Creating a Healthy Routine

Wash, Rinse, and Repeat. This is vital for developing a healthy routine.

Habits can become mundane, redundant, and straight up exhaustingly tedious. Creating new habits can be a hassle. The attempt at persistence can bog you down. When there is no drive, no desire, no need for excellence, what gets you through the day?

A morning routine is critical for excellent mental health. The morning is the best time to start a daily practice. Upon waking, negative thoughts can fill your mind. Or maybe you are more optimistic and do not struggle with pessimistic thought patterns. Either way, starting your morning right is the most efficient way to productivity. When you create a beautiful morning, you create a beautiful day. If your schedule does not allow for an appropriate morning regime, it is possible to simply make a night time routine. This will allow you to de-stress and allow your body to relax in preparation for the next day. Self-care is important if you desire to excel in life and build an abundance of joy.

 

Take Baby Steps.

When forming a new habit, the foremost important key to get going is to start small! I cannot stress this enough. Sometimes our ego can get in the way of wanting to excel. Starting small allows you to prevent information processing overload. When you begin with little habits, you set yourself up for less stress. With all our daily tasks in mind, creating a new regime can be emotionally draining. It is vital to simply START, versus procrastinating. Consistency matters most, so simply allowing yourself 5-10 minutes of activity versus never completing an hour of activity (due to lack of motivation from a long duration you are not used to), is more attainable.

Example: If you want to build a daily habit of working out every morning, start with 5-10 minutes of exercise immediately upon waking up. Doing it spontaneously prevents you from second guessing yourself. Plus, if you get moving right when you wake up, you will actually feel a lot less tired. Instantaneously! Starting small and then gradually increasing the time of your chosen activity makes the event doable and realistic.

 

Link Old Habits with New Habits.

You brush your teeth every morning, correct? So why not allow that to be a signal for your brain to develop a new habit! Connecting old habits with new ones cuts out a lot of the hassle. It prevents your mind from being tense or anxious. Creating triggers helps interlink more neurons in your brain, producing a higher affinity to success. Research suggest the more you learn to connect your neural pathways, the more ready your mind is to accepting and affirming new ideas. 

Example: If you would like to start reading more, try this out! Upon brushing your teeth, use this as a sign for you to pick up a book and start reading. You can dedicate 5-30 minutes of your time reading a new book, depending on what your schedule allows. This is any easy way to create new habits and increase the value of your time. (Reading increases brain efficiency, memory, overall knowledge, vocabulary diversity, analytical and writing skills, and prefrontal cortex concentration).

 

Create Motivation. 

When finding the energy to motivate yourself, it can be difficult. Sure you can listen to motivational speeches on YouTube (which trust me, they are great!), or you can create a consistent link that will trigger you into action! When relying on outside stimuli to motivate you, it can be unreliable. If you can manage to create an internal link, the response will be more sturdy. There are two different types of conditioning, classical and operant. Classical conditioning may help better explain creating a link between two processes.

Background of Classical Conditioning: Classical conditioning is creating an automatic response through consistent stimulation. When two different stimuli are paired together through repeated behavior, a response is triggered by the first stimulus versus previously being stimulated by the second stimulus. Pavlov, a famous Russian psychologist, did an experiment in the 1890s. The famous Pavlov dog experiment, which basically created the foundation for classical conditioning. During this study, Pavlov managed to link a random neural stimulus (a tone from a bell), with a conditioned response (salivating). (Here is a link to better understand the experiment). Essentially this gives rise to a theory that allows you to create automatic responses. When beginning the process of building habits, this can be helpful.

Example: Every time you workout (unconditioned stimulus), after finishing you usually feel more energetic and happy (unconditioned response). When creating an automatic response, you need a neural stimulus. Let’s say you listen to a specific playlist of music every time you exercise. And ONLY when you are exercising. Over time, this first stimulus (the music) will automatically trigger the unconditioned response (feeling happy). In theory, this could allow you to motivate yourself to get to the gym. You feel happy, positive, and enthusiastic. You KNOW exercise will make you feel a lot better about yourself. Therefore, when listening to this playlist, you automatically motivate yourself to working out.

 

Give yourself a reward for healthy behavior.

