Zombie-Mode

How fitting as Halloween approaches…T-minus 2 days until All Hallows Eve!

Alas, zombie-mode isn’t reflective of Halloween. Zombie-mode is the headspace I’ve been in for over 2 months.

Zombie-mode is waking up still tired, after a full 7 hours of sleep, spending the entire day watching the clock tick by, praying for work to be over, waiting to crawl back into bed before you ever left it. Zombie-mode is your body breaching a place where you’re holding onto fat cells, or anything, just to survive, because you’re so starved and can’t remember the last time you had a proper meal. When you’ve been so utterly busy you’ve traded in workouts to get more sleep, and the lack of exercise drains your energy even further.

I’ve been living in zombie-mode since mid-summer, when the Autumn work season picked up quickly (and is now just slowing down). We’re well into Q4 and I had been looking forward to the Winter slump, but with the changing environment at work, I don’t foresee catching a break any time soon.

Stress lulls in waves. It arrives unexpectedly, because you were under the impression you could handle it; after all, you were prepared for everything you were going through. Do your best to keep your full-time job, planning a bachelorette because you’re a bridesmaid in your best friend’s wedding, in the midst of apartment hunting and preparing to move, on top of the layers of complexity of your family drama and other events in your life. Stress feels like the calm before the storm, but the storm never hits because you’re living it everyday, the atmosphere simultaneously unrelenting, but also, oddly fine.

I remember what zombie-mode felt like in school, extremely sleep deprived and worn out by exams, essays, and social activities – it’s obvious, everyone is just as stressed as you are, it’s the talk of the entirety of your 4-year degree. What’s strange about adult stress is, you almost don’t realize you’re stressed until you find yourself crying on your lunch break, crying as you leave your office, or as soon as you hit your mattress at night.

Crying doesn’t take away from the fact that you can still handle it. And if crying is how you get through it, I’ll be the first to admit, there’s a lot worse things than crying. If you’re crying, you’re in pretty good shape.

Stress as an adult feels predictable, yet, mysterious at the same time. It’s like having full confidence in yourself, but still being nervous. You know you’ll make it out of whatever situation alive, but at what cost? To sacrifice routine, sleep, nutrition, exercise, healthy habits? How far will your body take you until you finally keel over or reach a psychotic break?

Maybe we shouldn’t keep pushing ourselves to find out.

The past few months have been insanely stressful with work, with life, with what balance? The last two weeks have especially worn me out. As we endure tough times, we discover important things about ourselves and our world. I believe that this recent onset of stress reminded me how important it is to pay attention to our bodies, the home of our souls. If we strive for health and longevity, we must stay in tune with our bodies, treat them nicely, take the best care of them.

The older I get, the more I understand this type of attention is active and detailed; we must be aware of ourselves everyday. Have we eaten? Are we drinking water? Did we get sufficient sleep last night? These things that seem so trivial, are actually the difference between life and unhealthy inconsistencies that could turn into poor habits. There is a certain amount of work involved in caring for our mental, emotional, and physical health. The older we get, the longer our bodies take to bounce back and the more time we need to decompress.

I plan to take Halloween off work (and the remainder of the week) to unwind and unplug. I need some time to re-coop; I’m sure the boss will understand. It’s beyond necessary. I’ve been living in zombie-mode far too long. Dia de los Muertos is almost here and I’m ready to re-join the living, to be re-awakened from my life as the un-dead.

Dieting is About Self Control. Have You Tried Moderation?

It’s Wednesday, I haven’t worked out all week, I’m exhausted. I’ve been working so much, I’ve chosen sleep over exercise, which I don’t regret. It’s times like these, stress used to get to me; I’d end up eating a quart of ice cream in one sitting.

Unfortunately, as we age, our metabolisms slow down – I can attest that mine has definitely slowed way down, almost to a halt LOL. Hence, I cannot sit and eat gluttonous amounts of ice cream when I feel like it. Although it’s sad to say those days have passed, in all honesty, I seldom miss them.

