I’ve definitely been slacking on my blogging and I sincerely apologize! I’m learning so much and doing so many new things, and sometimes I’m not sure where to start and what to write about. I recently shared on Instagram that I have leaky gut syndrome and I started the GAPS diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome). I have already seen some great results and I can’t wait to share to share them with you. There will be a blog post very soon explaining in more detail what I’ve learned about leaky gut and the GAPS Diet. Today I want to take the time to pin point a few key things that have really helped me on this journey to healing. Hopefully these tools can help you as well.
1. Positive Thoughts and Words
It's so important to change your mindset about your situation, whatever it may be, as you work on healing and growing. If you continue to speak negatively then you will most likely remain in a negative situation. Instead of focusing on the problem, start to focus on the solution and things that you can actively do to improve your circumstances: work on correcting negative thoughts about yourself; tell yourself every day how wonderful you are; reflect on how much progress you've made; and encourage yourself to keep pushing. Start speaking into existence that your situation has turned around. I make a conscious effort to speak healing over my body every single day. I’m not where I want to be, but my overall health and attitude has improved tremendously since these breakouts first started. I truly believe my biggest accomplishment throughout this whole experience has been changing my attitude. I still have to adjust it some days, but every moment is an opportunity to think positive and loving thoughts about myself. If you want to change your circumstances you HAVE to change your mindset.
2. Keep a Journal
Keeping a journal helps me clear my mind and organize my thoughts. A lot of times my thoughts are moving so quickly that I just get overwhelmed with all of the ideas and emotions running through me. Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, pick up a pen and paper, get on your computer, or jot down a note in your phone to try and work through your thoughts and emotions. It’s okay to feel sad, frustrated, angry, and overwhelmed. The important thing is not to stay there! Use those feelings as fuel to keep going. Get out how you feel and you’ll be surprised at how it helps you see the bigger picture. I even go back and read old journal entries from time to time. It always amazes me how much I’ve grown when I remind myself of who I used to be and what I used to struggle with. Don’t be afraid of the thoughts running through your head and the emotions raging through your blood. Acknowledge and work through them so you can gain a better understanding of yourself and learn what you need to be the best you.
3. Meal Prep
This is more for people who are recovering from eating disorders or attempting to change their eating habits. It’s also very helpful when you have to adhere to a strict diet. When I meal prep properly I don’t cheat on The GAPS Diet, but when I don’t plan ahead I struggle. I could definitely improve my meal prepping habits. Not only does it help me stick to The GAPS Diet, I've found that when I cook in bulk and plan my meals in advance I don't overeat. This is another area I still struggle with (post coming soon). When I don’t plan, I usually end up waiting too long to eat because I don’t have a meal prepped, and then I eat everything in sight, because I’m so hungry. When you have food already prepared and ready to eat you won't be as tempted to go and binge on fast food or whatever your trigger food may be. Failing to plan is planning to fail. If meal prepping scares you (don’t be ashamed because I was scared too) start off by cooking one huge batch of your favorite dish that you can eat for lunch every day. If you’d rather start with dinner or breakfast, do that! Once you feel confident with that one meal, add in breakfast or dinner for the week. You get the point. Start small and add on until you feel as though you can handle preparing multiple meals for one week. And if a week is too long, prep for 3 days at a time. I usually don’t cook enough for one week, but I cook in bulk and give myself options so I always have something and I don’t get bored with my meals. Do whatever works for you!
4. Be Active
This is such an important tool for anyone who is trying to heal, whether physically or emotionally. Being active releases endorphins which improve your mood and overall health. There are days when I just don’t feel like going to the gym, but after I finish my workout I feel amazing and ready to conquer the world. Exercise has truly become an addiction for me (a healthy one). It's gotten to the point where I feel wrong if I don't make it to the gym or yoga or dance class or do something active almost every day. And when I'm consistently active it encourages me to eat healthier. I'm not telling you to get a gym membership and start heavy lifting tomorrow, but I encourage you to find something you enjoy doing that gets you working up a sweat. That can be yoga, bike riding, walking, Pilates, dance class, barre class, kick-boxing, tennis...whatever! Just get your heart rate pumping and your body moving. You'll love yourself for it.
5. Prayer and Meditation
Prayer and spending time in The Word and with God has been essential for my healing. Whether you believe in God or not, I think it's important to have some sort of meditation or reflection time every day to center yourself and prepare yourself for the day. For me, that means starting my day in the presence of God. My days are always greater when I take this time out in the morning to get my mind and spirit right. It helps me keep things in perspective and replenishes me when I feel too weak to keep going. Aligning my spirit with God's will gives me direction, guidance, encouragement and confirmation that everything I'm experiencing is for a greater good.
6. Surround Yourself with Things You Love
Surrounding yourself with people and things that you love is vital! Don't allow negative energy in your space. Spending time with loved ones and people you enjoy is a sure way to lift your spirits and add more joy to your life. It's also important to take time for yourself. Plan a "me day." When you have time off, take a day to do some of your favorite things; pamper yourself, nourish your mind, eat good food, go to a museum, see some art. Whatever it is you love, make the time to indulge in it. You'll feel refreshed and ready to keep pushing after you've taken care of yourself. For me, I chopped my hair off and dyed it blonde because it's always something I've wanted to do. Then I decided to travel to NY, DC, Chicago and New Orleans because I wanted to visit some friends and have a good time. In a way, this process has made me a lot more fearless. I'm a little extreme, but the point is, do what makes you happy.
7. Allow Room for Error!
Don't expect change overnight. Healing takes time and we often jeopardize our progress when we're so focused on hitting a deadline. I continued to get frustrated when I wasn't perfectly healed in the amount of time I gave myself for healing. I was so focused on the end result that many times I neglected to celebrate the progress I was making. I focused on the ways that I messed up by eating too much, not being consistent with the gym, or not eating the right things. I also blamed myself, and honestly still do sometimes, when I have random breakouts. I usually reason that if I had adhered to a stricter diet I wouldn't be suffering from skin issues. The frustration stems from things not happening on my timing, when the truth is I'm learning and growing in amazing ways during this process, even when it is frustrating. Probably more so when it is frustrating. Allow yourself some room for error and learn and grow through your healing process. Celebrate the small victories, and don't hesitate to get right back up and keep moving forward after you fall. A setback is only a setup for a comeback.
I hope these tools are helpful for anyone trying to create better habits and working towards healing their mind, body and spirit. I have to work on all of these steps constantly. I have a tendency to be too hard on myself and I get frustrated when things don't go my way. But like I said, it's all a learning and growing process. Take it one day at a time, and pretty soon you're going to look back and be shocked at how far you've come. Sometimes I still can't believe that I made this blog a reality. Progress! Until next time loves. I’ll be spilling all the beans on leaky gut, The GAPS Diet and what I’ve been eating for the past few weeks.
I'm Lauren, aka Just Du Pree, and I want to thank you for reading. This is a space where I share my very personal journey healing from eczema and topical steroid withdrawal (among other things), life lessons I've learned along the way, and occasionally the thoughts of an awkward Black girl (no Issa Rae). I'm a performer and filmmaker, so if you feel so inclined, pop over here to see what goes on in my mind on the regular. If you like what you see, you can stay up to date with my work here. Much love, friends!