Exercise: I Hate it, But it Feels Good

Like many others, my new year’s resolution is to increase my fitness. So far so good, but damn I hate working out. I’ve never liked it but remind myself that I’m not a naturally thin person who can eat whatever I want. If I eat a slice of bread, I’m bloated for at least 48 hours.

As I put my workout clothes on, I pace around my apartment to gather my thoughts or listen to a hype song for motivation. I talk to myself out loud saying, “Get it done!” or “You always feel good after it’s over, so do it.” Every now and then I’ll let out a growl then proceed to laugh at myself because it sounds like a kitten trying to meow for the first time.

The problem is, I have to start the motion. Even if I’m not mentally ready, once I press play to start the warmup and my body begins to move, I gain motivation. Eventually, my mind catches up with my body and I’m dripping with sweat with the urge to workout longer. Despite never wanting to workout, I ALWAYS feel amazing afterward. Bad cravings prior to my workout transform into craving a smoothie. Funny how that works.

I personally enjoy cardio, but my body reacts better to HIIT routines. I’m currently doing Les Mills workouts mixed with P90x for strength training. Choose routines you enjoy so the workout doesn’t seem tedious.

I guess I’m writing this to say hey, it’s hard. Getting in shape isn’t easy, but it’s doable. Hang in there if you’re on a fitness journey. Six months from now, you’ll look back and be glad you didn’t quit.


Release Yourself from Expectations

The way we perceive the world is, in part, based upon our expectations. As we get older, we gain life experience and tend to expect certain behaviors, good or bad, from society.

I’ve learned through jobs, friendships, and intimate relationships that I cannot go into them bracing for impact or filled with excitement. I have to go in with zero expectations.

As I was researching essential oils and mental clarity, I discovered the term “shoshin.”

There is a concept in Zen Buddhism known as shoshin, which means “beginner’s mind.” Shoshin refers to the idea of letting go of your preconceptions and having an attitude of openness when studying a subject. When you are a true beginner, your mind is empty and open.

This is possibly one of the most important concepts to live by!

I constantly tell myself to go into every setting with an empty cup. If I go into a situation with a full cup, I won’t be present. I would have already walked in with a preconceived idea of what’s going to happen, how I’m going to react, and how things will end. My expectations would mentally prepare me to get rejected, not be heard, and to not get excited. Yes, this can be viewed as self-sabotage, but when you have these experiences multiple times, you brace for impact. There have been times when I’ve built positive expectations and thought of all of the wonderful possibilities only to have it get shot down because I was anticipating a better outcome.

With shoshin, you live your life with an openness which causes less anxiety. Whether you’re going on a date, you want a particular job, or something else you have a yen for, toss it into the universe and go with the flow. Conceive positive thoughts, but don’t fill your mind with the good or bad that may or may not happen. If it’s meant for you and you put the work in, it will come.

Keep your mind open, expect nothing, look for the good in each situation, but most importantly, keep your life moving.

depression and chronic pain

How to Help People Overcome Chronic Pain And Suicidal Thoughts

Chronic pain and suicidal thoughts are more common than many realize. Chronic pain sufferers describe a sense of feeling completely hopeless due to agonizing pain. Individuals with chronic pain often can’t perform daily routines. Shifting to a limited lifestyle due to pain can cause depression and suicidal thoughts.

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, also known as RSD, is a debilitating nerve disorder affecting millions of people in the United States. Neuro-autoimmune disease is also known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). RSD/CRPS is often referred to as the “suicide disease” due to the high percentage of deaths associated with its symptoms. RSD is a progressive neurological condition that can disturb all extremities of the body. It starts in one area but is likely to travel throughout the body during its progression.

RSD/CRPS causes so much pain that patients are at a higher risk of taking their life. RSD/CRPS remains grossly undertreated in most patients. There is a lack of knowledge among both health professionals and consumers and many patients have a fear of becoming addicted to opioid treatments. This causes many to go undiagnosed or not get the proper treatment needed.

Depression, Chronic Pain, and Suicidal Thoughts

Researchers found that a group of neurons responsible for negative emotions became heightened within days after an injury. This triggered a drop in dopamine, a neurotransmitter. Depression can make chronic pain worse and vice versa. The pain can become so severe that people may believe suicide is the only way it can stop.

Signs of Suicidal Thoughts

  • Increased alcohol, smoking or drug consumption
  • Openly threatening suicide
  • Experiencing mental or emotional problems
  • Lack of sleep
  • Explosive mood swings or anger
  • Isolation
  • Extremely depressive mood
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Self-loathing
  • Increased risky behaviors
  • Unexpectedly getting affairs in order
  • Changes in personality
  • Severe anxiety and agitation

The Do’s to Help People with Chronic Pain and Suicidal Thoughts

  • Take them seriously. Suicidal thoughts are a cry for help. Take it as such.
  • Let them know you care about them and would be devastated to lose them.
  • Allow them to vent and listen to their pain.
  • Be patient with them.
  • Communicate with them frequently to check-in.
  • Assist them in finding an expert for treating their chronic pain.
  • Assist with finding a mental health expert.
  • Support them during the treatment.
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

The Don’ts for Helping People with Chronic Pain and Suicidal Thoughts

  • Don’t leave them alone. Detoxify the area of the means if possible.
  • Don’t argue with them.
  • Don’t dismiss their suicidal thoughts as a joke.
  • Don’t criticize them.
  • Don’t talk about negative news or death while in their presence.
  • Don’t ignore them.
  • Don’t gossip about their situation.

