Tag: stress

Dealing With My Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

As many of you might already know, I am a retired military veteran with service spread between two separate branches. I began my military career September 1981 in the US Navy which I was separated from in 1997 during force reductions. Skip ahead to 2008, and I re-enlisted into the Kansas Army Reserve National Guard which I retired from October 2010 after suffering a bad spinal injury on my civilian job.

As a result of too many highly stressful years and events during my military career, I was left with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which I will only refer to going forward as PTS while intentionally leaving off the “disorder”. I do not feel I have a disorder with my PTS as what has happened in my brain is actually a natural reaction when one has been overwhelmed with stressful situations.

What is Post Traumatic Stress?

From National Center for PTSD

PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.

It’s normal to have upsetting memories, feel on edge, or have trouble sleeping after a traumatic event. At first, it may be hard to do normal daily activities, like go to work, go to school, or spend time with people you care about. But most people start to feel better after a few weeks or months.

If it’s been longer than a few months and you’re still having symptoms, you may have PTSD. For some people, PTSD symptoms may start later on, or they may come and go over time.

When you have PTSD, the world feels unsafe. You may have upsetting memories, feel on edge, or have trouble sleeping. You may also try to avoid things that remind you of your trauma — even things you used to enjoy.

Anyone can develop PTSD at any age. A number of factors can increase the chance that someone will have PTSD, many of which are not under that person’s control. For example, having a very intense or long-lasting traumatic event or getting injured during the event can make it more likely that a person will develop PTSD. PTSD is also more common after certain types of trauma, like combat and sexual assault.

From Mayo Clinic:

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may start within one month of a traumatic event, but sometimes symptoms may not appear until years after the event. These symptoms cause significant problems in social or work situations and in relationships. They can also interfere with your ability to go about your normal daily tasks.

PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Symptoms can vary over time or vary from person to person.

Intrusive memories

Symptoms of intrusive memories may include:

  • Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
  • Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
  • Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event
  • Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event

Avoidance

Symptoms of avoidance may include:

  • Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
  • Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event

Negative changes in thinking and mood

Symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood may include:

  • Negative thoughts about yourself, other people or the world
  • Hopelessness about the future
  • Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
  • Difficulty maintaining close relationships
  • Feeling detached from family and friends
  • Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Difficulty experiencing positive emotions
  • Feeling emotionally numb

Changes in physical and emotional reactions

Symptoms of changes in physical and emotional reactions (also called arousal symptoms) may include:

  • Being easily startled or frightened
  • Always being on guard for danger
  • Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
  • Overwhelming guilt or shame

Intensity of symptoms

PTSD symptoms can vary in intensity over time. You may have more PTSD symptoms when you’re stressed in general, or when you come across reminders of what you went through. For example, you may hear a car backfire and relive combat experiences. Or you may see a report on the news about a sexual assault and feel overcome by memories of your own assault.

When to see a doctor

If you have disturbing thoughts and feelings about a traumatic event for more than a month, if they’re severe, or if you feel you’re having trouble getting your life back under control, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. Getting treatment as soon as possible can help prevent PTSD symptoms from getting worse.

If you have suicidal thoughts

If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, get help right away through one or more of these resources:

  • Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
  • Contact a minister, a spiritual leader or someone in your faith community.
  • Call a suicide hotline number — in the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor. Use that same number and press 1 to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.
  • Make an appointment with your doctor or a mental health professional.

When to get emergency help

If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

If you know someone who’s in danger of attempting suicide or has made a suicide attempt, make sure someone stays with that person to keep him or her safe. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Or, if you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room.

In America, we have a national tragedy which has been unfolding for several years now. This tragedy is an average of 22 veterans per day are ending their own lives through suicide as a direct result of Post Traumatic Stress. I’m not going to get into all the details of all that has transpired for mine to occur, but still want to relate a portion of my experience.

In 1996, during my fourth tour of duty in the Navy, I was experiencing symptoms of PTS, although I had never heard this term used before. I knew I needed some help and reached out despite the fact it was taboo in the military to do so. Learning to embrace the suck, and drive on was the mentality, and heaven forbid you display any types of weakness.  I did begin receiving therapy, and lost my military career about a half a year later. After all, what kind of strong military leader ever needs to see a shrink. Right?

As with many veterans, I suffered in silence. I suffered in silence because I was first and foremost, embarrassed for my weakness,  secondly because I still had a family to support. Life goes on despite our personal issues. It’s not like it’s a merry go round we can just step off of when we tire of the ride.  And lastly, there was little actual available help from the Veterans Administration for Post Traumatic Stress until just a few years ago.

When you have family responsibilities, sometimes you feel you have to put aside your own problems in order to best take care of your loved ones. Getting help gets even tougher when you are viewed as a pillar of strength, the one who others go to for help. You try to put the PTS behind you, but then you always feel as if you are about to burst apart at the seams. Like a simmering pot of water about to boil over.

And despite the low simmering boil, you just do your best to mask it, to keep it contained and hidden from your family and friends. Pressure cookers at least have a vented lid to control the pressure, I’m no pressure cooker.

Who was the weak one?

