The Recovering Pessimist

Helping pessimists see the bright side of life without losing their "half empty" roots.

Back to Center: Update 6

Nov
14

The Recovering Pessimist: Back to Center Update 6 -- With this update I wanted to focus on how journaling has become part of my self-care routine. | www.therecoveringpessimist.me #amwriting #recoveringpessimist #optimisticpessimistI’m getting better with the timing of these Back to Center updates pats self on back. I’ve made mention of self-care (click here and here for earlier blog posts) in the past, but I wanted to devote this update to journaling.

I’ve always had a journal/diary of some sort. During my teenage years, I wrote to document the highs and lows of my life. I was never consistent in my journaling.  However, now that I’m older, I’ve learned that journaling is a key part of my self-care routine.

Bridget Jones/Giphy.com

Bridget Jones/Giphy.com

For example, I have times where I have too much going on in my head. I could be worried about something and that worry manifests into anxiety. Once anxiety has made its way in, a chain reaction occurs. I can’t concentrate and restful sleep goes M.I.A. I hate feeling that way, especially when I don’t have control over the situation that’s causing the anxiety.

So one day, I had the bright idea to dust off the journal I’ve been sporadically writing in and conducted a brain dump. Soon as the pen hit the paper and the syllables became words, the anxiety that had my stomach riddled with knots dissipated. I didn’t want the anxiety to come back to cripple me again. Writing in regularly would have to become my new normal. But again, consistency in my journaling wasn’t important to me.

This is where Google comes in for the win.

So, about two weeks ago, I got an email from Google telling me that the Google Calendar app I was using on my phone was out of date and that an update was available via Google Play. I updated the app and boy was I impressed.

The updated version of the app allowed me to set goals for various reasons, specifically “Me Time”. I went ahead and set a goal to practice journaling once a week for 15 minutes in the evening. In return, the app finds the requested time within my calendar to schedule the goal. For me, making journaling a goal AND having it scheduled in my calendar is a mind trick. If I have it scheduled in my calendar, I have to do it.

So far, adding journaling to my calendar is working. It feels good to keep the anxiety and stress away. Tell me, do you journal? Is journaling part of your self-care plan?

Back to Center: Update 5

Jul
18

The Recovering Pessimist: Back to Center Update 5 -- In Back to Center 4, I mentioned that I have a decompression period each day to relax. I wanted to go into more detail on how I like to decompress in this update. | www.therecoveringpessimist.me #amwriting #recoveringpessimist #optimisticpessimist

When I get off work, the first thing I want to do is wind down from the day. Those 1-2 hours allow me to calm my mind and get back to my normal.

In Back to Center: Update 4, I briefly mentioned that having a decompression period was a crucial aspect of my relaxation plan.

Since then, my decompression period has become a huge part of my self-care routine. For this update, I wanted to expand upon the specific components that make up my decompression period.

 

Log Off

There’s at least one day during the week where by the time I get home, I really don’t want to touch anything electronic other than my TV. I can try to get SOMETHING productive done, but my attempts are futile. My brain wants no parts of productivity sometimes and that’s fine.

Listen to Music

It feels great to grab my noise-cancelling headphones (truly a lifesaver) and listen to instrumental music to wind down. Lately, I’ve been enjoying Joey Alexander, in addition to The Piano Bar and Piano Chill playlists on Spotify.

Brain Dump

Sometimes, there’s too much going on in my mind. My mind won’t stop and that prevents me from getting a good night’s rest. When I can feel that coming, I tend to write my thoughts in my journal so my mind can relax. As soon as the pen hits the paper, I feel better.

Take a Nap

Look. LOOK. LOOK! When I tell you naps are the BESTEST (yes, bestest) thing ever…I ain’t lying. Sometimes you need a nap just to regroup yourself. It can start as a power nap and end up being hours long. But when I wake up from a nap, I feel good all over. Whew!

Naptime/Giphy.com

 

Drink Something Relaxing

Whatever it is (e.g., alcohol, tea, coffee, water, etc.), I hope it helps you feel better. Cheers!

Karen Walker/Giphy.com

Karen Walker /Giphy.com

 

Scream, Laugh, and/or Cry

I have moments when I go through the motions of wanting to laugh, cry, and/or scream.

When I want to laugh:

  • I watch YouTube videos. My favorite ones are people doing stupid things and kids being kids.
  • I watch/listen to a lot of comedy shows. My favorites are by Bernie Mac, Katt Williams, Richard Pryor, and Gary Owen.

When I want to cry:

  • Crying in public is a no-no for me, so I do 99% of my crying sessions at home. As soon as I finish sobbing, I feel sooo much better.

