The Fundamental Five: Fitness.

Why exercise is a must.

A year ago I was in a complete standstill when it came to my work-out. I just couldn’t get in a rhythm, and nothing was sticking. I’d work-out for several weeks in a row, and then I’d go weeks without working out. On top of all this I was struggling with serious depression. My capacity to do very much was low and my anxiety was high.
In the midst of my third major depressive disorder I knew I had to find some solutions, some ways of living well with anxiety and depression. I knew my faith was priority number one, after seeing all that God had gotten me through over the years, but I needed more. I needed some practical things I could do to change my brain, my mood and my body.

Exercise changes your brain.

I was shocked at the statistics regarding the effects of exercise on our mental health. I was baffled. Why hadn’t someone explained to me the connection between exercise and your brain. Had I known then what I know now I would’ve made fitness a much bigger priority. Not only did exercise improve your mood by producing endorphins, but things like weight lifting decreased your risk for depression, exercise helped alleviate anxiety and for me losing weight helped me feel better which also helped keep my depression at bay. I knew that I had to find a way to make exercise a priority, and a part of my daily life. It was no longer about my weight or appearance, it was about my brain.

 

“There’s good epidemiological data to suggest that active people are less depressed than inactive people. And people who were active and stopped tend to be more depressed than those who maintain or initiate an exercise program,” says James Blumenthal, PhD, a clinical psychologist at Duke University.

THE SOLUTION.

For me at home work-outs allowed me to do all the things I wanted without compromising the things that were important to me. I joined a virtual accountability groups where I got daily support, motivation and recipes/tips. It’s honestly been the best, easiest, and most effective way for me to work-out. I have been working out for 15 months consistently, which has never happened. I love the variety of the workouts, how well laid out and practical the healthy eating is as well as the LONG-TERM approach to getting healthy. Even with my injury I can still incorporate the work-outs between my walks and my swimming.

Exercise may boost a depressed person’s outlook by helping him return to meaningful activity and providing a sense of accomplishment. Then there’s the fact that a person’s responsiveness to stress is moderated by activity. “Exercise may be a way of biologically toughening up the brain so stress has less of a central impact,” Otto says.

MAKING FITNESS A WAY OF LIFE.

fullsizeoutput_aa39

I’d love to help you reach your goals and commit to working out, seeing your depression and anxiety decrease and get in shape along the way. I can help you do this by customizing support, keeping you motivated, accountable, and sharing what is working for me! I truly believe in order to live well with anxiety and depression, exercise is a must. Even if what I do isn’t right for you, I hope you understand the value of making fitness a priority for your overall mental health.

Fellow warrior,

Sara

She is energetic and STRONG, a hard worker. Proverbs 31:17 NLT

Sara’s Coach Website

Interested in changing things up? I’m starting another group on October 29th to help us get ready for the holidays. Wouldn’t it be awesome to feel great for the holidays both mentally and physically? Fill out one of my accountability applications  or Email me I’d love to help you!

The Exercise Effect

The Fundamental Five. Faith

Finding God in the every day.

God is never mentioned in the book of Esther but if you take a step back you can see His hand over the entire book. You see Him guiding, orchestrating and ultimately redeeming the Jewish people. Esther is one of the greatest women in the Bible. She risked her life to save her people, all while being married to the one that wanted to destroy them. A risk that took a great amount of faith and a great amount of courage. Stories like this inspire me and remind that without hope there is no purpose. Developing a faith in God is the cornerstone of our success. Often, it’s not our unbelief that prevents our faith from growing but creating space for God in our daily routine.

Find time to spend with God on a daily basis.

Schedule your time with God. Yes, you read that right, schedule it. You schedule when you’ll go to the gym, your hair appointment, and your grocery store runs, so it makes perfect sense to schedule your time with God. No two days are the same therefore it will require you to find the time in your daily routine.

I used to roll my eyes when people told me to get up early to meet with God. My response was God doesn’t care if talk to Him at 5am or 9pm which is true, but what I have learned is that when I do get up and make Him a priority, my whole day is better. Even more importantly when I start my day with Him my mood is upbeat and joyful.  It all goes back to making choices versus what you FEEL like doing. You will more than likely never FEEL like waking up at 5am, but you can CHOSE to do it anyway. All five aspects of The Fundamental Five require choices to be made regardless of how you feel. Choices followed by actions.

