Progress, Not Perfection

Aloha, friends!

I’m back from another sweaty session at the gym and thought that it might be a good time to update you on how all my fitness & physical/mental health stuff is going!

As I mentioned about a month ago, I’m having a mid-life crisis in the midst of a sort of life overhaul. I was feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and found my self-esteem and general happiness were in a steep decline. So after whining about it and feeling sorry for myself for entirely too long, I finally determined I needed to take action and implement some positive changes in my life.

And since I’m not exactly a prudent person, I roared forth, guns-blazing, and actually initiated a WHOLE BUNCH of different lifestyle changes… basically all at once. Heh.

  

Some of them are, of course, bigger and more significant than others, but I like to think that they’re all positive changes nonetheless:

  1. I started taking vitamins
  2. I started waking up at the same time (ish) every day
  3. I started using my Panda Planner again
  4. I cleaned up my eating and started tracking in MyFitnessPal again
  5. I started working out (4 to 5 times a week)
  6. I found a therapist

Actually, I found two therapists, as I realized I wasn’t really jiving with the first one. I’m only a couple sessions in with my new one, but I love her so far! And after yesterday’s appointment, I’m also attempting to add in a seventh thing, which is to try and meditate & practice mindfulness first thing in the morning.

I downloaded the Calm app, as well as one called Insight Timer, upon her recommendation, though it’s absolutely going to take time for me to to be able to quiet my mental chatter… my brain is really used to being busy, lol. Calm’s first guided meditation lasted like 9 minutes and it was extremely difficult for me to focus. Guess that’s why they call it a practice, though!

Embracing all of these things is also helping me in working towards my goal of establishing more routine and reliability in my life. I think that the impetus for a lot of my uncertainty, anxiety, and discontentment that has surfaced over the past year has been the biggest change that has ever or likely will ever occur in my life: becoming a mother. This is not to say that I don’t absolutely, 150% LOVE being Penny’s mom, I do! Nor is it meant to be any kind of slight against her — I think you are all probably painfully aware at this point that Penny is pretty much a perfect baby. She’s awesome, we literally could not have gotten luckier.

 

But even though I have an amazing kiddo, a husband, a supportive and involved family, a great job, a comfortable living situation… I’ve still struggled. And that’s where the mental health component really comes into place, because honestly, I’m not even sure if I can identify exactly what it is that I’ve been struggling with the most — my identities as a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, employee vs. just as a person? The general shift in dynamics that has taken place within all of those relationships? Just, like, I dunno, life?

And then you toss in this whole extra layer of guilt that comes from the thought that I don’t really have any right to complain in the first place. I mean, there are literally millions of people in this world that have it so much harder and struggle with so many real, identifiable issues that I honestly have no experience with and can’t even accurately imagine going through. Stuff like going hungry. Being in crushing debt. Being in a physically or emotionally abusive relationship. Living with a disease. Losing a parent, a sibling, a child. The list could go on and on.

And when I start thinking that way (which is admittedly pretty often because I never want to give the impression that I’m ungrateful or unaware of the privileges I have been granted), it just makes me feel worse. Like I shouldn’t even be devoting my mental energy to my own problems. I should just, you know, suck it up.

Obviously, that’s not true. It’s not a healthy way to process things — for me, at least. Because while it absolutely is important to keep perspective (being able to establish perspective can be a powerful tool), the reality is that we all have baggage. We all have stuff we’re trying to work through.

And so my therapist was quick to remind me, and I am trying to continually remind myself, that the struggles of others does not invalidate my feelings.

I’m allowed to feel what I feel.

And I’m allowed to feel them about whatever I feel them about.

Now, whatever comes after feeling those feelings, yeah, that’s a little different. Having a feeling does not necessitate acting on those feelings. That’s kind of a whole other can of worms that I’m not going to explore today though, lol.

