Cycles

Merriam-Webster gives the following definition for cycle:

cycle (n):  a set of events or actions that happen again and again in the same order : a repeating series of events or actions

That is exactly what happens in Bipolar Disorder. Cycles.

Sometimes they aren’t so bad. The upswings, I mean. I tend to a get a lot of stuff done both at home and at work. However, I don’t sleep, I’m irritable, I eat everything, fly into rages, and make stupid decisions. The downswings are a welcome change, except when they make me not want to get out of bed, mess up my sleep, and make me feel constantly exhausted and down.

I have yet to find a happy medium. I definitely notice a difference on a mood stabilizer – first it was Depakote, and now Abilify. My psychiatrist took me off the Depakote once he found out hubby and I wanted to get pregnant (well…I’d be the pregnant one but you know what I mean) since the birth defects can be so bad.

I think I could best be described as “normal” on a mood stabilizer. I get ups and downs like every other person in the world but they’re not as severe. I can almost function like a responsible adult.

Off it, watch out. I am one crazy B. Mood swings, crying, horrible depression.

All of that due to brain chemicals. Who would have thought.

My eating depends on my mood. Some days I’m great; others, not so much. There are days that I can just eat myself through a few drive thrus…other days I don’t wanna eat at all.

I just wish that I could be consistent.

 

How do you remain consistent in the face of temptations?

Music Monday

Since it is finally (FINALLY) beginning to warm up here in the Midwest (read: there’s no snow in the forecast this week, but it may or may not still happen), that means that I can start going outside again. I mean, I don’t mind going out in the winter…as long as I’m just walking to my car.

Anyways, I love to walk outside when it’s nice out. My neighborhood is very walkable, and there are even a few giant hills if I’m feeling adventurous. We’ll just pretend that one of the hills doesn’t take me past two Italian bakeries. Part of the reason I enjoy the walks is because I get to listen to music!

Here’s what is on my current playlist – I listen to a mishmash of stuff, so don’t judge the randomness of it.

- “Take Me Home” – Cash Cash ft. Bebe Rexha

- “Dark Horse” – Katy Perry ft. Juicy J

- “Partition” – Beyonce

- “Gas Pedal” – Sage the Gemini

- “La La La” – Naughty Boy ft. Sam Smith

- “Man of the Year” – Schoolboy Q

- “Welcome Home” – Coheed and Cambria

- “So So” – B.o.B.

- “Up Down” – T. Pain

- “Love More” – Chris Brown ft. Nicki Minaj

- “Why Stop Now” – Busta Rhymes ft. Christ Brown

 

What are you top 3 songs on your playlist right now?

Starting Over

Starting over. Something that I do a lot. Too much. I can’t ever seem to get my head straight or in a headspace where things are “right”.

I’ll do it tomorrow.

I’ll just start over.

Well I messed up today, so it’s okay to just keep spiralling out of control.

That’s usually what I tell myself. However, it’s not like it actually works. I never really “start over”. I just sort of keep going on the downward spiral of eating.

I am so tired of starting over, but I am never able to keep going. I mean obviously not starting over would mean not stopping, right? (Hello, my name is Captain Obvious). What is it? A lack of motivation? A fear of actually succeeding? Lack of support? I often ponder this, but I always come up empty-handed. I literally have zero idea.

My therapist tells me that I avoid feelings. They’re uncomfortable; of course I do. Which I think is sort of ironic because I encourage my clients to experience feelings. Imagine that ;) While I have no problem identifying my feelings, I can’t experience them. I have never learned what it is like to sit and experience embarrassment, shame, sadness, etc. I have to immediately do something about it. Which, because I have poor coping skills, means food of some sort. I will sometimes just go into a panic thinking about experiencing feelings.

And, as read today, “fat is not a feeling”. So what do I feel then?

Shame.

Embarrassment.

Disgust (I think this is a feeling…it’s on my Feelings Bingo cards, anyway)

Hopelessness.

Helplessness.

I struggle with helping myself, because I am so focused on helping others. That is my calling though. I am good at helping other people. But sometimes, I need someone to help me.

 

Food and Addiction

I read this article today in response to the death of Phillip Seymour Hoffman and it got me thinking. For those of you who think the article is TL;DR, the gist of the article is that addiction is not the “problem” – it is a way of coping with a problem (i.e., a mental illness).

