Posted by: hoppybottoms | June 7, 2011

Be Kind, Rewind: My Personal Wellness Project

It is really easy to forget about taking care of yourself, or to convince yourself that you are taking care of yourself, when in reality, you are not.

 I have started The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, and according to my Kindle, I have completed reading 21% of the book. Already, I feel motivated to make some changes in my life, in addition to changing to a vegan lifestyle. See, that is the funny thing about self-help books, the good ones actually make you want to help yourself.

A well written book of this genre, does not give step-by-step instructions on how to lose weight, have better relationships, or even become happier; it leads by example. Gretchen Rubin has not mapped out any steps (at least not in the first 21% of the book) to making a happiness project. She explained what motivated her to start one, and then how she planned out her own project. After this she describes how she pursued this project in her own life, and this is what has inspired me. As I am writing this, I realize now, that this is probably why I loved Eat, Pray, Love, so much. Elizabeth Gilbert didn’t say “I was in a loveless marriage but I figured out how to make myself better. If you follow these easy steps while traveling the world, you too, can find happiness in love and life.” Instead, she described what she was feeling, what she thought she needed to do to change it, and then, with the help of some money from her publisher, she went out and did it. That is why I was inspired. That is why I felt like a stronger woman, like I could do anything.

I did a little reading before I went to bed last night. Sometimes that is difficult to do, because I want to spend time with Steve, and right before we go to sleep is the only time we are both relaxed enough to have enjoyable conversation. He was on the computer, doing something with one of his many fantasy sports teams when I got in the bedroom, and I thought, “Hey, instead of nagging him to get off of the computer in bed, why not read, and let him do his thing? When he is done, I will put my reading away.” Already, that attitude makes me feel like I am making strides in my life! It worked and we went to sleep very peacefully.

Now, I have at other times in my life made changes to myself: physically, emotionally, and mentally. One thing that is very difficult to maintain is physical self-care. Trying to motivate myself to exercise and reminding myself that although I am young, I will eventually be old and grateful for taking good care of myself, isn’t exactly easy.

 Growing up, I danced, and dancing was my life until high school. I did it all: ballet, tap, jazz, pointe, hip-hop and I loved it. I was lucky to have this opportunity in my life because a family member owned a dance studio, otherwise, there is now way my parents would have been able to afford the number of classes I took.

At some point I decided that I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of going to dance class when I could be home studying to get into a good college. Then senior year of high school, I realized I was a moron; I loved dance, it was free, and it could help me keep myself in shape. I went back full force, I took all of the classes I had taken before AND I joined a dance team in my school. At one point I was dancing seven days a week, I’m not sure I can remember a time when I felt better about myself.

Dancing was important to me but it was never something I could make a career out of, mostly because I just wasn’t even close to good enough. That’s ok; it doesn’t make it any less important in my life. I always knew that I wasn’t going to be the next back-up dancer for Brittany Spears, but the reality of it hit when I auditioned for the college dance team freshman year and I couldn’t even get through the audition routine. Long story short…I didn’t make the team.  I wasn’t surprised, I knew I wasn’t good enough but I was proud that I had tried out. Taking scary risks like that is always important. I hit the gym pretty hard the first semester of freshman year, not dancing motivated me to take care of myself in other ways.

When I was in graduate school, I was going through a pretty tough time in my life personally.  However, I found solace in exercise. I walked 1-2 miles, almost daily; part of the walk was on an incline and it felt great. I took up Pilates, I can’t even remember how I found Pilates, but thank goodness I did. I had always wanted to be a yoga person, but my personality did not lend itself to an activity that was filled with so much calm inactivity. Yoga is awesome but I just was not in a mental state to really latch onto it as a way of releasing tension and bettering my body. Pilates has a lot of qualities that are very similar to yoga, but it requires a bit more movement, and my body, mind, and soul needed that.

I became incredibly devoted to my almost daily Pilates work-out. At one point I managed to scrounge up enough money to join the local YMCA, and I took instructed Pilates there.  All of this felt great (not to mention I looked pretty good). Of course, I was a full-time graduate student with a part-time job, so my schedule was a little more flexible, making this a tiny bit easier.

Then my personal life seemed to perk up and I forgot about taking care of myself.

Next, was about a year later when I got engaged. Who doesn’t want to look fantastic in their wedding pictures? I thought that I had just given up sweets, ice cream, and French fries but my husband recently reminded me that I was also going for walks frequently.  While the motivation behind this is superficial, the truth is, I was taking care of myself, so who cares.

It has almost been two years since my wedding, and I honestly can’t remember the last time I exercised. My husband goes through spurts of using his gym membership and going for runs, but I am an all or nothing kind of girl; nothing seems to be what I have been aiming for lately.

On Sunday night Steve said “I am going to go to the gym tomorrow after work. I am going to send you a picture from the gym. If I don’t send you a picture, come up with some sort of punishment.” Clearly, he needed to be motivated to start taking care of himself again. Of course, all I could think was “A punishment?! Oh boy…this is going to be fun!”

He went; I have the picture to prove it. No punishment needed…oh well.

