Sunday, January 3, 2010

what's with all the raw food and running?

i'm sure at one point you may have wondered that. how did a girl that blogs about adventures with anxiety get so hung up on running, raw food and all the things that go with it? i know sometimes i tend to post a lot about working out, running, bikram yoga and raw/vegan food and there seems like there's no connection. well, i think i'm so into these things because by trying them i've experienced the connection first hand. i never used to care about my health... case in point - i used to smoke to deal with my anxiety because i believed it calmed me down. i found nothing wrong with knocking back cocktails and nursing stomach aches with boatloads of funky colored meds like pepto. but that only masked my issues - never addressed them. and it definitely never helped me understand what i was going through.

enter health obsession. yoga was first for the obvious reason that it connects the mind and body and helps to ease tension and stress in the body. i needed more depth than a basic class at my gym so i went through the certification process and was so empowered by the mental changes i underwent that i jumped into teaching. and while most people find restorative totally bliss-inducing, i sometimes found that my mind needed a more active practice to get me in the moment. here is where bikram and vinyasa and power yoga come in. for me, i tend to gravitate towards toughing it out on the mat because that's when i find i get most lost in the present moment and feel the most connected to myself. don't get me wrong, i often turn to legs up the wall when i need a quick stress reliever, but i need a combo of the two practices to keep me feeling grounded. its not solely for the purposes of sweating. i just find myself connecting more to these practices at this time in my life. so even though i talk a lot about yoga that doesn't sound relaxing... for me it totally is! and stress busting!

running is the same thing. when i first started running i used to imagine my problems and anxieties as little monsters chasing behind me (please don't stop reading, i promise i didn't lose my mind!) and the more i ran the more i left them behind. one of the main reasons i had a lot of anxiety is because i had a ton of pent up energy and it was filtering out in very negative ways. it took me a long time to realize that and learn how to channel it into better things. running does that for me. so while it may, once again, not seem to have a connection to anxiety.... it absolutely does. and even if running isn't your bag, i always recommend clients get some sort of exercise suitable for them... even 30 mins a day works! a walk, run, cardio class, jumping rope, playing ball with your dog... doesn't matter what it is because for each person it's different. anxious people tend to have a lot of energy and they need to release it in ways that positively work for them.

and finally the raw food. i'm not just into raw food. i'm into health food. i've been veggie for quite a few years so i didn't just jump into raw/vegan food. it's been a natural and slow transition. and it's one that i don't know will always work for me. but after experimenting with numerous dietary lifestyle changes, raw/vegan made me feel the best. energetic, alert, grounded, strong and best of all it helped alleviate unnecessary stomach aches caused by excesses of caffeine and processed food. stomach aches, as you know, were my biggest anxious trigger so every time i self-induced one by eating food i knew i shouldn't , it was like causing me to have a panic attack on the button. NO FUN. so there is a connection to raw/vegan food for me and anxiety. and even if raw food sounds as appealing as a root canal to you, health food shouldn't. the more toxic food we put in our bodies the more toxic we feel. i've had clients feel better just by cutting out (ok, or cutting down) sugar and caffeine, because what do they do? cause excesses of energy that cause shakiness, racing thoughts and racing hearts... very common symptoms of anxiety. so someone would drink a cup of coffee, experience these symptoms, and ultimately give himself or herself a panic attack. for coffee? no thanks!

and ultimately my obsession with health also runs a bit deeper. while my anxieties didn't center on this, a lot of people's anxieties do - being sick. two stressors happen here: 1) people get anxious about needles, doc visits, hospitals, vomiting, diarrhea, etc; and 2) illness, mysterious symptoms, death, heart attack, etc.

so keeping healthy helps to alleviate some of these stressors. if you amp up your health habits and get sick less, there's less doc visits, meds, shots and all those other unpleasant symptoms that go along with being sick. and also, being healthy helps get rid of some feelings like headaches, fatigue, and nausea which some people could be causing by lifestyle choices and misinterpret as something else.... much like i misinterpreted the effects my food choices were having on me. i thought i was having panic attacks when it was more like caffeine overload.

this is really just from my point of view of what has worked for me, people i know and clients. there isn't just one cure-all for anxiety because most people need different things in their lives to cope and heal. but i like to offer things that work for me so you can know about them and maybe they'll work for you and maybe they won't. and from there you can keep the change or tweak it to help you. so if sometimes it seems like i go off on tangents about all sorts of things that don't seem related to anxiety.... they are.

i'd love to hear about the things that work for you!

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