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Sick and tired of being sick and tired!

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! ;)
randy and darcy milder | iowa photographers

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  1. LOVE it!! Those are things I want to do ( no kids outside my uterus, but I got one in!) :) THis very much inspired me! I have eaten (and felt) like crap the past two days!! I can do something about that!! I am however just finishing up 40 ounces of water! And about to start drinking my 60! :)

  2. Thanks for posting this.
    I’m there. I’ve been running for over a year, but without changing my eating habits I’m losing the battle. I need to change things for me, my husband and my 10 year old who hasn’t had very good examples the past couple of years.

  3. Good for you!
    I’m there. I’ve been running for over a year, but without changing my eating habits I’m losing the battle. I need to change things for me, my husband and my 10 year old who hasn’t had very good examples the past couple of years.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  4. I have given up pop/soda. I decided when I got out of school for the summer, no more pop. I drink iced tea & water a LOT more!
    I’ve also cut back & almost completely cut out the fast foods myself.
    Thanks for the sharing & the inspiration!

    • We did that a few years ago, too. I thought I’d miss it a ton more than I ever did. Don’t miss it at all, and now it doesn’t even taste good to me. Coke does make an excellent toilet cleaner though, if you’ve got some laying around. :)

  5. Absolutely LOVED this post. Sharing with my friends.

  6. hi there! First time ever to visit your blog and this post is right on with my life right now! About 4 months ago, I too, decided I was sick and tired of being sick and tired….my exact words! I began to pray about what to do and began reading up on some things. we already ate pretty healthy but were eating some things that we thought were good for us and learned that they were not. We cut out dairy, sugar and wheat. I have been free from these things for a little over 3 months now and do not miss them at all. We eat whole and raw foods and love it. And the best part, I used to take allergy, sinus and headache meds almost daily and I have not taken any in 3 months!
    great post! :)

  7. Great post! Thanks for sharing your heart with us. Cheers to you for making such difficult changes.

  8. Marcelle says:

    So happy to hear this….I’ve been on this healthy journey for 3 years now. I lost 43 pounds, maintaining now. I was diagnosed with MS so made changes…no process, diet products or soda…only clean eating. Am gluten and grain free…and now working on sugars. Down to less than 30g a day.
    So happy your family is with you on this journey, my hubby is with me as well and also lost weight.
    Thanks for sharing.

  9. So happy to hear how you are taking care of yourself and your family. These are things I’ve also really focused on this year and I have felt AMAZINGLY better. We are on a really tight budget with 4 kids and never go out to eat anymore, but this weekend went camping and on the way home had to stop for dinner….after eating I felt HORRIBLE that night……and I’m positive it was because of all the preservatives and artificial food coloring in that food that we ate. I’ve eliminated most of those things from our diet. Anyway….so happy for you and so happy to hear that you are feeling better and functioning better and in the end being a better mom and wife for your family….because those are the most important things in life!

  10. Hi Darcy…not sure how I got to your blog, but I loved your post. I too have made many of those changes this year, thought the excercise thingie is something I just started – walked three times last week and once already this week. Think I’ll follow you to see how you are coming along. Laurel

  11. Celebrating with you your big steps towards health and wholeness!
    I’ve been learning a lot about diet, liver, adrenals and more. It’s fascinating stuff, actually. But, the doing takes tons of discipline. So glad you’re feeling better. Over the past few years I’ve learned a lot about the need for rest. I came to the realization that I was disobedient. God wants us to rest and for us to think that we can do it all fools no one but ourselves. Who do we think we are? God? Yeah. That’s was a tough pill for me to swallow. And I learned all of this the hard way. And it seems the only way he can get out attention is through our health. I’m glad you’ve found new freedom and creativity and energy….and your family too. Yay!!

  12. A few years back I went on a transformation journey and lost 47 pounds, not by a book or well-known diet, but by eating good, wholesome foods, exercising, and lots of water. I did put 13 pounds back on after I sold my treadmill and moved. Working to get those off now, but I feel so much better than I did a few years back. Keep it up; it’s worth it! Great post, especially your last bullet point.

  13. What a wonderful post! So glad that you have taken control the way you want to! As for me, I’m almost 70, and the gravity and unused muscles are making me hate my self-image. I know there are some things I can’t change, but I need to do what I can. (I, too, eat only one meal a day….don’t drink enough water {probably a holdover habit from 34 years of teaching—can’t leave the classroom to go to the bathroom all the time!}….and I sit in front of the computer too much because I’m retired and I can!) You are an inspiration.

