Rough Night+Chocolate

Today’s Happy Note: Pandora.  Customizable music stations?  No CDs or MP3s or iPods?  I can listen to whatever I want when I’m studying?  Me likes.

Marathon Training: Yoga class today followed by an easy 4-miler, with 6×100 meter strides in the last mile. Yoga was slow but nice; I definitely felt my legs and hips opening and stretching.  The run was slooooowww.  This is a pattern, following speedwork or long runs, that I have just come to accept.  Meh.

Tonight was rough. Rough.  It started when I decided not to go to my last class.  Then I felt guilty.  Then the guilt was compounded by stress because my INR is too low.  Then there was a laundry fiasco.  Then I was so hangry I almost ate my ears off.  Then the printer wasn’t working properly.  And now my whole left forearm itches.

Blech blech blech.

I’m drowning my sorrows in hulu, some frozen yogurt, and, per my mom’s advice, maybe a bit of meditation.

There is school work to be done.  And it ain’t happenin’ tonight.

So I’m settling into my bed, with my crossword puzzle and some tea.

After blogging, of course. 🙂

Leftover stir-fry topped with avocado.  This stir-fry consisted of sweet potato, onion, broccoli, EVOO, salt and pepper, ginger, tofu, and peanut sauce.  This is one of my fave stir-fry combos ever.

Do you have any fave stir-fry combos?

I reappropriated my leftovers into dinner too!  I wanted to make something else but was too hungry to wait.  Do you ever feel to hungry to cook?  this time, I put the stir-fry into a cup of TJ’s carrot ginger soup with two big handfuls of spinach and ate it stew-style!  Also very successful.

Sometimes I get fro yo and then bring it home and add my own toppings.  Shhhh, don’t tell.  You can’t even see the yogurt under my mess of toppings!  It was half mango/half plain topped with dark chocolate, coconut, and TJ’s cat cookies.

Other food highlights of late:

Chocolate.

Chocolate.

More chocolate.

USB may or may not have given me not one but two boxes of chocolates last weekend.  Did I mention that he wrote me a poem tonight?

Um, yeah.

He’s a keeper, I’m pretty sure.

Goodnight friends! Hopefully when I see you tomorrow I’ll be less stressed!  And happy almost-end-the-week!

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Medical Stuff, Part II, Or “A Slightly Happier Post”

Today’s Happy Note: Perfect fall temperatures!  I’m in love.  The air is warm but also crisp, snappy but gentle.

Marathon Training: We had our first actual “class” of yoga today (I am taking Iyengar Yoga as a P.E. class).  We did not do much at all — it is very, very basic.  We spent the whole hour practicing standing with our feet spread apart and then doing Warrior II, Triangle, and Extended Side Angle.  We finished with some easy bridges.  I wouldn’t call it a workout, but it was a decent stretch that got my hips opening up.  I did about 15 more minutes of stretching and abs afterwards, followed by an easy four mile run.

I didn’t feel awful on the run, but my left hip and hamstring were hurting.  Again.  I really don’t know what to do since it is so inconsistent.  I think that stretching it out a lot helps a bit.  I am praying that it is not present tomorrow for my hill run — running up hills with a hip/hamstring issue is especially hard.  I was supposed to do 6×100 strides at the end of today’s run but I knew that wasn’t going to happen.  I made a lame attempt at doing two of them before realizing that my body just was not having any sort of speediness.  It was probably the slowest run I have done in a long time; maybe 12-ish minute miles?  The funny thing about this is that I didn’t judge myself for it.  I just acknowledged that I was tired, my body/mind were a little off-kilter, and I was slowly but steadily ambling along.  Just like that, I didn’t care.  I’m proud of myself for that!

In other running-related news: I am ravenous. I am trying really hard to photograph everything because it is VERY useful for me to mentally keep track.  I did well today minus several handfuls (about two servings) of TJs cat cookies, aka animal crackers for grown-ups.

I made an awesome fall feast for dinner!

We have half of a steamed delicata squash smothered in cinnamon, a pile of baked tofu (coated in TJ’s peanut vinaigrette, maple syrup, and ginger) and roasted carrots and okra (coated in EVOO, salt, and pepper).  This is pretty much fall seasonal eating perfection. It was a pretty tasty (and easy!) meal.  Yum.

Medical Stuff, Part II

So.  Yesterday I talked about science and medicine and my body and how the intersections thereof can be a little bit inexplicable.  Read that here. Thank you for all of your kind comments/emails!  It is heartening to know I am not the only person in the world who has these subtle-but-also-overwhelming problems.

