Can I Just Put the Good Days on Auto-Repeat?

Yesterday was the first ‘completely healthy’ day I’ve had in a very long time. I got my exercise. I ate three healthy meals without purging. I saw my therapist via telehealth (at the beach, no less!) I took my meds. I took time to breathe. I felt great.

So why is it so hard for me to stay on track? Honestly, if you know the answer please tell me. I’m so tired of fighting this battle every day. I’m on the defense against a multi-front war. My head is spinning trying to address issues from all angles. I’m busy all day, but at the end of it I haven’t really done anything at all. 

I’ve got my bipolar disorder sending me up and down, manic high to ultra depressive low. I have anxiety about homeschooling Jacen, and the pandemic in general. I have friends and family that I miss so much that it hurts. I have this body that I hate. I mean really, really hate. I’ve got these kids and a husband that I love. I mean really, really love.

I make a lot of plans, schedules and lists. I’m always trying to trick my brain into making good choices by convincing myself that things have been predetermined with no wiggle room. It works when I can get into a routine. If I repeat the same list every day, I have the most consecutive healthy days. Right now that’s not an option. The pandemic has shaken everything up. I don’t even know what day of the week it is. We have a routine written out, it just seems impossible to follow. 

There is so much on my mind these days. When I imagine what’s inside my head, it looks less like a brain and more like alphabet soup. Sometimes I can’t even gather the floating letters to form simple words, let alone big thoughts. I guess that’s why this post is coming off so rambly and unorganized. 

Yesterday was a healthy day, and I wanted more than ANYTHING to repeat it. We spent 30 minutes getting ready to go outside to be active, and opened the front door to rain. My heart sank. I unpacked the stroller I had just put SO much time, thought and energy into preparing. It knocked me off my rails for three hours. Yes, you read that right. THREE hours. Over the rain. I didn’t get my activity in. I didn’t get my fresh air. I let things get on top of me, and didn’t take time to breathe. I missed lunch. I slept when the kids napped, instead of being productive. I did, however, take my meds. So, one point to Catherine.

I want to have more healthy days. I want consistency. I want to see results in changing this awful body, and I want to feel good. I want every day to be like yesterday. I want to rewire my brain so I can be a problem-solver and not a train wreck. But what am I going to do? Write these things down? Journal? Make a list? Schedule them? Honey, I do that every day.

I usually like to wrap up my posts by taking this part to ask what small changes YOU can make to feel better. This time, I’m looking for help. What suggestions do you have for me? How do you stay consistent, especially through all of the changes the pandemic has caused?

Stay safe.

Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Stay home.

-kate 

Work it, Girl! – Even when it’s a literal pain in the back.

Exercise has been a crucial part of my weight loss journey. It was torture to move all 303 pounds of me originally, but I soon became addicted. I loved the feeling of accomplishment after a good cardio session. The more I lost, the more confidence and motivation I acquired- especially when I discovered my first “runner’s high.” For those that haven’t herd this term, it refers to the feelings of euphoria and reduced anxiety after a long and effective aerobic workout.

As I rounded 150 pounds, I looked forward to my daily 3.3 mile walks. I’d pop Anna in the baby carrier and take her right with me. Bonding, euphoria, weight loss- what could go wrong?

..Until the “POP.”

I wasn’t lifting, or twisting, or doing anything unfamiliar. I was just wearing my 9 month old in the baby carried when I herniated a disk in my back. Driving and sitting is excruciating. I was put on a weight lifting ban, and started physical therapy.

It’s been a few months now, and the pain comes and goes. From what I understand, when the disk bulges on the nerve it causes electric pain in my back and leg. When it’s closer to where it’s supposed to be, I have less pain.

The injury has forced me to change my workout routine- but there’s no way in hell I’m giving up. I can’t imagine carrying those extra 153 pounds around ever again. I will not go back.

So what’s plan ‘B?’ I still walk, but I have to use the stroller or wagon for Anna. Unfortunately that means I cant take her on the track with me at the gym. I’m totally digging HIIT workouts at home. I use a free app as a timer. I warm up with 15 minutes of cardio, then lift and and move in intervals with the timer.  I’m careful with lifting, and cross reference with my physical therapist if I’m unsure. For cardio I walk outside with Anna, do step inside, and lots of jumping jacks.

The best thing for my back pain has been yoga. I’ve loved the relaxing aspect of yoga for years, but now that my body is aging I have a new appreciation for the stretching.

This is the routine I’ve found most helpful for back pain:

  1. Child’s pose – best stretch ever, and great for mental grounding.
  2. cat/cow pose – gets disks moving and warms up the surrounding muscles.
  3. downward dog– stretches my back and spine, and often puts enough distance between the vertebrae for my disk to work it’s way back to its painless place.
  4. Windshield wiper– slow stretches for yoga, slow tight sets for an awesome ab workout.
  5. repeat child’s pose
  6. end with shavasana, relax, meditate. Let you back muscles rest for a few moments. enjoy the peacefulness and rest.

 

Yoga and distance cardio (or HIIT) have been my winning combination lately. As with anything, if you’re hurting consult a doctor.

 

Just to bring this all full circle, I’d love to tell you how exercise and yoga affect mood. Endorphins released during physical activity diminish the perception of pain- some say it even mimics morphine. It’s been scientifically proved that activity reduces stress when used as an outlet, decreases anxiety and depression, boosts self- esteem, increases productiveness, and creates opportunity for more restful sleep. It increases your energy to assist with depression and lowers blood pressure to ease anxiety. Physically, it strengthens your heart, improves various muscle tones, and makes you feel fit and healthy.

Whether you’re looking for physical or emotional benefits, exercise is the way to go. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, out of shape, or don’t know where to start- start small. Go for a walk. Stretch. Lift a gallon of milk a few times. Tomorrow, walk longer. Stretch deeper. Do a few more reps with the milk. I promise if you just take one extra step each day, you’ll soon be confident enough to try new things.

Believe in yourself as much as I believe in you. You deserve health, you deserve happiness. You can do this. 

 

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.