I know that I promised updates during my 8-week Muse Challenge but once we started the challenge I realized that we were going to be discussing a lot of personal topics that I would rather not share at this time. I would like to discuss an important topic that was discussed during my challenge, the importance of not neglecting yourself internally. At the beginning of this year, I promised to live a healthier lifestyle so I began to consistently work out, cook more, reduced fried foods, drank my daily amount of water and I still wasn’t seeing a major difference. I was so concerned about my physical appearance that it never dawned on me that not working on my emotional state of mind and taking control over my anxiety and stress levels was causing me to either weight gain or hit plateaus causing me to maintain my current weight.
So when I began the Muse challenge I honestly thought that I wasn’t going to learn much because I thought was doing everything right and moving in the right direction when it came to my eating and physical habits that I changed over the prior months. Once we started to dig deeper into my personal life Ms. Tasha Manigo-Bizzell, owner of the Muse Wellness Center asked me a key question “Do you stress a lot”. I initially formed my mouth to say no but took a minute to think back and I immediately thought back about 5-years. This was the period in my life when I started working for one of the Big Four Accounting firms (this was also the time-period that I gained the majority of weight). During the time that we called busy season, we normally worked long hours (estimate about 12 hours a day) so to use our time effectively we would order both lunch and dinner to eat at our desks while we continued to work. I wasn’t working out at all during this time and I was lucky to get a full 8 hours of sleep so I was very cranky and emotional on a daily basis. Speaking with Ms. Tasha made me recall this one particular night that I was extremely exhausted leaving work around the 11 pm hour and got stopped at the Woodrow Wilson Bridge as the bridge opened to allow a vessel to pass. I sat in my car and cried the 20 mins that the bridge was lifted because I just wanted to get in my bed and go to sleep, I had reached my breaking point that night. I knew that this particular job had caused a great amount of stress but I never acknowledged it because I just passed it off as normal work stress since I had just entered the professional field and didn’t really know any better so I dealt with the long hours and competitive nature of being compared to my counter parts. When I continued to talk to Ms. Tasha, I realized that my anxiety and stress wasn’t only work related, it also came from: Bills, living up to expectations set by friends and family, meeting my goal weight, overthinking situations, and paving my own future. I am a very detailed oriented person and I like to make set plans for myself. It is absolutely nothing wrong with being detailed but my anxiety would come from not meeting the deadlines that I set for myself which would put me in a bad mood (you are your worst critic). Therefore, I was adding on layers of stress and wasn’t doing anything to manage my daily anxiety and stress level because I just never thought it was a big deal until October, 2015.
In October, 2015, I went to the urgent care with the initial thought that I had either got bitten by a spider (since I killed a spider in my car only two days prior to my visit) or that I had a bad allergic reaction to something that brushed up against my torso. Once I got in the room with the doctor and she took a look at my torso and immediately told me that I had the Shingles virus. I quickly reassured her that I was only 28 years old and to my understanding the Shingles virus was usually seen in the elderly (usually 50 and over), so I asked her to look at it again and said it was surly that spider that I killed in my car the other day. She quickly laughed at the fact that I told her I wasn’t an elderly and continued to tell me that in younger adults the Shingles Virus could be triggered by (drum roll please) STRESS, which weakens the immune system. So of course, I immediately started stressing over what I had been stressing over the days prior to me getting the shingles virus but nope I couldn’t think of any one thing in specific but I knew that I had to take control.
Why am I sharing my story? (1) I am not of age to get the Shingles vaccination so I am prone to triggering the Shingles virus again and the first time wasn’t fun and (2) Levels of “the stress hormone,” cortisol, rise during tension-filled times. This can turn your overeating into a habit because your body goes into the fight-or-flight response. Once your body reaches a certain stress level, it does what it feels it needs to protect itself because your body thinks you’ve used calories to deal with your stress, even though you haven’t. As a result, it thinks you need to replenish those calories, even though you don’t. Therefore, we reach for fatty and sugary foods to replenish those calories and those are also foods that makes us Happy.
I haven’t gotten rid of my anxiety or stress overnight, however, I have acknowledged it and I am learning ways to maintain situations that may trigger it. Most of my anxiety comes from worrying about the future (if I will meet my goal weight, am I going to meet my debt payoff deadline, etc.) or trying to live up to others expectations and worrying about what others think of me. Some simple methods that have been helping me are going for mid-day walks to clear my mind (Vitamin B is a great medicine), reading, reflecting on my day and the situations that occurred, simply readjusting my deadlines if I am aware that I am not going to meet it and continuing to work towards the end result, planning vacations, planning outings with friends and family, pray, laughing daily, revaluating relationships, treating myself, and listening to music.
I hope that by sharing my story, you will realize that your mind plays a huge part of any journey that you are trying to accomplish and the importance of taking care of yourself internally as well as physically. “Once You Control Your Mind, you can Conquer Your Body”.