I’m kind of a mess. I’m more sedentary than I should be. I engage in the use of a still-Americanly-legal type of kretek. I indulge in too much chocolate. Once trim and fit, I’ve now put on 30 pounds. My hormones are out of whack, my teeth have gone to hell, my heavy metals are at scary bad levels, and I’ve inadvertently developed an acquired form of hemochromatosis.
I’m not shaming myself; I’m not into that. However, I have some health slippage for which I’m responsible, and I’ll own that. Without judgment, without self-denigration. My situation is what it is, and I accept my role in my outcome, and now it’s time to move on toward brighter skies.
So now, it’s time for a complete overhaul. Time to revamp my life and reinvent myself.
This isn’t my first rodeo; I’ve done this before, about 15 years ago. I did it before, and I know that I can–and will–do it again.
But I’ve got a few variables to juggle now. Some have always been there, like my place on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum. Others are newcomers to the scene, like the PTSD and the kretek pastime.
Knowing what I know now, I’m well aware that I can’t just say, “let’s not do this anymore; let’s do this other healthy stuff instead.” For me, it probably doesn’t work like that.
Because now, so many unhealthy elements have become part of a daily routine. One that is damaging to my body, but that my brain is perfectly OK with.
Therein lies the problem: convincing my brain (remember that one? The separate entity with a mind of its own?)
At this point, I’m happily hanging on to a monkey bar–one that fits, feels right, and is holding steady. Or so I thought; it’s actually crumbling beneath me, but my grip on it is rather decent.
Part of me knows that in order to not crumble down along with my current monkey bar, I have to grab on to a new one–one that will feel even better.
Like I mentioned, the problem is convincing my brain. My brain likes where it’s at; my current routine meets all of its needs. I have some downtime, I have some active time, I have some work time, and I have some play time. I have Alone Time and I have social time. I have left-brain analytical time and I have right-brain creative time. All is calm, all is bright, and I have labored long and hard to achieve this balance.
And yet, the balance is detrimental. I don’t have much meditation time. I don’t have much sleep time. I don’t have any physical activity time. I have a lot of sitting time. I have a lot of awake time.
This sitting and being awake stuff has to change, and my vices have to go. Those are the three things that pose the greatest risks.
Any of these would likely be hard for anyone to change, whether the person is autistic/an Aspie or not. But factor in an Asperger’s/autistic neurotype, and the situation gets a whole lot more complicated.
There’s the tendency to adhere to routine. This likely adds a compounding dimension to any vice we might pick up.
There’s the need for alone time; I go outside and off by myself a lot. This provides the perfect fertile opportunity to stay the current course.
And then there’s the task-switching, the greater amount of time I need to convert from Home Mode to Office Mode in the morning, and back again in the evening.
Then there are the periodic breaks my brain needs to take between sprints, periods of intense focus. Up until now, my brain has embraced the idea of checking social media and WordPress during this time. It’s also during this time that my best ideas come to me. The bonus is, I’m by myself, free to flesh out ideas uninterrupted.
All of this involves sitting, kretek indulgence, and probably at the expense of sleep at times.
Because I’ve been this way for the past four to seven years (depending on the factor in question), my brain has found solace in the package, having made peace with all of its elements.
So naturally, when I tell my brain we’re going to need to make a change, my brain puts up a fuss. At times like these, I must enter into serious and sometimes heated negotiations with said brain.
No way! it says. I like it this way! It works!
But it doesn’t, brain. You think you like it now, but eventually, the problems are going to reach you, too. Hell, they probably already have; you just don’t know it. The monkey bar you’re holding onto is collapsing.
But I like my current monkey bar!
Yes, brain, but it’s not like things are going to stay this way; they’re headed on a downhill slide. We’ve got to change.
OK – but what can I grab onto instead??
I’m working on that.
And I am. Here’s what I’ve got so far…
First, this isn’t an overnight thing; it’s a process, and it requires a LOT of planning. Every detail must be accounted for, every variable solidified, every question answered, every unknown shored up, multiple solutions and fallback options discovered, covered, and lined up.
So it’s not going to happen today. I’d like to start in a couple weeks.
Second, I do have to consider–and account for–every detail, tie up any and all loose ends. No minute of the day can remain unspoken for. Current needs and healthy pleasures must be reshuffled and reallocated.
Instead of going for a morning “walk” during which I check in to social media and then return for breakfast, I would complete a seven-minute morning Qigong routine, after which I steep some tea and wait for breakfast to heat up (in a toaster oven, as opposed to bringing refrigerated deli meat with me to work), meanwhile checking in to social media at that time.
That’s four positive additions to my morning: Qigong, tea, warm breakfast, and no kretek.
That’s two healthy/benign activities preserved and spoken for: having breakfast in the first place, and checking social media.
And that’s two counterproductive activity eliminated: chilled breakfast and kreteks (yep, I’m counting it twice, dammit).
There are lots of potential barriers pulling this off:
- locating the Qigong DVD
- wrapping my head around the Qigong routine
- planning which tea I’m going to make
- setting up the kitchen so as not to feel overwhelmed by the already-cluttered kitchen counter, or all the new life changes
- ordering the new toaster oven (we don’t currently have one)
- setting up (and designating space for) said new toaster oven
- learning how to work the new toaster oven
- ensuring that I don’t forget about the tea while it’s on the stove
- ensuring that I don’t forget about the breakfast in the toaster oven
And that’s just a simple half-hour time slot in the morning; I have to review and revise the entire remainder of my day in much the same way (including weekends, which lack a natural structure and are thus likely to be even tougher to work through).
I have to figure out a new workday structure, because I’ll have to include chiropractic manipulation for my EDS-related aches and pains and acupuncture treatments for restoring proper energy, balance, and a myriad of compromised body functions.
There will likely be a new food plan, which will assuredly necessitate a new shopping list extra items to remember to take to work in the morning.
There will definitely be new medical grade supplements to take, whether it involves nutrients to restore deficiencies, powerful herbal formulas, or what-have-you. I’ll need to make sure the order for them gets placed, that they make it home with me when they arrive, that I begin taking them and remember to do so every day, and I’ll have to keep an eye on my supply and order refills before running out of my current supply.
And so on and so forth, right down to my bedtime routine at night. My entire ritual may have to change, or perhaps only tiny parts of it might need a slight tweaking. Either way, my sleep hygiene has to improve.
My brain still has its questions. It likes to play devil’s advocate.
- How do I take the mental breaks I’ve become accustomed to throughout the day?
- How and when do I work in my physical activity?
- Do I need a new iPad so that I can surf the web for pleasure without getting immersed in a deeper activity?
- Am I going to have to force myself to sleep in bed, as opposed to my spot on the couch that has led a double-life as my sleeping place, too?
- Where will my social (media) life fit in?
- What is my new life going to look like?
So many questions, and for now, so few answers. But as usual, time will bring the answers. I know that I can move Life Mountains by taking baby-steps, and baby-steps are what it will take, because baby-steps are all I can take. Anything more at one time would be too daunting, and the last thing I want to do is give up before I get started.
I think that maybe, just maybe, in writing this whole thing out, I might’ve just taken my first baby step. Now where’s that next monkey bar? 🙂
(Image Credit: Danny O’Connor)