Well-being

Wellness Wednesday: March Check-In

There has been so much I have wanted to say in the past month but the words don’t come as freely to me as they did before. It has been quite the month to say the least but what I can say is I’m exhausted, I’m worried, and I’ve been fighting the fight since day one.

But before I get into that, let’s check in with my February goals and see how that’s going:

Goal #1: Be more physically active

I am so happy to say I have actually done well in this area! I am continuing to do yoga every day when I wake up, and am doing another form of exercise (usually HIIT or another more intense yoga video) three times a week.

While I haven’t been following Yoga with Adriene’s March calendar, I have been selecting videos based on my mood or muscle groups to target and have still maintained this habit.

I feel lighter, taller, my posture is better, and I’m overall feeling more awake in the morning.

Goal #2: Eat better 

So far so good for this one too! Woohoo! I am still keeping track of the meals I eat. Rather than strictly counting calories, I am also being more mindful of eating more vegetables and meal prepping more. I am not skipping breakfast (for the most part) and with my Hidrate Spark water bottle, I am also drinking more water and reaching my water intake goals for the day. Although they are a little more on the pricey side, the glowing reminders and the graph tracking my progress throughout the day has been very reinforcing.

 Goal #3: Keep Going

With this mindset, I am feeling proud of the work I have put towards improving myself. I have lost about 8 lbs since February 2nd but even more importantly are the non-scale victories I have been achieving:

  • my clothes fit better
  • my energy levels are much higher
  • I have continued sticking to a routine
  • I am more mindful of what I eat, do, and how much I sleep

Other Events in My Life:

I may have mentioned this in the past but I work as an instructor therapist with children with autism and other developmental disabilities. If you aren’t a resident of Ontario (or even if you are), you may not have heard that the provincial government has changed its autism program in terms of funding.

To quickly summarize: children were previously assessed on need and several children were on a waitlist to access services such as IBI (which is work I do – Intensive Behavioural Interventions). This plan claims to clear the waitlist and provide families with more choice.

While on the surface, it looks to be more fair and equitable, it isn’t. The only way it IS fair and equitable is that NO children will be able to access the treatment they need for success. Here are Mike Moffat’s 10 short reasons the new Autism Program should be scrapped. (I could honestly write like, 10 more blog posts on this subject ALONE)

For a more detailed look at what the Ontario PC government has claimed and the truth behind those claims, check out this article.

Here’s how it affects me:

  1. I am so worried for the children and families. I have worked in adult services and that is no walk in the park (honestly, I could also write a few blog posts about this as well). I have so much hope for these children, especially those I have worked with and I want the best for them and their futures. Families are being put in a difficult position financially, emotionally, and mentally. They have a hard enough time with day-to-day activities but are now forced to spend what little spare time they have to fight against the government on social media, through emails, meetings, and other efforts. Being an empathetic person by nature, it is impossible not to take these feelings to heart and feel what they feel. I continue to fight with them for a better solution.
  2. Job security – Families pay for services which then pays us. Lack of access to services due to insufficient funds means lack of work. It is very uncertain in the field of ABA how companies will be able to stay strong financially throughout this crisis. This is widespread across the province with layoffs beginning in companies already. While I have faith in my organization and the strong, dedicated leaders, the uncertainty is not something I am good at handling as someone with a diagnosed anxiety disorder. I am a planner. I like to know what lies ahead. I don’t have that. I am nervous. I am trying to remain positive.

That is just scratching the surface of all of the thoughts and feelings I have about this today. I will be releasing an infographic I created talking more about the Ontario Autism Program for those interested.

I’m off to do a night yoga routine before going to sleep. I need it tonight, especially.

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A Day of Love

Ahh Valentine’s Day. Can you smell the love in the air?

I have to admit, I wasn’t going to blog tonight. I’m not even really a fan of Valentine’s Day. Never really have been.

When I was 3 and in toddler time at the library, I remember (quite vividly, believe it or not), coming home from “library school” and being upset because I had received valentines from kids who I didn’t want valentines from because I knew they didn’t like me and I didn’t want them to give them to me because they felt like they had to (or really because their moms filled them out for everyone in the program). I even kept that group of valentines in my memory box for far too long.

