Thursday, 23 January 2014

Back to the declutter #happinessproject

Today I came home from work a couple of hours early with a massive headache. It takes a lot for me to bail out on work, but my head honestly feels like it has a jackhammer inside. I suspect this may be because on the protocol's phase 1, I've cut back carbs and sugars to almost none. I've also had no processed foods for 3 days - so I'm probably in MSG withdrawal!

Sitting on my couch looking out at the beautiful rain, I decided to declutter my inbox. This is a task I've been putting off for over 18 months and has been a nagging voice in the back of my mind for quite some time.

I started with unsubscribing. An arduous task when you have at least 100 different subscriptions! One by one I removed myself from mailing lists I am no longer interested in. I deleted their emails. As the time passed (yes, this has taken me around 3 hours) I started to feel a weight lifting.

It's funny how we let little things build up, usually to a point where they begin to overwhelm us. I have been feeling overwhelmed at the thought of doing this for such a long time, and it turns out it wasn't so bad. I feel liberated from the mountains of emails that come in each week - most of which I just left sitting in my inbox unread.

So how bad was it that it took over 3 hours? I unsubscribed from around 120 newsletters and sorted over 3500 emails. Most of which went in the bin anyway. My deleted items folder has over 2600 unread emails!!! I'm not sure why I let it get this bad, or why I was so overwhelmed at the though of performing this task, but I know I feel a lot happier now it's done.

I am feeling much happier now - and I am really starting to feel free from clutter. I am nearing the finish line for January's project happiness tasks, and I'm honestly starting to feel better.

So despite sitting here with a headache, I still feel pretty great. I think declutter month is really helping my state of mind.  Maybe I'm decluttering my mind!

Hope everyone else is having a happy day!

Love to you all

M xx

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The path to happiness isn't always easy.

Overall, the happiness project is going really well. Last week was just a little less productive than I'd anticipated, due to the record heatwave, with temperatures between 43°C and 46°C, a double brick house and an ineffective air-conditioner. Many of the decluttering tasks were ignored, while the kids and I spent most of our time locked up in the only room that has air conditioning.

Sleep was also a problem, as my room was around 25°C to 35°C at night. The lack of sleep for over a week has affected my mood, and I'm feeling quite lethargic. I was rising at 5.30 every morning to tend to the animals before it got hot, and it was torture going out later in the day to check on them again. We only lost one chicken in the week, so I guess that's very lucky given the conditions.

Yesterday I met a friend at the pool to have a swim. The kids had a wonderful time playing on all of the inflatable equipment, giving my friend and I a wonderful opportunity to catch up after quite a while between visits. Another friend came over last night to watch a movie with me, and we ended up having a wonderful chat until almost midnight. I feel very blessed to have such wonderful friends, and one of my goals for the year is to spend more time doing things with them, and less time interacting with them via social media.

Today, I woke with a terrible headache, that was niggling at me last night, and a sore ear. I suspect I got water in the ear yesterday, and I'm hoping I don't end up with an ear infection. Spending the day with a pounding headache isn't a great way to start a happiness project day and really affects my happiness level. It's allowed some anxiety and concern to creep into my head also, which is not conducive to happiness.

A major part of my project is to work on my health. To nurture my body, mind and spirit. I am happy to report that I am trying much harder to fill my body with good wholesome food, filled with good nutrients to help repair my body. However, with the good, I'm still overindulging in the bad. yesterday at the pool, I hit up big on sugar, eating far too many lollies. The sugar is affecting me today, every muscle in my body is hurting, I'm tired, lethargic and as I previously mentioned, not as happy as I'd like. 

As my three loyal readers would already know, I have lost a lot of weight, mostly with 'programs' that I don't really like anymore. I still beat myself up for handing all of my power over to another person, especially one who is giving information out that is outside the realm of their education level. I vowed never again to do a program or take nutritional advice from a Personal Trainer. Especially one that advocated for the use of foods in the program that I knew were toxic to my body, and were in stark contrast to the foods that a nutritionist had been telling me to eat.

