Affirmation Challenge Day 13: Health

Today’s Affirmation Challenge (I will be catching up today, doing tasks 13 and 14) is about health!

I’m not going to lie to you guys — seeing the tasks for the past two days (Health on day 13, and Self-image on day 14) was part of the reason I’ve procrastinated on doing these two days. These are the two areas I feel I struggle with, currently, despite having no real reason for doing so. Hopefully I can dig into some of the reasons today!

So first, talking about health. I know objectively how important it is to care for your body, as it’s truly the only thing we have with us for our whole life. However, I think it is because it is always there that it often gets neglected, as our bodies can usually handle a lot of abuse before things get “really” bad. But the truth is, just like we need to care for our emotional needs, we have physical needs too. And neglecting our bodies can carry over into all the areas of our lives!

I know that especially since starting my job, I’ve been quite lazy when it comes to taking care of myself. I get up early to drive, so I avoid eating breakfast before getting in the office in order to not get up any earlier than necessary. Breakfast becomes coffee and trail mix or a granola bar at the desk…not the worst, to be sure, but not as wholesome as, say, oatmeal. I have access to a gym with my company, but I’ve yet to take advantage of it. When I get home, I’m tired from working all day, and then struggle between giving myself down time and doing things that are meaningful to me. Five days a week, the cycle repeats.

In summary, these are the things I can think of that are negative habits in regards to my health:

  1. Not exercising. I used to go to the gym regularly at school, and I did yoga and Tai Chi throughout the week as well. Now, the most I can say I do in terms of exercise is the two-block walk home after parking my car in the hot summer weather. The heat exhausts me even more than my work day, making me extra lethargic once I’m home (where all I want to do is run and change because I feel like I’m melting from the heat!).
  2. Not drinking enough water. I have an awesome filtered water bottle (a “bobble”) both at home and at work, but I rarely drink enough water throughout my day (I worked it out that I should drink at least two bobbles a day). It’s easier to do it at work for some reason, but I’ve still finished many days without hardly a dip in the amount of water sitting in my bottle.
  3. Not flossing nightly. I brush my teeth in the morning and at night no problem, but usually I’m so tired by the time I go to bed that I rarely floss my teeth. When I finally do, it usually hurts because I haven’t in a while, discouraging me from doing it the next night.
  4. Not eating well. As I mentioned earlier, I usually eat a breakfast of trail mix and coffee. Lunch is a sandwich (usually either peanut butter and jelly, or some kind of deli meat and cheese) that I’ve prepared on Sunday (discovering that you can freeze certain sandwiches for use later in the week = best time saver ever!). Throughout the day, I snack on trail mix if I get hungry. Dinner however, sometimes doesn’t even happen. I’m so exhausted when I get home, I’m sometimes not even hungry, or if I am, only for some snacks! I’m more likely to eat leftovers (usually from fast food), or junk food. I think it usually comes down to laziness and not wanting to take the time and effort to get out everything necessary to cook a meal (or learn to cook, rather).
  5. Work/posture-related issues. I work in an office job, and staring at Word documents all day puts severe strain on my eyes, and typing usually begins to hurt my wrists. I’m not sure I’m in the more ergonomic position either, but it feels like I constantly have to readjust things to get comfortable, so I settle into the bad positions. I don’t currently have a desk at home, so I use my laptop on my bed, which I’m sure isn’t good for me, either.
  6. Neglecting my eyes/skin/teeth in smaller ways. My glasses are currently pretty scratched up, and I think that’s causing me to strain my eyes as well. I have contact lenses I could be wearing, but I’ve never gotten 100% comfortable to wear them on a daily basis. I have a prescription for eye drops that help but I never renewed it and now I wonder if it’s too late. If my skin breaks out even slightly, I tend to pick at it despite knowing how bad it is for my skin in the long run. I have a retainer that I received after getting my braces removed years ago, but I rarely ever use it as it almost seems pointless (“my teeth will just go back, anyway”).

Phew! I’ve got a lot of things I can improve on. I know one big thing for me is a lack of energy, but I didn’t write that down because I feel that by improving some other things, I will probably get more energy.

Now it’s time to get to thinking, what are my reasons for these bad habits, and what can I do to change them?