IMG_0650

What do I do during my quiet time?

Now that I’ve scheduled my quiet time what do I do? First everyone’s is different, but there are a few things that you should always try to do.

  1. First read your Bible. A great place to start is reading Psalms. You can read a chapter a day and turn your psalms into a prayer. A devotional is a good alternative or in addition to reading  God’s Word. A devotional will help you stay focused and pull more out of God’s Word then sometimes you can see on the surface.

    IMG_1487
    Make the Bible personal. 

2. Prayer and a time of silence. Yeah, you read that right, silence. How often do we just vomit on God with all of our problems, and then hope we figure out where He is leading us? A very one-sided relationship don’t you think? If we spend time in silence, we have the ability to hear God’s voice and what He is longing to communicate with us. Remember this relationship requires both parties. No, you don’t necessarily hear an audible voice (even though sometimes I pray that God would just put a burning bush in my front yard and tell me exactly what His plan is), but you will be able to discern what God is telling you through Scripture, what He calls to your mind with the help of the Holy Spirit. If you have been a Christian for any amount of time than you know His plans don’t always make sense, aren’t revealed to you all at once and generally don’t happen on your time table.

All five aspects of The Fundamental Five require choices to be made regardless of how you feel. Choices followed by actions.

3. Praying for His will to be done and not your own. This one has never been easy for me. I like to think I know what I’m doing, that I have it all figured out, but let’s be honest it’s never worked out very well for me when I try to be in control.   When Jesus was pleading for His life asking for God to find any other way to redeem our souls other than the cross,  He still ended His prayer with Your will be done, and not mine. Wow, right? Even Christ struggled up to the very end submitting to God’s will, praying for any other way for God to carry out His plan. Jesus set the example of what our relationship with God should look like and while we remember the miracles and the time spent with His disciples we seem to forget much of His time was spent alone praying and listening for God’s voice.

We can’t truly know God, His Son and hear the Holy Spirit, if we don’t spend time in His Word, and time in prayer seeking His guidance. If we really want to transform our minds and follow His path we must take the time to listen to Him. Only through listening wil our perspective on our lives change.

Your fellow warrior,

Sara

This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Hebrews 6:19

Five daily practices to live well with anxiety and depression.

  Awareness is good, but solutions are what we need.

More people are committing suicide every day, and more young adults are on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds than ever before. Awareness is all the buzz, but no real change has come from it. We are being educated on how to identify mental illness, famous people are openly discussing their mental health battles (Mariah Carey, Demi Lovato), doctors and therapists teaching are us about the disease and while all of these things are necessary and good they aren’t affecting real change.

Concrete solutions to mental health lead to concrete change.

One of the reasons I started writing and researching depression and anxiety was because what was out there left me feeling empty and more hopeless. I couldn’t be the only one frustrated with what the world was offering. Nothing I read left me encouraged, in fact most of what I found left me hopeless. Books and articles that say things like “this is your new normal, this is your life.”   Out of this frustration came the passion and drive to find real solutions. Solutions, for how to live every day well whether I’m depressed or not. Even if I never get depression again or I don’t struggle with these issues, we ALL want to live our best life, a life of abundance. So how do we actually do that? How do we make lasting change, and take control of our disease instead of letting it control us.

IMG_0454
More self-help books than you know what to do with……but do they really help and can they be implemented?

 1. Faith

Faith is number one for a reason; because there is no hope without faith. Scrolling through Twitter, watching the news, or spending more than ten minutes on social media you’ll realize that what the world has to offer empty. There are so many people, that are hurting, crying for help, hopeless, and feel lost. There have been seasons where I have been far away from God, sought out other things to either numb the pain or run away from it, and it never works, and in the end, I always came back to my faith. The only way to truly combat the demons that we face is to be grounded in God’s Word. Hope and Laughter was born out of Romans 12:2 “do not be conformed to the pattern of the world but instead be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I loved this verse because there was so much hope that my brain could change, could be renewed and now there is science to prove it.

IMG_0495
Spending time in God’s Word changes the way we think and the way we perceive our life. Couldn’t we all use a change in perspective?

