Over eight years ago we brought home our little girl from the NICU. She suffered a severe brain injury when she was born prematurely and her journey includes cerebral palsy, epilepsy, vision impairments, and global developmental and mental delays. It’s a lot. From giving her water using a g-tube to keeping an eye out for falling and seizures, I understand what it means to be the caregiver.
My mother passed away from multiple sclerosis over eight years ago. I watched my dad become her caregiver and the wear on his mind and body was real. It's a common experience for anyone that is a caregiver. I want to have a heart-to-heat with you about these issues and I want to give you some hope. I don’t think you are meant to live in a way that is unhealthy to your body, mind, and soul. So, let's dive into some common challenges caregivers face and how we can address those challenges in a healthy way.
1. The first challenge is time. Caregivers are usually on the schedule of whoever they are watching over. If they aren’t sleeping we aren’t sleeping. If they need to go to the hospital or see the doctor, then that is what we are doing too. And here comes the lie of the enemy that keeps you from fighting for you’re own health: You don’t have the time. But, that isn’t true. For most caregivers there are hours of quiet moments and just being there with those people. There is usually time to do something active like get on a stationary bike or walk in place or do some stretches. We can still get up and make sure we drink enough water or eat an apple instead of a cookie. There is time.
2. I have to not be “on duty” to take care of myself. Caregiving is often so focused on taking care of their loved one, that for some odd reason they think they have nothing left for themselves. I think it is another one of those lies that has the Devil’s stink all over it. Yes, we are empty, pouring ourselves out as we take care of others, but, we don’t have to wait to be “Off duty” to stop and breath, or read a devotional, or listen to music that lifts our soul. If we change that mindset we can start looking for ways to take care of ourselves even while we are watching over others.
3. It is all on our shoulders. This is a heavy, heavy weight. More than anything, it is where a lot of the pressure and stress comes from, the idea that this is all on us and we are doing it alone. Stress epically raises cortisol levels which then messes with many physical areas of our life including weight loss and sleep quality. One of the best decisions I made as Micaela’s mom, was saying yes to respite care. I waited too long. She was over two years old before I decided I needed help, but just knowing that I wasn’t doing it alone made a huge difference. Then, letting other people into our lives like grandparents and teachers has lightened the load significantly. Lastly, God is with us. He hasn’t asked us to care for them perfectly or have all the answers. When we rest in Him we really rest.
Today, if you are a caregiver, I want you to notice you have believed the three lies I mentioned: You don’t have time, you have to be “off duty” to take care of yourself, and it is all on your shoulders. Challenge those thoughts and ask yourself, how is this not true? What am I refusing to do?
Now, before we go today, I want to be honest with you. I struggled with my health physically, mentally, and emotionally for a while. One of the biggest issues was exhaustion. Exhaustion that came from deep in body, mind, and heart. I really did not have the strength to move forward until I broke down those three lies and started to take care of myself even while I was “on duty” and life was chaotic. I invited others into my life and let them shoulder the burdens with me and my husband. So, I want to challenge you to do the little things that bring you peace and rest and honor the precious task God has given you. And then, I want you to pace with courage as you make little changes. Make small and consistent healthy habit changes that you can stick to and then add to over time. You’ll get there.
Whew! I’m so glad I did this episode. If you know a caregiver that needs some direction and encouragement today, I want you to share this episode.
Just a few minutes ago my phone made a very recognizable tone and I knew I needed to check in with my daily reset practice. I stopped, I did my five minutes of journaling, then I got back to work. On the app on my phone I can see a streak of several days that I have followed through with the habit.
What is habit tracking?
Habit tracking is simply keeping track of how many days, weeks, or months in a row that you have followed through with a specific habit.
Why would you want to do that?
