Begin Again

It’s been a while since I posted anything.  I have no excuse…actually I have loads of excuses, but that’s all they are – excuses.

The initial reason I missed the first week was because I gained weight.  It wasn’t much but it was enough to make my mood spiral.  I think, really, it was just the last straw.  My life has been in a bit of upheaval over the last few weeks and then to put on weight just topped everything off.

I gave up.

With each week that has gone by I tell myself, “This is the week I am going to write something on my blog,” and then inevitably I didn’t.  I always had a very legitimate excuse but the more time between blog posts, the harder it was to write one.

It has made me take a good look at myself.  Why was I resisting something that I had started with all good intentions?

I was recently reminded about something that I knew about myself but that I sort of forgot…I am a beginner.

No, not how you think.  When I say, “I am a beginner,” I mean that I like to begin things.  Strike that.  I LOVE to begin things.

A lot of authors dread the first blank page of a novel they are starting.  I love it!  In fact I love it so much that if a story I am currently working on starts to give me trouble, I will begin a new one.

I am a morning person.  I love mornings.  I love the beginning of the day.  I love the sunrise and the endless possibilities that a morning presents.

I love the beginning of a new book I am reading.  I love those first few sentences that introduce me to the story and the characters.  I love the beginnings of movies too.

When we opened our cafe, the bit I loved most was all the stuff that came before it opened.  I loved the design stage, the concept stage.

I love change.  I used to think it was because I got bored easily but I’ve come to realise that it is actually more to do with beginning.  There is a certain energy about the start of something new.  There is beginning energy.

There is also ending energy.  As we come to the end of the year, everything starts to wind down.  In reality, the end of the year is no different to the start of a year.  Time is relative.  But because we have assigned a calendar to mark our days and months and years, when we reach the end of a year we all feel that winding down.  We put things off so we can start them fresh in the new year.

I am okay at endings.  I feel that winding down and I definitely notice a different energy when I am finishing a book (whether reading or writing it).  What I am not good at is middles.

I hate the middle.  I struggle to write the middle of a novel.  I get bored in the middle of a movie.  I dread the middle of the week.  I tend to tune out in the middle of a conversation.  I find the middle of anything seemingly interminable.

So how does that relate to this blog and my lack of posting?

As I’ve said.  I love beginning.  I have begun about six different blogs.  I have begun many more books than I’ve finished.  I have begun many more diets than I’ve stuck with.  I’ve started at least three different businesses.  I am a good beginner but I am lousy at the middle bit.

I have trained myself to get through that ‘sticky middle’ when I write.  I had to otherwise I would never have finished a book.  I’ve trained myself to stick through the middle of things even when I’ve lost that beginning motivation.  But the one thing I always have trouble with is sticking with the whole diet/healthy lifestyle/taking control of my diabetes thing.  I always start with good intentions and tell myself that this time I am going to do it.  I even started this blog as a way of keeping myself accountable. But I still fell victim to that awful middle bit.

So.  I am beginning again.  This will be my last post for this year, but come January I am going to renew my commitment to writing this blog and to getting myself healthy.  I know this is the equivalent of saying ‘I’ll start my diet on Monday,’ but I know I need the beginning energy of the new year to help me.

I am going to try and commit to writing at least one post every week for the next twelve months.  By this time next year I want to have proof that I can stick through the middle bit and have something to show for it at the end.

What is it that you are having trouble sticking with?  What is it that you can commit to doing once a week for the next year?  It might be as simple as saving a little bit of money every week (and not spending it) or, like me, you might be committing to changing your lifestyle so that you can be healthier and happier.  Whatever it is, use the beginning energy of January to commit to something that will give you a tangible reward at the end of next year and we can compare notes!

Getting Back on the Horse

Get back on the horse!

You’ve probably heard this a million times.  And you’ve probably heard millions of other interpretations of it too.  Things like, “Get up, dust yourself off and try again” or “Quitters never win and winners never quit” or maybe “You only fail if you fail to try again.”

Motivational sayings and quotes are great – I love a good quote – but they can become a bit cliched and cheesy.  Then they become the exact opposite of what they’re meant to be which is motivational.

