CoaWLL: Depression and Weight Loss

Mental Illness is normally a subject that is not easily tackled.

There is a stigma that is attached to those who suffer from various forms of mental illness. Normally it gets written off as “everyone has bad days” or other passive aggressive nonsense. Yes, people do have bad days and can get down, but those who have not known true depression have no idea how insulting and somethings humiliating that can be when someone brushes you off.

Personally, I’ve battled depression all my life. I’ve survived two suicide attempts, halfhearted as they were, and it’s still very much a daily struggle for me. I’ve also been recently diagnosed with having “mild” Bipolar disorder. There are different forms of the mania that is normally attributed to bipolar. Manias that make you go up super high and ones that fell like the world has been pulled out from under you, I suffer from the latter. I’m on medication, but even with them things are never really better or under control completely.

So why am I bringing this up? Well, these issues make it a constant struggle to maintain long term goals. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m an emotional eater, and I can fall into a pretty simple cycle. Start on one of my down periods, don’t feel like working out, make excuse for not working out, hate myself for not working out, “punish” myself by eating crap, eat more crap, hate myself for eating crap, question if it’s even worth it to continue to try to get healthy, hate myself for that………… Last year, I lost over 70 pounds and as I type this I’ve gained over 30 of that back. Imagine the cycle that has running through my head.

See how tiny chemical changes in your brain can take you so far off track? Within minutes or a few days? I’m a man who lives primarily in my own head and can dwell on this too long. Right now, I’m in one of my down cycles and I’m not in a good place mentally and it’s taking it’s toll on my goals for sure. I’m confessing this because today I failed. When I was doing my DDPYoga workout, I gave up. I had a flash of “Why the hell am I bothering with this? I’m still just going to be a tub no matter what I do.”. I let this thought take control and get me off that mat and into a bag of popcorn. I need accountability and this is my outlet I guess. I’m throwing down my mat later tonight and forcing my way through it. That’s about all someone in my position can do.

Adversity- Long Post

One of the hardest things to do it know exactly what to do when life throws a bit too much at you than you know what to do with.

It’s one of my biggest weaknesses. It’s one of my flaws. I tend to internalize things too much, get inside my head and withdraw. It’s not exactly the most healthy thing in the world to do and most of the time it leads to even more problems. Health wise, I tend to be an emotional eater. Today alone I had eaten my daily allotted calories by noon and I’m dangerously close to expending tomorrows as well.  So for this post, you’ll have to indulge me a little bit as I vent.

One of the reasons I have decided to really try to take my life, and health, by the balls and change is because of my mother. Putting it as nicely as possible, she is a medical train wreck. She’s been battling lupus and fibromyalgia for the majority of her adult life and the lupus has destroyed the nerves in her hands and feet. While she can still move them with limited range of motion, she experiences changes ranging from extreme pain to numbness. From the time I was 9 years old and my sister moved out, I was responsible for caring for her when she had flare ups with her conditions because my step father wasn’t the type of man to do that. So in a lot of ways, my childhood ended when I was 9.

Fast forward ten years and things aren’t much better for her. She had split from my step-dad, and was battling depression at that time. The entire time, I was battling my own depression, demons, and overall teenage angst. During this time, I began to feel extremely resentful of her because of my perception of her milking her illness. I still stand by that to this day. Her physical well-being was suffering because she was either too tired, too sick, feeling too much pain, or simply didn’t want to even walk the block to check the mail. This all led to a showdown. One of us was about to blow up and when it did boy was it spectacular. In a very short period of time, I was kicked out of the house, she found a new boyfriend and they moved to Arizona.

While Arizona proved to be a good move for both of us mentally, we both suffered in the health department. Over the course of the next 8-9 years, she continued to make little positive changes to her lifestyle. It wasn’t too long ago that it finally caught up to her. She had a stroke. Did I say one? I mean several “minor” ones. On a side note, I’m curious to know what doctor decided that there is such a thing as a minor stroke. In addition to that, she had heart surgery where they implanted 4 stints into her arteries. She remained positive mentally but never really took ownership of her health and made changes to improve her medical outlook.

Are you still with me?

Last year an old injury to her lower back finally caught up to her. She had herniated two disks in her back during the late 80′s and never really got it taken care of. She ended up having to have it fused together. The surgery went well but when she was moved to the first rehab center she contracted a form of MRSA which became a gnarly infection. That re-hospitalized her for an extra two months. Then after all this, a week after she is released to go home, she fractures her ankle and is sent back to the hospital and rehab for an additional two months. All of this leads to her being wheelchair bound because she has been walked in over a year and during her time at home she has had to be airlifted (they live out in the sticks) at least twice. All of this is why I ended up on the journey I’m on health and fitness wise, but eventually I will get to writing that up.

Despite some lingering resentment, I still feel an incredible amount of responsibility too. I still have those protective instincts despite the 1,400 miles between us. So when something is going on with her, it still wrecks me more than I normally let on due to my internalizing ways. Last Thursday night I was texted by my step dad saying that she was being airlifted to the hospital due to chest pains and very little else. Friday I try to call her room but get no response due to her being busy with doctors all day, but I do hear that heart attack was rules out. Okay, my stress levels go down and I’m starting to feel better about things. Then, late Friday night I get a voice-mail saying “Your mom is doing well, and her surgery is scheduled for tomorrow morning”.

