Day 50

Day 50

Today is day 50 of 75hard challenge.

I woke up and wanted to run today. Even as I saw the temperature was at freezing and the bed was calling, there was something greater in me this morning telling me I had to move.

My run may resemble more of a slow jog but one day that won’t be the case. I will find that my willingness to drag this body out of the bed into the frigid cold daily will mean discipline and showing my entire being the love it so richly deserves.

Today, I was discussing possible opportunities to participate in a physical competition and to follow through on a writing collaboration I’ve been dreaming about for many months. It was pointed out to me that not executing on either one of those things might mean playing small.

Playing small, minimizing, hiding all mean the same thing.

Another year of an unrealized me.

Another year of doors I tell myself I cannot open.

Even though they are already ajar.

 

Static

Static

The last few weeks I have been absent from my workouts. It started off because of intense pain in my ankles and I slowed down because I knew continuing to push would only make things worse down the road. I was limping around the house and that’s never good.

But I have been feeling better and there has been no visits to the gym, dance class, videos or walks outside.

I am not sure why after being active for so many months that it has come to a stop. I feel static. I can almost hear myself make an excuse as to why I won’t workout tomorrow.

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Tonight I was at writing group. We discussed if we fear what would happen if we make it in the literary world. I have to ask myself the same question in regards to my wellness journey.

Is there anything I fear about being on the other side of this struggle? Will writing about it now help me cross back over to where I was only 3 weeks ago?

I’m betting it will. If things are really going to be different this time, then I have to call myself out and pull myself out of the hole I sunk myself into that makes me feel stuck and scared.

I am hoping to look back on these past few weeks as a minor setback a year from now.

I can’t let it determine who I will be a year fron now.

Keep Going

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.

New Eyes

New Eyes

Every week, I try new plant-based recipes and explore ways to move my lifestyle away from “if it’s vegan, I’ll eat it” to “whole foods plant-based.” I can’t say I am always successful but I see the difference. For example, I cooked without oil for several meals this week and after a rigorous workout, I chose to blend a Honeydew lime smoothie with watermelon on the side.  It helps to eat something light but filling and I can sit here and write afterwards without a problem. I even managed to release 3.8 lbs this week and I know it’s because of a concentrated effort to adjust my habits and a willingness to adjust my attitude. There were (and sometimes are) times where I wouldn’t consider the fruit smoothie and melon as a worthy snack after exercise. My greedy eyes would be searching for a “real meal.”

I know this mentality is something that is learned and ingrained after a period of time. I believe making wellness a priority will change my eyes with many things. I am looking forward to it, especially as I get more busy with my writing.

Your turn:

Have you made any changes lately that has impacted your wellness? If not, what do you plan to do?

Steps

Steps

Outside of the morning routine habit changes I’ve made, I can finally say that working out has become a new real change for me. Even though I have generally rejected resistance training in the past unless with a trainer, Hubby has gotten me to embrace it, 2-3 times a week.  In the past at one time or another, I have been a running, walking, belly dancing, Zumba and Afro-Caribbean dancing, Bikram yoga attending, water aerobics taking, treadmill/elliptical machine addicted exercise person. I am still some of those things depending on which day or month you are talking to me. As more weight comes off (.6 lbs this week even in the midst of water retention!), I am anticipating what I will open myself up to next or be more willing to go back to again.

As I my weight crept up before starting my wellness journey again, it was becoming easier to retreat from high intensity activity and that can manifest as isolation. At least it did for me. Choosing to consciously take better care of myself taught me how to see when I was going down that road. Choosing to be alone is great when it’s truly a choice rather than avoidance. I have always enjoyed my life but it takes more effort and clarity to see how much I enjoy it in the company of people outside of my home and in new environments. It can be hard at first but 9 times out of 10, it’s worth it.

Every step I take towards wellness, towards the power of being complete and whole, is worth it.

 

Love Fest

Love Fest

This past Sunday I went to Love Fest in Hampton. It was a 4-hour festival of dance, specifically Mixxed Fit and Zumba. There were scores of teams performing and teaching routines from the stage and plenty of vendors. It was benefiting The Lupus Foundation and The Natasha House which I personally loved.  I had a wonderful time with my friends and danced so hard I was sore for a couple of days.

I have always loved dance and prefer it over many other types of exercise. When I go to the Afro-Caribbean dance class, I generally go alone (and enjoy it) but it was refreshing to go with a group of women and be among a crowd of people with such an electric energy.

It was an important reminder during this wellness journey to get out of my comfort zone and do more fitness activities that challenge me. I could have easily assumed the event was primarily for teachers and decided it wasn’t for me.

But how do I know if something is for me if I don’t bother to try.

