Routines

If you feel inconsistent, lost, or like you’re moving backwards this post is for you!  I’m going to tell you how I manage to keep moving forward despite having Borderline Personality Disorder and dropping into low depression swings or high anxiety swings.

I’m 35 and I’ve struggled with severe mood swings pretty much since puberty at age 12.  I tried medication and therapy but neither really worked for me.  I definitely use coping skills I learned in therapy, but ultimately it was my routines that saved me.

I’ll warn you, I’m slightly OCD (actually diagnosed by a professional, not just everyone who knows me agreeing on it).  So my routines may seem a little over the top to some of you.

When I first started making routines I tried to schedule everything.  I mean EVERYTHING.  It was overwhelming and impossible to maintain.  My best advice is to take it slow and don’t add on until you’ve created actual habits.  Meaning if you still have to write it down or set alarms for it then you aren’t ready to add another routine.

You can either start with a wake up routine or go to bed routine.  Both are equally important and since they are usually short and simple to do you might even be able to do them both starting the same day.

My “Go to bed ” routine is simple, turn out the lights, turn off the fans, put the dogs up, get into bed and read a little, check my alarm clock, state my evening intention, and go to sleep.  Every night.  Without fail.  My evening intention comes from the same place my morning routine comes from: The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.  Typically I say something like, “Thank you for this day full of joy and growing opportunities.  I let go of things that I no longer need and welcome sleep.  I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.”  How many times have you woken up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day?  How about when you get woken up several times a night by a 4 month old that needs to nurse?  I can honestly say, most mornings I wake up naturally before my alarm goes off (at 4:30 AM) and feeling a little antsy to start my morning routine.  To be fair, I lay down at 7 PM to put my baby to sleep, though I’m not typically falling asleep until 8:30 or 9.

My morning routine is my life saver (if you know about Miracle Mornings you’ll giggle at that).  My alarm goes off and I meditate (often with the baby nursing in a side lying position).  After meditation I’ll typically read for at least ten minutes while my baby finishes nursing and then play with her for a few minutes and make sure she’s happy and full and I’ll get her changed and dressed.  Then I do 30 minutes of yoga while my coffee is making and my steel cut oats are cooking (good for lactation).  After yoga I write in my Bullet Journal and gratitude journal and eat my oatmeal and drink my coffee.  I announce my affirmation and spend a few minutes visualizing achieving my goals and where I want to go with my life and add things to my bullet journal (again) that will bring me closer to my goals.  By this time I usually have to get ready for work which starts even more routines.  I can’t stress enough how important having a good morning routine is.  It sets your whole day up for success and gives you energy and a positive attitude.

Another valuable place to have routine is with your food.  A lot of people struggle with coming up with new ideas to eat healthy.  Currently, for me breakfast is easy because it’s oatmeal to help with lactation.  I also do a protein shake on the way to work because there’s several hours from when I wake up to when I leave for work.  When I’m not eating oatmeal I will cook two eggs and eat an avocado with it or do greek yogurt with some homemade granola and berries.  I also have a delicious recipe for overnight oats that is packed with protein and fiber.  That’s about all I’ll eat for breakfast except Sundays when I have my soul food.  Lunch is another super easy one: salad or 1 bell pepper, 1 avocado, a handful of baby carrots, and hummus.  I’ll sometimes switch up the veggies or add a fruit or a hard boiled egg but it’s always something full of veggies with a protein source.  Dinners are similar: a serving or protein and two servings of veggies.  I’m lucky because my oldest son wants to be a chef so he loves to cook dinner.  There’s no casseroles or complicated dishes.  Grocery shopping is simple, cooking is simple, meal prep is simple.  It all flows nicely.  That way when I have an overwhelming day and I’m full of anxiety I don’t have to stress over what I’m making for dinner and I know it’s not going to take a long time to make.

Some of the other little routines I have keep me on track.  I take my supplements when I make my shake.  Literally if I choose to not have a shake in the morning I forget my supplements because I’ve tied taking them to my shake.  I workout when I get home from work while my kids are doing homework.  After dinner I hula hoop with my daughters (obviously the baby is just along to watch).  After I drop my kids off at school I listen to a personal development audio book.  These are all little things that are habitual now.  What that means is when I dive head first in the shallow end into a depression I don’t have to think about my self care routines.  They are habits, I do them automatically and they help keep me afloat until the swing passes.

To close out: start with a morning and evening routine to ensure you sleep well and wake up with the best start of your day, important self care routines can be combined with habits you already have (affirmation while you brush your hair, visualization in the shower, filling your water bottle while you make your coffee), don’t start too many new routines at once (like only one or two at a time and don’t add another until you have made your older ones habits), and be gentle with yourself.  Many people have days where they only get out of bed for their coffee and to use the restroom.  It happens.  Don’t live in your perceived short comings.  Move through them and then move on.

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Vitamin D

Known as the sun shine vitamin, Vitamin D is well known.  Most people know that we need to expose ourselves to sunlight to get it but what does it do for us?

Vitamin D is a component in many functions in our body including but not limited to: making our bones stronger, supporting our immune system, and regulating blood sugar.  It’s important to note that Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium and magnesium; however, it’s more effective at increasing the absorption of calcium.  Calcium and magnesium compete with each other for absorption and because of that if you are supplementing with calcium and Vitamin D you may become deficient in magnesium.

If we take out fortified food from the equation, it’s difficult to get your daily intake of Vitamin D from food alone.  Some seafood, eggs, and a couple types of mushrooms are your best bet if you’re looking to increase your Vitamin D intake with food.  Making sure you get at least 15 minutes of unfiltered sun light throughout the day will help insure you’re body is producing the Vitamin D it needs.  However, the further away from the equator you live the less direct the sunlight is and the less Vitamin D you’ll make.  Also, the darker your skin the less effective your skin is at making Vitamin D.  Adjust your sunlight time accordingly to where you live, time of year, and skin pigmentation.

