Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Taking Stock of My Progress

It's a good idea to take stock of life every now and then.  I tend to get so focused on the mountain ahead I still have to climb that I forget to look back at how far I've come.  I don't take that moment to look out over the view I've already got because I'm so fixated on getting to the top.  And then I just get frustrated and down on myself.  Plus, if I don't take stock, I don't realize I've left the trail entirely and wandered.

So tonight I'm taking stock.  It's been almost a year since I went to the psychiatrist and she basically told me to change my entire life.  Okay, not really, but it felt like that.  I took it seriously.  I worked really hard at it.  Where am I now?

Let's break it down to the different areas she wanted me to work on:
Sleep:  I am getting more sleep.  I am going to bed earlier (not consistently at the same time, but consistently earlier).  I used to be up until 1 or 2 almost every night, frequently 3 or 4.  I then got up to get the kids off to school and crawled back into bed for a nap -- every day.  Now I shut down for the night around 11:30 or 12 (earlier many nights) and am up at seven.  I get the kids up and off.  Sometimes I go back to bed for a nap, but not every day.  And the waking at seven is consistent.  Even on weekends I wake about that time, without an alarm.  My body is becoming conditioned to it.  It even lasted through the summer last year.  Instead of seeing how well I'm doing, I've been noticing the occasional naps and the inconsistent bedtimes and feeling ashamed of myself.  I really am getting much more sleep and have made great progress toward undoing a lifetime of bad habits.  To the point where my family is feeling the effects.  Most nights our house is completely shut down (lights off, most of us asleep) by 9:30 or 10.  On the weekends it might be 11 or 11:30.  For a house full of teenagers who used to routinely stay up until 11 or later on school nights and whenever during the summer, it's incredible progress.  We are night owls by nature, but we've fought that nature and tamed it enough to be healthy.

Water:  I'm drinking more.  For a long time I was hitting that 96 ounces a day religiously.  I've slipped a bit.  I'm working on this one.  Seriously, the hardest part is to remember to take my water bottle to the kitchen with me and fill it up.  If I get back to my room and realize I didn't, I'll usually just put it off.  That means I don't hit my total for the day.  And, no, my kitchen isn't that far from my room.  It's a very poor excuse.  But I am drinking more than I used to and I am working on it.  I have made progress.

Exercise:  She wanted me to walk 20 minutes a day 4-5 times a week.  I suck at this one.  I worked hard at it for a while, but it was making my shins hurt.  I looked it up and realized that my lengthened stride (which I remember training into myself in high school when I spent a lot of time walking with a much taller friend) had to be adjusted back to a natural stride.  This helped.  But I have another problem with exercise (other than the tired and lazy part).  Whenever I do anything physical for more than a few minutes, my face and chest flush.  I go bright red and hot.  Not the traditional exercise overheating.  This can come from simply sweeping.  Even singing does it.  Almost like clockwork, at 20 minutes in I flush.  It's very uncomfortable (the doctor has no idea what this is).  The psychiatrist suggest that I do 2 ten-minute sessions instead.  Yeah, use your logic on me.  Some days I do.  Most days I don't.  Walking outside is less likely (which is too bad because I'm sure the vitamin D from the sun would help).  A bit of dancing with Just Dance 4 on the Wii is more likely.  Even though I'm not where I should be, I am still doing it more than I used to.  Tiny progress, but progress nonetheless.

No soda after 3:00pm, because it interferes with sleep:  Yeah, I kind of completely forgot about this one until I just reread my post from a year ago.  Once I started sleeping better I quit worrying about this.  I may or may not take another look at it.

Food:  I still suck at this.  In a big way.  It's still way too easy for me to not eat.  To forget to eat.  Or to decide it's not worth the work of preparing food.  I'm supposed to eat three meals and three snacks a day.  For months after my visit with her I did this meticulously.  I tracked everything I ate, making sure I was eating every two and a half hours.  Tracking how many servings of vegetables and how many of protein and how many of dairy and so on.  I did fabulously!  Seriously, my therapist and the psychiatrist were pretty much speechless at how well I did and how hard I was working.  And I remember when it fell apart.  My best friend got really sick.  I spent a lot of time in the hospital by her bedside.  I was careful even then.  I packed things to take with me so I wasn't dependent on finding something in the cafeteria.  I was still about 90% compliant with what the psychiatrist wanted.  And after my friend went home and I was no longer spending 8 hours a day taking care of her, I felt like I deserved a break.  I felt like it was okay to relax a bit.  I felt like I had earned a week of not tracking, of not being so careful.  And that week turned into another and another.  I tracked here and there but never really got back on it.  While I work to make healthier choices, I'm not doing fabulously.  There is progress.  I usually eat 2 or 3 meals a day and 1 or 2 snacks.  It used to be 1 meal a day and a snack or two on a good day.  And when I eat junk, I eat less of it.  Usually much less.

But the thing that made me slip up on the food is the same thing that makes me slip in the other areas.  There is still a part of me that says I've earned a break.  When I've worked hard or my life is heavy, I feel like I can stop taking care of myself.  Where does that come from?  When you spell it out like that it doesn't even make sense.  When I've worked hard or my life is heavy, I deserve to take better care of myself.  I deserve more of my attention.  I deserve to feel better.

Because those months when I worked my fanny off on this program, I felt better.  Not healed.  Not healthy.  But better.  I keep forgetting I deserve that.  But now that I've taken stock I remember.


Bonnie said...

Way to go! I recently noted that the word mediocre comes from the word halfway, as in halfway up the mountain. We are very hard on ourselves, when we're in a lot better place than we were when we began. Halfway is better than still stuck at the bottom!

The Dose of Reality said...

Taking stock and seeing how far you've come is a fantastic exercise. You have worked hard. I'm so glad you were wise enough to look back and recognize that. Amazing.

2busy said...

I love Bonnie's comment. So insightful. You are doing something and something is better than nothing. It is progress. :)

Tamara Camera said...

Awesome. And it's kinda amazing how we let those most simple and free and important things go by the wayside. Sleep? Water? Exercise? I think I need to make a chart for myself.

Mothering From Scratch said...

{Melinda} Sounds like you've made a lot of progress, Robin. It's hard to tackle everything at once. In fact, it's overwhelming. As you master each area, you can concentrate on the next one. Great job! :)

Kristiina said...

Good job Robin! The important part is that you feel better.

Christa aka The BabbyMama said...


On the exercise front, I'd like to hear stories of people who didn't like it and then started to love it. I've always loved exercising - and I don't mean doing things that happen to be fitnessy, but straight up going to the gym, plodding on the treadmill. Can't get enough! But I've always been that way. Is it possible to really embrace exercise when it's not your bag?

Midnight Cowgirl said...

You do deserve to feel better. Way to go!

Caren with a C said...

Robin, from what you have written, I think you have done a great job! Don't beat yourself up. I'm still working on the sleeping hours... and haven't even gotten to the food and exercise. <<>> from California!

OneMommy said...

So glad you know you deserve better.
That is a big step in itself.

It's easy to forget to eat, or to not eat right. It takes work to get the things that we deserve -- and you deserve to feel better.

MaggieJo said...

Keep working; you're doing great! And I'll keep working too.

Natalie said...

Yes getting more sleep is so hard...but I am like you and I'm trying to get to bed at like if that baby of mine would get the memo :)