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Leslie Ann Ellingburg Mental Health Uncategorized

Queen Lizzo Soulmate…

by Leslie Ann Ellingburg

As Queen Lizzo sings:

‘Cause I’m my own soulmate (Yeah, yeah)

I know how to love me (Love me)

I know that I’m always gonna hold me down

Yeah, I’m my own soulmate (Yeah, yeah)

No, I’m never lonely (Lonely)

I know I’m a queen but I don’t need no crown

Look up in the mirror like damn she the one

She is on to something here, we are our own soulmates and to be complete we don’t need another person. It’s a hard truth to accept and fully lean into when our society values relationships. It makes sense. If we look at relationships through a sociological and anthropological lens, they serve a function. Relationships build societies, culture, create safety and protection, and serve a purpose of reproduction. Humans are social beings and part of that socialness is that of building relationships–especially those who we want to “settle down” with. 

washroom interior with sink and faucet on cabinet near mirror
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If you’ve been in any form of couples counseling or have heard anything about healthy relationships, it’s important to be your own person and to love yourself. To know who you are outside of your relationship. It kind of reminds me of the infamous RuPaul quote, “If you can’t love yourself how the hell you going to love anyone else?”. There is so much truth and power in her outro. For years I watched Drag Race and was like that’s such a nice sentiment. But it wasn’t until I turned thirty, started to connect to myself, and eventually leaving my marriage, did I learn how to truly love myself. I thought I was loving myself but I wasn’t. 

I thought loving myself was taking care of others–my clients, my family, my husband. Serving them and putting their needs and wants before my own. I was raised with the adage that it’s kind to serve others and to put your husband first. 

I thought loving myself was making myself small and not taking up space. To not be a pain or burden to those around me. When I was in the midst of a gastro flare up I would do all I could to take care of it myself and not ask for help. Even if I was writhing on the floor puking my guts out. I took care of my recovery and even when my eating disorder voice wanted me to relapse and that area was looking very gray, I just kept it all to myself. Not to worry others or make their situations or stress seem less. 

I thought loving myself was making myself presentable for others. Dressing and adorning myself in a way they wanted me to appear. Covering myself and not coloring my hair or doing things that I always wanted. But still treating myself to spa days, manis and pedis, and treating myself to clothes. 

woman holding card while operating silver laptop
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But this was pseudo self love. It didn’t do anything for me. Self love is loving who you are–the good, the bad, the alright, the imperfections, the dimples, pimples, your super loud obnoxious gut laugh, and the fact that you crave attention and affection. 

I started putting myself first and doing little things that made me happy–like buying flowers. I got tired of waiting around for someone to buy me flowers. So I started buying them because I LOVE them and they make me smile. Every Sunday after my tennis lessons–another thing I started to do for myself, I bought flowers and made flower arrangements. 

I dyed my hair blue. Something I always wanted to do, but felt like I couldn’t.  I also began getting my hair done more often because it made me feel pretty and confident and I’ve been through hell and I deserve it. I started wearing crop tops and while I always ended up wearing what I wanted, I truly started living up to the fashionista I always wanted to be. 

I stood up for myself. That was the biggest self love act of all. 

Leslie Ann Ellingburg is a trauma informed movement educator based out of Tennessee. She is a certified exercise physiologist through the American College Sports Medicine (ACSM), dance teacher, a certified Yoga Instructor with over 800 hours of teaching, holds Levels 1 & 2 of the Yoga 4 Eating Disorders Mentorship Program, recently completed her trauma informed training through Yoga 4 Trauma, and is beginning to pursue her master’s degree in Public Health/Community Health. Leslie’s passion is that of recovery (eating disorder, exercise addiction, other addictions) and helping individuals reconnect to their bodies in a positive, affirming, and fun way. Her philosophy is based on the Sanskrit words, “shanti” (peace) and “leela” (play)-finding inner peace through the play and practice of Yoga. When she isn’t moving on or off her mat you can find her playing with her furbaby Winston (#dogiwinston), curating the perfect playlist, writing, practicing her photography skills, and making the best coffee a home barista can. 

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Lisa Mildon Physical Health

Denial Could Have Been the Death of Me

by Lisa Mildon

My life of denial began when I was nearly nine years old. After a routine checkup, the doctor noticed I had high blood pressure. Pretty unusual for an 8-year-old. After further testing, the doctor discovered I had a non-functioning kidney. It had to come out as it was damaging my remaining kidney. So, at the ripe old age of 9, I had my left kidney removed.

My parents were told that I could live a relatively normal life, but no contact sports. I think their fear of losing me made them shelter me like a glass figurine.  Often, I would sneak off outside, climb trees, wrestle with my brother, and other rough and tumble activities. I suppose, even at that age, I was in denial. But heck, at that age, I really didn’t know any better.

