you need to read this

My mind likes to race; it races around and around. It causes me unneeded stress. I then start to think about how much I think. You see how this can be a spiral toward some kind of mental breakdown?

The truth is, I’m a thorough person. I’m loyal. I put 100% into people, things, and projects. Being relational and passionate about work, dreams, etc. are admirable qualities, however it can lead to burnout if we don’t remember to pause.

Sometimes it’s too much to think about all at once; and therefore too hard to execute on. I’ve felt my fair share of failure for backing out of commitments that I feel are not serving me in a given moment. But instead of being hard on myself, I’ve learned to view quitting and failure from a different perspective.

“Taking time to honor the needs of your body is taking time to respect the needs of your soul.” – Journey to the Heart

We’re told from day 1, to never EVER quit. If you’ve ever played sports in high school, college, etc., you know exactly what I’m talking about. Great athletes don’t quit. Great athletes don’t give up. Great athletes don’t burnout. Successful people don’t burnout — but oh, they do… they just learn to manage it, or change their current situations.

Luckily for me, there are a TON of blogs and podcasts underneath the sun that address the general topic of burnout, quitting, and having the power to say ‘no’. We are humans in a world in which there are rarely any constants. Our financial successes, health, relationships, and career goals all rely on variables. They are all dependent on various life scenarios and interactions with people that are hardly repeatable for any two people. When I start to feel overwhelmed,  I do a couple of things:

  1. Remember to NOT compare my successes (or lack there of) to others’ successes. It does NOT make sense to compare myself to other people. All those variables I just talked about – they are different for everyone. The intensity of those variables are different for everyone. If you feel this way –  here’s a solution: do some soul-searching and figure out what drives you and makes you happy. Use your discoveries as a foundation to determine what success means to you. Although people can have compatible and similar personalities, it does not mean any two people function in the same capacity or use the same thought processes. The definition of success should stem from an intrinsic place, yet we are often using society’s definition of success as a measuring stick. Here’s a thought… does society care if you as an individual are fulfilled and happy?
  2. Find effective stress relievers. No, I don’t mean unwinding with a glass of wine (but yes, kind of). Okay, but seriously, find sustainable stress outlets to get you through the bumps in the road. I’ve found that exercise, stretching, reading, writing, meditating, dancing, napping, bingeing Gilmore Girls..etc. have all been effective stress relievers for me. Disclaimer: it might take a while to figure out what actually works for you, but the only way to know is to TRY.
  3. Start saying ‘no’. I struggled with saying ‘no’ to friends, family, and coworkers for quite some time. Fun fact: I recently took an Insights personality assessment which revealed at work I feel I need to be extroverted as hell, but at home I’m in the fast lane to introversion. This doesn’t surprise me because I am a project manager, and as a project manager I have the pleasure of working with many people. But at home, I’m not a project manager. I’m a person who likes peace and quiet. I’m someone who doesn’t need other people around to give me energy – I need to be alone to recharge. So friends, family — if you’re wondering why I’m saying ‘no’ to invites, don’t take it personally. I am putting my health first, and allowing myself to be selective about what I participate in. You can do it too – and you don’t have to feel guilty about it. Imagine a life where everyone did what they wanted to without feeling obligated! A-m-a-z-i-n-g. 
  4. Re-evaluate activities in my planner and/or schedule. I am a total Type-A person. I love planning out my week, my meals, my workouts, you name it. It’s cool to feel in control; but if all of a sudden my mood is not aligned with my plans, or I’m feeling burnt out, you better believe I’m removing or pushing out some of my to-do’s. As a project manager, it’s intuitive for me to want to stick to schedules and follow through for my clients and peers. However, I have learned that I don’t need to project-manage my life outside of work. I can use my intuition to guide me; I can ebb and flow through the week depending on how I’m feeling. There isn’t anyone over my shoulder at home looking at my planner and saying, “Oh no, Karen! You did not go to yoga tonight, you’re fired!”. Think about it…planning is meant to make life simpler. The minute it becomes the enemy is the minute you should be taking a step back from the pressure you are putting on yourself. Go with your gut, you will feel much more relaxed. I know I have.

In closing, this month was full of “quitting”. I made intentional decisions to redirect my energy to other aspects of my life. I decided that the Whole30 was not serving me this round – and it’s not because I think the Whole30 is hard, it’s because the Whole30 meant something different to me in 2015 than it means to me now. I did a nice two-week detox from the holidays and found that was enough; it served me well. I now feel rejuvenated to take on the rest of the month and the new year. I also “quit” training for a 15k that I pressured myself into. It felt like a good idea at the time, but I started training about four weeks later than I would have liked and there’s no reason for me to put pressure on myself to run the longest distance I would run in my entire life with minimal training.

“We need to learn to adapt to change but we also need to learn to tell when a situation is wrong for us and not force ourselves to fit.” – Journey to The Heart

I leave you with a few resources that have grounded me recently. They’ve taught me to say ‘no’ to things I don’t want to do, and ‘fuck yes’ to things that are calling to me. They’ve taught me that quitting is not necessarily failure, it’s recognizing that something is not serving me. They’ve taught me that burnout is real, and that stress can be mitigated. If it can’t, I need to take control of my life and seek change.

