Thursday, April 27, 2017

Weight Loss 101 - Calories In - Calories Out

I’m starting a new series of posts today. This is the first in a series, “Weight Loss 101”. In this series, I am going to talk about the things that have worked for me in my journey to lose 100 lbs. I’m going to explore the nerdy side of weight loss and discuss calories and adipose (fat cells) and how they work. I’ll be talking about glycogen, triglycerides, and water weight. There’s also a phenomenon I will tell you about called “Stall and Woosh” which can explain weight loss plateaus and will show you how a plateau isn’t exactly what you think. Exploring the scientific side of weight loss has helped me tremendously. Hopefully the posts in this series will help someone else.

Today, I’m going to talk about my diet strategy, calories in – calories out. This is the most straightforward diet that I know of, is based on scientific law, and has worked for anyone who has correctly applied it. I’ve tried the Weight Watchers points system, Nutrisystem, Atkins, and several other diets, mostly hand written and copied thousands of times on a Xerox machine, and have come to the conclusion that for me, calories in – calories out works the best. It’s all simple math and physics.

First, let’s look at how weight loss works. One pound is equal to 3500 calories (energy units). The average 150 lb person burns 1800 calories, or units of energy, per day for someone with a sedentary lifestyle (your personal Basal Metabolic Rate can be calculated by a doctor or estimated using a BMR calculator). In order to lose one pound, you must create a deficit of 3500 calories. On a 1200 calorie per day diet, a deficit of 600 calories per day occurs. That means that it will take six days for me to lose one pound, provided I stay within that 1200 calorie per day limit.

Let’s add in exercise. Each mile I run burns roughly 100 calories. I’m currently running approximately 10 miles per week, burning about 1000 calories, or .28 pounds. If I follow my diet to the letter, and run five days per week, I can expect to lose 1.28 pounds per week.

On the other side of the coin, let’s explore weight gain. I had gained 100 lbs over an 8 year period. It isn’t that hard to gain weight, and the pounds can sneak up on you even when you don’t think you’re doing that badly. A seemingly normal diet can hold more calories than we’re even aware. A typical day for me before I began my diet, and on a day that I cooked a “normal” dinner and not one of my gourmet masterpieces, would include:
  • Two Pop Tarts for breakfast at 400 calories. 
  • A pack of cookies or nabs in the afternoon (I rarely ate lunch) at 200 calories. 
  • Dinner might be a plate of spaghetti, 329 calories, 2 slices garlic bread, 412 calories, and a salad with 100 Island 200 calories. 
  • In the evening, I usually had 3 glasses of wine or beer while I cooked dinner and later watched TV - 381 calories. 
  • TV time snacks. I’m going to lowball with microwave popcorn at 350 calories. 
I am up to 2272 calories for the day. Although it doesn’t sound like a lot, this is 472 calories above the 1800 calorie target. The thing about the human body is that when it finds extra calories, it stores those calories for energy that may be needed later. These calories are converted and stored as fat. This means that it would take only 7 days of this type of food to gain one pound, and eating every day like this for one year would net a weight gain of 52 lbs. Those foods I listed in my normal day don’t seem like that much until you break down the calorie count. Now take into consideration vacations, holidays, birthdays, dinner and drinks with friends on the weekends, and other events where food is the main focus. Talk about disaster!

Understanding the way calories work is an important part of weight loss and maintenance. With mainstream diets, you don’t have the advantage of learning the calorie count of foods. On the calories in – calories out method, you begin to memorize the calorie counts of foods. When going out to eat, you can then easily calculate the calories in any meal by adding the calories of the ingredients. With mainstream diets you don’t learn to eat differently. You end up following the plan to the letter, and sometimes only eat pre-packaged meals, and when you hit your weight loss goal and go off of your "diet", you go back to old habits. In a year or two, you’ve gained back all the weight and then can’t understand why.

Once I’ve hit my weight loss goal, I will have to tinker with the number of calories I need for maintenance. The 1800 a day is a good starting point. From there, I can monitor how my weight fluctuates by the week.  If I’m still losing weight, I can up my calorie intake. If I’m gaining, I can lower it again. I know that I will always have to count calories and pay close attention to the scale to prevent myself from falling back into those old habits. That’s fine with me too. I’ve developed the habit of weighing myself religiously and logging calories on my app. It only takes a few minutes each day.

