Monthly Archives: April 2014

Week 15: A Love Story in Two Parts (Part 2)

This post is for you.

If you’re reading this — I mean it — this post is for you.

You inspire me. You motivate me. You remind me of my worth. You have celebrated me. You have validated me. You have made me feel as though I am being cheered on and loved and supported. You made every single step of my journey so far possible.

I owe so much to you.

When I first started this blog, and indeed, started my wellness journey, I was so embarrassed that the journey even needed to happen. If you read the “Who Am I?” section of this blog, that shame is plastered all over it. I didn’t want the bitchy girls from high school to know I had gained weight. I didn’t want my exes to know. I didn’t want… myself to know, really. It was hard to admit to myself, and even harder to admit publicly.

And so starting this blog was both an act of penance and a leap of faith. By sharing that pain and that shame, I was trying to free myself from it — or at least admit that it was happening. I didn’t really expect anyone aside from my closest friends to read along. I certainly didn’t expect feedback. I just wrote, and put it out there, and did so not because I was self-promoting (I’m embarrassed by this journey, remember?) but because I had promised to myself that I would remain accountable.

But then you found me, reader. And you sent text messages. And you called me. And you messaged me on Facebook. You submitted recipes. You liked posts, commented on pictures, and told me when you ran into me on a random Saturday that you made one of my recipes and now, it’s a staple at your house. You asked me questions. You actually wanted MY advice. You came out of the woodwork after years of our not speaking for whatever reason. You admitted to me that you’re struggling, too. You talked to me about running. You told me new power foods to try. You cheered for me. You read along. You proved to me what I always suspected: That more people feel the way I feel than they care to admit.

The affirmation has been life-changing.

I am all about body positivity, yes, but my blog isn’t about loving where you’re at — at least, not specifically. It’s about finding the motivation to keep going and become better. I think finding that motivation can be just as hard — harder, maybe — than loving who you already are. The discipline and commitment required are no joke. And your support and validation helped keep me on track: knowing you looked forward to posts and knowing you were rooting for me helped me focus on just how much I wanted to really get this right.

I hate to indulge in the cliche, but here it is: You believed in me. And it makes me believe in me.

The best thing I ever, ever did was swallow my shame and write this blog. Becoming open and honest about my struggle with my weight was a huge risk/vulnerability, but in taking those steps, I opened myself up to such wonderful friendships and such genuine support. When I “came clean” about the things that were hard, they became easier. When you all showed me through your love and empathy that I didn’t need to be ashamed, I stopped feeling ashamed. And when you kept coming back to read, I kept writing.

On WordPress, we’ve got over 100 followers. On FB, we’re closing in on 150. And for the record: almost none of those numbers overlap, since my WP readers are people I’ve never met before and about 70 of my FB readers are people I know.

The very best advice I could ever give to anyone who is considering beginning a weight loss or wellness journey? Aside from the obvious — commitment, discipline, etc.? Tell the truth. Tell your story. Be honest about who you are, and what you want, and what you need. And you will be amazed by how many people who know you and love you will support you on this journey.

Week 15 has come, and with it, a new me is popping up out of the dirt and grime like a spring flower, dammit.

I changed my life.

And you helped me.

Thank you.

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Week 15, A Love Story in 2 Parts (Part 1)

This post has been a long time coming.

Together, we have finally arrived at Week 15. Well, it’s Week 16 now, but we’ve reached/passed Week 15, and to me, that’s a big and special week. Long, long ago when this blog first began, I was struggling to keep up my motivation. In one of my posts, I wrote:

“One pound could be anything.

And so, it’s hard to celebrate 1.5 lbs.

It almost feels like the road to weight loss hasn’t started at all yet — it would be so easy to flail and give up now and go back to the world of non-obsessive eating habits. If a pound can fluctuate on any given day, how do I even know I can attribute its loss to my efforts? It’s so tempting to just “start next week,” or have a massive brownie “just this once,” and plan (and then re-plan, and re-plan) on starting tomorrow or next week.

But I suppose I’d never see week 15 then.

And I really want to see week 15. And week 30, week 54.”

In my head, I had a budding romance with Week 15 the way little girls dream of their Prince (or Princess!) Charming. I waited for it. I worked for it. I wondered what it would be like. I imagined myself squeezing into old clothes with ease. I imagined myself running MARATHONS. Actually, I’m kidding about the marathons. Back when I wrote that post, I really hoped in the depth of my heart that I would be able to run a mile or two at once. That was all I wanted. Week 15 became the Camelot, the Promised Land, blah blah blah. Week 15 would not be one ambiguous pound, I thought to myself, Week 15 won’t be able to be denied.

