Self Care in 2022

I had claimed 2020 as my year of health. Ironically COVID hit the US that year as it continued to expand across the planet. I ended up working on shadow aspects of myself. My health took a back burner. Over the next two years, COVID became my scape goat for everything. My health deteriorated and my self-care was virtually nonexistent. 2022 has become the year I will reclaim my health. Let me share with you how. 

In 2022 I felt a new found hope. Simultaneously various self-care activities started to drift into my consciousness. I came to a deeper understanding of how taking care of myself, really and truly, allows me to be a better wife, mother, grandmother, friend, coworker and employee. Some personal medical health concerns along with a desire to be a better version of myself have driven me to really strive to take care of me and lovingly put my health first. When I say health, I am not just speaking about my physical being. I am talking about true mind, body, and spirit health. I have also include the component of financial health into that overall wellness. Anyone who has had financial difficulties understands how that can affect overall health.  I have healthy initiatives well underway in all these realms. Most started to slowly pop into practice the end of January and throughout February. Now as March begins, I feel I am well on my way to reclaiming my year of health and overall wellness. 

So, what am I doing? First let’s talk about financial wellness. I started budgeting and using the phrase, “It is not in the budget” to decrease unnecessary spending. This works well because I am not putting energy toward whether or not I can afford it. It is simply something I chose not to put in my budget this month.  Doing this relieves the stress or feelings that I can’t have it in the future, because I can choose to put it in next months budget, if I still want it at that time. The budget becomes a negotiation between my husband and myself. It really helps us prevent wasteful spending and relieves so much stress. 

For my body wellness I have a couple things going. First, since I have been diagnosed with severe osteoporosis, I am following the advise of my healthcare providers. I am taking my prescribed medication and supplements. I am attending follow up appointments and getting lab work as ordered. Because my weight has crept up over the last few years I am working to bring that under control. After reading a couple of books, Atomic Habits by James Clear and Healthy as F*ck by Oonagh Duncan, I came to the understanding that habits could really help me cement my health and overall wellness goals. So I heroically set off on a journey of habit formation. I am using the habit setting in many areas, but specifically in relation to my body; my husband and I are doing intermittent fasting. This works well for our weight loss and allows it to be slow and steady. We start our fast after supper (which we try to eat by 6pm) until around 10am the next day. The goal is 16 hours of fasting. Because we are looking at overall wellness, we do not get stressed if life happens and we eat supper at 7:30pm. We simply start our fast after that and carry on. The other things we are doing is focusing on eating a lot of veggies. Oonagh Duncan in her book advocates for half of your plate in veggies. Some meals; almost our whole plate is veggies, other meals we are adding extra veggies to what we would ordinarily have ate. Once again, this is not about perfections. Which brings us to our emotional wellbeing. 

I ask for grace. I know I am not a perfect person, so I must understand that my initiatives will also not be perfect. In the past I have tried to over do it. If 30 minutes is good than 60 minutes is great. I would burn out on what I was doing. Now, I am allowing myself the Grace to do the program as written and not having to over do it or try to out think it. This morning I started the C25K program. This is a running program that gets you from the couch to a 5K in 8-9 weeks. I am using the app by Zenlabs and it works really well. I have not run consistently since April of 2015. This year I am reclaiming that ability. I feel so great and energized after my first time out this morning; why would I not want to continue?! 

Wellness for my spirit is the final area I am working on. This encompasses so much and I feel it really helps with all other areas. I am meditating for 20 minutes every morning. Affording myself grace in the mornings and rewarding myself with beautiful candles that I burn with intention while I am working and while I meditate. The other major self-care item that my husband and I are doing is hiking. Getting out in nature… even though it has still been winter and the cold and snow have to be overcome, we are still doing it. We are still pushing through and getting out there. We hiked about 20 miles in February and now we joined a challenge for Spring that has a goal of 75 miles between March through May. Hiking is amazing for my spirit. I feel the best out among the trees. Also, we are looking forward to spring when the natural world wakes up and comes to life around us. Having the goal of the challenge, friends and my dear sweet husband to march along side me through the snow, has been so inspiring. I feel as if I am coming back to myself. I feel after years of self neglect I am finally learning to lovingly put me first. 

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you find the beauty and healing in caring for yourself. 

2020: The Year of Health

I may sound cliche to start the new year focused on health and it certainly is not new for me, but it is different this time. Let me tell you why.

In the past my focus was to loose weight. I would make a New Year’s resolution to exercise and get thin but the motivation was really vanity. I didn’t understand how powerful mind, body and spirit wellness was back then. The resolution would last 2, maybe 3 months and then I would fade back into my old patterns of behavior. Today I no longer make resolutions; instead I make a list of new year’s manifestations. These manifestation can be anything I want to come into my life in the new year. I decided 2020 would be a year of health.

