Monday, October 17, 2011

After great pain comes great joy.

The past year and some change has brought many waves of emotions along my journey of transformation. I have dealt with all of the serious, underlying issues of my life like past relationships, sexual assault and sexual abuse, the death of a dear friend and soul mate, and hurtful voices of my past. Sitting here today, I feel emancipated from the fear, anger, bitterness, and harm I felt for years like it was slavery of my whole being, not just mind, but my body and my soul as well.

One thing I have been reflecting on lately is the experience of dealing with my near suicide attempt. I realize that some of my readers may need to re-read that statement, especially if they are family, but this is a very real situation in my life that I want to share. I have found that when we open ourselves up, it invokes the same in others, and even just through this blog, I've heard some amazing stories about healing and other stories about how the person is inspired to heal. That is what this blog is all about.

For about 10 years, I had what I called a "wrist phobia." If someone would touch the insides of my wrists, especially the main artery, I would literally freak out. It was uncomfortable. I didn't wear bracelets or anything around my wrists, including sleeves, because it was psychologically painful, and I didn't know why I felt this way until last November when I spoke out about my experience with suicide.

About 10 years ago, I was in a very hard place in my life, like most high school students, trying to figure out who I was, what my role in the world was, and what I meant to others. I was having a very hard time with my peers, my family, and my friends, so I figured I was the one who was the problem, right? It was the common denominator. So, one late night in December, I went into the kitchen, grabbed a knife, and held it at my left wrist. I felt the cold blade against my skin and I froze. I just stared at my situation, partially numb just by the sheer fact of what I was doing while also full of emotion- anger, resentment, fear, depression, pain.

I was focused on all of the negative voices that had invaded my mind and my heart, flooding me with sadness and despair, until images of my family began to overshadow every thought. Conversations with my dad popped up, including a recurring one. "What would you do without me, Dad?!" I would ask. "I don't know, but I hope I never have to find out," he would always retort. My mother's beautiful, gentle, encompassing embrace swept over me. My brothers' faces, laughter, and warmth filled my mind. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and close family friends all seemed to appear in that kitchen, making my body tingle with love and regret at what I was about to do. A resounding "No, Anslee" was all I could hear, think, or feel, so I put the knife down on the counter top and walked away. I cried myself to sleep that night all the while begging for forgiveness and thanking God for the incredible people who have raised me. I thanked God for love - and for Love.

Much like some other traumatic events from my past, I suppressed this experience for about 10 years. It manifested itself in my body as a reminder by my wrist phobia, nagging at me to come to terms with this event in my life, but I did not see the light until almost a year ago. The East Austin Studio Tour (E.A.S.T.) was my moment to share my experience with suicide as a response to the teen bullying suicide epidemic that had been going on the months preceeding E.A.S.T. It was an emotional experience for me to create the art installation that I did, but through that process, I made some really incredible friends in some of my fellow artists part of the show and in some patrons who viewed my journey through art and responded emotionally to their pasts alongside me. E.A.S.T. 2010 was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. After expressing this event through art, my wrist phobia went away almost immediately.

Move to this past Wednesday when I was wrapping my hands for my boxing gloves the first time. Grace said, "You have to make sure you wrap your wrists to protect them, so we wrap that the most." I looked at her, watched her wrapping technique, and gave the world my gratitude that this experience is no longer hindered by my past. I want to wrap my wrists! I want them to be strong and protected and stabilized. I want them to be touched by the black cotton, then layered with the glove elastic, because this represents growth and change and strength, banishing any amount of darkness that may have lingered there. I'm excited to feel this part of my body that had been a psychological distress for me for almost 10 years of my life. Overcoming my past, represented by a mental block, was a joy for me a year ago, but it is a triumph for me today as my life is improving daily and with every boxing practice.

"After great pain comes great joy." This saying is very true, but it is even more true when you delve inside yourself, take where that pain is coming from by the hand, lead that experience and everything it has consumed out of your life, and set it free. This joy is everlasting because this experience is no longer a recurring obstacle along your path. That freedom is completely, absolutely, and wonderfully priceless.