When I want to scream:

  • Like crying, screaming in public is a no-no. If I’m driving, i just turn the music up and let it out. If I’m at home, I put a pillow over my mouth and let it rip. Immediate relief.
Watch TV

When I get home from a rough day, most of the time I don’t want to watch anything that requires a lot of thought. Watching comedy and reality shows along with cartoons really help me to relax.

Read

I love to read. Being able to escape from reality for a bit works wonders.

Reading Books/Giphy.com

That’s it for now. Tell me, how do you decompress? What works best for you?

Until next time,

MsWalton

Back to Center: Update 4

Mar
28

The Recovering Pessimist: Back to Center Update 4 -- Mental health is just as important as physical health. | www.therecoveringpessimist.me #amwriting #recoveringpessimist #optimisticpessimistBeen gone for a minute, but I’m back with another Back to Center post (see here, here, here, and here for earlier posts). For this update, I wanted to discuss the other end of my lifestyle journey: improving my mental well-being.

Mental health is just as important as your physical health. Actually, for me, mental health is a little more important. Negativity takes a toll on me physically and that’s the absolute last thing I need.

So I wanted to share two things that are key components in improving my mental well-being: mindset and relaxation. These have worked wonders for me and I hope it does the same for you. With all the chaos that life entails, we need all the optimism we can get.

Okay, enough of me blabbing, let’s get started, shall we?

Mindset

I want to have a more positive outlook and have a better way of approaching life’s curveballs. Initially, I cut the toxic people out of my life because if you don’t contribute to my awesomeness, you can go.

Once I got rid of the toxicity, I realized that I needed to remind myself how awesome life really is. That’s where Instagram comes in. I started following Purple Buddha Project & Think Grow Prosper.  I love how their accounts are inspirational without being a bunch of bull.

Then I ran across Self Love Mantras, Mind Body Green, & ckelso on Instagram’s Explore page. I’ve never been a big fan of affirmations. The ones I saw were totally unrelatable to me. They were too soft and sort of overly positive. I relate better to tough love and I find these three Instagram accounts much more my style as far as affirmations are concerned.

Relaxation

I still work a 9-5, so I work on this blog after work. Many evenings I’ve come home too wound up from work to decompress properly. After many sleepless nights started messing with my after-work productivity, I realized that I needed a relaxation plan so I can work on my side projects and sleep well.

Here are a few things that contribute to my relaxation plan:

Decompression Period

After spending 8-10 hours at work, I HAVE to decompress from the day. I usually begin this during the drive home. When I get home, I shower, catch up on my YouTube feed, drink an alcoholic beverage, and sit on the couch. That 45 minutes to an hour really does wonders for my spirit.

Have a “Do Nothing” Day

My energy tends to wane as the week progresses. I like to have a day where I don’t do anything writing-related. This is usually Friday evening into late Saturday afternoon. During this period, I catch up on TV shows, read, hang out on social media, etc. If I decide to do a little work, I use my Clear Focus app to make sure that I only spend 25 minutes on the task.

Tell me, what tips do you have for changing your mindset and/or relaxing? You can leave a comment, or hit me up on social media. I look forward to hearing from you! In the meantime, be good to yourself, okay?

 

 

Back to Center: Update 3

Jun
22

The Recovering Pessimist: Back to Center Update 3 -- The scale isn't the only measurement of progress. | www.therecoveringpessimist.me #amwriting #optimisticpessimist #recoveringpessimistIt’s been a very, very long time since my last update (see here and here for my other updates) and I’m truly sorry. Life happened and here it is, mid-June and I’m just getting around to giving you an update on my lifestyle journey.

*hangs head in shame*

On January 16, 2015, I got on the scale weighed 160.6 pounds. Not quite my goal of 160 pounds, but close enough for me.

In addition, my stomach is smaller, which translates into inches lost, which translates into all of my jeans (yes, including the skinny jeans) being baggy. Pretty awesome right? Anyway, there’s more.

I held steady at 160.6 pounds until May 21, 2015, when I dropped down to 159.4 pounds. I couldn’t tell you the last time I weighed in the 150s. Yes, it’s been that long. Right now, I’m holding steady between 158.6 and 158.8 pounds. While I’m not as obsessive about my wellness goals as I have been in the past, there are a few things that are helping me continue to be successful.

Raw Honey

Keeping my sugar addiction at bay is still my #1 priority.  Since it’s so sweet, I don’t need to use a lot of it to sweeten my tea. It’s also great to use for sore throats. Raw honey also has a lot of antioxidants and vitamins, making it a great ingredient for a facial mask.

