toss it, baby

So the reason I haven’t been writing is because it wasn’t really benefiting me, emotionally, to reflect over my depression and anxiety. I just want to focus on the things I can do to be healthy, and hopefully as Helen said, the rest will follow.

Tina was here this past weekend; we hung out a bit Saturday night and for most of Sunday. We were supposed to go kayaking, but hopefully we’ll make that happen next time she’s down in SD. On Sunday we drove to the Gaslamp in downtown to grab some lunch. After wandering around in the heat for half an hour, we ended up splitting a salad at Sammy’s Woodfire Pizza. It was delicious, but we were both baffled that a restaurant can make the simplest meals so calorie-dense! 

After that, we drove to Henry’s Marketplace and purchased veggies, cheese, and fruit. Tina picked out looseleaf lettuce, a can of black beans, a can of corn, a cube of Havarti cheese and vegetable called jicama (pictured at the right) for me to make salad with. She said she first sampled it in a CPK salad, and loved the texture and crunchiness it gave the salad. After bringing one home and having a taste, I was much less enthralled. It tastes like a potato! In fact, it is commonly referenced as a Mexican potato. Anywho, I think I’ll stick with radishes for that extra bit of crunchiness. I also purchased nectarines, peaches, bananas, pears, apples and blueberries. Henry’s blew me away with their prices on produce (even though there is a Persian grocery store that sells their produce for even less). And to think of the hard-earned dollars I blew at Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons. Woe is my wallet.

Back to salads, I made a delicious salad today. I finally found a salad dressing I like; Newman’s Own Lighten Up Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing. Yum yum, and at 45 calories per 2 tablespoons, the taste is even sweeter (metaphorically so, ’cause technically it’s very vinegar-y). My salad consisted of 1 chopped lettuce leaf, 3 sliced radishes, 1 cup of steamed lima beans, 1/2 cup corn, a diced-up round of Laughing Cow’s Babybel Light Cheese, and two tablespoons of dressing. It was good y’all. The only thing that would have made it better is grilled chicken, but I didn’t have time to be cooking no meat this morning. 

gather the scattered peices

Goals for today:

  • Finish tasks at work
  • 40 minutes of cardio
  • Day 1 weight training
  • Website sketches

Let’s see how many of these I can strike off.

a new morning, a new chance

Last night Lillian & I went to downtown LJ, where I told her about my sudden feelings of optimism about everything. This feeling is not new; I’ve experienced these random bouts of positivity quite often. The problem lies in that one moment when I’m suddenly filled with despair, and I allow myself to buckle underneath the weight of it.

This time, I resolve to keep a keen eye out for that moment. When that moment comes, I’ll set up every panic alarm that exists to make sure I don’t submit to it; I’ll call Lillian or Tina or Sandra or Helen, I’ll go to Barnes &  Noble and flip through fashion magazines, I’ll take a walk with my little brother.

It’s going to take some organizing, but I need to rebuild the structure of my life so that I don’t give myself too much space to feel useless and hopeless. Lils and I’ve agreed that we will meet up every weekday at 5 PM for a run at the track or some yoga or study/work time. It’ll be good to see somebody who will almost be like a sponsor to me, during the one hour of the day where negative feelings attack me out of nowhere and lead to some bad behaviors.

This morning, I woke up at 7 AM, drove to UCSD, and ran around the track and up and down the stairs there. It was hard, I was exhausted, I could only do 3 miles (and even that was broken down: 4 laps, break, 4 laps, break, 2 laps, break, 1 lap, break, 1 lap, break). In between each mile and half mile and quarter mile, though, I walked around the track, listened to music, soaked in the sunshine, did stairs, and just generally enjoyed being outside, sweating my heart out, and treating myself to a second chance on a lovely Saturday morning.

6:11 PM

Damn, I was doing so well today.

Then I started experiencing wave after wave of anxiety, and before long a mind fog came over and I went out and bought a McD vanilla soft-serve cone, McD iced coffee (basically ice, coffee and cream), and a huge slice of cake from the grocery store. And ate it all. ALL. I have the worst stomache ache. I’m so mad at myself. I remember driving and thinking “please don’t buy junk. please please please. this is the moment you need to push the panic button and take control of” … but the pull of addictive binge-eating got me. I didn’t even enjoy anything; what the hell am I doing this to myself for?

FUCK. This is getting so annoying. My brain is totally out of whack.