Choosing to live was the hardest decision I've ever had to make, but it was, without a shadow of a doubt, the best decision I have ever made. And that's an understatement. Thank you for reading.

If you or anyone you know has thoughts of suicide, please reach out. 1-800-SUICIDE is always available to someone who needs help.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mama said knock you OUT!

I had my first boxing class this morning! It was so amazing I wanted to cry. Here's how it went down.

For a while, I've been interested in boxing. My great uncle Dick was a boxer when he was younger (Stage name: Fighting Joe Young or something like that), and I've had a huge fascination with this whole idea since I heard that he would box secretly. Aunt Virginia didn't want him to box, but because he is a Connell (Family pride!), he did what he wanted to anyway. Gotta love a man who knows what he wants! So, this image of a boxer in my family has run pretty strong in my mind since I can remember.

Fast forward to this summer when I would watch Biggest Loser episodes on Hulu while I worked/cleaned/whatever. That show is a common theme in my life these days, so just get used to that reference. There were new trainers for season 11 and they started boxing and doing martial arts, capoeira, etc. It was pretty cool to me, so I asked Erin while she was training me if we could box since it was really an exciting idea, but they didn't have the equipment. After Erin and I ended our sessions, I really wanted to investigate this, so I looked online and found Austin Boxing Babes. It was clear to me what I needed to do, so I made plans to start my boxing adventure.

The pops gifted my brothers and myself some "Halloween money" this year (Dad, you rock SO hard!) and I knew exactly where that money was going. I set out to buy my boxing kit of gloves, hand wraps, and a mouth piece, and marched my prissy-looking self into a few stores looking for the best deal. It was pretty noticeable that most of the store attendants were thinking, "Who is this lady in a dress and heels buying boxing gear?" And, of course, I delighted in that moment. So, I got my red gloves, and I think my moment of empowerment was right when I realized that these gloves are going to take me on not only a physical journey, but an emotional journey, and I am more ready than I have ever been in my life for both of these. [Note: This same day, I also purchased a bike foot pump and a u-lock. I'm ready for that, too.]

5:30 am this morning, I woke up with excitement to get down to the boxing studio. I was a little intimidated simply because it looks so - I don't know - real? You don't know what to expect for things like this, I guess, but it was really cool. I got my paperwork filled out and proceeded to follow whatever the sweet instructor Grace told me to do.

Before we began, Grace gave me the low down: We don't wear shoes on the mat. YES! We bow before we get on the mat and before we leave the mat. DOUBLE YES! We do a specific motion before and after every practice. YES YES YES! All of it sounded really fun - and it was.

We started with jumping rope. I couldn't help but laugh the whole time because, to put it plainly, I SUCK at jumping rope. Erin used to laugh with me when we would attempt, so it made me laugh even more that I've been through this already. I didn't give up, though. I just kept laughing and screwing it up, repeating internally, "Patience. You are going to master this, girl!" I was glad when that drill was over.

We went through a few drills, and since I haven't been working out in a few weeks, it took me some time to get into it, but I stayed positive. That little Grace kicked my ass! It was amazing! We did all kinds of weight drills and cardio. It felt really good to sweat like that. Then, it was time to box. Oh yeah, I was ready. And I'm pretty sure I looked like a huge dorkface the whole time because I couldn't stop smiling, but I could care less. It was exciting for me! And I'm excited just talking about it!

Grace sort of taught me how to wrap my hands, which was the most interesting part to me. Before class, while I was filling out paperwork, the other 3 ladies were wrapping their hands. I couldn't help but watch a little bit because it seemed like such a beautiful ritual to me. They took their time in wrapping the black cotton around their wrists, through their fingers, and over their knuckles, as they were preserving their essential limbs and preparing themselves for their class. These women are strong. They each are the warrioress, wrapping their hands so diligently to engage in battle. So empowering! My blood was pumping through my veins faster and faster. I was ready.

