The Pursuit of Healthiness

The Pursuit of Healthiness
Your Guide to Getting Healthy

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Do What Scares You

I know a lot of people say to go with your gut, but if I constantly went with my gut I doubt that I'd ever leave my home. In fact, I can tell you very honestly that if I listened to my gut constantly, I'd never have gone on a date. I'd never have gone to college and, even if I did somehow make it here, I'd never leave my dorm to go to class. I wouldn't have become editor of my school's chapter of a top website. I'd never go to a new restaurant, see a movie by myself, even walk to a new coffee shop one block over.

My anxiety is far more severe than I let on sometimes. There are days when I nearly vomit just trying to get out the door. There were days in high school when I did vomit just trying to get out the door to catch the bus. I have gotten better over time. For a long time, I figured it would be okay to just give in. I was too scared to go to school so many times I just didn't. I almost wasn't able to get senior service at my school (a program where we do community service for a month rather than go to school just before graduation) because I missed too many days of school. I remember being very sick for one week that year. But somehow I'd missed 16 days. The other 11 days I'd skipped just out of fear of getting out of bed.

It wasn't until I got to college that I realized doing that wouldn't fly anymore. Some of my classes worked so that if I missed one class without a doctor's note, I dropped a letter grade. I can't get a doctor to sign a note that says, "Please excuse her from class as she is too frightened by high school." I don't think that's gonna fly.

But I have noticed something. The more I start to push past that feeling in my gut that makes me want to give into the anxiety, the easier it has been to ignore over time. That feeling doesn't go away, at least not from my experience, but it can become more bearable, as long as you are willing to show it who's boss. The more you say, "You don't control me," the more true that becomes.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Why Phoned-In Workouts Don't Count as Real Workouts

Look, if you're watching "Game of Thrones" and you get up in the middle of it to do twenty sit-ups every twenty minutes, that's really, really good. Being sedentary is very bad for you so getting up and moving everyone now and again to get your blood pumping for a couple minutes is a great idea.

But if you do this and binge watch "Game of Thrones" for ten hours straight, only getting up to do these sit-ups every twenty minutes and you spend the whole day like that, don't be surprised when you don't see the scale move.

Weight sticks to you. You have to shake it loose. If you're not really shaking, you're not really going to lose it.

For a lot of winter break, that's what I did, with the occasional (read: once a week) trip to the gym. Most days I was just watching tv and patting myself on a back when I'd get up every now and again to do squats and lift five pound weights. When I got back to school, I pretty much continued the same trend. I'd watch television all day and then go do a ten minute Pilates video every couple of hours. I hadn't felt sore in a long time, unless you count my butt from sitting for so long.

I woke up this morning feeling so gross and lazy, I couldn't take it anymore. I put on a sweatshirt, filled up my water bottle and made the trek to my gym. I scanned the equipment, thinking maybe I'd work up the courage to use the treadmill and start a real running regime since I recently decided that in Fall 2017, I would run the Star Wars Half Marathon in Disneyland. But after seeing that most of the treadmills were filled up and my favorite machine, the bike, was empty, I made my way over to it. I putting on the "Hamilton" soundtrack, set the time for forty-five minutes, and got started.

By fifteen minutes in, I was so out of breath. I kept going, mind you. I did the full 45 minutes and the five minute cool down. But by the time I was done, my legs felt like jello. They almost gave out when I got off the bike for the first time. I found my sea legs, walked back to my dorm, and collapsed in my bed, ready for a nap.

I wondered when I'd gotten so out of shape. I used to be able to do that with ease! Now I was struggling to get through it, with my brain screaming, "STOP! What the hell are you doing?" the whole time. I thought I'd been working out all winter already. Sure, they were miniworkouts, but it was still something. Then I realized, there's no such thing is a miniworkout! Just moving every now and again is not a workout; it's just something you should do as a human being. It should come natural to us that we wouldn't spend the whole day on our butts, but we forget that sometimes so when we don't spend the day in a bed or a chair, we think we did something outrageously good for us. Really, we did something good, just not as great as we think.

Fitting in workouts can be hard, both for lack of time and lack of desire, but if you really want to lose weight, phoning in a quick couple of squats would do it. We are always looking for shortcuts:the quickest way to a six pack, the quickest way to get a better butt. This advice is everywhere, but there should be a little clause under all this advice saying that it doesn't really work. There is no shortcut. The only way to get health, the only way to lose weight, is to put in the work.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Round Two of Pretty Mind-Numbing Fear

I smell pizza outside my door. My suitemates invited several of their friends over to watch a game and they ordered pizza. I haven't had dinner. I'm starving. Two of them invited me to watch the game with them. I told both that I might, thanked them for the offer and quietly shut the door after them.

I'm not going to get any pizza. I know at this point that I will not be leaving my room this evening, which means I will not be leaving my room for the day.

Look, I can fake having fun with the best of them. When it's for something professional, I'm the queen of putting on a smile (and a personality) and making everyone feel welcome. I put a lot of work into it. But this is supposed to be my home. It's where I'm supposed to feel relaxed, but instead there's a constant knot in my stomach. I've never faced this kind of anxiety before. Please excuse these sorts of posts, folks. I'm just trying to get healthy. But when my heart is pounding and my stomach is aching and my head is throbbing, just when I'm still on my bed, it's hard. The little voice in my head is saying, "They hate you, they hate you, you're boring, and they hate you. Just wait. Eventually they will give up on you altogether and stop even asking you to join. Who wants a friend like you?"

It's a painful thought that reminds me of growing up in elementary school. Like I said before, I usually made friends out of circumstance. I'd spend class after class with them; after a year, I'd get invited over their house or to their birthday party and, alakazam, we're suddenly best friends.