2. Fitness

This one took me awhile to be honest. I never really enjoyed working out and the only time I did was when I was paying someone to hold me accountable. After I had Priscilla that was no longer feasible, not just the financial aspect, but honestly the time. Time was always an issue, finding someone to watch the kids, my husband’s work schedule. It just never seemed to line up. When I finally got in a groove and found what worked for me, it became a habit. A habit that I saw not only changed me physically but changed my attitude and decreased my anxiety. I started researching the benefits of exercise and couldn’t believe how beneficial it was.  Exercise alters your mood by increasing endorphins, helps decrease your anxiety, and decreases your risk for depression. I soon realized that fitness was a must not a maybe.

IMG_0009
If you would’ve asked me even 5 years ago if I would’ve attempted to do a triathlon I would’ve said that’s reserved for real athletes, not me.

How do we make lasting change, and take control of our disease instead of letting it control us? 

 3. Fuel

For the longest time I thought that fuel was only about what you ate. Fueling your body, with healthy foods, would keep your body in tip top shape, but that wasn’t motivation enough for me. At the time I found most healthy foods to be boring, and fueling my body the right way just sounded like a daunting task. Once I realized that Fuel was not just about what you ate, but about what you read, what you watched, what you listened to my perspective changed. These were all things that were fueling your body, mind, soul and spirit. It mattered how you were fueling your body because it affected your mind. The mind was my motivation.

IMG_0515
Fuel isn’t just about what we eat…….but what we read, watch, listen to and fill our hearts and minds with. Adults are just as impressionable as children……

  4. Fellowship

Fellowship may seem like a stretch or for a daunting task if you’re in the throes of depression. Certain seasons fellowship is really hard, but fellowship is much more than just texting friends or scrolling through social media and commenting on someone’s post. Fellowship is about developing real relationships with  real people. People that will meet you where you’re at with what you are able to give.  Face to face conversations. The world says do everything independently, and God says we are one body with many parts, but all the parts are necessary to make the body. We are called to be in community. True success both relationally and mentally require community. There are different levels of community and different seasons of fellowship, either way it is necessary.

IMG_0061
Real community will change your life, your heart, broaden your perspective and force you outside of yourself. How much more do we learn from relationships versus a book. The Bible is a book filled with relationships that are broken, messy and redemptive. Real people with real problems and real redemption.

5. Freedom

Freedom is the one we need most and the one we make the least amount of time for. Proverbs says where there is no vision the people perish. God has put a purpose and a dream in our hearts and we must find time to pursue that. Whatever it is, wherever you are, with what you have. For me my freedom was found in writing. It was an outlet for me that left me renewed after I spent time writing, not depleted. Whatever your passion is  whether cooking, writing code (that’s my husband’s), photography, or anything that leaves you fueled instead of depleted take the time every day to pursue it. You don’t need to cook a gourmet meal for twenty people or develop your own software. It can be as simple as looking through a cookbook, buying a magazine about home decor whatever it is it will renew your mind, replenish your soul and fuel your day. We were created for a purpose and our purpose is more than getting by but living abundantly.

IMG_5461
My happy place. One of the best presents I’ve ever gotten…….A place where I can pursue my passion.

Sara

 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:1

Thwarted Plans

When things don’t go as planned.

So often we make plans, and somehow, we’re surprised when these plans are thwarted. Whether by our own decisions or the result of someone else’s decisions, things don’t go how we thought they would. Either way an unrealized dream or an unexpected change in our path can be very upsetting, sometimes heartbreaking. I have realized that the source of my depression lies in this space. Whether my father committing suicide, and changing the course of my childhood, or the choices I made in my early twenties as a result of so much anger and confusion that led me to drink and drive and put myself and others at risk, to becoming a mom and not immediately falling in love with being a mom and my new baby that I couldn’t wait to meet.

Dreams and Depression.

This last week I was hit with a smaller version of that, something that would forever change things. For the past year I have been working hard to get in shape and attempt my first sprint triathlon. As part of my road to recovery after my third round of depression, my therapist and I had talked about my dreams and things that I wanted to do. Part of what makes a dream a dream, is pursuing something you thought you never could. Competing in a triathlon is definitely one of those.

245857_tmpl_head_4f5134d309644[1]

How fitness affects our body.