My indestructible mentality carried through to my college years. I partied several nights a week, not even thinking twice that I could have any condition that would affect my social life, much less health. Thankfully, I outgrew those wild moments mostly and began taking better care of myself, but my diet was in shambles.

four person standing at top of grassy mountain
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Since puberty, I had always been “fluffy.” I’ve dieted all of my adult life with varying amounts of success. To my recollection, I never had a doctor tell me that my weight was a factor in kidney health. (Denial again, I’m sure.) That was until in 1999, my regular physician sent me to a nephrologist (kidney disease doctor) who said I either lose weight or die young.

This bit of news scared the living sh** out of me. I did a very drastic thing and had gastric bypass surgery. (Basically, a stomach stapling.) It worked. I lost nearly 100 pounds. The downside, I had so many nutritional issues. I could only eat small amounts. Eating protein was painful to digest. Food that swells, like rice, caused me severe pain. I vomited often. My hair started falling out. I was a wreck… but hey, I was thinner.

Despite my surgeon stating that the procedure he did would “never” stretch out, it did. Those painful moments were actually my stomach stretching. Almost 20 years later, I had gained all but 20 pounds back.

Then I found out I had a gluten allergy. Bingo! I changed my diet, eliminated wheat and gluten products. My weight started dropping again. I had lost over 40 pounds and felt terrific. My numbers on my kidney seemed to stabilize. Yet, according to my doctor, not once did she ever mention kidney disease. Just talked about how efficient it worked and the lack of gout.

medical stethoscope with red paper heart on white surface
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I wish she had been more upfront with me about my kidney. Perhaps she thought I had already had a talk with a previous doctor. Unfortunately, he failed to tell me anything other than send me to a nephrologist. She had, at one point, asked me if I wanted to go to a nephrologist. As the only one in the area was the same quack who advised me to get stomach surgery, I politely and firmly said no.

Seeing as she was giving me a choice, I thought this was just a suggestion for future care as I aged and unnecessary for my current situation. So, I blindly followed her advice, much to the detriment of my current health situation.

Then, as luck would have it, I moved out of state and changed careers. While all of this may sound exciting (which it has been.), those changes may have aided in my further health decline. I became a freelance editor and writer, so insurance became my responsibility. I couldn’t afford that insurance for about a year. Once I got insurance established, the pandemic hit hard. 

Trying to play it safe, I waited, thinking that this would be over in a few weeks. Oh, how wrong I was. Out of a considerable dose of precaution, I made an appointment to establish a new physician. My hope was I would find someone who would listen to me and even want my health to improve.

blue and silver stetoscope
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I lucked out big time. My new doctor listened closely to my health history, asked tons of questions, and even offered to get my old records (My old doctor was very unhelpful.). She tested my blood and urine with an expanded set of tests. I thought, “Hey, I might actually get some help with my weight loss.” The weight loss problem was the actual issue I wanted solved.

So, when I received a call to make a nephrologist appointment, it shocked me. Nephrologists are for “those” people who have kidney disease or are in failure, not me. I was in complete denial. I looked at the test results as soon as I hung up the phone. It was pretty grim. It looked like my kidney was on a downward spiral to dialysis.

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“How could it be this bad?” I asked myself. Then thoughts rolled in, images flashed. All those different doctors I had over the years all assumed that someone taught me about kidney care, what things I should eat, what I should avoid, you know, necessary information to extend my life, and the functioning of my remaining kidney.

I realized that even the quack doctor was trying to tell me I had kidney disease. God, it’s even hard to type it out, much less say, “I have kidney disease.” It scares me to be quite honest. My entire life has been about me having one kidney. Not about my intelligence, not about my sense of humor, just that damned organ in my body.

I had to face the truth. It was time to take action for my health. No more toughing it out with the pain or suffering in silence with an illness. No more sucking it up! It is time I love myself enough to take care of myself.

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I won’t lie. Depression had its clutches on me for a week. All I could think about was how I wouldn’t live to old age. That I would die and leave my loving husband alone, as he has always feared. It was his determination that shook me back to reality. I could still take action.

With his doting care and research, I began tweaking my diet to be more kidney disease friendly. I trimmed back the amount of meat I ate in a day. I increased the amount of water by twenty ounces. Gone are the “woe is me” thoughts only to be replaced with determination.

peaceful lake with residential cottages and lush trees on shore in autumn
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No matter what type of illness or adversity you might face, don’t be like I was and hide from the truth. Dig deep down from within and find that courage and determination. Take action on the care of your body and your mental health. Even from the depths of despair, I chose to live rather than wallow in self-pity.

Look at your situation. You might be surprised by making tiny changes that improvement can be attained. I tweaked my diet by reducing the amount of meat protein I ate a day. I increased my water and even started adding in 10 minutes of cycling on my exercise bike. In two weeks, my kidney numbers improved. I went from stage 4 kidney disease to stage 3. By breaking up this daunting task into small manageable chunks, I took what seemed like an impossible situation and made it something I could handle. 

You can do this too! Believe me, if someone like me who tries to ignore bad news can face adversity head on, so can you. Find your tribe of supporters; they’ll help lift you up when you’re flailing. It’s ok to ask someone for help, even for moral support.

I’m looking at my health with open, honest eyes. No more denial or me shirking away from the truth. It’s time I stop ignoring the obvious and take charge of my life. Because denial was nearly the death of me.