I’m gonna go for another run right now or I’ll go crazy beating myself up about this.

 

8:16 PM

Feel much better now. Went to the gym, did a 15 min run and 30 min cycle. I could feel the sugar and cream rising up in my throat. Yuck. I feel like I sweated out some serious toxins.

And you know what? I can’t wait around for 30 pounds to magically drop off me before seeing my friends. That’s one of the reasons I have too much time to sit around and let my obsessions get to me. I’m taking a shower and heading out to see some people tonight that I haven’t seen in MONTHS! (:

PS: to the four of you who read this blog, sorry if I sound so self-obsessed these days. I promise I’m aware of how selfish I sound… I look forward to the day when I don’t notice myself any more, and take care of my loved ones instead.

early in the morning, risin’ to the street

Woke up at 4:30 AM this morning to work out, which was a small victory to me. But, I lasted only 15 minutes in the gym. So I think I’ll switch the dawn workouts for the evening workouts, for a little while. Came home and cooked the world’s most disgusting omelet; I tried to cook it with water rather than oil — bad idea. Made some coffee that tastes like soap (not sure why). And here I am! It feels nice to be up in the morning. I feel kind of drowsy, but the day awaits so I must go wash 15-minutes worth of sweat off my wimpy lil body.

9:46 AM

No no no no no.

I will not visit MaryLynn and her bowl of candy on the second floor. *Sips green tea frantically*

Bad impulse! Bad!

9:55 AM

Nadia: another funny but sad moment. an old uncle ran into a glass door with a plate and made the biggest banging noise. laheqa laughed SO MUCH she practically fell off the balcony into the Pacific Ocean. had to retouch make up again, both of us this time.

This is why you must get out there once again, Self. Otherwise you’ll continue to miss out on these stupid but priceless memories. Got it, Self? Good!

Six Scientific Ways to Create True Happiness

“The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance;

the wise grows it under his feet.”

– James Openheim

Advice on how to be happy used to be the purview of self-help gurus. However, over the past few years scientists and psychologists have begun to give serious study to the subject of happiness. Although they’ve discovered that about 50% of happiness is determined by a person’s genes, and another 8 to 10% by life’s circumstances–such as income, health, and marital status–, the remaining 40% is up for grabs. In addition, scientists have found several ways to create true happiness, six of which are explained below.

1. Find Meaning

The concept eudaimonia” is a key term in ancient Greek moral philosophy which means striving toward excellence based on one’s unique talents and potential. Dr. Martin Seligman, founder of “Positive Psychology”—a new branch of psychology that studies what makes people feel fulfilled, engaged, and happy—argues that in order to create lasting happiness we should figure out our strengths and find ways to direct them toward achieving meaningful goals. In addition, Richard J. Davidson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison indicates that the positive emotions that accompany thoughts of having purpose in our lives is one of the most enduring components of well-being.

 

2. Increase Daily Pleasures

Adopt the belief that your happiness is something that you can design and have control over. One of the tools being used by proponents of “Positive Psychology” to measure happiness is the Day-Reconstruction Method. This method instructs participants to fill out a long diary and questionnaire detailing everything they do on a particular day. The next day, consulting the diary, they relive each activity and rate how they felt at the time.

By analyzing your life in this way you can make changes to tip joy in your favor. David Schkade, a psychologist and professor of management at the University of California San Diego, explains that if you transfer even an hour of your day from an activity you dislike, such as commuting or doing housework, to an activity that you enjoy, such as taking a walk, spending time with friends, and so on, you should see a significant improvement in your overall level of happiness.

3. Seek Flow Experiences

“Flow” is a term coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi to describe the state that is reached when you’re so completely absorbed in what you’re doing that you don’t notice the passage of time. That is, nothing else seems to matter: the person is totally unaware of their surroundings, and they’re enjoying the task and having fun engaging in it.

This complete immersion in an experience can occur under many different scenarios, such as when you’re singing in the church choir, dancing, playing bridge, reading a good book, writing, or while closing an important business deal. The flow state can be achieved by knowing what your strengths are, re-crafting your life to use these strengths as much as you possibly can, and becoming fully engaged in what you’re doing.

4. Cultivate a State of Mind Conducive to Happiness

Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar teaches a course at Harvard University on “Positive Psychology” which, at its height, was the university’s most popular offering. One of the tips he offers is to keep in mind that happiness is mostly dependent on our state of mind. That is, barring extreme circumstances, our level of well-being is determined on what we focus on and on how we choose to interpret events.