Giving yourself something delightful enforces positive behavior. Operant conditioning is the psychological explanation for disciplining yourself. Instrumental conditioning is basically cause and effect, reward and punishment, consequences. Through reinforcing general behavior with positive or negative responses, you can train yourself to act a certain way. For more information on deciphering the difference between instrumental and classical conditioning, check out this link.

Background of Operant Conditioning: Instrumental conditioning is a learning process in which behavior is modified by the reinforcing or inhibiting effects of the resulting consequences. There are four different types of conditioning. The core sets are reinforcement and punishment. With positive and negative being different routes of action. Reinforcement is a response that causes a behavior to occur with more frequency. Usually a positive action after said activity. Punishment is a consequence that causes a behavior to occur with less frequency. For example, when you refused to do something your parent asked you to, usually you would receive repercussion. Positive responses consist of adding a new stimulus, negative responses remove an old stimulus.

Explanation of Each Four Types: The four different types of consequence methods are: positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment, and negative punishment. Positive reinforcement is a simple reward system. You decided to eat completely healthy for the week, so now you re-compensate yourself with buying a new article of clothing. Negative reinforcement involves awarding yourself by taking away something undesirable. For example, you eat healthy for a day, you allow yourself to not do the dishes. Positive punishment consist of adding on something undesirable. You chose not to meditate in the morning, so now you have to clean the whole house to a T. Negative punishment is when you remove something desirable. You didn’t take the dogs for a walk, so now you don’t get to eat your favorite dessert tonight.

Why Reward Versus Punishment? In developmental psychology, a reward system is better appreciated than punishment. Which motivates you more? Knowing if you do said activity, you will get to do something desirable. Or if you refuse to do said activity, you will have to reinforce some kind of consequences. Sometimes a punishment system can be hurtful. Especially when it is not taken with consideration and care. For example, some people are brutal and beat themselves up over little things. This serves no purpose and actually hinders positive self development. This is usually why a reward system creates more appealing effects.

Example: This should be obvious. If you eat healthy, reward yourself with something you like. As far as food and being healthy, it is not exactly advisable to reward yourself with something unhealthy, as this can create bad habits.

Conclusion.

Creating a morning routine benefits you by starting your day right. First, start with little steps to reach closer and closer to your long term goal. Consider linking old habits with new ones. This helps trigger a cue for you to start your new activity and prevents a lot of the headache out of scheduling and remembering. Find motivation to stay active. Whether this is reading a book, listening to an audio tape, or forming a neural connection; finding something to keep you encouraged is key. And don’t forget to reward yourself! When we are starting up something we are not particularly fond of, it is nice to have an external prize. Consistency is the most important subject when building habits. Good luck on creating a routine! You got this.

Daily Perseverance

Good evening friends! I hope you are having a wonderful day. I am excited for your journey as you continue on into this world! You are strong. You are courageous. And of course, you are loved! I am grateful for your presence.

Perseverance is defined as the ability to do something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. Sometimes the going gets tough (and the though must keep going!). But listening to this phrase, is not always as easy as pushing yourself to commit to action. Hard work requires doing the tough activities so you can have an easier day. While being lazy and going the wider route will be less difficult, it creates a mediocre life filled with dissatisfaction. Perseverance is key to success. Key to producing long lasting results that will fill your soul up with joy.

Has anyone ever noticed, preserve and persevere have the exact same letters! (Of course except the fact one has an extra e). To PERSEVERE, you must PRESERVE your heart, your mind, and your body. If you do not protect these three things you may wither. Perseverance will seem like a challenge versus an inspiration.

Protecting the delicate and valuable things in our lives keeps us complete. Your heart, mind, and body are the most important aspects of your soul. Your heart symbolizes love, community, family, and relationships. To preserve your heart, means loving everyone with all your heart, yet protecting it from those who are unhealthy or negative. Your mind is where your intellect resides. All of your thoughts, ideologies, and perceptions. To preserve your mind, means to take into account what you pay attention to. It means to stray from negativity. To constantly fill your mind with self improving thoughts and positive entertainment. Your body is the storehouse of your essence. It is the vessel for your soul to express itself in the physical realm. To preserve your body, means to treat your body as a temple. Exercise. Eat healthy. Meditate. Do your body a favor and treat it with love and kindness. You are worth it! So don’t waste your time. If you PRESERVE these things, believe me, perseverance comes as EASY and natural as blinking.