Those are the basics of calories in – calories out, and is my diet strategy. More “Weight Loss 101” posts will be coming soon! Please let me know if there is something you’d like for me to discuss.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I Would Do Anything

When I was around fourteen years old, I saw a girl at Carowinds amusement park with the prettiest, darkest tan I had ever seen. It was the 80’s, and dark tans were the most covetous feature a girl could have in the Summer. I was so impressed by her tan that I turned to my dad, excited, and said, “I would do *anything* to have her tan”.

Not missing a beat, and never even looking at me, dad responded, “No you wouldn’t”. I was confused and offended that my dad would presume to tell me what I thought or how I felt. “I would too”, I protested.

Dad, still not showing any thought nor feeling to my desire, said to me, “No, you wouldn’t. The fact that you don’t have that tan right now proves it. If you would do anything to have her tan, then you would have been working toward it just like she has been. You don’t think it just fell on her, do you”?

I stared blankly at him, mouth wide open and nothing coming out. Dad had just taught me something that has stayed with me to this day. If it is something I wanted, then I would have to work for it.

In late September of this year, I finally admitted to myself that I had been abusing my body for quite some time. I was eating anything I wanted, whenever I wanted. I was drinking vast amounts of wine or beer on a daily basis. I had gained over one hundred pounds in around an 8 year period. I could barely walk, my hands would go numb and my legs would often cramp from lack of circulation. My weight had skyrocketed to its highest ever, 254.5 lbs. I had to do something.

I began a diet (again) on a Monday morning in late September. I had tried and failed a hundred times before. This time, I wasn’t going to do Weight Watchers, Atkins, Jenny Craig, or any of the other popular diets. I was going to create my own and just cut calories by eating healthier and limiting alcohol. It wasn’t really difficult, but what made it not-so-hard this time is the “Doggonit-ness” I had. I clamped onto the idea of this weight loss journey and wouldn’t let go of it for any man’s money. I’d give anything to lose that weight.

I had to say no to a lot of things that I wanted, and I still have to say no. When my friends were having burgers or pizza, I ordered salad. When it was someone’s birthday, I didn’t eat the cake. On vacations, I’d only choose lean fish and vegetables from the all you can eat calabash seafood buffet. I even declined dinner at Rioz , an all you can eat meat-lover’s paradise, and also my favorite restaurant at Myrtle Beach. After losing 50 lbs, I began walking, then ultimately running every day. These sacrifices were all needed to keep me on track, and I accepted it happily. I knew that the reward would be worth it in the end. I would do anything to lose that weight.

Over the last seven months, I have managed to drop 67 lbs, placing me at 187.9 lbs. I’ve also dropped from a size 20 to a size 12. Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t come to me telling me how great I’m doing or how amazing I look. I have men trying to catch my interest again. I have women telling me I look so much better. I also have people asking me daily how I am doing it. I always give the same answer. Diet and exercise.

I am no different than the girl with the tan at Carowinds. I’m not “lucky”. I didn’t find a magic pill or potion. There is no such thing – results from those are at best temporary if they work at all. The fat didn’t “just walk away” like Adipose on an episode of Doctor Who, and frankly I wouldn’t want it to – if you haven’t seen that episode, you should. (Yikes!) I wanted it. I am working for it. I am achieving it.

I will succeed at my goal to shed 100+ lbs and ultimately reach my 150 lb target weight. I would do anything to do it. I’m proving that every single day.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Low Calorie Meal Options

I was asked by a friend to get together a week’s worth of recipes that I use on my diet. I then had requests from other friends to be included in the list. This is what I’ve come up with. The following seven dinner recipes are mine and the pictures are what I actually made. Everything is portioned to serve four, but quantities can be adjusted easily for a larger or smaller group.

I have only included dinner recipes, but will share with you some of the options I use for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks. All of these are in my rotation, and have yielded a 68 lb weight loss over a six month period as of today.

I keep my calorie count to 1200 per day. Men will need more calories to function. Please check with your doctor before starting any diet plan. 