My PTS has resulted in over 20 years of chronic insomnia and scary dreams. It has resulted in a mind that never shuts down, a mind that is always in deep thought. My mind often wakes me up in the middle of the night in deep thoughts over serious topics. This low simmering boil makes it difficult to deal with individuals who do not have a similar life experience. This low simmering boil makes it easier to say “fuck it” in the work place. After my life experience, who needs lame bullshit out of a boss. Who wants to work around a bunch of weak ass pussies when you are used to working and living with the toughest of the tough. I have had more jobs over the last 22 years than I am proud to admit. I am the one who had a problem, not my bosses or co-workers. I am the one who was not reacting in the best manner to what I perceived as weak foolishness. I had to accept that it is up to me in how I manage to deal with the world around me.

Back around 2000, give or take a year or so, I went to the VA for help. I had no clue as to where to begin so I filed a claim for benefits. As when I was on active duty, stepping out and asking for help was a huge deal for me. I went to the American Legion office at the Leavenworth VA and was treated really nice by the Legion folks managing this office. They were glad to help me file a claim since I had a previous diagnosed condition of major depressive disorder diagnosed before my separation from the Navy.

A few months went by and I finally received an envelope in the mail from the Veterans Administration. They had denied my claim. They said my case was resolved and was closed. It was also implied that my  major depressive disorder was actually nothing more than me being angry at my last command leadership. What a crock of bullshit, but I saw no hope in trying to fight the entrenched bureaucracy. I got on with life, but the insomnia and bad dreams never eased. The low boil irritations never settled. I never learned to quit seeing everything in black and white while never allowing any gray areas into my world. I never learned how to turn the military off in my mind. After all, while we are serving, we are trained to be the best in our jobs, but, we are never trained in how to come back home to normalcy. Our normalcy in the military is not so normal in the civilian world, and this makes adjustments tough. The toughness is made even greater when we no longer have our military brothers and sisters to lean on for support. Often, when veterans leave military service, we might lose our identity. My identity was that of an Aviation Ordnanceman. Once out in the civilian world, some cannot even spell Aviation Ordnanceman, much less give a damn what the hell one is. No one cares about the tremendous amounts of responsibility that begins riding on the shoulders of a young service member, that keeps building over the years until their retirement. Once you are out, you are just another number, another cog in the gears of life. Your military experience and exploits sound like nothing more than tall tails to those who have never experienced the same, so you learn to just be silent about a good amount of your past experiences. What was an important part of the shaping of your life means little to nothing to a lot of folks we veterans encounter once our careers are over.

Help is available at the VA now!

There are two main types of treatment, psychotherapy (sometimes called counseling or talk therapy) and medication. Sometimes people combine psychotherapy and medication.

Psychotherapy for PTSD

Psychotherapy, or counseling, involves meeting with a therapist.

Trauma-focused psychotherapy, which focuses on the memory of the traumatic event or its meaning, is the most effective treatment for PTSD. There are different types of trauma-focused psychotherapy, such as:

  • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) where you learn skills to understand how trauma changed your thoughts and feelings. Changing how you think about the trauma can change how you feel.
  • Prolonged Exposure (PE) where you talk about your trauma repeatedly until memories are no longer upsetting. This will help you get more control over your thoughts and feelings about the trauma. You also go to places or do things that are safe, but that you have been staying away from because they remind you of the trauma.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which involves focusing on sounds or hand movements while you talk about the trauma. This helps your brain work through the traumatic memories.

Actions you can take for yourself in addition to seeking help.

I only returned to using the VA last spring after suffering a kidney stone. Up to that point, I viewed the VA as a huge bureaucracy that was failing veterans daily. Therefore, over the course of several years, I learned to create some of my own coping mechanisms for Post Traumatic Stress which I believe are helpful, but not a replacement for professional care by a doctor. Please, do not attempt to go it alone when dealing with this issue. Twenty two veterans per day lose this fight when they take their own lives to escape it.

  • Learn to make your world small as best as possible. Do not allow yourself to get caught up in issues beyond your control, or that have no direct impact on your life.
  • Even if you do not believe in God, learn to live by the principles of the Serenity Prayer. Lord, grant me the serenity to accept that which I cannot change. The courage to change that which I can. And the wisdom to know the difference.
  • Practice good nutritional habits. The foods we consume can and will have a direct impact on our health and how we feel each and every day. It is easier to have a better outlook on life when you actually feel healthy instead of suffering from preventable ailments as a result of poor nutritional habits.
  • Exercise on a regular basis. When your body is at its strongest and healthiest, you will feel better about life. Your self esteem is increased as well as your levels of confidence in taking on new challenges. regular exercise has a number of benefits. It can contribute to many positive physical health outcomes, such as improved cardiovascular health, weight loss, and greater flexibility and mobility. In addition to these physical health outcomes, regular exercise can also have a positive impact on your mental health by reducing anxiety and depression.

We can all help prevent suicide, but many people don’t know how to support the Veteran or Service member in their life who is going through a difficult time. A simple act of kindness can help someone feel less alone. If you are a veteran suffering from Post Traumatic Stress and are feeling suicidal, please reach out for help.

