Taking care of me is my job… who knew?

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life, Products & Classes37 Comments

First things first, yes… that is my actual skin tone.

No, I’m not completely transparent nor am I related to the Cullen clan in any way.

Yes, I strategically placed that foam roller in such as way as to complement the overall look and feel of this photo because my stomach may or may not be exposed just a tad too much for a family-friendly blog.

But the most important part about this photo? I am wearing exercise clothes and when I am wearing exercise clothes, you can safely assume that I am attempting to take care of myself.

And that, my friends, is something that was sorely lacking in the latter half of 2018. And the lack of self care was a completely conscious choice. There was no, “Whaaaa? Why can’t I bend over to tie my shoes with ease?”

I can tell you exactly why: cheap red wine and plenty of potato chips.

Plus inertia. It gets me every single time.


So in December, when my nurse practitioner had requested that I follow up on a higher than usual blood pressure reading from a routine exam in November, and when that number was still elevated, I had a moment right there in the Cub Foods pharmacy and it was something like this: oh, shit… the jig is up.


I knew the way I was feeding my 52-year-old body wasn’t ideal. I was just hoping I could get away with it for a little big longer. Junk food is fun! Cheap red wine and the accompanying buzz? Also not half bad. But the reality is this: I can’t continue to do that if I truly want better health and I’m here to tell you, I’d rather have better health than a wine and chip hangover. And so, I started yet again with trying to do better.

I have chronicled my story of self care for years, on and off, here in this space. It really began in earnest when I kicked my 25-year smoking habit to the curb in 2006 and realized that the parts of my brain that lit up for nicotine also would light up for sugar. It’s kind of par for the course when you have an addictive personality.

I have that personality.

However, it’s both a strength and a weakness. In 2019, I’m going to make it my strength by doing what I know I need to do. Shape up. Drop the junk. And improve the quality of my health. See, as I’m in this middle place of life, I am connecting more to the fact that I do not have unlimited time. I think that’s an obvious statement, but it’s hard to really take in. I’m working on taking it in because as soon as I do, I will actually make changes and do what I know is needed to be healthier and hopefully, live a longer life.

When I don’t do what is needed but say I want to be strong and healthy, then I am being incongruent. Incongruencies create internal discord and come out in all kinds of weird ways. Trust me. I have YEARS of experience with this for myself personally.

So when I say the jig is up, I am saying this to remind myself that one of my jobs is to do better for me. And so, I start again.


Will I finally solve the puzzle? Well, it’s not a puzzle that can be solved. It’s actually an ongoing process. That’s it. And it’s my job alone to do, and I believe I can handle it. Even if I am saying this for the zillionth time to myself, I keep trying. There is no shame in continuing to try.

And nothing like a new day at hand to have the opportunity.


Want to do better?. This is the attitude I bring to my students and to our classroom community. If it sounds like something you want to be a part of, join us! You can register any time from now until June 30, 2019.

Cathy ZielskeTaking care of me is my job… who knew?

37 Comments on “Taking care of me is my job… who knew?”

  1. #1
    Amanda Schnabel

    Thank you for this! Your ability to share the stuff-of-life, every day thoughts/issues/joys with the rest of us makes my day. Thank you for taking the time to do it! I started walking (almost daily) about 2 years ago when I realized my own Chips-and-Wine habit was not helping and haven’t looked back. The daily dose of fresh air and movement has been all for the best. Wishing you great luck this year in your self-care. You can do it!

    1. #1.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Thanks, Amanda. Yeah, I won’t lie: it’s easy for me to get into the non-move groove, sit in my dining room where I craft, and have the wine and chips and just make a little party for one. BUT, it was taking a toll on my health and it’s time to shape up. It’s not about getting skinny or anything like that. I’m just wanting to be healthier. 🙂

  2. #2
    Julie Peddicord

    If there’s one thing I’ve discovered is that one has to schedule in exercise exactly like one schedules in work, lunch and sleep. It’s too easy for it to be the one thing you let go of when you’re crunched for time. Make the time. We are worth it.

