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This post is week 3 in our Embracing Self-Care series. You can read the other weeks in the series here:
1. Embracing Self-Care (Introduction)
2. Knowing Yourself in Order to Know What You Need (and Why I Hate This Topic)
Now, judging by the fact that this post is very late (it was supposed to be published last week), you might conclude several things:
1) That I am horribly undisciplined and easily distractible.
2) That this topic was exceptionally difficult for me to coherently put into words.
Actually, both of these things are somewhat truthful. As I talked about last week, I am realizing my dire need for some self-discipline. I am also finding this particular topic completely overwhelming precisely BECAUSE it requires massive amounts of self-discipline to make happen and subsequently write about.
As I’ve mentioned in passing briefly at other times, our life has been at a high stress level for several years now. Since 2008, there have 3 kids born within 4 years of one another, a couple of cross-country moves, spiritual stresses, career changes, job resignations, illness and health concerns, loss of a grandparent, difficult times in our marriage, financial stress, and isolation from family while living far away.
Even just the act of caring about these things is a start on self-care, really. When life gets overwhelming and I hunker down in maintenance/survival mode, I find myself ordering myself to stop thinking so much about these things, and just let go of the high ideals.
But there’s actually another factor at play that’s brand new to my understanding. It’s called Resistance, and it’s the force within us that pushes back whenever we try to do something to improve ourselves or our contribution to the world. I’m in the middle of reading the book The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles. It is AMAZING. I am only part-way through but am already certain that this will be reread many times. I can already tell that it will be one of my all-time favorites for life.
This has been a total lightbulb moment for me as I’ve applied this concept to so many things in my life… including health. I have experienced roadblocks in my health journey that have manifested themselves as healthy living burnout, cravings, procrastination and undisciplined habits, mild depression, and even nostalgia.
There seems to always be an excuse (some valid, but some notsomuch) for why I cannot move forward in certain areas – namely diet and spirituality. I’ve had no trouble in other areas – I love making my own body care products, I love working on growing my business, my marriage is awesome. But when it comes to my diet and my spirituality… I get stuck in a rut all.the.time.
So, I have 3 specific action plans for going forward, and after much, much discussion among Chris and I, we have decided to present a united front on these goals.
1. New food rules
We have tried the GAPS Diet in 2011, we did the Whole 30 (mostly – I had to quit early because it decreased my milk supply and Canaan was 10 months and mostly exclusively breastfed) in the spring of 2013, and we’re more than familiar with Paleo, WAPF, the pitfalls of SAD, food sensitivities, etc. etc. and on it goes!
I guess you could say that we’ve been there, done that on trying to follow any specific diet. We want more freedom in our diet (to indulge in an ice cream cone while on a summer family outing, or to eat out at family celebrations and not worry about every last ingredient…) and less guilt. We also want to experience wellness and vitality in our health.
Unfortunately, because we’ve swung too far over into the side of freedom in eating whatever we want (in an effort to not feel shackled by the rules), we’ve found ourselves with a general sense of blah: fatigue, mood swings, extra weight, lack of mental clarity and concentration, and lack of energy. There are also a few other factors like hormone imbalances, aching muscles, etc. that we’ve noticed.
Of course, you may assume that all of that is a result of the life stage we are in: my body having carried and birthed 3 babies, raising 3 young kids, chronically sleep-deprived, etc. However… when we were on Whole 30, we actually felt amazing (other than the whole milk supply thing). We have no desire to eat Paleo, for pretty much the same reasons as Kathleen outlined in this post, but we do find ourselves feeling much better when we drastically reduce the grains in our diet (as compared to the Standard American Diet).
So since we do not completely resonate with any one “plan” that’s currently out there – we decided to make our own loose rules, and agree to actually stick to them.
1. No refined sugar in the house (except for what we use to make kombucha, which is eaten up by the bacteria before we consume it)
2. Gluten-free and dairy-free (this may not be permanent, but we’re giving it 30 days)
3. Meat and vegetables and healthy fats are the main players in most meals.
4. Rice shall make an appearance 2-3x/week, at dinner time.
5. Legumes shall also make a regular appearance, but must be soaked before use.
6. Eating out at restaurants: we will attempt to make good choices, but not worry about the nitty-gritty details (ie. order a steak or chicken dish instead of a plate of wheat-based pasta, etc). We will enjoy dessert if we feel like it.
