Dealing with Anxiety

Monsters Under my Bed

None of you know this (many of my friends don’t either) but I have been dealing with anxiety for the past year and a half. I was diagnosed with panic disorder back in February 2011. I’m pretty sure I have gotten it well managed and under control and I have been panic attack free all year (some times, it’s gotten close to one, but I managed to keep it at bay). Most of my anxiety that I deal with comes from heightened sensory perception. Ironic, huh, since the name of my blog is sensual appeal..

Having a heightened sensory perception basically means that a person is overly conscious of body functions that usually go unnoticed because they are automatic, for example breathing. When I was in the beginning of dealing with my new-found anxiety, I found it hard to manage. I was overly conscious of how I was breathing, constantly thinking I wasn’t breathing the right way – which freaked me out further, making me think I’m gonna die, which would in turn spiral me into panic mode. It was a never-ending exhausting cycle. It was terrible. Eventually though, I have learned to control it more and more. I am happy to say that I have been a lot less anxious over the past couple of months, which I am also indirectly linking to this blog. It has helped me talk about whatever was on my mind and focusing on being healthy instead of sitting in my head and overanalyzing everything that might be wrong with me. It’s needless to say that I have also become a hypochondriac over that time and still am to an extent. Google is not helping here, of course. With searching for symptoms and their possible reasons and the diseases that could be linked to these symptoms, anxiety can only get worse, not better.

The reason for writing this post is because I was feeling pretty anxious tonight. I felt light headed during my second workout, slow cardio (which I don’t really even call a workout, it’s just a way for me to get more movement in my day since most of my day is spent sitting). I got home after ending it a couple of minutes early and I went straight to the fridge to make myself food. Food helps. It’s comforting and I have been on a lower calorie range (but not too low) and I thought it might have been because my body is adjusting to the increased movement and decreased calorie consumption. Thankfully tomorrow is a rest day and I am not planning on doing anything but walking (when necessary). I need the rest.

So I wanted to share with you guys some ways in which I deal with anxiety, especially when I start thinking about my body reaction and sensations and my hypochondriac self starts thinking I might be having a heart attack/gonna pass out/etc, so that I don’t freak myself out further and therefore not going into panic mode. Here are some things I do that help me take control of my anxiety in those situations:

  • Drink some cold water, making sure you don’t gulp, take small sips instead.
  • Breathe in and out… slowly. Close my eyes and slow my breaths out to make them relaxing and soothing.
  • Do some calming yoga poses. I usually just do some simple hatha poses and stretches. I especially do forward folds and this pose a lot. Not sure why, it just calms me down a lot. I tend to stay away from child’s pose when I feel anxious because scrunching up in a ball makes me even more nervous. I need to feel more open instead in order to release the tension.
  • Make myself a warm cup of caffeine-free tea. There are calming and relaxing tea blends out there as well but I find that any warm tea works well for me. I’ve been drinking Throat Coat tea lately because of its delicious sweet flavor; it’s comforting.
  • Smell some relaxing scents. I purchased a relaxation essential oils blend (which includes lavender oil, balsam fir, needle oil, patchouli, palmarosa oil, geranium oil, and chamomile) that I sniff and put a few drops on my wrists so that I can smell it as I go about doing my activities. As far as I know, the best and most well known relaxation scents are lavender and chamomile, but there are many others with calming powers as well. 
  • Tell myself that it’s just me freaking out for no reason. I’m too young to die and I am too healthy for something to happen (like a heart attack, come on, now, really?) 
  • Listen to music that relaxes me. Sing along. I usually listen to Lykke Li, the XX, Radiohead, Bon Iver, Sigur Ros, or Explosions in the Sky. Pandora mixes it all up well for me. (Hope you enjoy the songs I posted up in here 😉
  • Take a GABA supplement
  • Take a magnesium supplement

Now here’s a question for you:

If you feel anxious, how do you deal with it? 

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Some of my unconventional reasons to Get Fit

First things first… I created a NEW fanpage! I decided to keep my photography fanpage separate and created a Sensual Appeal Blog fanpage that will deal only with food, health, wellness, and fitness related posts. So PLEASE like it if you have a Facebook, that would mean a lot to me 🙂

So getting healthy and getting in shape is a pretty common occurance and goal among people. And we all know the basic reasons for it: so I can look better and be happier with my body. I decided to take a look at this a bit more and break up some of the reasons for getting healthy and fit into a more unconventional goals (some of them) but then some regular goals. Either way, there wasn’t a whole lot of thinking going on here, but just stuff that sometimes goes through my head relating to getting fit and in shape but I just never actually wrote them out before. So here goes:

