do over in progress

I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but 2015 is the year of Putting My Shoes Under the Bed. March is in full swing and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

I recently finished reading a book about seven important factors to regaining good health. This includes a normal body weight, and all of our body systems functioning at their best. In this book the author mentions that these seven keys to success are:

1. Having a buddy or accountability partner

2. Committing to daily exercise (aim for 10,000 steps)

3. Eating good foods and avoiding what he calls the “five felons”

4. Breaking our addictions and forming good habits

5. Figuring out our stress solutions

6. Maintaining an active and healthy love life (sexual intimacy)

7. Finding your passion in life and pursuing it

This book was intelligent, informative and very motivating to me at a time when I am very serious about taking back my health. This year, one of my goals is self-care to include regular exercise. So reading it came at a good time.

Nearly all of what I read was common sense backed by medical science, health studies and reports and just generally good advice.

What nearly made me fall out of my chair was reading about the Rahe and Holmes Stress Scale and how it is used as a predictor of illness. Essentially major life events are assigned a point value and one can calculate his/her level of risk for serious health issues based on the correlation to stress. You can (and should) read more about the scale here; you can also take the test to find out how stressed you are and how it could potentially be threatening your health.

Of the statements I answered regarding the past 18 months of our lives, I scored a 431. (Basically a highway to the Danger Zone…)

I have known for quite some time that my struggles with weight gain and the difficulty I have had in getting a handle on my physical fitness have been related to the events of military life (moves, grief from goodbyes, major life events, being new in town, and some specific issues of loss) but until I took this assessment, I had no idea how truly dangerous this level of stress is, left unchecked or dealt with.

*****

Since Ryan was commissioned into the Army four years ago, I have gained a considerable amount of weight. I’m not talking about a few vanity pounds; I’m talking about the same amount of weight most women gain during a pregnancy.

If I continue in this pattern I will have nearly doubled my body weight should Ryan stay in the Army 20 years. I have been thinking a lot about this. I’ve been reflecting on how someone who has been VERY active and healthy most of her life has allowed herself to get to this point. It certainly didn’t happen overnight. It didn’t creep up on me. In addition to weight gain, my eye sight has worsened terribly; my hair is much, much grayer, and I’m seeing wrinkles and dark circles around my eyes.

I’ve pointed a lot of fingers at many different culprits. Four years ago, we moved away from home for the first time and it was really far away and it was difficult. Four years ago, I began homeschooling and gave up nearly all of my discretionary free time. Four years ago, I got my first iPhone and all of its’ many distracting apps which in turn has made me more sedentary. I also started drinking coffee; or rather I started drinking copious amounts of sweetened creamer with a splash of coffee.

The Army really isn’t to blame. I have made these choices myself. They just happen to coincide when my life was drastically altered and I’ve allowed some bad habits to stick around.

During this four years we have lived in three different states. I was a single mom for almost nine months. I had a TERRIBLY difficult period during reintegration. I have borne the responsibility for a lot of perceived chaos in a world I never knew existed until four years ago. No one made me carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. But when you’re an over-thinker, a worrier, a control-freak, uber emotional and empathetic to the problems of every one around you it’s rather easy to misjudge whose place it is to wear the albatross of hardship.

“The reality is that one of the greatest stresses we have is caregiver stress–that is, the feeling that we’re responsible for others. Stress is really the price of caregiving. That can come in any form: caring for others financially, logistically, emotionally, and when those close to you have health problems.” {Michael F. Roizen, M.D., This Is Your Do Over}

It’s my belief that military spouses are nothing if not constant caregivers. All day, every day we are taking on the responsibility for ourselves, our homes, our marriages, our children, our soldiers, our units, our friends…all of the things for all of the people. Yes, every adult in the world does this to some extent. However, there’s an extra layer to all of this in a military marriage.

*****

I quip that the Army is making me fat. But there is some measure of truth in that statement. I have allowed the stresses of military life to paralyze me and there are literally physical and chemical things going on in my body that are causing me to carry extra weight.

The point is, what’s done is done and what’s passed is in the past. I’m glad I read this book and connected the dots between my health and what I’m allowing stress to do to me.

This year I am laying aside this stress and am working toward a permanent, healthy solution for dealing with the strains and difficulties life and the Army try to throw my way. photo 4

The past four years have been a learning process for me as far as the military goes. I have never felt more fragile and tough; more delicate and resilient; more lonely and loved; more helpless and capable; more stressed and fulfilled all in one season of life. I know that’s how this thing works now. I know that’s how the Lord designed all of life. Without him, none of us could do any of it.

I guess I don’t really need a stress scale (or a weight scale for that matter) to tell me what I already know.