    • Aw Evelyn! 34 years of teaching really is an inspiration! If you can manage a classroom for 3 decades, you can definitely change the habit of inactivity. It’s the seemingly easier choice, but really, in the end, it’s the harder choice because you end up feeling worse!

      Do you have a smart phone? LIke an iPhone or Android? There is an app called RunKeeper… but it’s also for walking, biking, etc. You could use it for walking (at the mall, your neighborhood, etc.) and your team members can cheer you on. I’d love to have you join my street team – and we can hurray each other when we get up and get movin’!

  14. Just what I needed to hear today.. Day two of taking back my life. I have been on a path to nowhere that has left me fat, tired, drained and sad. At almost 47, it is time to take control of my life and that means making some big changes that are definitely needed. I don’t want to hit 50 and still feel sick and tired and feel like I don’t fit in my life. So I am really glad you posted this when you did… it hit home!

  15. Darcy, This is a fabulous post. I’ve known for years the sugar is addictive (before it came out on the news and med shows) and that it makes me feel awful and lethargic, not to mention the overweight issue. Unfortunately, I have not mastered this. Your post here reminds me of things I know and I look forward to taking the appropriate steps … again! ;-> Congratulations on your accomplishments!

  16. Excellent post! Congrats on a lifestyle change for the better! I have began similar goals and started eating a plant-based, whole foods diet. I’m just at the beginning of it but already feeling better.

  17. Good for you! We can’t take care of others until we care for ourselves, which is hard for moms to reprogram, but I am learning at age 41. I am starting to try little to no caffeine and little to no alcohol, hard. Also good to have some protein (cheese, nuts, etc.. definitely not carbs) before bedtime to help you not wake in the middle of the night. My exercise is my sanity, I do it to stay sane, but then I neglect my work…. very hard to find a balance. Thanks for sharing.

    • I also swear by yoga (for the mind and body) along with 8 hours of sleep and good whole foods. I really don’t miss sugar either, weird how your body adjusts.

  18. Thank you for this post! Everything you mentioned in the beginning sounds A LOT like me. I’ve actually been successful at eating right and even working out, then I see the results and reward myself way too much to where I start back to zero. I also feel like I’m making excuses for myself since I am spreading myself too thin. Just wanted to say thanks for the motivation :)

    -Denise (http://www.effortlessmom.com)

  19. Good for you Darcy! 20 pounds. Yahoo! What great lifestyle changes you have made.

    I did some research at the beginning of 2012 and decided that I, too, needed to kick sugar. While I can’t say I don’t miss it like you, I do LOVE how my body feels when I don’t eat it. I lost about 21 pounds this spring when I gave it up.

    I hope everything is well with your family. I love checking in on you from time to time. Take care!

  20. I was missing the posts here at my3boybarians, but with this motivational history behind I almost feel happy you’re blogging so little…
    that0s a great example you’re setting, congratz, your kids are very lucky to have a mom like this…

  21. Bravo and Congratulations – you’re an inspiration to all your followers.
    PS – I miss Iowa so much (lived in Huxley) now living in Michigan.

  22. I love family-centered work hours. Because really, who is going to be on their death bed saying “I wish I had spent more time working”? No one ever.

  23. Good for you Darcy! You were already inspiring, and now even more so!

  24. That shot of the two of y’all is gorgeous and HOT. Love it!

  25. Great to hear how you are beating the system and improving your family’s health. I have been feeling the same weight you talk about. I am about 2 hours from Des Moines working in agriculture at an unrewarding job which can require extremely long hours for much of the year. I keep dreaming about learning more about photography to help give me the freedom to take a part time job. If you ever consider doing photography classes I would love to have the opportunity to learn more from you!

  26. I’m so proud of you!! You look FABULOUS DARLING!

    AND I forgive you for retiring from design …

    Will I see you at Blissdom here in the great state of Texas?

    • I won’t be there – but I’m sure Texas will be hostesses with the mostest! Have a great time!

  27. Awesome words of encouragement!!!

  28. wish i could pick up and change like that but truth is im lazy and i will move as little as possible if i can help it. i do want to though. but my life is just so UGH right now that i can’t. it’s physically impossible for me. BUT!! Grats to you and I hope things have gotten better and you are a lot happier :)