Body Positivity & Resources (Updated)

Body Positivity & Resources (Updated)

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Negative Self-Image

I have to admit, I do not have the best self-image so body positivity is a challenge for me. Some of this is based on how previous partners have treated me, regarding my weight. Some of it is based on my own ideas of what my body should look like. Still, other challenges are tied to how my body has changed on the antispsychotic medication that I take called olanzapine and how this has affected my cholesterol and other laboratory tests done on my blood samples.

Full disclosure: I have gained a lot of weight on other classes of medications like anticonvulsants, lithium, and other types of antipsychotic medications. So, while I have gained on olanzapine, it is a helpful medication that I use to manage my Bipolar I Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Because my starting weight was 114 pounds I punished myself for gaining forty-six pounds once I began taking the olanzapine. I have been wearing sweat pants and baggy shirts to hide myself. Only now-those same clothes have turned to rags, and I really need new clothing.

I told myself that I would buy new clothes once I lost weight, but the added pressure on myself just made me feel a loss of motivation. It was really hard to lose weight and get fit and then start olanzapine and plump up so quickly. I felt like a failure for letting it happen to me. Especially because, as a former volleyball player, runner, gym-goer, and now personal trainer, I know how to take care of my body.

Stop the Punishment!

I think the first step to body positivity is to recognize you have a negative self-image and the second step is to stop the punishment. Chances are, you are punishing yourself for your body not being the way you would like it to be right now. Whether it is baggy clothes, knotted hair that you refuse to brush, the substances you use to force your body to lose weight, the bathing suits you refuse to try on, and so forth-you are punishing yourself and this actually feeds a negative self-image and also depression.

Celebrate Your Body

I know it sounds cheesy, but you need to celebrate your body for what it has done for you and will continue to do for you as you age. You do not have to be a perfect weight or body fat percentage to feel happy and whole-or even beautiful.

Also, maybe try doing something nice for your body. Buy a comfy bra. Or, like me, today, I ordered a set of five pairs of leggings. No more baggy sweatpants to hide beneath! Leggings are comfortable and this set was affordable. I can also exercise in them. Sweatpants are cozy but I overheat in them when I exercise-even in the cold. A barrier to exercise, for me, on days when I do not feel my best, is that I do not want to change clothes. So, if I am wearing clothes I can exercise in-I am more likely to take the walk that I would have turned down if I needed to change clothes first.

To develop body positivity, you do not have to buy anything to celebrate your body and what it does for you. Sometimes, showing love for your body comes down to what you do not buy and put into it. This summer, I drank alcohol. It was mainly tied to my grief over losing my younger sister to the disease of alcoholism. I rarely drank prior to her death, and it is mainly because my body does not process alcohol efficiently. So, this summer, I have probably done some damage to my overall health and wellness, and I am looking forward to healing that damage. Healing my body shows love, care, and appreciation for the body I have been devaluing-mostly because I am disappointed in how I look right now.

Seek Mental Health Help

If you find yourself struggling, do not hesitate to find mental health help. There are even apps that you can download that allow you to access a therapist more easily. I remember my first therapy bill was $880, and I only talked a few minutes. The therapist said she wanted to bill my parent’s insurance-and since I had gone to her to report sexual abuse-I left because I did not want anything billed to my parent’s insurance. I think the accessibility of mental health treatment has come a long way since those days!

Mindful Body Positivity

I think it takes time to develop body positivity. There will be moments when you feel bad about yourself. I would encourage you to mindfully redirect your thoughts back to appreciating your body and thinking of fitness as a form of overall wellness and not a vanity. It is nice to want six pack abs, but wanting them might not be good for your overall wellness in that moment. Maybe you just need to focus on eating a healthy diet that day, meditating, and exercising-not just for physical wellness but for mental wellness.

I plan to take each day at a time, from this moment forward, on my new journey toward body positivity. I hope this post helps to inspire you to take each day at a time while developing your own sense of body positivity!

Current Weight (Update)

I lost twelve pounds recently. Instead of thinking that I should have lost more, I am trying to think about the progress I have made and enjoy that happiness for a little while.

Resources

Photo by Billie on Unsplash

Surviving Blah Days

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Why the Blah Days?