In my household, when my kids were little, we had a few motivational quotes that were more tough love than the ones I used above.  Things like, “Would you like some cheese with your whine?” and “Eat some cement and harden up” or my personal favourite, “Pull up your big girl panties and get ‘er done.”

There have been a lot of times in my life when I’ve needed motivation, or maybe affirmation is more the word.  I’ve done the whole ‘pin up motivating and affirming quotes around the house so you can see them all the time’ thing.  It may have worked for a little while, but after seeing the same quotes every day, you become blind to them.

The truth is, motivation comes from inside you, not from anything external.  Sure, you can use quotes and affirmative statements to inspire you, but it isn’t until you actually DO that the motivation kicks in.

Last week I had a bit of a rant because over my holiday I put on weight, despite being super motivated not to.  This week I had a win.  I lost those extra kilos that I had gained.  So I’m back to what I was before my vacation.  Yay me!

I very nearly threw in the towel because of that setback and no amount of affirmations or quotes would have saved me.  It all came down to me.  It came down to me making the decision that I wasn’t going to quit.

It wasn’t easy.  I was very unmotivated to get back on the treadmill.  I was very unmotivated to get back on the diet.  But it came down to this.  I am the boss of my own life and I am the one who has to champion it.  If I want to change then I’m the one who has to do the changing.

If motivational quotes help you DO, then great.  Use them.  Use whatever you can, but don’t rely on them to do the work for you.  You’re still the one who has to get up an hour earlier to go for a walk or stay up an hour later to work out on the treadmill.  You’re still the one who has to say no to the cake or the pastry or the donut.

I find it interesting that the word ‘motivation’ comes from the word ‘motive’ which in turn comes from the latin word ‘movere‘ which means ‘to move.’  Motivation comes from motion.  If we move forward, then motivation will follow.

“That’s easy for you to say!” I can hear you yelling.  But it’s not, actually.  I struggled with writing these words because I didn’t want to come off as flippant.  I know how damn hard it is to get up when you don’t want to.  I know exactly how much it hurts to say no to a sweet treat when all you really want to do is say yes.  These words that I’m writing, I’m living them right now.  It took me an entire week to get back to the gym.  Every day I had an excuse.  It has been really, really hard to stick to my diet. So as I’m writing these words, I’m preaching them to myself as well.

I am not saying this from a place of victory but from the midst of the fight.  You are not alone in your struggle, I am in the trenches right along side of you fighting for my life as well.  Together we can do it.  There is no I in team (but there is a me 😉)

Road Trippin’

As you may have gathered from the previous two posts, I have been on a road trip.  My husband and I were celebrating twenty-five years of wedded bliss and it was a second honeymoon of sorts for us.

We had an amazing time.  We saw a good portion of this very large country we live in – okay, so not so much of it really, Australia is very large after all – and we experienced new things daily.

So all in all, it was a great trip.  In fact, we are already planning our next one.

Unfortunately, today I’m feeling a little bummed out and kind of a bit p*&%ed off. You see, I tried really hard to eat well and exercise while we were away in order to keep my health goals on track.  We didn’t over eat and we had higher than normal activity levels every day.  There wasn’t one day that we didn’t exceed the recommended 10,000 steps.  I made wise choices with what I ate and drank and by all accounts, my blood sugars were stable.  But when I jumped on the scales today, they told an entirely different story.

I have put on weight.  And not just a couple of grams.

My goal was actually to just maintain my weight while we were away.  I did not expect to lose any and I was even prepared to maybe put on 1/2 kilo.  But no.  I put on more.  According to my scales today, I gained 3 kilograms.

The thing that really p*&%es me off is that I did eat sensibly.  I did not have a free-for-all and eat everything in sight.  I practised moderation.  I chose healthy food.  I didn’t snack in between meals.  It really feels unfair that I was eating just like a normal person – maybe better than a normal person – and yet I still gained weight.

We walked far and wide.  We walked up hill and down dale.  We walked when we could have driven.  My husband even lost weight!  And he ate more than me (and drank more than me!)  It just seems so unfair that when I was trying so hard,  I still failed.