I used to be overweight, not dire, but definitely not fit. A handful of years ago I made a lifestyle change that proved to be immensely simple, with definite results. I’m not talking “I lost a 100 lbs in one year” type thing… No, this was much more gradual, which, I believe, has made it easier. With gradual weight loss comes another proven fact: losing weight slower almost guarantees you’ll be able to keep it off, instead of gaining it all back sometime in the near future.

So, what’s the secret? Sticking to it.

A lot of people begin their weight loss journeys but fail for all the same reason: lack of self discipline. My sister used to tell me “everything in moderation,” which is sort of where my lifestyle change began. So, what’s the change? I know y’all eager to find out.

First thing’s first, I needed to stop eating my emotions lmfao. Then…

80% diet, 20% exercise. You’ve heard it before, right? I began by cutting out chips, fries, and bread (wahhhh! Adios, bagels – cue *crying face emoji*). I made an active effort to buy more fruit at the grocery store. I began this when I was a pescatarian, so I wasn’t eating land animals either. For not eating meat, you’d think I was good about eating veg. Wrong. I did not eat as many salads as you think I would; so, I began fitting salads into my daily meals.

The end result is quite simple: eat more produce and less processed foods / carbohydrates. Fiber is key. What shocked me was that I would occasionally reject the diet thing and eat a cookie, or a scoop of ice cream, or drunkenly go to McDonalds after a night out with my friends. That one cookie, or that one large fry, didn’t harm the weight loss agenda. Because those instances occurred in moderation, I continue to lose inches even with the occasional binge.

But, that’s when I realized that my diet doesn’t depend on moderation, my whole life does (especially my drinking habits haha). Dieting isn’t about limiting yourself to what you can and can’t eat. Dieting is about self control itself. I learned so much about health and fitness on this journey, but I’ve also learned a lot about life.

I learned stuff like sometimes you can put a shitload of effort in, but time is still needed to see results. I learned that you can fall off track but what matters is pulling yourself back in line. I learned that moderation doesn’t just keep us healthy, it keeps us alive.

Moderation, by Merriam Webster definition means avoiding extremes of behavior or expression: observing reasonable limits. Observing reasonable limits.

Reasonable limits.

To me, that’s exactly what moderation is – understanding that we are human. Humans have limits and we must respect those limits. There is inevitable danger in extremes.

It’s been about 3 years since I implemented this whole “lifestyle change.” Those 3 years taught me that my stomach, my energy, my time, my metabolism all have limits. As I’ve lost inches (and now at a figure I can maintain) I’m comfortable with eating bagels again (thank god!) and other foods I had cut out originally.

But, I only indulge in moderation.

My final words of wisdom on the weight loss thing: you can’t expect one change to produce mass outcomes. Big change is followed by many little changes, a lot of small gears, turning to move the machine. With weight loss, diet is a pretty large change in itself; yet, exercise, rest, and mental stimulation all contribute to the greater goal. I wrote a previous post about how exercise literally does wonders to the human brain and why we need it for our sanity – you can read it here.

(As a disclaimer: everyone has different body shapes and metabolic types; thus, not every diet works for everyone). What works for you?

Quarter Life Reflection

It’s August 17, 2018 and I’m driving to the airport, Salt Lake City bound. I’m off on another trip to celebrate my birthday, reflecting on my 24th year of life, looking forward to turning 25. When I was younger, I used to think about what my life would be like when I was “all grown up.” The strange thing is, I would fantasize life at 35 to 50, sometime when I was old, wise, established. It’s funny how as you age your perception of old changes, when 35 doesn’t seem so old anymore, when you’re 10 years away from being established, wise, old.

