And I’m Feeling Good: Shifting A Bad Body Day (or week.) Without Kidding Yourself
“Can I be totally real? This winter has destroyed me.”
I got this email from a friend last week and all I could do was sigh and nod. Yep, I’m right there with you, love. I completely get it.
In my Xsomething years of life, I’ve realized something crucial about this toxic, sometimes codependent relationship I’ve formed with my negative-talking alter ego. That negative voice in my head isn’t a pessimist: it’s an opportunist.
For the past three weeks, I’ve felt like shit. Physically. Emotionally. And I’ve been fighting tooth-and-unmanicured-nail to not let it overtake my life.
I’ve had this draft open on my computer for days now, trying to fenagle my words to convince myself it wasn’t about my body. But I can’t. It was about my body.
My body has felt foreign from the inside out, puffed-up in places that make me feel uncomfortable, and has been struggling to complete its usual workouts. I haven’t been overwhelmed per se, or stressed out like crazy; just “off.” It’s not like me. At least not this current incarnation of me.
This is the moment when opportunity starts to take shape for that little negative talk pattern. Sometimes you tell yourself you’ve slacked off. Sometimes you say you have no right to feel this way. You’ve launched your purpose project. You’re connecting with others on a soul level. You’ve got the coolest teammate-roommate-manmate ever and live in a place you love. You’re living the dream, baby. You are not supposed to feel this way.
And on and on and on, until the negative talk morphs into the formation of goals you don’t even need. You know the cycle: I’m bored/distracted/lonely turns into I ate something my body is sensitive to turns into I ate too much turns into I feel bloated turns into I feel fat turns into I am fat turns into I need to lose weight. It’s pretty incredible what a fantastic job that negative talk does at inserting itself into your life and staking its claim, convincing you that you need to take action now in order to prevent the downfall….
My negative opportunist likes to egg me on. You feel fat and unsuccessful, the voice tries to convince me. You’re slacking all over.
In this most recent bout of low-ness, I thought about what I would have done years ago: I would have complained to my friends/family and made up excuses to justify my self-imposed solitude. I would have taken laxatives and diuretics to feel less “stuck” (former Katie, I just want to hug you). Maybe I would have started counting macronutrients or portioned out meals (then binged later, so it goes). I would have let other things in my life slide – like relationships, work deadlines, or healthy eating – in order to give me something to focus all that hurtful energy on.
Not this time, opportunistic gold-digger.
What’s really nagging at us isn’t usually what’s in plain sight. Most of the time, the physical manifestation of our problems is just that: a purely physical manifestation, not the root of the problems themselves. It’s just easier to place the blame on the outside than to dive into the inside – so very easy to simply fixate and fix what’s on the surface (You know when you break a limb and you’re all banged up on the outside? Not addressing the root of a problem is kind of like putting a band-aid on the wound without addressing the bone).
The thing is, we don’t talk about this kind of stuff nearly enough, so we don’t even realize that everyone goes through this and it is totally normal. It’s no wonder so many of us are addicted to problems and starved for solutions.
How do we know, then, what’s really throwing us off-kilter?
If you’re feeling like you’re in a funk, body-related or otherwise, sit down in a quiet space and think about how you’re actually feeling physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Once you pinpoint the how, then figure out why it’s happening.
Ask yourself: How do I feel when I’m at my best?
This weekend, I decided I had had enough. I started to take a closer look at how exactly I was feeling: physically, mentally, spiritually.
Was I feeling overwhelmed? No.
Was I eating anything out of the ordinary? No.
Was I feeling…resentful? Yes.
Was I feeling neglected?
I went through a checklist of how I feel when I’m at my best, and I realized a few areas in which I’ve been completely out of whack:
• Supplements + water: Fact; most of us have some sort of deficiency in some vitamin or mineral – and are usually dehydrated way before we think we are (a good tip I learned from Dr. Christiane Northrup: after you get blood work done, check with your doctor and ask what levels of are optimal, not just normal).
One year ago, I started to address my deficiencies with supplements – and it completely shifted my life around. This current funk? It was funk-ing up my digestion and my workout recovery. And go figure, my diligence with l-glutamine and probiotics had been sporadic at best (these are my faves of each, she says as she places her Amazon order: Solgar and Renew Life, respectively). Not to mention, I definitely had not been drinking nearly enough water each day – and my body was crying for hydration help.
