Self Care or Selfish?

self-care-survival

 

Isn’t it interesting how so many of us put ourselves last on our list of priorities? How many times a day, a week, a month do we put off doing something that would make us feel better or help us relax? We get the message from some many different places (family, society, religion) that we should sacrifice, put others first, and ignore our own needs or else we’ll appear selfish, self-centered, greedy, etc.

But I’d like to argue that it’s not true. We can best give of ourselves, help others, and be of service only after we’ve taken care of ourselves. How can we positively contribute to anything or anyone if we’re exhausted, burnt-out, sick, or even feeling resentful of the fact that we’re sacrificing our needs? We can’t.

Now, I’m not saying that we should all drop everything and only focus on ourselves, everyone and everything else be damned. And I’m well aware that there are people out there who are currently over-extended and have so many responsibilities, and people to care for that the thought of self care is laughable. Sadly, that is reality for a whole lot of people because we’ve all bought into the ideas mentioned above. But what if even those folks found a way to take five or ten minutes for themselves to relax or recharge in whatever way they pleased? Maybe that would mean sitting down with a cup of tea, or reading a chapter in a book, or just really paying attention to breath for a few minutes. The little bit of pleasure we can get in those five minutes can lead to finding a few more five minute breaks throughout the day, which might lead to ten, which might lead to twenty. You see where I’m going here.

I see too many people who have spent their entire lives putting others before themselves (consciously or unconsciously) and now, when their health is compromised and they need to be taking care of themselves, they don’t. They don’t know to make themselves a priority and they’re uncomfortable with it because it goes against the way they lived their lives up until this point. It’s heartbreaking, frustrating, and unnecessary.

I encourage all of you to take some time for yourself EVERY DAY and do something to help you relax or make you happy. It’s such a simple act and can have such a profound affect!

Today, I took a nice little tea break and sat in the afternoon sun for twenty minutes. It was a wonderful way to relax and recharge. I returned to my office with renewed focus and a desire to get things done.

How are you going to care for yourself today?

 

Changing Focus

Hello friends,

Sorry I’ve been gone so long! A lot has changed over the past few months and I’ve decided to shift the focus of this blog to match what’s been going on in my life. My weight loss and health goals haven’t changed, but they are not the only things I’ve been focused on lately. I realized that I have so much trouble posting here because there are so many other things I want to be writing about and sharing with you!

I’ve started a new journey that is truly focused on self-care and healing physically and emotionally. I’m currently growing my essential oils business as an independent distributor for Young Living. I’m completing a Second Degree Reiki training this month. And my love for yoga and meditation hasn’t waned one bit. I hope that all of this will grow into a new path where I can teach people how to care for themselves and easily support their own health and wellness.

My goal is to share many of the things I learn along the way with you. I also want to share the “curves and swerves” of life with you on a regular basis. There will probably still be posts about weight loss and goals, but I hope that these other topics will make this a more interesting and fun place to visit.

Happy November, everyone! Expect to be hearing from me more often!

Saying Goodbye to Summer, Looking forward to Fall

So I know we technically still have a few weeks left of summer, but I like taking this time of year to reflect on the past few months and to look ahead to the new season to come. 

But first, I’d like to share the verification of a non-scale victory that I mentioned in my last post!

NSV

Over the weekend, R and I decided to take advantage of the Labor Day sales. I desperately needed some new jeans so we headed over to Macy’s. I was hoping to get the same brand and style of the jeans I currently have. We found them. I grabbed a pair in a size smaller than what I’ve been wearing lately. I was a little bit worried that the smaller size wouldn’t fit yet. My current jeans are baggy, but I thought it might be due to all the washing and wearing since the scale hasn’t budged much over the past month and a half. But no! The next size down fit like a glove! On top of that excitement, they were hugely discounted so I bought two pairs. I’m now three pant sizes down from where I started in January. Now if only the scale would follow the lead…

I feel like I didn’t really take advantage of the summer as much as I could have this year. I only made it to the beach twice. I didn’t see any fireworks or go on any picnics. I did get to attend an impromptu barbecue at my aunt’s house in July, but overall it was a pretty laid back summer. I definitely enjoyed all of the relaxation and quiet time with my husband, but I’d like autumn to be a bit more active. 

I’ve got my brother’s wedding coming up at the end of September, but other than that there are no big plans on the horizon. I’d really like to go apple picking, visit Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, and go for a hike when the leaves start to change. I love so much about autumn: crisp, cool days; cozy sweaters, and warm drinks. I’m sad to see summer go, but am happy to welcome in a new season. What are you most looking forward to?

 

 

Zumba, Non-Scale Victories (NSVs), and other Fun Stuff

It’s super busy around here these days! I’ve got lots on the agenda, but wanted to come here and jot down a few things I’ve been proud of lately.

  • My new Zumba class is going well. So far I’ve only been able to make it on Saturdays, but it’s been a lot of fun and really kicks my butt! (See my Twitter feed for a post-class picture from Saturday). They are also affiliated with a spinning studio. I’m thinking I’ll give that a try one of these days as well.
  • R and I always sit in the front of our Pilates classes. On Sunday, we were the only two in the front and our teacher basically stood behind us to check on the rest of class as if she didn’t have to worry about our form! She even used us to demonstrate a few of the exercises.  I’ve definitely seen a huge difference in my core strength, so it was nice to have that progress more or less confirmed. On a side-note: I was secretly relieved that she wasn’t watching us so much, because my hamstrings and glutes were so sore from Zumba that I could barely do the bridge exercises! Phew.
  • Sunday afternoon I baked up some delicious chocolate peppermint cookies, using real peppermint oil, as a practice batch for a Great Big Oil Gathering that my friend and I are hosting on Friday. They turned out really well. The part to be proud of, though, was the part where I managed to not eat any batter and only have one cookie (one!). The best part was that I wasn’t even craving them or thinking about them once they were put away. I brought them in to work today and my office-mates have dutifully devoured them.
  • My “skinny” jeans refuse to stay around my waist and are too big in the thighs.
  • I’ve found a new allergy remedy using my oils! A drop each of lemon, peppermint, and lavender oil in a spoonful of honey gave me allergy relief for hours. It was pretty incredible. How nice to not have to deal with that hazy, tired feeling I get from my regular allergy medicine.

