Do more of what makes you FEEL good

 

Hi all! It’s been a super hot minute since I’ve posted on the blog but that’s ok. It’s Friday. Yippee. It’s also the end of week SIX of Fall semester, nuts. Thus far I’m really digging being back in classes. Never actually thought I’d say that considering how rough the entire past academic year was. Insert eye roll emoji here. This directly ties into the title of this post, do more of what makes you feel good. Seems simple, right? Common sense? Of course. Do I follow this advice? for the longest time, nope. I attribute this semester going well to the fact that I’ve been doing more things which speak to me and letting go of the things which stress me. Easier said than done, but the outcome so far has been well worth the struggles along the way.

I’ve always been a people pleaser. I genuinely want and enjoy helping others but there is a boundary (at least for me) that needs to be set here. I can’t go out of my way on a consistent basis without taking care of myself because that leads to burnout mentally and physically. Not only a people pleaser but if someone is upset with me, has a difference of opinion, doesn’t like the way I handle X/Y/Z, then I would take it out on myself and myself only. I never actually realized how much this was hurting me on an emotional level until I’ve been working on the way I go about my day to day and filling my life with more activities that truly benefit my wellbeing. I hate saying “no”. It’s so hard for me because I feel like I’m letting someone down and will ruminate on that feeling of not pleasing said person for hours, days, weeks. It’s absurd. Seriously, not ok in any way. Having this kind of mentality isn’t healthy, beneficial, or even sane for that matter.

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I think I’ve shifted away from this mentality easier recently because I’ve been doing more things which I enjoy and therefore feel better in general. I’m less anxious. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a general baseline anxiety and there are days when I’m convinced I’ve gone off the deep end. But, the bad days are further apart now in comparison to the past probably ten years of my life. I will take that and run with it. I no longer throw a complete tantrum like every other day over little things that won’t matter twenty minutes later. I’ve been staying in my classes and coping better with the stresses of school for the most part. Like I said, I still have my moments for sure but after all progress is a process. I know my anxiety is deeply rooted into my being, and breaking free from it is going to be a long and daunting haul. Rewarding, worth it, and beneficial to my health… YES absolutely. But emotionally a roller coaster also. I also believe that over time dealing with my anxiety I’ve become a bit more resilient in managing it, so to say, I’ve become accustomed to it. More adapted.

I keep mentioning that I’m spending more time doing things which are enjoyable to me. The biggest one here is hiking without a doubt. Additionally, just spending more time with friends and enhancing my social life has also been very helpful! I’m what I like to call an outgoing introvert. I need my space. I need “Sarah time” to recharge, sleep, focus, breathe, and chill. But for a while I had too much me time, and that wasn’t good either. I notice that if I’m alone too much I tend to ruminate more, which I would say is probably common for a lot of people. I was stuck in this place of not really wanting to be social because I was afraid or anxious about not having enough time to myself when in reality I had too much time to myself. Catch 22 I guess.

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Back in July I went on my first hike of this season and the bliss I found from this hike was something completely inexplainable. A week later I met with a friend from high school for another hike. A few weeks after the same friend (she’s fabulous) and I went again. One thing that has been super cool is the social aspect I’m getting out of this hobby/passion also. Between reconnecting with a high school friend to actually meeting a social media friend for the first time (and we’ve now gone on two hikes together) is amazing and I’m so grateful for these friendships.

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It’s been a consistent pattern of hiking every weekend to every other weekend since July. I don’t think this is stopping anytime soon. A total of 16 New Hampshire 4000-footers since July. Most of these hikes take up an entire day: leave at 7am, begin hike by 9:30am, hike lasts anywhere until 2pm-6pm, get home between 5pm-8pm. Day done, legs tired, belly full of protein bars and turkey sandwiches and I’m happy. I think about nothing else for a whole day. The driving is usually spent talking and jamming to good music while drinking copious amounts of coffee to prepare ourselves. The hike itself is pure bliss, being in nature and focusing on hiking (read: not tripping over myself every .9 seconds). I feel so good. Not to mention, the views are phenomenal.