My year of health manifestation list has a lofty number of health related items I want to enhance my life. They are mind, body, and spirit related, for one cannot successfully be well without balance in all these areas.

It is day 4 in my year of health and I already feel a shift in my mood. I find myself making healthy decisions and I keep slowly incorporating items to bring about overall wellness.

On Jan 1st, I started the day hungover from a New Year’s Eve party I attended. I find this very embarrassing to admit to. So, my first healthy initiatives were to give up alcohol and sugar. Next I went back to intermittent fasting. This is an eating strategy that limits the time you can eat during the day. It has many health benefits but my primary use of it is weight loss. I have gained about 30 pounds in the last 4 years and it is affecting my energy level and ability to do things. Losing weight is not about vanity for me this time. It is about being comfortable hiking, having the energy to kayak and reclaiming my connection with my body as a divine being.

Then I decided to start tracking what I eat. This is about mindfulness. So now I know what I am putting into my body and why. I am using the “My Fitness Pal” app to do so; although there are so many apps that can help you with it. I have anemia, so it helps me track my iron intake, something that is important for me as a pescatarian. I also find that tracking what I eat, makes me less likely to do the mindless noshing that can occur when I am bored.

Yesterday I decided to start drinking 1/2 my body weight in ounces of water. I feel this is helping purify my body from all the toxic things I have put into her in the past. Also, yesterday I recommitted to moving my body. Getting at least 10,000 steps a day. I even started running a little again. I plan to improve my fitness condition in order to participate in 5K events. I really enjoyed these in the past. My daughter, Liz, and I have also done a couple 1/2 marathons together and we are toying with the idea of committing to do another one of these.

Today I am starting on my commitment of “52 Hikes” during 2020. I have seen others make a commitment to this in the past, but never got on board because of the frozen tundra where I live. I know I feel better when I get outside and be “in” nature, so this is another part of the mind and spirit commitment for me.

My husband and I continue our pursuit towards financial wellness. Yoga and meditation are on my list of items to incorporate. I find that adding (a little) something new daily is helping me stay motivated and not feel overwhelmed. I’m just slowly incorporating, the items I want, into my year of wellness.

I know it is only day 4 but I already feel clearer and  more upbeat. I am more connected with my body and the aches and pains are starting to subside. I have lost 4 pounds and even reclaimed my right to be a runner.

Would you like to join me on my journey into the year of health?

Come along! It won’t always be easy but it will be totally worth it!

I love you! May your year bring you every happiness.

Stepping into the Keto Diet

My husband decided to join one of those weight loss contests that pop up at work after the New Year. They had set a pretty aggressive amount of weight to lose by 28 days. I had heard people were having great success on the Keto Diet and thought that this, along with the fasting we were already doing, might work best for him. So I suggested he give it try. Then I set off to learn as much about it as I could so I could help him. I was amazed by what I learned.

To start, I began looking for recipes. Keto friendly things I could make and have in the freezer, so he would have yummy, healthy food to eat while I am on the road. There are a tremendous amount of recipes available out there. The premise behind keto is high fat, moderate protein and very low carbs. It forces your body into a ketogenic state or ketosis, which causes it to use fat for energy rather than carbohydrates. According to Wikipedia; this diet was first developed in the 20s for treatment of childhood seizures.

This way of eating is in sharp contrast to the “Stop the Insanity” low fat diets from the 90s.

There is a documentary (which is available to watch on Netflix) called ‘The Magic Pill.’ Watching this documentary inspired me to also try the ketogenic diet as well. Sure I would love the weight loss but the health benefits demonstrated in the movie were my real motivation. This show follows several people for a few weeks as they switch to this way of eating. The results they had were miraculous. Cancer, Autism, Diabetes, and Asthma were all demonstrated life changing improvements because of it; not to mention weight management. One of the ‘ah ha’ moments for me was right at the start of the documentary. When they said; “Every animal controls its weight naturally, other than humans and animals fed by humans”. My goodness! I never stopped to think that there are no obese deer or even pump lazy sloths.