Putting on the gloves was a little awkward, but like everything else, I kept it light and just laughed through it. You use your teeth to put on your gloves. That, right there, is another reason why I love it. Don't ask why. (Oral fixation, maybe?) Grace taught me the stance and some techniques and we did rotations. When I got to the punching bag part, I took a moment to be grateful as sweat was pouring from my body, with my heart rate lively. My smile was bigger than before, and I might have started tearing up. You know, just a little bit. It was one of the most amazing feelings, and I am so excited to have this experience, unlimitedly, for the next 3 months.

The hour went by quickly and I met one of my fellow boxing babes before we left. She had been out for 4 months, but one would never know that from her practice. These women are inspirations to me, and I cannot wait to continue this process and see my strength majorly increase, both internally and externally.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Flying Solo... For Now

I am currently trainer-less. I won't go into details here as I respect Erin, her work, and her vision. She is a wonderful trainer, and if you are in need of one, let me know and I will immediately point you in her direction. It just wasn't working out for us, and I think I am in large part to blame.

When you commit to a trainer, you really have to put your entire life in their hands. They look at your food and they work you out. They want the best for you, and that is something I have come to understand the most. Erin worked very hard with me, even at home she would try to figure out ways to help me, and simply put, I'm incapable of putting that much of myself into someone else's hands. Here's what I mean.

I own a small business. I am the designer of savannahred, my company, where I create clothing for women size 12 and up. This is a full time job for me, and I absolutely love it! It wakes me up every single day and my customers have become some of my closest friends. But my business takes almost everything out of me, so it can be very hard to find a balance between my business and my personal life, namely my health, but I make sacrifices whenever I can. The hard truth about what I do is that if I don't make dresses/sales, I can't eat. It is that direct of a relationship. And sometimes, I have to work almost 24 hours straight in order to get some things made in the time they need to be done.

Truth be told, I work harder than the average person. I get that from my father who has had a "work hard, play hard, and then get your ass back to work" attitude all my life. I finally found something that I want to pour my heart and soul into that can truly uplift someone else and perhaps even change her life, but it takes a lot of hard work and long hours. I do not regret this. I am happy to put this much work into what I do and I don't see myself slacking off anytime soon because I am growing a successful business. One day, I will simply be the designer and not the designer+illustrator+patternmaker+cutter+seamster, but it takes time. I am exercising patience with myself and this process, and I am learning a ton.

Unfortunately, this relationship with my business has a tendency to take over my relationship with my health, but I believe I have found a fairly good balance during times where it isn't as stressful. But those days, or small string of days, do come when all I do is work, eat enough to survive, and then hopefully get a few hours of sleep. Until those days are few and far between, I don't think it is fair for me to commit to someone else, even though they are trying to help me. It's the same reason why I don't think I should date this year that I am trying to lose 100 lbs because I really need to focus on myself, my business, and my health and get those things in order before I can throw anything or anyone else in the mix.

So, I'm definitely learning a lot. I've been a bit heartbroken the past few days, but I haven't turned to food to console myself, so that's good. I might have gone a little overboard last night, but when you get a free meal at Haddington's and someone wants to split the prime rib with you [Read: Free prime rib. From Haddington's.], you may enjoy it a little too much. That's a once in a lifetime chance, so I took it and passed on the dessert - all 4 of them that were being passed around right in front of my face. Victory is mine!

I can do this. Erin said that she would be there when I am ready, and you know, I may take her up on that later on. I miss her, truth be told, but I have to do what is best for myself and even her. I know that may not make complete sense, but it does to me. At least, for now it does.

It's going to be hard, but I am in it to win it. Thank you in advance for your encouragement.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Vacation! Part 1

I went on vacation last week, and I think I maintained my weight - maybe even lost a few pounds? Who knows. I'm not keeping up with that aspect quite as much as how I feel. Let me just say, I feel aaaaaaamazinggggg!!!! More on that later as I want to report on some obstacles that I happily overcame this past week away.

Myself and 4 of my friends piled into a Toyota Corolla [Read: Super cramped, y'all.] and made our way over to the beautiful, picturesque mountains of Lake Lure, NC. The drive there took about 21 hours, so we knew ahead of time that because we (well, most of us) are 1) broke and 2) severely watching what we eat that we should pack a few things for the road there. I felt pretty good about my food decisions on the way there. My parents are pretty much the most generous, kind hearted people on the planet, and they provided food for all 5 of us and one more of my friends who joined us there (she's from SC, so her drive was much shorter) along with the rest of my family who was there/going to be there. I'm pretty sure they win some kind of award for being so great but they would never tell us because, well, they are that awesome! Anyway... (I love my family!)

