Chapter 1 – January Reflections

As a person who enjoys setting goals and dreaming, I like to make a regular practice of reflecting on my progress so that I can make intentional choices about the direction I am heading moving forward.

I am happy to say that January 2020 was a great start to a new year for me.  Here’s why:

Mindset Work
For a few years now, I have found the week between Christmas and New Year’s to be a time of dreaming, goal setting, and inspiration. This year was no different. I spent the week reading personal development, journalling, creating my vision board, setting goals, and dreaming BIG.  The difference between this year and last (or any year before that) is that this year, thanks to the mindset work I have been doing, I have not allowed my limiting beliefs to shut down my dreams.  In the past, I’d enjoy my time dreaming and goal-setting and within no time, my own self-doubt and limiting beliefs would convince me that my dreams were unattainable, unrealistic, or impossible. I’d start to play small, settle in my regular routine, and forget about the idea that I (like everyone) am made for more.

But over the past few years, I have been training my brain to think differently and it’s made THE biggest impact in my life. I am now aware of those limiting beliefs and can stop them before they take over.  It’s been a long process – and one that I believe we never stop practicing – but the positive effects it has had on my life are undeniable.

Clarity Workshop
That leads me to my next big thing in January which is that I feel like I finally have some clarity.  As I mentioned, I love to dream. I often think about what other possibilities and opportunities are out there for me.  In my head, I come up with a million little puzzle pieces but they never seemed to fit together. I needed clarity. What is it that I am really made for? Where is my path leading me? What BIG DREAMS do I have ?  In which direction am I headed? I struggled to answer these questions and then…

I Accepted God
Enter my brand new relationship with God. For the record, I prefer to call him God but this is new to me and still somewhat scary (although I am trying really hard to believe). I sometimes think of God as Source Energy or the Universe or whatever power larger than us that is out there. Because there is a power and he/she/it works in mysterious and wonderful ways and when you start really truly believing ….. well, it’s utterly amazing!

Anyway, I found myself struggling personally at the end of 2019 and had a moment where I felt so desperate and lost that I didn’t know what to do except pray (I have never really been a person to pray so this was a breakthrough moment). I called out to God and prayed, and prayed, and prayed so hard. I poured my heart, my fears, my worries, my concerns out to him and basically begged him to hear me and help me.

And guess what?

He did.  The very next day.  To say I was shocked and amazed is a major understatement. It was a massive awakening for me.

And then, I had an even bigger realization –   He had been there all along!  I had simply never reached out to him before.  He was always there, waiting and watching and all I had to do was speak to him through my heart for him to show himself to me. (Mind blown!)

As you can probably tell, this experience was profound for me, but as I said it’s still a little scary and uncertain. I have never been a religious person but as I begin to form a brand new relationship with God it’s pretty fascinating.  And it takes me back to my original point – clarity.

When we start to listen to what God places on our heart, we start to gain massive amounts of clarity.  But we can’t just listen. We have to believe. We have to believe in the path he has put us on and in the direction he is leading us. We have to believe the voice that speaks to us when we get really silent and listen to what’s on our heart.  So that’s what I did, and for the first time in a long time, I felt so clear and so excited about the path I am on and the direction I am heading.

Stepping out of my Comfort Zone
Once I started to be clear on my dreams and really, truly believe in them, I knew I had to take some action. This is another step that I have never taken before. Last summer, I had an opportunity that would have been amazing, but I let my self-doubts talk me out of it and never pursued it.  But this time, as soon as I started to believe, I began to be presented with opportunities that I knew I couldn’t say no to.  I said yes and believed I would figure it out. Of course, my old limiting beliefs and fear started popping up, but I paid attention to it and turned my thoughts around.  Am I scared?  Absolutely.  Terrified would be a more appropriate word to describe how Iam feeling. But am I going to do it anyway?  100% yes. 

I also wanted to take the time here to say  that stepping out of your comfort zone doesn’t have to be big, terryifing things.  It can be small and simple.  For example, I often think of something nice to say to strangers (“I love your shirt”, “your baby is so cute”, “I love your hair – where do you get it done?) but usually stop myself from saying it over the fear that they might think I am weird/strange/crazy. Now that I am aware of how silly this is, I have opened myself up and just say what’s on my mind!  Just think of the positive impact giving a compliment to a stranger can have!