 

xo Karen

“Sometimes it feels easier to doubt ourselves, to make the perceived safe decision, to make the excuse, to change our expectations, to follow ill-fitting societal norms, and uphold our false beliefs that only exceptional people can do the thing we want to do. But that’s bullshit.” – Minimal Wellness

post food freedom 30

Hello friends! Happy Sunday. I hope you’ve all had a great (long) Thanksgiving weekend, and enjoyed the many good foods that come along with the traditional holiday. I know I am ready to get back into a healthy eating routine after this past week!

In October I posted about “foodfreedom30”, which was my formal attempt at practicing Food Freedom using my judgement and my knowledge about my relationship with food to drive my nutritional choices. I bought a food journal to document how my meals made me feel, what foods keep me energized, etc. in hopes to expand my understanding of my relationship with food.

I wish I could tell you that my foodfreedom30 went well, because, it really didn’t. It didn’t go as expected because I found out one major detail about myself – I do NOT like food journaling. In fact, I disliked it so much I stopped after the first week. This is quite surprising to me because I’m in love with documenting ideas, creating to-do lists, using pen and paper to write things down, etc., but when it came time to document my meals and snacks at the end of the day, it felt like homework.

I switched from food journaling to using MyFitnessPal on a semi-regular basis, which was much easier for me to pop into my phone or computer during the day and document my meals right after I prepared them. It actually helped me plan my meals since I was trying to be cognizant of decreasing my carbohydrate and sugar intake (these can be my “foods without brakes”). Once I had an understanding of the general macros of the regular foods I eat, I stopped tracking my meals on a regular basis. I will still look up some foods here and there to understand macros, but overall food tracking is not very sustainable for my lifestyle.

At the end of the day, I’m just realizing that I don’t want to feel like I’m putting in excess effort to track my meals. It’s not for me, and the minute my Food Freedom feels like homework rather than a journey of self awareness is the moment I need to take a step back to re-evaluate my approach to leading a happy and healthy life.

With that said, I indulged over the holiday (and even had gluten – trust me, I am definitely paying for it, but the special occasion was worth it). I ran a five mile Turkey Trot and got a free personal pumpkin pie, which I did not hesitate to eat during Thanksgiving weekend! Part of Food Freedom is recognizing when the holidays are over, and bouncing back to your normal routines.

img_3433

A couple ways I like to bounce back from a fun week or weekend (holidays, vacations, parties, etc.) are:

  1. Drink lots of water! One can never go wrong with good ole H2O. I recently bought myself a 32oz water bottle and have been motivated to drink at least 2 per day to keep hydrated. If you’re feeling lethargic or your digestion is feeling off, try upping your water intake to help your body recover from foods and drinks you’ve consumed over the holidays.
  2. Make yourself a Turmeric drink (or buy one)! I have toyed around with making “Golden Milk” or “Turmeric Lattes”. They are definitely an acquired taste if you’re not used to drinking or eating a lot of Turmeric, but the drink has excellent anti-inflammatory qualities. If you’re lazy (like I am 90% of the time), try KeVita’s Turmeric Ginger Tonic probiotic drink. It’s fizzy, tasty, and all around a great way to help your body work through some of the junk you’ve eaten over the past few days.
  3. Sweat it out! Up your workouts over the next couple weeks. It will help you get back into your workout routine and will also allow your body to sweat. Sweating is a great way to open up the pores and let your body burn through what was consumed over the holiday. Drink a lot of water and head to the sauna as a bonus!

Food Freedom means something different to each individual person. I don’t think I’ve fully achieved Food Freedom but I am certainly proud of how far I’ve come in identifying trigger foods and foods that upset my stomach or give me migraines. I’m learning to be kind to myself and allow myself time to figure out what the best routines are for optimum health. I’m also trying not to obsess over the fact that I’m not exactly where I want to be. Sometimes, you just have to be happy with your small gains and be present in this moment. With that said, I have decided to commit to a Winter Whole30, and am happy to try another round now that I know that the best way for me to actually practice Food Freedom is to not to track or journal my meals, but rather finding recipes with whole ingredients that I know will give me overall energy and satisfaction. The only difference with my next Whole30 is, I’m going to tweak my rules and allow myself to cook Paleo – which would inspire a lifestyle change focus rather than a food reset focus. Again, my goal is to develop great habits for the long-term, so going a Paleo-inspired route for 30 days will give me that flexibility of using whole ingredients but learning how to also make “fun” foods as healthier alternatives. Hopefully by day 30 the good habits will set in and I’ll have some new favorite recipes to share!

img_2916

As you’re probably noticing, I really don’t have it all figured out. I think the major takeaway from practicing Food Freedom is this: every day is a learning experience. You are not suddenly prepared for the rest of your life because you dedicated a month or two to journaling, food tracking, a Whole30 etc. Just like altering your diet, understanding your health is a lifestyle commitment. I love trying new ideas to optimize my health, and if something isn’t working for me physically, physiologically, or mentally, I’m going to stop and change my approaches. Do not feel pressure to stick to something that isn’t working for you, but DO push yourself to recognize what’s hard in a good way vs. hard in a bad way. There’s a lot of emotion that goes into lifestyle changes, food and fitness in particular. Always have a support system to help you through your journey – sometimes you’ll need a little extra push or cheer to get yourself to the next level of self-awareness.

Have a wonderful week all! Mondays after long weekends can be tough, but stick to your routines and you’ll be just fine!

Xo Karen

the minute my Food Freedom feels like homework rather than a journey of self awareness is the moment I need to take a step back to re-evaluate my approach to leading a happy and healthy life.