Thursday, February 26, 2015

I went to yoga and...

...came home and roasted my own flax seeds.

This is not a sentence I EVER in my life thought I'd say or write.

I have to admit that this process...this journey that I've embarked on to become healthier and happier before I turn the big 3-0 has changed my life in so many more ways than I ever thought possible.

First, I've realized more and more recently, as I wear outfits I've always "liked" when I've seen them on others, but would have never had the balls to put on myself before, that I look like a different person today than I did a year ago.  At 5 foot tall, the 45lb that I've lost so far are a LOT.  I mean...45lb is significant for most anyone, but on my frame, it's more than noticeable.  And I'm fairly happy with the curves I've kept, but that are in better proportion to my frame.  Now this is the fairly obvious.  When you lose weight, you look different.  Duh.

Second, I feel better.  I don't hate the thought of doing laundry because it requires several trips up and down two sets of stairs, after which I'd generally be winded and annoyed.  Don't get me wrong, I still hate laundry...that's just not the biggest "why" of it anymore.  I truly just feel better.  I'm not as tired, I don't mind walking places/running errands/being out and about, where previously I would have mostly preferred to stay on the couch.  I'm getting to the point now where I don't particularly like the couch for long periods of time now and I get itchy to move after a little while.  Not something I expected.

But third - and this is the one I *really* wasn't expecting.  I'm turning into a hippie.  And I say that not to poke fun at anyone or make light of the term...but really...I'm turning into a hippie.

It started with eating better - thinking about what I was putting into my body.  Not just counting calories - because, to me, things like diet soda are scarier than some of my favorite "bad" foods because of the chemicals and other unnatural things in them.  So as I started thinking about what I was doing, I started reading more and more about nutrients and natural foods.  I don't follow a "diet" so to speak - I'm not "doing paleo" or trying Atkins or any of those fad type things - I just really try to pay attention to what's in my food...which has led to much more home cooking and much less picking something up on the way home.  And if I am going to grab something simple, I try to turn toward "real" foods - like prepared foods in our local grocery store (I love Wegmans!) where they cook and prepare the dinners in store with ingredients right from the store shelves.  I pay attention to snacking - if I want a snack I try to choose something with protein and real a trail mix...rather than something like chips.

I started doing smoothies for breakfast (I've had one for breakfast at least 5 days a week for seriously the last 10 months or so...).  Then I started really paying even closer attention to things I could add to get better nutrients out of the smoothies, greek yogurt, chia seeds, and now flax seeds.  I'm seriously roasting some flax seeds that I'll mill down to powder as I write this.  When did this become my life?
I started composting.  As I started eating more real food and cooking at home even more (I've always enjoyed cooking...but I'm *really* getting to fall even more in love with it now) I started having real food waste...peels of things, trimmings of veggies, apple cores from my smoothies...whatever it might be...and I felt terrible about throwing it all away.  Now, it gets composted under my sink (in this thing...which I LOVE and tossed in the back yard.  The squirrels and birds and other creatures often eat the compost or it decomposes into the dirt.  Either way - less in the landfill and it's good for the little ecosystem of my backyard.

Then, I started doing some "spring" cleaning and getting rid of old medications that were expired.  And I started thinking that if I had them around long enough for them to expired, maybe I didn't need to replace them because I obviously didn't use them that often.  Then a friend introduced me to essential oils.  I seriously haven't ingested an OTC medication since December.  I've used peppermint oil for my occasional headaches and some oil blends for minor aches.  I've used lavender oil to heal small cuts on my hands...hangnails, papercuts, nicks from cooking, etc.  I am ALWAYS congested in the winter.  I cannot remember a winter where I didn't want to have sinus replacement surgery so I could breathe.  The combination of being healthier in general, and my Breathe Again oil blend for those occasional stuffy days, I have not taken any decongestant this entire winter season...and it's been COLD and windy and snowy and all the things that normally screw me up.  I can breathe - during the day, when I sleep, everything!  It's amazing.  The company that I get oils through also sells a fruit blend drink that I've ordered to add to my smoothies in the morning.  Super powerful vitamins and minerals all from natural sources.

