So it is hard to explain what I have been up to for my health the last month without judgement and misconceptions, but I wanted to share regardless. And for those of you who do not understand Anxiety or medication that goes with it, look it up before you judge.
The simplest way to start this is to say, I never look at the “New Year” as a moment where you make major life changes, I find myself always feeling like the “New Year” is actually the middle of the year. This year however, it just happened that right after the family gatherings, money spending for presents, hiatus of work due to holidays, departure of tourists from an already crowded city, massive amounts of unhealthy food(but food you cannot say no to because it is made with love), family crisis’s with my Grandmother going into the hospital for health issues, personal exploration into a past that remains hidden, tears, panic, stress, etc, right after it all there was a moment where the stress was at an all time low.
And my body and mind were ready for the next step.
So let’s talk about the hardest part of a blitzkrieg of things that had to happen all at once in order for me to claim my health back: Medication.
When I was 19, something in my brain chemistry changed significantly where my normal anxiety got heightened.(turns out I had this all my life but never knew it) There are many theories I have for this, but the short and skinny of it, was I was no longer able to just be me in the terms that I had defined up until that point in my life. I was no longer able to go out without fears such as: where is the nearest bathroom, will I need to leave because I am having a panic attack, how quickly can I get home, will there be drinking.
Let me describe a panic attack for me. It is a feeling of nausea. I feel as though I am getting sick quickly to the point of having to throw up. Now the shitty part about this is I am not one of those people who can throw up to feel better. I actually haven’t thrown up from anything but food poisoning since I was 19. I am the call Mom, cry, and lay down for 3 days puker. Lovely I know. 😛
So that feeling made it very difficult to go and do normal things, since nothing specific triggered this feeling of loss of control. Only those who have had panic can understand that it is not caused by situations of stress or obvious strife, you could be walking in a field of sugar fairies and making millions of dollars, but all of a sudden, BAM PANIC ATTACK.
Well, this is why it is hard to explain the start of a hard journey 4 and half weeks ago. If you don’t understand that at 19 I got insane panic attacks, went to see numerous therapists to try to figure it out, all of them not having a clue what was causing it. Attach the fact that I could no longer get drunk because I would panic, smoke pot because I would panic, go out as much because I would be afraid of panicing causing me to panic.. you have a cocktail for a very depressing moment in life where you just wish you could be you again.
Well after a year of it, I was able to accept the fact that who I was, was part of this. And I was able to overcome the panic, and learn it, understand it, and through strong helpful influences in my life, deal with them when they came. But it did mean changes of my lifestyle, changes I still hate.
You go to a bar with friends and say you don’t drink, you automatically get put into a straight edge category. This sucks specially when you are extremely outgoing and love people around you. There is some sort of stigma attached to it where you aren’t enjoying yourself if you are not drunk. Well guess what… now I love it. I save money, I don’t get hangovers, and I can drink a drink or two but I don’t need it to be me: energetic and open. Yes I have reservations and yes it used to help me like anyone else, but you learn to compensate. I actually get an almost associative drunk now with friends.
So then I graduated college and moved back home, and after 2 years of no serious panic attacks, I got the worst panic attacks of my life. I couldn’t leave the house, enjoy holidays, go out. So I decided even though it was ingrained in my mind for my whole life that drugs were bad to deal with issues, I had no other choice. I was prescribed Klonopin and Lorazopan. When this was happening I was on 3 MG of Klonopin Daily and the Lorazopan was if I spiked over the Klonopin.
Think of it like this: Your panic is a glass of water and each time you have an attack the water gets added to the glass, but there is no one drinking it after, so it builds up, causing them to happen more frequently and with more intensity as you get it more. The drug literally just allows you to drink the water and have an empty glass. It doesn’t make you weird or different it just allows you to be you.
Well it worked. And this was a big time in my life where I got my job out in California. Well turns out, once I got that job, moved a million miles away, the panic got under control more. I didn’t need the drug as much. Problem was my doctor was on the East coast and no one was seeing me on a regular basis to help me cut my medication down.
So I tried it on my own. I got all the way to 1 MG a day, and decided to cut to 0. Well if you look this one up, that is a BIG MISTAKE. You go through withdrawal very similar to heroin. And it was ugly, I made it 4 days before I had to go back on it so I could go to work and function, not from panic but from withdrawal. I won’t go into all the withdrawal side effects but it was ugly.
I felt like I failed, but I carried on. The drug wasn’t making me different, slow, or incapable, it was just there.
