You Are Enough Blog Series: Post 11 “You Are More Than Enough”

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

 

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You Are Enough Blog Series: Post 6 “I Guess I Didn’t Know What It Was Like To Have That Much Love In My Life”

I was texting with my friend Ali this morning about our visit yesterday. Yesterday, Ali drove from New Jersey to Sleepy Hollow, NY; I drove from Massachusetts to Sleepy Hollow, NY and Samantha drove from Pennsylvania to Sleepy Hollow, NY. We’ve never met. I’ve been texting separately with both of them for months, but they had never talked to each other. We met through Instagram.

Our plan – check out the farmer’s market, get brunch and do whatever touristy things we possibly could.

What happened was a lot more.

Yesterday left my heart full and this morning I felt different. This past week was a pretty good. It wasn’t perfect, but I wasn’t expecting it to be. I just wanted it to be better than previous weeks. I wanted to feel a little happier, a little less tired and more like myself. I’ve been saying that for weeks – I want to feel like myself. I think part of it is, I want the old me, the before all this crap happened me, but the truth is, I can’t go back to that me. So now it’s figuring out how I can be a newer, maybe more sparkly me.

This week, I met some amazing people – some for the first time and some for more adventures. It took me to three different states. I drove through five states. I ate doughnuts and burgers and had excellent coffee and walked and talked and lifted and laughed.

On Tuesday, I met Kolbie. She lives an hour and half away from me in New Hampshire. She’s a full-time law student and we share a passion for lifting and bettering ourselves. She has a take no shit attitude and clearly said, “I will decide when I’m too skinny” when talking about a family member who said she was getting too thin because she was getting to a healthy weight that her family hadn’t seen her at before. She has big goals and a plan to accomplish them. I got the chance to meet her at her gym – no, we didn’t workout together, but checked in while going our own routines. Again, we have different journey’s and different plans, but we can still throw some iron around in the same room.

She told me about her coach and how he supports her and how working with him was the best decision she’s made. We talked about our goals for the upcoming year and there’s a chance our paths could cross on the stage.

We went out for coffee after our lift and we sat there for almost three hours. I didn’t leave until dinner time and it was pitch black. I still had to drive home and I had never been more thankful for packing a protein bar. On the drive home I thought about how happy I was that her and I got to connect in person. We’ve been following each other online all year and only recently started talking to each more regularly. I left New Hampshire thinking about how much I wanted to connect with more people. Get to know them better than the photos they post online. Hear their stories and someone help them figure out their paths.

I met with my therapist on Wednesday and I told him about meeting Kolbie. I told him how the weekend went (wedding weekend) and how I hoped the rest of the week would go. We talked about a plan for when I get back to work at the end of the month  – what I can do to keep my focus. I felt good about what we discussed and I think it helped set me up for the rest of the week.

On Thursday, Liz and I got together to lift in the morning and then adventure down to Providence, Rhode Island. We found out that there’s a new doughnut shop there and we figured we could build a day in the city. Liz and I usually have solid adventures when we get together, but checking out the exhibits at RISD, showed me that how we interpret is very similar. Art’s purpose is to give you a feeling. Everyone is impacted differently by different pieces of art. How I feel about impressionism is different than how someone else feels about watercolor. The conversations we had throughout the museum made me so much more excited to know Liz.

We have fitness in common and we love trying crazy food – I mean, doughnut adventures are a must, but Liz has been a huge part of my life, especially the past few weeks. We connected through Instagram in the winter/spring as I was in competition prep for the Cutler. We talked about the at the time upcoming surgery – she’s had a tummy tuck before. We talked about lifting and goals, but we also talked about our boyfriends and work and our personal lives. But we didn’t meet until this summer. I remember JP asking me who she was and then he just declared that she’s going to be Holyoke Liz – even though that’s not really where she lives, but I guess it’s close enough. There’s an hour distance between us, but only a few seconds via phone. Liz’s background is in psychology, and there have been a few times that I’ve found myself calling her to be talked down from an attack. She has experience working with clients who have anxiety and her patience has been key more times than I want to admit.

