Creative Expression – Running Out

My husband is always after me to exercise. In Southern California it’s difficult to use weather as an excuse so I’ve been using fibromyalgia brain fog rather creatively:
  • “What!? It’s midnight already!? I was just about ready to go for my walk”
  • “Are you sure? I could swear I exercised today”
  • “I couldn’t walk today. I locked myself in.”
  • “What do you mean the doctor stressed exercise?! I swear she said not to stress over exercise.”
I really had a good reason not to exercise when I began to get light-headed on my walks and figured out it wasn’t the heat, lack of food or dehydration. I suspected my heart arrhythmia.  
(It was heart arrhythmia that led to my getting Tullulah, my pacemaker.)
This is a series of pictures I did when I was first diagnosed with atrial tachycardia.  I wasn’t focusing or even thinking about my heart when I was painting.  I painted spontaneously and very quickly.  The only reason I painted 3 was that I didn’t want to waste paint and throw away what I hadn’t used.  About 6 months later as I was putting together a presentation it hit me that these paintings represented my heart.

It’s easy to identify which picture is my heart in normal rhythm and which paintings represent the various stages of arrythmia.
That is the wonder and power of Therapeutic Creative Expression.
Whether it’s painting on canvas, crayons on paper or magazine pictures in a collage we express our unconscious knowing and inner wisdom.

Now that my arrhythmia’s are under control the most exercise I’m getting is running out of excuses.


Can’t say “I don’t” (parenthetically speaking)

10322873-beautiful-smiling-mouth-with-beautiful-healthy-teeth-isolated-on-whiteI have potty mouth.  Turns out that everything I’ve been saying to myself about eating healthier, exercising more, keeping in contact with my friends has been a waste of time.  Might as well just flush all those good intentions down the proverbial toilet.  (I know, I know, a loose connection between “potty mouth” and “intention” – but I do not want to lose my reputation for loose connections . . .)

Based on real research I DON’T have to:

  • Rely on my willpower
  • Deprive myself
  • Exercise
  • Eat healthy

It seems what we say . . . . . . oh, here’s the article,  read it for yourself.  I’ve 9767079-white-toilet-bowl-with-the-lowered-cover-on-a-black-backgroundalready read it and don’t feel like rephrasing what she already explained very clearly: 

“I Don’t” Beats “I Can’t” for Self-Control
Casting willpower as a choice makes sticking to resolutions easier

By Tori Rodriguez

“Meet your goals more easily by changing the way you think about your vices.

In four (4!,  not just one AND they are all RELATED) related studies published in the August 2012 (current research!) Journal of Consumer Research, researchers examined the effect of different wording when using self-talk to resist temptation.

When participants framed a refusal as “I don’t” (for instance, “I don’t eat sugar”) instead of “I can’t,” they were more successful at resisting the desire to eat unhealthy foods or skip the gym.

Study author Vanessa Patrick, professor of marketing (Marketing research is consumer related which makes the research much more valid than scientific research) at the University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business, says, “I believe that an effective route to self-regulation is by managing one’s desire for the temptation, instead of relying solely on willpower.” (proof I don’t have to have willpower) She also believes that deprivation is an ineffective route to self-control. (I could have told her that before she spent all that time and money on consumer research) “Saying ‘I can’t’ connotes deprivation, while saying ‘I don’t’ makes us feel empowered and better able to resist temptation.”  (I feel empowered already.  DON’T you?)


Heart Smart

Been off-line for a few days listening to my heart.

Experiencing . . . again . .. light-headedness when exercising and blood pressure careening from too too high to too too low.

The funny thing is that I have reverse “white coat syndrome” – You know, when you get anxious in the doctor’s office and your blood pressure becomes elevated.  My blood pressure goes into a perfect range every time a healthcare professional takes it!

Yup, my heart is REALLY smart.  It knows when it’s going to the doctor’s office.  It knows when it’s being monitored.

I wore a 24 hour halter monitor to see if the light-headedness had anything to do with the electrical activity.