1 envelope Quaker instant oatmeal – 100 – 130 calories (depending on flavor)


2 hard-boiled eggs – 140 calories


Egg and Cheese Muffin: - 190 calories
  • ·         Thomas’ Lite English muffin
  • ·         Scrambled egg
  • ·         Sargento thin sliced cheddar (1 slice)


Vegetable and Cheese Omelet - 205
  • ·         2 Eggs
  • ·         ½ oz shredded cheddar
  • ·         ½ Green pepper
  • ·         ½ onion

Lunches and Snacks

Garden salad – 2 Cups salad with raw vegetables – 30 calories (add dressing calories)

Shrimp cocktail – 8 large shrimp with sauce – 150 calories

Raw Vegetable plate with 1 oz Cheddar – 125 Calories (add calories for using dips)

2 Cups cubed Cantaloupe/Watermelon/Pineapple/Honey Dew – 120/96/200/128 Calories (respectively)

Turkey wrap (Made with Xtreme Wellness Low Carb Wraps) – 250 calories
  • ·         1 – 50 calorie wrap
  • ·         4 oz sliced turkey cold cuts
  • ·         Lettuce
  • ·         Tomato

I always see how many calories I have at the end of the day. I try to supplement by indulging my cravings. Some days I have enough to have a bowl of popcorn and a beer with a movie. Depending on the number of calories left after that, I may have 1-3 pieces of chocolate! Some of my guiltLESS pleasures include:

1-3 Hershey minis – 42 calories EACH

¼ cup popcorn – (pop in an air popper and use spray butter and sea salt) – 160 calories

1 Craft beer, such as a porter or stout – 200 calories (average)

2 oz bourbon with Diet Coke – 140 calories

Pudding Pie with Whipped Cream – 180 calories
  • ·         1 Keebler mini graham cracker pie crust (100 cal)
  • ·         1 container sugar free pudding (chocolate is my go to) (60 cal)
  • ·         2 Tbs lite Cool Whip (20 cal)

Banana Pudding with Whipped Cream – 205 calories
  • ·         1 Keebler mini graham cracker pie crust (100 cal)
  • ·         1 container vanilla sugar free pudding (60 cal)
  • ·         ¼ banana, sliced (25 cal)
  • ·         2 Tbs lite Cool Whip (20 cal)

Angel Food Cake with Fruit and Whipped Cream – 210 calories
  • 1/12 Angel Food cake – 120
  • 1 Container fruit cup no sugar added (check calories on package) (70 cal)
  • 2 Tbs Lite Cool Whip – (20 cal)

Here are some great brands I use.


Teriyaki Chicken and Mushrooms with Roasted Vegetables
Servings: 4
Calories: 264
Total time: 30 minutes

Chicken and Mushrooms
4 Boneless, skinless chicken thighs (approx. 4 oz each)
1 pint baby portabella or other mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
3 Tbs Teriyaki sauce
2 Tbs Sweet Chili sauce
Cooking spray
Salt & Pepper to taste

Heat pan and spray with cooking spray. Cut chicken thighs into bite sized pieces, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Add chicken and mushrooms to hot pan and drizzle with teriyaki and sweet chili sauce. Sautee’ until done, but do not overcook.

Roasted Vegetables
2 Zucchini
2 Yellow squash
1 lb Fresh green beans
Kosher salt (to taste)
Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 450°. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Cut zucchini and squash into ¼” rounds and place on sheet pan, slightly overlapping the edges. Cut ends from green beans and cut in half. Scatter on sheet pan. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes.

Pulled Chicken Tostadas with Black Beans
Servings: 4 (1 serving = 2 tostadas – Picture showing three nets 700 calories)
Calories: 480
Total time: 60 minutes

Pulled Chicken Tostadas with Black Beans
1 lb Boneless, skinless chicken breast, boiled, baked, or roasted, shredded
1 Cup shredded mild cheddar
8 Corn tostada shells
1 Can Fat Free Refried Beans (I use Casa Mamita)
Shredded lettuce
2 Medium tomatoes, diced
8 Tbs Pace Picante Sauce
3 Tbs Taco seasoning
1 Can black beans

Cook boneless, skinless chicken breast, Shred and season with taco seasoning. Spread refried beans over tostadas with a knife. Pile on chicken mixture, dividing equally among 8 tostadas. Add cheddar to each tostada, dividing equally. Microwave 2 at a time on serving plate for 30 seconds to melt cheese. Add shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and picante sauce. Serve with black beans.

