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Finding balance

I’m sitting on the beach at a lake in Ohio. As my brother jokes, this has become my new favorite place. 🏖 and in a way, it is. I can get outside, enjoy the sun and disconnect for a bit before going back into the business of everyday life.

And I’m thankful that the beach is only 30 minutes away!

I decided to bring a book today along with my usual snacks. It’s called Body on Fire by Drs. Aggarwal and Rao and I’m already hooked on the first few pages. It goes along perfectly with my desire to find balance, or homeostasis as mentioned in the book. And for me, that’s everything at this point. So many times, I’m going from one thing to the next all day and not resting until it’s time to sleep!

And I’m on a such a mission to regain balance that I recently put in my notice at work without having another job lined up immediately. There’s a travel component that is just too much for me physically as I learn how to manage Ankylosing spondylitis. But the wild thing is that once I made that decision and put in the notice, I started receiving TONS of interview requests; and while that’s a post for a different time, it brings a level of validation that others positively view your skills the way you see your skills but your current place does not.

But, I digress …I am finally saying yes to myself and all that entails. And my yes may look very different from your yes, and that’s okay. Each of us is so unique and it’s time we celebrate our uniqueness in healthy and balanced ways. So as I continue to read, and begin class again next month, I hope to hold this moment to look back on when I don’t always have a moment to pause.

Wishing you all the best from the beach! And check out the book 📖

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Body dysmorphia

I had a recent conversation with a friend who had visited family that same day. The friend mentioned how family members were proud of the weight loss and has kept it off. But my friend made an interesting statement:

I don’t see myself as smaller like they do. I see myself as the size I started at.

Now, I have older pictures with this friend and I KNOW the person has lost weight so I was initially confused at this statement. The person went on to say that a mutual friend is the same way – the second person will always see a larger version. Another surprising statement to me. But then I got to thinking …

While I have lost the weight and kept it off and have had to BUY clothes that are much smaller than where I started, I don’t see myself as a size 8. I don’t see myself at the point where I started; I think I see myself around a size 14. Hard to believe when I have given away all my size 14 clothes. I’m including a picture comparison below from not my highest weight (maybe 30 pounds less) and a picture from last month which is about 95 pounds less.

Again, I don’t see myself as the left picture but when I look at the right picture, I see a size 14 rather than a size 8. The mental aspect of being consciously aware of the present takes time. And I’m working on that, being present in the here and now which includes recognizing where I am now. It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only person even in my friend circle who deals with this. But I am also determined to learn how to deal with body dysmorphia.

Has anyone else learned how to overcome body dysmorphia? It rather reminds me of overcoming imposter syndrome. Can the same strategies be applied? Any feedback is greatly appreciated. Let me know what you think!

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Slashing the Comfort Zone

Source: Shutterstock

I mentioned a few blog posts back that I was invited to be on a panel at a health conference. So this weekend was the panel! It was held in the Santa Cruz area which was my first visit there. I’d definitely go again when it’s a bit warmer.

While I travel and speak to groups for work, this was WAY out of my personal life comfort zone. I’m typically the one behind the scenes or giving contributions through activities like writing- like this blog. Being part of a group was helpful so that I wasn’t the only person sharing my story. Whew! That could’ve been really stressful and anxiety producing but I just took a deep breath and reminded myself why I was there.

In wanting others to be healthier or work toward optimal health, I have to work on the mental health aspect of myself to do so. I’m probably about half extroverted and half introverted so I need time to myself to recharge. I’m not good at small talk but I have had a lot of practice with my current job so I’ve gotten better. Its just that I want to share my health journey with others so that they can know what is possible through proper testing, supplements, quality food, exercise and just living life.

And I was super excited to meet my nutritionist in person. All meetings are conducted virtually because I’m on the east coast and she’s on the west. That may seem odd but it works really well when I made the commitment to change. So after making the changes and having this yearlong journey to be better, meeting her and her team was rewarding.

Me and Robin, my nutritionist

So I didn’t just step out of my comfort zone, I cut a slash into it! And hopefully, this will continue to prepare me for what’s next in my future. Today’s lesson- it’s okay to move outside of my comfort zone sometimes to experience something new. The feeling of accomplishment afterward is a great boost for mental health, at least for me. And visiting a new place is always good! Share a time when you’ve stepped out of your own comfort zone-maybe leaving a comment can be a first step. 🥂 to your good health. Until next time…

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I love love LOVE the holiday season! The festivities, the holiday lights and everyone seems a bit kinder. I included Christmas tree pictures from my recent travels- there were even trees at the gym!

Whether you celebrate the holidays or not, enjoy this time of fellowship and gathering. It’s one of the best remedies for the seasonal blues- laughter, hugs and enjoying others’ company.

But this is also a somber time for many and the holidays can be rough. You are loved, you are heard and you are not alone. We need you and the unique gift that you have to offer.

May you all have a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa and beautiful holiday!

