Tag Archives: health

Let’s Talk Mental Health: Life after Depression, My Story

Today is #BellLetsTalk day in Canada. It’s an initiative by Bell Media to get Canadians talking about mental health. Use of the hashtag on Twitter results in 5 cents per tweet getting donated to mental health awareness by Bell, but the tweet needn’t be about mental health to count. Tweeting about a donut? Tag that.

This big-biz-sponsored day on mental health has prompted me to want to talk again about my own experiences with depression, because I know for a fact it has helped people in the past, something that fills me with great pride.

I consider myself major-depression-free for 5 years now. (Woohoo!)

Sure, I got pretty depressed at the end of my time in Vancouver, but that’s different. That’s what you call “situational depression,” in which you get depressed as a natural result of a situation in your life — whether it’s a death, a job loss, bankruptcy, or any other major stress that can result in anxiety and other disorders. You can medicate yourself to manage these situations, too, or you can just hang on tight, knowing that it’s related to something that’s going on and that it’ll pass. When I thought about the stress of moving, I was depressed.

When I thought of the life I expected after moving, I felt momentary glee and hope. That’s how I knew it was a situational depression and that it would subside.

So, I hung on for the ride, then I moved to Victoria. It passed.

And that’s life.

It’s a lie to try and convince anyone that once depression goes away it’s all sunshine and roses. It’s not. Some are prone to depression and moods. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m “prone” to it, but I know that I have been susceptible in difficult times. The safe thing is to assume that I might always have a hard time in some situations. I’m a passionate person. Maybe that’s part of the package.

I think occasional susceptability to deep moods is a pretty normal deal. The important thing is being able to recognize it.

When I suffered my major, major depression that was chemically induced by a bad birth control prescription that closed in on me fast and changed everything. It began early 2006 and lasted into the autumn. I had to ask for help. I had to place an emergency call to a shrink in August, and then I went and got meds, and things began to improve 3 weeks later, but it was a long struggle back to normalcy.

I took those meds until spring 2008, but had to rapidly get off them because I had changed my diet and exercise routine so dramatically (and would lose 80 pounds that year) that I was able to get my body chemistry back to normal. At that point, the “anti-depressants” began making me aggressive, and we knew what was going on: I was getting balanced through natural means and no longer needed the chemicals to regulate matters.

Since then, I need a combination of time alone, vitamins, quality exercise, and regular sleep to keep my moods regulated. And if I “go off balance,” it’s usually only a couple days before I’m back to where I need to be.

Depression, once you’ve had a REAL depression — not just sadness or stress or a down period, but clinical dark-as-fuck, will-I-survive-this depression — I think it’s always there. Like a mole on your leg or your social security number, that experience just becomes a part of you.

I don’t mean in a way that you’re always AWARE of it, or that you always feel it. I just mean that when a real wave of sadness or sorrow hits, you remember that time when you couldn’t escape that feeling.

It’s always a relevant thing. Any time those moods return, I think it’s when a formerly depressed individual has to ask themselves if the emotional response they’re having is suited to the situation they’re experiencing, or if their response is illogical and possibly a sign that something chemical is off in the body.

Last week, I had just that kind of a week. I was moody, depressed, not wanting to do anything, and after a few days I realized there wasn’t a causal reason that deserved the reaction I was having. Then I realized I’d not been taking my vitamins for over a week.

Boom. Took vitamins, slept better, and then next day I was back to a normal level of grumpy I-Hate-February self. And that’s okay, because I’ve always hated February, and then I’m like a little kid in March when sun comes and flowers bloom. That’s my “normal,” and it’s okay, as long as I know that’s what’s going on.

Eventually, being a survivor of depression is just like being a survivor of back-pain or the owner of a shifty knee. You’re aware it’s a weakness you’ve had, and when things go awry, it’s okay to ask if it’s a Big Picture situation, or just a fluctuating phase like everyone experiences.

And it’s still okay.

I survive grumpiness. I also experience a lot of joy. I smile a lot, even when I’m alone. I get angry, too, but then I tell people why, or I write about it.