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South Twin mountain.

pano zealand

Zealand mountain.

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Garfield mountain trail. GUYS look at this. Seriously. How can you not be completely at ease after a day spent walking along this trail?!

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Casually standing on top of the entire world. E.g Mt. Zealand lookout spot. Straight up cheesin’ so hard. Endorphin rush to the max!

I’m going with these good feels. I can firmly say I feel more confident in myself and my abilities than I have in years. It’s a good place to be mentally. I still have work to do, but I think I’ve found something that will help me get it done. For me hiking is the best meditation, and meditation is where I calm myself, let go of all the negative feels, and realize that everything will actually be ok despite thinking the world may collapse under me some days.

Tonight a friend is staying over (also hasn’t happened in years because I’m absurdly uptight) and then tomorrow we are… guess what… HIKING. Trip report to come! Also to come – what I’m taking for classes, fitness updates, new job(s), ect…

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” – John Muir (clearly my end of the post quote had to be this one… so fitting! Winking smile)

Prioritizing needs + goals vs. ‘wants’

Hello there! Good morning and it’s Sunday funday 🙂

Today is a day full of all sorts of things including taking a few minutes (times like ten) to post on the blog. After this is done I’m getting ready for work and then after work it’s right to finishing up my genetics homework due Monday morning! Sunday’s are such an interesting day – a majority of people have the day off, but yet I find those who work it typically don’t overly mind doing so. Or maybe that’s just me. It’s probably just me. I don’t know it just seems logical because I don’t have class on Sunday and if I weren’t working I probably wouldn’t get much studying done anyways so I might as well just do a shift? It’s not like my job is overly challenging, I’m a barista for crying out loud. It’s fun. I get to play around with fancy espresso drinks and make sandwiches all day, which ultimately results in me smelling… well… not that good by the end of the day.

12142195_976074989120494_1805269812_n Current view. I’m ok with it 😉

Onto today’s topic – prioritizing needs and goals versus “wants”. First off, let’s establish what I am referring to by saying needs and goals and then what I think of as wants. This is probably fairly easy to guess but I want to make sure it’s clear for everyone. I”m not referencing the little things such as food, water, sleep, ect. I’m after the deeper stuff. Needs are the things which are physically and/or mentally/emotionally necessary or else overall wellbeing would be affected. Goals are the things which our innermost being wants to reach. They are the things which keep people driven and in pursuit. Goals are fire, fire to keep going. Goals are the things that our hearts feel complete by reaching. Goals help make us better versions of ourselves. Wants are the things which while maybe they would be nice to have/reach but aren’t necessarily in line with our truest self, or would require letting go of something more important in order to get them. Wants are what we think we need but in reality actually don’t. Wants can be ego, desire, envy. Wants aren’t based from internal “needs”, rather they are external “needs”.

How to know which is which? How to pursue the ones that will actually benefit you as a person? How to actually prioritize and pursue and not allow doubt, fear, or discomfort push you back towards going after the “wants” because, well, typically they are easier.

10727276_362500790581847_755764727_n (1) Hello, #accurate.

It’s no secret that this semester went nothing like planned for me. Nothing. Dropping from full-time to part-time. Adding a second job. Adding a second volunteer position. Leaving the lab I was volunteering/working in. Deciding that I was pursuing a career too specific because it was part of my nature (another post, too much to explain). Taking a step, more like 100 steps back to really look at my life and figure out what I actually NEED for my life. What’s important to me. What am I doing because it makes me happy vs. what am I doing because I think it makes me happy.

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

Needs // 1. Continue figure out my gut and physical health. 2. Sleep more, drink less coffee, stretch my hips out more, meditate. 3. Pursue the things in school which actually mean something to me versus just make me feel good because I can get an A. 4. Spending quality time with those I love because this helps center me and make everything seem ok.

