Just one thing.

Want to know a secret?

(Whispers) Sometimes I overthink things and am paralyzed as a result.

I know, SHOCKING.

Still, it is a reality that I struggle against.  And often the more crazy, overwhelming or anxious I become the more I overthink and the less I accomplish.

So today I set out to have one goal for myself – get my step goal of 10,000 steps.

By 8:30 pm when I got E2 down to sleep it was looking bleak.  I was under 5,000 steps, it was hot and humid out still and my son was still up.

For once, I focused on just one thing however.

Dad took over E1’s bedtime and I went out into the heat anyway.  An 45 minutes later or so I arrived home sweaty and with fitbit stats that looked like this.


Today I didn’t have a perfect day, but I made a goal and I met it.  Sometime there is success in just one thing.

Mental Health Monday – Know your limits

Welcome to Mental Health Monday!  This was born out of Steph and my session on Depression, Anxiety and Healthy Living from Fitbloggin’ 15.  Every 1st and 3rd Monday one of us will host a link up for others to share their experiences with Mental illness – either from their own experience or from the experience of helping and walking with others.  Our goal is to reach out to the world and let people know that they are not alone in their struggles.  You are never alone.  Join us – link up, visit new blogs, support others.  Speak out:  “I am crazy…CRAZY AWESOME!”  (You are welcome to use the badge below!)

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I am on day 9 of a 10 day vacation.  With my own family, and also with a lot of extended family.  At one point 7 adults, 3 kids (2 toddlers) and two dogs were in a beach house for 5 days.  Things were often loud and chaotic.  As an introvert there were times when it was overwhelming.  No matter how much you love your family there are always times when you just want to be….not with them…for a moment.

For me part of honoring self care and paying attention to my mental health is knowing my own limits.  I have to listen to my body and my emotions and my mind and take a step back when it is getting stretched too far.  And I have to do this BEFORE it gets so far that I get stuck needing a moment of solitude when one is not available.  (Bedtime, for example, is bad for this especially.)

Surrounded with so many people I had to be creative about my self-care.  On the one hand there were more people to help watch the kids, but on the other it was hard to find some time alone.  While I had hoped to go on some solo beach walks, that time never panned out.  I did however, head out to the porch when I needed some quiet time and sat for a while.  Sometimes I read my book, sometimes I played a game on the phone, but other times I just sat quietly.

When I was with so many others I realized something acutely:  I don’t ask for what I need.  I am a flexible person – to a fault.  I don’t want to bother, disturb, or complicate matters more than necessary.  If I DO speak up about a need, you’d better realize that it took me 20 minutes of agonizing whether to say anything or not.

I found myself watching some of the family this weekend who was good about saying what they needed at the moment.  Honestly, it always made me uneasy, but I also noticed that in asking for what they needed it gave them the space to manage the crowd and the close quarters well.

Moms, I think, in general struggle to make their needs know – especially with mental health issues or even just mental happiness.  I know I put my kids first most of the time, and even my husband first.  It isn’t about an antiquated system of family gender roles, but rather from an internal need to give more than I receive.

The danger is in doing this too much, and giving away too much of your mental wellness to others.  As an introvert, I need time alone to recharge.  My husband (also an introvert) and I can sit in a room in mostly silence for an hour or two after bedtime – not because we don’t want to be with the other but because we are both recharging.  We know this about each other and it is a time we share.  I know I have a closeness to someone when I can recharge when I am with them.

I also know other things that help me recharge – writing, working out, coloring, reading.  These things fill my tank.  I always have one of these options in my back pocket (in the case of a book often literally).

Sometimes staying well mentally is a matter of knowing what you need and asking for it.  There are times to be flexible and times to be firm about your needs.  You are your own best advocate.

The Healthy Vacation Primer

It can be hard to focus on healthy living while on vacation.  There is so much temptation around to relax and eat foods that you may not normally indulge in, and that is fine but it is also important to stay active and make good choices (most of the time).  So here is a glimpse at some of our vacation – when we #wycwyc-ed our way into a fairly balanced and healthy trip. #wycwyc stands for “What you can, when you can”

Step 1: Plan for success, so you don’t get buried by temptation later on.

 

Step 2: Prepare some of the meals on your own.  We had a kitchen at the beach which we used 90% of the time.  (No E2’s were cooked).

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Step 3:  Make sure you take time for healthy snacks and drink plenty of water.  The sun is tiring, you need to stay hydrated!

  

Step 4:  Make the most of the rainy days by becoming sight seers.  It turns out that battleships are great for stair workouts!

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Step 5: Try new activities.  E1 and I took a rented kayak across the waterway and explored the sandbar one day.

Step 7: Choose activities that the whole family can enjoy!  Mini golf isn’t exactly a workout, but it is not lounging around either!

 Step 8: Remember to get some good sleep too!  This is a time to rest. (as much as your children will let you). 

Our week at the beach was amazing and it went far too quickly.  I wish I had an accurate measure of my activity each day but my fitbit isn’t waterproof so I know none of my surf running, playing and kid-wrangling got counted.  Still every day was swimming, fun, and very little sitting still.  We ate breakfast, lunch and 4 of 5 dinners at the beach house.  There was fruit galore and very few sweets.  It was easy to make good choices.

I claim no perfection – just tonight back in town before we head home we met some Fitbloggin friends for some authentic Carolina BBQ – which was amazing.  But I also took the kids swimming again today.  Progress not perfection.

I feel like I’ve gained some perspective and some momentum on this trip and I am preparing a plan to hit the ground running when I get home.  I’ve come too far just to give up because life feels hard.

On the beach

Today was our first full day at the beach.  The weekend was a lot of travel and extended family meals and hotel rooms that left the whole family stretched too much.

Today was leisure and activity in perfect measure. Slow morning, a few hours on the beach, lunch, swimming with Mr. Goat and E1 in the canal, games, homemade dinner, and now I am typing on the phone in the dark waiting for E2 to sleep.
It was lovely and restful.  I was active both at the beach and swimming later.  I ate when hungry, and made balanced choices.  There was coffee and water aplenty.

It was lovely.

My own thoughts are not always so lovely.  I felt each of those pounds I’ve gained today climbing sand dunes with a toddler.  I am afraid to be in pictures, especially in my suit. I don’t want to see what I already know.

But I am trying to see this trip and me through my kids eyes.

Where I see a woman in ill-fitting swimsuit, they see a mom playing in the sand with them.

Where I see flabby arms, they see arms that hold them tight and catch them when they jump in the waves.

Where I see the size of my clothes, they see the batman shirt I wear to match my son.

It goes on but I think you get the point.

And here is the thing: Both ways of seeing are true.

But I like my kids view a whole lot better.  I am going to work at seeing myself through the eyes of the people who love me this week.  Vacation is not the time for beating yourself up.

I am active. I am aware of my choices.  I am in control of how I respond to food, to myself, to others.

Besides.  The beach is fun.