thoughts on self-care, vol. 1: the basics

November 30, 2012

i have more to say about this topic, so i’ll just put it into a few posts.  perhaps one every week or so.  i need to take a little bit of time to figure out how to get back to feeling a little bit more rested and centered.  

as i mentioned yesterday, i’m a little tired.  i just ditched my planned run [bad decision, see below] and spent the last hour sprawled out on the couch, unable to get up and put away the dishes or even think about making dinner [another rather lame decision – also see below].

sometimes i feel like my brain has only two modes these days:  WORK/TO-DO and MOM.  the gears never seem to stop turning, even when i’m trying to relax.  i am thankful that i actually can focus well at work, as i have a fair amount to juggle right now [and the finite nature of fellowship is starting to come to light!].  but i still have a hard time concentrating on other things.  i’m not thrilled about it, but i finally understand the meaning of what some refer to as ‘brain fog’.

it might be hormones — high prolactin!  suppressed gonadotropins!  i have no doubt that these things have an impact.  but in addition, perhaps i’m just a little bit stuck.  i feel ready to set some personal goals again and to start doing fun/social things for me, and i actually think i have at least a little bit of time.  now instead, i seem to be limited in energy, clarity, and focus.

[it’s probably a new-mom faux pas to admit it, but what i’d really like is just one day off from work . . . WITH daycare.   sadly, i used up all of my vacation time on maternity leave!]

self-care goals: part 1
so it’s a bit back-to-basics, but i think part of the problem is just basic lack of self-care right now.  in order to function a little better i need to:

βœ” fit in exercise on a regular basis.  in the past month, i’ve been far less active than usual.  part of this was a little burnout after the half-marathon, i think.  some of it was my back injury [which is now totally better!].  but then . . . i just kind of got used to not being active, and just skipped working out on any evening that it wasn’t totally ‘convenient’ – which, as you might imagine, is most nights.

i know this does not hold true for everyone, but breastfeeding seems to be a major metabolic effort for me.  so, i don’t really need workouts right now to burn calories.  however, i miss the energy boost and mental clarity that seems to go hand in hand with exercise for me.  i just feel like a better version of myself when i am physically active on a regular basis.  and so:  i need to get back to my normal pattern.

goal:  something 4-5 days/week, even if it’s just a 3-mle run or 25-minute strength workout.  eventually i would LOVE to go back to doing this in the am.  but this may have to wait until i stop pumping . . .

βœ” get enough sleep.  ideally, for me this is 8 hours.  this is a declaration:  from this point on, i am not staying up late just to be able to pump more.   the ‘no formula!’ ship has sailed at this point anyway, so WHAT am i doing worrying about supplementing 4 vs 6 oz!?  i am sure that sleep deprivation hasn’t helped my milk supply, so it’s possible that i’ve been shooting myself in the foot doing this anyway.

goal:  i am going to aim for a 9:30pm bedtime — at least until annabel’s habit of waking up for good in the ‘5s’ is definitely in the past.

βœ” eat well  focusing on real food.  i.e.:  not cereal, or crackers, or chocolate.  i need a lot of calories for breastfeeding, and it has astounded me how much i have needed to eat over the past several months just to maintain my weight.  but because of this, i have fallen into some terrible habits of just shoving anything that tastes good into my mouth at any given time.  this needs to change for 3 reasons:

— i will not be breastfeeding forever.  in fact, since i am planning on ending my time with the pump in january, my needs will be lower pretty soon.  if i continue to consume sugar at the rate that i have been, i am sure i would not appreciate the result.

i wouldn’t want annabel [or any baby] to eat the way i have been.  kind of a double-standard to be SO obsessed with breast milk and homemade babyfood and then existing on carbs ‘n’ cheese, no?  i absolutely need to be setting a better example, and pretty soon i hope to be preparing food for both of us at once, anyway.

i cannot be helping my energy level on my current diet.  in fact, i often feel like i am running on empty lately — which is what sends me to the sugar snacky-type foods.  definitely a vicious cycle.

goal:  more substantial MEALS, more whole foods, less reliance on processed convenience foods, and less sugar.  i need to do this in a way that will not take up more cooking/prep time.  i am already convinced my you all that i need a slow cooker πŸ™‚  any other tips are welcome . . .