Fighting Spirit

Body, mind, spirit. They are all connected and nourishing them means a stronger you.

Self care is as essential as oxygen to daily life as a parent of a child with FASD.

Last fall and the first few weeks of the new year drained my batteries and emptied my reserves.

I did not have the time nor energy to apply my go-to recharge strategies, such as exercise.

Every adversity in life passes then provides stillness for reflection and recalibration.

The recent losses in our family provided an important wake-up call about what truly matters and to nourish your body, mind and spirit.

I’ve always been mindful of my diet and exercise, and this year, the hubby’s come onboard the health train too.

The good news, as we’re finding, is it takes just a few tweaks to start seeing and feeling gains.

A Healthy Start to the Day

I got the hubby to switch to oatmeal with me – cutting out sugary cereal.

I bought ground flax seed and hemp seed from the bulk store and add a spoonful of joylessness to each breakfast.

We match this high-fiber meal with yogurt and banana – and twice a week, an added treat of smoked salmon.

Cut Back But Not Cut Out Carbs

We love rice and pasta so it’s not realistic to cut them out completely but we do carb less meals every other day.

We’ve been using the Air Fryer, a Christmas gift from my cousin, which helps increase protein-rich meals and reduce time for cleanup.

Make Better Decisions About Food

I do the groceries, so I decide what comes home.

With the hubby’s buy-in, I cut out our one weekly treat (candy or pop for him; chips for me). We also cut out juice and increased milk (I drink sugar free soy milk).

Maximizing Sleep and Outdoor Time

I’m a stickler for 8-9 hours of sleep – and 9-10 for T – and the hubby is making more effort to sleep more than his usual 6-7 hours.

Getting fresh air is important. We enjoyed a nice Spring walk with my family at Port Credit on Easter Sunday (above).

Exercise, Exercise, Exercise

I struggled a lot in the fall, because I could not find time or energy to go to the gym, as my late sister, through no fault of her own, kept me up at night as she struggled with declining health.

I try to alternate between cardio and weights every other day – with one rest day a week – as a healthy heart and body are important, especially now that I’m in my 40s.

Exercising regularly is one area I’m still trying to get the hubby to commit to, but he’ll get there!

Easter is about egg hunts and bunny fun – it is also about renewal and resilience.

T woke up on Sunday to find a surprise from the Easter Bunny. I love that he still believes in this.

We then had lunch at my Uncle’s home – and my Aunt made grilled lambchops; always a treat!

We then went for a walk at Port Credit lakeshore – and the fresh air and sunshine were soul soothing.

Since we made the few changes to our diet, fitness and sleep routines, the hubby’s reached 35% of his weight loss goal and I feel mostly energized again.

The daily life of a special needs parents can batter you down, so it is especially important for me to take care of my health, as I want to be as available and present for T as possible.

We’ve also used the recent changes as an opportunity to remind T of the importance of making healthy decisions and teamwork.

Life with T often provides humorous reminders about staying grounded and not to take things too seriously.

When I recently praised the hubby after a recent weigh in, I asked T if he was proud of Daddy.

T said, “Not yet, he’s still fat!”

But his warm smile told us otherwise.

After a long winter, the flowers are ready to emerge and bloom under the sun once again.

A Lego bunny for Easter that the hubby and I worked on, with some help from T.

30 thoughts on “Fighting Spirit

  1. “add a spoonful of joylessness to each breakfast”.- LOL I also add joyless flaxseed to my oatmeal. As a pescatarian, I try to eat healthy but the carbs are hard to fight. And each night I have a baby cup of chocolate low-fat icecream and eat it with a baby spoon so it feels like more than it actually is! I’m with you on the exercise of weight training and cardio…..My husband binges on exercise – before baseball season, he is all in using the elliptical, etc. but slacks when the season ends…but i guess it’s good that at age 66 he is still playing…
    Loved T statement – glad hubby didn’t take that personally!

