For the last couple of months, I have been on a downward spiral. After hearing some news that completely shook me to my core, I fell back into old habits and started binge eating, drinking too much, staying up late and basically stopped doing all the things I know make me feel well.
This has been a pattern for me since I was a teenager and suffered from severe anxiety and depression. I would be so anxious I couldn’t sleep or think straight. I would eat and eat and eat – binge on sugar and carbs in a desperate frenzy to make the constant flowing of worry disappear.
In the last month, I have been unable to let myself fall into a hole of despair – I have 3 kids, a husband, study, work and a house to sell! I don’t have time to stop and wallow in my worry and overwhelm. So instead, I have eaten and eaten and eaten and drank myself into what I feel is a safe place – one where I don’t have to really feel all that is going on in my head.
I have stopped my daily meditation practice and I have stopped being mindful – two things that have helped me to overcome my anxiety and depression struggles and my addiction to sugar and all its forms.
But as a result, I have gained weight (about 7kgs), I look like crap, I feel like absolute crap, I am not sleeping well, I am short tempered and my anxiety and depression have flared up again – just the thing I was trying to dampen.
So, today I stop!
I stop making excuses for treating myself this way.
I stop feeding my anxiety.
I stop hurting myself.
And I start…..
Reconnecting with myself.
Nourishing my mind and body with foods that make me feel good.
Forgiving myself when it all gets too much and I need to take some time out.
So why am I telling you all this?
Well, because in my work helping families to eat well, I come across many women who tell me they often feel like this too. They feel out of control, helpless, depressed and anxious. They worry about what they are feeding their kids, they feel guilty when they buy them packaged foods, they worry about dealing with tantrums when their kids won’t eat the food they prepare and they just want to give it all up!
But then, they are faced with the behaviour of their kids becoming hard to manage, they put on weight, they stop looking after themselves and tell themselves that they tried and failed, so it just isn’t going to work for them and they give up.
I hear that… I really hear it! I have been travelling this road for years and I study nutrition on a daily basis, yet some days I just want to give it all up and eat pizza and drink wine (and sometime I do!).
Nobody’s perfect, we all have stumbles and faults and want to give up when it gets too hard. But that’s the point!
I lived much of my life before I changed how I thought about food in a depressing, anxiety ridden hole full of guilt. It took for me to hit ‘rock bottom’ so to speak until I realised that I had the power to change all of that. No pill, fad diet, meditation short course could fix that for me. I had to take charge and do it myself.
In my latest stumble, I noticed it happening almost immediately. I watched it unravel before my eyes and felt like an observer of my own life. It was surreal and fascinating.
The difference between me up until 5 years ago and me now, is that I am not beating myself up about it. I am not giving myself a hard time over this – I refuse to.
And I think this is the point. As mothers, we put so much time and effort into looking after our families. We hurt when our kids hurt, we worry when they are struggling with school, we feel guilty when we feed them takeaway food, knowing we could be doing better…..
But that’s just it! We are doing better!
Every day when we make that decision to get out of bed and greet our family, make them breakfast or chat with them over a cup of tea, we are doing better.
Every time we pack them a lunch box, cook them dinner, give them a cuddle, we are doing better.
There is no rule book for parenting and no two families are the same, so it’s time to stop beating ourselves up and just do the best we can.
If we stumble from the path we had wanted so badly to follow, we just say “that’s ok” and either jump back on that path and continue, or change our direction.
It’s really ok if you wanted to eat Paleo, but found yourself having a coffee every day.
It’s ok if you put a packet muesli bar in your kid’s lunch box from time to time.
It’s ok to acknowledge that you feel like crap and want to eat chocolate and drink wine and it’s also ok to do that!
What I want to say is that from my own journey and my nutrition education, I have learned that we are all on our own journey, there is no one right way for everyone to eat and we all just need to chill out a little!
So what does all this mean?
It means it’s time to get off that crazy roller coaster and stop listening to the negative thoughts you have going on inside your head.
It means it’s time to put yourself at the top of your priority list and take a moment or two out of each day to practice some self love and acceptance.
Now, this does not mean you have to say affirmations to yourself in the mirror every morning or start meditating before bed (though those things are awesome), but it does mean you need to make a decision to be a little bit nicer to yourself. You are in control, you have a choice to feel how you want to feel!
For me and my journey, it means choosing to make July a month of self awareness and self love.
I have signed up to Dry July, I am kicking coffee and cutting back on sugar and carbs. I am making a commitment to be in bed by 9:30pm and to wake up at 6am so that I can do some yoga and meditation before I start my day. I may just end up sitting in my pj’s staring out the window, but that’s good too!
I am choosing not to let in negative self talk, and instead speak to myself as I would to a good friend.
And if I stumble along this path, I will be kind to myself and check in and see if I’m ok. If not, I will change my direction.
So how about you? Can you relate to any of these feelings? Do you want to join me in a month of self awareness and self love? You can jump all in, or just pick one thing you’d like to work on. It could be you want to eat more veggies, learn to meditate, walk every day….. whatever it is, write it down and make a plan to make it happen.
If you want support on your journey through July, then join up to the Real Food Families Love July facebook group and we can do it together.
There is no obligation to say anything or even make a change at this point. Feel free to join the group and when you’re ready, join in!
Hope to see you soon!