I wanted to see Week 15.

I wanted to see it so badly.

Knowing that if I hung in there long enough, Week 15 would roll around, I realized I had to continually put in the work if I wanted this little waystation/weighstation (har har har) to be what I imagined. So I did. And you helped me. And here’s where we are today.

Today is just past Week 15. We’re on Week 16 now.

And as of a midweek weigh-in, it’s looking pretty definite that I will have lost over 20 lbs by this Friday’s weigh-in, and I’m closing in on the 160’s after beginning this January in the mid-180’s, and beginning WW in general years ago at 198 before finally getting my act together. So that one ambiguous pound has turned into twenty. It cannot be denied.

As of today, I am sitting at my desk and wearing my very favorite shorts. They’re khaki shorts from Loft and they’re comfy and cute and can be worn to look classy or slouchy, depending on whether I feel like a preppy lady or a hipster Q. I love them dearly — and for the PAST THREE YEARS (well, since two full summers and a winter ago) they have not been able to even be buttoned. Today, I’m wearing them slouchily with a flannel and a knit cap, and I’m wearing them with a belt, and I look adorable, and this is the first time I have worn these shorts outside my house (or at all) in THREE YEARS, and it cannot be denied.

When I first began runnning, a “long run” was anything more than a mile. The 30 minutes of Couch to 5K left me beat, every time. The only way I was able to convince myself to keep doing it was to say “It’s only 30 minutes,” and then think of all the other things I could do in 30 minutes and how short it seemed. 30 minutes for Family Guy episodes, a phone game, petting Tag, scrolling through FB… So I convinced myself I could spend the 30 minutes another way. Time went by; I graduated Couch to 5K; I kept running. Now, my shortest runs are 4 miles; my medium runs at 5-6 miles, and my longest runs are 6.5 miles and up. I’ve also cut my per-mile time from 12 to 10. When I first started running, my weight loss was stubborn and I didn’t see immediate changes — and that made it so hard to stick with it. Now, I am losing (on average) 1.7 lbs a week. Now, I look forward to my run each day (well, 5-6 days a week). Now, I do with the treadmill what I used to do with TV: “Oh, five more minutes, please!” I am running, and loving it, and have breezed through most of the 160’s weight-wise with such speed that all I can do is wonder why I didn’t start running sooner. I am a RUNNER, now. It cannot be denied.

Back when I first began my WW-hustle, I used to say to Chelsea pretty much every day: WHEN WILL I GET TO EAT LIKE EVERYONE ELSE AGAIN? WHEN WILL I STOP WANTING SHITTY FOOD? These days, I love everything I eat. I don’t WANT to go back to eating crappy food — the thought makes me queasy. So if that’s how “Everyone Else” eats, well, too bad/so sad. As for wanting shitty food: I don’t, anymore. Aside from the occasional NEED for chocolate, I don’t crave bad foods or large portions anymore. To me, this is perhaps the most shocking victory of all.  I used to get frustrated by smaller portion sizes, by the need to sub ingredients, by the thought that I could never have my “favorite” foods again. Now, I feel as though I eat like a queen. And I feel happier and healthier than I’ve ever been. It cannot be denied.

And so Part 1 of this “Love Story” is the story of all the things I’ve just shared — the weeks we’ve muscled through together, my body and I, and emerged victories. The one pound that has become twenty. The “changes” that became “habits.” The “running goal” that became the best part of my day. Wellness is the slow and beautiful journey of falling in love with yourself. I’m not quite there yet, but I do see more strength and conviction in me than I’ve ever seen before. Finally, my outsides are matching my insides: determined, proud, nuanced and hard-won.

It cannot be denied.

Sodium Sleuthing

Today, I am feeling ponderous.

Here’s what’s up:

Yes, I ate more than usual this weekend. But I did stay within my flex points/activity points even with the extra noshing. At the same time, I do think I gained a little — nothing I couldn’t lose again through some long runs this week, but a gain nonetheless. Meanwhile, for the first time in forever, Chelsea and I made cabbage soup and planned on eating it this week for dinner. Our cabbage soup recipe is divine, yes, but it is also profoundly salty. My weight has shot up in the past two days, despite me going for a nearly 7-mile run, having a functioning digestive system and eating within my points. I think sodium and water retention are the culprits — but how can I be sure?