  • So that everyday I wake up feeling happy and excited to workout.
  • To no longer have any sick/lazy/blah days.
  • To live till I’m 100 years old.
  • To start craving exercise like some people crave chocolate.
  • So people are able to tell right off the bat that I work out and have muscle in my body.
  • To inspire others to get healthy and active, that anything is possible.
  • Do a silhouette photoshoot with ME as the model.
  • To be considered as the “fit girl” in the group, instead of the “chubby” or “average” girl.
  • Not have to be embarrassed to go to the beach/pool and gladly take all of the layers of clothing off while stunning everyone around by the amazing body that you have.
  • So I can get a fitness instructor certification for boxing/pilates/yoga.
  • Do the P90x program again but this time giving it my all. And get a free shirt for completing it 😉
  • Finish Insanity DVDs and get the Insanity shirt.
  • Wear crop top shirts so I can show my belly button ring and tattoos.
  • Wear short shorts without being afraid my thighs will jiggle as I walk.
  • Be able to wear a shirt like this or this when working out without feeling weird. (photo of Powercakes)
  • Be able to sing “Sexy and I know it” out loud without feeling like people are looking at you like “Yeah, okay, I’m SURE you workout….” Which also goes along with wearing a shirt like this.
  • Go to the gym during rush times and do chin ups and tricep dips with ease, as it shocks the men in the weights section.
  • Get gorgeous shoulders so I am able to wear tube tops/dresses.
  • Be one of those girls at music festivals. As much as they annoy me, they also make me jealous of their bodies. Shit, I’d show it off too if I had a body like that! And I was still young. And drunk.
  • Go to a Health/Fitness Blogger Retreat and be eager to do all the crazy workouts because I know I won’t be dead afterwards.

Taking control of health & fitness with LifeBook event

I have a strong online presence and I am very active on Twitter and Facebook, as you guys might have noticed. I also follow a number of fitness and health professionals (not to mention fellow bloggers, but I think that’s a duh). Recently one of the local fitness pros I follow, Andrea Metcalf, tweeted about a complimentary event happening in Chicago which is a workshop to take control over our health and fitness. It was a LifeBook event, which I’ve never heard about before but I was curious to check it out. Might as well, it’s a FREE 3 hour workshop, I’d be silly not to take advantage of an opportunity like that, when I had nothing better to do that evening anyway.

To tell you the truth I was kind of nervous about attending. The event page didn’t provide very much information and left everything pretty open and vague. I was actually kind of afraid this would be kind of like a brainwashing event to make them join a cult. Haha don’t laugh but I’m gonna be honest here! I’ve probably watched and read too many books and movies about this kind of thing, haha. But no, it was not a cult gathering, thankfully. The event promised the following: “You’ll gain immense clarity on what true vitality is, why it matters and how it’s created. You’ll examine your beliefs about your health, define exactly how you want your body to look and feel, and outline what you need to do to achieve the levels of vitality you’ve always wanted.” 

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Some info about Rooibos tea

I’ve recently been really digging the Starbucks TAZO vanilla rooibos tea. I needed a decaf tea when I went to the store and I wasn’t in the mood to get my usual Refresh. I asked what other decaf teas they had and vanilla rooibos was one of them. I decided on it. I’ve been in love ever since. This brings me to this post – I don’t know anything about Rooibos tea, so I thought it’s a perfect opportunity to learn a bit more about the tea and share what I’ve learned with you guys as well!

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My reinforcement for clean eating + Balance Bar BARE Review

Why did I decide to eat more wholesome foods? Why did I decide to eat clean more? The are many reasons. I honestly didn’t fully realize the truth behind food additives and commercial foods till very recently, although I knew about them on the surface for a long time. It wasn’t until I started reading food blogs that I really got myself in the right mindset. About the time I started reading food and health blogs, I read the book “The Kind Diet.” While this book focuses on veganism, it taught me a lot about food in general. I am not vegan, but I have done a vegan challenge before which allowed me to notice how much dairy I really eat on a daily basis.

Over the weeks, I realized how bad processed foods are – white sugar and flour. Ever since it got stuck in my head, I’ve been focusing on not using these ingredients for myself. I find that every time I eat something processed, something with a lot of white sugar, it never fills me up. I will be hungry again almost immediately. My stomach will not notice the natural fullness feeling I would otherwise feel if I was eating unrefined foods. This became especially noticeable for me on the day I made chocolate pb&j cupcakes for my ex-roommates graduation. While I was excited I found a way to get rid of some of the refined flour and sugar which I wasn’t normally using, I absolutely had some of the outcome. The outcome was good… However I had one and a half of cupcakes. It didn’t fill me up. I wanted more food. I went for a panini but I also started craving something salty. An hour after, I started craving something sweet again. This time I decided to have some chocolate-covered yogurt bites. So good. Healthier, this time. But while the cravings lessened, some still remained. It was a huge struggle to resist all night. Really difficult. I’m entirely sure that these refined processed cupcakes were the culprit to awakening my cravings. I knew this is why. In addition, I felt tired and groggy. My joints hurt. Coincidence? Or am I just noticing this now?

