Running helped ease my anxiety and boosted my confidence

Once I was regularly running and losing weight (zenmode link) I realised this “getting healthy” thing isn’t meant to be a punishment.

I wanted to look after myself instead of hating myself for not looking after myself.

Running and losing weight had given me more confidence in tackling the things I needed to overcome.

Being a little more confident led to wanting to run races/fun runs (zenmode link) and meet up with running friends I’d met online, though that was scary to me.

I used to get pains in my chest and shivering due to anxiety. My doctors weren’t worried about that, but rather the fact that I was taking valium a few times a week to manage the symptoms in the week prior to an event (never the day before an event).

I was given a doctor’s referral to see a neuropsychologist 10 times in a year, free with Centrelink/Medicare Australia, should I need them.

The first appointment was really, really scary to turn up for, no matter who says “stop the stigma” (I think that makes stigma seem more real).

But I was very relieved after I’d been to the appointment. It was such a relief – much more so than a valium used to be (I didn’t quit those straight away. The mind isn’t oftgen that flexible, neither is the body).

From the psychologist I learnt about the nervous system, and the two types of nervous systems – the parasympathetic and the sympathetic. It’s the sympathetic that is most in play when anxious.  The “fight and flight” response.

Since then, I’ve used that knowledge in multiple situations, knowing I (or someone) is acting the way they are because of the need to move and burn energy to escape their fear (zenmode link). I still get scared, but I do tackle difficult issues with a desire to understand them.

It’s quite odd that we live in an age where people are afraid to run.

Having said that, I’m seeing more and more people outdoors exercising than there were 5 years ago, even with COVID-19 restricting much activity.

Running is a virus?

Leave a comment below.

The long goal

I’ve had some big lows this year, due to difficult times in the financial planning industry. The brain use and related insomnia was exhausting.

I’ve had to cut back a lot of running, and haven’t entered races. Haven’t done any big runs since early in the year. But running a few 5-10 km a week has been sustainable, and kept me my positivity.

We had an amazing speaker at our run club social night, Julian Spence (ran #39 in the world in the marathon at Doha in the world championship in October). He talked about his run club, which includes Steve Monaghetti who won silver in the Olympics.

Julian Spence talked about how so many runners accelerate their training too quickly, and about how football, part of his early career, is not very healthy and has too much drinking.

He said to focus on the long goal, of running regularly and sustainably with your run club mates for years and years, to stay healthy and happy

This helps with recognising when to take breaks and ward off impending chronic injuries.

I’m not saying this is going to get us to the world championships too!

It makes me treasure the love of running, my running friends, and my positivity. I’d rather have those than medals any day.

nature, systems, biology, genetics, weight, evolution, efficiency

We’ve become too efficient at feeding ourselves

Obesity, its causes, and solutions are not a soundbite or two.

We’ve evolved to what we are today because of improvements in efficiency.

We are so efficient now at producing food, we waste 30% of it globally.

It’s so easy to feed ourselves, we need to go against our genetics and do things with the sole purpose of removing excess food stores.

Biologically, we want to do things the quickest, simplest way.

Hence fad diets, extreme diets.

Hence arguments about the one cause or cure of obesity.

As Nobel Prize winner, economist and psychologist Daniel Kahnemann’s many studies show, the very act of thinking hard in itself depletes us of energy.

We want a quick fix, like our quick reactions in simply running from bears or hunting them.

Our bodies including the brain organ don’t like expending energy we will then have to replenish.

In the 12,000 years since we started farming, we have grown taller, and are now living longer, becoming more obese, but it’s not obvious we have evolved in such a short time.

Instead, though, our knowledge has grown.

It’s up to us to use the collective knowledge of our tribe to help each other make learning easier, buying the right food easier, and to help make regulating our weight easier to do and understand.

It’s up to us to stop insisting on extremist, over-simplified, and/or fad approaches that we can’t sustain long enough to make all the required changes.

Evolutionary psychology, dieting, hormones, exercise, and injuries

Ideas emerging from the aethers. Been learning bits about evolutionary psychology.

As well as leptin and ghrelin, other hormones seem to affect hunger. e.g. women need more energy intake during certain times in a cycle. (re Lyle McDonald.)
PMS is worse if you’re not eating enough.

Running and exercise help with stress and burning off our fight/flight instincts when most of us have desk or indoor jobs that can be very stressful. But too much intense exercise increases stress (adrenaline and cortisol).

I’ve suspected for a while that testosterone compels men to continually compete and overdo it when they exercise. It’s certainly pretty bad for women comparing ourselves to others in the gene pool. And social media and technology’s effects on top causing us to want to look more awesome than the next person.