Personal Development Books
Almost any personal development book will tell you that nothing great comes from your comfort zone. They will tell you that you should believe in your BIGGEST dreams and that you should take any action – no matter how small – to move towards them. They will tell you that you are capable, amazing, and made for more.  They will teach you how to train your brain to be aware of your negative self-talk and how to turn it into something positive.  Personal development books are pretty much amazing, and empowering, and full of such incredible information that I believe everybody should be reading them on a regular basis.
If you don’t like to read, you could also listen to any one of thousands of amazing podcasts, videos, or webinars.  I believe in personal development so strongly that I am working on a whole blog post on what it is, why you need to be engaging with it, and where you can find it. Stay tuned!

Made for More Facebook Group
Another big win for me last month was that I created a health and wellness Facebook group for women who have similar goals. The intention behind it was that I wanted a space where like-minded women could come together to support, motivate, and inspire each other to get healthier and to believe in themselves and their goals. At first, I had some self-doubt (would anyone be interested? Who am I to give “advice”? This has already been done) – but I decided to give it a shot anyway.  Within just a few days I had nearly 100 women signed up to the group!  We’re now a month in and not only do I absolutely love creating inspirational content for the group, but many women are still actively engaging with it on a daily basis! I’ve even had individual women reach out and thank me for creating the group and tell me how it has encouraged them and motivated them. Now I call that a win!

Morning Routine
Another big success for me in January was my commitment to my morning routine.  A couple of weeks ago I attended a workshop and  felt like I found the missing pieces to my morning routine puzzle.  Because of my morning routine, I now have time every single day to do what I refer to as my heart work –  the reading, journalling, writing, and creating that sets my heart on fire and fills my cup so that it’s overflowing.  It’s amazing and if you don’t have a morning routine that lights up your soul and is the reason you spring out of bed in the morning, I highly suggest you start working on one.  Now.

Consistent Exercise
In January I also celebrated six months of consistent exercise!  I am finally at a point where I feel comfortable saying that exericse is a regular part of my routine and I am so proud of that!  I have exercised off and on for years but last July I made a commitment to a 100-day workout program – Beachbody’s  Morning Meltdown 100 – that changed everything. I built so much momentum with that program (not to mention endurance, strength + flexibility) that I knew I had to keep going.  So I did.  Since then I have completed an 8-week program and am going into my third week of the 8-week program for a second time.

The biggest thing that keeps me coming back to my work outs over and over again is the positive impact it has had on my mental health.  Exercise is my stress relief.  It is my proof that I can do hard things. It makes me feel strong and fierce physically and mentally. It’s true what they say about the power of endorphins after exericse – there really is nothing quite like it.

Nutrition
My biggest nutrition win in January was signing back up for Weight Watchers and beginning to track my food again. Tracking helps me to be more mindful of my food choices and to more frequently make better choices. It helps guide me towards healthier food options and away from mindless eating. I still really feel like healthy eating is the missing link in my health and wellness journey. Eating right has always been my biggest struggle. Even with all the exercise  I have been doing, my physical results have been slow because of the way I eat. I know that, and I continue to work on it.  Some days are better than others but I am not giving up and know that it’s the area I need to work on the most.

As you can see, I am celebrating a lot of wins for the month of January. For that, I am extremely grateful because I know that it was not that way for everybody. Many people struggle through this season when the days are long, dark, and dreary.  I saw family members, friends, and colleagues face their own challenges this month. And it’s not to say that I didn’t face any of my own. But overall, it was a positive month and for now I am choosing to focus on the good.

Life is full of ups and downs and I fully believe that when we are moving upward we need to celebrate and soak it all in. We need to do the work to strengthen our mind, body, and soul so that when life takes a downturn (as it inevitably will) we can move through it with grace and strength.

I’m ready February –  bring it on! 

xoxo

Rise + Shine – A Peek Inside My Morning Routine

Do you feel like there’s never enough time in the day to do the stuff that truly fills you up and sets your heart on fire?  Do you feel pulled in every direction, by all kinds of people, all day long?  Do you feel like you never get a moment to yourself?

These are some of the struggles many people (especially women) feel on a daily basis.  Not only are we constantly needed (by our kids, our spouses, our family members, our friends, our colleagues, etc) but we live in a society where we are constantly bombarded by external stimuli.  Unless we make time to fill our own cup, we can be easily left feeling depleted, drained, and exhausted.

