My New Year’s resolution: healthier by forty. I’m still figuring out what healthier “looks” like for me, but I know what it’s not. Healthier is not looking at myself in the mirror and giving that woman dirty looks. Healthier is not stuffing yet another muffin in my face while running out the door. Healthier is not buying new clothes because just maybe THIS giant shirt, which looks like a bag, will actually make me feel less self-conscious of my weight gain. I imagine healthier will “look” like a girl that is content with herself emotionally and physically.
I’m reaching for some self-care and self-contentment. That’s not to say that I’m not setting goals like going to the gym or losing weight. I want that too, but I want to be reasonable. I want to FEEL healthy. I want to increase my serotonin levels with regular exercise that I enjoy. I want to look at myself in the mirror and say, “that girl’s worth it!” I’m sure I’ll learn more about what “healthier” is going to look like, but I’m taking it one day at a time.
Asking for help
It’s easier to lay in depression than choose change! Making choices that invoke self-love and inner joy can be a crazy-hard challenge. (Trust me! I’ve been on this road to healing for a couple years now.) With the help of a talented therapist, an amazing support group of strong women, a psychiatrist who listens, and a husband who doesn’t give up, I’m still here today and I’m a better version of me. The real me.
Healthier by 40 is not a goal to check off and then stop. I tell my students to make small lifestyle changes for better health. I’m taking action to do the same thing. It started about 2 years ago with seeking therapy for depression, and in another 2 years let’s see how far I can reach. I’m already a better version of me than I was 2 years ago, despite my 20-some pound weight gain. (My therapist would be so proud that I could say that!…go me!) I broke some really bad habits and started a new one – binge eating. Yikes! As a dietitian, that’s humbling to admit. But depression expresses itself in many ways. If we trade one vice for another but don’t deal with what’s really troubling us, we find ourselves in a mess still (just a different one).
I quit smoking
I quit smoking. (What?! You smoked?! You’re a dietitian! You’re supposed to be a nutrition example to the world. How can you call yourself a nutrition expert?) Oh… you weren’t shouting those things at me? Well, I was. I just piled on the self-humiliation in my head and took another drag. I was a secret smoker. I only smoked in the evening after everyone was in bed. I never talked about it and was ashamed to even buy them. But it was my go-to for letting go and calming down. Sometimes, along with smoking, I would drink. More wine than I should. I played it safe, but it was killing me. Killing my soul and killing my body. Plus, my kids were getting older. What if they started to smell it on me? I know I’m going to pass on some of my bad habits to them, but let it not be that one. Please.
Honest with people I love
I’m a better version of me… with help. I started seeking support from my husband, my friends, and my therapist. I was honest with the people I love. I have seen changes in me I didn’t expect. It’s been over a year since I’ve smoked and I don’t miss it. I don’t want to go back. I’m breaking the binge eating habits now. My weight is leveling out. I eat breakfast almost every day thanks to my overnight oats habit. Exercise, I’ve realized, is an amazing serotonin boost for me. (And for you too, research shows us this.) With the help of my new “friend” Brené Brown and some introspection, I’m practicing gratitude every morning and praying for my loved ones. I use the practice of gratitude to help myself relax in moments of stress. The book of the bible, Ecclesiastes has helped me practice humility and be open with myself about what I really want for my life and for my kids: love for people, even people who have no people.
I hope my kids will remember how often their parents said, “I’m sorry.” (I pray they each have their own awesome therapist someday… that’s why they each have a savings account. Ha! We’re not saving for college. We’re saving for their therapy sessions.) I’ll never be a perfect parent, wife, or friend, but I’d like to see how much I’m capable of loving others. According to Brene Brown’s research, we can’t love others more than we love ourselves. So I guess I have some more work to do.
2 years to go
I have less than 2 years to find out how far I can be stretched into better health. How much peace can I ask for? I still have my moments of high anxiety. I still have tough memories of my past that I need to bring up in therapy. I still yell at my kids in a moment of anxiety and irritability. Healthier me will probably still do those things at times, but healthier me will be practicing gratitude, love, and learning to trust God and herself.
What’s your goal for the next couple years? Or this year? Is there something you’d like to start doing to make a move towards a healthier you? Perhaps you’d like to eat more regularly for some real energy. Do you have some high anxiety or stress you can’t tame? Maybe you need to seek out an awesome therapist of your own. Or maybe you just need to start practicing gratitude and acknowledge your many blessings. Comment below and share with us.