I have not felt well since January. I was tired, stressed, unable to concentrate, and sluggish. I began to suspect my eating as potentially the problem. When March hit, in conjunction with a “Mindful March,” initiative, I decided to take action and be mindful of my eating, and to attempt to observe without judgment what was really going on. I describe my approach to mindfulness as “It is, what it is.”
For two weeks, I wrote down everything I was eating without ANY eating plan or modification. I didn’t edit no matter how painful or how much I wanted to blur the lines. I wrote the truth AND LET IT BE. Then when I was ready, I sat down with myself and read what I had wrote. Once I pulled myself out of self-loathing and very loud UNMINDFUL slew of judgment and curse words that followed my initial shock (I committed every eating plan error in the rule book), I told myself “OK, it is, what it is. Take a deep breath. Now what do I do with the information that I have?”
Right here was a moment of truth. Since January, I had had the flu, shingles (holy cow shingles are no joke!), a nasty viral infection complete with diarrhea, lost my voice from a second viral infection, and two rounds of medication. I was ready to feel better, and when my body felt out of control, I knew I could control what I put into it.
MINDFULNESS TAKES MOXIE. GRIT. HONESTY. TRUE MINDFULNESS in my case SPURRED ACTION. I needed to see the truth. I was ready to see the truth. I was ready to talk about the truth. I was ready for change. I HAD TO BE COMPLETELY SURE OF REALITY BEFORE MOVING FORWARD. I am a team sport athlete. I needed friends. I needed accountability. So I consulted with my doctors. I consulted with a few trusted fitness and health industry friends. Then, I went back over what I had written with a new sense of calm and with my fitness and health hat on.
What was necessary in my diet?
What could I really do without?
What did I need (both healthfully and mentally)?
What absolutely had to go?
Then I moved forward with my own plan of being 80% good. I do not expect perfection with any of my athletes nor with my class participants, so how could I expect perfection with my eating? It is not realistic. I know every day I need a little slice of heaven (Lenny and Larry cookie, a small bit of cheese, glass of wine, or hummus) I continued to track my eating and to modify once I identified something that no longer fueled me. Then I asked myself, WHAT ELSE FUELS ME? So I took it a step further and I started doing the activities and workouts that I enjoy and that I know are sustainable for me, and my crazy travel schedule (yoga, running). Forewarning: if this time next year I am signing up for my first marathon, someone SLAP ME! Then line up at the finish line to slap my hand, because I AM NOT A RUNNER!
Here now, at the end of April, my numbers are staggering. My resting heart rate has dropped 12 points and I am 15.4 pounds lighter than I was March 1. I am still going strong. Those numbers are nice, but the biggest change that I was after was to FEEL better, that is my barometer. I am there.
I have to ask you now: What are you ready to see more clearly? What fuels you? Where in your life are you ready for change? What can you do about it? Maybe MINDFULNESS and MOXIE will get you there? I am here.
I want to update everyone on my Mindful March…it has been a doozie to say the least! The minute I decided to look at my eating and see it for what it was in an effort to feel better, I came down with shingles (they are no joke!!). Then we had a lice outbreak in our house and had to basically throw out and clean out. Then somewhere between a sinus infection, antibiotics, a stomach virus, and an allergic reaction (when it rains it pours), I had to finally break down and laugh. It is what it is. Life happens. Sickness happens. Hence the delay in ANY form of update, anywhere. I feel like there is a lesson in all of this for me. Through all of it, I kept my dedication to mindfully observe my eating and gear myself toward a plan that will help me feel better.
I spent the first few days of March generally operating as usual as far as my food choices, but taking a second before putting whatever it was into my body, noticing what it was and the method I took to decide on the particular piece of food. For example, when the kids didn’t finish all of their pretzels and I was ready to finish them for fear of wasting food, I took notice of how many times I mindlessly ate what was leftover of theirs and then made my own additional food. I jotted all of this down, to get a very real and blunt sense of what EXACTLY I was eating day to day. I didn’t sugar coat, I didn’t edit, I didn’t pretend to have it altogether. As objectively as possible, I wrote the truth.
THEN, after a week or so, I looked at what I had wrote…
Holy cow, The thoughts careening through the halls of my brain amounted to everything I tell athletes in training:
WATCH THE SNACKING.
DRINK HALF YOUR BODY WEIGHT IN WATER IN OUNCES EVERYDAY.
BEWARE OF MINDLESS EATING.
EAT THE RAINBOW (NOT SKITTLES. VEGGIES people…veggies).
TRACK YOUR FOOD SO YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE EATING.
LIMIT ADDED SUGAR.
EAT YOUR CALORIES, DON’T DRINK YOUR CALORIES.
BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH, AND ON AND ON AND ON. And then immediately following that onslaught, I began to judge myself (very Unmindfully and with no amount of calm or acceptance).
YOU ARE IN FITNESS AND THE HEALTH INDUSTRY!
YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE THE EXAMPLE! HOW COULD YOU GO THIS FAR AWAY FROM WHAT YOU KNOW AND BELIVE IN?!
My brain was beating me to a bloody pulp. It had to stop. No matter what my rationale for not sticking to my eating plan was previously, it was time for me to think deeper about my health and where I wanted to be. So, I took a deep breath…(OK MANY DEEP BREATHS).
“I am ready for a change,” I said quietly.
“I am ready to feel good,” I said louder, “And, I need help!”
I started with fitness friends I trusted not to sugar coat, nor to judge. They have helped me with accountability and consult. I consulted with my doctor about my eating struggles, and my anxiety about food (I NEVER talked TO ANYONE about what I honestly ate or drank). Mindfulness brought me to this place, now I had to take action and be honest with myself along the way.