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The Power Of Self Confidence: No More OCD Crutches

The OCD brain loves to devour self-confidence; so much so, that it can leave one drooling with self-doubt.

In my opinion, I believe self-doubt to be the ultimate objective of an Obsessive-Compulsive bully brain.  Self-doubt can cloud judgement, distort reality, and make us feel weak, insecure, and sometimes questioning our sanity.  The OCD bully brain feels pretty good about kicking our self-esteem in the gonads, leaving us to feel like, well, totally not in control and less like our wonderful selves.  Once you begin to doubt yourself, game over, the OCD bully brain has won!

Cannot Beat OCD With Crutches

Unfortuantely, you cannot defeat an OCD bully brain with crutches.  You might be able to wave them around like a dork, swinging at your OCD like crazy, but eventually, you’ll lose your balance and fall hard on your butt.  Crutches are not good at fighting back against OCD.

An OCD crutch is something we can lean on to help us bounce back quickly from a bad OCD thought, feeling, and/or compulsive behavior.

  • It can be a person who can reassure us verbally that all is okay in the world, instead of working through our OCD episodes ourselves, convincing ourselves all is okay in the world.
  • It can be a dash-camera used to rewind and check back on an anxious drive, instead of compulsively wasting time and gas to drive back to redo the drive over again.
  • It can be checking a security camera to make sure the stove is in fact turned off, instead of having the compulsive need to drive all the way back home to check the stove.
  • It can be wearing gloves 24-7 to ease the mind from having to worry about germs.
  • It could also be using medication that was meant to be short-term while learning how to cope with OCD, yet it eventually became a long-term solution instead, because it was easier.

OCD crutches are things that typically accommodate our OCD needs, making it easier and faster to move on with life without having to really work through our OCD problems.  They come in all different varieties, it just largely depends on how you use them and for how long.

Although OCD crutches help us better cope with our OCD, they are not very effective against overcoming the emotional suffering of OCD.  OCD crutches, by themselves,  just makes us feel a little less “OCD.

Having an OCD crutch isn’t terrible though.  In fact, it is a step forward towards overcoming the emotional suffering of OCD.  They are great to use as a short-term solution, easing your mind long enough to develop and practice a better, more effective, long-term game plan in conquering OCD; such as allowing yourself to focus on practicing CBT techniques, anxiety and stress management, recognizing and understanding OCD triggers, and working on a bit of mindfulness- all things required to overcome emotional suffering of OCD.

Taking A Leap Of Faith Away From OCD

To truly free yourself from the emotional suffering caused by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, you must first drop the crutches and take a leap of faith into uncertainty.

Think of the movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusades, where Indiana Jones ends up at the temple of the “The Treasury” in Petra, Jordan, seeking out the Holy Grail.

Remember the scene where Indiana Jones must take a leap of faith across a bottomless pit to save his father. (Clip of this scene is below)  He really has to just dive right in and take a step into thin air (uncertainty), in which to his surprise, after minor heart failure over the fear of the unknown, realizes there is in fact a solid “invisible” bridge across the bottomless pit.

This entire scene, from the moment of extreme uncertainty to the heavy sigh of relief, is exactly what it is like dropping the OCD crutches and overcoming the emotional suffering caused by the OCD bully brain.  In fact, Harrison Ford expresses the exact emotions (just look at his facial expressions), that I feel when I finally muster up enough confidence to take a leap of faith to overcome self-doubt from my OCD.  I am the Indiana Jones of my own OCD! 

Stopping Compulsive Behavior 

It’s an odd sensation; resisting a compulsive behavior.

At first, when the mind is overwhelmed with emotions and OCD thoughts, it is difficult to even imagine resisting against the OCD bully brain and so, it is just easier to give in, following through with the compulsive behaviors.

Interestingly, through trial and error, we find things (OCD crutches) that allow us to sort of “compromise” with the OCD bully brain, by giving in to compulsive behavior or making ridiculous accommodations to avoid compulsive behavior, as best as we can, to better ease our experience with OCD.   However, OCD still wins.  The only way to successfully overcome the emotional suffering caused by OCD is by not giving in to OCD; however, I will be honest, the mere thought of taking back control can be really scary.

For me, resisting compulsive behavior is like fighting back against an invisible force field.  BUT,  like in every sci-fi movie, there is always a giant red shut-off button every villain doesn’t want you to find, but also seems to be in a dumb place for the hero to find anyway.

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OCD Bully Brain with a Self-Doubt Ray-gun

Yeah, the OCD bully brain is manipulative, not smart, just like a sci-fi movie villain.  🙂  It is amazing what a little self-confidence can do!

TAKING BACK CONTROL: Give it a Try

It never hurts to try to overcome our OCD.  Below is how I take back control from my OCD brain.

