Tuesday, August 28, 2012

All Fired Up

A few days back I was going on a long drive and I brought along an old favorite, Pat Benatar's "Best Shots" album - her greatest hits.  I hadn't listened to the album in years.  I thought it might be good for a hoot.  I did NOT expect to be completely inspired and brought to tears numerous times. 

Of course there are the awesome, well-known hits - "Heartbreaker," "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," "Invincible," "We Belong".... the radio songs.  But I had forgotten the amazing "Promises In the Dark," "Hell Is For Children," and my personal all-time favorite, "All Fired Up."  These songs are total gems, and if you are an 80's kid, you might want to go back and listen again, my friend. 

I was most blown away by "All Fired Up," and how the lyrics seemed to fit my life right this second.  I feel just like Pat did, as if I've been asleep for 20 years and now, I'm wide awake and "moving like a meteorite."  But the best part is the background chorus:

"Now I believe there comes a time
When everything just falls in line
We live and learn from our mistakes
The deepest cuts are healed by faith."

The deepest cuts truly are healed by faith - Faith that things will turn out the way they are supposed to.  Faith that we are right where we are supposed to be in life.  And faith that we do not need to control everything and everyone around us.  My deepest cuts are healing every day because I believe that God is in charge and that all I need is the power to carry out His will.  I know that it is up to me to take action but the outcomes are His alone. 

Letting go of outcomes is probably one of the most important parts of my own healing.  As long as I show up and do my best in all areas of my life, I can trust that the right thing will happen.  Worry does take me down sometimes, of course.  But when I find myself doubting or wringing my hands in distress, I just try to relax, breathe deeply, and ask for guidance.  I focus my prayer on seeking God's will and receiving the power to carry it out (yes, very A.A.).  I don't need to ask for all kinds of specific things because God's will for me is perfect already.  He doesn't require my assistance in determining what I need in life.  I can just see God now, slapping his knee and guffawing as He reviews my list of "necessities."

Anyway, just wanted to pay a little tribute to Pat B. and her awesome song.  I, too, am lighting up the darkness, all fired up for life in a way that I have never been before. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Repeat After Me: I Am Fucking Awesome

  I know.  The title is a bit vulgar.  My mother-in-law and Aunt Patsey would roll their eyes and tut-tut, wondering how an educated, articulate woman (a MOTHER, no less) could use such words - IF they actually read my blog!  I know it's not the most appropriate way to get my point across.  But I use the term "fucking awesome" because, well - I like it.  It fits me.  And it works. 

You see, I am tired of feeling the whole "I'm not good enough" or "I'm not worth it" thing.  Recently, I was considering entering a writing contest and the theme was "the decision you most regret."  Now, there are plenty of bad decisions for me to choose from in my life.  Taking out student loans, getting fake boobs, moving to Los Angeles, flashing said fake boobs at coworkers (uh, YEAH, I was drunk) - I think we all have done stuff that we regret terribly and they all involved a bad decision (or many, in rapid succession).  But after thinking about this topic for over two weeks, I came to the realization that the decision I regret the most was the decision I made, at some point in my life, to BELIEVE the outright lie of "I'm not good enough."   And to continue believing it, for years and years and years. 

I'm done with that crap (see, I said 'crap' instead of 'shit' - isn't that growth?)  I AM good enough.  I AM worth it.  Why? Because I am fucking awesome.  I am a creation of God.  I have been put on this Earth to do something, and I am certain that it's NOT to lay on the couch eating macaroni and cheese, and lamenting about what a shitty hand life has dealt me.  No, I'm here to make a difference.  And I have an amazing tool bag to do it with - talents, skills, gifts galore.  But you can't see any of that when you are bogged down in self-pity.  I have stopped saying "why me?" and am now asking "why NOT me?"  Instead of looking at others and enviously wishing for their life or circumstances, I am changing my own life and circumstances by making one healthy choice at a time.  Some see it as "depriving" myself or being "extreme" or "obsessive" - I call it taking care of myself as if my life depends on it.  Because hey - it DOES. 

I have abandoned myself for long enough.  It is time to take care of ME, not because someone else will be happy but because I will be healthy and happier.  I deserve to feel and be healthy - physically, mentally, spiritually - in all ways.  I am worth the effort.  So when I say I am fucking awesome, I'm not saying how great I am, look at me.  I'm saying hey, I am a pretty wonderful individual with a lot to offer and I need to take care of myself.  When I struggle with this idea, I think about myself as a little girl.  I even look at pictures of myself - Would I choose to hurt that little girl?  Isn't she worth taking care of?  Isn't she fucking awesome?  The answer is yes, and I try to never forget that I am still that same little girl - I'm still that same person, just older.  A child should be cherished, and so we should cherish ourselves, even as adults who have made some bad choices in life.  Look at me - Should this little girl be punished because she hasn't been absolutely perfect as an adult? 

I saw something the other day on Pinterest (if I hear one more person call it "Pin-interest" I'm going to kill someone) and it said "It's never too late to become what you might have been."  I agree wholeheartedly.  Just because I've spent the last 20 years or so trying to destroy myself does not mean I have to stay on that path.  I can stop any time and in fact, I have.  I am building a better me, for me, so that I can be of service to others and help others realize that they, too, are fucking awesome. 

So repeat after me:  I am fucking awesome.  Repeat daily, whenever self-doubt creeps in or you hear that little voice saying, "you should eat that giant piece of cake / not exercise / sleep with that guy / get drunk / because you deserve a break."  If you are fucking awesome, don't you actually deserve something better than that?  Like self-love?  Self-respect? Choices that make you more healthy, not less healthy?  Today, I believe that I do. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Never Sacrifice Form

So, yeah - "never sacrifice form" was some advice I heard this morning as I was sweating and gasping my way through one of Shaun T's Insanity workouts.  And it got me thinking...

I get frustrated sometimes because I tend to be a bit....s-l-o-w when I work out.  It is especially frustrating for me when I am exercising with others who just seem to breeze right through everything, double whatever I've done, no problem.  I give myself a slight break when it comes to the professional videos because, uh, after all, they have hired people who are in totally amazing shape to make their workout videos seem easy.  But the in person stuff, like fitness classes, has always made me feel a little stupid, a little fat, a little out of shape - and a lot "not good enough."  Like I'm the fat loser that everybody secretly feels sorry for and superior to.  You get my drift.  And I AM slow - no doubt about it.  But it is not just because I am in worse shape than everyone else....

Part of my slowness has to do with my fanatical ideas about "good form."  I am a stickler for form.  If I think I am not using proper form, I ask for input from the instructor or check a mirror.  I want to perform the exercise with the best possible form I can muster.  Mostly I do this because I do not want to hurt myself - I'm not 18 anymore and doing bad squats could leave me sore or even injured for days.  But I also do it because I do not see the point in doing something half-assed.  I could probably go much faster on certain exercises if I sacrificed some form but I just can't do it.  I've tried.  I feel like a cheater.  I'd rather feel slow than guilty, I guess. 

So this morning when Shaun T said "never sacrifice form," I was reminded of this slight obsession I have and my slowness.  And I felt validated, as if Shaun T had reached out and patted me on the back and said, "Girl, you may be slow, but you're doing it right, and that's what matters most.  Now get out there and give us your nastiest Smack Dat !"  (Wait, that's "Hip Hop Abs" Shaun T, not "Insanity" Shaun T....)  I began thinking about how sometimes "doing it right" does not translate into glory or accolades or even recognition - and I extended that right into my professional life. 

There are times when I could gain an advantage by being underhanded, untruthful, or downright unethical.  I could do things in a way that would garner praise or, at the very least, put my opponent down and pump myself up, trying to "look good" in the eyes of the fact-finder.  But at the end of the day, I have to live with myself - I need to sleep at night, you know?  So I try to "do things right."  And that may mean that I appear "slow," inexperienced, ignorant, or weak by opposing counsel or parties.  Like the "form" discussed above, however, I am willing to give up the flashiness, the glitz and the high drama in the interest of safety.  Because I don't want to hurt myself - being an ugly, dishonest person is damaging, and God knows, I am done with damaging myself. 