    1. #2.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Absolutely agree. Last half of 2018, I prioritized work over everything. I need more balance than that.

  3. #3


    I appreciate your open candidness – especially what you said about being incongruent.

    Your statement “When I don’t do what is needed but say I want to be strong and healthy, then I am being incongruent.” can translate to other parts of life. Just replace the words “strong & healthy” with other topics such “mindful of my spending…”, “organized & live simply…”, “out of debt…”, “more thoughtful of others…”, “clutter-free…”, etc.

    Your statement “Incongruencies create internal discord and come out in all kinds of weird ways.” also rings true.

    Thanks for giving me something to think about – may the thinking translate into action!

    Here’s to a healthier 2019!

    1. #3.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Melissa, you can thank my therapist for those statements. She’s trying to teach me a lot about my behaviors and choices over the years… the stuff that I am working to change. Why just last week she told me I was impossible because I often will say one thing and mean another (in my personal relationships, mind you.) There is always something to work on. 🙂

  4. #4
    Lisa Russo

    I gave up my nightly glass (or 2) of wine when Vic went alcohol-free (training for his 1st Ironman). That’s when I realized it was nothing but a habit for me. I would start thinking about wine around 4 p.m. Oy!

    Took maybe 2 weeks to break the habit and I don’t miss it at all. I’ve pretty much cut it out entirely, save for maybe one glass occasionally during a dinner out. I feel so much better every day without it. I sleep better, I’m wide awake and ready to GO at 7 a.m.

    I’m also mean and have a good time at my Sunday morning workouts observing folks who perhaps should have followed suit. lol ;P

    1. #4.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Lisa, the thing with me, and I know it… it was the sugar rush that came from both the wine and the chips! Those things break down in the blood and convert to sugar, so it lights up my brain like a Christmas tree. I decided to go dry for January, because the reality is: i don’t even love the taste. I really don’t. I like how wine tastes with OTHER things… like chips, or a fine tray of charcuterie. Oh, and the buzz. I like the buzz.

      But the buzz was helping me to relieve stress and anxiety. That isn’t how I want to handle my life, you know? I had a glass or two of wine at dinner the other night with friends, and it was no big deal.

      I think I prefer not drinking to drinking. And for me, that’s going to be just fine for now.

      Also, GO Vic on the Ironman. Because… damn!

      1. #4.1.1

        Cathy, I struggle with the same wine thing. I have been wanting to give it up for some time now (think 3 years!) but really love the buzz. It relaxes my brain and allows me to deal with anxiety. And I am now worried that I won’t be able to deal with the anxiety without wine. Not exactly where I wanted to be at this point in my life (mid 40’s) but I keep showing up and trying. That’s what’s important. Keep up the good work and thats for the real life posts. Life’s hard sometimes but way easier when shared.

        1. #
          Cathy Zielske

          I was pretty aware that I was also using it to check out, and not be in reality. 🙂 That was also a sign to me. I need pain and joy for a balanced life, so… no need to dull the pain where there is some. It gives me information that I need.

  5. #5

    Just keep coming back. That’s been my mantra this past year. Eat poorly at lunch? Choose better at dinner. Make a bad choice today? Choose better tomorrow. I joined Weight Watchers (for the 27th time) last February and have lost 30 pounds. A feat of which I have never seen the likes of. But that’s maybe the halfway point. Yes, we had the holidays but I’m a bit stalled. I wasn’t sure if I would do Fit 2019 this time around, as I pretty much fell off the wagon last year. However. Given my current stalled, not really doing so well with taking care of myself, I think I will jump back in (just keep coming back) on this last day of $5 savings and get a boost in my wellness journey. Thank you, for all you share and all you do. ❤️

    1. #5.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Keep coming back is totally it. 🙂 And I think you’ll love the group this year. They are really kind and supportive! (But they are every year! It’s a good place to be!)