For the past two days, I have felt a loss of motivation, and I have been more sensitive to negativity online. I know a lot of that is due to my own bad habits. I read my mother’s public posts (she was diagnosed with schizophrenia), and I read the awful comment sections of various online articles.

Ordinarily, I can just observe how toxic online content is and then brush it off, but I think the more I want to write and develop my talent, the more the negative comments bother me. It is like I put myself in the position of the person or people in the article being commented on by readers who say awful things, as if it were a sport to dehumanize.

Negative online behavior just makes me want to be a hermitess for the remainder of my life. Currently, I am working on a short story, and when I think about it being published, I am excited, but at the same time, I am reluctant to have an official type of public presence. Which is ironic-because I write this blog, and I write very openly here. I literally had to push myself to write this post and to not just let this blog lie idle another day longer.

Turning Blah Days Around

Of course, I could keep reading awful comments obsessively all-day-long. I could also stalk my mom’s public posts and then scroll down to where she claims I committed suicide-and get upset at what a horrible mom I have all-over-AGAIN.

But I will do neither of those things.

Things I will do to turn this blah day around:

  1.  Acknowledge the problem(s) and unhealthy habits. I did this in writing this post.
  2. Appreciate how resilient I am and how not even a bad parent could destroy me or my own motherhood. You can even apply this to your life and situation because you are more resilient than you realize.
  3. Conscientiously extend forgiveness to my mom and to people who are so miserable with their own lives that they try to hurt and/or destroy other people. As we all know, hurt people hurt others.
  4. I am going to clean my apartment. It counts as exercise, and taking care of a home environment can make you feel better mentally and emotionally.
  5. I am going to finish my story by the end of this week. Setting a deadline will give me time to work through my difficult emotions, my fears, and it will help push me toward completion-without focusing so much on what other people could say about the story or write about me, if published.
  6. Take time for formal exercise. While I may not ride my spin bike today, I can work on my backbends, practice holding myself up using a yoga wheel ( ’cause I’m weak), and I can use my booty bands. And lord do I need to use them on my squishy marshmallows!

Conclusion

Blah days can steal your joy and rob you of motivation. There is usually a root cause for blah feelings. It helps to identify what is feeding those blah emotions and then reduce exposure to it-it could be bad habits, or habits that could be healthier. For instance, instead of reading tabloid comments, I could read a scholarly and challenging article instead (without comments). I could also choose to exercise for an hour instead of sitting and reading online comments for an hour.

A lot of times, blah days are the result of not feeding our minds and hearts with healthy stimuli. If you find yourself having a blah day, know that you can turn it around mindfully.

 

 

1st Ride & Health Coach Certification

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First Peloton Ride Since Bronchitis

Today, I completed my first Peloton ride (I use the app; I don’t have a Peloton bike yet.) in a week since my bronchitis diagnosis. I even wore my athletic compression socks to help in case I have some remaining clot issues as mentioned in this post. I did not have a heart attack or a stroke or a pulmonary clot so I think I am in the safe zone.

I am proud of myself for sticking it out for a forty-five minute ride. My heart rate was much higher than normal with less exertion so I think it is just because of the bronchitis. I should be continuing to get stronger as the days go by.

ISSA Health Coach

Today, I received an email about a new Health Coach certification with ISSA. I am interested in doing that certification in the future when my financial situation improves. I actually looked around for that kind of certification before looking at personal trainer certifications.

I am not really interested in programming fitness routines for clients-at a micro-managed level. I wanted to learn that for myself. And what I discovered is that I will stick to fitness routines that I do not have to think too much about because I can plan for days and then do nothing.

Spinning is excellent for asthma and since I can no longer safely run, I enjoy it and want to do it. But would I charge a client for this when an app like the Peloton app/bike can do the same thing? Probably not.

I do, however, think that coaching people to develop healthy wellness habits are what I was trying to do with this blog. I am imperfect, but I try. And I think most people can relate to that.

 

 

 

Recovery and Productivity

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Recovery and Productivity

I tend to enjoy being productive, and this productivity is not limited to employment-related productivity. I enjoy knowing that I have meal preparations completed, that my carpet is clean, that I have written something meaningful, and that I have gotten in a good workout. I even consider spending quality time with my daughters to be a productive activity.

So, it is truly difficult when physical and/or mental illness causes me to take a break from being productive. In my case, long periods of low productivity tend to turn into symptoms of depression-and this further erodes my self-esteem.

