After several days of colder than average weather, it finally warmed up a little today. At least it warmed enough for me to run some errands. It feels good to be able to leave my apartment again without worrying about frostbite. I had spent several days staying at home, watching college football, playing computer games, but doing little of anything else. I need to get back into some regular routines. To that end I started lifting weights again today. I had been lazy about lifting this summer and fall. I had been quite lazy about exercise ever since I hurt my back. Sadly I gained back the weight I had lost a few years ago. I’m starting over in this regard. I know I can lose the weight again, it’s just a matter of doing so.
Still not sleeping as much as I used to. Which is alright with me as I used to sleep twelve hours a day during the summer. Now I’m getting like six hours a sleep every night. Yet I still feel quite rested. And I usually try to take an hour nap in the afternoon. Even with my reduced sleep, I rarely stay up all night now. Used to be I stayed up all night three nights per week and then sleep in the mornings. My sleep is returning to more normal patterns.
Been spending a little more time on social media the last few days, mainly to find out about people’s holidays’ plans. I don’t know if I’ll be back on facebook and twitter more from now on. It seems to me that many of my friends have just gotten burnt out on all the drama and fighting that has been so prevalent for the last few years. I wound up unfollowing many people because of the drama, including family members. So much for making people more connected. I think the older I get, the less use I have for drama and nonsense and the more uses I have for logic and intelligence.
Now that the weather is starting to break out of the cold spell and the holidays are over, I am at a crossroads. I realize I now have more freedom than I used to. During the holidays I avoid the stores because of the crowds and loud Christmas music and too bright displays. I’m also at a loss now that I won’t have much going on until spring. January through April has always been a slow but stable time of year for me. Mentally I am usually my most stable during the winters. And I usually get a lot of reading and writing done during the colder parts of year. I admit I love to read for my own enlightenment more than I do my entertainment. I consider learning entertainment. I know I am weird in that regard. But learning new things gives me joy, I don’t care if being an intellectual makes me a social outcast.
Since the holidays are now over, I can get back to some resemblance of normal routines. I plan on doing many audiobooks on youtube this winter. I’m thinking about using my Khan Academy account to learn some subjects I wish I had taken when in school. And I plan on doing more outside my apartment so I can have more material to write about. Overall I plan on making 2018 an excellent year.
Started exercising more consistently a week ago. I’ve been keeping track of what I eat again. It seems every time I track what I eat I end up losing weight even if I’m not doing much activity. Unfortunately I tend to be unmindful of how much I eat when I’m not tracking what I eat. If I’m going to lose weight again I have to track. It’s worked before and it can work again.
I’m walking more again and lifting weights again. I’m also doing stretches every day. I still stretch after lifting weights but I decided to do it more often. I never was very flexible even as a child. I get minor muscle pulls pretty easily and that’s probably not getting any better as I age. Weight lifting has been mainly a winter activity for the last few years. But I decided to get a couple month head start this year. Weight lifting by itself isn’t a fun activity so that is why I watch tv while I lift. I started taking a multi vitamin along with Vitamin C and D. Vitamin D especially is supposed to help alleviate depression. I’m thinking about starting on Fish Oil but am concerned about it thinning my blood. I’ll bring it up when I see my psych doctor in two weeks. I also see my dentist for a regular check up. Besides having to have some wisdom teeth pulled a few years ago I’ve had good luck with my current dentist. I was in rough enough shape when I had those taken out I missed two days from work.
I’ve been getting outside more since the weather started cooling off a week ago. I have my windows open most of the time now. I’ve shut off my air conditioner and probably won’t have to use it again until next summer. I’m still avoiding stress inducing people and situations as much as possible. That really helps me.
