A year ago, I was working 70-hour work weeks. I felt chained to my computer – while I loved the projects, the blogging, and the social media, I didn’t love the sense of total sedentary physical inactivity that went along with so many hours in front of a computer. I was cranking out fun and beautiful projects, but the expense was high. I spent too much time feeling blah. I was eating poorly – usually only one meal a day. I was sleeping poorly – absurdly late nights to meet deadlines. I lost my gallbladder after ignoring signs and waiting until it was too late. Eating became a chore after that, so much made me feel terrible. I avoided meals for fear they’d make me feel awful. Not wanting to be a whiner, I kept most of my aches, tiredness, and sick feelings to myself.
By all appearances, I was managing two successful small businesses, managing my boys and home. But I felt sick and tired… all. the. time.
I made a commitment to myself last August to start changing that. At whatever the cost. I wanted my nights back, my time back, my energy back, improved health, fewer hours at the computer. I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.
I feel pretty strongly that you shouldn’t complain about something if you’re not prepared to do something about it. So, I’m doing something about it. No lifestyle changes can be made overnight, but over the last 12 months, here are some of the changes we’ve made.
- First, no fast food. It’s not food. There is nothing nourishing or fulfilling about the food-substitutes that fast food provides. This was easy.
- Several meals a day. This was hard. Eating before I got hungry was different for me. Having nearly halted my metabolism by eating only once, this took several months to get accustomed to. I still struggle and sometimes have to set the alarm to remind me to eat.
- Drink a lot of water. Also hard for me. At first, I had to go to the bathroom all the stinking time, because my body had been trained to live like a camel. Now I crave water. Crave it and seek it.
- Relearn food. Fat doesn’t make you fat and feel like crap. Sugar makes you fat and feel like hell. “Processed food” is a misnomer. It’s merely a food-like substance. It’s filler. Don’t eat filler. Crap food makes you feel like crap. Eat real food. That shouldn’t be hard, but most convenient food is not food. It actually (and ironically) requires more effort to eat real food than convenient crap filler in our society.
- Stop being sedentary. Stop making excuses for being sedentary. Move. Your. Body. This is getting easier, although workouts still feel like work. I have to talk myself into hitting the pavement. Good music helps. Quality workout clothes also help. Running in cotton makes an already laborious effort feel gross. Get some moisture-wicking material workout clothes and get your buns movin’!
- Get the spouse and family on board. In my case, my husband didn’t feel sick and was hesitant about moving toward a more-organic diet. Particularly because buying organic, whole foods can be expensive. We are always trying to find a balance between budget and food choices. For me, it was easier because the food I was eating made me feel physically bad, but without that direct motivation, that change is much, much harder.
- Teach the kids now. Help them understand that learning now, creating good habits now, while they are young, is so much easier than relearning as an adult when you are overweight, over-stressed, under-nourished and have a lot of bad habits to break. Maintaining youthful health, metabolism, and fitness is so much easier than losing it and working so hard to try to regain some of it.
- Retire from design. This was very hard. I love my clients. But I could no longer deny that that business enabled a lifestyle of sedentary, physical inactivity. That job, while creatively nourishing, demanded too many hours sitting in front of a computer screen. Leaving it behind has been bitter sweet.
- Photography. This has been easy. It’s an active, high-energy job. This is my 4th year in business and the best year yet. It does require hours at the computer, but not nearly as many as design. This job is more physically demanding and just as creatively rewarding.
- Stop being accepting of society’s excuses that cultivate obesity, promote job-centered rather than family-centered work hours, and praise a stress-fueled lifestyle. No wonder 2:3 of us are overweight. Our American culture makes you feel like it’s okay (normal, even!) to be fat, tired, sick, overworked, and sedentary. It’s not okay! It’s killing us slowly. It doesn’t feel good to be any of those things! I don’t want this to be misconstrued as meaning we should all look like magazine covers. It’s not about that. It’s about feeling awful. If you are overweight, tired, sick, working too much and physically inactive – all the things I was – I can promise that there is a better way.
I feel like I’ve taken the first few steps toward making things better. This isn’t the end, by any means. There’s so much more to do and learn and tweak. I feel so much better! My energy is higher, I’m sleeping more, we’ve each dropped about 20 pounds, we are active. Food no longer makes me feel dread at mealtimes. I am eating about 4 times a day, 6 is my goal. I don’t miss sugar. My kids are seeing, by example, what it means to make healthy choices. Most of all, I’m not making excuses that enable me to continue to be overweight, tired, sick and stressed!
Have you felt that ‘enough is enough!’ feeling? What are some lifestyle changes you have made? I’d love to hear about them!
Gratuitous photo, because I can’t blog without one!