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.

problems

 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.

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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. 

no-perfect-people-allowed

Goodnight xoxo

  

Twenty-one. Been There, Done That.

I’ve been struggling with being 35. I’ve been reflecting a lot, and comparing my life experiences now to when I was 21. I can’t help it. Last weekend I slipped on my 6 inch heels, a short skirt and a fitted black top, makeup applied, a touch of bronzer, and I was ready for the night.

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It has been awhile that I have actually got dressed up and gone out with some girl friends, let alone without my husband. However, a couple new spots were opening up and they seemed like there was a perfect opportunity to get dressed up and have some laughs with my sister and another girl; a younger girl. Unfortunately, the girl was 21 and I mean, I don’t blame her for her behavior because I remember at the age, I was pretty similar and had an, “I-don’t-give-a-shit-attitude”, but I was sober.

I don’t drink; by choice, of course. I was just going to go as the designated driver. So yeah, I felt like a mother hen.  I know sounds like so much fun, right? Well, I actually did enjoy myself, but I couldn’t shake the blatant fact that I was older than this carefree girl who was now stumbling and couldn’t hold her liquor.

I found myself taking on the role of a mother. She kept wandering off, and while I wanted to keep her safe and not get taken advantage of, I wondered where I was supposed to draw the line. I mean, was it when I kept catching her kissing random guys, and then security kept having me chase her down to bait and hook her so that I could reel her back in to have a seat, drink some water and just mellow out. Perhaps if I would’ve drank, maybe I’d be falling all over myself.  I mean I certainly had my fair share of those moments, yea, back in the day. But it’s not exactly a sign of fun times when you have to pry someone else away from another guy’s lips.

To make things clear, it was my older sister’s friend/coworker, and I just couldn’t bring myself to abandon this fragile girl who an hour or two before showed her vulnerable side to me as she discussed all of her “issues”. She suffers from an eating disorder, she is bipolar, oh the list goes on. Overall, she was a nice, sweet girl, but she definitely made me feel my age. I didn’t feel like I was dressed up in my 6 inch heels, mini skirt and a fitted shirt, anymore. Instead, I felt like I was responsible for taking care of this girl; I felt like I was in my pajamas, pacing and waiting for my little girl to come home.  At one point she took my hand, and she felt so frail and tiny. Almost breakable. My sister, on the other hand, was sharing drinks with some new friends that she had met at one of the new bars that opened up the night before and therefore was completely oblivious to what was unfolding.

Still, it remained that I was the designated driver and I was ready to haul ass out of there. Fortunately, they followed me. Sort of. The one girl informed me that she was getting picked up by a friend, showed me the text, and assured me she was fine. So it was just my sister, who passed out in the passenger seat of my car, and me driving home in silence. I didn’t feel the need to turn on the radio because I couldn’t shake the feeling that I felt so different; grown up, matured. I mean, I was no longer a 21 year old. 

Hanging out as a designated driver, surrounding myself around drunken men and women in their early twenties, really opened up my eyes to what’s important to me. I love the gym, lifting weights, and building a physique; that’s my challenge. At 21? My challenge was exactly what the girl I kept a watchful eye on all night long was doing. Nothing. Getting drunk and kissing random guys. Waking up the next morning, feeling remorse, regret, and loneliness. Going to the gym may not be glamorous and may not require 6 inch heels with a short mini skirt, but it’s a new phase in my life. Not to mention, it doesn’t make me have regret, or flood that powerless feeling throughout my veins.

I only wish that all of the things I know now, I knew when I was 21. And I only wish that the girl who drank so much that she could barely walk; the girl with the fragile hands; the girl who seemed so breakable in that particular moment; the girl who went looking for any kind of attention, approval, or validation, could know what I know now at 35. 

Oh by the way, I would never, ever, trade in my six inch heels permanently. They stay right next to my training shoes. I don’t give a shit how old I am. I’ll always be old (or young) enough to wear them. Ha.

 

One Legally Binding Contract You Should Avoid

I struggle with this too, but I try my hardest to live by this rule: Be realistic with your goals. 

