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

I Found the Secret

Even though I was baptized and confirmed Catholic, studied religious education and/or at a parochial school from elementary through high schools, and attended Mass on a fairly consistent basis during my childhood, I’ve always struggled with religion, spirituality and my personal relationship with God.

For far too many years now, I have missed out what I am discovering to be an amazing spiritual life. I have believed in God all my life because I knew in my heart there are too many miracles in the universe for there not to be a Higher Power. Yet, I struggled with things like not always agreeing with the Catholic Church’s teachings or not knowing how to connect with/feel/speak with God in a way that felt genuine to me. This left me feeling empty inside, as though I was lacking a crucial part of my life. I didn’t correlate this void with my emotions and behavior until recently. I’ve come to realize that when I feel most sad/depressed, lonely, angry, anxious, fearful about things, I let my emotions and thoughts take over my actions. This repetitive negative behavior cycle was destroying precious parts of my life. Though I yearn to feel and act differently, it has been extremely difficult breaking the cycle. For a while, I thought I was purely struggling with the transition from young adulthood (being guided and supervised by a parent) to full-on adulthood (hello, sink or swim: marriage, parenthood, bills, career path…). Then, I realized that it wasn’t parental guidance I was craving so much as it was God’s guidance. How did I realize this? From reading a book, of course! And not just any book, but THE book… the Bible.

With all of the reading I have done in my lifetime, I have never picked up and read the Bible of my own accord. Sure, I’ve dissected passages in a Christian Studies course and heard the Gospel at Mass on Sundays, but just sitting down to read it had never appealed to me. This was mostly because I had a horrible time understanding what it says. Lucky for me, my husband found me a Bible that has footnotes throughout, translating the ancient words into modern explanations. Now, I love reading the Bible because it is filled with the instructions on how to live a happy, healthy and peaceful life. It feels like I have discovered the secret to living the life I have always dreamed of but never knew how to obtain!

One of the recommendations Joyce Meyer makes most often is to get to know the Word in order to get to know God and live a godly life. After hearing this a few dozen times, it finally started to sink in — if I didn’t read His Word, I would never be able to receive His message. For the past several weeks now, I have been finding time most every day to spend at least 10-15 minutes reading the Bible. This normally leads to a few moments of personal meditation and prayer, where I reflect on and thank God for my blessings. Before I know it, I have a lighter mind, a happier heart and a better outlook on life – a.k.a. my own personal relationship with God as I know Him. My positive thoughts and attitude leads to pleasant words and kinder, gentler, more loving behavior. The best part is the peace I am beginning to experience in my heart and in my life. It is a slow and steady process, but I am making progress and that is the important part. My days are still far from perfect, but they are getting better and I am getting stronger in faith every day.