Thursday, October 22, 2015

Healthtober! An update

Healthober was my own tiny mission to kickstart myself into action. I'd been stalling and stalling for months with all the health changes I wanted to make. I had chosen to tackle some of my goals on a smaller scale for one month to see how I felt. It's a great idea, isn't it? Because you can do anything for a month. Right? 

Not exactly. But here is what I have learned:

Planning is key
Things didn't work out as planned. Or more to the point, I didn't plan anything at all. I came up with some very doable goals, but I didn't follow on those ideas with actionable steps. (I come across this advice in so many places, but have promptly ignored it every chance I get.) Take my goal to give up gluten, for example. I started the month with a kitchen filled with gluten-filled foods and didn't make any preparations in advance to ensure alternatives. I had assumed that I would "wing it" and, shockingly, this plan didn't work out. 

The first few days were good, with me getting by on what we had, but at the first sign of needing to rush out of the house I reached for the only convenient food on hand: gluten. The lure of convenience got me every time. I realize now that I need to spend time preparing the kitchen for how I want to eat. This means brainstorming ideas for quick gluten-free breakfast, snacks, and lunches (dinner always feels easier to me, since it feels normal for me to cook veggies and meat). I know now that I need plenty of sliced up cheese, nuts, washed fruits and veggies, and granola bars available to me before I begin. I also need to sharpen my gluten-free baking skills so that I can have muffins and breads available when I crave (which I always do because they are so delicious).

Goals need to be specific

If I'm devoted to eating less sugar, then I need to come up with a game plan for what "less sugar" actually means. Does it mean taking two days instead of one to eat a bag of wine gums? Probably not. Does it mean sweetening my oatmeal with a little maple syrup instead of heaps of brown sugar? Probably. For me to decrease my sugar intake I need to think about all the places it sneaks into my diet, some obvious (chocolate covered almonds), some hidden (processed food). I've always been terrible at maintaining boundaries, but if I'm going to successfully reduce my sugar load I need to grow a backbone.

I should probably make a plan for this (see above lesson learned).

Make your goals a priority

One of my goals was to practice being gentle with myself physically. I am happy to report that I made some progress (hooray for progress!) on that front. At the beginning of the month I was confronted with a flare-up of my fibromyalgia that through me for a bit of a loop. But I parked myself on the couch for two days, took some advil, and relaxed--in other words, I did exactly what I needed to do to get through the week and it worked. It wasn't the easiest choice at the time because I had to let go of some commitments those days, but it was important to me that I didn't let one flare-up turn into a month of pain (as I have done many times in the past).

Sometimes I'm all talk when it comes to self-care, but I really tried this month. After months of pushing through the pain and straining my sore body, I decided to make getting better a priority. Let us all try to be so gentle on ourselves.

Healthober, as ridiculous as it sounds, was a big deal for me and I'm a little sad that I didn't follow through with it as I'd imagined. But you know what? I had other successes, like FINALLY getting some much needed exercise. Also: not smoking! I've quit again, and I've decided that this is it. I'm as eager as ever!

My birthday is around the corner, which means: new goals! Coming soon.

What lessons have you learned about making changes? Are you good at planning for your goals? If you have any comments or suggestions, I'd love to see them in the comments. 

Be well.

P.S. You might also be interested in these posts!

Goals in a messy life

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