Not a Resolution

I’ve spent four months getting my health on track. Actually, that’s not accurate; I’ve spent years trying and just figured out what works for me four months ago. My hair is now growing again, I’ve lost weight without trying, and I am so healthy that one of my doctors no longer thinks I have a chronic illness I with which I was diagnosed previously.

But I could do better. A lot better. See, after I received my diagnosis, I went about reading everything I could about research on reversing or stopping the progression of the illness, and I found several promising, long-term studies out of Australia. I went about determining how to track macros and what macro combination is right for me, and then began tracking. I learned I wasn’t eating much in terms of protein before–as in no protein at all–and I was eating too much fat–waaaaay too much–due to this “good fats are healthyI” craze that’s struck the nation. And the studies I read demonstrated that reducing fat intake so that it was a modest, lower fat diet would improve the condition. Other things shown to improve the chronic illness: no dairy and no sugar.

So things are going better (see aforementioned hair!) but I’ve been falling off the wagon a bit with the sugar and fat thing. When I don’t eat sugar, I really don’t want to eat it after a bit. And so I have an ambitious goal: no processed sugar for a year. Okay, 30 days at first, but then a year. This means no high fructose corn syrup or similar, no fake sugars, and no cane sugars processed in any way. Honey and maple syrup are okay on special occasions and in small quantities, but even then I want to avoid it if possible.

Over holiday break I’ve made myself practice yoga 45 minutes+/day (except on the day I was trying not to vomit courtesy of some 24 hour bug the exchange student brought home) and within the week I’ve been amazed at the progress in my flexibility and thus my sleep. I need to keep that up, too.

Finally, I’m working on reducing waste and smallering. There’s more to say on this, but that’s a different post.

It’s important to note that none of this is due to New Year’s Resolutions. Instead, these decisions are an evolution in my thinking based on what I’ve been trying to accomplish for a few years. I want to be the healthiest version of my possible, and if that means dedicating some daily time to me physical health and cutting out things that only serve to make me sick (I mean, my stomach physically hurts when I eat sugar! I don’t know why I do it ever!), then I think these are things I need to which I need to commit.

Now, for accountability…
SF= Sugar-free; GF= Gluten-free

Today’s food:
B: Leftover SF/GF cornbread, mashed potatoes, crockpot turkey
L: Protein-option chicken burger with onions & fries
D: Two bites of GF homemade pizza; lunch was still weighing me down
S: 2.5 cups of home brewed coffee with SF soy milk; GF bread; grown-up hot cacao with SF soy milk & 4 drops/Stevia

Waste-Free Options
*Purchased locally brewed coffee in reusable glass jars

Do Better
*Seriously, fries? What was I thinking? Not my best day eating.
*Totally forgot my reusable bags today. I left the produce out of the produce bags (sweet potatoes & a couple onions) but I need to remember this.
*Tomorrow I’m traveling a bit, and I will bring my reusable bags and some homemade salad dressing and soy milk so that I can eat out without messing up the sugar-free and less-waste goals. Baby steps, though I’m hoping to make better progress.

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learning to act with intention

I’ve spent the past couple years with my email provider as the “home” page for my browser.  I’d turn on the computer, pull up the internet and bam! There’s my email, staring me in the face and asking me to react to anything I’d been sent.  As I worked on other sites, read the news, etc., I would leave my email open in a tab.  When I would see a new message come in, I would immediately read it, attempting to respond as quickly as possible.  The smartphone hasn’t helped.

It’s no wonder I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with email.  At the end of each semester, I unintentionally for 24-48 hours without logging onto a computer or reading my email.  That day or so without checking email goes by without effort.  By that point, the freedom of not having to check seems freeing.  But there’s still an addiction component.  I recently, excitedly, told two co-workers that I was down to 9 emails in my inbox.  I’ve been reflecting on how crazy this thinking is.  On one hand, it’s nice to not let things pile up, particularly when they are small things that require quick responses.  Though this post on Zen Habits says to complete things that take less than 2 minutes, I find that I constantly used that as a reason to take away from bigger tasks because something will take less time and I’ll feel a sense of accomplishment.  In other words, the Getting things Done (or Zen to Done, as Leo calls his version) was not working for me.

So what does work for me?  Well, I don’t know, really.  Right now I’m practicing not checking my email for distractions.  I’m examining all of the ways I obligate myself to various things: email, work, kids (and their commitments), volunteerism, etc., and I’m asking what I can cut out in order to give myself less to check.  I’m asking myself if it’s okay for email to go days without a response. I like the idea of processing my inboxes once a day–all of my inboxes.  What would it look like if I set a time each day to respond to emails, return phone calls, check Facebook and then… log off.  Maybe I’ll try for checking twice a day, and then I’ll back off from there.

All of this to say that I think technology creates a much more re-active person than a reflective person.  Since I am focusing on learning how to think before acting, I am recognizing all of the things that cause me to react rather than to act with intention.  I am trying to decrease multitasking and instead embrace one thing at a time so I can bring all of me to a task.  Most of the time, I’m not successful.  While lifting, practicing yoga, or going on a walk, I’ll think of something that needs accomplished.  At one time, I would have begun that task, but lately I’ve told myself that it will have to wait until my current task is complete.

(Apologies. This should have been yesterday’s–May 17–post, but I left for a bike ride before I hit publish.)

more beautiful than silence

Open your mouth only if what you are about to say is more beautiful than silence. –Arabic Proverb

I have high standards, and I expect others to live by them.  But that’s not fair, because I can’t place my standards and values on others.  Not only that, but I’m beginning to realize that I shouldn’t hold myself to these standards either.  I need to make more time for play and silence; life doesn’t have to be all work.

As I prepare to move to a new place, with a new job, new colleagues, and all that jazz, I’m asking myself what things I can leave behind and what I should take with me.  Is it possible to leave parts of yourself behind?  I don’t know that it is, so I’m trying to make small changes now so I can take a better version of myself with me.  However, I do believe that Buddhist thinking is correct in forwarding the idea that people are always changing.  In the recent past someone commented that a former colleague had reinvented themself after leaving.  The comment was said with some suspicion, and I’ve thought about it many times since.  Is it wrong to reinvent oneself?  I don’t think so; I think people are constantly reinventing who they are, looking for a version of themselves that work better for the life they want.  After troubling over it for awhile, I think that it would be more of a concern if someone failed to change over time, or if someone didn’t recognize the ways in which they change.

Along those lines, I’m reinventing myself.  I’m paying more attention to the things I discuss with others.  Is it productive for me? For the other person?  Is what I say potentially hurtful?  I’m trying to accept moments of discomfort and vulnerability. This means I’m trying to be me even when it may lead to moments of judgment or embarrassment.  I’m trying to encourage my kids to do the same.  (Side note: There’s been a lot more laughter and fun since consciously letting go.)

Lastly, I’m trying to let go of negative body image.  I have spent two and a half years working out nearly every night in an attempt to meet unattainable goals.  I’m wickedly strong now, but I’m not any happier; if anything, I mentally beat myself up more than before.  I’ve been doing more yoga, less lifting; sitting in silence more, less distractions; walking more, high impact less.  I’m mostly at peace with this, but I still have moments when I internally fight myself on whether I’m doing my body image more harm than good.  As with the idea that I need to watch what I am saying to others, I also need to watch what I am saying to myself.