Imperfect Wellness Series: If not dieting, then what? Creating healthy habits, without moralization of those habits, has been harder than I thought.
I'm a newbie accidental woodworker. Over the past two years, I've been slowly creating, and building, a garden in our backyard. My hope is to turn our little place into a microfarm with chickens, a greenhouse, tons of garden beds and eventually some off grid goodies such as solar panels for our house. Self-sufficiency has been way more expensive that I thought it would be, hence how long it has taken me to make progress.
Through this slow process of creating a garden, I've been wanting to grow my own seedings, and to do this I need a seedling rack. After pricing out several seedling racks, I decided to dive in and make my own. Little did I know, building my own seedling rack would quickly spiral out of control. Once I learned how to make a seedling rack, I wanted to make a workbench for our garage, which turned into wanting to try bigger projects like a coffee console, an aquaponics stand, a bed, etc.
The stars seemed to align, during my dive into woodworking, with Netflix's series "Tidying Up" with Marie Kondo. All hell broke loose after watching the first episode, I suddenly realized we needed to let go of a lot of stuff cluttering up our life, and make a home for the items we wanted to keep. This manifested into me building custom furniture (because all of a sudden I thought I could make anything I wanted with my new woodworking skills) for our house, repainting and deciding we needed a dining table that actually fit into our weird dining room space.
But what does woodworking, and especially a table, have to do with wellness? A lot actually.
I borderline despise our current dining room table. It's too big for the space, the chairs are wobbly, and it has ended up becoming a second desk for me and the family. We don't even eat meals at it anymore because its either cluttered with stuff or I find it uncomfortable to sit at it. For these reasons, I decided to build a custom dining room table for our space.
While on Pinterest one day, I came across cool looking table base plans on Ana White's site, and a circle table top from Jaime Costiglio's site. Why not take it one step further and burn burn something meaningful into the table top? Why not use my elementary woodworking skills, build a difficult table and create further suffering by inscribing the top? Sounds like a solid plan there Simmons.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change...
Before I was born, my grandpa was an active alcoholic. I know the basics of what happened, grandpa drank a lot, an intervention of sorts happened, he decided to get clean, the whole family supported him, and once I was born he never relapsed. Remnants of his recovery stayed alive though limited stories, a dry household, and the Serenity Prayer said at every meal. While Grandpa was in Alcoholics Anonymous, he picked up the Serenity Prayer that was said during the meetings. I'm unsure if it is still said in meetings today, but it had a big impact on him and his family at the time. The Serenity Prayer has come to mean more than the prayer itself, it is a testament to my Grandpa's recovery, and how our family came together to support Grandpa and not let alcoholism destroy relationships.
For all these reasons and more, this is why I chose the Serenity Prayer. Little did I know, that throughout the process of inscribing the prayer onto the table top, I too would be invoking the prayer for my own healing.
The process started off innocently enough, I found the font I wanted, printed out the prayer, and began tracing the prayer onto my newly sanded difficult-to-create-round tabletop. The prayer fit perfectly, or so I thought at the time. I didn't have to change the font at all (right here should have been the first clue that something was off). Somehow I had chosen the perfect size. Soon after tracing the letters, I broke out my woodburning pen and began tracing and filling in the words. This whole process took most the day. When I was about halfway through burning the prayer in, I decided to take a picture and send it to my mom. I also thought it was a good time to step away and start dinner.
After snapping the pic, I suddenly realized something was very wrong. Upon further inspection, I realized to my horror that I had left out part of the prayer. The table, in that moment, was completely ruined.
I had left out the phrase, "the courage to change the things I can."
I cried. I realize there are much bigger problems in the world, but in my world, and that moment, it was a big deal. I had taken on a project I wasn't sure I could complete. The table definitely pushed the boundaries of what I was capable of. I had spent hours upon hours studying and building this table. I had reached out to a neighbor to show me how to cut a 4x4 at a 45 degree angle using a miter saw. My dad had helped glue, clamp and secure the warped X bracing on the table so it would be stable. I figured out how to cut my octagon table top into a circle using a circular saw, which I had never used before in my life. And now, I felt like I had ruined all this progress by making a silly mistake. Why did I have to make things so complicated?!?