 

4 Vital Anti-Aging Habits

  1. Antioxidants

Of course as you all know, eating healthy will decrease degeneration in your body. A well-balanced diet provides your body with enough nutrients to counteract all the toxins we come into contact with. Many processes in our bodies produce waste. Oxidative stress is defined as an imbalance between free-radicals and antioxidants. Free-radicals are basically molecules that can cause damage in the body. These range from basic metabolic functions of mitochondrial waste to carcinogens from cigarette smoke. When not handled properly, free-radicals alter major molecules such as our DNA, causing disease. Antioxidants are like soldiers, which our body can produce or gather from food, in order to fight off the bad guys. Many berries are noted for having high levels of antioxidants, but basically any food that comes from the ground will contain nutrient powerhouses to help maintain bodily functions. Especially deeply/brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Some antioxidants our body can produce, others must come from our diet.

2. Intermittent Fasting

Along with number 1, intermittent fasting involves a dietary lifestyle. Many health benefits are acknowledged by following this practice. The number one factor involves an increase in energy. 16 hours of fasting followed by an eight hour window for eating is most common (16:8), but there are many different methods for fasting. Tons of new research is coming out to support this trend. Between 10-16 hours, your body starts burning fat, releasing ketones. These are known to protect memory and learning functionality. After 24 hours of fasting (some say 16 but still yet to confirm), autophagy is induced. During autophagy, your cells start consuming debris and cancerous/unhealthy cells in the body. This is a great way to reduce aging and detox your body from all the toxins. Many studies support fasting as a way to increase longevity.

3. Skin Exfoliation

Skin exfoliation is important for removing dead skin and dirt from your face. Health benefits include collagen and elastin production, circulation with blood and lymph, and brightening and moisturizing the skin. Including antioxidants such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, beta-carotene, and selenium help fight off free-radicals, which cause aging. For example, including lemon into your face washing regime will aid the skin with Vitamin C, while also drying out acne from oily skin. Vitamin E is vital for repairing skin health by protecting it from UV radiation. (Alpha-tocopherol (a specific form of Vitamin E) is preferred for skin application). There are many different ways to exfoliate your skin, I would research different recipes to make sure they fit your skin type and will not be too abrasive. Coffee is a good medium due to the antioxidants, caffeine, and pH of 5 (better than lemon juice with a pH of 2). It is also a lot more gentle than sugar (a commonly used exfoliate). Remember you should only exfoliate about once a week, but always wash your face daily with a mild natural soap upon waking and going to bed.

4. Sleep 7-9 Hours

Yes, the five letter word no one wants to hear! Sleep is vital for proper function of bodily systems. Without quality sleep, our body is unable to repair and rejuvenate itself. As we get older, our body has shorter cycles of NREM stage 3 sleep, which is a deep state of sleep. When severely sleep deprived, our body can easily go into this stage. Human growth hormone is released during this time and allows our body to restore itself. This is definitely the most important sleep cycle. Lack of quality sleep can lead to an increase in inflammation found in this study. More research is suggesting chronic inflammation is the cause of aging, versus aging being the cause of inflammation. Sleep reduces stress, therefore keeping our immune systems active and ready to run effectively without excess waste production. Also when considering bedtime, laying on your back will help prevent wrinkles. As the compression of your face against your pillow causes your skin to scrunch up and dry during long periods of the night. (Although silk pillowcases create a moisture barrier to allow dehydration of the skin).

Having a consecutive schedule with bedtime will help your body receive quality sleep. If you go to bed at the same time every day, your body will know when to start producing more melatonin to prep you for nighttime. When you wake up every day at the same time, in a sense your body knows how many hours it has to rest, therefore it will bring maximum efficiency to restoring your cells. It’s especially important to wake up at the same time every day because this will start your morning and set your routine. Napping before 3pm could give you a boost if you are sleep deprived. Resting either under 30 minutes or at least an hour 30 is the most efficient way to nap properly. If you relax for less than 30 minutes, your body receives a quick power nap without going through the trouble of starting a deep sleep state. In an hour 30, your body goes through a full cycle of sleep. Completing all the stages required for optimal rest.