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Mental preparation

I joined several PCOS groups on Facebook and often, the discussions center around weight loss. When you have PCOS, losing weight can be challenging, at best. And many ask for help in these forums, as do many family and friends. They all ask- can someone (or me in particular with family and friends) help me? Can you tell me what diet you’re on? After telling them I follow a paleo type plan (often AIP as well), I let them know what to do first.

Can you guess? It’s not throwing out junk food. Or the number of workouts to complete. Or how to change habits. None of that- well at least initially. No, the first thing that I tell people is that they have to get their minds right. They have to want to make this change more than anything and they need a reason to stick with it.

My reason? Well I had two reasons to make a dramatic change. One- to figure out a way to lessen joint pain. Losing weight is key so that there would be less pressure on my knees. Each pound that I dropped is the equivalent of getting rid of 4 pounds of pressure on my knees! So at 71 pounds, that’s 284 pounds of pressure! THAT’S INSANE!!! My second reason was that I just wanted to feel better. It seemed no matter what I did, I was getting worse and worse. And while I didn’t know exactly what to do at first, I knew that I couldn’t stay where I was.

How did I mentally prepare? I read ALOT. I came across a book entitled 8 steps to reverse your PCOS. I joined the groups on Facebook. I started reading more about alternative therapies and how food is a huge deal for PCOS. I came across Dr. Ken Berry and his YouTube channel about the keto diet. While keto is not the most appropriate plan for me, Dr. Berry’s knowledge and zeal made me do more research. I prayed and cried- the cry part is hard to admit because I’m usually seen as the super strong individual. And I got a new job in which I work remotely which allowed me to rest as needed on my not so well days.

All this prep work led to me finally make the decision to begin working with Robin’s program for PCOS. She is now my nutritionist and I work with her one on one. But what most don’t know is that I followed her email blasts for at least two years before taking the plunge to begin the work. I had to get rid of the old thought pattern that only birth control pills could effectively manage PCOS (as told to me by a PCOS specialist in Baltimore who shall remain nameless). I was floored when the specialist told me that and basically brushed off my questions about diet and alternative therapy.

And I still need my reasons why I continue on this journey, especially when I’m hangry or lacking sleep or feeling emotional or overworked- whatever the situation. I don’t always feel like cooking. I don’t always want to feel and process emotions. I don’t always get enough sleep. And who wants to workout when it’s cold? 🥶 BUT I also don’t want to go backward and be in the state that I was in 1.5 years ago. So I have to follow what I know works most days; I’m not perfect and everyday will not be perfect but I plan around early morning flights or being stuck in an airport with very limited food options. Planning? That’s mental preparation put into action.

I could go on and on but I’ll just say it IS doable. As much as I joke that I don’t do a lot in managing PCOS, most of the work is renewing my mind everyday to do what needs to be done. The journey is worth it. There is a light at the end of the tunnel – better health. And it’s a lifetime journey in which you’ll have to prepare yourself daily. Share with others or leave a note about how you had/have to make mental adjustments. 🥂 to your good health. Until next time…

Source: Instagram
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Outdoors and MH

I love being outdoors. Well let me clarify- I love being outdoors when the sun is shining and the weather is warm or hot. I find that MH (mental health) for me is better when I do. And when mental health is great, then physical and emotional health seem to flow from that. But it took a long time for me to figure that out. And even that was a challenge.

I currently live in a northern part of the United States where it can get cold with short sun light days and snow – not the greatest combo for this Leo! So I head to the gym but that’s not a favorite combo; fluorescent lights versus sunshine. That’s a no brainer. So I read that SAD lights can help by emitting light the emulates the sun and I started using that last fall. And it makes a HUGE difference. But I found that out by doing lots of reading, not because a doctor recommended it to me.

No, my doc recommended what I call “happy pills” to deal with anxiety and being super anxious rather than helping me find out the why- why am I dealing with anxiety? Where did it come from? How long have I been dealing with it? In all my searching, I found that being outdoors works for me, helping to reduce anxiety. I know now that anxiety is a byproduct of PCOS as is depression but so many don’t know they have a hormonal disorder and so many more don’t recognize they’re struggling mentally. And nature is healing. It’s the freest therapy that I can have, leading to my decision to move further south and take advantage of an environment that better suits me.

If there are things in your life inhibiting your mental health, please research, seek help, whatever it takes. And if something doesn’t seem right, keep searching.

Quick note: I started writing this blog post and had to take a break. Before beginning again, I saw a very similar commentary by a Canadian nutritionist that I follow on Instagram. I say that to say- the struggle is real but so are the solutions! If being outdoors is not your thing, then seek the thing that will contribute to mental wellness. Last, I have included pictures from some of my outdoor excursions that I’ve had over the last month. The change in scenery is always refreshing. Until next time!

bike riding in Celebration, Florida
at Clearwater Beach, Florida
Quarry Lake walking trail, Baltimore, MD