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Finding the balance of physical and mental health through adventures and fitness

Tag Archives: inspiration

The fall semester starts in 9 days.

I’m feeling excited. I’m feeling anxious. I’m feeling relieved.

I’m excited about the fall because it means more flexibility. I know there are people who think this is a piece of cake, but remember the grass always seems greener on the other side – there are still things that aren’t all sunshine and daisies. I have a good balance of everything that is important: work, school, boyfriend and myself – not necessarily in that order and not always in the same order.

One thing that is hard for me is to sit still. I know I need to relax and give myself a break, but it’s really hard. I thrive on structure and being busy. This year has been a damn rollercoaster and it’s the most time I’ve ever had to myself.

While summer classes were very busy and left little wiggle room, since finishing them at the beginning of August, I have found myself with time to slow down if I choose too. That has been quite the challenge.

I think about the summer and my mind races – I don’t know where to start. This isn’t what I expected my summer to be, but that doesn’t mean it was bad.

I ate more than I intended, but I don’t really regret it. Yeah, I had days where I will look at JP and poke myself, but really, this was the first time I wasn’t saying ‘no’ or pushing back. I probably should’ve said no more than I did, but I’m moving on and you should too.

I’ve said before that you can a lot about a person through how they write during certain times. When it’s been rough it reflects in my writing, when it’s getting better it also reflects.

I look back at June 17th and a reread that post – found here. I agree with that Cristina. I shake my head with her because I still feel parts of her. The parts that are in disbelief that I ended up here, but sometimes I don’t even know where here is. I know that sounds confusing, but I think some of you can relate.

Sometimes when I think about my future I see one thing, but the reality becomes another. Each day brings something new and we should embrace it. Embrace the risk and see what happens – that’s the hippy side of my thinking. The other side of it is calculated, like, yes, of course you ended up here and if you turn this way you can take this path and if you turn this other way there’s another path. This summer I became better at blending these two thoughts. I don’t always need to be calculated and sometimes it’s just not going to happen.

Thinking about what I wrote in regard to balance in June – that Cristina needed a nap and a cup of tea, but she was trying her best. If only she knew what was in store during the cross city move. However, July was better and August even better as I crashed then got back up and found some kind of routine that I could make sense of. For the past five weeks I’ve had a solid workout schedule that makes me feel like I’m balancing fitness Cristina with all the other Cristina’s. We still have breakfast together, but on Sunday’s I lift while he stays in bed, however, he’s been going running while I go to the gym. On week days, I go to the gym when he leaves for work, so I have about an hour for my meals to settle – I’m not a fan of lifting on a full stomach, I definitely prefer fasted like I do on Sunday’s, but that’s just my preference.

Adding yoga a week and a half ago was a really good idea because I’m already feeling a difference in my back, so I’m alternating it with my lifting and running – still taking a rest day somewhere in the week…wherever it makes sense for that week.

I believe in bagels – you can read about that here. I believe in working hard for what you want. I believe in jumping and taking risks. I believe in making minimal excuses and breaking down barriers. I also believe that my grind is going to look different than the person beside me. It won’t always be understood and that’s ok.

I wrote less this summer because I didn’t feel I needed it like I have in the past. That is a risk for me. That is new. I’ve connected in other ways that were just, if not more, meaningful. However, it made me uncomfortable to feel like I couldn’t share my day. If you meet me in person, I won’t talk much until I am comfortable with you and then it’s going to be late nights with liter and a half bottles of wine. I think that’s what happened. I was so comfortable talking to a screen, forgetting that people are on the other side. This summer I relearned how to communicate in a way that I felt was safe. That meant more journaling and letting experience happen with maybe a photo or two to capture it. Below are some photos from this summer.

I’m taking my bagel philosophy and charging full on into September. We might not talk like we used to, but I can’t wait to take you with me.

❤ Cristina

 

Haymarket

Union Square at Boston Public Market

Boston PRIDE

Cupcakes

I lifted a little

Wedding fun

Brunching in Connecticut

Double Rainbow

Greek food downtown

We found the statues

We also found some burgers

Day trips to Vermont

Day drinking with the animals

Lemurs!

 

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You Are Enough.

That’s what this series has been called. It started with feeling in between. Feeling that I was in between going through the motions and picking myself up off the ground.

Dragging myself out of bed and crying on the kitchen floor.

blacking out. flashing back. struggling to be present. be mindful.

In the past seven and half weeks I’ve watched a lot of Disney, colored a lot of mermaids, eaten a lot of cookies, drank or drunk…hmm… consumed a lot of almond milk lattes. Tried a few burgers, walked around a lot, lifted more than I ever thought I could and working towards enough.

It’s more than just saying you are enough. I mean of course you are. But enough of or for what? If we eliminate the external validation, which partially caused the start of this mess, then you only need to be enough for you. But where is your bar? How high did you set it? Why is there so much prove to just yourself? When did the bar get that high?