Overcoming Anxiety

Prologue

Lack of oxygen. Racing thoughts. A dominating sense of doom. It feels as if I cannot breathe. I am panicking. My body feels tense, muscles are tight. Frozen, I cannot take action. Like a deer caught in headlights, I am destined for disaster. Taking any kind of step forward seems like too much effort. Anxiety, undiagnosed. I thought I was crazy, incompetent, and immature. I did not realize this unbalanced energy is what was causing catastrophe in my life.

I was a support manager at Walmart. Excited about the new adventure, confident with my rising success, and slightly nervous about the role. Err, let me correct that. Deeply frightened! High levels of energy allowed me to work 12 hour plus shifts. I was enthused to be in control, to be able to run around the store, to be able to guide and direct other associates. Most importantly, to be a part of something bigger than myself. But I must have forgotten the importance of a daily routine. Going to school full-time, also, had made life a bit chaotic. There were times I would freak out. Fear would settle in, and going to work seemed more like a chore than an exciting venture.

Am I insane? I did not realize I had anxiety until a medical student had suggested the diagnosis. And then everything clicked. This is what anxiety feels like. This is what anxiety is. I was actually quite relieved to receive the revelation. “I’m not unstable! I’m not weak!” I’m just a bit unbalanced. Just a bit misguided. Tools, I needed tools. How else was I going to conquer this monster?! After “failing” as a support manager, my journey towards overcoming anxiety began. I was now aware of what I needed to work on. Through changing your perspective and listening to your thoughts, YOU CAN overcome anxiety!

Introduction

Anxiety is tough. It is not an easy illness to deal with. Many times it will cause a nervous breakdown. With the rise of a fast paced environment and technology, anxiety is becoming a common issue. 18.1% of Americans suffer from anxiety and roughly 1 out of 13 people worldwide. Almost 50% of those diagnosed with depression, also struggle with nervousness disorder. Characterized by constant worry, uneasiness, distress, restlessness, unreasonable fears, and even physical ailments. Treatment is becoming more optimistic as the world is starting to recognize the seriousness of mental illnesses.

Personally diagnosed with anxiety and depression, this combination can make life feel like a roller-coaster. Through constant therapy (mainly listening to a lot of inspirational/motivational speakers such as Tony Robbins) and meditation, I have learned to be still when the storm comes. Do not fret over feeling as if you haven’t made progress, this took me years to accomplish. It takes determination, grit, and a strong desire to be healthy and productive. Developing a skill of mindfulness will help tremendously! You need to learn to be able to stay in the present to calmly analyze your thoughts and see where your anxiety is taking you. Through out the day, stop and ask yourself: What am I thinking? What am I feeling? Set a daily timer ever hour and allow yourself the time to take a deep breath and recognize where you are mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Here are some tips to the psychology behind anxiety.

Visualizing Different Mindsets

Imagine you are swimming in an ocean, except you are below the water level. Your legs are tied to the bottom, and you are attempting to swim up. You are downing, but trying your best to breathe. This is what anxiety feels like in a bad mindset. Now imagine yourself on top of a mountain. You feel on top of the world, yet remember, it is a bit difficult to breathe. You feel the nervousness of a panic attack coming on, but you remain calm and focused. You can do this, you believe in yourself. This is what anxiety looks like with a healthy mindset. You can have either or, it just depends on how much work you put into yourself.

Subconscious Signal to “Dangerous” Event

Necessity of anxiety. Anxiety- a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Check this out, an IMMINENT EVENT. Your body is signaling you about a worry. Something immediate. Something potentially dangerous. Something that FEELS life-threatening. Analyze what you are telling yourself about this upcoming event. Your mind is alerting you to an immediate issue you need to work on, and believe me, it is not something external. It’s something internal. Let me explain.

Is your life really in danger? Will this workplace meeting make or break you? It could. But I doubt your boss would fire you over some silly issue. I bet he values your work ethic! I bet she desires to keep you and allow you to grow with the company. Is this social event going to harm your social status? I doubt it. You may embarrass yourself. You may spill the wine on the carpet and be that person. You may make a joke that no one finds funny, left with awkward silence. But guess what, where does your self worth lie? Does it lie in the opinions of others? Or are you the one in control of how valuable you believe you are. It’s okay. There is no need to be afraid. There is no need to be insecure. You are in control. You are the one who defines your moments in life. Redefine what you tell yourself. Find a new perspective.