I’m happy that I realize that this is a problem. I’m glad that I understand the causes of the cravings. And this serves as reinforcement for continuing my clean and healthy eating habits. I never want to have such strong cravings again – they are destructive and they are horrible when it comes to returning back on track afterwards. I will make sure to resist temptations and will make sure not to indulge in processed foods very often, only on special occasion when there aren’t any healthier options. I just can’t wait to get rid of my white four and sugar. I don’t want to throw it out though… What to do, what to do?

Remember how much I raved about the Balance Bars in my Energy Bar Wars post? Yeah, I’m such a huge fan. I think these bars are actually my favorites. But I had no idea that the Balance Bar came out with a new line – Balance Bar BARE. Because I was already a fan of the original bars, I was super excited to try these babies out.

Similarly to their original bars, these go along with their 40-30-30 model – 40% healthy carbs, 30% quality protein, and 30% dietary fat (% of total calories). This model helps stabilize blood sugar levels, satisfy hunger and provide energy. The flavor I got to try, Blueberry Acai, are their newest flavor addition. The bar has 200 calories and has wholesome ingredients and is sweetened with organic agave and brown rice syrups.

Let’s bite into it, shall we? The bar has a yogurt bottom and an oat top. Some of the top crumbled off, with some oats falling off – I see this as a good sign. This shows me that this is a natural bar, made with truly real ingredients rather than getting slathered in some binding agent. The flavor is mild but prevalent. The blueberry flavor is subtle but noticeable. The texture is in between chewy and texturized. It has a nice sweet taste which isn’t overpowering.

PS. I approached the company, not the other way round.

What vitamins do I take?

Hey guys! I thought I would share with you today what vitamins I take on a frequent basis. People are often curious (I know I am) of what vitamins people take and what each vitamin does… what’s the point of taking vitamins, or what are some good brands of vitamins that could be recommended. Well the brands and vitamins I will mention here are my go-to brands. Sometimes I stray and try a different brand, but these are the ones I have right now and I am happy with all.

From left to right:

  • 5-HTP 100mg by Natrol: I do not take these every day. I take these probably once a week or so, whenever I feel like my mood isn’t up to par or when I feel unmotivated or when I slept too much. These pills are plant-derived amino acids which release serotonin in the brain. They fight off the blues naturally as well as help keep a positive outlook. Also, they help you sleep better and control your cravings. Be careful though, having a lot of serotonin in the brain also slightly decreases sex drive. So make sure you know when to take it.
  • Super B-Complex by Nature Made: B complex helps convert food into energy instead of being stored as fat. Super B-Complex Includes: Thiamine (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Niacin(Vitamin B3). It also balances and helps cardiovascular and nervous systems stay balanced. I take it everyday after eating. Be careful, this vitamin turns your pee super neon yellow. So don’t freak out haha. (TMI?)
  • Garlic Heart Care Formula by Nutrilite – In Poland, we use garlic as away to fight off sickness such as the flu, the cold, and others. This is why my mom got me these garlic pills. However, in addition to our Polish traditional uses, this formula also helps support the overall cardiovascular health. Although the packaging says there should be no breath odor coming from the stomach, this isn’t entirely true. It’s weird though, because you don’t start feeling (or rather, smelling) it until many hours later. I don’t know if any other brands are just even more intense with the breath odor thing, maybe this one just has it minimized more than other companies’ formulas have. This is the only brand I have used this formula so I wouldn’t know. Also, I take this once in a while, when I feel like I might be getting sick or just when I feel weaker and want to help my body out.
  • Vitamin C Complex by Trader Joe’s – I got this when I was sick and needed to load up on vitamin C. I take it whenever I feel myself getting sick or need the extra immunity boost. Nothing to write home about but the product is cheap.
  • Probiotics Defense by Healthy Pulse Anna – probiotics are wonderful things which help regulate your digestive system and increase digestion. There are also some studies done which show that probiotics also help control ADD, lower cholesterol, and treat many other diseases. Read more about probiotics on my post about the benefits of kefir. I take these every day before breakfast. Caution, these must be stored in the fridge.
  • Fish Oil by Barlean’s – This is the only fish oil brand I have used that doesn’t have a fishy aftertaste or breath odor. It has an orange flavor (although I never bit into it so I wouldn’t know). But fact is, there is no fish smell or taste at all. I love it. The benefits of fish oil are huge and these should be taken by everyone. It supports the physical and mental health and is recommended to be taken in order to maintain healthy and proper brain functioning. It can also can also help support healthy joint mobility and bone density; healthy cholesterol levels; mental health, wellness, and acuity; healthy blood glucose levels; sexual and hormonal health; and skin, hair, nail, and eye health. It may also improve energy and endurance levels. So yeah, moral of the story – TAKE FISH OIL! I take it every day.
  • GABA by Swanson – I don’t take this very often. It’s another amino acid which helps you relax, calms your muscles, and makes you less tense. I’ve only taken it twice and both times it has worked pretty well. Nothing extreme of course, as this isn’t a drug, it’s just amino acids.

