Self-Care Revisited (a.k.a Practice What You Preach)
If you haven’t heard, I recently launched this sweet little book where I share life lessons that I learned when I was blindsided by an unexpected outcome. I wrote from my perspective of a mother of a child with medical fragility but I am hearing more and more from my readers that this book should be read by everyone. I agree. EVERYONE needs to read my book.
I spent a lot of time writing about self-care because as caregivers we cannot afford to be unwell or to get entrenched in the bad habits that could eventually lead to our demise. I was obsessed with my own self-care and health from the day Meredith was born. I knew that I had to be well in mind, body and spirit if I was going to provide care to her for the long haul. Over the last 11 1/2 years, I have had periods of time where I have slacked off or simply couldn’t do all of the things that I knew would support my system because I was too exhausted and stressed to head out for an exercise class or make a healthy breakfast when two gigantic mugs of coffee with heavy cream and sugar seemed to do the trick. And really, is there anything wrong with eating toast and peanut butter for dinner and crackers and hummous for lunch??
In the short term, no. There isn’t anything wrong with getting through the day (or the night) however you see fit. If you have parented like I have, you know all about survival mode. In fact, anyone who has been a parent knows about survival mode. Parents like me, get stuck in that mode for months and even years in a row.
On page 27 of my book, I write:
“If you are further along on the road and have evaluated your own self-care practices only to discover a very low score, it is never too late. Even small changes can yield big results in the long run, such as resilience, a strong immune system, a happier mood and a greater ability to cope with stress. The more you care for yourself, the easier and more natural it becomes………..Practice preventative healthcare so that you do not crumble under the strain of the realities of your life. It is more than possible, it is a necessity and the choice is up to you. Begin now.”
This is where ‘practicing what you preach’ rears its persistent head. I have been slacking in the self care department for a while now. I generally eat whole foods and feel relatively good. The problem is that I have also become somewhat of a sloth and have gotten into the habit of consuming a daily glass or two of wine. I know, I know…….not the worst things I could do but for me and the way my body operates, this “health” regime isn’t cutting it. I am carrying a round many extra pounds and realize that some of my ailments like excruciatingly painful periods probably have to do with a hormonal system that isn’t quite up to par. I know for a fact that starting my day with that glorious hot beverage of coffee (don’t forget the cream and sugar) and ending it with that even more glorious beverage of red wine (or two) is not helping an already over taxed system.
The most interesting thing to me is that the moment we exhaled and settled into the fact that Meredith was fully engaged in a stable, somewhat predictable phase of her life (the first one!), our self-care habits flew right out the window…..almost immediately. It was like we, too, could relax and ease up on the pressures we had placed on ourselves in an attempt to stay healthy and vibrant even in the midst of the stress we were under. And we jumped in to those bad habits with both feet; making up for lost time it seemed. We are starting to get the feeling that these days are winding down and life as we know it will change in the coming months and not in a good way. I know that there are big battles ahead and that we again, will need to be in tip top shape to handle them.
So, I did what any reasonable person would do. I signed up for a 12 week tune -up and balancing program offered by a local integrative health centre. Today is Day 1 of 30 days following the Whole30 program which will be followed by a re-introduction of the foods that might be wreaking havoc on my system. I already know the culprits but choose to ingest them anyway no matter how rotten they make me feel over the long run. Starting today, those culprits have been denied access to my body. Finally the last 30 days is about making this a lifestyle change and maintaining the healthy status I will eventually return to in a matter of 12 weeks. Did I mention I have signed a contract and will be monitored by a Naturopath, a Nutritionist, a Personal Trainer and a Mindfulness Coach? I have had to commit to attend one group meeting each week where different topics are discussed like impact of stress and the role of hormones in our bodies. And finally, I have to attend two bootcamp-type classes per week. I will now be held accountable because I have signed a contract and I have written a blog post so there is no turning back now.
It is humbling to admit that sometimes we need to get on board and practice what we have been preaching. It’s okay to fall off the wagon. The main thing is you eventually get back on not only for YOU but for those you love.