There are a lot of times in life when circumstances are completely out of our control (hello, Covid-19!), and it’s easy to get swept up in the lack of control and just let everything fall apart. We let ourselves feel overwhelmed and helpless against everything, instead of focusing on the things that ARE within our grasp to control and maintain.The crazy thing is, clinging to the small things is actually what will help keep our world centered in the midst of it all.
Last summer found our family in the midst of a military move across the Pacific, from Hawaii to Kentucky, and facing two months of hotel living and three months without our household goods. Living in a hotel room with four children ages 2, 4, 15 and 16, a cat, an incontinent dog, and my husband certainly made me feel like I was going to crawl right out of my skin and lose my mind at times.
To be honest, my first instinct when I realized how long it was going to be before we had a home again was to spend the summer eating ice cream and all the takeout that would deliver to the hotel in the midst of Covid. That may have been comforting for a little while, but I recognized where that would get me by the time we were able to move into our next home: twenty pounds heavier and miserable (and needing a new wardrobe!). I wouldn’t have been at my best for myself or my family.
Rather than react to what was happening, I opted to strategize a bit by asking myself the question: “What can I control?” The answer was: what I fed my family over this season, what I ate, and my exercise. Outside of that, there was very little I could control, but those three things are what I knew would help me cling to my sanity and give me something to focus on each day of our (very extended) hotel stay. These three points of control can apply to so many crazy seasons of life, and make all the difference how we come out on the other side of the crazy. How we make them happen depends on our personal situation, but it IS doable. For me, here is how I made it happen:
- Easy Dinners
- Meal Planning
- Self Care (aka ME time)
I came up with some easy dinners that I could make in the instant pot and air fryer for a few days at a time, since we had a tiny fridge. Placing Walmart grocery pickup orders kept me from having to take all the kids grocery shopping! When I say I did easy dinners, I mean EASY. Like a chopped salad kit and one-pot instant pot meal; taco meat that we could make rice bowls/tacos with (perfect for leftover lunches), pork tenderloin and pre-made mashed potatoes. I kept it simple and always had fruit and/or veggies on the side.
I planned my macros for the day the night before once the kids were asleep for the night (some nights it seemed like they were NEVER going to settle down…four kids and two beds was FUN I tell ya!). I ALWAYS calculated for an evening reward once it was calm and quiet…chocolate, a G2G bar, fancy coffee…whatever sounded good (and yes, ice cream on occasion!).
I prioritized getting out for a run early before my husband went to work each morning (yeah, he got to escape the crazy days in the hotel room with kids!!). I did pushups and lunges in a corner of the hotel parking lot and cooled down before heading back to the room and tagging out with my husband. Getting that fresh air and movement helped me get my mind right for the day ahead. I could pray, meditate, thank God for my hotel room full of kid blessings and head back in with a grateful heart!
Focusing on those three small-but-mighty things made ALL THE DIFFERENCE in my mental state over the summer! My weekly check-ins with Coach Kirstin were literally life-giving and kept me accountable to my goals. Having her to report back to was the best thing ever…each week she would encourage me and it would put wind in my sails to keep pressing on. By the time our next home was ready to move into, I was feeling strong and accomplished and ready to tackle the next crazy season of getting our family moved in and settled into a new home and surroundings. Not only did I NOT gain the 10-15 pounds I typically do with each military move cycle, I had dropped a few pounds and improved/built muscle tone over those months. It felt incredible!As I started finding our new normal in our new home, it was easy to continue tracking my macros and making dinner for the family because I had already been doing it all summer. It was just a natural continuation of habits already formed, thankfully with a full-sized fridge and stove now!The thing is, there are ALWAYS going to be hard seasons that challenge us and life will feel overwhelming. It is tempting to put our health on the back burner because it does take a certain amount of our mental capacity to prioritize it, but often we come out of the season weaker and with even less desire to make the change because now we are even further from our goal than before. If we always push off focusing on our health and nutrition until it feels like a better/easier/insert-your-excuse-here time, that time will never come. We just have to decide that it matters and is important, and then ACT LIKE it matters and is important!! Although it can seem overwhelming during the first few weeks, over time tracking macros becomes second nature. Before you realize it, you’re be rocking the macro lifestyle because it’s just part of who you are, and you don’t have to put hardly any mental energy into it. The whole point of tracking macros is fueling your body with what it needs to perform well, by feeding it balanced nutrition that powers you through your days and weeks. It’s not about obsessing about every bite you put in your mouth, but about giving you food freedom in making the choices that benefit you the most and make you feel and be your best for yourself and others.