Today I kind of want to look at the issue(s) from a psychological/mental health standpoint.

I have always equated being overweight with moral failure.  I never accepted the fact that, for some individuals, there might be other factors at play.  Until it happened to me.

Here I am, 10-15 pounds too heavy.  For me, losing a pound is an uphill battle.  Fought with medieval instruments.  While blindfolded.  And standing on my head.  Okay, you get the picture — it is harder than it should be.  Once my body acquires a pound, that pound is not going to leave without a serious fight. Usually, I just end up psychically wounded and the pound(s) stay(s).

I am so tremendously tired of this.  But here’s the thing: I accept that there are processes happening in my body right now that are beyond my control. Even if there were factors totally within my control (for example, if I were doing serious emotional eating — I’m not, but you get the point), it doesn’t matter: the point is that this emotional battle with my body, at this moment in time, needs to end.

I think that within a few months, possibly after I get things sorted out with endocrinology and gynecology, or after the marathon, my body just might settle back into its natural happy weight on its own (for me this happens to be between 145-155 pounds; I have a medium-sized frame and a fair amount of muscle).

The most important thing for me, in this moment, has nothing to do with science or medicine or numbers of pounds or calories.  It has to do with stopping the judgement and the self-hatred.  Being overweight (ever so slightly) is not a moral failure for me, or for anyone else.  I believe that different people actually have different sizes at which they are healthy.  For me, this size happens to be at the upper end of “normal.”  For some, this might be a bit above “normal.” L was telling me last week how the BMI scale isn’t necessarily considered perfectly accurate or all-encompasing anymore anyways.  I would venture to guess that I am more healthy than a woman who eats mostly processed foods and sits on the couch all day but is at a “normal” weight.  I run ultramarathons, for Christ’s sake.

Kate wrote a lovely post today that really resonated with me, about disordered eating and body-consciousness.  Unfortunately, for many women, these are all-consuming things.  That has certainly been the case for me.  I am not sure I understand why.  Do I think that I will be a more perfect woman if I weigh 145 pounds versus 165 pounds?  Will I become more caring, compassionate, creative, prolific, loving?  I would hazard to guess that the answer is an emphatic “no.”  I am Caronae, no matter what I weigh.  I have an essence beyond my body.  Kate said the following, in describing the hatred, the disordered eating, the obsession that happens to so many women in our society:

“If you don’t understand, it can’t be explained to you.”

So perfect.  So true.  It’s like a club — a club that, sadly, most women are members of.

That was so hard for me to say.  That there is something about me that has nothing to do with my body.  Think about all the things I could be accomplishing if all my physical concerns went away.  I’m going to say it again.

There is something about me, something uniquely Caronae-ish, that has nothing to do with my body, whatever my weight may be. I accept the chaos that is happening inside and outside of me right now.  I accept the stress, the confusing medication regimen, the grueling running schedule, my way of eating, my fucked-up homrones.  I accept all of that.  I accept it because I know that I am something more than that. I might not be exactly sure what this “essence of Caronae” is, but I know, in my heart that it exists.  That she exists.

Therapy Thoughts: Body Hatred

Today’s Happy Note: Had a wonderful little “me” day.  I did what I wanted — lifted weights, tried some new recipes,  had an amazing, teary, breakthrough therapy sesh, baked, napped, and read.  I took care of me in a way that I haven’t done in a while.

Marathon Training: I made it through 8 hilly miles yesterday.  My legs felt very tight for some reason, and no amount of stretching breaks seemed to help.  Meh.  At least it got done.  The general arc of my training plan is the same from week to week:

Sunday: long run

Monday: rest (weights/cross train/yoga)

Tuesday: speed work

Wednesday: short, easy run with 100 meter strides (3-5 miles)

Thursday: medium long run with hills

Friday: rest (weights/cross train/yoga)

Saturday: short, easy run (4-6 miles)

Pretty straightforward, no?  It has been working for me quite well, minus the nagging pain in the back left hip.  I have been making sure to rest and stretch.  I suppose I could ice as well (the guys at one of the delis near me have been giving me small bags of ice that fit in my freezer for a dollar!!!!!).  In the next one or two weeks, I plan on adding a sixth day of running in, probably on Fridays, just 3-6 easy miles.  I will hit 41 miles this week, and would like to inch up to 50-55 over the next month, until mid-October when I “peak”, then taper.  I have done a great job of increasing mileage slowly — I started around 25.  I just think it is going to be very hard to get to 50-55 miles per week on 5 days of running.  As long as the hip isn’t bothering me too much, I think I will take it up to six.