For starters, I need to make sure I’m drinking enough water to both 1) keep my tummy working and 2) flush sodium out of my system. But then, I still need a plan.

I think my plan for tonight will be to make tuna salad or tofu or something for dinner tonight and eat it instead of the cabbage soup, and see if it changes my water retention or if my weight goes down. Maybe a less-salty option will improve this retention situation. It’s not like I care if the gain is just water and if it lingers awhile, but I don’t want to be marching forward into a bad pattern or bad habit and leaving said pattern/habit unexamined. If sodium is going to take this significant of a toll (nearly 3.5 lbs!) on me, it’s probably a sign I should back off the sodium. Of course, this won’t be hard to do. I can simply eat what I’ve been eating all spring long, and when I make the cabbage soup, use less salt and less bullion. Maybe add some oregano or chives to season in an alternate way.

If switching to a lower-sodium dinner doesn’t do the trick, I’ll assume the weight was gained this weekend — as confusing as that would be. As I say to Chelsea every now and again: I really can’t lose sleep over things like this. If running between 18-25 miles a week and eating within my points won’t cause weight loss, what will?

I’m confident the problem will resolve itself; I just think it would be helpful to pinpoint the problem so that it doesn’t become a problem again.

Recipe: PB&J Chia Seed Pudding

As you all know, I’ve been experimenting with chia seeds lately. They’re low PP and high nutritional value and surprisingly versatile. I’ve been racking my brain for low-PP recipes, and came up with a winner.

Because I’m on WW, I generally avoid processed carbs and useless sugars — which means that peanut butter and jelly, delicious though it is, is a no-go for me these days. It would be one thing if the sandwich had ANY nutritional value, but it doesn’t. (Oh, spare me the peanut butter argument. We both know that’s like saying “Well, chocolate cake has eggs in it! And milk!” A high-fat butter between slices of bread does not a healthy lunch make.) it would be one thing, too, if PB&J made me full. But it doesn’t. It would be one final thing, then, if PB&J were low-PP. And it is not. Three strikes and you’re out, delicious childhood confection!

That is, until now.

I tried this two times, and the second time through got the recipe right I think. It won’t taste exactly like a sandwich — no bread and a softer texture for the PB — but it’s pretty close and kicks a craving, tastes decadent and is actually good for you. Everyone wins!

Ingredients:
— 2 TBSP dried chia seeds
— 1/2 cup water
— 4 TBSP PB2, unprepared (PB2 is a powdered peanut butter; for this recipe, I’m asking for four scoops of the powder.)
— Sugar-free jam

Steps:
— Whisk seeds, water and PB2 together. Allow to set. Setting can take anywhere from ten minutes to overnight. Wait for the seeds to congeal.
— Dollop 1 TBSP of sugar free jam of your choice on top.
— Enjoy!

PP value: 4 PP, depending on what jam you use. Mine is 0 PP for 1 TBSP.

Wonderful Weekend Wrap-Up

Oh, just call me the Alliteration All-Star.

I’m joking.

I might be joking.

Am I joking?

Anyway, I gained a wee bit of weight this weekend, but I expect it’ll be gone as I plow through my workouts this week.

How did I gain the weight? And do I regret it?

Here are your answers.

1) This weekend, Chelsea’s mom & her boyfriend and my parents all came into town for our cake tasting and to go out to dinner at the Binghamton Club, where our wedding reception will be held. Lots of food. I planned to enjoy myself and I DID enjoy myself. I didn’t do anything dramatically bad — but I definitely did NOT drink enough water, and I think that’s a large part of the culprit. My stomach refuses to work like a normal stomach when I don’t drink half an ocean a day.

2) Despite the fact that I ate more than usual, I did stay within my points and am not bothered by the momentary gain. And even if I do gain, it’s a lesson learned. And I’m not worried about it. And I don’t regret it. Because life is for the living, I say! Enjoying the occasional really big treat is never a bad thing. I made pretty healthy choices all weekend despite eating a larger quantity than normal; these occasions are what life is. Can’t be stressing about it. I bet by the end of the week I’ve still gone down a bit and lost.

I’m back on the wagon as of today (Monday) though, and ran 6.8 miles to make up for taking Saturday and Sunday off.

Back to the grind, man.

Project Speed Demon Update

As those of you who check in often already know or assume, I’ve been hitting that treadmill and working that hustle at least 3-5x a week, every week, since I started the Couch 2 5K program.

Never lookin’ back, gangsta. No way.

Why?

Because the pounds are FALLING OFF.