Don’t Fight Sleep 

There are nights when my body is wide awake, however, my mind is ready to count sheep. In the past, I would stay awake working or watching TV. By the time I would go to sleep, I would only get 3-4 hours of sleep. That’s not enough time for my body to rest and rejuvenate itself. After being extremely tired and occasionally sick, I learned the importance of getting a good night’s rest.

For those nights where I can’t fall asleep, I have a cup of tea that promotes sleep. After a couple sips, my body relaxes, and my eyelids get heavy. Light’s out! Oh, and if you want another suggestion for falling asleep, try tart cherry juice.

I read somewhere that drinking tart cherry juice is beneficial as a sleep aid. I finally brought a container of it to see if the claims were true. I drink half a glass right before I go to bed and sleep like a baby. It doesn’t taste as bad as you think it would, but the benefits definitely outweigh the taste.

Treats are Treats

I stopped keeping juices and candy in my house. If I want something sweet, I’ll have a glass of Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk, an Outshine fruit bar, or a small mug of Talenti gelato. Those are my 3 favorite ways to indulge.

Hopefully, you enjoyed this update. The key thing I’ve learned as I continue on this journey is that any sort of change must begin with the mind first. If you can get the mind on board, the body will follow. Remember to take care of yourself.

 

Updated March 4, 2016

Back to Center: Update 2.5

Nov
03

The Recovering Pessimist: Back to Center Update 2.5 -- My arch nemesis, sugar, and how I prevailed. | www.therecoveringpessimist.me #amwriting #recoveringpessimist #optimisticpessimistIt’s been a year since my last update. I apologize for the delay. Life happened and I slowly started gaining all the weight I lost back. I got discouraged and began embracing sugar again.

Totally fell off the wagon.

I try not to eat a lot of sugar. However, my weakness has always been sugary drinks. I still don’t drink soda (too much of a trigger), but I was drinking juices and sweet tea like crazy.

Yeah, it tasted good, but my stomach was getting bigger by the day.

Weight tends to accumulate in my stomach and boobs. While having big boobs is mostly a blessing, excessive belly fat is not. Especially when diabetes runs in my family. So when  my weight slowly began to creep up on the scale, I had to pull my shit together.

It was time to cut the sugar, specifically the sugary drinks. I drank my last glass of lemonade around the beginning of October. Using MyFitnessPal to document my weight at that time, I’ve been weighing myself regularly. Check out my progress in the chart below:

Weight Nov 2013-Nov 2014

 

Insane right? Especially when you see the drastic increase from this time last year. My current goal is to reach 160 pounds. Once I get there, I will make my next goal. I haven’t started exercising yet. Focusing on kicking this sugar habit is my main priority.

Sugar, I hate you. Sincerely, Me Click To Tweet

 

Updated March 4, 2016

 

Back to Center: Update 2

Dec
09

The Recovering Pessimist: Back to Center Update 2 -- Recognizing when I'm full is a huge part of this lifestyle journey. | www.therecoveringpessimist.me #amwriting #recoveringpessimist #optimisticpessimistIt’s been a while since I posted an update. Since the last update, I  fell off the wellness wagon. My weight was slowly going up on the scale, but I didn’t really pay it any attention.

My size 12 jeans, however, were my Come to Jesus moment. They were getting too snug for my tastes and I refused to go back to a 14.

I started analyzing where I was going wrong and it all boiled down to two words:

Portion control.

My arch nemesis.

Instead of having one glass of juice, I would have three. My plates were disproportioned. I wasn’t eating enough fruits/veggies and healthy snacks. When I would dine out, my food choices weren’t the best. Once I figured the sources of my weight gain, I focused on creating better habits so I could get back on track.

Pay attention to labels!

Sugar is my weakness and because of that, I have to pay special attention to labels. If an 8 oz. glass of juice (orange juice not included) has 20 grams of sugar, I only pour 4 ounces and add at least 4 ounces of water. I’m pretty sure this is why my jeans are snug again.

Exercise

I hate to exercise. In order to make exercise fun, I have to find a method that works for me. Three times a week, I exercise for 15 minutes using my Sworkit Pro app. Five-minute warm-up, five-minute cardio, and five-minute cool down/stretch. It may not appear to be much, but it’s better than nothing. Eventually, I want to increase my total workout time in five-minute intervals.

Stress Less

When I stress, my body reacts. I don’t sleep well, it’s hard to concentrate, and my eating choices are horrendous. While I can’t eliminate all stress, I not to allow myself to stress over trivial things.

The Scale Isn’t the Standard

For the longest time, the scale was the only way I noted changes. While I still weigh myself one a day in the morning, I rely more on how my clothes feel in order to get a real understanding of the progress I’m making.

It won’t be easy, but after this recent setback, I’m even more determined to be successful. What healthy habits have you created this year?