Utilize anxiety as a signal. As a way to notify you of something that is nerve-wrecking. Something that is not working out. Why is it nerve-wrecking? Why are you feeling this way? What is it about this event that brings up these emotions? When you identify the feeling and the reasoning behind it; don’t stop there. Dig down deeper. How did this logic relate to you during your childhood? Did you perhaps have less than ideal parents who always judged your every move? Did you struggle to make friends during school that enjoyed your company and valued you? Did something embarrassing happen during childhood and create you an outcast?

Listening to Your Inner Child

Recognize your inner child. Accept her feelings. Know that she is only trying to protect you. “Please! Don’t go to that event! You know what happened last time! Remember when we went over to our first sleepover and accidentally wet the bed!? You don’t want that to happen again! Don’t Do It! Run Away!”. What she is saying is, do not step outside your comfort zone. I don’t want to be hurt again. I don’t want to be embarrassed and lose the little confidence I have. Shhh… Tell her, “It’s okay dear. I know you were badly hurt during that time period. But trust me. I love you. And I love myself. I can take care of this situation. I can handle myself. I am an adult now and I am secure and confident. You don’t need to worry love. It will be okay. I will protect you.” Accept her. Listen to her. Comfort her. She needs your confidence and security.

Taking Action

A positive perspective. Anxiety- desire to do something, typically accompanied by unease. A desire to do something? Did you read that right!? YES! We found our optimism in the definition! Anxiety, you are here to push me further. To get me to take ACTION. To get moving, not necessarily thinking. So let’s take a deep breathe and take action! Find your favorite hobby and enjoy yourself. Read a book. Watch a funny video. Call a friend. Take a walk in the park with your pet. Go for a run. Distraction. It is key during these vulnerable times. When you are focused on the feeling of your anxiety, you are preventing yourself from experiencing the joy of movement. You are stuck in your head, an alternate dimension involving “Me, Myself, and I”, what fun is that!? Where’s the party at! Where’s all the people? The exciting activities? Live in reality. Take Action.

Reducing Resistance

Anxiety can be a blessing! It’s like being a gazelle on meth. You are jumping all over the place! Energized. Excited. Motivated. Being able to function on less sleep. Use this to your advantage! Yes, directed in the wrong place, you will suffer from fear, shame, insecurity, and depression. But if you can learn to utilize this and go with the flow, you will unleash a powerful force! Accept your anxiety. You cannot change it. You cannot run from it. You cannot resist it. Did you know resistance creates much more effort than going with the flow? Imagine a river. You are attempting to swim. You see your destination, you must get to the landmark going against the natural path of the river. Now imagine attempting to swim upstream. You are so focused on getting to this point! It is all you see. You are determined! You fight your way. The water forces itself against your body. A futile effort, you either A. go nowhere or B. flow further downhill away from your point with less energy than you had before. Now what do you do? Is there a purpose to resistance? I say no! Go with the flow. What can be your next step? Let the water carry you away. Flow in peace. Navigate your way through the river. If you simply turn your direction 45 degrees, you can easily move at a diagonal. This way, you will reach the border of the river. You can lift yourself up onto the land. And simply walk to your destination. Now how does that sound compared to fighting a river!?

Appreciating the Struggle

Please do not judge your handicaps so abruptly! There is a reason you are here. There is a reason you are suffering. Find gratitude in the pain. Because through this struggle, you will build character! You are blessed to be able to experience this aspect of life, because it makes you a stronger person. And those who have never experienced anxiety or depression, will never know the joy that comes on your good days. Be grateful for the valley so you can enjoy the mountains! It will be okay. Take a deep breath. On the count of four: inhale, hold, and exhale. You are alive. You are well. And you are equipped to handle anything!

Thank you for your time. Please shoot me an email to let me know what you liked and what you didn’t like about my article! Here is more information for learning how to cope with anxiety and receive the help you need. Please! Do not wait to take action or it may be too late. With much love and regard, seek out a support system, find help. You can do this. It will be okay. I believe in you.

springcreekpathway.jpg
Spring Creek Nature Area, TX

Daily Gratitude

Good Morning!!

Today is a beautiful day! We are alive. We are here. And we are well.