Thoughts?  Anyone trained on six days a week before?  What has been your peak mileage, if you’re a runner?

I know I have hit 55 before, maybe even 58-60.   I am definitely capable of it.  I went ahead and took the rest day today.  I lifted weights for an hour or so, which felt great.

I came home and had my first-ever blended hot cereal creation a la Katie!

Okay, so I freely admit that it does not look like the most appetizing thing you have ever seen.  But holy amazing. This was easily the best way I have ever eaten my breakfast grains! I made a big batch of quinoa last night.  This morning I used about 1.5 servings — I simply dumped it in the blender, added about another 1/2 cup vanilla almond milk, 1/2 cup water, a generous sprinkling of cinnamon, and a scoop of vanilla protein powder.  Then I blended and tossed in a sprinkle of xantham gum.  When it was thoroughly blended, I poured it into a bowl and heated, then topped with sunbutter.

I thought I loved grains before.  I think I might be in love with them now.  This just took it to the next level.  Hello creaminess, volume, and gloriousness.  You must try this, if you are a breakfast grain eater (and who isn’t???).

Thank you Chocolate-Covered Katie! You’re my whole-grain hero.

Other food endeavors today involved Angela’s salt-kissed chunky PB chocolate chip cookies.  I didn’t end up kissing them with salt though, as I am not a huge salt fan.  I also subbed AB for the PB and used an egg instead of the canola oil, which worked fine.  I didn’t mean to de-veganize it, but I had no canola oil and thought EVOO would taste weird.

The verdict?  I loved them!  These cookies managed to do something few cookies can do: they tasted healthy and earthy and not overly-sweet, but were also indulgent and satisfying. Cookie perfection, pretty much.

Bonus: they’re super easy — those two bowls contained all the ingredients (minus the chocolate chips).  I’m pretty sure a 12 year old boy could do this.

The dough was really fun to shape into balls.  I added about a billion extra chocolate chips. 🙂

I enjoyed one warm and fresh with vanilla almond milk.  This was one of the best Cookie Friday’s ever!

Lots of delicious food today — my mind and body feel nourished!

Onto heavier things…(FYI: this post is heavily focused on weight and body image — if these things are upsetting to you or not helpful in your recovery, please please please skip this section).

Therapy Thoughts

Today was a wonderful, amazing, painful breakthrough day.  It hurt very, very much.  It might have been the most pain I have ever felt during the moment of therapy, but afterwards, I felt like this giant burden was gone from me. Like a little bird had carried it away, across a mountain, never to return again.  Today was sort of like a raging river, with no bridge across it: I had to go through it to get to the other side.  There was no alternate route, no detour.  The river was big and scary and it hurt.  I felt like I was going to drown.  But L was there with me.  It was sort of like I knew I couldn’t drown with her there, but I came as close to drowning as one can — I could feel the water welling up against all the sides of me.

That was dramatic.  But today was a dramatic day, obviously.  One that I need very much to write about and share with you all.

Today was the day that I finally completely and totally opened up to L (and myself, in a way) about my body-hatred and my struggles with my weight and my eating.  I have always been open with you guys, but never to this extent.  In fact, there are some things about this journey that I have not and probably will not tell you all.   Forgive me.  The body is the most personal space.

The anguish I feel over my weight (which is approximately 10-15 pounds above what I would ideally like it to be right now, and a few pounds above the uppermost limit of the “healthy” BMI) is greater than any other anguish I feel (0r have felt) in my life.  There is nothing that makes me want to die as much as the shape and size of my body does.

I feel tremendous guilt over this; it’s ridiculous.  I am an educated, smart, creative, lovely young person with many many talents and all I can think about is my body, sometimes.  For God’s sake, I study human rights: I know all about the real horrors that are happening in this world (genocide, gang rape, starvation) and my weight is not one of them.

As I spoke with L — sobbed to her is more accurate, actually — she was simultaneously gentle and compassionate and firm and serious.  It was a miraculous combination.  Somehow, in some way, her responses made it clear to me the ways in which I am judging myself.  And it isn’t very nice.  I would never, ever even think these things about another person.  So why is it that my 15 extra pounds incapacitate me?  Why do I feel morally reprehesnible and irresponsible and disgusting?