It turned out that they needed to remove some of the hardware from her back fusion while they removed the infection. Wait, infection? Yes, I also found out late Saturday that she also is fighting off an infection that is a form of E coli. I’m not sure my stress level could have been higher. Well, It got even worse Tuesday night when she called in tears. She told me that she needed to have a blood transfusion due to an extremely low blood count due to the infection. She is also being told that she basically needs an assisted living or nursing home environment. Fearing that her pseudo-husband would leave her, she asked for me to check into places because she doesn’t know what to do.

Combine all that with a very hostile work environment and I’ve been redlining all week. Everything has been suffering between my diet, workouts (Which surprisingly I’ve maintained), my friendships at work and at home, and my overall mental health. So how do I deal with this? How do I continue to push through all that garbage? Thankfully this post has been cathartic for me. I doubt anyone will really read this, let alone get all the way to the end, but that doesn’t matter. Just one moment at time I guess.

Enter the Spartan

Goal Achieved.

Last weekend I competed in the Pacific Northwest Spartan Race. A goal that was a little over 9 months in the making. What exactly is a Spartan Race? Well check the video below.

As the video showed, it’s an obstacle race. One that you get challenged both physically and mentally. You have jump over walls, climb incredibly steep hills, flip tires, crawl through mud and under barbed wire and other assorted craziness. If you’re not familiar with these kind of races you could be, and probably should be, asking “Why the in hell would you want to do that?”. You’d be well within your right mind to do so.

I did it because I needed a challenge. I needed to shock myself into motion. Apparently my Step-Mom was thinking the same thing as she brought it up to me first and we decided to put our money where our mouths were and do it.

As part of this blog, I try to post as many honest confessions that I can. I will honestly say that I did not take training for this as seriously as I should have. Hell, two nights before the race we had fast food for dinner. Over the course of “training” I packed on a little over 20 pounds, the majority of that being more of the pudgy poundage and a minor being muscle. I got myself out of the “Lose First” mentality that I had all of last year when I went from 270-192 using DDPYoga. I turned my attention to more strength building programs and let my mind tell me “Well you’re building muscle so you need to eat more protein and carbs to allow for proper mass gain”. I let more dairy, cheese, wheat and my biggest vice of Energy Drinks(As I type this I’m sipping on one) infiltrate more and more of my life and diet. All of that did huge harm to my weight, endurance, clothes, and my overall world view.

The race itself was amazing. I ran with my Step-Mom, my Step-Aunt (If there is such a title) and her best friend. It was run on a Motocross track, so you might be able to imagine the terrain. The hills were steep and jagged, tons of dust and rocks, beautiful pine trees and views. The temperature was just right, not too hot or cold for me. The obstacles were close to what I expected. Lots of walls to climb over and under, cargo nets to scale, tires to flip and drag and one hell of a water-slide. I had two favorites out of them all. The Hercules Lift was one where you need to lift a bucket, 95 pounds for men 45 for women, using just a rope and pulley close to 25 feet into the air. Absolute core strength and focus needed. The other was the rope climb. Imagine the dreaded rope climb in your school gym, but make the rope slimy and add a 5 foot deep pool or cold muddy water below.

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After the race I felt like I had just played a football game. I was sore all over. It wasn’t just a workout, it destroyed me. If you can name a body part, it was sore. I’m pretty sure my spare tire was sore from bouncing even. I want to do more of these next year. Planning on attending the same race, same weekend, same venue next year and tackling a Super Spartan down in Utah.

While I’m happy that I finished and it was an experience that I’m proud of, it really showed me how much I have let myself fall off. I’m getting back on my DDPYoga program, back to running and most important back on my diet. I’ve gotten down to 192 before, I’ll do it again. This time I attack this with the Spartan Race mentality. No backward, no retreat, just forward.

Weakness

Weakness. The dictionary defines this term as “the condition or quality of being weak”.

Most people try to avoid or minimize their weakness. Pretend it’s not there. Lie to themselves, and others, that they are without flaw. It’s part of human nature.

Back during the early years of evolution (or creation based on you’re personal stance), weakness was a sign of an early death. Your enemies would exploit that weakness to gain advantage. The same is still very much done today.

Most people ignore their weaknesses. Do whatever it takes to cover them up. However that thought process alone is a weakness, a flaw.

In order to grow as a person, not just in health but overall life, you have to not be afraid of those weaknesses. You have to embrace them. You must know your weakness inside and out. Only then can you conquer them.

Personally speaking I have a slight stutter that comes out when I get nervous. So any situation where I am having to speak in front of people sacred the blue hell out of me. It’s been that way my whole life and its held me back from a lot of what I wanted to do in life. I know this is a huge for me and for 30 years I’ve been scared.

