Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Voices in my head…

It’s like a grand conspiracy. Every time I have sat down to make a blog post for the last several days something has happened and I haven’t made a post.

I am in a state of flux right now - minute by minute telling myself that I really am doing okay, and in the next telling myself that I am a complete disaster. As the cooler weather has descended on us that bring with it two issues that I have to address. One is pulling out a whole new set of clothes to find that they don’t fit and the subsequent barrage of self-hatred and an emotional meltdown. The second is a yearly thing that I have battled for YEARS and I know a lot of you out there do, too - as fall and winter approach there is the desire to come home, bury myself in thick blankets and not move. Except to eat - I can ALWAYS find motivation for that!!

So knowing that these issues are staring me right in the face, I’ve tried to take the focus off my weight specifically and the demands of what I “should” be doing workout wise and concentrate on what it means to be happy and healthy.

My friend and I were talking about the whole Extrovert - Introvert thing. I am quite clearly an Extrovert. What I have always thought that I am unique in is the fact that at times when I am not in a social setting that I retreat deeply into my own mind. Turns out that is quite common in a lot of Extroverts. It can be a very lonely place when you have a constant internal dialog which is often pretty mean to you. I told my friend that if I had someone in my life who talked to me the way I talk to myself I would totally get rid of them - but how do you get rid of yourself?

Well, one way is to get the hell out of my head. I have concentrated on not drifting - on being fully present in what I am doing. For example I took Archer for a run last night. And instead of putting on the headphones and just mindlessly running to get it over with - to “earn” what I was going to eat for dinner, I went without headphones. I focused hard on my breathing and the way my body felt. I watched Archer running alongside me. I tried to smell the fall air.

I think I have been this way for a very long time. Being hugely outgoing and then, when not around a lot of people, going way into myself. Half paying attention to everything else going on around me… I watch TV and 5 minutes later have no idea what the show was about.

What the heck does this have to do with weight loss? Well, when I was reading about extroverts that have this issue, some articles talked about people like Chris Farley and Robin Williams. Is there really that much difference between Chris Farley coming home after KILLING it on Saturday Night Live and while alone in his apartment snorting a boatload of cocaine and me coming home after talking all day with clients and standing in front of an open jar of peanut butter shoveling it into my mouth mindlessly? I don’t know that those things are totally different from one another!  It’s all part of an addiction process.

Maybe if I am not so absorbed into my self - analyzing, over analyzing, debating, questioning - I can get myself back together. I’ve tried so many things lately but sooner or later something has to click, right???


Saturday, September 24, 2016

A goal met...

Late last year, I heard some people talking about "the metric century".  Apparently that's a pretty common challenging distance for cyclists to travel.  There are even some races of that distance.  Of course we are talking 100 km (62 miles).

The longest distance I had ever biked was around 54 miles.  I decided that this year I would try to do a metric century.  That was a summer's goal.

Then?  Shit happens, and goals don't always get met.  Chakotay got sick, plans got interrupted, it rained or it was unbearably windy... The goal was never hit.

Now backing up for a minute, this week was complete chaos.  We had another graduation for my clients and I was crazy busy.  I felt out of control at times, and my stress and anxiety skyrocketed.  And when it was over, I crashed.  I don't know that I had been holding it together that well, but I don't know that I have totally dealt with Chakotay's death - that he is gone.  Although these things come in waves, too as many of you know.  I was DONE.

I felt defeated and unbearably sad.  About everything.  And so I looked at me.  My life, my past, my goals.  I can't control everything at once.  But there was a goal sitting out there.  One simple goal.

So at 9:40 this morning I got on my bike.  I started to ride.  My goal was 62 miles in under 4 hours.  I rode around 2 local points that jut into Lake Ontario.  The lake was calm and beautiful.  I tried to be fully present in the moments rather than all up in my head.  I waved at runners and fellow bikers.  

3 hours and 54 minutes later I pulled into our driveway at 62.04 miles.

It wasn't all that spectacular of a time, and it's not like 62 miles is some amazing feat, but it was a goal met.  And the ride gave me a lot of time to think.  When I got back I showered and then went outside with a hot mug of coffee, a banana, and sat in the warm fall sun throwing a ball for Archer, and in that space of time it felt somehow like I had had a breakthrough.

More to come on that note...

Monday, September 19, 2016

Agony of da feets!

Remember way back in April when I went to Urgent Care and the PA yelled at me for running “at my age”? At that time I had self-diagnosed myself with a “stone bruise”. After x-rays were done and that PA told me that she found no structural issues, and a stone bruise “might be” it, but that she could refer me to a physical therapist, I assumed that my degree I got on Web MD was accurate and have not been to a doc since then. 

I also never followed through with the physical therapist, and I have been battling pain since that time. The pain is mild compared to what I went thought when my IT Band was fucked up and is nothing compared to the constant overwhelming battle I had with my Achilles.

I bought wide width running sneakers and putting in most of my miles on the lesser impact treadmill has helped. And every night, while stretching, I vigorously deep massage into the ball of my foot - with my thumbs and with a lacrosse ball. I also have been using the TENS unit - which I still use several nights a week on my Achilles - on the ball of my foot.

