The coffee is bitter this morning. I’m drinking it black. It’s Day 2 of Clean Eating again. Again. Again. Again times 6, I believe. I get on a good roll and then I fall back off the wagon in favor of something that won’t hurt me the first time (seemingly), so I eat it the second, and then add in something else, and then something else, and before I know it, my body hurts all over again, the fresh veggies are going bad, and I can’t sleep or think good, healthy thoughts.
It’s a cycle I keep trying to break, much like all the other cycles that I come up against in my life.
I started off as a mom with one idea in mind: first do no harm. I didn’t know it in those words then, just that I wouldn’t hurt my children. I wouldn’t do it on purpose, and I would certainly avoid accidental hurts.
Did I do it perfectly? No, but I did well, apologized when I screwed up, and gave myself grace to begin again after terrible, no good, very bad days.
I have carried that idea, that medical creed, into all areas of my life…except when it comes to myself. I try. I refocus over and over, trying to take care of me, to be kind to my heart, to my body, to my mind, to my soul. But then I fall back into bad habits because it’s easier, it’s faster, it’s not as important as making sure others are taken care of.
Oh, I know the fallacy in this thinking, which is why I return again and again to myself in the mirror, reassessing the wrong turns and trying to course-correct to get back to a better place. I live still with unnamed demons, unknown illnesses, that have greater control when I am not in charge. When I remember to take back that control, I feel better, I do better, I write better, and I think better.
Eating to eat is survival. You take whatever you can get to fill your belly. But taking control and being aware of what you eat is a tool for thriving. I can eat and live, but that doesn’t mean I’ll feel great or think clearly.
I heard someone say on a podcast* recently that it’s not that we don’t have enough time in our lives but rather we don’t have enough energy. When I don’t eat well, I don’t have the energy to create, to write, to take care of others, and certainly not to take care of myself. It’s a funny little cycle: you have to have the energy to take care of yourself, and you won’t have the energy unless you make a choice to take care of yourself.
Self-care has been an ongoing theme for me in the last couple of years, ever since I went to counseling. I’m still floundering around, but I’m also doing better because my mind is no longer on just getting through life. I have things to do and grandchildren to be here for, and though my days may be numbered in that great big Book of Life, while I’m here, I can do more if I am well.
As I take another sip of my black coffee, I realize it’s not quite as bitter now. Reminding myself in these words how important it is to make small changes, like skipping creamer, to reach bigger results changes even the perspective of taste. And I have a taste for life, to live big and bold and full of color, and I can’t do that when I don’t take care of myself.
If you’re struggling with your health and you find yourself in an endless cycle of unhealthy eating, I cannot recommend clean eating enough — cutting sugar, processed foods, etc. I personally follow the Whole30 and the Autoimmune Paleo diets. Whatever changes you need to make, today is a great day to start.
*I believe it was in “Raise Your Hand, Say Yes” with Tiffany Han.