When I was in grade 7, my first “boyfriend” broke up with me on Valentine’s Day because he wanted to ask some other girl to be his girlfriend but he still gave me a stuffed animal and chocolate, so that end of the deal wasn’t bad.

At the end of the day, it’s a commercial holiday which is exciting because tomorrow, chocolate will be half price and THAT is something to celebrate. (JK I’m eating healthy now… see yesterday’s post)

On social media, I see posts upon posts of significant others and blah blah blah. My boyfriend won’t answer my text messages let alone care that I’ve posted a picture of us for the world to see and collect likes. I am totally NOT meaning to bash the people that do it, but maybe I just feel like I don’t need to do that. I think my mentality has shifted a bit with me [trying] to post less on social media. Particularly, less about my personal life on social media.

Do I love my boyfriend? Without a shadow of a doubt. I tell him every day. Probably about a million times a day. Every day, at some point during the day, I tell him I’m glad he’s my best friend and I appreciate everything he is.

Truthfully, I am happy I have found someone who I can share all the deep dark stuff and the sunshine and rainbows stuff. I can be in a room with him and be perfectly comfortable saying nothing just being in each other’s presence is enough. I can also talk to him about anything. I’m honestly surprised sometimes how we haven’t run out of things to talk about. He is my best friend and best half. I couldn’t ask for a better partner to journey through life with. There I go, sharing publicly with the world that I love him.

On this day of love, I just want to briefly say, I hope you all have had a wonderful day of love. You are all loved. You are all worthy of love. Give yourself a little self-love today.

February Check-In

It has been a quiet start to 2019 thus far. January knocked me off my feet, quite literally, as I had shingles for the first part of the month and spent a lot of time quarantined in my bedroom.

Now that I am feeling much better, February has become the new January in terms of putting goals into action. To hold myself accountable, I am sharing some of my goals on here (as I usually do).

Goal #1: Be more physically active

I have mentioned Yoga with Adriene before but if you’re hearing about her for the first time, she is my go-to yogi on YouTube. Her videos are easily accessible, and each month, on her website she posts a calendar and an overall focus for the month. This month’s focus is Care. Here’s the link to check out her website: https://yogawithadriene.com/calendar/ and one for her YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene. I promise, there is something for everyone.

I am doing the Care videos every day this month and haven’t missed a beat. I have even started waking up at 6:30am every day to squeeze it in. This weekend, I will be away and I will be swapping out the longer videos with the short 5-7 minute practices so I can still stay in my routine.

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I recently cancelled my gym membership. Although I have nothing bad to say about the facility, I don’t live close to it anymore. It wasn’t convenient, especially not with work and school right now. Driving 20 minutes to the gym seemed a bit out of the way and it was wasted money. So I thought about it and if time to go to the gym is the biggest barrier, how can I make up for it? As a two-in-one kind of way, I decided to take 20 minutes away from screen time (phone, laptop, tablets), 3 times a week. I have chosen 3 times a week so I can still prioritize school and watch lecture videos and study when I am home from work. I am using the Nike Training Club app. It’s free and I can cast it to the TV. Afterwards, I can shower and head to bed. This routine is going well so far.

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Goal #2: Eat better 

I decided against doing a February Whole 30 this time around. I was going to do one to “cleanse” my system out and create some good habits. Alternatively, I have decided to use what I learned from Whole 30 and really try to be more mindful of what I’m eating. I’m keeping track my meals. Each time I put an entry in, I think, “I would rather not be doing this, I think ignorance is bliss.” But the awareness is eye-opening. I have been trying to make better choices. And my partner has been doing the same, which has been motivating for me as well. We’re not really restricting anything from our diets but just being mindful of portion, type of food, and eating more fruit and vegetables. 5f46d950-f1c8-4718-afa9-a1e370e036c9.jpg             5b9051cf-ae0d-47fe-9be6-21a068eea2d0.jpg

 Goal #3: Keep Going

These are goals not new to me. I’ve had them for a while. I will keep working at them. This time around I have set up reinforcement systems in place for reaching both non-scale and scale victories to keep myself motivated. I put so much effort into other areas of my life: work, school, friendships, family – why can’t I put that much effort into myself?

