Friday, July 22, 2011

July Self-Care Retreat

There is a whole community of health conscious bloggers out there. In a world where there is so much conflicting information, where widely available foods are poisonous to some of us, where awareness of what food actually does to our system is so small, where you can feel so alone when you discover that what you ate your entire life is making you sick, in a world like this one, a community is a life saver. I am grateful to have found it, just like I am grateful I found the book blogging community when I needed it most.

Now it seems that I need both and this blog reflects the changes that my life is going through.

A self-care retreat - this is what Valerie from City Life Eats and Cheryl from Gluten-Free Goodness have organised for the month of July to remind themselves and others about how important it is to take good care of ourselves. Everyone is invited to reflect on taking better care of their needs, both physical and spiritual. Check out Valerie's thoughts and Cheryl's thoughts and participate yourself, if you wish.

As for me, well, as most of you know, since I've been going on and on about it, I recently discovered that I am gluten- and dairy-intolerant. Even more reently, as in last week, I discovered that I am also wheat-intolerant. How do I know? I have psoriasis and I can tell within a day if something didn't agree with me, because my psoriasis turns bright red and itchy and incredibly unpleasant. For gluten and dairy, I also get stomach issues, brain fog, chills and a variety of other symptoms, including an almost debilitating fatigue. No fun at all.

It makes me happy that I can now recognise when something has made me sick. For so long, I thought that's what normal felt like.

In the context of this and in the context of my neverending journey to lose 10-15 kilos, I have been thinking about health a lot lately. Here are some things I am realising and aiming towards:
  • Food is supposed to nourish us and keep us healthy. Choosing foods that are good for me equals treating myself with care and respect. Choosing junk foods puts strain on my body and doesn't give me the energy I need to tackle my busy life. Same goes for my family.
  • Eating out is a risk. Pretty much every time I've eaten out in the past few months, I've been ill afterwards. Everything works much better if I know exactly what's gone into my food.
  • I can't be an angel all the time. :-) I will want to go out to eat, I will want comfort junk food. What I'm aiming for is to make the healthiest choices I can, most of the time. This once-in-a-while rule obviously relates only to the foods that don't make me sick. Those are totally off limits because they're just not worth it.
  • Excercise, ah, excercise. I find it pretty much impossible to work excercise into my schedule. I started running and couldn't keep it up, I started all sorts of programs on the Wii and couldn't keep them up either. I've resigned myself to the fact that with a demanding full-time job, a small child and a theatre hobby, excercise time won't be available to me. The one thing I can do is walk as much a I can.
  • Peace of mind - where are you? I really, really want to become a calmer person. I don't like raising my voice at home, I don't like inner turmoil keeping me up at night, I want to be zen. But this is the one part of self-care that I have no idea how to reach. Ideas, anyone? I'm no good at meditation. Any other ideas? ;-)
Self-care is so incredibly important and yet most people have so much trouble making time for it. By taking the time to think about this and to make small changes, I am doing myself a favor.


NoKas said...

Hi! It seems that you're really willing to make a big change in your life. I'm no expert (actually I'm usually super stressed), but I can tell you that from the moment you engage exercise and eating well, life does change.

1. Once you start eating what's good for you, after a while your gut will get better (instead of reactive) and soon your body will absorb the good minerals you're probably missing, such as magnesium (this was my case and this was what the doctor told me). This is brain food! If you're missing other stuff such as calcium and iron, just try to eat a lot of good items such as fish (home made sushi is great), lentils, beans in general have minerals. (The doctor also told me that garlic helps and olives help a lot... well, garlic is good for everything, right?) And playing with food is great. I love it. I'm sure that soon this will also help in getting you more relaxed.

2. During the previous year I went trough the most stressful period of my life: finishing my PhD thesis. I had no weekends, no free time at all, I knew I was gonna spend my entire time in front of my laptop. I didn't sleep well, I was never relaxed. So, I made my decision and I just joined a sport group. I'm not sportive at all, but I JUST HAD TO MOVE! And since then I've felt so much better. I can make push ups now!!!! I had never been able to make this before. And I didn't got extra weight during this time, like I previously did when I had my master and degree projects (I didn't loose any, I think it was just good to be balanced). I felt more resistant to stress: I also made some (light) boxing on Sundays! :p It worked for me!!!!!!!!! And I also biked to work. I must say that I hate running, meditation is also not my thing, I like yoga, but just can't find good classes at the good location and at the right time. You just need to find your own time, it helps get your moment of zen (when you're so concentrated in moving that your brain is empty of negativity). My mother also started exercising this year (she had to due to health problems). She has a super stressful work and she did found some time, she's better now, happier than what I've seen in the previous years! She's a new woman. We all make time for it. If not, then just walk really as much as you can. And during the weekend walk for at least 1-2h.... you and your music, or your podcasts. It also feels great!

Good luck!

Unknown said...

Great blog and you've inspired me to change some of my deleterious eating habits!

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

Joanna, it's been a great learning experience for me to see you go though this journey of self-discovery (it's a good year for it, right?).

I'm sure you'll come out a stronger person.


joanna said...

NoKas - thanks so much for all the ideas! We really need to meet in person one of these days. :-)

Sandra - I'm so gald! :-)

Alex - thank you. You've been such a good friend through it all.

Larissa said...

This is a beautiful and so honest entry, Joanna. I know you've been struggling, especially as this sort of fell on your head.
I now about the difficulties of eating in this world when you have a special diet, but at least being vegan was my own choice, whereas you had no reason to avoid dairy and gluten in the first place. And it's through you that I discovered how much gluten is just everywhere (for dairy I already knew, obviously), to a point which is quite frightening.
I'm amazed and proud to see you walk this path so well and become an even better person for it.
And I WILL find a way to make my vegan muffins gluten-free!