A couple weeks ago, the whole state of Hawaii was on high alert for Hurricane Lane. The stores ran out of water and other supplies, the Red Cross had arrived, the Governor had issued a State of Emergency and every family was in emotional distress as we anxiously watched the 24-hour news coverage. Even if the hurricane was not a direct hit, we still expected tropical storms and flooding.
My mind was racing as I thought of ways to keep Charlie safe based on my physical limitations. I packed an emergency backpack, stocked up on food, water, flashlights and other supplies and even parked my car across the street at the top of a hill in case our parking lot got flooded as it’s known to do. I had officially bitten off all my cuticles, a bad habit of mine when I’m anxious, and once there was nothing left to bite, I turned to food.
There was a funny meme going around about the discipline it took to not eat all of your hurricane snacks too soon, and I was not so disciplined. Charlie thought it was the best thing ever. We played games, painted, blew bubbles and ate snacks for 5 days straight. I was a bit of an emotional wreck, however I played it cool for Charlie’s sake and tried to use his innocence as a reminder of the importance of having fun to destress.
My Trilogy of Health took a major downward spiral over the course of the hurricane. The food was definitely playing a major role. I really tried in the beginning to focus on fruit, but once that was gone, I went for the chips, granola bars, popcorn and dates - in large quantities. Even though I had healthier options in the house like my protein shakes, protein bars, veggie burgers, I still went for the crap as a way to self-medicate. Unfortunately the relief was temporary, as the junk food wrecked havoc on my digestion, mood, energy and skin.
I had this fear of venturing too far from home and getting stuck away from all of our supplies so I only went to the gym on the first day. Then after that, I was too nervous to be away from Charlie so the only exercise we got was a walk around our condo complex a couple times a day. My body was so confused and I could feel it. I was tight and achy. I felt so much heavier in my transfers because of all the junk food sitting in my gut. The lack of exercise was getting to me emotionally too and I could feel the withdrawals.
The saddest day was the day I had to miss my appointment with my therapist. Of all the weeks I had to cancel, this was one of the toughest weeks. I felt so off my game. I felt behind, my performance was lacking and my emotions were all over the place. I could have really used that hour with her. The slump took it’s toll and I couldn’t even get myself to meditate or take deep breaths. I just felt so on edge and exhausted from the high stress levels that I just wanted to sleep. Too bad Charlie didn’t agree.
After 5 days, the hurricane threat came and went. Our town of Kihei barely got rained on, let alone a storm or flooding. The storm took place in other areas. Our kitchen counters were covered in bottles of water, the trash was overflowing with evidence of all the unhealthy choices we made and the pantry was still full of more waiting to be eaten. Our emergency bags needed to be unpacked, and I had a week’s worth of work that I was behind on since it’s virtually impossible to get anything done with Charlie around.
The aftermath of my food and activity choices were staring back at me in the mirror. I could see the bulge around my waste from slow digestion and junk food, and my posture was seriously struggling. Not to mention, my skin had broken out like I had just hit puberty. I hadn’t had a breakout like this in years. Pimples were on my forehead, nose, cheeks and even on my back. I couldn’t believe how in less than a week I felt and looked like a completely different person.
I knew I felt really good when I started eating clean, exercising and being diligent in nourishing myself emotionally, but I didn’t realize how bad I felt when I didn’t. Bad habits tend to creep up on us slowly. My mom is notorious for saying, “When you’re my age, you’ll wish you would have exercised, addressed your health, worn sunscreen, forgiven quickly”, etc. And I’m notorious for not following her advice, only to regret it later.
After the hurricane, I was left with a home and body in shambles. I was trying desperately to cover up the blemishes and breakouts on my face. I was back to wearing Spanx to hide the extra weight and I was holding onto a lot of junk in my gut because I was struggling with flushing it all out. I was also having trouble sleeping because I was not following my tried and true ways of meditation and journaling in order to maintain mental clarity. And it had only been 5 days.
I guess that’s a lot like life. It takes it’s toll on us. It creates stresses out of our control, putting us on high alert and constant state of emergency. We self-medicate to feel better, but the high quickly wears off and we are left to pick up the mess we created. We are desperately trying to cover up breakouts and blemishes in our lives, instead of eliminating the root of the problem. Rather than get rid of the junk, we watch it pop up like pimples in different areas of our life. We hold on to the crap that weighs us down, wishing we would have listened to our parents and protected ourselves. Then instead of waking up refreshed each morning, we are too exhausted to even have fun.
Hurricanes will threaten us, there will be storms and sometimes even be a direct hit. It will be completely out of our control. There’s no pretty way to say it. What is in our control is what we stock up on, what is in our home, our minds and our bodies. It is the way we prepare ourselves so that no matter the emergency, we are healthy enough to get through it. We are strong enough to keep our children safe, and we remember the importance of having fun through it all.