On Anxiety, Motivation, and Feeling Comfortable In My Own Skin

So, recently I realized I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been. While I’m aware I’ll probably never ever ever be my high school and college weight of 120 lbs again (nor do I think I would I want to be – I feel like more of an adult with some curves on me and my frame just really isn’t built to be that tiny), and that even at my current weight I’d still be considered “thinnish” by national averages – the last year I have really ballooned in size to a point where I’m starting to feel uncomfortable in my own skin.

It started last year when my anxiety got really bad. In recent years I have become a comfort eater, and a retreater. Part of this has to do with how I originally reacted the first time my anxiety problem reared its ugly head in college. At the time I threw myself into work and working out while basically not eating more than a bird because my stomach was so upset all the time from worrying (my anxiety journey is a long, personal story – maybe someday I’ll be comfortable enough in my bloggy persona to share it in detail here, because anxiety is a bitch and nobody should feel like they’re the only one struggling).

I worked very hard to brake those coping habits once I realized that honestly, they were just making me sicker. Once I got back home and started grad school, I was pretty successful. However, that success has kind of gone TOO far at this point. Now in times of high anxiety I find comfort in food, and well, giving myself time to breathe. Mainly by escaping into video games or fiction.

And that was GREAT when I was 22, constantly stressed because of grad school and then feeling in over my head teaching, and my metabolism was running at top speed. Not only did it help me manage my anxiety, but it helped me manage this very new stress load without burning out.

However, as it turns out these are not great coping mechanisms to have when you’re 28, getting older, and your metabolism isn’t what it used to be. When my anxiety got bad again last year, I found myself eating more, being far more sedentary in my down-time, and as a result, gaining both weight and inches.

And since then it’s become sort of this horrible self-feeding cycle. The bigger I get, the more uncomfortable I feel in my clothes. The more uncomfortable I feel in my clothes, the worse I feel. The worse I feel, the more I want to just sit and eat. The more I sit and eat, the bigger I get. The bigger I get the worse I feel. The worse I feel, the worse my anxiety gets. The worse my anxiety gets… you get the idea.

And as you can probably tell because of the quietness around here, this cycle has an immense impact on my productivity during my free time. I just don’t feel creative when I feel awful about myself. I have a thousand amazing ideas – everything from cooking, to decorating, to pysanky (I can’t believe I haven’t picked up a kitska yet this year), to embroidery… but I just can’t seem to motivate myself to get off the couch, put down the controller, and DO THEM because I just feel shitty about everything.

And working out? Pshhhh, fat chance.

But I think I hit a breaking point yesterday. I was getting dressed for work, and had an “oh shit” moment when I realized exactly how limited my wardrobe has become. I went to put on what was always my go to “I’m bloated, but still wanna look good” sweater – and I didn’t like the way it fit.

My shirt that is supposed to look great on me even when I’m having a big day was too tight. I feel like shit physically, I feel like I LOOK like shit (even though I know that that’s me being too hard on myself and I actually don’t)… It’s definitely time to change something.

And so I turn to you, blogosphere. I’ve resolved to do SOMETHING physical every day, just to get me feeling better. With you all as my witnesses.

But I also need ideas. I will eventually start running again, but I have to get into some sort of basic shape (other than couch blob) before I start again so I don’t hurt myself and so I enjoy the run enough to actually make it a habit again.

What are your favorite at-home workouts? Videos? Has anybody used this Daily Burn service I keep seeing commercials for on Hulu? Is it worth it? What about the FitBit? Have any of you recently (or not so recently) had a similar “must-get-fit” experience? How did you do it?

Any tips would be greatly appreciated, and hopefully you can all help keep me accountable as I embark on this journey to once more feel comfortable in my own body – and to get my creative mojo back!

So I Guess I’m a “Runner” Now?

SGK_racelogo

So, I haven’t really been talking about it on the blog here, because talking about the fact that I’m working on something can sometimes give me a false sense of accomplishment (which often results in me slacking off on exactly that thing I’m working on), but this summer I started a Couch to 5k program.

Now, I’ve been going a bit slower than even the program suggests – It’s been an awfully long time since I ran regularly, so I’m taking it one baby step at a time. I was also about 25-30 pounds lighter last time I did this, so I didn’t want to stress out my joints too much until I started to see weight coming off a little bit. So I’ve been running the program for each “week” for more like two weeks, sometimes more. I don’t move onto the next week’s plan until I really feel like the current week I’m on is downright easy.

Which means that even though the program is supposed to take only eight weeks, I’m currently only on week 4. Week one and two probably took me about three weeks each to get to the point where I felt confident moving on – probably because I started in like the dead of summer, when the heat and humidity were at their worst. Let me tell you, working out in 90+ degree weather with 90% humidity is, well, not fun. Particularly if you haven’t done it for about seven years. But now that the weight is starting to come off a bit (VERY slowly) and I’m getting more used to working out regularly again (not to mention that the weather is cooling down finally), things are progressing nicely. Week three only took me a week and a half to clear, and it’s looking like I’ll be moving on to week 5 by the end of this week, making week 4 a two-weeker.

Well, but wait… If I’m not technically done with the program, and I didn’t want to talk about it here for fear of allowing the false sense of accomplishment to serve as justification for slacking off, why do I suddenly mention it?

Well, because about a week ago I officially finished my very first 5k. I did the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. So this running thing is officially a habit, and a goal that is within attainable reach, even if I DO talk about it too much.

Now, technically it was not a 5k run, it was a 5k run/walk, but I ran a surprising portion of it for not being done with my program. Additionally, I know that it seems pretty hypocritical for my first 5k to have been the Komen considering I’ve mentioned here before that I have some issues with the organization.

But the bottom line is that, for whatever my issues are with the organization, and whatever issues I have with the idea of merely running a 5k as “support,” I’ve had to acknowledge (particularly after participating and seeing it happen) that the solidarity of doing the race can really make a difference in the community around it.

I originally signed up merely because it was convenient – my Aunt and one of my very good friends were both running it too, so I would have some support in my first attempt. But the experience ended up being an inspiring one – particularly seeing all the survivors who participated, and all the runners with their dedications pinned to their back. The diversity of the participants was really awe-inspiring as well. I mean, there were people from every segment of society there – and all supporting each other. My favorite were the three NFL-linemen-big, burly, tough looking tattooed guys who were cheering on and coaching everyone around them as they went, their hot pink dedication bibs with a name and a heartbreakingly short pair of dates seeming so out of place pinned to their backs. I was behind them for about a mile before I had to start walking again and lost sight of them, and they seriously left a trail of motivation and smiles in their wake – often from people who I bet would have purposely crossed to the other side of the street if they saw them out and about on a normal day.

And so even though I may not have much use for Komen, or races as a way of “helping” patients, I have to admit that this particular event served a purpose. It brought the community together in a way I have never seen before. And for that alone, I’ll be participating next year.

And with that, I’ll leave you with my horribly sweaty finish line selfie! (Thank goodness for instagram filters!)

5k success

Have any of you had an experience lately that’s forced you to reevaluate your stance on something or someone?