I can’t go. I don’t have time. Too much to do. He’s at it again. Argh! Sink is full of dishes. I am way too tired. Piles of laundry. Does this sound familiar? I bet it does.
When Jeff and I were primary caregivers for an FASD teenager – life took a backseat. More particularly, our health and for me, my waist
My relationship with food and distaste for the gym didn’t start when I was a caregiver, but how could battle my weight when I was just barely hanging on with work and life? Food was my friend and I just didn’t have time for the gym. That’s just the way it was.
When I reflect back on my experience as a caregiver to a young person with FASD, I see how my unhealthy choices put me right back where I started – chubby and unhappy with my self image. See, I should mention that before we took on the role as a caregiver I had been focusing on my health and was even able to lose almost 50lbs. Well, as you can imagine, living with someone with FASD, no respite and little training was a recipe for disaster and a reunion with forty of those pesky pounds I fought so hard to lose.
How did I end up back in a stretchy pair of cotton pants with an elastic waist? Well, in my case, I was still working a full time job – with at-risk youth, none the less. I was working shift work and actually using my job as respite. So silly. No respite left me irritable, tired, full of stress and looking to avoid home, which naturally took me out to eat. However, I wasn’t eating out alone all the time. When Jeff and I took on the role of caregivers, we had no freakin’ idea how important respite was and just how much we took it for granted. Because Jeff and I had only so much time to use as respite when we were able to receive support, we would go on dinner dates. It seemed simple enough. No one had to cook and it would give us an opportunity to hang out, chat, catch up, whatever. Ya – over deep fried this, au gratin that. As if we were about to make smart food choices – we deserved this treat! Didn’t we!?
At home wasn’t always better. As you all know, those living with FASD often have a temperamental palette or crave fatty, salty foods. Well, our young guy was certainly one of those. If he was having pizza, so were we. When I couldn’t get him to go along with something or do something I wanted – we bargained with chicken wings, pop and BBQ Lays. I was seriously desperate.
And the gym? Ya right. I wanted to sleep!
Because I could chat about my journey to better health forever, I need to fast forward a few years. Although we are no longer the primary caregivers of an FAS youth, Jeff and I are still very involved with the fas/d community and working on the front lines. As well, in my day job I am a Community Mental Health Counsellor and work with youth who have been diagnosed with a mental illness. And because of the experiences that I have gained as a primary caregiver, I am better prepared to support the young people I work with and their circle of care.
So, what changed? Well, as you know I’ve successfully lost weight twice now, but have been more successful this time in keeping it off and making health my priority. The first time I lost weight and really began to learn about food and nutrition was with Weight Watchers. I loved it. It took some time in the beginning to learn about all of the elements of the program, but soon after I was a whiz with counting points and making better choices. Even better was that I managed to lose 50lbs. But, this time around my focus has changed and I am trying to learn more about natural foods and less preservatives. I don’t have to count points, which is helpful with a super busy lifestyle and I have gained a new appreciation for good healthy food. I am just as excited now for healthy snacks as I used to be for a Big Mac. Seriously!
You can do this, too! If you start to make any changes at all, you will see a difference. You can be a more happy and healthy caregiver. And maybe even get into a smaller pair of pants while you are at it. J Since I have been focusing on my own health and eating more natural foods I can honestly say I sleep better, my mood is more balanced, I crave less fatty foods and sugary snacks and just feel lighter on my toes.
Here are five changes that I made –
1. Drink water! And then drink more.
2. Focus on protein and fibre. These foods will keep you fuller, longer. A few of my personal faves are: apples and nut butter, rice crackers with salsa and hummus or veggies and guacamole.
3. Natural protein bars. When I don’t have time for a real meal, I take a natural protein bar (like Elevate Me!) and a piece of fruit and that will hold me over til my next meal.
4. I eat breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner. I have one more snack if I had an evening work out.
5. Consider working with a professional. I began working with a Naturopathic Doctor and this has really been the key to my success. I attended a clinic in Mississauga, ON called Zawada Health and met the most amazing Naturopathic Doctor, Carol Morley. She has been teaching me about foods that make me feel fuller and more balanced and that seriously taste awesome. I have even completed three natural food detoxes and they have been the real change maker. On my first detox I lost 8lbs in two weeks. If you are at all interested in completing a detox, please check out Carol’s book – The Delicious Detox. It takes you step by step on everything you need to do to complete the detox – from grocery shopping to meal planning. In fact, she provides you with a two week meal plan. The meals are great and I am sure your family will love them too! Completing a detox would really kick start your new lifestyle – ask Jeff, he’s even completed two of the detoxes with me! Remember, this would only be a two week commitment!
Here’s to a new year! I hope you are able to focus on your health and reach your goals – whether it is to get back into that favourite dress or to maintain your current weight.
Whatever you decide, make it fun.
Call To Action:
I love talking about my health journey and if you do too, please share and come be my friend on facebook. We can motivate eachother. What health tips and tricks do you use? Do you have a great recipe or food idea that is both healthy and your kids like?