How Classical Music has Helped With My Anxiety and Life in General

 

classical

I was never one to fist bump the air with elation every time I was subjected to classical music. In fact I would throw myself a pity party every time my parents would force it upon me. I can remember the uncomfortable car rides when we were living in New York. It was classical music 24/7. I would plead for them to play the country music station but alas, my calls would go unanswered. Yes, you read that right… I was obsessed with country music. I had a cassette tape of  The Judds which I used to play over and over again. My dad would get flustered and eventually snap at me because of my overuse. If it wasn’t classical or Greek music, he didn’t want to know.

When I was old enough to keep concentration for a while my parents enrolled me into a piano class. And when it was time to pick up music at school, the flute became my companion. In between these lessons they would take me to see the New York Philharmonic orchestra, and violin quartets and pianists and let’s not forget the hours worth of opera, ballet and musicals. Throughout my earlier years I saw piano and my classically trained background (I even took music theory and completed grade 5) as simply another shrug of ‘things that looked good on your college application’.

I guess I was so against it when I was younger because it was forced upon me without me having a say-so in the matter. But as I grew up I started to appreciate the fact that I was shown all these different kinds of artistic expressions. And before long I would use my time with the piano as a tool to alleviate stress. I could sit down for hours and play Mozart’s Sonata No.16 in C major over and over again. Because it soothed me. And  of course the most important reason, my brain would cease to spew out chaotic thoughts of the miseries I endured as a teenager. But then my piano playing became few and far between after I went to University. Once I moved to London I only got to play every time I visited my parents back home in Cyprus. Then they moved to another town and my piano went into hibernation. I haven’t played the piano in about 6 years now and throughout this time I have seen myself go through mental, physical and emotional issues without having an outlet to pacify these burdens. I started to get panic attacks, my anxiety was going through the roof. I ended up having a kidney infection and had to stay 2 days in the hospital. Antibiotics were my friend at that time because my kidney issues weren’t getting resolved.Money was (and is) always a struggle. I was exceptionally unhappy with my jobs. The men that I let into my life would seem to be unattainable and left me feeling insecure, vulnerable and unwanted. One, for example, said that they wouldn’t date me because of my weight. A sentence such as that sticks with you. It embeds deep within your psyche, attaching itself to even the most minute particles, where disposing of it seems remote. And I had quite a few of those sentences floating around in my noggin. Then I got IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) for which I’m still suffering 10 months later. The latter had deprived me of my simple unfulfilled life completely and my stress levels became fried. Almost as if the neurons short circuited after the amount of anxiety-volts coursed through me. I became depressed. I tried to reach out to people in my own way and they didn’t understand and in turn showed little support. I tried meditation, breathing techniques, therapy, and yoga. My music of Etta James, Little Willie John, Missy Elliot and FKA Twiggs (to name a few) wasn’t cutting it anymore in the relaxation department. And I’d like to add that the sheer thought of travel became unbearable. Which almost made me feel like I was starting to become agoraphobic, seeing as I couldn’t take the underground trains without experiencing panic attacks every single time I would descend the stairs to hell. I literally felt like I was imploding within myself. And then, amongst all this battered chaos, I thought of my piano…

I knew there was no way I could afford to buy one here in London, so I was stuck. Stuck in a place of knowing the cure that could tame the virus yet not having any syringe to dispense it. And then one day I thought, why not listen to my favourite Mozart piano piece and see how I go from there. I put my headphones in, turned the volume up and looked to hope that peace would come. Once the first notes daintily trickled out, I felt as if a gigantic orb of light engulfed me. My muscles relaxed and my brain ceased to churn out thoughts. For those 3 minutes a wave of tranquility washed over me and I knew that I had finally found my saving grace. Next I chose to play Chopin’s Nocturne No. 2 in E flat and that was when my stress melted away. I was smiling in a crammed sardine can without a care in the world. People didn’t bother me. My thoughts weren’t on my IBS. I just floated… on a cloud of calm.

Have you ever noticed, when you’re scurrying around trying to somehow not be associated with the metaphorical ant analogy, people’s faces and sound effects? Every day I would hear the huffing and puffing of wolves trying to blow down a path through the glazed commuter’s programmed route. And every day it would chip away at me. The facial expressions of hatred, annoyance and exasperation filled my view and I couldn’t shake it. Having to deal with that and all my other issues was a nightmare. Because their negativity would rub off on me. Until that is, that  one fateful day Classical music intervened.

I now listen to it everywhere I go, if you can believe that! From the girl whose threshold level for classical music was exceptionally low, this was a major achievement. It has also made me think that I am an old blob but hey, if it works then I will happily embrace becoming an old blob if it means I get to keep my sanity.

Classical music has somehow become my knight in shining armour. It has not only accompanied me on my journeys to and from work but has even caressed my ears while at work. Instead of watching countless hours of TV or waste my brain cells surfing the web, I put on a classical playlist and read a book or write in my journal. 

Before, I used to have a panic attack stepping out of my front door in fear that I would inevitably shit my pants in public due to this whole IBS thing. Because my mind was constantly thinking about all the horrid scenarios that could befall me. Before, my concentration was that of someone who was suffering from ADHD. That’s not a joke by the way. It’s how I was acting. While at work, I would flutter around from task to task, which in turn took longer than it actually should have. Because my brain would be in overdrive. While at home, simple chores became impossible to finish. While grocery shopping, I would hop around missing the essentials. But somehow all this has changed. Before, my brain would be on the go all the time; constantly inventing scenarios, conversation, over-analysing and over thinking. But now I listen to Chopin and Mozart and know that all will be ok. That I can calm myself without having to resort to medication or therapy. That I can concentrate without compromising my time. That I can live a life that’s less stressful. All I can say is….. It feels good! It feels really good.

❤ ❤ ❤

 

 

P.S.- I wanted to share this with all the pandas out there who feel like their anxiety, panic attacks and stress are getting the better of them. You are NOT alone. All I can say is to explore every possibility out there. Meditation might not have worked for me, but it might work for you. Or maybe you will find that walking more often might help. Or painting, or using one of those popular colouring books that are out there nowadays. Whatever it may be just do it often to de-stress. Because nothing is more important than the stability of your well-being! If you are unwell then you won’t be able to take care of anything else. So whatever it is, just do it!

❤ Love, Happiness and Laughter always ❤

Everything you Need to Know About Managing IBS

ibs, treating, managing, solving,

My little pandas, I have been one busy researcher who’s been battling IBS (irritable bowel Syndrome) like a ninja with one leg since May. Hence me neglecting my blog, for which I’m sorry for!

When this chaos first hit me, I thought it came out of the blue, but a whole lot of analysis later, I realised that I should have seen the signs. Then again, how can one see the signs if you don’t know what you’re looking for? Either way, this problem came into my life like a tsunami and it hasn’t gone anywhere 8 months later. After the NHS (the free health service here in the UK) failed me severely (for the second time might I add) I decided to take matters into my own hands. But my journey was not an easy one. In fact I was at breaking point on many occasions. This has tested me mentally, physically and emotionally.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, for those who haven’t had the pleasure, affects your intestines. It’s when bad bacteria runs rampant and causes mayhem in your gut. A lot of factors deplete good bacteria. Antibiotics is a major one along with any food intolerances you might have. You will be hit with stomach pains and/or/both cramps, constipation, diarrhea, excessive wind, bloating, urgent need to constantly go to the bathroom, lack of energy, back pain, and feeling sick.

IBS symptoms

Can you imagine feeling all of that? For me it was so often that I developed a phobia of not wanting to leave my house. The thought of commuting to work every day on the underground literally made me have panic attacks and anxiety. My greatest fear was that I would shit my pants, and that fear was debilitating. Every time I would leave the house I had to plan exit strategies that were closest to the nearest  bathroom. Even going around the corner to the supermarket was an extremely difficult task to complete. The constant feeling of going to the bathroom is horrendous. For me, this severe IBS took away my life. I had to cancel outings with friends, my weekends consisted of me staying cooped up at home, yet the most scariest was that I thought I was going to lose my job. Not to mention taking Ubers to and from work because I just couldn’t walk the whole commute. I’m broke now by the way.

When I would try and explain it to my close friends I was met with the typical response of ‘oh that’s terrible’ but I didn’t get any real support. Because they just didn’t get it. But if I’m honest, I expected more from them. A lot more! My mom on the other hand suggested that I should just buy adult diapers and be done with it. I know, what a humorous woman. Ha…. ha…. ha…..

The NHS doesn’t see IBS as a life-altering issue and therefore don’t do anything. One doctor told me this might last for a year, another said 6 months, AND they didn’t refer me to a Gastroenterologist until 3 weeks ago for which I am still waiting for an appointment. They also threw two pieces of paper at me that were supposed to be a helpful description of what a Low- FODMAP diet is but it was very vague. However, the icing on the cake was that they didn’t even suggest that I take probiotics! Woooosssaaahhh!

I was lost, with no real support. I was so depressed that I signed myself up to see a therapist (which was also free) but now 5 sessions in I’m convinced the whole system here is just churning out patients without really taking the time to care for them. If anything, I want my doctors to be empathetic and tell me with military precision, ‘You need to take this, this and this!’ They should have said ‘Well, you’ve taken a lot of antibiotics throughout the last year and a half ( which was due to a kidney infection that they failed to see, resulting in me running to A&E and staying in the hospital for 2 days thinking I was going to die) and that strips away all the good bacteria in your gut.’ Instead, I was left with no real answers. When the symptoms came back in full force about 3 weeks ago after eating a couple of gluten free croissants (I should have read the shitty label) I decided that this fucking IBS was not going to win! I would take control. If the doctors wouldn’t help me, then I would help myself.

So without further ado, here’s everything you need to know: (I think I’ve done enough complaining for one post don’t you think?!  🙃)

1. You should know that IBS can be triggered from food intolerances that you didn’t even know you had. These are not like full blown allergies, so don’t worry! If they were, you would definitely know it! Before this hit me, I used to eat everything. And I never even thought I could have a specific food intolerance to something. But low and behold, I did. I would have never even thought about this if it hadn’t been for a discussion that I had at a friend’s house. They referred me to Allergy test London which is where I found out that I should steer clear of beef, lamb, anything cow and sheep related, apples, corn (maize), whey, wheat, beer, lager, eggs (strangely, I can have the whites and the yolks separate) MSG, wasabi, tea, and something else but for the life of me I can’t remember.

2. The Low-Fodmap diet is a must I’m afraid. I don’t care what you read, it is the shittest diet known to man. It basically eliminates all the foods that could possibly exacerbate your IBS condition even more. After months of dreading to eat, (and I loooovvvveeeee food) I am now at a place where this diet is tolerable. I’ve accepted it through gritted teeth.

IBS, Low Fodmap, diet

This list isn’t an exact science, so beware. Even though it says that these foods/beverages should be ok it really depends on your body. You will have to eliminate everything and go from there. For me, my diet was at a bare minimum yet I was still drinking a decaf cappuccino with almond milk every day. I was still feeling ill, and so I decided to cut out the decaf coffee all together. And what do you know, I started to feel better. I also limit fruit to bananas and some strawberries. The reason being is that sugar ferments in your IBS ridden intestines and gives birth to new bad bacteria. In the beginning I was craving sweets. Which I thought was odd because I am not a sweet person. And this is because of IBS, you get cravings for sweets, so try and resist it!

3. PROBIOTICS IS A MUST!!!!!!!! I can’t stress this enough. It is so important. The three that I have tried are…

Symprove

Symprove, IBS,

I started off with Symprove for 3 weeks back in July. It helped in the beginning but then I never got any better.

Optibac – Extra Strength and Saccharomyces Boulardii

For me these two helped tremendously. My personal opinion is that you should take these two together. And before you ask, ‘Can you overdose on probiotics?’ the answer is, NO! We have trillions of bacteria in our gut. So you can never go wrong with taking enough probiotics.

Before I continue down the list here is a photo of everything that I take…

ibs-solutions

Plus…

IBS, L-glutamine, Vitamin A

4. Out of all the research that I did I came across one reoccurring note, that L-Glutamine is the mother of all holy grails for IBS suffers. Now, I can’t give the full stamp of approval, however, after 3 days of taking this I almost feel somewhat normal. Just to put this into perspective for you… it is now 3:36pm here in London and I haven’t had to go number 2! For all you IBS suffers out there I know you know how thrilling that sounds!

Here are some benefits of L-Glutamine…

IBS, L-glutamine

 

5. Invest in Digestive Enzymes. They help break down your food in order to help your body absorb the nutrients more efficiently. Therefore when your gut is out of whack it is a good idea to aid it with these.

6. I have also been taking Olive Leaf Extract as well as Turmeric. Both aid your system immensely. Here are some of the benefits for both…

7. Vitamin A also supports your Immune system. Here are some of the benefits of this Vitamin…

vitamin-a

Now, Why am I telling you that you have to keep boosting your immune system while battling IBS? Well, did you know that over 70% of your immune system is located in your gut? No, neither did I. And since my gut was battling for it’s life I figured my immune system could do with a boost.

8. Kefir is also very good for your gut, because it’s a probiotic. I wasn’t too sure about cow or sheep kefir since my body is pooh poohing both of those things so I found two alternatives…

Kefir, coconut, goat

Coconut and Goat Kefir

I am not a fan of the taste, but at this point I would drink piss if they told me that it would help my gut.

9. Now this one is a interesting one. Apparently they are now saying that IBS can be caused due to a Vitamin D deficiency! And because of this I have also started taking a vitamin D pill. It’s not a high dosage because I also take a multi-vitamin every day.

Benefits of Vitamin D

10. Stress is another factor that causes havoc to your system. This one though is tough because if any of you know what it’s like to battle with severe IBS you know that stress will sky-rocket. You are stressed to leave the house, you are stressed finding a bathroom, you are stressed from the morning you wake up till the moment you close your eyes. So I have tried meditation. I take 10 minutes out of my day to just relax. I have tried the Headspace, Digipill and calm apps. All of which are good, however I don’t really feel like giving them around £10 ($12)  a month. I was also thinking about taking up yoga.

11. SLEEP!!! Sometimes this is easier said than done. Especially when you’re not feeling well. But try and get as much sleep as possible. I am trying these Sleep patch-it things that you adhere to the bottom of your feet. And I don’t know if it’s acting like a placebo or actually really calming me but I have noticed that I have been sleeping more soundly. And when I wake up I’m more refreshed. Again, I’m not too sure about this one. But, like I said, I will try anything!

sleep, patch-it

12. Omega 3’s are another source of help for your IBS. I haven’t taken any as of yet but will let you know if I do.

Other tidbits:

  • If you are on antibiotics you must, must, must take probiotics.  Optibac have a good one that’s called ‘For those on antibiotics.’  A couple of years ago I suffered from a kidney infection which the doctors failed to see. They chucked me out and said it was probably a flu bug that was going around. But when I couldn’t even keep water down, I knew I had to rush to the A&E who told me that I had to stay for two days in the hospital. Because of that they started me on antibiotics. And throughout the 2 years that would follow antibiotics were coming and going through my system. The last dose I took was this February and I got hit with this whole IBS thing in May.
  • Eat healthy foods. Stay away from sugars and complex carbs.
  • Stop with all the alcohol.
  • Stop caffeine.
  • Listen to your body, because you know it the best! If the doctors are insisting that it’s a bug, be adamant that it’s not. You know how your body feels when you have the flu and tummy bugs. Insist that the doctors run blood and stool tests to eliminate things like Celiac and Crohn’s disease, Inflammatory bowels, Parasite or any other anomalies.

Phew! This was a long post wasn’t it! I was desperate to write this because I know that there are others out there pulling out their hair in despair dealing with IBS. It isn’t a fun thing to go through and I just wanted to let you know that you aren’t alone.

These herbal supplements won’t fix IBS overnight. You will have to be patient and strict. I know that I have probably another 6 months of all this stuff. But if I’m feeling better even in this short amount of time then I at least have hope for the future. And that is a big thing to have, for which I’m truly grateful for.

Here are some links that I was looking at through my researching frenzy.

Dr. Hyman

Dr. Axe

Help for IBS

How to treat IBS naturally – Super Naturally Healthy blog

At last a home remedy for IBS that gives proven results

Lastly, please consult a specialist on which herbal pills you should take along with the dosages. If I had to choose just 3 things to help my IBS, it would be the probiotics, L-Glutamine and Olive leaf extract, along with the Low-FODMAP diet.

Let me know if any of you are finding luck with any of these or if you’ve found something else that might be helpful.

❤ ❤ ❤

On a slightly different tangent, I just wanted to give a shout-out to my local  pharmacy Panacea Health & Beauty, because if it wasn’t for those lovely ladies I don’t know where I’d be right now. One of the ladies, started me on symprove probiotics and I thought she was an angel sent down from heaven just for me. I later went back and wrote down everything that I was going to take and another lady told me what else I should get because she too also suffered from IBS and was able to cure it through these natural remedies. I can’t stress this enough, that pharmacy and especially the ladies who were so wonderful and extremely knowledgeable helped me tremendously.

Best pharmacy ever

 

When Your Love Affair With Food Has Come To An End…

IMG_4137

‘Food glorious foooooood!’…. is what I want to sing from the top of my lungs whenever I discuss such a scrumptious topic. I’m not going to lie, I love food. It brings you together with friends, you feel the love that was made with it while sitting around the dinner table with family, and let’s not forget the feelings of euphoria that run wild after you’ve finally satiated your haaanger. I mean, what’s not to love about food! Well, after so many years of having the best love affair of my life, it would seem it has come to an end. At least for the time being. My lover, has betrayed me, and my stomach and gut are now paying the price.

Yesterday was a very lazy Sunday for me and I decided to watch the movie “Chocolat”. However, it wasn’t the best of choices with what I’m going through. While watching it I started drooling at all the mouth-watering deliciousness that was on display. You see my fluffy pandas I was torturing myself. It was a cruel and unusual way to go but I did it nonetheless. I sat there wishing I could have every magical morsel that presented itself on my screen. The funny thing is, I’m not a sweets person. Savoury is my thing. Like lasagna, pesto sauce with penne pasta, Greek dips, roast chicken with all the trimmings, pizza, a Patty & Bun Chicken Burger,  Chilli cheese fries, warm fat pretzels, this Rosemary & potato sourdough bread from Gail’s. I mean I could carry on but I will spare you. Anyway, while watching the movie I seemed to be serenading the TV forcefully, almost as if I were pleading with a long lost ex to take me back. And then I screeched “Why have you cursed me?!” towards the heavens. “WHYYYYYYYY?!!” As I looked back at my screen it was just in time to see Dame Judi Dench seductively sip the silky thick  hot chocolate. Her expression after that was of pure euphoria. The kind you would get after a great orgasm. (Yeah, I went there). There she was, stupid Judi and her stupid happy expression. All I could do was yell “CURSE YOU BAD JOO JOOS! Curse….. you!”  as I raised my fists in the air.

Ok..ok….my melodrama is over. I swear. Oh one last thing… I also watched Julie & Julia. I know, I know! Food movies back to back.

You see, as some of you know, for the past 10 weeks I have not been feeling well. The doctors ran tests and nothing really came up. They said that it could be IBS but they didn’t want to say for sure. The first 4 weeks were the most miserable of my life. I had to take an Uber to and from work just so I wouldn’t have an anxiety attack in an underground tin-can as I shit on myself profusely. There were days where my internal pep talks consisted of… “You can do this. You will not shit your pants. You own your poop, not the other way round! Just go out the front door. Good. Now walk down the stairs. You’re doing it. You see, everything will be fine. Start walking to the bus. You got this Ali! You are one tough cookie. You…. oh shit. RUN! RUN BACK HOME! RUN FOR YOUR FUCKING LIFE! CLENCH CLENCH CLENCH!” And then I would slam the door to my apartment, start sobbing and ultimately feel really sorry for myself. This was the cycle. My life… for weeks.

The doctors were not that helpful. They said most of the time they don’t usually refer patients unless the symptoms persist for at least 6 months. A big HELL NO to that one. The only suggestion that they made was for me to go on a Low-FODMAP diet for the next two weeks. And with a shitty little leaflet, that didn’t explain what I should or shouldn’t eat, I left. My heart grew heavy and I decided after my umpteenth visit to the docs to walk into this posh pharmacy and plead with them to give me a miracle. And guess what? They actually did! Their suggestion was a probiotic liquid called Symprove. Within 2 days I felt almost back to normal. At the same time however, I did switch to the Low-FODMAP diet. So both have helped tremendously. But I really think the Symprove was the key. There was one slip up with a spelt grain pasta (which I thought I could have) and had to call in sick the next day. But apart from that I have been feeling at 90%. Which is a drastic improvement. But alas, even despite my positive outcome, with every passing day I start to loath food at little bit more. And that’s because of the diet I’ve been put on.

Here’s what I can have….

fodmap-diet-food-list_414929

Unfortunately, I had to say ‘see ya later’ to my two favourite ingredients, garlic and onions. How the hell does one cook without these two things?! My breads and pastas, unless they were gluten-free, were out of the question. Avocados and asparagus which I both adore, I can’t have. The list above says I can have 1/4 avocado but others say I shouldn’t. Hence, I leave it out. So, I was stuck with rice and rice cakes. Who the hell likes rice cakes by the way? It’s what I imagine eating cardboard would taste like. Every time I eat one I have to lather it with almond butter but, guess what?! N0w I can’t lather. Therefore, I’m officially screwed. Luckily I can eat plain meat, fish, and chicken so that’s something I guess.

All in all this diet has forced me to rethink how I eat. It’s forced me to look at my meals with a shoulder shrug of whatever. I have no desire anymore when I sit down to eat and that’s the part that’s killing me. I used to love going home after work and making something fun. But the thing that has nudge the dagger in a little deeper is the fact that I can’t bake anymore. I will have to work with Rice/corn flour and buy gluten free baking soda. I mean, woe is me right?!

Don’t worry, I’m not that depressed. But I am disappointed. When it comes to my health I take things very seriously therefore I’m following the Low-Fodmap diet to a tee! I know how important your health is and to always make sure it comes first. But in the process I have lost my love. And my love, has ripped open my heart and filled it with emptiness. I’m onto my third week now and food has never looked so dissatisfying. Yet, I know that I must grin and bear it. I’m not listening to the doctors suggestion of two weeks because everyone else is saying I have to be on this for at least a couple of months. And I like to be thorough. However the thing that’s really driving me? Is not repeating the shits any time soon. I will soldier on even though my permanent expression nowadays is the stank face of misery. I will endure, I will conquer! I sound like I’m going to war don’t I?! Lord I’ve got mental issues. By the way I would like to add that I would prefer coddling myself with two bottles of wine. But you guessed it…. I CAN’T!! Wooooooossssaaaaaahhhhh!

And so with all that being said…. my love affair has ended. The comfort has gone. The desire and passion has disintegrated. And slowly its embrace will be a very distant memory.

This was my ode, my lament to food. Oh how I’ll miss you. You never judged me. You were a soothing reassurance that everything was going to be alright.

Oh woe is me….

❤ ❤ ❤

PS- I will do a dedicated post on the Low-FODMAP diet along with two great books you should buy. Don’t worry, I won’t be complaining in that one! 🙂

The Sobering Act of Taking Pictures of Yourself in Your Underwear…

Overweight-girl-looking-at-underweight-reflection

No… Just to be clear, I wasn’t starting out in an overweight fetish industry. Nor was I trying to seduce a potential suitor. I am not interested in men for the foreseeable future and I’m not in the right country for people to appreciate a good curvy, round, plumpy woman. Unfortunately, I took photos of myself in my underwear because some loser decided that you have to possess “before” images  in order for  you to commit to a healthy fitness lifestyle. A lifestyle that you’ve been dreading to start for the last 4 weeks. Boy, I sure would like to meet the moron who came up with this idea.

Can I just say stripping down to barely nothing was a torturous affair. I mean to be completely honest, I never see myself nake. No it’s true! I hate the way I look. Nor do I weigh myself for that matter anymore. I shunned these acts. Defied even the thought of them. However, I do think it’s mainly because I become slightly obsessive with these things. If I weighed myself, I would probably end up doing it every morning. Which I’ve done in the past and let me just say that it was definitely not healthy for me, mentally. But despite all that, recently, I have acknowledged that something’s got to give. I need to start making life-changing decisions that will benefit me in the future. Plus I’m tired of people looking at me in a certain way. You know half pitying, half ‘awww she would be so pretty if she lost weight’. I’ve even had a man say that he wouldn’t be with me because of my weight. Which of course added to my insecurities. I almost melted into a black hole that day. However, let’s be clear of one thing. I do NOT want to change because others say so. I want to change because it will better my life. I already feel tired all the time. Walking up stairs is a pain in my ass, and I officially can’t see my hooo-ha anymore. Yeah I said it! Anyway, my goal is to be a sexy, curvy, healthy woman. I am not losing weight to be a skinny stick with no ass. Curves in all the right places for me please.

I’m already 32 by the way. Fuck knows where the years have gone. I swear it was just yesterday that I remembered being 30kg lighter and still complaining that I was too fat. First world problems, I know. Simply ridiculous. But now I have a serious problem and this dump truck of a body must be eliminated from my frame.

Let me tell ya something my precious pandas. If you are not prepared to take photos, or if your brain has concocted an alternate image of yourself in your head, then this will shock you back down to reality. You can sort of cover up, hide, and/or adjust your silhouette under clothes. Especially if it’s winter! But there’s nowhere your fat can go once the absence of material has been lifted. It’s slightly soul crushing to say the least. And just when you’ve sort of come to terms with how you look like from the front and side, you turn around (back facing the mirror) and that’s when you lose all hope. Obviously you check your reflection from time to time to see how your outfits look, therefore you know generally what to expect once the clothes come off. But the back of you? Umm….No. That was the harshest of realities that I had to face. The ripples of my cheeks melting into the back of my thighs was a cruel punishment to bear witness to. I really couldn’t help thinking that I resembled….

41wpBoQexXL

Looking at Mr. Marshmallow man (from Ghostbuster) felt like I was seeing my reflection for real. Or at least that’s what I felt like at the time. Gosh, it’s so easy to put yourself down isn’t it? When I looked back at the photos that I took that day, my soul sank. My motivation sank. The wall that I had to climb got bigger because now I saw all the damage that I did to my body. I saw every flaw, fat and lump that needed to be worked upon. So I suppose, excluding the initial reaction, it was a good motivational kick up my ass. I now look at those pictures and then look at photos of myself at a much thinner size. It not only makes me realise how much I’ve gained but pumps me up to lose it all again. Every day I look at my ripply backside and reassure myself that I will never be like this again. That I will work my heart and soul to the point of exhaustion, in order for me to become healthy again.

All in all, if you guys are trying to lose weight and are brave enough to take a photo of yourselves just as you start on your journey, it most definitely will give you the push that you’re looking for. But brace yourselves, there is a reason why all those ‘before’ photos show nothing but miserable faces. My face was on the verge of tears. But after my meltdown, you know what I did? I brushed my saddened thoughts to one side and realised that this is the start of something great. That all I had to do to cheer myself up was to envision my ‘after’ photo with a huge smile on my face.

We all need motivation to start on a difficult adventure. But I really can’t wait for that accomplished feeling at the end of it all. So pandas, go on and take those ‘before’ photos. After the initial heart-attack to the image, you will receive a defibrillator to the chest in motivation. And remember, bettering yourself is a process. We will fail, learn lessons, succeed, fail again, cry, and succeed again. Just keep at it and know that it will take a whole lot of patience and a truck load of dedication.

❤ ❤ ❤

 

A Casualty of The War On Fat…

29279bd549315bcc418e70cd0ef0730c

On the 31st of August my pal (who I call Squishy) and I decided to combine forces of encouragement in the hopes of tackling the frustratingly difficult journey of losing weight. We figured the best way would be to motivate each other and share what foods we were eating throughout the day. You know like a keep-each-other-in-check kind of thing. She would be my Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and I would be her Jason Momoa. We would be motivators, terminators, hulkinators and whatever else kind of -ators we could think of.  After laying out the foundation of our ingenious plan, we decided that the best time to start this magical invigorating quest was on the first of September. Which of course was the next day.

As the first day of our amazing diet was upon us, we… wait, I suppose I should only refer to myself since I really have no clue what she was thinking about on that morning. However, I am pretty confident that on the first day, she would have felt similar to me. Either way, that morning I woke up feeling like I could conquer the world. I felt alive, with no doubts polluting the crevices of my brain. My buddy would totally agree. Plus give me a slight eye roll for over exaggerating my enthusiasm. I was pumped but let’s be honest, I was moderately pumped.

giphy

The first day went great and so did the second. We were literally killing it! Throughout this time we would snap a picture of each meal and send it over. That way we could secretly see the portion sizes and analyse if we were doing a good job. To be honest, I could sit here and tell you about every day. But I won’t, because that’s not why I’m writing this post and furthermore it would be a snooze-fest. So don’t you worry my cute little pandas, I wouldn’t put you through that agony. However I will state that today would have been the 16th day of our amazing detox, cleaning from the inside out, dieting extravaganza. Now, do you want to know how long we actually lasted for? We started on a Monday and the cards came crashing down on that Friday. You see what both of us failed to realise is that a) the weekends would be a huge challenge and b) it would seem that we were quietly lying to ourselves. I don’t mean we were lying about what we were doing. I mean our subconscious, was literally lying to us and making us think that us two idiots would ever come close in mimicking the awesome motivational powers of Johnson and Momoa. We were no match. Our brains were wired differently. And something inside them made us cheat, rebel and break all the rules. Why?! And where in Sweatsville did my motivation run off to?!!

simpsons(1)

Somewhere along the lines I became a casualty on the war of fat on my body. I stopped trying. I stopped motivating myself. And for the life of me, I can’t seem to get out of this funk. After work I would come home and attempt to put on my gym clothes so I could go for a run. But something drags me. It’s as if my legs were dredging through a vat of cement. Every evening I would go through this. And one tiny phrase would ricochet off my brain cells with a glimmer of hope attached to it…. “I will start tomorrow. I will conquer and be awesome tomorrow.” And with that tiny little itty-bitty bullshit I spewed to myself, I then would sit my fat ass down and watch TV like a big ol’ pumpkin until I’d get tired and fall asleep.

I truly don’t know what went wrong. I never used to be like this. But how do I just start something? I know that’s the most stupidest question alive but I think I ask it because secretly I know the long and hard road I would eventually be on once I start the journey. I know what I have to do but I don’t want to do it for months, years, or a lifetime. And therein lies my problem. What I have to get through my thick skull is that being healthy is a lifestyle choice. You can’t just go on diets and then eat like a fatty after it. You will eventually gain it all back. I need to realise that if I want a better me, then I need to make health and fitness my life. It’s really that simple.

My friend and I failed to realise that we were the worst motivators for one another. It’s laughable at how unmotivational we were. A few “good jobs” and a couple “well done’s” did not make for a healthy weight loss regime. We failed to understand that we should have been all Bruce Lee about this situation. Instead we acted like fluffy Care Bears. Our motto would have been ‘Loosing weight, one hug at a time…” We went from yapping everyday (for 2 days straight mind you) to not getting in contact with each other for over a week now. That says a lot doesn’t it…We were just too similar in this department.

I think I need to get a defibrillator on my chest ASAP so as I can jump start my flatlining motivation. I don’t see any other way. I know it’s all in my head. But to be perfectly honest, what do you do when you literally have no will power? You are screwed. Something has got to give though. Because when I really think about it, I don’t want to be another casualty statistic on some fit trainer’s board of ‘Don’ts’. I want to be a ‘Do’ gosh dang it! I want to be a DO!

heart gif

The Beautiful Chaos of A Panic Attack, Your Brain and Eventual Insanity

panic attack brain mental health

This might be a downer of a post today so I can only apologise for it coinciding with Friday celebrations. But unfortunately sometimes these things can’t be helped, however, it still needs to be told.

Yesterday I experienced what one would call a panic attack that was probably mixed with a breakdown of my mind, body and soul. If I were to try and explain what this would feel like, I think I would do a pretty terrible job. But I will try anyway. You see the beauty of one is that it might slightly alter every time. So your mind will convince you that you are having a heart attack, some rare disease and/or dying because you haven’t experienced these feelings before. You are a prisoner to your mind and if it says that you are dying, well then, you are dying. You will convince yourself that only rare un-treatable ailments are afflicting you. And because of your beautiful mind, it shall cause a stormy chaos that is so uncontrollable, you fear that this is the end of the line. Eventually your biggest fear will rear its ugly head… that you are finally going insane.

panic attack feeling

I felt faint at work and asked to leave early. I thought I was coming down with something normal, like a cold. But as I kept thinking about it, I couldn’t shake it. It’s flight or fight at its very core. All your senses are telling you that you must leave, run, fly, drive, whatever, just so you can escape. I called an uber because the thought of going underground felt like I would be depleting any energy that I had left to survive. So I stayed on the surface of the earth thinking that the open window and the breathing of semi-fresh city air as we whizzed along would soothe me. But instead, I focused on the way the driver was stopping and starting the car. It was a jerky ride to say the least and thus, the sudden urge of sickness was bubbling up inside of me. I was not only ready to kill this taxi man but also succumb to my own perilous death by jumping out of the vehicle and praying wholeheartedly that I would get hit by a bus. A bit dramatic isn’t it? Well that’s how your mind fucks with you. You are present in that moment, feeling everything, all senses heightened to infinity.

3d23e75a4502d8c4b0ec15cd7809f9d7

But of course these feelings did not go away. I managed to get home, take a shower and jump into bed. It was about 3:30pm and I was determined to fall asleep. But did my brain let me? No, no it did not.

Panic attacks

Now this is where things get completely out of control. As I lay there I got a sense of anxiety, like something was coming but I didn’t know what. My limbs felt heavy. It swayed from being numb to pins and needles, to finally me feeling like my whole body was going into paralysis. I felt like I was sucked under a mound of cement trying to fight my way out. Lethargy was in abundance, confusion soon followed and that’s when I was at the point of no return. I called the NHS (which is a free GP service here in the UK) and I begged them to see a Doctor. But all she (the receptionist) could offer was having the doctor call me for a phone consultation. I was in despair so I grab it with open arms. I then called my mom, who did not help my situation whatsoever. In fact, she made it worse. But finally the doctor called and that’s when I broke down. It’s like my mouth was clamped, jaw tightening commenced so much so that I thought I was going to break my back wisdom teeth. Breathing at this point, was none existent. All I kept saying, like a broken record, is that “I am freaking out!” So she asked me to come in.

With all my might I fought to get dressed. The yearning to see the Doctor outweighed the pain I was going through. I was like an amputated soldier still crawling around in the battlefield. And yet, somehow I managed to keep moving.

As I walked, alone, to what felt like a death sentence, I cried. The crying was never-ending. Tears were pouring out of me. They were making tracks on my face. I now know what Smokey Robinson meant by the way. No matter what I did, my eyes were a broken faucet that could not be fixed. The streets were filled with people and I did not care. They stared at me, a dishevelled resemblance of a human being, and yet I still did not care. My main goal was to get to the doctors office.

Finally I had arrived. As I waited, I continued to cry. There was a woman opposite me, looking as I cracked out a hundred tissues. If it were me, I don’t know what I would have thought if I saw someone acting like I did at the time. The doctor came down to get me and by the time we went to her room, having sat down in her chair for no more than a second, I sobbed even more violently than ever before. Breathing ceased to exist and my brain felt like it was about to explode. Talking was not even a remote option. There I was, unkempt, fucked up un-penciled eyebrows, pale makeup-less face, clothes that did not match, crying in front of a complete stranger. Bless her for being so calm in such a situation. She managed to check me out, reassuring me in the process, that nothing seemed out of the ordinary. You would think I would have been relieved. But I wasn’t. Because this meant that my brain had concocted all these symptoms all on its very own.

Just so you know. I have never been a person to cry in front of others. I have always opted not showing signs of weakness in public. In fact, I had always prided myself in being one tough cookie. Yet something in my brain had said enough is enough. Something snapped and malfunctioned. And now I have the fear that one day, my brain may go to the extreme of the anxiety spectrum. Thus resulting in a nice cosy cell with  four padded walls.

I don’t know why this happened. However, I do remember the first severe time it ever occurred. I was in Greece, miserable with my life, hating my very existence. I had experienced a prolonged version for three months. Yes, three months! I thought I was dying. I convinced myself I had cancer because I couldn’t see properly. Light affected me. I was experiencing a form of vertigo. The list was a very long, extensive one. All the specialists that I went to said that everything was fine. And all, had said it was stress related. I scoffed at this idea. Stress? Bullshit! But one day I decided to pack my bags and fly to Cyprus. That trip alone, was the most excruciating experience of my life. Yet I pushed through it. And do you know what happened forty-five minutes after landing? All my symptoms had vanished, without a trace. And just then, did I acknowledge that it was brought on by stress. I know why I went into a mental breakdown that time. But this time? Everything seemed fine. I’m in London. Working, paying all my bills. Seeing friends from time to time. What could I possible be so anxious about for me to have an attack? What is wrong about my life? It’s an okay life. People have it far, far, far worse and I remind myself of that every day. Yet here I was, thinking the world was sitting on top of me. That I was breathing for the world. That I was suffering for the world. That I was dying for the world. I mean who the fuck did I think I was! The modern day woman version of Jesus? 

The brain is a powerful organ, isn’t it? It has the capability of giving you hallucinations, depress the living shit out of you and make you think that you are dying. It is the grandmaster puppeteer, commanding a slave held by unbreakable strings. I can only bow in merciful pain when it decides to strike. It’s a sadistic bastard. Prolonging the agony as long as possible just for its own personal amusement. But through it all, I manage to at least try and stay strong. And I always repeat these words in the hopes that one day they will work within 2 seconds flat…

You are going to be fine. Breathe. You have gone through worse and you have always made it to the other side. You are not dying. You do not have an incurable disease. You got through the last one and you will get through this one. You…. will…. be… okay….

*If you suffer from panic/anxiety attacks, just know that you are not alone. Tell someone. Get to a doctor and talk about what you experienced. Here are some things that you might find useful.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Also Art therapy works wonders. It’s like an adult colouring book. And who wouldn’t want that. I just bought one…

And remember…

The Real Reason Why I Started Exercising… It’s most definitely not what you think.

Exercise The Lone Panda

Pandas, I will be the first one to tell you that I hate exercising. I loath it. I absolutely detest it. It is not my ideal scenario at the end of the day. It really isn’t. Either way despite all my protests, I have officially picked up running again. Yes, you read right. I have started running. But the real reason behind it might make you chuckle, or perhaps make you think that I’m totally crazy. Either way, I don’t really care. So BOOM in your face.

I was recently watching The Walking Dead and my mind started to wander. I don’t know if you guys do this but sometimes I put myself in the same predicament. I pretend that I’m there battling it out in whatever scenario, kicking ass and taking names. Anyway, as I was watching I thought, shit, what if some major disaster actually befell my world? I’m not just talking about zombies guys! Even though it could totally happen. No, I’m talking about natural and man-made disasters as well. What would I do? How would I cope? And that’s when I realised that my ass would be the first one to bite the bullet. I would be that slow hoe in the beginning of the story that let’s the viewers in on just a taste of what mayhem could ensue for the rest of the movie. The viewers would label me the idiot that ran up the stairs instead of going for the front door and bulldozing the bad guy over in the process. I didn’t want to be the prelude. I wanted to be leading lady.

Think about it! What if there was a Zombie apocalypse? How could my pudgy self ever outrun or out manoeuvre anything. So one day, I woke up and decided that I did not want to be that girl that dies early in the disaster film of life. Therefore, I started running. I wanted to train in case an actual catastrophic event were to rear its ugly head. I wanted to be that badass chick. You know, like Michelle Rodriguez but on steroids. That way I would totally be able to kick ass!

Okay, sure, I really needed to start exercising because I had become chunky. I had let myself go. It’s not a nice feeling at the end of the day. Unfortunately for me, the pang in my heart was stronger due to the fact that I used to be a lot thinner. Sometimes I would walk past a shop window and glance at my reflection for only a millisecond. And pandas, I truly wanted to gouge out my eyeballs. It really got to me. But like I’ve said, I hate exercising. So how on earth would I every get myself motivated? And that’s when I thought… shit, I’m going to do it for the terminator chick inside of me. I’m going to get fit and I will slay those zombies dead in their tracks. No one is going to take a bite out of me and live to tell the tale.

I know, you already think I’m crazy. Well, I guess I can be that quirky friend that you know, who obviously has a screw loose but entertains you nonetheless. Either way all I’m trying to say is, that if the general motivational tactics aren’t helping you with you goals, then start thinking outside the box. It has definitely helped me. And besides, I like running. It’s freeing and cheap! So if I have to train for the zombie apocalypse to get me motivated then that’s what I’m gonna do!

❤ Peace, Love and Train Like you’re gonna kill some Zombies. Yeeeeehaaaawwww!

Running zombie apocalypse