This would send me off on a whole different tangent about mental health care and its availability, but I’ll save it..

While this article focuses on drug addiction, I generalized it to addiction in general, including food. Yes, food addiction is real. Numerous studies have shown that the same “pleasure areas” in the brain light up when given pleasurable foods as when given drugs like cocaine and heroin, or engaging in pleasurable activities like sex. Simply put, your brain releases those feel good hormones (endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, whatever you want to call it).

I am not sure if I can classify myself as a “food addict”. I like food, yes. Is it true that I sometimes overeat? Yes. Often? Yeah, probably. Or, do I just have really bad coping skills? Also a possibility (probability).

I think I need to leave the post here for right now. I know what I want to say, but I’m having difficulty saying it. I think I need some more time to figure out what I want to say, exactly, but I will finish this up tomorrow…

Year of the Phoenix

I got a new tattoo on December 31, 2013.

 

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Excuse the back fat.

For those of you who can’t tell what it is, it’s a phoenix. A phoenix is a mythical bird (yes, that would be Fawkes in Harry Potter for all you fellow nerds out there) who cyclically regenerates itself. It is said to be a symbol of rebirth and renewal in general. Coincidentally (or is it? Hmmm…) the phoenix is related to the sun and fire. Which just so happens to also relate to my zodiac sign (I’m a Leo).

Those who know me know that I love tattoos. If I could get away with it at work, I’d probably look something like Kat Von D. I have so many ideas, but so little coverable space…

But I digress. I decided to get this tattoo as a symbol of what I’m hoping will be big things in 2014. I am expecting many life changes, which may or may not happen – we’ll have to wait and see. But my 2013 just kinda sucked. I can literally think of two great things that stuck out – getting a new job and getting a dog. 2014 is the year that I need to take control of my life to get what I want out of it, not just accept what the world is just going to throw at me. I am the only one who can control my life, and I need to take control. If I don’t get myself together, how can I hope to raise children who aren’t like the ones I work with?!

I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t already struggling in 2014. I fell off the healthy wagon already. A trip to my endocrinologist this past Monday left me feeling a bit bad about that, and kind of scared into submission – he told me we’d have to try “Plan C” if I wasn’t down some pounds in 3 months. However, he didn’t tell me what “Plan C” was, and that was a bit alarming.

I’ve begun to realize (after 28 years) that I have to take things in baby steps. I’ve been on track eating-wise since Wednesday. Tuesday I will add exercise into the mix. Nothing all crazy though. Easy does it. One thing I have noticed is if I try to too change too much too soon, I just sort of crap out and lose all motivation. I find that if I get my eating under control, lots of stuff follows and I feel less out of control.

Will this be the year of the phoenix? I hope.

Cravings

Day 3 of the challenge is going ok, despite the fact that I feel a bit…off. I am exhausted (I DID NOT NAP TODAY AND WILL GO TO BED LIKE A NORMAL PERSON) and continue to be cold though…which I doubt has anything to do with the food I am eating and more to do with my poorly insulated home and office, and cold as balls weather outside. I had a headache earlier which I think was from dehydration and possibly sleep deprivation. I mean, my muscles also hurt…when that usually happens, my body is telling me to SLEEP MORE because I am not longer in college, despite what my circadian rhythm is telling me.

I think I feel a bit off because I ate off plan. Day 3, I know. I do great the first couple days and then hit a bit of a wall. Looking back at my choices (carbs, carbs, carbs) I know it’s because I’m tired and need energy. Therefore, I need to sleep more. However, I DID notice that when I put crap into my body, I felt crappy. It wasn’t even emotional guilt that got to me, it was the “oooh, am I gonna barf?” feeling. I’d like to avoid that in the future. I have tomorrow planned a bit better, so here’s hoping I do a bit better on plan *crosses fingers* YOU WOULD THINK that I’d stop doing this because I feel the same way each time, but no. What was it that Einstein said? “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result?” Hmm. He may have a point.

I have had some very…odd cravings lately. No, I’m not pregnant; thanks for asking. Here’s a list:

- mashed potatoes

- root beer

- MEAT. I don’t care what kind, just please give me some

- celery

- eggs

- Medifast Chocolate Mint Crunch Bars and Cinnamon Pretzels

- cream cheese

- sausage

- spaghetti squash

 

WHAT IS GOING ON WITH MY BODY?!

