A Bit Of A Wakeup Call

Hi everyone!  This post is kind of stressing me out but I need to share it.  Recently, I’ve been noticing a few things:  My clothes fit tighter, I get super tired easily during runs, I’m constantly tired, I cry a lot, and worst of all – my heart has been beating funny and I’ve been having chest pains and some trouble breathing.  On Friday it was so intense that I thought I was going to throw up and pass out at work.  Given my very deep family history with heart disease, both Andrew and I were extremely concerned about the heart issues.  I coincidently had an appointment scheduled with the Anchorage Women’s Clinic yesterday, so everyone encouraged me to talk to the doctor about how I’ve been feeling lately.

I woke up before my alarm went off yesterday morning and was surprised to find that not only was I not tired for the first time ever, I really wanted to go for a run.  So despite the fact that I had to leave Seward by 8:00 to get to my appointment in time, I headed out for a 2 mile run.  Crazily enough, I started running at 6:45 am which is something I’ve never done before.  I hate waking up early, but I’ve been so tired after work lately (well, and before work too) that I never feel like running anymore.  It was awesome to run through my sleepy town before the tourists took over for the day!  Plus I got to see lots of salmon in the lagoon which is always fun.  I had been so stressed and tired the last few days that it was so nice to start my “weekend” off with a relaxing run!

20140806-014221.jpgThe salmon were running with me!

After my run I drove to Anchorage with my friends to distract me, but I was nervous for my appointment.  It turns out that my doctor was really nice and I was able to talk to her about everything.  First of all, according to their scale I’ve gained like 8 pounds in the past 4 months.  Ugh.  That is not acceptable and I’m pretty disgusted with myself.  I know that sharing a kitchen with 40 other people is making me want to make only quick meals and they’re not the healthiest, but I need to get it together and stop eating like crap.  That’s also what’s causing me to get tired faster when running because I’m not fueling properly.  I think I’ve known this for a while, but I need to tone it down with the free cookies and processed dinners and start eating real food again.  I’m scared that I’m going to struggle with this, but Andrew and I are stocking up on good snacks like fruit, nuts, hummus, and veggies.  I’m also going to bring some snacks to work with me like pretzels and almonds so that whenever I get hungry I’ll reach for those instead of buying unhealthy snacks.  I’m a picky eater so I know it’s going to be tough to eat healthier.  If you have any kid approved (since I’m basically a kid) healthy recipes pass them over to me!

20140806-014201.jpgAt the mall, falling in love with massive inflatable donuts.  I have a problem.

Second, my heartbeat was normal and my doctor couldn’t find anything medically wrong with it which is awesome!  But the tiredness, sadness, and heart issues all seem to be stemming from my unending and overwhelming stress and anxiety.  Moving up here was stressful, but now in order to stay here and avoid spending thousands more dollars to move back home we both need to get jobs and a place to live by the beginning of October.  We’re also struggling finically more than we did in Philly because the move cost so much, and I’m obsessing over paying off our moving expenses as soon as possible.  Even just typing those sentence made my heart beat faster, so the doctor was pretty confident that my stress has negative effects on my body.  We discussed using running as a coping strategy (she was a runner too!) and I’m also thinking that even just adding a few small stretching sessions of yoga in the mornings or after my workouts will help keep me relaxed.  I plan on spending all day today and tomorrow applying for jobs so I’m hoping that we will hear something soon and my poor heart can get a break!

Third, the heart issues might be connected to my caffeine intake.  I usually only drink 1 cup a day in the afternoons, and I only do it 4 days a week when I’m at work.  Lately I’ve been so tired that I’ve been drinking 2 cups a day, and that combined with my stress might be causing too many issues with my heart.  My doctor told me that some people can’t metabolize coffee well and that I should try tea instead if I want to wean myself off caffeine.  I can tell that I’m addicted so I’m worried about giving it up, but I bought some Tazo Tea at Target yesterday and I’m excited to try it out.  I also need to drink lots more water and Nuun to stay hydrated instead of dehydrating myself with coffee.  I guess cutting down to 1 fancy coffee drink a week didn’t end up helping my problems so I’m cutting it out altogether!

