Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Mind and Body Connection

I had a little bit of an epiphany today. For the past few months, I've been trying to fix my mind and my heart, and all efforts have, in truth, failed, but I noticed that recently I've begun to do something else, and it wasn't initially a planned thing. I think I was feeling rotten, so I started to take steps to fix it, and that meant fixing what is going on physically first, and if I feel good in body, the theory goes, maybe the mind and eventually the heart will follow.

I stopped smoking. Actually, joining the Y happened first, but the smoking stopped about 2 days later. I knew exercise would do it, but I thought the actual quitting process would happen much more slowly; however, after the first full day swimming and a night out on which I smoked a ridiculous amount of Camel Crushes, enough to make myself sick really, I quit, suddenly, and without any of the usual crutches. I quit smoking the first time in 2002 after smoking for seven years and that time, I needed the patch. I quit again last year (after starting again, obviously) and I needed the patch again, but this time, I was able to go the full cold turkey. I don't know why that makes me prouder, or more in control, but it does. I finally killed the nicotine craving all by myself. Go me!

The swimming: I adore the swimming. I think I have more of an addiction to the way it makes me feel rather than the actual process of doing it, although I love that too. A friend asked if I found swimming laps boring, I suppose because you can't listen to music or watch TV, but I enjoy not having those distractions and I enjoy consciously working on improving my stroke and my time and monitoring how my body reacts to the challenges I set for it. I enjoy reaping the rewards of the effort becoming easier, or at least smoother, and being able to do a little bit more, or do the same a little bit better, each day.

After getting out of the pool, I feel strangely calm. After not having the opportunity to swim yesterday or today, I feel uptight, both physically and mentally. My mood is distracted and anxious and I can't wait to get back in the pool tomorrow. I mentioned earlier that I started exercising to reduce my anxiety level, and it has, but I already feel stronger, and I can already see improvements in my body (or my figure, as my grandma would say). It's amazing what can happen in two weeks.

Like bad habits, it seems good habits also have a domino effect, or come together because the mutual benefits are greater than the singular. I have mentioned previously my rotten eating habits the past few months. My stomach has been constantly upset and intolerant of anything weird, so I ate a lot of stodge: chicken, bread, butter, some salad. That's about it. Well, now I've cut out the butter and the white bread, started eating more fish, taking my lunch to work, and actually planning ahead for meals, like, you know, an adult or something. Today, two ladies in the cafeteria said to each other within purposeful earshot of me, "Can we bash her over the head and steal her lunch?" I haven't cooked inside in about two months. The little Weber porch grill has cooked everything, and that makes for healthier eating too. I find when I cook for myself, I generally lose weight. There are some great things about being single, and one is the act of controlling exactly what you eat and when, and not having to compromise with someone else so often over food choices.

Sleep: Oh dear readers, I do not sleep. I've had trouble with this since college and when there are stressors in my life, the problem manifests itself severely. For the past several months, I've been averaging about four hours' sleep a night, if I'm lucky, but I took steps to take care of this problem also. The doctor said I have all the symptoms of chronic insomnia, and prescribed more exercise and sleepy pills. I don't really have to take the pills all that often - just knowing they are there and I won't have to lie awake all night helps most of the time, and the swimming really wears me out, but even if I'm dead to the world tired, my mind keeps ticking and won't let me sleep. This week's goal has been Project Early Night. I've been in bed before ten every night, comfy and reading. I don't set a limit on how long I can read - just no phone, no computer, and no other distractions.

This is my plan for now. I take one day at a time, and try to make improvements one little step at a time. I'm hoping the physical improvements and the benefit of endorphins will work their magic on me. I also haven't forgotten about the healing benefits of creativity and am about to text Miss. L. to ask if she wants to work on our photo project this weekend. We are still brainstorming and it has been on hiatus because she went on vacation, but the plan is still very much in the works.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


I do apologize, dear readers, for the lack of activity on this blog over the past couple of weeks. A couple of posts ago, I explained I was feeling a little down in the dumps, which actually has continued for a while, despite my best efforts to kick the doldrums into the middle of the proverbial "next week" for several past weeks. I also have developed a mysterious ailment, the origin of which is completely bamboozling both me and my doctor: I have, at this point, almost constant vertigo. This started about three weeks ago, when I stood up at work and felt suddenly lightheaded and as if my legs would buckle. The occurrences of this have become so often that it feels like I am dizzy all the time. I am finding it difficult to function under these circumstances. I have been depressed, had panic and anxiety attacks, and now, on top of this, I am constantly dizzy and nauseous. My doctor's best guess is a viral infection, cause unknown, that will "probably" work its way out. I hope probably turns out to be pretty probable, because I feel awful.