In addition, Rick Foster and Greg Hicks, co-authors of the book “How We Choose to Be Happy”, found that happiness is not the result of economic or social circumstances, but, rather, how each one of us chooses to react to those circumstances. Practices such as focusing on the bright-side, asking yourself “what can I learn from this?” when something goes wrong, and noticing what’s right, can all help in creating the frame of mind that is conducive to happiness.

5. Practice Acts of Kindness

Sonja Lyubomirsky, a social psychologist at the University of California, Riverside and author of “The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want”, explains that being kind to others—whether friends or strangers—triggers a cascade of positive feelings: it makes you feel compassionate and capable and gives you a greater sense of connection with others, both of which are happiness boosters.

Furthermore, an experiment on more than 630 Americans carried out by a team at the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School found that the test subjects were measurably happier when they spent money on others. In fact, participants who were assigned to spend money on others experienced greater happiness than those assigned to spend money on themselves. The study also suggests that minor alterations in spending allocations—even as little as $5.00—may be enough to produce real gains in happiness on a given day.

6. Stop thinking “if only . . .”

Thinking that your life would improve dramatically if you got the promotion, won the lottery, got married, and so on, creates dissatisfaction with the present moment and is erroneous thinking on two accounts: first, we tend to overestimate the impact of events in our lives, and second, happiness levels tend to level off due to “hedonistic adaptation.”

Dan Gilbert, author of “Stumbling on Happiness”, explains that people are very poor at predicting how happy they’ll be under different circumstances. For example, most people think that if they made more money they would be a lot happier. However, while there is a big difference in the level of happiness between having no money and having your basic needs met, studies show that the increase in happiness between making $50,000.00 and $500,000.00 is not incredibly significant. At some point, you just stop getting happier from money.

In addition, “hedonic adaptation” is the brain’s natural dimming effect. A new car won’t generate the same amount of pleasure a month after you’ve bought it than it did when it was brand new. You can become very happy when something novel occurs—such as starting a new relationship—but this feeling of happiness ebbs as you get used to the new situation. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, try counting your blessings.

Conclusion

Pleasure is an important component of life, and decreasing the number of displeasing activities that you undertake, as well as increasing the activities that give you pleasure, will increase your happiness level. However, pleasure does not in and of itself provide happiness. By making your life more meaningful, becoming more engaged in what you do, giving and doing for others, counting your blessings, and focusing on what’s good in a given situation, your life will become progressively happier.

Written by Marelisa Fabrega who blogs at http://abundance-blog.marelisa-online.com.

it’s noon & i’m ready to quit

Woke up to alarm clock screeching at 4:30 AM, but couldn’t get out of bed. Was up until midnight the preceding evening, catching up on Lost season 4. I really need to work on getting into bed by 9 PM.

Arrived to work 13 minutes late. Someone had stolen my chair. Checked e-mails standing up. Riley* asked me to go to our cafe & grab breakfast with her. At the cafe, turmoil & conflict brewed within my weary mind; bagel with cream cheese? egg-white omelet? bagel with cream cheese? egg-white omelet?

Success! I curbed my carby desires, and ordered an egg-white omelet with vegetables. This was consumed alongside 3 pieces of whole wheat toast with two tablespoon PB & 1 tablespoon strawberry jam, 1 maple-filled sandwich cookie, 1 hard coffee candy, 1 cup of chai (black tea & milk). I really could’ve done without some of those things… I know I work in an office where random bits and pieces of junk food come flying at me like tasty little grenades, but I really need to chuck ’em into the trash.  

Next up: get the majority of menial work tasks done. I’ll report back in a few hours; hopefully to say I did them! (Hey, I never said this journal would be exciting).

 

*name changed to protect the innocent

1:26 PM

No exciting update boasting completion of work… but I just need to describe this thing I call a brain fog. I go through the majority of my day with this sensation in my head, that my brain is bobbing around in my head, not really “anchored” down. I feel light-headed, disconnected and simply out-of-it. 

Sometimes when people are talking to me, I feel like they are standing at the end of a very long tunnel… and I’m just trying really hard to feel present in “the moment” with them, but I can’t.  