I want to thank you for being here today. Thank you for showing up. Thank you for continuing on another day.

You are here for a reason. And I believe in you! I know you can do this!

You are strong. You are loved. And you are beautiful beyond comprehension!

Tell me, what does your day look like today? How do you feel? Are you nervous, are you excited? What are your long-term goals? What is your passion? Your reason for existence. Are you avoiding something in your life? Are you scared to make a change?

Today. I want you to write down three things you are grateful for. I will give you a start to give you an idea. Let’s make a chain reaction of gratitude!

  1. I am thankful for my laptop. This allows me to explore the vast internet while giving me an opportunity to expand my business.
  2. I am grateful for my parents. They have taught me the importance of hard work. The connection between drive and success. And by drive, I mean a strong relationship with your reason WHY. Why are you here today? Why are you doing what you are doing? What is your INTENTION? Is there a long-term goal?
  3. I am grateful for a house. Having a shelter, a home, gives me the ability to be safe and secure. I do not need to worry about where my next meal will come or where I must lay my head at night! 

There is always SOMETHING you can be grateful for. Whether it is something as simple as being able to breathe or something as extravagant as living the life of your dreams! Remember to take note of the simplicity in life. Be in the Present. Absorb all the sights and smells that come into your existence. We have five tangible senses. Do you know how exciting that is!? Most of us have the gift to utilize these bodily functions. We can taste the beauty of an exotic dish with five different food receptors. Imagine your favorite dish, how much joy does it give you to savor this!? We can feel the texture of a soft, coaxing blanket in the cold cold winter. We can hear beautiful composers of classical music! Music is a helpful tool in relieving stress, getting energized, and bonding with other human beings. How does your favorite music affect you? Does it make you feel alive? Does it make you sad? Does it make you desire more? Recognize it, notice it. Accept the reality. Smell. What is your favorite smell? Imagine it. Feel it. Experience it! We get the luxury of enjoying an array of smells. Vision. Beauty. Imagine a mountaintop. Here you are at the top. Your ability to see allows you to experience the magical world of nature. With many different varieties of plants and animals. What a joy!

Today, if nothing at all. I want you to recognize what you are grateful for and physically write it down on a piece of paper. Wake up, take 5 deep breathes on the count of 4 from each inhale, hold, and exhale. Smell the air. Remember what blessings have come into your life. Be in the present. You are beautiful. You are kind. And you are someone to be remembered!

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My Story

18.1% of Americans suffer from anxiety and roughly 1 out of 13 people worldwide. Almost 50% of those diagnosed with depression, also struggle with nervousness disorder. I am determined to conquer both. Maybe through the trials of my time, you can grow and learn from me. I hope to see you succeed and live up to your fullest potential! Through my story, I desire to inspire everyone around the world; to push through our struggles and become SOLID GOLD. You have potential. You are worthy. You are loved. Never forget that!

I am a quintuplet (five kids all born at the same time), with an older brother of 4 years. In 1996, there were 3,899,000 reported live births, 81 of them were births of 5 or more (a 0.002% chance). When people ask me, “What’s it like growing up as a set of multiple kids?!”, honestly I have no clue. This is all I know! But, I will say, it is very interesting observing the dynamic personalities across a spectrum of kids born at the same time. We are all very different, but also in some aspects the same. I was born first, therefore I developed a Type-A personality. My youngest and only sister was born last, so she developed a Type-B personality. A lovely contrast.

From the age of 6, we lived in the same town. Our parents are Christian, with all of us still dabbling in our faith and discovering our true selves. Our parents tried their best to raise us with how they could; taking into account their past knowledge and successful careers as Registered Nurses. Health and fitness has always been a passion of mine since youth. Outdoor activities was highly valued growing up.

My major struggle began at the age of 13. I remember being in middle school and feeling suicidal everyday. I thought this was normal. I was known for being an outcast and always struggled to keep consistent friends. My teachers were my only inspiration; being a smart student, I became a “teacher’s pet”. School was my escape; until my undiagnosed anxiety put me into panic attacks and my mood spiraled downhill. I managed to keep straight A’s and a decently perfect attendance record for the majority of my secondary school education.

