How to Love Yourself

Sometimes I come at life from the wrong angle, especially when it comes to taking care of myself, and I’m sure many of you can relate! This is partly why exercising regularly, for example, is difficult for me. Instead of thinking “I love and respect my body enough to take care of it” and viewing exercise as a way to love myself, I think “I had better get out there and run or I’m a failure at life.” Like I said, the wrong angle. And I have to remind myself of this often.

So! Reminding myself and you, here are some ways to love yourself, respect yourself, and treat yourself well. We’re worth it. ❤ ❤ ❤

  1. drink more water! the cells in your bod will thank you.
  2. exercise more! but make it fun (dancing, playing a sport). endorphins = yay.
  3. eat well! love yourself enough to only put good things into your body, not low-key poison (MSG, anyone).
  4. connect with nature! give your cells some vit-D, give your lungs some fresh air, and remind yourself that you’re a human being with a soul, not a robot. be outside and listen to the trees and the wind and the birds.
  5. do fun things for the sake of them! not everything has to have a point. color because you like coloring. bake because you like baking. garden because you like gardening.
  6. know your self-care things! maybe it’s sitting down for half an hour with herbal tea and a magazine. maybe it’s knitting. maybe it’s making soap. it doesn’t really matter what it is-just figure it out and then do it daily. you deserve to be taken care of, and who better to take care of you than you?
  7. get more/better sleep! there are several things you can do to improve your sleep quality, and beyond that, make sure you’re sleeping enough. don’t skimp on sleep for anything. the rule of thumb is, the more stressed and busy you are, the more important sleep becomes.
  8. eliminate the bad stuff! take a look at who you spend the most time with, and what you spend the most time reading or thinking about. I’m not saying be in denial, I’m just saying that you’re no one’s trash can. don’t allow yourself to be one. you. deserve. more.

Do you have any other self-love or self-care tips?

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Thursday Thoughts: Breathe

We forget so quickly that we’re human. We want to be machines who can smoothly and efficiently get up early, work, clean, and go to sleep again. Like robots. Like clocks, just ticking away the time. We forget that we have beating hearts and rushing blood and souls that need desperately to breathe. It goes against the way the world works to take time to be still and calm. To take time to rest. To take time to breathe life back into yourself, and more importantly, to have Life breathed back into you by the One who made us the way we are.

When you’re busy and tired – breathe. When you feel like you just can’t anymore – breathe. When you feel lost and confused and overwhelmed – breathe. Do the thing that makes no sense. That is what it means to love yourself, and if you can’t love yourself, you’re not going to be able to really love other people. The whole “love your neighbor as yourself” thing is a coin with two sides, and we like to ignore the second part.

So today, breathe. Just breathe.

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The Beginning, and Some Honest Thoughts

NaNoWriMo begins tonight at midnight! As usual, I will be taking a nap this afternoon so that I’m fresh and ready for 50k Day One. I have managed to convince a few others from my region to join me, so we’ll see how we fare. If you want to follow my progress, you can do so here, as I am planning to update the sheet every hour. Here is last year’s, for comparison 🙂 We will also be tweeting and instagramming under the hashtags #50kKillMeNow and #50kDayOne, so feel free to follow there as well (my handle on both is africanstardust, big shocker). As always, encouraging messages throughout the day are so appreciated and I love you all for sending them! I may not reply right away (because the typing) but believe me, I read every one.

I’ve realized over the past few days how much NaNoWriMo has gotten me through. I do it because I love it, yes, but it means so much more to me than that. The first year I did it I was so isolated and alone because of extenuating circumstances, and it gave me a beautiful community of random strangers who made the effort of checking my blog to encourage me and urge me on. Two years ago, I was dealing with emotional trauma and feeling like my whole world had fallen apart, and NaNoWriMo was literally the bridge that helped me get to the other side. And this year, I’ve had so many ups and downs, the accident, feeling utterly overwhelmed with academics, and dealing with depression and hopelessness.

NaNo is the time of the year when we give ourselves a gift: the gift of permission to lose ourselves in writing. It’s when we set other things aside and look after our creative souls and make time for this precious, beautiful thing, no matter how busy we are. It has played a huge part in restoring me to myself in the past, and I hope that, wherever you are and whatever you’re going through, it does the same for you. Let yourself sink into the beauty of what writing is and what it means for your soul. Allow yourself to grow and push and go to new places you haven’t been before. Set yourself free. So, from me to you: happy writing.