Well over the next 5 years, I was able to get it down to .25 or .5MG a day which was just enough to not have side effects, but I always questioned if it was needed, because I was learning through self exploration how to deal with panic attacks on my own. I also started smoking again, which seems to help me with stress. I had quit for 5 years prior to California. So it was a big set back, but it also opened social doors up and at my job opportunities as fucked as that sounds. So I continued on and off for my 5 years. At the same time I gained a ton of weight. I got all the way up to 200lbs.
For someone who was always skinny with the metabolism of a damn jack rabbit it was depressing.(lost that metabolism at around 20) I felt like shit, I looked like shit, and I always felt like someone else. I was never me in this new environment. No one knew me as I knew me.
Well it took me literally 3 and a half years to finally do something about it. I joined up with a trainer and started my claim to me again.
I had amazing results and not only did this new workout let me quit smoking cold turkey due to the endorphins, it also made me feel like me again. It also made me re-analyze EVERY aspect of my life, my job, my goals, the people around me, etc.
I am a very positive person and I realized my life style prior was not very positive.
The thing that really showed me was the negative attitudes of those around me when I lost weight. The true friends shined bright as they commended me and supported me. But the dark influences in my life looked at me with resentment. And that sucked. Because when you start to get healthy, you want to share, and help those around you.
Well I was also on my own crusade with the weight loss and decided to see how low I could go, because prior to my trainer I didn’t even know I could have abs. I thought, in shape for me was just skinny. Little did I know.
Well I pushed it to the limit and I knew it. Problem was with all the life changes I needed to implement, I started smoking again and well, that was not a good combo, because it curbs your appetite and the last thing I needed when burning 1000-2000 calories a day was to not eat.
That was me NOT healthy.
Well I knew I had to make changes again and quit smoking again once I cleaned my life of the stresses. Mind you the stresses were so strong here, I felt like if I didn’t smoke, I would not be making the right decisions and my withdrawal may effect it in a negative way making me question if I did it right. So once I was able to figure it out, I made the change.
That was me healthy again. And getting very strong.
I still looked at it as me heavier however. I have a very skewed sense of self image. I take pictures to keep track. And I am grateful for that.
Anyway, extremely long story getting to the point now haha. After this years Holidays and New Year, I saw this picture and decided I needed to do this again. But this time, take my time, and add a few wrenched into the journey.
I met a therapist that would help me cut my medication the right way and help me to feel safe doing it, guiding me the whole way. Problem is, I also wanted to quit smoking soo badly. Well I can’t do that without working out, which is hard for me. And I couldn’t do all of that without eating healthy. I am lazy, and it is hard to cook my own healthy food. My sister helped me out greatly so far with that by helping me cook food for every day.
So what did I do? All at once, I cut my medication to .25 a day, quit smoking, started working out, and revised my eating completely. One might look at that and say do it slower, not all at once, but my brain doesn’t work that way. I needed to do it all at once because they were all so tied to each other. Or you may look at it as these things are not that hard or connected, but they are all soo connected and difficult on a level that isn’t tangible. So for me I am extremely proud and excited for the next day everyday and the day of as well.
My brain was ready to take the leap to get off the medication completely. I am damn good at dealing with my panic attacks when and if they happen these days so I want to be free of the medication and see if I can do it on my own. If I cannot at least I know instead of just being reliant on the medication. But it will take time. Cutting it down slowly over the next few months with the right help. Plus the drug company was starting to limit the production of what I took and it is scary to not have something that gives you withdrawal. Regardless of having a panic attack or not, without it from .5 to 0 equals withdrawal that is worse than panic.
My brain was also ready to get rid of the cigarettes. Sometimes your body just doesn’t want them anymore and you have to capitalize on that. I had to see a friend of mine go through chemo treatments when she is super healthy and never smoked, and I watched her strength during it, and realized I may not be that strong. And while not a deciding factor it helped to get my head thinking it was time to attempt quitting again. My mother said it indirectly the other day in a way that I liked. I made the mistake of starting smoking, and I had to fix it. Because even though I like it, it is a mistake and it is extremely dangerous. Which you know as a smoker but you ignore anyway, part of which is because of the extreme addicting aspects of it. It blinds you regardless of side effects. Which let me list some so you can grasp what I would deal with to smoke:
- Dulled smell
- Dulled Taste
- I smelled
- My breath was horrid
- Nausea in the morning
- Frequent diarrhea
- Coughing up nasty hard phlegm every morning
- Constant clearing of my throat
- The feeling of being winded
- Higher intake of oxygen, making you breath smaller when not smoking
- Mouth sores from the nicotine
- Teeth discoloration(fixed this as well with a dentist prescribed whiting tray)
- Habits of smoking right after using the bathroom, midway through a movie, on the phone, at a bus stop, after getting off a bus, after eating, before eating, 2 before a workout, 1 right after, waking up, going to sleep, the list goes on with this one.