I promised I would be honest on this blog, so today you are getting all of my honesty.  I feel like giving up.  It just seems so hard to keep going when faced with such an epic failure.  Losing those three kilograms took blood, sweat, and tears.  It took me weeks and weeks to lose and yet I gained it back in just fourteen days.  When faced with such an overwhelming and what I see as catastrophic failure, the temptation to just throw in the towel and walk away is strong.

And then I take a deep breath and let it out slowly.

Yes, it is disappointing.  Yes, it is heartbreaking to see all that work go down the drain.

But…

I still fit into my new clothes.  I still feel slimmer.  When I look in the mirror I can still see the changes in my body.

Do I want to throw a tantrum and shake my fist at the universe?  Absolutely.  Do I want to cry about how unfair it is that I can’t be normal?  Of course.  And you know what, I have and I will probably do that time and again on this journey.

But…

If I walk away now in a fit of pique, then I won’t have reached the goal weight I have set for myself for my son’s wedding.  If I give up now, all the good I have done in bringing down my HBA1C and stabilising my blood sugars will be wasted.  If I throw in the towel I will just be repeating the pattern that has characterised my life.

Yes, it is unfair that I just have to walk past a bakery to gain a kilogram.  Yes, it is unfair that I have a disease that sucks the joy out of food and parties and family dinners.  But I am not alone in this struggle.  I am not the only one on this earth who deals with life being unfair.

All of us face trials and tribulation.  All of us have to overcome.  Giving up because it isn’t fair won’t change anything.  The hard fact is that if I want my life to change, then I have to be the one to change my life.  I have to take responsibility for it.

So what can I do now?

I get back into my regular routine.  I go back to the schedule that had been working for me.  I get back on the treadmill and I work my a$$ off to lose those extra kilos I gained.  There is no magic button or pill.  It comes down to doing the work and getting sweaty. It means saying no to the treat and regaining my focus.

There may be swearing along the way and that is okay.  At the end of the day when I fit into the dress I want to wear for my son’s wedding and I look back on the photos and feel good about how I looked, then it will all be worth it.  But even beyond that, when I live longer and feel younger and have many more trips under my belt, that will be worth it.  For every year I extend my life because I was making wise choices and putting my health above the instant satisfaction that a treat brings, then it will be worth it.

But again, there may be swearing along the way.  Loud swearing.  Inventive swearing. And sweating.  Lots and lots of sweating.

All Good Things Must Come To An End

It’s Thursday again but no weigh in for me today because we are still on our road trip.

We are on the last leg of our journey and will be home in a couple of days.  It has been such an amazing time and I have loved every minute of it.  We have seen some gorgeous places and met some great people.  The Australian bush may look rugged and ugly to some, but to me I think it is one of the most beautiful sights on earth.  The Australian bush has so many faces and around every turn we are once again awed by what we see.

As much as I have enjoyed our road trip and rural Australia, it does make sticking to a healthy eating plan a little difficult.  At the start of the trip we were in places were we had access to supermarkets and microwaves.  Once we headed a bit further inland, the rooms we were staying in no longer had microwaves and although there were supermarkets, we had no way of cooking.  We had to eat out a lot.  Not that I’m complaining.  Up until the last couple of days, the meals have been a foodie’s heaven and the adult beverages haven’t been bad either. 😉

But it has meant that I haven’t been able to be consistent with my diet.  We have still made a conscious effort to walk daily and stop the car regularly so we can move around and not be stationary all day, but as to whether I have gained any of my hard-lost kilos, I won’t know until next week when I jump on the scales at home.

I have also noticed that the longer we have been on our trip, the less motivated I have become.  Whether that is because I have  gotten into the holiday mode or whether it is because I am tired, I don’t know.  What I do know is that it is harder to say no to sweets and bakery treats.  I haven’t fallen off the wagon entirely, but it is a lot harder to resist temptation.  This is especially true when you have very little choice in where you can eat.  We were in a very small country town last night and the options for dinner were the local pub or a takeaway shop.  There was a supermarket, but we had no way to cook any food.  We had a delicious roast at the pub, but the portions size was small and hubby was still hungry so we bought some hot chips and of course I couldn’t let him eat them all himself!

Having said all of that, I know that as long as I am making wise choices more often than I am making unwise ones, I am still on the right track.  What is the point of living if you can’t enjoy it?