It’s time to get moving. It’s time to separate (mentally and emotionally) the difficult events of military life with solid habits and disciplines. It’s time for regular if not daily rigorous exercise. It’s time for regular eating to fuel my body, not to placate stress, stuff down emotions or caffeinate my emotional exhaustion. It’s time to keep my habits and routines SEPARATE from the near-constant changes in our life circumstances. I think The Offspring said it best, “Keep ‘Em Separated.”

I spent January and February making small strides and establishing new ruts; laying new groundwork. March is the time for kicking things up a notch. I’m working really hard to see a difference in myself. I’m mitigating four years of damage control so I know it won’t reverse itself in a few weeks or maybe even a few months. That’s why I’m giving myself the grace of a full year, (longer if necessary) to get back to being a better me.

*****

I’m curious to hear from others on how you have dealt with stress? Do you have good routines already in place? Have you struggled before? Do you happen to life or does life happen to you?

“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” {Proverbs 12:25}

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14 thoughts on “do over in progress

  1. Jonelle Yates says:

    AMEN!!! I’m in this boat with you. My problem is I have no desire to exercise. I used to run 30+ miles a week. My silly neighborhood has too many hills so that is my excuse. Lots of excuses. TODAY I am going to take the dog for a 4 mile walk. I am attempting to do Trim Healthy Mama in terms of eating. Adrenal fatigue is real. Trying to figure out how to destress. Hard hard hard.

    Like

    • claire says:

      Good for you Jonelle! Four miles will feel great! And you were SO good at breakfast the other day with your healthy, protein-laden breakfast. =) And you have been under an incredibly intense amount of stress these past six months. Praying for you for real!!! xoxo!

      Like

    • Heather T. says:

      I love THM, Jonelle! Have you tried their Singing Canary drink for strengthening the Adrenals? Of you’re too busy to make them, like me, I just take extra vitamin C and a curcumin supplement! 🙂 That has really helped.

      Like

  2. Aimee says:

    thank you for your transparency and honesty. The military does add stress …LOTS.
    I am also trying to shed pounds. My excuse was always I was pregnant with another kiddos or breastfeeding another . So for the past 14 years I have been preggo or breastfeeding.
    Spring is in full swing and we live in a beautiful neighborhood and have a beautiful walking park 2 blocks away. I am now tracking what goes in my body and how I am occupying my hours in the day. We are taking as many small little bitty and very long walks we can fit in.
    Thank you Claire!!!

    Like

    • claire says:

      Oh Aimee! I miss you so! I completely understand. I was pregnant or nursing for a long time myself. I had a false sense of my own health then because I really could eat whatever I wanted and lots of it; the nursing deceived me. You’re so good to get moving. I’ve been doing the same and hope to continue making strides toward good health! Love and hugs!

      Like

  3. Rhonda Whittenbarger says:

    We ourselves have had a very rough few years with deaths, moves, diagnosises, homeschooling etc. I was gaining weight and felt much like you. You may see me posting things, but AdvoCare came into my life about a year ago. It has been a lifesaver and given and taught me a plan I can stick to. I’ve lost weight and feel great. They have a product called clear mood that has REALLY helped me too! I’m sure you will find the best plan for you too.
    Rhonda Whittenbarger

    Like

    • claire says:

      I know you have had a rough go of things of late Rhonda. So sorry to hear about that! I know Advocare is working for lots of folks. Glad to hear you’ve found success with it as well =)

      Like

  4. Meghan Cobble says:

    I would love to be an accountability partner with you, dude. I manage stress the opposite way. I have to force myself to eat in a regular, healthy pattern. I tend to just push harder. More work. More busy. Eat just to get by. No rest. No free time. Not cool.

    And I’m not gonna lie. I’m a little miffed at myself that I am almost dang 40 and STILL trying to figure out what a healthy BIG kid looks and feels like. I am over it. Like, I wish I could sometimes just not really have a “self improvement” button.

    Sheesh. I am on my own nerves about 70% of the time.

    I’ll go one louder on The Offspring. For me, I think the Cranberries said it best:

    “In your head, in your head they are fighting,
    With their tanks and their bombs,
    And their bombs and their guns.
    In your head, in your head, they are crying…

    In your head, in your head,
    Zombie, zombie, zombie,
    Hey, hey, hey. What’s in your head,
    In your head,
    Zombie, zombie, zombie?”

    Hang in there, Wood. We’ll have it figured out just in time plan our funerals.

    Meg 🙂

    Like

    • claire says:

      Meghan I was dying laughing at your Cranberries reference. OH. MY. WORD. And seriously, I already have my funeral planned. (No, really…I have to keep tons of legal stuff current with Ryan’s job!) I love you and relate so so much! You know it, Kid.

      Like

    • claire says:

      Rachel, I am so glad it resonated with you. Military life can hand us so many more stresses than civilian life. For me, it was time to call a spade a spade and deal with that stress. God bless you!

      Like

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