It’s been a heck of a week.
My youngest had a birthday a week ago, so much of the weekend before last was spent celebrating the anniversary of her birth. Which, honestly, how is my youngest 14? In the words of Ralph Wiggum, “That’s unpossible!”
We went straight from slumber party and birthday dinner into a crazy week getting ready for my oldest’s wedding. This would have been crazy under normal circumstances, but because we always level up in this house, my husband was traveling all week and came home with the flu, both of which added a layer of stress to my week. And after the wedding, we shared grandson duty with our new daughter-in-law’s parents. (I must note here: Considering that one has almost no control over the in-laws our children bestow upon us, we could not have possibly lucked out any more than we did with this first set of in-laws. My daughter-in-law’s parents are two of the most lovely people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.)
So phew! It’s been a week. The wee one went home this afternoon, and I have been trying to get to my computer ever since to post today, because I have to share with you all…
It was two years ago today that I started this journey to better health–mostly physical, but mental, emotional, and spiritual as well. I’ve been exercising consistently now for two years, and I can honestly say that I’m in the best shape of my life–and I’ll be 50 this year! I doubt that I could have run a mile in high school, and now I can run eight or more–in one session, no less! In fact, I have broken an 8-minute mile, and I plan to run a half-marathon this year.
As far as weight, I met my goal of 150 pounds back in May 2018, and I’ve been inching downward ever since. It bounces around a lot–mostly due to hormones, I think–but the general trend is still downward. This morning, I was 143.4. I would love to eventually see the 130s, but I’m not too stressed about it. I’m holding steady, and I’m wearing size 6 and 8, mostly (sometimes 4, sometimes 10, depending on the brand/designer). If I can just stay somewhere generally between 140 and 145, I am satisfied with that.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what made the difference this time. As I’ve mentioned before, my usual pattern with exercise and diet is to stay on track for a short while and then fall off the wagon and go right back to old habits. This is the longest I’ve ever consistently exercised. This is the longest I’ve ever consistently logged my food in a journal (current streak: 519 days, and the only time I ever break my streak is when we’re camping and I can’t get a signal for my phone).
So what’s changed?
Well, for one thing, my kids are older. It’s easier to get a workout in. This point was driven home to me earlier today when finding time to work out was deemed impossible. My husband was home, but since he’s still recovering from the flu, he didn’t really seem quite up to chasing a two-year-old. And with the aunties and uncle at school, I was It for childcare. That’s not an issue with my kids, really. I can say, “I’m going for a run” and just… well, go for a run. (I did get a good run in yesterday when there were four other people here to chase the toddler.)
I would say I also put less stress on myself to be perfect with diet or exercise. If I have a craving, I indulge it. If I have a crappy workout, I shake it off and do better the next day. If I’m sick or tired or just not feeling it, I take it easy on myself with active rest. I’m not in this to be a world class athlete. I’m just trying not to die prematurely.
But the thing that I think has really made the difference is habit. I’ve been diligent to make exercise a habit. The diet… That kind of just took care of itself as I started logging food. It was making exercise a (mostly) non-negotiable in my day that resulted in this consistency.
Back in 2017, I created a list of five things that I was going to do every day to get myself back on track.
- Eat breakfast
- Take supplements (vitamins and herbal supplement for mood)
- Read my Bible
(Knit/crochet was kind of a soft #6; I knew I needed to do it, but I was already doing a fair amount of it, so I just tried to make time for it. It wasn’t hard.)
Those five things were the keys to clawing my way out of depression. I knew that much. Showering and eating made me feel adult and human. Exercise improved my mood. The supplements helped long-term. Reading my Bible gave me peace.
My best friend kept me accountable–“Did you do the things?” she would ask every day. Yes, I did the things. When something threatened to derail me, she would remind me to “do the things.” When I woke up in a downward spiral, she would remind me to “do the things.” When I told her the demons were loud, she’d tell me to shut them up by “doing the things.”
Do the things. Do the things. Do the things.
It became a mantra, of sorts.
There is a kind of rhythm in habits, a familiar drumbeat to our patterns of obedience. I was obedient to my list. I was obedient to God by reading my Bible. I was obedient to my body by feeding it what it craved–better food, movement, basic hygiene. And every act of obedience pulled the bootstraps a little firmer, a little tighter, a little higher.
This is not to say I achieved this all by my own strength. Not at all. I credit my bestie for keeping me accountable. She is the Ethel to my Lucy, the Betty to my Wilma, the Shirley to my Laverne. I credit my husband for sticking beside me and loving me when I was profoundly unlovable.
But mostly, I credit Jesus for giving me the strength to recognize what needed doing and then giving me the strength to do it.
These two years have not been easy. The first six months or so, I battled demons, depression, and my own sedentary nature. Since then, I’ve battled crazy schedules, vacations, busy seasons, injury, illness, and my own sedentary nature. That sedentary nature of mine… Sir Isaac Newton said it best when he pointed out that an object at rest stays at rest… (You know the rest.)
When I wrote about year one on last January 22, I asked where I wanted to be on January 22, 2019. I never came up with a satisfactory answer to that last year. But this year, I think I know. When January 22, 2020 rolls around, I know what habits I want to have in place.
- Regular prayer
- Daily fiction writing
- Better sleep hygiene
- Less alcohol in my diet
- More reading in my day
- Better control over my screen habits (get over the electronic time wasters!)
- Less sugar in my diet
- More uplifting language
- Daily knitting or crocheting
Those are the habits I’m going to tackle this year. This list is a pretty tall order, I grant you. I’m going to blog about each one in turn as I work on it. I’m working on #1; I’ll be blogging about that in a week or so.
In the meantime… Habit #2 is calling, so I’m off to work on Unquickened for a while. With the wedding and the grandson, it’s been a few days since I added any words. Off to remedy that situation….