Sunday, June 10, 2012

Putting Me First

This might be long and rambling, but I need to process my thoughts, so here goes.

I am sitting here on the couch with an ice pack on my knee, and black coffee + anti-inflammatories in my stomach. I do not know exactly how I hurt myself yesterday but I have pain above my right kneecap. I had it before several months back, but not this bad. My kids are doing anything that involves taking the stairs for me right now.

I feel like my life lately has just been crisis management. One thing after another. It is NOT fun and I hate it. People always tell me to take care of myself first, and I don't really do that. The dog first, the cat first, the kids first, friends first. And now I think my body is once again trying to MAKE ME take care of myself. I am going to end up in the hospital if I don't change something NOW. I am emotionally drained and physically falling apart. Despite doing all of the stretches and exercises my doctor recommended for the plantar fasciitis, and religiously wearing my orthotics, it is worse. I limp a lot. The foot pain is becoming unbearable and I am back to taking NSAIDS every single day JUST to be able to walk. And now this with the knee! And the stress migraines I had last week. It is just too much. I feel like an old lady. Yes, I am seeing doctors and supposed to get a shoe fitting in a week. Yes, I have joint issues that are not going to go away. But seriously, I did not feel this crappy at 178 pounds! I just didn't. I was so much more functional. This is becoming unbearable.

So I am putting myself first now, for real. Yes that means other people will be disappointed. Yes, it even means some people might think I am selfish. Okay, I am selfish then! I have to take care of myself or they will be on their own anyway while I am in the hospital. Right now I can't even walk without a LOT of pain and I cannot go downstairs to do the laundry. This is just not acceptable. I need to heal.

I am going to say NO to people who ask me to do stuff right now, at least until I get my pain under control, which will probably take some weeks. My priority aside from myself is my CHILDREN, all five of them, and after *me* they will come first. I have been putting my children first, and then dividing my time and energy between other non-family people, my pets, and myself. Look where that has gotten me. My thinking has been that I need to be there for others in order to build up friendships and a support system. That is still true, but I have to put this in its proper place.

Now is a good time for this, with school and dance ending.

What will practically change:

If I am exhausted and need to sleep, I will *go to bed* instead of staying up late researching treatments for my son. If I have to take a sleep aid to fall asleep through the worry, I will.

I will be delegating a lot more housework to the two older boys who are here right now. They may be going on visitation for the summer, but until then, one is going to have complete charge of cleaning the kitchen and the other will be getting a list of extra daily chores... both in addition to their usual chores. Now that school's out, they have more time to help.

If my daughter wants breakfast but I haven't even showered yet, she can get herself a bowl of cereal until I am ready for the day. I am also going to teach her to prepare a few more foods for herself, so she is more independent. My boys all could make themselves lunch by the time they were 6, but she is "the baby" and hasn't learned to do as much at 6. I can invest a little time in helping her do that, and she will enjoy being a 'big girl' who can do so many things, while also freeing up my time in the future.

I am going to say NO to pizza orders far more often, and throw together more cheap, easy, healthy dinners in double batches so I can freeze half for a busy night. The kids love their pizza, and I cave because it is fast, cheap and easy, but that's really just a lazy way out. I need healthy foods to eat and less temptation. I plan to teach the boys how to make one or two simple family meals so they can cook for us on occasion.

If the dog wants some attention she might just have to wait. I often put down what I am doing in order to take her out to play, or stay up late to train her. She does need my time, but *after* my own needs are met. She is a blessing to me and it would probably do me good to relax with her by my side more often. A snuggle from a furry friend is a good thing.

ALL of my doctor's appointments, physical therapy, and any exercise I am cleared to do will come first before any play time, trips to the park or the mall, play dates, etc. Because I have to be mobile to do those things anyway.

This really is a huge mindset change for me. I have tried before to 'put myself first' but when it comes down to it, if I was just about to do my PT and my little girl comes up and asks me to play with her, it is not so easy for me to say no. I love her more than I love myself. I want her to be happy. But the mindset change has to be 'I want to be the best Mom I can be, and that requires being healthy.'

I have been so scattered with my eating, my plans to get going with the weight loss again (which never materialize), my attempts at exercise, etc. I mean well; I want to do it. But everyone else comes first, I spend 90% of my time trying to help other people, and the 10% that is left is just spent in pain and exhausted.

My life needs to get better or it's pointless.


Karen said...

Good for you Lyn! Putting yourself first is key to managing your life, health, relationships. Every thing goes better that way. For everybody. It's the difference between thriving and surviving. Awesome cunceling topic if you hit rough spots along the way.

