It’s week nine, day two, I’m Dave Vyas, and I have dedicated the past two days to sleep, food, and exercise- in short, active self-care.
Let me begin with the origin story that brought me to this challenge. In the early days, when we were still filled with youthful folly (the second week of this semester, I believe), I found myself in an American gas station with my dear friends as they gleefully purchased snacks; I was paralyzed by the plethora of choices at my fingertips. Missing the Canadian confections I am used to, I could palate none of the many candies, save for one special contestant: red vines. After that evening full of red vines and joy, I have developed a fixation. My love for the delicacy led to fellow UA participants asking their parents for red vines via post, to be shared with me; no fewer than 3 others have effectively mail ordered red vines for me.
Moving to Crested Butte, which provides less motivation to pursue a healthy lifestyle, fanned the embers of my forbidden confectionery love into a roaring fire of sticky red residue on everything I touched. I knew the fire would not be sustainable, and sure enough I felt a burn- nay, a scorch leaving me charred- in the realization that I spent an entire Sunday consuming nothing but red vines and kombucha. Looking closer, I also realized I had been leaving the hostel rarely if ever, and not upholding the healthy sleep pattern I had established in Paonia.
For my two day self-directed challenge, I chose to work on food crew and practice balance between responsibility/the energy I put into cooking for the group and my own health/the energy I put into fulfilling my own needs. The other two members of food crew were challenging their own suboptimal patterns head-on as well, so I made myself the goals of:
1) Eating 3 meals a day with the general group (instead of continuing to work once I serve food), each of which must have a protein component, a produce component, and a fiber component.
2) Leaving the hostel and getting exercise, with both cardio and bodyweight exercises, every day.
3) Going to bed before 10:30 every night, in an attempt to rescue my failing circadian rhythm – bonus points for not relying on caffeine at any point in the challenge.
4) Fulfilling the basic self-care tasks I have fallen behind in: laundry, showering, cleaning my personal space, changing the sheets on my bed.
5) Going two days without red vines, light of my life, fire of my loins………..
I had to meet these goals while also acting as 1/3 on cook crew, which cooks meals for the entire group, cleans up afterwards, and generally works on a different schedule than the rest of the group. Within the kitchen, I also committed to practicing delegation and being delegated to, as well as self-advocacy around what I was able to eat and how the rest of cook crew could support me in my difficult relationship with many foods.
While I fell a bit short on my sleep goals, I was significantly challenged these past two days. Cutting off unhealthy patterns and rebuilding healthier replacements takes cognitive, mental energy that we often don’t prioritize, and taking two days to focus my energy on moderation and balance gave me the necessary jump start to keep taking care of myself once I have to juggle more intense challenges with my own needs. I was taken aback by the support and admiration I received from the rest of the group, and that has reminded me that my slumps and hard days effect the group as much as they effect me. The group was excited and supportive to see me take responsibility for myself instead of others for once, and I learned from that. I’m excited to keep practicing the themes in this challenge and continually become a better community member and stronger person.