photo credit: Sean Drillinger Creative Commons

photo credit: Sean Drillinger Creative Commons

Apparently my search for balance is out of balance. (What a shocker, I know). So much has been processing in the back of my mind, sometimes I feel like I am paralyzed. On the outside, I just keep try to keep on going. I haven’t journaled in so many days that I can’t even find my journal under the pile of clean laundry overflowing at the end of my bed, the laundry that silently mocks as it wonders if it will ever find its way home to the closet again. The other day the mind swirling almost became an anxiety attack. My most effective processing seems to be a stream of consciousness, so here is where I am at, in no particular order.

I could go on and on about my search for balance. For instance, stopping all sugar, caffeine, and alcohol, and then stress/comfort eating when I was overwhelmed. (Tip: Weight Watchers desserts do not mean they are sugar-free. But red velvet ice cream sandwiches are damn good.) Deep breathing has been a great tool, and setting an alarm and deep breathing before I ever get out of bed has been helpful. There are good habits I have started, and other habits that I have held onto. But it all comes down to this:

Where am I heading? What is my goal?

In my quest to free myself from the all-or-nothing tendency, I have paved an unmarked path for myself.

I thought that if I only focused on the end goal, I would fall into that black-white thinking and not be able to focus on the baby steps needed to get there. But when  you have no clearly marked path, it is easier to get off track.

Have you ever been so foolish that you have forgotten the very basics? Like if you have no goal, you will certainly reach it. How can you run a race without a finish line in sight? DUH. I was reminded this week that I cannot keep my eye on the prize if I haven’t defined the prize.

So I’m processing this through differently. How can I look at things with BOTH important pieces in mind: the final goal, and the baby steps needed to get there?

So here I go (and truly, this is just me processing.You can come along for the ride if you like):

GOAL:  Eat healthy.

WHAT WILL THAT LOOK LIKE: Drinking 8-10 glasses of water each day, no soda or caffeine. Alcohol limited to no more than one drink each day on weekends only. Eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily (at least two of those vegetables), eating fish or seafood twice a week, vegetarian dishes twice a week, and red meat no more than once a week. Eliminate simple carbs (no white rice, white bread, white flour, etc) and eat complex carbs sparingly, focusing on whole grains. Eating snacks or small meals every 2-3 hours with one main meal each day (lunch or dinner, depending on the day). Do not after 7:30pm (or within three hours of bedtime.

BABY STEPS: Stop all sugar (baked good and sweets), caffeine, and alcohol (except as mentioned above). Increase water intake. Eat more fruits and particularly vegetables. It’s hard for me to think in any other baby steps, but having the goal set clearly above me helps me have a structure for my daily decisions.

GOAL: Get active.

(A couple of years ago, I had started ‘running’ (walk/jogging intervals, actually) and I really loved it. I mean REALLY. Until I injured my knee and was diagnosed with arthritis in that knee and was told I was not allowed to run ever again and would eventually need a knee replacement.)

WHAT THAT WILL LOOK LIKE: At least 30-45 minutes of structured activity at least 5 days each week.This can include fast walking, water running, hiking, yoga, cardio at the gym, walking on the treadmill, etc

BABY STEPS: Structure and reserve time in my day to commit to activity. I am still trying to figure this out. Ideally, I would like to do this in the morning, but I am NOT a morning person. If I wait until after work, I am more tired and less likely to commit. I need to start with 20 minutes each day and work up from there (starting with 15 minutes seems too lame). I have made an appointment to have gel injections in my knee to see if that decreases the pain. (I did have a meniscus repair surgery and some scarring removed, but it did not help as much as I had hoped). I also need to find a routine that works for me.

GOAL: Lose at least 6 pounds a month until I reach my weight loss goal of 80 pounds.

WHAT THIS WILL LOOK LIKE: I will be comfortable in my skin as a result of healthy eating and increased activity. I will have worked through the 12 steps (again) for my food addiction, and will not look to food for comfort in times of stress or pain. I will not be freaked out by not having my comfortable wall of weight around me.

BABY STEPS: To be truthful, losing the weight is not the issue. I have gained and lost this weight more times than I care to count. This issue is how I use food, and the emotional baggage that comes with being thin. This goes back to a history of physical and sexual abuse, and the unhealthy lesson I held onto of protecting myself by being heavy. So along with the eating and activity, I have some emotional work still to do.

GOAL: Daily structure

WHAT THIS WILL LOOK LIKE: Okay, this one is much harder. I am NOT a morning person. I have always been a night person, rarely ever going to bed before midnight. But in my mind’s eye I have a vision of what I want it to look like. I just don’t know if it’s practical, or even possible. It would basically mean changing my circadian rhythms, and is that going against how I was made? I don’t know, but I think I’m going to try. Here is my ideal: Get up at ____ o’clock and do a morning ritual: deep breathing, read my bible or something like Oswald Chambers, then journal my morning prayer. At the most this should take 30 minutes (5-7 deep breathing, 10 minutes reading, the rest journaling my prayers); then 30-45 minutes of physical activity (sometimes I also like to continue my contemplative prayer during this time). Then have breakfast and get ready for work or for the rest of the day, if not a work day.

BABY STEPS: I guess I can just try this schedule. The tough part will be training myself to go to bed early, or earlier. As the time change catches up with me, I’m sure it will be easier. I will just have to put my phone or computer down at night and turn off the television. And develop a more structured bedtime routine that should not include screen time, but reading and journaling. Which brings me to my next goal . . .

Tune in tomorrow for the rest of my goals on the path to balance, which may or may not include: decreasing distractions, getting my house in order, finding a spiritual tribe/community, becoming as a minimalist, and progressing as a writer (including monetizing my hospice blog)