Saturday, December 31, 2011

Be Good to Yourself

We are moments away from a brand-new year, and so many of us are full of hope for a fresh start. But the truth is there is no magical "reset" button we can push at midnight. Our lives don't automatically change with the changing of the calendar. Despite our hopes and dreams, most of us will wake up on January 1st to the same worries and sorrows that plagued us at the previous year's end.

We all know this dismal truth, yet most of us approach the new year with optimism anyway, hoping that just maybe this will be the year when FINALLY we'll make some changes!

Do you make resolutions? I always do. Mine just keep getting more numerous and detailed each year -- a complex outline of all the ways I'd like to improve myself over the next 12 months. Many of the goals are attainable, but the idea that I can accomplish them all in one year is a little absurd. Hey, it's no secret that I like to punish myself with unrealistic expectations!

This past year I have discovered, painfully, how damaging that habit can be. I have excelled at one thing: being way too hard on myself. I think I'm ready to get off the path of self-destruction and get back on the road to good health (mental and physical), but my map will not be an outline detailing zillions of things that I need to do better. This time I'm starting with a simple resolution, one that I recommend to everyone: BE GOOD TO YOURSELF!!

I think sometimes we try to take care of ourselves but go about it in all the wrong ways. I'm not talking about seeking instant bliss through spending money we don't have on things we don't need, or eating too much of things that are terrible for us, etc. Those happy moments are fleeting and we are left fundamentally no better off than we were before.

The true "good" that we can do for ourselves is showing the same kindness, mercy, and compassion that we try to show others. It's okay to love yourself. Really, it is! It's not selfish or arrogant or conceited to love yourself the way God loves, or the way a mother loves. You can be aware of your shortcomings and strive to do better without hating yourself for being a failure. You and I are not failures. We are imperfect, and also perfectly lovable.

So my challenge to you and to myself for 2012 is just to be good to yourself, all the time, every chance you get. Be your own best friend and biggest fan. Your problems might stay the same, but they'll be a thousand times easier to handle if you are feeling loved and valued. And you might be surprised at everything else you can accomplish if you start with treating yourself right!

A friend once recommended that I listen to Journey to lift my spirits during a rough patch, and in turn I leave you with these lyrics:

"Lookin' back with no regrets
To forgive is to forget
I want a little piece of mind to turn to
Be good to yourself when no one else will
Oh be good to yourself."

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Burning Cookies Instead of Calories

In the spirit of expanding my definition of "workout," I'm going to ignore the fact that I ran only once last week, and celebrate the fact that I spent all weekend exercising. For nearly two whole days I was on my feet, baking lots of holiday goodies! My heart rate never really went up very high, but my muscles sure are sore today!

Granted, I probably consumed more calories than I burned. After all, each finished product had to be sampled as part of my rigorous quality-control procedures. Some of the ingredients had to be sampled as well, and of course there were beaters to be licked...

Okay, so my kitchen marathon probably did nothing at all to improve my physical health, but it was more active than sitting in front of the television, and it helped me get into the holiday spirit, so I'm counting it as positive in the mental health area. It really did seem to help my mood...yesterday I was tired and overwhelmed by the crazy kids, but I managed to keep my mood in neutral until the end of the day, and even ended on a cheerful note after more baking once the kids were in bed. I call that success!

This week I'm going to make a little more effort to find time for that elusive second run (after accomplishing the first run, that is), and hopefully a few days off work will help with scheduling. If I fail, well then I'll just have to find a way to make wrapping presents into a workout....

Happy Holidays, everyone! :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Here's Where It Gets Tricky

Hooray for me -- I ran last night! It felt great, physically and emotionally. And I feel optimistic about being able to squeeze in some other workout by the end of the week.

So it's all good, right? WRONG. I was so exhausted after running that by the time the baby finally went down for the night, I was no longer functional and fell asleep with a lengthy to-do list left undone. Today I woke up feeling guilty about getting "nothing" done last night, even though running really should count as "something." That's what I've got to make myself believe -- that taking care of myself is a worthwhile use of my time, as important as many of the other tasks on my seemingly endless lists!!

This is a bad time of year to try to find extra time for something like exercise, but it's also a bad time of year to be miserable, so I have no choice. I don't know how to get it all done. I don't even know if I CAN get it all done. It's time to get pickier about priorities, and make sure my well-being isn't the very lowest one.

I do still feel optimistic about being able to get in another workout this week, but I expect to engage in a mental struggle to postpone some other task in order to do it. If exercise wins that struggle, I hope that I will feel proud of myself instead of guilty!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Too Little

As great as it felt to run last week, it's not going to have the desired effect if I can't keep it up.

I know I shouldn't be so hard on myself, but I really don't know any other way. I think I've proven time and again that I'm lousy at cutting myself any slack. If you know the secret of how not to hold oneself to impossible standards, please share it with me!