Goals // 1. Start working in a different lab, one that fulfills my interests because I’m interested not because I think I should be based on my major. Lesson learned. 2. Spend more time with my volunteer positions because I genuinely enjoy them and they involve a community of like-minded people which is a positive influence on my wellbeing. 3. Be honest, nope, be more honest with the things that are in my life that shouldn’t be. Ditch those things, gracefully. Or to be even less concerned just say “bye”.

Wants // 1. I want to get (physically) stronger. I don’t need to. I’m strong. I’m not strong for a girl, for my size, or in comparison to x,y,z. I’m just strong. Could I be stronger? Yes. It is necessary that I am ? Nope. Will it make me a better person? No. This is a want. It’s not a need. It’s not a goal that will make me better. It’s a goal, but not one that should be at the top of the mountain in my case. This kind of belongs between categories because it is in line with my passion but it isn’t critical.  2. I would love to work more. I would love to have more money. But honestly, my mental health and school need to be my PRIORITIES. I’m still working, I’m in college, it could be worse and I don’t have it that bad. I can’t allow this to stress me out (although it totally will). 3. Controlling everything and having a plan for my life. It’s not possible, nor should it be. There are so many variables, ups and downs, factors outside of my control and striving to control everything will ultimately just make me more unhappy.

12142331_404469916417674_1453166683_n Time outside is helpful too. Afternoon walk along the railroad with a good friend ♥ Thanks, Lu.

All of this is really individual. It’s a lot of just gaining the right perspective, for you… and trying to avoid that comparison trap because that’s just a surefire way to get you anxious about your habits and lifestyle. Know where things stand in your life and accept that and allow it to be fulfilling – because honestly if you know what’s important TO YOU and all of your ducks are in a row working towards those things (those needs and goals) then you will ultimately feel fulfilled.

“Don’t sit and wait. Get out there, feel life. Touch the sun, and immerse in the sea.” – Rumi

Life ramblings // fitness + nutrition talk

Hi all! Last week I left you off with how I was going to be testing out one rep max lifts – those went well. I ended up doing more of a three rep max and then calculating from there. With so many resources for online calculation of a one rep max from a lower percentage it’s so simple and much less taxing on the body. I’m not a big fan of 1RM’s just because of how much stress they put on your central nervous system. I think in a competition setting that is another story, but for me I’m just using that number to base my lifts at 80-90% off of so it’s not as big of a concern.

I’m doing a new lifting program which has me lifting heavier first and then moving to a lighter but still moderately heavy weight for the latter sets. I’ve always done more of a loading style in the other direction but have been finding myself warn out by the time I reach my heavy sets that either I struggle to get through them, my recovery blows, and/or my form goes out the window which makes me crazy. I’m really excited to see how this new set up goes and I’ll keep talking about this on the blog as well as it’s entirely new to me.

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Insert random bicep picture because my face is absolutely priceless.

Another change I’ve been working on is figuring out what is going on with my digestive system. Yep, we are going to have that talk. Right here, right now. I’ve had GI issues pretty much since I can remember (circa age 5ish). My development and struggle with an eating disorder definitely exacerbated those problems and they have been worse ever since I started recovery and even with being in remission. It’s definitely frustrating because all my doctors kept saying that I would feel so much better as time grew between where I am now and my ED, so as to say the longer I stayed in a good, solid, healthy place. Also that things would improve once I got my period back, which happened two years ago this month (yahoooooo) and is a topic for another day because who doesn’t want an entire post on how to get your period back?! Exciting stuff I tell you. That hasn’t been the case so far though. I’ve talked briefly about this on the blog but I want to get a little more into it.

