Stress-addiction

When do you experience these?

  • high heart rate
  • thinking about the next thing to do
  • frenzied rushing
  • furrowed brow
  • night sweats
  • “stuck” breathing
  • overwhelm
  • frequent peeing
  • immobilization, feeling like you’re moving through a barricade of peanut butter
  • indigestion
  • picking your nails, skin, scalp, toes, body
  • indecision

I feel these things daily.  I have become normalized to them.  Habituated to the extent that I seek them out, and feel very uncomfortable if I am comfortable.

This brings comfortably numb to a whole new level.

I honestly believe that along the lines of survival coping through trauma, my mind has created and implemented ways to disconnect from presence (from myself) so that I could continue surviving.  Past-trauma-shit.

These states listed above serve to disconnect me further, keep me numb.  When last week my body said “NO” in halting me with an ingrown toenail so painful that I had been taking advil nightly and resorted to antibiotics due to infection after a month of sleepless cold-sweats and throbbing, I was so full of feelings that I didn’t know what to do.  I still don’t know what to do, and so I am still waking up to do a bike ride then a hike after breakfast every single day.

I further it with now for the past 3 Squamish Chief hikes, timing myself from the start of the stairs to the metal staircase before the summit (34mins/ 31:45/ 30:34 <– #hadmelike holy fuck.).  It’s a catch-22 because there’s ying and yang to it; after the yang of the hike, I can exhale at the top of the Chief and cry a little as I observe, just observe the world up there.

orendawellness May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you — beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.
– Edward Abbey

And so, it’s tough because I haven’t had my period due to Hypothalamic Amenorrhea for 12 years.  Because my body is protecting itself for life because my stress and cortisol level allostatically is too high such that it attempts to preserve physiological functions to minimize peripheral energy, and the risk of bringing a child into an unsafe and subjectively perceived, threatening environment.

Fuck.

Also fuck: gut-brain connection is reflected in me being 3-days off the high dose of antibiotics now for my toe, and I’m pooping like 10x a day…this is bullshit.  Literally and figuratively.  I’m taking a high dose of probiotics now, but feel the effects of a sad gut microbiome as it depletedly, defeatedly attempts to digest food.   Maybe my life brought me to this to learn to adapt and listen to what my body is actually craving in terms of nourishment; maybe Ho can’t do all those Brussels sprouts anymore….time for Sattvic dal? But aha, the stress addiction cycles because again, part of me doesn’t want calm-inducing foods – it craves the coffee, the acidic, the olives salsa wasabi Sriracha etc.  Whoa.

Where to go from here?
I feel like I’ve been aware for so long, but theory only takes a body so far.  Then to feel, holy shit, to feel, that’s a whole new kind of Next Level Shit.

Anyone feel me?

Why even Relax, Though?

S’Ho moved to Squamish.  I feel much better here than on the island.  It’s a different vibe here.  It was a really easy transition minus the actual move: I just truly put the intention out there, and a lovely little suite of my own surfaced.  It was right.

I’m in a space of working with compassion. Compassion for parts of me that trauma has led to feel really unsafe.  Somatic Experiencing is the therapy I’m doing which is basically a way for me to slowly reconnect with the parts of myself that I basically unplugged from the umbilical cord of my own prana, my own life force energy.

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You know when you’re in just like, a haze of feels, and can’t find a release? Man it’s tough; the face of the Human Condition.  Somatic Experiencing is a therapy modality that recognizes that through trauma, the young parts of ourselves that experienced the pain that was too much for our current coping abilities at that time in our lives, those parts learn to cope through fight, freeze or flight, so that they are able to survive.  They cannot handle the stimulation because it feels like a threat to survival, so they build an armour around those parts to shield, to blunt the blow.

I realized that the state of utter terror that I felt growing up, I still feel that during everyday life.  It was a big realization, not one for words.  It’s been a journey with the therapy, to experience a state of functioning that wasn’t the modality of terror; and in that space I could come outside of my habitual state of functioning to see just how frightened and threatened those parts of me still feel.  They still feel very threatened, and haven’t been taught how to feel safe and nurtured in the world.  The somatic, the bodily feeling that I was able to see outside of myself was a feeling like I was going to be beaten, physically, it was terrifying and terribly insightful.  WHOA.