I’m just glad that her boyfriend, Dan, let’s me steal her sometimes.

My Friday plans were changed a bit, but only for the better. Because that brings me to Saturday. Samantha and I had been planning to get together for a few weeks. She’s about 40 minutes outside of Philadelphia and we figured out that Sleepy Hollow is our half way point. It’s about a two and a half hour drive for each of us each way. Well, on Friday, I was talking to Ali on the phone and I told her about getting together with Samantha on Saturday. Ali and I were going to meet for lunch on Friday on her way to Boston, but her Boston plans fell through. I told her Sleepy Hollow was only an hour and a half away from her and I could ask Samantha to see if she could join us. She said she didn’t want to crash, but I told her not to worry and I would ask. Samantha said that was fine, but she may need to warm up.

Well. I do believe there was no concern of warming up to each other.

We met at the farmer’s market and managed to drink both wine or gin before 10 am. We found ALL OF THE CARBS and each bought a treat to bring home. I found a black and white cookie, just the white with sprinkles – of course I did. We split a Belguim chocolate and coconut almond brownie three ways because it was the size of my face.

Our second stop was brunch and it was amazing. However, I don’t think I’ve ever had bad brunch. We sat there for two hours and Samantha convinced us to have a second round of mimosas because we parked our cars and were walking around the town anyway. Burgers and muffins and bacon and booze, all before noon. There was more than just eating. We celebrated Samantha’s engagement and meeting new friends. We laughed and talked loudly. If you were walking by us, you wouldn’t have ever guessed that it was the first time we’d me in person.

We did what all good tourists do – hung out in the cemetery. The weather was perfect and the Old Dutch Church sits on a ridiculous hill that can oversee the town. We walked through headstones and looked at the years. So many pre-date 1900, and there were some that had been so weathered that they had nothing on them at all. While we were walking through we passed a few crypts and Samantha decided to knock to see if anyone was home. I think we all were nervous that someone would knock back. Thankfully, the dead were asleep.

We took a bunch of photos, mostly cheesy, but all excellent. There’s a photo of the three of us and I said to Ali that she looked so happy in. Her smile is so big. She said she was genuinely happy. I think we all were. There was something about the day – it was cold when we met up at first, but as the sun got higher and it got warmer, there were more laughs and it felt like we knew each other forever. There was so much building up to meet Samantha and Ali – originally separately, but then even more build up knowing we would all get to hang out all together. Samantha and I had been going back and forth on brunch places, but our conversations date back to my surgery when we played wayyy too many rounds of Words with Friends. Ali and I have recently exchanged numbers, but we’ve been emailing for what seems like forever. Both are hilarious and open minded and tell stories in the best ways possible. Driving home all I could think about was how great the day was, I didn’t want the feeling end.

My heart was full from the day and from the week, really.

Last week brought some clarity, it brought some personal heartache as JP and I are still navigating life living together and making decisions together. But overall, it brought a full heart.

Maybe it’s because it’s November and that we’re going to be stuffing our faces soon and pulling thankfulness out of the air, but I feel grateful for those who I’ve had the chance to meet while I’ve been on leave. I’m grateful for those who have helped me fill my time in between journaling and therapy appointments. I’m grateful for those who were willing to share their stories with me and trusted me enough to share them with all of you as well. At a time where I felt I lost my purpose, so many have helped me find it and create  a path for myself.

Every day I receive messages saying that I inspire you, but I don’t think you realize that so many of you inspire me, encourage me.

Trust me, I’m sure you’ve seen my annoyances, but the bigger picture is that there is something that connects us all and brings us together. Whether it’s making friends over peanut butter – I’m looking at Sarah and Alicia. Or having common ground in our views – hi there Ali. Finding out that you have made a friend who is willing to be weird with you and not judge you – I love you Samantha. A friend who will invite you to their home and sit for hours talking – Oh Jen. Lifting and coffee and adventures and doughnuts – Lori and Liz and Kolbie. I really could list a bunch of people.

