Every week I see a mentor of mine and she asks how I’m doing, and I tell her I haven’t been able to get back into a healthy routine. Bless her soul, she never says, “Still?”
France was more than a month ago; South By’s long past. Why am I still lying on the couch, sleeping in, indulging in food and drink, and feeling sorry for myself? Where is my running routine, my moderation, or my finely-tuned internal alarm clock?
It’s hard to get back on the horse – but it’s time. Here are a few strategies I’m trying out to get myself on a healthier track:
I’ve written about my struggles with weight and eating, and while I’m still on the path to a healthier lifestyle, I’ve stalled out. Someone who has also battled these bears suggested getting back into tracking my food and accounting for the things I’m still hanging onto: the chips with my sandwich; the wine on the couch; and the extra bites of that rich homemade dinner. Planning for indulgence means that I don’t feel guilty about what I’ve eaten, which is such a burden put on women – food feels tied to moral correctness, self-worth, and even shame in a way I am still trying to untangle. For now, feeling in control of even the unhealthy things I put in my body is making me have a more productive relationship with food, until I’m able to fully disconnect from societal pressures that have instilled these feelings of guilt in me.
I’ve been struggling in this department a lot, truth be told. For some reason, the transition from school to work has hit me a year later, bumming me out about not having my friends around all the time and not having naps around me all the time. I am sometimes lonely and sometimes bored, which to me are two of the worst possible feelings. The loneliness means I’m saying yes to things I don’t actually want to do, sitting there with people who don’t interest me or annoy me thinking, “Why am I doing this again?”. Oh ya – because I wanted another human to look me in the face and ask me about my day. The boredom means my art is suffering (try, just try, to paint a stroke while feeling like an uninteresting blob), as is my opinion of myself. Digging myself out of this hole sometimes feels impossible.
I’m a huge proponent of therapy, any of my friends will tell you. You, yes you, need a therapist – and so do I. Returning to therapy gives me an outlet for the bad feelings and strategies for dealing with them when they arise in my downtime. Still, there’s a lot to work on both with my therapist and on my own.
Another strategy I’m using is planning for the future. What am I looking forward to? This means I’m already browsing for furniture for our new apartment. I’m looking for plane tickets for weddings I might be able to attend. I’m booking hotels for conferences. I’m rustling up some future painting orders. It brightens the dull days that just keep coming, but won’t be here forever.
Cats help, too.
I have turned into a bit of a slug. I’ve been moving slowly, when necessary, with a few power walks when I’m late coming back from my lunch. I’ve told myself I’m focusing on getting my head on straight – but exercise is part of that.
Two things are helping disrupt my current malaise: getting back on my bike after 8 months out of the saddle and feeling challenged by the pedometer challenge at work. Facing my fear and getting back on my bike has reminded me just how many muscles I haven’t been using. It also makes me feel powerful and in control of my transportation. Walking in the mornings, lunch, afternoons, and evenings, with some running thrown in for good measure, works out some anxious feelings and burns off some of that extra wine that I’m dutifully tracking (right?).
I woke up today the same sluggish, bored person I was yesterday, but I’m working toward some of my more exciting self-care practices. Even slugs can pick themselves up and keep moving, even if they’re a little slimey.
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Update on skincare: I am trying out some new things in my routine to see if I can’t fix some of my skincare woes. The results are, in a word, horrifying. Y’all crazy for some of this stuff. My wise Aunt Laurie advised that I give more time than a week with each new addition to the routine, as it can take my skin time to balance out. Here’s hoping! That chart is still coming your way one of these days.