I’m alarmed I’m turning 25 because I never imagined I would ever hit my “mid-20s.” Life moves so quickly that I couldn’t picture my life at 25 because I was so engrossed in being 24, 23, 22, or so on. As your teen years pass, quick as they may, you stumble into this really influential period of life. It’s this era of your twenties, when even a single year exposes you to quantum experiences, and decisions you make now have the ability to define your immediate future, or the rest of your life. You’re changed in leaps and bounds, exponentially…until you hit your mid-30s or 40s; then, life seems to settle down.

I felt like my 20s proposed a choice: I conform and live as I was raised or how I think society would accept me…or I choose who I will be for the rest of this life, free of predisposition and fear of judgement.

This is the threshold between who you used to be and who you choose to become.

That’s a pretty big decision to make. It took half of my 20s to figure this out. What’s even more alarming is: the older I get, the more unpredictable life seems to be. I thought I’d age, and things would become clearer, when, in fact, I feel as if navigating life has become increasingly more difficult.

This doesn’t necessarily mean I’m afraid to age. Actually, I’m rather fond of growing years older, because with each passing year, I am a better version of me than my previous self. What I’ve been through changed me in ways I wouldn’t even want to predict, not knowing is half the fun of living. This uncertainty is exciting, refreshing, enlightening. What I am most certain of is life’s infinite uncertainty.

the only constant is change

The older I get, the more I understand the only constant is change. We’re in a constant state of change. We’re constantly trying, failing, learning, experiencing, transforming. I don’t know who said it but I wish I could give credit to whomever once quoted “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” If one thing dawned on me during this quarter life reflection, it would be that.

I am celebrating life at a quarter century. I’m looking forward to my half century reflection. I hope we all make it to 100!

182 Days

182 days through the year; 182 days remaining. July 1st is the half way mark through the 365 days we spin on this planet. (it’s true, I’m posting this with 158 days remaining because I was flying to Alaska on July 1! However, I was able to jot thoughts down on the 5 hour flight, see below).

It’s 12:34 am and I’m currently 30,000 feet somewhere above the Pacific Ocean, on a Boeing 747 a half hour from touching down on one of the many runways in Anchorage, Alaska. It’s 34 minutes past the start of July 1, precisely midway through the year. I usually don’t spend time reflecting on if I’m still dedicated to the New Years resolutions I’ve dictated for myself…because I hardly set resolutions to begin with…nonetheless record them in any formal manner…or remotely follow them thereafter…

With the turn of 2018, I’d been compelled to make lasting changes in my life, and although I haven’t kept religiously to my resolutions this year, at least I began by writing them down. The notebook I brought on this trip happens to contain the list of resolutions I created (I’d almost forgotten about tbh). When is a better time to reflect on your daily routine or occasional habits than in the middle of the night, no where in particular, gliding above the atmosphere, without direction or sufficient leg room? Exactly.

I had recently learned there is a difference between goals and objectives. Most people use them interchangeably. Goals are what you want to become. Objectives are a way to measure those goals. At the start of 2018, I created a list of goals and objectives:

    • Goal: yoga everyday
    • Objective: 20-30 minutes of 3-5 poses
    • Goal: daily exercise
    • Objective: gym 5 days a week for 30-90 minutes, rest 2 days a week
    • Goal: read everyday
    • Objective: read 1 book a month
    • Goal: ride on Saturdays
    • Objective: bike or skate for 30-90 minutes
    • Goal: Success Journal everyday
    • Objective: write 1-2 successes in your Success Journal
    • Goal: kick it on Sundays
    • Objective: spend time with friends on Sundays and relax 2-4 hours

182 days of my goals and objectives: I made it to 2 60-minute yoga classes, hit the gym almost consistently 5 days a week, I injured myself pretty badly from a 10-mile-an-hour crash off my longboard last Saturday, haven’t written in my Success Journal at all.

This year, I’ve come to understand that I don’t always stick to goals, but that doesn’t mean I’ve wasted my time. In fact, 2018 took me by surprise. I accomplished things I’d never imagined. So, now, I reflect on the 182nd day of the year to see how far I’ve come.

