Morning Musing

I know that I need to write more, but I’ve ignored the urge so much that when I sit down to finally do it, my mind goes blank. And then I allow myself to become distracted until I don’t have time to do any actual writing. Needless to say, the books I have floating around in my head are still unwritten. In fact, there’s quite a bit floating around up there in my dreams that I plan to get to… some day. (More than I care to admit, actually.)

But what about TODAY?

Most days, I’ll convince myself that I can’t. That I don’t have enough time, money, experience, clout… I’ll find ways to keep busy and justify my lack of progress. I’ll say I can do it tomorrow, that it’s not important enough for today, that something else needs my attention more – the kids, the house, the finances… you know, real life. Or I’ll once again fall victim to my triggers and lose hours out of my day as I process.

But the truth is, until I make writing a priority – it won’t be. Until I decide to stop letting those negative voices and excuses impede my success, they won’t. Until I accept that my needs are real, my dreams are important, and my desires are okay, I’ll never fully heal and enjoy my life.

So TODAY, I am going to do life different! Today I am going to tell myself that I CAN and I WILL. Today I am going to make time, earn money, gain experience, give attention. I’m going to allow myself to let go of my perfectionism and enjoy my day. Today, I am going to write.

Welcome to my Morning Musings! 

A Different Kind of Doctor – Week 28

Since the beginning of the year I have been learning how to live a more holistic, simplistic and natural way of life. Knowing that healing begins on the inside, I decided to start the journey by addressing what was most obviously unhealthy in my life – with my diet and exercise. First, I began my learning about and incorporating more organic, clean, whole foods into my diet. Then, I began looking into specific foods to help with my specific health issues. One day, my mom drove past a sign with the number for a clinic of natural medicine and she passed on the information to me. Weeks later, I finally called and scheduled a consultation with a naturopathic doctor. At the initial meeting, she did a physical (and emotional) exam; we discussed my concerns, my treatment goals and a planned course of action. She explained how naturopathic doctors treat the whole person, not just the symptoms. She described how certain foods can harm your body, while nutrients from other foods can heal your body. She also talked about using food to help manage your moods and emotions. After a thorough discussion about my symptoms, she recommended some steps I could take immediately. These included beginning some vitamin supplements, making some drastic changes to my diet according to my blood type (including adding healthy protein, fruits and vegetables to my menu while eliminating soda, sugar, processed foods, cow’s dairy and red meat) and a homeopathic remedy.

I was able to make most of the dietary changes without too much trouble and started the supplements and remedy as suggested. At my follow-up visit about 3 weeks later, my doctor was impressed with some signs of internal improvement she could see from a second physical exam. It has now been about 5 weeks since I started this new regimen. It really is a lifestyle change – learning how to feed your body instead of your emotions or inner child – and some days are better than others. I can’t be sure if it is the vitamins, the food, the homeopathic remedy, or any combination of these and other steps that I’ve been taking to improve my health and happiness, but most days I feel like something is working. I feel myself getting stronger, feeling healthier and more hopeful, excited, and happy. I have days that I’m not so strong. Days I feel like giving up or just screaming at the world. But I know I didn’t get like this overnight and that I won’t achieve the level of success I desire overnight. Slowly but surely, though…one day at a time, I am becoming more the person I am meant to be.

Day by Day – Week 21

For the first time in my life I feel like I’m starting to learn what stability feels like. I’ve only caught a glimpse, mind you – but so far, I think I like it. 🙂 Excitement and joy about this latest pregnancy have begun replacing the anxiety and doubt I first felt upon learning I was expecting again. As I grow spiritually, I’m watching in wonderment as my family grows physically. My toddler is acting more like a preschooler and my infant will no doubt soon be toddling!

This past month I have learned how to start letting go both as a mom (I didn’t think I’d have to start this early!!) and as a woman. Letting go of my past — the hurts, injustices, anger, sadness, bitterness, pain and hatred… Letting go of what I can’t control — other people’s thoughts, words and behaviors, circumstances that are out of my hands or beyond my comprehension and life’s obstacles that are inevitably hurled into each of our paths… Letting go of my unrealistic expectations, negative thinking patterns and pessimistic attitude. Letting go of what and how I think things “should” be and accepting things for what they are.

Letting go leaves my hands open to hold on to the more important things in life. Instead of cluttering my life with all that life-defeating nonsense, I am learning to embrace and hang on to my dreams, aspirations, goals and ambitions in life. My hands are free to help others and give what I have back to those who gave to me, and then some. Letting go allows me to hug my husband closer, play with my children more and make good things happen.

No day is perfect, but each is better than the last. I am not where I want to be, but I do thank God that I am not where I used to be. Day by day, I am getting stronger.

Mind, Body & Spirit – Week 2

Last week, I focused on getting the ball rolling by making small changes to my nutrition and fitness regimes. Once I began my journey, I realized that these changes were affecting me in other areas of my life as well. The more I read and learn about holistic living, I more I recognize the importance of maintaining balance in all areas of my life simultaneously. This week, I am changing up The Method a little bit. Each week from now on, I will focus on my mind, my body and my spirit at the same time.

