I’m about ready to assault you with 2000 words on me, myself and I, but first, this post needs a preface.
I’ve talked about this before, but I think it’s worth mentioning again—I loathe the comparison trap that comes from the concept of busy. Busy is a completely relative thing. And by saying, “Oh my gosh, I’m so busy” and then listing out all the things that you’re busy with, it’s only meant to do one of two things—make yourself feel better about your stress level or make others feel bad about theirs. But the truth is, your busy might be a total walk in the park for me. And my busy might be total insanity for the next person. And the bottom line is, none of that matters, because it doesn’t negate our feelings. Just because I’m not as busy as the next woman, doesn’t mean I feel any less stress or pressure than her. If I feel busy, I am busy. And if the next woman feels busy, she’s busy. Even if our definitions of busy are totally different.
And the award for the most times the word busy has been used in one paragraph goes to…
So what’s this rambling preface all about? Well, even though I hate to use the b-word, the truth is, I’ve felt really overwhelmingly busy for a few months now. I’m usually the type that thrives on a (self-perceived) packed schedule, but something different has been bubbling up to the surface over the past few months. Instead of feeling productive and successful and energized by my life, I just feel tired. And I definitely don’t feel my best.
The interesting thing about it all is, even in the realm of my own life, I’m really not all that busy right now. Sure, I have quite a few balls in the air, but I’ve had much more chaotic stretches in my life—and I came out the other side—so why is this relatively tame period in my life causing me so much anxiety?
I’ve been thinking a lot about it, and I think the difference is—I’ve stopped making myself a priority. If I’m being totally honest, I’m kinda lost when it comes to taking care of me and my health lately. I moved last year and quit my job earlier this year, and I’m not sure I ever really took the time to figure out how fitness, healthy eating, and self-care really fit into my new lifestyle. I’ve been so focused on getting our house in order and making sure business is good, I haven’t really noticed that the amount of effort I put into myself has plummeted.
And I think putting myself so low on my priority list is what’s starting to make my not-too-crazy to-do list feel totally insurmountable. Everything feels more difficult because I haven’t been managing the simplest aspects of my life. I no longer have a strong foundation to build my life on. It’s like I’m trying to stack all these to-dos and projects on top of a wobbly shelf made of toothpicks. Sure, it holds for a while, but eventually, it’s all going to come crashing down. And I don’t want to get to that point.
So, it’s time to recommit to me. Recommit to taking care of myself. Recommit to my physical and emotional health. I’m not talking about losing weight or signing up for a marathon or anything like that. I’m talking about taking a bunch of small actions everyday that pile up and make me feel better about myself. It’s what I used to do. It’s what used to make me feel like I could conquer the world.
What I need—a plan. I love a good plan.
Without a doubt, fitness is (and has always been) the arena of healthy living I struggle with the most. Because of country living, I’m definitely not inactive, but I’m also not as active as I’d like to be. Every day, I’m up and doing something—pulling weeds or shoveling compost or planting bulbs (what I did this weekend), but as good as those chores have been for giving me a baseline fitness level, they don’t replace the feeling of strength and health I got when I was really focusing on intentional fitness. Plus, as the first frost nears, so does the end of many of those outdoor chores. And, if I work really hard during the “off-season,” I can come back in the spring and be the strongest compost shoveler ever.
In regards to fitness, I seem to thrive the most when I keep my plans simple. The fact is, I’ve never loved working out, and I probably never will, so making a plan that includes marathon gym sessions and boot camp classes isn’t going to be sustainable for me. I want to push myself, but I also want to make sure I set up an achievable plan. Here’s what I’m thinking:
- Walking/Hiking—3x per week: When I first started getting healthy, walking was my drug of choice. I used to not think it was healthy enough, so I tried pushing myself to do other, more intense, forms of exercise, but always came back to walking (and it’s more scenic cousin, hiking). And thanks to the rolling (and some not-so-rolling) hills of where I live, walking is actually a crazy good workout. None of that flat city sidewalk stuff.
- Yoga—2x per week: I have never really been into yoga, until I discovered how easy and relaxing it can be do it at home with podcasts (and the Yoga Studio app—it’s amazing). I think I could really benefit from a regular yoga practice, even if it’s only a 20 minute session.
- Intense Exercise—1x per week: I’m not much of an intense exerciser anymore, but I do think I could benefit (cardiovascularly, muscularly, and emotionally) from a bit of more intense exercise each week. This will switch up depending on what I’m feeling. I might take a Zumba class. I might head to the gym for a kettlebell session. Heck, I might even run a 5K (might).
