Just reading that title made me stressed because I know how much I stress on a daily basis – about everything. For most of my adult life I thought I handled stress better than most. With my fancy schmancy Masters in Psychology I knew how to objectively look at situations and, usually, realize that most of the things I’m stressing over in life are unrealistic and not ever going to happen. So, I’d stop thinking about them. Or so I thought.

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In the last few years I’ve dealt with numerous stress-induced issues. Immediately after high school I was diagnosed with IBS. I manage to control that fairly well with limiting the amount of gluten & dairy I eat, but stress is a huge trigger for flare-ups. In more recent years I’ve dealt with debilitating jaw pain from clenching my teeth at night. It was so bad last year I was taking 8-12 advil a day and eventually landed myself at a gastroenterology office. The doctor basically looked at me and said, “quit taking advil and your symptoms will go away.” She was right.

All this time I think I handle stress well, but I’m becoming more and more aware now that I don’t. I often catch myself breathing and realize I’m taking very short, shallow breaths. If I’m not actively thinking about something in specific my mind usually wanders off to worrying about some non-specific event in the future. While driving to Alabama last weekend I heard about the latest study to find that stress can literally kill you.

People who always perceived their daily life to be over-the-top stressful were three times more likely to die over the period of study than people who rolled with the punches and didn’t find daily life very stressful. Some people get frantic sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic, worried about being late or not being able to do what they hoped in a timely manner. Others simply take the time to sit back, listen to music and appreciate the break as some quiet time.

How can stress actually kill you? Cortisol! Elevated cortisol levels interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, and increase blood pressure, cholesterol and heart disease.

So, what did this lovely, stress-inducing study suggest as a ‘cure’? Exercise! 30 minutes a day, most days a week. Throw in some meditation and your virtually guaranteed lower stress and cortisol levels.

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Now – I just need to commit to taking better care of myself. I have a hundred reasons why I don’t have time, but one really, really good one to take 10 minutes a day to just breathe & relax. I don’t want to die. I want to live 60 more years. I want to see my grand-kids get married, I want to be mommy to a dozen more FIV cats, and I really like this whole ‘being alive’ thing.

What’s your biggest daily hassle? 

Do you think your stress levels are so high they are damaging your health?

A Happy Run Happy Belly Weekend

September 22nd, 2014 | Posted by Erica House in Life - (30 Comments)

Friday afternoon I traveled up to Alabama to meet Travis as soon as he got off of work. I love seeing him in his uniform!Army CoupleWe we’re both hungry so we went to this Chinese Buffet just off base for a hybrid late lunch/early dinner. They didn’t have too many vegetarian options but I happily filled up two plates with lo mein noodles and fried rice! Oh, and sugar cookies.
Chinese Buffet LunchWhen we got back to his place we found out Mom had sent us a giant tin from the Popcorn Factory to share. I ate a good 2/3rds of the butter and cheddar in two days. Stuff is addicting.
Popcorn FactoryAfter a very rough week of runs I had a PERFECT run Saturday. I attribute it to taking it pretty easy last week and having gorgeous weather in the low 60’s. We ran 8 and I was able to keep a decent pace and didn’t have to stop once. Running as a coupleAfter a quick shower we made the 2 hour drive to Destin, FL to hang out there for the day. I grew up in the town next to it (Fort Walton Beach) so I love visiting my old stomping grounds and I was in desperate need of some new clothes (Destin has the best shopping!) We started off at the Commons, an upscale outdoor mall, and hit up Panera Break for lunch. I almost passed out when I saw my favorite soup is back on the menu. You MUST try the Autumn Squash soup next time you go in!Lunch at PaneraWe didn’t find anything at the Commons, a bit to rich for our blood, so we hit up something more our speed – the outlet mall! I’m such a picky shopper I didn’t get much but I did find two sweaters from Old Navy and the Gap. I go through phases where I really wish I was more fashionable but I rarely have the $$ or energy to follow through on that.

After a few hours of walking around the outlet mall we hit up PF Changs before heading home. I started off with three spring rolls, moved onto the Buddhas Feast and ended with Salted Caramel Cake and one of Travis’s fried banana wontons (with pineapple coconut ice cream.) It was heavenly.Dessert at PF ChangsSunday started off with a long run. We were supposed to do 16 but I just couldn’t push past 15. It took me 3 hours so my average pace was 12. I’m still not sure if I’m doing the half or the full in November and since I’ve basically stopped following the Hanson plan I’m not sure if I should even attempt the Full. We’ll see.