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The First Monday of 2019

Happy New Year, everyone! Today is the first Monday of 2019. A new year, a new set of goals, and new opportunities.

I tried to write a post last week about the things I learned in 2018 and I could not bring myself to finish.

To my friends and family I did not get to see much of in 2018, I am sorry.

I was rotten at returning text messages. I didn’t attend as many events as previous years. I shut myself out. It was truly a year of self-care and introspection.

To be honest, my mental health took a bit of a dive in 2018. I had panic attacks in the frequency and intensity as I used to have when I was first diagnosed in 2012. It scared me. I felt as weak as I did back then, times. I tried to push through it. But everything just felt so busy. In the past year, I worked full time, was in school part time, both completing my master’s thesis and then starting coursework, and trying to balance other responsibilities. I made it through, relatively unscathed. And now, I’ve been trying to reframe my overwhelming schedule as passionate ambitions.

Old Resolution: Social Media
One of my new year’s resolutions this year was to post less on social media. On my personal instagram, I posted about 80 times this year which works out to be about 6.9 times per month or 1.6 times per week. I liked not posting much on social media. However, when I would see people I hadn’t seen in a while, they would often say to me, “wow, it seems like you’ve been up to a lot of exciting things lately!” And naturally, I’d laugh and agree.

I, along with other millennials, embellish things on social media. No one posts the bad stuff on social media. On my blog page (@frompanictoplate), I have posted some more honest pictures and quotes, and honestly, that was refreshing. It was also comforting to have people inbox me and share their experiences and feelings with me. While social media can feel embellished and fake at times, sharing some of the vulnerable parts of yourself, the real parts of yourself, can be empowering.

New Resolution: Goals For Me and For Others
Something I started in the last quarter of 2018 was to say no to one extra responsibility a week. This meant saying no if asked to work an extra shift in an already busy week or maybe not doing the “suggested” reading for school so I could make more time for myself.

To continue this in 2019, I want to instead do (at least) one thing a week for me and just me. This may include saying no to an added responsibility or an act of self-care.

I also want to do (at least) one thing a week that improves my relationships with others. Maybe this is texting a friend I haven’t talked to in a while to see how they are doing. Maybe it’s making plans with someone for a coffee or other inexpensive outing.
I want to do better. I want to be a better friend.

Mental Health Meets Physical Health

A goal I would like to especially prioritize this year is taking better care of my mental health, especially due to the toll it has taken on my physical health in the past year. I was sick quite a bit and not just like, a little cold here and there. I had laryngitis (at least twice), one of the most painful UTIs I have ever experienced, and now, I am writing this while on the couch wincing at the overwhelming pain that comes with shingles.

To avoid feeling like this in the future (or ever again), I know I need to take care of myself and not push myself because I “like being busy.” I am learning to accept that taking care of myself is not selfish.

So here is to a new year and new exciting opportunities for growth and to make memories with those we love. 6fe48211174875e2cc330edb2519d971.jpg

Men’s Mental Health

Today is Men’s Mental Health Awareness Day. This week leading up to Father’s Day is an awareness week all about men’s mental health.

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It’s hard being a female in society with a mental illness; due to the gender stereotypes that have formed over the years, women are perceived as emotional beings. These same stereotypes have also acted as a barrier for males suffering from mental illness as they are supposed to be the strong ones who don’t let things get to them.

Regardless of gender, race, or age, mental illness can affect all of us. Social stigma inhibits individuals from sharing their stories or getting the help they require.

Examining males, specifically (taken from Movember Canada):

  • 1 in 10 Canadian men will experience major depression in the course of their lives
  • 3 of every 4 suicides are men

What can we do?

  • Talk about it. Ask questions. The more we talk, the more we combat the stigma as we build an understanding.
  • Listen. Listen to their stories. Listen for cries for help. Listen to your friend.
  • Encourage action.
  • Check in with those you love.

