The body knows what it needs

Listening to your body is something I believe in whole-heartedly, yet find so difficult to do. If there is one lesson in life I believe I have been put on earth to learn, it is this one. I seem to run into the same hurdles time and time again, and make similar mistakes time and time again. Thankfully, this year I do seemed to have turned a corner, especially where food is concerned, but generating, sustaining and conserving energy is still a challenge.

So yesterday I had to go home from work just after lunch with the beginnings of a migraine. If there is one positive from this story it is that I did, with a little help from insistent colleagues, listen to my body enough to prevent the migraine from hitting me full-throttle. I did not get to the out and out vomiting stage, but I did feel pretty nauseated all afternoon. Other than that, just the big, bad headache and light sensitivity that is typical of migraines. I didn’t sleep well the night before and was definitely very tired on my drive to work in the morning. By 9.30am I had a headache and despite efforts to nip it in the bud with copious amounts of water, a little plain food and a painkiller, it continued to build.

By midday I was feeling really off and my colleagues told me to go home and rest. I’m so glad I did. I was so fatigued that I just lay on the couch all afternoon and all evening, mostly with my eyes closed. I put on a Gilmore Girls DVD (Season 6 for those playing at home, the one where Rory drops out of Yale and she and Lorelai aren’t talking) and just let my body rest — which I believe was exactly what it needed. I have learnt time and time again that although there are many food and hormonal triggers for my migraines, there is also a more simple reasons: just being plain tired out. And pushing my body through the exhaustion has never worked for me (in fact, I believe it is a part of the reason I got thyroid cancer). My body is cleverer than my mind. It knows what it needs. When it needs to rest, if I’m not listening or if  I’m trying to talk it around to hang on a little longer and push a little harder it says ‘no’. Loudly. And sometimes its way of saying no is to give me a migraine so I spend 8 hours straight on the couch and then another 8-9 hours in bed asleep.

I have a hunch that your body knows what it needs too. Are you listening to it?

The agenda for June: less space, less stuff, more life!

I am sure I’m not the only one when I say that I can’t believe we are halfway through 2014 already! I’ll admit that the year has gotten away from me a little bit, and that is why I am using the month of June to really focus on getting a few things in my life sorted. I have a strong sense that I have let other people’s agendas take the lead in the last two months, which was sometimes unavoidable, but it’s time to get back to the things I’ve been putting off.

Food is still high on the list, but it seems to be ticking along nicely lately. I definitely still need to put a lot of time and effort into planning meals and especially on having enough food to get me through the day at work. However, in general, it no longer feels like a chore to be focusing on food.

The big two for me this month are declutter and de-stress. I know that the former will help immensely with the latter. Because I have been so, so busy this last few months I have definitely let the things, objects and stuff in my life get out of hand so decluttering and organising is needed fairly urgently. This is true at work and at home. In the past I have decluttered only one space, and found some reprieve in that but this time I plan to be thorough in my stripping back and organising of all areas of my life. Of course, moving house in the middle hasn’t helped. We haven’t yet completely finished unpacking but our new home is slowly taking shape. Most things are where I want them to be. My wardrobe is nice and organised now, which makes the bedroom feel like a much more calm and peaceful space. The home office is far from under control but it will be tackled this weekend.

At work I have been decluttering too, which is a scarily big job but I am making headway. It has meant the putting off of some non-urgent paperwork but I have always found the longterm benefit to my productivity that comes from getting organised to be worth it. It is a big task but I am making headway a little each day and it calms me as the spaces I work in become cleaner. My teacher flat is still a huge mess because I haven’t spent much time there other than to eat, shower and sleep since moving. Hopefully this will get taken care of early July when I have some time off from school. I want it done right so I need the time and space to fully devote to it and I am looking forward to doing that once I know exactly how much space left to fill there is in our new home.

This week I finally got a new handbag (a task which I had been putting off for weeks) and have vowed to never let it get as messy and cluttered as my old one. Minimalism is the word that I want to embody my new handbag. I deliberately bought a smaller one so that I couldn’t fit so much in and I am challenging myself to carry around less with me. I already feel happier when I look at it, not because it’s a new bag, but because it represents ‘less’ to me. I heard Oprah say once ‘less space, less stuff, more life!’ and I truly believe in this concept.