We ventured to Asheville for the day and checked out every shop we felt was fun, which was a lot. After walking around, making some purchases, and listening to a hippie drum circle, I allowed myself to have 1.33 beers (Pitcher sharing! What what!) at the Lexington Avenue Brewery (a "gastropub" my roommate termed it) and I was about 2 seconds away from getting everything on the appetizer menu. And the dessert menu. It just seemed like the natural thing to do, right? To celebrate your vacation in the mountains with your friends so far away from home, especially after making some amazing purchases like a vintage Dior hat (You'll die when you see it. Seriously.) and some really amazing fascinators... But no. Beer was celebration enough.

After getting a little sloshy [Read: Cheap date.], we decided upon a restaurant that was delicious, budget-friendly (hah!), and had little waiting, so we went to Boca. I probably had a little too much of our friend Lindie's calamari, but I didn't order my own, so that was a big step. If you know me, you know I love calamari. I used to get it at every restaurant that had it. (I wonder why I weighed 250...) The first thing I saw on the menu (ahem - apart from the calamari) was the scallop and watermelon salad. Those are 2 of my other most favorite things, and since my mom is allergic to scallops (The food allergies in my family will make you weep.), it was a no brainer. No other thing on the menu compared to that, so that's what I ordered.

Boca is pretty great at presentation, but this salad tasted even better than it looked. I try to stay away from salads in restaurants simply because I can usually make them at home a lot better and less expensive than in the restaurant, but this was worth every penny. The bed of arugula tossed in a lemon-olive oil vinaigrette was a perfect foundation for sprinkles of almond slivers above it, resting just beneath watermelon triangles smeared with sweet, soft goat cheese and slightly charred scallops. I could tell that perhaps there was some raw sugar that had been caramelized on the scallops, not too much to make a huge difference, but nonetheless, I could have done without. Some balsamic vinegar topped it off to exquisite perfection and it felt like home in your mouth. *Pause for a nostalgic, culinary tear* Ugh... So, so good.

Some of our group was really digging the idea of dessert, and the salad was so good that I wanted to top it off, but I knew I had to be strong. Sweet treats were being discussed and my cravings were rising, so I excused myself and walked down to the nearest coffee shop to grab something - anything - that I could at least hold onto. They were closing so I got a drip coffee with cream, but it was almost painful to watch them eat their peaches and cream cheesecake and chocolate torte. I survived, though, and it was time to return to the cabin just an hour down the road.

This day felt like a huge victory for me because I am one who loves to celebrate - and in the worst of ways! I like to celebrate when something major happens, when something semi-major happens, and even when I finally clean the kitchen. My life is all about luxury and celebration, but I'm in a place now where luxury has to come later and celebration has its moments, too. I'm learning what it means to truly reward myself instead of giving into my self-indulgences. It's not easy, but these little things will add up and the reward will be the end result itself.

One thing I keep repeating to myself (especially in these instances) and to others whenever the moments arise is that I love myself more than I love _________ [Insert forbidden food/drink here.]. I love my happiness and my future more than I love __________. Ultimately, whatever _________ is causes an imbalance in my body and usually causes depression in one way or another (read back a few posts if you need more clarification on that), and I love this feeling that I have now - this feeling of empowerment, of strength, of clarity, of focus, of happiness, of self-awareness, of resilience, of Super Woman - more than one bad decision that can take it away. I slip up a little bit, as I am human and I am allowed to err, but in a conscious, healthy-minded decision making process, I want to choose me and my best self over anything else. I'm seeing how this is translating to other areas of my life, so I'm feeling healthier in all aspects of my life these days, and I am really excited for the future and my future successes that are to come.

So, that was my first real day of vacation! I'll share more of the rest of the week soon. <3.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Now and Forever

I am strong.
I am passionate.
I am determined.
I am resilient.

