Last fall when I was seriously at my wit's end with my job and family life I attended the first Winter Wellness Retreat at a beach house in Oxnard, run by an awesome running coach and personal trainer and a VERY good chef. This is her book. If you live anywhere near Santa Barbara/ Ventura/ Oxnard/ Thousand Oaks - she does classes up and down the coast. (I'm talking to you Kalli!) Alas, I was coming down with a cold that weekend (that turned into 3 weeks of bronchitis). What I took from that, besides the need to take care of myself, was the need to take care of one thing. So I focused on my mental state. Sure, I wanted to exercise more and eat right, but small steps...
The view from the patio of the beach house.
Once I recovered from the bronchitis, I started taking more time off work. I have PTO - so if I felt like taking a long lunch or going home early, I did. In reality, that rarely happened. What I did do is take a lot of time off for sick time - my sick time, the kids' sick time, doctor's appointments, dentist's appointments, school holidays, company holidays. All in all I took 152 hours of PTO in 4 months. And I'm almost out of PTO. While this is not great for any future holiday plans, it really did help me relax - in past times, I would have tried to "make up" missed time at nights or on weekends. I seriously have not worked a full 80 hour pay period since September. (I really never should have gone back to full time work in July. I regret it mightily - so in reality, I'm not working full time anymore. I earn 10 hours of PTO a pay period, and seem to be taking an average of 5-10 each pay period).
The other thing I decided to do to relax is more meditative things right before bed. I started knitting and crocheting (which has meditative benefits). I started ending the day with a cup of hot herbal tea several days a week. I make it a point to try and read 10 minutes before bed. I am asleep most days by 9 pm.
Finally, I stopped setting the alarm to go to the gym at 5 am. My husband thinks we should start going again. I am really leery of it in cold and flu time. Because, I'm recovering from another cold. The advantage here is simply extra sleep. I wake up at 6:10 am when the baby wakes up.
A week and a half ago, I got an email that there were two cancellations for the next weekend retreat. I asked my husband, and he said, "it's a good time, work is normal, go". What a great guy. So, I went. Of course I had a cold again (but not bronchitis, so it was much better). And I ended up sharing a room, with a woman named Marsha. It was funny - on our door they misspelled my name so that it said "Marsha B" and "Marsha M" and I was a bit confused (because B is my maiden initial and M is my married initial). As a little funny story - M is her maiden initial and B is her married initial.
This time, I was happy that I had made so much progress on my mental state and was starting decluttering the house. I then had to decide "what next" - food or fitness. I still haven't figured out "what next" because I'm doing a little bit of both. I have started walking 30 minutes on my lunch break every day. I have also started eating more fruit for breakfast - smoothies mostly. These two things plus a bout with the stomach flu in mid-January (yes, a second bout) have helped me drop 10 pounds. So let's keep it going, shall we?
The wonderful thing about the women's retreat is the women - you get delicious meals, beach walks, beach yoga, meditation, massages - but the best part is connecting with other women at various stages in their lives and journeys and getting inspired by them. We spent an evening doing a "story board" of what we want in life this year, what is important to us (I did three of them). I need to find a place to hang them.
I think it's very important to find inspiration from many things and people. Last summer my sister told me that her daughter, my niece, had lost 30 pounds. I thought that was GREAT. She didn't really say anything about it. This week, my niece posts a link to her blog on her FB page. I was very impressed. Much of her experience matches my own. I am inspired. As she says "everyone has the same 24 hours". Now, of course this is true, but then everyone has different requirements for their 24 hours. So while it's good to get inspiration, it's also not good to do a direct comparison. I cannot work out 2x a day - I can barely get any exercise in because my kids are awake when I am, with the exception of about 15 minutes a day. (It's really Mr. D who is the problem - but you know, he won't ALWAYS be. He will soon be able to work out with me or just watch - not crawl under me when I do downward dog and reach up and poke my stomach.)
You can read her blog here. This is my favorite post so far. She goes a lot into nutrition, so it's very nice that she posted her blog right after my healthy living retreat. Here is an example of the food we had on the retreat weekend:
homemade granola, yogurt, berries
passionate breakfast cookies (from her book) - delish!
Baked parmesan tofu (this was really good)
Mediterranean quinoa salad (I have a version in the fridge right now)
Egg and avocado salad
Kale and pumpkin seed salad
Arugula and baby spinach salad
Vegetables and hummus
Many of the recipes are in her book. She has a large forward on nutrition and how it saved her family's health.