Time to Make Myself a Priority Again

The view from our front porch today after a school canceling snow storm.

The view from our front porch today after a school canceling snow storm.

“We inhabit ourselves without valuing ourselves,
unable to see that here, now,
this very moment is sacred;
but once it’s gone –
its value is incontestable.”

–Joyce Carol Oates

Snow day #3 today in schools across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and I am making time on my day off to write. Blogging is a delicate activity of knowing what exactly to put-out-there. It is a confessional business – especially when one of the reasons that I started this blog was to stay accountable to my healthy goals. Sure I could just post recipes, but it goes much deeper than that for me. Writing helps me think out loud and my posts become a time capsule that I can look back on and ruminate where I have come from and where I am going. Reading what I have written helps make my thoughts tangible.

In spite of the snow and cold, our days are getting longer and our plants are flourishing from the increase in light.

In spite of the snow and cold, our days are getting longer and our plants are flourishing from the increase in light.

Reflecting on events of the past year I am blown away by the lifestyle changes I have made. A new marriage and motherhood being the most significant. Over the past year I have been told by numerous people that being a stepmother is one of the hardest and most thankless jobs in the world and that I really had my work cut out for me. I smiled politely and felt my stomach lurch. Unfortunately, in many ways, I have learned that all of those people were right. Yet, I am learning important lessons on this journey that make me a better mother, wife, teacher, and human being. It reconfirms my belief that I need to focus my energy on the positive things and that it is truly the simple things that make our lives rich. When I feel frustrated I need to remember that when my stepson saw the calendar on the refrigerator that I created to help us navigate the custody schedule, he thought that the F (for Father) meant Family. I have to remember that my stepdaughter loves to shop for clothes together so that we can match. I have to find joy in the fact that they both want me to tuck them in each night and kiss me before they get on the bus each morning. I need to let love lead the way and hope and pray. I will delight in the fact that I am a role model to two beautiful individuals. I will try to forgive people who will never say thank you or  I am sorry. I will continue to bestow my love. I will trust. I will believe. I will remember to breathe.

So all about this breathing business. Have you ever felt like you have been holding your breath for months? (I imagine my friends and family who are parents – will get quite a chuckle out of this. After all, I was the one who in the past could escape into the luxury of naps and hot baths to unwind. I could leave the house whenever I chose and grocery shop without little ones tossing things in the cart or misbehaving in public. I could prepare meals with exotic ingredients and never worry about fussy taste buds.) Well, things have changed in my world. Not only am I newly married, a stepmom, and a full-time high school teacher, but I am also trying to tackle an Education Specialist degree at Northern Michigan University (a precursor to a EdD program at Central Michigan University). *sigh*

The past year has been a slippery slope for all my healthy goals. My fastidious meal prep routine has been nearly abandoned and my family is less than thrilled about the abundance of fruit and vegetables and absence of refined sugar that I believe is the healthiest. Yes, we have roasted vegetables with our dinners and I try to get them to eat as much as fruit as possible. Yet, the fact remains that a lot of processed food and junk has found its way into my shopping cart because I am tired of being frustrated when they will not eat what I prepare. In addition, I would rather spend time with the kids painting, doing crafts, and cuddling on the weekends instead of cooking/prepping the week’s meals for hours. But there is a price to pay and I am ashamed to say that I have consumed more boxed macaroni and cheese, tater tots,  and processed veggie burgers in the last few months than I care to admit.

Another decision that has impacted my healthy goals was giving up my role as a Weight Watchers coach. We live thirty miles away from the WW center and my husband, who is a police officer, works weekends (though his schedule changes next month 🙂 ) It was a heartbreaking decision but it made more sense for me to spend time with Avalon and Lukas instead of finding childcare. While I do not regret this decision at all, I do miss my WW friends and the accountability that we give each other. (My plan in the next couple months is to start attending meetings, even if it is just on a monthly basis at first.)

To make this post extra whiny – I am feeling the February blues and hormones that come chasing after women in their 40s. My energy levels are depleted, my skin looks dull, and my pants are tight. This Thanksgiving I got sick for the first time in over seven years. Sick. Stay in bed for three days sick. Something that I know would not have happened if I would be taking better care of myself.

At what point do we tell ourselves enough is enough? For me it was the other day in my classroom. Since the kids take a bus from their elementary school to the high school I teach at, I keep a stash of snacks for them in my cabinet. Without even thinking of what I was doing I ate a small bag of Cheese Its and a Rice Crispy treat. Instead of snacking on fresh fruit or raw vegetables and hummus (which would have normally been in my classroom mini-frig) I was resorting to food void of nutrition. I also have noticed that I am turning to caffeine by grabbing a *gasp* Diet Coke in the afternoon and making myself a cup of coffee at the end of the school day. Last week I have +150 new likes on my Facebook page and I feel like a fraud. I have over a hundred healthy recipes on this blog and I share the photos and recipes every day – but I am not making them at home like I should be.

My husband John is an incredible man and he gives me many pep talks. He tells me endlessly that I am beautiful that I look amazing for forty-four.  He loves my curves and makes me feel beautiful. Yet, I do not feel like myself and the way I am feeling reaches far beyond vanity – I want to be healthy! I had a long talk with John about how I need to make changes and I received his support 100%. While I will still buy my family the indulgences that they enjoy, the kids and I will try to make more sweets from scratch (instead of buying those with processed ingredients). I will encourage them to try more of a variety of fruit and vegetables (I have found when they cook with me they are more apt to eat what we make) and I will expand our menu to include some new foods that they have never tried.