Hope this write up helped some of you curious of what vitamins to take 🙂 If you’re curious as the where to buy vitamins and other health-related stuff online, I use Vitacost cause they seem to have the lowest prices. You can sign up through here and receive $10 credit upon registration 🙂

Some vitamins I have also taken in the past but are not currently on my desk are: Calcium chews (for healthy bones) and Beta-carotene (to improve immunity and tan easier).

Why should you get massages regularly?

Today was finally massage day. I haven’t had one in about a month and a half and I was really in need of one. Not simply because I have slight back problems (as many of us do), I felt my muscles needed the extra relaxation since I started exercising 5-6 times a week (ChaLean Extreme!) in January. I think I kind of hurt my shoulder during weight training 2 months ago because you can hear it pop and grind when I move it. It’s weird, but it doesn’t hurt, so I’m not too worried. It’s just annoying. So anyway, today I wanted to spend some time sharing benefits of regular massages to convert some of you non-believers. It might sound like a spa day but it really should be seen as something more than that.

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Benefits of Coconut Oil

Since I started my blog, I’ve also been actively following and exploring different health and food blogs as well. Most of the blogs I follow are focused on healthy eating, some of which are vegan and gluten free. I am neither one of those but I think it’s good to introduce all kinds of different meals into your life. I consider myself a pescaterian – mainly vegetarian with some fish in there, however I also enjoy some turkey, beef, and veal in there as well on occasion. No chicken though. I’ll talk about that another time though.

Today I wanted to focus on discussing and exploring coconut oil. I have found that many of the recipes these healthy blogs post require coconut oil in them. And I’ve briefly heard some positive things about coconut oil as well. A few days ago, I bought my first jar of coconut oil from Trader Joe’s and I even used it in my Peanut Butter Cups. I thought it’s a good idea to actually research and find out as much as I can about this product.

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What is Kefir? Why is it a wonderful health food?

Today I made a trip to Starfruit Cafe, a local frozen kefir chain in Chicago. It’s my favorite frozen treat place, I am pretty much a regular and they know me by name there haha, that’s how often I go there. The only reason is because I love love love kefir. Frozen kefir especially. It tastes like frozen yogurt but is so much healthier. I consider frozen kefir a meal, because of how nutritious it is and high in protein, while I consider frozen yogurt a dessert because it is usually higher in sugar and much lower in protein. I like kefir so much I even did an advertising project on Starfruit Cafe last semester which allowed me to learn quite a bit about kefir’s benefits. And there are many!

Staw-banana frozen kefir with blueberries and raspberries. Mmm

So what are those wonderful properties of kefir, you might ask? Well, let’s do a quick overview!

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Hypnosis for weight loss

The first time I ever tried hypnosis for weight loss was about 4 years ago. I was a junior or senior in high school. I have been a complete believer and supporter of this method ever since. After reading the book about hypnosis and its potential strengths, I was sold. I believed it could help me, since it has apparently helped so many others. I listened to the tracks and followed the plan for listening. I thought I did not change my eating habits at all. I thought I was living life the same way as I always was. Before I know it, I lost 20 pounds. I did not even realize I did. It just melted off. There was no struggle. I have been chubby all my teen years until I listened to hypnosis, reprogrammed my mind and the pounds just literally disappeared. It was effortless. This is why I still come back to hypnosis as a method for weight management/loss. Some programs are better than others. I have tried many programs and there are only a few that have worked for me. Unfortunately, I think the first time works the best and then if you fall off the wagon and something happens and you gain the weight back (Freshman 15 happened for me, eek!), I found it slightly more difficult for the hypnosis to work. It still worked, but since I already knew what the dude was saying to me in the tracks, I felt like I might have not been as into it as I was the first time. Either way, I think it’s a method worth checking out if you are looking to lose some weight or better your eating habits. You have to know that in order for hypnosis to work, you have to whole-heartedly BELIEVE it will work for you. It’s a completely mental thing. It’s all psychological. If you doubt it will work, it won’t. You have to trust it. That’s why I recommend always reading the book the CDs come with. It will prep you up mentally and “sell” you on the idea of self-hypnosis and its effectiveness.

Here’s my list of tried programs:

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