Health Efforts Not Adding Up? There May Be More to it Than Diet & Fitness.
Like many people, I started 2018 off with a hangover — followed by a flu virus that drained nearly all my energy for a week, and then an annoying lingering cough. That wasn't fun. But I quickly started to notice something great once I was feeling better. Many things, actually: I was starting to sleep great almost every night, I was experiencing way less bloating and digestive discomfort than usual, my body was toning up faster and more easily, I was actually consistently looking forward to my workouts (even cardio!), my skin was the clearest it's ever been and for the longest it's ever been, and overall my mood was fantastic.
Coming out of that nasty flu virus and feeling all these amazingly positive symptoms, it was as if I shed all the negative of 2017 and the years before it, and this shedding was showing up inside and outside of my body. The best part is most of these positive symptoms are still lasting, and I find myself wondering what the catch is and how long it will last. It's made me reflect on what I've been doing differently to encourage these results. Here's what I suspect:
I shed the guilt and shame around what I was (or wasn't) eating. If I feel like ice cream, I have some ice cream — remembering that said ice cream is just a handful of calories, sugar and fat in the grand scheme of my life's caloric intake. No more making myself feel bad, because my body is smart as hell and I know that when I make myself feel bad, my brain sends the message to my gut and then it's like the emergency alarms start going off in my body. I really believe that's what causes the stomach ache, bloating, headache, breakouts, etc. and not the single bowl of ice cream itself. If I were eating a bowl of ice cream every day, then I'd have a real problem.
I started saying no to things I don't want to do. "Want to go see a ballet?" No, sorry, ballet isn't my thing but you have a great time and thanks for thinking of me! Super easy and it's nothing personal. This is huge as it's saved me time, stress, money and energy. Instead, I've been spending my time on the things that I truly enjoy and add value to my life, like that thing called "hobbies" (Whaaat, people still have those?).
I stopped putting energy into the relationships that were causing unnecessary stress, frustration or disappointment and that didn't make me feel appreciated, and I released the attachment to what others thought of me and whether friendships would last. When I did this I got a real sense of who truly cares and is meant to be in my life by who noticed that I stopped initiating the friendship and then started reaching out to me first. I can confidently say the people I'm surrounded by most in my life right now add positive energy, celebrate 100% of me and make me feel loved.
I started eating better and exercising more regularly and intensely because it makes me feel good, and stopped seeing it as a burden or "have-to." In addition so this shift in my mindset, I also started working with a personal trainer. This can be a steep financial investment and is so worth it because it's the ultimate accountability system for your fitness goals. After working consistently with a trainer for about 3 months I'm more educated on what I should and shouldn't be doing, and am feeling and seeing amazing results.
I started making sleep a bigger priority and stopped trying to force myself to go to bed or wake up at certain times. I know this isn't easy for those who don't have a flexible work schedule, but even if you can start going to bed a little bit earlier every night for some extra shuteye, it can make a big difference. And grant yourself permission to sleep in on weekends if you can!
I stopped trying to control everything in my life. This is still a work in progress for me since I have a perfectionist personality (or "high standards" as my friend kindly worded it). I realized it's a battle that I'll almost always lose because, realistically, life is out of my control. I have bigger and better things to spend my thoughts and energy on than ensuring the coffee table is perfectly parallel to the couch and that the apartment gets vacuumed every single week.
I started getting in the habit of getting something off my chest as soon as possible. I used to be the kind of person that bottle up my issues out of fear of confrontation and stirring things up. I can only imagine how much that must have contributed to my stress levels and feeling of ill health. Yes, the thought of confronting someone can be scary and there's always the risk of hurting their feelings, but if they care about you they wouldn't want you to hold back and you'll both feel so much better after everything's out on the table.
So what's been working out for you so far in 2018? What conscious or unconscious changes have you made that are starting to create positive effects in your life? I'd love to know!
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