Not going to lie, I have been feeling rough physically recently. I could say it’s from the pandemic stress, but that would be a lie. You don’t get a body like mine from a lifetime of healthy choices. It takes years and years of unhealthy choices, of ignoring pain and warning signs. It’s years of not so benign neglect that has me staring down the barrel of 53 with aching joints, a bloated stomach, and a general feeling of blerk.
It should come to no surprise to anyone who knows me that I have attempted to address this at times, over the years, sporadically. I’m sure my long suffering children can remember the various lifestyle choices they’ve been subjected to. One of the worst was what my ex-husband called ‘Fit for Unhappiness’. I think the actual title was ‘Fit for Life’, but the unhappiness was more accurate.
So while it may seem that I’m a slow learner, I’ve realised that I am not one to sustain drastic lifestyle changes. I gave up being buddhist in my 20s because I really didn’t believe God wanted us to live lives of deprivation. I am a hedonist at heart. I love indulgence.
It has now got to the point that my body is craving a different kind of indulgence than I have previously been offering. It wants me to indulge its needs, rather than my wants. Sigh… Bigger Sigh… The body has tools at its disposal I can no longer ignore. The day of reckoning has come.
This is not where I declare that I’ve joined the gym, even a virtual one, or signed up to some weight loss program. Nope, I know from past experience this wil result in me resenting spending money on something I didn’t really want to do in the first place.
Instead I am declaring today a day of life enhancing choices. Tomorrow and the next day seem likely to head that way too, rinse and repeat till life consists mainly of life enhancing choices.
Yep – Life Enhancing Choices.
This is an addition to my life that I can get on board with, in fact it’s one I use already in many aspects of my life…just not for my poor long suffering body.
So what do life enhancing choices look like?
Some of them are small.
This morning I had a choice of my favourite decadent chocolate bar for breakfast with a coffee, or banana on gluten free toast. Actually, I probably had many more choices, but those were the two that presented themselves most readily. I decided to compromise and have the toast with a chocolate bar chaser. Then I tuned in to my body, I asked myself – did I really want the chocolate bar or was it because it’s habit and a way I have framed as ‘treating myself’? Damnit! My body was not craving or needing the chocolate bar.
So toast it was. It was delicious toast. I feel replete. Life enhancing choice #1 done.
I was then sitting there engrossed on my phone and I needed to go to the bathroom,
Hands up all the women who put off going to the bathroom.
I see you there!
It’s a chronic problem among women. We somehow put our basic bodily needs behind all of the other things we feel should do first.
Go to the bathroom people!
Life enhancing choice for my body #2.
It’s not always the big things that matter. I have a very sore elbow at the moment. It’s easy to ignore it. Instead I will put some balm on it today before I start work in my office. It’s putting on the balm, drinking the water, not wearing the uncomfortable clothes, going to the bathroom the moment we realise we need to…those seemingly small things can have a massive impact on our general wellbeing.
Sometimes it’s bigger, more uncomfortable things.
Recently I have been cutting back my client hours on the weeks the children are here, so that I can help them with their schoolwork. After the last time they were here, one of them threw me under the bus spectacularly with their mother, after lying to me all week about their schoolwork. I decided that sacrificing my work to help someone who had no regard for the value of my time was not life enhancing for me. I made the decision that I would set aside two days to help, my mother is doing one day, and my husband is taking annual leave to cover the other, and the kids can cope while I work on the other. It seemed like the only option was for me to do it all, until I decided that wasn’t working.
An even more uncomfortable choice I am facing is that I know I need to knock consuming dairy on the head. I’ve given up gluten and nightshades for my joints, booze for my mental health, but the dairy…*sobs* I LOVE dairy. Cheese, cheese, milky coffee…these are the highlights in a dreary day. These highlights also leave me feeling physically crap, bloated, and sore. The life enhancing choice is going to be saying good bye to cheese and milk for a while, to restore balance to my long suffering body.
I’m going to need a warm up to that. It’s ok to need warm ups for big changes. For me a warm up looks like this: acknowledging change is required. Sitting with the frustration, annoyance, and sometimes grief around letting go fo the thing I need to let go of. Then might come bargaining…this may take some time! Finally comes acceptance. The pain of the loss is outweighed by the pain of staying the same.
Since the dairy is such a big one for me, I might decide to break this down into a series of life enhancing choices. It could be I have a black coffee in the morning, instead of a delicious frothy latte. I might use pecorino on my nachos, which is not cows milk, instead of tasty cheese. Big changes that we find overwhelming or are resistant to, might need a more gentle and gradual approach. I struggle with structured exercise regimes, but I can make the choice to stretch my body a couple of times a day.
What life enhancing choices can you make today?
These aren’t shoulds, oughts, or I’m going to do all of the things right now. These are single actions or decisions; I won’t reply to the toxic text, I’m going to assume good intention in this situation, I’m not going to beat myself up for not making the bed today…
Just pick one thing. If you find yourself motivated, pick another. Life enhancing choices are only life enhancing if we do them willingly and feel good about them.
I’m off to go cut some lemongrass for my tea for my next client session. Life enhancing choice #3.