  • As soon as they put the electrodes on yesterday I went on a long fast paced walk — no light-headedness.  
  • An hour later I walked a bit over a mile to my office to see a client — no light-headedness.  (Thank goodness the client I saw is compassionate.  She didn’t blink as I sat wiping the perspiration from my face, neck and hair).  
  • When I got home I went on another 45 minute walk  — no light-headedness.

Knowing I had to turn the halter monitor in today and I had meetings all morning I got up at 5:30 am and walked for 60 minutes, up and down hills.  You guessed it.  No light-headedness.

I can visualize my heart smiling wryly!

Both Sides of Anxiety


Treading frantically

gasping for air while drowning

In a flood of thoughts


People who are highly anxious have brains that want them to survive.  

The brain just doesn’t know they aren’t in danger.

Anxiety creates a hypervigilance – always scanning your environment, your world,  for what could go wrong, what needs attention, what is a threat.  It’s exhausting.  It sets you up for physical, mental and emotional tension.  People who are anxious are also exhausting to be around.  Relationships can be strained, tense, on edge.

Anxious energy that is pervasive is hard to understand if you aren’t the anxious type.  You may have wondered: Why are they making such a “big deal” out of nothing?  Why are they always telling me what to do or how to do it?  Why are they shying away from social interaction, crowded venues?  What’s with the negativity?  Why don’t they just CHILL OUT?

HOWEVER there are extremely high functioning people with anxiety disorders:

  • People who scan their environments make excellent teachers,  – always on the alert for what is working what isn’t, who is working, who isn’t
  • People who are anxious make great athletes —  it can create a competitive edge and it keeps them on their toes (pun intended).  The extreme exercise helps burn off the anxious edge.  Exercise makes them feel better and they can become compulsive about it which makes them better athletes . . .
  • People who are anxious are often tidy and neat.  If their external environment is as cluttered as their internal environment it makes them more anxious.
  • People who are anxious are good planners.  They don’t like surprises which throws their anxiety higher.
  • Hypervigilant people can excel at detail work since they don’t miss much.

There’s always a spectrum, a continuum of any condition.  Anxiety can range from mild to overwhelming, from high functioning to disabling disorders.  The idea here is not to paint everything or everyone with a broad stroke.   The hypervigilance which can drive you crazy can also sustain you in many facets of life.

In addition to doing the breath work and saying “I’m safe” as I talked about in the post

exercise is also at the top of the list.  You don’t have to be a world-class athlete to benefit.  Just do brisk walking every day for a total of 29 minutes.

Here’s a short article from the Mayo Clinic:

“How does exercise help depression and anxiety?

Exercise probably helps ease depression in a number of ways, which may include:

  • Releasing feel-good brain chemicals that may ease depression (neurotransmitters and endorphins)
  • Reducing immune system chemicals that can worsen depression
  • Increasing body temperature, which may have calming effects

Exercise has many psychological and emotional benefits too. It can help you:

  • Gain confidence. Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. Getting in shape can also make you feel better about your appearance.
  • Take your mind off worries. Exercise is a distraction that can get you away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed anxiety and depression.
  • Get more social interaction. Exercise may give you the chance to meet or socialize with others. Just exchanging a friendly smile or greeting as you walk around your neighborhood can help your mood.
  • Cope in a healthy way. Doing something positive to manage anxiety or depression is a healthy coping strategy. Trying to feel better by drinking alcohol, dwelling on how badly you feel, or hoping anxiety or depression will go away on their own can lead to worsening symptoms.

What kind of exercise is best?

The word “exercise” may make you think of running laps around the gym. But a wide range of activities that boost your activity level help you feel better. Certainly running, lifting weights, playing basketball and other fitness activities that get your heart pumping can help. But so can gardening, washing your car, or strolling around the block and other less intense activities. Anything that gets you off the couch and moving is exercise that can help improve your mood.”

Depressed, Anxious? You’re Not Crazy & sneaking in a Judaiku

Judy's visual journal entry

My favorite antidote for anxiety was the topic of yesterday’s post.  Today I want to briefly address depression since anxiety and depression often go hand in hand.

Acute, situational depression is the brain’s way of helping us not blow our lid or slit our throats.  When we’re depressed we don’t have the highs or the lows – everything is “flat”.  It’s when the depression lasts longer than the situation warrants and becomes chronic that something needs to be done.