Treatment for RSD/CRPS

  • Topical Pain Relievers and Topical Analgesics
  • Antidepressants and Anticonvulsants
  • Corticosteroid
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
  • Sympathetic nerve-blocking medications
  • Intravenous Ketamine
  • Physical Therapy
  • Biofeedback Therapy and Spinal Cord Stimulation Therapy

If you have suicidal thoughts, please do not suffer in silence. Seek help from a close friend, relative or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You are not alone in this fight.

Five-Minute Breathing Meditation Tips and Benefits

If you’ve always been interested in meditation but can’t find the time, these five-minute breathing meditation tips are perfect for your busy life. It is best to meditate for 20-60 minutes, but you can experience focus and relaxation in just five minutes.

You may be thinking, “Five minutes? That’s not even worth doing.” It is better to do a five-minute breathing meditation segment than nothing at all. You’ll feel the difference. The busier you feel in life, the more you should meditate. Whether you realize it or not, you could be mentally stressed without actually feeling it.

Taking a break from your daily task and incorporating five-minute breathing meditation can help improve your concentration. If you have a busy mind or can get easily distracted, calming your mind may be difficult, but it is possible. Try to pick a single motivating topic to meditate about. Quiet your surroundings and focus on that thought. You’ll have to learn how to catch your mind when it drifts off to another distractor and pulling it back. If you need a sound to focus on while meditating, listen to rainfall, ocean waves or nature sounds.

Those who practice five-minute breathing meditation have also experienced increased memory. While meditating, you calm your mind and can think of or recall anything you choose. With improved concentration, you’ll be able to communicate with people more effectively because you’ll be able to articulate a clear concise thought. In turn, you’ll be able to retain more information. Although Buddhist monks are known to meditate for hours, their improved memory over time helped them learn full texts and recite it later.

Five-minute breathing meditation can also reduce stress and increase happiness. Life can be stressful, but stopping everything you’re doing for just five minutes can calm the mind. Believe it or not, effective breathing meditation can help reduce any pain you may feel caused by stress. Meditation acts as a distractor and takes your mind off of stressful events. With practice and patience, you can achieve relaxation and forget the troubles of your day.

Natural Energy Boosters to Beat Exhaustion

Most of us are overworked and exhausted all the time. Either we don’t get enough sleep or still feel tired after eight hours. We are surrounded by energy zappers. Whether they are visible, hidden or randomly smacking us in the face, it can put a strain on our lives.  Since we are programmed to “go, go, go,” chugging coffee or sugar-packed energy drinks may be your first choice, but there are several natural energy boosters.

Stand Up
Many of us work at a desk and find ourselves sitting for hours in front of a computer screen. We often eat our lunch at our desk and only get up to use the restroom or attend a meeting. You’re probably feeling tired right now. Perk up by standing at your desk. Simply standing can reduce stress and fatigue. Standing has also been proven to boost productivity levels. Of course, you don’t have to stand for the full eight-hour shift. Standing for 20 minutes can increase blood flow and allow you to stretch your muscles.

Take a Walk
When feeling exhausted, your first thought may be to take a nap. Instead, take a walk. Even if you can only step away for five minutes, simply walking to the water cooler or walking to a restroom further down the hall is beneficial. So step away for a minute even if it is to go nowhere.

Increase Your B12 Intake
If you’re B12 deficient, one of the first signs is fatigue. B12 is a complex vitamin that cannot be stored in the body. You need to either take a supplement or eat B12 rich foods on a daily basis. B12 helps keep your thyroid functioning and your red blood cells healthy.

Stay Hydrated
Water is a no-brainer. Instead of drinking tons of coffee, try plain water or add a few squeezes of lemon for flavor. Green tea is a great alternative. Many fruits and vegetables also contain water. If you aren’t sure about the amount of water you should drink a day, divide your body weight by two. That is the number of ounces you should drink per day.

Make Your Own Energy Drink
There are a lot of energy drinks on the market, but many of them are packed with sugar and other unnatural ingredients. Try one of these simple electrolyte-packed natural energy boosters for a long-lasting natural boost.

Reduce Your Carb Intake
Carbs are delicious, but they can do damage to your energy levels. Simple carbs like cookies, donuts and processed foods are guaranteed to make you feel sluggish. Simple carbs may give you a temporary boost by spiking your blood sugar, but you will crash once it falls. Eat whole-grain, low-glycemic carbs. Your body will take longer to digest these carbs allowing a more leveled energy increase instead of a crash and burn effect.

Sit Up
Slouching can cause bent arteries and the restriction of blood flow. Slouching also makes your muscles work harder when your bones should be doing the work. Simply switching up your posture can give immediate relief. Many of us never notice we are sitting with our shoulders and neck forward arching our backs. Try sitting upright with your shoulders back and neck shifted up.

Socialize and Be Active
You got enough sleep, you didn’t work hard, but you still feel exhausted. Hang out with a high-energy friend. Sometimes a change in your environment can uplift and revitalize your mind and body. If you have a friend who enjoys going to the gym or for a hike, hang with them. Physical activity is one of the best natural energy boosters. You’ll feel great during and after your outing.

It’s important to eat magnesium-rich foods or a high-quality supplement. Our bodies do not produce magnesium on its own, so it is important to get the proper daily amount. Adults should take no more than 300-350 mg a day. Magnesium helps manage muscle and nerve function as well as energy production.

Incorporate one or all of these natural energy boosters and you’ll feel a difference in your energy and overall mood.