  1. Exercising: I think I’m resisting this because it sounds like a hassle to put together a gym bag for work, I’m afraid of being in the gym with just one/a few other people (I would go in the morning, and I know for sure one other coworker I know goes then, but I feel like that’s more awkward than a crowded gym), and I’d also have to re-shower when I’m done before finally going to my cubicle to get my day started. I’m also semi-afraid of getting to my job too early and finding that the building isn’t even open yet! When I’m lethargic when I get home, I think it’s mainly from getting too hot during my walk back, but I also feel like I need time to decompress and I do that by doing mindless activities.
    • Solution, part 1: Just pack up my bag, and go! Part of the reason I’ve been getting up so early is because I wanted to use the gym before starting my day (I got up at 6:30am, now 6:15, and I’ve been meaning to get up at 6 to be sure I had plenty of time for the gym before starting work). Yes, I’d need to make sure I always have a towel/shampoo/hairbrush/etc., but is it really so much extra effort I avoid going to the gym for it? I’ve also seen that there’s a hairdryer in the women’s locker room, so I wouldn’t even need to go back to my cubicle with wet hair!
    • Solution, part 2: I think it might be better if, instead of just flopping down in my room after getting changed from my walk back, if I do some form of yoga instead. This will give me a nice meditative state to decompress in, and hopefully give me energy for the rest of my day. It’ll be great to help with my flexibility and posture throughout the day as well! In the same vein as yoga, I might try and relearn the parts of Tai Chi I know, and do a run of it when I wake up in the morning (as the whole thing takes maybe four minutes, tops, to do). No particular reason for this, but it might make my mornings feel a little better!
  2. Water: I’m not sure I have any real reason for this, except I forget. At work, I have a slight resistance to it because the filter on my bobble makes it loud when I drink and I feel self-conscious that everyone hears it in the office.
    • Solution: Drink every time I see my bobble from the corner of my eye. That should make it easier to drink the minimum two bobbles per day that I’m aiming for! I think I should also make it a habit while packing my lunch in the morning to put my home bobble in the fridge before work, that way when I get home I have nice cold water instead of room temperature water to drink!
  3. Flossing: Usually I avoid it because I’m tired and don’t want to take the extra minutes to floss after brushing. Then when I finally floss again, it hurts really bad so I don’t want to do it again the next night and cause more damage. Eventually I forget/am too tired to continue, and the cycle just repeats.
    • Solution: Brush/floss earlier in the evening, before I’m too tired. Even if I eat something after, it’s still better than not flossing at all. I’ll also floss only as often as I think I can without it being painful, increasing in frequency until I’m flossing every night without issue.
  4. Eating well: Mostly energy-related. I feel too lazy to make a “good” meal usually, and some days if I have nothing easy to make, I’m not hungry enough to justify taking the effort to make something. I also don’t really know how to cook, so even when I do my “meals” are something like a smoothie. Which is healthy, but eventually I’d like to learn how to make real dinners as well — though I’m afraid of wasting things if I make a mistake while learning to cook, or possibly making myself sick if I don’t prepare something properly.
    • Solution: First, I think if I actually start exercising once again like I want to, I’ll get the hunger/energy I currently lack for making dinner. Second, I feel like I should start small with my meals; even if I just make a smoothie, I’m getting into the habit of eating/eating something healthy. Third, I can look up easy, healthy recipes that get me excited to try them out, and can view learning to cook as a delicious experience rather than a timely effort. Fourth, although not directly related to dinner, I think I could stand to have more fresh fruits and vegetables in my diet. I used to regularly eat fruit and veggies with dip as snacks, and salads often too. Hopefully having better food also helps me have better energy!
  5. Work/posture: This one is a bit difficult, as I need to mostly be in my cubicle working. There’s only so much adjusting I can do in my environment to make it more comfortable.
    • Solution: I think I will make an effort though to take a mini-break every hour (rest my eyes, stretch, etc.) and have a post-lunch break at some point to walk and refill my water bottle. Hopefully, that will also give me a slight energy boost in the afternoon as well! I will adjust my workstation as much as I can to improve the ergonomics of sitting at a desk all day, and do my best to maintain good posture. I will eventually invest in a desk for my room at home, so I can sit there instead of on my bed where I’m likely to slouch.
  6. Eyes/teeth/skin: When it comes to my skin, I hate seeing the imperfections it sometimes gets so much I almost can’t resist picking at it, though I always regret it after. I think I have to redirect my efforts to clear my skin into kinder practices. For my teeth, I feel like I mainly just need to take the effort to wear my retainer. For my eyes, I have to realize that I am probably going to have a better time seeing each day if I use my contacts/use my prescription eye drops.
    • Solution: I need to sit with myself and figure out why I don’t find these tasks worth it (that must be how I think about them, or else I would be doing them). Then, more practically, I could treat my skin better by resisting picking at it and instead use face-wash (for example), and for my teeth I could try wearing my retainer just once a week at least to start. For my eyes, I can call the pharmacy and see if I’m still eligible to renew my eye drops. Regardless, I can try working up to getting used to wearing my contacts for long periods of time by starting with just an hour after work (perhaps) and increasing from there.

This is a huge list, I really have a lot to work on! I probably won’t implement all of these strategies at the same time, but at least I’ve taken the time to think about them.

That’s all from me for this challenge. How’re you guys doing? What solutions did you come up with to improve your health? Let me know!