I still don’t get as much socializing as I would like. The writers’ support group I used to go to disbanded this month. So I’m looking for another group. I’m considering going back to my mental illness support group that meets once a week. I haven’t been a regular for a few years. I usually drop in a few times a year to update people. I really haven’t needed that much support most of the time as I have long since accepted my mental illness and come to terms with the lost career and lost opportunity for a family of my own. Instead I have settled for old friends and some friends I have made through the groups I participate in online. I look at friends as the pseudo family that you can choose. As my physical health improves I’ll look for more opportunities to socialize.
Went to the family acreage for two days over the weekend. Helped the family with some odd jobs but mainly relaxed. I was needing a couple days out of my hometown and out of my apartment complex. Two days of a change of scenery allowed me to realize just how much I missed this summer with back problems. I’m only now getting some of my stamina back and adjusting to the warm weather.
This has been a tough summer physically. I hurt my back and I couldn’t do much of anything for two months. As a result I’ve gained 15 pounds since mid May. This definitely isn’t what I planned for this summer. While it was boring to have to spend all my time at home it wasn’t as tough mentally as I would have thought. Besides the one day when I had a breakdown on two friends I really haven’t had any major flare ups of the mental illness this summer. I think that the changes in medications I made in the spring have helped in that regard. It helps that I am intentionally avoiding stressful situations and people. I still don’t watch much news on tv or internet. About all I watch on tv anymore is live sports. During the Olympics I watched more tv in two weeks than I did the last four months combined. I wouldn’t have cable if it didn’t come with my apartment. I just don’t watch much for regular tv anymore. Almost everything I want to watch anymore is online.
I can tell that fall is almost here. The weather isn’t as hot and the nights are getting longer. The nights are getting cooler and school has started. I feel like I squandered this summer since I couldn’t do much. But I’ll just have to make it up this fall.
Now that my back has completely healed I’ve been getting out of my apartment more the last couple weeks. At my most recent doctor’s appointment I found out I gained 15 pounds this summer. Most of this is no doubt due to lack of physical activity and my eating too much comfort foods. I did spend this summer with alternating periods of depression and irritability. I spent too much time indoors and exercising my mind and not enough exercising my body. In short, this summer has been a loss in terms of physical health and activity. The only positive of this summer is that I’m posting more on this blog and have gotten some more audience.
But fall is just a few weeks away. I can already tell the days are getting shorter. We also are no longer having several days in a row with nothing but scorching heat. Looking ahead I see that we’re supposed to have some more cooler weather over the next several days. I have spent most of my afternoons indoors avoiding the heat. Since I spent the first month of summer on the mend I never adjusted to the warmer weather. I normally have bad times during the summer. Besides the blow ups on a couple friends I haven’t had any real serious problems this summer. I know that I still have another three to four weeks of traditionally bad times ahead. Hopefully I can make it through without anything else major. I made it through last summer before having problems in October but I think working through my grandmother’s death made me more resilient because I had no options. So my problems last year weren’t avoided as much as they were delayed. So far things look good mentally.
I have been bored by the forced inactivity this summer. Besides seeing my family a few times I really haven’t had much for social activity since Memorial Day. But with the weather starting to get cooler and the nights starting to get longer, maybe my social activities will increase in the coming weeks. I admit I am not sorry to see this summer go. I’m ready for cooler weather again.
My exercise times are gradually increasing. My stamina is slowing coming back. I can now sleep in a bed every night with no problems. Went to the park yesterday to exercise. I exercised indoors today because of the heat and humidity. I am still tracking everything I eat and I think that is helping. I can tell I’m already eating less. I get to see my nephews and niece tomorrow. So I will get to do some socializing after weeks of primarily isolation. I feel like things are starting to get better after months of stagnation and problems. I think it’s starting to look good for the first time in a real long time.
I have not had my typical summer experience this year. After hurting my back I couldn’t exercise for six weeks. I couldn’t even sleep in a regular bed for almost two months. I didn’t travel anywhere for the first month of summer because I’d get back pain even from driving. I still haven’t been outside of my hometown much this summer. I plan on spending a weekend in the middle of August at the family acreage so I can watch the late summer meteor showers. That has become kind of a tradition for me for the last several years. I really haven’t done much in terms of fun activities and socializing this summer. And it was mainly due to hurting my back at the start of the season.