20140806-014328.jpg My body needs more days like this at work

There will be lots of changes for me in the next few days as I attempt to get adjusted to new food, more workouts, and no coffee.  My doctor discussed ways to prepare me for these changes slowly because so many people try to start too many things at once and they end up failing.  I know I will make mistakes along the way, but I’m hoping that overall I’ll start feeling better soon once I clean up my diet and stop drinking coffee.  And once I’m feeling better, I’ll hopefully feel less stressed!  I’m optimistic that I can feel and look better by the time we move out of Seward on September 14.  I need to stop worrying about the future and trust that things will turn out as long as I keep working hard to meet my goals.

Since I love you all and value your opinion so much, I’d love to take your suggestions on getting healthier!  Leave me a comment if you have any info about the following:

  • Yummy, simple, healthy recipes that work for a picky eater
  • Tips for coping with stress, sadness, and anxiety
  • Giving up coffee/caffeine
  • Ways to relax and stay calm during a stressful day
  • Awesome yoga routines that will put me in a zen mood
  • If you’ve ever been where I am right now and how you dealt with it.  It’s hard.

33 thoughts on “A Bit Of A Wakeup Call

  1. I’m sorry life has been stressful but you will get through this! I was in a similar situation last year and the impact of stress on my body was a wake up call! You’re on the right track and yoga works wonders mentally and physically.

    1. It’s so scary what stress can do to you, I had no idea! I definitely need to do more yoga now, it sounds like it will help!

  2. Ugh I’ve been (am currently?) there, so I know how it feels 😦
    The past couple months were unbelievably stressful for me and I found myself exhausted, unhappy and slowly packing on the pounds when I stopped my weekend meal prep. I had my first good run yesterday in a very long time, and my stress level has slowly started declining, but I’m still trying to get back to my healthier diet- it’s definitely a work in progress.
    Hang in there, and know that most things we worry about don’t happen! That often helps me put things in perspective 🙂
    One of my fav healthy meals is stuffed peppers! I usually stuff them with ground turkey, onion, celery, and spices for flavoring. But you can really put anything in them, including cheese if that suits you 🙂
    Wishing you luck on the job front!

    1. Thank you! It’s good to know I’m not alone in going through something like this. It sounds like you are on your way back to feeling better so congrats! I like that you said that most things we worry about don’t happen. I can’t imagine we’ll actually be homeless and jobless, so that makes me feel better! No matter what happens we will make it work.

  3. I’m sorry you’re struggling right now, but I’m glad you’ve talked to the doctor and are making some positive steps! I used to be a huge coffee drinker at work, mostly out of habit since everyone I worked with at the time drank a lot of coffee. I started stocking caffeine free tea like mint tea in our kitchen and would drink that instead of a cup of coffee. It took some getting used to, but definitely helped. Plus, since I don’t take milk or sugar in my tea, it helped me cut out some extra calories. Good luck and keep us posted!

    1. Mint tea sounds yummy! I’m not really a tea fan so I’m not sure how this is going to go. I may just drink coffee sparingly and not use it as a crutch for dealing with my tiredness like I do now. But then again, that may just be the coffee talking since it has such as strong hold on me! Ugh I hate food and how much I’m obsessed with it!

  4. Oh sweet Kristen I’m so sorry, I know exactly how you feel. Moving is so stressful and I gained weight after our move too. Sometimes we are drawn to the comfort junk food as a way to cope which adds to the stress. I’m so glad you talked to your doctor, and are taking steps in the right direction. Yoga is one of my favorite ways to relax. It forces me to slow down and just breathe which seems so trivial but is so necessary. Try doyogawithme, its a free yoga website! I also think running is going to be a huge help for you. Having something consistent and comforting is important. Drinking lots of water will keep energy levels up and hopefully keep you ready for whatever your day brings. Know that I am here for you and rooting for you!

    1. Oh man, moving seriously sucks! I hate that it makes us all stressed out and craving sugar! I will definitely take a look at that website. I’m also going to definitely make more time for running since it’s helped me get through tough times before. And yes, I’m going to drink tons of water from now on!

  5. Sorry to hear about all that’s going on. Just know that we’ve all been there at one point or another, and you’re not alone. That said, when I had my health scare earlier this year, my doctor highly recommended yoga. It definitely helped me to relax more. I use a yoga DVD at home, so there’s no yoga studio fees, etc. As for how to cut out caffeine, trying flavoring water with a lemon, lime, or whatever fruit suits your taste.