This is my fifth week of leave, fourth week of my lifting program and JP is gone on business. I have therapy like normal, I’m working on a paper for class and Jen and I have lunch plans tomorrow with her husband. I imagine that my heart will stay full and my belly will be happy, but maybe not as happy as this past week.

I can’t wait to take you on my adventures and continue this ride.

❤ Cristina

It’s Your Turn Series: Post 11 “Life in My Days: 22 Years of Mental Illness and Counting”

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.

It’s Your Turn Series: Post 9 “Scarlet Letter”

October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It was also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I’m sure there’s a third cause out there that was also supposed to be highlighted and educate the public. I will not downplay that both of these causes are important. 1 in 8 women are impacted by breast cancer. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men are impacted by domestic violence. Whether it’s 12% or 30%, doesn’t truly matter, lives are impacted. But, there’s a but, one is more warm and fuzzy than the other. It’s more common to talk about breast cancer, screenings, a loved one passing away from an illness that has no cure than to talk about something that has been considered shameful and personal. Both are important and both need to be talked about.

Mental health has a stigma, just like domestic violence. It’s considered shameful, personal and must only impact those that are “crazy”. But according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, just looking at adults – 1 in 5 adults are impacted by mental illnesses that range from anxiety disorders to personality disorders.

Below is the story of a 40-something female and how she has lived with her illnesses.


 

It blows my mind the selfish-instant-gratification society we are living in.  Consideration is hardly ever taken to those silently suffering with chronic illnesses. Mental illness has been my scarlet letter and a major part of my life ever since I was 15.

It all started when I was sexually assaulted one afternoon in front of the school library by a random stranger while waiting for my mom to pick me up. It happened quickly and something broke inside of me. A light went out and darkness filled my mind like a fog. I didn’t say anything right away to my mom thinking it was my fault because she told me to wait for her inside the library and I had disobeyed her like a careless little girl thinking the world was a good place helping a strange man take his books to his car around the corner. The guilt was so intense that two days later I attempted suicide.

When my mom found me, I had no pulse. I was rushed to the hospital and was saved by having my stomach pumped twice and put on a ventilator. At that time is when I revealed what had happened. Many people think that was my nightmare but my true nightmare began after that. I spent a week in a mental institution and after many evaluations, I was sent home with scheduled therapy sessions twice a week and a ton of pills as well as a new illness I had never heard of and my mom made me keep to myself.

An invisible illness that didn’t make you look sick. An illness that did not respond to diet and lifestyle change. An illness that caused intense pain that somehow not even the strongest painkillers can touch. An illness that can not be cured and carries a horrible stigma: Bipolar I with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. The violent attack traumatized a part of my brain causing an inevitable imbalance. I wanted to fix it and make it go away. I wanted to run and hide. I did both things.

After I graduated high school, I moved as far away as I could from all my friends and family and started running. I became a runner with an insatiable appetite for more and more miles. That was my therapy. That was my drug of choice to help deal with the pain and isolation I felt in a world that frowned upon this invisible illness. Twenty-four years of running and hiding. I am 41 and in those 24 years, I became a mother of 3 beautiful children. I married and divorced three times.  I had three different careers. I moved more than 20 times to three different states and even moved out of the country and eventually came back. Always running. Always hiding. Until now.
 I have grown tired of running. I have grown weary of hiding. The mental exhaustion outweighs any physical exhaustion I can put on my body. I have started to go to therapy again. I have agreed to take medication once more. I also have physical conditions that do not help the matter but I tote those around like a Gucci purse because those chronic conditions are acceptable. Those physical chronic conditions are recognized and even empathized by society so I don’t hide them. I show the world I conquer my chronic conditions like a warrior.
I wish I could say the same for my invisible illness. Some weeks are better than others but never perfect. I wish I could say the future looks bright and I have to wear shades but this carefree dreamer knows things don’t just come to an end; they just take twists and turns like the river bends so I just go with the flow. So the next time you want to throw the first stone, remember that we are all living in glass houses.