Here are a list of articles and resources I recommend taking a look at:

https://ca.movember.com/mens-health/we-need-to-talk

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/talking-about-men/201702/mens-mental-health-silent-crisis

https://headsupguys.org/

Making a List & Checking it Twice

It’s Wellness Wednesday of March Break! I am working today so not entirely a break but it isn’t so bad when you love what you do.

To help break down all the thoughts in my head and all the things I feel like I have to do, I like to make lists: grocery lists, to-do lists, pros/cons lists, and lists about lists. I contain most of them in a notebook purely dedicated for making lists.

This is what the first page of my lists book looks like:

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There are several benefits for list making.

  1. For one, it reduces anxiety. I find that getting things out of my head and onto paper makes me feel almost instantly better.
  2. It holds you accountable. Just like I decided to post every day about my Whole 30 journey to hold me accountable, writing down your task and goals allows you to be accountable to yourself.
  3. It helps you organize your thoughts in one place. It reduces clutter and I like to break my big thoughts and tasks into smaller subsequent parts.
  4. …which leads me to this point: it feels damn good crossing something off your list. You get feelings of higher productivity and higher self-esteem.
  5. Lists help keep your priorities in check. Today I made a list of all the things I have to do from sorting my laundry and cleaning my room and writing my dissertation. Having it written down allows you to see them all and figure out what should be done first, and create strategies for getting them done.

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I have two to do lists on the go right now. There is one with ~50 things on it that I need to get done (a larger list). I have another that I like in my agenda that is on the side that I fill out weekly, which is more short term goals.

Here is a link to an interesting article I read entitled “How Making Lists Can Quell Anxiety and Breed Creativity” by Carrie Barron, M.D.

Happy Wellness Wednesday!

“Every day’s to-do list.
1.) Listen
2.) Trust
3.) Do”
― A.D. Posey

Daily Affirmations

Happy Wellness Wednesday or Well-being Wednesday! (reader’s preference)

We made it to hump day. How are you feeling?

I feel pretty good, considering this week feels like it is moving very slowly, it has been a good week so far.

A (Mid)Week in Review

This week, I have already started to make a few changes to my morning and evening routines:

  • I have reduced the amount of screen time when I wake up and before bed.
  • I have started using skin care products in the morning and evening and have been much better about remembering to take off my makeup at night
  • I have started meditating in both the morning when I wake up (~5 minutes) and before bed (~30 minutes…but I usually fall asleep partway through)
  • I keep a water bottle beside my bed so I can have some water in the morning before my morning coffee or tea
  • I am keeping up with my Five Minute Journal more. Starting the day off with gratitude is very pleasant!
  • I am trying to read a bit before bed each night while I “unplug.” I always complain I don’t have time to read. So I am making the time!

Other Victories So Far This Week: 

  • I tried vegan cheese…and loved it! (Nuts for Cheese is the company. They’re based in London, ON.)
  • Fell in love with Farm Boy (again)
  • Made plans with friends I haven’t seen in a while
  • I have read and made notes on several articles for my dissertation
  • I got a gym membership for a place much closer to my house with several locations around the world! They offer yoga and Pound! classes and I am so excited to try them out!
  • I created a Daily Affirmations jar

What are Daily Affirmations?

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As stated in the Five Minute Journal, daily affirmations are statements of what you want in your life. Every time you write or say these statements, you are priming your brain and yourself to start believing these beliefs. If you get the Five Minute Journal, they include information about a psychological study that also goes into the logic behind daily affirmations but if you want more quick information, here’s a link with some examples: https://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/instagram-positive-affirmations/

What is MY Daily Affirmation?

The one I write in my journal every day is a combination of two of the examples in the Five Minute Journal. Honestly, I found it difficult in the moment to come up with my own even though a quick Google search would’ve helped at the time.

This is my daily affirmation:

I am comfortable in my own skin and I live with passion and purpose.

I made a jar with 21 other affirmations and I will read one each day in addition to increase more positive vibes and using the Law of Attraction.

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Morning Routines

How do you start your day?

