My Year By Design

The journey to living by design.

Archive for the tag “habits”

My last day of On Ramp

I recently completed the On Ramp course at West London CrossFit. After a half-year break from CrossFit, I needed a way to ease back into training and I’m very glad I chose this way! I really feel ready to get back to regular classes. My skills are back up to par and I even corrected some mistakes I’d been making previously without even knowing it.

Everyone graduates from On Ramp by running the same WOD (workout of the day) that they completed day one. The trainers recorded both times so we could see how much we’d improved in On Ramp. I wasn’t sure if my time would drop because I had done this workout a number of times before this round of On Ramp. I was pleasantly surprised to see a drop of a little more than a minute.

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On Ramp was designed to introduce people to all the essential movements and skills of CrossFit. However, it was also a great refresher for me. If you’ve taken a break too, don’t be afraid to come back. Don’t quit just because it’s easier. Talk to your coach about refresher options if you need a little help getting back to your best habits.

Ramping Up

So I’ve now completed half of the On-Ramp program at West London Crossfit. I’m really glad I arranged to retake this class as a way to return to Crossfit training. I’m trying to get back to my best habits and I know it’s better if I do it in small steps like the ones provided by On-Ramp. I’m getting a refresher in all the basics, (warm up, lifting, mobility, etc.) and now my form will be much better when I join the regular classes again. I’m sore from class but I feel good. I’m slowly starting to feel stronger and more confident.

I’ve gotten a pretty universal reaction from the coaches and Crossfit regulars. They look at me quizzically for a minute and then say something like, “You still train here?” I smile and tell them that I took a break but that I’m back now. Everyone is welcoming. Two more weeks of On-Ramp to go and then I’ll be back to CrossFit training. I’m looking forward to it.

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Contentment, not joy

I think I can now safely say my recovery is going well. Like any good teacher, I’m going to give myself a bit of a report card on my mental health.

My process:

  • Taking my antidepressants every day.
  • Going to therapy bi-weekly or weekly as needed.
  • Working out more.
  • Eating less sugar and fewer grains, (both of which make my anxiety worse.)
  • Spending more time with friends and family.
  • Giving myself more downtime.
  • Meditating a few times a week.

Results:

  • I feel stronger each day. I feel anxious less often.
  • I feel more confident.
  • I’m sleeping better.
  • I’m laughing more.
  • I’m not fully joyful yet but I feel contented. I think I’m on my way to joy.

Fake Anxiety

So on my path back to health things are often bumpy. As I’ve mentioned, I have generalized anxiety disorder. One of the ways I combat my anxiety is to look at the cause and then try to step back from the emotion a bit. I try to be really logical about it. For example, if I’m upset about something that happened at work I might meditate or do some yoga and then talk it out with Nick. He helps me decide when I’m falling prey to my anxiety and he tries to help me get a grip on how I’m feeling. This is usually a pretty effective strategy.

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Right now, the difficulty is that I’m getting what I call ‘fake anxiety’. This is when my body goes into fight or flight mode for no obvious reason. My heart races, I get short of breath and my skin crawls, but nothing is causing it. Sometimes it happens when I’m actually having a really good day. The other day, I got an attack when I was making dinner and chatting with Nick about taking a hike. There was no reason for me to be upset and I was feeling pretty good right up until I had a panic attack.

The only thing that works when this happens is for me to sit down or lay down and breathe through it. Because this anxiety has no root cause, all I can do is calm my body and wait for it to pass. Sometimes this takes a few minutes, sometimes as much as an hour. I’m going to just keep chipping away at this problem. If any of you have a good technique, let me know and I’ll give it a try.

Taking a Break

I will be taking a two-week break from the blog for personal reasons. My posts will resume on June 21st. Not to worry, I’m fine. I just need a rest.

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Going out

I’m forcing myself to go out today. I’m writing this in the car as Nick drives.  I don’t want to go. I have comfy pants and the lulling boredom to keep me at home. Mostly I’m exhausted from running at such a high level of anxiety all week. The glare of the sun and noise of the morning traffic grates my nerves raw. But I’m going. First, breakfast with Nick at Billy’s, then grocery shopping.

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Sometimes with anxiety I just have to decide to go out. Anywhere. Just not stay at home listening to my brain try to grind through my feelings. I can’t afford to sit alone too often.

So I’m going out despite how painful it feels, despite how tired I am, despite how much I’d rather be at home. Part of healing is going out and living, just doing normal stuff. Doing this won’t fix my mental illness but it almost always makes me feel better.

 

30 Day Yoga Challenge

So a little while ago I posted that I found an excellent online yoga class. Yoga with Adriene has some 30 day yoga challenge playlists posted and I just completed the one at the top of this post.

At first I thought it was going to be difficult to do a yoga session every day for thirty days but I quickly found myself looking forward to each class. I felt so great after each class. On days I was really busy, I even got up early to make sure I had time to practice. Before I knew it, the thirty days was over and I had accomplished my goal.

Each session is between twenty and forty-five minutes. For each session Adriene provides a mantra for meditating and increasing focus on the practice. A few example include “I trust” and “I am grateful for…” Adriene talks about each mantra and then leaves it up to you to incorporate it into your practice as you like. I tied them to my breath by focusing on one word on my inhale, the next on my exhale and so forth. It worked really well for me.

