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Keep Going

 

On Saturday, I went to a women’s health fair where the focus was on physical and mental health. There was a plethora of great advice on how often to keep active (150 minutes a week), the importance of an accountability partner, fitness activities such as Zumba, walking or kickboxing and the health benefits of incorporating more plant-based and unprocessed food into your diet. I loved that it was from the perspectives of a nurse, Destinee King and a holisitic wellness coach, Yvette Leverette. What better way to bring traditional and alternative methods together?

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Pictured from left to right: Tyrell Clayton, Jamia Mills, Yvette Leverette and Destinee King

What was particularly impactful for me was Tyrell Clayton and Jamia Mills’ (Heart to Heart Mental Health Services– www.heart2heartva.com) presentation about the importance of taking care of your mental health. I especially loved how they stressed treatment measures by asking us if we had cancer, would we wait to get help? Would we put it off, hoping it would go away? Then why do we do dare do that with depression and anxiety disorders? These conditions have the potential to spiral into something else entirely that could threaten not only the quality of our life but our very life. They also outlined the 8 dimensions of wellness and spoke about how mental health is the origin of everything (positive and negative).  I was moved that I was hearing about treatment being a fully integrative approach from a clinical social worker, a young Black man open to talking about his experiences on his mental health journey. Jamia’s perspective and story was valuable, too as women are 40% more likely to develop depression.

After leaving the fair, I had many thoughts come up (some influenced by the event and others were a reflection of what’s going on with me) and I want to share them here:

Keep going. Keep going. Keep going.

Keep going to the events (sometimes you can’t make it but you know what I mean).

Keep educating yourself.

Keep supporting others’ events.

Keep buying others’ books and products.

Keep writing.

Keep exercising–even if it’s marching in place or dancing around the living room like a maniac.

Keep praying.

Keep trusting that you will find your place.

Keep confiding in trustworthy people.

Keep working at your relationship, marriage, friendships..even if you have to put your pride aside to ask something as simple as…”What happened?”

Keep reading.

Keep taking classes.

Keep getting help whenever you need it and keep giving whenever you can.

Keep your ears open even if you have to close your mouth.

Keep shouting..there’s a place for silence and there is a place for a VOICE.

Be open to whatever this world has for you….it will let you down, lift you up and teach you over and over again until you become the lesson.

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Progress

In these last few months, I’ve learned how much I need accountability. Not just with my writing. I’ve always known a lack of discipline was a problem for me that bled into a couple areas of my life. I found last year if I took writing class or attended writing groups, I was more likely to–that’s right you guessed it–write!

I wrote last week about accepting the number no matter what it is especially for the purpose of accountability. I am still learning the lesson. This week I lost 2.8 lbs and I noticed I worked out much more frequently and strenuously the last couple of days before I weighed in. I realized I have a fear of not seeing a loss. I think that’s natural but the intensity associated with it leaned towards obsessive. I didn’t know there would be so many things to confront regarding acceptance but there it is.

So that leaves me here, trying to have some perspective on this journey–the length, the ups and downs and the acknowledgement that it took some time to get here so it will take time to get where I want to be and even feel comfortable when I get there.

This week I took my first set of progress pictures. It helped me to appreciate where I’ve been and to get a little more excited about where I’m going.

Here they are:

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Before on the Left and After on the right

So that’s Thursday’s wellness update!

Your turn:

Have you made any strides in your health lately? If so, please comment. I would love to read about your journey!

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Habits

Thursday has become my day for posting wellness updates. The morning routine of going to bed and waking up earlier, taking time to journal, pray and listen to something inspirational (mostly sermons and podcasts) and now working out has helped immensely. Even though I have always acknowledged that wellness is more than just weight, ignoring that part while I write here is not really what I want to do either.

I am a firm believer that my writing and my health are inextricably linked. I know when I am burning the candle at both ends, not eating well or moving myself consistently, my writing suffers. I am not as energized to do it and it feels more rushed. I believe I have always been able to convey my message but who doesn’t want to feel good while doing it?

I believe I have been having a series of God moments these last few weeks in regards to my health. Let me explain. I am part of Heather Parady’s Facebook group and in it, she issues weekly challenges to build new habits each week to add to our morning routine. Being a part of this group gives me accountability and it came at the exact right time. I was literally trying to bring order and slow down after the anxiety came and had no plan laid out as to how I was going to do it. I could have either sat back and not gotten the message or take the challenge that was laid out before me. I am not a huge believer in coincidence. I know if I had not started down this road, I am not sure where or how I would be right now.

I weigh-in at home each week to track myself and steer towards a gluten-free lifestyle. I still am plant-based and I love it. What I am learning to fall in love with is being more whole-foods plant-based. It’s been about 9 months since Jeff and I said good-bye to all meat and dairy but it’s taken awhile to find our footing when it comes to staying away from so much processed food. Since I struggle with PCOS, it is especially difficult for me to lose weight but definitely not impossible. I am not claiming that for myself. I choose to believe that with the right habits I will reach my goal. This week I actually lost 4 pounds!

Like many of us on this path, I get excited in the beginning. I start getting results quickly and I feel like I can stay stick to my new habits forever. I’m a “whole new person.”

Lies.