Body (Nutrition & Fitness)

What I’ve Done So Far

  • Began thinking differently about what goes into my body – food nourishes & water hydrates to give me the energy I need to live an active life
  • Increased consumption of raw, “clean,” and “whole” natural foods
  • Decreased consumption of sugar, salt/sodium and caffeine
  • Substituted agave for the cane sugar and artificial sweeteners in my kitchen
  • Stopped drinking Coca-cola like it was running through my veins! I switched to organic milk, 100% juices and water instead.
  • Began avoiding processed foods; traded foods with the words “hydrogenated,” “enriched,” and “high fructose” on the label for ones that say “organic,” “naturally raised,” and “no hormones added”
  • Made my first natural foods shopping trip, armed with a weekly meal plan and my Fooducate app

    So many fruits and veggies!!!

  • Joined the park district and borrowed P90X for at-home workouts
  • Began incorporating workouts into my weekly routine

How I Feel

I can feel quite a difference physically after making just a few simple changes. For instance, I used to drink 2 cups of heavily sugar-laden coffee on an empty stomach as soon as I woke up. This would usually curb my appetite so I would skip breakfast. Soon I would be queasy, which of course meant I had no desire for lunch. By the time the afternoon would roll around, I was famished and would overindulge on sugary and salty processed foods. This would drain the last of my energy and dinner would typically wind up being something fast and turn into another unhealthy meal.

Most days, I replace my coffee habit with tea or orange juice. I eat something for breakfast, even if it is small. I also make time for healthy lunches and plan healthy dinners in advance so I don’t even have to think about it. When I do these things, I don’t get nauseas in the mornings. However, I gave in to temptation more than a few times this week. Each time, I woke up feeling sluggish and sick the next day. You would think this would encourage me to stick to doing the things that are better for me, but fool that I can be, it sometimes takes me a while to learn my lessons.

Since I started working out more, I feel energized and strong. I have greater flexibility and more stamina. I have reawakened the dancer in my soul and refreshed my excitement for dance and music. I feel hopeful.

My Next Challenge

  • To keep learning how to live healthy
  • To drink more water and take my vitamins regularly
  • To develop consistent daily routines for eating & working out
  • To develop a better self image by getting into healthy self care routines

Mind/Spirit (Relationships, Faith, R&R and Emotional Wounds)

What I’ve Done So Far

  • Acknowledged a connection between some childhood wounds and my life today
  • Learned:
    • that I need to spend some time, money and energy on myself
    • that in order for me to be truly happy, I must release my contempt and resentment to God and forgive those who have hurt me
    • that in order to become the woman I envision, I have to find a way to soften my heart, allow myself to be more vulnerable
    • that I must forgive myself and learn to accept my authentic self
    • that I must learn to love Me
    • that I am supported
  • Started working on relationships with those whom I am closest
  • Began reading the Bible and developing a clearer picture of my faith and personal values/beliefs/morals
  • Recognized that I need and deserve time for myself and that I need to stand firm in gently claiming that time
  • Started taking time to go to the gym

How I Feel

As weird as it may sound, I kind of feel myself maturing ­- literally growing – in all areas of my life. For the first time since childhood, I am forcing myself to open my mind, so I can erase my preconceptions and dispel my naïveté in order to become a wiser, healthier and happier woman. I am wrapping my head around the concept that there are going to be things along the way that I simply will not understand or will not be able to control. All that I am tasked to do is to go with the flow of the universe as I follow my own life path.

My Next Challenge

To keep it up. Consistency has never been my strong point.

My Weekly Reflection

The first steps on this incredibly arduous journey have been 1) recognizing all of the challenges that lie before me and 2) beginning to change the way I think about life. I have learned that I am hiding from the truth about myself, which is that I hold onto a lot of guilt, shame and self-blame. If I am going to heal, I need to start on the inside. I know that this journey is not going to be easy. I have fallen off the wagon more than a few times. It is hard to stay motivated, especially when I mess up. It is easy to find excuses and rationalize until the appeal of poor choices outweighs that of good decisions. (Seriously, why does organic *natural* food cost so much??)  But despite the obstacles I will inevitably continue to face along the way, I am determined to discover what living a healthy life feels like and I am still convinced that I am on the right track. I’m just going to keep taking it one day at a time and letting myself find smiles and fun in all the corners of those days.

Silly Smiles

THE PROBLEM(S)

In 6 months, I will be 29 years old. When I was 28, I set a goal to open my own business by the time I am 30. I am dedicating the next 6 months to my health and the following year to opening my business and buying our first home. This is my American Dream. 