I’ve been working on my speed a little, trying to get more comfortable at 6.0 instead of 5.0. Lately, I’ve been doing 3 minutes at 5.0 then 3 at 6.0 and repeating. Today I tried something different: 5×5, 4×4, 3×3, 2×2, 1×1 — and repeating that twice. Counting my warmup, that all took 65 minutes and then I ran two more minutes at 6.0 to get to 6.2 total miles.

It wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be to do those longer stretches. Color me pleasantly surprised.

I think my energy has been, in part, fueled by my newfound interest in chia seeds. My aunt got me interested in trying them when I spoke with her on Easter, and this week I have eaten two tablespoons of them mixed with water right before running. I’m finding that my fatigue is VERY less noticeable. Like, to the point where, if time wasn’t an issue, I could probably have done another mile or two today. For me, that is a SIGNIFICANT change.

Either my body is a living miracle or chia seeds really do boost energy and fend off runner’s fatigue.

It’s not that I ever got hungry while running but I would, of course, get tired — especially those long, over-one-hour runs. Lately though with these little seeds, I am feeling strong. It’s quite helpful for days I’m really giving it all I’ve got.

Aside from that, nothing wild to mention about running. I’m still doing it; I’m still loving it; it’s still melting the fat off my body.

WINNING, all around.

Weekly Weigh-In #15

Another happy week!

In the words of my spirit animal, Iggy Azalea: “It feels so good getting what I want.”

I’m new to Iggy Azalea but, really, hearing “Fancy” was like my heart coming home. That girl is speaking my truths. Mm, preach.

Anyway, back to what you’re here to find out! THE NUMBERS.

Last Week: 165.5
This Week: 163.8
Loss This Week: 1.7
Loss Since January: 19.5

SO CLOSE TO TWENTY! Frustratingly close. Ah well, next week. Can’t be worried about it right now. Feeling too pleased.

Spaghetti Squash: MY CHANCE AT LOVE.

Fellow WW-ers, you know we ain’t ’bout that high-carb life.

At first, that was tough for me. I love bread. I could care less about rice or pasta, but I do love bread. These days, I eat NO rice, NO pasta and my bread is very limited. And, really, it doesn’t bother me. I’m strong; I’m healthy; the food pyramid that says you should eat a ton of grains is full of crap. Plenty of people eat no grains and get their protein elsewhere and are healthy, happy people. So, haters, take note. You don’t need to patronize me with tales of how I MUST eat rice, etc.

I’ve noticed that most WW-folks who still want rice and grains used in their diets multiple times a week aren’t including those things for nutrition’s sake anyway — but rather because they don’t want to give them up. Makes sense. But I had a realization and the realization led to a firm stance:

If what I’m putting into my mouth isn’t 0PP, it has to “do” something for me. It has to have some nutrients or antioxidants or fiber or protein. It can’t just be useless.

As far as I’m concerned, most processed carbs are useless. I like quinoa and bulgur, but am pretty much phased out of everything else. And everything else, friends, includes spaghetti.

UNTIL NOW.

My sister-in-law, Jill, mentioned to me that we should explore spaghetti squash. Recently, we decided to try. And boy, were the results delicious!

I can’t really post the recipe, since Chelsea made it — not me — and so she’ll need to guest-post to tell you her process. I know it contains tomatoes, spaghetti squash, mushrooms, spinach, vegetarian “chicken” strips, and seasonings. I know a whole massive bowl makes me so full I could die, and is only 5PP. I know I have had it for dinner twice this week and loved it.

If you’re unfamiliar with spaghetti squash, here’s a brief description: It’s a squash that you cut in half, scoop out the guts, bake, and then peel out the flesh. It comes out looking like little spaghetti noodles. It’s as simple as that.

The texture, of course, is only sort of similar to spaghetti. It doesn’t taste like a bowl of carbs. But if you’re already not eating much by way of noodles, it doesn’t really matter — gave the same effect to me, for example. And because it can be served heated, you can make any pasta-esque dishes using it and not have to sacrifice flavors or heat. Not everything can be served over a bed of greens, ya heard? As much as we love salads at my house these days, we were interested in finding a low/zero PP way to make hot mixed dishes like the one Chelsea’s been making this week. Now, we have a way!

The squash are deceptively filling and go a long way, portion size. We initially bought two small squash. That ended up being enough for FOUR dinners. So, word to the wise: Don’t over-buy. The squash is a totally reasonable price though and keeps fine in a fridge one prepped. What’s not to love?

