healthy habits

THIS Can Stop Your Dream in Its Tracks

“Look for the signs that your life is out of balance. This can stop your dream in its tracks.”

Yesterday I had an “I hate everything” day. If you’re honest, you might admit that you have those days, too.

Feeling like that can be a signpost. It’s normal to feel down or discouraged once in a while. But these days can also mean that something is stopping us from living a meaningful story. It is sometimes a sign that life is out of balance, and that can stop our dream in its tracks. Especially if finding your dream and living a better story involves loving other people (and isn’t that the core of the best stories?). It’s hard to love others when we are not loving and caring for ourselves.

Life out of balance can look different for everyone, but here is what is looks like for me. I often see the negative results before I even realize that things have gotten out of balance.

  • I feel down
  • I sleep a lot
  • I swear in traffic
  • I have a short fuse and little patience
  • I feel that ‘something is not right’ in the pit of my stomach (could be anxiety, melancholy, guilt, loneliness)
  • I am not eating healthy, and I don’t care
  • I isolate myself from the world
  • I blame others
  • I eat a bunch of  crap (mostly sugar)
  • I snap at those closest to me

The signs that life is out of balance are different for everyone.

And not it’s time to take out that journal again.

Write down five signs that your observe when your life is out of balance.

The best thing I can do when I see these signs is STOP and PAY ATTENTION.

And then start with what I know. Am I practicing the habits that I know are healthy and beneficial and  bring balance to my life? Those habits can be different for everyone, but many are common to all. Here is my checklist:

  • Am I sleeping at least 7 hours each night?
  • Am I eating healthy foods, or am I eating a lot of sugar and carbs?
  • Am I exercising? Am I even getting out of the house?
  • Am I talking about my feelings, or am I ignoring them?
  • Am I practicing mindful breathing when I feel anxious?
  • If I am lonely, am I withdrawing or am I making a conscious effort to connect with my loved ones?
  • Is there something I feel I should be doing that I am avoiding?
  • Am I practicing self-care?
  • Am I spending time sharing my heart with my tribe, the people who ‘get’ me? (for me, this is one of the most crucial pieces)
  • And most importantly for me, am I journaling and/or spending time in prayer and meditation? Am I connecting with God or avoiding him?

Most of the time, just being aware can set our path straight again. Often looking at those healthy habits and being reminded that they are vital to living a meaningful life and moving toward any dream helps us get things in balance again.

However, sometimes we can do all those things and still feel out of balance. Or we are in such a dark place that we cannot do all of those things. In my life, that is a sign of greater imbalance – depression, chemical imbalance, physical imbalance such as an autoimmune flare or an illness. If that is the case, that is an important signpost on the road to a meaningful life that we might need some extra help to get things back on track. That may be a signal that we need to seek professional help from a doctor or a counselor. 

What are the signs that tell  you that your life is out of balance? What healthy habits are on your checklist?

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Adventures In Yoga and Healthy Habits

Today’s adventure into the awkward and uncomfortable is yoga with my neighbor. My neighbor, sweet Anne. She invited me yesterday to one hour of chair yoga and one hour of mild yoga. Which is good, because I’m a beginner. Unlike my son Jordan, who can twist himself into a pretzel, I’ve never been flexible. (Yes, I know the cigarette is unhealthy, but LOOK AT THAT POSE).

jordan habits

I’m the girl who could NEVER do a backbend or the splits. Hours and hours of practice as a child only brought numerous bruises on my head from the basement floor, and shunning from my gymnast peers. My greatest athletic accomplishment as a child was the routine I did during a summer fitness class, skipping to “Up, up, and away in my beautiful, my beautiful balloooooon!” while frantically waving ribbons tied to the ends of long sticks. I guess maybe the awkward and uncomfortable aren’t so new to me after all.

Exercise was never that important to me when I was younger. I was thin and hyper and had a fast metabolism, and I ate like a horse but never gained weight. Until I was about 20. My metabolism stopped in its tracks and I grew out of the ultra-hyperness, and all I was left with were horrible eating habits and a now sedentary lifestyle.

So here I am – after years of gaining and losing more pounds than I can count – at age 51, over 100 pounds overweight, and still with poor eating habits. But once again, I’m starting over. The difference this time is that I have a leader who has been through the trenches (she’s lost 200lbs and is still losing) and a group of women to walk the path with. We’re learning together about meal prep and nutrition and activity.  I’m learning and enjoying and actually working out for the first time in my life. Not just walking or circuit fitness, but a variety of exercise and activites. Normally I would give up because, well, I didn’t want to work that hard. But keeping up with my fitness sisters – it keeps me going. Last night we did flights of stairs – FLIGHTS – then lunged up the stairs, then did push ups on each stair. This does not include the other arm and ab work that we did. I couldn’t keep up and I had to be careful not to reinjure my knee, but I did more than I’ve ever done before. My arms and legs are still noodles. I could barely lift my arms to wash my hair this morning. But it’s a good sore.

And my eating habits are changing. I didn’t notice how horrible my eating was until I started to change. I am an emotional eater. Baked good are my comfort food. But I’m establishing better eating habits – setting goals, planning ahead, implementing meal prep, trying new recipes, eating more fruits and vegetables. All of the things that I KNOW to do but have not consistently practiced. I am not a fan of green food, except pickles and M&Ms, but I am learning. And so far I have only gagged on the vegetables once. (But if I find peas in ANYTHING, it’s a deal breaker.)

So today I’m off to yoga with Anne. Two hours of yoga with strangers. I’m sure the stretching will be very good for me. And I’ve been wanting to try yoga for a while. I already know the importance of breathing for stress reduction.

Now I just need to figure out how to not talk for TWO HOURS. For me, this may be the biggest stretch of all.