My 2 cents :
Ditch the wheat , decrease the inflammation. Even occasional wheat can cause 1-2 flare ups for some people. think Primal. Think Paleo.

It won't be easy, but so worth it. And so much better to address it before a major heart attack, stroke, or worse. Controlling your diet is a huge part of that. And that is one thing you can control.

Safe travels and glad you are taking charge. Keep going. Karen P

Vickie said...

I was nearly immobile at 215 lbs because of what it did to my knees. I have no knee issues at 135-7 lbs. Losing the excess weight and also doing major PT to strengthen what needed strengthened made a huge difference for me. I am down to NO knee issues. I realize not everyone gets rid of all the problems, but I did. Ditto for my migraines, asthma, GI issues, insulin resistance, female issues, etc. I wrote in a comment to someone last week that if I had done what I needed to do for my secondary issues, I would never have been fat. I was sabotaging myself every which way. I broke my foot 18 days ago and after the first day (when I cried a lot over the stupidity of it because I did it to myself) I have been able to take it in stride. We absolutely have to take care of ourselves first to be able to take care of everyone else. And you are exactly right, teaching our kids is very important. If we do everything for them, we are not teaching them. There is a very fine line between teaching kids and dumping on them. Most of us were not taken care of (properly) as kids and have to sort of grow up as we raise our kids. this was a very good post for you. well written and important to your process.

Karen said...

Counseling topic!!!! That's the word I meant. Anyhoo, a good cognitive behavior counselor can be helpful if you find trouble setting boundaries.

Must proof read and drink one whole cup of coffee before typing.... ;)

Anonymous said...

Putting yourself first will give your loved ones more of you, not less.

You have been at this a long time. I admire your tenacity. I wish more people were so dedicated.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog for two years and I don't think I've ever commented before. I have so much admiration for your honesty as you struggle. I think you are making a wise decision to spend more time taking care of yourself.

About the plantar fascitis, I have had two bouts with this. The first was very bad and I was hobbled for months. I tried therapy and shots, rolling my foot on frozen water bottles, etc. Someone mentioned that Birkenstocks cured this for them. Desperate, I went out and bought a pair (they are not cheap, but you can usually find a pair for about $80 on Zappos). At first they hurt my feet, but after a few weeks, I noticed that I had no more pain. I never go barefoot, especially on tile, and I never wear flip flops anymore. Whenever I am inside on tile I wear my Birks. I also wear them almost every time I run errands.

The reason I went through the second bout of this is because the shoes wore out and I bought different shoes, thinking I was cured. As soon as it started coming back, I went out and bought another pair and within a week I was cured. I think I will probably have a pair of these shoes forever. I hope this helps you! ...I am praying for your son.

timothy said...

not selfish at all darlin, you have to take care of yourself and heal physically and mentallycause collapsing does no one any good.mayhaps you should have a talk with the kids about this as well so you're all on the same page. i'm sending reiki and prayers. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox

Anonymous said...

I was at the hospital this weekend for a sick family member and gave in to grains (the food choices were blech!) Now my back is killing me and Im taking the nsaids. This was really not smart for me since both the medicine and grains upset my stomach. Im feeling like you too! Your post helped me recenter, thanks Lynn.

Anonymous said...

The plantar fascitis and knee pain are probably related. When you have an injury, your body starts to compensate biomechanically in ways that can start to aggravate other parts of your body. Same thing happened to me. I had plantar fascitis, and then horrible knee pain on the upper/outside part of the knee.

I wish I could give you a quick fix on the PF, but it's just one of those horrible injuries that take a lot of time to heal. Make sure you are at least doing the following:
-wear supportive shoes from the time you get out of bed to when you get into bed, no barefeet ever in the house. This may mean you need a supportive pair of house shoes to switch your orthotics into if you don't like wearing shoes in the house.

-"clench" your feet whenever you are sitting around, like flexing the muscle of the bottom of your foot. Hold for a few seconds, release, repeat. This is to strengthen the bottom foot muscle.

Obviously, these are just little things to do that can help (though probably won't cure) your PF. It takes time, it sucks. Losing weight will probably help with the PF for sure, but ultimately it may have been caused by doing lots of activity in non-supportive shoes more than anything, so don't beat yourself up so much!

Your weight is by your own admission an issue, but it has not caused all your problems. Sometimes shit happens.