I’ve been working on leveling the playing field. Bringing my own bar just a tad bit lower and working on building up to reach it without standing on my tip-toes. Does this mean I’m not capable? Did I say that is the better question? No, I’m capable, but when you set yourself up for failure it doesn’t matter if your WonderWoman, you’re going to burn out.

The expectations I set for myself professionally and personally were higher than the ones that others placed upon me. I know I can do great things when challenged and the bar before was too low. I was able to jump over it and that wasn’t the game I wanted to play. But it was more than the bar not being where I believed it belonged. It was the external forces that kept pushing the bar up and down and not allowing me to keep it steady.

The build up that became the trigger. I know, we’ll get to that later, maybe no today, but later. I promise.

The past few weeks I have found structure again through implementing PH3 from Layne Norton that bodybuild.com offers. I’ve modified a few things such as eliminating blood flow restricted sets because I would rather take them out than do them wrong. Even with the elimination of some of these sets, I have added volume to my total and I can feel and see change occurring. Structure makes me feel secure and looking back to September I was losing that security. It’s not that I lost the drive or motivation, inside I still had it, but when mental illness is another factor it doesn’t necessarily matter how much drive and motivation you have. Sometimes your knocked on the shower floor struggling to wash your hair. I’m not ashamed to admit that. I’m not ashamed to say that there were days that getting out of bed was the first step and getting the shower was a win, but getting out of the shower was triumphant.

Incorporating this lifting program took the task out my hands and provided me with something to follow while I focused energy on other things. It’s something I found challenging, something I found interesting. I can’t wait to get back to designing my own programming, but for the past 7ish weeks utilizing this program allowed me to take a slight backseat while I took the reigns on my nutrition and mental well-being.

I’ve figure out the appropriate ratios of macro-nutrients to maintain and sustain myself. It took a lot of playing, but I’ve figure out where my body likes to be and what that means for living life as well as what that means for when I do jump back into the pool and prepare to compete again. Understanding your body’s chemistry is powerful. This is something I’ve been working on with some of my clients – how are you feeling during the day, how are you feeling after eating specific foods, are you hitting your macros or nutritional goals? Health is more than the scale and in some cases more than measurements. It’s a feeling. It’s being able to step back and say “I feel good overall”. Acknowledging that the decisions you make can have an impact on your whole body like joint pain or bloating or fatigue.  As important as being a “healthy”body fat percentage is, these things I believe are just as important. If you can feel good, that’s half the battle.

As I’ve figured out my nutritional goals for this phase of my journey, I’ve been able to take more control of my feelings and look at myself most mornings and say “I like what I see, I like how I look just living life and lifting all the things.” No, I’m not in a bulking phase – I’m not 100% comfortable with that kind of eating and gaining right now. I’m in a slightly higher maintenance, but since I’ve minimized cardio, the total of calories in and calories out is pushing me into a very slight caloric surplus most days. Also, #cupcakes. I want to try all the cookies and cupcakes.

I’ve found purpose again. I’ve said this a bunch of times before. I never thought I would want to coach. I never thought I would be good at it. But, as more people have asked for help, I’ve reflected on what I’m capable of helping with. I know some people don’t understand health or life or goal coaching and that’s fine, but it helps people people realize their potential. This kind of coaching helps them create a plan or strategy for the week, breaking it down to be manageable – taking their whole life into consideration, not just the goals.

That’s what makes someone successful right? Checking off the tasks on the to list, no matter how small. No matter if the goal is to monitor body feelings or go to the gym three times this week where it fits, checking those tasks off makes you feel like you’re building onto something to reach something bigger.

I’ve been baking and writing and figuring out if I can truly eat enough cookies in the week while maintaining my measurements #thelimitdoesnotexist

More importantly, I think this series is coming to a close. I’ve been enough this whole time, I knew it in my heart – somewhere, but it was something I needed to determine for myself. Because my head and heart don’t always talk to each other. It was something I needed to measure in white chocolate cranberry cookies and almond milk lattes. I need to connect the lines and color in the mermaids to make the ocean look less intimidating. I needed to see if I could pick up the heavier bar and move it around without a lot of support to guide me.

I am enough every day. Even when I don’t believe it. Even when those around me don’t make me feel it.

So, please don’t stop dreaming. Please don’t stop reaching.Please don’t ever think you can’t. Please don’t ever think you aren’t worthy. You are all that and more. You are more than enough.

❤ Cristina

 


This is my friend Ahmad. He pretty much started this series. What I mean is it was his words that set something off in me that made me think about the larger problem at hand. Yes, I am working through my own anxiety, my own PTSD, and I have no issue talking about it. But, there’s a but. But what about those who don’t share their stories. They don’t have an outlet to do so. They don’t think someone will listen or understand or care. What about the others out there who are also suffering silently. Maybe they need a place for their voice. He doesn’t realize that he sparked that in me, but he did. I wanted his story too though. So Ahmad Abojaradeh is the Co-Founder of Muslim Community Link, an Engineer, a world traveler, a Peer Support Specialist, a Novelist and the founder and editor of Life in My Days. He speaks and writes about Mental Health, Wellness, Support, and Social Justice. He hopes to spread awareness of living a life of wellness through his writing, workshops and speaker events. Follow Ahmad on instagram and Facebook .