I am a motivator.
I am an achiever.
I am a finisher.
I am a winner.

I will finish strong.
I will accomplish my goals.
I will blaze trails.
I will be on top.

The future is mine, and only I can get me there.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Clearing the road to the journey

Shows like The Biggest Loser and Losing It with Jillian Michaels have been used to motivate me in the past, so I decided to start Season 11 over from the beginning and watch it on Hulu in my free time since my big decision to lose 100 lbs. in a year. It's pretty nice, actually, but I must admit that I cry every episode.

It seems that the majority of the people on these shows have had some major problems or incidents in their lives they haven't dealt with yet, and it is implied through these programs that those are the things that are holding these people back from healthier lifestyles and, ultimately, a healthier future. Being the overly emotional person that I am to begin with, I cannot help but feel their pain through the television or computer screen as I watch these shows. I'm sure the amount of saline I lose while I sit on my ass could contribute to my weight loss just as much as my exercises... Just kidding. (Kinda.)

Through these programs and through some of the conversations with my trainer Erin, I've realized that there are some things along my journey that I also need to clear out of the way in order to get to the next destination. (Of course, the next destination I'm referring to here is the 100 lb. weight loss.) In the past year or so, I've talked about my depression issues, my rocky relationship with food, and I've taken the necessary steps to forgive the voices of the past for trying to bring me down for my size, my personality, and my talents. Now, I'm facing some pretty hard memories, and honestly, there's one of these 2 I'm not sure I want to get past.

I recently wrote in one of my other blogs about my experience with sexual assault. If you only read this health blog of mine, you can find my "thoughts and feelings" one at It isn't an easy read, but it was necessary for me to get that out so I can deal with it and move on. I'm hoping to somehow take up boxing in the near future to get some of the aggression I feel toward that situation out of me, but we shall see how that unfolds. I've forgiven him for doing that. I've forgiven the person who made me feel as though it were my fault. I'm ready to leave that moment behind me and only carry it with me to be a strong advocate for others and to educate others on how to not blame the victim.

As for the other thing, I'm getting light-headed just thinking about trying to put it behind me, but I know that I absolutely have to.

If there's anyone I have on my mind and my heart every day, it's my friend Nathan. Today is Nate's birthday. He would be 30 if he were alive, and it is this way of thinking that has kept me back in some areas of my life I believe.

At first, when I read about his death in Iraq (he and 3 others hit an IED in the desert of Samarra), the whole world went cloudy. I felt like the room was growing bigger and becoming darker. How could this person who meant so much to me - someone so full of life and love and fun and wisdom, someone who literally changed my life - be gone? Forever? Yes. Forever, at least here on earth. Not even my Christian afterlife view of eternity in Heaven has been able to help me cope with his loss. I can't see him, hear him, or touch him. I can't get one of his hugs. I can't call him on the phone. I can't argue with him about anything under the sun.

I also can't live my life for him, and I think this has made me feel a little guilty. At first, when he passed, I chose to live my life to the fullest like he would have and go out into the world (namely Austin, TX) in search of whatever will come my way. I feel like I understand the concept of "abundant life" here because I am so happy and amazingly rich with such wonderful friends in this bubble of creativity and love. I don't believe I would be here if he was still alive. Losing him pushed me out of my comfort zone - on many, many levels - but in the past 6 years since his death, I've gone back into grieving his loss. It's hard to say this and it hasn't always felt right for many reasons, but it's time to stop grieving for him and start living for me.

I owe it to myself to take control of my future, just so I can have one! Certain events have taken some of that control from me, but I believe with all of my being that I have the power to be #1 for me. I feel stronger than I've ever felt before, not just in physical strength, but now emotionally and mentally.

I weighed this morning at 247.6, just 8 more lbs. to go before my first personal goal of weighing less than 240 before I see my family for July 4th. I'm in this for me now, completely, and victory will soon be mine.

So... Happy birthday, Nathan. I love you. I miss you. You were a great friend to me. I'm glad you were alive so I could know you and have an incredible connection with someone like you. "Esse quam videri" - "To be rather than to seem" - was your Latin phrase that you lived by. Thank you for showing me how to live authentically. I have to let you go now so I can do it my way.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

I am... Anslee.

