Getting Back Into Better Physical Health After A Few Years Of Setbacks

Happy Monday to everyone out there.  It’s the first Monday of December, or Cyber Monday for those of us who prefer to shop online.  I didn’t brave the crowds on Black Friday this year.  I did that with my dad one year when I was in college.  It was a headache.  I’m glad I did it once just to say I did, but I don’t want to make it a regular thing.  I just stayed home and watched football this last weekend.  My cleaning lady was kind enough to bring me some traditional Thanksgiving cuisine.

I have my annual physical checkup tomorrow morning.  I hadn’t been looking forward to it until just yesterday.  My last physical was July 2018.  I think I’ve lost some weight but I’m not exactly sure.  I know my clothes fit so much better and I can easily move around my apartment, certainly much easier than I could a year ago.  I started lifting arm weights back at the beginning of spring.  I do those three to four times a week.  I usually do only 10 and 15 pound weights but I try to lots of reps.  I doubt with my body build (barrel chested, short limbs for as tall as I am) I’ll ever look like Mr. Universe.  But that’s not the point.  The point is to improve at least a little with each passing day.

I have made changes to my diet over the last couple years.  I haven’t even eaten at McDonalds or Taco Bell this year.  When I do dine out, it’s almost always a sit down place like a pizzeria or Chinese place.  I’ve eaten fried food only once since the end of summer, and that was because my neighbors made fried chicken and offered me a couple pieces.  I don’t regularly drink soda pop anymore, only when I order delivery pizza and Chinese anymore.  Sugared soda makes me feel bloated and sluggish anymore. When I was on my high school’s football team the coach didn’t want us drinking soda pop or anything with carbonation during the season, believing it made it tougher to breathe and could cause muscle cramps.  Maybe there was some truth to that.  I know I feel better on days when I don’t eat much for sugar or carbs as opposed to days I do.  Most of the meat I eat anymore is grilled pork or chicken.  I also try to eat mixed vegetables at least once a day.  I found it’s so much easier for me to eat veggies if I have them in soup or stew.  I know it’s probably high in salt but it’s vegetables I probably wouldn’t get otherwise.  As far as fluids go, it’s always water, coffee, or black tea if I’m not dining out or getting delivery.  Fortunately my town has pretty good drinking water, so I don’t have to buy bottled water.

Overall I’m slowly regaining my stamina and losing my paranoia about other people.  While I still don’t venture out into public very much, I do leave my apartment door unlocked except for when I’m asleep or taking a bath.  I answer my phone all the time unless I’m in bed or in the bath tub.  I refuse to talk on the phone when taking a bath or using the toilet, even with family.   I also sleep better too.  I usually sleep for about six hours straight at night, wake up for a couple hours in the middle of the night, and go back to sleep and wake up for good at sunrise.  Most nights anymore I’m in bed around 8pm only to wake at 2am.  This is a major change for me as in my younger years I used to stay up all night at least once a week.  A couple years ago I did most of my sleeping in the day and ran all my errands at night.  I guess people do change over the years.  Sometimes it’s so gradual it isn’t really noticed until after the fact.

About the only negative effect of going to bed early is that most of my friends are night owls.  When I am awake and fully going, they are usually at work.  So I have to catch them on weekends or holidays.  And even listening to their gripes about work doesn’t bother me very much anymore, certainly not like it did even six months ago.  I don’t know what prompted this change, but I’ll take it.

Just this morning I found a couple sweaters in my closet I hadn’t worn for a couple years because they didn’t fit.  I held onto them because I wanted to lose weight and winters in Nebraska can be quite cold.  Found out they both fit okay.  One fits well even though it’s still an inch or two short on my torso.  Another was an extra tall that was too tight to wear for the last couple years.  It now fits.  But I have always preferred not wearing tight clothes and for years I have preferred wearing short sleeves, even on dress shirts.  I also have a dress shirt that now fits well that I hadn’t worn in two years until I tried it on this morning.  I’m now beginning to wonder how well my winter coats now fit.  I have a heavy duty winter coat and a nice dress coat that both were tight at the end of last winter.  I have to try them on today.  I have a really nice black leather jacket I haven’t worn in several years that I just hung onto because it was the nicest coat I ever worn, was a Christmas gift years ago, and offered more incentive to get back into shape.  I am sure I still can’t fit into it, hopefully by Christmas 2020.

I think I’ve lost weight, but I know I feel better overall than I did this time last year.  We hired my cleaning lady right before Christmas last year.  And it has made a difference in just one year of even once a week cleaning, and not in just the appearance of my home.  I am regaining my confidence around other people, I don’t get as easily irritated or annoyed, I leave my door unlocked except for when I go to bed.  Used to be I kept the door locked at all times.  I’m not paranoid about my landlord anymore even though I still don’t talk to her very often.  I am regaining my stamina, granted slowly.  And I don’t tolerate rude behavior from people as much.  Rather than make a scene about it, I usually just make a point of avoiding those people, whether online or in person.  I still have aches and pains at times, usually when I wake up in the mornings.  But even those clear up more quickly than even six months ago.  I make a point to stand up every hour or two for a few minutes.  Used to be I sat for hours on end, especially if I was working on research for the blog or engrossed in a computer game.  I don’t even play computer games as much anymore.  I still do almost every day, but it’s no longer playing for hours on end.  Sheesh, I even find myself more restless and wanting to fidget quite often.  I have always craved mental exercise.  But now I’m beginning to crave physical activity more with each passing week.

Several years ago I set a goal of being at my old college weight by the end of the decade.  And I was well on my way to goal until my car accident four years ago.  That set me back.    I went into a deep depression and was often experiencing back pain.  I got depressed, stopped being active, went though about two or three years where I ate very unhealthy, and gained a lot of weight.  It was also a set back when three of my best friends in my apartment complex died within six months of each other.  It was also a time when most people I knew were depressed, anxious, and short tempered too.  It was one of those things that just built on itself.  I still have the goal of being back at my old college weight, it’s just that the timeline changed.  Sure I had a few down years, 2016 and 2017 were the toughest.  Even though I’m still a long way from were I ultimately want to be, I am definitely back in the right track again.

Attempting To Lose Weight With Mental Illness and Other Adaptations

Spring is here though I wouldn’t know it by the weather.  Got a few inches of snow on Easter Sunday.  Even though much of it has melted by now, it’s supposed to stay colder than normal early spring for the next few days.  It’s a pity as I was looking forward to warmer weather and fewer excuses for staying indoors most of the time.  As it is I probably won’t go anywhere until the weather finally warms up.

Been adjusting to new sleeping patterns.  I’m going to bed earlier and waking up earlier.  I still sleep only five to seven hours a night so I’m usually awake around sunrise anymore.  During much of the winter I would sleep almost until noon.  But the sleep patterns are changing with the seasons.  So I must adapt accordingly.  I still feel mentally stable even though I still have little desire to socialize much outside of friends and family.  I still call my parents a couple times a week.  Haven’t talked to my college friends much the last couple weeks.  One old friend just had his first child a couple weeks ago, so I’ve been giving him his space as he adapts to fatherhood. Other friends I have lost contact with over the last few years, I want to reestablish contact with these.  I also lost contact with some family members over the last few years I want to reconnect with.  I just got busy with my life and my mental illness got such in some cases I just didn’t want to contact even friends.  I lost many of my old interests over the last couple years.  I haven’t gone fishing in almost two years.  My back can flare up bad enough anymore that I don’t do much outdoors anymore.  I can understand why people with chronic pain can sometimes be short tempered, especially if they were in good health in their younger years.

I’ve been fighting weight problems since puberty.  Yet for the longest time in spite being over weight I didn’t have problems with mobility, pain, etc.  When I was in college I could easily walk over five miles a day in spite weighing over three hundred pounds.  Yet I think the chronic pain is catching up to me.  I can use the car accident I had messing up my back as an excuse, but after the accident I got really depressed and quit doing most physical activities.  I stopped going to the park regularly.  I stopped walking around the old downtown.  I stopped going to the library, preferring to read online articles and audio books instead.  I stopped going fishing.  I even stopped road tripping.  I hate to admit it, but the car accident really took a lot of fire out of me.  At least, I allowed it to take a lot of fire out of me.  To this end I decided I want to get back on top of my health.  I’m giving up on the sugary foods and soda pops.  I’m going to cut the bread out.  I’m cutting out most carbs.  And I started lifting arm weights again.  Oddly I got this idea from a pizza delivery lady who said she lost over fifty pounds just giving up sugar, bread, rice, and pasta.  I am going to do the same thing.  Started this over the weekend.

First I decided to track what I was eating.  Took only a couple days to see I was eating mostly bread, pasta, canned soups, and meat.  Explains why I’m not losing weight.  While I’ll probably end up spending more money on groceries buying healthier and fresher food, if I lose weight it will be worth it.  I’ve lost weight before.  I once lost over seventy pounds in less than a year.  Unfortunately I gained it all back over the course of three years.  One of my blessings is I can usually lose weight pretty fast when I commit to it.  Of course I also have the opposite curse, I can gain weight pretty fast when I am not careful about what I eat.  I tend to be undisciplined about my diet when I go through bouts of depression and anxiety.  But I’m going back to what worked in the past.  Been eating mostly meat and fresh fruit the last few days.  I’ve noticed I have a little more energy even after a few days.  And since I kicked my fast food habit over the winter, I don’t think that will be much of a problem now.  It’s just a matter of giving the time and effort to making the plans work.

I Want To Shake Things Up and Get More Active Again

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My back has healed up.  I’m back to essentially a more normal routine.  Because of the colder weather and being housebound for two weeks, I got to do some thinking about changing things in my life.  I have essentially been in a rut for the last couple years where it’s pretty much the same old every day, day in and day out.  I haven’t done any real traveling for almost three years, spending much of my time self educating via youtube and Khan Academy and reading books.  I gained back the weight I lost within two years of my car accident back in 2015.  Now I’m getting more serious about my health again.  I don’t eat fast food anymore.  I’m starting to get out of my apartment more and walk a little every day.  I do arm weights three times a week.  And about the only things I drink anymore are water and coffee.  I feel like I’m beginning to see some results.  I started this new routine shortly after New Year’s.  Because my back slowed me down for two weeks, I just cut back on what I ate.  I’m to where I now eat meat only once a day, usually for breakfast.  The rest of the meals I eat things like spinach leaf salads, soups, peanut butter, and meatless pasta.  I think my routines are starting to work.  I feel like I have more energy.  I feel more mobile.  I’m starting to have fewer aches and pains.  And I am sleeping better too.

I’m also thinking that after I have lost some weight, I’m going to have to get out and about more.  I am in desperate need of shaking up my routines and adding more spice to my life.  A few years ago I said that I would like to do some traveling eventually.  I still have my savings that I built up a few years ago.  I’m thinking I’m going to have to see my old college friends again.  I don’t have a definite time line set just yet as this is still in the dreaming before making plans phase.  I have always wanted to get my passport and travel through Europe and see places like Barcelona, Paris, Berlin, London, etc.  Part of me would, if I get back to the same weight I was in college, love to travel on some of the old Silk Road from eastern Europe to China or vice versa.  When I was in high school I spent a couple weeks in Mexico with my Spanish class.  It was the most enjoyable vacation I had in my entire life.  Now that I am an adult, debt free, committed to getting back into good physical health, and have a little bit of a savings, I’m going to have to do this traveling before I get too old to enjoy it.  Since I am single, have a safety net in my disability pension, and I can do my blog from anywhere that has WiFi internet, I’m starting to hear the faint beckoning call of the open road again.

When I was in my twenties and early thirties, I did a little traveling every year.  My senior year of college, my parents and I went to San Antonio for Christmas.  I got to see The Riverwalk lit up for Christmas, visited the Alamo, got to see one of the Air Force bases my dad was stationed at during the Vietnam War, and got to see my Nebraska Huskers play a post season bowl game.  And an old college friend and I used to go to Denver to see Colorado Rockies baseball games, one of those games being a World Series game.  Spent all winter paying off the cost of that quick weekend trip, and even though the Rockies lost the Series, it was worth the trip.  I visited an old college friend in Minnesota for a week several summers ago.  I was amazed at how beautiful Minnesota is (I wouldn’t care to fight their winters). My friends and I used to go to minor league baseball games every summer.  We were able to get front row seats, a couple hot dogs, and a couple soda pops for less than $25 a person.  Just thinking about these old times while I was house bound for the last two weeks got me to realize just how much I missed travel and seeing different places.

I know that before I can fulfill these dreams of traveling, I have to lose some weight.  I have done it before.  And by God I can do it again.  I know it’s going to take at least a few years before I can get to doing the travel overseas like I dream of doing.  But I have pretty much gotten to where I have played all the computer games and done most of the self study I care to do.  I took a couple years doing that and I have gotten it out of my system.  Now it is time for a different chapter in my life.  It’s time to lose some weight and prepare to hit the road again.

New Beginnings and New Routines

Been getting more regular sleep the last few days.  So I’m returning to some of my old routines.  Started lifting weights again.  No doubt it’ll take a few weeks to get back into the routine of lifting weights three times a week.  I’m eating healthier again.  I used to eat fast food about once a day.  Haven’t had the stuff for two weeks now.  Been getting up around eight a.m. the last several days.  Still napping for a couple hours in the afternoons.  But I am no longer staying awake most of the nights.

Been going outside a couple times a day for the last few days.  Starting to socialize again too.  Found out that some of our more problematic residents have moved out.  One of the reasons I isolated so much over the last year or so was to avoid these people.  I can freely socialize again without fear of running into negative and angry people all the time.  Too bad this didn’t happen a few months ago.  Some of these individuals were really taxing my sanity and well being.

Had some changes in my medications.  So far they seem to be working.  As it is I have a several week supply of meds built up in case of emergencies.  I think that after several months of less than optimal times, things are starting to look good again.

Since I’m starting to sleep less and more regular hours again, I’m finding myself with more free time.  I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with this new found freedom and energy.  I have pretty much been withdrawn and homebound for awhile.  I imagine I need to start contacting friends and family again.  I haven’t been a regular on Facebook for over a month.  I want to get back in touch with people again.  I’m even starting to look forward to the holidays for the first time in a long time.  I’m glad to be back on the mend and more active again.

I want to start losing weight again.  I’ve been real lazy about diet and exercise since my car accident two years ago.  As a result I gained back all the weight I had lost previously.  I haven’t been drinking sugared sodas for a couple weeks and I’m cutting back in other places too.  I’m eating more vegetables too.  Started lifting weights again.  Been lazy about that for a long time.  So glad I kept my old hand weights during my minimalist purges.  Overall things are looking better than usual.  Even during my exiles I stayed positive for the most part.  But now I am more social and outgoing, it can get even better.

Insomnia and Mental Health

For most of the winter I had the problem of sleeping too much.  I’d sometimes sleep until noon or even later and still be wanting to sleep by midnight.  Now my problem is that I just have a real hard time staying asleep, especially in the overnight hours.  Of course I’m concerned about this.  Sometimes major problems follow large changes in sleep patterns for me.  Getting good sleep is important for controlling mental illness problems.

This has been going on for several days.  One of the changes I made in an attempt to get more consistent sleep is taking my medications earlier in the night.  Sometimes my meds can make me sleepy.  Another thing I have done is cutting back on caffeine after 4pm.  I admit I love my caffeine, especially coffee and soda pop.  But perhaps I’m getting more sensitive to caffeine as I age.  But the cutbacks on caffeine make me less jittery but they aren’t helping me sleep much.

One advantage to sleeping less is I’m getting more done.  I’m spending more time outside.   I’m able to do laundry more often.  I’m keeping less clutter around my apartment.  Some of my habits have improved as I’m drinking more water and bathing twice a day now.  I have always liked taking a hot bath right before bed.  It helps me relax.  And I think I’ve lost a few pounds in the last couple weeks because I’m more active.

I still sleep some in the overnight hours.  I just usually don’t stay asleep for more than two hours at a time.  Since I keep my windows open most of the time anymore, I can hear the birds singing in the early morning hours when I would have been sound asleep in the winter months.

As much as I enjoy being able to get more done and having more energy, I am concerned about the changes in my sleep patterns.  I have traditionally had problems after major changes in sleep patterns.  This concerns me as springs and early summers have traditionally been my happiest times of year.  Spring has always been a favorite season of mine.  I just hope that if any problems do come up because of this insomnia I’ll be able to handle them without having a blow up on my family or friends.

Spring Routines

I’m glad that spring is finally back.  I’ve been getting outside a little more often, I’m keeping my place a little cleaner, I’m watching baseball most nights, and I’m even eating less too.  I’m still not as physically active as I would like but I think it’s starting to come back.  After my car accident in October 2015 I gained back most of the weight I had lost in the previous two years.  I think I’m finally back on the right track.  Since I still don’t have a great deal of stamina yet, I’m cutting back on calories as much as I can.  This means I’m giving up most sugar and eating meat only once a day.  I am also doing my best to avoid fried foods.  After several weeks of eating less than usual, I think I’m in a new routine.  I can’t even eat as much as I could last summer.  One of my problems was, after my accident, I got depressed and lost much of my confidence.  From there I just got lazy and ate a lot.  I have made efforts over the last several weeks to break out of this vicious cycle.  And I think I’m starting to see results.

I’ve also noticed my habits are getting better too.  During the winter I had gotten kind of lazy about shaving and cleaning up as there were entire days I didn’t leave my apartment complex.  I’m back into good habits like these again.  I would hate to think I let my personal appearance slide just because I was depressed by lousy weather.  But mental illness can do odd things to a person.

I’m starting to socialize some again.  Not so much with my neighbors as I am family and old friends.  I still don’t enjoy the fact that many of my neighbors are grumpy and irritable most of the time.  I have been around that kind of negativity for years and I don’t want it dragging me down.  I spent enough of my life being depressed, irritable, and a pessimist.  I just don’t want that anymore.

First Day Back Exercising

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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.