Crawling Out of the Gloom

I know it can be easy to fall into a slump when the weather gets gloomy, and it’s dark out early, and sometimes shit just happens.

I’ve been in this state a little lately since something rotten happened to me, and it’s  been hard to perk back up from it, especially in this rainy, foggy, cold weather.

Once you’re stuck in that murky place, and you’re not sure where to grasp, or what to do, it’s common to just drown in your own negativity. You know what is good for you, but you just feel so crappy that you don’t care. You don’t feel worthy of self-care. You just want to bundle up with blankets by the fire and eat cake and watch TV. You don’t want to exercise out in the cold. You don’t want to do errands. And you certainly don’t want to go to work.

I have still stuck to my raw food diet in this time, but higher fat foods have crept back in because they feel more comforting – they can really squash down emotions, especially more than fruit which makes you feel so clear and feel everything more intensely. And that can be hard, especially if you’re used to dealing with your feelings by eating (or drinking, smoking, playing video games, etc – anything to get out of your head).

But I know that it’s not good for me, and even though it can bring short term pleasure, eventually it makes me feel worse.

I know what I need to do in order to feel my best. And so do you.

The best thing to do when you’re in a slump is to write down EVERYTHING you can do that will make you feel better. All of it. Write a list of it, and look at it every time you wake up.

And just follow the list. Don’t even THINK about it. Just do what it says. Treat it like your job. Keep the list with you all the time.

If you still have issues getting going, just break those things into tinier steps and follow that. Like, do you want to go for a run but don’t even want to get out of bed? Don’t even think about the run yet. Think about sitting up. Then think about putting on socks. You can do that! And those micro-steps will eventually lead you out the door, if you break it up small enough.

So what are the things that will make me feel the best? I have written a list – and I know I must follow it, because the winter months are the worst here, and I don’t have a big trip to a warm place to look forward to this time, so I have to get through to spring somehow!

Steps to Feel Better:

1. Low-fat raw vegan diet.

This is the most important. Having to many fatty foods in the gut just makes you feel slow, heavy, and I want to feel light and vibrant.

2. Daily exercise.

And really, I mean playing. Fun stuff that makes you move. It’s hard to get excited about going for a run in the rain, but you can have a dance party in the living room, or go to the swimming pool, or have a martial arts lesson.

3. SUN

Or a tanning bed if a vacation is not an option, and you don’t live in a place with year-round warmth and rays. Minimal tanning is a great option for Vitamin D. You can also get an SAD lamp (though that helps with hormones, and does not create vitamin D). Also there are now vegan D3 supplements, so getting those can help too, especially if you don’t want to spend money on tanning.

4. Massage

If you can’t afford it, do mutual massage with your partner or a good friend. Do it as a trade.

5. Sex

I mean, duh. Connecting with your partner in this way is going to make you feel even closer, more loved, and flood you with gorgeous happy chemicals. If you don’t have a partner, give yourself some love.

6. Water and Lots of it

We need to flush our systems! You will get a lot more fluid in your system from eating mostly fruits and vegetables, but considering we live in toxic environments, we need a lot more flushing out!

7. Exquisite Physical Self-Care

Treat yourself beautifully. Treat your skin and your hair and your teeth with utmost care – don’t drown yourself in products – simplicity is good.

8. Belief Questioning

If you are having a hard time, write down everything about what’s going on – be pissed off. And then question those beliefs à la Byron Katie. It works wonders.

9. Gratitude

Even if everything is going shitty, I bet you can find some amazing things in your life to focus on instead.

10. Media Boycott

We get way too caught up in things like Facebook and Youtube and whatnot these days. Take a break from them – spend the time doing things you used to do before the internet took over everyone’s lives.

11. Reading for Pleasure AND Learning

Related to the media boycott – instead of reading what everyone else is doing, read something someone has actually created. Or even better, learn something new.

