How often do we think about our body as either a baby-making factory or something that needs to snap back into pre-baby shape? We are either feeding our bodies to feed our growing babies, or trying to morph it into something it resembled before a human incubated inside of it. What if instead, you focused on nourishing your body?
Time to Focus on Self
This is what I thought to myself as I pushed a double stroller filled with about 50 pounds of baby around my neighborhood.
To say I wasn’t feeling my best would be an understatement.
Psoriasis, fatigue, bloating, and more. My body was just feeling out of control, and as a result, I was emotionally wrought as well.
I had no grip on what the hell was happening in my body because I had no grip on what I was feeding my body. The idea of nourishing your body wasn’t even in my lexicon.
Plus, besides taking care of the kids, I got almost literally no exercise (hence throwing myself into pushing the double stroller any and every where). While I don’t want to speak ill of myself, the truth is that I was kind of feeling like a slob. A couch potato. A hermit. An eater of all the foods.
It came on slowly. I quit smoking and fulfilled those cravings with food instead. Then winter came with all the typical holiday foods combined with being cooped up inside in the cold. It was brutal.
You know the mind and body are inextricably linked, right? What’s happening in our body impacts our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and vice versa.
It’s so easy to get caught in these loops of unhealth and dis-ease. You eat like crap, which makes your body feel like crap, and you emotionally feel like crap because due to not being nourished properly.
Not to mention, you know you “should” be eating healthfully, and aren’t, so the guilt and shame start to creep in. Then you say screw it, and pull out another piece of that Christmas cheesecake or the kids’ leftover Halloween candy and drown your sorrows in food.
I know I’m not the only one who does this, right? Even if your story doesn’t sound *exactly* like mine, I bet you can relate to some aspect.
While I do compare our bodies to cars in the last post about self-care, we are not literally machines. We are not perfect. We have all kinds of things that come up and derail us from nourishing our bodies.
So while I did give myself a little grace, and not go too hard on my lack of attention to my body, a change was needed.
Making Realistic Changes
At the age of 32, I’m still fairly young, but I can tell my body is changing and the choices I make have a much greater impact on my body and mood than they once did.
I mean… two glasses of wine and I’m hungover the next day, even though I used to be able to pound shots and six-packs of beer in my early 20’s then get up and go to work the next day. (Oh how times have changed)
Completely overhauling my diet and exercise has never worked for me. I LOVE food. I mean even when I’m not emotionally eating and then hating myself for it, I just love to eat. It’s a sport, a hobby, a pastime, a love for me. I’m not particularly interested in taking certain foods off the table or completely abstaining.
The point here wasn’t to starve myself and get super skinny. I was in the middle of developing a self-LOVE practice as well as a self-care practice. That’s why I wanted to characterize this as nourishing your body vs. going on some diet and exercise routine.
Not only is this about helping your body feel good so that you feel good emotionally too and are able to be at your best for yourself and your kids, but this is also about learning to love yourself when you get a little off track, not punish yourself.
With wellbeing as the goal, I was able to approach this with a new mindset. Instead of thinking “I need to lose X amount of pounds,” I actually sat down and wrote out a list of things that make me feel good. Some of them are more spiritual and we will get that in the next post. Others were basics like getting more sleep, which I discussed here.
Two of the biggest things on that list were feeling like my clothes fit well, meaning I’m not bloating, and just a little thinner, and I also get outside and exercise every day. (Even when it is freezing out!)
First was to decide on a diet, or rather, a system of nourishing my body. (Diet sounds so… well you know…)
I thought back to the summer before.
In the summer of 2018, I was at the lightest I had been in a long long time. I realized that I had been eating in a more intuitive way. To be honest, I devoured cheeseburgers and sweet potato fries a lot of afternoons followed up by a piece of strawberry pie from a local restaurant I loved. Yet, I still felt better and was lighter.
But what I mean by more intuitive was that I didn’t eat unless I was actually hungry.
My mind clicked and I remembered seeing a bunch of people posting about intermittent fasting, which I realized was also what I was doing.
I have never been into eating breakfast every day. I just never felt that hungry in the mornings. I preferred to wait to eat until noon or soon after.
However, I had gotten into the habit of eating as soon as I got up in the morning, and eating a lot! It wasn’t because I was actually hungry. It was because I was bored and my twins had been getting me up at 4am. Eating was something to do to pass the time and make the early rising feel a little more palatable.
A New Way of Eating
I decided to cut that out and give intermittent fasting a try. Besides knowing that I had naturally done it for years without knowing the name for it, I also found that there was a lot of research pointing to it being excellent for your health in many ways.
There are a few different methods of intermittent fasting, but I kept it super simple. I decided to only eat between the hours of 12 pm and 8 pm. This is what I had always naturally felt was right for my body, and it was an easy rule to follow, and the best part is that during that time I ate whatever the hell I wanted!