The recommended daily intake varies for age.  For children 0-1 year it’s 400 IU, for adults 1-70 it’s 600 IU, and for adults over 70 it’s 800 IU.  Many people will have to supplement to be able to attain that much.  Look for Vitamin D3 if you feel you need to supplement.  The Tolerable Upper Intake is 4,000 IU; however, the research I’ve done for a breastfeeding mama who doesn’t want to supplement her baby but provide enough through her breast milk is 6,400 IU a day.  Please do your own research and discuss it with your pediatrician and personal general practitioner before consuming that dose.

So get out in the sun and eat your mushrooms!

4 Months PP (Post Partum) Nursing and Ready to Get Fit!

My Peanut is adorable and quite possibly the easiest baby out of the 5 I have.  She’s impatient with building my milk supply but not intolerable.  I’ve added Fenugreek to my supplementation regimen (I also take prenatal, Vitamin B complex, and fish oil).  I’ve also added Vitamin D3 after reading how important it is for a growing baby to have it for bone density.  The research that I did said if I take 6400 IU a day then she’ll get enough through my breast milk.  I’ve started tracking my water intake to make sure I’m staying hydrated enough to make more milk.  All in all, this seems to be working to build my milk supply in conjunction with nursing her as frequently as possible.  Her ties are being revised in a week and a half (at least one of them will be).  I’m feeling confident now that I can work on getting fit without impacting my milk supply too much.

Here’s my plan:

I had already started all of this last Monday, but then on Wednesday I gave myself a mild concussion.  It’s like being drunk with a hang over for days.  Seriously sucks.  Plus, I can’t workout.  So, a little more tweaking to my plan and back to work at things hopefully on Wednesday (if all my concussion symptoms have subsided).  **I’ve been to Urgent Care, ER, and a sports medicine (ie hands concussions frequently) specialist, it’s being handled.

I’m taking a multifaceted approach with getting fit because if I’ve proved anything these past four months it’s that calories in vs calories out is not all that’s at work here with me.

Nutrition: My main focus for nutrition is to stay hydrated, cut out almost completely processed foods (oatmeal is really helping my supply so that’s staying in the mix), and eating mostly raw.  I’m choosing this method because:

  1. Meat makes me angry.  (literally)
  2. Processed foods make my Borderline Personality Disorder more difficult to manage.
  3. Raw plant food is good for your gut which leads to better moods, better hormone functioning, and better immune system.

Exercise:  This one has to be something I’ll enjoy and there’s actually so many that I want to be doing right now I’m struggling with narrowing it down.  I know for sure that 30 minutes of hula hooping about five days a week is going to happen because I want to become a hula hoop instructor.  I also know that every morning I’m going to be doing yoga from the online streaming program I use.  There is also a Yoga Booty Ballet on that streaming program that my daughter gets rewarded with for not having any points taken away from school (yes I reward my children with “exercise”).  I’m really wanting to work on my strength training but I know I need cardio more at this point so since it’s cooled off enough I’m going to do the Zombie Run App I just downloaded on my phone.  BTW, we can actually be apart of each other’s “community” on the Zombie Run App, so let me know if you have it too!  So yoga in the morning, hula hooping in the afternoon and then either the Yoga Booty Ballet with my older daughter or the Zombie Run App with my middle son (he’s seriously excited about it).  We’re also planning on hiking on Sunday evenings.

I know that’s a lot of exercise stuff but with 5 kids we all have to stay active or we drive each other crazy.  Plus, physical activity is part of the way I manage my BPD.

Relationships/Social Life:  In my personal Circle of Life evaluation these two categories are the most deficient.  Being a coach, massage therapist, and mother I give a lot but I really struggle with receiving.  I start to feel that if I don’t have anything to give then I’m just being a burden.  As you can imagine, that hinders my social life and relationships quite a bit.  In order to not feel guilty about allowing someone else to give to me (time, assistance, what have you) I just avoid having real relationships with anyone other than my kids.  What does this have to do with getting fit?  A lot actually.  With no one else to nurture me I turn to food when I need to feel comforted or when I need to block something out that’s overwhelming me, or when I need to crunch almonds instead of yelling at someone.  I know my patterns and this was one I don’t actually want to face.  I have a lot of negative programming in my head that I’m going to have to face head on and rewrite.  My coach (yes coaches have coaches) has just started toeing around this topic with me because he realized it was a hot button of mine.  I’m going to start with a goal of going out, (without children *gasp*) with a friend once a month.  For those of you who don’t have social anxiety that may seem like no big deal, but trust me, this is huge for me.  I’ve already started building (and re-building) a couple of intimate relationships with friends as well.

Stress Coping:  This is another very important one.  I am currently working on the main issues of stress in my life (I’m talking about almost life altering crushing stress, not the daily stress that everyone has).  While I’m getting things worked out and rewiring my brain so that these situations don’t happen again, I have to learn to handle the stress.  Stress not only makes me stress eat but it also tells my body to hold onto fat, uses up any motivation and willpower I have, and ruins my mood.  My current coping mechanism is Candy Crush and Pet Rescue Saga on Facebook.  (Don’t judge me)  I had started doing a Miracle Morning routine and keeping a Bullet Journal but as life happened (having a baby) I became inconsistent with both.  Both of these combined really helps me feel better altogether during the day and keeps me on task so things don’t become overwhelming.  I love crafting and miss doing it.  I need to set aside time to do things that are fun for me (creativity in my Circle of Life).  Let’s go with a goal of finishing a coloring page a week.  I’ll post them on my Instagram account.

Alright, I have a good plan in place.  Can’t wait to share my results with you and the twists and turns of my journey!