God bless and thank you for reading.

 

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State of Mind

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Do you have a running reel of negative thoughts  and possible catastrophic outcomes playing constantly  in  your  head? So many  people  do. When we allow negative thoughts to loop continually we are causing a constant release of cortisol, our major stress hormone to be released. The health implications of this are huge. High cortisol levels cause inflammation which lies at the base of almost all major health problems, including heart disease and even some cancers. Skin problems, gastrointestinal issues and depression are often exacerbated by this one habit that is within our control.

People who display optimism tend to have better immune function which affects all disease processes. Learn to control those inner voices of doom to improve your overall health and enjoy your life so much more.

It’s  necessary  to assess your thoughts. If a large majority  of  your  thoughts tend to be negative then you are probably catastrophizing. Do you focus only on the negative? Do you ignore the possible positive outcomes in a given situation? If so, then it’s necessary  to take action to think in more positive  ways.

Humor is a powerful tool in learning  to  lighten up. I refuse to listen to or watch anything that makes me feel bad. Life can be difficult on the best days so why add negative input from negative people who are bent on creating drama? Avoid those people and control your environment to remove negative input from real life people and media. Seek out funny and enlightening media when you are surfing the net or watching T.V. Leave the sad, violent and scary stuff alone. It won’t do anything good.

Get some exercise, with your doctor’s permission. Vigorous exercise can produce endorphins which not only make you feel  better  in the moment but have a positive impact on the brain that makes you feel more able to cope in the long run. You will develop a better body in the process and that always helps our state of mind.

Negative thoughts can lead to binge eating. Binge eating will almost always  keep you from your weight management goals.

Eat a well balanced, healthy diet with adequate amounts of healthy fats such as those found in salmon or walnuts. Avoid sugar because it is a source of empty, excess calories. Sugar will cause you to crave more sugar and eventually forego healthy foods for junk. Your brain has to have proper nutrition to perform optimally. As you eat more and more sugar, the pounds will pile on which will most likely add to your anxiety and depression. Just say “No!”

If your negative thinking is chronic and debilitating you might consider professional counseling. A licensed  therapist can guide you into a better way of thinking that can benefit both body and mind.

Surround  yourself  with positive people and create a life that you love. With time and deliberation and sometimes professional help, you can pull out of the habit of negativity. Your happiness is worth the work.

Causes of Stress Eating and Possible Prevention

The American Psychological Association estimates most people live with a stress level of 8 out of 10. Stress initially decreases appetite by causing an increase in adrenaline but if the stress persists, cortisol is produced. Cortisol ramps up everything, including appetite. Once a stressful situation is over the cortisol levels should fall, but if the stress persists, the cortisol may get stuck in the “on” position. (1)

Cortisol is known to cause sugar and fat cravings, possibly to create energy for “fight or flight”. These food preferences coupled with the tendencies to sleep less, exercise less and drink more alcohol all contribute to weight gain. Women tend to turn to food and men tend to turn to alcohol. Active stress correlates with weight gain. Some people produce more cortisol and they are more prone to weight gain.

Since we know that stress causes weight gain, we need coping mechanisms to stop it before it starts.

Do not keep “trigger foods” in your area.

Exercise, it tends to burn through the cortisol.

Get social. Positive friends and family naturally buffer the effects of long term stress. Just make sure that they are positive. Negative input can set you way back. Don’t associate with people that you don’t want to be like. We tend to acquire the habits of those around us by a process known as “social contagion”. Make sure that if you catch something, it’s something that you want to catch! Health minded people like our Followers will help keep you on top of your game. Visit often and be active, comment, join the “Topics ” discussion forum and download the Calorie Counter Pro. Search for topics of interest and recipes. At David’s Way, you are in good company. We reply to your comments and questions. ;-*

(1) https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/why-stress-causes-people-to-overeat

Natural Ways to Reduce Anxiety

Chronic anxiety creates a difficult life. Anxiety and disease are related. Heart palpitations, headaches, insomnia and strained relationships are only a few of the effects of living with chronic anxiety.

What is Anxiety?

According to the American Psychological Association, anxiety is a broad range of disorders defined by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes. Anxiety disorders can trigger nervousness, apprehension and fear and their severity can range from mildly unsettling to debilitating. (1)

Some of the most common anxiety disorders today include the following:

-Generalized Anxiety Disorder

-Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

– Post Traumatic Stress

-Social Anxiety Disorder

-Panic Disorder

While you might feel alone if you’re living with anxiety, the truth is that these disorders affect more than 40 million people across the United States, making it the most common category of mental illnesses in the country. Even so, just over a third of sufferers receive adequate treatment. (1)

Dealing with anxiety can be a lifelong struggle, as most people first develop the symptoms during childhood in their teenage years. Women under 35 tend to be the most diagnosed population, especially those living in western countries. (1)

Anxiety manifests itself differently for everyone, but the symptoms usually include a sense of losing control, either through nightmares, panic attacks or a feeling that there is a disconnect between your mind and body. Many people with anxiety struggle to fall asleep or can’t concentrate on what’s in front of them. (1)

Ways to Reduce Anxiety

1-Practice Relaxation Techniques

Deep breathing lowers your stress levels. You can practice the 4-7-8 breathing method by exhaling completely, then inhaling through your nose for four counts. Hold your breath as you count to seven and then release it for a count of eight. Do this at least three times whenever you feel a wave of anxiety.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy from a qualified counselor can also be helpful.

