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Self-Care Agreements to Power Up Your Day

Self-Care Agreements to Power Up Your Day

By: Amy Doyle

I am fortunate that in and outside my Nutrition practice, I’ve been able to work with a variety of women entrepreneurs. They inspire me every day with their ambition, generosity, courage, and tenacity. They have whatever-it-takes attitudes and know that the key to their success lies in lifting up other women and that we are better when we work together.

In our collective pursuits however, I’ve also seen a trend of decisions and habits that put us in danger of future health issues and chronic diseases. How often have you heard another woman proclaim at an evening event:

“I haven’t eaten all day!”

Or at a morning meeting:

“I’m running on no sleep!”?

We’ve come to carry around these unhealthy habits like badges of honor and have bought into the idea that these badges just come with the entrepreneurial territory. The last time I checked, however, none of us have “successful and sick” written on our list of goals. It’s time to change our inner dialogue.

In his bestselling book, The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz proposes that we all carry self-limiting beliefs that cause unnecessary suffering and prevent us from living lives of joy. He offers four agreements that we can make with ourselves to reclaim our personal power and achieve self-fulfillment.

Inspired by this concept, I propose that we need to make some serious agreements about our personal self-care. If we want to power up our lives, we must first agree to give priority to the things that power up our well-being. These agreements will ensure that we have the energy and vitality we need to make all the other important agreements in our lives.

1. Agree to eat breakfast. The adage “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” has more than a modicum of truth to it. Studies have shown that people who eat a high protein breakfast (20-30 grams) have more stable blood sugar and consistent energy throughout the day. When we forego the donut and refined cereals and opt for protein, we have fewer cravings during the day and reduced late night snacking.

The most notable beneficiary in the agreement to eat breakfast is our circadian rhythm—our internal clock that regulates much more than just our sleeping and waking. Eating breakfast helps regulate this natural rhythm, bestowing on us an improved ability to fall asleep and enjoy better quality sleep. When we skip breakfast the opposite occurs, we are hungrier all day and crave more unhealthy foods, tend to snack more in the evening and are more likely to experience poor sleep.

2. Agree not to eat too late in the evening. The timing of our meals is also important. Our bodies have specific times when they need to digest and specific times when they need to rest. Eating too late at night raises our stress hormone levels and can wreck our sleep—upsetting our body’s ability to rest and repair, both physically and psychologically. Eating at regular times and especially consuming all our meals within a 12-hour window has been shown to reduce the risk of obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes and it helps our liver do its job better. Even the bacteria in our gut are influenced by the timing of our meals.

3. Agree to go to bed. Sleep restores the body and if we are not sleeping, we are not healing. When we don’t get enough of those coveted zzz’s our immune system suffers. Our white blood cell counts go up, our immune defenses go down and we have increased susceptibility to illness. Undoubtedly, there are seasons when life requires us to burn the midnight oil, but, for too many of us, staying up into the wee hours has become the routine. Chronic lack of sleep disrupts our blood sugar, mood, hormones, digestion and cardiovascular health. My advice is to get to bed by 10:30 pm as much as possible to reap the full restorative benefits of sleep.

4. Agree to stop ignoring symptoms. “I’ve had stomach issues for years.” “I’ve always had anxiety”. These types of comments are far too common. When we live with symptoms and give them territory and normalcy in our life, they snuff out our vitality. Sometimes we suppress them with medication but never address the root cause—which is essentially like turning off the smoke alarm but never finding out where the fire is coming from. Insomnia, stomach aches, acid-reflux, headaches, anxiety, crazy PMS—whatever it is—if it is not normal, don’t let it become your normal. Find a practitioner who will listen and seek out the root cause.

It takes time to develop good disciplines and a new routine, but the future you will thank you for it. Let’s agree to not just be better together, but also healthier together.

Amy Doyle is a Board Certified Nutrition Specialist and owner of White Stone Wellness, a private practice in Fayetteville, NY.  She believes in empowering her patients with education and practices personalized nutrition and whole person care. Amy is also the President of Women Business Opportunities Connection and a freelance writer. She lives in Tully, NY with her husband and two children.

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