Recently with an increase in my time in the gym both lifting and doing other things such as running, kickboxing, jump rope, and of course… yoga for balance – I’ve been eating more which is fine and totally good and healthy BUT my gut symptoms have also increased. I’m finding that I do better with more dense food (read: higher calorie) vs less dense because I’m able to get in the nutrients without the bulk. I also have been following a “paleo-ish” approach for about two years now which for a while I did feel better, and I do still feel better than I did when I was a vegetarian and eating things like beans and more fiber-rich foods (don’t get me wrong I still love my veggies), but I’m wanting to experiment a little more in depth.11379149_462226437273669_947037059_n

Case in point on the vegetable lovin’:

Chicken + spring mix + onion + zucchini + sweet potato + tessamae’s (so good).

I think experimenting with our bodies on basic levels such as fitness and nutrition are really important for optimal living because it allows us to question things/habits that we partake in on a regular basis and see what is actually working and what can go out the window. Of course I believe in the motto if it’s not broken don’t fix it, but to be honest my gut has been broken for a while now and it’s time to actually get my act together and fix it. One really big motivator for me here is that my father has Crohn’s disease and seeing him struggle makes me that much more determined to figure out what is not sitting well with my body because I have that ability and am otherwise fairly healthy.

With that being said though I’m not a huge fan of promoting elimination style protocols unless completely necessary and ESPECAILLY hesitant in individuals who have a history of eating concerns because it can be highly triggering. I personally even don’t want to have to focus this much attention onto food but I want to feel good so I’m working with it. On the other hand though I’m in a really good place in terms of my recovery so I’m not concerned about going to a place that would be dangerous if I weren’t as solid. That is definitely an individual thing and something that I felt I really wanted to touch on quickly because it’s important.

I have the unique opportunity to work with an RD through school and because I’m a student it’s covered (by way of mandatory fees of course) which is amazing and I’m super thankful for that. I know a lot about testing my body for what works but clearly not enough because I haven’t figured it out yet! It’s nice to have another brain to pick for information and ask endless questions.

For now I’m actually just changing around things more based off of what I think could be causing problems versus a more “strict” elimination style protocol because I have some inklings of what could be causing problems. One thing I’ve noticed is that my energy is a lot lower lately and my recovery from workouts is also sub-par so I’m initially starting by thinking about what specifically could be causing that because obviously my digestion would be all over the place with those issues alone. I hope that makes sense? I’m starting my adding in more carbohydrate sources and reducing my selection of healthy fats because I’m pretty sure avocados and me don’t agree. I also think that nut butter is a bit of an issue and I’ve noticed I feel sick after eating it straight, so like a spoonful of almond butter ect.

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More carbohydrates =

Oatmeal + banana slices + raw honey + sprinkle of chia + spices!

I’ll keep some updates on what I’m finding to work and not work coming but I want to remind you guys who might be reading this with GI issues that every body is different and is unique in it’s requirements and what foods are digested the best to have an optimally functioning digestive system. Don’t copy what I’m eating unless it’s out of ‘oh hey that looks good (which I totally hope it does haha) I want to try that’. Don’t do it expecting to make yourself feel better, perhaps it might, but perhaps it won’t because what works for me might not work for you. Embrace your uniqueness. That is definitely what I keep having to tell myself because this is a really long process. Do what you can with what you have.

 

“Don’t think about what can happen in a month. Don’t think about what can happen in a year. Just focus on the 24 hours in front of you and do what you can to get closer to where you want to be.” – Eric Thomas

The act of self limitation

Hey guys! Back on the blog today with a post that will hopefully light a fire under some of you. That’s the goal.

First off… it’s Tuesday. My day so far has been on the productive side – breakfast and coffee, lifting session, genetics quiz, read a chapter for my genetics class tomorrow, created a playlist for my group ex class tonight, more coffee (with butta), fresh pressed blog post… All before 9:30am, I’m taking that and running with it. My last post was a brief check-in with you guys.. I talked about how my school schedule was all messed around last minute and that after some time with feeling like ‘what’s the point’ I got my sh*t together and jumped back on the bandwagon. Thumbs up to that. I’ll be completely honest here, I’m so glad I have a semi-easy semester. I found myself somewhat apprehensive to admit to that and have since said to myself “so what”, everyone, and I mean everyone, needs a break in the hecticness of life at one point or another. School isn’t easy, it’s worth it (for me), but that doesn’t automatically make it a walk in the park.