I am... a daughter of 2 parents who have been through more than I could ever imagine, have sacrificed and still sacrifice more than I could ever know, and have loved me with more love than I could ever comprehend.

I am... a sister of 2 amazingly strong, compassionate, intelligent men who inspire me daily, love me tremendously, and support me in any way possible, who have chosen the most beautiful, loving, caring wives anyone could ever ask for, and one of whom has 2 of the most charming young men who will change the world some day. You'll see.

I am... an artist: a photographer, a writer, a painter, a designer, a singer, a dancer, a creator, an imaginator, and an actor, at times, amongst many other delightfully creative things.

I am... beautiful yet bold, sassy yet sensitive, and always on a quest for the truth.

I am... a world traveler, a collector of odd things to be used later, a wonderful companion to take anywhere, a dreamer at all times of the day and night, and a mountain climber, river rambler, lion tamer in some of those dreams.

I am... a survivor of bullying/ridicule, sexual assault, and a near suicide attempt.

I am... a seeker of the best possible world harmony that I believe can and will happen, despite all odds.

I am... a child of God and a believer in a Holy Trinity, seeing and feeling the Divine presence in every possible scenario that my heart can grasp.

I am... a lover, a fighter for love, with a strong yet also wavering belief that there is just one, and for whom I shall remain in waiting.

I am... a success story being written and a strong, fearless woman with a great, big, huge heart.

Tell me who you are. I would really like to know.

Starting over: 100 lbs. in a year!

I wrote this to my friends and family. You can read it, too! I'll update more thoughts tomorrow most likely. Happy reading!

Hi, friends and family!

First off, I love you very much! I thank God for each of you being apart of my life. I'm so glad to have the wonderful people in my life that I do. Second, I need to send you a sincere, earnest request this morning, so please take what I am about to say very seriously.

Most of you know by now that I was diagnosed with prediabetes/insulin resistance about 10 years ago or so. I've struggled with this whole idea since the moment I got the results, and I am especially struggling with it now. A few things have been brought to my attention recently, and I'm at the point where I need those who are around me to support me in my decision to lose 100 lbs. in a year. This will get me to a healthy weight that will cure my medical conditions.

This is not a joke. This is my life, and I'm choosing to fight for it and set an attainable goal for a year from now. My request to you is that you will support me in every way you possibly can, and this especially means that you please refrain from tempting me with things such as delicious cake and amazing sandwiches and incredible restaurants... Those got me to this point where I am that feels like rock bottom, even though I've been heavier in the past. For my condition, depression comes in the form of sugar more often than not, and I'm prepared to walk away from that feeling forever.

From now on, I will not be "off the wagon." I won't have times where I'm being strict and times where I'm not. If I decide to have something that perhaps I shouldn't, it will be my idea and no one else's, and trust that my ass will be working it off later. This is something that I must do for me, and I apologize in advance for missing out on your lasagnas and banana breads and all the other amazingly wonderful homemade things that I love that you all make. Unless it is sugar free, low in fat, and either gluten free or made with whole grain ingredients, I cannot partake, but please understand that I absolutely do not expect you to do that for me. I also don't expect for you to keep me accountable. I know this is my challenge and I only ask that you support me and love me along the way. I will most undoubtedly need encouragement every now and then.

This year is going to be very difficult for me, but I know that I have an incredible support system. I'd love to include you on my journey, too! If you even think of exercising and I'm around, give me a call. I want to join you. (Plus, you know I love to dance!) If you want to cook something healthy together, I'm your girl. I'll bring the healthy food to your potlucks. If you would like some suggestions to help make something you're wanting to cook a bit healthier, let me know. I'm happy to be there for you also. I'll be cooking at home a lot more now, so if you want to hang out over dinner, let's create something together instead! (That's fun, right?!) I just can't keep going down this destructive road that is literally wearing out my body, namely my pancreas and my kidneys. If you would like more information on my condition, please ask me. I'll load you down with facts for years to come! :)

My future has 2 outlooks, a very bright one and a very dark one. I'm choosing the bright future. Can I count on you to help me achieve this goal and set up the days ahead of me to be the happiest, healthiest, most positive days ever? I really, desperately hope so.