Well, of course, I don’t know exactly why I have come to feel this way — why this is the only way I have understood my body, since early adolescence.  Maybe it is related to the face that I am not (and never will be) naturally thin.  That is simply not the way I am built.  I have spent the last five years trying to change that.  Recovering from the pulmonary embolism has showed me that life isn’t fair.  My body isn’t fair.  I eat well.  Sometimes I overeat.  But I can run ultramarathons.  I can run 50 miles a week and lift weights and do yoga.  I love vegetables.  So why me?  I think “why me” is the wrong question and “when can I start loving myself regardless of the shape of my body” is the right question.

I have never actually been suicidal, but I have wanted to die.  Because of my body.  What is this world coming to that someone as talented and smart as I am wants to die because of the way she looks?  More importantly, what is happening in my world that makes me want to die because of my looks?

Between the now-uncontrolled PCOS (I can not take hormones now or ever again because of the PE), the sudden ending of the birth control pills, the stress, the physical recovery, and a few other things, my body is out of whack right now.  There are, quite simply, things beyond my control.  As I was sitting on the couch, rocking back and forth,. holding my face in my hands, so distraught that I couldn’t speak — I realized, clearly and distinctly, that I have to change the way I think about my body.  Certainly there are moments when I like myself, physically.  But there are many more moments where I despise my thighs or my breasts or my neck or the space just above my elbow.

And these moments are only hurting me more.  Now that I say it out loud, it sounds obvious.  But hating myself only sucks out more energy and makes me feel worse.  These 15 pounds do not represent my life.  I am so much more than 15 fucking pounds.

FYI: I am NOT suicidal, by any means, at this moment.  If you think you need help, please get help — you deserve to live. I have a list of resources on my Mental Health page, here. Although I am NOT a health professional, you are always welcome to email me as well.

Transition Stress/Long Run/Meat

Today’s Happy Note: My day involved plenty of chocolate.  Always a good thing.

Mental Health Note: Transitions, of any sort, are always stressful and tricky for me.  At this point in my life, I have come to accept that, and instead of trying to pretend that the stress isn’t there (and thereby making it much, much worse), I just acknowledge it and do my best to soothe myself.  I find moving around — which, unfortunately, happens a lot in college — not just physically exhausting, but emotionally draining as well.  I get attached to places.  I go back and forth between NYC and Michigan (and sometimes Canada) quite frequently.  I am in NYC right now, but have to move back into my dorm.  I’m also making a shift from full-time worker to full-time student and part-time worker.  My life patterns are not all that different during the school year, which helps to ease my mind.  I know that I will still eat oats with nut butter or smoothies for breakfast.  I know that I will find some time in the day to squeeze my run in and that I will make time for friends and life outside of school.

All this is to say that the stress is creeping up on me already — I can see and feel it. It sort of drapes its way around me and sits on my heart and body like a heavy scarf.  I move into my dorm room on Saturday and start classes Tuesday.  I have been mentally preparing myself.  One thing I find very helpful is finding room for extra sleep during my day/night.  Stress often leaves me sleepy-tired, and if I can either sleep 9 hours at night or 7-8 hours at night with a nap in the late afternoon, I am much happier and calmer.  Other things that help include lots of self-care (doing stuff like painting my nails, getting a massage, strolling in the park and looking at the flowers, etc.), reaching out to people I love, and eating delicious but clean foods.

How do you deal with life transitions — physically or emotionally or occupationally?  How do you relieve the stress/anxiety/tension? I love consistency, but I understand that, for the next few years, my life will not necessarily be straightforward.  I am learning how to find the excitement in this.

I got my run in this evening!  It was way too hot at the beginning, but eventually cooled down with a nice breeze. I did ten miles and actually felt really great during it.  I held about a 10 minute per mile pace, but was probably around 9:30 at some points.  I feel like I may finally be back up to pre-hospital strength!  Yay!  I also lifted weights for a quick 30 minutes.

Long run eats:

I’m not showing everything because I think it’s boring.  But I have done a good job keeping track.  And I don’t have a picture since I only just made it, but I am currently eating a delicious chocolate banana smoothie with TJ’s dark chocolate in a nut butter jar.  Nut butter jars make everything better. Seriously, I would be so thrilled if I got my Christmas and birthday presents in (clean) nut butter jars from now on.  It would be so cute!  I’m pretty sure my relatives already think I’m a weird foodie though, so I probably will go ahead and *not* make that request…

Lunch was kinda epic: steamed carrots/yellow squash, green grapes/cherry mix, and a turkey/cheddar/avocado wrap on a TJ’s multigrain tortilla.  I have a lunchtime sandwich fear, for some odd reason.  But on longer run days, I find it helpful to have a sandwich for the extra carbs/calories.  It works out perfectly fine because, when eating more earlier in the day, I eat less in the evenings.