Mental illness comes in many, many different levels of severity. Not all are debilitating. Not all are perceptible by others. But all of them have struck someone you know, someone who may not have had the courage to tell you or anyone else about it, and that’s the only thing shameful about mental illness I can think of. Please encourage people in your life to talk to you, to feel safe in admitting what they’re going through, because lives can depend on it.

When you’re in it, depression feels like forever.

When you survive it, it’s hard to believe you ever felt as bad you once did.

It can be survived. It’s the fight of a lifetime, and there are tools of all kinds you can wield against it. Talk to someone who knows.

If you’re depressed and you want to read an amazing account of what it felt like for Pulitzer-prize-winning author William Styron, read his Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness. If you love someone who’s depressed and can’t understand how/why they’ve changed so much or why nothing you say seems to help, please read Styron’s book, and you’ll understand it for the first time. Here’s an excerpt in Vanity Fair.

_____

Don’t forget… you can read about my new, improved life I’m leading in Victoria on my new blog, VanIsleStyle.com, my take on a lifestyle blog.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Turning the Light On

For weeks, if not months, I have felt like I’ve been sleepwalking.

Recently, my sleep began reverting to the horrible insomniac ways that preceded my leaving Vancouver. I found myself moody, tense, and dragging my ass through my day. I’ve felt like I’ve been in a wet paper bag, slogging through each day and never getting half of what was on my to-do list done.

August was like a light turned on in my head and I became more productive, and was really hitting my stride in working-from-home and staying-on-top-of-life duties.

New sheets, freshly-washed duvet/cover/mattress pad, and more. Because good sleep is worth it.

Then Thanksgiving hit and our 100+ days of sun turned into typical Wet Coast autumns — full of moody gray clouds and all kinds dullness.

Last week, I grew angry as I realize my home I’d chosen for my Victoria life results in receiving the very last of my direct sunlight by 9:30am at this time of year. I was barely even able to get myself to my desk by 10am.

Then, Friday, I impulse-purchased a Seasonal Affective Disorder lamp. Yes, with actual money. It wasn’t some promo gift for writing a blog.

This week, after four days, I’ve got my house clean, my work done, my client’s project put to bed. I’m more optimistic, have more energy, and am sleeping from 10–6, which is my ideal night.

Now I’m on a mission to make my life less seasonally affected. Everything from buying gadgets to investing in better sleep products (new pillow, sheets, et cetera).

I even feel a bit more like writing.

Let’s see where a couple weeks of determined Season-Affectations-Combatting gets me, eh?

Beyond these battles, there are other things afoot in The World Of Steff. But for now I have to work on bringing them to fruition, not spilling the beans just for your voyeuristic pleasure.

Stay tuned, and I’ll report back what life is like later next week after I’ve had a couple weeks of this daily dose of Fake Daylight.

Science fucking rocks.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

The Heal Thy Steff Plan: The Victoria Model v2.0

I try to learn life lessons where I can, but I’m not sure what to glean from spending $95 on a massage, then sleeping on my arm wrong.

Sometimes, maybe there isn’t a lesson. Sometimes, maybe life’s just stupid.

Ignoring the “Oops, I did it again” sleep and all, the massage was awesome. I’m still in a frustrated headspace, though. This weekend, some game-planning’s goin’ down.

See, like the ever-smart pragmatist I try to be, I realized the year-end was upon us and I’ve begun trying to make all my leftover medical benefits vanish by way of use, rather than time running out on me.

I took this shot near my home yesterday. Had a 4km pre-breakfast sunrise walk. Beats the shit out of walking to a bus stop on a busy thoroughfare, like I’d be doing back in the city in the morning.

Hello, beefy masseur. Howdy, Mr. Chiro. Bonjour, acupuncturist. Allo, physiotherapist. Holy fuck, look at that crowded calendar.

Thus begins the 10-week intensive Heal Thy Steff regimen. Oh, and I’m signing up for yoga at the end of the month, and I’ve just joined the gym. I’ll continue with my avid walking/cycling life as well, with my last bus ride having been in July.

It’s about to become a very anti-social, very focused, and very broke end-of-year for me, but with, I hope, fantastic results. I’m imagining myself starting 2013 in the best mind/body place I’ve been in for a few years. But I’m under no illusions that this will be an easy time of life management or physicality. Time to get my game on.