Baked Flounder with Bullion Orzo and Raw Veggies
Servings: 4
Calories: 240
Total time: 30 minutes

Baked Flounder
1 lb Flounder
Old Bay Seasoning
Cooking Spray
Preheat oven to 450°. Line sheet pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Place flounder onto sheet pan and sprinkle generously with Old Bay. Bake for 20-25 minutes until fish flakes. Do not overcook.

Bullion Orzo
1 Cup orzo
1 Chicken bouillon packet or cube
2 Green onions, chopped

Cook orzo to package instructions, adding bullion to water. Sprinkle with green onion.

Raw Veggies
12 Grape tomatoes
1 Cucumber

Cut grape tomatoes in half. Slice cucumber. Serve raw.

Teriyaki Shrimp with Roasted Asparagus, Carrots, and Bullion Orzo

Servings: 4
Calories: 358
Total time: 30 minutes

Teriyaki Shrimp
1 lb Shrimp, peeled and deveined
Teriyaki Sauce
Cooking Spray
Green onions, chopped

Marinade shrimp at least one hour in teriyaki sauce. Preheat oven to 450°. Line sheet pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Place vegetables onto sheet pan and spray top with cooking spray. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast for 20-25 minutes until carrots are tender. Serve over orzo and sprinkle with green onions.

Bullion Orzo
1 Cup orzo
1 Chicken bouillon packet or cube
Cook orzo to package instructions, adding bullion to water.

Roasted Asparagus and Carrots
1 lb Asparagus, woody ends cut off
½ lb Carrots
Kosher salt (to taste)
Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 450°. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.. Scatter vegetables on sheet pan. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes, until carrots are fork tender.

Grilled Pork Chop with Italian Green Beans and Salad
Servings: 4
Calories: 456 (Add calories for your choice of salad dressing)
Total time: 30 minutes

Grilled Pork Chops
4 – 4oz pork chops
1 Tbs Olive Oil
Meat Tenderizer
Allow the pork chops to come to room temperature. Preheat grill (you want this screaming hot). Lightly coat both sides of the pork chops with olive oil. Sprinkle meat tenderizer on both sides. Place on hot grill for five minutes, then turn ¼ turn. Let cook another five minutes. Flip pork chops and cook five minutes on the other side. Turn ¼ turn and cook an additional five minutes. Flipping causes the pretty score marks on the meat.

Italian Green Beans
2 cans Italian green beans, drained and rinsed (important to remove extra sodium)
Kosher salt (optional)
Prepare green beans to instructions

My Usual Salad
Iceberg lettuce
Baby spinach
Chopped tomatoes
Chopped cucumber
Chopped green pepper
Chopped carrots
Shredded cheddar (1/2 oz per salad)
Real bacon bits (1/2 oz per salad
Croutons (6 per salad)


Broiled Salmon with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Carrots
Servings: 4
Calories: 278
Total time: 30 minutes

Broiled Salmon
4 – 6oz Salmon fillets
1 Tbs Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Preheat broiler on its low setting, or preheat on bake to 500°. Lightly coat salmon with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Broil in oven to desired doneness. (Fish should be firm to the touch but not tough)

Roasted Brussels sprouts and Carrots
1 lb Brussels sprouts, cut in half
½ lb Carrots
Kosher salt (to taste)
Cooking Spray
Preheat oven to 450°. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.. Scatter vegetables on sheet pan. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes, until carrots are fork tender.

Shrimp and Summer Vegetable Medley with Angel Hair Pasta
Servings: 4
Calories: 374
Total time: 30 minutes

Shrimp and Summer Vegetable Medley
1 lb Shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Zucchini, cubed
1 Yellow (or green is fine) bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 large tomato, diced
1 Tbs Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in pan until shimmering. Sautee’ zucchini, onion, and bell pepper until tender. Add shrimp and cook until pink. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over angel hair pasta.

Angel Hair Pasta
8 oz dry angel hair pasta
Kosher salt
Make pasta according to package directions.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

What Am I Running From?

I had a breakdown on my two mile run yesterday.

