About a year ago, I decided I wanted to run on a regular basis. I researched pre-workout powders, chose one, and started running on a daily basis. Initially, I lost a bunch of weight. Sounds pretty cool, right?
Not so much. Running 5-7 miles a day, up from not running much at all, took an enormous toll on my legs. I developed weird and painful leg spasms, and no matter how much I ate, I wasn’t gaining any weight. Unfortunately, though, I wasn’t losing it either– and that was the goal. That’s when I realized I didn’t know what self-care meant.
I’d always thought that to take care of yourself meant to work out, eat healthy, and be skinny. Throughout every sport I played growing up, it was drilled into me that “skinny” was the only acceptable body type. I thought that to lose weight and be healthy, I had to diet. I’d thought that once I got to a “good” weight, could go back to eating normally. Unfortunately, no one told me that to keep the weight off, I had to keep up eating a healthy diet.
Here’s the thing:Diet (n): the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats. Click To Tweet
Most of us grow up on the Standard American Diet, eating mostly food that is “high in meat, dairy, fat, sugar as well as refined, processed, and junk foods.” I was lucky to have parents and grandparents who pushed vegetables, but let me tell you: it isn’t hard to get junk food at or after school. I was never quite where I wanted to be, either health-wise or superficially. And yet, I never really knew how to do better for myself.
So back to now. Over the past year, a lot has changed, and I’ve found things that work for me in terms of taking care of myself. On that journey, I’ve realized a lot of things, but more than anything that taking care of myself is okay– both physically and mentally.
So here’s what I want to share with you today: the top five things that have helped me pay more attention to my own well-being. To be honest, I’m still working on all of them, but I’d like to think that trying counts, too, right? 😉
- Get enough shut-eye. We’ve always been told that 7 to 8 hours of sleep is enough, but now it’s more like 9. Getting enough sleep is essential to both memory and attention span– everything processes through your brain while you’re sleeping! Having trouble sleeping occasionally? That’s normal! Try taking a hot shower or bath before bedtime, or drinking caffeine-free, herbal tea. Still not working? If I’m having more trouble sleeping, I’ll fall back on ZQuil, Nyquil’s sleep aid counterpart. When all else fails, ZzzQuil knocks me out pretty quickly, and I wake up feeling pretty darn refreshed and ready to go!
- Find time to be active. I don’t care if you walk, run, swim, bike, or -heck- fly. Get moving in some capacity for 60 minutes every day. Some of the latest science says we should even be getting closer to 15,000 steps, instead of the 10,000 previously recommended. But frankly, I say, just move!
- Eat your vegetables. 97 percent of Americans aren’t getting enough fiber and 98 percent of them aren’t getting enough potassium. Fill half of your plate with vegetables, and you should be good to go (pun intended) in no time! 😉
- Get clean- your room/home, that is. Studies show that the less cluttered your home is, the less cluttered your mind may be. Not motivated? Turn on some music or a podcast, and get scrubbing! It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by a messy home. Make a list of things that you need to get done, and space them out over a week. Pick up ‘stuff’ around the house on Monday, vacuum on Tuesday, wash the windows on Wednesday.. Whatever you need to do, make it easier on yourself and schedule it out.
- Take time for yourself to do something you enjoy. If you like reading, square away a few minutes in your day to focus on reading. If you like dancing, writing, watching something on TV, or whatever it is, make time to spend time doing only that. Give yourself a break, and do something you want to do.
Questions for you:
What do you do to take the best care of yourself when otherwise stressed?
What are some of your favorite ways to incorporate vegetables into your meals?