 

Updated March 4, 2016

Back to Center: Update 1

Apr
15

The Recovering Pessimist: Back to Center Update 1 -- My journey to wellness begins. | www.therecoveringpessimist.me #amwriting #recoveringpessimist #optimisticpessimistIt’s been a while since I’ve posted Back to Center and I’m LONG overdue for an update. Currently, my weight ranges from 159-162. I’m pretty excited. I’m maintaining existing habits, establishing new habits, and had a few light bulb moments.

Without further adieu, let’s dive in!

Infused Water

Plain water can become a bit boring. I’ve added lemon juice to ice water for a while, but now I want to add fruit, cucumber, and fresh herbs. Pinterest has a ton of infused water recipes.

Portion Control

I had no concept of portion control. I would put huge portions on my plate AND eat all of it! Despite healthy eating habits, overeating was preventing me from shedding the pounds.

Light bulb moment.

I paid more attention not only what I was eating, but how much I was eating. I started listening to my stomach tell my brain it was full. Once I felt full, I put the cutlery down and pushed the plate away.

Hello Sexy

I brought a full length mirror so I could really track my progress. One random day, I happened to stand in the mirror and noticed that I could clearly see my waist…without having to contort my body.

*insert happy dance here*

 Seeing my curves inspired me to overhaul my wardrobe. This is the first summer in a LONG time that I won’t be wearing  jeans. I’ve browsed websites for dresses, skirts, and sandals for the warm weather. Skin will be shown!!

Embrace the Kitchen

I’ve managed to bring fewer and fewer processed foods into my home. Since the weather is warmer, I eat lighter meals. Heat and heavy food is never a winner. For inspiration, I frequent Pinterest, TheKitchn, and YumSugar. I promised myself that I would freeze a lot of fruits and veggies this year so I won’t crave them in the colder months.

At this point, it’s more about maintaining my progress. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished so far and I want it to stay that way. As far as the next update is concerned, I won’t take so long to post it. Promise.

 

Updated March 4, 2016

Back to Center

Oct
31

From April-July of 2011 I dealt with high blood pressure as a result of  bad eating habits. My option for resolving this issue was a lifestyle change because medication wasn’t an option. I ate my way into this predicament and I will eat/exercise my way out of it. In mid-July, I started the first of several lifestyle changes. Better habits, better me. In order for those habits to stick, I need to gradually work towards the goal versus stopping cold turkey. I wanted to share what I’ve accomplished on this journey and perhaps someone will get inspired to begin a lifestyle change of their own.

With that out of the way, here are the five changes I’ve made to my lifestyle thus far:

One: Eliminate Soda

I used to drink at least one soda each day. I craved soda. As a baby step towards elimination, I would have a soda every other day or every couple of days. Over time, my infrequent consumption of soda led to not craving it period. Success!

Two: Track Progress

I downloaded MyFitnessPal, a food journal app, to my phone. MyFitnessPal allows me to log my meals, water intake, and exercise. It also allows me to record weight and measurements. A genius way to keep myself accountable.

Three: Hello Water, Goodbye Juice

Perhaps years of sugary beverages stunted my taste buds, but I hated the taste of water. For someone who rarely drank water, I started drinking about three glasses of water a day. As that became routine, I increased my water intake to at least eight glasses a day.

When I started drinking water regularly, I slowly decreased the amount of juice I consumed. If I wanted juice, I cut it in half with water. Now, when I want a glass of juice, I aim to get a single size serving versus a full container. I’m too afraid I’ll backslide down the sugary mountain.

Fourth: Red Meat

I loved steak. Ate it all the time. At some point, I noticed how sluggish and heavy I felt after eating it. Not a good feeling by the way. I began incorporating chicken and turkey into my diet while lowering my consumption of red meat. Now, I rarely eat red meat.

Fifth: Exercise

Exercise is the last on this list because I’m still working on making it a habit. If I had started exercising earlier, my eating habits would have changed. I downloaded Workout Trainer, a fitness app, to my phone to keep me accountable. Workout Trainer has workouts and fitness programs that I can choose from. The app calculates calories burned so I can plug them into MyFitnessPal. Right now I’m a fan of short, intense workouts at least 3 days a week.

A year later, I look back and I’m proud. So far, I’ve lost about 17 pounds. Yes, the weight loss is awesome, but I’m more concerned with how I lost that weight. While I’ve gained a couple of pounds back, I’ve managed to create and stick with habits that have improved my overall health. My blood pressure is normal now. I don’t feel sluggish and I don’t get out of breath when walking long distances. There are some other things I want to work on, but I need to get the major goals accomplished before I do that. Doing too much could result in a setback that I don’t need.

Getting back to center feels damn good.

%d bloggers like this: