Ballet 101

Exercise Monday: Ballet 101

Hello People!

A few weeks ago I admitted to changing my normal vigorous interval training routines to ballet due to the effects it has on the body aesthetically.  I want that long muscle definition that ballet workouts can give as opposed to the short, almost stocky, puffed muscle definition others workouts develop muscularly.  At least, that was what I was starting to see develop on me and I want to look more Ginger Rogers than Zuzana Light.images  To each his/her own, of course!

Muscle definition is great, and however one gets it is A+.  However, I also don’t like the pounding and high impact nature typical modern interval training workouts are.  Dance is much more fluid and stretches the body.  It is also an interval training type of workout, but not as jarring to the joints and bones. This is good for middle aged people like myself.  As I ageimages my muscles are getting tighter and tighter.  Lengthening and stretching as well and building muscle is definitely the way I want to go.  Ballet isn’t Yoga though; not in the slightest.  It is physically hard work and makes me break out in a sweat every much as other workouts, depending on how vigorous the dance routine I do and how long the routine is.

Usually, 1. I start out with some gentle warm-up dance;  2. then a full body stretch routine;  3. then some barre work which builds muscle definition and trains the body to hold itself in a “turn-out” position;  4.  then some floor work (a simple dance routine, this is the cardio part);  5. then some abs and/or legs-butt toning;  6. then a final yoga stretch.  I have made private playlists on Unknown-2YouTube for me to do and I have been doing this for 5 weeks successfully.  Since I started ballet at a young age (age 4), my body is better at acclimating to these types of workouts than someone who has never done them.  However, that doesn’t mean one can’t do them if not done before.  It will just take more time to become coordinated and understand how the body must move in ballet in order to fully do the workouts with ease.

Here I will share with you a good beginner workout if you are interested in trying it out. The instructor is so articulate and all of her dancers are adults, some better than others.  I would suggest watching the video first, then trying to do the exercises.  I use this as my beginning stretch, barre work and floor routine part of my workout. Don’t worry if you don’t have a proper barre, just use the top edge of a chair that you can swap back and forth to change sides.  This video is in two parts as well.  The first part is a Beginner Workout (called Level One), then halfway through the class begins again with a similar routine but it is more of an Intermediate Workout (called Level Two).  I choose one or the other on different days. Try it!

Food for a Day (1)

Foodie Friday: Food for a Day – Version 1

Hello People!

An now for something completely different…Here is a birds-eye view of a day of meals I randomly filmed a few weeks back (no really, it was random; although I will admit that I did eat rather well that day).

I made a little video for you about it so here goes:

My Battle with Anxiety/Depression – Part 3

Special Edition Post: My Battle with Anxiety & Depression / What Now?

Hello People!

Back with a final installment of this broody topic.  Sorry, it must be said.  Everyone has a story to tell and this one is mine.

So, I’ve come to the conclusion that anxiety and depression will be lifelong friends of mine, and that is just a fact.  I will never be “rid” of them but I can learn to deal with them in constructive ways and also not set myself up for them when I feel the tendency for them to strike.  That is the one good thing about them, I can usually gage when they will attack.  Once in a great while they come out of the blue, but there are coping strategies for those as well.  (PSSSST!!!…Exercise is a GREAT way to help alleviate symptoms of depression and work out anxiety).

One of the amazing tools I found during my worst years of struggle was Lucinda Bassett’s program: “Attacking Anxiety and Depression”.  I bought it back in the days before DVD’s and CD’s.  So they are all on cassette tapes and videos!  I have a stash of flash cards and various other paraphernalia to help me deal when life gets really bad.  Bar none, this was one of the best things I ever bought for myself.  My Dad actually discovered her on a T.V. program and told me about her mission and company.  What a blessing!

I am also a Christian, and a strong believer at that.  I believe in a Creator and that I am in His ultimate hands.  This is a taboo subject in the Christian community because it is generally thought that if you do really believe, one should not suffer from a mental illness.  Unfortunately, I know of someone who killed herself this past summer because of this ridiculous bias.  She was too embarrassed to seek treatment because she didn’t want anyone to know she suffered. Believing for me has been the number one reason I have felt a need to keep going and to find a purpose in life.  God put me here for a reason, and when He is done with me, He will be the one to take me – NOT me.