      • Roadtripped to Santa Barbara to catch up with an old friend I haven’t seen in a couple years
      • Surprised my sister for Tundra’s birthday party (her cat turned 2 years old in March)
      • Ran a Night Nation Run (5K fun-run to end cancer)
      • Celebrated a close friend’s gender reveal and baby shower

The short-end of 182 days is life offering us opportunities and we take them, whether it be roadtripping to a music festival or running for charity. Spontaneous activities appear same-day, like the classical music performance I attended on a Saturday afternoon, or vacations require months of planning, like the Alaska trip I’m currently on. There are so many aspects of life,  goals and objectives, we never think to write down, but still accomplish everyday. What we don’t write down may even be the most significant things of all…

The long-end of reflecting on 182 days is not only an analysis on my goals and objectives, but also a look into the creation of new ones. I didn’t pick up a book until May of this year – it took me damn-near half the year to begin. Books come in various lengths; if I want to read everyday, I should have created an objective such as “read 60-90 minutes a day,” rather than “read 1 book a month,” because I’ve finished 5 books in 2 months. With the onset of reading, I might have been inspired to investigate more hobbies. In turn, sometime in June, I decided to launch a blog, with the objective to post every week, which was completely unplanned (and pretty much an utterly rash decision all around, if you ask me).

Overall, it’s important to reflect on how far you’ve come. Most times, you forget you had goals and objectives to begin with. Sometimes goals and objectives simply aren’t met, other times they’re replaced by alternate activities. At times, goals and objectives change and even lead to new ones. You are half way through 2k18. What can you accomplish in the next 182 days?

Weak This Week

Monday morning I drove my friend home because she stayed the night. I arrived late to work. When I was off, I drank a beer at the Whole Foods outdoor bar, while I facetimed my close friend, who recently moved to SoCal. By the time we were done catching up (aka when my phone died) I went home to dive into all the sleep I lacked Sunday.

I woke up naturally because I forgot to set an alarm the night before. I was late to work again Tuesday, but I left the office around 1 pm to help my manager prep for a retirement celebration. I was late because we spent the morning texting about what “resort casual” means and “no, I couldn’t wear jeans to dinner.” I spent 30 minutes deciding which slacks “I would wear at a resort in Hawaii” and even packed two extra shirts (if the original one I planned on wearing didn’t gain approval from my manager). Set up for the celebration took an hour in the baking Los Gatos sun, the evening was pleasant and clean up took another hour. I didn’t get home until 10:30 pm, in which I knocked the fuck out.

I wasn’t late to work Wednesday but I slept in an hour longer than I would have. After work, I ate too much with my mother at dinner so we spent the remainder of the evening on a stroll. Once again, I was home around 11 pm and immediately fell asleep.

Let me back up.

I have a strict schedule because I’m a grandma, where I’m in bed by 10 pm, so I can exercise at 6:30 am, before my full time job at 8:30 am. This routine has kept me alive for a while so I figure I’ll hang on to it…or do my best. It’s weeks like these that I find myself far off track, coming home at (or after) my bedtime, sleeping in instead of hitting the gym, and paying the price.

It’s weird how the human body works, actually. I work out 5 days a week, take 2 days of rest, but go absolutely mad if I skip proper exercise for longer than 3 days. I literally feel like my life is in shambles and the lack of endorphins is detrimental to my physical and mental health. I’ve felt so weak this week. In addition to not exercising, I’ve been eating out, food I wouldn’t normally eat. This combo has just created a feeling of grotesqueness and instability…which is why I’ve backtracked these last few days, looking for any sign of normalcy, in search of when I first strayed so far from my routine and why I haven’t got back to it.