Mostly, I’m excited because I’m a gal who loves a hot dish. I’ve learned to like salads, etc. as meals, but my favorite thing to dive into after a long day is a steamy bowl of, well, anything.

The texture and flavor of spaghetti squash means I can make warm meals with savory elements that are low or zero PP – healthy comfort food ahoy!

All in all, finding new ways to enjoy foods that grow right from the earth is always exciting to me, especially when they open doors to new aspects of cooking (or, should I say, offer a return to the preparation of certain types of dishes). Eating “clean” is a great way to make sure that you get nutrients and all that good stuff from the earth instead of a factory — I truly feel better since I cut out processed stuff and looked for more earth-based foods.

If you’ve not yet tried spaghetti squash, I totally recommend. It seemed intimidating at first to bake and prep the squash, but Chelsea swears it was a breeze. SO THERE ARE NO EXCUSES.

I command you, dearest readers, to go find spaghetti squash at your local grocer RIGHT NOW, so that you too can experience its glory.

You won’t regret it!

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A Sweet Little Thing

Chelsea, as always and ever, is my biggest supporter and biggest fan. When I saw online that some fellow WW-ers had made visual representations of their success so far, I got it in my head that I wanted to try and make my own. It’s a simple task, really: I just required two small mason jars and some colored rocks. Yesterday, Chelsea said she’d like to take me to the store so I could pick up these few items and begin to assemble my jars! She’s the best.

I don’t have pictures yet — the signs I painted for each jar are not yet dry — but here’s what I did.

I broke each pound into quarters, so that 1.0 lbs would be represented by 4 pebbles. That seemed to be more “exact” to me than doing whole lbs. (What if I lose 2.4 lbs in one week or something, you know? Then I’m trying to remember from the week before what I need to add, blah blah blah.) I filled one jar with “17.5 lbs worth” of pebbles, and the other with the remaining 35 lbs to go.

At Michael’s (the craft store), Chelsea found these super cute little wooden tags. We bought two, and I used puffy paint from home to label the tags “Lbs Lost” and “Lbs to Go” — they’re still drying, but soon they’ll adorn my jars.

The point of this craft is twofold. The visual of how much success I’ve had so far makes me proud; the visual of how far I still have to go makes me humble. Overall, I love the idea of these little jars. It’s a way to show, outside my body, the work I’m putting in and the success that results.

A great, big THANK YOU to Chelsea for encouraging the project and for procuring the materials! I’m so excited to show the finished product. And, for the record, I would never have gotten this far without her love and support. She practically moved those 17.5 lbs worth of pebbles herself!

Waging War with the Frenemy Within

This year hasn’t been an easy one.

Before I go on, I’ll preface with this: I’m blessed. I am nearly miraculously blessed. I am living one-in-a-million odds in many ways, from my family’s continued (or newly re-begun) health to my arrival in a PhD program at age 24 to my stable, wonderful, soul-affirming relationship and its fast approaching trip down the aisle. I am blessed with two wonderful jobs (three, if you count side work and four if you count being a student) and while we are far from wealthy, there’s always some extra cash around for frozen yogurt, or a trip to the movies. I know I am blessed.

But this year has been really hard, even with those blessings in tow.

For even the most stable person, the beginnings of a PhD program are stressful. Coupled with my teaching college classes for the first time, preparing for my wedding, and trying to live my life on a budget — well, it’s kind of like having caffeine or kryptonite injected straight into my heart most of the time whenever I think about how much farther I still need to go to get to where I eventually want to be. I try to take things day by day; I try to focus on the moment. And sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t, and always I have a fresh slate in the morning upon which to try again.

I am — some of you may know — a person who lives with depression and anxiety. Not the fidgety-ness that many folks blame their inadequacies on… rather, the kind that grips my whole body and whole brain and makes it hard for me to feel, do, or grasp anything. For the past several years, this problem has been under control. I don’t require medication; I use a variety of mental and behavioral coping techniques that keep me in control of my own body, mind and life. This past school year has been really hard; this spring, I knew that my depression was skulking around in the back of my brain. I could sense it. As I’ve learned to do, though, I would not let it dictate a moment of my life.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I want you to know — whether you are a fellow WW-er or just an interested family member/friend or an adventurous cook or maybe you’ve even just stumbled upon my blog by accident — I want you to know that the best thing I ever did for myself was begin to take charge of my health. Specifically, when I began to exercise more — and even more specifically, when I began to run — I found a new and powerful way to manage the things that make my life uncommonly hard.

