Trusting Myself: An Update

I did a funny thing this morning. I decided to write a blog post.

I haven’t blogged anything in a really long time. I have several blogs that I used to keep up, but I haven’t posted anything on any of them in quite a while. Lately, however, I’ve been feeling the blogging itch coming on, so I know that I have a few things that I want to say. I will tell you this – it has been so long since I’ve written a blog post that I totally forgot that I changed the name of this one. This blog was my Paleo blog that I started in order to chronicle my Paleo journey. I did Paleo for five years and then, a couple of years ago, took a detour. I was worried that I wasn’t doing Paleo in a healthy way. In fact, I was starting to become obsessive and it was very unhealthy for me in how I was approaching it mentally.

The break really helped and gave me some perspective. I spent most of that time not subscribing to any one diet or lifestyle. I simply enjoyed food in all of its glory. Everything that I had missed, I ate. But then I began to feel bad, and I gained a lot of weight. An eating disorder that I had not had to worry about since going Paleo reared its ugly head in the midst of a ton of stress that I was going through. It was a very crazy and unhealthy time.

I switched jobs to lower my stress level, which has ended up being one of the best decisions that I have made, despite my brain trying to manufacture stressful situations. It hasn’t been a total walk in the park, this new job. I am an assistant teacher now, but the lead quit not too far into the school year so I had to assume the role for a time while they tried to find a new one. The classroom itself has been stressful, but still hasn’t touched the stress that I was dealing with previously.

In all of this, I tried to go vegan. Clint (my fiance) is vegan and has been for some time. He researched it after I adopted our rescue beagle and it has become a lifestyle for him. I tried several times through the stressful period to join him on that journey but it did not really help with all of the stress. Once my stress level went down I tried again and started doing pretty well. But I’m a very introspective person, and I spend a lot of time monitoring how things make me feel (like stressful jobs and lifestyle changes). I wasn’t feeling good on the Vegan diet. I had almost constant brain fog, which made it hard for me to focus and concentrate, something that is very important in my job, as well as in the side projects that I am always doing. We have had a lot of snow days lately, which would be really good for my side projects, but one day I had such a lack of focus and willpower that I spent the entire day sitting on the couch playing games on my phone. My feet and legs have constantly been hurting. I have been consistently tired. I spent pretty much the entirety of winter break sleeping, which I probably needed because I was at the beginning stages of recovering from a year of stress, but was still worrisome for me because I don’t usually sleep like that. My sleep throughout the night has been inconsistent – I don’t think I’ve really gotten a full night’s sleep since I went full-on vegan. And that is one thing that I don’t like to mess with, sleep. I love sleep and I love my mornings, and when my sleep gets so messed up that I’m sleeping until 8 in the morning (which I know is normal for most people, but not me), then I have a problem. All of that sleep in the morning was making up for sleep that I wasn’t getting in the night, which has been a sometimes problem for me but never a consistent, nightly problem like it has been.

Throughout my foray into Veganism I consistently flirted with the idea of going back to Paleo. I think I recognized that Paleo made me feel better than Veganism was, and I wasn’t doing it for the noble, moral reasons that Clint was. I was doing it to be healthier, and all of the literature that I was reading claimed it was healthier, but I didn’t feel healthier. I felt almost like a zombie. I felt like I couldn’t get anything done. It was becoming a struggle to get out of bed, and the constant aching in my feet worried me. I’ve felt that ache before and I’ve blamed it on shoes, concrete floors, any number of things that could cause foot aches. The bottom line for me was that I remembered the ache going away when I was eating Paleo. I remembered the energy and the clear-headedness; I have old status updates on Facebook about brain fog lifting and energy levels skyrocketing. The lack of focus has really become a problem. I work with kids, and when I can’t focus or even have a lot of energy, it really diminishes the impact I have in the classroom. I can’t give my full self to the kids because I don’t have as much to give. That is not acceptable to me while I’m in this field, which is so demanding of time and energy.

This week I made a choice. Part of living a beautiful life and practicing self-love is being able to trust yourself, something that I have a hard time with. I’m a people-pleaser. I want to make sure that everyone around me is happy and I do what I can to make that happen. I tend to project other people’s moods onto myself, making it hard for me to listen to myself because I am so busy listening to the moods of those around me. But in this case, I don’t have a choice. I have to listen to myself or risk being unhappy, feeling unhealthy, and being unmotivated. And I’m not in a place where I can do that right now.

Detour to my current side-project, which is very important to me. For many years I have been studying about trends in education, specifically early childhood education, and contemplating about how those trends transfer over to education as a whole. For years before I got my degree, I read books and studied education, creativity, and motivation. I developed a personal philosophy of education that is sometimes at odds with the current system. And now, many years later, I am attempting to start a school that utilizes that philosophy. It is an exciting and daunting journey, much more exciting and daunting than any of my previous side-projects. But the difference with this one is that I haven’t had the focus, energy, or motivation to self-start, to organize my thoughts, or to organize my actions. In some cases I know what the next step is but I get caught in a rut of procrastination mixed with a lack of energy and a complete sense of overwhelm. I am a huge procrastinator, a professional really, but in my last big project (starting my own business doing professional development workshops) I don’t remember the sense of overwhelm and lack of motivation being so high. I was doing Paleo then, and I just remember feelings of high positivity and a constant drive to work through the overwhelm and a feeling of focus that I have a hard time achieving now.

I switched to Paleo two days ago. Already I am feeling more energy, and my focus has been a lot better. I have been able to get some housecleaning done and focus on my project enough to start, something that I had seemingly been avoiding before. My desire to sit and play on my phone is diminishing slowly, and I feel better walking – so much better, which is great because I do need to walk this dog. I think she is tired of her pitiful little walks because of the snow. There have been many benefits already, although it is early into the journey. I keep thinking that it might even just be the placebo effect, since it happened so quickly, but I’m not sure. Knowing me, I will be monitoring the hell out of how I am feeling to make sure that it is the right thing to do. But I do know one thing: listening to myself and trusting myself is already paying off.