Hello burgers, fries, pizza, meatballs, all the pasta, and more!
Most of the food I consume is homecooked and organic. So I really don’t monitor what exactly I am eating, as long as I only eat during the hours I have set up for myself. The basic point of intermittent fasting is to give your body time to clear out all the food you’ve already eaten before filling it back up again the next day.
When I do this, I feel so much better! I might feel occasionally hungry in the morning, and if I really feel famished and like my body NEEDS food ASAP, then I feed it. (Remember this is about nourishing your body, not punishing it.)
But for the most part, I stick to drinking water and coffee in the morning and then eat a good lunch around noon.
The other thing I knew I needed was not just exercise, but to get outside.
I tried to go to the gym. I really did. I got a membership to the YMCA where I take my kids for swim lessons and gymnastics. They have child watch hours where your kids can play with the other kids while all the mamas get their workouts in.
The first day was great! I was able to go to a yoga class, but ever since, my twins have come down with extreme cases of separation anxiety and literally cry the entire time they are there.
Let’s just say it isn’t very easy to relax and focus on your downward dog while you know your kids are screaming their heads off.
My only real option for exercise is something that includes my kids. So walking and hiking it is. Not to mention it gets me into nature, which is essential for my well-being.
For most humans, we are seriously in need of connection with nature. Plus, many of us are vitamin D deficient! So getting out into nature helps us connect and some sunny D. You’re nourishing your body and soul when you’re outside.
The thing is that creating a new routine of getting exercise every day, and sometimes multiple times a day is not my forté.
That’s why, when I began to focus on getting exercise, I decided to pull out a tool that worked wonders in the past, my BellaBeat Leaf.
Not only is it totally cute, but it works and comes with an app that tracks steps, exercise, sleep, meditation, water intake, and your period! It’s the perfect all in one health tracker for women.
With my trusty Leaf in hand, I set my goal to simply to walk 10,000 steps per day.
At first, that seemed like a lot, but once I started tracking daily it really wasn’t too hard to accomplish. Besides the normal walking around the house and doing errands, I just did a morning and an evening walk with the kids.
My regular loop is just about one-mile roundtrip, so I was walking about 2 miles per day in addition to my regular daily activities.
And the results?
This isn’t one of those shocking “I lost 50 pounds in a month” kinds of posts.
I DID lose some weight. About 5-7 pounds so far over the course of a few months. But the transformation here isn’t about the weight or how I look. The transformation here is about how I FEEL.
Physically I feel stronger. I feel capable and like my body is working for me instead of me feeling like a slave to my cravings and various small health issues.
Emotionally I just feel lighter and happier. Of course, I have been doing a lot of self-love and spiritual work, which I’ll discuss soon, but as I said above, your body and mind/soul/spirit are interconnected. So the focus I’ve put on nourishing my body and ensuring that it is well cared for has helped me make a shift emotionally as well.
In the past, when I wanted to make changes to my diet and exercise routines, it was all about the external. It was about having a flat tummy, getting rid of cellulite, etc.
At this point though, I am learning to love my body as it is and accepting it as it is.
I was very clear with myself from the beginning of this journey that any external changes in my body were not necessary. What mattered was that I was doing what I knew to be healthy for my body, and as long as I felt good, that’s what mattered.
And I do. I feel good.
Do I have days where I don’t feel confident in my body? Do I have days where I start eating as soon as I wake up and have midnight snacks? Of course! This is actually an important component. Understanding that some days I will get off track either purposefully (like a girls’ night) or because I am eating my feelings allows me to show compassion towards myself and my body, which ironically makes it easier to get back on track when I’m off.
But I also look at those days that get off track as a signpost. They are an indication that something is happening internally. There is something happening emotionally that needs tended too. So I go ahead and let myself enjoy that giant bowl of buttered noodles and glass of Pinot Grigio at 10 pm, then the next day I sit down at my desk, light a candle and write in my journal until I can clear whatever feelings are causing me to get off track.
And it isn’t as if the times I’ve gotten off course are few and far between or they are only one day. No. I’ve had entire weeks that I was far from perfect. Eating whenever, whatever, and not exercising.
But to be honest, I just embraced it. I decided that my body must need extra rest and nourishment, so may as well go with it while remaining in tune physically and emotionally so that when the time felt right, I jumped back into my routines. (I mean… menstruation happens and I’m definitely up for more rest and more chocolate during those times.)
Again, I may sound like a broken record, but the idea is that you are nourishing your body, not punishing it. So at every point, even when you’ve fallen well off the wagon, it is all about figuring out why and perhaps it is even a GOOD thing that you did.
Reassessment is important. What you decided was important for you 2 months ago or even a week ago may not be relevant anymore. So take these moments to just chill and love on yourself even more.
Self-care as a mom is essential. You are sure your children are nourishing their bodies with what you provide. Time to do the same for yourself, mama.
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