    1. Thank you! It’s awesome that everyone is recommending yoga. What DVD do you use? I’m trying out a few videos on YouTube and hopefully I find one I can stick with! I do think I’m going to try to flavor my water since I definitely get sick of it when I drink too much. Lemon sounds yummy!

  6. So sorry you’re dealing with this. If it’s any consolation my weight is up from my bad eating and my running has been nothing but a suffer fest for me all season. And it’s due to my weight and eating at this point. I’m glad you went and got yourself checked out though. I get precordial catch syndrome quite a bit, which is a horrible type of chest pain that makes it hard for me to breath, so I completely empathise with you sister.

    1. Oh man, I hope both of us can get it together soon and start being in top shape again! At least we can look forward to the Oktoberfest 5K (and all the pretzels we’ll be eating!) soon! It will be so nice to meet everyone! I just cheered myself up with the thought 🙂

  7. Hi Kristen!
    I’ve never stopped by your blog before, but something compelled me to click on your post, and I am so glad that I did, I am sending you a BIG virtual hug, and telling you to take a BIG deep breath, stress has an incredible effect on our body, that we are not even aware of half the time, you posed these questions at the end of your post:
    – Yummy, simple, healthy recipes that work for a picky eater
    I am very picky, but I think most of my recipes are fast, easy, and most of all tasty! I have quite a few simple chicken dishes (No grill, grilled chicken) that are quick for you to make (since you share a kitchen) but good for you and your tastebuds!

    – Tips for coping with stress, sadness, and anxiety
    POSITIVE thinking! Seriously, shifting your mindset to an attitude towards gratitude, daily affirmations posted everywhere, as reminders, can help. You have the ability to transform your thoughts. Ever hear of the app happify?

    – If you’ve ever been where I am right now and how you dealt with it. It’s hard.
    It IS hard! I’ve got an exercise of the mind section on my blog titled Positive Vibes with some good reads and apps to use that I used to help me out of the blackhole I fell into last year

    Positive Vibes xoxo

    1. Thanks for stopping by and for the positive words! I will definitely be checking out your blog for some recipes and the positive vibes. I try to stay positive and I’m usually an optimistic person but the fact that our families are so far away and I have no one to help us if we fail is freaking me out. Once we get settled in Anchorage I should hopefully be feeling much better!

  8. I’m sorry you’re feeling yucky! Stress is definitely a killer, and I’m right there with you at the moment. Exercise is definitely helpful, as is yoga, and also journaling is great to get all your thoughts and feelings down on paper. It can really help to process things and find solutions instead of worrying.

    1. Thank you! I will definitely be trying yoga ASAP! And I’ve thought about journaling but between this blog and my Alaska blog (which my family reads) I’m pretty busy with writing. It might help though!

  9. Oh my goodness I’m so sorry. 😦 I’m sending you so many hugs right now. I actually wrote a post about my past anxiety issues on my blog today (weird timing). Yoga pretty much got everything under control for me. I was also contacted recently by someone who wanted me to review a class on their yoga website and that might be worth checking out as well. I am still looking into it, but they are apparently live classes!


    I hope you feel better, friend. Shoot me a message on Facebook if you ever want to chat. I also went through the money woes associated with moving cross country and know how much of an extra stress that can add.

    1. Thanks girl! I read your post and it made me cry! It’s crazy how much of an affect stress can have on all of us. I will check that website out for sure. I wish I was still back in Philly so we could meet up somewhere and go for a run/chat! Except it’s too hot out back home for that kind of thing 🙂

  10. Hang in there Kristen! Stress is hard to deal with- I’m not good at it either and like you my body REACTS. I actually throw up when I get too excited, and my heart has had “pains” just like yours! I even went to the doctor about it too. Anyways, here’s my advise on some parts I feel I can *possibly* help a little:

    Tips for coping with stress, sadness, and anxiety- My soccer coach made me do this in high school, and I LOVE IT. before you go to sleep just think about the 3 happiest moments of that day (or 3 good things that happened). I usually write them in my journal so I can look back and see them later when I’m really depressed. They can be menial like “a stranger smiled at me”. but constantly just reflecting on good things will make you feel less stressed and happier!

