At the beginning of the year, I shared a bit about my personal life and its drain on my mental health. In a nutshell, when Leo went back to Spain after Christmas break, I was devastated. I let myself wallow for a day or two. Okay maybe a whole week/end. And then one day I woke up, and I was done feeling sorry for myself and feeling like a victim of my own circumstances. Some of that energy that I put out into the universe on that stark January day has returned to me in the form of blessings and solid, tangible answers! (You can read about those epiphanies here, here, and here.)
I made progress because I took action instead of waiting for answers. I went out and got the answers myself. Back in January, I decided what I wanted, and then I made a list of steps I needed to take to get it. Spoiler alert: this post is about lists! I started checking items off, and we are rolling, baby!
I wish I could update you about these mini goals that have been achieved, but that’s for another day. 🙂 I also keep a “fun list” for each month, which is something else I’d like to elaborate on another time. I essentially used my “fun list” to make things happen that otherwise wouldn’t have. For example, instead of waiting to go to a group run, I organized one. But I still wanted to share how I survived the winter. It also involved a list of small steps that came together to improve my physical and mental well-being.
ONE: I cooked for myself. A lot.
I bet half of you are closing this tab right now hahaha. I actually love cooking. In adulthood, I’ve learned that I really enjoy the satisfaction that comes with cooking oneself a nourishing meal. This also helps with disordered eating habits. Learning to cook has changed my relationship with food. I’ve been underweight for a long time. Probably for over two years. My doctor always harasses me to gain weight (Sorry Dr. K- I love you!), and I’ve found that when I cook for myself, I eat more. I’m four pounds up from what I used to be, and that seems to be where my body wants to stay. So I’m just making sure that I honor my body’s needs and ignoring the numbers.
This winter I prioritized cooking, and I look forward to it. Most importantly, I feel better. I feel fuller, literally and metaphorically. There’s also something satisfying about running out of groceries and produce. Leo bought me Run Fast, Cook Fast, Eat Slow for Christmas, and I have the Oh She Glows app on my phone to switch recipes up. However, I have built up my own little cookbook of sorts with quick, simple vegetarian recipes that I love. Would you be interested in a post on that?! Let me know. 🙂
TWO: I indulged my creative side
…instead of ignoring it for the sake of academia. I’ve read two books this semester, which may seem pathetic to normal civilians. 😀 I managed to read an actual, physical book with my own two eyeballs in January/February- One Day in December by Josie Silver. This week I finished the Gone Girl audiobook– wowza. I am permanently distraught from that one. I blog twice a month. When I’m home, I make time to play piano. I firmly believe that allowing myself to engage in creativity has helped my legal and academic work. The words flow more freely. Demand letters become a story. I am able to see a clearer, bigger picture when looking at an enormous opinion. Life is better with literature. 😉
THREE: I gave myself a makeover.
Bear with me here. I look the same. I didn’t do anything different besides switch up some products.
For a long time, I decided that I wanted to be “low maintenance” for the sake of minimalism. I have no idea why I made that declaration. I don’t know if it’s because I wanted be trendy, save money on beauty products or have bragging rights that I didn’t wear makeup. So I didn’t buy it. Ever. I bought some Fenty highlighter a whole friggin year ago. But ya know what? I like makeup. I am still very minimal. I gave up foundation a year ago, and I’m sticking with that. BUT I enjoy experimenting, and I love a solid skincare routine. As Shalane Flanagan says, “Look good. Feel good. Run good.” And that’s the dang truth! I recently treated myself to a little Glossier haul, and I am SO HAPPY I DID. I feel like a million bucks when I wear it, and I know that confidence shines through on the outside. So I “run good.” Whatever my run may be in the moment: arguing, presenting, dancing, or, well, actually running. 🙂
I don’t think we should feel guilty for spending money on products that truly make us feel good. Confidence is key, folks. Everyone knows that. This is not permission to go overboard– I see y’all and your 5 bags from ULTA. (Financial lessons is also another post for another day– see I’m full of ideas!)
Buy stuff you know you will use, use it and feel better for being polished, put together, and yourself.
FOUR: I joined a gym
If you didn’t run away screaming before, I’m sure you are now. As a runner, I was reluctant to join a gym because “I can run outside.” Which is true! But running outside did not fit with my schedule this winter semester when I started and ended my days in the dark. Not to mention the venturing out alone into dangerous conditions that winter often presents. Those reasons made it so easy to consistently skip out on runs, and that was not good for my energy level or overall health.
I joined a gym only recently, so I can’t give a long report. But it’s always there for me, a safe harbor where I can go log miles after dark. And I can do other fun stuff like row and cycle and perhaps lift weights if I learn how! 😉 I also recently started running regularly, and I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER.
In sum, I basically started taking care of myself instead of eating fast casual every day and being sedentary and blaming it on my schedule. I made taking care of myself a priority. My sleeping habits are still very questionable, but I have faith I’ll get there. It sounds simple, and it also sounds cliche in a society in which “self care” is put on a pedestal (again, that’s a post for another time). If you barely survived the winter, or even if you’re barely surviving the weeks as they are now, implement small lifestyle changes one day at a time. You’ll make it. 🙂 And if you’re not a physical person, you should totally become one. Most days, the struggle to get out the door is harder than actually being physical. Athletes of all levels relate to that!