We still have four more days before we get home and while I’ll be sensible, I don’t think it is necessary for me to deprive myself completely.  I am an unashamed foodie and our last port of call is one of my favourite places so I say, “let’s eat, drink, and be merry.”

We’re all going on a Summer Holiday

Well, not exactly a summer holiday, but it’s almost summer here in the Southern Hemisphere.

No weigh-in today because my husband and I are on a road trip to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.  Road trips are a new thing for us and we have done a few now.  It’s a really great way to see the country and get away from the daily grind.

Unfortunately there are also logistical considerations when traveling with a health issue.

Travelling with diabetes is more than just making sure you have your medication with you.  There are numerous things that we need to take into account, especially as we are spending a lot of time in the car. 

Snacks and Water

Typically the first day of our road trip is the longest and has the least amount of stops.  We have learned from experience to buy water to take with us.  This time we took two slabs of 24 x 600ml bottles.  We put some in the fridge the night before and packed them in an esky.  It’s easy to get dehydrated when you are sitting in the car with the air conditioning on. 

Another tip is to pack healthy snacks.  Nuts and fruit are great.  This time we bought trail mix in bulk and then measured it out into little baggies.  This has the dual benefits of being convenient and ensuring that you don’t eat too much in one sitting.  We also had apples and mandarins – nature’s prepackaged snack foods.

It’s also a tradition of ours to make sandwiches for that first day.  Having a pre-made lunch means not having to run the gauntlet of fast food. Fast food is a sure way to derail blood sugar levels.

Accommodation

You might not think that you would need to take accommodation into consideration.  In my case, I have to think about it because I need to make sure that wherever we stay it has an ensuite.  I get up two to three and sometimes four times a night to go to the bathroom.  The last thing I want to be doing in the middle of the night is walking down the hall in a strange place in my pyjamas looking for a bathroom.  The added fact that my diet will inevitably change during a vacation only adds to the amount of times I have to get up through the night.  One of the very first things we look at when booking accommodation is what the bathroom situation is.

Meals

This is probably one of the hardest.  While most accommodation places have an ensuite, not all of them have kitchens and those that do can be more expensive.  This means eating out and that is like walking through a minefield blindfolded.  Eating out once a week is not a problem but having to do it nearly every morning, noon and night while on holidays can play havoc on sugar levels.  

We overcome the whole breakfast issue by taking breakfast cereal with us.  Individual packets of microwaveable porridge is like a godsend.  Muesli is also a good option.  UHT milk travels well and you can get them in little tetra packs that mean you don’t have to cart open bottles of milk with you.

Lunch and dinner aren’t so easy.  If there is a kitchen available, we try to go to a local supermarket and grab stuff to make our evening meals.  Lunch is pretty much a crap shoot.  

Exercise

Making sure you get enough exercise while on a road trip is tricky.  The last trip we did, I made it a point to take us places where we could do some walking.  This time we are making sure to walk for at least 30mins every morning before breakfast.  I’ve found that walking around a town is a great way to get to know the town.  We love looking at the different houses and gardens – in a completely non-creepy way of course.

I have a Fitbit which not only counts my steps but also reminds me when I haven’t moved in a while.  It has also become a bit of a game to see if I can get the reward badges for moving and steps.

As for whether I can maintain my weight while away, this won’t be determined until I get home.  I’m trying to balance watching what I eat with enjoying this time away.  Food can play such a big part in our leisure time so it can be challenging to feel like you are not being deprived when you are trying to eat responsibly.  It is all about balance and not being too hard on yourself. 

Helps The Medicine Go Down

I wish I had a spoonful of sugar…but that would kind of defeat the purpose.

I went to my doctor this week.  It was my three-monthly checkup which included getting my most recent blood test results (which are all good BTW – sugars are down, cholesterol is down, HBA1C is down) and it also gave me the chance to chat with him about my medication.

You see, I spend approximately $100 a month on medication.  I know that that is not much compared to what some people have to pay and I am so very thankful for the PBS (Pharmaceuticals Benefit Scheme) scheme and the fact that I can opt for cheaper generic brands, but still…it’s $100 a month!