Do you hit snooze a few times and get up at the last possible moment? Does your alarm list look like this?IMG_1704.jpg

Mine used to. Now, I only have one alarm. And I use all my self control to not press snooze.

Right now, my current routine is as follows:

Wake up

[Usually: Check social media]

Skin care routine

Make my bed

Stretch

Write in my Five Minute Journal

Get dressed and do my makeup

Make a coffee and have breakfast

Leave for work

 

Not too bad? Well, I would like it to look more like this:

Wake up

Stretch or do yoga

Make my bed

Drink water

Write in my Five Minute Journal

Meditate

Read a few pages of a book

Skin care routine

Get dressed and do my makeup

Make a coffee and have breakfast

Leave for work

A few extra steps would make all the difference. I’m hoping to work towards better morning and evening routines in the near future and will blog about it next week to hold myself more accountable.

Let’s do this!

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Fighting the Flu

Well, here we are: we’re on our way to the end of February and the flu is spreading like wildfire at my workplace. And I am currently in recovery day 5 of having the flu.

On Saturday I woke up feeling as though I was hit by a bus – a bus that was on fire. I felt like I was extremely hot and cold at the same time with a mix of fever and chills.

I had the textbook symptoms:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)

All I could think was: could I have avoided this by getting the flu shot like my mother said?

Reports such CNN as say that the flu vaccine is only 36% effective this year. So is it worth getting? I have not gotten the flu shot because I have been on and off sick since winter started, especially working with children. I was going to get the flu shot once I was healthy but I have not found that time. And alas, here we are. I don’t think I’m a credible source for whether or not you should get the flu shot but I will say that if I had gotten the flu shot, perhaps I would not have been hit this hard with the symptoms.

I have a Fitbit and I thought this was interesting (since I’m a huge data nerd) but you can see how being sick has affected my resting heart rate. I woke up sick on the 17th where my resting heart rate jumped from 69 to 72 and today it is 82. I have caught myself in coughing fits where my heart rate has been at 132 bpm. I hope with more rest and relaxation, I can get it back down where it belongs.

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How to Fight the Flu

Sleep
They say sleep is the best thing for you when you’re sick? They’re right. Absolutely right. I attribute getting better quickly to sleeping a lot this weekend and over the past couple of days. I slept last night for 10 hours and I feel a million times better. All I have left is a residual cough.

Hydration
Tea.
Water.
Orange juice.
Soup.
Repeat.

Advil was my saving grace over the past few days to help with the aches and fever. Taking a hot bath with epsom salts also helped ease the aches and pains.

I hope if you’re reading this, you don’t get the flu or fall victim to another form of sickness this winter. Stay cozy, friends!

The Fight Within

Today’s post is not about food. I am remaining compliant today and have 9 days left in Whole 30, but in the past 24 hours, something more important has taken over my thoughts. Apologies in advance for my disorganized array of thoughts.

Last night, I received news that a good friend is fighting hard with his battle with cancer but has unfortunately been placed in a palliative care unit in the hospital.

When I received the news, I froze. My first thought: I have to go visit him. My second thought: I haven’t stepped foot in that hospital since my dad died and I wasn’t sure I would be strong enough to do it. I want to and my intention is there, but these multi-level feelings of grief, weakness, and heartache are complicatedly woven. To the reader, it may not appear to be complicated. My anxiety lenses, however, would gravely disagree.

It’s not the first time in my life that someone I love has fought cancer or other medical battles. I get overwhelmed and frustrated that bad things happen to good people. I try to hold onto the idea that there must be some sort of greater meaning out of all of this.

But then this morning I received news that a friend from high school had suddenly passed away. A sweet girl who has just turned 25, just like I did last week, had her life cut tragically short.

I’m a hopeless romantic and an optimist at heart. I like to believe there is more good in the world than bad. But today is just a hard day. I send prayers to the families and friends of everyone I am thinking about today going through the hardships I mentioned as well as the people who have silent struggles and other hardships they are experiencing at this time.

On this motivational Monday, may we be able to look for the good in the world, have strength to face the bad, and learn lessons from both.