November 5, 2013
Food is such a huge part of our lives and is, I believe, the dominant factor in our health. More so even than exercise. High level athletes still get heart disease, etc. But food and diet are not the be-all, end-all to health.
I spent the early years of our family life (it was right around the time we had our babies, in quick succession) overhauling our diet.
For many years my focus was on this part of my health. It took a lot of physical and intellectual energy, at a time in life when I was very engaged with raising babies and toddlers.
We choose to make diet a family health endeavor. It is something we do all together in support of each other. When the kids went through gluten-free stages (the four of us eat gluten a couple times a week now) none of us ate it. Man that was hard for me but I'm so glad I no longer depend on wheat like I used to.
Except for alcohol and small amounts of caffeine, which the adults get to drink and the kids don't (our oldest now drinks green tea regularly and Brienne is developing a taste for coffee), we follow the same food rules.
The adults aren't drinking sodas, daily Vente Starbucks, or have a secret ice cream stash in the freezer. (This doesn't mean we never eat these things but we don't make a habit of it. And what goes for our kids, goes for us.)
When you build a healthy diet as a team you are much more likely to succeed.
I think this is one of the most successful strategies for healthy living - do it together. This is one of the key strengths of family life, our ability to support each other.
But I'm finding there are areas of my health that only I can be responsible for. These areas are more personal and are mostly related to my mental health. No one else lives inside my head. Not even the people I spend all day with and sleep with at night.
We have built structures that support each other in our family. We have created a schedule that allows each of us ample time and freedom to take care of our personal health - exercise, rest, relationships, and of course all that work in the kitchen to eat well - we make time for these in our day.
Health is one of our core values.
In our family diet, Damien and I together, are the gate keepers for what comes in our home and what we feed ourselves and our children. But I am the only gate keeper for my thoughts and my mental outlook.
And what I've found is that my mental health can nearly sabotage the whole works.
I'm not sure how many years I've been at the edge of Seasonal Affective Disorder but last winter, if I had been hovering on the brink in the past, I crossed the line.
I am so stubborn and prideful (ouch) that it was hard for me to admit my weakness, but once I did there was a relief that followed. The relief that nothing was inherently wrong with me or broken.
Why are we so afraid of being broken, even when we're clearly hurting?
Naming my struggle (thank you to many of you here for your gentle pointing in this direction), similar to Damien identifying years ago that wheat gives him rashes, has helped me look for solutions.
It's ok to feel low in certain seasons of life. I believe in cycles and ebbs and flows of energy. But I think we all know where that line crosses for us individually, from cyclical, seasonal living to "I feel pretty low lots of the time and I don't want to."
Winter is always hard for me. I don't think that's going to change anytime soon and I keep talking to Damien about living somewhere else during March and part of April, but until that happens I'm being proactive about making my mental health a priority right where I am.
My strategy for this winter is pretty basic and I laid it out previously in this love letter I wrote to myself.
I think there are a few things we need to do when taking responsibility for our health and wellbeing - mental, physical or otherwise.
These could be ebooks (like from this bundle), courses (also in this bundle), high quality supplements, a visit to a naturopath or nutritionist.
A lot of information is at our fingertips these days but honestly, sometimes it's just too much information. Don't be afraid to limit your references to just a few you trust.
This is where women often start talking about self-care and all that. I'm not going there in this post. It's been written about ad nauseam in blogs and women's magazines.
All I have to say on this topic is this: when I am healthy and well, in all respects, my husband and family benefit as much as I do. It's in everyone's best interests for me to take fabulous care of my wellbeing.
It is so hard for me to vulnerable about my health, because I'm really healthy in many respects and I "pride" myself on that. Therein lies the problem.
I think my battle with the winter blues was a good "brokenness" experience for me. It has given me so much more compassion for people and has opened up compassion for myself in ways I've never experienced.
We don't need a lot of people in our lives to be accountable to but we need a few. Sometimes they are people really close to us and other times they come into our lives for a short season - a health professional (doctor, nutritionist, yoga teacher), neighbors, online friends.
I learned last winter that there were people in my life, both relationally very close and not-so-close who had something to offer me in my pain. This was really humbling and necessary for me.
I've wondered this past year why I am struggling with SAD now, of all times. It wasn't this bad when I had wee small children and I hadn't been sleeping well for over five years.
Maybe our health, like everything else, is a refining iterative process.
At this stage in my life lot of the distractions of modern consumerism and consumption, the striving for perfect motherhood of my twenties and early thirties, and the "someday I'll arrive" falsity have been flensed (thank you Kelsi - google it).
And I am laid bare, and open even, to a mental refining process - the next stage of my healthy growth and evolution.
And here's the rub for me - I don't get to arrive at perfect health. After changing our diet I thought I had arrived, for a time. And that brought on pride. Do I have to even say what comes after pride?
I must always be open to learning about myself and taking charge of my health - all parts of it.
The Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle is, like the title says, about healthy living. Not just healthy recipes.
Here's the complete shelf of healthy lifestyle books:
And also the fitness books:
A lot of the personal health and wellbeing books in this bundle are written from a Christian perspective and I know not all FIMBY readers share this world view. The books I highlighted above do not dwell on this with Jesus talk and Bible verses.
31 Days to Great Sex is explicitly Christian, which I appreciate for a topic like marital intimacy.
I am going to writing about this bundle all week. Five posts. I'm going to be blogging about all my favorite parts of this bundle. Your favorites will be different.
The thing with a bundle this size, and with this many bonuses, it doesn't matter if you dismiss half the contents as irrelevant to your life, you still get a great deal.
When you download the bundle (which is a breeze), sort and file the books immediately into a toolkit that makes sense for you.
You probably are familiar enough with bundles to know that the sites you purchase through (ie: my blog or someone else's) get a cut of that sale. Which means I would be super pleased if you are considering purchasing this bundle that you do so through the links on my blog.
Any link from my site counts, not just the buy button below.
After you purchase the bundle just send me an e-mail and I'll send you the ebook.
Click here to get the low-down on the complete bundle.
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