2-Exercise Regularly

Exercise helps you release stress energy and also increases self-esteem. Research indicates that at least 21 minutes is needed to lower anxiety levels.

Outdoor workouts are even better because they boost Vitamin D levels and GABA, a calming neurotransmitter. Exercising among trees is even more effective.

3-Organize your thoughts by writing

Journaling is effective for some people as a way to understand the source of anxiety. Creative writing can process anxiety to the end point.

4-Spend Time With Animals

Animals provide unconditional love and the care of them organizes and calms the mind.

5-Practice Time Management Strategies

A lot of stress comes from feeling like you have lost control of your schedule. Taking the time to organize your life with a calendar will help to lower your levels of anxiety.

6-Drink Tea

Both Chamomile and Green Tea are known to have beneficial anxiety reducing compounds.

7-Stay Full of Healthy Foods

It’s common for people with anxiety to skip breakfast. It’s much better to fill up on a satisfying meal early in the day to remain in control throughout the morning.

More Strategies to Reduce Anxiety

-Get 8 hours of sleep each night

-Avoid stimulants

-Laugh, loud and often, a merry heart does good, like a medicine!

;-*

(1) AFPA, Claire Riley, B.S.

Symptoms of Stress and Tips to Reduce It

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The picture above I took from on the road in my semi out somewhere in south western Kansas. The tranquility of the open road is great for easing a stressful mind. At David’s Way, our approach to wellness is so much more than weight loss alone, as we know there are other elements that need addressed for true healthy living. Physical fitness helps us in losing weight and stress reduction. Stress reduction helps us in losing weight as our bodies produce less of the stress hormone Cortisol. Weight loss helps us in getting more physically fit and helps to reduce the stress which comes from being obese. All these factors are tied into a lifestyle and are interwoven together. David’s Way is not a temporary diet or a short term solution, it is a lifestyle we live.

Symptoms of Stress

Physical Symptoms:  Muscular tension, Headaches, Insomnia, Twitching eyelid, Fatigue, Backaches, Neck/Shoulder pain, Digestive disorders, Teeth grinding, Changes in eating/sleep patterns, Sweaty palms

Emotional Symptoms:  Anxiety, Frequent crying, Irritability, Frustration, Depression, Worrying, Nervousness, Moodiness, Anger, Self doubt, Resentment

Mental Symptoms:  Short concentration, Forgetfulness, Lethargy, Pessimism, Low productivity, Confusion

Social Symptoms:  Loneliness, Nagging, Withdrawal from social contact, Isolation, Yelling at others, Reduced sex drive

Tips for Reducing Stress

  • Learn to say “no.” Do not over commit. Delegate work at home and work.
  • Organize your time. Use a daily planner. Prioritize your tasks. Make a list and a realistic timetable. Check off tasks as they are completed. This gives you a sense of control of overwhelming demands and reduces anxiety.
  • Be physically active. Big muscle activities, such as strength training or even walking, are the best for relieving tension.
  • Develop a positive attitude. Surround yourself with positive quotes, soothing music, and affirming people.
  • Relax or meditate. Schedule regular massages, use guided imagery tapes or just take ten minutes for quiet reflection time in a park.
  • Get enough sleep. Small problems can seem overwhelming when you are tired.
  • Eat properly. Be sure to eat a diet high in protein and low in carbs. Do not eat refined sugar or processed foods. Limit your intake of alcohol and caffeine.
  • To err is human. Do not treat a mistake as a catastrophe. Ask yourself what will be the worst thing that will happen.
  • Work at making friends and being a friend. Close relationships do not just happen. Compliment three people today. Send notes to those who did a good job.
  • Accept yourself. Appreciate your talents and your limitations. Everyone has them.
  • Laugh. Look at the irony of a difficult situation. Watch movies and plays and read stories that are humorous.
  • Take three deep breaths.
  • Forgive. Holding onto grudges only causes you more stress and pain.

 

 

De-Stress and Live a Full Life

My friends, besides being a health and fitness author, I am also a professional trucker. The picture above was the frozen landscape of southwestern Kansas this morning. Despite the bitterly cold wind, it was a beautiful morning which I wanted to share with you. I snapped this picture just a few miles east of Dodge City, Kansas. Yes, the wild west home of Marshall Matt Dillon, the rowdy cowtown people refer to when they say they are “getting the hell out of Dodge”.

I love this job for the solitude of being on the open road with no one to disturb my inner peace, although I do run teams with another driver. When one is driving, the other driver will be in the sleeper berth getting their much needed rest as we hammer down on the black top for a 935 mile trip on each outing, 3 nights per week.

