Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Intentionality in Taking Care of Yourself

Flat Stanley Getting His Veggies On
  Hey, who loves to work out, eat right, and get enough sleep?  I do, but it doesn't always happen.  If you go to a mall and sit for ten minutes watching the people who walk by you can see that it doesn't always happen in the lives of others, either.  Why not?

I think it comes down to a combination of a few possible reasons:

1. Ignorance
2. Busyness
3. Laziness
4. It seems too hard and overwhelming.
5. Guilt

Any of these strike a chord?  I think I have spent time with each of these possibilities as one time or another, but what I have found over the years is that I don't have a choice.  Well I do actually have a choice to either take care of myself or not, but really if I want to live well is there really a choice?

So if the desire is there, where does one start?  I think that dealing with the ignorance part will help with the rest of it.  I suggest starting with the food you eat.  Do you look at the ingredients in the foods you buy?  Start with one or two ingredients that you want to get away from.  My suggestion: Work on cutting out high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.

High fructose corn syrup, despite the catchy ads, is a chemically altered sweetener that is in a lot of foods.  Your body uses it and responds differently to it than natural sweeteners such as raw, unfiltered honey.  Less refined sugars such as evaporated cane juice, turbinado, and natural sweeteners such as honey, or natural maple syrup, stevia, and rebiana (there are others, too) are much better.  Actually my company has a great natural sweetener which you can check out here.

If there are hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils in a food, then there is also trans fat.  Trans fat is no good for the heart, and to put it in the words of a professor my cousin studied under, "I'd rather smoke a pack of cigarettes than eat something that has trans fat in it."  That should speak volumes.

So what do you do?  Your favorite snacks and foods have those two items in them!  Have no fear, there are so many healthier options out there that often even taste like the foods you love - and sometimes even better.  Example: Do you love Wheat Thins?  For years they have had high fructose corn syrup in them.  I love Back To Nature's Crispy Wheats.  They taste even better and have healthier ingredients.  And as a bonus, they are even cheaper!

Did you know that even 20 minutes a day of good exercise is beneficial?  Can you go for a walk?  Can you get a Zumba or Pilates DVD and pop it in for 20 minutes?  It takes actually taking action and forming this into a habit to make it a part of your life.  It's so worth it!  You don't have to join a gym.

It amazes me what type of foods people eat and how little care they take of themselves mostly because they just don't know there is another way that is actually easier and affordable.  You have to be your own advocate when it comes to what you put into your body because there is a lot of junk for sale.

Maybe it's busyness that is the problem.  I know I get busy sometimes with life and neglect working out or getting adaquate sleep.  Again it takes having a plan and being disciplined to stick with it.  Also realize that it takes time to establish a habit.  If you work on establishing a habit everyday for a month, you probably will have it as a part of your routine by the end of that month.  I always include "exercise" on my to-do list, so that I can remember to do it and cross it off when I am done.

Many people argue that it takes time to cook healthier meals for their family.  Sure, this is probably true.  However, with proper planning you can make it work for you.  For example, if you carve out a little time each day to take care of prep work, such as chopping veggies for the next day, you can save some time the next.  Even more so, I have found that making a flexible meal plan helps tremendously.  Each week I sit down and write out what will be for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for every day of that coming week.  Sometimes I change my mind about what I wrote down, but for the most part it helps avoid the "What am I going to make for dinner?" scenario.  Planning this out can save a lot of time!  For me, it eliminates the wandering around aimlessly looking between the fridge and the pantry trying to pull something together at 5:30.  It's too easy to just give up and order in or make something far less nutritious when you don't already have a plan in place.  There is a great little book called, How to Take the Hassle Out of Homemaking, by Rena Stronach that offers some great advice.  I highly recommend it!

And if you are too busy to get enough sleep perhaps you should look at your schedule and see what you can cut back or cut out.  Sleep is so much more important than people realize or maybe want to believe.  It seems more convenient to just have an extra cup of coffee than get the full amount of sleep required to function optimally.  God made us to need sleep - really 1/3 of each day (at night) should be spent sleeping.  Your body does the most repairing during the hours of sleep.  Plus you just can't function well when you are tired.  So get some sleep, will ya?!  And by the way, for more insight into caffeine, check out Caffeine Blues, by Stephen Cherniske.

Laziness can be another cause of failing to take care of oneself.  I've talked about laziness before, and it seems to be a big problem in our society in particular.  Laziness is also a characteristic of our fallen human nature because it is rooted in selfishness.  Laziness affects others, too.

"If a man is lazy, the rafters sag; if his hands are idle, the house leaks." (Ecclesiastes 10:18)

If it is a feeling of being overwhelmed that is holding you back, making a plan is a solution for this, as well.  Also realize that you don't have to change everything at one time.  Pick one or two things to change at a time and work on that.  It will get easier as you add one or two changes at a time.  Don't get overwhelmed by the big picture.  Just take a step at a time.

I have found that often with moms, but also with others, there is a feeling of guilt associated with the idea of self-care.  My mother will tell you that she did this for years.  She took care of everyone else and not herself.  I think that had to do with not realizing that she was just as important as everyone else and maybe she felt guilty about taking time for herself.  Thankfully she made a significant change and started taking care of herself in a big way.  One of the ways she has done that was by losing at least 50lbs!  It took time, but I am so proud of her.  She has a lifestyle that has helped her live better, and I know she will continue.

Maybe guilt comes in the form of "I never stick with it," or "I've let myself get this far gone."  Don't beat yourself up.  It doesn't do any good.  Instead, make a plan.  Start with learning more about one aspect of taking better care of yourself.  If you know someone who is good at doing this, ask them questions.  Take one step at a time, and if you fail to follow through one day, wake up the next day with a second chance.  No one is perfect. 

I long to see this taken more seriously within the church (all followers of Christ).  We are called to be set apart as holy unto the LORD.  Again, we are not going to be perfect.  I think we can do much better though.  It's starts with me.  I need God's help to be disciplined and intentional.

I'll recommend one more resource here.  I love the book, What Would Jesus Eat?, by Dr Don Colbert.  I found it very helpful and will read it again.

The next two things I am going to work on to make changes in order to take better care of myself are:

1. Going to bed earlier, so I can get up before my children...
2. Snack on more veggies instead of carbs (I have found myself filling up with more carbs than I need lately)...

I hope this encourages you.  What are you going to start with next?  Leave a comment.  I would love to hear, and you never know, you might encourage someone else.

1 comment:

Celeste Hartman said...

I have been thinking so much lately about my health. During my pregnancy, I had almost no energy and was so tired. Probably because I wasn't eating the right kind of foods. I don't eat a lot of junk, but I don't eat the right amount of fruits and veggies, with protein and carbs. I know I should, I like them, I just get busy and don't eat during the day. I really needed to read this, I need to work on many things. I want to get back into shape, I have the mental motivation, but not the physical. I know that I can't start off with a hard excercise routine since I'm recovering from a c section and I am breast feeding. But I know there is some excercise I can do. I also know I need to eat right. I cook basic american meals. I don't really know how or I should say doen't have the knowledge to cook differently from that. And we tend to eat out more than we should. I enjoy reading all of your blogs, but this one currently fits what I am dealing with. I need to pray and ask for guidance and motivation. I'm bigger than I've ever been, Before I was pregnant with Caitlin I was thin and ever since then it's been a struggle with my weight. Probably because I don't eat right and don't excercise like I should. I am open to your suggestions and opinions. I would like some suggestions. You nurse your children, so what is good excercise I can do while nursing? Thank you for your wonderful blogs. I enjoy reading them all. You are an inspiration, and your blogs have a part in me growing closer with the Lord.