This is Lupa the Immortal. Well, technically speaking this is an offspring of Lupa the Immortal, my sourdough starter which came in to being in the very early days of writing this blog (read more in ‘Sourdough, the worlds slowest bread‘).
Lupa spends most of her time in the fridge, slowly fermenting… sometimes she’s really active, bubbling away, being fed and nurtured, and sometimes she’s so forgotten, that when I come to her she needs a little TLC before she’ll produce a healthy offspring…
The reason I’m using my bread as an analogy in a post about health is two-fold. One, that (if you read the original blog post you’ll see) I prefer to cut out the additives, preservatives, bulking agents and sugar that many commercial bread products come laden with, and make my own bread instead. And two, that I see this simple sourdough starter bloom when nourished and cared for and fade when it’s needs are not being met. It reminds me of how I so often feel. It’s only been through taking care of others (my children, dog, sourdough, houseplants etc…) that I’ve learned to take care of myself. I can see the link between them being happy, active and vibrant little beings, and me, having taken care of myself and with energy to give. On the flip side if my energy is depleted and I’m feeling like I can’t give them the time they need, their well-being is affected and we all fall in to a bit of a murky puddle for a while, house-plants wither, the sourdough stops bubbling and the children moan and play-up.
I was inspired to write this morning because I’ve just been to a friend’s Pilates class. She and her husband (who’s an Osteopath), picked me up at the bottom of a ‘black dog’ time. Following the birth of my second child, and a family trauma I had debilitating back pain and depression. On the Osteo’s advise I went to Pilates. I went religiously, every week for a number of years. It helped my back pain, and eventually I realised how unhappy I was.
Giving up a career to raise children was my choice, but with that choice came a loss of identity, a confidence crisis and a sense of worthlessness, because for such a long time I’d thrived on having paid employment, regular appraisals and adult colleagues who valued my experience, time and education. It turned out that my small children couldn’t care less about any of that stuff and I struggled to define who I was, and how that mattered in the world. Cue a period of my life in which my health suffered. Physically and emotionally.
But, with a regular Pilates practice my back was improving and I began to understand how important physical strength was going to be for me if I was to keep the back pain away for good. Here’s where we got a dog! A little Black Dog, who needed a whole lot of love, and nurture and a lot of exercise. I walked her every day, I fed her and groomed her and the more that I took care of her the happier I became… and the healthier for that matter. Spending an hour a day in Esher Common come rain or shine was refreshing, and revitalising. Walking improved my health and here began an upward spiral…
In feeling better about myself I wanted to make healthier food choices, in being more active I had more energy and in maintaining those habits I maintained a state of relative health and happiness, which is not to say I don’t blow out on chocolate and have a good cry, I certainly do but manage to bounce back pretty quickly. But I also understand that my unhealthy habits led to dis-ease within myself, and poor nutritional choices, and a lack of energy or will to improve things. So back to the blog title, and here they are… my reasons to be healthy:
Reasons to be healthy:
1) Physical activity is toning and energising. Just enough physical activity leaves you feeling energised. My choices are walking, Yoga and Pilates, they’re gentle enough to not feel depleting but challenging enough to get the blood pumping and the muscles engaged.
2) Healthy eating is balancing. Cutting out the additives and preservatives gives the liver less work to do in breaking them down and processing (thus more energy), and less sugar and refined food leads to less crashes of blood sugar and the energetic slumps and cravings that causes.
3) Self-love and nurture, knowing when I need a bar of chocolate and a knowing when I need a walk. Resting and getting an early night or going out with girlfriends are all part of knowing what my needs are and meeting them. In meeting my needs I’m more primed to meet the needs of those around me… and that in itself makes me feel like a valuable human being.
Most importantly I understand how tough it can be to feel fit and well. I’m not fit and healthy for any other reason than I apply myself to that cause, for my own good and for the good of those around me. It’s a choice I make, every day, over and over again. It’s even become a career choice (more in Yoga). In the words of ‘The Smiths’:
“I am human and I need to be loved, just like everybody else does”
This blog isn’t about being virtuous, or performing yoga brilliantly, it’s about accepting the whole remit of the human experience, and about integrating those ‘Black Dog’ days in to Living well… Vitality for life. For everyone human, especially those of you who find it hard. I know I’m one of them… Give yourself a little love and nurture see where it leads…