Last year, when I did something similar, I spent my funds completely differently — on experimental stuff on the other side of town, after which I’d get home tired, often soaked, and frustrated. This time, I’m doing more traditional treatments I know have worked for me before, and I don’t need to spend 70 hours a month on the bus to make it happen. Instead, everything’s within 2.5 kilometres of me.

I’m switching chiropractors, which is the one big risk. The guy I’m with has worked with many Olympians and is incredible, but he also causes a lot of pain. I’m in constant inflammation, and I’m just wondering if someone else who uses the same techniques can be a little more forgiving with my body. The worst thing is, his time management sucks. Out of about 15 appointments, only 3 times have I gotten in with less than 15 minutes’ waiting, and at least 5 times I have waited 45 minutes. I know I’m not some big fancy rich person or anything, but my time’s valuable to me, too.

And given I’m cycling 30 minutes/9km each way to his appointment, that’s adding up to about 2 hours of my time, not to mention the half-hour I have to stretch after all the cycling’s done, or that I usually justify this time/effort spent as a reason to order bad food on my way home. Add to that the money I’ve spent on the session, and suddenly it’s a black hole of time and expense, and usually ends up making me bitchy.

So, Olympians or no, I’m moving on to someone closer, whose bio sounds like he has a similar life/wellness perspective as what I’m hoping to attain.

Any way you slice it, this plan I have in mind will take tremendous discipline, a lot of work, a lot of money, and a lot of patience. It’s a huge commitment, and one I’ve not been ready to make before now. In 3 weeks, I’ll be meeting with a prominent physiotherapist who’s got an amazing background, and I will be getting a program started with him.

It also means I put writing on the back burner once again.

My recent birthday, and getting my new driver’s license, has opened this realization that I’ve been on this five-year journey through a lot of levels of pain, and I’m fucking tired, man. It needs to end. If it means I throw EVERYTHING at this, for one amazing 10-week period, and see where it gets me, then so be it.

Five years ago, I got my driver’s license photo back and this massively fat face was peering back at me. I’d just quit a job that had sent me spiralling towards depression because my employer was a toxic, negative hag who had high turnover with good reason, and went back to a job I’d always enjoyed (and am still at). I chose to do something about that depression by way of exercise and eating better, and adopted a lot of good habits, worked crazy hard, and lost 85 pounds in the next year (but gained 10 back immediately, and maintained a 75-lb loss for the next 2+ years) before blowing my back 4 years ago this month.

The last four years have been a repetitive story of rehab and fall-backs, including me regaining weight (it was 25 lbs when I left Vancouver, spiked to 35lbs after, and now is at 28lbs regained, so…).

All this culminated in this year’s decision that the city was killing me and I needed a slower pace of life that would be kinder to my body.

So, I sit here now, typing in my pajamas before a day of working from home, which is some 7 or so blocks from one of North America’s best urban ocean stretches, where I find my soul and refill it often.

I have come a long, long ways in the last seven months since my move.

It’s why I’m ready to make the commitment now, despite the fact that the fat, long-injured girl deep inside me is scared as hell about what it’s gonna feel like to go hard and face all the things that emotionally come with rehabbing your body after injury.

I suspect I’ll get bored of being in all the same neighbourhoods by the end of this year, since I’ll be in a 3-5km radius for much of the winter months, until Victoria is bike-friendly and pretty and warm for cycling again, but at least I’m close enough to never have an excuse to not cycle to appointments, since it would amusingly take about 3 times as long to bus as it would to cycle.

I’m scared and excited, but either way, time to go to the next level of Steff v2.0: The Victoria Model.

Let’s do this.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

A Carnivore Ruminates: Thoughts About Balance

Food. Some eat to live, others live to eat. Either way, it’s the source of life.

The Chinese believe in the Chi of food. Eat food from the place you’re from, and you get Earth-drawn energy to live upon the place you’re in. It’s a circle-of-life thing.

Me, I clearly live to eat. Lately, too indulgently and without balance. Sproing goes the waistline this summer, I’m afraid. And that’s no good.

Living to eat and doing it badly is an ironic way to embrace death. I’m certainly better than I’ve likely ever been as an eater, but it’s a constant act of re-education, and the more I learn and deprogram myself on the white-food-rules upbringing I had, the further I’ve yet to go.