12. Writing in a Journal + Creative Writing

I think I should have put this higher on the list, though everything on here is important. For me, writing encompasses both journaling AND creative writing, though I can get sucked into the internet and regret wasting my time doing that instead of working on my own stuff. As for journaling – if you are writing, and have nothing to write about – that is a sure sign your life has gotten pretty dull. (Actually, this was key to me realizing my former relationship had made my life boring! Time to get out! Thanks diary!)

13. Specific Goal-Oriented Work, Daily

I ain’t talking about your day job. I am talking about things you want to accomplish. You can do something to get closer to those goals every day. Even if you have tons of goals, you can do SOMETHING every day to reach them, even if it’s something tiny! Tiny things add up, too!

14. Stop Wasting Time

No more Farmville for you. Close your laptop. Go outside. Play with your animal friends. Jump on your partner.

15. Do Fun or Exciting Things Every Day

Even if it’s minor. You could die in 5 minutes – or less. Have fun as much as possible. I rode a PlasmaCar the other day, down a long wheelchair ramp. Twice. It made my whole day.

16. Pay Off Debts

Agh, this is huge. Money is the most annoying thing people worry about. There are ways to get out of debt – even if it’s huge amounts, there are probably a lot of creative ways you can get out of it. I’m lucky I don’t have a huge amount, but it still weighs me down, even though I don’t think about it a lot – it’s a nagging anvil on my carefree heart.

17. Be Creative Every Day

In some way. There are ways to put a flourish on anything.

18. Clean Environment/Minimalism

Your environment is a reflection of your mindstate. Too messy = chaotic mind. Clean = calm mind. Spotless at every single moment = obsessive mind. You get the picture.

19. Time With Animals

Do I need to explain? Having a sweet animal friend helps keep you calm, gives you unconditional love, and gives you a purpose and focus for YOUR love, too.

20. Sleep – Early Nights (Usually)

As much as I love staying up late, I know it’s not the best for me. Going to bed between 10 and midnight is a really good idea – even earlier if you can. A lot of things I enjoy happen late at night, though, so I think as long as I go to bed early as a usual, I can stay out later sometimes – as long as I still get enough sleep. How do you know it’s enough? You wake up without any alarms, and you are ready to sit up and stretch. If you want to curl up into a ball again, you need more! (unless you’re just cold and want to stay cozy! I get it!)

21. B12 Test/Injections

This is one I gotta check out – it’s been a while since I had my levels checked. I have been taking a sublingual for a long time and want to see if it’s making any difference. If not, stab away! This is one nutrient that is hard for EVERYONE to get, not just vegans and vegetarians. It’s an extremely complicated vitamin.

22. See Friends More Often

I can tend to hide away and get too introspective – even if I don’t feel like going to see someone, I never regret going. Or rarely!

23. But Have Alone Time More Often, Too

If I’m around people TOO much, then I don’t have enough time to work on my own stuff. A lot of what I do takes solitude. Also, for other people, alone time is important to BE introspective. So many people hate being alone – why? You must really not like yourself. Why not? Spend some time alone and figure it out, then fix it!

24. Written Goals/Vision Board/Book

Writing shit down is so important. There are so many times I remember thinking “Nah, I don’t need to do that, I already know what I want to accomplish” – but until I actually wrote it down, it didn’t really happen. Having a beautiful visual is great, too! I did some awesome boards on Pinterest – but be careful with that site, it can become a distraction.

25. Martial Arts + Hoopdance

For me, these things are fun and at least one is practical. Both boost confidence, especially martial arts. I highly recommend trying a martial arts class – they all generally let you do the first lesson for free – if you want recommendations for the best kinds, shoot me a message. As for hoopdance, it’s fun, challenging, creative, beautiful, and great for your body.

26. Plants and Nature

Another little thing that can help your mood is to have plants around, and lots of them – ESPECIALLY if you live in the city. Getting out in nature is going to be even better – do that as much as possible – the more time spent outside (in nature) the better. If you live in Cold Ass Frozen City, then get some tropical indoor plants and pretend you’re somewhere else by sitting by the heater. But still…get some awesome thermals and a parka and epic boots and go out in the snowy forest if you have to – it’s worth it.