I'm still a very big believer in exercise, but only for fitness, toning and to make me feel good. I do love the endorphin rush I get after a run, or the fun I have playing tennis or going for a swim. I don't believe that it has a lot to do with weight loss, unless it's done in extremes like I was doing a couple of years ago. On my first round of 12WBT, I was eating the very strict 1200 calorie diet, which left a lot to be desired - and working out for up to 3 hours a day. I didn't lose a great deal of weight (although 12.5kg in 12 weeks is nothing to sneeze at) but I lost an awful lot of cm. 97cm to be precise!! The majority of the fat I lost during these workouts, was unfortunately, the wrong type of fat.

The body has 3 types of fat. Structural fat, which is the fat your body needs and uses, to protect your organs and is the type found on hands, feet, arms and legs and the fat on your face, neck, shoulders etc. then there is reserve fat, which is the fat that our body has historically used to be burned later. It's the stored calories from the excess food we ate throughout Spring and Summer to help us get through the winter. Then there is abnormal fat. It generally collects around the middle. It is not required for the body to function, and it's the fat that is the precursor for many diseases, including diabetes - of which I have a strong family history.  It is also the LAST type of fat your body burns.

So when I did 12WBT and tried various other programs, ate the wrong diet, worked out far more than I should have and lost enough cm to make me start to look different, I was still fat. I lost weight from my face, my neck, my chest and under my boobs (you could see my rib bones under my boobs!!!) my arms and my legs. You could see muscles and bones in places. I showed my before and after photos to friends, who all commended me on my super efforts - but no-one mentioned the elephant in the room...... or the one around my stomach.

You see, even with a 1200 calorie starvation diet, and 2-3 hours of exercise a day, I didn't lose the abnormal fat from my belly. Granted, it did get smaller - because I burned off all the reserve fat, but the abnormal fat stayed there stubbornly. Calorie in Calorie out programs don't deal with the types of fat, just that if you expend more than you consume all the fat will go away. This is obviously not true!

I have been studying the works of an Australian Nutritionist for over a decade, she has been practising for over 30 years. She's also studied Anthropology and Pre-Med - so she knows a lot about human evolution and biology. I trust her. I am doing a protocol, that while it seems is controversial, is built on the principles of nutritional medicine, orthomolecular medicine, and tailoring your diet to foods that your body can handle.

She is a very outspoken woman, and has taken on the Australian Heart Foundation and other medical practitioners for their support of using low fat, low calorie and processed foods. She has earned the respect of some of the countries leading nutritionists and she travels the country and the world educating people about food and how to use it to be healthy, happy and filled with energy.  She has NEVER taken a pharmaceutical drug, not even a panadol - and she has her own probiotics and supplements made for her company, as she wants them all natural and organic. She is an amazing woman.

If you're interested in learning more about Cyndi O'Meara and her programs, products or articles, her website is here or you can follow her on facebook here - I can guarantee, you'll learn lots!!

Yesterday, I began a protocol to target my abnormal fat around my middle. As with a lot of programs/protocols, I was advised to begin with taking measurements and photos to help track my progress. The protocol also requires daily weighing which terrifies me - sudden weight gain is usually a sign of inflammation which is caused by food intolerance. I have done my before photos so many times now, and I have a bunch of pretty after photos that show all my hard work. Then the weight comes back, and it's time for another set of  before photos for the next program.

The reason I'm scared, is because I don't want to fail at THIS protocol. The protocol itself is incredibly difficult and requires willpower like I've never had to have before. It has a high failure rate as many people can't stick to the protocol. It is hardcore and intense by anyone's standard - and that scares me. 

I never had faith in Michelle Bridges as a person - I believe she's profit driven, and my anecdotal knowledge of the program  is that it has a high failure rate. Of the hundreds of people I know personally who have done the program, only 2 have managed to keep the weight off after 12 months. This doesn't disappoint me, as I didn't like the program when I was on it, so wasn't surprised that people gain the weight back - it also makes me feel slightly better about my own failure to maintain the loss I had on the program.

However I do believe in Cyndi, and have followed her for 10 years, I've read her books used her recipes and followed her online. I believe in her protocol.  If I fail at this, I can't say it's because the program is flawed, because it's a brilliant protocol. There is hardcore science to back it up, and the results some people have achieved are phenomenal. If I fail at this, it's on me. That terrifies me.

I know that by the end of the day today, I will have a brand new set of 'before photos'. I will record my measurements. I hope it's for the last time ever. I am scared. I am terrified. I am so anxious. Sometimes the path to happiness, is paved in pebbles - and we need to walk it barefoot.

