|Our primary mode of transportation around town in our new town in Colorado. Trailer on one bike, trail-a-bike on the other.|
I have been reading through some recent journals gathering tidbits of information for a book I'm working on. And I came across an entry from my birthday about a year ago. You see...at that time, neither myself nor my daughter had gone through an elimination diet. I was still questioning my instincts and yet I was gaining confidence. I wrote:
"This is a year of self discovery around food. I feel like I am on the edge of making big changes for our family regarding food."
One year later and I am 35 pounds lighter and feel more deeply connected to my body than I thought was possible. I am in no way eating perfectly by anyone's standards except my own. I am listening to my body's responses and accepting my choices with forgiveness or joy. I have a strong awareness of the unique formula my body, mind and soul need to stay balanced and thriving. This awareness didn't come overnight but throughout a gentle year of small steps that required openness, honesty, forgiveness and strength. But it also required a massive support system.
We hear about this a lot, don't we? From every exercise guru, psychotherapist and Oprah. But the thing is, I haven't been thinking about calories I've burned, who did me wrong in the past, or a specific diet plan. I've been focused on what works for me, just me, not everyone else. And you know what I discovered? When I focused on what works for ME, I became more invested in myself and my health. The feeling of knowing myself this clearly is liberating! I can feel myself slipping. I recognize the stress peaks and instead of running to food, hiding, denying or the myriad of other ways I used to cope, I step into the things I know that work.
And I'm learning to create a routine and rhythm instead of saving myself from the edge. This is hard with young kids and all the transitions we've made in the past few months. Its easier to fall for the "mom gives to everyone else first" mentality. But that so sucks and all of us suffer in the end.
So what worked for me? A simple attention to my physical self, mental self and spiritual self. My emotions are more balanced, the depression has subsided and my body is transforming.
I know I need daily exercise and fresh air in some combination. My current and long time love is yoga. It mixes my spiritual and physical selves beautifully. I love challenging my body in poses and seeing such instant results each time I practice. I love seeing my body become more toned and muscles pop out that I thought I'd lost. I love the spiritual piece that keeps me grounded, breathing and balanced. Zumba is also a love as I feel that little fluttering of silliness and sexiness in the moves while making my heart pump and lungs work. I love sweating and knowing my hips more intimately.
And I have depended greatly on our spiritual community in Seattle as a weekly rhythm. For anyone there, The Center for Spiritual Living is a beautiful new thought community. They/we look at the common spiritual principles that connect different world religions above the cultural limits. I was regularly inspired and pushed to see health and wellness as my right and that I needed to own that.
I also signed up for all those online newsletters from inspiring mamas who encourage and challenge us to live fully, find our creative selves after motherhood and model living with intention and courage for our children. I needed these voices to overpower the doubts in my head. A special thank you to Visionary Mom and Hannah's Harvest for keeping me focused and inspired!
I met Hannah originally when I was looking for a resource that would combine my need for some therapy, health support and medical counseling. I found Hannah online and have taken part in personal coaching, cleanses, holiday support groups and a recent Joy Up group. She helped me change my eating habits with simple, easy recipes, lots of inspiration and thoughtful posts.
And then my friends. All those people who listened, supported and joined me at the gym or on walks. It really does take a tribe of support but with some awareness. Not just an exercise buddy. I needed to address all those areas of myself so I could understand my unique formula of sustainable healthy living.
I can increase the amount of greens without having to adopt a raw lifestyle. I can make it to a yoga or zumba class once or twice a week without adding a workout every morning. I can spend an afternoon once a week in quiet meditation and focus on my dreams without expecting to find a quiet meditative space each day. I'd love to increase all these things but even at this level, I've lost 35 lbs and feel really great!!!
I feel more free, more able to move, more energy, more mental space. And I'm ready for this next big year. So if lifestyle changes feel big to you, remember that the little steps really do count. Focus on the now, the little step today. Eventually, you'll notice that lots of days went by and you had lots of little steps that were making big changes happen without a lot of effort. Its a beautiful thing really!