Currently, I am recovering from bronchitis, and I have been concerned about some blood test results that show my body is breaking down blood clots. My doctor is reviewing my lab results and emergency room visit notes but seems unconcerned about any sort of urgency so I am trying to take that as a good sign that something is not more seriously wrong. I have been pretty stressed out lately and lying around resting and being unproductive was not helping my mental health at all.

Normally, I would meditate, but the deep breathing exercise in meditation was too hard for me earlier when my bronchioles were more inflamed. I did, however, use distraction to help me stop focusing on everything that was going wrong, or could go wrong-and this practice was successful much of the time-it also felt productive to distract myself skillfully rather than ratcheting up my anxiety and depression.

Productivity Can Be Simple

While lying around and recuperating, I looked for simple ways to be productive. If I could only just vacuum one room before feeling exhausted, I would do that. If watching a favorite television show like the old Star Trek series on Amazon Prime was all I had energy to do, then I thought about how rest was helping my body dampen inflammation and break down clots.

I watched Shrek and Shrek 2 with my daughters and considered that productive because it was something I did with them when they were little. Both girls enjoyed the movies, and I felt happy to have time to do that with them.

Being productive does not have to be work-related, and it can be beneficial to your health. Sometimes you just have to reframe what productivity means to you in that moment in time-which derives from using mindfulness as a skill.

Even though I am still recovering, I know that I will keep making progress toward my overall goals-and that makes me feel happy and accomplished.

 

Regaining Wellness

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Absence from Blogging

I am recovering from bronchitis and have been taking time to recover physically, as well as psychologically. Taking time to care for myself has been a good experience. In retrospect, I think I piled too much onto myself earlier, and as a result, I felt like my attention to overall wellness was slipping.

Luckily, I was able to meal prep today. I am using more processed food items, but the convenience cannot be understated when you feel exhausted by light chores.

I hope to get back to my workout routine tomorrow. I plan to do some stretching tonight because my body feels like it has contractures from resting. Not a good feeling.

Riding my spin bike is how I plan to work on my cardiovascular fitness; it is excellent for asthma.

I will write more later, when I feel less exhausted!

You Don’t Owe Anyone an Explanation…

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Background

Historically, I have had a hard time accepting that no one really needs to know everything about why I do not want to do something. I felt like I had to do things for people, in the past, because it was expected of me. Sometimes, I felt bad for the person making the request and would give in out of a sense of empathy.

Requests that you give into-the ones that make you uncomfortable-are almost always an emotional trap.

The other person may become overly critical of you suddenly, if you do not want to give into the request, but again, that highlights just how manipulative the other person really is.

Declining Politely

If you decline a request and the person becomes overly critical of you, it is wise to just end the conversation as politely as you can. Being sucked into an argument is not the outcome you want as it will only frustrate and distract you.

I think this helps to preserve the dignity of the other person, as well as your own.

Nibbana Wellness

I started this blog because I believe in personal growth. However, there are people out there who could care less about personal growth. It is not that they are bad people, but they just have a different understanding of life that is not compatible with my journey. I usually say a constructive prayer for people I meet who could benefit from personal growth. I can see how that might be seen as pompous, but if meant sincerely, it is a gift you are giving to the other person.

Conclusion

If you are not comfortable with something and the other person persists, then it is their issue to sort out. You do not owe anyone an explanation for why you will not do something requested.

Any explanations that you wish to give should be with people who understand you and who have similar values. Otherwise, giving an explanation can open you up to someone who will try to manipulate you and your behavior.

 

 

Avoiding Unhealthy Relationships through Wellness

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Thoughts

After writing my last post, Letting Go of Mr. X (Metaphysical Man), I thought about how important it is to choose healthy experiences in life. I think choosing healthy experiences is aided by taking good care of yourself. Even if I did not know of my Bipolar Disorder at the time of the unhealthy experience, I could have avoided that experience if I had cared more about my own wellbeing and overall wellness.

There are people who can and do take advantage of people with either undiagnosed mental health conditions or poorly managed mental health conditions. It is hard accepting that someone could do that to you and that they were unhealthy themselves. But I think that once you can accept the unhealthy experience for what it was, it helps you to move on with more wisdom than you had in the past.