Another coping mechanism for me has been discovering and using a tool I call “The Secret.”  You may have heard of the movie and the books created and put together by Rhonda Byrne, an Australian lady (She didn’t invent the idea, but put it into words like never before).  This has been one of the biggest givers of hope to me.  It has helped me learn to dream, and dream BIG!  I am so in love with the concepts of visualization, envisioning your future, planning for success and expecting to meet the right people and opportunities.  It has done wonders for me.  I even use it on parking spaces and buying shoes!!! One may think it conflicts with Christianity, and I can see how it could become a “religion” of sorts, but I use it as though it is a law of nature that God created.  It is part of Christianity, I can see it all through the Bible: “Believe and you shall receive!” It is a philosophy, a fact of universal principles like gravity and motion.  I urge everyone to seek out “The Secret” and start living a life you only thought happened to lucky people.

And let’s finally address the losing weight part of all this.  Food is a great comfort for me!  I know you can relate.  I seem to have been blessed with special taste buds and a raging hunger to go with it.  Damn!  Losing weight is hard because I can’t use it a pacifier any longer.  I must place my joy in other things when I want to eat, though not really hungry.  Discovering when I am truly physically hungry and/or just emotionally hungry has been difficult (that line gets blurred when you do it for years on end).  Resisting treats, sweets, and sugary drinks is my Achilles Heel!  But, being fat has made my depression worse because it is a large defense against meeting and connecting to other people.  It keeps me “safe” from harm and pain that other’s could inflict on me.  Letting go of this defense is scary and a daily battle.  But I am ready to begin a new life.  I am 21 again, and I am ready to dream of my future and plan my marriage and live my life the way I have always hoped it could be.

My Battle with Anxiety/Depression – Part 2

Special Edition Post: My Battle with Anxiety & Depression / 20 Years of In Between

Hello People!

This is my second post on this not-so-glamorous topic.  However, I feel that if it can help one person, it may be worth writing about.  Sorry if it is not your cup of tea.  I understand, though.  This is a blog about weight loss and finding the core of why one uses food as a pacifier is crucial to fixing the problem.   It is my journey.

When I was around the age of 21 I experienced a series of devastating tragedies.  About 4 total (different from each other and not related) and some smaller ones as a consequence to those.  I won’t go into detail about what exactly happened, but I want you to know that I did not want to live due to these unfortunate happenstances.  It’s too bad it happened so early in life for me; your 20’s are usually spent getting started in life and dreaming of the future.  They set up a mind-set that life is horrible and no one will ever love me the way I want/need them too.  This is key: what you think – you become.

Add this to my already existing problems with panic attacks and depression; this was a perfect storm for a mental breakdown.  It never got so dramatic that I needed to be hospitalized, but I needed outside help just to do daily functions.  This is when I sought psychological treatments and also physical treatment due to one of the tragedies that happened.  Nothing was working or helping.  I felt as though I was spinning my wheels.  Now some people in this type of situation would act out and rebel.  They would take drugs (one sister of mine did this), alcohol, become sexually promiscuous, hang with the wrong crowds, party all night, etc.  I did the opposite.  I cornered myself off into a dark room for years on end (I still have a tendency to do this).  While others were laughing, dating, starting families and marriages, I was crying and self-pitying alone.  Most of my friends abandoned me (so I felt, and in some ways they really did).  It was an awful time and when I look back upon my 20’s, I am glad it is behind me.  Age has given me room to breathe.

Naturally, as I have said many times before, I have a healthy appetite.  I am also heavy in the estrogen department, so I have large hips, thighs and rear end.  Food was my one bright light.  I learned and experimented with cooking during this time.  It was fun and it gave me joy.  I also started my, now, way too large collection of cookbooks (I will never stop!) There was also a stint working in the food industry and learning how to run a restaurant and perhaps go to cooking school.  It gave me purpose and a reason for getting up in the morning.  I never got too fat, always hovered around 15 pounds over-weight, but it was a time of yo-yo dieting and indulging/binge eating that set up some bad habits.  What a mess!

When I turned 30, I started to let go of some of those old pains.  One can’t just be sad and angry for so long.  It takes up way too much energy.  Some people can hold out for longer, sometimes even a lifetime, but bitterness was not what I wanted to feel for the rest of my life.  Food gave me something to be happy about, and I wanted to feel that way more and more.  Although I had found a new purpose, my panic attacks were bigger and more frequent than ever.  It seems as though they were a mechanism for protecting me from experiencing anything like I had before.  They were the warning beacon.  The neon sign that said “STAY AWAY!” and/or “PROTECT YOURSELF!” Around age 32 I looked into getting treatment for this and then began the pill/therapy cycle that I told you in the last post, had given up recently.