You Are Enough Blog Series: Post 4 “Together, But Separate”

This week was pretty great. I know as the days and weeks add up I’ve been saying that they’ve been getting better, but let’s be honest some of those weeks had shitty days. This week hasn’t had one bad day. I know that’s so optimistic it’s almost adorable. But it’s true.

On Monday, JP went to work and I went to the gym. He had Starbucks for breakfast and I made myself pancakes. Pancake Mondays are what is right with the world.He did his usual on the way to work thing and I did my usual post-work out thing. We didn’t eat together and I didn’t see him until dinner time. We didn’t text all day – something that is 100% unusual for us. But when dinner came, we could actually say “Babe, how was your day?”

You see, when he was in Indiana we would text all day and night. Around bedtime we would get on Facetime and then fall asleep that way. I know, we’re crazy and thankfully there’s wifi. It was a “we live long distance, but are still dependent on each other in some kind of way” relationship. During work hours, we would sometimes switch to GChat because of poor cell phone reception. We were long distance for two years and I’ve already told you the story about the tree. If you don’t remember it, check out this Instagram post. Anyway, there’s a lot of stuff we’ve never had the chance to do, like spontaneous date night or vacation.

JP moved home at one of the best and worst times because everything came crashing down, and while he definitely added to it and I’m going to get to that, I don’t know what would’ve happened if he wasn’t home.

So this week was great because JP was gone. Because while I was so excited to have him home, I was dealing with everything else and we never had an opportunity to adjust to each other. Yes, he was home for about seven weeks during my recovery, but the us we where then, is different than the us we are now. You see, he moved home and was hit from all sides. After driving 16 hours, we had a family party to go to, where I heard multiple family members ask him how it felt to be unemployed. I’m not saying they meant harm, but what I am saying, is some people can fit both feet in their mouths. He had already been putting pressure on himself to find a job and then that happened, they piled on the pressure unknowingly. I know I added some too because we just couldn’t live the lifestyle he wanted on my salary.

As we were dealing with this, I was dealing with my own problems and while he knew what was going on, I don’t think either of us realized the extent of the damage everything was causing. From this to my car accident, to not having a car for about a week to medical leave – we have been by each other constantly. I wish I was kidding. I’ve told him he’s needy and boy he fucking is. I lay in bed and he immediately cuddles on me, it’s cute until you can’t handle the touching. And sometimes, with my anxiety, I can’t be touched. It makes me more upset – he doesn’t understand this. We would be playing cards at the bistro table and he would ask if I wanted to cuddle and I would blatantly tell him “no, I’m already out of bed and I don’t want to get back in bed.”

His need to help me was turning into suffocation.

On Monday when JP asked me how my day was, I said it was really good. He asked why and I was honest. I told him it was because for the first time in a few weeks I was able to get up and workout and then come home and relax. I was able to make breakfast and show, but then I could get back in bed and write or watch TV. I was able to go to a new to me coffee house and not have to worry if JP wanted to come or not. I just got in the car and went. I didn’t have to be concerned if he was interested. I looked at him and said, “I think you can go to the car show on Saturday alone with your friends. I don’t want to go, I’ll find something else to do.” He asked how come. I explained that before he had moved home going to the car show meant that I lost hours with him. Since he’s here I don’t feel like I need to follow him around. He said “you mean we can have separate lives?”

Yep, that’s what I’m saying.

So the last piece of this puzzle of feeling torn down I think was taken care of this week when JP went to work. I know that sounds terrible, but the past few weeks we really were smothering each other and now we finally can learn how to live together as a couple. That’s scary and weird and crazy, but we haven’t really had the opportunity to do that. We kept saving each other, supporting each other when we felt down. But we haven’t been able to just live with each other, enjoy each others’ company and just be together. This week we got to do that.