I have to go to work tomorrow, and I am dreading being there and feeling terrible all day. The only time I feel better, weirdly enough, is when I'm swimming. The only explanation I have is that I'm on a different equilibrium in the water, so I don't feel sick or dizzy.

I joined the Y, dear readers. I decided that the legacy of AMWUDM would not be the destruction of my health. I quit smoking, cold turkey, twelve days ago, two days after I joined the Y and started swimming, after work, as often as my schedule will allow. I started swimming to feel better, to thwart depression, moodiness, apathy, and to gain some energy. It wouldn't hurt if it continued to help me lose weight (I'm already much skinnier post break-up - that is one good thing), but some toning wouldn't hurt either, especially as I happen to know that the post break-up weight reaction has not gone quite the same way for the other party involved. I hate to say it, but that gives me impetus to be fit, healthy, and look good. Perhaps that's spiteful, but I don't really care - it's all about me at this point, and what makes ME feel good, and knowing that I do and will look a hundred times better than I did then gives me a kind of smug satisfaction. Well, whatever it takes to motivate, right?

Really Good Thai Food!

So, the other night, NGIHOW and I went to eat Thai at this restaurant on Nolensville Road. I was in one of those moods where I was starving and couldn't make a decision. I kept saying I wanted Greek food but couldn't think of anywhere decent to get it. After a while, Mr. J. (or NGIHOW) made the observation that I was not making any concrete suggestions but just picking fault with everyone else's. He was right, and I told him so, so I conceded and decided to put my night's culinary fate in his hands. It was a good choice. Notoriously picky about Thai food and not a fan of Royal Thai or Siam Cuisine, I didn't have high expectations, despite Mr. J's good endorsement. I should have trusted him because the food was excellent and very cheap. I recommend the Tiger Tear Salad and the Fresh Spring Rolls. He was jealous of my salad, and even ate a good amount of it, although I couldn't really share his as he ordered it hot as hellfire.

Finding new, inexpensive, out of the way cuisine is one of my favourite things in life - it's one of the pleasures that makes life occasionally delicious and worth living, so when I do find these gems, I share them with you.
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Monday, June 7, 2010

Three Things

Has it really been a week since I posted? I've been thinking about writing on this blog all week, but I suppose thinking it doesn't really get the baby bathed does it?

It's been a rough week and I won't pretend otherwise for the sake of keeping my chin up on this blog. I think I reached something akin to my nadir during the past few days. Suddenly everything seemed totally shit. My life seemed pointless and irreparable and I didn't know what to do. The months of not sleeping, of rehashing my former relationship in my head, of fighting and fighting to try and find a decent job, of struggling with money and broken cars and unforeseen expenses, finally got to me and I felt more down than I have in years. I cried every day last week, sometimes about these big things and sometimes because I spilt cat food on the floor or couldn't find anything to wear. I felt rotten. I had panic attacks, dizzy spells, the fits of crying, extreme exhaustion, swings between extreme emotion and extreme apathy, and on top of that, my skin broke out like you wouldn't believe.

Fortunately, I have good friends, friends who took me out and cheered me up last Friday and Saturday. The combination of $5 martinis at the gay bar, game night, and an amazing U2 cover show did show me that perhaps life might occasionally be worth sticking around for, even if those moments seem fleeting.

My weekend was terrible. I napped a lot, picked fights with my parents and anyone else who would listen, thought about getting things done, but didn't, complained about the heat, moped, and dreaded going back to work.

Today though, today seemed better. I set myself three manageable goals: Join the Y, make a doctor's appointment, and buy good, healthy groceries. I did all three. I didn't get home until almost 8pm, and I'm tired, but I feel good that I got something done.