    1. The flaxseed (and hemp seed for us) have been great additions for us despite the joke. The hubby’s now at 40% of goal achieved. And yes, carbs are so hard to resist so we just cut back rather than cut out. I can’t resist a good bowl of ice cream too so it’s a treat once in a while especially during the summer months.

      That’s great that he’s still active at 66 with baseball. Off season sounds ok and fun too! I have my cheat days too. Haha.

      Enjoy your weekend!

  2. I have never been on a health journey and have never needed it more than I do right now! I love your idea of going carb less every other day. That would be a great start for me. Out of the mouths of babes, how can you not laugh at T’s comments!

    1. Thanks Diane! 😊 Yes, doing it every other day is more realistic than complete cold Turkey. It’s never too late to make small changes. Good luck! 🙏

  3. Congrats on your journey to better health! I need to follow your lead, but I still struggle with seeing food as pleasure and not fuel.
    Your meals looked yummy! Great job on the Lego bunny!

    1. Thank you! 😊 I think small changes go a long way without having to give things up completely. Best wishes with your own journey!

  4. I know I need to do a better job of eating healthy. It definitely helps when my husband tries to eat healthy with me, otherwise it can be easy to give in to snacking when I see him eating junk food. It’s funny how your hubby likes the sweet stuff and you go for the salty stuff like chips. I like both!! Looks like T got a good haul from the Easter bunny. My mother-in-law still makes Easter goodie bags for everyone, including us adults. It’s very thoughtful, but it makes it hard to resist.

    1. Thanks Linda. 😊You and K strike me as a very healthy and balanced couple – and I have visions of you both hunting and cooking your meals in the forest. 😆

      I’m not much of a sweet person but I do love New York cheesecake. Savoury snacks like chips and pork rinds are my vices and they were hard to cut back on.

      Enjoy the short week and beautiful weather. Hope to do a local hike this weekend!

      1. Ha! I don’t think I could forage through the forest for food. I’d probably eat the purple berries that would end up being poisonous! This sneak peak of summer has been glorious. I was contemplating whether we should take our patio furniture out, but then looked at the forecast for next week and thought we should probably wait another few weeks. Enjoy your hike this weekend.

  5. Big THUMBS UP 👍👍👍👍👍 (I’m all thumbs, as they say!) to you and your hubby!!! Yes, it is essential you take some time to take care of yourselves, else you won’t be able to give T the care he needs. It’s rather like they say at the beginning of a commercial flight, that parents should put the mask on themselves first, and then on their children, so they are able to take care of the children. I’m a fine one to talk, for these days I don’t (can’t) get much in the way of exercise, don’t eat as well as I should, and a really great night’s sleep for me is 5 hours, tops! But you guys are doing great and you both deserve a gold medal! Hugs to all three of you!

    1. Thanks Jill. 😊 I love your analogy of the airplane flight and the oxygen mask – because it’s so true and it’s a great way to summarize why self care is essential. I’m sorry about your struggles and I hope you’ll be on your way to better sleep and more time for fitness! I can see the same struggles in my mom too. Hang in there and hugs!

      1. It came to mind as I was reading your post … I remembered traveling by plane from Virginia to California with two children both under the age of 2, and the warning by the flight attendant that parents must put their own mask on first so they will be able to take care of their children. No worries, my friend, I am old and not well, so I’m just thankful for what I can do at this point.

  6. Awareness and reasonable, moderate approach are the way to go, and you are doing all of the right things! I am constantly on a health warpath against Tony…T’s sense of humour always finds its way to my heart 🙂

    1. Thanks Margie! 😊 I think moderation is the right way to make it sustainable otherwise you just go crazy. 😆 And yes, T does make us laugh with his take on things.

  7. I’m happy to read this, Ab. It’s good that you try to take a good care of your body because we only have one, and when we’re healthy we can do almost anything we want, including caring for others. Many people don’t realize how important it is to get enough sleep every day, or how important it is to cut sugar consumption, and to stay active. I love that you choose to reduce the amount of food you eat, instead of depriving yourself from certain things altogether. That’s a more sustainable way of living a healthy lifestyle, I believe.

    1. Thanks Bama! 😊 A wellness post was long overdue as it really is essential whether you’re a parent or not. And you’re right, it’s not about cutting things out completely but just reduction and moderation. Lots of good foods I still wanna enjoy that probably are not the healthiest. 😆 And adequate sleep is so important too. Take care.

  8. You had me laughing out loud at, “Not yet, he’s still fat!” He’s just offering some extra motivation, right? 😂 Those simple-yet-challenging lifestyle changes can make such a tremendous difference. I was fortunate to grow up with healthy, active parents who instill good habits. But, as adult, respecting that I need 8-9 hours of sleep paired with drastically cutting back on carbs has made such a difference. As for the boring oatmeal, my favorite feedback from my dietician was: “Who says you can’t have steak and broccoli for breakfast?” He’s not wrong…

    1. Thanks Erin. 😊 T always keeps it real and grounded for us. 😆 It’s great that you had parents who set the tone and role modeled for you. I was fortunate to have had the same too. I don’t mind my morning oatmeal too much as it’s satisfying but not so filling that I need to go back to bed. But steak for sure is one of my favourite foods and thankfully is relatively healthy in moderation. 🙏 And congrats on your own wellness changes and successes too, which I know is of even greater importance for you.

  9. I think setting and reaching goals with someone by your side helps. Those little reminders and nudges about better, easier, healthy lives are so worth it. Remembering myself at times of stress is so hard and I have to be rigid and focused as it’s just me. Today though I ate a small piece of cake that one of the grands made. I can’t remember the last time I ate cake- no extra sugar/carbs come into my home- but I also know that I only have a limited number of days left with the girls here. Best cake I’ve ever eaten.

    Good for both of you for making positive changes!

    1. Thanks Deb! 😊 Maintaining the routine is indeed very hard during the moments of stress and you’re right that having a partner to keep you honest is so important. And good for you for having that cake by your grandkids. There’s so way to cut things out completely without going crazy. 😆 My weakness is more savoury (chips) and definitely have some from time to time. Glad the cake was worth it!

  10. Body, mind, spirit – these are such GREAT points you make, Ab! I laughed out loud at the “I bought ground flax seed and hemp seed from the bulk store and add a spoonful of joylessness to each breakfast.” Hilarious – damn, this part of life isn’t very glamorous.

    I need to up my exercise – thank you for the inspiration. It’s so easy to let it go by the wayside.

    Love the Lego Easter Bunny. Thank goodness T was on hand to help. Great post and reminder!!

    1. Thanks Wynne. 😊 Yes, the flax and hemp seeds from Bulk Barn doesn’t taste like much, but it’s making a difference for both hubby and I so I’ll keep scooping them into the meal with tepid enthusiasm. 😆

      Your kids seem to be keep you pretty active Wynne – lots of cardio I imagine! I hope you get more time for your own self care too, especially with two. I’m exhausted with just one on some days. 😆

      Enjoy the short week ahead!

  11. Hi! So I have been on a health journey as well. The exercise part is easier for me than the diet. I have the biggest sweet tooth lol. I have lost 20 pounds sin e September and holding steady. I get bored of foods. I bought myself some.flaxseed. no idea what the heck to do with it. I can tell you I am following the plan about portion control and it says I cam have as much cinnamon as I want! Cinnamon in Greek non fat or low fat yogurt and a dab of honey! I wish my husband would get on board but nope. It is sort of keeping us distanced from one another. I keep hoping. I have worn off on my youngest so that’s cool. Keep up the great work!

    1. Thanks Rebecca. 😊 With the RunFASD initiative, I can imagine you being into exercise. 20 pounds is amazing! And I hear you on the sweet tooth. T is like that too and I can imagine the impulsivity combined with sweet tooth makes it challenging. We eat plain yogurt and have used honey before. Cinnamon is a great tip! And good luck with getting your husband on board. One step at a time!

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