Posts Tagged ‘health log’

The Power of the Pen

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Is time whizzing by for you? I find that many of my good intentions float in and out of my brain and if I don’t capture them on paper (or computer), weeks and months pass and I haven’t gotten around to them.

My husband and I recently tried to make things easier on my clients and me. We created a Health Log that has the food, activity, allergy, and self-care entries to help me to align my intentions with my actions. I know, it’s one more thing to fit into an already busy schedule, but I figured that with the categories already laid out, a quick update here and there would be easy. After I try it out for a bit and get some client feedback, I’ll be posting it on my website:

So far so good in terms of my commitment to log in on a daily basis. What I am learning is that just having a category of self-care actually makes me think about it. As women, we often put ourselves last on the list of things to take care of, and that leads to quick-fix eating, online shopping, and other pacifiers that don’t really fulfill our needs. We often feel worse afterward, because we think we have been weak and indulgent. No so!

First, any behavior, misguided or not, is driven by a genuine need to feel better. If we actually think about how we were feeling just prior to our “slip,” we can usually decipher the motive for our behavior. For example, this morning I awoke feeling sunburned and tired from too long a day at the beach yesterday with my sister. I didn’t listen to myself  as I was thinking, “I’ve probably had enough sun,” and I paid the price. I also have a talk about getting off the sugar roller coaster that’s coming up tomorrow at a local Country Club. I don’t like the idea of going to talk about health and being sunburned–doesn’t fit with what I feel is taking good care of myself, you know?

So…as I was reading my email this morning, one of my favorite shoppping sites indicated that the were having a sale and, voila! Out popped my credit card. I could rationalize this all day, but the fact remains that I hadn’t intended to buy any clothes today and spent money I could have used on something I do need. I won’t actually have the outfit for tomorrow’s talk, but I admit I felt instantly better thinking about being dressed in it. However, a more direct and less expensive solution to my feelings might have been journaling and working them through. Later, a planned treat, like an Epsom Salts and Baking Soda bath to relieve the sunburn and relax might be just the right pick-me-up.

The key is to interrupt the action with another solution. I often rehearse with my clients what they might do in a social situation, for example, when someone automatically serves them dessert. If they have practiced a graceful way to refuse, they won’t feel cornered between their desire to improve their health and their desire to please their host. Any discomfort in such a situation is only momentary, anyway. I have found that people don’t really care what we are eating, as long as they can enjoy their food and know we are content.

One more thought on the subject–whether it’s logging into a health journal or writing down how we feel, I know positive action leads to more of the same. It is the way we actually change situations in our lives that we are frustrated about. If I were to continue to focus on my “slip” and make myself feel worse, I am almost guaranteed to do it again and again and again. Whereas, if I use it to think through what is happening with me and what I want to do next time, I’m much more likely to act differently. It’s a matter of becoming our own best friends. We comfort ourselves when we’re down and encourage ourselves when we start to change.

Then, in another few months when we look back, we will see amazing progress and growth. That, in itself, is life-changing and empowering. So, go for what you want in your life, no matter how big or small and record your successes. Penning a few notes along the way help create big gains in the end.