I have more I could say about this all leading to injuries, and un-sustainability in fitness.

Dopamine and serotonin can also be nice happy comfortable influences that make competitiveness less important and make us want to be happy just being with our tribe around our campfire safe from wild animals.

I guess these hormones can also be part of the reason people want to stick to a diet their peers prefer.

About Me

I had 15 minutes of fame from my “before/after” photo from my first year of running.

A Year of Running

10 October 2015 to 22 September 2016

It was featured in a story about me in the parkrun Australia newsletter.

The photo garnered an article in The Telegraph, UK.

It had 1,400+ likes on Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Group One Year of Running.

My Imgur photo made “Viral” status and had nearly 200,000 views

It was posted on Reddit and had 10,000 points and 381 comments.

I lost 36 kg (80 lb) between April 2015 and April 2016 by eating whatever I felt like (in moderation) within my calorie limit, using the free My Fitness Pal app.

I had started feeling better and better after quitting smoking cigarettes cold turkey in May 2014 and have just kept going. In 2015 I started walking a bit more every day.

On 22 September 2015 I suddenly felt the urge to run for the first time in 30 years.  2 weeks later, I started doing parkrun on Saturdays when it started in my town and I have only missed parkrun 3 times since then. #loveparkrun

I ran 50 km in 6 hours on 10 June 2018.
Along the way, these are the goals I’ve made and completed:

Raise money for cerebral palsy and walk 10,000 steps a day for Steptember 2015.
Run 5 km. 5 December 2015.
Run 10 km. 6 March 2016.
Run 15 km by end of June 2016. 27 March 2016.
Run 5 km in under 30 minutes. 9 April 2016.
30 Day Planking Challenge. May 2016.
Run a half marathon. 26 June 2016.
Run 100 miles in August 2016. Done by 22 August 2016.
Run 1,000 km in 2016. Done by 27 August 2016.
Walk 35 km on 23 October 2016.
Run 100 miles in October 2016.
Run 10 km in under 55 minutes. 8 Jan 2017.
Run 30 km. Done 24 March 2017.
Walk 50 km on 6 May 2017.
Hike 80 km in 2 days. 10-11 June 2017.
Run my first marathon in my year of turning 50. Sunday 27 August 2017.
Run my 100th parkrun. 17 February 2018.
Run a half marathon run (or further) every month for a year. July 2017 to June 2018.
Run a 50 km run in 2018. Sunday 10 June 2018.
Hold a handstand for 10 seconds. 17 June 2018.
Draw every day for Inktober 2018.
No-Spend November, 2018.
Get onto the parkrun Australia Most Events List by running a parkrun at 20 different locations without driving or ever having gone for my licence. December 2018.

See how far I could walk on Boxing Day 2018. 51km!
Ran 2019 km in 2019.
1 year alcohol-free January 31, 2019.
Ran at least one 21.1 km run (or longer) every month for 2 years. 28 June 2019.

Writing all this is a reminder to myself that goals are achieved by making a little effort every day.

Don’t wait around for motivation. Just do it.

Challenge your thoughts.

Don’t believe everything you think.

Zenmode.org was started 20 June 2018.

“About Me” updated 15 September 2019.

 

Addition for a more complete picture:

  • I was founder, owner, and administrator of The Australasian Skeptics Forum.
  • I’ve studied at The University of Melbourne, and Deakin University.
  • I studied painting and drawing under Howard Arkley and Christine Johnston.
  • I’ve worked for local, state, and federal government in Arts, Environment, and Law.
  • I’ve managed bookshops and currently work in finance.
  • Zenmode post “Less Alcohol” was featured in an Australian Department of Health newsletter in April 2019.
Darning tights. Boro stitch. Japanese slow stitching. Contrasting darning. Rainbow embroidery thread. Slow fashion. Fashion Rebellion. Circular Economy

My Extinction Rebellion Personal Manifesto to Support Sustainable and Ethical Industry

1. Be a relentlessly optimistic and logical realist.

2. Be curious. Learn, practice, share, teach; Learn, practice, share, teach; Circular Economy.

3. Email/communicate with local, state, national government workers and with politicians. Suggest ways to present sustainable policies to their colleagues and voters in a way that makes the people they represent like the ideas and understand how the voters will benefit.

4. Act Global. Online, share, encourage, and communicate information and technological and ideological developments. Be curious! Be part of sharing the circular economies in learning, open source policies, strategies, ideas, data, technology. Connect with innovators and activists.

