As you know, if you are a friend, family member or reader of this blog, things have been a little stressful for my family lately. And I, as usual, have been feeling it, and living it, and freaking out about it, and worst of all, trying to ignore it. And the thing about extreme stress is that when you ignore it or deny it or try to pretend it's not there instead of DEALING with it in a healthy way, it starts to mess with your body. And boy, is it a devil if you let it be.
So, I have been internalizing my stress. I've been putting on a happy face and pretending to be positive instead of being genuinely positive (not on purpose; I am still trying to get the hang of REAL positivity - fake it till you make it, anyone?) and for the past 9 months or so my body has taken the beating.
It started out with weight loss. And before you all start hating on me, I wasn't NOT eating or anything - on the contrary, I was and always have eaten more than my fair share. But for some reason I was dropping weight. And for a while I worried about that too, thinking something might be wrong with me. But I think now that it was the combination of being 3 years away from my last pregnancy and all of the stress I wasn't dealing with. When Kiddo turned 3, I dropped a lot of weight too (I guess 3 years is just the magic amount of time for my body to recover) though back then I was helping it some by changing my diet and eating healthier.
Then, in the past few months, my skin has been messed up. I feel like a teenager again, dealing with all that mess. I haven't felt like I was in my own skin in quite a while.
And in the last 2 months, at the height of the stress, my hair has started falling out. Ladies who have had babies, you know how when you get pregnant your hair gets all thick and gorgeous, and then when you have the baby it starts falling out by the handful? Yeah, it was like that, only worse. And I don't have a lot of hair to begin with, so it was even more disturbing.
Then, the bonus problem of them all - for about 3 weeks now I have been having heart palpitations. It gets better for a day or two and then something comes up that is stressful (ex: my grandmother's passing) and it picks back up again. So some days I am fine and some days I spend all day feeling my heart do little hiccups. When it does it all day it is exhausting physically, so I have spent a lot of time being tired.
So, something needs to change; I am a hairless, zitty mess (no, not really, but it feels like it!). I am working on the mental aspects of dealing with the stress; taking time for myself, talking to trusted friends, eating better, drinking a lot... ok maybe not the last one. But I am trying to break the cycle, get used to our new "normal" and "let go and let God", as they say. I think I am getting better, but it's really going to take some time.
All that is to say that - through the past 3-5 years one of my goals and what I feel is a great accomplishment, was changing our diets to healthier eating. Now, my idea of healthy and other's ideas of healthy are often 2 totally different things, but overall my goal was to get us back to eating REAL food with real ingredients. I stay away from convenience foods, prepackaged foods and most anything with ingredients I can't pronounce. In the last year or so I have tried to move away from high fructose corn syrup and preservatives. (I made brownies the other night to satisfy a craving, and in my laziness I used a boxed cake mix - BLECH! It was so gross - I can't even stand to eat the fake stuff anymore. I can taste it like it's poison!)
So we eat pretty clean around here, but when my friend, Dottie, created a 30 day Eat Clean Challenge to start on September 6th, on Facebook, I thought it would be a good way to get me back on track, and hopefully give my hair, skin and energy levels a kick in the pants. If you are not familiar with Clean Eating, it *basically* involves eating how I try to do anyway - with no artificial ingredients or additives, but it also encourages little to no sugar and no refined ingredients (like white flour) as well. I think it's a great program, and so I signed up to do the challenge, even though I am doing sort of a modified version.
And tomorrow I will tell you all about it!