 

On the plus side, I can incorporate a lot of that stuff either into my plan, or create substitutes (mashed potatoes…mashed cauliflower! However, cauliflower tastes and smells like old, wet, dirty gym socks). Pinterest has been incredibly helpful to me in finding recipes and sucking away HOURS of my life.

There was no real…point to this post. One thing I am trying to do more in 2014 is write out how I feel because it truly does help me feel better. Today I guess it was a bit of frustration and I needed to vent. My other choice would be “shop” but that usually gets a bit dangerous ;)

 

I have a couple more updates planned for this week. Stay tuned, ya’ll.

 

Challenge time!

The Midwest is currently experiencing a polar vortex. It’s a little too scientific for me, but basically means HOLY BALLS. IT IS SO COLD. I walked the like, block to the pub to get dinner tonight and my snot froze on the way. It actually hurt to breathe in. So not cool. Get over yourself, arctic air. No one likes you.

So anyway, today I started participating in a challenge using Medifast food via Take Shape For Life. I have actually had a great deal of success with Medifast since November…but then falling off the wagon (and subsequently said wagon running over me, backing up, and hitting me again) made me regain weight. But…I gotta do it this time! It’s the Year of the Baby (I hope, haha). The good thing about the Medifast food is that it’s kinda like the horrendous protein sparing modified fast, but with the guesswork taking out. All the foods have 11-14 g of protein balanced with low GI carbs. I eat 5 times a day every 2-3 hours. I also have a “Lean and Green” meal daily that consists of protein and veggies. And the kicker is, it WORKS. When I was on plan, I was rarely hungry and my cravings for carbs were pretty much non-existent.

Today was a bit rough and I was, for the most part, on plan. Tomorrow should be better because it’s going to be so freaking cold I’m not venturing out of the house for ANYTHING and we’ve got no snack food here. I got hungry a few times, but it was also when I looked up at the clock and realized that a few hours had passed. I had a few cravings today, but I managed to curb them. I kinda did the “DO YOU REALLY NEED THIS? NO!” thing and it worked.

I am cautiously optimistic. Do I expect this to solve all my issues? Absolutely not. However, I did a lot of research prior to signing up for the plan because in all honesty, it’s expensive, but I’m saving money by not buying junk on my way to work. And hubby’s gotta eat, so he pretty much eats my lean and green meals with me. I am learning small, frequent portions is key. When I’m ready to transition to maintenance, then there’s a complete guide to that. Some of the food is icky (Cheese Pizza Bites…just can’t do it) and some is delish (Chocolate Mint Crunch Bar tastes JUST LIKE A THIN MINT OMG). Overall, it’s palatable. I’m waiting for my next order because I have ordered several new things to try.

I am hoping *crosses fingers* to blog about my challenge experience daily (ok, realistically…weekly) here so ya’ll can see my progress. Right now I am going to crawl into bed with hubby…not really because I’m tired, but I’m starting to lose feeling in my extremities from the cold! Stay warm everyone!

 

Why hello, 2014.

So uhhh remember how I said I was the worst blogger EVAR? Pretty sure it is true haha. However, one thing I’m going to try to do this year is write more, because it really is quite therapeutic for me. It’s not really a resolution though, because I only made one.

BE HAPPY.

I figure if I can just try to be as happy as I can be in 2014, then all the other resolutions I would normally make will sorta just follow along.

 

I certainly have plenty of ideas for my blog for the first few weeks of 2014. With the way the weather is looking, I may even get to post an entry tomorrow when I should be at the office. It took me an HOUR to get to and from work (each way) when it normally takes about 20 minutes. I also died no less than 5 times. People, I don’t have an SUV or 4 wheel drive…there is in fact a reason I’m only going 30! So yeah. I may take a “I don’t want to die, so I’m gonna work from home” day tomorrow.

 

I hope that everyone is having a safe and happy new year so far! I will be back soon, promise :)

Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Chocolate Chips

It’s fall. Which means pumpking everything. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin rolls, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin seeds. Carved pumpkins. Roasted pumpkins. And pumpkin cookies (not gonna lie, felt a bit like Bubba Blue from Forrest Gump there for a second).

