Habits

Yes! I’m lifting weights again! This is something I really enjoy but took a 4+ month hiatus from due to a severe case of West Nile virus this past summer. It was 19 weeks plus a day, actually, from my last workout with weights before falling ill and beginning a long recovery to feeling really up to the physical challenge of lifting weights again.

The desire to resume my weight lifting activity was there, for sure, but my health care provider told me even getting a massage would be too hard on my body. And honestly, when I really thought about it I knew my body was too physically exhausted to even think seriously about doing it. It was a good month before I could even resume a daily 20-minute walk, but as soon as I was able I committed to doing it. Every day. Again.

At the beginning of 2018 I decided that it was time to make my physical health a priority again. My youngest was then about 15 months old so I had a little more freedom to establish a routine. I committed to getting up early and exercising before the kids woke up. There were days when I was so tired, or didn’t wake up in time to complete a whole workout but I told myself that even on those days I would at least put on my workout clothes and go down to the treadmill and do at least five minutes. There were some days when I would hear the kids stirring before I could even begin my workout, but I still put on the workout clothes; it was the habit I was building, and let’s face it, it’s a heck of a lot easier to feel like working out if you’re not in your pyjamas!

That February, I also added meditation to my routine, my workout is always followed by a 16-minute meditation. In fact, my meditation now trumps my physical workout, meaning that if I’m running short on time, I reduce my physical activity to accommodate my meditation time–it has given me so much calm and mental clarity in my life, among other things, that it’s just not worth missing it, but this rarely happens.

I found that it was easier to maintain these habits if I didn’t skip weekends so my 5-day per week routine quickly became a very gratifying everyday routine. There were definitely days when I just wanted to be lazy but I also knew how much my body would thank me and how good it would feel once the workout was done and that reasoning always won. I also knew how easy it would be for one day of rest to turn into two and then three…

Then, on August long weekend I got really sick and all that had to pause for the long recovery. This past Sunday I picked up the weights again for the first time since that weekend and it felt great! Just some squats with the bar and some lunges using free weights. I knew I had to ease into this again, but I also really wanted that satisfying sore muscle feeling after a good workout, like, I want sitting down in a chair to feel like hard work, lol. Let me be clear, though, this is not about pushing my body beyond what it is capable of to the point of injury–I would not suggest that to anybody. I’m also convinced that having built these healthy habits into my life played a big part in allowing me to recover so quickly from that West Nile setback.

I did the same thing again on Tuesday and added some abdominal, pectoral, bicep and tricep stuff, just a quick whole body routine to get everything going again. I wanted to do the same thing again on Thursday but had come down with a bad cold and knew better than to push my body into something it wasn’t up for. Today, (Saturday), I was able to do a quick run to warm up, a total body weight routine, my meditation and BodyTalk Access routine and it feels so good! My body thanks me.

I will continue to ease back into the weights, building up that habit slowly, but surely. After all, that is the only way to build habits, one day at a time, one choice at a time.

 

So… Let’s Talk About Fasting

The first time I consciously fasted was when we lost a family member to esophageal cancer. I really didn’t know much about fasting then, but what I knew is that a family member became very ill and lost a lot of weight because she could barely eat anymore. Something in me wanted to honour this; I felt like it was somehow giving a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves; a way to empathize with those who are suffering. That was ten years ago.

Over the last three years I have educated myself about the benefits of fasting and about some of the “whys” that we do it. While I understand most of the basic science about it, what intrigues me most is the mental/emotional work we go through as we do it.

In 2015, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. I was told by the specialist that I would be on medication for the rest of my life and that there was really nothing else I could do about it–that diet didn’t have anything to do with it. However, being that my colon is part of my digestive tract, something about this really didn’t sit right with me. I went to see a trusted herbalist and under her care I tackled this thing from a holistic perspective. Part of the way we were dealing with this was for me to give up two very basic ingredients for a brief period of time. (I am not going to list those two things, because not everyone is the same and I don’t believe that we can all heal with the same one-size fits-all solution.) The specialist agreed to let me try things the natural way and a follow-up was scheduled for 4 months down the road.

While I was not fasting entirely, what I was doing was giving up some things that, until then, had been an everyday part of my life. And I was doing this totally in faith that it would have some kind of positive effect on the state of my health. Because I knew that, if left untreated, the colitis could eventually¬† result in me having part of my colon removed, (or worse), the thought of giving up a few types of foods was not even a question. I didn’t want to end up in a position where I was out of commission and my young family couldn’t rely on me.¬†Giving up certain foods was an easy decision.

However, there were days when thoughts would come, “what if this doesn’t work?” “What if all this is for nothing?” I am happy to say that everything turned out really well.¬† And there began my journey of really exploring my relationship with food.

I just came off an extended fast; I lasted 65 hours. My intention was to go for five days, but ultimately I gave in to some organic corn chips and homemade salsa. Now, I’m making light of this a little bit, but I am really careful not to be too hard on myself, not to be unforgiving because I think that would defeat the purpose. When I’m fasting, I become really aware and intentional. Mindfulness is really important. How easy is it to just pop something into your mouth without thinking while making lunch for the kids or preparing a meal for others? And then, preparing a meal for others really becomes an act of service, a demonstration of love and devotion to those who are dependent on you. Fasting causes me to ask myself WHY I want to eat something instead of just mindlessly snacking here and there as I go about my day. Fasting makes me more aware of my habits and reasons for eating. And more grateful for what I have.

My relationship with food has changed somewhat this year. I came down with a serious case of West Nile virus this past summer, which, among other things, seems to have changed the way some of my favourite foods taste to me. Sometimes, I still eat those things, like chocolate, and when I don’t enjoy it as much, I ask myself, “why did I just eat that? I knew it wasn’t going to taste as amazing as it once did to me, so why am I still eating it?” I don’t necessarily have the answers to these types of questions, but I think asking them is important.

I REALLY enjoy food, I mean, A LOT! But what I enjoy even more, is learning about myself and what I am capable of. For me, fasting is never about weight-loss (though I am not knocking it as part of an informed solution if you choose to go that route; intermittent fasting can be very effective, if done consciously). For me, it’s about exploring my strengths and weaknesses, and continuing to develop discipline, patience, and gratitude. And ultimately, it’s about getting to know myself.

#KnowyourselfLoveyourselfBeyourself