seat kind of girl. The more I let those words ring in my ears, limit yourself, have boundaries, it sounded more and more like I was being encouraged to avoid and isolate rather than to fight, and keep fighting. I was not going to let myself be taken advantage of by panic attacks and anxiety. To me, that sounded more like a slippery slope; kind of like opening up a bottle of alcohol, lighting a cigarette and then passing out from being so drunk that the house catches on fire.

I can recall the first time I experience a panic attack. And the second one. And the third. Until it became so debilitating that I couldn’t even allow myself to go to sleep. I was on night duty; alert, alarmed, armed and waiting for the next panic attack. I was always thinking about it. I couldn’t stand it. It was like I couldn’t step away from my reflection without it going into panic mode. The first time I had one; it freaked me out. I thought I was dying. I jumped out of bed, head spinning, heart pounding, mind racing, and I couldn’t stop shaking. I thought I was just suffering from low blood sugar levels (I was into that diet of eating once per day), so I started cramming white bread in my mouth and an entire bottle of orange juice down my throat. I sat on the couch; my shaking had decreased, and looking back I think I was able to myself down because I took my mind off of it by identifying it as a problem (the low blood sugar thought) and quickly racing to solve it by cramming a bunch of shit down my throat. However, I had already called the ambulance and they were there poking my finger to check my blood glucose levels which were, oddly enough, extremely low. I was asked if I was diabetic. No. Pretty sure I wasn’t. I carried on the next five months, life as usual, not changing a damn thing, going to bed fine, sleeping fine, until. Well, then it happened again. I followed the same thing I did the first time around, but the symptoms weren’t decreasing they were erupting inside of my mind. First, I was worried. This is the second time” I remember thinking. “Would’ve if there is something really wrong?” Again. Ambulance came and this time they told me, “you’re having a panic attack” and after that, I allowed myself to slowly mold myself into a victim of anxiety. Nope. I didn’t fight. I didn’t think I could. My doctor wrote me a couple of prescriptions and off I went into the darkness.

Reflecting on that first moment, tells me how strong we are to fight to solve a problem, once we “think” (in this case) we know what it is. We are born to fight for survival. Our bodies are made to be strong and powerful, which is what panic and anxiety is. Fight or Flight. Fight for survival. Irrational thoughts; irrational fears etc.

I like to think that we were created with built in survival kits.

Unfortunately, the thing with panic attacks is that once we are diagnosed; once we are categorized and pushed into the group that “has panic attacks and anxiety” we start nurturing it; helping it grow…laRGER. We actually wait around for it, water it, (so to speak), and we allow everything to revolve around it. And soon enough, we become our own tornado. We become destructible and powerful; damaging to ourselves and our loved ones. And that’s the hardest part. Identifying that you suffer from panic attacks, pushing yourself into that group of hashtags, (if you will), and we succumb to them.

Instead, we need to identify it, and not let it become our way of being identified.

More truth? Everyday is a struggle. Why? Because it’s annoying. It’s exhausting. There are days where you want to be like, “screw this shit”, but you know what? I remember my dad; he gave me more proof how strong our bodies are once we get the mind to hop aboard. You see, from the time my father was 18 years old to the time he died in August 2005, at 52 years old, he had suffered multiple heart attacks, 2 kidney transplants, skin cancer, more than one open heart bypass surgery followed with staph infections, other various health problems, until he died of liver cancer. But when he died; he died proudly and with dignity.

He lived life not fearing the next day but anticipating the next day. He definitely made sure not to leave one stone unturned. He was a fighter. He fought to the death.

My mother? She was a fighter too. Still is. She battled alcoholism for a majority of her life and has been sober for 11 years. She did it on her own. So I know; I have proof. I have evidence that our bodies our capable of extremes. When someone says, “it’s all in your head,” I used to get offended, but now? Now, I say, “yes, it is all in my head.” Because ultimately, it is how you choose to deal with it. My parents taught me that. The past four years have taught me that.

Dealing with anxiety and panic attacks have taught me that you can’t control everything that happens, but you can control how you react and respond.

I am fighting that. Every. Single. Day.

And I will never, ever give up.

Without pride and dignity. I will not give up.

You really have to train your brain. For every negative thought that invades your mind, you have to force your mind come up with a positive thought to offset the negative.

Set up small goals with yourself so that you have something to look forward to. If you have something to look forward to, you can get yourself out of the darkness a lot sooner; like a cloudy day, but when the clouds suddenly open up, instead of rain, comes the sun.