364 more days to go! It's a piece of... celery. :)



"Keep your eyes on the road and don't look over the cliff unless that's where you want to go, i.e. focus on your goal and not what happens if you don't make it." --Chris Connell

Monday, April 18, 2011

Detoxing days = depression days.

Let me be open. I find that it's only when we are completely honest with ourselves that we are able to heal. Maybe sharing one's deepest, darkest secrets or concerns on a blog isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I truly feel that my journey is one that I am meant to share.

For years, I've dealt with depression. This isn't news to many, but it could be to some. It's true that I have a naturally sunny disposition and I consider myself a very happy person, but there are some really, really dark days. Today has been one of them, so I decided to write about it. It's hard to type, honestly, because during these times, I get so consumed with what could be "wrong with me" or what I am "doing wrong" - which, of course, I feel is everything - and even putting myself out there subjects me to a level of vulnerability that I would normally be comfortable with if I weren't battling the demons of sadness. Unfortunately, having depression has led me to contemplate suicide on many occasions, but thankfully, not every bout leads to this scenario. Today has not been one of those days, thank God, but it is something that I will openly state that I have had an issue with and something I will continue to be aware of for the safety of myself and others.

Some of having an issue with depression is the result of carelessness with my diet. This excerpt from a study by Jurriaan Plesman has summed up the best correlation that I could find with insulin resistance and depression, definitely making me feel like I'm not alone.

"Excessive sugar consumption, when converted to glucose, can expose the body to free radical attack upon the immune system and DNA. Glucose is easily oxidized into peroxides and other toxins. The body has a defense mechanism against excess sugar consumption: it shuts down receptors for insulin that controls the amount of glucose (and other nutrients) getting across cell membranes into cells. This is called Insulin Resistance, which may result in hypoglycemic symptoms. There are many studies showing a significant association between depression and insulin resistance. See here.

With insulin resistance blood sugar levels tend to rise, triggering more release of insulin - called hyperinsulinism - and this may provoke a sudden descent in blood sugar level called hypoglycemia. Thus the brain tends to be exposed to wildly fluctuating blood sugar levels, responsible for many ‘psychological’ symptoms. See graph here.

When the brain is starved of energy it could lead to the death of brain cells in a matter of minutes. In reaction to this threat, the brain triggers the release of stress hormones - such as adrenaline and cortisol - that function to convert sugar stores in the body (glycogen and amino acids) back into glucose so as to feed the brain again. (See image) See also Rita Elkins et al.

But these stress hormones, generated within the body are also responsible for the varied symptoms of mental illness, from depression, anxiety attacks, phobias,
delusions ,insomnia, compulsive behaviours and thoughts, alcoholism, drug addiction, sex addiction, hypochondria, PTSD, OCD and so on and on. "

So, given all of this information, I'm sure you can see that detoxing days after some consecutive slip-ups are incredibly difficult. Sugar is the most addictive substance in the world, and when I let it go, my body mourns its loss - literally. I usually cry all day, and this is something I've never shared because I, like many, see my depressed self as someone who is weak. What I'm starting to understand is that even through this time of weakness, admitting my true feelings - not the lies - to myself and allowing myself to feel whatever it is I may feel is a sign of strength. I know my body so well and even deciding I needed to take this day, knowing it would be so hard, is a milestone that I should internally celebrate once the "girlbrain" turns her cerebral mouth off.

Living with prediabetes/insulin resistance is not something to mess around with, but I did the best I could this weekend. I had sworn off bread on Thursday morning - something I needed to do for a while - and had broken that promise to myself and my trainer later on that evening. And then again the next day. And the next. And the next. Today, I stood up for myself and my oath. This day should be celebrated. That's really the bottom line.

As I recover from poor choices and lean toward purging the toxins from my body through gentle foods, exercise, and water - the healthy stuff, ya know - this will be my mantra:

To practice grace during the down times and encouragement during strength.