And today...I went to yoga.  I love my running.  I really do, but I wanted to add another component to things.  I love stretching - I used to do gymnastics as a kid and stretching was always my favorite part of class.  I also like the relaxation aspect - one of the only workouts I know where the end of your class is literally just laying down with your eyes closed.  There's something to be said for that.  I've taken yoga before...signed up for some classes when I was at college and such...but with my recent health kick this felt so much different.  It felt like almost a culmination of the changes I've been making.  I will still run...that's my favorite way to burn calories and have thinking time, but yoga is going to become part of this lifestyle too - I can see it.  I greatly enjoyed it and it's going to be a way to bring some strength and flexibility into things without, say, lifting weights.

And now I'm looking into crop shares for the spring as a way to get my hands on fresh, local ingredients for my cooking and also expanding my repertoire (cause they just give you what is ripe that week, so you end up with veggies you might not know to pick up at the store...).

Now my point with all of this is definitely NOT that this is how things will go or have to go to see success with changes in your life.  It was more for me to explain how it is a process.  Changing habits and mindsets takes time.  If I had said to myself last October - I'm going to start running, doing yoga, eating better, using oils instead of OTC meds, and composting I would have laughed at myself.  For several reasons.  First, taking on that many changes sets yourself up for failure.  Second, I would have though "what are you doing? Becoming a hippie?"  Third, I don't even know that I could have said that to myself all in one breath because I wouldn't know that all those things were available.  I knew next to nothing about essential oils.  I used to laugh at my grandmother for composting.  But the process took me here.  One change gradually led to another and I'm really very happy with where I am now.  I have about 5lb to go until my goal...and about 6 weeks til my birthday.  I'm an almost-30-year-old hippie...and I love it.

My message to you is to let it happen.  Learn, read, make the changes that make sense to you.  My happiness has increased in the past year and I think that's the biggest thing for me.  I'm happy.  Be happy.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What are you giving up for Lent?

I will say this...I am Catholic.  I even went to a Jesuit college where attending mass was often a part of on campus activities.

I will also say this...I'm a relatively terrible Catholic.  I don't attend mass regularly.  I don't frequently participate in things like Midnight Mass at Christmas time or getting ashes on my forehead on Ash Wednesday.

But today is Ash Wednesday...the beginning of Lent.  For those of us who are Catholic, it's supposed to be a time of sacrifice and reflection, meant to prepare believers for the resurrection celebration of Easter.

As a time of sacrifice, Lent is often secondary only to New Year's for the time of year to make changes in ones life.  Often, you give up something you truly enjoy as a sacrifice with all intentions of limiting yourself for the 40 days of Lent and then resuming normal course of action when Easter comes around.

I have a proposal.  If you are like me, you often need an external motivator to really push yourself.  You need something compelling you to keep working hard...and sometimes that motivation is tough to find.  Use Lent as your motivator.  They say it takes 21 days to change a habit.  Lent is 40.

If you follow the practice of Lent, try giving up one thing for Lent that will make you healthier in the long run.  Stop drinking soda, give up your Tuesday night fast food habit, quit smoking, whatever it may be.  Don't try to take on everything - don't tell yourself that you're not going to eat *anything* bad for you.  But if you give yourself a goal...and if it's part of your faith and belief, it's something you might be more likely to commit to...and stick to it.

By this point in the year - mid-February - we've most likely given up on New Year's Resolutions.  Don't get down on yourself if you have...almost everyone does.  It's why I've given up on New Year's Resolutions all together - they just don't work for me.  But if you need a little motivation to maybe work a little harder as spring ('s freaking cold outside right now...) approaches, perhaps the start of Lent can be your jumpstart, your re-invigoration.  I mean really...what do you have to lose?

Since I asked the question I suppose I should answer it.  This year, for Lent, I'm giving up excuses.  I frequently make my own mental excuses for not running, not choosing the healthier food option, not making "good" choices.  I've been, in my own estimation, very successful on this journey, but I have NOT, in any way, shape, or form, been perfect.  For the next 40 days, I'm not going to make any excuses in response to my journey (other aspects of life can wait til later...but excuses for not working out and making my healthy choices will be the focus :-P).  I am going to set a plan for the next 40 days...and stick to it.  I'm not going to be "too busy" or rest on the fact that I was "good" yesterday.  I'm going to stop excusing myself because I've made so much progress already and work hard to make the rest of the progress I want to make.  Lent ends 10 days before my goal.  10 days before my 30th birthday.  10 days before I want to be at my goal weight, which is 6lbs from where I am now.  The last little bit is the hardest...and I think, maybe, for the first time in my life, I'm going to set something to give up for Lent, stick to it, and make a change for the better.