Future

For a long time, I thought that if I was fit and healthy-and reasonably attractive, that I would fall into bad experiences and relationships as I had done in the past. I think I felt this way because I was worried that I was weak, defective, or that I did not deserve good experiences with someone who is also healthy.

I have come to realize that I have learned a lot about myself and about how I would like to be treated in various types of relationships (not just romantic). I have also learned a lot of coping skills that help manage my Bipolar Disorder and PTSD successfully. Even though I am not the best at taking my asthma medication, I religiously take my psychiatric medication because, to me, being symptomatically crazy feels worse than not being able to breathe!

In the future, I think I will avoid unhealthy relationships in a respectful way and that this will help rebuild my self-confidence.

 

 

Letting Go of Mr. X (Metaphysical Man)

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Afterthoughts…

After writing The Wisdom of Regaining Balance, I researched loving unavailable men. What I discovered is that I am emotionally unavailable.

Mr. X was much older than me, and he did not want me to take care of him as he said that would be unfair to me. I felt like he took away my choice for making the decision for me. I disliked how he would decide things for me.

Mr. X was always honest about the limits of his affections for me. And even though he pressed me for some indication that I loved him, I largely contained my passions regarding him, as I wrote about in Recovering from Psychosis.

I was not trying to punish him for not loving me the same way. I just felt such despair at how deeply I loved him and the reality of our love flower dying in an inhospitable environment. Whenever I think of this, such as right now, my throat feels like it burns, my eyes sting, and I feel like an elephant is sitting on my neck causing me to shed tears.

Release

Mr. X said he was my metaphysical man and that he would always love me in that way. My heart felt broken like it had never felt before in my life.

He had the idea that he would somehow repair me and release me back into the world so that I could be whole, healthy, and happy. Only, that did not quite work out as he envisioned. It was a tall order for sure.

I think that my love and affection for Mr. X is an excuse not to date. I also think that being a little bit fat is another reason to avoid dating; no one notices me with a little bit of fat. Getting in shape would mean that I might meet someone who is interested in me. It is like I am self-sabotaging my physical wellness goals out of the fear of actually meeting someone, falling in love, and being vulnerable.

I sobbed while writing this post. It is a lot of emotion for me to process. Learning that I have been the emotionally unavailable partner is unsettling, but maybe with this new insight, I can choose to let Mr. X go so that I can be whole, healthy, and happy with someone in the future.

 

The Wisdom of Regaining Balance

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Trigger Warning.

The Balance of Daily Life

I have not balanced my activities of daily living all that well recently. I have financial stressors, employment instability, moments of suicidal ideation, and I discovered that I am shamefully in love with a metaphysical man.

Because I have been stable on my latest medication combination, I thought that I could handle working more hours than I am actually able to work. I based my financial situation on being able to work more hours. And now, I have a bill that was unexpected.

I quit my job working in senior care because I was always being asked to cover shifts, even after I said I could only work fifteen hours a week. Also, the actual job was making me feel suicidal. Not now or anytime soon. But definitely, what I experienced at work led me to feel great despair when it comes to aging and potentially losing my agility, cognitive faculties, and ability to regulate fecal and urinary continence.

I would often see things that hurt my soul, and I just refused to want that for myself or my children. As a result, I stopped carrying my rescue inhaler, and I was living on my own proverbial edge. When I get this way, it is usually a warning that I am heading for a mood episode. In this case, I think my mood instability is due mostly to financial stressors, looking for a new job, and leaving a job that gave me a sense that the traditional end of life is just not something I ever want to experience.

A few days ago, I began working on a short story that I want to submit to Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine. It is aptly called “Love Bytes.” I began the story optimistically and then, I realized that it is missing what is essential to the story: passion. And I have been an emotional robot for a long time so this is difficult for me to experience. As much as I would like to think that I am an intelligent woman who is capable of deep love for the right person, it turns out that I am foolish and weak for a man who will never love me the way that I love him. Obviously, these emotions only worsen the despair I felt at my job.