Last night, Steve decided that he was going try and go to the gym before work. So I thought to myself, “OK. This is your chance. Get up when he gets up, take out that Pilates mat, and get your ass in gear.” Now for us this means waking up at 5am since we have to leave the apartment by 7am. I set my regular alarm for 5am, when Steve was also getting up, and then a backup alarm for 5:15am. I set out clothes to change into, I put my Pilates DVD in the ready position, took out my yoga DVD, just in case I wanted to be ambitious, and I pulled out my mat from behind the couch. No excuses. Everything was ready.

5am: the alarm goes off. Steve rolls out of bed. He goes to the gym. I roll over and go back to sleep.

5:15am: The backup alarm goes off. That alarm scared the freakin’ crap out of me. When it started going off I was dreaming that I was in a school building and the fire alarm was going off and we were all running out of the building like psyhcos. Then my brain said “Hey stupid it’s your alarm, get up!”

It worked. I was awake. Even then I tried to convince myself to go back to sleep, but I didn’t. I procrastinated by calling the cat over, knowing she would try to lay on me and then I would want to stay in bed. Then, I just got up. I changed. I put my mat down, pressed play and got to work on my 20 minute Windsor Pilates DVD. When I was done with Pilates, I felt good, and I looked at the clock, 5:55 just enough time to get in some quick, relaxing yoga. I put in the yoga DVD, chose the 15 minute Gentle Wake Up routine and it was great way to wind down from the Pilates.  We were out the door exercised, showered, and dressed, by 7am.

My point in this long winded rant is this: I want to take better care of myself. Ridding my diet of dairy and animal products is a huge step in that process, but I need more. I leave my house at 7am and I return between 6 and 6:30pm. When I get home, I am hungry and tired. It is easy to use my very long day as an excuse to not exercise; but I am done with excuses.

So, I am, on this blog, putting myself up to a 30 day challenge to “rewind” my body back to being active, healthy, and exuberant (I think am going to make a new blog for my 30 day challenge). This way, there are some people watching me. I need the motivation (and humiliation).

Here is the challenge:

Daily exercise: I will exercise at least 15 minutes each day (Baby steps…). Pilates, Yoga, Walking, whatever I choose as long as I do it for at least 15 minutes.

Pilates: Minimum of one day a week I will do a full-length Pilates work-out (45-60 minutes)

Yoga: Minimum of one day a week I will do a full-length Yoga routine (30-60 minutes)

Eating: Continue to eat healthy (and maybe not make those yummy Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies every week…maybe)

Smiling: In reading The Happiness Project I was reminded of a simple yet hard to remember (or easy to forget) fact: If you smile, even when you aren’t happy, it can indeed change your mood. So, I am going to smile like a lunatic as much as I possibly can.

Positivity: Being positive is so important. For the past two years, I have made only one New Year’s Resolution: Stay Positive. I figured it wasn’t something superficial, like losing weight, which people give up on or forget about, but it was a challenge. It is really easy to find the negative in daily life, but finding the positive, that is work, but work well worth doing.

 In 2010 I think I did a good job of keeping the positive attitude although sometimes it was really difficult. In 2011 staying positive really stopped working after February, again, life can be sad and challenging. But I am going to be positive from now on, no Debbie Downer here!

No Nagging: I stole this idea from The Happiness Project. Nagging doesn’t get anyone anywhere. Honestly, you can remind without nagging, or you can just do it yourself. You can get through life without nagging, good things will happen. Everyone is at their best when they have not been nagged to do something. Also, there is a much greater sense of satisfaction when you do something for someone else, when they haven’t asked (nagged) you to do it for them. No more nagging for this vegan wedding planner.

Slowly Make the transition to Vegan Life: I have changed my diet but my overall life is not 100% animal or eco-friendly. So, as I use up things in my life, I will replenish with items that are friendly for animals and the environment. This will be slow, I don’t want to be wasteful and I don’t want to go broke.

Keep Blogging: So far, I have found that blogging has made me a MUCH happier person. I love writing, and even if no one is reading this, having it out there and available, makes me feel productive. Writing, even about silly recipes and weird facts, is cathartic for me and I feel that it has 100% helped in my diet transition. I am going to make blogging a priority in my Personal Wellness Project.

 Well, I know I said baby steps but looking at this list, it seems that I have quite the road ahead of me. Look out for my 30 Day Challenge blog (I’ll have it up tonight); Where I will post updates (both good and bad) on my Personal Wellness Project.

 I want to thank the first 21% of The Happiness Project for motivating me to do this…

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Responses

  1. I’m completely loving your blog! Although I am not a vegan myself, I think your challenge is most inspiring. Good luck. La x

  2. I’ve also signed up, as I’m looking forward to your next post!

  3. wow one thing i can say about committing to excercise is find something that will make you FEEL like you’ve done something the next day. as in sore, relaxed, maybe tired, (the “good” tired). something different that when you don’t excercise, you miss the feeling you got. this will motivate as well as make you look forward to your next session. whatever it may be.

  4. Good Luck!!!
    I pimped you, if you want me to fix anything let me know 😉


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