The number one thing I see on social media websites and in magazines is the image to look like a fitness model or a Victoria’s Secret model. I’m not saying that it can’t be done, I’m just saying that in order to look like a fitness model, you have to be prepared to requires a lot of dedication and commitment. If you want to look like a fitness model for a day; fine, but long term? You’re going to have to be willing to completely transform your kitchen and lifestyle, which begins and continues with eliminating any trace of a potential chemical shit storm waiting to happen. I know you can do it, just don’t sign any legally binding contracts unless you want to get sued.

 And none of us are that perfect all of the time. Our bodies are strong, we are strong, but sometimes shit happens. Even if we’ve make the ultimate sacrifice to give up cookies and pizza forever; sometimes our bodies will physically fight us tooth and nail.

 I woke up this morning, feeling more bloated than usual, drank a full glass of ice cold water, sat down at the computer with my oats with fruit and egg whites. As I was about to shove a spoonful of oatmeal into my mouth, my eyes focused in on this article. I couldn’t help but feel guilty for the extra spoonful of oats I put in my bowl or the one extra strawberry I tossed in just because. 

And while I doubt anyone is going to sue me anytime soon, (in fact, I’m sure of it) or no one is going to sever my head if I happen to gain a few pounds, for “not walking the walk, or talking the talk”,  I certainly can empathize with the Biggest Loser contestant who is being sued for gaining weight.  I made a commitment to this lifestyle, and I feel very passionately about it, and I hold myself accountable for making sure that I am constantly, “walking the walk” or talking the talk” but I also remember that [insert dramatic pause here] I am only human. Yep. There you have it. I am human. And so is this woman.

***Gasp***

 I seriously think that they should be more concerned with the fact that she’s human. Oh and the fact that chances are; if you’ve struggled with your weight in the past, no binding contract is going to put an end to that struggle.

 Physically or emotionally

 Especially, if you’re human. Living this lifestyle isn’t exactly what I call as being “socially accepted”. No, what is widely accepted, with an emphasis on socially, is binge drinking and pummeling food, food and more food into our bodies with ingredients that I don’t even think the manufacturers can pronounce.    

 It’s not like it’s a secret. It’s a known fact that people aren’t consciously counting calories or paying attention to how the food that they are eating affects their body. And honestly, from where I sit, and I’ve mentioned this in previous blog posts, counting calories can be a full time fucking job. It can kind of seem characteristic of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. And I’m no fucking doctor, but I know what it feels like to be obsessive. Trust me. In fact, I own my OCD proudly, it kicks my ass at the gym and it keeps me on track with my diet-but- it’s- not- really- a- diet-, it’s- a- lifestyle. So while I agree that she had a duty to maintain the image that gave her that opportunity in the first place, I also understand that she is human. And unless you’re a wizard, you may gain a few pounds here or there. What is important, however, is whether or not she has the will to fight to get back on track. In my nonprofessional opinion, I think she illustrates the struggle of weight loss, not a lack of self control. Besides, don’t most people who struggle with their weight face a lack of control in their life already? I don’t believe people intentionally sabotage themselves to die young or be obese. No there’s an emotional struggle that is attached to their weight; it’s not just physical.

It is easy to lose track of what you’re putting in your mouth in times of stress, or just life in general. Believe me, I don’t wake up everyday weighing the same either. Maybe I had more sodium than usual, or drank too much water the day before. The body is full of surprises and no one person can get it down to an exact science. During competition prep, or when I did that photo shoot, I had to manipulate my carbohydrates and water intake. Newsflash: Each time a figure competitor competes, they are always trying something new, a little tweak here or there, and their body may be harder and tighter than the last show. Yes, I know people who have shows back to back (one week apart) and they don’t do the same thing that led them to the first show. Again, this is all based on other’s experience, personal experience and lots and lots of research. (That’s my disclaimer right there.)

 And to ramble on some more about it, all I know is that everyone has a story. It’s not as black or white as everyone paints it out to be. Every ‘body’ is different; when you put stress on your body daily, over time you’re body is going to react to it eventually. I don’t know what kind of diet or workout regimen this woman was on, but maybe the stress finally caught up to her and her body responded by putting on some weight. Maybe no matter what she did to counteract the weight gain, she didn’t know how to fix it. Certainly some people can relate. Have you ever decided you needed to lose weight? And in doing so, you put your body under extreme stress, whether it is through a sudden diet change or you just jumped right into a high intensity bout of exercise 5 days a week? Not to mention, we there are their twisted little things called hormones that make our body go tick and tock. Yea, they have an affect on us daily too. Hormones are responsible for a lot of shit that happens in your body. Some make our muscles grow; lose weight, and some make us cry and crave chocolate and pizza. And…sometimes when they’re fucked with; they can put a screeching halt on any kind of progress that you might have made.