The truth is I accomplished what I set out to do. I made ONE workout my goal for last week, since that would be one more than any of the previous weeks. I set the bar low, and I achieved my goal. Initially I felt GREAT about it, and even dabbled in a teensy bit of optimism that my plans for feeling better just might work.

Running was such a positive experience that I couldn't wait to repeat it, and hoped to go for another run on Thursday...or Friday...or sometime over the weekend. Unfortunately, life got in the way, as it so often does. My determination has not created magical pockets of free time in my busy schedule...go figure! The fact that it's the holiday season only complicates matters further.

It makes perfect sense that I was unable to squeeze in another run, and yet I've spent the day beating myself up over it anyway. I've been pretty down all day, and at times I found myself blaming it on my lack of running. So now I'm seeing how my plans might backfire on me. When I can't manage to get in a workout, not only am I missing out on all the positive benefits of exercise, but I'm also dealing with yet another reason to feel like a failure. UGH. I don't know the solution. I guess I just have to try harder to find the time, because one run a week is just not going to be enough.

My goal for this week is 2 workouts. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Conversation With My Treadmill

Tuesday night, around 9:00pm.

Treadmill (TM): Well HEY, haven't seen you in AGES! You dropped in a few times in September, but other than that I've just been collecting dust down here! Are you back to stay now, or what?

Me: Dude. It hasn't been the easiest few months. But YES, I'm back to stay. No promises you won't collect a teensy bit of dust between visits though. I mean, we do have cats living here, and they shed...

TM: Okay, whatevs, hop on!

Me: Yeah, let's do this!

TM: Oof! Yikes, you might want to lay off the late night desserts, lady.

Me: Shut it. Chocolate helps me cope. I do plan to ease up a bit soon, though. And I mean soon like early 2012. You can't expect me to shun sweets during the friggin' holidays.

TM: Fine, fine. Lucky for you I have a pretty high weight limit. want to walk any faster than that? I'm pretty sure you walked faster than that when you were 8 months pregnant. Just sayin'.

Me: I am WARMING. UP. Sheesh. Who do you think you are, Jillian Michaels?

TM: Hey, somebody's gotta motivate your lazy butt. I kid, I kid! You're doing great!!

Me: *silence, as I am breathing too hard to talk anymore*

TM: So, uh, you've been working pretty hard. That's a lot of running for your first time in a while. Wouldn't you like to walk a bit? Doesn't walking feel good?

Me: *pant* Yes, *pant* walking *pant* feels *pant* good. *pant pant pant* But you know what else feels good? SUCCESS! One more run!!!

After a total of 10 minutes of running, broken up with walk breaks...

TM: You did it! You accomplished your fitness goal for the week! How do you feel?

Me: Tired. Fantastic. Sore. And a teensy bit concerned that I spent my workout carrying on a conversation with a piece of exercise equipment.

TM: Touche. Get some rest. And please come visit me again soon! It's spooky down here in the dark.

Our next visit tentatively schedule for Thursday or Friday night...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Paving the Road to Hell

Despite my best intentions, I have not followed the plan I set out in my last entry. I have made zero progress on my sleep/nutrition/exercise regimen, and I believe I am suffering the consequences.

At first I thought I was getting along pretty well with the other facets of my plan. The prayers were flowing, and I was drawing strength from all the support I received after posting to my blog. I wouldn't say I was feeling good, but I was definitely okay, which was a marked improvement. I guess that improvement wasn't built to last.

The weekend was rough. My 6-year-old son has some serious behavior problems and anger management issues, and it's becoming increasingly difficult to teach him how to handle his emotions when I cannot handle my own! He had a few intense tantrums, but I may have had even more emotional meltdowns than he did, and some of them were not even triggered by anything major. I just can't cope with anything anymore! When the kids get noisy, I tense up, and the mess in my house makes me feel like I'm suffocating. Am I losing my mind???

Lately I have found myself wishing that I had never had kids at all. Isn't that an awful thing to think? I'm not going to go all Andrea Yates on my boys...I do love them and I would never purposely hurt them. But I feel like I'm not cut out for this motherhood thing and maybe it was all a huge mistake. My kids deserve better than what I'm capable of giving them right now.

I need to try harder to get my head on straight, but I just don't have the energy. I wish I could sleep for about a week and then wake up completely re-energized and ready to tackle all my problems!!!! Since that is not an option, all I can do is just try to get through one day at a time. I really don't know when or even if things will ever get better. I'm feeling really pessimistic today. I think I'll blame it on the clouds. Gloomy weather just makes me more gloomy as well.

Okay, I need an action plan so I can feel like I'm doing something rather than just sitting here hating the world and feeling sorry for myself. My goal is to go for a run (well, a walk/run) tomorrow evening after the kids are in bed. I will hand the baby off to my husband and head down to the treadmill for at least 30 minutes of taking care of ME. I'll let you know whether it helps!