Around the age of 15, I was diagnosed with major depression and had a severe case of bulimia (an eating disorder characterized by excessive consummation of food and an attempt to purge through intense exercise or vomiting). At this point, I was in cross-country, running up to 100 miles per week and managing to make pre-varsity my first year. My bulimia had gotten out of hand, I was binging and purging up to 6 times a day, on a daily basis. I managed to squeeze in homework during the evening hours when my parents were home. I remember some nights, waking up while everyone was asleep, just to stuff my face and fill the void inside my life. At this point, I had to beg my parents to take me to a treatment center. I could not bear the insanity of trying to maintain an addiction while being the perfect child!

I spent roughly 6 months total in Children’s Medical Center, at the Eating Disorder unit. Here, they taught me the value of routine, a well balanced diet, and a strong support group. Routine is vital for those trying to overcome imbalances with stress and daily life negativities. A well balanced diet supports those who struggle to moderate their food consumption for both malnourished and over-nourished. A support system is necessary for including a sense of belonging and importance in life. Healthy, positive friends can be your backbone when the tunnel is dark. Through healthy boundaries, friends can uplift and encourage you. Allowing you to walk confidently on your own.

Irresponsibly, my struggle did not stop there. Through high school, I seemed to never have been fully treated for my depression. Teachers gave me leniency, aka pity, a bad tool for kids who are still developing. This taught me that it is okay to allow depression to rule over my life. It is okay to give up when I am down, until I am ready to face life again. For me personally, this is not okay! I managed to lower my standards, therefore adult life became even more difficult for me!

The first several months of my senior year proved to be devastating. I was involved in a serious relationship (again, not advisable for a developing teenager). I had become obsessed, co-dependent, and lost my stability/true identity. I ended up skipping out on our rigorous (and highly valued) health practicum class and opted for finishing school through an online program. While this allowed me to finish High School at a much faster pace than the other students, I missed out on the opportunity of a life-time; excelling my health career in nursing. Worst of all, I missed out on an important life lesson; learning to stick through it, and grow through the pain. I learned how to cower down, how to let life control me, instead of vice versa!

Continuing after graduation, I got my first real job. McDonald’s. The fast food industry is quite an interesting job for a teenager to take on. It will help you learn how to handle a fast paced environment, become customer friendly, effectively communicate with co-workers, and learn the general expectations and work environment of adult life. I am truly grateful for my experience there, except the fact that my anxiety did not understand the concept between a fast paced world and a panicking mind.

Quitting after 6 months of what felt like blissful hell (oh believe me, I did have my good moments and met some truly amazing people there), I took some time off before entering the corporate world. Walmart. My destiny would remain here for over 3 years (I did not quite expect to be there that long). I tried my best to be a hard worker and save up to go through college debt free. Here, I learned many valuable lessons, growing over the years. It is quite interesting to see how I have blossomed and wilted, nonetheless coming out a slightly stronger flower. To cut it short, a little over 2 years in, I was promoted to a management position. Although in “Wally World” (as my parents called Walmart), this is a bit high maintenance. With so many teams of management, it can be quite confusing and stressful. Here I learned I have anxiety. A very confusing mental illness characterized by racing thoughts and a general feeling of doom. Expecting the negative with no reliable logic.

After 3 and a half years of battling my mental diseases and attempting to adult, I realized how much I am not equipped to currently handle life. Having already finished my Associates of Science, I decided to simply take a semester off and see where life leads me. With the constant surge of information and a fast-paced environment towards success, I was overwhelmed. Here I am taking it slow. Here I am living in the present. Here I am going back to my roots of routine and mental health. Tranquility, peace, joy: these are my truest values for life. If I cannot attain these qualities, what is the point? So today, for now. I will be content. I will be serene. And I will be successful. Through the pitfalls, I will rise. Staring down my past tormentors, I will find the light at the end of the tunnel!

Thank you for your time! Namaste. Peace be with you.

(ATTENTION: REVISION NEEDED)

CoolMountain
Wheeler’s Peak, New Mexico

How to Begin Working Out

Building up a new habit isn’t easy, especially when it’s dreadful. Most people don’t like working out. But countless studies have revealed the benefits of working out. Reminding yourself of the reason Why you should be doing something, helps us find motivation to get started!