    Giving up coffee/caffeine- I used to always drink a soda in the afternoon at work, but after constant “heart pangs” I decided to give it up! I love water but it’s so boring all day! Tea is really yummy. I also like just putting like cucumber or lemon in water. Maybe you can test a whole bunch of new drinks and write about it for Trying New Things Tuesday! lol

    Ways to relax and stay calm during a stressful day – if I feel overwhelmed I take a minute and lock myself in the bathroom and splash cool water on my face. It helps calm me down and cool me off if I’m feeling “tempered”
    Hope you feel better! Keep on keeping on :~)

    1. Wow it’s crazy we both get heart pains from stress! So scary. Your advice about writing down 3 happy moments is awesome! I really want to try that because I think it will help me a lot since I tend to focus on the crappy parts of my day. I will definitely be writing some Try New Things Tuesday stuff about drinks soon, I can just tell! And the bathroom idea is good too since it will help me get away from my coworkers. Thanks for the great advice!

  11. Anxiety can wreck havoc with a body… its surprising all the ways.
    I tend to battle it with nice easy walks with soothing music, or just time to do what I love – read, sit in the tub, deep breathing. It takes focus to fight stupid anxiety.

    1. I agree that reading helps so much – I’m tempted to read in the bathtub right now! Thanks for the advice!

  12. I thought you were going to say that you’re pregnant!
    I like to bake my own “treats” cause that’s always my downfall.
    Can you claim any moving expenses on your taxes? They’re a write-off in Canada.

    1. Hahaha I just re-read my symptoms and started laughing because that’s what it sounds like! That would make me even more anxious so I’m glad it’s not that at this point in my life. I’d like to have at least a place to live before that happens 🙂 I have no idea if I can write off my moving expenses! I will definitely have to look into that!

  13. super big hugs friend! with my 100 days of no soda I’ve just become really conscious of what i drink. I figure, if I’m not consuming soda then I would i consume other drinks with sugar or caffeine? So I just drink water. I’ve honestly kinda got used to it.

    I’m horrible when it comes to eating healthy but portion sizes are key. Good luck friend and I’m here if you ever need to vent/talk/cry ❤

    1. I definitely thought about you and your no-soda thing when I thought about giving up coffee. I think once the withdrawal goes away I’ll be okay with it. The only things I drink are coffee, water, and smoothies so I should be okay! And yes, the portion size thing is so important! I need to watch that more for sure. Thanks for being here!

  14. thinking about you! i’m glad lauren (run salt run) commented because i was going to suggest you read her post today. i think folks have given you great advice so i don’t have much to add but just wanted to chime in with my support. your blogger / runner buddies love you, girlie! xx

    1. Lauren’s post was so helpful, it’s nice to know I’m not alone because no one ever really talks about it outside of the blogging world. Thank you so much for your support!

  15. First of all ::hugs:: I can relate both to anxiety and depression and am currently struggling with the best way to cope although running is helping. I would be happy to provide you with some easy, healthy recipes that are picky eater approved (my three year old refuses to eat most days and is only 20 lbs so I have some recipes up my sleeve). I think it all can become this vicious cycle in regards to diet and caffeine- they are addictive and make you crave more and more. I don’t know all of the answers but I do know proper nutrition can provide some relief! Feel free to email me if you’d like me to send ya some weeknight recipes/smoothies/snacks! I’d be happy to do anything I can to help! I know how you feel!

    1. Thank you so much! I’m going to check out Pinterest like crazy during my down time at work tomorrow and I’ll definitely be sending you an email. I probably have the food preferences of a 3 year old so that should be helpful 🙂 I hate that caffeine and sugar/processed foods are so addictive. Hopefully I can fight through it and get healthier soon!

  16. Your optimistic outlook is what will really help you get through this hurdle. I highly recommend incorporating some yoga into your daily routine. I recently got into it and it has helped relieve a lot of stress. Best of luck!

  17. I am so sorry to hear this! I think the fact that you are being proactive so early will clear everything up in no time. I really like some of the ideas from the Runner’s World cookbook. Yoga really helped me deal with stress. Its crazy how much changing your breathing can do for you!

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