The bottom line is, I’m absolutely still just in the beginning phases of figuring all this ish out, trying to build up my toolbox so that I can figure out how to piece together all the various bits of my life in the best possible way, to give myself the chance to be my best self. I’m making progress in a lot of ways — therapy is opening me up, working out is making me feel stronger, cleaning my diet back up is helping me feel more energized (and I’m about 17 pounds down so far), and all three are helping me feel better about myself.

Now, I still have low moments, self-deprecating thoughts, times when I’m not really sure if what I’m doing is working, or if it’ll be sustainable longterm, or even what I’m doing at all, lol. But being human is complicated, and working my way towards health (in every sense of the word) was never going to be a straight line. So I focus on the good when things are good, I work to keep my head above water when it’s less good, and I take comfort in the fact that I’m making progress at all.

 

5 Comments

  1. Mariannesays:

    I love the honesty in this post, and I think so many people can identify with your situation – I was reading and the whole time thinking OMG ME TOO. I wish you the very best – it is such a joy to follow you – thanks for your insights (and also your hilarity).

  2. Ashleesays:

    Postpartum depression is a real thing- it’s an illness, and manifests itself in so many ways, and so many degrees. I’m not diagnosing, but just pointing out that it’s so so real, and not something to write off because you don’t have a “reason” to feel that way.
    (Also, just a note from a mom who has had a really difficult baby, sometimes it is hard to read things about babies who are so easy and “perfect”, eat well, sleep through the night, etc. I’ve had a hard time reading your blog Bc our kids are about the same age, and my parenthood journey has been a huge struggle: a difficult, colicky baby who doesn’t sleep and doesn’t eat well, and I have had a lot of postpartum issues myself, as well as a hard time connecting to my child because it’s all been so. Hard.)

    • We haven’t had a lot of time to get into it, but I have started discussing the postpartum element with my therapist. I can’t self-diagnose, of course, but while I don’t suspect I’ve had or have PPD in the tradition sense, I definitely had some pretty severe postpartum anxiety in the beginning, and it very well might be manifesting in other ways now! I know PPD/PPA isn’t just limited to the period immediately after giving birth.

      And I am so sorry that you’ve had such a hard time — I am very cognizant of lucky we got with her, and I only mention it so often because I don’t want it to seem like I’m not aware or appreciative. My intention is never to be braggy or rub anyone’s face in it, so I’m sorry if it has ever felt that way to you.

    • Lisasays:

      Gretchen, giving yourself permission to feel how you feel is so important. Just because you have an “easy” baby doesn’t mean you haven’t struggled being a new mom. Just because you love your job doesn’t mean you don’t have hard days at work. I have a really difficult baby (she’s almost 2…but still my baby!). She cried for 4 months straight and still doesn’t really sleep or nap. But I’ve enjoyed reading about Penny and your new journey into being a mom. My daughter was a preemie born at 29 weeks. She tried to come at 20 weeks. They have her a 15% chance of making it to viability (24 weeks) but she stayed in longer. She is thriving now. I have a lot of guilt over the fact that I have so much anxiety and PTSD from our experiences. I had a horrible birth (a c Section without anesthesia or an epidural because there wasn’t really enough time and the anesthesiologist messed up), developed an infection afterwards, struggled so much with being pregnant, it just goes on and on. But my daughter is here now and THRIVING. She made it. We made it. And lots of other babies did not. Or have severe disabilities because of their prematurity. I carry this guilt around with me and it’s tough.

  3. I was so happy when I read that you said that you’re allowed to feel what you feel! You’re totally right. You don’t have to compare your situation to any other person’s struggle to make yours any less/more real. It’s real to you, and all that matters is that you’re trying to figure it out for yourself!

    Being a mom puts a shift on everything! When I had both kiddos, it was almost like I had to relearn everything I’d thought I’d known about myself both times. Everything is so new, I looked at everything about myself so differently. And I struggled for a long time (still have my moments, and my kiddos are 10 and 3!!) with that balancing/discovery act all the time.

    You’ve got this, Mama! Keep on keeping on!!! Be proud of every little step forward you take!!

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