 Really, the only contract that I’m going to commit to is the one that reads, “you are taking on the role as a representative to our brand. In signing this contract, you are agreeing to be real, vulnerable, and be willing to make mistakes.You also are agreeing to never mislead the public in any way because by doing so will only tarnish our brand and in doing so, will lead to the promotion of a negative representation, one that we do not want to be a part of. (Feel free to insert legal terminology as you see fit). Imagine, if the scale were tipped the other way, and she got too skinny????

Wow. To be completely honest, I compare myself to others. I mean, who doesn’t? Don’t say you don’t, I don’t know you personally, but I know you do it. Let’s get real, why else do we have a social networking site that has pictures only? Oh and recently videos too. I’m talking about Instagram, but other social networking sites allow it too. And the obvious, why else would this woman be getting sued for not maintaining an image she had at the time she agreed to represent this company?

I scroll through newsfeeds of fitness accounts that I have clicked the like or follow button and I also flip through fitness magazines with envy. I don’t read the articles, I don’t look at the words, I just look at the images that show defined abs, hard earned muscle, and beautifully rounded shoulders and legs that can put any high heeled shoe to shame. It’s my motivation. But sometimes, truthfully, it can be an unhealthy kind of motivation. Sometimes, my body goes to war with my mind. So I have to force myself to log off whatever social media website I’m looking at, close the pages of the magazine and go to the gym. But I go in swinging, busting ass, and challenging my body every single day, and then I go home eat several small meals throughout the day, nothing special, just unprocessed foods, choose only natural sugars as opposed to foods with added sugars, and even then, I keep that kind of sugar to a minimum, I don’t eat an entire jar of peanut butter, even though I’d like to at times, and I drink a lot of water all day long. But I still don’t have a chiseled six pack, although, I don’t really want one, I get frustrated that no matter what I do, I can’t seem to have my stomach look like a six pack. Oh, I have definition in my abs, but you can barely see them if I’m not standing in certain light, or after eating and drinking water all day.

But I still do it because after three years of being on this fitness journey, I feel like I’ve joined a fitness revolution.  I love that I can relate to the desire to eat copious amounts of nut butters straight out of the jar, the fact that I, too, saturate my Iphone with endless shots of myself in the mirror; also known as “selfies”  and play with filters to see what brings the lines out from my muscles the most. I even get excited when I don’t need a filter at all because I can actually see the lines without a fancy filter, and, I, like many others on Instagram, tag the photo with the hashtag, #nofilter. I am also guilty of carrying chicken around in my purse, owning a ton of Tupperware, which, I might add, honestly frustrates me because I suck at organizing Tupperware. Seriously, I can never find the matching lid. But, I feel like over the past 3 years, while I have lived and breathed the fitness lifestyle, I don’t ever feel that it’s ever enough. I still struggle to find the right balance and I suffer the most when my hormones come to play. I am hard on myself. I’ve always been. Everyday is something different. Not just with my appearance though, with a lot of things. I may take a hundred pictures, but it’s only because I’m searching for the one with the “right lighting” the “perfect lines” and then I tell myself to eat cleaner and train harder. And I do. But then I get mad at myself. I think it’s me. I go back to those images on the social media sites and wonder why I can’t have their abs, or legs or shoulder muscles. I do that and then I usually come to my senses (until the next time) and realize that I have to learn to work with the set of tools God and my entire gene pool gave me. Truth hurts.

 

What isn’t drilled into our minds is that you can’t want to be somebody else; you have to want to be you. All of the time. And to do that, you have to do what feels right for you. It’s hard, I know, but it certainly isn’t impossible. I know that too. Like I said, I’m guilty of being too hard on myself too. You just have to be prepared to fight, accept that you aren’t perfect, and that there may even be some setbacks. You can’t control life, but you sure could make the best of it. And that goes for your body too. You can certainly make the most of what you’ve been given, and try not to forget that you, I mean, we, are still human. Just look at the woman from the Biggest Loser, Season 2, who is facing a lawsuit.