I'm sorry to hear about your children's health problems. Sending them and you my best wishes and thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I don't quite know how to say this without sounding mean. I, of course, considered not saying it, but I think reading it will help you to make sure you're not stuck in your head. I know you monitor your comments, so feel free to delete this.

Somewhere at the beginning of this post included the statement that you felt much better at 178. Clearly, your conclusion is that staying over 200 is playing a huge role in your current distress. I certainly agree. (Especially since I'm in the same boat. Just check out my hideous before/after/now photos on a recent post of mine for proof. Ugh.)

You opened, tho, and then followed thru with the thought that you needed to put yourself first and listed friends, pets, etc, that needed to be ordered differently as far as your time goes.

So, okay. Did I miss your statement on how attending to others made you eat enough food to maintain a weight of almost 220 pounds?

I mean, a play date for your daughter or a walk for the dog really doesn't add fat...or require the consumption of unhealthy, calorie-laden food. Those things, ostensibly, could keep you from food and burn a few cals in the process.

So. I suggest that you look a little closer at what it is exactly about extending yourself to others that causes you to eat too much.

Just saying "NO" to others won't make the needle on the scale go in the right direction. It's what yo put in your mouth that is the problem--regardless of whether "yes" or "no" comes out of it.

So, here's the question, just in case all of my words hid it: "What is it about putting others first that causes you to eat in a way that forestalls weight loss?"

Answer that in a specific way and you'll have the basis upon which to make your plans.

Hugs, Lyn.


Lori said...

It is a big change of mindset, but it is the right change. As a single mother of 5, you have more to do in one day that a lot of people do in a week. It is vital for you to be strong and healthy. The only way that will happen is if you make it happen. The way to do that is make yourself priority one.

It won't be an easy change. Nothing good ever is! But, you CAN do this.

Lyn said...


I know you're not mean at all. You've always been so supportive and I thank you. You made a good suggestion and I will spend some time thinking about that. Mainly the issues I am focused on are 1) getting enough sleep, because even when eating well I tend to stall when I'm not rested, and I also make poorer nutritional choices and have less desire and energy for exercise; 2) spending my time on others rather than on preparing my own healthy food, doing PT and exercising; 3) getting so stressed by all the *stuff* I need to do that I eat erratically... hours eating nothing and then whatever is available/easy for dinner. I am not binge eating, not really overeating calorie-wise, but I need to be well rested, fix healthy foods, and move more in order to stop maintaining and start losing.

I am sure there is more to it than that and I will mull it over. Thanks.

debby said...

Well I noticed that while you wrote mostly about making positive changes to put yourself first, you included an 'escape clause'--"I am going to say NO to people who ask me to do stuff right now, at least until I get my pain under control." So right after you get your pain under control, you go right back to the same behaviors that got you here in the first place? Don't do that! My mom was the best mom in the world, but she put herself first. And by doing that, she taught me that I had worth.

Rachelle said...

I can so re
Ate to this post. I have three children that are 3,2 & 1. I do the same thing you do I run myself down so much helping others that I get hurt or sick. I'm starting to change my mind frame with the help of my counsellor but bad habits die hard.

I'm glad you are taking care of yourself and as mothers we all feel selfish when we put our needs first but we really aren't being selfish at all.

Take care of yourself and I hope your knee gets better soon.

LHA said...

I wish I could write this in letters ten feet high: GOOD FOR YOU!!!!!! As women, especially as mothers, we are naturally inclined (and probably culturally expected) to put ourselves last at all times. This does not lead to good health most of the time. I love my four children just as you love your five, and I know how fierce that love is. We would lay down our lives for our children, no questions asked. However, as you pointed out, your children need you to be healthy to give them the mothering that they need in return.
Stay the course on this and make these resolutions stick. You are doing yourself and your family a big favor.

To Deb Willbefree, I would say that I totally understand what there is about not saying no that leads to weight gain. It is not valuing yourself and your health enough to say "no" to poor food choices because it's what the kids want, to sleep deprivation because you are so busy helping other people, to stress related illnesses because you are the only human on the planet who apparently can be home room mother, den mother, church volunteer, block captain, babysitter, volunteer coordinator, etc, etc, etc. It is that kind of continual giving of yourself that leads to the weight gain because you are constantly being swept along in the stream of other people's wants and needs.

Sorry to be long winded, but Lyn, I am older than you and understand what you are saying totally. My best advice...take your own advice here! Also, consider therapy, get meds for depression and sleep if needed, and continue to follow up on those medical issues. Good luck! We are all rooting for you!

Anonymous said...

Dear LHA.

