One day you wake up and realize everything hurts. Your knees ache when you get out of bed. Your knuckles feel swollen and painful to flex. The headaches are chronic, your diet could be a lot better, work is stressful and you’re already manifesting signs of autoimmune disease…
This was my reality five summers ago. We’d lived for nearly ten high-stress years in NYC, subject to grueling commutes, schedules, bills and taxation. We were young parents, worn out by the demands of careers we hated and a little boy with whom we simply couldn’t spend enough time.
Relocating to Florida was something I fought with every fiber of my being. I didn’t know it or love it and made up my mind that I would NOT love it. The move felt too traumatic, the losses felt far more than the gains.
Getting back on our feet was another extraordinarily stressful process, and the day we closed on the house we knew could be beautiful, it was a relief. (In hindsight I laugh, as it was a dilapidated foreclosure–five years later we’ve changed almost everything and still aren’t done.) But that summer I threw myself into renovations: painting, flooring, putting up curtains, setting up the bedrooms for the kids, and finally, lastly, assembling the master.
Since my husband travels for work on occasion–and never so often as that first summer–I spent the summer as Mom & Dad. Fix all the broken things. Feed all the living things. Try to hold down a job and not lose my crap on a daily basis. Coming home every day to another self-imposed project. Crashing into bed at two or three in the morning, barely able to drag myself out of bed when the alarm went off at six. (Why could I not just train the cat to fetch me coffee?)
It was a schedule I’d been on for years and I’d always told myself I was Super Woman for pulling it off. I could cook and clean and spend time with my kids. I could read books, create all kinds of research and project work for myself. Show up every morning for work at a job that provided no joy and spend the day working at superhuman speed.
But I knew I wasn’t really pulling it off, at least not by my own standards. I was drained and joyless.
It was toward the end of the summer that I woke up one weekend morning with every joint aching, my skin on fire. My teeth hurt, my head ached, and all I wanted to do was sit in a hot bath in hopes it would calm the pain. This was completely unlike any cold or flu I’d ever had.
My husband happened to be home for the weekend and ran out to the pharmacy for me, to pick up the four bottles of supplements I’d requested. He was convinced I was silly to self-diagnose, and to some extent he was right, but I already knew the signs. I’d been run down for years and my hormones had been out of whack since the birth of our daughter, some years before. My body was telling me it was time to shape up or it was going to ship out–and I wouldn’t have the energy left to clean up the mess.
We’d been on a “gradual wellness journey” for the past several years: eliminating harsh cleaning products, going organic, ridding our household of plastic food storage containers. But boy, was it time to ramp things up.
When you take the time to listen to your body and to treat it with a little respect, it will tell you exactly what it needs. For us this meant taking a closer look at diet, followed by exercise and stress management.
Naturally, most of this work fell to me as Mom and general caregiver, and there were several false starts. It involved a whole new attitude toward food and the amount of time and effort I would have to put in in the kitchen.
With time I hope to give you focused articles, useful tips and recipe ideas to facilitate your own wellness journey. As I study to become an ADAPT functional health coach, I’m amazed by what changes we can make through attention to diet, lifestyle, stress management and finding joy.
I hope you’ll join me for the journey.
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