Calling out the negative coping mechanisms for my stress without judgement.

pray.

…I would say that I should probably do more of this. Or at least do more silent, intentional prayer. I am definitely praying all throughout the day for my patients and for continual strength from God to do what I need to do, but to be with the Beloved in a quiet space is a rare occasion these days, and I know that it is in my control to change that.

What I think I really need to clean up is my night routine. The hardest thing these days is coming home exhausted and wanting to “turn my brain off,” so I turn to social media or talking to friends or watching an assortment of Youtube videos (other people eating or working out or talking about God usually). I KNOW THIS IS NOT THE ANSWER. But I’ve been doing it anyway in an attempt to fill myself.

Guess what. It’s not working super well.

My face is broken out in acne; my cortisol levels shoot me up at around 7am even if I want to sleep in; my workouts feel really difficult; I sometimes find myself stress eating. None of this is first-time experience, and I know that the sources are a) stress from work; b) lack of quality time with God. One of these can be changed, for sure, if I really want it. And I do.

I am grateful that, at this point in my life, I can call out these negative coping mechanisms of mine without being hard on myself. I am also grateful for these seasons of stress and adjustment that remind me of my weakness and the need to rely on God c o m p l e t e l y.

Something that helps me with bouncing back from negative coping mechanisms is to “just say yes to the next good thing.” Whether that’s putting down the phone at 9:00pm, taking out the trash the night before instead of almost forgetting in the morning, turning off the TV Youtube while I’m eating dinner, etc. Say yes to ONE next good thing. Just one.

eat.

The best thing I ate last week was chicken saag with garlic naan and basmati rice from a local Indian restaurant. My brother picked it up for us + his girlfriend on Thursday night, and we had a lovely socially distanced dinner in the backyard. It made for two delicious meals, which is the best 🙂

move.

I’ve still been loving the outdoor KB workouts on Sundays hosted by @kettlebellgains_apparel. I didn’t go this weekend because I needed a bit of rest (aka napped too long and was a sort of too late lol) and wanted to catch up with family over video chat, but most Sundays I try to make it down there for awesome community and HEAVY kettlebell work!

Otherwise, my workouts have been mostly strength/mobility-based and pretty low key. I’ve been telling my patients, “I work out so I can do this [physical therapy]!” And I mean it.

groove.

On Friday night, I got home late so I ran up and down the stairs blasting uplifting praise and worship to sing, dance, and work up a sweat ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ whatever works.

On Saturday, I met up with my apartment-mate from last year, Yuka! She loooooves NYC, so I gave her a little tour of some of my favorite spots, some new-to-me spots, and some of her requested spots. It was a day of 29K+ steps, lots of carbs, and good friend time! Masked and outdoors only, of course.

It was fun writing a good old blog post again. This always helps to ground me. Thank you, as always, for reading along on this 7+ year journey.

So tell me:

Do you find yourself using “negative” coping mechanisms at times? How do you try to bring yourself out of those?

What are some things that ground you during stressful/challenging times?

Do you like Indian food? Fave dish? What is the best thing you did this weekend?

If you are struggling with disordered eating at this time…

Being pent up within four walls for weeks on end is not the most fun for a lot of people.

But if you are someone who experiences any sort of mental health issue to any degree, you might understand that an overhaul of routine and a severance of social gathering can be devastating.

To be completely transparent, my quarantine life has not been devastating, but I remember a time when this severity of change would have been so.

During Hurricane Sandy in 2012 (I think that was the disaster, but perhaps it was just a bad winter storm that I’m thinking of… but that’s not critical to the rest of this), my family and I were trying to keep warm and fed in our house with no electricity for several days. I didn’t exercise because it would be too cold and dark to do anything except sit by the fire, all while still trying to do some school work. Food involved things that were out of the ordinary — slices of bread toasted on a pan atop our gas stove (#lifesaver), canned soup warmed up in the same way. Not the usual salads and Greek yogurt bowls.