Installing new habits reminds me of roads I see out in the pastures. I’m a farm girl and these roads cut into the pasture because the farmer or rancher has driven there so many times that the weeds and grass no longer grow in the ruts. That is the way habits work too. If you do the same thing over and over, that will be the easiest road to take and the old roads will get overgrown, making them difficult to go back to. Every Time you do that new habit you're paving the new path and letting old habits fade away. Consistency is key, but it can be very hard to see. No one really notices if you remember to do your breathing exercises once a day or take the dog out for a walk. You might not even really know how well you are following through with that habit unless you have some way to track it. That is what we are talking about today. Today I’ve got 8 helpful hacks to allow you to start keeping track of your habits like a professional.
Whew! I hope 1, 2 or even five of those hacks are something that you can put in place right away and start doing to enjoy progress in your goals. I’m so excited for what you are working on. And, could you do me a favor? If you try out any of these hacks or tips, could you share them on social media and tag me? For both Facebook and Instagram my handle is Armendariz.Lora and it would mean the world to me to see what you are doing with these ideas.
Okay, that’s it for now. But, before you move on to the exciting and amazing doings of your life, it would really mean a lot to me if you would write a review. It doesn’t have to be long but it will help others find this podcast and I really believe we can all use more positivity in our lives.
Before we get started today I want to tell you something really special about you: You are continuously growing. Yeah, you. You are growing and changing until the day you move on to Heaven. And, here is something else: God knows all the days of your life and has a plan for you. So, with that in mind, let's start dropping the f-bomb. No, not that one, we are going to talk about failure.
What is a failure? According to the Oxford online dictionary, failure is defined as the lack of success. Okay, I am going to tell you that secret I promised you: Get a little closer. Failure is only your thought. Truly. Failure is when you see your goals as black and white and you leave out all that gray area, which I like to call “the growing”, in between. To truly failure-proof your goal, you will want to change your mindset. Why? Well, studies show that people who aren’t afraid of failure and concentrate on growth tend to be more persevering, motivated, and , yep, successful. So, I’m going to give you three mindset shifts today that will truly failure-proof your goal.
Okay! Do you feel like you just got pep-talk from someone who loves you! I hope you did. Bookmark this episode for that day that you are feeling discouraged or in order to share with a friend when they share their own struggles with you. I once read that God loves to see things grow, that’s why we aren’t perfect now. He loves doing this journey with us.
Alright, before we part ways for the day, I want to humbly request that you take a moment and leave me that review. It doesn’t have to be long at all. A single sentence would be fabulous. It is just a way for you to really serve others by helping them find this Christ-centered work for their own precious journey.
Ok, my dear, I’ve got New Year resolutions, too. I go through this very intense, very nerdy process every year where I take a lifescore assessment developed by Michael Hyatt, I go over my life plan (yes, I have one), and then I set about seven goals for the year hitting different areas of my life. This year, one that I’m both excited and nervous about is starting to do daily Bible study time with my daughters. My eldest was baptized last summer and she is so curious and anxious to know more about her Savior. I actually had to get help on this one and reached out to a youth ministry leader to ask for ideas and she suggested a little routine we could do everyday.
I’m excited. I have lots of motivation. This is an area that as a parent I would really like to dig-in and do a little better. What I don’t want to happen is that come June I have a vague memory of the concept and a dusty children's Bible to show for this dream of studying alongside my daughter.
Real change is hard. We know that. So, if you really want to stay the course, I suggest that you follow the four steps to holding on to this motivation and reaching that goal that you are hoping for.
1. Write down your why.
Your why is so important. The big picture “why” for your goal might be front and center now, but when you really get into the weeds of this journey, you might not remember why you are going through all this trouble, unless you write it down. On episode number 23 of this podcast, “Your Why is Wonderful '' I went into this in more detail. But, for now, I just want you to get a pen and paper and explain why you have set this goal. For me, when it is tiring or my little girls are being difficult, I want to remember that I am teaching them how to study God's word and keep His truths central in their lives. Also, it keeps a doorway of communication open as we go into some of the more difficult years of their life.