At these points in our lives, we don't really have close knit groups. Friendships change daily. To be a stranger in a room of fifteen people who have been inseparable for the past year is quite literally my nightmare. I wonder if they can see how lonely and upset I am. I must reek desperation and fear. It would be nice to have friends. It would be really nice to be able to talk to someone.

I suppose that's why I'm writing in here more. It helps to pretend that someone is listening.

The sun has set and I've spent another day alone.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Friendships According to a Socially Awkward Introvert

Last night, to be quite honest, I returned from dinner with an old friend a little tipsy. I knew my friend for quite a long time and she made a comment to say I looked a little drunk but wasn't really acting like it. In my head, I could sense the change, but it's not something she would've noticed.

I've known this friend for many, many years so the years of being awkward with her has gone away. I can talk to her about anything, things many other people would cringe at.

When I entered this semester of college, I realized that I had not made any friends like that at school. When I'm at school, there's only one person I talk to, but she's abroad and I've felt incredibly lonely. I moved into a new suite with five near strangers. Although I say hello and good morning to them, that's all the conversations we really share.

Last night, I found my suitemates gathered on the living room floor playing cards. They welcomed me, like they always do, and invited me to play. They are a very extroverted and friendly bunch. Ordinarily, I would have muttered an apology that I couldn't play and shuffled off to my room, quietly shutting the door behind me. But I was tipsy enough to say that of course I'd play and, furthermore, I'd win. They made room in their little circle and I sat down to join.

I didn't win, but I laughed like crazy and had so much fun with them. They're just such good people. They invited me to brunch the next morning and I happily accepted.

This morning, only three of them could go to brunch. They said good morning, and I found myself nearly whispering it back. They asked me what I had planned for the day and they strained to hear my quiet voice. At brunch, I fell silent, not sure how to add to the conversation. They talked about friends I didn't know and movies I hadn't seen and I felt embarrassed and lost. Every move I made felt wrong, every muttered word felt wrong. I couldn't wait to get back to my room and shut the door again.

Later in the day, I said hello as two of them sat on their beds in their room. The one that had been the friendliest said goodbye to me rather quickly and I walked back to my room, quietly shutting the door. For hours, I went over her words and the look on her face. Did I screw up? Did I insult her? Does she think I don't want to talk to her?

I reopened the door as the five of them now sit in the living room, trying to figure out what to watch, "Powerpuff Girls" or "Courage the Cowardly Dog." I wonder if they'll invite me to join them again tonight, but I get the feeling that I won't be.

In my mind, I know I'm not a great friend. I don't know how to be one. Friendships usually fall into my lap by accident and I end up grateful when people stay. I never know why.

For those of you that are not cursed with it, social anxiety often manifests like this, where fears of loneliness and fears of friendships intertwine enough that it's just a constant fear of being in public. The only time I'm not in fear is when I am alone, but even then it's a fear because people are right outside the door.

Do you know the "Twilight Zone" episode when the teller finds himself the last man on earth? At first, he panics and then he finds all the books he always wanted to read. I can relate to that feeling, the relief of being alone. Of course, that relief can't last. I always took the glasses breaking to be a metaphor of sorts for me, when the facade breaks. It turns from being alone to loneliness.

The girl I feared hated me just approached me and invited me to a concert. If that's not the definition of the fear of a socially anxious person, I really don't know what is. The paranoia in me grew to the point my stomach hurt and yet I had nothing to be anxious about. When she left, the anxiety started to grow again, but that's the curse I hope to someday tame.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

It's the Little Victories that Make the Difference

Laying in bed last night at around two, I was having a little bit of trouble falling asleep, which is pretty normal for me. To distract me from thinking about work, I started thinking about the food I'd tracked during the day. I was kind of hungry, but it was way too late to eat. I thought about what I'd eaten. A cup of tea, tuna salad, grilled zucchini, turkey meatloaf, mashed potatoes. I suddenly realized why I thought that something was missing.

There was no dessert! There was no chocolate! How could I go to bed without chocolate in my stomach? When was the last time I'd done that? The night before I'd downed a bag of dark chocolate covered pretzels (it's healthy because it's dark chocolate, right?), but that night there was no chocolate.

Well, there was chocolate. In the living room, there was a bag of chocolate mini donuts. I could hear it calling my name, taunting me, making my mouth water. One little donut wasn't a bad thing, right? Even at two am, a little, teeny, weeny donut is not a bad thing right? I could totally have one and still be on track for the day! I even had left over calories when I tracked my food. I could have one and use up those calories and just reach my calorie goal. I wouldn't lose weight doing that, but hey, one day of reaching that goal but not going over wouldn't make me gain weight either! I'll be fine. I'll be healthy. I mean the added sugar wouldn't be so bad...

Okay that's a lie. Added sugar is so bad for you. I feel weeks ago I tried cutting out all added sugar from my diet and collapsed on the sixth day, failing so badly when I downed a bag of Lindt chocolates and a chunk of a Godiva dark chocolate bar. For days after, I kept trying to make up what I had missed: a handful of cookies here, a bag of Hershey kisses there. Even when I went back to school, I was still gorging on any chocolate I could find.

Tuesday was my busiest day and I only got back to the dorm after 10 pm, after which I nearly collapsed on my bed. I got into my pajamas, turned on a little Netflix, and got under the covers. Later, when my stomach growled, I was far too comfy to get up.

For once, laziness did a good thing. I went to get out of bed, kicking off the covers. The cold hit me and I bundled myself up once again. When I woke up in the morning, my stomach was still donut-free.

So I still crave chocolate and I still haven't gotten rid of all the sugar in my diet. I had two sugars in my coffee this morning, but it's the only sugar I've had today. It's a small step, but it's a step in the right direction.