To add insult to injury, clients I see with depression and anxiety  experience trouble with sleep:  Falling asleep ; Staying asleep; Never getting restorative rest.

This is important!

Research findings suggest that there is a neurochemical link between depression, anxiety, and stress.  This has nothing to do with psychology or character or any psychiatric disorder.  This is about disturbances in neurochemical functioning in the brain.  You’re not crazy, not psychological damaged or fragile.  Your neurochemistry is out of wack if you are depressed and/or anxious.

Many of the symptoms of anxiety disorders and depression overlap quite a bit. Depression can lead to anxiety and conversely, anxiety can lead to depression. So we’re talking about a very tight relationship here in terms of diagnosis.

When I was first licensed in 1986 anxiety was treated with different medication than depression.  Today many, if not most, people with anxiety are treated and respond very well to anti-depressant medication.

On Call Plus
ABC News Photo Illustration

Research has shown that the best ways of breaking the depressive cycle are:  1.  EXERCISE, 2. COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY, 3.  MEDICATION


The good news is you can do the first two on your own, no Rx and the only side effects are feeling better.

    • Now sneaking in my Haiku for today: Prompt – “hidden”

    Depression visits

Hidden depths, silent despair

Uninvited guest

Judy Running . . . at the Mouth . . .again

Judy's Journal collage page

My dry sense of humor, bordering on the sarcastic got me in trouble . . . again.

My post yesterday on the research on exercise was meant to be in support of exercise.

The data suggested that “go for the burn” type of exercise isn’t necessary for health and well-being.

“. . .new research shows that regular, low-intensity exercise may help boost energy levels in people suffering from fatigue.”

I think those findings are great, especially for people with physical disability.  We can reap the rewards of exercise with whatever capability we have.

When I was in my 30’s I jogged 3 -10 miles daily or swam for 1 mile.  Can’t do THAT anymore but I  can brisk walk for 30 – 60 minutes at least 4 times a week.  If my feet are hurting too badly I use my folding recumbent bike.

When fibro set in I started exercising slowly because I knew that any type of aerobic exercise helps with depression, stiff joints, boosts the immune system and gives us a sense of accomplishment and control.  In the 1990’s my clients who were told by their doctor’s to stay in bed got worse and worse.  I’ve been blessed to learn from my clients.  (The other thing I learned is that pain killers didn’t help, but that’s another story)

In my practice I tell clients to move everyday – walk slowly 5 minutes out and 5 minutes back, once or twice a day; walk or march in place to music or while watching a commercial on TV.  JUST MOVE.

My dear friend Jann who lives in Minnesota and who has suffered through incredible pain since being a teenager now walks for 2 hours a day — rain, sleet or snow.  The only thing that stops her are blizzards.  If Jann can do it I decided I can move for at least 30 minutes in the California sunshine.

“Why exercise helps fatigue isn’t clear, but Dr. Puetz said his findings suggest exercise acts directly on the central nervous system to increase energy and reduce fatigue. Notably, the improvements in energy and fatigue were not related to increases in aerobic fitness.”

My apologies to Dr. Puetz and everyone else  for the confusion . If I led you astray hopefully this post helps you walk back!

Hey! Any kind of movement counts!  (whoops, there I go again with my warped humor . . .)

Proof Exercise is Exhausting (Parenthetically Speaking)

February 29, 2008, 1:12 pm

The Cure for Exhaustion? More Exercise?

fatigureFeeling fatigued? (George Ruhe for The New York Times)

When a person is sapped by fatigue, the last thing he or she wants to do is exercise. But new research shows that regular, low-intensity exercise may help boost energy levels in people suffering from fatigue.

(I do low intensity exercise EVERY day, like walk from my office to the bathroom down the hall, Type slowly and I’m still fatigued.)

Fatigue is one of the most common health symptoms and can be a sign of a variety of medical problems. However, about one in four people suffers from general fatigue not associated with a serious medical condition.  (That’s reassuring)

University of Georgia researchers decided to study whether exercise can be used to treat fatigue. The research, which appears in the February issue of the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, involved 36 volunteers who were not regular exercisers but who complained of persistent fatigue.