They have begun to relearn how to feel safe in the world, this is what I’m teaching them, teaching parts of myself.  It doesn’t work to “suck it up” and “just do the things” that terrify me, and to name a few;

  • abiding by authority
  • rules
  • restrictions
  • control
  • time constraints

The way my little soldiers fight back when threatened show in the following fight/flight/flee ways;

  • skin picking
  • terrible gut pains and digestion
  • exercise
  • restriction of food
  • restriction of nurturing (in all senses of the world)
  • somatically by thumping heart
  • migraine
  • depression
  • indecision
  • mean self-talk
  • rushing like a chicken without a head

So this therapy is to begin by identifying when these soldiers are mobilizing; basically anytime the above presents itself.  Those are survival-mode soldiers.  The process is slow AF. And it’s supposed to be.  Because the moment I go too fast for my parts to feel safe, they latch onto a coping strategy.  This is where a quote sums this shit up eloquently:

I don’t “let go” of my thoughts.  I meet them with understanding, and then my thoughts “let go” of me. – Byron Katie

Beautiful description.  An explanation of why “ripping the bandaid off” won’t work.

I often forget why I’m changing, though, because this way of life has become so normal and change is fucking hard.  And parodies have showed up to reinforce the need for this shift; the need to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system– the relaxation response (that sweet spot that basically initiates our own knowledge of how to heal ourselves);

(in jot dots because Ho’s tired):

  • in physio for alignment while running; tight hip, tight glute, literally stemming from tension and stress where I am not belly-breathing, such that a rib isn’t aligned in my thoracic/lumbar spine area.  why breathe deep?  whoa this is why…body is so wise.
  • gut health: shits on run, shits all damn day, gut = second brain = depression and incomplete poops. worst. feeling. ever #amirighttho?  Relax, tune into my soul; make different food choices, or at least begin by watching and observing my choices and how they’re affecting my body.  Further than that- when eating in a relaxed state, food can actually digest better.
  • Cramp on run: alltheabove

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So the body is telling me and I’m actually beginning to watch myself, and am slowly actually becoming open and even able to feel that I want to relax.  This is so new.  Some things I’m doing:

  • child’s pose
  • letting my belly go out to breathe
  • unstructured meditation nightly
  • legs up the wall (did this once, forces body to belly breathe literally because the chest and shoulder muscles aren’t physically able to fire)
  • physio to flex at hip while breathing with full belly breaths, which actually disinhibits the response of my hip flexor firing in place of my glute

Ok, that’s it.

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A Calorie on Stress

I’ve been doing a lot of research on stress.  I understand my purpose in helping heal through targeting stress, and more deeply; our addiction to it.  I believe that somewhere along the way, a stressor in life caused a coping mechanism to arise out of survival, and this coping mechanism somehow became a crutch.  Maybe the stressor changed, and the dependency on the coping mechanism stuck.  Then, life became this unsafe place where the level of dependency on the coping mechanism necessitated a certain amount of life stress.  And so, the cyclical addiction to the process of coping, and living life in a fight-or-flight state.

And now my story; I’m watching my body as I get stronger.  The fascinating thing to me is that as I let go of stress, my body is getting stronger from my really low weight, and I believe that my digestion is better absorbing food. When under stress, the body under fight-or-flight doesn’t allocate energy to digestion- instead preparing the body for battle.  This being said, there’s merit to the idea of malabsorption regarding nutrients.

Point blank: I’m not eating much differently from what I feel, yet I’m gaining strength, weight, whatever.

It’s an amazing thing to experience…ok it’s also scary.  But I’m trusting my body, and I’m enjoying the capability to do more things like swim in a pool that isn’t 91 degrees (I still get very cold, but I can actually do it without getting hypothermia…).

The other thing I’m learning about is how the body works under stress and how physiologically we actually lessen the blood flow and so, nutrients and oxygen carried to areas of our bodies.  The main culprits are tension-migraine headache, stomach, eczema, heartburn, hiatus hernia, spastic colon, ulcer, colitis, IBS, hay fever asthma, and there’s been incredible research about the causes of these being mainly emotionally-based.  This talk was profound: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjG-8GE2Wf4https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjG-8GE2Wf4

Tension myositis syndrome (TMS), also known as tension myoneural syndrome or mindbody syndrome is a name given by John E. Sarno to a condition he describes as characterized by psychogenic musculoskeletal and nerve symptoms, most notably back pain.[1][2][3] Sarno, a Professor of Clinical Rehabilitation Medicine at New York University School of Medicine and Attending Physician at The Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine at New York University Medical Center, has described TMS in four books,[4][5][6][7] and has stated that the condition may be involved in other pain disorders as well.[2] The treatment protocol for TMS includes education, writing about emotional issues, resumption of a normal lifestyle and, for some patients, support meetings and/or psychotherapy.[1][8] In 2007, David Schechter (a medical doctor and former student and research assistant of Sarno’s) published a peer-reviewed study of TMS treatment showing a 54% success rate for chronic back pain. In terms of statistical significance and success rate, the study outperformed similar studies of other psychological interventions for chronic back pain.[1]

