Image from the tinybuddha.com
I didn’t make any New Years Resolutions, but I pretty quickly decided I was sick of eating junk, feeling bad and having difficulty waking up in the morning. I’ve been in a Virtual Boot Camp run by my favorite fitness expert, Jessica, since before Thanksgiving, so my exercise has been on track, but my eating and sugar and caffeine consumption was up. I’m so sensitive to the effects of those stimulants that a steady dose can really start to ramp up my anxiety and cause insomnia. I hate the roller-coaster but I love the drugs.
My sister has been having amazing success with Weight Watchers (WW) for many, many months. I joined when I first got up here to get back on track during my relocation, and it really helped. Susan is so enthusiastic about exercise now that I tease her about being abducted. For so many years, I was the one who worked out all the time, and she would tell me “no way”. In the last few years, she lost a couple of friends to weight-related illnesses, and she has become convinced that exercise – and eating well – are the tickets to a quality long life. I concur. It’s what has kept me moving back on track for my entire life. I love how I feel when I’m taking care of myself.
Me and Susan last spring in Natchez
WW has an internal social media site where members can share their successes and challenges. It is the most encouraging and positive social media group I’ve ever experienced. I routinely tear up at posts about how people have changed their lives while learning to take care of their bodies. The dirty little secret is when you start getting disciplined about self-care your confidence grows, you feel better, and it can be a catalyst for change in all areas of your life. Susan remarked one time that she was amazed at how many people lost weight and after a few years, they start dealing with other addictions like alcohol or drugs. We are like onions. When you peel one layer back, yet another lies beneath.
While I had been in a great routine in Louisiana of cooking most of meals and eating right, I have gradually gotten off kilter here. I like trying out the new restaurants, and I’ve struggled with the lack of fresh, local produce this winter. I really miss the bountiful farmer’s market in Baton Rouge in January bursting with citrus and fresh vegetables. The availability of that kind of yummy harvest kept me motivated to eat right.
I hear they already have strawberries in Louisiana!
After a week of our long days in our new organization, I decided I needed to focus on the basics or I was going to gain some weight and get off track with my exercise. So, I committed to joining WW again and focusing on cooking, eating healthy, walking my dog and exercising. I started practicing yoga in the mornings with Adriene for her 31-day Revolution challenge (It’s free!). I committed to squeezing in my 30-minute boot camp circuits no matter what, and to get more creative with my recipes and dishes on the Smartpoints plan to keep me satisfied.
Because my time is so limited now because of work, I don’t have time for much else. I’m not socializing during the week, my house is a complete disaster, and I’m having to be very deliberate with my personal schedule. But, last night as I stood in the kitchen cooking my oatmeal for this morning and planning my lunch for today, I realized how good I felt about myself and my life right now. My head is clear at work. I’m starting to laugh regularly in the office and feel energized about my new role. I’m not having to sleep as much to feel rested, so I’m gaining a little time back. My achy knee and tight shoulder are only bothering me sporadically as the yoga lubricates and heals my joints. I feel much more emotionally-balanced and grounded – except for earlier in the week when I drank two cups of coffee and spiraled into an emotional mess. Taking care of myself just feels good.
I’ve actually lost 5 pounds in the two weeks I’ve been doing this, but weight loss was not my goal. I’m doing the maintenance plan. Because I feel good, and my diet and exercise are more controlled, I can tell when I’m feeling off-kilter, and I have the data to understand why. I fell off the wagon with coffee for my birthday weekend, and I went to work Monday morning and guzzled two cups of amazing Sumatra coffee. When I crashed, I burned. I realized the cause immediately. The depression was not real. My life was not in a death spiral. I was just having my usual reaction to too much coffee.
Our bodies are so complex. They are truly miracles, but we are own worst enemies. Sure it’s harder to plan meals and make time for exercise. But, honestly, the time and energy I get back from feeling good and sleeping well gives me that time back in spades. I don’t watch TV, and if I stay off social media, I have plenty of time to take care of myself. I learned a long time ago if I don’t make the time to take care of myself, why should anybody else?
I think the key for me is to be inspired and motivated by others to stay on track. I’m always going to have times when I’m not very focused on self-care, but I always come to a point where I know I have to get focused again. As I get older, those times are becoming more and more frequent. My body doesn’t tolerate as much abuse. It wants health, or it bites back. I try to listen. My Virtual Boot Camp group is fun and inspiring, and they keep me motivated to check off the daily workout. It ends in two weeks. I’m already trying to think ahead about what to do next. WW gives me some rails on food, provides a social media-style outlet for inspiration, and their fitness points reward me for moving. And my sister is inspiring me at a time when I’m struggling to get the energy to do it all!
For the time being, I’ll continue to peel the onion….. keep inspiring me!