I’ve never been athletic, I’ve never played in sports, but I’ve loved to swim, and after I gave birth to my son I began running. My pregnancy with my daughter was one for the books. It put me through the ringer, and I spent 16 months in physical therapy with limited abilities to work-out. After I finished my PT, I decided working out had to be a priority not just for my physical health, but my mental health. I know that not being active during that time definitely sustained if not worsened my depression. I needed to set a goal and baby step my way there. I spent 9 months working my butt off, getting in shape and making my health a priority. When I finally felt in shape I began running and the first time I ran I had a terrible knee injury and spent weeks with a swollen knee. I brushed it off and visited the chiropractor and thought surely there was a solution and I just needed to baby step my way even in running. I tried running again and the same thing happened, a swollen knee, that left me hurting and day to day activities were painful. Finally, I got up the courage to make an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon and what he told me was gut wrenching. He said Sara you have the knee of a 62-year-old and you can never run again. You need to change your entire work-out program, you need only engage in low-impact activities, limited squats, and lunges.

IMG_4793

My anger could lead to more depression.

My world was rocked. I haven’t cried that hard, been that angry in a long time. I yelled, I screamed I hit the wall, both literally and figuratively. How could this be? In the past year I have changed my life drastically, put my health as my number one priority, worked hard, and made life long changes. I was devastated. I could see the fear in my husband’s eye, he was scared this would send me back…..back there. You know the lowest of low. Hopelessness. While things weren’t going how I planned, I rejoiced in my external anger. I know that may sound silly, but my anger was a victory. A victory that I was expressing not repressing my emotions.

I could see the fear in my husband’s eye, he was scared this would send me back…..back there.

I was deeply disappointed, things WILL forever change, but I’m still determined to reach my goal, it may not be on my timeline (my 40thbirthday), and yes, it may be different, but I can still fulfill it.  I now begin a new journey of pursuing fitness with an injury and getting to focus on my favorite part nutrition. This mama loves to be in the kitchen. So, while I won’t be competing in this year’s Spa Girl Tri and there will need to be adjustments in my work-out routine, I’m not giving up or throwing in the towel. The road did not end it just took a new turn.

Here’s to seeing where that turn will take me,

Sara

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

 

In spite of all the awareness why is suicide more prevelant?

The confusion of suicide.

Because today is World Suicide Awareness Day, I thought it only fitting to address the subject. This topic is never easy to discuss, is a hard thing to understand, and is always painful. I’m sure I don’t articulate well enough the darkness that was around me for so long trying to understand and wrap my brain around why my father chose to leave. I have reconciled to the fact that I will never know the answers.

Just this past month a pastor in California committed suicide and left behind a wife and three children. This just shocked me, but in some ways gave me hope that this gentleman’s story would be used to shed light on a topic so often ignored by the church.  Now people would understand that this isn’t exclusive to members of the church, or as some believe exclusive to non-believers. Depression which can often lead to suicide or thoughts of suicide can even happen to a pastor. Being a Christian doesn’t make you immune.

Screen-Shot-2018-08-28-at-7.54.59-PM
Image credit: @kaylasteck/Instagram

The added grief of suicide.

There is added heartbreak that comes when you lose someone to suicide. The confusion, the shock. There is an added layer of emotions, on top of the natural grief of death. You can’t reconcile it. It doesn’t make sense, and those left behind are consumed with guilt. It falls out of the natural order of life. It’s something we can’t wrap our brain around, and honestly, I hope I never do.

You aren’t the only one.

Over the last several years as I’ve shared my story and sometimes with unbridled transparency and I have come to realize that so many people have lost someone to suicide, way more than I ever thought. The most startling aspect is that it seems to be happening more and more, not less and less. This should raise an alarm in all of us.

With all the technology, education, research, awareness, meds, virtual community and social media shouldn’t this problem be decreasing?

One thing, that I know many will disagree with is that we have spent so much energy teaching our children and ourselves independence that we have forgotten the power of community. We were created to live with others. The burdens the world puts on us were never meant to be carried alone.  The burden is too heavy, it is against the core of who we are created to be.

IMG_0011

When I look back at the early church and how they helped one another out I realize it’s such an example of how things should be, helping one another coming alongside one another to share in their burdens as well as work together to fill in the gaps, where you are weak I am strong.

IMG_5449
Real friendships, real community and real intimacy. 

