On Cheeseticks and Values

I’ll never forget the commute.


I had to be on the road at exactly 10:18 PM to make it on time. Usually I was just wearing my PJ’s or workout clothes, because I would change into surgical scrubs when I got to work. I’d grab my backpack, badge, a book, and snacks consisting of a cheese stick, green apple, and cashews. Finally, I’d brew a large vat of coffee and take it to go. Start the car, back out of the driveway, pull onto the freeway, and begin the trek towards my night shift nursing job. I would d sit there, slowing sipping coffee and coaching myself through empowering phrases like, “take this one hour at a time,” “you can do hard things, Brooke,” and “you will have the energy you need in each moment as it comes.” I envied the sleeping, quiet world in the form of dozens of houses I passed, dark and still. I wished I could be like them, warm and comfortable in my bed. My body was tired. I’d sleep 4 hours on average during the day, 5 if I was lucky. I pulled many 24-hr stints of wakefulness. The longer I worked nightshift, the more I felt a disconnect with how I lived. My values were not reflecting the ways I was living. I was passionate about wellness and pursuing it for myself, but at the same time, forcing my body to function in a way that felt so wrong. I knew it wasn’t sustainable for my life. Eventually, I moved into an evening shift (3p-11p) position and have been working that ever since. While I would probably do it again temporarily, working the night shift did not support my long-term values and I knew I would have to make a change.


Have you ever made a decision that makes you feel stuck? Out of whack? Exhausted? Maybe it’s gotten to the point where you don’t even feel like yourself anymore. I think we can all relate to this place, and before you go beating yourself up or forcing yourself to continue in this trajectory, hear this: those messages and feelings of disconnect are there for a reason. I encourage you to not ignore them or dismiss them as irrelevant. Instead, take time to press into the discomfort and examine what can change to help you regain a healthy mindset in your life.


In my last post, I discussed the importance of being active participants in our own health. I talked about what holistic health means and how you can apply that idea to caring for yourself. I firmly believe that health does not have to be some lofty, unattainable goal. It CAN be realistic and practiced every single day without becoming an obsession.


In today’s post, I’ll be discussing health-based values. Yeah, I know. It’s not the most intriguing topic in the world, but it’s so, SO important. Identifying your values are important because they help you to identify your WHY. It gives you a reason beyond sheer willpower to make changes and stick with them. Identifying values allows you to weed out the voices that continually clamber for your attention but serve as a distraction more than a help. In order to make choices that align with your health goals, you must be clear on you reason for doing them in the first place.


While there are many areas of life that can benefit from identifying values, I’ll be focusing on health because that’s my jam as a nurse coach. Today we’re going to address these questions: what is a health value and how do I identify mine? How do I made decisions based on those values?


What is a health-based value and how do I identify mine?

A health-based value is an aspect of our life that is important to us as it relates to our wellbeing. As simple as it may seem, identifying values brings clarity to the choices we make in life. Because it’s so easy to get sidetracked by distraction or lack of clarity until values are identified, one of the BEST ways to start is just by brainstorming a list. I encourage you to think through your life, not just in terms of how much exercise you do or what you eat on a daily basis, but in ALL areas of your wellbeing as we talked about in the first post. Here are some examples of health-based values:

  • I value feeling heard and seen by my doctor.

  • I value having a healthy relationship with food, eating but not obsessing over foods that not only fuel my body, but nourish me from the inside out.

  • I value feeling supported and connected with others.

  • I value having the time to read quality content and engage my mind with new ideas.

  • I value seeing the beauty of the outdoors up close and personal.

  • I value incorporating movement into my lifestyle, which helps me feel strong and prevent against injury as best as I can.

  • I value not feeling stressed out and/or distracted all the time, but able to stay present in the moment.


How do I make decisions based on those values?

Okay, this may seem all fine and dandy, but how exactly does this play out in real life? What do you do with this list? Now it’s time to take a closer look at each value and find out how you can realistically incorporate these into your lifestyle. Remember that there’s an ebb and flow to each value. Sometimes you’ll focus more on one than the other, and that’s perfectly okay! Listen to what your body truly needs, and follow your intuition. As humans, we are dynamic (not static) in our needs, goals, and capacities. Take each value and think about a few specific actions you can take to support those values. Here are some examples of what that could look like:


I value feeling heard and seen by my doctor.

  • Make a list of questions for my provider for the next time I see her.

  • Bring specific research materials to show my doctor to help support my questions/concerns.

  • Don’t be afraid to switch providers if I’m feeling uncomfortable or dismissed. Or ask for a second opinion.

I value feeling strong and preventing injury as best as I can.

  • Twice weekly at-home workout specifically targeting injury-prone areas like back, shoulders, and ankles.

  • Consult PT or personal trainer regarding specific exercises for injury prevention.

  • LISTEN to my body. If I need to rest, take a day of rest and nap or do some light stretching. If I feel great, push a little bit and enjoy the post-workout adrenaline.

I value having a healthy relationship with food, eating but not obsessing over foods that not only fuel my body, but nourish me from the inside out.

  • Learn to grow in-tune with my body’s needs.

  • Identify unhealthy food attachment patterns, and seek support if needed.

  • Purchase a cookbook/follow websites with recipes that I enjoy and make me feel good.

  • Shop locally if at all possible.

  • Prep healthy snacks weekly like hard boiled eggs, energy bites, fresh veggies, and cheese sticks in advance so that I have options when I’m hungry.

It’s worth reiterating that everyone is different and your goals should reflect your unique lifestyle. Listing out specific actions should not feel stressful or binding. In fact, it should be freeing. Your goal is not to be a rigid taskmaster, but to be an intentional, joyful participant in your own health. The number of choices and directions in life can be utterly overwhelming. Having clarity on what’s important to you will help you make the day-to-day decisions. This is where the help of a health coach or an accountability can be tremendously useful. Don’t be afraid to join a support group, ask a friend to check in with you routinely, or hire a coach to help you gain clarity as you learn to listen to your body’s needs.


As you do this exercise, remember that health is fluid, and your needs will change depending on the season you’re in. Have plenty of flexibility and work to be gentle with yourself. It starts with understanding what health even means for you, why it’s important to you, and what you can do to take one step at a time to care for yourself.


If you choose to take the time to write out your health values, I would absolutely LOVE to hear them! Let me know in the comments below or shoot me a DM. Let’s celebrate your progress together.


XOXO,

Brooke