Another resource on this if you’d like to read more is here: http://www.mindbodymedicine.com

I’m also reading a book called Mind over Medicine, by Dr. Lissa Rankin.  The concept of the book is how the mind’s subjective perception of events is what leads us to our current state of health.  Basically, as humans, we have different realms of our beings that we need to nourish and nurture, and these are the predicates of our mind states.  These factors, listed below, are the single most important aspects that shape how we view the world, the lens through which our lives are painted.  A warm and positive lens, brought on by things like;

  • a healthy sex life
  • a meaningful relationship with a partner
  • a good relationship with a health care practitioner, and so being, social support
  • community involvement and feeling of belonging
  • being of purpose in our careers

These factors are critical for our beings to feel at peace.  A peaceful human environment will let our bodies function in a relaxed state, where we can know how to heal ourselves, allow rest and repair of our tissues, and decrease overall inflammation.  We thrive here.

It’s fascinating to me to learn about how physiologically we tend to manifest body and mind factors.  Check this out; the metaphysical manifestation of disease.

I find this so interesting, and the initial talk I posted about the concept Dr. John Sarno talks about how different body areas are shut down from emotional stressors.  So, I believe that based on the stress, and the link above from the Spiritual Causes of Disease, there’s a correlation with the stress source and the area of the body in which it manifests.  For example, I’ve had some ankle pains, and ankles are said to be:

Ankle: Inflexibility and  guilt. Ankles represent the ability to receive pleasure.

And so it is.

Another article from a wicked trail runner, Dakota Jones, talks about how he solves some unresolved injuries from healing spiritually;

I decided that my body was rebelling against me spending all my time and energy on self-aggrandizement. And this was a decision, because I never had some kind of epiphany about it. There was no moment of enlightenment. I simply decided I didn’t want to be unhappy any more and I needed to change something. To that end I have lately taken steps to become more involved with my community, to create projects for kids, and to repeatedly berate iRunFar readers about environmental stewardship. This doesn’t mean I have to sacrifice being a competitive runner. In fact, quite the opposite: I find that I can have a unique impact as a runner that isn’t available to everyone. The more I have reached out in these ways, the more I’ve realized how much I don’t know. I spend a lot of time trying to learn things lately.

http://www.irunfar.com/2018/01/recovery-2.html

The concept isn’t new.  But it’s fascinating. I’m self experimenting with exploring other aspects of my life and seeing how my body responds. The aspects listed here, from that book I mentioned:

Take The Whole Health Quiz

  1. Do you feel well supported with loving community and intimate relationships with friends and family who allow you to express your authentic self?
  2. Do you feel in touch with your life’s purpose?
  3. Are you able to stay in alignment with your integrity in your professional life?
  4. Do you feel financially secure?
  5. Are you in a nurturing relationship with a romantic partner who allows you to express your authentic self?
  6. Do you feel satisfied sexually, either with or without a partner?
  7. Are you able to set healthy boundaries with the people who stress you out?
  8. Are you comfortable saying no?
  9. Do you feel spiritually connected to a Higher Power that you trust has your best interests at heart?
  10. Do you have a healthy way to address negative emotions, such as anger, resentment, grief, anxiety, and depressed mood?
  11. Are you an optimist?
  12. Do you practice gratitude?
  13. Do you engage in generous activities that serve others?
  14. Is your life enriched with scientifically-proven relaxation response activators, such as meditation, prayer, laughter, hugs, playing with animals, orgasms, yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, massage, EFT (tapping), and alternative healing methodologies, such as acupuncture and energy medicine?
  15. Do you live in an environment that is conducive to relaxation responses?
  16. Do you feel well equipped and appropriately supported to manage the details of day-to-day life?
  17. Do you express yourself creatively in ways you enjoy?
  18. Do you let yourself nap if you need to?
  19. Are you mindful of the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and activities that trigger avoidable stress responses in your body?
  20. Are you committed to doing whatever it takes to reduce stress responses and activate relaxation responses in your body?

And I look forward to being my own success story.

Namasthe xo

Rib Fractures Suck

It’s been 12 days since I’ve done any physical activity apart from (slowly) walking, and I just started doing some squattings.

This is HARD.  I’ve taken training breaks before from injury, but never been THIS incapacitated.  In the past, I’ve been able to do some strength work, but this is HARD.

Yesterday, I met with a strong group of my close friends as a goodbye before I leave on Thursday to live my life out in British Columbia.  It was absolutely incredible.