One thing I love about the open road is it gives me time when I am behind the wheel of my big rig to work out topics for my blog. As I wind my way across the Kansas prairie during the middle of bright star lit nights, my mind seeks out and easily finds pure tranquility, the starlit sky brings back very fond memories of days past when I was a young “high speed, low drag” sailor in the US Navy, steaming across the Pacific and Indian Oceans at night aboard the pride of the fleet, my first ship, the mighty USS Enterprise CVN 65. Nights on the open road remind me of peaceful nights at the conclusion of flight operations when I could find a comforable place to kick back on a sponson or catwalk and stare off into the night sky so clear there would be no horizon, you could not tell where the sea ended and the sky began. During these calm nights on the road, I can begin piecing articles together in my mind before actually setting down to my lap top. Once I log out to my sleeper berth, I have time to study and research, and also to work on my blog pieces. A tremendous amount of time goes into bringing you, our faithful readers, quality topics. As I have told my co-author Brenda Sue, quality is always first and foremost over quantity in this endeavor.

At David’s Way, besides promoting a diet of low carbs and high protein combined with physical fitness, we are also strong advocates of stress reduction as another integral element of healthy living. Years ago, when I was a young man, I got into a little trouble in the Navy and had to complete a program where I was first introduced to The Serenity Prayer. Ever since, I have done my level best to live by the principals of this prayer in all of life’s endeavors. This prayer has helped me immensely through life, and even if you do not believe in God, the principles can still help you too. Here is the prayer with my breakdown of what it means to me:

Lord, grant me the Serenity to accept that which I can not change.

In life, there are always going to be circumstances beyond our control that we can do little about. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Those people might be ourselves, or a loved one. I am not saying it is easy in anyway, but in order to best get through a tough time, we must remain calm and keep our wits about us. By not letting our stressed emotions over ride common and practical sense, we can then think about applying the next part of the Serentiy Prayer.

Grant me the Courage to change that which I can.

Sometimes it takes courage to get through a tough time with a proactive approach to improve your situation. For an example from my own life, nine years ago I suffered a debilitating spinal injury at L5 S1. I blew the disk out like a jelly donut and it encapsulated my sciatic nerve. I was for all intents and purposes disabled at this time as I could no longer work. Treatment for this injury required a series of Epidural Steroid Injections to my spine which were totally non-effective. Then I underwent spinal surgery where all the herniated disk material was removed along with arthritis which had formed in my lower spine. Surgery was followed by two months of physical therapy. Despite the injections and surgery, my sciatic nerve was damaged and it subseqently scarred over which leaves me with daily chronic pain in my right leg, even all these years later. I will suffer chronic sciaitic pain for the rest of my life. Back to the Serenity, I have come to accept this chronic pain as a part of my life. But, it took a lot of courage in learning to walk normal again and then to return to the work force. It took me a year to train my leg to track normally instead of having my foot dragging off to the side. Every step was a conscious decision to make it track right. It was a lot of effort and more than a few tears were shed during the process. I have experienced unnbearable pain, yet, I knew that if I could get through the pain, I could once again lead a normal life. My family doctor recommended I go on permanant and full disability because I was so debilitated with pain and was relying on pain pills to just get through the day. I could have gave in to the pain and went on disability, instead I chose to face life without the numbing effects of pain meds and began doing everything within my power to regain normalcy. I had to face the fact that some of the therapy I had to endure to get better was going to bring tears of pain, and yet I still did it for myself and my family. I knew that I could make a change for the better, therefore I mustered up the courage and did everything in my power to get my full life back which I accomplished.

And the Wisdom to know the difference.

The wisdom to know the difference is important in that there will be circumstances you can not change no matter how courageous you may be. If you have more courage than common sense, you will only find yourself stressed in trying to acheive the unachievable. We are not all Superman or Wonderwoman, we are not super heros who are infallible. No, we are all human, with very real human problems. I believe in being proactive in making my own life better and encourage others to always do the same, yet once we have the serentiy to accept that which we can not change, we can make vast improvements in our quality of life by just letting things go and not being stressed. Conversely, if we have the courage to step up to life’s never ending challenges, we are also rewarded in that what may be difficult today, realistically can be made less bothersome each and everytime we confront adversity head on. To sum up the Serenity Prayer, it really amounts of learning to pick and choose your battles. Choosing which hill is worth dying on and which hill is worth walking away from. How you confront the stress of life is totally up to your own personal decisions, choose wisely.

Lord, grant me the serenity to accept that which I can not change.

The courage to change that which I can.

And the wisdom to know the difference.

Think about this, study this, and then live by these principles in all of lifes endeavors, your life will only be enriched by doing so.

How To Be Happy



The Long and Winding Road


It’s unusual to remember your very early childhood, but I do. It was a very good time. I was very happy. We lived across the road from my maternal grandmother and my mom and dad were loving and kind. At the age of four, life began to change. My mother told me that I was fat and began to monitor my every bite. I weighed 40 pounds which is the average weight of a 4 year old. My mother was anorexic and her view of life and beauty became mine and my self esteem ceased to exist. I loved my mother dearly and from that day on, I never measured up in her eyes. My life became a living hell, always striving and never attaining, reaching for the illusive state of perfection that does not exist. I struggled aimlessly until about a year ago. I can truthfully say that I have discovered the key to happiness. At the age of 62, I am finally happy.