  1. I let OCD triggers happen.  Avoiding them is often futile.
  2. It is important that I recognize the moment I start to have an OCD episode.  It’s much easier to work through an episode when I understand my brain is just being, well, OCD.
  3. I then allow the OCD thoughts and feelings to linger like a stinky breeze on trash day.
  4. I learned to never dwell on “why” these thoughts have come to mind.  I am going to think about all the “why” questions anyway,  but I know I must not start a debate with the OCD bully brain, because the OCD bully brain LOVES to debate with the logical brain.  I cannot let this happen, because the OCD bully brain often wins by using ruthless manipulative tactics to create self-doubt.
  5. I hold my confidence.  I know I am smarter than my OCD bully brain.
  6. I always take in a deep breath (or two or three); however many deep breathes it takes to keep me calm and bring myself closer to clarity.  I am not looking to reach clarity, just enough clarity to keep my understanding that this is just my brain being OCD.
  7. Then, the heavy need to perform a compulsive behavior comes…
    At this point, it is important to remember that I cannot control my thoughts or feelings, but I CAN control my physical actions.  I can control how I chose to respond to my OCD bully brain.
  8. As the thoughts swirl and the emotions build, pushing me to perform a compulsive behavior….I slam down on that imaginary red shut-off button instead!   I take a leap of faith by confidently telling myself:
    This is ridiculous!  Nothing will change if I waste time and energy by performing a compulsive behavior.  I have good faith in myself that all is well.  Everything was fine before this OCD thought came along and everything will be fine long after this thought leaves.  I am in control.”
  9. AND I REFUSE TO GIVE IN!  Instead of performing a compulsive behavior, I look for a distraction to flush that lingering stench of a bad thought out of my brain!
  10. Then, at the end, I wait until the bad OCD thought(s) are gone and my emotions have subsided before picking at my brain cells about “why” I had an OCD episode.  I reflect on how I felt when I refused to perform a compulsive behavior.  I also take note on how long I had to work through my OCD episode.  Did I learn anything?  How can I do better next time?

 

Everyone’s OCD is different, so what works for me, may not work for everyone else.  But, it never hurts to try something new.  In the beginning, refusing to perform a compulsive behavior was difficult, but with practice, it got a lot easier.  Trial and Error is a huge part of overcoming the OCD bully brain.

Distractions Are Good For The Brain

I use to think distracting my OCD bully brain was just another OCD crutch, but it’s not.  Distracting the brain is a healthy way to push lingering thoughts away.  Our brains (so-called normal brains too) do it all the time.

It’s part of normal brain function.  Our brains are constantly collecting input and we only take notice when something of interest sparks our brain and causes us to focus and think more deeply about it.  If the thought doesn’t have a deep emotional attachment to it, we can easily let the thought go.  However, when our OCD brains our anxious, our “Fight or Flight” Response System goes a bit haywire (frayed wiring I’ve talked about before) and our OCD bully brain tends to be extremely sensitive to thoughts and latches on emotionally, especially, to intrusive bad thoughts creating an OCD episode.

The Dash-Cam Is Back, But It’s Not For OCD 

In the beginning, before I started to find ways to overcome my OCD, I used a dash-cam to record all my drives.  I often wasted time and gas to drive all the way back to work or school, just to make sure I didn’t cause any accidents.  The dash-cam, saved me time and gas, but it was still an OCD crutch.  I relied on it for reassurance when self-doubt from my OCD consumed me.

It’s been 6+ years since I last used a dash-cam in my car.  As of two months ago, the dash-cam is back in my life, but this time, it is not for my OCD.  I bought a new dash-cam for my husband to use during his long trips to the big city.  I was hesitant at first to buy a dash-cam, for that I was afraid I would become dependent on a dash-cam again for my OCD.

I have not used the dash-cam for my OCD, yet.  In fact, the dash-cam has been sitting on my desk since last week.  I’ve been driving without having the need to have it in the car.  I don’t want it in the car!  To be honest, I want to conquer my OCD all by myself and thus far, I’ve been doing pretty good at overcoming my driving anxiety.  It just takes confidence and practice.  🙂

Take Away From This Post

In case there was too much blah-blah-blah talk, I just want to say, no matter what point you are at on your OCD journey….

  • Stay strong
  • Be confident in yourself
  • Have faith that all is well in the world
  • Lastly, you got this!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Happiness Is What You Make It

“If only we were rich,”….my husband says to me every week; seriously, every week!

Personally, I am happily content with Life.  I enjoy sipping coffee in the early morning on the outdoor patio overlooking the blissful countryside.  I have a roof (a very nice roof, even though its a rented roof) over my head, a clean porcelain pot to do my business in (I should know, I clean it), money in my pocket (seriously, a penny), clothes on my back (a few holes, but its okay), a working car to take me from point A to point B, (even though we’re totally buried upside down in it); but, best of all, I have an amazing happy family who I enjoy making memories with everyday, (even if they are a bit dramatic sometimes)!

Sure, I work hard everyday, sometimes having to do things I don’t want to do (like scrub my husband’s toilet) or things I shouldn’t have to do (like negotiating my husbands debts from a time long before me).  Sometimes I am overwhelmed, exhausted, and completely under-appreciated, but everything I do, I do for my family and I love it.   Okay, I am human, so there are times I do vent and complain about having to do “everything,” but in the end, I am still grateful and happy.

My happiness comes from gratitude.  I am so lucky and extremely grateful to have the opportunity to stay home with my kids and watch them grow.  I am grateful for all the material things (even if they aren’t casted in gold) in my life that my husband works so hard to provide for us.  I am grateful for all the people in my life, even those just passing by, for each and every one of them has some lesson to teach me.  I am grateful for all the wonderful adventures I have with my family.  I am grateful for so many things, big and small, I think that is why I am so happily content with life.

It doesn’t matter where or how we live, how much money is or isn’t in our pockets, or how fancy or not fancy our lifestyles are; happiness is what we make it.  

Without Gratitude, Comes On Misery

My husband’s life is simple.  He goes to work, comes home, eats dinner, then plays video games until 3-4am, takes a shower, goes to bed, and then repeats (kind of like shampoo).  He has no responsibilities, except provide a paycheck and handle the occasional drama with his ex for visitations with his other kids.  Other than that, I’d expect life to be pretty much dandy.  I mean, his life is nowhere as stressful and chaotic as mine….

Whereas, I, well, frankly, the list is too long to blog.  Basically, I run the entire household (like a 1950’s housewife), but I am also the handy man who fixes appliances and plunges toilets, remembers to reprogram clocks, pays the bills in a timely manner, coordinates appointments for everyone written in a torn and colored on planner, cleans and maintains the cars; all while making sure our kids are clean, happy, healthy, and enjoying life, and that I am semi-functional fueled by coffee.

