Happy International Women’s Day!
As I sit here having several chocolate wrappers next to me, I have to laugh at how today’s post is Discuss Goal of the Witch #10: Breathe and eat correctly. I can’t say that this post is going to lauding how far I’ve come or anything.
I’ve always thought about breathing, at least to some extent. When I was in elementary school and we were being taught how to run, they taught us to breathe in through our noses and out through our mouths. When I was learning yoga, they taught breathe in through the nose and out through the nose. I learned about the way the breath works with our health, our levels of stress, and with our energy. There have been times in my life when breathing was not so easy. When I was a freshman or sophomore in college, being out in the cold weather too much and exercising too often compromised my lung function. My lungs tightened up when I ran or when I was outside. For a few weeks I had to wrap my face in several layers when I went out into the winter air. I went to the nurse on campus and she suggested that I was breathing incorrectly when I ran, because I often used my mouth to breathe in and out. Since then I have always tried to breathe in through my nose exclusively when exercising. However, fast-forward to my January in the Caribbean and trying to keep up on the morning run with a bunch of my athletic classmates…and that wasn’t working so well either. I was trying to take such deep breaths with my nose that my nostrils were closing up and I literally had to hold my nose open when I ran. Then my classmates suggested I breathe in through my mouth, but with the memories of wrapping up my face still fresh, I was reluctant to do that. I couldn’t figure out why I was having much more trouble than everyone else. Later that year I found out I was highly iron-deficient, and whether or not that had anything to do with my breathing problems, it certainly meant that I had to breathe a lot harder to get the same amount of oxygen to my muscles.
I don’t have a great relationship with exercise.
Eating has been another minefield. I’m a person who has always had some self-esteem issues, and when I was in college that came to a head. During my freshman year, I was seeing a counselor over family issues, but by my sophomore year, I added “possible eating disorder” to my list of concerns. Some days I was determined not to eat anything, although it made me question why I would ever want to make myself sick. In November, I found a book that my cousin suggested, which was “Eat to Live” by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. It advocates for a nutritarian diet, which is kind of like veganism on steroids. After Thanksgiving, I went cold-turkey on anything bad for you and started following an Eat to Live lifestyle. I dropped about eight pounds in one month, which wasn’t bad on my frame, but the problem wasn’t with the lifestyle–it was with my mentality. My friends (and relatives) noticed my obsessive eating and some of my friends even went to eating disorder information sessions on our campus to figure out if I was in trouble. I was never at an unhealthy weight, but combined with my stress, exercise levels, lack of sleep, classes, and juggling my own mentality about food, I was driving myself crazy. There is a picture of me on Facebook from my sophomore year of college where I have these dark circles under my eyes, and even though I like how thin I looked, next to my beautiful friend, I looked tired and unhappy.
Unfortunately now, I’ve gained quite a bit of weight, and though I’m tall and distribute it well, I’m not happy this way either. I will always have an obsessive mentality when it comes to eating, whether it’s eating only obsessively healthfully or obsessively badly. I think the trick is figuring out how to handle the other aspects of my life at the same time so that it doesn’t culminate into something destructive. I would love to get back to eating vegan, and perhaps even nutritarian, but do it the right way, with a good support system, and some cheat days. I shouldn’t obsess over what other people will think (especially what other vegans will think, because sometimes hell hath no fury like a vegan who thinks you are abusing the term “vegan”). I should bring vegan options to family gatherings but not be afraid to try something very small if it has cheese or whatever, because my family also works very hard on their dishes, and I know that it’s kind of rude to refuse them. That’s why I don’t eat vegan in this country–because food is a gift, and it’s rude to refuse it.
I know that I’ve kind of been talking about this Goal in the sense that it’s just about me, but my journey has been a very important one in these two ways. In these ways, this Goal truly is just that–a goal, something for me to actually buckle down and work on. I need to work on breathing more often. I need to eat more healthfully and take care of myself this way. I know that self-love is synonymous with self-care, but I have a hard time with that sometimes.
It’s important to know that we all come from different places. Some Goals are going to be easier to work on than others. It’s always a process, and I’m okay with that. But it doesn’t give me an out to say, “Okay, so I’ll just do it tomorrow.” It has to be a working process, or it’s no process at all.
Every Witch has something to improve upon.