Bridal Shower Fun and Victories over Emotional Eating

The bridal shower went off without a hitch yesterday. We all had a lot of fun!

Here are those favors made by my cousins that  I mentioned in my last post:

favors

We had some cute accessories for the bride to wear. Those are sunglasses with the words “Bride to Be” at the top, and a crown with a veil.

brideaccessories

And here is the delicious cake I was saving all my extra calories for. It had chocolate and vanilla layers with chocolate and vanilla mousse filling. Yep, it was an amazing as it sounds.

cake

After the shower, I high-tailed it back to NYC to relax and revel in the fact that I don’t have any more traveling on the agenda until the actual wedding at the end of September. Phew! It’s been a rather hectic summer with all of this dress buying and party planning.

Reflecting on the weekend, there were a few moments of food choices that I am really happy with. Often when I visit my family I instantly revert back to the insecure, out-of-control emotional eater that I used to be. No matter how much I would coach myself on the way there, it seemed like all of the motivational quotes, mantras, and plans just flew out the window. This time, however, I was able to stop myself from falling down that slippery slope before I even crossed the state line.

While waiting for my train in Penn Station on Saturday morning, I decided to buy an iced coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts. As I got closer to the counter I started thinking I should get a doughnut, too, even though I had already eaten a healthy egg-filled breakfast. The internal dance of reasons for and against a doughnut began. After a few minutes, I caught myself and recognized that I only wanted the doughnut because I was feeling anxious about the shower and all of those feelings that can come up when spending time with family. I reminded myself that a doughnut was not going to help the situation or make me feel better. On the train, with only my iced coffee in hand, I was proud of my decision.

That night we went out to dinner which is usually another time when I let old habits and emotions get the better of me. Not this time! This time I ordered grilled chicken, baked potato, and a salad. I was actually satisfied with my choices and happy that I was able to ignore the fried food beckoning to me.

The meal at the shower was another victory of sorts. I decided ahead of time that I would choose the roasted turkey breast sandwich over the cheeseburger. Even though, many of the people around me ordered the burger, I was once again happy and satisfied with my choice. And I indulged in a piece of that delicious cake without one twinge of guilt.

These little victories are not so much about the calories saved, but more about not letting my emotions affect my eating choices. Those “comfort foods” never really leave me feeling comforted. In fact, they usually lead to some half critical/half joking comments from my mom (even if she just ate the same thing!) which leave me annoyed and wanting even more of them. It’s an ugly cycle that only I can break. I can’t control how the people around me treat me, or what kind of emotions/insecurities re-surface around them, but I can control how I react to those emotions. This time around, I think I did a pretty great job!

So Long, Plateau

Success! Last week I was FINALLY able to break through my month-long plateau. It’s only by 1.5 pounds, but I have consistently stayed there for a week, so I’m declaring it official!

I’m sure that adding in a few Zumba classes helped a lot. It felt so great to be back doing some serious cardio work. Happily, my stamina was pretty much the same as before. I was able to keep up with the instructor and do all the high-intensity variations. I also noticed how much more flexible and balanced I am. When we did jumping jacks in the past, I would favor my right side and put more weight on my left. Now I’m able to make sure my weight is evenly distributed.  I’m convinced more than ever that all of the yoga and Pilates I’ve been taking has really improved my core and alleviated some of my tight hip flexor issues. It’s nice to see all that time and effort paying off!

The first full week back to work was pretty good, but now we’re getting into the stressful preparation mode. I’m compiling check lists left and right. Also on the plate this week is the bridal shower I’m throwing for my future sister-in-law which is happening on Sunday. Everything seems to be under control so far (knock wood). Planning a shower from a different state is a little tough. Thank god for my amazing cousins who are helping out with the games and favors. They have been amazing.

My goal is to stay on track this week and really enjoy that slice of cake on Sunday. Here’s to another successful week ahead!

Pain Relief Through Essential Oils

R and I have been experimenting with my new essential oils kit. I love that he is getting into all of this as much as I am!

I mentioned earlier that I like to use peppermint for pain relief and indigestion/bloating issues. It’s definitely still my go-to oil. I like to apply a drop or two neat (no dilution) directly to any sore areas, such as my hip flexors or lower back. For digestive issues, I apply a drop or two in a clockwise motion around my belly button. It definitely warms up on my skin, but I like the way it feels.

Peppermint

R, on the other hand, prefers PanAway(R) diluted with jojoba oil. We tried it neat first, but he didn’t like the heat so we cooled it down with some jojoba. He also has arthritis in his knees from an injury a few years ago. He wanted to try other oils, so we did some research and found a recommendation for frankincense. That one we apply neat directly to his knees. It’s only been a few days, but he has noticed a significant difference.

I also discovered that lavender can work to relieve cramps. I just put a few drops on my lower back and abdomen. About 15 minutes later, they were gone!

I’m so amazed by how effective these little oils are. I can’t wait to see what else we discover!