Tuesday, November 6, 2007

And Then There's the Tub of Nutella®, Which I am Certain Played a Role As Well.

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!


  1. Any advice for a Mama whose baby is awake from 11pm to 4:30am nearly every night? ;)

  2. ummmm I think I am too tired to figure out where the Nutella fits in.....sigh.....yawn!

  3. Oh, I am so tired and sad these days - and The Baby is having SUCH boring days as her Mama just mopes around. I need to smarten up.

  4. I suppose you've checked with your doctor about taking TWO of your one a day vitamins? Missy.

    I like lots of your ideas

    xoxo Julie

  5. Those are all great tips! I need to work on the exercise one - I have such good intentions, and then fall off the bandwagon. I could also work on the amount of sleep I get. I am a night owl, but must get up at 5:30 for work.

  6. Wow--your article has so many great pick-me-up ideas! I am super vigilant about the kiddos' activity level and diet, but when it comes to me? I pretend cleaning is aerobic and subsist on handfuls of Halloween candy washed down with a lukewarm cuppa Joe. Thanks for the fantastic list--I'll get right on it!

  7. Hey!
    Just wonderin', where did you get your B12? Do they sell that over-the-counter? I know the B vitamins are harder to come by in a supplament, or at least they used to be!
    I like all your "helps" and boy do they help--the key is keepin' on, keepin' on, ya know? I hope you keep it up! God bless!
    Sarah T

  8. These are GREAT tips - I may try a couple myself!!!
    I'm a 40 something mom of a toddler also (with two older brother to boot).
    I regularly feel very, very tired and worn out. I saw on Oprah to take Omega 3 also and just started some of that.

  9. Great tips for a more wholesome lifestyle. I tend to have alot of build in energy but that is a blessing in itself. Its the exercise part that I need to really work on.

  10. Omega - 3 (yes, fish oil) for me! LOTS of veggies and protien. Once I figured out that my blood type does well with meat, I too, started eating more meat. You might want to check out EAT RIGHT FOR YOUR TYPE. I do not by any means stick to it but it has helped me make some positive diet changes.
    EXERCISE! That does it for me! I love my time ALONE. Not always easy getting to the gym butworth the fight.
    I find that I must laugh and goof off.
    7 to 8 hours of sleep is a must for me BUT tonight I must finish this 6 hour defensive driving video...uugh! I am not bitter!

  11. Well, when you say tinker, you mean TINKER! What a list! I'm cheering you on. The cutting back on caffeine has helped me a lot and I also take a Flintstone vitamin every morning with my Honey Nut Cheerios. I don't know if they work but they sure help me feel younger just takin' em. :)

  12. Amen sister. When I turned 40 I had the same epiphany. I am now 47 and feel great. I also only eat sugar in small doses; as well as, drink lots of water.

    Studies have shown that exercise is more effective than anti depressants in raising mood -levels. Plus a little omega 3 helps that as well.

    Great post.

  13. In the last 5/6 years I have tried to be health con. I joind Weight Watchers on line just to lose 10 lbs but learned a life time eating habits.
    Still struggling with trying to "learn" about myself I recently took note of how much fiber I get in a day. I was shocked when my SIL (who is studying nutrition) told me that a person needs an avg of 25, did you get that, "25" grams of fiber a day.
    I added a high fiber cereal to my diet and make a mental note of how many grams I get in a day
    I have learned (about myself) that if I dont get exercise (walking is my choice) I get drained extra fast.
    It seems like although all us 'woman' are totally unique individuals, We Are All The Same. Thanks for sharing your tinkering tips :)

  14. I too was curious about if it's safe to take 2 daily vitamins a day?

  15. Great tips, thanks for sharing! I'm guessing a little Nutella indulgence is also recommended, hence the title of your post? I'm 43, our boy is 7 and at Christian school all day, and I'm still tired--mostly from helping out with elderly relatives in the area. If you're an at-home mom whose kid is at school, the family assumes you have nothing to do all day...


  16. Great list! I too figured out that taking a small walk with the children once or twice a day really does make me feel better. And would you believe that I even began to lose a bit of weight on those small, slow walks! So, I was definitely happy about that.

  17. Walk, baby walk! That is my key in life. And if you've only started in the last week, you won't know yourself once the routine sets in. I am entirely a different person, in weight and mind, when I walk. It may get harder as Bean gets older--she might dislike sitting for an hour when she can be exploring, but persevere--you'll be glad you did. That and vitamens--my husband swears by them, but would I listen to him? Nooooo. But you , yes. So I will begin daily doses!! thx

  18. Rock on, Girlfriend! :)

    You gotta make changes that can last a lifetime. Healthy, good habits, not "tricks". I'd just add to the cautions about the mega-doses of vitamins.

    40-something women who are tired all the time should also get their thyroids checked!

  19. Oooooh interesting stuff! Glad to hear it's doing the trick for you and Mamabean is full to the brim with beans :)

    I'm particularly interested in the double dose vitamins idea. Was that just a hunch you had or was it recommended by someone? I to take the b-vitamins, fish oils, vitamin C and I've just put myself back on iron again after finally figuring out why I was feeling so tired and dizzy!

  20. You KNOW how I feel about WALKING! My best friend from high school (who majored once in college in some kind of physiology thing, another time, law school, no slouch educationally or intellectually, she) told me that aerobic exercise (power walking) causes the formation of endorphins which give you a natural high. Walking every day for years and years and now almost every day have created in me a constant stream of endorphins. Not to mention a change in metabolism that allows me to eat anything and everything I want without gaining weight. Occasionally (rarely) I have to make myself get out there to the pavement, but it only takes a few steps to make me so glad I'm out there! Anyway, I'll get off my soapbox and go out for a WALK! It's THE BEST investment you can make--a commitment to walk as often as you can! Guess who! (Aunt Joy)

  21. Yes indeed, my mother and my Aunt Joy (and their parents, my grandparents) have all set a wonderful, almost genetically-encoded example for my cousins, my sister and myself. They've all walked almost daily since I can remember and I've been following in their (literal, in many cases) footsteps since I was in college (and before, but not "officially.) In fact, as of last year I'd been taking regular walks and soakin' up those endorphins for 20 years! Two whole decades of healthy exercise and also amazing Thinking Time. Thanks family!

  22. Way to go on making some healthy changes in your life! Sounds like it is making a difference. Good for you!

  23. all I can think of at this moment is, how did I miss your birthday??

    was that when I was throwing up??

  24. My 95-year-old father was supposed to die several months ago. Hospice dropped him because he no longer qualified. (He has a serious heart condition and congestive heart failure -- he's very, very sick.) But he loves to garden and has all these projects that he needs to complete. He's got a checklist. He can't die until he's checked everything off of the list. The head nurse where he is says that he's outlived his body's capacity to live because of his enthusiasm for life and his will to live.

    Exercise, eat right, take those antidepressants, do whatever it takes to get your focus off of your feet and up into the sky -- where you can follow your dreams. Age is truly a state of mind.