Make Some Decisions

January of 2018 I decided that I would create a life that I loved. Although I was at my WW goal, I had high blood pressure, insomnia and anxiety. I was taking three medications. I was living in an abusive environment. I had been out of the workplace, full time, for over 20 years working with my special son, who graduated from college, and nobody believed that I could or would do anything else. After all, I had financial security, right? My abuser even asked incredulously. “How could you survive “? Seriously? I’m a nurse. I figured out what I wanted for my life and I knew that it was possible, but only one way…hard work in every area. Nursing is hard when you’re 25 and been at it a few years. I was 61 and had been out of it for 25 years. I also had to arrange living quarters. A good paying job was necessary if I wanted to be truly free.

Make Plans


In January I laid my plan. Along with getting free, I also wanted to get profoundly healthy and come off all medications. I wanted to get sculpted and strong. I wanted to live a focused, efficient life. I admired David because he is serious about health. I knew that with his military background that he could help me and that he would accept no excuses. I had to be inspired and pushed. He began to coach me and as my strength grew in my body, my mind grew more. I found my identity in the Iron. It gave me a true measure of my strength and dedication because let’s face it, The Iron Never Lies. (Henry Rollins)

Implement Your Plan


This can be the most daunting step to a fulfilled life. It’s easy to talk the talk. Walking the walk takes grit. It’s necessary to decide if you want peace or panic. Do you want  decisions or drama? Do you really want this life that you have envisioned enough to dig in, work hard, work harder and then do it again or do you want to complain about being unhappy? Old habits die hard.


Remove unnecessary negative influences from your life.


Negative people and habits are stress. In order to live a fulfilled life, these things must be removed because they drain the energy that you need for building good things. We have X amount of energy. If we waste it on drama and bad habits, we will never become all that we can be.


Commit to the long haul.


Remember, you are CREATING a new life. This is not going to end until your life is over. It is quite literally, a lifeSTYLE. Go in deep. Change everything that needs to be changed. Work hard.

There is a law of science that something can’t be created out of nothing. Energy cannot be created or destroyed. There is only so much. Use yours to create.


Feel the burn.


Acknowledge the difficulty of your endeavor and glory in small successes. Acknowledge your strength in overcoming and persevering. Acknowledge helpers along the way. And then compare this level of difficulty to the level of pain and suffering associated with being a slave to your old life…and breath.


Take care of your body.


Be healthy. Most of the time, it’s a choice. Do healthy stuff. Avoid unhealthy stuff. It’s that simple. Don’t eat sugar.


Take care of your mind.


Think about positive things. Love, honor and respect those who deserve it in your life. Give in. You don’t always have to be in control. Find one person that you can truly trust and revel in that knowledge.


Chill


Sometimes we make a mountain out of a molehill and walk off into that mountain and die from exposure and starvation. Don’t do drama, period. Just don’t. You will never be happy if you are like a leaf in the winds of emotion. Walk away. Work out. Preserve the good things that you have achieved and always remember to be thankful.


If you do these things, you will be happy. ;-*

Insomnia!

Do you ever wonder where your get up and go has gone? Has it deserted you for good? How often have trouble falling to sleep, remaining asleep? Do you ever awaken in the middle of the night deep in serious thought? Insomnia sucks, it can rob us of our lives, but why do we suffer this malady?

The average person spends about a third of their life in bed, hopefully getting beneficial sleep. And then there folks like myself who might be in bed, yet find sleep to be ever so elusive. We sometimes can dial right in on the problem, yet often the cause is sketchy at best. There are any number of issues which can rob us of our much needed slumber, stress being the most common, and major factor. Sometimes, just the stress alone of laying there wondering if you will ever nod off is enough to keep you awake.

Often, sleep disturbances result from depression, sporadic sleeping habits, having a disrupted sleep pattern such as I have being a professional trucker on top of being a health and wellness author. Most of the time, this life robbing malady of insomnia is a result of psychological and emotional stress. If you suffer insomnia, is it because you are “all wound up”, or “have too much work to accomplish” of find yourself struggling with children and home responsibilities which can hamper the amount of time you can dedicate to slumber.

Hot flashes associated with menopause, and chronic fatigue syndrome are associated with poor sleep habits. Folks who exercise are usually much less prone to insomnia than sedentary people, however, if you get in vigorous exercise within 4 hours of your bedtime, you may find your body is too invigorated to fall asleep. I personally have this problem when I train with my free weights too close to retiring for the evening.

Hormones also might be robbing you of a good nights rest. Some women report needing more time to sleep during PMS. A woman might require more sleep during the first trimester of pregnancy than during the final trimester. Sleep disorders also increase as we age and if we have other health issues. such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), medical conditions such as allergies, heart burn, medications, smoking or even just the environment you are surrounded by.