• Sleep: Remember those guidelines you used to get in health class? 7-9 hours, -ish? Everyone is different – don’t you dare for a second ignore what you discover works for you. For me personally, seven is pushing it. 7 or below and everything suffers. Find what works for you and make it a priority, or else your body doesn’t have ample time to recharge and repair your precious internal mechanics.
Recently, I’ve been going to bed later than usual, no bueno when your average wake-up time is 5:18am (I have a thing for strange wake-up times). As a result, I’ve been trying to squeeze in a whole slew of to-dos I literally do not have time to-do. Work, emails, business growth, texts, voice messages, check-ins, check-ups, car services, cold calls… Even when I have gotten those to-dos to-done, they have all been checked off the list with a fraction of my usual Katie-energy.
• Self-support: Since my sleep has been so bad and my hydration/supplementation in the gutter, I shouldn’t have been surprised that I could barely eke out my daily self-care must-have: a decent workout. I’d sleep until the last minute, force myself to get at least 15 minutes of quasi-heart-pumping exercise in, then put pressure on myself to get the best.workout.ever. in on Saturday to make up for the rest of the week…when all I wanted to do was take my Saturday at my own pace, like I usually do. This is not how I exercise. This is not how I function.
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Not only that, but Jeremy and I have had opposing schedules for the last couple weeks, and when we’ve both gotten home we’ve been so zonked from the day we basically just crash. It would be easy to zero in on him. I think we all do this at times in our relationships – why aren’t you paying attention to me? Why aren’t you present? But 99% of the time, we’ll find that’s not the case.
Jeremy has been completely present; his actions haven’t shifted in the last few weeks. If anything, he’s been even more present than usual because of the scheduling conflicts. But what I’m now finding is that since I haven’t been paying attention to myself during the day, I’ve wanted him to give me enough attention for the both of us once we’re home. And that’s not fair.
What I really needed, then, was not a new diet, exercise program, or friend to kvetch to.
I needed to fill my nutritional voids, get good sleep, and give myself some love.
Maybe you’re not breathing deeply. Maybe you’re low on vitamin D. Maybe you’ve just become lonely or anxious or frustrated with something or someone, and doing things counter to taking care of yourself provide you a welcome distraction from facing your loneliness and taking action. It’s so simple, but it’s so effective: identifying one small action step you can take now sets a chain reaction in motion, slowly disintegrating any opportunity for that little negative opportunist to take the reins into thin air.
I was so happy to get my girl Jess’s newest post in my inbox last week, sharing her own slump and how she de-funked; immediate action steps she was taking that were right for her (plus a recipe for soup! who doesn’t love soup?!). I think it’s been a trying month for us all. How wonderful we can work through it together.
The immediate action step *I* was so craving? I needed a day of nothingness. I needed a “There are no events scheduled today” notification on my Google Cal. I needed to sleep in on my own time, work out on my own time, bop around town on my own time, and hone in on WANT on my own time. My sanity depends on one day a week (or at least every other week) of absolute obligation-less-ness and minimal human interaction. I looked back on my month…and couldn’t remember the last time that had happened.
If I had only addressed the things I could see, I would still be in the same bind. I would be restricting my food intake when my diet was just fine, or forcing myself to go the gym at the end of the day when I loathe working out in the evening. I would be asking vague things of others when they are already doing exactly what the relationship calls for. Not only would I not be addressing the real imbalances, I would probably be feeling even worse by the minute.
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By taking the time to reflect and respond – a drive home, a long shower, a glance out the window – I figured out what it was that was actually making me feel so less-than myself. And slowly, very slowly, I’m starting to feel like myself again.
When you're feeling down on yourself, you've got to dig deep. Click To Tweet It’s normal to feel this way – what’s not normal is to be sunshine and rainbows 24/7. We will never not feel bad about something or like ourselves all the time. Heck, our bodies change by the minute; we’d be crazy not to notice once in a while. But we move forward.
Getting into slumps, funks, and ruts is a part of being human. It’s how we choose to approach them that determines the lasting effect they’ll have on us. Today, tomorrow, for life. I hope you seize your opportunity.
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WANT Action Plan:
In the comments, tell me one good thing that happened this month. Nothing’s too big or too small.