Becoming aware….

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When I decided to go back to school I started the wheels in motion for an ever evolving, never ending experience of self improvement. Sounds tedious? It is completely the opposite – its fabulous!! I’ve learned so much about myself, my personality, my traits, and my habits. You’re thinking — well bully for you, why does this matter?

Essentially I have come face to face with many of my flaws (I know there are so many more to come) and am now able to see what unchangeable and what is changeable. Empowerment! Being able to take an honest look at myself and my life with consideration and care, and then acknowledge what I cannot change — is huge! The cool part is realizing what I CAN change, what is within my own control. Granted I have some control issues — but this has allowed me to let go of what I cannot control, this is a revelation!

So — what is NOT in my control?
Genetics – this is the body I was given, with all of the flaws that I see in it…my height, eye color, skin color, length of limbs, size ( as opposed to weight) of my body… these will not change, I accept them and anyone who wishes to be part of my life needs to accept them too.
Of course we also need to include health issues to a point — high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and allergies have plagued my family and therefore could potentially plague my life as well.

What IS in my control?

Personal health – as much as genetics plays a role in this area, how we live our lives an take care of our bodies also plays an important role in our health as well. So, our personal health is within our control. This doesn’t mean that we will not develop any of the health issues that run in our families – but it does mean that we have a choice in how we deal with these issues.
In the past five years, I developed an allergy to sulfites. At first this completely freaked me out – it affected my breathing, my skin, and how I ate. I felt like this was completely out of my control. Now, I’ve learned that for me my allergies are stress related and have learned that making stress management a priority has given me more control over the allergy. Working out and being in good health has also helped my body to better cope with the allergy as well. Now, my reactions are much more in control than they were at first.

So many people struggle with maintaining a consistent workout schedule. I am the same way! My goal is to workout three times a week: Cardiovascular (treadmill/recumbent cycling 30 min – working to increase heart rate), flexibility (training in ballet for the majority of my life makes this one particularly important — also important for my back health), and weight training (important for bone strength and just overall strength — increased muscle mass = increased metabolism). Sounds like a lot – but it takes about 1 hour in total. I have a workout journal on my home computer. Its an excel spreadsheet that is about 500 lines long at this point. It keep me accountable to myself and also allows me to see what I’ve done in the past week, month, what worked, what I liked, what didn’t. I also track any walks that I take during the week as well. In a perfect world I take a 45 min walk on the days I don’t work out — it doesn’t always happen but I’ve made the most progress when I did this consistently. My goal? To feel better about my body, to feel strong physically and to be functional as I age — we are all living longer lives and I want to stand tall and continue to learn and do what I love for as long as I can! the bonus is that I have actually lost 13 lbs since starting this and have managed to maintain that loss over the past year. This summer I am kicking up my routine to see if I can get past this plateau.

Mental Health – Again, genetics plays a role. BUT how we live our lives and take care of our bodies plays a significant role here as well. Again, working out has played a huge part in my ability to cope with stress. Surprisingly, going back to school has also helped — I enjoy school and feel more in control of my life. Its my life now, rather than trying to live up to someone elses life. Unfortunately it took me several years of extreme amounts of stress (mainly due to exceedingly high expectations of myself, exacerbated by expectations of specific persons in my life) to figure out that I have control of how I cope with stress.

Yoga became a source of relaxation and taught me to ‘live in the moment’. The biggest lesson from Yoga is breath, learning to pay attention to how I am breathing, focusing on it and then slowing it down, filling my lungs with it. The second way I’ve learned to control stress is through journaling and goal setting. For me journaling is a way of getting the thoughts bouncing around in my head – out of my head. When they are on the page I can still read them and review if I need to (though I find once they are out they are not important anymore), allowing me to focus on whatever the task at hand is…such as sleeping or getting ready for the day.

A message arrived today in my inbox from the heart and stroke association. Is a helpful tool for anyone that might be dealing with stress. (just click on the highlighted text)

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