I’m a self help junkie but my goal is not just to read, listen to, etc. a bunch of resources but to actually use them in my life.
A couple years ago, I found Danielle Laporte’s Desire Map library. Basically it’s a list of words (and she/her team made them all pretty so you could print them or put them as your computer screensaver or whatever). Website is here but here’s the gist of what it looks like:
Now I get that if you are reading this, you may be on various ends of the woo-woo spectrum.
Regardless of how you feel about auras or the law of attraction, we can all agree keeping a word in mind (versus a giant list of new year’s resolutions) is easier and because of that, easier to stick with.
Last year’s word for me was ‘grace’ for obvious reasons. This year’s word for me is ‘healthy’. (Don’t like either? It’s ok, pick your own word for your year’s motto!)
Now if you look at me, I am not sure most people would use ‘healthy’ as an initial descriptor, mainly because I’m thirty to forty pounds overweight by most medical standards.
But here’s the thing, folks. Being healthy is a lot more than maintaining a standard body type. And rather than focusing on weight loss, I thought I’d make some moves to be healthier/happier that feel a little more in my control. So what does a ‘healthy’ person do if not a fad diet?
I started a bullet journal, and track habits.
I have been intimidated by the bullet journal in the past, mainly because I am not an amazing artist (or someone who has the time/interest in becoming one). But as an analog gal who likes stationary, I thought I would use it this year as a stand in to my day planner and at least have an excuse to buy some pretty pens.
Doing bullet journal has gotten me into habit tracking. Here’s an example of habit tracking from someone else (mine is not nearly so filled in or attractive!):
What you do everyday is more important than what you do once in awhile, so the idea of habit tracking in a bullet journal is like Ben Franklin’s virtue tracker. To warn, you feel like a failure the first few weeks (or months) as you look at your chart every day and realize you didn’t do the things.
My three ‘health’ items I have been tracking daily since January 1 are:
- Drinking five glasses of water a day
- Getting rid of ten unnecessary items in my life
- 5 minutes of meditation/grounding
(Aside: the ten items is something people definitely have feelings about. There are multiple disciplines though that have linked clutter to things like obesity and depression so I argue getting rid of clutter is a health thing. Most people I talk to think ten items a day is very extreme. But think about the pile of business cards at the corner of your desk that need to go into your CRM, the condiments in your fridge you haven’t looked at the expiration date on in awhile, etc. and it can add up fast. To ease in, try one item per day as a resolution. I blogged my journey with this resolution here a few years ago.)
Do I do *all* the things I track everyday, health or otherwise? No way. But at least my life is now set up where they could happen. My electrical grounding mat (a little woo-woo!) is under my bed and has become part of my unwinding ritual. I have a designated water glass (and water accessories like lemon juice) at my office and at home. And as the months go by, the boxes are getting fuller.
In other words, by making myself think about it regularly, it is actually likely to happen.
And as I master some habits, I can add new ones, like taking vitamin D everyday.
In my journal, I also have a list of ‘Healthy Nicole’ things I would be interested in trying ranging from walking on my slack line most days to oil pulling. In other words, while there’s always more improvement to make, I can see in my bullet journal how far I’ve come.
I’ve let go of peoples’ advice.
People who have never had a weight problem giving me weight loss advice is like me giving skin care advice. Let me explain.
I get compliments on my skin all the time. But here’s my little secret: I had cystic acne from the age of 12 to 25. (Like count 100 zits and keep going.) I went on really strong medication to cure it at age 25 and haven’t had an issue since. I destroyed most of the pictures that really showed it but here’s one of what my face looked like with makeup on it:
My current ‘skincare’ routine involves washing my face at night and wearing sunscreen/moisturizer during the day.
In short, I had a medical condition and it wasn’t any lifestyle choice I made (and trust me, I tried everything from not eating nightshades to changing my pillowcase every night) that cured it. So me doling out skin care advice to people and acting as if the moisturizer I use now cured me would be shady.