I didn’t have control of anything, and I was not really okay with it. Our priorities were really to survive (and we were doing a-okay, by the way; things could have been worse) at that point, but the desire to maintain my eating and exercise routines had become just as severe of a “need” in my mind.

I remember sitting in front of the fire one of those nights, and my dad said that eating a bit more would help us to stay warm (i.e., thermic effect of food). However, I suggested that maybe we should be eating less because we weren’t moving as much (i.e., burning as many calories as usual). It was a small sign of how deeply uncomfortable I was with the whole situation, even though it probably lasted less than a week.

It is now 2020, and we all meet a similar yet different situation.

Maybe you are frustrated that you can’t lift as heavy or take your favorite intense workout classes. Maybe you’re sitting for much longer periods of time and getting thousands fewer steps than usual (holla). Maybe your favorite produce or preferred types of foods are constantly off the shelves.

The extra time on social media (in efforts to gain a semblance of human contact) might bring an onslaught of advertisements for home workout programs and meal plans to “keep you on track.” There might be fewer distractions to keep you from falling into the rabbit hole that is the fitness industry, something you were great at avoiding for so long.

Maybe the shift in control of your life in and of itself throws you into a tizzy and causes you to more intensely cling to the things you can control.

“If I can’t do ______, ________, and ________, at least I can still count my calories and go on super long runs/walks. I can still have my six pack abs.” This is just an example.

I understand that there are people who can do this without compromising their mental health. In fact, there are people are taking control of their physical health to benefit their mental health during this time. But you — YOU — might need something different, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. And YOU are not alone in that.

You all know that I am a physical therapist to be, not a psychologist or eating disorder specialist. I can only give advice and counsel from my own experience. So I will offer four things for you today:

  1. Continue to seek help if you need it. For less pervasive and just pesky thoughts of disordered eating, reach out to a trusted friend or family member. For what you think might be a relapse, please reach out to your therapist or eating disorder specialist (or a new one), and I am confident that they will either provide or refer you to online services. I have heard of great success with online counseling.
  2. Find creative outlet. Draw, dance, sing, write poetry, knit, crochet, sidewalk chalk, blow huge bubbles (far away from other people), play an instrument, blog, journal. Use that awesome brain and body of yours to do some really cool and impressive things that are not fitness.
  3. Catch up with friends who care about you as a whole person. This might not be the ideal time to reach out to the friend who can primarily bonds with you over running or CrossFit. Talk with people who know other things about your life and who are likely to ask you about / listen to how your heart is doing at this time.
  4. Be gentle but very honest with yourself. No one is going to tell you to just be sedentary, eat dessert, and deal with your disordered eating that way. At least, no one should give that kind of ultimatum, even if that is what you need. Let yourself move, and eat well. But be very, very honest with yourself in how much the thoughts of fitness and food are pervading your mind. If it’s on your mind and making you feel anxious for most of the day and distracting you from other things, consider #1.

Be not afraid! We will get through this.

Both Mental and Physical Healing

Moves. Some random single leg burpees with no rhyme or reason right before dinner in my apartment room.

Less mobility and the mind. This period of limited mobility has been difficult, because besides the high impact workouts, I can’t just pick up and even go on a nice brisk walk (one of my favorite things to do). Stairs are a hassle and taking the elevator to the second floor is more of a norm. People drive me places (so grateful!). Such is the nature of healing an injury in your leg.

But I’ve reflected a bit on how my mind has actually healed a lot in these past few years. When I was a freshman in college, I would likely be in a BIG tizzy if I were in my situation today. When I came to college, I did 50 squats every day while brushing my teeth. I only took the stairs. I could count on one hand the number of times I took the bus / train. My step count would be well over 10,000 every single day. I would do burpees as a study break. And this was not even including my formal workout. I fueled myself well, but I knew that I was moving so often.

Let me tell you, I’ve been moving a LOT less these days. I do what I can, and I stay active, but my body hasn’t experienced a “formal” workout in forever it seems. Bummed? Of course! But I have so much to explore in terms of what I can do with 3 of 4 limbs. I can put a lot of my mental effort into thinking about my…plank and pushup form. My left hip hinging motion in a pistol squat. Breathing when swimming.