The more you talk about it in a more positive way, the more likely you will be able to identify and push out those negative thoughts when they start to creep in. For example, rather than say, “you gave me anxiety, or that gives me anxiety” recognize that as a fear, and force your mind to overcome that fear. Anxiety and panic for me, is not having control. When you stop telling yourself that people or things give you anxiety, you will slowly regain control as opposed to feeling inferior to people or things. Ask yourself, why do they give you anxiety? Again, it goes back to your personality. Maybe your personality clashes with theirs or maybe you like things done a certain way….But remember, no one or no thing could give you anxiety or cause you a panic attack unless you let it.

Discover positive interests, brainstorm. For instance, what’s your favorite music? What do you find yourself doing most of the time or what do you find yourself wishing that you could do most of the time? Make a list of your interests, hobbies, favorites and people you like. Most of the time the people who we are attracted to, possess qualities that we would love to have ourselves or we are already alike in a lot of ways, we just haven’t found the ground that will just open up and shout, “you are worthy to walk on me!”

Find something you can be passionate about; something that will challenge you physically, emotionally or mentally; or all three…

Set small goals. Behaviors that you can help change the way you think and listen.

Discover who you are based on your interests; what you’re good at; passionate about, write your goal down and put it somewhere you can look at it. Find out what steps you need to do to reach that goal. Be on the look out for motivational quotes/sayings that you can relate to. Keep it light and positive. No dark quotes. No quotes about anxiety that enable you to allow yourself to keep victimizing yourself. I believe we tend to grab onto quotes that we identify with, (again we are more than anxiety and panic; we are stronger than those things and we have many facets), that say, look I have this problem so yea, accept me for my problem. End of story. It’s okay to like the quote, but when you read that every single day, you risk victimizing yourself. In other words, you risk pulling yourself back into the darkness, where you find comfort in the misery that you have been convinced is completely you. All you. It’s not. Trust me. You’re more than that. We all are.

Find someone who inspires you, positively; finding someone who is a positive influence, someone who makes you feel good about yourself; whether it’s a celebrity, a friend, family member, sports enthusiast, or other individual, will help you heal and allow yourself to become who you want to be and allow you to set goals. They will most likely be honest people, someone you can relate to. A lot of people spend time criticizing and bashing others; but really they are fighting through the pain of what they are convinced are unrealistic goals or expectations that they could never reach. If it makes you feel that way, then those aren’t the people you should be following; that is not who you are and that is okay. No one else is judging you, but you at that moment. Find what works for you. And maybe one day, if it interests you, you’ll have the power to go after that so-called unrealistic goal or expectation.

It’s important to find someone who inspires you; someone you could go back to when you’re feeling down and feel like you’re losing your way because along the way you will have to fight everyday, some more than others, and if have someone that you feel generates a ton of positivity, you could always refer back to that person if you find that your compass starts to taper off the map.

Don’t seek validation from others but yourself. This is hard to do, especially in this technological era we live in. Social networking sites look out!

If you receive negative feedback, expect it. Embrace it. That person may be suffering just like you. You don’t know their story. Ask if they want your help, find ways to help others rather than lashing out. You never know; you just might be the inspiration that someone else needs; someone’s bright spot in their darkness.

Most importantly, don’t ever think that taking medication is a sign of weakness. Medication is a sign that you want to fight; that you’re not willing to give up. They say “crying isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of trying to be strong for too long.” Same rule applies.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I eat healthy, I workout, I don’t smoke, drink, or do drugs, yet I still have panic attacks; I still have anxiety, my mind and body are just that powerful, and as I said, it’s a contstant battle…

Anything is possible. Just keep fighting. Believe in yourself. Accept yourself. And Be yourself.

Running for Power and Purpose

 I’m not a runner. The only time I enjoy running is when I don’t really think about it. For example, I like to run with my kids when we’re playing, “who can make it to the car first”, which actually happens quite often. But I’m not really thinking about it. I mean, my heart starts pounding, my breathing becomes deeper, the gust of air felt from my body thrusting itself forward is felt, but it’s more about trying to see who can get to the car first. I usually win. Simply, because I have the car keys and the rule is, that to be declared the winner, you have to be in the car first.  

 FYI, I have a car that does not have automatic locks. I guess that is just one of the perks of owning a car with manual locks.  