WeekendI hit the snooze alarm a bit too long that morning so we didn’t start our run until much later than usual. By the time we got home it was already 11, so the rest of the day flew by. I napped, Travis started going through his clothes to get rid of some of his 100+ shirts (seriously) to make room for me in December, and I eventually peeled myself off the couch to clean house a bit.

I’ve been reading a book on meditation and breathing/visualization exercises. I feel a phase coming on. I miss reading daily, watching documentaries, and generally nerding out. I don’t know if it’s the Fall weather slowly crawling in that’s making me feel more studious, or a need to be stimulated outside of my crazy work schedule. I’m going to embrace it.

How was your weekend?

What’s the last good book, or documentary, you watched?

Workout Wrap Up

Saturday: 6 miles

Sunday: Rest

Monday: 8 miles

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: 5k + Jillian Michales Ripped in 30

Thursday: F.I.T. by Tracey Mallet

Friday: 6 miles

When I started running just over two years ago I went from never running in my life, to RUN ALL THE RACES. I couldn’t imagine how I stayed fit and active before I started running, but I always did. I hiked, walked, and did workout DVD’s at home 4-5x a week. About a year ago I started wondering if I’d ever wake up one day and just hate running.

I think that’s kind of happened. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t hate it per say, but I just don’t have the passion to do it as much as I used to. I blame 50% of it on the weather. It’s still in the 90’s here and I slept through two runs this week. Just didn’t have ‘em in me. I knew the second I’d walk outside I’d get hit in the face with high humidity and every single run has been such a struggle for me lately. It’s just not fun anymore. Even with slowing my pace way down and taking lots of walk breaks the weather is making me miserable. So, I’m undecided on what I want to do for the Pensacola Marathon. I could try to get back onto the Hanson plan next week, or I could just give it up and run the half for fun. Hell, I could just run the full for fun still and I really want to as it was supposed to be Travis’s first marathon and our first marathon together. I think I’ll see how I feel in a few weeks and then decide how to register.

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The highlight of my run Tuesday was harassing these birds. 2014-09-17 06.38.54

My life changed this week when I found out the entire Gilmore Girls series is going to be released on Netflix October 1st. To prepare I’ve been watching season 1 that I own on DVD so I can hop straight into season 2 goodness in two weeks!

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I attempted to eat a bit healthier this week and load up on veggies. It’s easier to do now that I’m not craving ALL THE CARBS from running 40-50 miles this week. I made some of my favorite cabbage salad and thought I’d have it for lunch the rest of the week. I ate it all in two days. 2014-09-16 14.28.39

The purse I got for $8 at walmart 3 years ago finally died this week. RIP. It ended up costing me .05 cents a week. I’d say that’s money well spent. I’ve looked at like a dozen places for a new purse but haven’t been able to find anything I like. I think the main reason why I rarely buy new clothes, shoes or purses (aside from not wanting to spend $$) is that it takes me foreverrrr to find something I like. Yet all of my wardrobe is so plain. The irony.2014-09-16 16.07.01Mom came out to hang out with me a bit Wednesday morning before class. We did some shopping and had lunch at Roly Poly. I’m obsessed with this salad! I was telling Mom I could get the same ingredients to make it myself at home but it’s always so much better getting it from them. 2014-09-17 11.14.20I took a little field trip out to Big Lagoon State Park on Wednesday afternoon. I needed to get out and enjoy some fresh air. 2014-09-17 15.36.56I came home after class one day to find Salem like this. Such a boss.2014-09-18 09.47.48

I’ll be heading up to Alabama this weekend. The low’s are in the mid 60’s so I’m hoping I may be able to enjoy a few runs while I’m up there. Salem’s becoming quite the little pro at traveling!

Finally – thank you all so much for your comments on my engagement! I will try to reply to as many as I can (and anyone who asked me a question) this weekend. Travis and I both enjoyed reading all of them and I’m looking forward to sharing this adventure with you!

What are you up to this weekend?
Any ideas for how to get rid of ants? They are pouring in through the outlets/faucets in my kitchen and bathroom!