I started my run not feeling so great. The first quarter mile, my thighs were burning and aching, and I felt that every step was labored and heavy. Everything within me kept screaming “Stop and go back to the car”. I kept running, speeding my pace, and ignored the desire to quit. After the quarter mile, my legs didn’t hurt quite as badly. I checked my pace on my Garmin. I was running faster than I usually do. At around the ¾ mile mark, I felt so thirsty that it was becoming uncomfortable. That isn’t normal for me. I usually don’t get that dry, but I made a 3 second stop at the water fountain for a quick sip and got my pace back. I was almost at the one mile marker, and my time was looking amazing (for me). Across the pedestrian bridge, around the curve and up the hill to the bridge I went, speeding up as I got to the hill. My one mile buzzer went off on my watch and I checked my pace as I turned to go back. I’d completed that mile in 13:11. Not too bad!

Wanting to beat my 13 minute mile from a couple of weeks ago, I pressed a little harder. I sped up and checked my pace. I was running at a 9.14 minute mile. I was feeling pretty decent at this point even though I was still thirsty and getting hot. My footsteps became lighter and I was feeling as if I had found my groove. But then, my mind stopped concentrating on my breathing pattern. I forgot about paying attention to my foot strike. My mind had started to wander. I had tuned out the music that was turned up high on my ear buds. I began thinking. Negative thinking. I was thinking about things that had happened years ago. Lost loves and abandoned friends streamed through my head. I thought about problems that I’d had at work 10 years ago. I thought about people I loved who have passed away. I thought about the wrongs that I had done to others. I thought about the wrongs that others have done to me. I began to get angry, and I felt my eyes filling with tears. I pressed even harder, running as I’d never run before.

I was a half mile away from my end point, and all of a sudden those tears began to stream down my cheek. I couldn’t breathe and was gasping for every breath I took in. I was crying full on, pissed off, hurt. I was sobbing. I stopped running and began to walk the last half mile back to my car. The thoughts kept coming, one after the other. I cried harder and harder as I made my way closer to the car. I finally got to my car, sat down and laid my head on the steering wheel and sobbed until I could gain enough composure to drive back to work. I drove back, parked my car, and posted the incident on Facebook:

My work phone rung only minutes after I returned to my desk, and on the other end was who I now consider my guardian angel. He told me that I’d “hit the wall”, which was normal under extreme exertion, and said that when I break through the wall that everything in the past can now get through as well. He told me that I had all this excess baggage holding me back that was being dropped, and that I wasn’t running FROM something, but that I was running TOWARD something – the new me. He told me so much more, and had me built up. I’m so appreciative of this man and his wisdom.

When I finally got home I pulled up my trusty Google search. “Hitting the wall runners”, “emotional while running”, and a few other key phrases. I read a few forums and a few good articles. THIS ONE, from, and THIS ONE from outline physiological causes behind psychological issues when endurance running.

I also found THIS GEM on a Reddit forum:

[–]boojieboy 25 points 3 years ago
I think the emotions that people experience after severe exertion like long runs are probably due to momentary frontal lobe insufficiency, resulting in momentary disregulation of emotions. Why crying in particular is what most people seem to experience, rather than euphoria, sadness, or what have you, is not clear to me.

[–]boojieboy 13 points 3 years ago*
The relevant idea in cognitive-neuroscience is called "transient hypofrontality" LINK
Basically, the theory is that when you exercise you drive your body into a state of heightened physiological arousal (i.e. you get excited) and this pushes your frontal lobes to supply an interpretation of that arousal. High arousal states tend to be interpreted as being either extremely positive ("euphoric") or extremely negative ("sadness") and, in a situation where the resources your frontal lobes draw upon to do that job are depleted, it can result in an unstable mix of those two ends of the emotional spectrum. The outcome is often a surge of what most of us understand as a kind of exquisite bittersweet emotion (a mix of both positive and negative), the natural expression of which is (da DAH!) crying. It won't last very long, and the period of time during which you are most vulnerable is within an hour or so of the completion of the exercise bout. Once your cognitive resources recover (i.e. you suck down a huge dose of carbs, ninja edit: and take a nap!) the frontal lobes recover their strength and stability is restored.