7. Eating at others’ houses: we will eat what’s served to us, gratefully (other than letting them know that the kids are gluten-free.)
8. We will have indulgent-but-healthy snacks available in the house at all times, to prevent spontaneous lapses in judgment when the late-night munchies hit.
(I have created a 2-week menu plan based on these food rules, and I will be sharing that next week.)
2. New spiritual habits
In the new family routine that I briefly shared about in this post, we are embracing some new habits for creating an atmosphere of spiritual awareness and connectedness within our family.
I want to write another post devoted to these once we’ve been doing them for a longer period of time (we are still getting into the groove of our new routine), but basically they involve:
1. Including prayer and Bible reading with breakfast.
2. Incorporating scheduled common prayers into our day, with reminders set on my phone.
3. Prayer and confession to one another, incorporated into this routine, with our tea.
3. New exercise habits
I’ve never been a gym membership or exercise DVD kind of person. Given that I am INFP (all about the feeeeeelinnnnnngs, baby), I like to do things the fun way, whenever possible. (And if I can’t find a way to make it fun, chances are good it’ll go at the bottom of procrastination list and remain there for the next eleventy-hundred years, or until I die – whichever comes first.)
So, in a fit of spontaneous LOSS OF ALL SENSE WHATSOEVER, I signed Chris and I up for this:
Excuse me while I go laugh for a solid 10 minutes, wipe tears from my eyes, and finally regain my composure. Me? Running a 5K? I can’t believe I’m doing this. Suffice it to say: I could really use your recommendations for the best Couch to 5K running app. Anyone have a favorite? (Thankfully it’s not a serious “run-the-whole-way” kind of race – it’s more for fun – but I’d like to at least make it to the finish line without keeling over dead. So, yeah. Also? It’s in a month and a half. Haha!)
“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”
~ Vincent Van Gogh
So, there you have it: a mish-mash of steps that we are taking next in our journey to wellness in our lives. We believe that vibrant health is possible, that we can live in a way that is wildly fulfilling, and that no mental blocks, bad habits, or procrastination will keep us from it.
This is a ginormous question, but I honestly want to know: how are you caring for your physical and spiritual health these days?
(And seriously: give me your running tips! What have I gotten myself into?!)
If you’ve written on your own blog in the past about health and/or spiritual wellness, I’d love to read it! Link it up below – the links for this series will remain on these posts even after the series is done.
I always enjoy your blog and this post was one of your best. I discovered running as an adult and it has been the number one most helfpful thing for mental health. Start slowly, walk as much as you need to, and look into the wonderfully supportive running community. Runner’s World magazine and anothermotherrunner.com are amazing resources.
Kellie Avon Alexander
I took a 30 day smoothie challenge that I started this morning — so fresh fruits/veggies/greens in a morning smoothie instead of “solid” food. That’s all I am doing besides watching the processed foods and simple carbs. After only one smoothie, things are already moving smoother. 😉
My advice is focus on one small change at a time (in the food department) so you won’t be overwhelmed.
One other thing I started today was menu planning. I got three weeks made just this morning! Based on my freezer and pantry stores which are fairly extensive.
Here’s to your health and prayers and hugs for all the things you face. I know all about hanging tough when life throws meteors your way. 🙂 Best to you.
Oh my, can totally relate to the swinging the other way! I can’t wait for better weather and better / fresher market veggies! I’ve totally gotten lazy in the way of the snacks hanging around and letting more crap (even though it’s homemade :D) into our diet. What kinds of snacks do you keep on hand?
And I LOVED Another Mother Runner’s running plan for 5k! Totally doable and it’s what got me over the fear of thinking I couldn’t do it! Running a 10k this year! 😀 http://anothermotherrunner.com/2012/08/27/beginningrunner/
You’re personality is super cute and I really enjoy reading your posts. Thanks for all your helpful tips and sharing your life with us 🙂
Nearly all the couch to 5 K apps are the same and equally as good. And, they work. The best solution is interval training (walk/run/walk) with the walking time getting shorter and the running time getting longer until you can run without walking for 30 minutes. That may not get you the whole 5K (my first took over 40 minutes), but you have permission to walk the rest of the way.