The Best Investment I Have Made Lately…

Blog, Food, Health, Mindfulness, Spirituality, The Whole Bucket

…is three hours a week into ME!

I am lucky enough to call the pristine paradise of Kalbarri home. I live across the road from the beach and can go there 5 times a day, should that be my desire. Rainy and stormy, balmy evenings, crisp clear mornings – they’re all laid out for me and equally enjoyable in this little piece of bliss.

We moved and I lost my mojo

Last year, we made the decision to move to Fremantle for our children’s schooling and future opportunities. This meant a 2 km walk or drive to the beach and I soon lost the daily bliss of my walks, swims, sunsets and moonlit wanders. I felt the beach was close enough that I SHOULD walk, but that was cutting too far into my work day to make morning beach visits a reality. Then in the evening, there were mum-taxi runs, groceries, dinner, bringing in washing, more taxiing – you know the drill. So I carried on without and shut down a little, then a lot.

Getting back to me

Over this summer, I have enjoyed a month back at Kalbarri and renewed my healthy beach/exercise/breaks/breathing/nature habits. Unconsciously, when we returned to Fremantle this year, I gave myself permission to drive to the beach for a swim in the mornings.

I swim at a deliciously rock and reef-free ‘swimming pool’ of a bay. It is about 450 metres long and perfect for a couple of ‘laps’. The water is cool and mostly clear, and the peace under the surface is divine, but this is just the beginning.

An easy solution to my problem

I’m a reasonably strong swimmer, but not good in crowds, nor am I a great swimming breather. I tend to hold my breath which tires me quickly, so now I swim in mask and snorkel. I love it – I see heaps and can swim for- what seems -ever.

More benefits than I expected

As I prepared myself a healthy brunch the other day, I reflected on how good I felt. There are so many benefits to getting out in nature in the morning that I just have to share this with you.

  1. I feel nourished when I start my work day as MY needs have been met. Therefore there is no resistance and I get tasks completed more efficiently.
  2. I feel more fit and able – so I am more confident and committed. Thus I don’t vacillate between wanting to go for a walk and needing to get to work (in my home office), wasting countless minutes in indecision. I also feel good about saying good morning to the other happy relaxed people at the beach, and picking up rubbish on my way to the car.
  3. I feel relaxed. The long period of slow, deep breathing lowers my blood pressure and soothes my amygdala. This means I am in rest/recover/digest & creativity mode when I get home, not flight or fight mode. So, I am in a state of longevity and creativity, not running from imaginary lions. Once we experience that sensation with awareness, it is much easier to notice stress creeping back in and take a few deep breaths to regain conscious relaxation or healthy flow.
  4. I have more energy. The fact that I’ve turned my body off flight/flight mode means my kidneys are no longer being flooded by adrenaline. In turn, they can return to their monitoring jobs of filtering the blood and monitoring red blood cell numbers and quality. The kidneys then report to the liver how many new red blood cells are required. This simple, essential monitoring task cannot be performed when the kidneys are being overruled by adrenaline. As I tell all my clients, breathe – it improves the quality of your blood, which improves your iron stores, energy and ability to function. I have also had a healthy, low UV dose of vitamin D to lift spirits and mood.
  5. My metabolism is increased – not just through exercise, but hormonally too. Mid 2018, I was informed my thyroid function was off-the-charts low. Hypothyroidism is very common in women my age. It is not clear whether hypofunction of the thyroid is related to erratic female hormones in the perimenopausal years, or if drops in other female hormones allow the hypothyroidism to become significant. The thyroid regulates our metabolism. So, low function in any of the thyroid cascades can lead to weight gain, hirsuitism, low mood and low energy, among other problems. Iodine is essential to thyroid function and present in sea salt and sea air. Bathing in salt water also helps to crowd out bromine – a chemical found in our water and air pollution – which steals iodine receptors and is harmful to our health.
  6. I feel better about my hubby. I used to suffer with green, green eyes and feel resentful that he was able to find time to go to footy training or take himself fishing while my role as mother never seemed to stop. However, I would have been even madder had he sat on the couch becoming a lump! My enemy has always been ME! Now that I have ‘my life’ I am more aware of what I want and need. A healthy and satisfied husband is one of them. Time to myself is another essential. I’d still love to go fishing with him once in a while, but he can take himself to footy training with my blessing!
  7. I feel motivated. I want to maintain and grow a life by design. To me, that is a creative life, relaxed and productive, rather than reactive, hamster-in-a-wheel existence. So, I maintain my boundaries and get creative on making this designed life work.
  8. I feel healthier so I want to eat better. I don’t want to put junk in my mouth after swimming almost 2 km. I want the physical benefits of my peaceful activity, so I choose better food. Plus, as per #1, I feel nourished, so I’m not searching for sweet treats. I’m likewise more inclined to remember my herbs and supplements. Additionally, the delayed breakfast/brunch means I’m intermittent fasting 3-4 times a week. This allows my body longer between meals to digest and eliminate waste.
  9. I feel connected to mother earth. My favourite moment today happened as I was saying a little ‘hello and thank you’ to the school of white bait flickering around me. I looked up to see they had been joined by a gazillion sardines, iridescent scales twinkling and blue stripe flashing. There was nothing to do but be there, floating, thankful, in awe of mother nature’s bounty and beauty. I also saw a school of young whiting, many herring, a large battle scarred blue manna crab a snook, and startled a small brown ray.
  10. Finally, the reason many people swim – and this has happened unexpectedly fast for me. I feel (and look) better in my clothes, making dressing so much easier.

Paying myself first

Forever, I have read and heard that I should ‘pay myself first’ in business. This hasn’t always been possible as business expenses and bills continue more rapidly than business growth. However, I can INVEST in myself through activities like my swims. This is necessary for the health of my business as that is completely dependent on MY health.

If 3 weeks of long swims can make this much difference to my life, I can’t wait to see the results in 12! I am planning my purchase of a thermal swim shirt and a snorkel mask that doesn’t leak. Better yet, I’m enjoying mornings more than I have in a long time.

One of our beautiful Kalbarri beaches.