I slept in last Friday. I had every intention of skateboarding when I was off work, but once I got home and laid in bed, there was no getting up. Saturday is usually my rest day. I spent the day at the beach on Sunday. That brings us to the beginning of this blog post. Therefore, it’s been exactly 7 days since my last sweat sesh. It’s Thursday. I just got home from spending 2 much-needed hours at the gym.

It’s really weird how the human body works, actually. Only 1 exercise session and my brain already feels as if it’s re-entering my body from a week-long vacation. I feel as if I’ve come back to life, or have been reawakened from an out-of-body experience. Did you know your brain releases chemicals when you exercise? Endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) all keep your brain and body working properly. A natural dose is all I needed to feel better and get back on track.

Life is hectic. There are times when everything occurs simultaneously, when we’re too busy to enjoy usual activities, then we’re too tired to hit the gym. Life passes us by like this, where it’s one thing after the other, and hours pass like days do, then we realize a whole week flew by and we’ve been slammed by so many festivities that other priorities fall by the wayside. I get it. That’s how this week felt. And last week. And the week before.

Juggling everything at once is what life is all about. But sometimes our brains don’t get the dosage of chemicals needed to keep us happy, alert, focused, refreshed, motivated, alive. Sometimes, we lose our minds along the way. It may seem a little contradictory, but it’s times like these when we’re living at twice the speed of life, that what we really need to keep us going, is to get up and moving. Even a little exercise is better than none at all. Being active rids depression, provides motivation, keeps us healthy, but, most importantly, keeps us sane.

My mind goes fishing (well, my mind goes somewhere) on continuous days without working out. Then, I feel as if my whole life is out of whack. I’ve realized the quick and easy solution to get my life back is exercise. Hook, line, and sinker.

The Quest Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Why live? Life was its own answer. Life was the propagation of more life and the living of a good a life as possible –Ray Bradbury  (The Martian Chronicles, 1950)

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I wanted to be an actress. I took acting lessons, went to auditions, and I think I landed a commercial once (but my parents didn’t want to fly me down to LA, rather I stay in elementary school, from what my little brain remembers haha). I wanted to be a vet; started volunteering at the Humane Society when I was 13 and completed 4 years of Future Farmers of America (FFA) in high school. I wanted to be an astronomer, trophy wife, translator, farmer, social worker, author, blogger.

You know when you have goals and those goals change? When what you wanted  when you were younger is no longer what you want now. You know those dreams you’ve always had, never really gave up on, but also never acted on?

This is one of those dreams. (excepting I’m finally acting on it)

Being a blogger is one of those things I’d always thought I’d do. But, I never started a blog, I guess I didn’t know what to blog about, thought no one would read it, or even wondered if I was cut out to manage one. My internal monologue talked me out of beginning one every time.

I’m far past the edges of early adulthood, gazing (or peeking behind my fingers in utter terror) at my future. I’m 24 examining my life and satisfaction of it on a scale of bored to extremely happy, finding my score to be somewhat neutral. Then, I got to thinking…What could increase my happiness on the satisfactory scale?

There are aspects of ourselves we know, yet somehow forget over time.  This is one of those things I had totally forgotten about, as I filled my life with a plethora of sports, organizations, and hobbies throughout adolescence, well into college. I had been totally distracted by life that starting a blog was a far-fetched idea, not nearly a priority.

Recently, I’d been speaking with friends about my goals and passions, in hopes of discovering how to bring a little more life to my life.  I find reading & writing entertaining; blogging came up and so did that internal monologue. I’d always told myself writing a blog wasn’t even a possibility. This time, my friends talked me out of listening  to myself. They instilled faith in me that I could start one (John Lennon & Paul McCartney had it right: I get by with a little help from my friends). Thank you, beautiful souls and supportive loved ones.

On this journey to live a happier and more meaningful life, I’ve decided to give this a shot because 1) even if no one reads it, I’ll still be entertaining myself. LOL. 2) I have nothing to lose.

Step #1: Start a blog.

Check.

What’s your step #1?