Another avenue which may be causing your insomnia may be what you eat, since many dietary habits can and will interfere with your sleep. Consider that you may be killing your sleep through the consumption of coffee, alcohol, the size and spiciness of your evening meal. quick weight loss dieting and even some food additives, which is one reason I personally do not eat processed foods any longer. Nor do I advise you to either.

If you are an insomniac, there are things you can do to help it. Watch how much and what you eat for dinner. Large, fat laden meals may make you drowsy, but can ultimately keep you awake later at night. Heavy meals stimulate prolonged digestive action, which can keep you awake. Try eating your largest meals for either breakfast or lunch while keeping your evening meals light. You should consider keeping your evening meal at 500 to 600 calories and include chicken, extra lean meat, or fish in order to keep you satiated all night long. You really do not want to be waking up at midnight and subsequently find yourself cruising the refrigerator or pantry because your stomach is rumbling from hunger. Most often, this kind of grazing results in folks eating what ever is handy and already prepared. This is the time when it easy to snack on that cake on the counter or to grab a spoon and eat ice cream straight out of the carton as you are trying to decide what else to eat. If you have ever had a weight problem, you likely know exactly what that is all about. Spicy or gas forming foods can wreck your sleep for obvious reasons. Spicy foods will really get to you if you are obese with added pressure from your gut trying to push the contents of your stomach back up your esophagus, the ill effects of acid reflux or GERD. Meals prepped with garlic, hot peppers or chilies can cause bad heartburn and indigestion. Foods seasoned with mono sodium glutamate (MSG) can cause sleep disturbances such as vivid dreaming and restless sleep for some. Snarfing down gas-forming foods and eating too fast which can cause you to swallow air, can cause you to feel bloated and uncomfortable, which in turn robs you of quality sleep. Try avoiding gas-forming and spicy foods, at dinner time, and eat slowly to thoroughly chew the food and to avoid gulping air.

If we have ruled food out as the source of our insomnia, stress is the most likely culprit. One tenet of David’s Way is the reduction of stress in order to improve our lives. Controlling our stress levels can greatly improve or eliminate our problems with getting a good nights rest. The bitch of having stress rob us of sleep is it becomes a vicious circle where sleep deprivation actually increases our stress load which interferes with our ability to solve problems, which can eventually pull us down mentally until we find a way to end the stress. Besides practicing coping skills during your day, try to not allow stress into your bedroom at night. You can do this by setting aside a time early in the day to deal with worries such as an ever building pile of bills and other life issues. In the evening, you should be trying to unwind at least 3 to 4 hours before you retire. You can do this by soaking in a hot bath or shower, reading a book in bed. Turn off your television and or other electronic devices. Also, do not pay bills or argue with your spouse at bedtime. Try to keep your emotions on an even keel during the evening hours. If you are tired yet cannot fall asleep within 30 minutes, just get up. Try doing something monotonous, such as reading a book or listening to soft repetitious music.

Try to live your life by the tenets of the Serenity Prayer, even if you are a non-believer. The concept helps immensely.

The Serenity Prayer

Lord, grant me the Serenity to accept that which I cannot change. The Courage to change that which I can. And the Wisdom to know the difference.

De-Stress Your Brain with Exercise

Would you care to know how to gain an advantage in winning games of strategy? The key to having a good edge on your opponent is to keep yourself healthy and in good physical condition. Get your butt up off the couch and move your body a minimum of three times per week for at least thirty minutes at a time and get your heart rate elevated. Exercise stimulates blood flow to the brain, supplying it with a hefty dose of oxygen and nutrients. It also minimizes plaque build up inside of your blood vessels which allows your blood to flow freely. Sitting on your couch eating Cheeto’s is not going to do this for you.

Exercise is a stress reducer that will help to pick up your spirits and will contribute to an increase of your self esteem. Studies have demonstrated that getting your heart rate elevated through regular exercise also supplies your brain with natural substances called neurotropins which enhance cell growth and assists in processing information. Neurotransmitter levels, in particular norepinephrine, which helps in memory storage and retrieval, also increase by as much as 29 percent with exercise. When couch potatoes get converted into folks who actually do exercise vigorously, they display dramatic improvements in their ability to think on their feet, their reaction times improve as well thier memory and concentration as well. It is amazing how exericise can change an individual’s memory and intellect. As a platoon segeant I once took over a platoon where my soldiers had not been made to PT regular, Although they grumbled about 0430 (4:30am) physical fitness training at first, over a short time, their motivation and morale increased significantly. Folks who feel good physically, can, and will feel better mentally too.

If you take positive steps to de-stress your life through habitual exericise, if you make it an important element of your lifestyle, you will notice an improvement in your thought processes. Your thinking will begin to have a great deal more clarity. The stress hormone cortisol inteferes with your brains capability to use glucose. This interference will result in an energy shortage that inhibits your brains ability to retain memories and places your mental function in the slow lane. Cortisol also blocks nerve chemical activity, which interfers with your brains ability to relay information, and retards reaction times, memory, creative thinking, and concentration. Lastly, cortisol kills brain cells by disrupting brain cell activity, and slowing removal of waste products from the brains cells., while generating an excessive amount of free radicals. It does not matter what in the world it takes in order to reduce stress in your life, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to do so. Build your own support network of family and or friends, cut back on responsibilities if you are able, learn to meditate, do yoga, walk, jog run and or lift weights. Do something, anything. You might be sitting there right now snarfing down a large bowl of ice cream thinking that despite being over weight and not being one to eat healthy, that you are doing just fine. But, the reality is you should be thinking about how much better you can be doing instead of just settling on being “good enough.”