I had a bit of a Twitter spanking as I tongue-in-cheek suggested I get great pleasure from seeing former Vegan/Vegetarian people going back to meat. I explained that it vindicates my belief that vegetarianism and veganism are somewhat unnatural.

Then again, entire cultures, like the Hindu, go their whole lives without food that comes of taking a life.

I get that. But I’m Irish and French. It’s just never gonna happen chez Steff. I mean, really. If we weren’t supposed to eat meat, it wouldn’t be so tasty.

It’s that simple.

But it’s good meat that’s tasty. Meat raised under ethical conditions, raised eating real food, not stuffed with commercial feed, who have access to pastures, live naturally, and are slaughtered compassionately, then processed with care by people who value the product and the life given to provide it.

Give me a steak by a grow-factory, slaughtered en masse without empathy, processed on a conveyor belt, versus a local farm-raised product, slaughtered the old-school way, and hand-trimmed, with both prepared and cooked the same, and I’ll tell you on the first bite which is which. Easy. Done. It’s right there. That je ne sais quoi of having been raised ethically and killed compassionately.

There are lamb in Spain who get walked — WALKED! — on a 650+ kilometre trek across the mountains, feeding on grass as they go, birthing, mating, living like they should, being sight-seers for many weeks before they meet their end. That’s something you taste. Real grass grown from valley to valley, by river and stream, under olive trees and by grapevines. It’s all there in that lamb.

The French believe in terroir and how it applies to not just wine like most people think, but to everything from meat through to oysters. You taste the land that the food comes from. Like where you’re born imprints you, so too does it to the meat and seafood and everything else we consume. Like those Spanish lamb I think would surpass any I’ve ever had.

Yum.

It’s a beautiful thought, that this interconnectivity runs through everything around us, and that we can choose to focus on more seasonal, local produce and it’ll not only be of better quality, but also of better Chi, of better terroir, and even just better for the environment, and ultimately more fulfilling for our soul.

As I reflect on food and what it means to me this week, I know where I’m going wrong with my diet is simply too many carbs and too much meat. I won’t go paleo or Zone or Atkins or any of those faddish diets. I just want to find a balance that works for me — ethically, tastefully, healthily, and financially.

I will never eat what I don’t enjoy, and I’ll never omit things like juicy steaks, cheeses, or other great food-of-love things that transport me when I eat them. Life’s meant to be lived, not survived.

There’s a perfect balance of finding flavour yet eating a diet that makes your body happy, and that’s the balance I’ve lost.

I’ll be eating less meat, less cheese, but when I have them, having far better quality. At the same time, I want to explore vegetarian dishes from around the world, particularly from places where they manage to go entire lives without meat, because clearly they’re doing it properly.

I’ve known people who’ve been extreme vegetarians, who did it balanced as best as one can, but who ultimately returned to the Meat Side when they ran into energy problems when being more active (like a boxer I knew, and a hardcore mountain cyclist). I don’t believe one needs to omit anything completely (except when allergic, obviously) to live an “ethical food” life.

Yet we as a society in the West eat meat to excess and a compromise would be good. I’ll attempt a 50% vegetarian week. I’m sure there’ll be weeks I fail, but I’m probably meat-eatin’ 6 days a week now, if not 7. That ain’t no good.

There’s one thing I can’t argue. That’s the issue that raising meat, farm or factory, creates a lot of methane, which is hugely responsible for global warming. If the world went vegetarian tomorrow and commercial meat production ended, we’d probably see a drastic difference in climate change quickly. This is true. Irrefutable.

So, mandate methane capture and conversion. Let’s solve that problem. Let’s have our cake steak and eat it too.

Because, to me, every cow is sacred, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want it salted and grilled.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Building Blocks: Mastering Less as More

It’s been a long week and you’re probably wondering how it went, given my dreaded Month of Suck admission last week.

I’ve spent this past week slowly recalibrating myself, lowering my expectations, ditching my guilt, and focusing on the individual steps to take rather than being overwhelmed by the bigness of my journey…

Found on SciFiTV.com.And it’s been much, much better.