Continued in Part 3…

My Battle with Anxiety/Depression – Part 1

Special Edition Post: My Battle with Anxiety & Depression / Diagnosis and Treatments – Part 1

Hello People!

I don’t normally post on Tuesdays, but it has been a long while since I posted the last log saying that I was back and that I am able to be a regular blogger again…FAIL!  Well, I wanted to include this special edition post because I think it is the crux of all that ails me and the reason I struggle so hard with the task of becoming a normal weight.  I want to make this a 3 part post, so today will be the start of it and it will end on Thursday of this week.  Feel free to read the other two installments if this topic rings a bell with you.  I know I am not alone in this struggle, and we all have our “crosses to bear,” so to speak, but this is my experience and I want to be completely honest with you.  It is also a load that needs to be taken off of my back and writing about it may help me do that.

Some people understand depression because they live with it every day of their life in a hideous way.  Others come in and out of it whether they experience it themselves or know someone who has it.  Then there are those who don’t have any idea what it is and how it can effect a life in ways that rob a soul of living out it’s full potential.

To be completely truthful, I have Anxiety with Depression in that order.  Most of my life (starting around age 8) I have struggled with panic attacks and random freakouts where I feel as though I will die.  I know that my Grandmother had these as well and my Father also suffered from terrible stress which caused him to drink quite a bit.  My youngest sister has mental health issues too and must take medication to manage her chronic swings in mood.  So, it is a biological disorder.  But it is also a learned behavior or rather something the body does to protect itself from fear and the unknown.  It is VERY hard to stop a panic attack once it begins.  I won’t go into the details of how it makes me feel, but imagine you are in a plane at 35,000 feet and the pilot has just told you the engines have stopped working – that’s the sensation in a nutshell.

The depression part is the dark to soft grey cloud that hangs around during the periods between panic attacks.  Yes, I have sought treatment from many sources.  I don’t like psychological therapy for me because I felt it was not getting me anywhere.  The councilors I had were not helpful and I felt they were uninterested in my issues.  I am not knocking therapy, it can be awesome if you can find the right fit.  Out of the 5 or so I went through, none of them, except for one, was useful.  I get more out of journaling, reading self-help books and talking to my mom or sisters about my issues.  If you suffer from this combo, I would highly suggest you seek out Lucinda Bassett and find her Cognitive Behavioral program that you can do on your own.  It didn’t cure me, but it gave me valuable tools to cope.

I was on medication for about 9 years.  They ranged from all sorts of brands.  I am a singer, so dry mouth and/or forgetfulness is not something I can tolerate. These are common side effects for these types of drugs.  So I finally ended up with Xanax and Wellbutrin as my pill cocktail.  Xanax, as you may well know, is highly addictive, so I was overly cautious with that.  A friend’s sister was addicted to it so badly that she “fell asleep” on her couch and did not wake up in time to rescue her baby from a fire that started in the baby’s bedroom.  He perished, and she has to live with that horror for the rest of her life.  I was told to take Xanax twice a day, but I could not function on it, so I nixed it altogether.  I have a large stash of Xanax in a drawer if I need it, but I try to never use it.  My body does not like it and it takes a few days for even one pill to leave my system (it’s a small dosage).  Feeling lethargic and listless is not the life I want.  Unfortunately, I got a psychiatrist that is only a pill pusher.  Thank God I have the where-with-all to know better.  Wellbutrin, on the other hand, is not as deadly or as energy destroying, but it does cause your body to stop producing it’s own serotonin.  I was given mixed messages about how long to be on it, but recently I stopped due to the fact that I don’t want to be taking pills for the rest of my life when there are other holistic ways of dealing with depression.

Now don’t get me wrong, some people need to take medication for life due to their diagnosis or severity of mental disorder. My diagnosis was mild (which doesn’t mean it wasn’t bad or painful), so going off of these medications was a minimal risk.  I am not convinced in the slightest that they helped me at all with my issues.  If anything, they just masked them and, funny enough, I still had panic attacks while under the influence of Xanax on several occasions.

Continued in Part 2….