Tonight we’re going out for date night and we’re dressing up. We never get to do this.

I’ve told him about all of this, so writing this isn’t a surprise in this house, but it doesn’t make it easier to say or easier to read. This has been hard on both of us and still is. This is the first week I’ve felt more like myself, but I also recognize that I’m starting to get tired quickly and need to relax during the day. Yesterday, after I got out the apartment for dessert and lattes, I felt exhausted, but knew that if I went home I would just nap in the middle of the day and that would impact my night… so I kept myself out and went to Target to pick up a few things. Surprisingly, I didn’t go overboard with all the things pumpkin, but I did get a few things that were necessary… new colored pencils for example. I may have also had some fun in the dressing room…

Therapy

So many people have asked me how I’ve gotten over mental health issues, but if you’ve been paying attention, I haven’t. I’m working through them every day. I’ve been journaling on my own. I’ve been keeping myself busy and trying to get out so I don’t feel confined within my apartment. Just because I don’t have meetings every day doesn’t mean I should stay shut away. I’m also going to therapy and working with someone who specializes in trauma and disorders that are an extension of trauma. It’s the same therapist that I saw this summer about body dysmorphia – which turns out is just a coping mechanism for my anxiety. Most of his clients have PTSD and other disorders that are connected, like me with anxiety and binge eating disorder. I’m clinically diagnosed. These aren’t terms you through around lightly. These aren’t terms that you joke about. There’s a difference between over eating and binging. There’s a difference between indulging and binging. Yes, you can eat a little too much when indulging, but looking down at the bowl and realizing you ate all the popcorn versus binging the popcorn intentionally. There’s a difference in mentality. When I’m going through a binge episode I’m hunting. That’s how I feel. I feel like I’m searching for what I’m looking for without truly knowing what I’m looking for. I know it when I’m eating it because I then feel satisfied.

This week we talked about the adventures I was going on. I mentioned JP starting his new job and how relieved I felt. We talked about some of the triggers that started this whole ordeal and the original events the created those triggers… childhood. Some things you just can’t truly escape. I felt good during the session and after I felt like we accomplished what I wanted to, so until next session.

That gym life

My workouts this week were really good. I started the PH3 program by Layne Norton that is on bodybuilding.com. You can find the program here. It’s a new lifting structure for me and focuses on strength. I was skeptical at first because the first few days don’t seem like a lot, but as more volume was added throughout the week I started to feel myself really pushing through the workouts. I’m working the muscles differently than I’m used to, so this week was the first time in a while that I was sore, but in a good way. My shoulder after Sunday was pretty sore from benching… something I don’t do often or heavy or really like doing at all, but as the week continued it definitely got easier and my shoulder became less sore the day after the lift. Since I’m trying something new I figure this was a perfect time for new gloves… mine are falling apart. Literally ripped at the seams. I also bought a lifting belt because I feel as I want to get heavier in my lifts, I want the support. I don’t want to rely solely on it, but I feel like it may help prevent my form from weakening as I increase. One thing I did that the program doesn’t really do is to make sure I’m hitting my steps by walking on the treadmill for about 15 to 20 minutes after my lift. While lifting works the body, you’re not moving a lot, walking on the treadmill after my lift let’s me stretch out (sometimes I do long stride lunges), but I can still hit my step goal for the day without exerting too much energy or over working my muscles. So one week down, three more to go with this lifting phase.

Sunday’s lift Big 3

Tuesday’s lift lower body emphasis

Wednesday’s active rest day

Friday’s lift – lower body emphasis

Checking in

This morning I checked in and I was down .6 pounds from last week and I’m really happy about that. I feel like chemically, my stress levels are going down and settling so cortisol is going down. Most people don’t realize that stress increases cortisol, which prevents other processes in the body to occur and weight gain can occur or weightloss can stall. This paired with the binges resulted in a dramatic weight gain in a short period of time. I’m happy to say that I’ve lost 5.4 of the 10 pounds that I did gain through binges.