You're absolutely right--those are good reasons, but you are not the one who needs to have that understanding, Lyn does. :)

I know that Lyn (Sorry about the third person, Lyn.)knows what the consequences of putting herself aside involves, it's simply important to pinpoint them specifically. Otherwise, one is in danger of having a vague idea that doesn't deliver concrete movement in the right direction.

And while your understanding is good in general, everyone has different specifics and different ways certain situations walk out in our lives. Lyn will think thru her own particulars--and would have done so without my question, I'm sure.

Finally, I wasn't denying the fact that not tending to one's self hinders weight loss. I totally get it--up close and personal.

Sigh. Old counselors never really retire, they just keep being helpful long after people quit asking...


Patty said...

I really think you can do it! That's what I do. I put myself first. OK, not all the time, but a lot of the time. You need to balance everything out. Ciao!

Vickie said...

Are you having any luck finding counseling/support in your area? if you belong to any foundation type groups because of your kids' diagnosis that would be a resource. Churches that we mentioned in another post are a possibility. Womens resources are sometimes there. Universities with graduate programs might have therapists in training available. I do not know if you have insurance, but if you do, a call to see what is available is smart. If you make one call a day, you will progress in seeing what is out there. An objective eye and kind ear can make a very big difference.

Anonymous said...

((((HUGS)))), just wanted to wish you well. Please take care of yourself! Prayers for your son.

i should be full said...

I'm so glad for you! I suspect this post came from a place of feeling down and despairing, but to me it reads like hope. So much good will flow from this moment.

You are not being selfish and no one who knows your journey would call you that.

Remember, all the effort you make for your family comes from the fact that you love them. Love yourself and you will see all the effort it takes to care for yourself will feel wonderful.

You are strong and vibrant and doing a wonderful job.

Lindsey said...

I had plantar fasciitis and I swear by Danskos. They even have tennis shoes now, which aren't too heinous.

donner said...

the most powerful word in the English language: NO

say it.

mean it.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering why you need to stay up late to train the dog. I've taken both my dogs to puppy obediance lessons when they were little and was told that its best to do it while they are young because past a year, their habits are in place and its very hard to change it so training should all be done by the time they are a year old. (unless its tricks) so am curious to know what training you are still doing with your dog at her age, especially if its keeping you up late at night.

Diandra said...

That's a great plan. Do you have any friends you could ask for support sometimes? Like, maybe, taking the kids somewhere they need to be or helping with errands?

Jes said...

I think Deb's post was very kindly meant, but I disagree. I believe that overeating is directly tied to lack of self-care. It's a complicated reward cycle/habit.

Lyn - I recently found a website that I HIGHLY recommend:

There are courses you can buy etc. but most of the content is free. Hosted by a psychologist/coach who specializes in women who are overwhelmed and overeating. I've been getting a lot out of it.

Hang in there. June is always brutal with kids.

Lyn said...


Yes, you're right about pet dogs needing their basic obedience as puppies, and we did puppy classes when she was younger. My hobby is dog sports and she is a competition dog, so we will do lifelong training in agility, tracking, and competition obedience. We do other dog sports as well like dock diving but that training takes place in the day. It's just easier to do a bit of training at night after the kids are in bed.

Lyn said...


most of my friends have small children and babies or toddlers, so I do not generally ask them to run errands for me or help unless it is an emergency (like I can't find a sitter for an appointment, or when I was sick.)


Thank you, I will check out that site. I do feel like I have too much on my plate!

Anonymous said...

Hey, Lyn. I've said something like this to you before, but now it's a bit more personal.

I want you to know just how much I notice your graciousness to others.

My first comment on this blog was pretty direct and I knew it would be hard to read. I wrote it that way o purpose so that you would be struck by the fact that just saying, "No" wouldn't solve the problem, in and of itsel. An additional step needed to be taken.

At any rate, while many readers misunderstood my comment (and given me some flack over it), it was clear from your response, that you got it. You were able to quickl list behavior changes that needed to accompany that "No."

I knew that you already knew those things, but pinpointing them like that helps.

Anyway, you got that I was trying to be helpful rather than harsh.

But you know what? Even if you hadn't understood my motivation or purpose, you would have STILL been gracious.

that's a gift. I notice it. I admire it.

Thank you.


Jes said...

I agree that Lyn is FAR more gracious than I would be reading some of these comments. I don't have patience for passive aggressiveness and the like, which is why I don't have a blog.

I also think we all pretty much have the same understanding of what's posted. I don't see any misinterpretation in this comment thread at all, and a great deal of polite, helpful commentary.

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