And awe[a] came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47

Somehow we have lost this, we text, we Facebook message, we Insta message, we watch stories, we scroll the feed and think we know what’s really going on with one another, and yet we couldn’t be more disengaged, more lonely and more isolated than ever before. Real love, the love that Christ shows us and that we are supposed to emulate is the kind of love where you call someone, you bring them coffee, you offer to help them with their kids, you make time out of your schedule to meet them, you ask them about what’s going on with them, and listen, even if you don’t understand, even if it makes no sense to you, you listen.

           We are called to listen, to love and love without judgment, where someone is at, exactly as they are.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

We are called to love with every once of our being. So if you see someone hurting, even if you feel like you can’t relate, you don’t know what to say, lean in to God, lean on the Holy Spirit for understanding and let go of your own insecurities and show someone else the power of Christ’s love.

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19.

I stand with you,

Sara

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, contemplating suicide, or you just need someone to talk to, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. 

 

Anxiety, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

Anxiety comes at the worst time.

So often our anxiety completely wrecks us, and whatever we are anxious about hasn’t even happened, or for that matter doesn’t EVER happen. Yesterday I had one of my first official “mom coffee’s” at my son’s new school. First not only is my son starting a new school, but I am. For the last 3 years Zeke has been at a wonderful preschool, that has become home. I have made friends there that I absolutely love and adore. Women who have encouraged me and who have seen me struggle over the past several years.

IMG_4691
Zeke at his preschool graduation with his teacher’s. 

New school, new relationships an anxious person’s perfect storm.

Now, I’m embarking on a whole new journey in a whole new world. Mark and I spent a decade in prayer about where we wanted our children to go to school and what we thought was important. I loved my public school experience and my husband loved his Catholic school experience. We knew each had it’s flaws, but we both felt they were good choices. Ultimately we came to the decision to send our child to private school a couple miles from our home. We felt God leading us here and it was the best fit for our family. Every time we meet a family from the school it affirms our decision even more.  Unfortunately sometimes even divine affirmation doesn’t dispel discomfort.

IMG_3550
Zeke and Priscilla at the school garden. 

Having FOMO as an adult.

This past week was one of our first school events. A kindergarten mom coffee. This little public school girl from a small town was completely out of her element. This coffee was so important to me, that I was going to move mountains to get there. Not only did I not want to miss out on any and all information, but these are the women I will be spending my days with and raising my children with, not just for kinder but hopefully for the thirteen years. (No pressure right? These ladies better be AWESOME!) I’m sure you can see how I was sort of setting myself up for a high anxiety situation. Did I mention that basically forty eight hours before the coffee I realized I had no childcare?

Sometimes even divine affirmation doesn’t dispel discomfort.

Yeah, I asked everyone I could think of, I mean EVERYONE. The irony was my husband was going to actually be home, but Murphy’s law he had a demo from 2-4, smack dab in the middle of my coffee. Not only did he have to be on the call, but was leading it. So there was no way he could watch my kids. They fight too much, it’s summer, so the wheels have come off and my patience is thin. If you saw my Instagram on Monday you would know why I wasn’t having high hopes.

The night before I emailed the admissions office and let them know that I wasn’t going to make it to the coffee because I couldn’t find any childcare. To my surprise they said that my children were more than welcome to come to the tea and they could color or play with some toys during the coffee. I had visions of my children, kicking, screaming and fighting and right as I’m about to remove my children from the premesis they quietly tell me that my child is no longer a good fit for the school and we would need to find Zeke other arrangements for kindergarten.  (Catastrophic much?) I just knew that everything that could go wrong would go wrong.

So to lower the odds of Zeke getting kicked out of his school that technically he hasn’t even started we decided to leave him at home.  Unlike Zeke; Master P as we like to call Priscilla, needed to be “managed.” So off I went to a situation that already was pushing me out of my comfort zone, with a ticking time bomb three year old girl.

I just knew that everything that could go wrong would go wrong.

To my surprise Priscilla couldn’t have been more PERFECT, and I mean perfect. It was scary, how perfect she was. She was quiet, played with a small box of dolls and entertained herself for an entire two hours. She was actually sooooo perfect, I began to worry she was up to something she shouldn’t be. Us mom’s know when a child is quiet, you better see what they are up too. I was constantly checking to make sure she wasn’t climbing the grand piano, or pulling down candelabra’s from the fireplace. So even though things were going well, I was still on edge because I just kept waiting for an outburst.  All this anxiety, frustration, anger, exhaustion, fear and worry for nothing. My anxiety was wasted energy, wasted frustration, wasted anger, wasted time and for what? Absolutely nothing.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s experienced this? Anyone else had social anxiety?