My workout with Le Physique’s Nik Yamanaka last Monday was really an empowering start to my week. She was empathetic, didn’t dwell on my admitted failings, changed the game up a little, challenged me, and provided great positivity, support, and encouragement during the workout. She also brought The Funny, and we like The Funny.

It wasn’t that she was babying me, not by a long shot. She pushed me enough, and god knows I felt it the next night as the Screaming Thighs of Fury set in a day after the epic “Let’s try some lunges” experiment, but she didn’t push me past what I could take.

Who cares about the Screaming Thighs of Fury, though?

Face it, anyone who doesn’t have killer-sore legs after doing their first-ever triple-set of lunges is probably immortal. We don’t like those people.

We really, really don’t like those people. But I digress.

Aside from letting me ditch my guilt and shame by playing me her version of the “everyone has reversals” record, Nik also provided a lightbulb moment when it came to stretching.

I think I know better than most people the profound difference that can come from tweaking a stretch angle by a few degrees, so I was really surprised to find that, a) I’m still being uber-overzealous in my hamstring stretching, b) it’s probably a huge part of why my hamstrings never stretch out, and c) it’s likely instrumental in why I have recurring back issues on a small scale all the time.

Nik drove the point home that the hamstring is a very gentle stretch, and one of the most important ones we can do. She said to wait while the hamstring naturally extends itself. Stretch the leg to the point of feeling it, hold, as it releases and resistance lessens, extend slightly further, hold, repeat, etc.

Okay, whoa, hold them technique-horses a moment.

This needs saying: I’m not a licensed kinesiologist, I’m not edumacatin’ you on stretching, and you shouldn’t be doing anything by way of my limited explanations here. This was a trained professional explaining the best way of stretching for MY body. Your body is a whole ‘nother thang, and this is why certified personal trainers are a wise idea for anyone embarking on a new life of fitness: Because every body responds a little differently.

(But if you’re like most people, you probably should be stretching those hamstrings more, honey.)

Anyhow, that slight adjustment, less-kamikaze approach has been making a difference in my legs and back this week, but there’s another stretch that’s proven monumentally important to me, now that I’ve been hearing Nik’s voice in my head all the time: “Drop your shoulders. Drop your shoulders.”

I’ve always had my shoulders up too high during stretches — and now I realize my stretches are probably largely responsible for the “tension headaches” I get, or at least as responsible as other things, like carrying too many groceries or wearing heavy shoulder bags.

By keeping my shoulders down during the stretches, I’ve greatly reduced the headaches that were seriously cramping my style. Whew. Fantastic.

So, where didn’t my week go as ideally?

Well, everywhere, of course.

But “perfect” wasn’t my goal.

Sure, I didn’t exercise the “Full Nik Yamanaka Kicking-Ass-And-Taking-Names” routine, but I decided to cut myself slack and instead just focusing on Doing it Right and Feeling Good Later. Nik seems to approve.

I still haven’t stretched often enough, eaten as well as I would like, but I really don’t care.

I really don’t — because I’ve done everything better, I feel better, and I know I can still do better.

The difference is, this time I feel like doing better isn’t going to kill me. I don’t feel the dread and fear I was feeling for a while, when I kept paying for my efforts with negative fall-out (thanks to the trifecta of overdoing it, poor sleep, and bad stretching.)

Now I think “doing better” might even have me feeling better overall.

Working out through my pneumonia recovery has proven challenging, but I’m finally at the point where pushing cardio may still have me spent and asleep on the sofa by 8:30, but a good night’s sleep recharges that battery, and I find myself with more to give the next day.

That’s a new thing — having more to give — and a good thing.

Will I manage the Full Nik Yamanaka Kicking-Ass-And-Taking-Names program this week?

No, probably not, but I can get closer, do it better, feel stronger, and have the feeling that I’m adding to success rather than kicking myself when I’m down.

I’m listening to my body with exercise, and soon I know I’ll be listening to it for food, too. That’s always a 1–2 thing for me — I get the exercise sorted, then figure out the food.

All in all, it feels like the pieces are falling into place — or, rather, that I’m kicking ass and throwing them into place.

This week, less has been more.

By doing less and feeling like I’ve executed it better, or more well, or more promisingly, the emotional gains and the confidence I now have in going forward is both a pivotal and welcomed change in my life.