Enter: the morning routine.

A morning routine is the practice of setting aside intentional time for yourself before the rest of the world needs you.  It’s about getting up early to the do the things that make you the happiest but that you never seem to have the time or energy for.   It’s about filling your own cup and setting your heart on fire, so that you can shine more brightly for others.

The morning routine is something we are starting to hear more about as we begin to realize that intentional time to fulfill our own needs is not only enjoyable, it’s critical for our mental health and overall wellbeing.

I have been hearing about – and working on implementing my own – morning routine for at least a year now.  Although I am always tweaking it to meet my own needs and to best serve the season of life I am currently in, here’s an idea of what it can look like.

(Disclaimer: The key to a successful morning routine is to do the things that fill YOU up and what sets YOUR heart on fire.  YOUR morning routine may look different than mine, but I’ll share mine just to give you some ideas and because I believe that some of my own personal practices should be part of every woman’s morning routine.)

No phone in the bedroom

My morning routine actuallly starts the night before and that’s with a good night’s sleep. For awhile now, I’ve made the commitment to leave my cell phone out of the bedroom.  Not only does the blue light from the screen negatively affect our sleep, but I know that I will stay up way later if I am scrolling mindlessly on my phone.  Instead, I use my Alexa Amazon for my alarm. If you don’t have an Echo you could get an old-fashioned alarm clock or I’ve heard about these really great alarm clocks that are available on Amazon that emulate a sunset so that you can wake up to the room gradually getting lighter rather than a blaring alarm!

Say no to snooze

The second part of my morning routine goes hand in hand with the alarm clock and that is that I do not snooze (or at least I try really hard not to!) There is a lot of research out there about how detrimental snoozing is and how it negatively affects your day!  The Five Second Rule by Mel Robbins and The Ripple Effect by Greg Wells both have awesome information about why you should not snooze.  Make it part of your morning routine – your alarm goes off and you get up and get your day started!  Really, your morning routine should be so fulfilling  that you can’t wait to get up and get started!

Start your Power Hour

I always try to wake up so that I have at least an hour for my favourite activities before I need to start getting ready for my day.  Lately, 5:30 has been working well for me. When my alarm goes off at 5:30, I get out of bed and know I have the next hour (or more) to do the activities that make me the happiest.  Between 6:30-7:00, I start getting ready for work (hair, makeup, breakfast, dressed, brush teeth, etc) so that I can be out the door just after 8:00.

Meditate/ Quiet Time/ Pray

When that alarm goes off and I am out of bed the first things I do are pee, wash my face, and drink some water.  Then I head to my home office where I light a scented candle, turn on some relaxing music, and sit in silence for anywhere from one to five minutes (or more if I am really feeling it).  During this time, I am basically practicing meditation.  Other than  the music (which you can eliminate if you prefer total silence) the house is silent because everyone else is still sleeping. I focus on my breath (without forcing anything unnatural) and use this time to listen to the voice inside my heart – aka my intuition.  I listen to my inner voice (my thoughts) and acknowledge them without judgement. Then I let them go.  Recently, I’ve also started exploring my spirituality so I sometimes use this time to talk to God -whether it’s sharing what’s on my heart or thanking him for all my  blessings.  Although this is a fairly new practice for me, it’s incredible how amazing it feels to just sit and be with myself and my thoughts + feelings.  After all, it’s really the only time in my day when I am not reacting to or responding to external factors!

Journaling + Writing time 

Next in my routine, comes my favourite part – coffee + journalling!  I am a writer at heart so writing has never been an issue for me.   Sipping on a warm mug of coffee while writing?  Even better! Normally, I write what I call my ”morning pages”. Basically, I just sit at my iPad and write about whatever comes to my mind.  This is a free-flow type of writing that I find helps me to sort through my thoughts. Sometimes I will reflect on thoughts that came to me during meditation, other times I will write about how I am feeling about the upcoming day.  Other times, I have written out prayers, a list of goals that I am working towards, or read a religious devotional and write a quick reflection on it. I also enjoy writing out a list of positive affirmations so that I go into my day feeling confident + positive.