Your fellow warrior,

Sara

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Philippians 4:6-7 The Message. 

 

 

Summer Pea Salad.

Ahh what to eat in the summer. Anyone else struggle with this? I realize in the summer I just try to avoid cooking at all costs. It’s not really because of the busyness, but mainly it’s so HOT! The thought of the oven or the stove causes me to sweat. I mean I can feel it dripping down my back. But, as I’ve made lifestyle changes over to healthier eating, I needed to find recipes and things to eat. Learning to eat healthy and clean met reinventing the wheel in the kitchen. Starting from scratch and cleaning out my pantry from top to bottom.

IMG_5268
One of the best tips I ever learned was have a bowl for all your trash. (Thank you Rachel Ray!)

So in my quest to learn to eat more veggies, I needed to find something I knew I’d eat. My problem with healthy food in the beginning was I felt like it was all so bland, and blah. I wanted a meal with a kick, with some punch, some FLAVOR! Healthy doesn’t have to mean flavorless. I have learned this over time especially living in the great city of Austin where it’s easy to eat healthy and it tastes amazing.

IMG_5269
Use the left over celery for snacks and celery is always great with hummus.
IMG_5270
So many veggies. Veggies most ladies!

Here is my go to summer salad!

Ingredients:

  1. juice of 1 lemon
  2. 2 Tbsp olive oil
  3. 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  4. 2 cups of green peas, cooked and cooled
  5. 1/4 cup red onions, diced
  6. 1/2 cup celery, diced
  7. 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
  8. 1/2 cup of crumbled goat cheese (or feta, I prefer goat)
  9. 2 Tbsp of fresh cilantro (or parsley or mint)

Place the first three ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine.  Add the rest of the ingredients and combine. Serve!

Recipe found on Weelicious.

IMG_5271
Enjoy! I hope you love it as much as I do.

Its’ really that simple and your kids will love it!

Sara

Interested in joining one of my accountability groups? I’d love to have you join me!

 


 

 

How we speak to ourselves matters.

Is your life going how you planned? Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones that has always knew what you wanted to do, graduated college with a degree where you could step into a job, met your spouse soon after, have 2.5 children and live in the suburbs. Well my life hasn’t worked out that way even if it might appear that way on the outside.

fullsizeoutput_6791
Here’s our 2.5 kids in the suburbs. 

How we think determines how we act and how we act determines the course of our life, so shouldn’t we focus more on our thoughts than our actions?

I had to learn the hard way this summer, that routine and consistency is a must for me. Summer is kind of a love/hate for me. I love the freedom of not having to be somewhere at a certain time, but I hate how I lose my time to myself. I tend to get out of a routine and I end up going off the rails with my diet.

IMG_5261
Working on mommy’s office. 

Summer is supposed to be a time of relaxation and enjoyment of the simple things and hopefully some time to disconnect. This summer has been a little different for our family. Things didn’t go the way we planned, vacation plans were changed, and still recovering a financially crippling 2017. With that, I’ve fallen out of my routine. This past school year, I was so good about getting my work-outs in, reading my Bible, and working on my blog. After my sinus surgery in March it just seemed like an uphill battle, and unfortunately I eventually threw caution to the wind. Let me tell you, it hasn’t worked out well. I’ve put on a few pounds, I’m not getting up as early and therefore I’m always behind, and my time to myself seems to be dwindling. I had a lot of grand plans for this summer. A summer filled with projects being accomplished, my house in tip top shape, and my blog skyrocketing into success. Well it doesn’t look like that, and I’m partially to blame.

IMG_4793
The one thing I have been consistent about. 

One I’m not realistic with my goals, as my husband says I “boil the ocean.” I focus on 20 different things instead of 1 or 2. I tend to think big, but then crash and burn. Ironically the only place that didn’t suffer was my exercising. I have been able to maintain my exercise almost daily the entire summer. I injured my knee and took a week off to recuperate, but was able to jump right back in stronger than ever and realized I had to spend more time foam rolling, stretching, and decreasing my weights. I realized the reason I was successful with my exercising wasn’t because if I had a bad day or didn’t feel like it I just didn’t work-out and figured I’d eventually do it and still maintain my strength. Instead I didn’t let the small setback, kill me and destroy myself mentally. I actually spoke to myself with common sense, compassion and encouragement. I reminded myself how far I had come, how far I still wanted to go, and better to take a week of rest and come back ready to win, than just give up and lose all the hard work I put in. Why can’t I speak to myself like this in all aspects of my life? What I did realize was the importance of a routine, and not letting my emotions dictate my actions. My emotions didn’t necessarily change.  Most days after I worked out my mood changed, but some days it didn’t.