I have so many resources available to me, so there is no real reason for me to complain. I can also be grateful to say that it’s temporary; not everyone can say that. And I can still eat to my satisfaction. Might be less than usual since I’m just not expending as much energy, but sometimes it’s the same amount of food as before my injury, and that’s okay. It helps me get out of the mindset of “workout = must eat more food, no workout = must eat less.”

“Why does Janice’s face look like yours?” Real quote from one of our (*cough* Asian) students in dance class last night. Like, what!? Boy, in that case, my face looks like yours too! It was comical and I’m not actually mad at this 5 year old boy, but Janice and I have definitely received a lot of comments and questions about our ethnicity and/or relation to each other, especially in St. Louis this past summer (I love STL but it truly has a different demographic and… disposition). Diversity (and general manners? even in adults, lemme tell ya) is a work in progress.

Halloween. I do not have a costume, but one of my favorite embarrassing costumes from the past is a flamingo one year. Oh, and a toucan the next year. Costco apparently stocked up on exotic bird costumes back in the day.

So tell me:

Do you ever have mental struggles when required to back off from exercise / movement?

Do you ever face comments of ignorance re: ethnicity / religion?

Are you dressing up for halloween this year? What are you!?

 

Day in the Life {Second Semester Junior} 

I’ve attempted to write a day in the life post for this semester maybe three times already.

I’ll start taking photos of everything and making mental notes about what I’m doing throughout the day, but then it hits about 7pm, and I give up, either because I realize I have too much work to do or because I forgot to take pictures after breakfast.

I kicked those two gross anatomy exams to the curb on Tuesday, and now I feel like I can do anything with my life.

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shoutout to Janice for being the best study buddy ’til the wee hours in the morning

Duty still calls, but I at least I have a little more time to type up this day in the life!

Wednesday

7:00 AM — Alarm goes off. I immediately know I’m going to need a nap later in the day.

7:08 AM — Roll out of bed, go to the bathroom, brush teeth.

7:15 AM — Crawl back into my bed to do some reading for my “Religion, Health and Medicine” class (the reason I had to wake up earlier than I usually would on a Wednesday).

7:30 AM — Roll back out bed to pray and eat breakfast. I continue reading while eating this zesty jar of overnight oats.

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1/2 c. oats, 1 tsp. chia seeds, 1/4 c. greek yogurt, 1/2 c. milk, half banana, 1/3 of a champagne mango(!), pinch of salt, lime zest ➔ topped with salted cashews in the morning

8:00 AM — Go back into my warm bed to finish reading. Eventually decide that lying in bed is not conducive to reading something analytically/staying awake, so I drag my butt to my desk.

8:50 AM — Cut it close to start getting ready for dance.

9:05 AM — Leave for dance class in Cambridge. It’s snowing and I’m not lovin’ it (but it’s not icy, which is the important part).

9:35 AM — Arrive slightly late to dance, but class usually starts a little late, so I’m right on time! (Unfortunately, life doesn’t often work that way.)

11:10 AM — Dance class ends (my last one of this semester! ☹️). It was a great one! Walk back to my apartment.

11:40 AM — Arrive back at the crib and eat loads of kettle corn and a random piece of chicken. Check my email.

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needed some umami

12:10 PM — Walk to my religion and medicine class.

12:20 PM — In class today, we discuss how social context cannot be separated from mental diseases such as depression and anxiety. Mental illnesses may have specific biochemical bases, but that does not mean that we should treat them one specific way cross-culturally (via antidepressants, for example). Rather, sociocultural factors hold a great weight in the presentation of mental illness, so they should be considered and incorporated when treating patients.

INTERESTING.

1:35 PM — Class ends and I walk back to the apartment for lunch! Part 1 is the last of this tasty massaged kale salad I made on Monday.