- Upset stomach often
- Curbed appetite.
- House smelled
- Clothes smelled
- TONS OF LAUNDRY
- 300$ a month to smoke
So these are just some of the things I overlooked to smoke, because without being able to drink, smoke pot, etc, I felt like it was my only edge left. The only thing that made me sociably acceptable when out with friends. Yes I may not drink but I go on smoke breaks.
Anyway, after quitting for the 4 and a half weeks so far, I feel amazing. But I get afraid that without the cigarettes the results won’t be as good from working out. I know it sounds counter-intuitive but it would yield faster results due to not being as hungry. But I couldn’t push as hard, and why get into shape to just be aesthetically pleasing. So this whole time I have just had to trust my workout, and know I will binge on some days, and crack here and there with food, but there is no rush. The first month is your body tightening without as much physical to show, the second month is more physical show, and the third month is a huge step. And after that, since I have a longer plan, I should be in amazing shape, and feel soo much better.
And to reiterate, it was my mistake to start, so I must take action to fix it.(even though I think smoking has sex appeal and I enjoy it, I get so pissed that we allow them to be sold even as a smoker, because I know what I am struggling with, and wish others didn’t have to ever do this. And I wish people understood how hard it is to quit smoking, it is as addictive if not more than other drugs because it is allowed to be incorporated into every part of our lives, not only associating it with the basics but with who we are.) And this time around I feel great about it. I feel empowered. I don’t want to smoke. I want to hike, i want to breath fresh air, I want to smell the beach, I want to inhale big for fresh crisp air, not a drag of a cigarette. I have been able to make the act of smoking seem bad in my head vs something I miss this time around.
I also made my own workout routine this time, combining aspects from Crossfit, p90x, and Insanity. It is high intensity but very doable everyday. I look forward to it.
That mixed with the food I am eating, when i do break my diet, it is on healthy items, as I don’t own junk food in my house. So it is better to bing on some almond milk and cereal than 12 bags of chips or candy.
My stomach feels amazing too. I thought I might need to get scoped prior, I thought I was broken, but the cigarettes really had bad effects on me.
I am not getting anxiety, I have had a few small attacks just from my body gettings used to the cut in medication, but it is healthy and very deal-able. That is exciting for me. I feel empowered. I feel like I will be able to go to 0 when it is time and be OK.
The clarity I get from the workout and all these steps I mentioned is also letting me see more of the stuff in my past that may trigger this, and slowly but surely I am able to look at it without blocking it out completely, but that is another topic and something that will take a lot more time. But at least I see it and it isn’t so much of a “shit what if it just happens one day” thing that looms over you.
This is where I had to start from again. But this time I planned to do it differently. I plan to take my time. I have no rush to be ripped again, but I plan to be. I always lose weight in the winter and then gain in the summer. Which sucks Well not this time dammit.
I have 5 months to get to the last picture I showed you in the black tank top.
On top of that I take a picture everyday in an app on my phone called 365 days. It allows me to keep track of the progress. I also keep my weight and BMI so I know what is muscle gain and weight loss. Because in the beginning the muscle gain always cancels out the weight loss. It is important to know both so you know you are progressing.
This is week 3:
This is Week 4.5:
So this is my progress so far. And it is a lot more than just losing weight. It is a health change in my life, my body, and my mind.
The quote that has been resonating in my head lately is:
You get out of it what you put into it!
And how true that is. I am putting my heart and soul into this, and so I was worried to even write this, as I have no beaten anything yet, and I don’t want to jump the gun and make it sound like a victory. But I also appreciate the support, so I figured it was as good a time than any to share.
I will keep updating as it goes on, but so far, so great! 🙂
I feel great, I feel happy, I feel positive, and I feel strong.
And even though I am usually looked at with a very positive attitude I have days where I am deprressed, overwhelmed, and down. But even then I just remind myself to TRUST in the excercise, to trust in the eating, and to not put a time limit on this, as this is my life and it has to become my lifestyle to be successful.
I had my chance to push to the limit, this is not that time.
So there ya have it, my exciting journey continues, and I smile, cry, and sweat through it all!
P.S. As I have designed this workout and eating routine, if you have ANY questions feel free to ask away 🙂