” Regardless my mood I exercised.” 

I knew I couldn’t afford to get out of a routine because I had future goals. Spa girl triathlon is in September(which I still think I might be delusional) and I had to focus on my goal. I realized I should apply the same principles with my exercise in every aspect of my life. My emotions are fleeting, and so is my mood. To allow them to dictate my choices seems irresponsible and infantile. Besides if we are a new creation in Christ then we are equipped with power, love and self-discpline and I should put those into practice. We must celebrate the small victories, the day to day choices, because in the end they will compound into life changing realities.

Do you struggle with the thoughts in your head? Connecting our thoughts with our actions well change our lives.

 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. II Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

The heartbreak and confusion of suicide.

The heartbreak of suicide.

I spoke with two friends this week who had a lost someone to suicide. The heartbreak of their loss brought back a lot of memories for me.  There is added heartbreak that comes when you lose someone to suicide. The confusion, the shock. There is an added layer of emotions, on top of the natural grief of death. You can’t reconcile it. It doesn’t make sense, and those left behind are consumed with guilt. It falls out of the natural order of life. It’s something we can’t wrap our brain around, and honestly, I hope I never do.

Suicide is always a shock.

I remember all the emotions that I had when I lost my dad. I was in complete and total shock. I never saw it coming, not once.  I knew he was depressed, but not to that level.  My father was doing everything he could; meds, therapy, meeting with deacons, pastors, and he still felt this desperation that I couldn’t understand as a twelve-year-old, and still don’t fully understand today.  Before he died he seemed to be doing better, and my mom and I were encouraged, even hopeful. There were things that my mom saw, that I wasn’t privy to until I was older and ready to understand those things. I spent years trying to understand it, and to be honest I still don’t have all the answers, but I have resigned to the fact, that there will be things that I never will understand.

Why suicide isn’t like other deaths.

Like all death, your life is changed in an instant, but now you have to explain something to others, that even you yourself don’t understand. I remember people asking me when I told them my father had passed away. Once I told them how he passed;  what they thought  of his choice was written all over their face. Most people didn’t know what to say, or how to respond, which in turn made me all the more uncomfortable and I had to relive it over and over again. The horror, the confusion, the shock and all the questions that will never be answered, questions I didn’t have the answers to either.

Suicide doesn’t always happen the way people describe it. Sometimes it comes as a complete and total shock to those around them. They seem happy, good, life is good, but unfortunately there are things going on in their mind that we don’t see or understand.

Suicide and salvation.

I think the hardest thing was the confusion I felt about my dad’s salvation and was it lost; was he with God in Heaven? I didn’t even begin to know who to ask. I began reading some books, but none of them made sense to me, they were just disheartening and depressing. I needed encouragement and hope. I felt such judgment for my dad’s choices, that I kept quiet for so long. I had to learn for myself. Ultimately, I came to rest in this verse:

 “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from, Me.” John 10:28

God is not turning away from them. Their salvation isn’t lost. While I know that suicide is not what God wants for their lives, that He knows there is more, their salvation is not lost and I will forever hold on to this. I know my father and I will spend eternity together and will rejoice in the fact that God has not only healed our souls, but healed our minds. “Rejoice, again I say rejoice!”

Praying for my friends, and praying for those who are hurt. Please reach out, you are not alone my friend, you are not alone.

Sara  

Follow Me

 

PMS, Hormones and Mental Health

The dreaded period.

Aunt flo, surfing the crimson tide, Mother Nature’s Gift, or as I’d prefer to call it, EVE! I’m sure you’ve heard these names, ahh the wonderful names given to your period in your teen years, either by you and your girlfriends, or immature boys. As if being a teenager isn’t hard enough, let alone dealing with your period and “becoming a woman.” Unfortunately, after I had kids and as I’ve gotten older, and my body has changed, I really began to notice a difference in my PMS. My PMS seemed much more intense. Like everything else in life what worked before didn’t work anymore. I noticed drastic changes in my mood. I felt out of control and that’s never a feeling I like.