2. Share your journey.
Yes, ma’am. Share. It. Tell someone. Have someone checking in on you, curious about your progress. You could make it fun and share it on social media or even blog about it. Or, you could just have a trusted friend or spouse keeping you accountable. This is key. Not only does it give you a little push to keep going, it also gives you a place or person to ask for help or advice when things aren’t going well. I am going to stay accountable to the youth ministry leader that I mentioned earlier. Plus, I have the extra bonus of doing this with my girls. I’m not alone.
3. Decide on a Celebration
This one is soooooo cool and I see it skimmed over time and again. When you write down your why, I also want you to write down a celebration. This also means you have to have a measurable point that you either get to or don’t. This can get tricky with habits, so I want you to consider using some sort of streak tracking. This means that everyday or time you do it you mark it in an app or calendar. Then you decide what streak you need to feel you have established that new practice. I’m actually going to sit down with my girls and have them help me with this. On the day that I’m recording this episode it is still 2022 and they are with their amazing grandparents so I figure we can figure it out together when they get home.
4. Make a plan for fall-downs
I hate to break it to you but neither you nor your life are perfect. What?! You knew that? Well, then, you shouldn’t be surprised, angry, or frustrated when you mess up. What you should have is a plan. Are you going to let your accountability partner know and be willing to discuss what happened? Are you going to go through the KISS method and discuss what about your process you want to keep, improve, start, or stop? You have to have an idea of what you will do whenever you fail or fall down. So many of us just stop and wait until the next year to try again while in the meantime they could learn from what happened and still make all their dreams and goals a reality.
Okay, my friend, you’ve got this! Today, yes, today, I want you to take these 4 steps. I want you to write down your why, share your journey, set up a celebration, and make a plan for fall-down. Believe me, you will be on much firmer footing if you do.
Happy New Year! I used to always be on the lookout for a diet plan, book, or weight loss program that would help me reign in my chaotic eating. There are tons to choose from. Sometimes they would help me shed my weight, but within a few months I was looking for the next diet. It was an endless circus. It wasn’t until I found life coaching and did the deep work of permanent weight loss, that I realized why fad diets don’t work. Let me break them down for you and tell you what you can do at home to get different results.
Now, don’t get me wrong, eating in truly healthy ways consistently is doable for anyone, but it usually doesn’t happen on January 1st just because you decided to go Whole 30. Fad diets carry this mentality of either being “in” or “out”, “on” or “off” and they don’t give us that loving space to grow and change in a way that is enduring and life-changing.
Want the hack? Change your mindset. Focus on meals that are sustainable for you. Think about the way things taste and how you can still have your meals with your family. For me, I stopped cooking the special food, but I have made tons of changes over time to the dishes I cook. I use mostly whole grains, lean meats, and lots of fruits and veggies. When I make my plate with my family, it is usually at least half fruits or vegetables but I don’t make meals just for me anymore.
Here’s what to do, start noticing your body before, during, and after you eat. Before you eat, ask if you are really physically hungry. While you eat, pay attention to textures and flavors and ask if you are enjoying your food. After you eat, notice changes in energy and digestion issues. All that is great information that will help you keep diet changes sustainable and give more success in your weight loss.
The hack is simple and yet also hard work: you need to deal with your real issues. Are you a recent empty-nester who eats because you don’t know what to do with your extra time? Get a hobby. Meet a friend for coffee. Go to bed! Or, are you a busy mom who is turning to goldfish in the pantry or even a glass of wine to take the edge off at the end of the day? Give yourself breathing room. Take five minutes alone. Call a friend to have a laugh. Do a devotional on your phone. The real problem of your stress level really isn’t getting fixed by a handful of chips.
Okay, my dear. As you jump into your 2023 weight loss journey I just want to remind you that I’m here for you. Keep listening to the podcast. Keep doing the work. And, if you realize that this time you really do want better help, sign up for my weight loss program. You get to spend 12 weeks with me and have lifetime access to all the resources and lessons of the program. You can do it.
by Lora Armendariz
You Can Do It!
Do you want to fall out of love with a destructive habit? The first 42 episodes of this podcast are a resource for anyone who wants encouragement and information as they take a six week break from a habit in order to fall out of love with it.