This is my pill box (yes!  I had to buy a pill box!  I’m still not over it)

pills

Okay, so it’s not as bad as it looks.  This is four weeks worth of pills.  One of those little boxes is one day.

I take four prescribed tablets per day.  Two are for managing my diabetes, one is for cholesterol and one is for reflux.

The reflux I got because of a bad reaction to a different drug I was on for diabetes and now I have to take a pill for it.

To say that I am anti-medication is not the whole truth.  I respect the research that goes into producing these little pills.  It’s a more accurate statement to say that I am medication resistant.  And there really is no good reason for it.  Let me explain…

I don’t like taking tablets.  I don’t even like taking paracetamol or ibuprofen or headaches. I’m of the mind that if I have a headache then it is my body trying to tell me something – I’m tired, stressed, hungry, thirsty or I have eye-strain or allergies – and usually my first reaction is to have a glass of water or eat something.  Taking medication for a headache is a last resort for me.

The other reason I don’t like taking medication is because of the side-effects.  In some cases the side-effects are worse than the original issue.  This is not just scare mongering – I have experienced these side-effects.  Take my example above.  I was on a drug for diabetes – a well-known and respectable drug – and I developed severe reflux and other (gross) side-effects.  For a while a couple of years ago I was on an anti-depressant and I suffered side-effects from those too – decreased sex drive, anxiety and a strange swelling in my face.  My fears about side-effects are not unfounded.

I was first diagnosed with pre-diabetes about ten years ago.  I was prescribed a common diabetes drug and I had unwanted side-effects to it, so I stopped taking it.  Basically, I was suffering low-level nausea, not unlike morning sickness, all day long.  Then three years ago when I was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes, I was again prescribed the same drug.  I spoke to my doctor at the time and told her about my previous reaction to it and her response was that there was nothing else I could take.  A saw a diabetes specialist and his advice was to start taking it at night instead of in the morning so that I would sleep through the side-effects.  Three years later and I was still taking the drug and my side-effects had increased.  The nausea was no longer an issue but I was suffering from reflux, dysentery and chest pains.

My doctor thought I had a psychological issue with taking tablets.

It wasn’t until  I changed doctors that I got some relief.  My new doctor has been working with me to find a combination of meds that I can take without suffering the side-effects.  It hasn’t been all plain-sailing.  The dysentery is gone but has been replaced by candidiasis which is uncomfortable but manageable.  The point is, my doctor is working with me this time instead of just writing a script and refusing to listen to my concerns.  Even this week when I went to him and told him that my medications were costing me $100 per month, he tried to find cheaper brands for me.  I saved about $10, which might not sound much, but every little bit helps.

But back to the real issue.  My resistance to taking drugs in the first place.

I was thinking about this today as I was musing on what I would write.  As I stated earlier, it’s not that I’m anti-medication.  I know that the drug companies have done amazing things with creating medications that prolong life and make living with some diseases bearable.  I am not on a crusade to rid the world of medication nor do I advocate turning your back on modern medicine.

My whole aversion to taking the medication prescribed to me is rooted in the fact that I am resentful about having to take them in the first place.  I feel like my body has let me down.  I don’t think it’s fair that a faulty gene (and yes, type II diabetes is genetic, just ask my mother, father, grandmother and countless aunts and uncles that suffer with it) means that I have to spend the rest of my life on medication.  And yes, before you yell at me and tell me that there are people out there in a worse condition, I know.  I watched my daughter-in-law die from a genetic disease with no cure.  And that is my point!  IT.  IS.  NOT.  FAIR!

This was a major stumbling block for me in my early diagnosis and the reason it has taken me three years to get my act together and actually start doing something about it.  Really, if I’m honest, it has taken ten years to get to the point where I can accept my disease.  There is a whole grieving process that goes along with coming to terms with a diagnosis like Type II Diabetes.  There is also a whole lot of guilt and self-loathing attached to it.  Type II Diabetes has become the whipping boy for obesity and there is a lot of misconception out there about treatment and causes (but let’s not get into that right now.)

It has been a long road for me to finally acknowledge that my body needs pharmaceutical help in order to function properly.  My previous doctor used to try and scare me into taking my medication by saying that if I didn’t then I would die.  That was not a good motivator for me.  My current doctor is all about making it easy for me, helping me to acclimate to this new lifestyle and removing obstacles (such as the cost) where he can, which is a hell of a lot better than being yelled at.