This weekend when I shop I am going to fill my cart with fresh produce and John and I are going to start drinking green smoothies again (our goal is at least five times a week). I am going to commit to drinking more water and prepping Mason jar salads for my work week lunches along with prepping fruit and vegetables to keep in our refrigerator for convenient and healthy snacks. I will make sure that I have homemade veggie burger patties in the freezer and I will work more exercise into my schedule (there is nothing stopping me from strapping on snowshoes and taking advantage of the gorgeous views on our property (I promise to share photos).

This is what our counter looked like last spring, I need to get back to this.

This is what our counter looked like last spring, I need to get back to this.

Friends, thank you for taking the time to read my confession. While some may disagree with me putting it all out there – my guess is that there are others struggling too. We owe it to ourselves (and our families) to put our health first. I know that I will be a better wife, stepmom, teacher, and student when my energy levels increase and I feel great in my own skin. Please join me and post your confessional we will keep each other accountable. Feel free to post a comment here, send me an email at producewithamy@gmail.com, or leave a post or message at my Facebook page. It feels liberating to be honest and I cannot wait to implement these changes. Thank you for joining me on this journey to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables – imagine how productive we will be!

A weekend shopping trip brimming with fruit and vegetables helps me make healthy choices all week.

A weekend shopping trip brimming with fruit and vegetables helps me make healthy choices all week.

John, Lukas, and I shoveled the deck last week and it is drifted over after last night's storm. We just bought a new motor for our hot tub so we will be enjoying the deck again next week. Shoveling = exercise.

John, Lukas, and I shoveled the deck last week and it is drifted over after last night’s storm. We just bought a new motor for our hot tub so we will be enjoying the deck again next week. Shoveling = exercise.

I love the view from our front porch. Though I prefer to be sitting in one of the rocking chairs enjoying an iced green tea with fresh mint from the garden.

I love the view from our front porch. Though I prefer to be sitting in one of the rocking chairs enjoying an iced green tea with fresh mint from the garden.

Photo courtesy of Alesia M. Bachman of Superior Treasures Photography (make sure you check out her Facebook page)

John and I chaperoning the Winter Homecoming dance. We matched without even trying. Photo courtesy of Alesia M. Bachman of Superior Treasures Photography (make sure you check out her Facebook page)

 

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10 thoughts on “Time to Make Myself a Priority Again

  1. I’m right there with you, I’m a busy mom of two (pasta and meat loving teen and tween boys 🙄) it’s very easy to get distracted and fall off track time to time. I’m ready to get back to it though and be healthier again 😀

    • Cheryl,
      I hope your week has been going well. I armed myself with an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables and I can tell the difference already in my eating patterns! Thank you so much for your comment – it gives me an extra dose of motivation. Take care and remember to take time for yourself (I’m trying to practice what I preach). 😀

  2. Thank you for your honesty! It is so good to know that you are human, like me. 🙂 One of my favorite sayings is “Always we begin again” which was said by St. Benedict back in the 5th century. I am planning on getting that as a tattoo as a reminder that this is part of the human condition, I’m not alone, and that God works in my frailty.

    I want to thank you for revolutionizing my life…the jarred salads help me stay focused on healthy eating. I don’t work outside the home at the moment but I love having the jars at the ready for my lunches. Sometimes lunch just feels like “too much effort” and so to make the effort all at once on a Saturday or Sunday gives me a fantastic payoff for the rest of the week.

    Blessings to you!!

    • Nina,
      Thank you so much for your comment. I love your favorite saying – how beautiful and true.

      I cannot explain the pleasure it fills me with to learn how much you love the jarred salads. I am making a few tonight because my husband requested a few for his work week which starts tomorrow. It’s a wonderful sense of accomplishment to see those jars all neatly lined up in the refrigerator. Blessing to you as well. ❤ Thank you for making my week!

    • Abbi, You are so sweet! Thank you so much. Your comment means the world to me. Right back at you – you are a constant source of encouragement and inspiration in my life. Keep writing and we still have to get together for our blogging date. ❤

  3. I imagine this was a hard post to write. Now I have a confession for you. I’ve been following your blog for 2 years, as one of several healthy lifestyle blogs I read. Kind of a hobby of mine. I certainly don’t always follow the healthy lifestyle, but I find inspiration from the reading anyway. Tonight I was reading a book by one such blogger, and when I got to the recipes section, I was ready to throw in the towel. I’m not going to buy 47 types of flour, and I won’t take the time to make jicama salmon cabbage frittata cups for breakfast. I work too much and have too many other things on my plate (pun intended) to spend 20 hours of my week in the kitchen. I was starting to feel kind of overwhelmed, and I stumbled on your post. I realized I’ve made more of your recipes than on any other blog. With your camera and your creativity, you remind us of the art of real foods and the endless ways to put them together, often in recipes that are feasible for non-culinary types like me. With your writing, you convey authenticity and the important reminder that we are all human and sometimes need to hit the “reset button.” It was tremendously reassuring to read this post. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for writing it.

    • Kristin,
      I do not have the adequate words to tell you how much your comment means. Thank you! I am humbled and honored that you have been following my blog and trying my recipes. Your comment has helped fuel me through the weekend and given me a burst of creativity energy. It feels so great to be blogging again. Thank you for the support and encouragement and I wish you a fantastic and healthy week! 😀

  4. I recently came across your blog when googling jarred salad recipes and love it..You are inspiring me to get back on track with eating healthy..I cannot wait to make some of the fresh salad dressings. Thank you!

    • Cheryl, thank you so much for the message. I’m thrilled you found my blog! Let me know what you think of the dressings if you try them. I’ll be posting a new one soon: orange raspberry dill.

      Take care and cheers to our health. We are worth it!

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