The reason I'm sharing this with my three loyal readers, is because sometimes when we share our anxiety with others, or our fears - we realise we're not alone. Others share them with us. Even though I feel all alone right now, I'm hoping that there are others who understand my fears, and maybe they'll be here along the way to support me.

Ultimately, I hope that this protocol helps me to find some more energy, more vitality and overall, good health. If I end up with a super schmexy body - that's honestly a bonus!
I'm hoping the feelings of vulnerability pass - and I really need a hug - so if you have any spare love or hugs to send into the universe for me, I'm waiting with open arms. 

Love to you all,

M x

EDIT:  I have taken the photos and it was hard. Really horrible in fact. I think my before photos this time are even worse than the ones I took 18 months ago. Of course I'm upset and in tears - it's a painful thing to have to acknowledge. I really need hugs now!

Onward and upward - the road to happiness isn't paved in feathers.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Decluttering and Gratitude

Project Happiness is well on track. I can genuinely say I feel happier. I'm actively practicing gratitude for the blessings in my life. I'm decluttering my home, simplifying and feeling less overwhelmed. I still have things I would like to focus on, like improving my energy levels, and exercising - but I'm happy with my progress so far.

The declutter is going very well. The kids are involved in the project, Miss J it turns out is a Decluttering Yoda. She has wisdom far beyond her years. Her brilliant plan of attack, is to empty a cupboard entirely - and take the contents to another room. Have a box in the other room for recycling, donating or disposing, and only take back to the cupboard what you need to keep.

I have to say it worked brilliantly, we did the bathroom and kitchen cupboards in the loungeroom, and halved what was in some cupboards. Now, things don't fall out of the plastic cupboard when the door is open - in fact, we made room for the new ice-cream maker and the yoghurt maker!

Unfortunately, the house looks an absolute mess at the moment, behind the cupboard doors, things are good, but the halls are now filled with boxes of crap to sort for disposal. Some will go to the op-shop, some will go to the tip-shop and some unfortunately is beyond salvage. I will be glad when it's gone and I just need to keep plugging through sorting the clutter and ignore the mess.

I had planned on starting on my bedroom tonight, but I'll admit I'm quite tired. One of the commitments I made to myself is that I won't push myself too hard, and I'll be kind to myself. Instead, I've just perched myself up on the bed with the computer for a little relaxation time and Kevin McCloud's new show. I am allowing myself time to do things I want to do, like watching awesome sustainable architecture shows - without guilt. I don't watch much TV, and when I do, I feel guilt that I could be doing something more productive. I won't do that anymore - I am being kind to myself.

I still have low energy, and I'm not sure if it's because I'm doing so much, or because I am full of toxins from my bad diet of late. I feel sluggish of thought also, and think a detox is in order. I know how amazing I feel when I detoxify and fill my body with nutrients.  I haven't planned a detox menu yet, but it almost certainly means I won't be sticking to my $21 challenge this week!  When I detox, I'll do a post about the detox, and give progress updates about it.

My favourite part of my day, every day, is the 10 minutes immediately after I wake. I have been using this time to be thankful for the blessings I have in my life. I am not a religious person, but I do believe that there is some divine power that I refer to constantly as the universe. I thank it for my healthy family, my beautiful home, how much better I feel, that I have the energy to do the things I do, for my good health, for my family and friends, for my best friend, for my charmed life.

I think when we all take the time to acknowledge our blessings, we really can't be anything other than happy. Most of our blessings as Australians are given to us, just by being born into a wealthy country, we all have houses, cars, fridges, electronics, and a damn lot more 'things' than we need. Most of which we're not really grateful for. I spend time now wondering and learning about what my life would be like if I were born in another country, and it's scary. Life would be very different if I were born as a girl into many developing countries. I am grateful that I, and my children have never known poverty. I am grateful that my children know how lucky they are, and have a desire to help those less fortunate than us.

The declutter and gratitude are making me feel happier. Project happiness is on track. I am blessed.

Hoping you're all full of joy and happiness.

M x

Friday, 3 January 2014

Good friends and happiness

Sometimes happiness is just doing nothing - and doing it with friends. Today was one of those days for me. It was truly wonderful.