I knew I’d get here, but it was just such a rocky road with so many obstacles, and me with my lack of objectivity at the time.

Recalibrating, lowering expectations, and focusing on technique but working through obvious pains while trying to reduce unnecessary pain, have been a key in my week of regrouping.

Going into this week with a little less fear and a little more confidence will be a nice change, provided I remember that it’s doing less, but doing it better, that’s being my “more” right now.

Baby steps, baby.

Le Physique is in Leg-And-Boot Square, in Vancouver’s False Creek. Nik Yamanaka is co-owner, and was the BCRPA Personal Trainer of the Year for 2008. Le Physique tailors a program to meet your abilities, goals, and lifestyle. They can’t do the work for you, but they can tell you the tweaks that will help you meet your best performance and give you the mental tools and simple practices that might help you attain the success you need. You can listen to Nik talking about training in this radio interview here. You can follow her/them on Twitter, too, by clicking here.
Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Bouncing Back from The Month of Suck

If you enjoy this, or any of my posts, please hit the “like” button at the bottom, because sharing it on Facebook helps me get readers, which is kind of the point. Thank you for your support!

October was My Month of Suck.

Things went badly at the end — personally, financially, physically, spiritually.

Times like that, my struggle is with Emotional Eating. Growing up, if there was something we’d celebrate or mourn, we’d do it with food.

At 37, it’s still my battle.

Another struggle is the pressure I put on myself and the self-damning I do when I don’t meet those lofty standards.

What happens when I get angry or disappointed in myself? I eat.

When I eat, what happens? I get fat or feel like it — equally dangerous to morale.

My first mistake in October was not saying sooner that I’d bitten off too much, regarding my post-pneumonia recovery.

The problems with me getting something like pneumonia is, it’s easy to think the pneumonia’s just some “thing” I’ve created to get out of shit, regardless of how sick I actually was.

As a kid, yeah, I was in and out of hospitals, but I was also a lazy kid who loved the excuse of illness — I hated exercise. When it came to exercise, I was happy to play the “I’m too sick” card.

The last five years, the greatest “getting fit” struggle I’ve faced was overcoming “I Can’t” and those old excuses.

In so doing, when I thought I couldn’t do something, I often did better than I expected. When I thought I was too weak, I was strong. If I wanted to improve my time in how long it took to cycle someplace, I did. When I thought I was too tired or too sore, I proved I wasn’t. That’s how I lost 70 pounds on my own.

Sure, I beat “I can’t,” but I’m still not an “I Can” girl — and that’s what I want to be, via my work with Nik Yamanaka from Le Physique.

I want say “Sure, I can do that!” without blinking. Now? Not so much, more like “Maybe?”

A lot has to do with the “I Can’t” Girl legacy.

In October, when I first thought I was doing too much too soon, I didn’t take a break — I didn’t want to use the “I’m not well” excuse or to make allowances for being sick or recovering. I didn’t want to admit I’m weaker or less strong.

Now I’ve paid for it through too sore muscles, too tired body, and the emotional fatigue that comes from the too-much-too-soon lethargy one suffers after trying to bounce back post-illness or injury.

***

Today I see Nik for the first time in two weeks. She knows I’ve been ass-kicked by both life and myself of late. I think I really need a session to get my head from Where I Was last month to where I’d rather be now.

For me, returning to anything after injury or illness is a struggle. The longer I’m out of the game, the harder it is to get back — especially when my body doesn’t like the pace I set, since I normally like to take my angst out on a workout, but my body doesn’t like that approach.

That said, almost every time I “return,” I do too much too soon.

I warned Nik that a former chiro labelled my tactics as “KAMIKAZE”. I mean, I know I do this shit.  I told her, “I know this about myself, I’m gonna be careful”, but, boom, there it is: History repeating.

This time, my bounce-back wipeout coincided with Heavy personal stuff on a few levels, and a bout of food poisoning, all within 10 days. I got knocked on my ass — hard.

Coupled with emotional baggage and the caloric hell that is Halloween, it’s been a doozy of a three-week stint in which I’ve been visiting all manner of feeling like a Failure.

We’ve all been there.