It’s the same with weight; it’s usually a more complicated problem (and by complicated I mean individual and involving a lot of factors). Much like my acne wasn’t because I didn’t ‘just wash my face’.
But I am on a journey of health and when I tell people, they have diets for me to try or workouts they think I should do. I just smile and nod and move on.
I quit booze for six weeks… and might quit again.
As a woman of a certain age, when I go out to social events and not drink, certain assumptions are made (either that I’m pregnant or have gotten uber religious/judgemental suddenly.) I spent the first month of sobriety just not going anywhere. Once I realized I was just avoiding explaining myself, I would preface a happy hour with ‘I have some medical stuff so I’m trying not drinking.’
I am working on not being weird about not drinking but honestly, I do feel better not doing it.
To make the whole thing more ‘fun’ I’ve been building myself a little non-alcohol bar of various syrups, bitters, juices, artisanal sodas, and other ingredients I can use to dress up my seltzer water. Then I get the end of the day cocktail ritual which apparently was what I liked about it anyway.
I am letting my hair go gray.
Part of the health thing is I’d just like to have shiny, beautiful hair in whatever color it happens to be. And so about eight months ago, I stopped coloring my hair.
Now I will say if you do this, there are some great Facebook groups of people also transitioning to gray that will keep you going despite people saying you look ‘older’ or ‘weird’ or whatever. (Yes, people have said both to me.)
I figure as long as I’m fine with it, all the stuff doesn’t matter. (My boyfriend thinks it’s hot so that does help!) Not spending 4 hours and $150ish every ten weeks at a salon though has given me some energy to do fun things, like experiment with makeup. Also, I am looking forward to hitting the pool and other activities I’ve avoided because I worried they would undo my expensive dye job.
And for the times I feel experimental, I’ve gotten some fun colors (pink and blue) as leave in conditioners so I can still rock out a bit while having healthy hair.
I bought a few things to make myself happy.
Now I’m not a big ‘buy stuff to buy stuff’ person but I’ve given myself a little monthly budget for personal care. This has given me ‘permission’ to do things like buy an Airdesk (for when I work from home on my laptop), an essential oil diffuser, some fermented foods at a local farmer’s market, and a good quality razor. All this totaled about $300.
By putting money toward my health/personal care, it has made me look at what I could be doing each month. Should I get a good multivitamin? Some deep conditioner for the gray hair? That delicious looking elderflower syrup I’ve been wanting to try with my blueberry seltzer? The possibilities are endless and not nearly as indulgent as I expected.
I got therapy.
I worked with a hypnotherapist and a traditional therapist to help me figure my stuff out. I am a bit proponent of an intelligent, objective third party who can also give you techniques of dealing with your own stuff. This has been a very personal journey but a very worthwhile one and if you want to talk therapy, please contact me and I’m happy to talk more candidly about it.
Now I know what you’re thinking: Nicole, if you can’t get on a scale and see numbers change, what outcomes could there be for spending so much energy, time, and some money on this pursuit?
- My massage therapist is seeing overall improvements in some issues she’s been working on me with for years with my shoulders, arms, and back in particular.
- People have been saying I look good and ‘seem happy’.
- When I stopped by the prom to see my friend’s kid, a chaperone thought I was one of the kids and tried to make me go check in with my ticket.
- Both therapists saw measurable differences heading toward my goals of dealing with my depression and coming up with positive coping strategies (and letting go of negative, limiting beliefs.)
- My normally tense dog seems way less stressed out, so much so people visiting me at the house have commented she seems like a different dog.
- My digestive tract is… working better. (I’ll leave it at that.)
- Several people close to me have described me as ‘healthy’ without me telling them about my year goal.
Can I get healthier? Absolutely.
Will you be able to see differences? Maybe.
But in the meantime, I am enjoying the changes I notice and look forward to a healthier future I’m actively working towards.