The sweetest part of viewing the blessings of the family you choose, aka, your friends, is that with whom we surround ourselves, are a direct reflection of us.

So maybs I’m self-horn-tooting, but like, that means we’re all just really damn cool people!

I took a second while we were all sitting together cozy like in a cafe, to look and observe at the scene:Steve-Carell-Smile-Crying.gif

And thought how grateful I was to have all these phenomenal human beings in my life.  I don’t usually do gatherings like this, I don’t often celebrate my birthday with friends.  But I really wanted to have a goodbye to the close people who are always with me wherever I go.

It was incredible.  Thank you all.

We talked the beauty of nature, and they were so supportive and loving of how they felt I belonged in the woods #wherenoonehearsmyfartsbutthetrees

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I cannot wait to be in nature.  I forgot how much I’ve missed and needed it.  It’s been so long since I’ve been humbled by rugged trail and peace.  Toronto is loud and busy.

My rib is healing slow.  In this time, my mental strength is being tested, as well as my intuition.  I’m learning to hear my body, and live presently so that I can honour my needs.  As I’ve not trained in so long, it is a tricky time often to hear the restrictive voice of my mind with my old coping, and tell it to STFU.  Honestly, fuck the weight, fuck the struggle.  I don’t have energy enough to care for restriction and a half ass-life.

Nature, being out there, really puts the present moment in focus.  It takes away the mindgames we play, and puts real life right here and now.  There’s no time or space for restriction.  The body is totally our conduit for the experience, and is must be honoured or else, no experience.  Simple as that!

I’m eating and fuck it, I am getting healthy, in rest, and my body has done this for a reason.  The body always communicates with us.  Right now, it’s telling me to chill.  I’ve actually started watching Netflix for the first time (thank you Corinne).

I miss feeling physically strong, truly.  I feel at loss.  I won’t jeopardize my healing before I leave on Thursday (Nov 30th) to my new life out west.  The mountains are waiting for me, and I’ll climb em soon enough.  But right now, I chill, heal, rest.

Body Language

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Listen to the whispers, or you’ll be forced to abide by the screams.

I (brilliantly 😉 ) came up with this quote one day while hiking Quarry Rock in Vancouver with a friend who’d had a stress fracture and was contemplating running a 50km race on it…It came from a deep place inside of myself of experience.  It’s a lesson I’m still learning:  that of doing less, and stopping when we hear niggles of intuition.  

I’m realizing that “pushing through” doesn’t work: it catches up with us.  I pushed through a lot in the past little while, under the desperation of intending to train and maintain fitness through my body fighting to overcome Hypothalamic Amenorrhea .

I’ve biked though pain, woken up through hunger,
pushed,
endured,
“sucked-it-up”
HTFU (Rule #5)

and my body has been like,

bitch please

With personality types that crave engagement, feeling, intensity: the fine line between pushing though laziness, or actual pain, is pretty distinct.  My mind tries to fool me into saying “you’re lazy” but my body definitely speaks loudly, and I often ignore it.

Well, there’s no ignoring a (most likely) fractured rib (turned down the x-ray to save myself the radiation exposure, from Physician who said it would’t do much for treatment protocol).  Yesterday, after trying to “rest” by speed walking (because it’s the only exercise I was able to do without extreme pain) 12kms a day….my rib had enough and I waved the white flag to go to the Emergency room in the hospital.  Rib treatments are always the same regardless of sprain, strain, fracture, break: rest.  But my intent was to get drugs, something I never do – I didn’t even take Gravol when I had food poisoning and felt like I was being beaten up while on the Cyclone…(fun ride tho, hey?).

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So this pain had me in fetal, cringing, unable to breathe without excruciating pain, and wanting relief.

I ended up taking a CBD tincture which was more ideal than an NSAID anti-inflammatory med, and it helped heaps.   I could actually breathe and crack (no pun intended…) a few jokes to the nurses.

I’m so grateful for my good friend, Corinne who picked me up, and stood by me along with my Dad the whole time in the hospital.  She’s truly a gift, as is my Dad. (thanks for introducing me to Snapchat, so fun!).

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So I am in a state of non-doing (like, literally house-ridden…maybe cafe bc #coffee).  I really want to learn from this, and understand that:

Don’t wait for a storm to rebuild your roof.

Because honestly, you really can’t “trick” your body, “fool” yourself into thinking everything is “fine” (such a bullshit word), that we can “get away” with ___________ this time.  It comes back and bites us in the ass, no?