Physically, I’m feeling better. I mentioned earlier in the week that the gain was pulling at my abdomen around my scar. I was pulled so tight in surgery so bloating can be painful and well, that also means that kind of weight gain can be too. So 136 – I was 126 about a month ago, is a lot for my body. Today I was 130.6 and that feels pretty good. I’m hoping to keep my fluctuation between 128 and 130.

Mentally, I’m getting comfortable with this weight and how my body is looking since developing a range of macros to stay within. The range allows me to have some wiggle room in case I want to eat more one day, but I don’t want to eat as much another day. I’m loosely tracking and below are some of the things I ate this week that weren’t easily trackable, but still allowed me to loose .6 pounds.

Monday’s coffee shop adventure at Sweets and Java in Holden: butterbeer latte + chocolate chip cookie

Wednesday’s coffee shop adventure at Crema Cafe in Cambridge: black coffee + cashew butterscotch cookie

Wednesday’s dinner at Boston Burger Company in Cambridge: half a  Vermonster – apples, onions, bacon, maple mayo and cheddar

Wednesday’s dinner at Boston Burger Company in Cambridge: half a King burger – bacon, cinnamon sugar banana and peanut butter

Thursday’s adventure to Birchtree Bread Company in Worcester: black coffee + white chocolate cranberry cookie

Thursday’s dessert split with JP: jumbo peanut butter cup from Lolli and Pops

Friday’s adventure to Bean Counter in Worcester: pumpkin, chocolate and marshmallow latte + chocolate raspberry tart

Friday’s dinner at Nu Cafe in Worcester: Southwest Salad with chicken, no tortilla chips and dressing on the side

Yeah I know, here I’m like let’s balance out our weight, and then I’m like ooh latte’s and cookies. But for me, being able to fit these into my daily life and still loose or maintain or whatever the goal at the time is truly is balance for me. Tomorrow was a little more indulgent than normal, latte and tart, but both were excellent and there were no regrets.

Class because I still have that going on

I got my grades for class this week and I got a 100% on my quiz, homework and discussion. My grades slightly slipped when all of this started, but I was honest with my professor about what was going on and she said if I needed extensions to let her know. I told her I didn’t need that, but I wanted her to know that the quality in my work wasn’t normal and I wanted her to know why.

I’m excited for the upcoming week. It’s week two of the lifting program. JP is at work and I’m figuring out my adventures.We have a wedding next weekend and the rehearsal dinner on Friday. I’m hopeful it’ll be a good week all around like this week was, but if not every day is perfect, it won’t be the end of the world.

We’re watching movies and lounging in the living room until it’s time to get ready for date night. So I’ll talk to you guys later.

❤ Cristina

It’s Your Turn Series: Post 8 “I Am Not What Happened To Me, I Am What I Choose To Become.”

 When I emailed with Sarah, she told me that she had pushed aside her anxiety out of how I might sound to someone else. She’s not the only one. There are so many people that have experienced various traumas, almost all of which are out their control, but yet they take on shame. We are not the problem. It is not our fault. Sarah’s story hit me in the stomach. As children we don’t understand our surroundings and the experiences are created for us. People don’t realize that when children experience violence, that they will become adults who remember and react to violence.