~

Hopefully some of these tips are helpful to you – I’m sure your own list will be somewhat different, however, there are a lot of things on this list that are useful to everyone, so please incorporate them, and feel happy 🙂

No WHAT Without WHY

Wants are going to fizzle out, or go nowhere, without WHYS.

What do you want? Why do you want it?

I always wanted to be happier, healthier, fitter – but I never stuck to it until I had a real reason, and one that was really important to me – or even a life or death thing, like changing my diet.

I had no degenerative disease (that I know of, but things percolate for years before showing up, usually) but I was so mentally distressed that I was at a point of wanting to kill myself, which had never crossed my mind before. I didn’t really want to die but sometimes it was so incessant that I really believed I did.

So there was my reason – I wanted to live, and in order to do that, I had to get healthy, and I knew my diet was the place to start.

But now, my goal is to be even healthier. In fact, last night I realized my goal was to be “Healthy as FUCK.”

But why? Why am I suddenly able to stick to an exercise routine, especially jogging/running which tends to bore me after 5 minutes? I can push past it now and enjoy it.

This is a really good thing to break down for ANY aspiration you may have – be like an obnoxious toddler and ask WHY until you get to the DEEPEST reason.

I already know why I want to eat well. So, why do I want to be fit?

To be healthier, leaner, stronger, more youthful. For longevity.

Why?

So I can live longer to experience more. So I can say YES to anything and be able to keep up. So I can look great for a very long time. So I will be self-sufficient and mobile until I die. So I can escape people who want to harm me. So I can be capable and independent.

Why?

So I can experience more. To be happy. So I can take part in more things without getting tired. Self-confidence.

Why?

So I feel like I am really living.

Why?

To feel free.

Generally all my goals come down to the same thing: Freedom.

And why do I want freedom? Because I want to really live – this flips back and forth: really living, freedom, really living, freedom, etc.

So I know those are my base reasons for doing pretty much everything.

I learned this method a long time ago in a little class I took, and we ended up writing our “Why” words on wooden boards (mine was Freedom), and then over a half hour we revved ourselves up and learned how to break the boards with our hands. Once you do that, you feel like you can do anything! I kept that board for years, and it was a good reminder that my ultimate goal was freedom, so I can do all the things I REALLY love to do.

I am not completely free – true freedom in North America is a complete illusion – but I am definitely on my way, and I have a lot more freedom than most people I know, because I focus on it.

To know the WHY is a good way to figure out if your desires and pursuits are even worthy of your time. Your base reasons may be completely frivolous and you won’t even know it – you may realize that you want something for such a backwards reason – like buying shoes because you want to be loved, or wanting to go sky-diving so people think you are brave, but those are not really things you want to do for your SELF.

So what is your WHY?

Maps + Update for May

I find that getting motivated and sticking to goals requires some SPECIFIC goals.

Like when I initially went raw, I had a timeline for myself:

Feb 1st, 2008, vegan, no refined sugar. Every week I would cut something else out – tofu, rice, potatoes, bread, other sweeteners like cane juice, etc.

April 1st, 2008, 100% raw vegan.

It worked, I stuck to it. I’ve had some little ups and downs but generally I have been raw for over 4 years with some minor blips. And I have never returned to refined sugars, cheese, cakes, etc – nothing like that. The worst I got was some baguette in Paris.

And so it is June 1st – I have been low-fat for the whole month of May, with the exception of today – it was a bit of a celebration, and also a good-bye – a good-bye to potatoes (which I used to help me stay low-fat this month, occasionally), and a good-bye to salt. I have been eating it way too much (I
don’t want to eat it at all) and I can push out my stomach so far that I look pregnant – that’s how bloated I am. When I gave up salt before I lost 10 lbs in a week.

Now I am dropping the salt. I am keeping low-fat and back to 100% raw.

I am also very proud of my exercise dedication this last month, and my chart has really helped – I took it seriously and wanted to make sure I filled it as much as possible. This was doable because I had very specific goals instead of “I want to be 80/10/10” – why? Without a why, I had no real reason to stick with it.

This last month I have discovered the following:

With low-fat, I get ZERO menstrual cramps. I finally found out the mystery of why I have had awful periods since going raw (everything else improved, that got worse – I had no issues with menstruation before raw, only after).

With low-fat…I can run.

Seriously, in my whole life whenever I have attempted to run, or jog…I lasted a minute at most. When I was trying to be a runner in 2000, I never improved much – I could go 30-60 seconds and have to take a break. This month I was inspired to go jogging and would improve every time. At first I could only go a minute without a break. The next week (I only went every couple of days) I could do 5 minutes without stopping – this for me was amazing.

Two days later (doing nothing on those two days except some arm weights) I went 20 minutes with NO breaks – I was BAFFLED. All this in two weeks of going every 2-3 days. I improved so much, and felt so good, that I started to ENJOY jogging. Now I WANT to go. Now I WANT to be able to do it for an hour! A new goal!

And why am I exercising? To be fit. To have a lean body. To stay healthy. To have strong bones. To have good endurance. To work out my heart – it’s a muscle, and it needs to be worked. To move lymph fluid. To prove to myself I can do something I thought I could NEVER do.

Also when I am low-fat, my skin is better. When I have no salt, my skin is better and my stomach is leaner. So is my face. Food tastes better. I can eat lettuce by itself and it’s amazing. Avocado starts to be delicious without anything added.

And on and on.

Which brings me to the map.

Along with my simple chart, I thought it would be fun to have a simple map I could just add any goal to and then mark specific steps over the month – this way I have something to follow instead of being all haphazard – maybe some people can just be like “Okay, this is this and I’m doing it” – for me, I like to have a basic idea to follow.

Little steps are much easier to reach, and to break down a big goal to small steps makes it a lot easier to get to the “end” – the whole reason I managed to run that 20 minutes the first time (which I would have thought impossible, especially since my max before that was 5 mins) was that I just kept saying “Okay you can make it to that tree…okay now you can make it to that driveway…okay now make it to that post” and eventually I thought…wow, I am almost at Oak street! Maybe I can make it there! Then I did, and I thought holy crap, I am still moving! Maybe I can make it all the way home! And I did.

ALL BECAUSE I USED POSITIVES – not “Oh god, I can’t do it, I’m so tired, omg I need a break” etc – I pushed myself maybe 10 steps at a time, and focused only on those 10 steps, and that got me all the way.

I have no doubt that I can reach one hour now. Maybe not within the next week, but that is my new goal for the next month or two – I am going to stretch it to two, but if I do it before then, AWESOME.

Same with my diet – over the next month I want to really simplify it – first week no salt, and any combo of fruits and greens, low-fat. 2nd week, still no salt, no fats, 3rd + 4th weeks, mono-meals of fruit, salads in evening, low-fat every couple of days.

In July, when it’s blueberry season, I want to do a week of JUST blueberries. Like 10 lbs a day. Oh my god I cannot wait.

I also want to drink 2 litres + of water per day and get as much sleep as possible, earlier the better.

I am going to photograph my physical progress and write down my daily and weekly changes, then share them at the end of the month.

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Regarding the rest of my goals in the past month, I did quite a bit of writing – I only missed 12 days of the month for writing fiction, and I only missed 6 days of writing for the blog. I only missed 5 days of exercise. I stayed 80/10/10 (with occasional potatoes) 30 days of the 31 – today being my bye-bye to salt and fancy foods. I had a bit too much fat today! Oh well.

So, bye-bye to May! I enjoyed you and the first sunny days of 2012. June is going to rule!

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I have been finding this guy’s videos hella inspiring.