But still there has been pain. Right in the ball of my foot. While I’m running some, but afterwards quite a bit. Wearing high heels makes it worse.  The toe right next to the big toe has been bent awkwardly down and both bending it and trying to straighten it has caused pain both in that toe and the ball of the foot.

A smart person would follow up with a doctor or physical therapist. Or they would stop running. That’s what a smart person would do - which I am not.

At the 10K race I did a couple of weeks ago, I was talking with a fellow runner who has had her share of running injuries. We were talking about how running is so good for you but certainly takes its toll on the body. She told me that she had been running with 2 dislocated toes. She didn’t know that they were dislocated but finally went to the MD who had to pull them back into place. She said that they had become dislocated because she curls her toes when she runs. She asked if I did that. I thought about it and realized that yes, on my one foot, the injured foot, I do curl my toes when I run.

I was thinking about this a couple days later as I sat on the floor stretching. Instead of massaging the ball of the foot like I normally do, I instead grabbed that bent second toe and pulled a little on it. There was no pain, but it almost felt like bubbling where the toe goes into the foot. So I pulled harder and then I felt and heard a “POP”. It didn’t hurt - it was almost exactly like when you crack your knuckles. There was also no sense of instant relief, but I thought my toe seemed straighter.

The next day, I looked down and saw a large bruise where the toe goes into the socket and I suddenly realized that my toe was almost straight! I could bend and flex it without pain and, even more surprising - there was almost NO PAIN in the ball of my foot!

So here for MONTHS I have been thinking it was an issue with the nerves in the ball of my foot and it actually had to have been related to a partial (I’m guessing) dislocation of the toe! So all the freaking massaging and TENS application was basically useless, when all I needed to do was pop that toe back into place. Can you believe it?

So since then, instead of massaging, I regularly pull on that toe making sure that it is settled into place. I don’t know that much about dislocations, but I do know from people that I have talked to who have dislocated their shoulders in the past that once something dislocates, it tends to do it easily in the future. So after a run I fiddle around with that toe.  I have not felt a POP again like when I did it the first time, but I do sometimes feel that bubbling sensation and I think it is resetting it some.

While the pain isn’t 100% gone, it’s way way better.  And if you’re thinking that I should still go and see a doctor, that’s probably what a smart person would do…

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Forward movement…

Much like a physical injury, an emotional injury heals in stages.  Right now, instead of that sharp agonizing pain, there is just a dull aching.  I am having periods of time when I feel almost normal.  Then, times like last night, I'm talking with Marc as we are getting ready for bed, and I realize I'm standing there with treats for 2 dogs, and there is the panicky painful reminder.

This morning, Marc suggested that we go for a hike knowing that I had a date with a football game this afternoon.  As we walked and Archer ran joyfully around there was just this intangible sense of we are incomplete.

Speaking of whether we are complete, I find it interesting how people will always choose to impose their views on others.  I have received at least one completely unsolicited opinion that we should not even consider getting another dog for a very long time if ever.  And, on the other side of the coin, I have also had some completely unsolicited opinions that we need to get a puppy right away.

Both suggestions are heartbreaking for different reasons.

But the climb back to sanity has started.  And there was some positive movement yesterday.  I took Archer over to a trail yesterday to run.  Somewhere along the run not only was I not hating running, I was actually enjoying it.  It has been a while since that has been true.  So when we got back to the car at around 6.5 miles, we got some water and then ran another 1.5.

Looking at our stats, we ran 8 miles at an average 9:08 mm pace.  So I decided our goal would be to do 10 miles at an under 9 pace by Thanksgiving.  Compared to what I ran just a couple years ago, this goal is pretty freaking pathetic.  But compared to the war I've had with running lately, to have enjoyed it enough to have set a goal??  Yes, making a goal, instead of just running because I have to feels like a movement forward.

Towards DOING instead of EXISTING.

And as I thought about that goal, I acknowledged that this is going to mean putting an actual effort into getting back on track with my eating.  So I asked myself what I wanted more – to eat what I want or to lose weight and meet my goals.

I wish I could tell you that there was a resounding shout from my psyche assuring me that I am ready.  But in reality, there was a instead mostly silence. 

But a step forward – even a small step – is something I will take this weekend.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Mind and body connection…

The connection between mind and body in an incredible one. How you feel physically can definitely effect your emotions. Not getting enough sleep, being sick, all of those things can totally screw with your emotions. And, of course, in reverse, what your emotional state is can greatly impact you physically.

I have been getting a lesson on this in spades this week. I woke up Sunday morning and felt like I had been worked over with a baseball bat. Every single muscle in my body hurt. I attributed this to having run hard during the 10K race Saturday morning and the intense digging in hard clay soil making a final resting place for my baby boy.

I didn’t really think of what my physical state was being related to my emotions at all. I was sure that it would go away. And yet so far this week I have just been a wreck. Surprisingly, I have been sleeping pretty well. But I have been SO exhausted and even doing the smallest thing has felt like such a huge effort. I also have been aimlessly worried and distracted. Things that I do EVERY DAY - like putting makeup on in the morning - I have completely forgotten to do. And I am still very, very sore.