Another thing that I have just started doing is  writing my gratitude list at this time. I used to do it at the end of each day (as part of my nighttime routine – stay tuned for a future post!) until someone suggested writing about the day’s ‘wins” at night. That idea really resonated with me so now I write my gratitude list in the morning.

Personal Development

The next part of my morning routine has been an absolute game changer for me and that is reading (or listening to) personal development. Personal development is basically a more modern term for “self-help”.  I feel like my own personal development has been a journey on its own (again, stay tuned for future blog post) so I could go on and on, but basically what I do in the morning is either read a personal development book (my most favourite so far is You are a Badass by Jenn Sincero) or listen to a podcast and take notes.  The nuggets of information I get are absolutely amazing and have brought me miles on my personal wellness journey.  Like I said, I will write a post soon where I share my own personal development journey and share lots of great resources for you to check out!

Another thing I like to do during my personal development time, is work on skills or projects that I call my “heart work”.  My heart work is like work but it totally sets my heart on fire.  It lights me up and makes me so excited.  It is my passion. Lately for me,  this is planning + creating content for my health + wellness Facebook group Made for More (if you are not part of the group, and want in, message me!)  I’m also going to be using this time to plan my very first workshop I’ll be leading coming up in April!  I’m parterning with Rebel Soul Tribe and going to be talking about the power of a positive mindset when it comes to healthy eating!  I am totally terrified but also really excited – I’ll share more details as I know them!

Movement

I’ve included movement here because most people who have an intentional morning routine include some sort of exericse or movement and swear by the benefits of exercise in the morning. For me, personally, I have a pretty well established evening workout routine.  I prefer working out in the evening because  it helps me blow off any stress I’ve experienced that day, and I prefer to shower at night so it makes sense to work out before I shower.  What’s most important about movement and exercise though is that you find a routine that works for you!  Who knows, maybe some day I will try incorporating it in my morning routine. For now though, this works for me and that’s what’s most important!

So there you have it!  Like I mentioned above, this is my morning routine and yours won’t necessarily look the same. I would encourage you to try getting up even 15 minutes earlier and seeing what you can incorporate in the morning to fill yourself up before you have to face the demands of the day!

If you do try to incorporate a more intentional morning routine, I’d love to hear about it!  Or if you already have an established morning routine, please tell me all about it!  As I said, it’s one of my most favourite times of day because there’s really nothing better than filling my own cup so that I can pour into others!

xoxo

K.

Becoming a Morning Person

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

For the longest time, I never considered myself to be either.  I liked to go to bed early and sleep in late.  But not too long ago, I began working on the habit of having a morning routine and it’s pretty safe to say, I’m already a big believer.

They key to my morning routine is making time for things that are really meaningful to me.  Throughout the day, so many people + things need our attention but during the quiet hours of the morning, before the rest of the household is up, I can give my full attention to things that fill my cup.

Keeping in mind that it’s still a routine I am working on, here’s what my morning routine has looked like recently.

First of all, it actually begins the night before and that’s because I no longer bring my phone to the bedroom (shout out to Mel Robbins for inspiring this one!) No matter how many nights I intended to go to bed and read for awhile before going to sleep, I’d find myself mindlessly scrolling on my phone, repeatedly checking the same social media feeds over and over again.  Not only is screen time before sleep detrimental to our sleep quality, but I’d stay up later than intended because I’d lose track of time.  Now, not only is my sleep not inhibited, but most nights I actually get to that book I’ve been meaning to read!

The second habit I’ve built into my morning routine is that I no longer hit the snooze button (again, inspired by Mel Robbins’ author of The 5 Second Rule which I highly recommend!)  Did you know that hitting snooze can negatively impact your energy levels for the first four hours after you are awake?  Energy is something I already struggle with so deciding not to hit snooze anymore was an easy decision.  That doesn’t mean it’s always easy to do when the alarm goes off at 6 AM but I am getting better.  Also, instead of using the alarm on my phone I use our Amazing Echo Dot and ask Alexa to set my alarm.

Once my alarm goes off and I’m out of bed, I start to get ready right away by doing my hair + makeup (I usually shower the night before).  This helps me feel “ready” to start the day.  I often listen to music or a podcast while getting ready.  I do stay in my pyjamas for a little while longer because they are just so cozy + I like to be comfortable in the morning!