I am still the same me. The one who has fallen down and gotten up again. The one who said she was stopping eating _______ and picked it back up weeks, months or even a couple of years later. The one who promised to work out  X amount of times each week and every time I have failed. Every time there is an excuse and every time I let myself off the hook.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t need to beat myself up. But I do need to be honest.

I am the me who does so many other awesome things and won’t give up no matter how many times I try. I am also the me who keeps getting knocked upside the head with the truth of how my habits have affected my present but hopefully not my future.

I can’t tell anyone (not even myself) how any of this will work out. I just know I can’t stop trying because I know there’s no end in sight. This is my life. I will always have to work a bit harder than others but it’s worth it.

I’m worth it.

 

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All or Nothing

You ever get to the end of the day and feel like you made a lot of good decisions? Decisions that were just right for you?

Today was that day for me. I talked more openly about my writing with people. I spent an hour outside, just walking and talking. Even though there was a chill in the air, I cherished every moment I had outside and not cooped up indoors.

Now I am here, writing this post and preparing to work more on the first draft of my book and another writing project. I am thanking God I asked one of my writing group members to check on me this Saturday to see where I am with my pages.

Which is leading me to another thought: Please don’t underestimate the power of accountability. I sorely need it! One of my goals during #bloglikecrazy in November was to finish my first draft. I know why I set two lofty goals but I also know they were not completely grounded in reality. When I set unrealistic goals, I set a trap for myself. And I fall for it every. single. time.

The “All or Nothing” mentality has never served me well and it only guarantees that something on the list will not get done. In November, it was my first draft. I looked at it but that was about as far as it got. I did not anticipate the everyday stressors, activities, work, and of course I couldn’t have known to factor in hubby’s short hospital stay. However, there is something about me that wants to keep reaching. I think there is a little devil on my shoulder that whispers “This time it will be different. This time you can push yourself to do it all.”

I can at least promise not listen to the lies and do what I know I can do and if sometimes I surprise myself with more, then I will welcome it. For right now, I am happy to dedicate the rest of 2017 to staying consistent with my blogging schedule, working out a few times a week and continuing to work on my first draft with the support of my accountability partners.

I can’t think of a better way to start to say good-bye to 2017 and hello to 2018.

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Day 21

Day 21

It’s here!!! The final day of my Water-Workout-Write Challenge is completed. I am preparing to leave for Columbus, Ohio tomorrow morning so I have been on my feet all day. I am happy to report I barely had a coughing fit today and may only have to use my inhaler once this evening. I have fallen behind on my water intake so I will have to get on that. I know the challenge is basically over but the focus on increasing my water intake is something I want to continue.

Speaking of habits I want to continue, I’ve decided what my goals are for the foreseeable future. I will work out five days a week, publish a blog post twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays, drink 100 oz. of water every day, submit to a publication or blog once a week and complete at least 2 essays a week.

The essays will be a new undertaking for me. I could never “get there” with my novel. I felt like there was a truth I was trying to tell but I was poorly disguising it as fiction. I grew up believing that one day I would use my imagination to weave a poignant and magical work of fiction. Except I haven’t been able to do it. With each writing class I’ve taken since the beginning of the year, I’ve drawn closer to the conclusion that my novel should be a book of essays. It made sense that the agent that read my work said that although she didn’t have a problem with my crafting, she didn’t “connect” with my writing. Even though she is just one person, I do believe she had a point. I will always love fiction. I have been surrounded by a lot of personal development books lately which I appreciate and have grown fond of as well. But the magic for me is in the stories. And my essays can be those stories. I am not sure what took me so long to admit it. But there it is.

These past 21 days has taught me what I should be writing right now. It has taught me that I have the discipline to issue a challenge to myself and complete it. It taught that if I make myself accountable, that I will choose not to fail. It has taught me that I need accountability. It has taught me that I want to be a disciplined person. I never placed importance on that notion before. I knew being undisciplined wasn’t taking me where I wanted to go but it never mattered enough until the lack of results wasn’t only staring me in the face, it was slapping me in the face. And the sting hurt like hell.

Outside of the lessons learned, there was a win. The piece I submitted last weekend will be published next Tuesday! I will post all the details next week. There is nothing like seeing the fruit of your labor. I am chasing that high. Even when I may feel uninspired, I am going to remember this challenge—not only the lessons that came from it but the pride I feel swelling up in me as I write these final words to close it.

There is one last thing. This blog is fairly new but I did have a few followers who read it and supported me throughout these 21 days. You know who you are.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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Day 9

Day 9 started off right. I still had a cough but I was mostly excited to have my friend, Sheila join me for my morning walk. There is nothing like good conversation to make the laps feel effortless. Having company during a workout is amazing and although knowing I have to write about this challenge keeps me accountable, meeting a friend is a living, breathing reminder of this commitment I’ve made to myself.

I realized I haven’t written much about my water consumption lately. I am getting it in, even if it means I have to chug a whole bottle right before bedtime. It’s worth it. I have always been someone who eats fast and drinks slow. It is a habit I am determined to break, even if I have to issue another challenge to myself after these 21-days is over. I did manage to get another workout in. Because I am trying to take it a bit easy until I am fully recovered from this bug, I am glad there are such low-impact videos like Leslie Sansone. I can still claim a victory with my workouts without compromising my health. It has been over a week now and I am starting wonder what will be next for me. I don’t want to let this sense of accomplishment go.

Any ideas? Comment below. Would love to hear your thoughts!