I've been secretly conducting a little experiment for the past month (heck, it was actually even a secret for me, but the results of this stealth-experiment have been astounding enough to bring themselves to my very distracted attention and are such good news, I believe, for the Now-Aging-at-Breakneck-Speed Broad that I feel it's crucial I share them with you post haste).
A little over a month ago, I turned 40. And I felt 40. In fact, I'd felt 40-on-a-good-day for about 6 months prior to my birthday. On bad days, I felt about 78. I'd been tired, sluggish, prone to spells of depression and frustration, bored, unmotivated and just plain done-in. Bean would wake from her nap and I'd stare miserably at the clock realizing that with another nearly 4 hours of entertaining, cooking and cleaning up to face before Al got home for dinner, I was totally devoid of energy, ideas or enthusiasm for those tasks and just wanted to climb into my bed and sleep the afternoon away. Which, of course, wasn't an option.
Is it because I'm older than most Moms of toddlers? I reckoned. I AM forty. Maybe this is just what forty feels like?
And OH Y'ALL, how THAT thought terrified my soul. If I felt that bad at 40, where on earth was I going to get the energy to deal with homeschooling and continuing to run my household and be a good wife and companion to Al by the time I turned 45?
I was afraid. And further depressed. Yet in all of it I never felt alone because I KNOW there are other women, my age, older AND younger, who battle fatigue and blah-ness on a daily basis. It's an awful way to spend a day, much less months or years on end.
So I started tinkering with things, as I am wont to do when I am displeased with the current situation, whether it be in the kitchen, a relationship, or my cluttered and chaotic basement.
And something about my tinkering has made for a pretty dramatic night and day difference in me, mentally and physically, in just one little month.
In the interest of helping another Mama out there who is propped in front of her computer screen RIGHT THIS MINUTE feeling worn down, wiped out, pooped, weary, forlorn or any combination thereof to feel more energetic, happier, more hopeful, creative, patient, loving and/or vibrant, I'm going to tell you the few simple things I've changed over the past 6 weeks, all of which I suspect have worked together to get me out of my middle-aged slump and back into the land of the living.
1 - I've made getting enough sleep (8 hours a night, whether I feel like I can spare them or not) every single night a HUGE priority. This has meant giving up most night-time TV and a few late-night outings with The Girls so that I get to spend time with Al AND get some evening blogging done before I have to kiss each day goodnight. Now don't get me wrong, I still end up losing an hour of sleep here or there to a restless husband or a stuffy-nosed Bean, but I am making myself go to bed earlier so as to minimize the effect of these disturbances.
2 - I've sworn off Benadryl, which I have, in the recent past, taken in very small doses once a week or so as a sleep aid (I have chronic insomnia) AND an antihistamine for a weird rash I get all over my neck and shoulders every fall. Benadryl (and its generic cousins) even in teenytiny little amounts is, for me, a wonderful sleep aid, but also depresses my system for a full 24 hours after I take it, leaving me groggy, thick-headed and depressed. It does the same for Al, as well.
3 - I've significantly reduced my caffeine intake. By about half, I'd guess, or even more. This seemed backwards to me at first, but I realized after some pondering that perhaps part of the misery of the afternoon was caused by the plummet my system went into as the effects of the WACKY, INSANE amounts of caffeine I'd guzzled in the morning finally wore off. I now drink one 14 oz. cup of half-caff coffee in the morning, and do not touch another morsel of caffeine the rest of the day. Period. No matter how much sleep I've gotten the night before.
4 - I've been very diligent about my daily walks. I walk at least 5 times a week now, 3 miles at a rate of about 4 mph. Before this month I'd been walking sporadically and excusing myself from daily exercise for all sorts of silly reasons. NO excuses anymore. Bean goes with me. In her stroller. When it's too cold or rainy or whatever, I walk on the treadmill in the basement during naptime. Which stinks, but it must be done.
5 - I've doubled up on my daily multi-vitamin. It's supposed to be a one-a-day, but I'm taking one with breakfast and one at bedtime.
6 - I'm also taking a time-released B-12 supplement every morning with breakfast.
7 - And probiotics twice a day.
8 - And about 4000 mg of Vitamin C, a portion of that dosage with each meal.
9 - And a calcium supplement. A chocolatey chewy calcium supplement. YUM. (They say calcium helps the symptoms of PMS. Where did I read that? I can't remember. I'll see if I can find it again sometime.)
10 - I've started eating a little bit more meat again. Still very little red meat (maybe twice a month or so?) but more turkey and chicken. I think I eat meat about 5 times a week now, whereas I was down to 1 or 2 times over the summer.
11 - I'm trying to plan afternoons better. I'm planning a post for tomorrow about learning how to do crafts with Bean in a way that keeps us both happy and entertained for about half an hour. We craft after naptime. We're also starting to do short afternoon outings to the library, the local nursery, grocery, craft stores and so on. Her naps are shorter now so we have time to get these activities done before it's time to make dinner and get ready for Al's homecoming.
12 - And lastly, I've made an effort to very frugally update my fall-winter wardrobe with some pieces that fit well and complimentarily and can be easily mixed, matched and accessorized to create several easy, flattering and comfortable looks. (I'm going to be blogging about this phenomenon with a friend or two after the holidays - I think you're gonna like that series.)
I'm certain there are a few more things I've done, as well, but those are the biggies. I'm excited to be feeling, as a result, better than I have since well before I was pregant with Bean, day in and day out. I'm also pleased to whisper to you, out of the earshot of any men who may be reading, that Priscilla Maude Sybil and I just had the most pleasant visit that I can remember in all of our years of knowing one another. Just another happy and unexpected side-effect of the changes I've made... she seems to approve whole-heartedly, and y'all KNOW how hard she is to please!
What about you? How are you feeling lately, and do you have any secrets for keeping yourself peppy, energetic and full of life and love? If you do, I'd sure enjoy hearing about them!