Regaining Balance

I am beginning to regain balance by:

  • I took a break from writing my story; I will take a look at it today.
  • I started blogging mindfully today as I had quit writing while I was unbalanced.
  • I am trying to exercise. It can only help me mentally and physically.
  • I am now signed up with vocational rehabilitation and am looking into my employment options as a person who needs help managing a disability. I have tried working without disclosing my condition, but it always ends badly for me. So maybe this will help me find suitable and stable employment.
  • I am avoiding alcohol. The summer is almost officially over so my party days are done.
  • I am taking care of my health by carrying around my rescue inhaler with the giant fucking spacer, eating a healthy diet, and I take most of my meds. I had stopped taking my asthma pill, and I quit using my steroid inhaler. The result of not taking medications as prescribed included up to three asthma attacks a day.
  • I spent a few minutes thinking of the metaphysical man, and I cried. And then I got on with my fucking day.

The Wisdom of Regaining Balance

Sometimes you need a break from your responsibilities and life in order to feel like you can solve your problems. This does not mean drinking until you puke. Other times, you need to indulge in self-care activities, even when you do not feel like it. Like taking your meds! And then there are times when you just need to cry about some devastatingly hot asshole you will always love and then get on with your day.

 

 

 

10 Ways to Distract Yourself When You Feel Stressed Out!

10 Ways to Distract Yourself When You Feel Stressed Out!

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Feeling Stressed Out!

Feeling stressed is incredibly uncomfortable. In the past, I felt like I had to endure the agony of distress to eventually solve my problems. Later, after Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), I learned that taking a break from my stress helped me more creatively or rationally solve my problems.

When These Skills Work Best

These skills work best when you are not in a crisis situation (a future post) and when you are able to focus on a task or activity. Even if you cannot maintain your attention for very long, a few of these suggestions can help you practice building the maintenance of your attention. Give yourself credit for how long you were able to do a task or activity without judging that you did not complete the activity.

Caveat

Distraction skills can lead to chronic avoidance so you must define how long you will distract yourself. For instance, are you going to watch two movies for one day or are you planning to watch the entire series of Grey’s Anatomy (nineteen seasons and counting!) for a month?

Shorter periods of distraction are better than long periods that could turn into avoidance of the stressors of your daily life. Long periods of avoidance can worsen depression, lessen the feeling of competence, and it may lead to a sense of failure. Short periods of distraction give you a nice respite from your problems without those problems taking over your life.

10 Ways to Distract Yourself When You Feel Stressed

  1. Chat with a friend or family member. This can help a lot but make sure you are not being hyper-social and using socialization to avoid your daily activities and responsibilities. Set time limits on when you are available each day.
  2. Watch a television show or movie. If your attention is poor, try a short You Tube video, or watch a television show. If you feel like you need to immerse yourself in a story, then a movie might be the better choice.
  3. Meditate for five minutes. Using a guided meditation from an app like Insight Timer can greatly enhance this experience. Five minutes may seem daunting but when you are listening to a soothing voice-it can help you to get in the mood to meditate. Do not judge your busy mind; it is only trying to look out for you!
  4. Volunteer. You don’t need to sign up with any organization to volunteer. Take a look around your neighborhood or nearest park and pick up litter while listening to good music via headphones or earbuds. Doing something good for others and the environment can lift your spirits.
  5. Journal. Decide how long you want to worry about your problems and jot them down into a journal. Write down how you feel about your problems. What is it about your problems that make you feel like you can’t overcome them? Put your journal away after time is up knowing that you can revisit your notes later.
  6. Exercise. When I feel stressed, I do not want to move my body at all. I just want to analyze until the problem is resolved. Doing some type of exercise can help combat this feeling and help you to feel competent and successful. Sometimes I just stretch and call it a day, but even that helps sore and stressed muscles.
  7. Make art. Giving yourself a creative outlet can help distract you from uncomfortable feelings and transform your stress into something beautiful or enlightening.
  8. Eat something healthy. When we are stressed, we are likely to eat (or binge) on unhealthy foods. Try a new restaurant in your town that is healthy. Recently, my daughters and I discovered a place called Berry Blendz where we live; it is now our favorite place for smoothies. You could even try making a smoothie at home.
  9. Read about health. Health can cover mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health. Sometimes reading an article about how to best care for ourselves can help us take better care of ourselves when we are feeling distress.
  10. Prayer. I literally ramble to god all of the time, especially when falling asleep. Rambling to god in the form of a prayer helps me to express my emotions and frustrations, and it also helps me to be grateful for what I have right now. Try it. It may work for you too!

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash