Struggling

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Photo by Fernando @cferdo on Unsplash

What strange times we live in.

Just four weeks ago I was going through the stages of grief after losing my job.  I was struggling with keeping my days structured in order to keep my brain from melting so I would stay hireable.  And things started to look up as I was finally able to relax and enjoy the “time off”.

Now as the world stands still, everyone is in the position I had just gotten over, except this time it feels like nothing matters.

Living alone is usually blissful, but right now I’d give anything to have a companion to hunker down with, if for nothing else, to feed my cats if I dropped dead, but more importantly, to prevent my brain from taking off into anxiety land at full speed.

Video chatting with friends has probably made all the difference.  Whenever I’m talking face-to-face with someone, the anxiety melts away.  The nausea goes away, I’m no longer about to die.  I’m so grateful for the technology that allows us to connect with each other virtually.  But that technology is also what’s fueling the worry and panic that’s taking over life as we knew it.

It’s hard to find a balance between being informed and being obsessed with the news.  It’s hard to think about anything else when I have the slightest, tiniest fever, or if my stomach is upset.  It’s almost impossible to think about trying to find a new job right now, or even to do anything productive.  Right now I’m just trying to survive by any means possible.

I was out for my usual walk around the bike path and passed by a restaurant where, only a few months ago, I used to go with my sister and nephews.  I walked over the grass where we used to see big, fat crickets hopping around, and joked about capturing them for the kids’ pet gecko.  I wiped a tear away thinking about how that seemed like a lifetime ago.  No one worried about touching a door knob, sharing drinks, or hugging each other.  The world is completely different now, and this is our new normal for a while.

It’s OK to grieve for that life, and to accept that’s it’s pretty much gone, at least for now.  It’s OK to feel lost and unsure of yourself.  It’s OK to sit on the couch and do nothing for a while as you fight back the panic, but I think we also need to realize that this is a new normal, and we have to figure out how to navigate it without going insane.

I read an article about how many mental health issues are going to come out of this, and how children’s future emotional well-being will be hugely impacted.  It’s important that we reach out and be there for each other and help keep the damage at bay as much as possible.  I think that everyone is experiencing a little bit of panic right now and feeling lost and confused.  No one cares if you’re not wearing makeup or if you’re unshowered.  Even the most hardcore introverts need human interaction.

We all have to be in this together for it to work.

 

Curveballs

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Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

It’s funny how life throws curveballs at you.

Since my last post a lot has changed. I’ve lost my job, which was a good chunk of my life.  Not having a family or anything, it was really what defined me.  I’ve been spending a lot of time laying on the couch trying to plot my next steps, but I feel lost and unsure of how to proceed.

I feel like I’m going through a breakup.  It was six years of my life that just didn’t matter in the end.  I busted my ass for a company that ultimately didn’t give a shit about me, and wouldn’t hesitate to put others on the chopping block just to save a few bucks.  This is peoples’ livelihoods that are being fucked with.  It almost makes me rethink my political beliefs, too.  Basically everything about me is different now, without that anchor that was holding me in place.

The thought of starting over from the bottom is overwhelming, to say the least.

My bike was also stolen out of my garage, two days before I got laid off.  That alone was bad enough.  I lost faith in the goodness of people, and going into my garage brings the rage back each and every time.  Why do people think it’s OK to take something that’s not theirs?

I’m waiting for the third bad thing to happen, since bad luck comes in threes, right?

But in other news, I’ve been seeing a personal trainer and it’s having very positive effects.  I’m much more active than I was, and I feel stronger in general.  Every Friday at 7am I push myself to my limits, walk home trying not to vomit, but then feel like I can take on the world.  It’s only 40 minutes per week, but it’s the accountability that makes all the difference.  I want my trainer to see me improve every week, and laying on the couch isn’t going to move me forward at all, so I try to keep the momentum going throughout the week.  Sadly, I had to cancel my sessions with her, seeing as I don’t have income anymore.  But hopefully I can keep going on my own.

I’m also glad I didn’t book my trip to South Korea already, what with the virus panic happening around the world.  Had I done that, I’m sure I would have lost money trying to cancel it.  Plus, now I have a bigger cushion in my savings account.

I’m not religious or even really spiritual, and I don’t believe in fate, but I do believe that everything happens for a reason.  I had such high hopes for 2020 and I watched all of it disappear in a poof before my eyes.  Wondering what life has in store for me next.

The end of an era

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Photo by Crazy nana on Unsplash

It’s funny, but it hadn’t actually occurred to me until recently that it’s the end of a decade.   So, not only do I have this year to reflect back upon, but I have a whole ten years!

Here’s a quick n’ dirty recap of my decade:

ONE: The number of life-changing vacations I took.  I went to Europe last year with my BFF, and it was my first time leaving the continent and really stepping outside my bubble.

TWO: The number of relationships I had, both being in the top 2 worst relationships of my life.

THREE: The number of jobs I got laid off from.  All three times it was due to industry volatility.  Also, these companies were more or less high-profile, and I love having them on my resume.

FOUR:  The number of cats I adopted.  I only have two now.

FIVE: The number of years I’ve been at my current job, which blows my previous record of 2.9 years out of the water.

SIX:  The number of different colors my hair has been.

SEVEN:  The number of years I’ve been extremely overweight.

EIGHT:  The number of different homes I’ve lived in.  I used to move so much that my family joked I was running from the law.

NINE: The number of different roommates I had.  Only one of them was a Craigslist stranger, and he might be the person who I keep in touch with the most!

TEN:  The number of times I’ve said “Next year is going to be MY year!”


The early 30s were very good to me.  Those times were, hands down, the most fun of my life so far, mostly due to working in the video gaming industry.  I met celebrities, had an article written about me in a local newspaper (my 5 minutes of fame) for putting together an epic concert in town, made lifelong friends, some lifelong enemies, and partied my ass off.

I spent my mid-30s being bitter and angry, having gone through the aforementioned two worst relationships.  I was gaining and gaining weight and feeling most out of control during this time.  During this time is when I moved homes a lot, and I started embracing a more minimalistic lifestyle after getting sick of schlepping boxes back and forth.

My late 30s got better because of my career.  I officially became a Software Engineer, and then a hybrid Software Engineer/Project Manager.  I want to keep climbing the ladder, wherever it takes me, and for the first time, I feel like I’m not stuck.

But as age 40 is just around the corner, I feel lonelier.  My career is about the only thing I’m proud of in my life at the moment, and I’m determined to make lasting changes in 2020.  I’m going to go ahead and say “Next year will be MY year” again because, honestly, if I can’t lose this weight now (within 173 days!) I’m probably just not going to.


In other news, my friend Eliot can’t join me on my trip to Korea.  He’s getting married, which is a totally valid reason and, out of all my friends, I might be the happiest to see him get hitched.

But it does throw a wrench in how I pictured next year.  I’m not sure if I want to try to go alone still.  It would be the single scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and although I see that as a good thing, I’m not sure I’m quite ready.  I’m going to think about this for a bit.

In conclusion, I’m looking forward to the challenge of flipping my whole life on its head next year.  I hope to be writing here 365 days from now as a different person, and I plan to make my 40s the best decade of my life.

The real journey starts now.  Thanks for joining me.  ❤

fragmented thoughts

Been thinking a lot about what I want the rest of my life to look like.

I wonder if my entire world will change when I reach my weight goals, but I also wonder if it’s because of new habits I will have formed on the journey to getting there.

I wonder what my career is going to be like in ten years, five years, even one year.  I’ve pivoted so many times and, in doing so, haven’t developed a strong enough foundation in any one area.

I picture myself doing the same old things, living the same old life, but a little healthier, a little more financially secure, a little happier.  It’s hard to picture someone else in my life, although I do want that eventually.

The travel bug is starting to hit me again.  I’m still planning a trip to South Korea next year, but this is dependent on whether or not my friend Eliot can join me.  He’s fluent in Korean and has family over there, so I can’t think of a better case scenario than going with him.  I think about going alone and the trip is much less appealing.  If it were any other country it wouldn’t be as big of a deal, but returning to the mothership as a dumb American, feeling like an outsider at home and an outsider in my birthplace, is a different experience than traveling just to see the sights.

178 days until my 40th birthday.  I installed a countdown app on my phone so I can keep myself on track to reach my weight loss goals.  If I’m being honest with myself, I haven’t been trying that hard up until now.  I’m still eating like shit and not exercising at all (Vermont winters are next-level brutal, and I don’t want to leave the house!).  My weight is trending downwards so I tell myself that’s OK and I’ll get there eventually.  But having this countdown timer will be a sobering reminder that I actually need to put in work if I want to reach my goals.  What a concept.

40 before 40…

In other news, I feel a million times better than when I posted my last update.  I think the  Prozac was probably still working its way out then, but I’m 100% back to normal now.

I’ve been writing code all weekend to catch up on work, and realizing how much I miss it (most of my work is in management lately, with very little coding).  It’s getting me motivated to take on other projects.

Holidays are hard for sticking with goals and developing new habits, but I’m trying to stay on top of things.  I’ve made my “TODO” list for 2020 and I’m feeling ready to tackle it.

Stay tuned for a wrap-up post about 2019.

xo.

Progress and changes

I’ve officially been off Prozac for a little over a month now.  

Weaning off (this time) wasn’t bad as I did it extremely slowly.  I had the spins for a few weeks but that’s about it.

But now that I’m back to my baseline I’m noticing things that I don’t like.

First and foremost, I can’t focus.  My mind is constantly wandering and I grow bored with things far too easily.  Trying to keep up with my work has been a struggle, and even though I have a second bedroom that I can turn into an office, I’m trying to find an external place where I can go to shut out all distractions.

Secondly, my emotions are just below the surface these days.  The smallest things can fill me with rage or bring me to tears.  I feel… not unstable, but like I have an uneven surface.  Prozac smoothed out those bumps and made me feel like everything was going to be fine all the time.  Ironically, it’s what I used to say I hated about Prozac — that I felt sort of like a mood-less zombie.  Right now I miss Zombie Me.

I also stopped taking all supplements except Magnesium and Vit D.  Before, I was taking all sorts of homeopathic animal organ pills that propped up my energy levels throughout the day (which worked for sure), but were really expensive and reaching ridiculous levels, quantity-wise.  So my body is back to making its own energy, and that’s also an adjustment.

I’m basically having to re-learn how to be an unaltered human and it’s hard.

Also, I went (mostly) vegan.

It’s been three weeks since I watched a documentary that scared the pants off me for health reasons (“The Game Changers”, on Netflix) and caused me to get rid of any and all animal products in my apartment.  I had literally just gone grocery shopping to make a big pot of beef chili, and I ended up returning everything to the store.

The “mostly” part is built in because I know myself.  I’m human, I mess up (a lot) and I don’t want to count it as a failure if I slip up here and there.  I have slipped up a handful of times in the past three weeks and I got right back on the wagon afterward.  I think that knowing I have some wiggle room built in will help me succeed in the long term.

I already feel better and my fingers are slimming out.  I always notice that my fingers get bloated when I’m eating crap, which is weird, but it’s kind of my gauge.  Also, my sense of smell is better than ever, which isn’t always a good thing 😉  And my face used to be really oily all the time, but now it’s so dry that I have to moisturize it.  It’s a good problem to have.

I joined a strength-training program.

This week I went to the local gym and got weighed, measured, interviewed and evaluated so I could join their strength-training program.  It’s three classes per week of mostly weights with a little bit of cardio.  I’m going to try it for a bit and see if I want to stick with it or go for personal training.  I really like the trainer, and I think that’s important.  In my mind, personal training sessions were super scary and intimidating, but the trainer guy was super friendly and personable, and the gym was fairly non-threatening.  The last time I did a program like this, I saw results almost immediately, so I’m pretty excited to start.

I’m starting to plan the vacation of a lifetime.

I turn 40 next summer and my gift to myself is to vacation in South Korea for 2-3 weeks.  I was born there, adopted as a baby, and I’ve never been back.  This is a blog post for another time, but I’ll just say that it’s top of mind lately.  I’m frantically trying to learn the language and get my shit together before then.

More updates later.  Things are starting to gain traction and hopefully I’ll have more to say in the upcoming days, weeks and months.

xo.

 

Rainy day thoughts

 

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Photo by Nick Cooper on Unsplash

 

I haven’t updated in a bit because nothing has really happened.

I’ve been feeling in a rut lately, going about the same habits, revisiting failed attempts at changing my eating (low carb, no dairy, etc.). I’m realizing just how much harder it is to a) lose weight and b) change your habits, the older you get.

My sister and I often talk about the “all or nothing” mentality, which is definitely part of what’s holding me back. If I can’t hike up a 4000+ footer, what’s the point? If I can’t be 100% vegan, I’m not just going to cut back on dairy. If I can’t do everything, I’ll just do nothing.

In this age of technology, we all want instant gratification. Not seeing results immediately must mean it’s not working, right? The reality is that it’s the smaller changes that are most effective, and even though I know this, I’m still getting in my own way.

I’m going to focus on starting out tiny and plan for the long term. Going for a 10-minute walk every day is far better than doing nothing all week and struggling through a hike on the weekends. It’s like when I told my friend 20 years ago to put a couple dollars into savings every month. She automated the process and now has a much bigger savings account than me!

Baby steps. A little bit is better than nothing and will create lasting lifestyle changes.  Hell, there’s a little old lady with a walker that I see walking around outside every single day.  If she can do it, I should be able to!

I’m going to keep this top of mind going forward.

In the meantime, what do y’all do to get yourself out of a rut? I could use some motivation on this rainy day.

Sunday thoughts

Today I finished reading a book that I started in February.  It gives me great satisfaction to finish something, as it seems so rare these days.  Not just personal projects, but even finishing a bag of frozen vegetables or a jar of mustard makes me happy.  It means nothing was wasted and that bag of veggies/jar of mustard/book lived a full and purposeful life.

One of my many goals during my time in Vermont is to read 12 books.  My love of books has never diminished, but my attention span sure has.  I want to try to get it back.

Other things I’ve done in the past few days include seeing Abominable in the theaters and driving to the top of the highest mountain in the state.

Abominable was a really cute movie with major bonus points for Asian representation.  I continue to be blown away by just how far digital animation has come.

Mt. Mansfield was beautiful, especially decorated with the Fall foliage.  Sadly there wasn’t enough time to hike along the ridge as I had planned, and seeing as the top was already covered in ice, it looks like the next chance won’t be until Spring.  I’d recommend the drive up via the toll road, although getting there when it first opens is a must.  We spent most of the time in the car waiting to ascend, as they only let one car up when one car comes down.

Today, along with battling a cold, I’m also feeling the effects of the lower dose of Prozac.  I hope to be completely weaned off in a week or so, and no matter how slowly I go, the mild sadness and irritability always seem to creep in somehow.

It’s funny, but right about now I’m longing for a more regimented routine.  I want to go into an office every day, which is hilarious because just a few years ago I was longing for a 100% remote job, which I now have.  The grass is always greener, isn’t it?  Just a few weeks ago I could have been going into the office, but I realize now that it wasn’t distance or time that discouraged me; It was being self-conscious.  Even if I had lived next door to the office, I would still have stayed home if I was feeling fat (which was/is almost every day).  The loneliness is starting to sink in up here, and I just need to adjust.

I’ve lost a couple pounds since the last weigh-in, and I plan to ramp things up this week, as long as my cold improves.  Staying in and reading is good for feeling accomplished, but physically makes me feel like shit.  I’m at 204.2 pounds and I’m trying really hard to cut back on dairy, and eventually meat.  I can’t zip up my winter jacket from last year anymore, and it’s already winter jacket weather.  I need to hurry up and lose more weight.

Until next time.  xo.

One week

I’ve been in Vermont for exactly a week.  So far so good, although it still doesn’t feel like home yet.  Going back to work has helped, but it’ll take time.

I’ve definitely been more active in the past week.  My sister lives close enough to walk/bike but far enough away where it’s a decent walk/bike ride.  This morning before work I met someone for coffee, which I walked 20 minutes to get to.  Then I walked to a restaurant for lunch.  It’s so nice to be outside walking around without feeling self-conscious.

I definitely need to work on eating healthier now that I’m starting to get settled.  But at the same time I’m looking forward to having food adventures downtown.  My goal is to stay active enough where I don’t have to regulate my eating as closely as I feel like I should be, which is why I’m loving the cooler weather these days.  I can’t wait to start hiking again, and conquering some of the big mountains up here.

Everyone up here is nice, too.  It’s weird, and it catches me off guard.  Coming from Boston, I’m used to people minding their own business and not making eye-contact.  I wouldn’t say people from Boston are rude, they’re just… efficient.  Up here I have to remind myself to slow down, look up, and smile at people.

I’ll be doing weekly weigh-ins from now until my birthday in June, and I’ll post them here for accountability.  The last weigh-in was 206.4 lbs, which is close to my all-time high.  For reference, I’m 5’2″.  My feet and ankles hurt almost all the time.  I’m confident that I have the means and motivation to lose some weight, but getting to my goal seems like a daunting challenge right now.

All I know is how upset I’ll be if nothing has changed by my 40th.

Settling in, and 40 before 40

Moving is hard.  But for some reason it was extra hard this time, and I can’t figure out why.

Compared to most people, I don’t have a lot of “stuff”, but compared to my ideal self I have way too much.  I spent a lot of time packing, unpacking to purge stuff, and repacking during the past week.  I still have a long way to go, though.

The past two days I’ve been settling in and trying to figure out my new routine.  I can’t stock my kitchen yet because there isn’t much cabinet space, so I’ve been eating takeout so far.  I know this will change, so I’m not sweating it too much.

I feel like my cats are happier here already.  They’ve been running around and playing again, which I haven’t seen them do in a long time.

Walking to the store at 7am the other day was my favorite thing so far.  The sun was just coming up and the mountains were in the background.  There were very few cars on the road and it was just quiet.  I can’t wait for it to start snowing.

But today, my fourth day here, as I’m finally starting to feel like this is my home, I’m also feeling like I don’t want to get off the couch.  I’m way less self-conscious here but it still takes effort to put my face on and get dressed, especially when my comfortable pants are in the laundry basket and I no longer have in-unit laundry.

I have a lot of challenges to overcome, and I have to start making changes now, before my old ways dominate the new chapter of my life.

I’ve made a TODO list of things I want to accomplish during my time here in Vermont.  Some of it is fun but most of it is self-improvement.  My main goal is “40 before 40”, meaning, lose at least 40lbs before I turn 40.  That’s totally within my reach, so it’s up to me and me alone to make that happen.

Cheers.

Habits

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I would bet money that I have the weirdest eating habits out of anyone else I know.

Ever since I was a wee little skinny kid, I was eating the weirdest shit.  While other people craved ice cream and chips, I craved things like salad dressing and sour cream.  I would eat cream cheese with a spoon.  I never ate cereal, pancakes, waffles or even eggs for breakfast.  I’d eat kielbasa with cheese or canned mac n cheese.

I told you it was weird.  But I was a teeny, tiny little thing and no one ever told me that I should stop eating this or that.

As much as I’d like to believe that I’m an adult who makes better decisions, I’m not.  Habits that have been ingrained since childhood are so hard to break, and this is just one of the many struggles I now face.

I definitely attribute my weight gain to the various medications I’ve been on in my lifetime.  Back when I started SSRIs about 20 years ago, no one knew how they interacted with our gut microbiomes.  Even now it’s not widespread information.  But if you look back, my weight gains and losses absolutely correlate with going on and off meds.  I started Prozac again in January 2018 and since then I’ve gained 25lbs.

But I also fully realize that my disgusting food habits don’t carry over very well to adulthood, as metabolism slows down and life gets in the way of daily exercise.

I’ve been daydreaming about how when I move to Vermont the weight will just fall off and all will be well in the world.  Of course, I know that’s not the case, but I do think that being in a different setting with new surroundings and a chance to wipe the slate clean will kickstart new habits and a healthier lifestyle.  I’ve already started weaning off the Prozac, so fingers are crossed that that helps as well.

If I can get through the stress of packing and moving without dying of a cheese overdose, I think I might just be OK.

10 more days.