So that is my latest epiphany.  I don't need to feel bad about being "slow," because it is healthy for me.  It means I care about the right things and I care about myself.  That's new for me, really.  And I'm kinda digging on it. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Coming Out on Top

I love this photo and its totally insulting sentiment.  In fact, it is my current desktop photo on my computer.  It makes me laugh every day (mostly because I am thinking of Gene Wilder saying nasty things to those horrid children).  But it also reminds me of how I am trying to shift my thinking a bit - Less toward you and controlling YOU and more toward me and making choices around what is good for me (instead of what will make you happy or "not mad" at me).  I'm sure you understand. 

This past week my parents came to visit.  Now, normally this would send me into all kinds of craziness and usually, into drinking or using and getting into drama with my husband.  But this time, I decided ahead of time that I was going to stay sober and keep my head about me.  I made a little schedule of "events" that outlined for myself and my parents exactly what the plan for the day would be - every day.  I got in my 12 step meetings.  I made time to exercise.  I worked when I needed to work.  And I just really tried not to take anything my parents said or did personally. 

I was not always successful - I did get a little stressed out in the last day or two.  But even then, I tried to stop and step away, even if just mentally (thank you, Hunger Games decoupage project) to get my stress level down and eliminate that tight feeling I get in my chest when I am about to scream or throw something. 

One of the more amazing things that I was able to do, from a pure vanity perspective, was maintain my weight.  I did not engage in a single instance of emotional eating.  I did not eat piles of sugar (though I did drink copious amounts of iced coffee...) or any cheeseburgers.  I even managed to say "no" to pizza and ate a cobb salad instead.  And was satisfied and did not sit there feeling deprived.  It was a good feeling - I felt in control for once.  And I was - of MYSELF.  I didn't need to control anyone else.  What a relief, right?

I came out on top this week - it was a personal best in all areas of my life.  It showed me that I can do it, if I just trust God and let go of my need to control everything.  I'm still learning, of course, but I feel a sense of accomplishment.  If I can hit this goal (staying sober during parental visit), I can reach the next goal, too. 

So that's all I've got.  Am starting a new week, a new month and want to focus pretty hard on my exercise goals in August.  I am down a total of 16 pounds now.  Again, it is slow progress but it is consistent.  And I am into smaller pants... I've got a plan to write a special post about my PANTS.  Check back in a week or so to read about me and all my pants.  Until then, remember...............

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My Personal Experience with Niacin and Depression

Okay, this post is somewhat out of the ordinary when one considers the usual schlock I put out here on my little blog.  However, I have had enough people ask me about my experience that I think it could be beneficial to post it.  Also, I am just naturally lazy and don't want to have to repeat the same story over and over.  I'd rather have folks read my story and then ask questions if they have any. 

The topic of niacin (vitamin B3) and depression is also, I feel, a big part of why I am on the path I am now, including my renewed zest for exercise and changing my diet.  If it weren't for the lift in my deep depression, I would not be doing things to help myself.  Instead, I would still be on that horribly negative path of self-destruction, the same path I'd been treading for the last 12 years. 

I heard about the benefits of niacin for depression purely by accident.  I happened to watch a movie called "Food Matters."  WATCH IT.  The movie is generally about nutritional therapy and its amazing impact on chronic disease, how our diet has made us so incredibly sick, and how resistant the medical establishment and pharamceutical industry are to even the mention of "orthomolecular medicine." (Fancy for - you guessed it - nutritional therapy).  Anyway, my favorite guy in the movie, Andrew Saul, Ph.D., told a story about a woman who was so deeply depressed that she just sat in a corner and talked to nobody.  Her family talked to Dr. Saul about nutrition and he suggested that they try niacin.  Soon, the woman was out of her corner and talking to her family as if nothing had ever happened.  The sad thing is, when she saw her doctor, he warned that "taking all that niacin could be dangerous."  So they took her off of it and, of course, she was back in the corner.  I was touched by the story and thought, albeit briefly, "maybe I should try that."  And then promptly forgot about it as the drama in my life escalated to yet another out-of-control situation. 