After my hair + makeup are done , I head to the kitchen where I let out the dog, make myself breakfast + a coffee.  I usually eat in my favourite armchair and catch up on social media while having breakfast.

After breakfast, I take the remainder of my coffee to my office.  This is one of the times of day I love the most because it’s when I get to do the things that really nourish my soul + give me a positive mindset for the rest of the day. Plus I’m out of the way while my son + husband start getting ready for school/work.

Once in my office, I diffuse some essential oils and set to writing in my gratitude/mindset journal.  I always list at least 5 things I am for grateful and then write a list of goals + affirmations that I want to focus on. I always write my goals in present tense as if they are already happening (a tip I learned from my girl Rachel Hollis).

After writing in my journal, I turn to the personal development book that I am reading. I have read so many good ones + and they’ve helped my mindset immensely.  I’ll do a post on my top personal development choices but so far my top 3 favourite are:
The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins, Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis, and You are a Badass by Jenn Sincero.   Reading personal development in the morning fills my head with positivity which sets a great tone for the day.

(Side note: I just started reading The 5 AM Club: Own Your Morning Elevate Your Life by Robin Sharma for a little added early-morning motivation!  I’ll keep you posted.)

After I’ve read for about 10-15 minutes, it’s time to brush my teeth, get dressed, + head to work.  My lunch + bags are always packed the night before so it’s easy to grab them and go.  I try to arrive at work about 30-45 minutes before my students arrive so I can make any necessary copies + finish last-minute prep before they arrive.  I also sit down at my computer and open all files we’ll be using that day.  Having everything ready to go before the kids come in the door makes me feel organized, focused, + ready to take on the day!

So that’s it.  I’ve been doing this routine for about two months now and I feel like it’s had a huge impact on my mindset + mental wellness.  I feel more content, fulfilled + just generally happy lately.  I’d say that’s definitely worth getting up a little bit earlier for!

Do you have a morning routine?  I’d love to hear about it!

 

Back to Routine – My Personal Schedule

Recently one of my favourite bloggers, Merrick from Merrick’s Art, shared a post about her daily routine/schedule and it inspired me to create my personal daily schedule.  Merrick is a working stay-at-home mom with a super successful blog and three young boys.  I am the step-mother of two teenagers (one who lives on her own), a full-time elementary school teacher, and part-time Beachbody coach.  Although are day-to-day schedules look very different, I liked the idea of creating a daily schedule.

I was party inspired by my efforts to establish a new morning routine before our return to school in just over a week!  For the last few weeks, I’ve been building a morning workout routine and learning to avoid hitting snooze in order to wake up earlier.  Eventually, I’d like to have this established well enough that I can get my workouts done in the morning before heading off to school.  I know myself, and the longer into the day I wait to do my workout, the less likely I am to do it, especially after an exhausting day of teaching!

I also started thinking about how my day at school is very structured and scheduled.  Every year a great deal of time is spent on timetabling, scheduling, planning, and preparing.  Why not take those skills and apply them to my personal life?!

Not only am I interested in making a personal schedule to make sure I fit everything into my day, but I also think it might prevent me from over-working myself.  For example, if I schedule an hour after school hours for staying and getting caught up on work, then I’m more likely to actually stick to that hour instead of letting it go longer and then running out of time to do the other things I need to get done.  Also, it forces me to include time for things like relaxation, self-care, and family time.

I’m still not exactly sure what my personal schedule will look like when I go back to work, but I am hoping it might look something like this if I can continue training myself to be a morning person (still working on that!)

5:30 am – Alarm goes off – do not hit snooze – change into workout clothes, have coffee and check social media

6:00 am – Beachbody workout – lace up those shoes and press play!

6:30 am – Shower and get ready for work

7:30 am – Make healthy breakfast and/or Shakeology depending on time/mood

7:45 am – Leave for work

7:50 am – Arrive at work – prepare for the school day (set-up, photocopies, marking, prepping)

8:45 am – Students arrive and school day begins (use breaks to check things off to-do list school or Beachbody-related)

3:15 pm – School day ends – students dismissed – tidy up workspace and make preparations for next day

4:00 pm – run errands/ check social media / Beachbody work

5:00 pm – prepare dinner

5:30 pm – eat dinner – clean-up and prepare lunch for next day

6:00 pm – Household chores – sweep, laundry, garbage, etc.