I still don’t think it’s fair, but that’s probably got more to do with the very strong justice streak in my personality.

The fact is, accepting a diagnosis – any diagnosis – takes time.  Coming to terms with how it is going to impact your life takes time.  Changing habits and making new ones – like taking medication regularly – takes time.

For me, it took being in the right headspace.  When I was diagnosed there was a whole host of other things going on at the same time and to my mind they were more important than my health.  Now that I am through the other side, I can finally look at myself and say, now it’s your time.

Do I still feel like my body has betrayed me?

Yeah, actually I do.  But now I am willing to give it the help it needs.

I’m still a work in progress.

P.S. I lost another 300gms this week for those of you keeping count 😉

Sticking to it

This week has been, well, kinda crap.  Not in a way that I’m having a bad week, but more in the way of best laid plans going awry which prompted me to talk about the importance of having a routine and sticking to it.

Now, I have to make something clear upfront – I am not a person who necessarily loves routine and predictability.  I love spontaneity, or rather, I used to.  I think it’s a more accurate statement to say that I thrive on change.  Which, in turn, means that I get bored easily.

What I have found, though, is that having a simple routine or schedule that I can stick to makes my life a heck of a lot easier.  My life is relatively simple, but there are things that I need to get done every day. I am an author who also has a family and a job outside of writing.  I need time to write and I need family time and I need time to exercise and I need to work.  I also need to remember to take my medication and eat at regular intervals and, because I’m an introvert, I also need alone time (not just for my sanity but for my family’s as well.)  Having a regular schedule has made getting my health on track and hitting all these ‘needs’ achievable.

I know what you’re going to say…there must be some drawbacks.

Of course there are.  Routine can get boring.  I’m the first to admit that, so you need to build in some flexibility.  I only follow the routine on days I work which means for two days a week, I’m footloose and fancy free.  But do you know what I find on those days?  I don’t sleep as well, I eat crap and I get little or no exercise.  Which is fine because it’s only two days a week, but it says a lot for how important having that regular routine is for me to maintain my health.

Another drawback is that if my routine gets messed up, I can get a little crazy.  Have I mentioned I can get a little obsessive compulsive about things?  I like order (which is kind of ironic considering that I also like spontaneity and change.)  One of the jobs I have at work is to roll cutlery.  Literally rolling a knife and a fork in a napkin.  I actually don’t mind this job but I have to match the cutlery I’m rolling.  The knife and fork have to match or I choose another one.  It is also the reason my husband does the washing.  I get a little militant about sorting the washing and what can get washed together and how it gets hung out on the line and what pegs get used…okay, that might be TMI.  But you can see how I would get a little anxious if my routine gets messed up.  Like this week, for instance.  It’s Thursday and I’ve only been to the gym once because I’ve had other appointments.  As shocking as it is for me to say this, I actually breathed a sigh of relief today while I was on the treadmill.  I know!  I can’t believe it either, but it’s true.  So how do you overcome this?  Take a breath.  Take a step back and see that it really isn’t the end of the world and then maybe build some extra flexibility into the schedule so you don’t get caught out again.  This week for me is out of the norm, so I know that by next week I will be back to my regularly scheduled programming and that helps to keep the anxiety at bay.

So now that I’ve given you all the arguments against routine, let’s look at what is good, great, and fabulous about routines and schedules.