Veronique / africanstardust

Veronique’s Life Adventures, Continued

At this moment, I am sitting on a barstool without a backrest at a high counter with a table easel to put my work on because it hurts to bend forward and write like a normal human being. I am wearing a brace that goes around my neck and torso. The skin on my jaw and chin is red and irritated and on the verge of becoming a raw wound because of the brace. My back did not take into account when it fractured that I am in the last semester of my Honours year with four huge essays, two huge tests, and a giant thesis still before me. It apparently didn’t think things through properly. The horse that threw me off also did not take any of this into consideration (thanks a lot, Lady).

But. This is life, isn’t it? Things like this don’t happen if you’re just spending your life sitting on the couch. This happened because I am living. I am doing things. I am making my life as adventurous and full as I can. And that is not something that I will ever regret or wish away. So even though I am intensely frustrated, very super duper behind with my work, and planning a ceremonial Burning of the Brace when this plastic and foam creature can finally come off, I am thankful. Thankful that I just missed landing on my neck, thankful that this isn’t permanent, thankful for all the amazing people who visited me in the hospital (aka the Pit of Awfulness), for how amazingly helpful my friends and family have been, and thankful that this happened because I am living my life to the full. I am thankful for so many things that if I were to list them all, this would be a novel, not a blog post. And so the frustrations, while they are huge and my current reality, will pass eventually and somehow I will catch up with my work and everything will be okay.

Everything will be okay in the end. That’s all I know.

How I Bant

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This is not a food or health blog, but I have shared the occasional health related post, and since this is an important one that’s what’s happening today.

Let me start by saying that I am not overweight, and I generally eat pretty healthy (at least according to generally taught nutritional standards). However, I have been tired my whole life, have had IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) since I was 8 or 9, and lately have been struggling with energy and concentration. After watching some videos and reading some very real positive experiences with Banting, I thought, what the heck, nothing else is working, so I might as well try it.

Banting (recently made popular by the very controversial Tim Noakes) is a high fat, medium protein, low carb way of eating. No sugar, no grains or legumes, and no processed foods. It is commonly misunderstood by people as a high protein diet (like the Atkins diet), but this is a misconception: protein is not the priority – fat and vegetables are.

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I’m not going to go into the science of Banting or the controversy surrounding it, because a simple Google search will give you lots of reading material on that. What I will do is tell you about my personal experience so far. I was at the point where I had about 4 good hours in a day, and the rest of the time I felt tired, sluggish, blurry-eyed, and foggy-headed. I would have to take an hour or two long nap after lunch and I drank coffee all throughout the day in an attempt to keep myself awake. My concentration was terrible and getting my mountain of work done was a challenge.

From day one of eating this way, my energy has been ridiculous. The first two nights I actually had trouble falling asleep and I woke up a few times during the night because of all the excess energy. My eyes feel like they’re wide open all the time and they’re back to their lovely, sparkly selves. I no longer have to snack all day long or combat unstable blood sugar. I’m not the least bit tired until late evening, and even then sometimes it feels strange that I have to go to bed. My concentration is absolutely unreal: I started Banting during what is normally termed ‘Hell Week’ at UCT and on the first day I worked for six hours before I looked at my watch and realized I’d been working for that long. In short, I feel amazing. Even my anxiety is better – everything just feels stabilized and more normal than it’s been for me in a very long time. And I don’t miss the sugar.

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I strongly suggest that you read the arguments for and against Banting before you jump in, but do ask yourself who benefits from speaking out against it: sugar, diets/diet food, and medicine are massive industries and they all take a giant blow when people start being truly healthy. Do some research about how the traditional food pyramid was developed, and by who. Think for yourself. If you come to the conclusion that this is all nonsense and that everyone doing this will die of renal failure and heart problems in five years, that’s fine – I came to the conclusion that this is the way to go for me, and my experience so far has confirmed it.

bb1I don’t eat any of the “replacement” Banting foods like the bread, crackers, etc. My day typically consists of the following, plus 1 or 2 cups of coffee in the morning and black rooibos tea or water throughout the day:

Breakfast: 1 avocado, along with 3-4 pieces of bacon and 3 scrambled eggs fried in about 2 tablespoons of butter.
Lunch: a thing of the past.
Afternoon snack (only some days, usually if I didn’t have enough salt in the morning): a small piece of feta cheese or another avocado.
Dinner: 1 palm sized protein such as salmon, chicken (with the skin on), or a nice, fatty chop, and at least 2 cups of low-carb vegetables (often broccoli cooked in butter, some tomatoes, and occasionally half a gem squash).

This is a good Facebook group if you are just starting out or have any questions.

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Happy and sparkly, with the energy to actually live life instead of just chugging along.