Now, I've been on and off Prozac for many years.  At the time I watched the movie, I was definitely ON Prozac.  I've been given all kinds of psychological drugs, all kinds of psychological labels, and all kinds of therapies.  None of it really did much for me.  Furthermore, I am an alcoholic and a drug addict.  I also have another very serious process addiction (as opposed to a substance addiction).  Over the past 12 years, I had not been able to put together even a full year of sobriety.  I would have brief, happy times of sobriety and clarity, only to be drawn back down by bouts of deep depression and crippling self-doubt.  My struggles seemed insurmountable at times and for whatever reason, I could not sustain the motivation or drive to help myself.  I don't think I thought I was worth it.

So, three months ago I was at an all time low.  All of my addictions had led me to a truly awful place.  I had just seen a new psychiatrist that told me I had yet ANOTHER diagnosis, another label, and needed some new drugs.  My relationship with my husband was at the breaking point and I truly hated myself.  My husband and I had gone to Costco and while we were there, he suggested that we should pick up some niacin.  I said, "Why not?  I've got nothing to lose."  I started taking 1500 mg of niacin that night.  The next day, a Sunday, I was so depressed and hopeless, I was actually looking up ways to kill myself on the Internet.  I felt that desperate and low.  I didn't see another way out.  But I continued taking the niacin. 

Monday was a tough day - I was still feeling the after-effects and withdrawals from alcohol and drugs and continued to feel hopeless.  By Tuesday, I felt a little better, but that didn't surprise me because whenever I get sober, I always have a small spark of hope that maybe I can do it (which is inevitably crushed again, soon after).  I crashed into bed, exhausted by the day and the weight of my depression.  I began to think the niacin was not going to help.  But before I went to sleep, I was sure to take the 1500 mg. 

Wednesday dawned.  And I was NEW.  It was as if during the night, God had reached down and switched my black, diseased brain for a shiny, healthy one.  Suddenly, I had energy.  Suddenly, I had hope.  I was excited to get to work.  I did not linger at home to avoid having to see people or think about my life.  I was laughing, smiling and intentionally interacting with people.  I actually freaked my secretary out because she had not seem me so animated and happy in ages.  She was used to my glum ass attitudes and constant hiding in my office.  I was, for all intents and purposes, a new person. 

I thank God for that.  But I also thank niacin, and Dr. Saul and the people who made "Food Matters."  I thank God that I saw that movie, and that my husband encouraged me to try the niacin.  We were at a point that we would try anything.  And it worked.  By God, it worked! 

And the amazing, up-lifted feeling didn't end.  It didn't go away.  It's been three months now.  I feel AMAZING. I am totally sober.  I am off of all pharmaceutical drugs.  I've lost 12 pounds and a pant size.  I am exercising.  I am working my recovery program.  I am eating very healthy.  I am excelling in my work.  I am no longer avoiding people, places or things.  I am facing life and dealing with it.  And I am dealing with it very well - to my own total amazement. 

Not to say that I don't have my down moments because of course I have down moments.  I am human.  I get sad.  I get angry.  But instead of turning my sadness and anger inward and hurting myself and others, I have a new attitude that says, "hey, you need to deal with X.  You can do it."  And I do it.  Yes, it helps that I am sober.  But sobriety has never, EVER been as wonderful or as hope-inducing, prior to the lifting of my depression through niacin.  Not a single naysayer is ever going to convince me otherwise.  It is MY experience and nobody can change it or tell me that I am wrong.  It happened to me.  And I am sure that it has happened for others, too.  I WANT it to happen for others. 