Decluttering is a big tool to help me reduce stress. It’s a time- and energy-consuming process but very worth it. I challenge you, dear readers, to declutter an area in your life and see if you don’t feel better afterwards. I find the process addictive and once one area is clutter-free, I tend to want to continue in other areas. Why not try clearing out your handbag and start carrying less stuff around with you everyday?

In praise of coconut oil

So it’s been a long time since I posted anything, and there’s a reason why, but that story is for another night. Right now, I simply want to rave a little bit about a recent discovery: coconut oil.

Ok, so I didn’t discover it and actually I’ve known of and used it in cooking for quite a while now. However, what I have recently discovered is its use as a skincare product.

I’ve always been a bit lazy with skin care. I was lucky to have pretty good skin growing up, and the occasional pimples I did get didn’t ever seem to be affected by the different creams and washes I tried as a teen. Occasionally this troubled me but for the most part it was and still is a low priority in my life. My worth does not lie in the unblemished-ness of my skin.

What I have always been drawn to, however, is the idea of a skin care routine. Whether this is because of the bombardment of advertising we are all exposed to these days (helped in large part by my over-consumption of daytime tv and its plethora of infomercials), the instructions in glossy magazines or simply because some part of me always loved the idea of pampering and self-care even before I realised how important it really was, I don’t know. Anyway, I tried and failed many times to follow a ‘cleanse, tone and moisturise morning and night’ routine. I was ok at the cleanse part and even frequently the moisturise part, although neither of these were never twice-a-day or even everyday occurrences. The tone part in particular was really a battle. I always found it kind of hurt my skin. Plus, it couldn’t be done in the shower and involved getting a cotton bud out of the drawer, so honestly who could be bothered? Eventually I just accepted that I was never going to be a toner or even a twice-a-day cleanser and I happily became a wash-my-face-in-the-shower-at-night kinda gal. I had a cleanser I really liked and I stuck with it. Problem solved, right?

Well not really. Towards the end of last year I started having a few more skin problems. I had a couple of facials to try to fix it and the beauty salon lady expertly talked me into a very expensive cleanser, and promptly up-sold me the very expensive exfoliating scrub. I used them semi-regularly and put my less-than-amazing skin down to the fact that I was too lazy to follow the routine strictly. Then in February after I went off The Pill, I began to break out a lot more. I tried both this fancy new, very harsh face wash and my old regular to no avail. My skins was getting worse but I put it down to stress and hormones and reminded myself, quite successfully, that my worth does not lie in external and arbitrary ideas of physical beauty. It was a minor annoyance and I decided not to worry too much.

Until two weeks ago when my girlfriend told me she’s been using coconut oil as a cleanser. I thought it sounded really nice. I’ve been doing lots of learning of late about all the bad things added to our personal care products and had already figured out that the very expensive and very strong cleanser sold to me by the beauty salon was probably not that good for me. I liked the idea that the products in your kitchen could/should also be the products in your bathroom cabinet. I had been actually about to buy a very expensive absolutely-no-bad-chemicals-included face wash but I’m glad my laziness/frugality prevented me because this coconut oil is much cheaper — and it WORKS!

First up, it just feels/smells great and is really simple. Just smooth a bit of coconut oil (extra virgin and organic of course) on your face and leave it for a minute. Then wet a washer in hot water and wipe your face. That’s it. You’re done. My friend tells me she then uses apple cider vinegar as a toner and then a very thin layer of coconut oil as a moisturiser, but as we already know, I can’t be bothered with toning and if you don’t scrub too hard you don’t actually need another layer of coconut oil to moisturise.

I was sold after the first time I tried this purely because it smells so amazing and left my skin feeling really nice — not dry and not too greasy either. The hot towel over the face, when left for a few moments before wiping the coconut oil off, also is a nice sinus clearer and a little moment for a mini-meditation. It also feels like a mini spa treatment every single time, which is what has kept me going back morning and night EVERY DAY FOR TWO WEEKS! This in itself is a major achievement and even if the results hadn’t been spectacular, I like the ‘me time’ feeling it’s giving me so I probably would have kept going anyway. But within  week my face was ten times better. I am so sold on this that I just wanted to tell the whole world. And since I’d been sort of procrastinating getting back into blogging, I figured this would make the perfect come-back post.

So there you have it. I’m coco-loco. I have since learned via the magic interwebs that you can use coconut oil for all kinds of awesome home-made skin care: deodorant, soap, mouthwash, hair treatments…just google and you will see.

Give it a try, I think you’ll like it. I can’t get enough!