Last night I got home from work and just wanted to lay down I was so done for. I probably would have if it weren’t for Archer. He is doing okay, I think, for having lost his brother that he was SO SO close to. But he just has not been himself. I don’t think that describing him as being depressed is going too far. I have been reading a lot on dogs grieving the death of their pack mates and the articles encourage you to allow them to stick to their routine, to offer them a lot of love, and to make sure they get plenty of exercise. Not surprisingly, all the benefits that people get from exercise, such as lowering stress, boosting endorphins and helping settle your mind - well, those benefits extend to dogs as well.

So when I got home and he was there alone (Marc was on a bike ride), I decided we could go for a run. It took so much mental effort just to change into workout clothes and a short 1/4 mile into our run my body was just screaming STOP. I managed 5 miles, but those 5 miles felt harder than most runs twice that long.

This morning, I still felt achy. And my mind? It just won’t stop. Jumping from topic to topic - stupid things - unfocused and random worries. And there are still brief moments of crying jags.

In the summer, I turn into CARDIO GIRL. I believe in the benefits of other exercise, such as lifting weights, but when the sun is out in northern NY and you know it is going to be gone WAYYYYY too soon, you go out for a walk at lunch, you don’t hang out inside doing P90X.

So I also have not been doing yoga. As lunch time approached and it was cool and cloudy, I thought about lifting weights but as I stared at the dumbbells, I thought that I wouldn’t even be able to lift 5 pounds. So I called up a Yin Yoga class. I thought that maybe I could settle my mind and help my body.

Yin Yoga is always challenging - staying for several minutes in uncomfortable positions, relaxing my body, quieting my mind - well that is a task for me even during the best of times. But as I sat there in pigeon pose - as the instructor in a soothing voice talked about focusing on your breath and letting intrusive thoughts drift away, I seriously thought that I was losing it. My mind swam with a million different thoughts and I actually felt a little dizzy.

I started counting the breath in - concentrating on filling up my lungs and diaphragm. And then letting it out slowly. They say to envision breathing in the good air and directing it to what hurts and envisioning letting out the “bad” air. I tried this, but as the hour was over and I hurried over to a different court for some business I was quite convinced that it had been a futile pursuit.

But after the meeting ended and I walked back, I noticed that I felt a little better. My muscles felt looser and there was less achy-ness. I think that my mind is a little less restless, a little more focused.

Just as after a physical injury your body needs time to heal, I suppose that after an emotional tragedy the mind needs some time, too. And since they are all related I guess I just need to be patient and supportive to myself.

Yes, because I am SO GOOD at that....


Monday, September 12, 2016

Like walking underwater…

I thought that going to work today would help. Being busy - being distracted. But it didn’t. There were brief and blissful periods where I was engrossed in paperwork or talking to a client and I almost forgot, but grief is a powerful and ever-present giant.

And boy, I am SUCH a good addict. I have not had any motivation to exercise and even a bit of self-control in the eating department is GONE. Not that there has been much to start with, right?

The justification and rationalization machine is in FULL gear - I mean who would BLAME me, right? I am entitled to take a few days off. I shouldn’t worry about my weight during this hard time!  Any excuse will do.

Of course, not exercising and eating like shit just makes me feel worse in the long run. But in the short term, that instant gratification – the diversion from my mind - is pretty alluring.

It will get easier, as many of you know. Every time I have lost a pet, I think I will never be happy again – that the black hole of pain will never be filled. But the pain starts to fade, I remember the good times more and more, and life goes on. That is both a blessing and a curse.

For now, I read and re-read the offerings of understanding and support. It helps SO MUCH. So for those of you that have taken the time to reach out, it is appreciated more than you can know. Honestly and truly, I thank you.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Painful history and now…

On this day in history the world changed forever.  I remember that day like it was yesterday.  Today we woke up to a changed personal world.  Compared to the devastation of that horrible day in 2001, what we are going through is minor, but it is no less real to us.

Yesterday, we had a 10K race.  When we got up, Chakotay went outside to do his business.  He ate the peanut butter covered treats with the pills hidden in them, and drank water.  As we were leaving he laid down by my computer.

Which is where we found him when we got back from the race.  in the exact position we left him.  Based on this we think he went quickly and painlessly.  There was no sign that he was in distress and based on the way he acted, we don't even think Archer knew his brother was gone.  That is such a blessing.    

But… I wasn't there for him.  I don't know how I will ever forgive myself for that.  He was alone, and the thought of that – and a million other things I could have done differently that morning – breaks my heart. 

We buried him in the backyard, where other pets we've loved and lost lie.  I said goodbye to him with Archer who appeared very confused and even frightened.

The first thing Archer did this morning when he woke up was search for him.  I can't believe how empty the house feels.  And I know Archer feels it as well.

Today, we planted a painted willow shrub in his memory.


We also made a mold of his footprint before we said our final goodbyes.


I am okay as long as I keep doing something.  I’m quite sure the house is cleaner than it’s been in years tonight.

But tomorrow I return to work and have to get used to a new normal. 

I had fooled myself into believing I was prepared for this.

What a fool I was…