“Clare, it’s just so hard. My baby was sleeping well and now at 3 months is never consistent and I can’t figure out any sort of routine!”
“My mother in law took a turn for the worse. I am traveling back and forth from their house to mine and it’s been hard to get to any of my exercise classes and plan my meals.”
“We just moved! Boxes are everywhere. I have no idea if we’ll join a gym or not. We are eating out almost every night. I’m going crazy!”
“My son just went away to college and I am just struggling with the practical and emotional changes.”
Sound familiar? This small sampling of comments are from what I call “transition moments” in someone’s life. They are times when the normal routine is out of whack–like, more than just the last minute, random twist of the schedule. They are times that you normally can’t avoid and throw you for a real loop. What has always worked for you in the past no longer works. You don’t have the time or emotional energy to put the focus there. (I’m primarily talking about health in this post, however, this really applies across many areas of life.)
So what’s a person to do when they find themselves in this spot?
My suggestion? Give yourself “Permission to transition”.
Oh, it pains me when I hear people beat themselves up for trying to keep to a certain schedule that was set up when circumstances were much different! It causes disappointment, defeat, and can even cause some to question their ability to “stick to it”. I think this is really unfair so if you are in this spot, I want you to take a breath. Relax. It’s OK that you are in this new, temporary phase. Give yourself permission to get through it.
When are some common times to give yourself “permission to transition”? Here are a few that I’ve thought of, although they are not limited to these!
- After giving birth
- Changing jobs
- Starting a new “season” of life
- Major schedule change
- After major sickness
- Major relationship change (break-up, separation, divorce)
- While caring for a loved one
- After the death of a loved one
Do you want to know how often I give myself the “permission to transition”? At least 3 times a year: the fall (starting back to a brand new family routine), January (yet another new routine), and the beginning of the summer (you guessed it..new family routine). In the past, areas have included changing jobs, pregnancy, and post-pregnancy. Just 3 weeks ago I was telling someone that while I was still “in the game” with my health, it definitely wasn’t at my normal level. January is a SUPER busy time for me and yes, I can’t always give my health the focus that I WANT to give it. I used to really get upset about it, but I have to take a chill-pill, realize the life God’s given me, and do the best with it. Once I give myself that permission, I am MUCH happier about my current situation. And per the norm, time passes and I’m back at it–without the guilt (and extra pounds)!
So where does this leave us? Does it mean that we are helpless, allowing the circumstances to dictate how we tend to our health? Of course not. Here is how I have dealt with it:
- Adjust your expectations
Allow yourself to do less. Sometimes, this means doing nothing, but most of the time, it just means dialing it way back. Once you’ve set a new expectation, then use that as your new standard until you can get back up again.
- Do what you can, when you can
There will be times during these periods of transition where you have a taste of the “previous” season. When you see small moments of time when you can taste the previous season, grab it. Don’t over-analyze. Don’t make it too difficult. Just go with it and be happy that you did something.
- Remind yourself that this won’t last forever
Perspective is so important. When you are going through the thick of it and you feel like your life is running you instead of the other way around, you need to be able to step back a bit and re-focus. (And if it is really lasting forever, this has become your “new normal”, so make a new plan off of that)
- Don’t forget about “self-care”
Wait, what? I thought you just said this is for when we aren’t able to take care of ourselves? While it’s true that taking care of our physical health is pivotal for “self-care”, there are other ways to make that happen. Listen to worship or uplifting music when you can. Pick up a book and read for 10 minutes. Write in your journal. Call a friend. Take a shower…a long one. Paint your nails. And of course, this goes without saying, keep yourself in God’s Word and in prayer. These “small” things will carry you through some days. They will be what keeps you sane when the rest of you wants to scream! It’s OK to take some time out.
I’ve got one final area where I want you to give yourself this permission to transition–trying something new in your health journey. Examples?
- Trying to eat clean/ cook more at home
- Journaling your food/counting calories
- Stopping a habit (no more pop, the 3pm snickers bar)
Ohhh–the emails I get from folks so disappointed in themselves when they realize that this new time of transition isn’t going well! They want to throw in the towel as soon as they hit a wall, which just brings them back to square 1! I ALWAYS tell people to give themselves a break!! It is a NEW thing and a NEW phase and just like anything else, give yourself a little grace! You cannot expect to just nail it your first go around. Practice makes better and more practice makes even better. Oh, please. Do not give up when you are just trying out something new in regards to your health. Give yourself the permission to transition here, and keep going!
If you tend to these transition periods with the right focus and spirit, it will make your transition back INTO the normal much easier. Those who are bitter and lose perspective about their life will struggle much more getting back into it because there will be a sense of entitlement to slip right back into the way it was. There needs to be grace, patience, and perseverance on BOTH ends of the transition.
I ‘ve been listening to this song a lot lately. I feel like it may encourage some of you who are in this transition phase of life. So while your life may feel out of control, and this time of transition feels never-ending, you are never alone. The chorus goes like this:
“Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful”
(Click here if you can’t see the video)
“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” Psalm 139:7-10
I would love to hear from you. Have there been times in your life when you’ve had to transition? Have you given yourself that permission to do so? How have you dealt with this situations?