That’s it! I have had enough of this unhealthy lifestyle. I am done with the nausea, lack of energy, fatigue, low sex drive, migraines, bad, bad, BAD mood swings, lack of an appetite/binge eating cycle, back pain, anxiety, depression…it all stops here! I am realizing that I have access to all of the tools I could ever need – it’s the excuses that need to stop. This year is the first year of the rest of my life and I am going to make it count! I am taking control of the one area of my life I have ignored forever – my health. And I’m going to do so as naturally, as simply and as smart as possible. Getting healthy is the next big step in my personal American Dream Making journey.

When I sit back and take a look at my truth, I realize quite a few things about myself that are not so easy to swallow. But I know that without taking this personal inventory, I can’t really expect myself to learn and grow and ultimately, feel better.

Everybody has a story and mine has not always been a happy one. Because, or in spite, of this, I realize that I have looked the most frightening challenges of my life straight in the face without flinching – not even a bat of an eye. Yet, my true challenges in life are the simple, everyday things that healthy people do practically on auto-pilot (think: eating regular meals, getting dressed daily, keeping up with laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, etc.). I stand tall against my greatest fears, yet crumble when it comes to keeping anything on a consistent track. This includes managing my moods so that they are consistently stable.

Maintaining homeostasis is incredibly difficult for me. It’s as though I always prepare for the worst to happen – if “the worst” happens, it feels normal; if not, it feels like something is wrong or going to go wrong at any minute. When I encounter negative stimuli (regardless of how small the molehill), my negative emotions are easily triggered. My attitude, thoughts, words and actions swiftly turn negative. Okay, I will call it what it is… I get downright mean. Since I wear my heart on my sleeve, my emotions become prominently evident in my body language, vocabulary, connotation, tone, and behavior. I feel physical symptoms, as well.

It seems like my temperature rises and I can feel the heat flush in my face. I feel a tingling sensation – something like adrenaline – coursing through my entire body. My teeth and/or fists clench. I hiss venomous words at my most precious loved ones. I lose sense of all positivity and feel very ugly inside. Anger (expressed through screaming, stomping, slamming doors, becoming rough with movements) is not easily softened by my own attempts or anyone who tries to come near me. Anger usually gives way to sadness (expressed through crying until exhaustion) and if I don’t pull out of it soon enough, zoning out/shut down is inevitable (where everything stops—I feel too weak to physically move, I go numb mentally and literally zone out (stare into space or at the TV) until I fall asleep).

Living life like this is not only unhealthy, it is exhausting, for both my family and me.

I am tired.

I am worn out.

I am not happy. And until I heal from the inside out, nothing will be able to make me happy.

Because of this, my relationships are strained and my parenting is negatively impacted.

My heart aches. My self-image suffers. My authentic self suffers. My soul suffers.

It is time to finally break free of this terrible cycle and take control of my life by taking control of my health.

I invite you to follow my journey over the next 6 months in what I am dubbing “The Me Project” – my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual pursuit for health and happiness.

WILL succeed.

The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness.  You have to catch it yourself. 

~Author unknown, commonly attributed to Benjamin Franklin

If only we’d stop trying to be happy we could have a pretty good time. 

~Edith Wharton

Those who can laugh without cause have either found the true meaning of happiness or have gone stark raving mad. 

~Norm Papernick

The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet. 

~James Openheim

And we’re off…!

It has been about a week since I decided to start living a more healthy lifestyle. I know its going to be quite a challenge for me but it’s one I know I need to face, pure and simple.

To improve my spiritual health, I’ve begun reading Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer. So far, I have come to understand the importance of letting God into the little things in my life and how to develop a better personal relationship with God. I’m learning how to uncover His plan for my life as well as the “secrets” to living a happy life.

To improve my physical health, I started with the basics: altering my eating and exercising habits. First, I’m increasing the amount of water I drink each day and replacing other sugar filled beverages with milk or diluted juice.
Next, I’m struggling with cutting back on sweets. For a chocolate fix tonight I grabbed some chocolate rice cakes. I was impressing even myself, until I devoured over half the package. Well, at least I admitted I was struggling with this part!
Finally, I thought I would try and get creative and trick myself into eating healthier by making “healthy junk food.” My first attempt at this was baking sweet potato fries. I’m not the biggest fan of the sweet potato, but I gobbled these right up!

image

I made them twice and can’t wait to experiment with different recipes. [Though I came across a recipe for BBQ Sweet Potato Chips at The Healthy Diaries that I’m eager to try next!] I’m also anxious to find healthier ways of making other favorites: pizza, pasta, lasagna, cheeseburgers and of course, chocolate cake!

Lastly, I picked up a prenatal yoga DVD as a kickstart to a workout regime. I’ve used it twice, though both times were only for 20 minutes or less. Still, I woke up stiff and sore a couple times this week. Thankfully, a good stretch or two throughout the day has helped with that. As Maria from The Healthy Diaries recommends, I’m taking things slowly and trying to remember to give myself credit for the progress I do make along the way, little as it may be. After all, slow is steady and steady is fast!