I want to learn to catch myself in the amber zone before it turns flaming red, and I want to help other do the same by living it.  Because “pushing though” helps no one, and only harms myself, and those who I could potentially help in my life’s purpose.

Feel me?  Let’s tune in, hey?

Walking the Walk

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This is Emelie Forsberg, love her, epic trail runner (currently dating my future husband, Kilian Jornet….just keeping him safenstuff for when I’m ready ;)).  I love her for many reasons, among which this quote:“Eat what you want. But learn a little about nutrition that will make you eat sustainably and healthy!”
In the end, she says it’s about feeding your soul. “Don’t read ‘weight-loss’ or ‘get these abs’ or ‘how you get this skinny’ articles,” she says.
“Love your hips, breasts, butt and belly,” she concludes. “The fat keeps you warm. And healthy.”

Read more at http://running.competitor.com/2015/11/news/emelie-forsberg-a-world-class-athlete-with-a-balanced-approach-about-food-weight-and-her-body_139891#2VyMxXW56vrtA63e.99  

Our bodies are wise.  When we don’t listen to them, the speak loud.

Realization: I had a gnarly cold, and didn’t take a day off working out, through horking (againandagainandagain #thisiswhyimsingle) on my rides and snot rocketing #likeapro on my runs through a migraine and coughing and straight up feeling like shit.  

My body knew, just like the philosophy of karma, and that we don’t ever fool our bodies: now, that stress has manifested in a breaking point, and any breaking point would come – in that of blowing my nose so hard I’ve tweaked my rib.  No core, no training, walking and breathing.

That’s so important though; learning in the now, tuning in momentarily to our bodies in order to avoid the cumulative dump of allthefeels at one time sooner or later.

So I’ve read a lot about how during Hypothalamic Amenorrhea recovery, women find that their bodies feel so drained, that waking up in the morning is a struggle.  I feel like it’s a combination of things;

  • finally allowing feelings (and realizing how badly we’ve ignored them)
  • allostatic stress load dump being all: “You didn’t listen for SO long!”
  • The body taking charge and having enough, and choosing Life over death (literally)

There’s merit in the idea of restorative, replenishing, re-re-re, you know?  I used to eye-roll at those yoga classes that were so damn slow, and how I couldn’t imagine sitting through one.  But honestly, one of my favourite quotes is:

Don’t wait for a storm to rebuild your roof.

This applies to the idea of mindful tuning in so that were not stuck in a pile of shit.  Tuning in even when we don’t feel such a need.  We are a generation of sensationalists: we crave intense feeling in order to justify stimulus.  

We crave: more, bigger, better, stronger, spicier, louder.

I think we’ve (I have anyways) desensitized ourselves so much, numbed ourselves, distracted ourselves so much that it takes a huge BANGBANG stimulus to engage in registration of feelings;

  • newer faster phone
  • louder ring-tone
  • louder alarm clock
  • sriracha on sriracha on franks on tabasco
  • 12/10
  • aerobic zone, like, 8…
  • HTFU Rule #5 Velominati to the power of “n”

And when is it enough?  When can we go back to unconditional sufficiency?
Answer: RN. (not registered nurse….RIGHT MEOW NOW RAWR!)

mindful eating love.pngSo, right now, I’m sitting on my bed, reading about what I’ll be making a workshop on when I go out to BC (or now)…post walk with a tea.  I’m injured, and I’m resting, and for this moment, I’m OK.  I know my mind will come back and kick me, but I’ll bitethatdamnVegan….and then eat Rabbit for dins (lol what?! I have ground rabbit in my fridge that I defrosted from Angela Wood, fam friend Chef guru woman…kinda excited to try…although they’re so cute…but like…*****gottaneat!).

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Stay with me, stay with yourself, even for 5 seconds, that’s a damn good start.

2:57AM Le Hungry

Sometimes hunger doesn’t come in pangs of stomach notifications, like waking up with a headache and some intuition saying “eat”. I went to bed after being too tired to expend the honestly exhausting energy #tuningin to see if I was full after eating a snack. Maybe this is where the core cause is #lettinggo of the need to be “perfectly” sated. I honestly think I was so tired of the mind games, paired with being end-of-day-wiped, that I was just in a #fuckit place and hit the pillow, not feeling like living up to my own standards of eating “just right”.

That was another form of escapist-numbing, I now see. And also of rubbish high standards of perfectionist ways. Well, I’m eating now, and it’s a learning lesson that “perfect” is bullshit. And even in this imperfection there’s beauty of self-discovery and awareness.

Awareness is key.

Also: yes, I genuinely enjoy Brussels sprouts. #maybethisiswhyimsingle