Ableism – are the practices and dominant attitudes in society that devalue and limit the potential of persons with disabilities.

Within our ableist society the definition of wellness is the absence of physical or mental disability. In that case, according to ableism, I have never been well. But according to the World Health Organization (WHO) Wellness is defined as “…a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” So why do we continue to believe the first definition far more than the official?
The simple answer is that the world is not defined according to the WHO; it’s defined in the very fabrics of society, from the moment we’re born until the day we die, and even beyond. Ableism, like many other forms of oppression, is one of the foundations of our society.
I have suffered from mental illness since I was two, even before I was supposed to be cognitively conscious. It started with social anxiety and general anxiety, years later body dysmorphic disorder would reshape my image, major depression and a dissociative disorder took years out of my life, and finally PTSD redefined what a college experience should be like.
Throughout it all I have felt alone, invisible in a world moving too fast for me at times, and too slow in others. At times I have shut down, for years at a time, while other times I was able to function in slow motion, every breath seemingly my last, and I was able to graduate from an engineering school, co-found a non-profit, start my own site, write almost a dozen novels and so much more. Because of that, because of the diversity of my illnesses no one believed that anything was wrong until I was 20 years old. At 20, I spoke to my second grade teacher, and for the first time my pain was validated, my illness was validated, and I was validated. I was no longer the illness, the illness was a part of me yes, but I was not my illnesses.
Since then I have learned to take back control of my life. I do so through sharing my story, raising awareness about mental health, writing and blogging, taking time off, and just as importantly, exercising and focusing on my diet. Most assume the last is about self image, but the reality is that it’s far deeper than that. My body dysmorphia does not allow me to see what I truly look like, and no six pack can change that, but eating right and exercising gives me the energy I need to function, to sleep, and to monitor my illnesses like you would with diabetes or any other physical illness. It’s a matter of control, in a life where we have very little.
Today, I have productive days, I have mental health days, and I have days where I do not function. For me mental health days are days I take willingly, they are a time to reflect and rejuvenate so that I may have productive days. The days where I do not function are the ones beyond my control, and I barely exist, or exist far too much during them. The relationship between the mental health days and the non-functioning days is inverse, the more I have of one, the less I have the other. So in times of severe stress my mental health days will be far more than in less stressful times.
There’s a lot that goes into my wellness, some days it seems that it’s too much, but wellness is not a one time deal, wellness is a way of life. And believe it or not, I happen to like my way of life.

Today’s post is dedicated to someone I didn’t even know I had the opportunity to influence, but I guess that’s what makes social media so special. We can connect to so many and touch so many lives without realizing we’re doing it at all.

Meagan started #100HealthyDays, similar to #100HappyDays, but she’s truly focusing on her health. She does shakeology and is on her way to become a master to food prep, but I want her to remember a few things that I have to remind myself all the time:

1. Change is slow, so don’t discouraged

I have the hardest time with this, mostly because I love immediate results. Being healthy isn’t about immediacy, it’s about maintaining and time. You have to give yourself time to adjust to all of the changes you’re making and you have give yourself time to see the changes taking effect. This could be why I take so many selfies, it’s really the best way to see change- side by side comparison.

2. It’s okay to mess up every now and then

We have busy schedules, we get sick, we’re tired and while we think we’re super heroes, we’re not. You’re going to eat a donut just because or forget food prep one night. It happens and you can’t beat yourself up over the mistakes.  We don’t diet for a short time, we make a lifestyle change and we’re learning every day. I have definitely eaten a piece of cake for breakfast because I caved to my stress, but I’ve also eaten clean and I know what the two can do for my body.

3. If you’re tired, it’s okay to sleep

After a long work week or a long day at work, it’s okay to skip the gym once or twice. I’m not saying you should skip it all 7 days because you’re tired, but there are times when going to the gym and working out when you’re tired isn’t good for your body. You could injure yourself when you’re not paying attention. Sometimes yoga in the living room is a good choice.

4. Almond butter should be eaten in moderation

Yeah, I’m still getting the hang of this one.

5. Organic isn’t always better, watch your wallet

If you eat the skin, then go organic. If you cut the skin off, then it’s doesn’t matter much- depending on what it is. Organic can mean a number of things and it’s not always the best option. Watch your wallet, check for sale and buy in bulk. Clean, cut and freeze what you can- you will save so much more money and eating healthy won’t be as hard.

 


Also, here’s today’s #100HappyDays post. I talked about my career the other day, and in general in I LOVE my job, but these two students made it so much more amazing this academic year. Today was their graduation, so naturally we took a selfie backstage before they presented on stage :]

 

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Day 12: I love my students. They work hard and make me excited to do my job, even though there are ups and downs I am so proud of them for everything they did this year. $26,906.42 and counting. 41% of the class. #wpi #100happydays #happinessdoesntcomeinajar #philanthropy #students #highered #ilovemyjob #careermove