5. Tell brands I’ve liked what they can do to be even better and transparent and make me recommend them even more.

6. Don’t subscribe to shop email newsletters because they tempt us to buy because something is “cheaper”.

7. Subscribe to alerts on circular economy, open source information, and sustainability in materials, technology, energy, recycling, transport, fashion, architecture, education.

8. Keep my finance spreadsheet updated including my list of any material things I need and only buy once I’ve researched the best product for my needs and situation.

9. Tell friends important things I’ve learned and make their lives easier and more fulfilling by giving them simple ways to be ethical and sustainable.

10. Re-use, repair, retain, redesign, upcycle clothes and goods. Only buy good quality, and ethically or second-hand. Vote with my note. Spend less so I can spend wisely on a few sustainable and ethical things that may cost as much as lots of fast fashion.

11. Act Local. Keep working with my local War on Waste group. Attend the nearby sustainable fashion festival and clothing swap; get ideas for a swap meet of our own. Keep sharing information about Repair Cafés. Learn about mending workshops, and gather interest and ideas to hold one, and hopefully more.

12. Keep walking for enjoyment and health and necessity (never ever had a driving licence since being old enough to get one in the 1980s and seeing my father devastated at hearing David Suzuki for the first time speak about climate change).

13. Activate for more public transport use and better footpaths and lighting in my area.

14. Activate for a running track in my town.

15. Activate for fair wages and unemployment benefits and universal basic income.

16. Absorb information from Ellen MacArthur, Greta Thunberg, Jeremy Rifkin, Rutger Bregman, Fashion Revolution, Slow Fashion Season, #CircularEconomy, The United Nations, The World Health Organisation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

17. Be prudent.

18. Embrace the Zen.

19. #loveparkrun

20.Run sustainably.

21. Draw daily.

22. Practice sustainable and ethical investment.

23. Call out injustice and illogic.

24. “Now is the time for civil disobedience” – Greta Thunberg.

25. Speak the unspoken.

26. Be awesome!

Sustainability in eating, running, living

I lost 35 kg and have kept it off 3 years 3 months so far. This is what I’m loving doing currently.

I did a 2 day 60 km bushwalking event (with about 5 km of running at the end) a few weeks ago, rested A LOT, and last Friday I ran a half marathon. That means I’ve now run at least one half marathon distance run (21.1 km or longer) every month for 2 years. Longest run was 50 km. Happy! Practicing not running too much or too hard so I can keep running without injury.

I’m currently busy being a coach/run leader for our Running Club (I’m also Secretary), one of our parkrun Run Directors (my third year doing that), and happy being involved as an artist & volunteer at a gallery for local artists. And working in a financial planning office 4 days a week.

Writing regularly about running, weight loss, logic, self-care, the joys of freedom from alcohol, and more on zenmode.org

I’m obsessed with sustainability, and doing a 3-month “Slow Fashion Challenge” and not buying any new clothes, and involved in groups and arranging a mending/swap event.

Studying a course on The Fashion Revolution & the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 2030, and devouring information on The Circular Economy, and on recycling in Australia/globally. Sharing what I’m discovering in our local War on Waste group and page, and pretty much everywhere.

I created a spreadsheet/pic of all the types of recycling and their collection points in town that’s being shared around.

Sustainability in eating, running, living. Perhaps obsessiveness about moderation, hahaha.

If you’ve read this far, I appreciate your interest. Hope you’re thriving and loving life too.

Current interests helping me thrive

“Whole of Life” list of cool things I’m enjoying doing and exploring.

1. Circular economy.

2. Recycling industry boom.

3. Local recycling collection points.

4. Did a CPR course.

5. 2 Day hiking event in the mountains last weekend. Superlatives are lacking.

6. Not getting distracted by other subjects when I go to look up something online.

7. Prudence.
Classics, minimalist, style, linen, bargain, Prudence, white shirt,

Linen shirts from Target marked down after summer. $10 and $5. Amazing what classics you can pick up if you walk around a lot patiently and see so many things you can choose the best bargains for a style you’re after. Plus, I used $10 worth of flybuys points!

8. Been making and bringing my lunches to work for months like I’m a proper grown-up.

9. Running regularly for joy not kudos.

10. Researching before buying things.

11. Tax planning.

12. Using Scholl Eulactol balm twice daily which has fixed my heels after they became dry and cracked from wearing Birkenstocks all summer.

13. Not replying in anger when someone makes an extremist comment.

14. Not checking the news outlets as often to avoid joining angry mobs or giving extremist clickbait articles any ad revenue.