Each class was unique. Adriene provided lots of opportunities to move within the poses and explore my practice. I enjoyed this thirty days of yoga so much that I’m going to start on one of her other thirty-day classes tomorrow. I hope you’ll join me. Namaste.

 

The Changing Nature of Workouts

I am a very active person. I like to swim, bike, hike, do yoga and do CrossFit. There are some people at my gym who do just CrossFit and they’re in great shape. Unfortunately, that approach doesn’t work so well for me. I like to do a lot of different things because it keeps me from being bored.

That being said, I’ve noticed a shift in my workout routine recently. I have been doing less hardcore cardio and muscle work and more stretching and low-impact workouts. Maybe it’s because I’m getting a bit older and more creaky, maybe I just need a bit of a break. I have a suspicion that some of the home and work stress I’ve been experiencing has made me a bit more protective of my body and a bit less able to deal with the strained muscles and achiness that comes from weight lifting. I talked it over with Dr. B and he agrees that in times of stress or depression, it is better to exercise a bit more gently than I usually do. I’m trying to listen to what my body needs and right now it is crying out for more restorative exercises.

I’ve decided I’m going to refuse to feel guilty for taking it a bit easier in times of stress. I’m going to be proud that I still work out and do good things for myself every day. Plus, being self-aware like this allows me to set new fitness goals. For example, from now until the end of school (June) I’m going to try to swim once a week. I like swimming because it’s low-impact for my joints and being under the water gives me time to focus without distractions; just swirling water to look at and splashing to listen to. Also, I’m going to go to CrossFit once a week in April and twice a week in May. After that, I’ll reassess my goals and see how they need to be adjusted.

I guess I just wanted to post this to let people know it’s OK to change up your routine. There’s no reason you can’t take a break from something and then come back to it later on. Just keep moving and doing something active.

Enduring

I told my husband the other day that I just wanted to feel normal. The only way to feel normal is to act normal. The hardest things work best. I know this but I still have to force myself to do the things I know will help. I have to constantly push through the depression.

Things I have to do to be less depressed:

Going outside helps me. I having been walking and hiking often and using yard work as another reason to get outside. Something about being in motion outside seems to calm me. I just have to hope the weather doesn’t get too terrible.

I’m avoiding the news, sad songs and suspenseful movies, (some of my go to media choices.) Instead I’ve been listening to comedy podcasts. I’ve mostly been listening to the back catalogue of Kill Tony and checking out the new Dear John and Hank, (the funniest podcast about death, Mars and AFC Wimbledon I’ve ever heard.) I’ve also been watching the reboot of The Muppets and reruns of American Dad.

I’ve been doing yoga, like the deep-inside-your-head, meditative yoga, not the athletic type. I’ve been using YouTube to find video classes for the days I just can’t get to the gym. At least it gives me some focus.

I’ve been avoiding refined sugar and unhealthy fats. This is a challenge because when I get depressed the things my body wants most are chocolate and salt. I considered buying a bag of Ruffles and a chocolate fondue kit at Metro. I didn’t do it but the struggle is real.

I’ve scheduled more frequent sessions with my counselor. Usually I go to therapy once a month. Right now I’m going once every two weeks with a plan to book once a week as needed.

I don’t want to do any of these things but I need to. The short-term discomfort from these actions reduces my overall depression long-term. Little changes build to a larger solution. It’s still a fight everyday. I hope that by sharing my small steps, I’ll remind you to take care of yourself too.

Quagmire

Right now I’m stuck in depression.  It’s been almost six weeks. My lungs feel like they’re full of mud and my brain feels stuffed with cotton. Everything feels heavy and difficult.

I can’t tell what pains in my body are real and which ones are caused by my depression. Every time I workout I come away with more injuries that just aren’t healing. I’m carefully warming up and cooling down but no matter how gentle I am, I end up hurting. I’m just so tense that even basic exercise feels terrible.

I’m also exhausted. Sleeping more doesn’t help. I’m maintaining a regular sleep schedule, (going to bed at the same time each night, no screens, food, or exercise three hours before bed). I can fall sleep just fine but I wake up a number of times each night and can’t get back to sleep easily. I know I’m not rested enough as a result.

I struggle to think of anything that makes me happy, even though I know those things still exist. Having depression doesn’t destroy kitties or chocolate or cooking challenge TV shows, but it horribly makes them less enjoyable than they used to be.

Most people will tell you to stop talking about or thinking about what makes you depressed. That advice is only helpful if you can identify a source for your depression. Like I said before, sometimes depression is purely caused by an imbalance in the brain that goes beyond what you experience day-to-day. Plus, that’s a bit of a flip solution. If you don’t believe me, try to stop blinking. You might do alright for a while, but it’s uncomfortable and when your attention wavers even a little, you’ll blink. Remember that the next time you are tempted to tell someone with depression to ‘just get over it’ or ‘think positively’.

I’m trying to keep moving. I’m going to therapy and seeking out ways to feel better. The goal isn’t even to feel happy right now. Right now I’d settle for feeling normal. I miss feeling like myself.

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