I'm sure this post was all over the place, but thank you for reading. If you have any questions to ask, please do, or if you would like to share anything, you have the complete freedom to do so.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Business time.

One thing I'm majorly considering for this journey is to write a book entitled "Death & Sugar." Sounds morbid, but it will detail "one lady's journey through diabetes and finding her way on the other side." Or something like that. Or nothing like that. Who knows?! But I like the "Death & Sugar" bit, so don't steal it. Or I'll cut you. (Not really, but pretend I'm serious because that would be a pretty bitchy thing to do.)

I took a baby vacation a few weeks ago to reset. I did yoga, meditated, read, detoxed with some raw food, slept a lot. It was a grand idea, and then I had a really rough week full of depressing situations and stupid lies I started believing about myself via business schtuff. I'm super glad that week is over because the truth is that life is gonna throw some curve balls at you, regardless of whether or not you just started eating healthy again. Ugh, right? The good news is that I got through it (thanx to friends!!!).

So here's what's up, baby bubba:

+I'm learning to trust Erin, my trainer, more and more. I really started to fight her pretty hard there for a while because a) I'm a stubborn little bitch, b) I go through bouts of denial [Read: Danger for a prediabetic!], and c) I haven't known her for that long and we aren't "like, OMG, besties." I have trust issues, ok? But I came to terms with them in time for her to really start making an impact on my life. She seriously means well and she wants to help me not have missing toes and heart attacks and really serious, life-threatening, bad stuff one day. If that's not as awesome as a "bestie," then I don't know what is! She seriously rocks - and her patience (Hi. She deals with ME, here.) - is outstanding.

+Dietlandia: I also gave in and instead of just thinking about it every year, I actually gave up sugar for Lent. Oh wait, I gave up more than just sugar. Ready? I gave up sugar AND artificial sugar, even the natural stuff. I am only allowing fruit and moderate amounts of honey. (It's ok to breathe. Are you still alive?) It's quite a shock - and actually, it's not that hard... so far. I'm learning SO MUCH about natural sugars that exist in other foods. Like milk - that junk is sweet on its own (you know, the organic kind)! I never tasted the delicious sweetness quite like I did the other night. It was quite the discovery. So, other than denying all of my sweet teeth their cravings, I'm eating healthier in general. This means lean meats, fresh veggies, fruit, and limited carbs/starches/etc. I bought myself some steak to bring all of this home. And so I would force myself to clean my grill. :D

+In addition to seeing Erin twice a week, I try to stretch/do some form of yoga every morning and go for a walk on the days I don't see her. It is currently SXSW, so that makes getting a good walk in pretty easy, but the real test will be when it's all over. I had some really bad back problems happen (and re-occurred yesterday), so this part is pretty serious to me, especially right now.

That's today. I've got plans for the future, too! Check 'em out:

+I'm gonna try Bikram yoga. Yep. The girl who LOVES things to be sweet has given up sweetness, so now that same girl who HATES to be hot is going to subject herself to hot yoga. I might have to give myself a pep talk every day as I walk through the door, but I want to do the 30 for $30 thing at Sunstone at the Triangle. And then... I wanna try a 60 day challenge. (Who AM I?!) Chock all of this up to my girl, Marsha, at for educating me and giving me tons of wisdom, guidance, and support. That girl is such an inspiration!

+I haven't given up on my bike. (I have one again after the other one got stolen this summer... and I'm still bitter about that. But whatever, moving on. :{) I will try it again, but I think I'll need the Bikram to get myself in a little more shape. My back has to be a ton better before I try the bike for serious. Here's hoping!

+Prayer is pretty important to me, so I've tried to incorporate this into my daily life, especially when all of this becomes challenging. I'm finding so many ways to remind myself just how fortunate I am to be here, alive, and pretty well, for the most part. I have such an incredible support system with the friends and family who surround me. They know I can reach wellness one day. I just have to keep reminding myself. And being thankful. The Lord is good - and good things really do come to those who are patient. I'm working on patience and diligence, 2 hard words to practice, but I am running after them with all I've got.