People ask, "well, don't you get hot-flashes?" It's called a "niacin flush," and yes, occasionally I get the flush.  I take the niacin at night (I now take only 1000 mg a day) and so the flush occurs while I am sleeping and I do not feel it.  I've had a couple during the day (or been woken up late at night by something other than the flush) and experienced a full-on flush.  It is not fun - it is hot, and for me, itchy.  It goes from the top of my head to my toes, slowly, over the course of about an hour and half.  And then it's gone.  I've read that it is not harmful - just a weird side effect.  And frankly, I would go through that experience every single day of my life if it means that I will feel this good on a daily basis. 

There is a bunch of science stuff out there on the Internet if you want to read about it.  Go to the Food Matters website.  Look up Andrew Saul, or better yet, the guy who discovered the effects of niacin on depression, Dr. John Hoffer. Go to these sources and read about it if your interest is piqued or you think this might help you or someone you love.  You owe it to yourself or your loved one to at least inform yourself about niacin and depression. 

Well, that's all I have for today.  I don't know that anyone will ever read this post but I wanted to get my experience out there so that perhaps some other depressed and hopeless person might stumble upon my story and find just a shred of hope that they, too, can recover from depression and live a more full life. 

I will write another post on this topic in 9 months - the one year mark.  I am certain that things will be even better than they are now.  'Cause I got HOPE, man!

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Hurry

Weight loss and getting healthy always seems to be a "hurry" kind of thing for me.  I get a little obsessive about the rate of my weight loss, a few ounces gained overnight, the fact that I'm not going to be "thin enough" by a date certain - that kind of stuff.  So when I started this time, I began down that same path but whoooaaa - It seems I am playing a different game this time. 

Talk about SLOW.  I think my metabolism has been smothered in a high-viscosity molasses that has gunked up the cogs so much that it seems I might lose a pound every couple weeks.  Or maybe I am just 43 and shit is slowing down.  I never really believed that whole "as you age it gets harder to lose weight" thing but uh, I'm believing it now.  Seriously, this has been a real wake up call to me.  And of course, it pisses me off because I am not being instantly gratified. 

But this maddening development has forced me to accept the process for what it really is - It is a lifestyle change, not a diet.  I am not just going to lose 40 pounds and then go back to my old patterns.  I am changing the way I operate on a daily basis. 

It is also forcing me to realize that every choice I make today, no matter how small, will determine where I am in the future, say, one year from now.  Sure, I could get mad and throw in the towel because "all this hard work isn't paying off" or "why bother, it's not making a difference, anyway."   But that is just stupid when I stop to consider the long term health effects of what I'm doing, rather than short term gratuituous pay offs of "looking better" or fitting into my thin clothes.  I know in my heart that if I continue doing what I am doing, every day, without giving up, I will be far better off in 365 days than I am today.  It is a FACT. 

So for now, I'm sticking to it.  I am ignoring the naysayers and the negative people.  (Tell me, why is it that totally overweight, out of shape people think they have a right to advise me on what they believe to be the flaws in my diet?  WHY?) I am committed to my way of healthy eating because HEY all you uninformed, self-appointed critics - I have lost 8 pounds and several inches in 3 weeks - I must be doing something right, huh?  I am just sticking with what I know, based on my personal experience with my own body, what works for me.  And it IS working.  It's just slow. 

I shall be the turtle, not the hare, in this race to save my life and my sagging ass.  Today, I am accepting that I am a damned turtle and though it is incredibly frustrating at times, if I stay on course, I can be absolutely certain that I am going to WIN in the end.  Others may blow by me in this race but I really can't get distracted by that.  As long as I stay the course, I am winning. GO TURTLES!!  And remember....

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Lose the Sweatshirt

Yeah, I'm back.  AGAIN.  Still flabby and still crazy after all this time.  See me there?  That's me with my goal jeans.  Oh well - at least I'm resilient, right?  I'm going to choose to see the positive right now because God knows, my mind has been dwelling in heavy duty negativity for many, many months. 
Why just today I was thinking those dark, nasty ass thoughts about how awful I am, how disgusting I look, and how it is all just hopeless, HOPELESS I SAY!  Before I started tearing my clothes or whipping myself (I was already doing the "gnashing of teeth" that is often described in the Bible when people are really jacked up), I had a moment of clarity, albeit a brief one.  Reality said, "Hey, shut up and be happy in the present!"  So for a minute or two, I took stock of my current situation... I'm mostly healthy (but for my stiff knee and bum "turf" toe), I can get around just fine, I've got a roof over my head, vehicles, groceries, a great husband, a beautiful, healthy son, a thriving business - what's not to like?  What right do I have to complain, really?  None. 