Everything that causes the issues discussed in the articles I’ve read line up completely with what happened yesterday. Looking back, here’s what happened:

  • I normally have 4-5 bottles of water between 7-12 before my run. Yesterday I was extremely busy and I only had ½ bottle. I was dehydrated.
  • I didn’t eat anything before the run. The last “meal” I had was a lite English muffin, plain. I had that muffin at 5:30 AM. I wasn’t fueled.
  • Yesterday was the warmest day that I have run. I was overheated and not acclimated. 
  • I was pushing myself harder and faster than I had before. I finished my 2 miles in 14:08. My fastest pace recorded on my Garmin that day was 8:16/mi. Let me add that I finished up my 2 miles WALKING the last half mile, and still almost made my lowest lap time ever, missing the mark by only: 13 seconds. Had I finished the run, I was on target to hit my first 11 minute mile. I was overexerted. 

Everything above explains perfectly what happened to me yesterday. Although I can’t say I “enjoyed” the run, I'll always say that no run is a bad run, I learned so much from the experience. I’m getting faster. I’m learning my body. I’m not only getting stronger physically, but mentally as well. I’m learning just how important water and fuel is to a runner. I’ve learned that running is helping me drop old baggage and that the “new me” is where I’m headed. I’ve also learned that there are people out there watching out for me and that are good enough to speak up and help me get through it. And I appreciate it oh so much.

Thanks to my guardian angel, I now know that I’m definitely not running FROM anything. I’m running TOWARD it. At full speed ahead.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Sweet Taste of Victory?

I’ve been noticing on my runs that some days I get this weird sweet tasting film around my lips. It hasn’t been every single day, but it happens often enough to make me wonder what is going on. Today was one of those days. I ran pretty well today, logging 2.1 miles, and fought against my body when it kept telling me to slow down and walk. As I got to the 1.5 mile mark, I noticed it happening again. The sweet taste of victory? Perhaps. But perhaps I should check Google and see what else it could be.

After reading a few forums and an article on, I finally found out what is happening. The sweet taste that develops in or around the mouth are ketones (think ketoacidosis in diabetics). During strenuous exercise the body likes to burn glycogen, made up of sugar and carbs, which is stored in the muscles (and was also the culprit of my gaining six pounds when I started running). Glycogen is easier for the body to convert to fuel, so the body pulls from this first. When the body no longer has those glycogen stores, it turns to burning fat instead. In pushing my body into using fat by depleting the sugar stores, my running is causing a state of ketosis.

Diabetes runs on my father’s side, so just to be sure everything was OK, I stopped into the nurse’s office at work to check my post-run, and present sweet-lipped, blood sugar level. A quick prick of the finger and a short chat later, the results were in. My blood sugar level was normal. Awesome!

When trying to lose weight, starting a new diet or exercise program will change everything about your body. You will notice so many things that your body is doing that it hasn’t previously. Those changes need to be monitored. Even if you think everything is OK, take a few minutes and check that blood pressure, pulse rate, and even your blood sugar levels like I have done. My diet and exercise goals are intended to make me healthier. Health does not start and stop in the mirror.

Monitoring my health and paying attention to the small things like that sweet taste has given me another marker to measure as I go about my journey to a better me. I’ve learned that when I’m running and that sweet taste is present, I’m burning fat and getting lean. The sweet taste of victory? You betcha.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Thank You

You can’t measure the impact of your posts on social media by the number of likes or comments that you get. On Monday, I published a blog post, “Anxiety? Maybe Not. Some People Are Just Assholes”. In spite of getting more than 200 hits, the post on my blog hasn’t received any comments. My post on Facebook has only 8 reactions and a handful of people who commented. My Messenger, however, has been active pretty much non-stop since I released the link.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve been asked by more than a few, “Is it me that you were talking about”? I’ve been offered apologies for people being busy and not talking to me as much as they would have liked. I have had several reach out to me wanting to talk more than we have. The majority of them told me that they have experienced the same things.  I’ve received such an outpouring of support from so many people who I consider friends. To each one of you who have contacted me, either in FB comments or directly, know that I’ve never questioned any of your actions. The people who I spoke about in my post know exactly what they are doing. If they have read my words, they know who they are without having to ask. Their actions are intentional. They would never reach out to me as you guys did. It is their issue and not mine. Now that I know it isn’t me being “too sensitive” or “reading too much into things”, I’m so much better off. I can let it go now and be amused, rather than stressed, when I see it again.