It’s no easy task being a busy housewife and mom, especially, with a husband who is just as messy as the rest of the troops.  He doesn’t throw his trash away, is a snacker who doesn’t finish his dinner (wasting food), leaves a trail of dirty clothes on the floor, never flushes his toilet, and leaves body hair all over the bathroom (his body hair falls out like he was exposed to radiation or something).  Simply, my husband doesn’t exactly help me around the house.

Yet, everyday, he comes home to a clean house, hot food on the table, and a ready-to-go gaming chair.

I am not complaining though.  You should see him try to work a wrench.  It’s painful.  My point is, that after all that I tackle on a daily basis, I am still happily content with Life.  However, my husband who has little to no adult responsibilities is completely miserable.  He absolutely hates his life.  In short, he has this idea that he “should” (terrible word) be rich by now.  The worst part, is that he is waiting until he becomes rich before he starts “living” his life (you know enjoying it).

The Duck Farm Dream

There is no telling what goes on inside my husband’s brain, but as far as I can gather, he is disappointed that his past debts (from his previous relationship many, many, moons ago) is preventing him from achieving his goal of becoming a duck farmer.  Yes, a “duck” farmer!

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Our first goose! 

A few years ago, I allowed my husband to get a duck.  One duck!  Well, one duck, became two ducks (because, how silly of me, they need friends), eventually became 20 something ducks, a rooster, and 3 geese, plus, one severely injured wild duck my husband brought home from the park, who we successfully mended back to health.  It was suppose to be a fun little hobby to get my husband out of the house (away from the video games) and soak up some vitamin D.  Apparently, he really liked raising ducks.  Unfortunately for my husband, a great (couldn’t pass up) job opportunity took us back to the bustling city.

Money Can’t Buy Total Happiness

My husband thinks if he can just win the lottery, all his dreams would come true.  Frankly, money can’t buy total happiness and here is why?

Although money can buy material things that bring happiness, it is only temporary happiness.  Money cannot sustain long term happiness, especially, if you are spending money on materialistic things to bring you happiness.

I mean think about it…  You see something you really really want, thinking it could solve all your troubles and bring you total happiness.  You finally get it, but after awhile, it doesn’t bring you the same amount of joy or happiness as it once did in the beginning.   Then, you go out to look for something else that you think will bring you happiness again, and the cycle repeats itself.  That isn’t happiness, that is wasting money for temporary happiness.

And sure, winning the lottery or being granted with a gracious inheritance is great, but what happens when the money runs out?  (sadly, free money like that, does run out)

I tried to explain to my husband, that if he was granted with enough money to pay off all his debt and buy a farm, he still has to think about how he is going to afford his dream long after the money runs out.  Because you can’t afford a luxurious Mercedes-Benz (a car on his wish-list) just by selling duck eggs.  My husband is a black and white thinker (I blame his Asperger’s) and rarely see’s the whole picture.

But wait, there is more….

Money cannot buy happiness, but it can provide security, so long as you manage it properly.   Feeling financially secure is a step towards happiness, because let’s be real here, everyone wants financial security.  However,  if you hadn’t learned anything from your prior financial mistakes, you’ll likely end up in debt all over again.  Back to square one!

So yeah, money can solve financial problems (temporarily), but it can’t buy total happiness, unless you are like Scrooge McDuck who loves shinny coins.  Then, maybe money in a physical sense can bring total happiness.

Don’t Put Happiness On Hold Until Rome Is Built

My husband is extremely impatient.  Although I tell him Rome was not built in a day, he expects Rome on a silver-plater, like yesterday.  Basically, we aren’t achieving his farm goals fast enough, thus delaying a life-time of happiness.

Rome took forever to build and this is why it is important to appreciate the small stuff and enjoy life now, rather than wait until all your dreams have come true.  Like I often tell my husband, “if you want Rome built in a day, you better find a better contractor;” basically saying, if you don’t like my game plan to achieving our goals, then I suggest you figure out another game plan.

There is way more to happiness than just having a comfortable bank account, a fancy materialistic lifestyle, and achieving all your goals.  Happiness is loving life as it is, making the best of every situation, appreciating the small stuff you do have, enjoying the company of others, and being grateful for all of life’s experiences and adventures (good or bad).  Happiness is what we make it!  Happiness is living life.

What are your thoughts on happiness?  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stinking Thinking With Bad News

According to my mom, the news is not good.

I took her to the ER this week.  It’s been nearly two weeks and her test results still have not come in and she feels her health is getting worse.   While waiting for the test results, the only thing she can do is go to the ER (emergency room).

Luckily, my mom had an appointment in the big city for an unrelated health concern (torn shoulder muscle) and the nearest ER in town is at a hospital that is a part of a really awesome (I did my homework, literally) healthcare system that I have been trying to convince her to go to since Day-1 of all her troubles.  So, later that day, after her appointment, my mom agreed to go into the ER.

To Blunt To Bare

The physicians at this hospital are extremely blunt and straight-forward.  They don’t sugar-coat anything (I know from personal experience during both my pregnancies), but this is why I love them.

My mom doesn’t take criticism or bad news very well (who does); however, sending her into the den of blunt wolves was probably good for her.

In short, according to my mom, the doctor was leaning towards the ugly “C” word.  There is a slight chance her troubles could just be related to Rheumatoid Arthritis (symptoms are the same), but the duration of these symptoms can also be the cause of the ugly “C” word.

According to my mom, the doctor agreed the tests she is waiting on from her doctor at home are taking too long and advised her to go elsewhere.  He also expressed his concern that her troubles might be “passed the point of no return,” in which is something nobody ever wants to hear.