Categories
Financial Health Lisa Mildon Mental Health

Set Goals, Not Resolutions

By Lisa Mildon


Every New Year is usually the same. We make unreasonable or even unattainable goals, mostly dealing with our weight. While keeping a healthy weight is advisable to avoid other health issues, New Year’s resolutions don’t always have to be concerned with such goals.

The term “resolution” seems to connotate a temporary objective. Instead, let’s refer to them as goals. Goals, for many, is a mindful intention, something achievable and with an end in sight. While some of your goals may be an ongoing activity, reaching that goal gives you something to work towards. Below are some ideas for achievable intentions:

1.       Get healthy. While this is a lofty goal there are some solid ideas behind it. Consider what it means to you to get healthy. Does it require some weight loss? Do you want to run a half marathon this summer? Do you need to take more self-care by having a de-stressing hour each day?

2.       More self-care.  In our workaholic society, we’re driven to keep slogging away in the proverbial rat race. Our society sees downtime as selfish while working 50+ hours a week is admirable. This concept is just plain unhealthy. While some may not be able to trim back their work hours due to finances, if you’re able, try taking more time for yourself. Create a goal to read 1 book a month, or try out a new wine. Explore more leisurely activities to give your body and soul some much-needed rest. Even consider some time out in nature. Studies have shown that spending some time outside not only helps us destress, but can also help with coping with pain. (How Does Nature Impact Our Wellbeing?, n.d.)

3.       Try new things. Expanding our horizons livens up our lives in so many ways. By trying a new hobby, a new art project, or even meeting new people aid in reducing cognitive decline. Experiencing new activities or learning a new language helps create new connections to brain cells, thus effectively slowing down the decline. (Harvard Health, 2015)

4.       Meet new people. As stated earlier, even meeting new people, making new friends improves brain function, but did you know that scientists found it to increase your lifespan? Research has found that being social decreases an inflammatory factor that is associated with many health issues such as cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer, among others. (Research Suggests a Positive Correlation between Social Interaction and Health, n.d.) Even getting a new furry buddy such as a cat or dog, has been known to reduce systolic blood pressure.

John Hain/Pixabay

Now that you have some ideas of what to focus on, how do you tackle this daunting task? Many of us make New Year’s resolutions, but did you know that by February, 80% of those goals fail? (Luciani, 2015) Rather than set yourself up for failure, try these tips below:

1.       Make a plan. What do you want to accomplish? Write down those goals. This way, you can take each one and truly make them workable for you. Know what you really want and\or need.

2.       Take one of your goals and break it down into smaller bites. If you want to get physically fit, don’t make a challenging goal of doing cardio 6 days a week. Build up to something more realistic and feasible. Try breaking it down to a 15-minute walk every other day. Then gradually build up to every day. Then increase the intensity slowly. This not only makes your goal reachable but helps reduce the likelihood of stress or strain.

3.       Focus on one goal at a time. Rather than trying to completely overhaul your physical and mental health, pick 1 goal, the most important to you, and focus on it. Setting a goal as “to get healthy” is too vague and will likely fail as you flounder around trying to do it all without any real direction. With 1 goal in mind, devote your energies to it. Once you’ve achieved this goal, only then should you try to attempt another.

4.       Find a support system. Whether you want to quit smoking, shed a few pounds, or read 25 books in a year, find some friends or family that you can talk to about your goals. Find people who will support you, listen to you, and lift you up when you feel you’re failing. Even ask them to join you on your quest. A support system that works together is far more likely to succeed than you being the lone wolf. (And no, misery does not love company, but cheerleading sure is more uplifting with a group.)

5.       Forgive yourself. If you’re having problems meeting that goal, or feel you’ve completely failed, don’t beat yourself up about it. Don’t look at any “backsliding” as a failure, but as a lesson to learn from. What an excellent opportunity to learn more about yourself and your support group. Failure is only an opportunity to learn and grow, not true failure.

No matter what you focus on in the new year, know that any care for your wellbeing both physically and mentally is a good thing. If we don’t take care of ourselves, then who will? Take charge of your life, your health, and your happiness.

If we don’t take care of ourselves, then who will? Take charge of your life, your health, and your happiness.

– Lisa Mildon

References

How Does Nature Impact Our Wellbeing? (n.d.). Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing. Retrieved January 14, 2020, from https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/how-does-nature-impact-our-wellbeing

Luciani, J. (2015, December 29). Why 80 Percent of New Year’s Resolutions Fail. US News & World Report. https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2015-12-29/why-80-percent-of-new-years-resolutions-fail

Harvard Health. (2015, December). Rev up your thinking skills by trying something new. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthy-aging/rev-up-your-thinking-skills-by-trying-something-new

Research Suggests a Positive Correlation between Social Interaction and Health. (n.d.). National Institute on Aging. Retrieved January 14, 2020, from https://www.nia.nih.gov/about/living-long-well-21st-century-strategic-directions-research-aging/research-suggests-positive

Resolutions, goals, health, physical, mental, intentions, self care, healthy, brain, body, New Year’s, New Year