Your attitude about life is another huge factor that either boosts your brain power or undermines it. The power of your attitude can go a long way in either enhancing your quality of life, or conversely, diminishing it. People who expect to lose mental abilities as they age inevitably do so at a much higher rate than those who exect to still be able to think clearly into their senior years. It can be a self fulfilling prophesy. Living an active life that is mentally stimulating along with increasing your level of knowledge through education, hedges your bets against memory loss in the future. Before anyone jumps in that even well schooled individuals who have been active their entire lives still get dementia, please remember that Alzheimers and other brain deteriorations are often a result of their past diets. This is why Alzheimers is now often referred to as Type 3 Diabetes. Remember too that we are talking about mitigating your chances and there are no absolute guarentees of anything in life, but you can take steps to prevent bad circumstances if you so choose to do so.

In closing, remember that reprogramming your body’s aging process and reving your brains motor requires time. The younger you are when you begin taking care of yourself, the better your odds. If you are delusional enough to think you can simply pop a pill, walk a mile, meditate for ten minutes or order a “Smart Drink” at a local juice bar and then be more intelligent over night, think again. Ideally, providing your body with optimal levels of all the essential brain building nutrients, exercising daily or at least three times per week, and learning to cope effectively with stress should begin in childhood and be maintained throughout your life for a healthy, active, and long life of clear thinking and feeling good. As a parent, you are responsible and owe it to your children to establish this lifestyle early on. You set the example your children will often live by. Take a look in the mirror and decide if you want your child to be the one you see looking back at you from the reflection.

The good news is, you can halt the damage and begin building a better brain. Optimum nutrition, vigorous exercise, and a healthy diet will help rebuild and regenerate those tissues gradually so that within months to one year you should notice an improvement in memory, concentration, alertness and thinking.

Stop Emotional Eating

screenshot_20181215-170000~24607869044148255088..jpgIf I had only eaten for hunger, I’d have never had a weight problem.  There are so many other reasons that we eat and overeat, the most obvious being emotions.  If you are an emotional eater, you probably eat in response to all strong emotions and boredom.  The truth is, eating can become the band-aid for everything if we allow it.  There are strategies that are known to curtail emotional eating and they work.  At one time, I was a classic chronic, compulsive, volume binger, and strong emotions would get me started every time.   These are strategies that have helped me.

The common triggers for emotional eating are: 1- Relationship conflicts 2-Work or other stressors 3-Fatigue 4-Financial pressures 5-Health problems  You can probably identify exactly which one is triggering you at any point in time.  Don’t let the stressor have that kind of control over your life.

Quite often specific emotions are linked to specific foods.  Food can also serve as a distraction from problems in that while you are eating, you may not think about what’s bothering you. The cause is irrelevant, the outcome is always the same… you feel bad and do it again to feel better, crazy, huh? Below are tips to help you get this under control.  Again, they work.  They worked for me.  People see me now and think that I never had a weight problem.  I was a size 22.  Now, I am a size 8, 5’6″, 140#. My waist measures 24 inches.  At one time, my waist was 43 inches.  Believe me, I had a problem.  David’s Way keeps me at a good weight and also makes me strong.  The fact that we don’t eat sugar keeps me from craving, so I don’t have that to deal with.  These tips are tools to use while you are getting emotional eating under control. [1]

1-Keep a food diary including your mood and why.

2-Have a hunger reality check. Is your stomach rumbling? If not, you are most likely not hungry.Give the craving time to pass.

3-Get support. Hey! We’re here!

4-Fight boredom. Find something that you like to do and get submersed in it.  Call a friend, blog, work out.  As Nike says, “Just Do It!”

5-REMOVE TEMPTATION! Get it out of the house and do not shop under the influence of strong emotions.

6-Don’t deprive yourself. Make sure to eat ENOUGH good healthy food.  If you don’t know how much you should eat, ask your doctor before all else, and research.  Soon we’ll be offering counseling to assist with some of these things, after you have gotten clearance from your doctor.

7-Snack healthy.  If you get hungry between meals, choose healthy foods like individual packages of nuts, plain fat free Greek yogurt flavored with Crystal Light, cheese sticks or apples.

8-Learn from setbacks.  If you have an episode of emotional eating, move on.  Figure out what caused it and correct your course the next time that comes up.  Focus on the positive changes that you have already made.

If you find your self unable to control compulsive eating over a long period of time, and it is affecting your health, it may be time to get professional help.  There are many people in American society right now who are dying from obesity.  Stop it now.  Take control and create the life that you want.  It’s a decision.  Make the right one today. ;-*

[1] https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss/art-20047342