To run is to have to make a commitment and to make it happen. It requires distance and miles. It requires moving farther and farther away from the starting point, and I really don’t have a lot of time for that. I know people who actually like to run for miles, endurance, speed, and some people just like it to clear their mind. But I actually have discovered that my mind usually turns off around mile numero uno. It turns into me sounding like the annoying little voice in the backseat on a long car ride wondering, “are we there yet?”

There are people who create running playlists and listen to it while they run. I’ve tried that. I end up getting tangled in the cord somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes into the run. Alright, I’m stretching the truth, maybe more like 5 or 10 foot strikes against the pavement. Or even worse; the ear buds don’t stay in, and then the Ipod gets turned off and just ends up in my pocket anyway.    

 Still, it has to be done. I like to keep it short though. No long distances. Tonight I went to the high school track to run. I swear whenever my mind starts to think about running, my body just melts. I was just lying on the couch, relaxing with the phone in my hand, checking my Instagram account, and my mind was literally screaming at me to get up and just go for a run. My body, on the other hand, literally, feels like it is pleading with me; protesting by going limp with just the thought of running. I was just going to do a cardio workout at home, but my mind, apparently, had other plans for me. Apparently, it felt this relentless desire to go outside and run. Odd.  I do have to admit, however, I was feeling pretty pathetic just lying on the couch thinking about doing cardio. Not just that though, it is those damn evil hormones that are getting to me again. My husband is lucky he is visiting his family in St. Martin so he doesn’t have to deal with the wrath of these devious little sidekicks. Ha.

All day long, in the back of my mind, I kept having glimpses of me running down my street or around the highschool track. But before I engaged into some sweat, fat burning work, I decided I should satisfy my cravings by buying my daughter a slice of chocolate cheesecake and my son a double chocolate cookie.

Look, I teach them about balance. I don’t want them to be afraid of food for cripes sake. Anyway, I couldn’t choose which one I’d rather have, so I bought both, and they ate them. They were really good too. I’m just guessing. It was a treat. They enjoyed it, and so did I.  As least I’m assuming that based on the chocolate covered stains that hid my son’s lips and teeth. Mmmm….Chocolate…

 And then reality caught up and hit me in the head…

Once at the high school track; the wind and cool air spent the first few minutes reminding me of how freezing it was outside. It had the feeling of a cool winter day; as though I was going to look up at the sky and catch a snow flake in my eye. I started cursing at myself for forgetting to bring a hat. But, it really wouldn’t have made any sense to drive all the way back home for my hat, since I had already driven to the track, which made me feel silly in the first place. I mean, I just drove right down the street to run around in a giant circle; kind of like a dog chasing its tail.

 I stepped onto the track; made sure my shoes were tied, gave in to the cool air and started with a light walk. I couldn’t help but watch two teenage boys on the field, kicking a soccer ball back and forth to each other, laughing, and enjoying the cool night breeze. I continued my walk once around the track and turned it into a light jog. As I ran, still aware of the teenagers kicking the ball back and forth to each other, my body and mind started to connect. At that point, I couldn’t stop running. I started to run extremely fast until my legs burned, and then I would jog, then run again. This type of cardio, I could handle. Sprinting.

 I lost track of time. There was no music. No cords or ear buds; and as usual, my mind went numb. I focused on my running technique, my force, and speed; time. The lights flickered on as it got a bit darker, and I had suddenly realized that the teenagers were no longer there, I quickly wondered how long they had been gone. Still, I kept moving; feeling every bit of tension in my body dissipating. I finished up with eighty side squats and fifty high knees followed by fifty knee kicks. I could have kept going, but it was extremely dark at that point, the street lamps provided the only light at that point, and the only thing I saw was my shadow. Besides, there was a trail of kid’s voices running alongside the school building and underneath the bleachers, so I figured that it was best to go home.

Tomorrow is another cardio day, and I know that my body will still plead with me not to go, but my body and mind will thank me once I am done. I just have to focus and stay in tune with each muscle in my body as it contracts. There’s no other feeling like being able to feel the energy from my muscles as they work to thrust my body forward; in competition with no one else but myself. Doing cardio doesn’t always have to be about long distance or length of time. If you don’t have time, you could still give it all you got in 15-20 minutes. Just be willing to push yourself as hard and don’t be afraid to let every muscle contract in your body, and let the tension fade.

Music or none at all; it’s your choice. Always.