6:30 pm – School and/or Beachbody work

8:00 pm – Relax – read, watch tv, family time

9:00 pm – prepare for bed – brush teeth, wash face, pyjamas, read/journal

9:30 pm – Goodnight!

Do you have a daily schedule or routine that you follow?  What does it look like?  Am I missing anything on mine? I would love to hear from you!

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My Personal Reasons To Exercise: What Are Yours?

Over the years, I have tried many different types of exercise ~ running, Zumba, yoga, weight lifting, rollerblading, walking, biking, cardio classes, dance, cross-country skiing, soccer, baseball, plyometrics, home DVDs… the list goes on!

But when it came to why I exercised, I only ever saw it as a means to an end – a way to lose weight. For most of my adult life I have battled my weight and I learned early on that exercise is a key component to any weight loss endeavour.  So throughout all those years, and many different types of exercise, I always had one goal in mind – If I do this, I will lose weight and if I lose weight I will look better.

Sure, sometimes I also told myself that exericse would make me feel better too, but I don’t think I ever truly paid attention to what that meant.

Until recently…

This past winter was the first time in my thirty-six years of life that I ever realized there is far more to exercise than simply being a tool to lose weight (nevermind the fact that there are far more important things to our health than simply losing weight – that’s another blog all on it’s own) This past winter was about the third year in a row where I noticed a marked difference in my mental state.  As late fall/ winter rolled around, along with it came a dark cloud over my head.  I lost my normal ambition and positive mindset, and felt unmotivated, anxious, and very, very exhausted all the time.  I hated how I felt and it dragged on for months – until summer rolled around.

At one point though, it started to become clear to me that just as my mood and mental state could be linked to the poor weather, it could also be linked to my lack of exercise.  Since then I’ve been doing more research and am reminded again and again that there are myriad reasons to exercise – and that some are far more important in our lives than the size of our waistline!

A couple of the people I have learned this from best are my former Beachbody coach Melanie Watson and a wonderful lady I follow on Instagram (Check her out: moms.can.be.fit – she is such an inspiration!) Both of these incredible woman are constantly preaching the real reasons to work out ~ not just to lose weight (although that can certainly be a positive side effect) but to have the right kind of mindset that will get us through life! Plus, so many other reasons that help us to achieve overall vibrant health.

With this, I started to consider my own personal reasons for working out.  Although I still have weight to lose, this alone hasn’t been enough to motivate me to exericse lately (yes, I’d like to lose some weight but at the same time, I’m sort of comfortable with the weight I am now. Also, I’ve been trying really hard not to focus on my “weight” and to focus on my health so this could be why too….).

But what got me started back to exercising this morning, after being off again for a couple of weeks, was the realization that just around the corner is back-to-school/ work!  Whether I like to admit it or not, I am about to enter a season where the lazy days of summer are going to come to an abrupt end and our days will be filled to the max with schedules, work, and responsibilities.  (I’m also preparing myself for a challenging year as I will have thirty sixth-graders which is the most kids I’ve ever had in a class!)

I know that the best way for me to handle the upcoming challenges of back-to-school/work (combined with some other challenges happening in our personal lives), is to get into a regular workout routine. That led me to start thinking about all my personal reasons for working out.  You’ll see that losing weight is on the list but there’s now so much more to it than that.  I hope that when I feel the urge to skip a workout or fall off the wagon next time, I can look to this list to keep myself on track!

My Personal Reasons To Exercise

1. Happy endorphins!

2. Mental clarity and focus!

3. To feel proud of myself!

4. Mental strength!

5. Positive mindset!

6. To gain physical strength and to feel strong!

7. So I don’t feel lazy! (A feeling I loathe)

8. It motivates me to make better food choices!

9. It gives me way more energy ~ I hate the feeling of constant exhaustion!

10. To lose and/or maintain weight

11. To overcome challenges (see: mental focus!)

12. To prove to myself that I can do what I couldn’t do before ( physically and/or mentally)

13. To make some things in life easier (ie. climbing stairs, walking long distances on hot/humid days)

14. To be overall healthy, vibrant, and positive!

15. To have confidence!

16.  To look good in cute clothes!

17. To like what I see in the mirror!

18. To feel accomplished!

19. To be an inspiration to others!

20. To be an inspiration to myself!

Are there other reasons you would add to this list?  I’d love to hear them! 