When I created this blog, my intent was to use it as a diary of sorts. Instead of locking my diary with a key and hiding it under my mattress, I was going to open it up and set it out for the world to read. I wanted to be real and show people the person that I am.  I said that I was going to put everything out there about myself along with my thoughts and feelings. I said it was going to get ugly before it got pretty. I knew that writing this blog and putting all of my issues out for everyone to see and judge would be difficult. But you know what? It’s been amazing. I am baring my soul to friend and enemy alike, and what it has gotten me so far is more love and support than I could have imagined. It has shown me that I’m not the only one having these problems. It has also paved a way to drive out the anxiety, and for me to be able to stop trying to figure it all out.

To those of you who have reached out to me in the Facebook comments or privately through text or Messenger, thank you. You have built me up so much more than you realize. I promise that I will be there to support you as well. I don’t take my friendships for granted.  I love you guys.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Anxiety? Maybe Not. Some People Are Just Assholes

the Gorleston Psalter, 1310-1324
Some people are just assholes. I’m realizing more and more that anxiety isn’t all in my head. This is a huge breakthrough for me, because even though I’d *like* to be liked by people, there are some, no matter how nice I try to be, that will just be plain jerks.

I play in the Society for Creative Anachronism, an educational group who learn about life before the 17th century by researching and recreating pretty much everything the way it used to be. We learn about clothing by researching, creating, and wearing the clothing they would have worn. We learn how they ate by researching and preparing recipes from hundreds of years ago. Fighters combat on the field using techniques that would have been used then. The list goes on. If it was done in the Middle Ages, someone in the SCA is doing it.

I've only been in the SCA for a year and a half, so I don't have the solid friendships that others have grown and nurtured over several years, and in some cases decades. This causes SCA events trigger major anxiety attacks for me. These anxious thoughts heighten when I go to an event alone and don’t have dedicated people to interact with. While I’ve had positive experiences with most of the people who play in the SCA (some of the best people I've met), there are a handful out of several hundred who have made me feel excluded and even inferior. I’ve not been around these people long enough to have offended anyone (at least I don’t think I’ve offended), but I still experience rudeness and arrogance from them.There are some who walk past and turn their head to not make eye contact. There are some who give as short an answer as possible when I try to engage them, and then walk away.. There is one who always offers only a sneer or an eye roll when in proximity. There has even been one to whom a friend and  I said good morning in passing, who stopped dead in his tracks and glared at us as if we were too beneath him to offer such a greeting. When we were met with his nasty glare, we both turned to look at each other at the same time, in shock, and all either of us could say is “WOW”. The incidents I have mentioned are not imagined; they are real and are regular in occurrence, and involve the same people at each event. These things are NOT anxiety talking. These behaviors do not belong to me.

In retrospect, there has been only one occurrence that I found I had read too much into, and after having expressed my feelings to the person involved and asking what I had done, I was assured that there was nothing to be concerned with, and that everything was OK. Incidents like that happen, and I do need to acknowledge those as flaws within myself.  Genuine anxiety aside, I've just realized that I’ve been internalizing other people's rude and hateful behavior and owning it as if my being too sensitive and imagining things is the total issue. This is not healthy and is adding to the anxiety that I feel. I need to start accepting that some of these people are just rude jerks, and quit taking the blame for them being assholes. I think that if I take these things for face value and can accept that I’m not always the one with the problem, that it may boost my confidence and lessen the anxious thoughts. It may also loosen me up and help me let down my walls when people with good intent actually do come and talk to me and engage me, rather than keeping my distance and being afraid to speak for fear of being rejected or ridiculed. By recognizing which people are giving me negative feelings, and understanding that the problem is with them and not with me, I may finally be able to more freely accept that I am actually accepted by the others.

I had a job and a plan this past weekend, and I got to hang out with some really awesome people who say they like me and that I’m “their kind”. I was introduced to new faces. I heard stories from the past, which only adds to my experience in the SCA. I was made to feel appreciated, and I had a purpose. I did see several of those people I mentioned above, and their actions toward me were exactly the same as they had been in the past. This time though, it didn’t settle into my heart and head. I was able to shake it off and can say that anxiety didn’t creep in for the entire day. Being relaxed, feeling accepted, and enjoying the event with people who actually wanted me around helped me see that it isn’t all in my head, and that I’m not as big a basket case as I thought. What freedom!

People are assholes and it’s OK. It means that it isn’t all my problem, and I’m better off emotionally than I originally thought I was.