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Smiling at Love Fest

I had an amazing time and will try another Zumba or Mixxed Fit class soon. When I weighed in today (I lost .8lbs), I actually thought about everything I did this week and was proud that part of this loss came from sweating at live dance fest in a city I do not call my home.

Habits

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.

 

Signals

Signals

Before I took a couple of weeks off, my body told me it was time before I did. I was feeling anxious and tired but didn’t realize the extent of it. I thought this is how it’s supposed to be while you’re juggling a day job and trying to build a career from scratch on the side. I seemed to always be in a rush. Rushing to go to work, rushing to complete a blog post even if I knew in advance what it was going to be about and my mind constantly thinking about what I should be doing to take better care of myself: Lose that weight, try that skin product, watch that video on natural healing, finish reading those books, document more, promote my E-book more frequently, submit to other publications on a regular basis and be a better daughter, sister, friend, cousin, Christian, traveler, volunteer, wife, writer, student…

So when I thought I was just going about my business, the signals my mind was sending to my body shut me down. I was not going to share this but I thought maybe someone somewhere is or was going through the same thing and if I want to be anything on this blog, it is real. I am not writing about this because it’s anybody’s business except for mine but to pretend like I took a short break “just because” didn’t feel authentic. My doctor told me to slow down and that I was having anxiety attacks. It’s a strange thing to be told if you believe that everything is generally “ok” and you’re just “busy.” I am one of those people who tell myself, even in the thick of it, that I have blessings to be grateful for but I was telling myself those things while running.

In the last couple of weeks, I have taken time to go to bed and wake up earlier, journal and pray as soon as I get up and to listen to something inspirational. I lean towards a T.D. Jakes sermon or a little of John Gray. I even joined a morning routine challenge on Facebook which has helped to keep me accountable. I also have gotten back to working out and weighing myself weekly. I decided to go gluten-free (I don’t have an allergy) for 90 days. I wanted to see if it made a difference with brain fog and I don’t know if it’s because of that or a combination of all of these habits, but it has worked.

I can’t tie this up in a nice, neat bow nor do I want to. These past few weeks have made me see things with a new clarity. I still want all of the same things but slowing down to write, pray and move myself  has strengthened my resolve to be more patient about getting them and strangely a confidence has blossomed from it, too.

All I can control is my effort, consistency and the time to take care of myself which will eventually take care of the reaching my goals aspect of my life, too.

Even if my body had to tell me before I was willing to do something about it, I am glad I did. I don’t feel like I’m running breathlessly today and all I can do is be grateful for that and set myself up to feel the same way tomorrow.

Your turn: Has your body ever told you something before you realized it? If so, what did you decide to do about it? I would love to hear your thoughts!

See you on Thursday’s post with a wellness journey update!

 

Embrace the Process

Embrace the Process

I went to dance class today. I did not want to go. My husband has been pretty sick these last couple of days and I have not been sleeping well. But because I was feeling a little under the weather last Saturday and missed class, I was determined not to miss two in a row.

While I was there, I felt out of step. It was evident that missing class last week put me behind in learning choreography for their upcoming performance.  Being worried about my husband drained me.  Not having control over when he is healed and having to cancel plans to celebrate my birthday this weekend threw me off kilter. But I wanted to be as present as I could be while I was there. I needed to move and sweat.

I am embracing the process. I literally wrote about this yesterday. When I imagine all of the intense workouts that are to come on this journey, I picture the endorphin release that generally comes and not still feeling sadness afterwards but this is what life is sometimes.

These are the moments when I want to crawl back under the covers and cry a little bit. But I choose not to right now. I am wrapping my whole arms, legs, torso around this moment.

It’s only the beginning.

 

 

 

Day 18

Day 18

Only three days left of the 21-Day Water-Workout-Write challenge! The end is nearing fast and has me thinking more about the next phase of challenges for myself. I may not name it but I will set a schedule for exercise, giving back, writing, submitting and being active in the writing groups I belong to. Clearly defining my goals has made such a difference in my life. I have never written more regularly. I feel a bit embarrassed to admit it as it’s barely been three weeks but that was part of the reason I started this challenge anyway. I can choose to be the kind of writer that writes sporadically (tried and failed) or the kind that sets goals and knocks them down, one by one.

Today was low-key. Yesterday, I was out and about after my doctor’s visit and wore myself down as evidenced my needing to use an inhaler before bed last night. My intention was to maybe go for a short walk but that did not happen. But I have coughed a lot less today. Hubby keeps reminding me I have a very active week ahead. If he could pin me down, he would. So instead of frustrating the person trying to take care of me, I am staying put, watching and laughing at an awful Lifetime movie, sipping water and working on this article I committed to submit by the end of this weekend for my guest post.

Day 19 is coming up tomorrow!