As a pescatarian (vegetarian who eats fish) the idea of going on a diet, without the American staple of carbs, seemed like a difficult choice. It takes away so many of the things I am able to eat on the road. I also have difficulty with my blood sugar, that can dip to low and cause me to not feel well, if I do not eat the right thing or go to long without eating. This has made me believe I need a high protein diet. I was about to learn that was not true! As I stepped off into the world of ketogenic eating, my first challenge came when I went to a German restaurant with friends. Their vegetarian dish was pasta and the fish/seafood dishes were with pasta or breaded. Hmmm… what to have? I elected for the green beans with almonds and a cucumber salad. I also ate a few pieces of cheese off a friend’s appetizer plate. I was full. Challenge accepted and completed. Next morning, eggs and veggies are a very normal breakfast for me, so that did not even require a change. Lunch was riced cauliflower made into fried rice with eggs and plenty of olive oil. Yummy!

Do you know what I discovered? My blood sugar has remained stable. I have not had the shaky or woozy feeling that I often get when I don’t eat enough protein. Here, all this time, my need for high protein was a result of a diet high in carbs. I am on my third day of this new way of eating and I feel great. I am also doing this in conjunction with the intermittent fasting I have been doing since June. The two seem to work well together.

With the combination of intermittent fasting and Keto Diet, my husband has lost 11 pounds in 6 days. Isn’t that amazing? One of his favorite treats on the Keto Diet is the Fat Bombs. They are a nice little treat but also help to keep the consumption of fat, good and high, as required for ketosis. There are lots of fat bomb recipes but the ones he likes are made with natural unsweetened peanut butter, cream cheese, a tiny bit of stevia, and rolled in semisweet or dark chocolate. They are rolled in balls about a quarter’s diameter and are delicious. You only need to eat one to feel like you had a treat and quite satisfied. After all, that is what eating fat does. It helps us feel satiated.

Whether you are curious about the ketogenic diet or planning to try it yourself, there seems to be potential benefit for amazing results. If you enjoy documentaries, I recommend you check out ‘The Magic Pill.’ It is very interesting.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I love you. May you find healthy eating that works for you, as if by magic.

*Photo was taken in Palermo, Sicily

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How Are You Improving Yourself?

I am always trying different things to improve myself. Are you also obsessed with becoming the very best version of you? I have multiple ways that I am working on myself at any given time. Some are very successful; others take more effort and require that I try again and again. I often think about the goals I have set for myself. Which ones are realistic and which ones are more grandiose ideas.

Currently I am working on going 21 days complaint free. Despite the fact that I have been working on this for several weeks I am still on day one. But with this I am finding that I am becoming more aware of my complaining. I am finding that, depending on who I am around and what I am talking about, makes a huge difference in how many times I need to change my bracelet. To learn more about this, please read my blogs: Can You Go 21 Days in a Row Without Complaining? and OMG! Read This Book! It will take you places you didn’t know you need to go. (An update on my Complaint Free Adventure)

It is the first of October as I write this and I am thinking of writing a blog every day in October, sounds like a great idea, right?! This maybe one of my more grandiose ideas for a couple reasons. Blogging everyday takes time and that is not always a luxury I possess. Another is that, Adventure Sister Emy and I make sure not to post blogs on the same day. This avoids overwhelming our readers and helps make sure both of our important messages are heard. But what would be realistic number for me? To write 20 blogs in October? That certainly seems reasonable and I can write them without posting them. Just save them for a day when I don’t have as much time but need a blog. Okay – that is “now” my goal for October.

Continuing to improve my health with intermittent fasting is another. Somedays I do better with this than others. It remains my goal to start eating somewhere between 10 and noon and complete my caloric intake for the day by 6pm. It is a worthwhile goal to me and I have lost somewhere between 10-20 lbs. doing so.  I remain horrible about keeping track of my weight but maybe that is not such a bad thing.

I’m also trying 28 days without having an alcoholic drink. I feel this is also a worthwhile goal. I like the way a glass of wine helps me relax and causes the stress of the day to role off my shoulders. I like the way I can decompress and the stress seems to melt away after a glass. Specifically, because of the way wine helps me not have to deal with my things, is precisely why 28 days without it is a great goal. To remind me that I don’t really need it and by working through the lessons of my day is really better for me.

Another goal I have is to start running again. I cannot say I am currently really working towards this goal… unless you count reading How to a Lose  Marathon by Joel Cohen. I keep planning to start training again but so far it is all just talk. I need to overcome the fear that my knee injury is permanent.

Doing a really great job at work is always a goal for me too. I want to continue to improve my skills at my job, learn more, and be more of an asset to my co-workers and boss. Sounds like a lofty goal perhaps but one I feel strongly about.

With all of these goals, I move forward little by little, step by step. I can make big strides in one, while the others may stay stagnate for a time. At other times I move all goals forward in someways. Of course I have many more goals than those listed here. I wanted to convey to you that it is “okay” when goals do not go according to our plan and that when it comes to being the best version of ourselves, we can work on several things at once.

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you make progress on all you goals, as if by magic.

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