As much as I’d love to claim that my diet as of late has been on point, I can’t. I struggle a lot with cooking and eating during the day. I’m so guilty of just running to the kitchen and grabbing the closest thing so I can get back to the project I was working on. On days when Craig is off from work, I do such a great job of creating meals and sitting down and eating them, but I’m not affording myself that same luxury when it’s just me.
When I was working in an office job, I used mealtimes to signal the movement of the day. I’d keep a close eye on the clock for snack times and lunch time—and I rarely missed a mealtime. But now that I actually enjoy my workday? It’s hard to remember to clock out for those all-important mealtimes. I really need to bring my focus back to mealtime and actually tasting and enjoying my food. A plan of attack:
- Restore Mealtimes: I want to start making mealtime mean something again. That means no more eating at my desk. No more grabbing a handful of crackers from the pantry. It means using plates and bowls and forks like a real adult. I can spare 30-45 minutes of my day for lunch. I can.
- Focus on the Plants + Proteins: Another work-from-home shift in my diet—I’m now the queen of carbs. Back when I was packing my lunch everyday for work, I made sure to have a nice, balanced lot of food for the day. But with my more grab-and-go style of eating lately, it seems the easiest things to grab and go are carby-carb-carbs. I think carbs are awesome. I think carbs are great for us. I don’t think a diet of primarily carbs is great for us (especially when you spend 8+ hours sitting at a desk). I want to focus more on getting lots of fruit, veggies and protein in my life—along with some healthy fats and whole grain carbs.
- Less Booze + Sugar: I’m not a heavy drinker, but I do drink more beer than I’d like. I love the taste of beer. I love trying new beers. But I don’t need to do that everyday. And sugar? My gosh, sugar’s stronghold in my life has come back with a vengeance. I gotta slowly step myself off the juice. I’m not about to cut beer or sugar out of my life completely (I enjoy them too much to even think that), but I do think I need to be more judicious with my consumption. I feel my best when I’m keeping my alcohol, sugar, and caffeine intake in check.
When you first start working for yourself, everyone warns you about this, but it’s hard to really understand it until you’re in it—drawing the line between work and life is really, really difficult. That’s both the blessing and the curse of being your own boss. It means you can do things like go pick apples in the middle of the day on a Tuesday. But it also means you might work until midnight on Sunday. I’ve done a lot of things to help draw the line. I have an office (which I try to only use for work stuff). I try to stop working when Craig gets home from work. But I’m still not great at setting aside me time and family time. And, honestly, that’s understandable while I’m still working out the kinks of being my own boss, but now that I’m a little more settled, it’s time to set some self-care ground rules.
I also struggle a lot with putting off the normal self-care tasks (doing my hair, shaving my legs, getting enough rest) in order to rush to knock off other “more important” items on my to-do list. I feel my best when I’ve taken care of myself. And I accomplish more when I feel my best. So it’s just as important to get those things done as it is to eat breakfast or get in a workout. My plan to take care of myself a bit better:
- Afternoons Off—2x per week: I’ve tried to institute “take a day off” rules before, and they just aren’t realistic for me. The truth is, if a client emails me with a question, I’m going to answer it—even if it’s on my “day off.” So instead, I’m going to try to do afternoons off. I can work really hard in the morning, and then take the afternoon off, away from the computer to rest and relax. That gives me a nice chunk of time to read or watch a movie, without feeling like I’m totally shucking my responsibilities.
- Me Project—1x per month: One of the things that sucks with pumping so much time into my new career is that the other fun projects and hobbies I want to pursue have pretty much been packed away in a box and stashed in the corner. I used to sew! And knit! And make quilts! I haven’t done a fun, just for me project in longer than I can remember. I need that no-strings-attached (pun, hardy-har-har) creative release that comes with tackling sewing a new quilt or knitting a new scarf.
- Disconnect Day—1x per month: I’m pretty good about going technology-free a few times a month (mostly when I’m working out in the garden all day), but I think I could be better at it. And I think going the extra step to disconnect entirely will really go a long way to rejuvenate me. Hey, maybe I’ll work on my Me Project on Disconnect Day!
- Set a Morning Routine: One has started developing, but nothing nearly as rigid as what I had when I was working. I’ve found that I crave the morning routine to really get my day started off on the right foot. Just because I’m don’t leave the house doesn’t mean I should skip brushing my hair or changing out of jammies.
I’m hoping that with a recommitment to the basics of my healthy life, I can find some of the peace that comes with being a fit, healthy person again. The great thing about life is that few things are ever final, so even though I may feel a little lost about my health and fitness right now, I have the ability and resources to change that. And I’m really excited to jump back on board the healthy train!