The bad news is that the year 2020 will go down in my history book as one that was full of new challenges. But the good news is that these challenges have helped me to gain a different perspective, and as a result, I am more determined than ever to make 2021 my best year yet.
I have realized that what is important for me, is to focus on the daily habits that I can control. And in doing so, I have found a direct impact on my performance at work, relationship with my friends and family, and my physical health. Through trial and error, I have decided to focus on three main habits that I know will serve me best this next year. They are my habits when it comes to eating, exercising, and engaging with others.
Eating plant-based food that fuels my health
I have always known and acknowledged that I am human and therefore I am flawed, just like anyone else. However, 2020 has allowed me to embrace one of my flaws as part of who I am instead of always feeling ashamed by it. And that flaw is something I self impose, every time I step on the scale and look at my weight.
I have recognized my feelings of shame over the many pounds I have gained. I am a doctor, and I know that once we hit a certain age, it is harder to shed extra pounds. The frustrating part is that I eat much better than my younger years, but human physiology is working against me. My knowledge of all the mechanisms behind food and how the body processes it does not help me feel any less unhappy about it.
I have wept so many nights over it because I felt something strange took over my body and I had absolutely no control over it, no matter how hard I tried. I tell my patients that in my younger years I would diet for a week and would fit into that perfect little black dress. Nowadays, I feel like I can look at a salad and gain weight.
Somehow in 2020 and without any planned efforts I developed an equanimity about this whole weight thing. I am accepting the reality that happens to women as we age, and look forward to aging gracefully. I have found a renewed passion for plant-based food, and I’m truly enjoying better and healthier food than before. I am officially leaving behind my self inflicted weight shame, and focused on eating food that serves me.
Exercise that excites me
In 2020, like so many others, I have been up and down with my exercise routines. Being very consistent at times and not so consistent at other times. Motherhood definitely put setting time aside for exercise on the back burner for many years. Looking back well before 2020, that was not a very wise decision, but I was truly overly consumed with all things motherhood than everything else, including my well-being.
The reality is not that I don’t want to work out, it’s that I’ve simply struggled finding an exercise program that I enjoyed enough to stick with. I spent countless hours playing soccer, baseball, and dodgeball with my boys when they were younger. But as soon as they became teenagers, they no longer wanted to play with me. I tried kickboxing for sometime and all of a sudden fell out of love with it. I enjoyed playing tennis from time to time, but my tennis partner quit on me during the pandemic. Somehow and by accident I discovered Zumba in 2020, and so far I continue to enjoy it and I will take it with me to 2021. I believe I will also be able to get my tennis partner back on the tennis court once she’s less nervous about the COVID-19.
Engaging with the right people
2020 was the year that I became more confident that my stories were worth sharing, and as a result, I have been writing and publishing regularly. This has created digital engagement that I have found fulfilling. As a front line worker, my stress and anxiety levels have been through the roof. I have found that engaging with others has helped me to step outside my comfort zone. This helped me make the transition from writing to doing more speaking. And this has led me to engage with larger audiences and new followers.
In the process of sharing more of my stories, I have come to fully understand that those who have worked very hard to subvert my aspirations and keep me in the shadows simply don’t serve me. And as a result, I have also made decisions about individuals that I don’t want to engage with. It took a lot of mental bandwidth and strength to get to this point and I’m not leaving this mindset behind in 2020! I am taking it full force with me to 2021 and beyond. It is so mentally freeing to learn that all the negative opinions people have had about me only reflects opinions they have. It is also very mentally freeing to acknowledge that there are communities out there that bring positivity and support in trying times. I have found such communities through Twitter and Facebook, and I look forward to staying engaged and contributing where I can.
The pandemic has forced me to self isolate on a regular basis because I was exposed to patients with COVID-19. But I have found that the isolation helped me get more connected. I have become more connected with the food I am eating, with the exercise I am doing, and with the engagement I am finding with family and friends. 2020 was frightening at times, but so much growth can come from scary moments. I choose to grow, and that means, leaving behind what has been holding me back, and focusing on the things that serve me and my communities.
If you want to engage with me and become part of my community in 2021, then connect with me on Twitter, and let’s make it one of the best years yet!