So I made a decision to work to fix that. This month I will be training to be a CPR instructor and will eventually be teaching classes here at the university recreation center either with a partner or solo. As I said before, public speaking scares the dickens out of me, but in order to move forward and become a better person its what I need to do.

Losing weight and looking good is fantastic and the its something that everyone strives for. However, you’re body is a single unit, mental as much as physical, and you need to take care of both and tackle both weaknesses with as much vigor as you can. Otherwise you’ll never be as strong as you need to be.

James
@jameshoplin

Confessions: Best Laid Plans

When I wrote my initial blog post, I had plans for at least two posts a week.
Going back and detailing a little more of my background and just trying to paint more of a picture, but this week had entirely different plans for me. What’s the old saying?

The best laid plans of nice and men oft go astray.

For the last three years we’ve been dealing with a dog. Hallie, a black lab German Shepard mix, was one of the sweetest, adorable, loving dogs you’ll meet. She was fairly smart and even would do a front roll, or somersault, whenever she was excited. She was a a fantastic running partner and loved hiking. While on one side there was this wonderful dog that I explained, on the other you had something different. When that dog appeared she was mean, aggressive and unresponsive. She’d lash out at our other dog, a pug who was obviously much smaller, for even walking by her.

This side slowly started to creep in as she got older, taking over the good side slowly but surely. Comparing this situation to when Spider-Man first was being taken over by Venom would be apt. However this all hit it’s breaking point last Monday when she went after the pug again and was almost uncontrollable. She made some aggressive motions towards my wife and that was the final straw. We had to have her put down. It was crushing and soup wrenching, but it had to be done. That was 7:45pm Monday night.

The next day my wife and I took the day off together. We just didn’t feel like being around anyone but each other. Life had other plans. We had barely gotten done eating our breakfast when my Mother-in-Law called us to say that my wife’s grandfather had suffered a stroke. Thankfully it was a minor one and he should make a fairly complete recovery, but when someone is 81, nothing is “minor”. This man personifies old school toughness. An old rancher who rattlesnakes wouldn’t even bite. So the sight of him in a hospital bed was quite a shock.

So, why is this labeled as “Confessions”? Well, over the course of the week I drove over 1000 driving my wife and various family members all across the state of Washington. Somewhere along the freeways I think I passed the wagon and left it solidly in the dust. I mean, I fell off so far and so deep that I think that proverbial wagon could now be considered a UFO. I think by the time I was making my last drive on Saturday I had more caffeine in my system than red blood cells. Road food, fast food, energy drinks, jerky, protein bars basically were my diet for a whole week.

I let circumstances control me and steer me off in the wrong direction. I’m paying for it now though. As I type this I am fighting off a nasty caffeine and sugar withdrawal headache. So this week if going to be a rough one as I get back into the groove of both dieting and writing.

Make sure your worst enemy doesn’t live between your own ears.-Laird Hamilton

James

@JamesHoplin

Confessions of a Weight Loss Loser

I’m a weight loss loser.

I’ve tried everything. Pills, gimmicks and every weight loss plan under the sun. 48 hour juice fast? Yep. Eating salads that would make rabbits bored every day? Been there done that. “Miracle” pills that burn fat while you watch daytime soaps? I’m pretty sure my kidneys are still pissed off at me.

At my horrifying peak, I was a pound shy of 280 pounds. At my humble height of 5 foot 8 inches, that put me at a staggering 42.8 BMI. My blood work looked like pathologists nightmare and a pharmaceutical manufacturers wet dream. I was absolutely miserable not just physically but mentally too. How my wife put up with such a wreck, I’ll never know.

It was November of 2011 when I finally saw the opportunity to really change my path in life. I was getting out of a job that not only had me working graveyard shifts, but also had an incredibly toxic environment. If any of you have worked in situations such as that, it’s  incredibly difficult to maintain either a healthy mental or physical state. Let alone both. The job I was doing was surveillance at a little casino in town. Long hours of sitting in front of many monitors doing absolutely nothing aside from fighting the urge to sleep. My new job is working as a custodian at Washington State University. Downgrade you might say? Actually no. Despite the fact that I’m cleaning up after college kids who were not properly parented in simple human hygiene, this job has me on my feet 8 hours day and fairly constantly moving.

So with the change in jobs and scenery, I decided that it would be a great time to really change my life and drop some of the weight that had been plaguing me my entire life. I was fairly successful and from January 2012 to October I went from 275 to 192 and even finished a half marathon with the wife. Everything is good right? Happy ending to the story?

Not so fast. As I type this I’m back up to 220 pounds. While still 45 pounds down from my peak, that’s nearly a whopping 30 pounds I’ve regained in both muscle and sheer fat. So far along my journey, I’ve made damn near every mistake possible. It’s my goal with this blog series to highlight every misstep, pitfall, poor judgement and overall weakness that I’ve encountered.

Hops

Welcome!

Well howdy.

Thanks for finding your way here to my blog. This is where I’ll be writing, ranting, and raving about whatever is going on in my head and heart. Primarily, I’ll be writing about sports (Focused on MMA/Football), I’ll dip my hand into just about everything. Keep your eyes open.

James