My thoughts lack clarity and focus, unless I force myself to think about or do something specific; and even then, I succeed for mere minutes at a time. I constantly find myself re-reading lines in books or rewinding segments of television shows — I just can’t focus long enough. My writing might seem effortless, but it’s not… I don’t even want to reveal the amount of time I spend on one entry, making it as clear and concise as possible.

I was just trying to do some work… but then came a brain fog. I had to focus twice as hard at the computer screen, because I just couldn’t really process what I was looking at as a whole – I felt like I could only take in bits and peices of the computer screen (if that makes no sense to you, imagine how it feels for me). This was coupled with an escalating sense of anxiety, that kept rising the further I ignored it. The only way I can usually break the anxiety is by turning away from the task at hand and checking my e-mail or grabbing something to eat. I face this throughout the day, and it’s totally debilitating. I can’t even finish one small task in good time. Imagine how incompetent and stupid I have come to feel. There was a time I felt sharp and smart and clever… now I can’t even finish typing in the details of a receipt for somebody’s expense report.

I’m going to try to finish these tasks right now. I usually just give up after one failed attempt. But I’m just going to keep at it, because it’ll feel really good to update saying I finished them.

My chest is in knots.

11:09 PM

Just looked through Saman’s engagement photos. Can’t believe I missed her party. This is what my life will be like unless I change for the better; sleeping through all the memories I could have made. I want to change so badly, but I’m consumed in paralyzing levels of anxiety and sadness… and I can’t shake these terrible feelings off. They’ve manifested themselves into physical symptoms. I was driving to court the other day to take care of a fix-it ticket issue that I’ve been postponing since October of 2007… all of a sudden, I felt a pain in my chest so incredible, I thought it was the beginning of heart attack. For ten minutes, I sat in my car, grabbing at my chest and gasping for air.  

Today after work I went to the gym… hardest 40 minutes of my day. There was a time not too long ago, that I could run 5 miles just by telling myself I would… today I couldn’t get past 4 minutes on the threadmill without the anxiety building up in my chest, bringing me to a standstill. After the gym, I went to the grocery store to buy the ingredients for lentil soup. Preparing the soup ended up feeling like one long panic attack, standing in the kitchen, chopping, dicing, cooking and cursing. I felt so frustrated with every step of the process; it took all my strength not to give up and walk away. And all I was making was a freaking pot of soup; can you imagine how it would have been if I’d attempted to cook a souffle or something? S c a r y. I know this isn’t about the soup, though. So what is it?

the broken record

I am miserable.

I spent the whole first half of the weekend dodging calls from friends. In fact, I felt so stressed out about the accusing tone of my phone’s vibration, I turned it off. I feel slightly relaxed right now, but can already feel another wave of anxiety building up.   

I don’t want to believe that this is just the way my life is meant to be. It’s been like this on and off for so many years, I’m scared it’ll never change. I won’t even allow myself to hope for a lasting change, because I’ve disappointed myself with so many failures.

I’ve set many goals for myself, but I’ve always given up before really getting into them. I always feel defeated from the get-go by this persistent fear that I’m incapable of success.

I don’t want to be miserable anymore. This isn’t who I am. I feel trapped in the body of a girl who is sabotaging herself and her life. It makes no sense to be this way.

All I want is to feel happy.

I want to fall asleep at night at a decent hour, without a thousand insignificant thoughts racing through my mind. I want to drift off to sleep without the fear that my anxiety will jerk me back to consciousness, while my sleeping body lies paralyzed.

I want to wake up early in the morning, well-rested, and go for a good work-out at the gym. I want to run across the threadmill, speed through the elliptical, pedal furiously on the bike, pump some iron, and go home sweaty and elated. 

I want to go to work with a good attitude, pass my eight hours in stride, eat well and keep myself hydrated. I want to utilize the massive amounts of free time I have to grease the wheels in my mind and make significant progress on a project that means a lot to me.

I want to do something active after work… anything: write, run, dance, paint, whatever. I just want to leave work and go pursue a hobby that makes me happy.

I want to go home after it’s all been said and done, sit with my parents, converse cheerfully, help my mom around the house, and go to sleep with a good conscience.

That’s it. I just want that for now. If I could have a couple months of that… I’d be so happy.

 I’m just going to have to struggle for it. I feel like I’ve hit rock bottom, again… and it’s taking so long for me to get up. I’m not feeling sorry for myself… I’m just scared to give myself another chance.