Still, I know my abilities and what I’ve learned about my food relationships, and my physical accomplishments with cardio and strength-training over time.

Believe me, I know. That’s why it’s so hard to accept such a rocky return.

Up side? Nik’s got a crash course in Steff’s Fitness Foibles 101 — my determination, roadblocks, how connected food is to my emotions, how I pay for my stubbornness.

Down side? It’s a disheartening start to what I hoped would resonate with awesomeness from the get-go. I have to recalibrate my expectations, and I will.

The I’ll-take-it side? I’m reminded I’m not God, I’m not even immortal, and while deities might allegedly be able to create whole worlds in seven days, we take longer to create what we dream, and more realistic aspirations make the road less arduous.

***

I’ve had a hard time writing this piece. I’ve started it six times now.

Why? I despise admitting that I’ve failed myself, but it’s more disheartening that it came after I tried too hard and hit the wall, only to fall back into old habits just ‘cos I emotionally roll that way.

That’s what I had a hard time with: feeling like I was being punished for working too hard. It’s tough to swallow that you’ve achieved what you wanted to do, but then suffered consequences as a result — and then revisited bad habits of old out of weakness.

To whatever end, it all comes back to listening to the trainer when he/she says “Listen to your body.”

They don’t say “Listen to your neuroses.”

Woefully, my neuroses speak loud and clear. Listening to that’s hard not to do.

And sometimes we don’t understand our bodies. Don’t understand? Or maybe we just don’t listen. Success usually isn’t a switch we can flick on overnight.

Some learn these lessons harder than others.

My lesson is in finding a middle ground between what I want to be Tomorrow and what I’m able to be Today, and for me it can be the hardest part of fitness.

Part of a trainer-trainee relationship comes from learning where you’re at with each other, and the trainer knowing when you’re really trying or when you’re just phoning it in. This is a tough beginning, and I know Nik’s being challenged with having to interpret that about me. I can respect that.

Still, my journey’s not just the physical roadblocks I have to contend with. I know I’ll be in a difficult place emotionally for a while, so my food struggle will be tough. That’s when training will be good, and social media/blogging also helpful, so I can get advice, support, friendly prodding, and experience accountability to others.

Because I can’t work out at 100 per cent, I’m learning I never overcame my food demons, despite having lost 70 pounds.

I didn’t. Food’s the devil, always was. This is the reality check I needed.

Waiter, there’s a fly in my aspiration soup. Check, please.

Yet, Food Demons can be beaten into submission. People do it all the time.

And, pneumonia can only hamper my efforts for so long. I’ll get there a little more each week. I’m just impatient.

***

So, today? Training looms.

My Catholic upbringing makes me dread facing people after I feel like I’ve failed them or myself, so showing up to see Nik will be a bit heavy at the beginning, but another part of me can’t wait to just get in there, see her, and turn the page on my October.

Something I’ve learned in recovery/rehab, and forgot until now: It’s best that I do cardio at the end of the day so I can recover after, rather than early in the morning, when it might take a lot out of me, since, frankly, post-pneumonic life isn’t brimming with energy just yet.

Sometimes we need to find new normals.

I’m finding mine.

***

Failure happens. We don’t choose when. Life’s tough, we deal where we can, and sometimes fall down elsewhere.

At the end, know what matters?

Not that I ate badly or didn’t exercise sometimes, but that I’ve been more honest with myself about food than I have in months, and that I’ve been active more regularly than I have in a while.

I’ve improved. That’s the point.

I haven’t improved as much as I’d wanted, as quickly as I’d hoped, but I know why I haven’t, where I can improve still, and now I’ll do better than I did last time.

In the end, sometimes just continuing to improve is the best result we can hope for.

For now? I’ll take it.

Le Physique is in Leg-And-Boot Square, in Vancouver’s False Creek. Nik Yamanaka is co-owner, and was the BCRPA Personal Trainer of the Year for 2008. Le Physique tailors a program to meet your abilities, goals, and lifestyle. They can’t do the work for you, but they can tell you the tweaks that will help you meet your best performance and give you the mental tools and simple practices that might help you attain the success you need. You can listen to Nik talking about training in this radio interview here. You can follow her/them on Twitter, too, by clicking here.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)