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red kale with olive oil, lime juice, honey, salt, pepper

Part 2 was the classic avocado egg toast with sriracha. ♥︎

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(Interruption for avocado appreciation photo)

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what a beauty

Part 3 was a clementine.

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do clementines come from Connecticut?

Part 5 was a couple handfuls of pita chips to fill the tank.

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I read some blogs as I ate.

2:40 PM — Oof, I indulged in a nice long lunch hour. Clean up and get to some studying.

3:50 PM — Remember when I woke up and knew I would need a nap? That hour had come. I nap like a rock for 35 minutes.

4:25 PM — Alarm goes off and I don’t want to move. Lay in bed for a while, checking messages and probably Facebook.

4:50 PM — Get myself together and rush to Mass at the Catholic Center.

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But stop to take this photo. It looks gorgeous out, and it was, but it was also FREAKING COLD. The wind hurt.

5:02 PM — Sneak into Mass a little bit late, but very happy I made it.

5:25 PM — Chat with a few people in the Catholic Center. Eat a banana, some cashews, and a few honey wheat pretzels (the BEST pretzels!).

5:35 PM — Leave to catch the T to Cambridge (again), this time for a workout with InnerCity Weightlifting! Start typing this post on my phone on the commute.

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Christina (@foodietunes, Fit U ambassador, dietetics major, personal trainer, overall wonderful human) organized the event with ICW. Read her super cool post about ICW here.

InnerCity Weightlifting is a Boston organization that takes high-risk individuals – those who have been shot, done significant jail time, and/or grown up on a family income under $10k per year – and teaches them how to be personal trainers. They develop their students’ physical training skills as well as the social, academic, and networking support needed, which college students like us take for granted. In doing so, InnerCity Weightlifting makes a huge impact in the community they work with by decreasing street violence and creating a social change. In keeping their gym location a secret, they are able to provide a safe space for their students who have certain conflicts with others. – Christina for gofitu.com

How rad is that!? The trainers are ex-cons, which might seem sketchy, but it’s totally not. The guys who trained us are awesome dudes.

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6:32 PM — Arrive slightly late (theme of the day/my life), but they hadn’t started yet. Christina takes me to the fridge filled with Hint water and tells me to grab one. Don’t have to tell me twice!

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6:40 PM — We start with a dynamic warmup and then get into the workout. Our trainers took us through three circuits, three rounds each:

  • KB reverse lunges
  • pushups/negative pushups (← the negatives!!! holding at high plank, mid pushup, and chaturanga for 3-4 seconds each, repeat. HELLO.)
  • deadbugs (holding a resistance band on stretch, which made my arms shake, especially after the pushups)
  • KB deadlifts
  • single arm KB rows each arm
  • bear crawls (super slow, super controlled, with little sliders on our backs to prove our stability)
  • med ball slams
  • battle rope slams

The weighted parts were actually the easiest, because the weight and reps were relatively low, but all the bodyweight stuff was killer! Such a fun workout though!

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I wear those socks to dance to help with sliding on the floor, but I forgot to change into normal socks later, so this is what had to happen.

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thank you for this photo, Christina!

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7:30 PM — The workout ends, we learn more about ICW, they give us more Hint waters and KIND bars, and I walk back to the T station to head home. Type some more of this post.

8:15 PM — Arrive back home and cook up some veggies for dinner. I sauté some onions and lacinto kale (I have a lot of kale right now because it was on sale at Whole Foods) in mustard, maple syrup, salt and pepper (← fave way to cook kale!).

8:35 PM — I had the veggies alongside leftover quinoa and chicken thighs with this Stubb’s rub.

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During dinner I read a couple more blogs, check Facebook, upload the day’s photos, and keep typing this post.

9:15 PM — Decide that I want a sweet snack, so I have some Greek yogurt with cinnamon and raisins. Some of my friends are baby barfing at this right now (#hatersgonnahate on raisins).

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10:25 PM — Somehow still typing this post? Wash up dishes, shower (I reeeeek), and do some more studying.

12:00 AM — Pray and hit the hay!