Tired I Got This GIF by U by Kotex Brand - Find & Share on GIPHY

Can my period really effect my depression/anxiety?

So, I began to do some research about periods and moods. I needed to understand if what I was feeling was normal or a sign that I needed to be careful because maybe I was going to battle another bout of depression again. It’s crazy how quickly our minds can wonder to the worst-case scenarios isn’t it? Sometimes leading up to my period, I feel like I’ve completely lost control of my emotions. I’m always evaluating and making sure I understand where my mind and body are in order to combat another round of anxiety and depression. I wondered if I was just using PMS as an excuse to eat what I wanted and throw caution to the wind (which is partially true), but I also wondered how long PMS actually lasts and does it really effect my mood the way I perceive it does.

Needless to say I was blown away by the statistics surrounding PMS. They are fascinating, to say the least. They far surpassed what I expected and there were way more symptoms than I ever imagined

Here are some fascinating facts about PMS and your period.

Serotonin levels change during PMS
PMS lasts 5-11 days BEFORE your period.
PMS can cause mood swings, anxiety, and irritability.

Serotonin, Depression, and hormones.

I think the scariest one off of that list is the serotonin levels changing. For those of you who have ever been on an anti-depressant, most anti-depressants are used to level out serotonin because of a lack of serotonin in our brain. Basically, if you struggle with depression more than likely you have noticed a change in your mood preceding your period because of the change in your serotonin. Also, serotonin is a chemical in your brain but the majority of serotonin is produced in your gut and therefore one of the many reasons it’s so important to pay attention to what we put in our bodies. Serotonin affects your moods, emotions and your thoughts! I’d say serotonin is a pretty powerful chemical!

1200px-Serotonin-2D-skeletal.svg

What exactly is PMS, and what causes it?

So how many women actually have PMS, I for one assumed that all women have PMS, but there’s a lucky 20% who doesn’t. Some of the factors for PMS are:

  1. a history of depression or mood disorders, such as postpartum depression or
  2. bipolar disorder
  3. a family history of PMS
  4. a family history of depression
  5. domestic violence
  6. substance abuse
  7. physical trauma
  8. emotional trauma
  9. abdominal bloating

What are the symptoms of PMS? I was surprised by some of  my girlfriends responses when I asked them about their own symptoms and many of them didn’t associate moods, or anxiety with PMS. Here are some of the  common symptoms of PMS:

  1. abdominal pain
  2. sore breasts
  3. acne
  4. food cravings, especially for sweets
  5. constipation
  6. diarrhea
  7. headaches
  8. sensitivity to light or sound
  9. fatigue
  10. irritability
  11. changes in sleep patterns
  12. anxiety
  13. depression
  14. sadness
  15. emotional outbursts
What now?
  • I was pretty blown away by these statistics, symptoms and just the overall effect that PMS actually has on our bodies, minds and spirits. It’s pretty powerful what hormones can do isn’t it? All too often we blame ourselves, and believe we are at the mercy of our symptoms, but the good news is awareness is half the battle so what are some things that we can do when we encounter PMS?
  • Recognize that what we are going through is normal, and is experienced by the majority of women
  • Recognize people who struggle with depression, anxiety or other mood disorders are at a greater risk for PMS
  • Women who struggle with PMS generally have more than one symptom.
  • We can talk to our doctor and track how we feel during our PMS, and make sure we aren’t part of the even smaller demographic who’s symptoms are so severe it affects their ability to cope with day to day life.
  • Be aware of how your mood and appetite are affected by it and recognize that things will be a little different during this time and plan accordingly.

No one should feel ashamed or frustrated by this, if anything I hope you will walk away feeling more equipped about what to expect the next time you are encountered with aunt flo and maybe just maybe you can have a little laugh about it just like I did gathering all these facts. Needless to say after all the talk about periods, and how they make us feel a little off our rocker, my girlfriends and I couldn’t stop thinking of this famous quote from Clueless:

Clueless Movie Cherilyn Horowitz GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Hopefully you know by know irregardless of the weighty subjects we talk about, I have always end on a high note or with some laughter. Life’s too short. In all seriousness does anyone else struggle with increased anxiety or depression leading up to or during their period? Or is it just me?

Sara