Benefits of Working Out

  1. Reduction in depressive symptoms: You can find many scientific studies advocating the benefits of exercise relating to depression. Working up your body’s heart rate causes endorphins to be released, which in turn make you feel good or happy. New research has found that steady, low-intensity workouts increase the release of neurotrophic proteins, or growth factors. In some depressed patients, areas of their brain were found to have been decreased in size compared to normal subjects. Therefore, exercise could be a crucial treatment option for those suffering from mental disorders. Other symptoms of depression (disturbed sleep, appetite changes, and mood swings) can be stabilized with a regular exercise routine.
  2. Coping with stress: The constant stress from life trying to balance out family, work, and personal affairs adds up. Many suffer from constantly high cortisol levels. Cortisol is intended to help your body mechanically cope when stress (supposed life or death issues) come into play. It mainly deals with long term anatomical functions rather than immediate changes. Here is a link describing the different hormones involved in stress. Adrenaline and non-epinephrine work to increase your heart rate and awareness. Exercise works by utilizing these hormones and putting them into action. When your body goes into “fight or flight” mode, it is expecting a reaction. If you don’t fight (release your energy through exercise), you will go into flight mode (cowering down due to the stresses of life).
  3. Overall improvement of body well-being:  Of course the general benefits of exercise include improvement in circulation, higher muscle/bone density, preventing aging, increasing sleep quality, etc. Here is a link describing the common benefits with scientific research to back it up.

Now that you know the benefits, how do you get started?

How to Build a New Habit

  1. Start small: Commit yourself to one physical activity 10 minutes per day. It’s easy to tell yourself to exercise when it isn’t for a long time. Eventually once you have gotten into the habit, you can increase the time lengths. If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up. Just do it the next day. Do not let no be an option.
  2. Find a workout buddy: The easiest way to stay motivated, is to find a partner to drag down with you (or up shall I say). Hold each other accountable. When one doesn’t feel like working out, you demand they stay and force it, vice versa. Setting up a routine together will keep you committed.
  3. Set up a routine: Upon waking, include your workout routine. I find a morning workout is the easiest to convince yourself to do since you do not have much time to coax yourself out of it. If you cannot do morning, try scheduling before work or after. If you are outside the house, take a walk at the park or go for a scenic jog! Or if you schedule in between errands, say you have a doctor’s appointment at 10 AM and go to work at 1 PM. Might as well squeeze in a workout at the gym while you are out, instead of wasting time running back home. As long as you set a daily time to workout everyday, your goal will be much more attainable.
  4. Buy a gym membership: For some, it is easier to force yourself to get moving if you know you are already paying for it. Gyms offer the benefits of a productive atmosphere that is bound to get you into the mood. Along with tons of exercise equipment, which will give you a variety of workout options.
  5. Count down to five: If you are tempted to talk yourself out. Simply count backwards from 5 and head into the workout full force. Distracting your brain by counting down may help get you out of the habit of saying no to discipline and exercise. (Mel Robbins speaks of having a 5 second window before your brain makes the decision with less resistance).
  6. Find something you ENJOY: A workout regime won’t last if you do not enjoy it. There are many options out there. Swimming, soccer, basketball, running, hiking, walking, martial arts, dance, cross-fit, HIIT, etc. Anything that gets your body moving and blood flowing is considered exercise.
  7. Change it up: If you get bored simply change up the routine. Find a new workout regime, change your scenery, or even get new workout clothes. Something that brings you out of the mundane schedule.
  8. Create a REASON: If you know why you want to start working out, you will be more likely to continue working out. Those moments when you want to give up, resort back to your reason and you will be reminded of your goal and true purpose.
  9. Create a mantra: I am strong. I am beautiful. And I am successful. Some silly mantra that doesn’t have to be related to working out will distract your mind when the pain tells you to stop. If you struggle with continuing on because it seems like too much effort, a repeated affirmation will throw off the complaints of your brain. Just remember to know the difference between pushing yourself and working towards an injury. As long as you keep proper form and eat healthy, most the time the pain will be your body adapting to new stresses. A good thing to work towards building.
  10. Motivate yourself: Find ways to stay motivated. Sign up for a race, a community workout, or a hiking group. Surrounding yourself in a healthy environment will keep you energized. Finding videos that discuss the benefits of working out or discusses exercise routines, keeps your mind focused on improving your daily habits.

Here is a link on building a new habit, with science to back it up.