On the plus side, straight up pumpkin is REALLY good for you. It adds lots of flavor without a lot of fat and calories. It also gives you a great dose of Vitamin A (good news for all ya’ll that don’t like carrots). It helps with constipation. And it pairs well with lots of things: cinnamon, raisins, pumpkin pie spice.

So. I loooove cookies. Like, a lot a lot. Especially cookies that have so much butter and fat in them that they don’t get hard…I’m looking at you, chocolate chip cookies from Panera. You know, the kind that leaves grease behind on whatever it touches.

However, cookies don’t like me. I am a firm believer in everything in moderation. I just have trouble with the “moderation” part most times. However, these cookies were surprisingly satisfying, and I only had 2 of them. Ok, I licked the bowl a little too. Best part?

THERE ARE ONLY 3 INGREDIENTS.

 

Now, onto the recipe!

Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Chocolate Chips

Makes about 36 cookies

You’ll need:

1 box spice cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)

1 15 oz can of canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling!)

1 cup chocolate chips

Just 3 ingredients!

Just 3 ingredients!

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line a cookie sheet with tinfoil (this is optional, but I’m lazy and didn’t want to scrub the pans).

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl until well blended. The dough won’t be as sticky as cookie dough – it’ll be a mix between the consistency of cookie dough and cake batter.

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Already looking yummy!

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Tried very hard at this point not to just eat it.

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Waiting to go into the oven. My preciouses.

Drop by rounded teaspoons onto cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. The cookies aren’t going to flatten, and they’ll remain moist (ew, I hate that word) and pretty cakey. Let cool, and enjoy!

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Finished product. Om nom nom.

Nutrition Facts

Serving size: 1 cookie

Calories: 86

Fat: 3 g

Sodium: 98 mg

Carbs: 15 g

Fiber: 1 g

Protein: 1 g

When I put it into the Weight Watchers calculator, it gave me a PointsPlus value of 2 per cookie.

 

Hope ya’ll enjoy!

Ends and Beginnings

I will start with the “ends”. My beloved grandfather is expected to pass away this week after a relatively short, but intense, battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s been difficult for me to deal with being so far away and not really being able to say goodbye. I’m trying to remember the good times we had together: watching old movies cuddled together on the couch, making homemade popcorn (and sneaking extra butter and salt when Gram wasn’t looking), eating ice cream (vanilla bean – Breyer’s, the good kind – with rainbow sprinkles) after dinner, letting me blow out the match after he lit his pipe. He’s the one who introduced me to the concept of lox on a bagel. And introduced me to the cocktail onion, which I still look for in their fridge and sneak a few right from the jar. His perfect scrambled eggs (just slightly “wet” – how I like them!) Every time I smell tobacco smoke, I think of Poppa. I will miss him deeply, but I just want him to be pain-free. I know you won’t read this, Poppa, but I love you so much.

Bad picture of me, but captures Poppa perfectly.

Bad picture of me, but captures Poppa perfectly.

And now, the beginnings. I have started Weight Watchers (again). The first week, I didn’t lose any weight. The second week, I gained 2 lbs. I am honestly not sure WTF is going on with me. All I know is my pants don’t fit and winter is coming. Right now I’m working on NOT overeating and controlling portion sizes. Once I get a handle on that, I’ll start working on moving towards more “clean” foods. My goal is to have that done by the end of October. I’m at the point where I’m at a complete and total loss of what to do. The Protein Sparing Modified Fast DID work – very well – but I was so miserable on it and was essentially starving myself that I cannot see myself going back to it. And I’m young. I like to go out to eat and drink. No booze on that plan? No go, sorry.

I also have had a cold (sinus issues? flu? general crud?) since last Sunday. It’s getting REALLY OLD. It started in my head and has now moved to my chest. I sound like a walrus barking every time I cough, and every time I inhale, I sound like that gross mouth breathing kid that no one wanted to sit next to in third grade. C’mon, EVERY CLASS HAD ONE. To top it all off, I get out of breath going up a flight of stairs. That doesn’t come from being fat, that’s sickness. Dammit. So really, all I’ve wanted to do is eat soup and sleep. And watch Murder, She Wrote. Which I may or may not have been doing (I’m on season 3, FYI). Being sick is a pretty terrible motivator for eating right and exercising though, I gotta say. I have wanted to work out, but gasping on the elliptical probably isn’t the right thing to do.

I made a bitchin’ corn chowder over the weekend though…the recipe will be coming later this week!