15. Duolingo Greek lesson daily for 263 days so far.

16. Drawing daily for 10 months now.

17. Sewing pockets on things.

Also, some thoughts I haven’t had time to put into a separate blog post:

A. Fear of guilt or regret as a driver for action can help with:

B. Caterpillars in the stomach that people get when faced with doing something new.

C. People’s cognitive dissonance between:

Guilt about being unfit and overweight; and

Wanting to feel fit and healthy.

D. A can help us by being able to recognise when we’re doing B and C.

What’s got you thinking lately?

zenmode running self-care anxiety sober quit alcohol marathon training work volunteering administration health medication

Self-care victory

Had two terrible nights sleep earlier in the week and was struggling a lot at work. Felt like people were demanding every minute of my time and I had too many responsibilities outside of work.

 

At 5:30 am I went for an angry, 80-minute run and thought of logical kick-arse ways to reduce a lot of time spent on administration, and implemented them when I got back.

 

This helped not just me but also others to have a limit set now on what we feel we can do.

 

I made it through the day without needing any sort of medication or self-medication, and only realised this when it was all over and it hadn’t even occurred to me to use any. Nearly 400 days alcohol-free. Not even any caffeine for over 4 months.

 

Instead of freaking out with anxiety I’d been proactive.

 

Proud of myself for not pulling out of any volunteer responsibilities completely, since I’m proud of what I’m involved in.

 

Thursday 28 February I realised I’d rather use the money I’ve saved for flights and accommodation (to do a marathon in April) on a faster computer for myself.

 

This will improve my quality of life immensely and reduce a lot of frustrations.

 

I also decided to build a stronger 30 km run base rather than max out my resources for 2 months yet again on a marathon that would mean my glute/piriformis pain would worsen just when it’s been a lot better.

 

This will mean regular, consistent running to look forward to and enjoy.

 

Feeling like I’ve actually won a marathon now!

Noosa National Park running walking trail view palm tree beach

Euphoric scenic run in Noosa Queensland on day 377 alcohol-free

Set out for my run at 5:10 am and it was 24C / 75F in the pre-dawn half-light. I was running gently to take in the scenery and so I didn’t trash myself in the “Feels like 31C” (89F) heat and 88% humidity which had made me quite unwell running 13 km quite hard 4 days earlier.

Four years ago when we were in Noosa, I was 35 kg overweight and barely walking a few thousand steps a day. But that was also when I was slowly trying to increase my activity.

A year ago I had aimed to run 4 km to Noosa then explore the National Park headland trail. But both times I ran there, only I got about 1 km into the park before having The Fear that if I didn’t start running back I’d need a toilet before I had found one.

This run was a victory venturing into the unknown (where there were loads of other people)!

I’d found a map showing toilets a few hundred metres past where I’d got before. I also brought my Camelbak containing chilled water, and was much more Zenned-out and calm, and able to enjoy every moment.

When I stopped drinking about a year ago, I started to lose my anxiety. That, and no fear of a toilet emergency were some of the reasons I enjoyed this.

On top of all this, the scenery was incredible, and I started to feel quite euphoric!

I paused a lot to take photos, and I’m happy with these ones.

Sunrise Noosa Parade bridge Weyba Creek running Queensland AustraliaNoosa Queensland Australia tropical plantsSunrise Noosa Parade bridge Sofitel Hastings Street running Queensland AustraliaNoosa Heads beach Queensland Australia running surfingBoardwalk Noosa National Park running walking trail view Queensland Australia trees beach oceanBoiling Pot Noosa National Park running walking trail view Queensland Australia trees beach oceanNoosa National Park running walking trail view Queensland Australia trees beach ocean tropical plantsNoosa National Park running walking trail view palm tree beachBeautiful Trail Noosa National Park running walking trail view Queensland Australia trees beach ocean sunriseNoosa National Park running walking trail view Queensland Australia trees beach oceanNoosa National Park running walking trail view Queensland Australia trees beach oceanDolphin Point Sunrise Noosa National Park running walking trail view Queensland Australia trees beach oceanNoosa National Park walking trail view running

I’d made a connection in the morning that each fairly typical glass of wine I used to drink had the same number of calories as two slices of bread.

Three glasses of wine a day (or a beer and two wines) plus the usual meals and snacks and no purposeful exercise for 5 years meant the weight steadily crept up and up, till I discovered how to count calories easily for free and started to move more.

Last year’s holiday began during my first month without drinking and I had been so proud to stick to not drinking during it, and happily surprised I found it so enjoyable.

This year, the distances walked and run seemed much shorter and I felt very light-hearted.