Seven Reasons I Stick to a Schedule

  1. I don’t have to think.
    My work roster is the same every week.  I don’t have to think about what days I’m working and I have built my life around that schedule.  I get up and write for an hour and a half before work.  I go to work and then I go to the gym.  There is no thinking about it, I just do it which leaves my brain free to ruminate on world peace and solving world hunger – or what the next thing is going to happen int he book I am currently writing.
  2. It removes obstacles
    There are no questions about whether or not I’m going to go to the gym.  It’s just something I do after work every day.  The gym is on my way home – I practically drive right past it.  Even when I don’t feel like going, it’s an almost automatic response that I drive to the gym when I’ve finished my shift.  It’s easy and the one thing I’ve learned is that for me to exercise regularly, it has to be easy.  I like the path of least resistance, so by removing obstacles I am more likely to do what I set out to do.
  3. It lessens anxiety
    This may be surprising to you but what I’ve found is that when I have a regular routine, my anxiety and stress levels are lower.  Having a plan helps me relax.  Having boundaries around my life helps to contain my emotions.  It’s a small measure of control when everything else may be out of control.  I may not be able to influence other factors in my life, but having control over my schedule grounds me and helps to keep my anxiety from getting out of control.
  4. It builds good habits
    One of my issues with dealing with my diabetes was my absolute failure at taking my medication.  At one point my doctor was convinced that I had a psychological block that caused me to purposely forget.  Once I got myself into a regular routine – that suited my lifestyle – I’ve found that taking my meds is now just par for the course.  And not just taking them, but taking them consistently and at the same time every day.
  5. I no longer skip meals
    Another issue I had was eating regularly.  I am a feast or famine kinda girl.  If I’m working on a project, I tend to get so involved in it to the exclusion of everything else – even food.  And then when I finally lift my head and realise I’m hungry, I’m ravenous and want to eat everything in sight.  Eating regularly stopped that fast and binge cycle which also helps to regulate my blood sugar.
  6. I sleep better
    People laugh at me when I tell them that I go to bed at 8pm.  I know it’s early, but I get up at 3:30am and I need my sleep.  Having a regular bedtime promotes better sleep patterns.  By 7:30pm my body is telling me it’s time to get ready for bed.  I have a little bedtime ritual that also helps make sure I’m getting enough sleep.
  7. It’s measurable
    When you do something the same way every day, you get better at it.  Let me take the gym for instance (I’m talking about it a lot this week so I must have missed it!)  I used to walk on the treadmill at 4km/h.  I did that for a really long time.  It wasn’t until I started being really regular and specific about going to the gym that I noticed I could actually walk faster.  Then I added an incline.  Then I added 5mins of jogging and then two five minute intervals of jogging and now I do one ten minute stint of jogging.  My walking speed has increased and my endurance has increased.  Today after my ten minute interval, I could have gone longer without dying of oxygen deprivation.  None of this would have been achievable if I hadn’t been doing it every day.  Firstly, I wouldn’t have known to try for a faster speed or a higher incline and secondly, the results have been consistent and measurable.
  8. I’m more productive
    I mentioned that I’m an author, right?  And you saw that I get up at 3:30am in order to have time to write?  Having a routine makes getting out of bed at 3:30am and sitting down at my computer to write easier.  It also means that my body is prepared and my mind is ready.  It wouldn’t be much good if I was getting up at that ridiculous time just to sit in front of my computer and surf the internet.  Having a regular writing time when my brain is at its most creative and when I’m not going to be plagued by interruptions makes those writing sessions productive.  Why 3:30am?  Because I start work at 7am and need to leave home by 6:15am.  I found that if I left my writing to the afternoon, after work, then I just wouldn’t do it.  I am an early riser and mornings are when I’m the freshest, so it makes sense that it would be the optimum time for writing.  Having a regular routine in which I go to bed at the same time, means when I get up, I’m awake enough and ready to write.  My mind and body are primed and I make good use of the time.

 

No one says that starting a new routine is easy.  It takes commitment.  For the first few days, weeks and even months, you will try and resist the change.  it’s only natural.  But with each day that you stick to it, you reinforce the behaviour and the neural pathways in your brain until it becomes second nature.  Be prepared for that period of adjustment.  Be prepared for a period of time where you feel too hemmed in by your schedule.  It wasn’t too long ago that I was commenting to a friend that I felt like I was on a hamster wheel.  It can feel like that sometimes and when that happens, take a moment to see what is not working for you.  Adjust it if you need to or grit your teeth and keep going until the feeling passes.  It will and does get easier the longer you stick to it.

Start small.  Don’t try and change your life all in one fell swoop.  Change one thing and then after a couple of weeks, change something else.  Reevaluate and adjust as needed until you reach a place that challenges you enough to keep you interested but not too much that it puts obstacles in your path.  Make your schedule fit your life, not the other way around.

And remember to stay fabulous!

P.S. I lost 300gms this week, just FYI