Debby’s Weekly Contemplation, week one 2022
January’s theme: Holistic Health
Welcome to my first 2022 post as I kick off a new year’s theme: “Rockin’ Our Rhythm!” To support this momentous mindset, I am devoting January to holistic health, as in physical, mental, spiritual wellness. Or, what I like to refer to as—PMS at its best.
To indeed rock our rhythms, I believe it’s essential that we stay in tune to all parts of ourselves, as each part affects the whole. Today, I’m focusing on physical health. Next week, I’ll address mental health. And then I’ll explore spiritual health.
For me, PMS at its best starts with the end, as in the end of a year. I got into the habit of doing a simple self-assessment when I was going through my divorce in 2015/2016. (Spoiler alert for those who don’t already know: My former husband, Patrick, and I remarried June 6, 2020. I’ll share more about that in February.). For now, just know that during our divorce—an extremely stressful process as anyone can imagine if they don’t already understand firsthand—there were times when I wasn’t sure how I was feeling because I was so overwhelmed. To help with this, I would administer a quick self-assessment. You can read more about it here. But basically, I would rank each physical/mental/spiritual area from a 1-5, 5 being best, and add a bullet point list in each area of what was happening with me. I could quickly see then, as I am a visual learner, what might be amuck. I still do this assessment periodically, but always make a habit of doing it at the end of the year before a new one begins.
Interestingly, when I administered my holistic self-assessment a few weeks ago, physical fitness, for the first time, was the area in which I struggled the most. One wouldn’t guess this because we Americans love to equate physical fitness solely to weight. But physical health is so much more. Although my overall weight is good, I have gained a menopause midsection and my cardio and strength are less than stellar.
After assessing what’s going on, self-awareness guides our “hows” as solutions look different for everyone. I wish there were a magical immediate-gratification physical fitness formula, but alas, there isn’t. We must know ourselves to know how to best support ourselves. And that takes a bit of gritifying (I made up that word), but gratifying effort. Notice and stay focused on the word “gratifying” with an “a.” When we feel better and look better, life seems more gratifying even when we’re in the middle of a season that requires extra grit. After evaluating my physical, mental, and spiritual health, self-awareness helped me hone in on the specifics of how I could improve in three areas: exercising, meal planning, and resting.
So, let’s begin.
Ironically, those simple little words, “let’s begin,” trip me up too often when it comes to exercising. I love fitness—participating, watching, supporting. In fact, athletics kept me out of trouble in high school and remain a key part of who I am. But, for some reason, the “let’s begin” part makes it difficult to actually begin. Once I get moving, I’m not not going to finish, but I first must begin. To overcome this struggle, I identified four things that would help me:
- intentionally schedule fitness into my week
- exercise with others most of the time
- exercise by myself part of the time
- incorporate different types of workouts
And then I incorporated the above four things into the following plan:
- 1x week Patrick and I bike together. I love love love our bike trail! So beautiful and peaceful and I always see wildlife. One time a family of turkeys trotted beside me and one time I almost ran over a copperhead snake. Yikes!!!! Biking also allows me time to silently rehearse Toastmaster speeches.
- Patrick and I go to the gym 2x week. He swims while I participate in a full-body workout class.
- 1x week I walk/jog with a group of more ambitious, but supportive runners. Although this is hard, it challenges me in a good way.
- 1-2x week I walk/jog by myself. I use this time to process stuff in my week or to make phone calls.
- 1x week I like to paddle board or kayak with someone fun. This is for pure enjoyment, although my body typically feels it afterwards depending on the intercoastal currents and winds.
- Additionally, I love to go to the New Smyrna Beach Farmer’s Market, purchase fresh produce for meal planning (more on this in a minute), and afterwards walk/jog a shortened version of “The Loop.” I enjoy this meandering course as it includes going over both North and South Causeway Bridges and along the water. So pretty.
I share my current plan with you only to encourage you to be creative and intentional with your fitness plan. Sometimes it helps to see how others work out. I don’t do everything on my list every week. Sometimes I’m out of town and can’t get my bike ride in or have an appointment that keeps me away from the gym, but I try gritifyingly hard to use this as my template and stick to it.
The main thing is that I’m figuring out my rhythm.
For the meal planning piece that I mentioned earlier, this is just daunting. It’s not that I loathe cooking, I just need a plan, otherwise I wander aimlessly in my kitchen opening cabinet doors and looking into my refrigerator confused about what to fix. And when I do this, I’m usually already in the grip of hunger, and am unable to think clearly, and then quickly decide to eat out which I then rationalize is a good thing because I’m supporting local foodie entrepreneurs who got hit especially hard during covid. But my pocketbook and midlife middle would argue otherwise. My so-called “gratifying” efforts require effort I don’t want to give. And then I must expend more effort quieting that voice inside that says, “You need to get your act together.” Heavy sigh.
One day I told Patrick, “I do best when the two of us plan our meals together. Can we try to do that?”
Now, we map out a weekly menu based on what produce and other goodies we purchase at the NSB Farmers Market, consider inviting others over as dinner guests one evening, and then divide and conquer. Patrick likes to make soup on the weekend that helps with lunches throughout the week. And I like to make breakfast on the weekends. He mostly prepares the entrées while I mostly prepare the sides. Additionally, I’ve learned to prep my sides and get out of the way before Patrick begins. We have a small kitchen, and although it’s laid out well, it works best if I just stand clear.
Again, I’m figuring out my rhythm.
Finally, the last thing I want to emphasize about physical health is this: Rest affects our rhythm.
According to an excellent Forbes article, titled “The Benefits of Resting and How to Unplug in a Busy World,” by Heather Cherry, “Adequate rest helps your body activate its inner healing cascade and return to a state of homeostasis. This is when your body can repair and recover.” I don’t believe in pushing hard all the time. I’ve tried this Americanized strategy, and it doesn’t work for me. I need to take rest breaks throughout my day and good sleep at night for all the reasons Cherry discusses in her article: rest heals your body, reduces stress, boosts creativity, improves productivity, and enhances decision-making. This of course positively impacts our mental health as well which we’ll explore next week.
I learned last year that my body and eyes feel the strain of sitting in front of a computer all day, not to mention my brain. I now purposely take breaks and occasionally take a mid-afternoon siesta to rest my eyes.
I’m learning my rhythm.
How about you? How’s your rhythm?
I’d love to hear your physical fitness challenges and/or strategies for 2022. Please leave your comments below and let’s all rock our rhythms this year by focusing on PMS at its best.
Take good care of you—physically, mentally, spiritually.
You might also be interested in reading:
One Worthy Tip for Staying Afloat in a New Year
Six Daily Principles I Learned from Finishing a 50K
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