I finally built up enough stamina to get a good exercise in the park done. I went on one of the hiking trails for awhile. Hopefully I can get some good exercise in so I can build back my stamina by the time the weather cools off for autumn. I am so far behind and I’m sure I gained weight during this six weeks of forced inactivity.
Had my twice monthly therapy session this morning. It doesn’t really feel like stereotypical therapy as I’m not lying on a couch and confessing my darkest fears and thoughts to a Sigmund Freud look alike. It kind of feels like I’m talking to an old friend as far as therapy goes. I know it’s his job to listen and offer feedback as necessary so I know he’s not a traditional friend. But I do consider him a rent a friend. I haven’t been feeling really depressed or agitated for over two weeks. I think it helps that I’m not drinking as much caffeine anymore and I have somewhat of a more healthy diet. Forcing myself to get out of the apartment and get even twenty minutes of sunshine and a few minutes of walking isn’t hurting either.
Talked to my landlady this afternoon. The request for my new carpet has been approved. She also wants to repaint my walls and even replace my stove. So I’ll probably have to vacate my apartment for a few days just to let them work without me being in the way. Kind of tough to believe I’ve lived in the same apartment for ten years. I lived in the same house for the first nineteen years of my life, but I changed bedrooms a couple times in that span. I have lived in this apartment longer than anywhere besides my childhood house. Barring any major holdups I’ll have new carpet, new wall paint, and a new stove by the end of the month.
I’m back to exercising again. I’m back to feeling less depressed and aggravated. I’m getting my apartment remodeled. My insurance case from last year’s auto accident is all but settled. I’m even losing my slight phobia of driving. It’s as if a bunch of unresolved issues in my life are begin resolved all at once. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.
It’s been a little over a week since I started tracking what I eat and exercising every day. It took some adjusting but I am finding myself eating less and getting more physical activity after only one week. It was cool enough today I was able to walk outside after dinner. I’m still out of shape compared to where I was one year ago but I am making progress. I definitely got rusty and out of practice during the weeks I was limited because of my back. I’m beginning to get back on track with my exercise again. It feels like an uphill battle as I have been forced to be inactive since late spring. But I have won battles like this before and I can do so again.
I’m beginning to spend more time outside of the complex again. I chatted with some of my neighbors this afternoon while avoiding the grouches. It can be kind of tough avoiding grouchy people in the tight quarters my complex offers but it can be done.
Some things I have found myself doing these last several days is avoiding sugar and eating more vegetables. I still get cravings for carbohydrates but I have met this need by adding more rice to my diet. I cook most of my own meals and I have found I feel more clear and less depressed on days I don’t eat lots of wheat or fast food. I still like the occasional delivery pizza but I have found I’m not as weighed down and bloated if I order the thin crust pizza as opposed to traditional. I still get upset stomach and feelings of lethargy when I eat lots of breads or pastas. So I wouldn’t be much fun dining at a high end Italian restaurant 🙂 I haven’t had much soda pop over the last several days. I think I’ve had only two diet sodas in the last ten days. I still get caffeine in the form of coffee and iced tea. I guess caffeine is one of my guilty vices. But I do feel mentally less irritable and less sluggish on days I don’t drink soda pop, even diet soda pop. I really can’t drink too much regular soda pop because of too much sugar. I do like Mexican Coca Cola when I go to Mexican restaurants though. But that is only a rare treat.
I have spent most of the summer more inactive than I would have liked. As a result I have gained some weight and lost a lot of my stamina. But things are starting to come back after a week of exercise and better diet.
Today was the first day I did any real exercise since I threw out my back six weeks ago. I can tell I have gotten real rusty and out of shape in the six weeks I spent mending my back. I walked for only ten minutes, enough to get the blood moving but that’s about all. I’m not sore from walking but I can tell I am out of practice. It is quite hot in my hometown as late July and August are always the hottest times of the year. I’m still not quite adjusted to the heat as I haven’t been outside much while my back was mending. And it was quite a cool and wet spring this year, so I was used to exercising indoors this spring.
I’m going to start lifting arm weights again. I’ll start that tonight. It has been kind of an odd tradition for me to lift arm weights and do stretching while watching Star Trek reruns. A friend of mine got me started on that last summer. I’m most of the way through Season 3 of Star Trek: Enterprise. But when my back was healing I didn’t lift any arm weights or do much for stretching. I’m sure I’m going to be just as rusty with the weights as I was the walking. I’ll have to use the light weights for a couple weeks until I’m back to normal.
I also starting tracking what I eat again. I got discouraged for the last few months and was lazy about tracking. I was especially lazy when I couldn’t exercise outdoors and then after I hurt my back. Before I hurt my back I had some unexplained foot pain that limited my walking for over two weeks. So I haven’t been able to exercise hardly at all since the weather warmed up. And I had to exercise indoors this spring because it was chilly and rainy almost every day.
When I was at my psych doctor last time, I had gained twenty pounds since the start of the year. That was one month ago. I’m sure I’ve gain some more as I was not exercising because of my back. But my back is good again. I can sleep in a regular bed again after weeks in a recliner. I get more sleep in a regular bed but I fall asleep faster in my recliner. I can’t figure that one out.
Because of my back pain and lack of activity I’ve been more depressed and irritable than usual. I’m sorry I don’t make a very good patient. But in the handful of times I’ve been in a hospital I make it a point to never get irritable with the nurses and doctors. I force myself to be on good behavior I suppose. When I’m healing on my own I can be more short tempered and depressed than usual. I got angry with two of my best friends over a week ago. I’m still embarrassed about that. One of these friends I got mad at I hadn’t ever had an argument with and we’ve been friends for fifteen years. Another was my best friend from high school and we have raised our voices to each other only a handful of times, mostly when I was in the grip of a mental breakdown. I’m embarrassed I let those things happen. I grew up in a family where we rarely yelled at each other and never had instances where we stopped talking to people. We may not talk to each other every day but we will drop everyone for one of our own in crisis. Even my extended family is like this to each other.
I’ve mended from my back issues, finally. It was one of the longest six week stretches I was ever part of. I’m beginning to exercise again. I’m starting to socialize again. I’m beginning to track what I eat again. I haven’t yet got my blinds fixed but that is coming. I might even get new carpet by summer’s end. After months when almost nothing seemed to go right I think I’m starting to turn the corner. Maybe things will start to get better.
My back is essentially healed up by now. I can walk normal speed again and do my normal errands. I’m spending more time out of the apartment. Been to the park a couple times in the last week, chatted with a few neighbors, called a couple old friends, and gotten some sunshine. This was a far cry from where I was just three weeks ago. When I first hurt my back I didn’t leave my apartment for three days just from the pain. Fortunately I managed to keep myself occupied with computer games, reading, youtube videos, phone calls to friends and family, and watching soccer and basketball on tv.
I was following the Copa America tournament over the last several days. Been watching a little of the Euro 2016 tournament too. I saw all of USA’s games. I haven’t traditionally made it a point to watch much soccer except when USA is playing. I may be changing that as the US put up a decent showing until when they ran into Argentina. It helps that I have a nine year old nephew and a seven year old niece who are big soccer players. My brother encourages his four kids to do numerous activities. He won’t let them play football but I don’t blame him, especially with all the injuries. I hurt my back in a football game when I was fifteen and I couldn’t sit without pain for months afterward. Yet I didn’t tell the coaches or even my parents. I suppose it went with the whole macho mentality that pain is just a part of football. Plus playing football was the only thing I did in high school that most people considered normal. The older I get the more I feel guilty about watching football. It’s essentially people maiming themselves for my amusement. But I guess it’s not as bad as ancient Romans cheering while lions eat Christians. It’s just not as entertaining as it was ten to twenty years ago.
I still like baseball though. Don’t watch it every night like I used to. Even then I usually had it on in the background while I was doing chores, writing, reading, or doing something on my computer. I still participate in a fantasy baseball league with some old college friends and friends of friends. I met most of those guys when I was at Matt’s wedding in the Black Hills last July. So I finally got to meet some of the guys I’ve only known by their screen names. It is a competitive league but no money changes hands. And my Rockies are doing a little better than normal, just slightly below fifty-fifty.
I may have been limited for the last few weeks but I still managed to keep busy. And now that the back is cleared up I’ll be able to do even more. Fortunately I haven’t had any flare ups of the mental illness in the last month. I haven’t had any true flare ups since late March actually. The one main medication I am on was shown by the DNA test I took to be more effective than most for me. It certainly has proven that. I’m reading more again. I had been lazy about reading for a couple weeks when my back hurt real bad. I was watching educational videos on youtube and reading blogs instead. But it does feel good to see things falling back into place after weeks of hard work and rehabilitation.
Winter is normally not a time people think about diet and exercise outside of a New Year’s Resolution. These well intended resolutions to strive for better health usually don’t make it past the second week of January before old habits come back. I think this is because few people don’t give enough time for positive change to take effect. Far too many people think that adopting good habits are merely a matter of making a decision and acting on that decision. The fact that highs and lows, wins and losses, up days and down days are not taken into consideration. This is why so many people give up on good intentions after a couple rough days. Very few people make allowances for setbacks and screw ups.
For my diet and exercise routine, the second half of 2015 was one setback after another. I didn’t exercise enough, I was under too much stress, I ate too much, I got out of the habit of keeping track of what I ate, I quit lifting weights, and I wasn’t getting consistent sleep. Consistent sleep helps with weight loss and mental stability. Without consistent sleep, hormones can become out of balance and that alone can mess with weight loss. I gained at least 30 pounds from early July to New Year’s Eve precisely because things like exercise, sleep, stress levels, and eating were not consistent. For most of the summer and fall of 2015 I was pulling two all nighters per week on average. I’d try to sleep during the days but it just wasn’t the same. I didn’t have enough sleep and I also didn’t have the quality of sleep I needed for weight loss or mental stability. I didn’t get the consistent good nutrition I needed either. Looking back on July to December of last year, it’s no wonder I went in reverse. I’m also not surprised that I had two nervous breakdowns. Fortunately I didn’t have to go to the hospital either time.
But since the first of January I have consciously made choices for better health. I don’t pull all nighters any more. I don’t skip taking my medications. I take more time to relax and not feel guilty for having a small amount of time every day to clear my mind. I exercise for at least 10 minutes every day rather than go hard for two days and take a day off like I was in the fall. I’m back to lifting weights three times a week and I’m noticing improvements after only a few weeks. I eat when I’m hungry and never just because the clock tells me it’s breakfast or dinner time. Somedays I’ll have my last meal of the day by 5pm. And others I won’t eat “breakfast” until 11 am. I also make far more mental notes on what I’m eating. I don’t track as strictly now because I know how many calories most foods have just by looking at the serving sizes and the labels. But it took over a year and half of hard tracking to get that level of knowledge.
As a result of my efforts, I’ve lost seven pounds since January 1. I want to eventually lose 150 more pounds. But this is a life long commitment to a lifestyle change, not just a diet to be followed and endured for six months and then discarded once a goal has been met. Overall since I started this lifestyle overhaul I’m down 35 pounds since March 2014. The road has had detours and potholes along the way. But I never gave up the dream of a healthier body and a more stable mind even when it seemed nothing was going right.