So I'm overweight.  Big deal.  It's fixable.  I am just mad because I don't look the way I want to look and I feel uncomfortable and self-concious most of the time.  Gee, I wonder who's fault that is?  HMMMM?  It must be me, the person making crappy food choices and laying around watching television when I could be getting some healthy exercise.  And I'm not mad at anyone else but myself.  The problem is that nobody's gonna fix this for me and I don't like that one bit. 

All of this REALITY kind of pisses me off.  Like most Americans (or most people, I suspect), I just want to take a pill or push a button and instantly have toned thighs and a flat, hard tummy.  Better yet, I don't want to do anything at all and have all the good things in life.  That, my friends, is the laziness that keeps us fat, keeps us in shitty relationships or jobs, and really, keeps us from acheiving any of the things that we secretly dream about and wish for. It's all my fault and I know it. 

Some people would say, "Oh, but it's not - you've had some real setbacks and problems... your addictions have done this to you.... some of your childhood experiences were incredibly damaging... you're just a curvy body type....it's not your fault, it's just your life circumstances..."  To this I say,  BULL. SHIT.  I may have things in my past and my present that deeply affect how I interact with the world around me and I may have a body that is more prone to storing fat than a bacon warehouse but that does not mean that I am free of responsibility for changing the things that keep me unhappy.  Just because you have challenges does not mean you should just sit back and say, "oh, well."  If something is making me unhappy, I have the power to change it.  I have the duty and responsibility to change it.  If don't make a decision and act on it, it's my own damned fault and I have no right at all to complain about the "bad hand" that life has supposedly dealt me. 

So I'm changing things around here.  But it is slow going.  I am deliberately taking it sloooooow because I have this bad  habit of doing too much, getting overwhelmed and then giving up.  Sound familiar?  Every time I get in a hurry and am pissed that I only lost 1 pound in a week, I have to ask myself, "What's the hurry?"  If I keep at this for a year, I'm still going to be further ahead than I am right now.  If I DON'T do this, a year from now I am going to regret it.  So, why not just go slow and be nice to myself, instead of the whole self-flagellation scene I described above?  Who needs it?  I'm going to be 43 on Monday and frankly, I am tired of beating myself up and really, just hating myself on a daily basis.  It's exhausting.  I don't want to feel like shit about myself anymore.  And so I work on it, bit by bit.

Last week, I took a bold step.  Now, I know women all over the world will understand this.  I actually exercised, in a class where men and women were present (skinny bitches, too, mind you), without wearing a long tee shirt or a sweatshirt tied over my ass to "hide" my butt.  You heard me right.  I wore tight black stretch pants and a tank top and THAT'S IT.  It was scary and I worried a little about people seeing my spare tire (it's more like a small baby bump, really) or my wide hips and flat butt.  Or my lumps of cellulite.  But I did it, because it is important for us to accept where we are and accept our bodies in progress.  If people don't like my junk, they can just look the other way.  They don't have to like it - but I do, because I live with it every day.  And suprisingly, several women told me I was looking good and asked if I had lost weight.  And at least two of them expressed envy over my substantial rack.  So it turned out fine, after all. Nobody made nasty comments or looked at me weird.  I felt free, somehow.  I guess I was free - free to be who I am and not feeling ashamed or like I should be hiding.

So liberate yourself - Stop with the negative self-bashing, appreciate what you DO have, and take that damned sweatshirt off that is tied around your waist.  That sweatshirt is like wearing a badge of shame - an apology to the world for not being perfect.  Fuck that - rip it off and refuse to hide yourself anymore.  Liberate your soul a little.  We are worth it.