Everyone who’s into fitness will tell you that working out releases those happy endorphins into the brain. I think that’s probably correct, except my endorphins never arrive until after the workout is over. That’s okay. I know that on bad days, if I can get myself to go for a good run, I will walk back up my basement steps feeling calmer and in control.

And “control” can be a double-edged sword, I know; wanting to “control” my body might sound like dangerous language to be using. It can be seen as the language of disordered eating, of body dimorphism, etc. — but for me, I promise, it is nothing so insidious. Taking charge of my health has allowed me to maintain the vessel that HOLDS my poor Brain; Brain, who, for me, works overtime every day — whose goal in life is to work beautifully and well. I am an academic and a scholar. If my mind isn’t on the right set of tracks, nothing is. And protecting my body has served my mind well. Having control over my daily routine and my health has allowed me to plow through the most difficult academic year of my life with aplomb so far.

There are days where teaching is overwhelming. There’s a line in an Ani Difranco song — something like, “No one asked me if I wanted to be everything to someone.” I’m not “everything” to my students — but the responsibility of answering their never-ending emails, guiding them, teaching them and being a mentor and authority figure is SO MUCH HARDER THAN I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE.

There are days when my coursework is too much. Independent study, coupled with a psychotic history class experience that has forever soured me on branching out from my department — blah. I am drained most days just by the struggle to keep up.

There are days when the future is TERRIFYING: the job hunt in the awful academic market, the baby that Chelsea and I will struggle to add to our family,  the difficulties of paying for school and paying for life on grad student salaries, wondering if our marriage will ever be legal in PA or if I’ll have to live a state away forever, wondering if everyone I love will stay healthy, wondering if I will stay healthy…

My brain latches onto all these things and can’t let go. I get stuck. I get overwhelmed. For the past several months, though, I’ve found a temporary re-balancing cure: I go for a run; I take care of my body, so it can take care of my mind.

By eating enough nutrients — through foods like kale, berries, etc. — I have avoided being ill for most of the winter and spring. This is new for me; I’m usually decrepit by now.

By exercising, I’ve boosted my weight loss and my self-confidence. I’ve also, interestingly, boosted my comfort. For those of you who have never been overweight at all — you can’t really imagine how uncomfortable it is to carry extra weight around. Not when walking, etc. but moreso when there’s no type of clothes that are wholly loose and cozy. Moreso when there’s no way you can lay where you don’t get in your own way. Moreso when you feel like you just have too much space that you’re occupying and you wish it were different. Roughly 18 lbs down, and my cozy clothes swim on me. My couch feels comfier. I think less about moving my body around obstacles it faces during the day. I am comfortable.

By getting enough sleep, I’ve given myself the energy and stamina to tackle the above two things.

By mindfully tracking points and never giving myself the ability to make excuses, the plan continues to work for me. It might seem to you, readers, that I lose slowly — but at 5’3, if I lost more quickly, there’d be major problems.

All in all, this wellness journey hasn’t just healed my body (or hasn’t started to heal my body, I guess I should say, since I’ve got 35 lbs to go) — it has helped to heal my mind. Who knew these changes in lifestyle would heal something that pharmaceuticals struggled to manage?

I’ll end with a little anecdote.

Yesterday, I was sitting on my bed and getting increasingly anxious and frustrated about how much work is left in this semester — particularly because one of my professors has continually made life difficult. I started thinking about how busy this week will be, and about how I don’t have my usual day off on Friday and won’t be able to run, and about how we have company coming this weekend and what if I can’t run then, etc. etc. and my thoughts twisted and spiraled and wound around me like a vise. I got to a point that’s not unfamiliar to me: I felt like I couldn’t move. But instead of giving in to that anxiety, I asked myself this question: “Will you really feel better if you sit here?” The answer was no, and I knew it. Then, I asked myself, “Will you feel better if you run?” Stubbornly, I said, “I don’t know” (in my head, to myself). Through brute force — and those of you who have anxiety issues too will know the force it takes — I stood up and grabbed one of my workout tops from my closet. I flicked it at the bed and announced to Chelsea: “If I don’t go for my run, the anxiety wins. And it will not win today.” Off I went to the basement. It was a short run — 3.7 miles in 42 minutes, counting that 5-min walking warm-up — but I came back upstairs feeling better and feeling more in control. It changed the tone of my day and of my week.

Choices like the one I made yesterday? They have changed the tone of my life.

In short, I have begun to save myself from myself.

KNOW THY ENEMY, they say.

I’ll add: Yeah, know the enemy. And then, win.