Awesome new snack!  TJ’s (do you see a TJ’s them here?  Hmmmm….) peanut butter crunchy granola bar.  This was a tad sweet but definitely tasty.

Dinner involved more meat — apple chicken sausage, in honor of my sister (it’s one of her favorite foods, but I also really like it as well) with a GIANT salad of romaine, peppers, avocado, and TJ’s peanut vinaigrette (LOVE).  I had okra fries a la Meghann on the side.  They were actually really good.  When I cut up veggies like carrots, squash, or, in this case, okra, into fry form and bake them, I am not intending them as a fry replacement.  I just like roasted veggies.  But these were actually legitimately fry-like!  I coated them in salt, pepper, and EVOO and baked at 400 for about 30-ish (maybe 40?) minutes.  Okra=my new friend.  Oh, and if you are wondering why it’s dark in the above photo that’s because it’s purple okra!  I love veggies in fun colors.

Hello, okra.  You can come over for dinner anytime you want.  Have you had okra?  Do you like it?

Meaty talk:

I don’t eat a lot of meat.  But I think it can be a very healthy part of a diet and I will probably never go vegetarian. I do believe in ethical, moderate meat consumption.  I get as much of it as I can from the farmer’s market or other local, natural, and/or organic sources.  I just realized, while posting, that I had meat twice today! Turkey at lunch and chicken sausage at dinner.  And you know what?  I feel great. The protein and fat really work wonders for me.

I like all kinds of protein sources.  My favorites: salmon, shrimp, steak, turkey, tofu, lentils, black beans, tempeh, whole grains, greek yogurt, veggie burgers, cottage cheese, nut butters, and certain protein powders.

Your fave protein sources?

Bedtime for this stressed chica.  Goodnight friends! 🙂

Therapy Tuesday

Today’s Happy Note: Despite my long, stressful day I was able to consciously take some time for myself.  I got up early to do a little workout and ate a quick dinner when I got home at nine so I could read/blog/read blogs. These few small moments have made a big difference in my anxiety level (compared to the middle of the day).

So. I ended up at four different doctors today.  Four.  That’s more doctor’s appointments than I would like in a year. Yuck.  I had two in the morning, then therapy, then went to my office for a whopping half hour, scarfed lunch, then headed to see my doctor for lab stuff, then went to another doctor/radiology for more labs, then rushed to my other job.  So, long day.  Not a bad day, just exhausting, physically and emotionally.

The first doctor I saw (reproductive endocrinology) was The.  Biggest.  Bitch. Ever.  She treated me like I was a complete idiot who knew nothing about my condition or my body, was shockingly rude, and did a hurried and poor physical exam.  She tossed all my questions about fertility aside.  I’m not really one to complain about these things, but my hormones are one of the major components of my health affected by the PE and I just don’t want them to be screwed up.  I have PCOS, I cannot now (or ever again) take birth control or any other hormones, and I have concerns about how this will affect my ability to make babies in the future.  I think that’s valid.  She told me that concern was irrelevant, and didn’t hardly even explain why.  She then spent the rest of the visit screaming at me to lose weight, which I had told her at the very beginning I was trying to do.  She seemed to have little concern for my psychologically precarious position regarding weight and body image.

The other doctors were wonderful and understanding though.  I still need to have a lot more tests done to determine the cause of the PE.

Meh.  Not documenting all the eats today because I need to write about therapy.  But I kept track and didn’t do any unnecessary snacking.

I know I have some new readers out there!  In case any of you are wondering what Therapy Tuesday is: I go to therapy with my lovely (although sometimes we clash) psychologist L.  It has been a very important experience to me.  I know that people often don’t “get” therapy or just don’t know what it’s about.  For me, it has meant several things: I have someone who consistently cares about me, listens to me, and thinks about me; I have someone to relate to, vent to, or cry to, every week, rain or shine; I have someone who helps me understand  how the different pieces of my life fit together; I have someone who wants me to live a happy and satisfying life and will do anything to help me get there.

I usually write about both the content and the process of each session.  I don’t always share it all on the blog, for obvious reasons, although I am pretty open about it, so please feel free to ask me questions about my experience or what therapy is like.  I think it’s really important to record my feelings and thoughts from the session and from after the session.