On a side note, my favorite part of school definitely is my ability to write the smallest, neatest notes. Insert all the sarcasm.

11939647_932341966852404_527046680_n Ancient MesoAmerica class. Lovely university requirements. It’s actually pretty neat though.

SOOOO, self limitation. Self sabotage. Working against yourself. Whatever wording I just listed hits you the hardest – go with it. Boy is that a concept. It’s also something most people do on the regular, whether or not they are actually aware of it. It’s hard not to. We are brought up in a society that tells us as children that well, we are amazing and can do whatever we set our minds to. Which if you ask me, that’s great. But what’s not so great is that as kids get older the support and the “you’re the greatest” start to leave the scene, and rather quickly. We end up with young adults who are trying to find their life path and also simultaneously being bombarded from every angle with messages about how to be richer, prettier, skinnier, how to succeed, how not to succeed, what you’re doing wrong, why you’re not X/Y/Z, how to be “healthy”, and the list goes on an on. Then of course there are the more important things like actually being a responsible adult, having and maintaining a job, college, graduate school, starting a family, ect. It’s a lot of pressure, so it’s natural for people to be hard on themselves and doubt their abilities. Things cost money, it’s easy to question if something is worth it and subsequently talk yourself out of things. It seems safer to go with the flow of society rather than carving you’re own path. Note I said ‘safer’ not ‘easier’.

What we are not taught? How to listen to our inner fire and let go of our inner critic. Now that’s a concept worth actually pursing.

98440793abf3767125091e02c2185440 Just incase YOU weren’t aware. 🙂

Lately I have found myself all up in negative Nancy’s space. For real though, when I say I was having an anxiety attack on a daily basis… I’m not kidding. It was bad. There was a lot of crying. There was a lot of questioning of “what the heck am I doing?!”, “why do I feel like this?”, “why can’t I be happy?” Then it hit me. I’m not happy because I don’t allow myself to be happy. I find myself just going through the motions, following directions, trying to please everybody. That right there, that isn’t living.

I’m not perfect. I have my issues. But the more I think about my life and where I’ve been and where I hope to go the more I realize that I need to be a proponent of my life, my goals, my dreams, and ultimately myself as a human being. I can’t be against them if I want to achieve them. Heads up Sarah, you can’t please everybody and quite frankly trying is probably going to drive you off the deep end.

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I quoted myself last night on Facebook:

“The one thing I have learned over the years is that it’s best not to run from your demons. Running from the negative doesn’t typically create a positive. It creates a void, a void that most people don’t know how to work with. Instead, work without them, accept them, be at peace with them, and if you really must – use them… but, don’t let them use you.” –me 🙂

I don’t know how to work with that void, and lately I’ve been trying to. I have been trying to work with that void since I got out of treatment in 2013. I kept telling myself that I could just drop that part of my life and pick myself up and be a’ok and good to keep on trucking. That’s not the case. Maybe it is for some people, and that’s fabulous, but maybe it’s not. Maybe you work with what you have and who you are. Pursue your goals, listen to your inner fire, but don’t run away from who you used to be or what you have done. It’s the past. It’s part of life. Accept, be at peace, move on. Work without it, don’t run away. Now, there is another take home message. Learning how to work without something without actively running from it. That folks, is being at peace.

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Everyone has their story, and each story is different. My story, the real short three sentence version is that I’m a work in progress and I’m learning to work with myself rather than against myself. I’m working on listening to my fire because that is what makes me thrive, even if that means doing things my own way against what society calls “normal”. As the above image says, “…my life has already almost slipped away from me…”, past-tense, but it has, and if I managed my way through that you damn well be sure I’m going to figure out a way to do things my way, and to keep following that fire.

We’re all different in our methods. But what is a shared truth: work with your fire, not against it.