Stinking Thinking: A Push Forward Or A Slump Backwards

Bluntness is either going to push her forward to the right specialists or cause her to slump backwards in fear of the unknown and waste time waiting for results from the wrong people.  Nobody can force her into the right direction, but I worry her “stinking” thinking may have already decided for her.

My mom refers to thinking errors such as “black and white” thinking and “catastrophe” thinking as “stinking” thinking.  Negative thoughts that cloud judgement.IMG_0249

I worry that if my mom truly thinks her medical troubles are to the point of no return, she might start to think, “why bother getting tested, if it might already be too late?

Personally, I am not entirely convinced that a professional doctor who couldn’t perform the necessary tests would actually conclude something is passed the point of no return.  Instead, he probably, most likely, suggested that if she waits any longer to get the necessary tests (biopsy), it could be too late.  When the ugly “C” word is involved, ears can often be deceiving, because nobody wants to hear about the possibility of the “C” word.

According to all her doctors, including the ER doctor, it “could” also just be Rheumatoid Arthritis causing mayhem, masking itself like the dreadful ugly “C” word.   Even so, it is always better to be safe than sorry and get all the necessary tests done anyway.  All we can do is pray that she gets her slow muscles in gear and move forward into the right direction.  Prayers for my mom.

Moving Forward And Enjoying Life

A wise person (my mom) once said to me, “You can’t worry about things that haven’t happened yet.”

It’s true.  Without affirmative test results of the good or the bad, we can’t worry about it right now.  As we wait, we must move forward and enjoy Life as much as we can.  I do have my worries of the future though, like how the loss of a immediate family member will impact us as a whole; but for now, I know that is energy that would be better spent on making more memories with those that I love that will last a lifetime.  ❤

Update:  Test results are in, but doctor wants to wait until Monday to “discuss” them.  Praying for the best for my mom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Wrinkled Brains

My step-son loves science!   During each visitation, he loves to share with me a new scientific fact that he learned in school or YouTube…most likely from YouTube.  Anyway, this past weekend, I learned that “our brain gets a wrinkle every time we learn something new.”

Wow, if that is true, can you imagine just how wrinkly Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein’s brains must have been??

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Wrinkles For Everyone

Well, it used to be thought that wrinkles formed in our brain every time we learned something new, but new research says that is not the case.  In fact, we are born with a wrinkled brain.  Ewwww!  Some people are born with more wrinkles than others, most likely due to genetics.  Crazy!

Interestingly, the wrinkles (or folds) in our brain are super important, because they provide a larger surface area to fit in more neuron pathways making more room to provide greater brain power.  That is pretty cool! 