Therapy Tuesday

The overarching theme of today was dealing with stress in healthy ways (although that is a slight oversimplification).  I have had a lot of stressors lately: being so ill, family issues, anxiety/panic about work, confusion about the future/law school, and just generally feeling a bit run down by my busy summer (not to mention the stressful doctor’s appointments I had just come from). I told L about all these things.  We had a nice back and forth thing going today.  I love that she actually talks to me and doesn’t just sit there like a piece of wood.  So I would talk a little bit about a stressor and then we would look more closely at what it felt like, what it reminded me of, how I might respond.  I felt like our conversation, particularly her responses, was very direct today (which is nice), but also very intimate/emotional.  I didn’t cry at all.  That hasn’t happened in a long time.

We also talked about how I connect with the people I love in my life.  How I reach out to them and how I perceive them and how they might perceive me.  It’s sort of funny; we tend to think that we are always doing everything “right” in a relationship, but it is so easy to overlook the intricacies of the other person’s feelings, thoughts, and concerns.  I think it’s important to really think about how our actions affect those around us, and how we might be more compassionate (always).  I am not so good at this yet, it’s just a seedling of a thought in my head right now. Friends and family are truly lifelines.

It sort of felt like we kept reaching dead ends today – we would talk about one thing and look at my feelings or concerns and then have trouble connecting that to something else.  But I don’t know that that was really the case.  Instead, I would say that we simply leafed through a lot of different “pages.”  It wasn’t necessarily disconnected, and I wasn’t uncomfortable.  Feeling physically comfortable in the moment of discussion is very important.  I have gotten better and better at this – there were times in the past where I would just sort of sit in the far corner of the couch, away from L, and not look at her, and just sort of be in my own little world.  It sounds a bit hokey, but I feel like our little physical worlds are connecting more and more, and I think that this means our emotional worlds are moving closer and closer together as well.

One other thing we talked about was yoga.  I was telling L about my newfound discovery that soothing myself or talking myself down or doing nice things for me is “allowed.” She pointed out that it’s okay for me to feel all those stresses mentioned above (they aren’t just going to disappear!), but I can learn to just be with them and not have them take over my life.  In order to do this, it is helpful to be kind to myself.  At some point she sort of randomly asked me if I do yoga.  Looking back, it wasn’t so random, since we were talking about being kind to myself and learning how to manage my feelings, and I feel like those things are absolutely tied to yoga.  I told her yes and we had a whole wonderful conversation about that: what it means to me, why I like it, what sort I like to do, when, how often, what the class is like, what the spiritual and emotional components are like.  Her curiosity made me curious and I asked her if she does yoga.  She said that she does.  We talked some more about each of our practice.  It was really nice to connect with over this.  It just felt soothing, or right, or comfortable.  And the truth is that yoga has helped both my mind and my heart grow so much in the last year or two.

The Sneaky Hate Spiral: Antidote

Today’s Happy Note: Got a lot of work done!  I was in my office from 9-4 (very productive!) and then did stuff for my other job (phone calls and computer work) from 4-5 and 7-9 (hit the gym in between!).  About ten hours total, which is a lot, but I don’t feel so overhwelmed, and not feeling overwhelmed is the best feeling in the world.

Happy Note #2: This post from Joanne.  I thought I was the only young twenty-something woman who wanted to go on real dates!  Apparently there are other people who are not into the frat party make-out scene and who don’t consider sloppy drunken dancing romantic.  Yay, I’m not alone!

Okay.  So.

Have you ever read Hyperbole and a Half? It’s definitely one of the funniest blogs on the Internets.  If you’re ever feeling down, the first thing you should do is go there.  My point in all this is to reference the ubiquitous Sneaky Hate Spiral post.

Allie describes it better than I ever could, but in sum: the SHS occurs when a bunch of little, annoying things start building up and you get more and more angry until an explosion results.  My SHS began first thing this morning when I woke up fifteen minutes before I was supposed to be at work.  I have been doing this thing lately where I wake up to my alarm, press snooze a few times, then press “dismiss” (i.e., “off”) and close my eyes and think “oh I’ll just lie here for another minute.”  Then, of course, a minute turns into a half an hour.  So I woke up at 8:45.  I was only fifteen minutes late though!

Anyways, the SHS continued with the worst headache of my life accompanied by a terrible feeling of misalignment in my spine and neck.  It felt like someone had twisted up my back like a rope.  And the head pain:I  felt like I was 50 feet underwater (I used to be a diver and regularly dove down to the bottom of a 20 foot pool; this was approximately 2.5 times worse).

There honestly weren’t that many other serious things, but the headache just magnified every tiny nuissance.  I ran over my big toe with a cart at work.  Then I dropped an interview and all the pages fell out and came out of order and I had to put them all back in by hand.  Then I started getting really angry at L (who I didn’t even see today) and could not stop thinking about how much I suck at therapy.  Things just sort of continued in this pattern.

But then.  I only had twenty five minutes to book it home from work and make it to the gym before five (I have a student membership, so I can’t go between 5-7:30 BUT I can go at 4:58.  Ha.).  I was determined to get there, if only so that I didn’t feel guilty later on.  I was just going to make myself get on the elliptical and sweat it out for 30 or 40 minutes.

When I arrived, I noticed that there was a 5:30 kickboxing class.  I thought, “why not?”  I lifted for about 25 minutes and then headed in.

I think this kickboxing class changed my life.  Let me restate this:

I am in love, my friends.  Sadly, there are no boys involved in this relationship (unless the super hot instructor counts).  But there is me: a very strong, sweaty me.  I have no idea what happened in that 50 minutes but the SHS snapped.  And not only did I rid myself of the SHS monster, I left happy. It was a deep, pervasive happiness that I haven’t felt in a long time.  I am not sure if the relief came from the hundreds and hundreds of punches into the punching bag or the me time, or what.  But a little thing inside me clicked.  I realized that I can manufacture my own happiness. And maybe this means going to a kickboxing class, rather than coming into some sort of serene internal peace.  I don’t care.  Happiness is happiness, and I’ll take what I can get.

I left the class headache-free and practically glowing.  At the beginning, as I was looking in the mirrors, I was fiercely angry at my body — “why can’t my thighs be smooth, and why do I have this massive bump of fat on my stomach, and why are my breasts so painfully large?”  At the end, I actually felt a confidence in my body that has not been around in a long time. I felt so strong; like I could take on the world.  I felt better than I ever have lifting weights or pounding away on the elliptical (both of which are considerably fun).  I felt like I could actually see my muscles firming up.

I was no longer angry at L.  I was no longer angry at myself.  The anger just poured out of my body.  And I am so unbelievably thrilled.  And content.  Right now.

Have you ever had a workout that left you feeling strong, confident, and healthy?  Has a workout ever turned your day around completely?

The eats:

Swirly raspberry overnight oats.

I refuse to give up my once-weekly diet Snapple with aspartame.  I have a little pile of empty bottles that I’m stashing behind my computer at work — I don’t think that we have a glass recycling container and I am feeling too lazy to take them outside.

Monster leftovers lunch topped with a two-egg puff and a side of granola bar.  Snacked on a TJ’s single-serving bag of trail mix before my workout and many handfuls of WF chocolate cherry trail mix afterwards (SO good!).

Blueberry-banana smoothies are so good.  I was craving a muffin, so I walked to WF to get one (theirs are always good and fresh).  I meant to just get a muffin, bananas, and a non-dairy milk.  I left with said muffin, coconut milk, dark chocolate, dried mango, mushrooms, trail mix, and coconut milk.  The muffin is chocolate chip.  Nom!

Dessert was a few pieces (this is a really small container) of banana chip bread with melted dark chocolate.

Mmmmm, meltable.

Overall, today was a bad day that turned into a good one!

Have you ever had a Sneaky Hate spiral day?  How do you get rid of it? Sometimes I feel like you just have to let it run its course…

Also: Mama Pea (one of my most favorite bloggers; she is so sweet) is giving away a cookbook! Check it out.

Therapy Tuesday

Today’s Happy Note: Walking through the evening air after a very long day.  It had just rained and it totally cleared my head and calmed me down.  The night sky is the most wonderful deep purple in summer and I feel like the stars are shining especially for me.

Workout: Squeezed in a quick 3.5 mile run in the late afternoon.  Also probably walked another 3 miles throughout the day.  Still having trouble waking up early to workout.  *Sigh*, maybe next week.

Therapy Tuesday:

Today was a bit confusing.  Both stressful and soothing — it was a difficult day to begin with because I had a lot to do for both jobs, and getting deep into my inner thoughts and self was a sort of added pressure.  I ended up taking part of the afternoon off work, which helped me get my thoughts straight.