I had plans to meet a friend and her kids for coffee at a local playground. The kids played happily while we sat and caught up. The topic moved on to happiness, and we are both resolute that this year, we are working hard to find our happy.

My friend is well traveled, and I am not. We have decided to plan a trip together, as I'm nervous at the thought of travelling alone to a foreign country alone. We haven't really decided where we would like to go, but we're determined to just do it.

The last month, while I've been off work has been wonderful for me, tripping round the farm, doing what I want, hanging out with the kids. I've enjoyed every moment. However not working means I have to be careful with finances. I do fine and don't really go without, but I can't really afford an overseas trip. So I'm not sure how we'll manage it, but I've put it out to the universe that I really want to travel this year!

After a wonderful Indian food lunch in the park, my friend and I part ways. I had planned to visit another friend at her farm to see her beautiful baby goats. I had a lovely catch up with her and her hubby while wandering around their beautiful farm. Discussions again moved to work life balance, and I mentioned how wonderfully happy I am when I'm at the farm, but how I'd like a couple of days of work for things like travel and the little luxuries I can't afford at the moment.

After I left S&J's farm, I came home. My phone rang as I walked through the door. A friend from my old place of employment called me to see if I was available to do some work with her department. I had promised myself I wouldn't go back to work until the end of the holidays - unless I could get work in this particular department. In fact, I've been seeking work in this department for 6 months. A few months ago I was having a hard time at work, and the people in this department were amazing, they supported me through the whole thing, and have kept in touch even when I've been working in other branches. It really was an offer too good to refuse.

I feel like things are all dropping into place for me because of my Happiness Project. I'm finally putting it out there, what I want, and it's happening. The trip with Ms J really seems like it's possible now I'll be back at work. The flexible hours will help me have a healthier work life balance than I had in 2013. The farm will help me live a greener, more sustainable life. My friends and family will bring me love and happiness.

2014 is looking to be a wonderful year. I am so grateful for that.

Hope you are all feeling happiness today.


Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Richard Simmons enters my Happiness Project

Sleep has evaded me again, for the 4th or 5th night in a row. I genuinely tried, going to bed at 9.30 but I didn't get to sleep until around 2.30 all the same. So suffice to say, I didn't wake up in the happiest of moods - more like the 'I've been hit by a Mack truck' kind of mood.

My beloved boy made me a coffee, and served it with a big hug - which instantly improved my mood. I went out to feed the animals, and of course the sun and chickens gave me some more energy. When I'm very, very tired my fibromyalgia plays havoc with my body. I'm in intense pain from the moment I get out of bed, if I'm lucky, the pain gradually dissipates throughout the day. Some days, exercise helps, some days it hurts. It's cold and windy here today, and despite the sun peeking out, it's not really a go for a run kind of day. So in the spirit of fun, Miss J and I decided to do a Richard Simmons DVD.

Let me tell you something about Richard Simmons, he is a kind and loving human being, that radiates love, positivity and fun from his pores. You can't watch him talk, or dance, or do a class, or tell a story, without smiling. You can't do one of his DVD's and take yourself seriously. You just can't. I think the reason I think he's wonderful, is because he's a former fatty, who worked it out. He is determined to help as many people regain their health as he can, using fun and laughter to do so. You barely feel like you're working out, it's more like you're at a crazy disco theme party!

Miss J and I had a ball, dancing and giggling, working up just a little sweat. Right up to the point she pulled a hustle muscle..... so we stopped. Probably no more than 10 minutes into the DVD. I ran her a bath, she relaxed, and I decided we might have a lazy day watching some movies. With no judgement from myself for not completing the entire workout - because it did what I needed it to do. It gave me an energy boost and made me feel happy.

I'm in the mindset that if I don't feel happy, I can only 'fake it till I make it' for so long. It's ok when I'm really, really, really tired to not feel bubbly and energetic. It's probably quite normal to feel a bit down and tired after not sleeping in days - so why pretend to be bursting with joy. Instead of being hard on myself for 'being lazy' and not doing jobs off the ever expanding chore list, I spent a few moments thinking about how I was spending time with my kids, listening to my body, and I was relaxing and enjoying the gorgeous Mr. Redford. I am determined to be kind to myself this year, and that means not reprimanding myself for deviating from the plan or schedule.

I hope everyone is happy today, and if you're not - I hope you're being kind to yourself.

big love

M x