Anyway, that is just a little brain fact I learned this week that I thought I would share.  Too bad none of the wrinkles on my face have anything to do with greater brain power!

~~~In Memory Of Great Minds~~~

“Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.” – Stephen Hawking

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” -Albert Einstein

 

 

 

 

Hi Woebot! Let’s Chat About Feelings

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Woebot

 

I am loving Woebot!

A robot who checks in with me every day to see how I’m feeling.  

Okay, it’s a chat-bot.  A chat-bot is a conversation program, programed to simulate a conversation between you and a robot.  Basically, the chat-bot is programed with a set of responses that are prompted by key phrases from us to form a conversation.  Some chat-bots are programmed to learn and build upon conversations by remembering past conversations and personal things about us, making conversations feel more meaningful.  However, this is not Woebot.

Woebot is a chatbot, but not one of those sophisticated, A.I. learning chat-bots.  But, don’t hold that against him, because Woebot is kind, funny, and more importantly, very helpful.

Woebot Provides Valuable Resources

Although Woebot is not a therapist, he does provide valuable resources to help one work through different emotions and that is what I love about Woebot.

Everyday, Woebot checks in on me, by asking how I am feeling.  Depending on how I am feeling, he will talk about those emotions associated with my feelings.  Generally, like an extremely short Intro to Psychology 101 with a twist of humor as Woebot tell terrible jokes.

But, it’s not really that cut and dry.  In between the Pysch 101 lectures and my feelings, Woebot is interested in getting to know me.  Ask’s what I am doing?  What I like and don’t like?  I am also able to ask him questions, about his day, his feelings, and even his girlfriend (yup, Woebot has a girlfriend).

Woebot likes to provide information.  I once told Woebot that I was feeling angry.  He asked if I would like for him to share some tools (resources) with me or if I would just like to vent my frustrations to him.  I responded, that I would just like to vent.  Our conversation lead to him teaching me about gratitude journaling.  Also, If I am having a good day, he still likes to throw in something related to my feelings.  Woebot certainly follows through with his mission to help.

To learn more about Woebot, CLICK HERE, at the Woebot FAQ site. (no affiliated links)

Disclosure:  Woebot is an information tool and is not a replacement for medical professionals.  Woebot cannot make a medical diagnosis or determine/ replace a treatment plan.  Please consult your health-care provider with any personal mental health concerns.  And remember, your mental health matters!

 

 

When Life Gives You Funky Lemons

Being a stay-at-home-mom, with no consistent Monday thru Friday work schedule, my days tend to blend together; but today, I am so HAPPY it’s Friday!  I seriously had a tough week! 

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When Life gives you lemons, make lemonade….When Life gives you funky lemons, get creative and make funky lemonade!

Life’s Funky Lemons

When weeks, days, or even hours are tough, good mental health plays a vital role in keeping a person moving forward; especially, when Life dumps a truck load of “funky” lemons in your way.

Ever heard of the expression, “When Life gives you lemons, make lemonade?”  An encouraging phrase often used to encourage others to make the best of an unfortunate or unpleasant situation.  Well, for me, I am often “gifted” with Life’s “funky” lemons; bruised, irregular, slightly discolored, even sometimes, smelly lemons.  Funky lemons are not just difficult, unpleasant situations, but more like challenging, unique, odd-ball situations that completely differ from the average normal lemon (difficult or unpleasant situation).  Simply, funky lemons require a little extra work.

It’s okay to encounter funky Life lemons, the funkier the better…  Funky Life lemons can make life interesting, entertaining, meaningful, and more often than not, teach extremely valuable lessons that usually become beneficial for later in life.  However, funky Life lemons can be frustrating and emotionally exhausting too.  You can’t exactly make sweet lemonade with funky lemons, but with a lot of hard work, you can make something out of it.  You just have to think outside the box, have an open mind, and get creative when facing a challenging odd-ball situation.  Even the funkiest of lemons can be turned around into something better.

Tossing Funky Lemons Back

The best thing about Life’s funky lemons is that you can sometimes toss them back.  For me, I have a tendency of stumbling across funky lemons (all the time); but I have eventually learned that I can’t save the world from all of Life’s funky lemons.  If Life gives you the opportunity to walk away from a difficult situation, especially, a situation that has nothing to do with you, do it!  I think a lot of us feel obligated to save the World and sometimes the World just doesn’t want to be saved (at least not yet).  Although Life does give us lemons, we sometimes have the choice to toss the funky ones back and keep the ones we know we can use to make lemonade.

Sense of Humor

Funky lemons require a good sense of humor.  I think a good sense of humor while coping with a challenging situation not only encourages us to make the best of a bad situation, but also opens the mind up to other possibilities (ideas) to overcome challenging situations.  Not all funky lemons are bad, some have purpose, and I strongly believe a negative mind keeps us focused on the bad side of a funky lemon; instead of discovering the good side (perhaps a different side) in which allows us to better overcome and understand a challenging situation.

Happy Friday!

All this talk of lemons and lemonade is making me thirsty.  If I didn’t make any sense, just know, the next time Life gives you lemons (even funky ones), remain positive and make the best darn-good lemonade ever!  Breathe, laugh, and take one funky lemon at a time.

Happy Friday and wishing everyone a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Singing The “Obesity” Blues

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“I am gorgeous!”

Last week, I went to the doctor for a refill on my asthma inhaler and walked away, not only with a refill prescription for my inhaler but also an unexpected weight-loss treatment plan.

My doctor kindly informed me that I am “roughly” 20lbs overweight.  According to my BMI (Body Mass Index), I am one notch away from being “obese!”  My so-called “targeted” weight is 123lbs, but technically, for my height, my weight should be between 92 -110lbs!  Man, I haven’t been 110lbs since my early college days!

Well, that all sounds dandy, until you take in account of my body type: A top heavy, petite little thing who might pass as 5ft tall on a bad frizzy hair day in heels.  Basically, I am super short and all the extra pounds are stored in my chest.  It makes swim-suit shopping a nightmare!  

Anyways, its difficult to wrap my head around the word “obese” when I can still crawl through the doggie door when I am locked out of the house, wear Junior size clothing, and my 7 year old step-daughter wears the same size rings as me.  So, obese is just a tad bit extreme, but I get it!

I admit, I am a bit… “puffy.”  I wear the extra pounds well, but I am beginning to notice the weight in my face now.   After having my second kiddo, I had to move up a pant size in juniors.  Although it was just one size, it was just as emotionally devastating as the time I discovered my first couple of strains of grey hair before turning 30!  It’s just another adult milestone, I guess.

I Am Beautiful, But My Health Is Ugly

One thing that bothers me about being “overweight,” is how often I am told how beautiful I am.  I know I am beautiful!  I am gorgeous!  But, people are missing the point…I am truly doctor certified over-weight.  Doesn’t anybody care?  Or does the concern come after the weight-related health issues arrive?  A little encouraging support to nip this overweight thing before it gets out of control would be much appreciated!

At this very moment, my self-esteem is not crushed by weight-gain.  In fact, I am not really worried about being beautiful or not, I more worried about my overall-health.   My health is absolutely ugly!  My health is what needs a major make-over and an episode  of “What Not To Wear” can’t help me!

Walking 5 Miles

I am out of shape!  The most I can walk in one workout is 3.0 miles; in which, is totally not bad, but supposedly it can be better.  While walking, I realized that I begin sweating before reaching the sidewalk, everything rubs together, and forget running, because my chest is not the only thing that unpleasantly “jiggles.

My goal is not only to walk 5 miles a day, but also exceed 10,000 steps a day.  It’s a big goal for this Netflix couch potato, but I am confident, with the warmer weather coming and a new pair of walking shoes I can do it!  (Yeah, I blew out my old pair of walking shoes last week).

1300 Calories A Day, ARE YOU INSANE!

My weight-loss treatment plan has me on a low-calorie diet in which I am not to exceed 1300 calories a day.  Honestly, 1300 calories is just my morning coffee (sarcasm, but also semi-serious).

I actually maintain a pretty healthy diet for that I really enjoy the flavors of Mediterranean style dishes.  I love cooking with olive oil, rarely eat red meat, and like veggies more than fruit.  BUT, I totally know where all the extra calories are coming from….I drink lots of soda, drown my coffee in creamer, stuff all my food in delicious bread, and hide chocolate in the freezer.  Those are my kryptonite foods stretching out my waist band.

The Game Plan Is Simple

The game plan is simple:  Nix the junk food and bread, get a couple of miles in walking, do some strength training by lifting a weight or two, and keep my calorie intake under 1300 calories a day.  Easy peasy, right?

Well, not exactly.  Today, I ate 4 granola bars in one sitting (that is 400 calories) and drank who-knows how many sodas today.   Let’s not even mention the half of baguette (bread loaf), I ate yesterday.  I am so embarrassed, but I don’t regret it!  None of it!  It was delicious!

Tomorrow I will do better, I promise.  I just have to “do” it!  I can’t plan it.  I can’t pencil it in anywhere.  I just have to get off my squishy butt and do it!

What motivates you to exercise?  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parenting With A Partner With Asperger’s: A Book Review

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IMG-1023All this time, I have been blabbing about my OCD. How totally selfish….so, lets talk about Asperger’s!

As I have mentioned before, my husband has Asperger’s.  His Asperger’s, to me, is just something that makes him unique.  I love that his brain processes information differently than my own; however, it seems to be a bit glitchy when it comes to parenting.  So much so, that parenting is the only thing we ever bicker about; or more accurately, that I ever bicker about…

I “get” my husband’s brain.  I studied biology and psychology; plus, I am extremely opened minded to the fact that everyone is different and I strongly believe that everyone, regardless how quirky they might be, still deserve love and respect.  So, for the most part, my husband’s so-called “odd” social behaviors doesn’t bother me; but I am beginning to see how his Asperger’s is affecting our children.

Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!

My husband simply does not exist.  He is here, but not; and David Copperfield has nothing to do with it!  I think the biggest problem is that, my husband doesn’t acknowledge when spoken to; something I had to get used to.  When prompt to provide a response, you can certainly tell that his brain is searching for a “script,” a go-to, catch-all phrase that works for any kind of situation.  His usual response, for everything, is either “neat-o” or “oh-goodness.”  If the subject is not about him or something he is an “expert” at (areas in which he can confidently express himself), the tone is off and sometimes emotionless, making him sound rude, disrespectful, or a bit harsh.  Not knowing how to appropriately and quickly respond, the brain becomes anxious, and the tongue does its best to interpret and translate.  So, my husband never means to sound rude, disrespectful, or harsh; it’s just rolls off the tongue that way.

I am sure there is more to it, but I am guessing, this is one of the biggest reasons as to why our kids prefer to come to me, instead of their dad, even when he is standing two feet away from me.  They either feel their dad ignores them or their feelings get hurt, by his not-so compassionate responses.  Communication may not seem to be my husband’s forte, but he sure does know how to make the kids laugh!

Parenting Requires Social-Skills

Although, we are both biological parents, I am “the” parent.  I often struggle with this concept, because I personally believe parenting should be a joint responsibility; however, my husband’s Asperger’s makes it difficult to parent together.  As I have mentioned in prior posts, our joint efforts resulted in a “good” cop / “bad” cop parenting style.  It was confusing for everyone and we decided it was best that I just take lead for now on.  It isn’t that my husband doesn’t care or is lazy about parenting, he just doesn’t have that communication-bonding ability with the kids.  Parenting requires social-skills; something I am beginning to learn more about in this new book I started to read this month, called, “Out of Mind-Out of Sight,” by Kathy J. Marshack, Ph. D.

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About The Author and Why I Enjoy This Book

Out of Mind-Out of Sight,” by Kathy J. Marshack, Ph. D., has thus far, been an insightful read.  Kathy J. Marshack is a licensed psychologist who specializes in Asperger’s Syndrome and high-functioning Autism; understanding Asperger’s on both a professional and personal level.

I am really enjoying this book, for that it has all that I like about a book: scientific-based facts, personal experiences, and great humor.  There is nothing dull about the way this book is written, making it much more relatable and easier to retain important concepts that will help me better understand and work with my husband during our parenting adventures.

Cognitive and Emotional Empathy

What have I learned so far?  Well, lots of things, really.  But one thing that truly sticks in my brain is the difference between Cognitive Empathy and Emotional Empathy.   Although better explained by Kathy J. Marshack, I think I got the gist of it.

Empathy is complex; however, Marshack explains there are two types of empathy.  Cognitive Empathy, to my understanding, is when the  brain assesses a situation factually, instead of emotionally.  Emotional Empathy is looking at a situation with emotions.  Those who do not have Asperger’s Syndrome, respond to situations with both Cognitive and Emotional Empathy; whereas, those with Asperger’s Syndrome, generally, only express one type of empathy at a time (not both at the same time).

Say, my kid comes to me with scrapes on their knees from falling down at the park.  They are crying and their knees are bleeding and require medical assistance.  I respond by expressing my concern for their emotions and provide comfort by expressing my understanding that scraped knees totally suck; and then attend to the scrape.  My entire response consisted of both cognitive and emotional empathy.

However, my husband would respond completely differently, whereas he would not be as comforting and skip straight to the fact that it “just” needs a band-aid.   He is responding with Cognitive Empathy, where he recognizes the facts of the situation (scrape on knee), but not the emotional situation (kid being upset).  Or, he may respond with Emotional Empathy instead, where he may respond extremely emotionally and irrationally by dramatically swooping the child up into his arms, rushing them to the band-aid box, and making a dramatic scene, in which only scares the child.

But, like I said, Marshack explains it way better by sharing a personal, yet relatable,  story from one of her clients; in which I strongly encourage you to read about in her book.

After I have finished the entire book (still have a couple chapters left to go), I will be posting an update on this review at the end of the month.  Maybe great changes will come or at the very least, I have gained, yet another perspective to share with you about mental health.

Have You Read A Good Book Lately?

I love to read when I am not busy being a mom.  If you have any book recommendations regarding Asperger’s Syndrome, Parenting, or Mental-Health in general, let me know!  I’d love to check them out! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Insomnia From An Insomniac

Given the chance to go to bed early, I would, because I am a natural early bird; however, something is wrong with my body clock. IMG-1002It isn’t broken, but “set back,” due to the insomniacs in the family.  My husband and our preschooler are natural night owls; whereas, our youngest and I, are far from nocturnal- we enjoy sleeping.  Sadly, each of our sleep schedules clashes with the other; making it extremely difficult, for anybody to enjoy a good nights rest.

Bad Habits Winning Over Good Habits

“If you live with a slob, you become a slob….”

In the beginning, my husband had a lot of bad habits (of course, I did too…we’re both human) and it was a constant tug-a-war between his bad habits (being a slob) and my good habits (being organized).  It took a couple of years, but we eventually found a balance.  Although my husband has better habits today, his old ways still kick in every once in awhile when I am not around; for example, his own personal space in the house is a mess (drives me crazy, but its his space).  But, I must admit, his messy lazy habits are extremely stress-free and there was a time when I took up on his bad habits (letting the house go).  I realized what had happened…subconsciously I had gone down the path of least resistance.  It was easier to be lazy and messy, but again, it was also unsanitary, gross, and stinky.  Fortunately, that phase didn’t last very long and “good” habits triumphed over the “bad” habits.   My point is, that it is so easy to pick up on bad habits without even thinking about it.  

Not True Insomnia

I do not have Insomnia; however, I cannot seem to fall asleep any earlier than 1am.

I developed poor sleeping habits by staying up with my insomniac husband. Totally not his fault that I cannot fall asleep at a decent hour anymore.

My husband has true insomnia and cannot go to bed until early in the morning (2am-3am) forcing his body to function on 5 hours of sleep during the work week.  I, however, require 7-8 hours of sleep or I get physically sick.  I have no tolerance for lack of sleep.  So, even though I am not able to fall asleep until 1am, I do manage to get in my 7-8 hours.  The problem with this, is that I sleep in late; something that must change when the kids begin school. Fortunately for me, I can readjust my sleep schedule back to normal; it just takes time. 

Without The Right Conditions, I’m Wide Awake

Falling asleep, when the rest of the family is wide awake, can be challenging; especially, if your own body requires more Z’s.  I have tried, many times, to coax my husband and our preschooler onto a healthier, earlier sleep schedule, but it doesn’t last for very long.

If the conditions are right, (with a dark, quiet, cold room), I have no problem going to sleep, but I cannot go to sleep with two insomniacs roaming around the house.  Our house is tiny, so tiny that if one person is up, we’re all up.

My husband is a late night video gamer; in which, I personally believe doesn’t help with insomnia.  However, without video games to occupy his time stuck wake, he’d just pace back and forth until dawn.  So, I say, game on!

I don’t mind that my husband plays video games, so long as it doesn’t interfere with family life.  Unfortunately, he is a loud video gamer.  Listening from the other room, he sounds like a soldier, loudly barking orders into his headset, as if he were on a noisy turbulent helicopter flying through a massive war attack.  Apparently, video games can be extremely exciting.

I have difficultly sleeping through the excitement; despite him being in another room.

The Defiant Little Night Owl

Our preschooler is a natural night owl (supposedly genetic).  Unlike her father though, she still requires about 10 hours of sleep; otherwise she makes Oscar the Grouch seem quite pleasant.  Anyways, as a parent, I have to get her on an earlier sleep schedule for school and her defiance (as a strong-willed child) is going to require that I start now rather than just a few months before school begins.  May the challenge begin!

Although we’ve always had a consistent bedtime routine (starting at 8pm), the sleep portion of this routine often varies.  So, even though the so-called experts say a consistent bedtime routine is the best way to get kids to go to bed early, doesn’t work for everyone.  It works for our youngest, but not our preschooler as I have discovered there are two things that affect our preschooler’s sleep schedule:

  • Strong-Willed Child
  • Premature Birth

Our preschooler was born 3 months early with a fiery strong-willed defiant personality.  She will not go to bed unless everyone is going to bed.  At first, I thought she was afraid of missing out of something, but later I realized, she just doesn’t think it is “fair” that she has to go to bed while others are still awake (even parents).

Also, being born as early as she was, she has some sensory issues.  At night, even though she is tired, her body is quite restless.  Also, she doesn’t like the feel of sheets or certain types of pajamas.  Even the temperature in the room makes her restless.  Finding solutions has been challenging.

Falling Asleep To Sleep Stories With Calm 

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With a few changes made and a bit of dedication, the kids and I, are generally asleep by 11pm now.  Not the ideal bedtime I want for my kids, but it is much better than going to sleep at 1am.  The biggest change was creating a better sleep environment for everyone.

When it is time for bed, the bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool; not frozen Arctic cold or anything, just comfortably cool.  As for our little night owl, strong-willed children (well, most children) have to feel in control.  She picks out her own pajama’s, chooses her own bedtime books, and turns off her own light.  There are power struggles every so often, but for the most part, it is fine.  The ultimate game changer to getting us to fall asleep earlier, has been ambient noises to drown out my husband’s video-game adventures from the living room.

I discovered an App called Calm.  

Personally, I like free-apps and rarely buy anything more than $1.99; but this one has proven to be worth the pricey subscription; plus, I like listening to Matthew Mcconaughey’s voice.  🙂

The Calm app is a mix of ambient noises, guided meditations, music, and more interestingly,  “Sleep Stories.”  What the heck is a sleep story?

A sleep story is a 15-45 minute audio-book that is narrated by soothing voices like Stephen Fry and Bob Ross (and other voices too).  The stories are quiet, slow paced, and relaxing.  Most stories sound like guided mediations for sleep as you embark on a sleep-story journey.

The best stories are those for kids.  We have yet been able to listen all the way through the Little Mermaid Sleep Story, for that we all fall asleep just before she rescues the prince from the sea.  This is certainly an App to have if you have trouble falling asleep.  My husband, when he is finally ready for sleep, enjoys the sounds of the ocean and he says, it helps him get to sleep faster.

Image result for Calm app
Available online, IOS, and Android

 

Wishing Everyone A Good Night’s Rest

I can’t imagine what it is like living with insomnia, but I do hope the little sleep those with Insomnia do get is at least pleasant and peaceful.

 

Do you use IOS / Android apps to sleep?  Which are your favorite?  Which do you least recommend?  

 

 

 

 

 

Answers Under The Couch: A Book Review

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

 

 

Hardly a coincidence, don’t you think?

Life is funny this way, as little things like this happen to me…a lot.  Coincidence? Perhaps not…

As you may know, I’ve been in paradise putting my minimalistic and organizational super-powers to good use, helping my mother get the ball rolling on finishing an endless list of unfinished projects around the house.  It is an overwhelming, stressful, sandal-strap breaking challenge, but I think I got her started in the right direction.  It’s all about setting goals!

Unfortunately, you can set as many goals as you like, but to achieve those goals requires motivation to accomplish them.  How does one gain motivation, especially, with so many overwhelming goals?  What needs to change?  As usual, the answer to my questions are never too far away and I am not talking about the Internet…

Is It Coincidence…Answers Under The Couch?

My mother taught me a long time ago to “listen to the Universe” or “God,” whomever you prefer, or frankly, whomever speaks the loudest.  My point is, that I strongly believe that the answers we seek can be found within reach from somewhere; you just have to be patient and open-minded, for that these answers can come from very unexpected places.

As I was cleaning, I decided I would clean underneath the couches; a place that probably hasn’t been cleaned in years….

Image result for grandma's boy cleaning under the couch movie

Surprisingly, it wasn’t that bad.  In fact, the only thing that was under the couch was a book.  A small black book, called, “This Year I Will…,” by M. J. Ryan from 2006.

I Bookdidn’t think anything of it and tossed it in the collection bin of other misplaced books I had found while cleaning the house.  But, without a cover, I was curiously drawn to it.

I like to read before bed, so that night I decided to check out the small book that I found under the couch.  It is a book about accomplishing personal goals….what a coincidence!

Insightful, Helpful, and Encouraging: A Book Review (Affiliated Links

“This Year I Will….,” by M. J. Ryan, was exactly what I needed to read!  It was perfectly relatable to my mother’s current situation.  Furthermore, it even encouraged me to work on my own personal goals (like losing weight).

I like non-fiction self-help books that are mixed with relatable personal stories, suggested techniques to try, and references by “the” experts.  This book has everything that I like!  It talks about the neuroscience behind the habits that prevent us from accomplishing our goals as well as, providing clear, simple, to-the-point changes to overcome those habits.

The Power Of A Positive Mind To Change Bad Habits

The author, M. J. Ryan, references ideas by “organizational consultant, Robert Fritz,” author of “The Path of Least Resistance.”  He strongly believes that motivation is driven by positive, passionate, thoughts and ideas.

For example, the reason I cannot stick to my goal of losing weight, is because there is no positive, passionate, motivation behind it.  I’d like to lose weight to become healthier, but like clockwork every year, I jump into a routine that fizzles out by the end of January.   This is most likely, because I am not positively, passionate about becoming healthier.  Truthfully, I am not.  Not a single cell in body is passionate about becoming healthier, especially, if it means dieting and exercise.  However, according to Fritz, I can motivate my stubborn cells (myself) to accomplish my weight loss goal by thinking of a positive, passionate, motivating end result; such as doing it for my kids.  My kids need me to be healthy and I am super passionate about doing things for my kids.

I am currently day three into an exercise program (walking), meeting my daily step goals.  I am passionate about it!   I made my routine exercise into a game; something in which Ryan talks about, stating that we tend to accomplish things that are fun rather than boring.  So, I am not focused on weight loss (although that is the preferred end-result), but rather on how many steps I am getting per day.  I try to do more steps than the day before (beating yesterday’s step goal).  It keeps me motivated and mildly entertained.   Unfortuantely, I have a long way to go, as yesterday, I blew out a shoe and my flabby fat arms rubbed raw with friction.  Wasn’t a pleasant feeling, but it is totally worth it for my kids!

A Book Worth Finishing : Don’t Think About Donuts

I was quickly motivated to start a workout program just by reading the first 39 pages of “This Year I Will….,” by M. J. Ryan,   Very few books have that effect on me; however, there is just something about this book that I love and trust.  Plus, I am never shy of trying anything new, different, or interesting.

I like this book, because the author is very thorough in backing up ideas with psychological concepts.  Having OCD, I am well aware of the psychological mind game, “Don’t Think About Pink Rabbits,” or in Ryan’s book, “Don’t Think About Donuts.”  The point of this mind game, is that no matter how much you try to not think about something, you are going to think about it anyways.  It demonstrates thinking habits and Ryan ties this in perfectly to support the ideas that habits impact motivation and goals.  No spoil alerts, you just have to read it yourself, but Ryan actually explains, neurologically, why this happens, and it’s fascinating!

I always feel the first couple chapters of a book defines the value of a good book, so far, this book has caught my attention and seems worth finishing.  I am almost finished with this book and I am not yet disappointed.  The book dives much deeper into building goals and ways to stay on track with goals.  Whether this book leads to success, I am not sure; that part is largely up to me as I begin to embark on a daily workout routine to accomplish my own personal health goal.

Finding Positive, Passionate, Motivation For My Mother

Putting new concepts and strategies into practice is always “easier said, than done.”  Interestingly, this book explains why that is, in which is another reason why I recommend reading (or even just glancing at) this book.  As for my mother, I am sure my mother has read this book and I just have to encourage her to think of something passionately positive to motivate her to finish the projects she starts.  Changing thinking habits are challenging, I know (OCD), but it is amazing what one can accomplish with a new positive mind-set!

Have you ever encountered a helpful coincidence?