The irony of the phrase I had accidentally left out wasn't lost on me. I wondered if I had the courage to fix this mistake. Would I simply be able to sand out the mistake or would it ruin how level the table top was? Would there be a dent where the phrasing had been? Should I try using wood filler to cover the words then try to re-burn the correct phrasing? Will the wood filler even burn correctly? Should I take the table top apart and put new 2x6 boards on, cut it to make it a circle, sand, and start the inscribing process all over again? Or should I cut my losses, use wood filler on the words and then paint over the table top; therefore, ditching the whole inscribing situation? Honestly, I wanted to burn the whole project to the ground and do something else. So. Over. It.
After I pulled myself together, dropped more F-bombs, and decided to hit Home Depot to focus on another project, I realized that 1. All was not lost I would figure out a solution and 2. The table top fiasco highlighted other areas where I am not embracing courage, and in particular the area of my personal wellness. Yes, I started blogging about this, yes I am working on habits, but I am staying safe.
Courage to change the things I can...
I don't like the meals I make. We follow a food budget, and each week I plan out the meals that I know everyone will eat and buy groceries for the week. Meals are based on volume, taste, and nutrition. With a hungry teenager and a hungry pre-teen, I've slowly moved towards much more hearty meals because of their insatiable hunger! The meals we currently have in the rotation are pretty standard, but I want something different. I crave more meatless options, more veggies, more eating at the table, more help in the kitchen, more them making their meals and me making my own. Yes, I want to hang up the family chef hat and put on the "make your own sh*t hat". The kids are at an age where they know that Oreos and Cheese Its aren't considered a meal. They have limited cookings skills, but know how to use the oven, microwave, air fryer and I'm pretty confident that they are capable of learning more cooking skills.
But why would I dare make myself look like a bad mom by having my family make their own meals? If I want to eat differently then I have to start focusing more on what I need *gasp*. I need time and space to research, prep, and make meals that are appealing to me. I need to equip my kids with the tools they need to prepare meals for themselves, and NOT feel guilty that I'm not making the meal for them. I need to create an environment that supports my wellness processes. I'm not quitting being mom, I'm just shelving one of my jobs for the moment.
I don't think I've fully invested in my wellness because I'm afraid I can't change my current lifestyle, and I'm afraid of failing. In the past I have dieted and regained more times than I can count. I'm paranoid about making these changes feel like a diet. This fear, of creating a diet, has been holding me back from investing in changing my eating habits. But what's the difference between dieting and changing your eating habits? Honestly, I don't know. So if I start monitoring my caloric intake, add my fruits and veggies, cut back on higher calorie foods, then am I on a diet? But what if these are sustainable changes? Is it still considered a diet? Where is the diet line at in all this??
A few things I do know. I don't want extremes in my life. I don't want to feel like I have to exercise for hours, cut out entire food groups, drink shakes, protein powders or smoothies focused on weight loss. I want to feel good about how I fuel my body, how I use my body and not ashamed of my body. I want to figure out how to care for my body, the vehicle that allows me to get out of bed, plant, build furniture, hug my kids, and so much more.
Wisdom to know the difference.
I have way more questions than answers, but the bottom line is I need to show up for myself. It's so much easier NOT to show up because then I won't disappoint myself. Its time for me to find the courage to be ok with disappointment, failure, and starting all over again.
I am still working on my list of habits and I'd like to tweek them a bit.
1. I want to add fruits and veggies to every meal. (same)
2. Cut down my meat consumption to dinner only. Cut meat out completely (except broth) for 90 days. Revisit meat consumption post 90 days.
3. Keep a food, sleep and period journal to gather data on my patterns and habits. (same)
4. Walk 3x's a week after my kids are done with school. (same)
5. Practice yoga 2x's a week after my kids are done with school. (same)
6. Have the house shut down, cleaned up by 9:45PM so I can go to bed in peace. (letting this one go for now)
6. Incorporate some kettlebell swings and lifts 2x's a week.
7. Ten minutes of silent meditation daily.
8. Dry up for 90 days. Give alcohol a rest.
9. Utilize a therapist to help me process everything that's kicked up in this process.
10. Ask for help or find someone outside of the family to support my exercise and food habits.
If your wellness is lookin' as imperfect as mine, I'd love to hear from you (firstname.lastname@example.org). Send me a message! Let me know how you're doing!
Still Workin' on Wellness,