One group of fatigued volunteers was prescribed 20 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise three times a week for six weeks. The second group engaged in low-intensity aerobic exercise for the same time period, while a third control group did not exercise.

The study volunteers used exercise bikes that allowed the researchers to control their level of exertion. The low-intensity exercise was equivalent to a leisurely, easy walk. The more intense exercise was similar to a fast-paced walk up hills. ( I live on a very hilly neighborhood)  Patients with fatigue due to serious medical conditions, such as those with chronic fatigue syndrome, weren’t included in the study.  (Now they tell me.)

Both of the exercise groups had a 20 percent increase in energy levels by the end of the study, compared to the control group. However, the researchers found that more intense exercise isn’t the best way to reduce fatigue. The low-intensity group reported a 65 percent drop in feelings of fatigue, compared to a 49 percent drop in the group doing more intense exercise.

“Too often we believe that a quick workout will leave us worn out — especially when we are already feeling fatigued,” said researcher Tim Puetz, in a news release. Dr. Puetz recently completed his doctorate at the university and is the lead author of the study. “However, we have shown that regular exercise can actually go a long way in increasing feelings of energy — particularly in sedentary individuals.”

Why exercise helps fatigue isn’t clear, but Dr. Puetz said his findings suggest exercise acts directly on the central nervous system to increase energy and reduce fatigue. Notably, the improvements in energy and fatigue were not related to increases in aerobic fitness.( I resent the implication that I’m sedentary just because my job forces me to sit in a chair all day and talk to people)

  1. The most important question to ask is, which people within the exercise groups benefitted and which did not? Did some people feel less fatigue, while others had no response? And, if so, what are the differences between responders and non responders in the exercising groups? The model used in Chinese medicine may provide some insight. Fatigue essentially breaks down into two categories those who have too little energy, and those whose energy is stuck stagnant) and unavailable to them. The stagnant type of fatigue would respond to exercise, as the physical movement gets the previously unavailable energy moving and available. The deficient (too little) energy people would not improve with exercise. (I’m sure I’m deficient so it’s better that I not exercise )In fact, the deficient group might become worse due to the consumption of energy that is already too little. This might explain the less desirable response in the higher intensity exercise group compared to the lower intensity exercise group. It would be wonderful to see these questions answered so that physicians could know which patient should exercise more, and which one should get more rest. (I’m going to show this to my doctor the next time she tells me I need more exercise.)

3 EXCELLENT Reasons not to Exercise

My husband is always after me to exercise. In Southern California it’s difficult to use weather as an excuse so I have to use CreativitytotheMAX

1.  Fibromyalgia Brain Fog:

  • “What!? It’s midnight already!? I was just about ready to go for my walk”;
  • “Are you sure? I could swear I exercised today”;
  • “I couldn’t walk today. I locked myself in.”;
  • “What do you mean the doctor stressed exercise?! I could swear she told me not to stress over exercise.”

It’s difficult to keep up with Brain Fog excuses because I forget them.  So I moved on to bigger and better reasons.  My body is always cooperating.

Tallulah PaceHead, my pacemaker

2.  Heart Problems

When I began to get light-headed on my walks and it wasn’t  the heat, lack of food or dehydration. It was my heart arrhythmia. NOW I really had a good reason not to exercise.

It was heart arrhythmia that led to my getting Tullulah, My pacemaker.
The cardiologist said “Absolutely exercise is fine now.

(in case you missed my heart arrhythmia “story” here are the 3 main posts)

Want the ENTIRE saga, including all the PIN-UP pictures of Tallulah?
Type in PACEMAKER at the top of the blog in the SEARCH box!

3.  Foot Problems

My body, bless its little heart (pun intended) continues to cooperate.  These last few months my foot has REALLY hurt.  The doctor says it’s joint inflamation leading to nerve entrapment.
NOW THIS IS AN EXCUSE if I ever had one.  I limped everywhere, grimacing wildly so my husband could make NO mistake that it was too painful to exercise.
He bought me a folding recumbent bike.

Come to think about it, I actually get a lot of exercise running out of reasons.