Part of the reason I felt overwhelmed was that our conversation was all over the place.  I just had a lot on my mind and we sort of bounced around.  This is usually okay, but today it just added to the stress snowball!  There was a common theme though: punishing myself/feeling consistently bad about myself and believing that I deserve to feel consistently bad.  This came through in everything we talked about — from my sleep patterns to my relationship with my father.  It’s not a feeling that’s always there, but it is present in so many things I do and it is not soothing nor is it productive.  One thing I am eternally grateful to L for is pointing out moments when I judge myself.  Which is pretty much all the time.  L likes to emphasize that both the frequency and intensity of my feeling bad/sad can and will be lessened.  I believe her and trust her a lot but don’t feel so hopeful/confident myself.  I guess I do believe that I can grow and change and relate better to others, it’s just that feeling bad/sad is what I know.  Learning how to feel good more often (I do sometimes, as L reminded me!) is scary.  I am not sure what this might mean.  It sounds fun, but I’m apprehensive.  I think that, looking at the bigger picture, I have already moved towards feeling good/happy more in the past 9 months with L.  So a part of me is hopeful that I can feel that way more often.

“Bad” Caronae looks like: not fun, too loud, unloveable, gloomy, too shy around others, unattractive.  “Good” Caronae looks like the real me; it’s how I actually feel when I do believe in myself: tall, nice hair, creative, funny, active, loving, kind, fun to be around.

I feel like I am unhappy or “bad” because a part of me deserves this; like that’s how I’m meant to be.  I told L a story about some of my sleep problems lately — nightmares/waking up all night and oversleeping in the morning, then stressing out about it all the rest night — and concluded by saying something along the lines of “and therefore this is bad and I am bad.”  While this seemed like an obvious connection to me, she didn’t buy it.  It was refreshing to hear her say that a  minor disruption or disturbance in my life is okay.  I can manage these things.  They do not mean I am a bad person nor do they have to make a bad day.  I definitely replicate this kind of situation all the time in my everyday life.

L is always telling me to “just sit” or “be” with my feelings but I have had trouble understanding this.  Today I asked her to explain what she meant: she said that by experiencing our feelings and then letting them pass, eventually, we learn that we can deal with them and they will be less intense in the future.  The thing is: I am already a pretty intense “feeler”.  I spend a lot of time feeling things — that’s part of the reason I can’t sleep half the time!  Am I doing something wrong?  Am I not feeling things properly?  Am I somehow secretly turning away from my feelings?  I just feel confused because if (a) feeling things or being with my feelings is truly supposed to make things better and (b) I already do this then (c) what am I supposed to do and (d) why hasn’t it worked before?

L accused me of trying to change the subject at one point when I was talking about my feelings surrounding father’s day.  I find father’s day upsetting and difficult and it always leaves me unsettled.  I have been totally out of it the last few days thinking about it.  What it means to be a father or a daughter.  To relate to our parents.  To forgive past mistakes.  Obviously, it was uncomfortable to talk about these things.  Maybe I was trying to change the subject.  I don’t know.  I guess I’m just not really sure what “sitting with” my feeling in this instance would mean.  I know that I talk about things a lot — I acknowledge what’s going on with me; I am honest with L.  I am just not sure what else I must do…

It’s kind of funny writing this.  I feel like I am judging myself and using a lot of good/bad and right/wrong thinking.  L hates this kind of thing!  She would tell me I’m not doing anything wrong at all and that whatever path is unfolding before me is the one that is supposed to be there.  Maybe I need to have faith in that.  At the same time, I am just so anxious to improve or get better. But I am also beginning to have a major realization — therapy might not be about “improving” or “getting better.” Rather, maybe it’s about just exploring and relating with L.  I think I want to trust myself and not be so obsessed with changing.  Many people like me the way I am, and I know that I will have opportunities to meet new friends and mates in my life.  I think I have some faith, at this moment, that L is helping me learn and grow in new directions.  Certainly I have worked hard to explore and talk and discover.

Sometimes meditating a bit helps me at times like this.  It helps me remember that, as L points out during the bad times, things aren’t always bad.

I feel like if I weren’t “bad” or “deserving punishment” someone would love me, romantically speaking.  It’s frustrating to feel like no one wants to be with you and that you’re no fun.  It seems useful to understand the origins of my feelings; why I feel a certain way at a certain time.   But I feel frustrated about the lack of romantic love in my life all the time. Outside of a date once or twice a year, it really is all the time.  I am not sure if this is something that will simply pass in a year or two (or a month or two).  I truly don’t know.  I do know that I don’t like it.  That I want to love and be loved.  And, going back to something I said earlier, I think I just want to have faith in my ability to grow, and the possibility of good things happening.

It is nice to hear L tell me that things will be better.  This is encouraging.  I feel frustrated that my bad/sad self seems tied to so many relationship problems (family, friends, romance).  But I am beginning to believe in me.  That’s a start.

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