As this blog aims at documenting my personal experience, I will mostly write in first person. I will be expressing my own views and opinions and the way they apply for me, so I would not dare to generalize them or attach them to any other person.
Past mistakes and how I intend to deal with them
For me, changing my life-style is a process similar to changing my cats’ food. I need to gradually add increasing amounts of the new food, while reducing the amount of the old one. The entire process must last at least one week. This way, their sensitive stomach doesn’t get disturbed by a sudden change in menu 🙂
Similarly, I need changing my life-style to be a gradual process. One of the main culprits for the failure of my previous attempts at changing the way I live was trying to make all the changes at once. In theory that was not only feasible, but also more convenient. In practice, it was so overwhelming and stressful, that most of the times I didn’t even get through the planning part, let alone the first day. But, as Malcom Forbes once said: “Failure is success if you learn from it”. So now I’m taking it gradually.
Another problem I had was the fact that I kept trying to plan every single thing, every minute of every day, leaving no room for error, for the unforeseen or for the way my mood was influencing my actions. Also, I now see I was hardly taking into account that it is one thing to think about doing something and another actually doing it, therefore not even allotting sufficient time to the respective activity. This time, no strict plan, no deadlines, just a broad guideline, guilt free if I skipped a step or added an extra experience. I’ll do my best to make it a flexible mechanism, capable to integrate new information every day (like machine learning, but with human brain :D)
Consequently, just because today was not perfect, it doesn’t mean it’s the end. I start again with a clean slate every day. Also, I work just as hard to keep on track today, regardless of whether yesterday I succeeded or failed. I intended to drink 4 liters of water, but only drank 1? No problem, tomorrow I’ll try again. I went off the keto wagon yesterday because of whatever reason? Not a biggy, today I’ll keep my carbs down again. I planned to walk 5k steps and ended up walking 9k? Yeeeeey me! Tomorrow I’ll try to do it again. As long as I feel comfortable with doing something, I will.
I am also changing my perspective. There will be no more restrictions (in a reasonable way), as they will be replaced by allowing myself to do something. For example: instead of thinking “I will not/must not/cannot/should not eat an entire chocolate bar at once (or eat chocolate at all!?)”, I will try to see this as “I can/may eat an entire chocolate bar at once (or a piece of it), but I don’t have to”. I will not tell myself that I have to/need to/must/should drink at least 4 liters of water each day, but instead think I am allowed to do that, because I know how good this is for me (while on keto, the amount of water the body needs to process the food is about 2 times greater that normally recommended).
What I have in mind
While I like changes, I am also quite resistant to them, unless they come from within. I know the theory – healthy life means:
- healthy eating,
- drinking enough water,
- getting enough sleep,
- self-image, self-worth, self-appreciation, self-respect and other self-related aspects,
- human connection,
- less time spent on-line and so many more.
They are all part of an intricate web, where everything is connected with everything else. Therefore, changing one aspect will automatically have an impact on all the others.
If you read the “About this blog” section you can imagine I’m not even close to what one could call an active person (yet :)). For this reason, if I tried to start with exercising the whole thing would crumble in a heartbeat. To begin with, I would have no problem in finding excuses: it’s too hot or too cold or it rains; I’m too tired; I don’t have time. Lately I’m also working on seeing past the excuses and being honest with myself, which in this case means admitting that I just have no motivation to do it, so I don’t want to. There are days when it’s hard for me even to walk, doing more than just that is plain painful and also veeeeeery embarrassing. And I am aware that I am causing the embarrassment, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
However, I see no problem in starting with getting more sleep. I wake up rested, I have more energy and even feel more inclined to at least walk a few extra thousand steps. Which also encourages me to drink more water, to stay hydrated and avoid the thirst sensation. In turn, this keeps my stomach full, so I eat less, because I don’t feel hungry for a longer time. Being more rested, I work more efficiently, so I don’t have to stay at work late trying to finish my tasks for the day. This means I have more time to rest, relax and unwind, so I am less stressed, which also means my cravings are less frequent and less intense. Further more, my sleep quality will improve with stress reduction, so I will wake up even more rested, having even more energy and feeling better and better overall. And this could go on and on and on.
Of course, all these changes won’t happen simply because I slept more one night. But in time, by changing even something that seems as small getting enough sleep can have a huge beneficial impact on my health. So, I’ll start with the ones that should be easiest to integrate in my current life style: drinking more water, getting more sleep, eating healthier and see if I can manage it 🙂
One day I was watching a series of Ted Talks about what depression is and how to live with it and I came across a video with some very useful tips (and for those of you in need of inspiration, check out Jessica Gimeno’s page; she’s a ray of light!), which can be applied by everyone, depressive or not, in going on with their days when feeling down or tired or lacking motivation. And I believe they will also prove very useful in changing my life style. The paragraphs below are an adaptation of the post 6 Ways To Get Stuff Done When You’re Depressed for changing my life-style and I have only detailed those that do not apply as such:
- Prioritization: focus on the most urgent first;
- Classification: start with the easiest first;
- Healthy endorphin-releasing activity – like exercising or taking a walk, playing with kids/pets;
- Signal tracking: if difficulties or struggles are foreseen, I need to prepare for it. Whether this means tracking the telltale signs that a depressive episode is coming or knowing that a long and stressful week lies ahead, I want to make staying on track as easy as possible. So in the first case I will schedule an appointment with my therapist (if I don’t already have one), while in the second case, I will stock up on healthy snacks (as I will be more tired and have cravings), prepare food to take with me for the entire week (so I will be less tempted to buy take-out or fast-food) and make sure I have water at hand all day long;
- Give myself credit for successfully finishing a task;
- Build a support network of people with similar aims, interests and scopes (I’m still trying to figure this one out).