 

 

Lesson Learned: Listen to your Gut

I have a confession:  I have not been taking care of myself lately and now I am paying the ultimate price. As I sit here and write this, I am in a lot of discomfort and some pain that could probably have been avoided.  Here’s why:

Several months ago, I visited my naturopathic doctor who gave me a nutrition plan to help heal my ulcerative colitis.  The plan is very Paleo-like and was developed after I had food sensitivity and blood work done.  Basically, according to her instructions, I am supposed to eliminate all eggs, dairy, wheat, gluten, peanuts, corn, white potatoes, legumes, and sugar from my diet.  This, along with some supplements she’s prescribed, are supposed to help repair the damage done to my intestinal wall, decrease the amount of bad bacteria in my gut while increasing the amount of good bacteria, and get rid of the inflammation that causes the terrible symptoms of ulcerative colitis.

I followed the plan for a few weeks (with a few minor cheats and treats here and there).  But over the course of the last month, I’ve pretty much gone completely off my nutrition plan.  I’ve been eating whatever I want and if you know me, that’s nothing healthy.  There’s been ice cream (and lots of it), bread (and lots of it), fast food, chips, crackers, diet pop…. the list goes on.  And because, up until this point, it didn’t seem to be having too much negative effect on me, I kept it up.

Over the last couple of days in particular, I have eaten very poorly.  We got some upsetting news the other day and I’ve been using that as my excuse to eat junk.  And now I am paying for it…

Last night when I went to bed, I felt the old familiar pains of indigestion (a tight, painful squeezing feeling in my upper abdomen) and was also a tad bit nauseous.  I prayed that these pains would not send me into a full-out stomach attack like they’ve done in the past, where I am crying on the floor in cold sweats and excruciating pain caused by severe indigestion.  Fortunately, I was able to fall asleep and slept pretty well throughout the night.

This morning when I woke up though, I could still feel tiny hints of the indigestion although it wasn’t nearly as bad as last night.  I went about getting my day started.  Then all of a sudden, I got terrible stomach pains and a bit of nausea and had to hurry to the bathroom.  Without going into too many gruesome details, let’s just say it was not a fun experience.  It was very painful and when finished, the toilet bowl was full of blood (sorry).  This has not happened in a quite some time and I was devastated. Now the bottom end of my digestive tract is very sore and irritated, not a pleasant feeling.

As much as I hate to admit this, I had this coming.  I was foolish and had myself convinced that since I wasn’t really experiencing any of my typical UC symptoms, I could eat whatever I wanted.  Having a “treat” here and there led to a full-out free-for-all.  And now, my UC symptoms seems to be back (at least for now) in full vegeance and I am paying the price.

I am writing this for a couple of reasons.  First, I want to be able to look back on it to give myself that much-needed reminder about why it is so important for me to stick to a healthy eating plan.  I know I will get too comfortable again, but hopefully by coming back to this, I can more clearly remember the awful physical pain that it puts my body through and prevent myself from going too far off track.  It is so important for me to track my foods (something I have stopped doing recently) and to pay better attention to the physical and mental reactions to the foods I eat.  This isn’t just about trying to lose weight to look good anymore, this is my health, and I don’t know why I keep playing with fire….

Secondly, I want to spread the message to others that what we put in our bodies really does affect us in so many ways!  Sometimes, we may not see or feel the physical results of feeding our body unhealthy foods, but they are there!  Don’t be like me and wait until your body is unhealthy and you are in pain to make the change.  We need to start getting people everywhere to nourish their bodies.  Too many of us (myself very much included) eat for pleasure or to comfort ourselves.  We only choose our foods based on how they taste and not on how they are going to affect our body and our overall health.

As painful as it was, I think this is the wakeup call I needed this morning.  Unfortunately, I need to remember this feeling so that I can have a constant reminder of how important it is to follow the food plan that is going to help heal my body.  I need to be patient enough and to trust that when I make these changes, I will feel a positive effect (more energy, clearer skin, healthy bowel movements, slimmer waistline, etc.) It’s hard to be patient when you’re making these changes, but if we don’t do it, we end up back where we started, which in my case, is painful and unhealthy.