I can not remember a time in my life where I did not have anxiety. My home life was a war zone in my eyes. I was the third of four girls. My mother was a full-time single parent and my dad was as drunk as he could be on a daily basis. We never knew when he would come in smelling of whiskey and ready to yell at my mother. He never was physically abusive, but we watched him verbally abuse my mother for years. We tried to protect her, but four little girls can only do so much.
This home life caused me to be a little girl that was terrified of everything. I would cry as soon as the fire drill went off in class, I would have to held aside to walk with the teacher because the anxiety over took everything I had. I wasn’t afraid of the loud noise or the chance of a fire, I was upset by an unplanned commotion. It reminded me of home and how happiness could be burst like a bubble. My eldest sibling poked fun at me for my anxiety and called me names like cry baby and scaredy cat. As a little girl those names hurt and when you can’t describe why you are so shaken with fear, you then yourself brush it off that you are just being a baby. I can recognize now that I had anxiety issues as a child, and a 2nd grade teacher even wrote to my mother suggesting that I see a child psychiatrist, something my mother felt was not needed, or she just didn’t have the time for. I got better with my anxiety at school but at home it always remained alert.
As I entered middle school my father was sent to prison. He ended up in and out of jail most my teenage life. It was always weird to me because he would get sober there, come out and I would have to get to know a different person. Just for him to turn around and within months to maybe a year be back in jail. We wouldn’t have contact with him other than a shared phone call on the holidays or letters he wrote. I held a lot of resentment towards him. My mother saved us all by staying strong but we watched her suffer a lot. Once my father was out of the picture, my eldest sister took the role of verbal abuser. I watched her treat my mother and siblings like we were garbage, say horrible things to us and insult anything we did.  It didn’t help that we were all chubby in my family. I think my mother felt if we were fed well we were being taken care of. My older siblings had a bigger weight issue than myself and my younger sibling but we all suffered and struggle with it. I can’t even get into all the problems we had though my teenage years. We dealt with suicide threats, cutting, bulimia, anorexia and extreme low self esteem at times. I had thought we had the worst behind us as we all started to become adults. The worst was yet to come.
My sister who shared the middle spot with me was starting to show symptoms of a mental illness. In the next two years we would be on a roller coaster from hell of never knowing if the police or someone would call saying she got in trouble or was sent back to the psych ward. We tried to help her in every way we could. It became more difficult to help because she kept getting into trouble with the law and taking things out of our hands and hers. In May 2014 I came home and saw police cars and ambulances all parked in front of my house. I remember leaving my car parked in the middle of the road as I ran to the door. No officer would let me in, they said they didn’t want me to see her that way and that she was gone. My father was the only one there. He was the man who helped her buy a gun, she convinced him that it was hobby. I was there alone waiting for my mother to get home from work. I had to break the worst news to all my family. I was numb. For the year following I would have breakdowns and depression that I just couldn’t control. My boyfriend (now husband) would try to comfort me but we both knew that neither of us knew what to do.
 Since then my life has continued on but with different struggles. My oldest sister is an alcoholic and my younger sister is basically one foot out the door of never talking to anyone in my family again. It will be five years this May since my sister passed. I always say to my husband, I don’t even know what part of my life has caused me more pain. And I don’t think I ever will. What I have come to realize that helps me is that I can’t control what caused the pain but I can control how I deal with it. I get anxiety and depression to this day and I feel horrible when I think I am not being the partner my husband deserves because I mentally and emotionally am not there. I continue on and refuse to give up.
I believe I need to be strong for my family and try to help keep together what little bits we have left. I do not want to give up. My sister wouldn’t have wanted me to give up. Before she was sick she was every one’s cheerleader. She was brilliant and beautiful and I do not want to let her down. I know she is my little extra push when getting out of bed is the hardest thing for me to do. I have learned from being skinny to being over weight, the scale number never matters. I always want to think it does because it is the only thing I can control. Bad things , anxiety, and depression have all happened to me at all different weights. What I want is to be healthy now and listen to my body and not with a diet. I want to be healthy to keep my mind healthy not look skinny.
I am going to be 31 this Jan, and I want to get it my best yet because I believe I deserve it. Thank you for giving people, including myself, this outlet to express their story. You are an amazing , strong and very intelligent woman. I know I will continue to look forward to your many adventures, stories and personal shares.  I wish you nothing but the best on your journey.

If you or someone you know is at risk for hurting themselves or others please contact the Suicide Prevention Hotline – 1-800-273-8255