A Whole New World

Last week, I posted about some new lifestyle choices that I am committing to after a summer experience that exposed me to a whole new world of happiness (yes, I meant to make an Aladdin reference). I promised a continuation of my running list of actions, so here goes:

Give my body the food it wants and deserves 

Food is extremely important to me. Let me just repeat that so it really sticks. Food. Is. Important. To. Me. I love tasting new foods, learning about the origin of food, growing food, harvesting food, teaching people about food. I always preach about wholesome, nutritious, organic, non-GMO, blah, blah, blah food. And I absolutely love healthy food. The issue I was facing pre-amazing-summer-experience was that I absolutely loved unhealthy food too. Fries, cheese dip, potato chips, bread, cake, milkshakes, I love it all. I just don’t love the shitty feeling I had after eating any or all of the unhealthy foods I loved so much. And with the amazing, free meal plan I get with my job, I am constantly surrounded by bad choices. Choices that make my body feel like a greasy pile of skin and bones. So, this summer I decided to give my body the foods it wanted. I cut out almost all dairy products, making exceptions for such glorious things as handmade caramel crunch ice cream. I limited that amount of grains I consumed. I ate as many fruits and veggies as possible and I only ate when I was hungry. In short, I used my intuition and I listened to my body in ways I never had before. It sounds really hippie-dippie, but it worked.

I fell back into some of my old ways and I hope to remedy that as soon as possible. Work was pretty busy for the first two weeks I was back and I did not have much time to focus on self-care—at least not as much as I wanted. I notice now that I have not been eating regular meals at regular times and I have been extremely hungry at night as a result of that. I have been eating healthy when I do get time for a meal, but sometimes my meals look like an orange and a handful of almonds. If I continue on that path, my body certainly won’t get the nutrients it needs to do awesome things like 5K’s and late-night dancing with my friends.

How I’m going to implement this in my day-to-day life: I’ve been back home for three weeks and I have successfully given my body what it wants and deserves so far, with some exceptions that I see as kinks to be worked out soon. Some of my biggest issues before this summer were binge eating at night and eating really late (either because of studying, duty, or drunk times). Though I still need to nourish my body while I’m up past a certain time, I have been trying to approach late night eating differently. I can have a glass of almond milk and still curb my craving for something sweet. I can eat a handful of almonds or some tortilla chips and get a similar satisfaction to when I used to eat fries or nachos. The more I successfully make healthy choices, the better I feel. As long as I can continue to remind myself of how wonderful I’ll feel if I make a good decision instead of an unhealthy one, I feel like I can carry some good eating habits into my every day life.

Delicious groceries from Jaemor Farms in Alto, GA
Delicious groceries from Jaemor Farms in Alto, GA
Yummy homemade lentil soup! This is definitely my favorite thing to whip up with some leftover veggies and dried lentils.
Yummy homemade lentil soup! This is definitely my favorite thing to whip up with some leftover veggies and dried lentils.
Black bean and sweet corn salad yum times
Black bean and sweet corn salad yum times

Stop saying “should”

I learned this from a wise and incredibly inspirational woman who I met this summer. When she introduced this concept, I didn’t fully understand the implications of saying “should” to others or myself. I started to pay attention to when I said it and when other people said it to me, normally in a directive from someone who had no right to be directing me (student, parent, co-worker, etc.). I started to feel like an asshole every time I used it. “You should be quiet” or “you should take out the trash” just sound so much different from saying, “I’m having trouble concentrating, would you mind keeping the noise level down a little?” or asking, “Would you mind taking the trash out? I’ll go take the compost out while you do that.” Removing “should” from my vocabulary will hopefully make me a kinder person and it will help me communicate with people in a way that doesn’t seem condescending or rude. Beyond that, it will allow me to give people space to choose what they do with their time. And for that matter, what I do with my time. Eliminating “should” also eliminates all the pressures of my daily life. When there is nothing that “should get done” or nothing I “should do,” I have more space to make decisions that make me feel happy and at peace.

How I’m going to implement this in my day-to-day life: I have been slowly eliminating “should” from my vocabulary and I have definitely reaped the benefits personally. I no longer tell myself, “You should go to the office” or “you should go help so-and-so with blah-dee-bloop.” I shouldn’t do anything if I don’t want to or if I don’t have time. So my new mindset is that I can do something or I have time to help someone out with something. The next step in eliminating “should” from my life is to ask others to eliminate it as well. The next time someone uses “should” in a way that makes me feel like I’m being bossed around or asked to do something I don’t want/need to do, I will say something. It is going to be a huge step outside of my comfort zone, but I’m going to try.

Find your happy place(s)

At this very moment, my happy place is the glorious coffee house I am writing this blog post from. Over the summer, it was my hammock that I set up between two trees about 20 yards from the shore of the bay. Some days it will be my bed. Some days it will be my office (though this will be very rare). Most of the time, this “happy place” is also a place that allows me to be alone. I’ve been making this slow and steady transition to an introvert. It came as a shock when I finally confronted this new personality trait, but I suppose I have been an introvert my whole life without recognizing it. Recharging and gathering my thoughts alone has always been very crucial to my well-being. I love people (that’s a lie—people are weird and smelly) and my job requires a lot of interaction with other humans, but I definitely need time to myself to do something that I love.

How I’m going to implement this in my day-to-day life: One thing I am going to try is to make the spaces I spend the most time in happier places to be. I just MacGyver’d some boxes in my office into a makeshift standing desk. It doesn’t make being inside for office hours any better, but I feel healthier after a day of answering emails and working on PowerPoint presentations. I also eliminated a lot of extra stuff from my apartment in an effort to become a minimal minimalist. De-cluttering my life gave me an incredible feeling of accomplishment and space to breathe. I will also embrace the introvert I have become. I will make time to recharge alone, but not overdo it. I have practiced this a few times by going to some fun social events that I would normally miss out on to sit at home and watch Netflix. But, when I feel like it is time to head home and go to sleep or have some me-time, I go. I’m keeping it simple, but also pushing myself to be in happy places with other people so I don’t become a complete hermit.

Do you have some new goals for self-care this fall? Share in the comments section below!

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