Hope you all have a fantastic Thursday!

ALSO fun news — my dear friend Emily from Beauty in Christ graciously invited me to be on her awesome podcast last week, so that episode is up now on her blog! Click here to check it out. And just read Emily’s blog/listen to her podcast in general. She is a breath of the freshest air.

So tell me:

One thing you are proud to have accomplished this week!

One thing you did and one thing you ate yesterday.

How do you like to cook kale (if you like kale)?

Do you like to take naps?

I’m Happier Without Instagram

SNOW DAY!!!

It’s been two years since our last snow day here at BU. The last time this happened, we were experiencing snowpocalypse and had 5 snow days on almost every Monday of the week from January-February.

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#tbt

Someone noted that the Patriots won the Super Bowl that year also…

Yesterday it was sunny and warm, except for the morning when I got to ice skate to dance class. This is actual footage of me walking  perilously penguin shuffling across the frozen-over bridge.

I have never more greatly appreciated the function of salt on the sidewalks.

From salt and snow to INSTAGRAM. (#NoSegueNoProblem #BloggerLife)

I’ve been on a break from (what used to be) my favorite social media platform for over a month now. I miss it sometimes as I’m not “in the loop” with health living bloggers and friends as much anymore, but I can’t say that I truly miss it. In fact, I dare say that I am much happier without Instagram.

The main reason for which I am happier is that Instagram was a comparison trap for me, whether I liked to admit it or not, and now I’ve finally cut it out of my life. This mostly applies to fitness. I am much more content with my workouts (vs. thinking about the workout that someone else posted on Instagram today), and I’m less concerned about what my body looks like on a day to day basis.

The temptation to obsess over comments, likes, followers and notifications is gone.

I feel incredibly liberated in not having any social media icons on my phone. I don’t mindlessly pick up my phone to check notifications anymore. My right thumb also feels less fatigued due to less scrolling (true story).

My attention span has probably improved.

I don’t crave noise as much anymore. In fact, I find myself craving silence, which never used to happen.

I take fewer photos, which might be more of an advantage for my friends/family than it is for me.

I just have more brain space without Instagram.

Disclaimers: I do still have Facebook, because it’s a practical way to stay in touch with people and organize school events. Plus, the temptation to scroll on FB isn’t as great as it is on Instagram. Also, I’m not at all saying that everyone will be happier without Instagram. I just know for myself that Instagram has more negative than positive effects on my life.

I’m only a little bit sad to be admitting all of this. I did enjoy sharing workouts and tidbits of life, but I don’t need it, and others don’t need my Instagram presence. I’d say a personal blog is enough of me in the world wide web.

Other scenes from the week:

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an evening with the brachial plexus

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check out this pristine sky on the day I gave my first campus tour in 8 months!

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one thing I like + one thing I like substantially less

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banana bread baked oatmeal with pb + glass o’ milk

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Thrive Market delivery! 

Some moves and grooves I was diggin’ these past two weeks:

// Lower Body Supersets //

  • 3×10 squats
  • 3×20 jump squats
  • 3×10 deadlifts
  • 3×30 side jump lunges
  • 3×3 wall walks
  • 3×10 box jumps

// Hillary’s 400 Heavy Rep Workout //

// 45 Minute Fightmaster Vinyasa Yoga //

// AMRAP and EMOM //

12 min AMRAP (as many rounds as possible):

  • 6 pistol squats each leg
  • 10 burpees
  • 10 situps

10 min EMOM (every minute, on the minute):

10 min EMOM:

  • Even: 20 hamstring ball curls
  • Odd: 20 KB swings

// Fitness Blender 20 Minute Abs and Obliques Workout //

// 16 Minute Workout //

4 rounds, 30 seconds work, 10 seconds rest

Stay safe and warm if you’re in the snow storm! Enjoy your pre-Friday, friends ♥︎

So tell me:

Have you ever taken a break from social media and discovered that you’re happier?

Is it snowing where you live?

Three things about your week!

Your favorite way you’ve moved this week.