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. 

Considering a Plant Based Diet

The Year of Health has become even more important with my husbands unexpected heart attack and need to quadruple bypass surgery. As he recovers from a surgery, that seems inconceivable to me, we are researching what we need to do to protect him from having to go through anything like this again. We also want to protect our son from being where his dad is in 30 years. The genetic risk lives on chromosome 19. I learned this this week. The idea that a 15 yearly boy has to be tested for high cholesterol is mind boggling to me. We had already dubbed 2020 as our “Year of Health” even before this event. Now it is even more important for our whole family.

Diet and exercise seem to be the two areas where we can make an impact. We had committed to at least 10,000 steps a day and 52 hikes this year. We may need to do some urban hiking to make this work. Today instead of the hike we had planned, Marty took his first walk down the hall on the intensive care unit. We may have to double up on hikes later in the year to make our 52, but we will get there.

As soon as my brother heard about Marty’s heart attack he suggested a plant based diet. My brother follows this type of diet and it prevented him from needing to be on medication for his cholesterol. It also probably prevented him from a fate similar to Marty’s, as we have family history of hear disease. I have been pescatarian since 2011. I travel for work so have been hesitant to give up dairy, eggs, and fish. Marty eats what I cook but when he eats separate from me, he eats the typical American diet. Wanting to protect our family from having this ever happen to anyone we love again, got us seriously looking at plant based diets. My 9 years eating things without legs has taught me how to cook some amazing meat free dishes. I am confident that I can bring this to the next level. But, does a plant based diet really work?

We started research by watching some documentaries on Netflix. What the HealthFork over Knife, and The Game Changers provided us with information that was so surprising. A friend recommended a YouTube Channel Krocks in the Kitchen, which led us to another one called, The Jardoui Family. The YouTube channels provide some great ideas as well as wonderful inspired recipes. The host of The Jardoui Family shared her story and it was just as my brother had said. eating a plant based diet restored health and prevented the need for the Statin drugs that are often used to reduce cholesterol. It confirmed what the documentaries had said.

Can we do this? Sure, why not! Planning ahead and cooking for ourselves will be key in being successful on a diet like this. More and more restaurants are offering plant based food. In the Twin Cities we have The Herbivorious Butcher, which has wonderful options.  When I first stopped eating animals back in 2011, I just tried it and thought, “I will see how long I can do this”. Now, 9 years later, I am looking at taking the next step for my health and the health of my family.

May you always have good health. I love you!

If you have any fabulous plant based recipes  or information you would like to share, please post them in the comments. Thank you. If you want a natural way to improve your health, I recommend you watch the documentaries.

 

What Is Healthy Eating?

What is healthy changes from age to age and time to time. At times it seems more about what is popular culturally. Look at the poor egg. It is healthy; then it isn’t. Then it is again. People have been eating them since the beginning of time, but the information out there about them has been confusing. There are so many diet options available: Gluten Free, Paleo, Vegan, Raw, Clean, etc. How can a person know if they are truly eating healthy?
I have a friend who is a Chef. She also happens to have celiac disease. She must eat gluten free for her health. She makes wonderful, nutritious, and flavorful meals. Someone asked once if she makes everything gluten free. She replied yes. That the people who ate her cooking are eating healthy even if they don’t know it. This got me thinking about the idea of eating healthy. Certainly for her and many other people eating gluten free is very healthy. Their bodies do not handle or are not able to process the gluten in the food. However, I have a similar food allergy to rice flour. Many gluten free products substitute the wheat flour with rice flour. My body reacts and I get very sick from even a small amount of rice flour. Eating gluten free (when rice flour is used) is not healthy for me.
My brother is Vegan. He chose to become vegan after reading a book called the China Study. It is a very interesting read and makes a great argument for the health benefits of not eating animal products. I have been pescatarian (a vegetarian who eats fish occasionally) for a number of years. I attempted to live the vegan lifestyle due to my brothers influence and after reading about the benefits in the China Study. It did not work for me as a part of my lifestyle. I travel for work and am on the road at least 4 days almost every week. Some of the places I visit do not have great options for plant based protein in restaurants. My blood sugar drops low if I do not have a significant amount of protein with my meals. Eating Vegan, while on the road, is not a healthy diet for me.
I know people who have tried to be vegetarian or vegan, but ended up going back to meat because they became weak and did not get the nourishment that their bodies required. Their vitality just seemed to be lacking. Once they added some meat back into their lives, their energy improved. I also have had friends that the stress of making a second meal for family members who eat a different diet made it to difficult. The toll, stress was taking in their life, made it worse for their health than eating the same diet as others in their life.
Certainly there are things we can agree that are not healthy to ingest in our bodies. Much of what we consider a healthy diet is really about personal choice and listening to our bodies. Get to know your body. What foods make you feel good and which ones do not. Healthy eating is as individualized as we are.
What kinds of food make you feel best? Have you tried a diet that others felt was healthy and wasn’t a good fit for you? What did you learn about yourself through that process?