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?