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It's 4 am. Almost all the world in your time zone is asleep. Except you. The to do list that you have would make Santa shake his head. Somewhere in there, exercise, good nutrition and proper rest have to fit in there. Whether the person you care for is a young child, a senior, someone recovering from illness or surgery, the sense of feeling squeezed feels similar.
Self care takes a lot of different forms at a time like this. In particular, here are some healthy eating and exercise tips that will keep you strong and healthy while you run your race.
If you and the one you care for are up for some exercise, you can exercise together. This gives both of you something to talk about, Shared time distracts from the feeling that exercise is some bizarre self-inflicted punishment.
Slow Cooker Meals minimize meal preparation time. Flavors develop over time. These rich experiences help deal with the reality that often budgets are stretched as well as time.
Don't forget that your pets can participate. A cuddle with your pet has been proved to lower stress, and even add more quality years to your life. Pets also interact with everyone in the family. If your loved one is paying attention to the pet, it means you have a moment to focus on yourself.
Speaking of pets, this one is mine. We are currently caring for a friend who is recovering from surgery. Engagement is a specialty.
Atlas' creed is why run when you can bounce. Bouncing over the back of the couch. Bouncing from the floor to your lap. And one day, he bounced over our other big dog by at least six inches. Our house guest saw this and laughed for a solid two minutes. His pain was set aside. The smile from those who you serve is an enduring reward. You'll smile more as efficiency helps balance the load. I'm doing it here with Atlas bouncing around my heels.
Please enjoy every goofy and fun minute as you extend your love and service. Yes! Have fun!
Make meal preparation and planning a family affair. If you are not isolated while you work, there is more appreciation of the work you are doing. Ideas for meals and more hands to help are only a couple of the benefits.
Know that you are not alone in caring for a loved one. Social time with other caregivers is so important. Whether it is a church group, a Mommies and Me outing or an official respite service, the perspective of others doing the same role that you are will breathe more life into your life.
As an accountability partner, my 19 year old daughter knows me very well. I like to snack after dinner. My creative juices flow better when eating snacks. Celebrations are often interwoven with food choices from my era that no longer resonate with health now. She's serious. We are going to get healthier and lose weight together. NOW.
What makes a good accountability partner?
It should go without mention that this person needs to have enough time to devote to you. Feedback should not feel like he or she is dimming your light. Giving feedback is like making a sandwich. Positive feedback would be the 'Bread' and whatever adjustment feedback would be the inside stuff. Some people won't give you this type of feedback sandwich and just serve up the adjustment as is. That's not helpful. Move on.
It's more than being in relationship and observing what blind spots you have. Let me provide an example.
There is something petulant rises up in me when food lifestyle changes are proposed. Into this power struggle comes the steady presence of my teen. “I'll keep you company in the kitchen when you do meal prep.” Suddenly I feel like dealing with the 45 minute preparation time of fresh, raw ingredients. There is chopping and organizing and various sub assembly parts for brand new recipes that look amazing and have five star reviews. Are all the new ingredients here? Sometimes not. “It's okay, Mom.” She says.
In confessing that I don't relish learning new recipes, the presence of an ally diminishes my discomfort. That's really the sense of an accountability partner. You have an ally. You are not alone trying new things and doing something difficult.
The ideal partner shares your vision.
Sometimes, I marvel at her. She's armed with YouTube videos about internittent fasting and smoothie recipes. She brings youthful idealism and determination. The focused look that seeks my gaze brooks no compromise. In the evenings, we can talk or take walks. It's harder to find time around her new campus job schedule. When did she become wise?
My adult daughter has added a lot to my journey towards health. In honoring her in this way, I hope to encourage you to look in unexpected places for your health accountability partner.
Oh, it's good to meet you! About that title, I mean that I don't go to the gym. Ever. That doesn't mean I don't exercise. Having the reflexes of a falling brick means I don't drive. This simple cost/benefit analysis came in a grim "Would you rather....". Would you rather not drive or most certainly have an accident within a year and risk chronic pain? Um, no. No chronic pain from a debilitating accident for me, thanks. And that meant bicycling and walking and hauling my groceries in a wheeled cart a half mile from my house. It meant planning my day around the weather. Out here in the Los Angeles area in the summer we have a stretch of time with above 100 degrees mid day. As a 51 year old Mother of two teens, exercise includes modeling choices I hope they would make themselves. Like putting the grocery cart back instead of leaving it out on the back forty for the lot attendant to fetch. Things like that. The real exercise is taking control of my physiology. Choosing to take a deeper breath when anxiety pounds on my heart, for instance, is a type of exercise. I might mention that taking a walk when my irritation runs high is such a good thing to do. That walk might be three miles round trip. If it means that I don't say or do something I'd regret, the sweat or the time required is totally worth it. Creating space in my life for movement means my lymph system works as it should. Joints don't stiffen up as much. There's more flexibility. My back gets a break from sitting at the computer. Even my eyesight benefits from seeing new perspectives and refocusing its muscles at new distances. Relationships do better with movement too. A walk with the dogs usually means connections with other people. There seems to be more sharing on a walk--just an observation over time. Even when people come together to help someone move from one place to another, the process of working together connects. If you are looking for more life in your life, there are thousands of moments where movement and physical activity adds. It's my solemn hope that you will invite others to 'exercise along the way' with you!