  6. #6

    I hear ya. Bourbon & chocolate is wine & chips. My husband and I started a Whole 30 yesterday. At 6pm, in a fit of frustration over wireless headphones not connecting to the TV by the treadmill…my first thought was “I could use a drink.” It’s a total coping mechanism for me, and based on the 15lbs I’ve gained over the past few months, clearly I’ve had a lot to cope with.

    1. #6.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Oh yes… I hear that. I had more days than I would like to admit and had that, “Is it 5 p.m. yet” so I could open that bottle of Menage a Trois.

      That’s not really how I want to unwind and deal with stress. 🙂

  7. #7
    Kay Gregory-Clark

    My Santa was so “good” to me—stocking filled with M&Ms, Peanut Butter Cups, Dove candies, etc., and a very expensive box of really fancy, delish chocolates. That’s in addition to all the pre-tween-post-holiday sugar. So, I’m sluggish and 7 pounds overweight. But what do I do with all that wonderful candy?! I’ve fallen into the habit of having some every night. Just a piece. And another. And another. Can’t get past 9:30 p.m. without it. I THINK I’m hungry, but am I really? I don’t really get a “sugar rush,” and I THINK it makes me sleep better. Ha! I’ve known for at least 2 weeks I need to stop, but with all that good stuff hanging around—I just can’t seem to do it. For me it’s not about stress or coping—I just love eating it. And of course it’s habit. Thanks, Cathy, for all the reminders and inspiration. The jig is up!

    1. #7.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I sort of just avoid obvious sugars (and as many not so obvious) as I can. I do better without any of it. But it’s pretty much in so many foods. You sound like you have a great attitude!

  8. #8
    Glenda Thorne

    Great attitude, Cathy! I’m doing a sugar detox for the month of January with our local Health & Fitness centre. I won’t do 100% ( not in my DNA either) but I feel much better since giving up quite a bit of processed sugar. I’m eating more healthy, natural sugar ( fruits & veggies) and 1 small piece of dark chocolate with Turmeric organic tea a day. I’ve even learned to love overnight oatmeal, a surprise to me. Like you, I love my red wine and potato chips, but haven’t craved either ( for now). I hope to continue this routine for the year and yes I will slip up, like the other night, a PB cookie was calling me at 9:00p.m. and darn, I ate it. But the ahhh moment for me was that it didn’t taste that good, woot! woot!. Wish you all the success and don’t feel defeated if you give into a craving, it’s going to happen. We are human after all. Forgive yourself and move onto the next day.

    1. #8.1
      Cathy Zielske

      We are human. Food is to be enjoyed. I just want it to nourish me more often than not. 🙂

  9. #9

    Thanks for your honesty. We are twins, except I’m white wine and Sour Cream and Onion Ruffles (Canadian thing ;). I have gone back to Keto for 2019, have even go the husband doing it (although I’m doing all the cooking so he thinks he has a personal chef!) I will be 60 this year, although I know I don’t look it, but the weight has creeped up these last few years. I started Pilates and love how it makes me feel — and that the Pilates machine in the basement is actually being used for the first time in years. It’s interesting to read how we women all cope with stress by enjoying a little buzz, I don’t stress easily but I do find it a habit to pour a drink. I switched to Rye and Diet Coke or Vodka and soda with Crystal Light, but it definitely impacts my weight loss, so trying to cut it out completely during the week. It made me realize how much I drink, which is probably too much…. Good luck with your journey, please keep us posted. Thank you again, your writing is so inspiring.

    1. #9.1
      Cathy Zielske

      That combo sounds great, too! lol. One of my dear friends has been feeling amazing on Keto… I will continue to write about this in 2019!

    1. #10.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I’m sorry you’re feeling hopeless. I know that feeling. Been there many times. But you can only change what you want to try to change. You have to start somewhere. I remind myself of this every single time. It always starts with my attitude. 🙂

  10. #11
    Deb M

    Good for you! I had a similar experience this fall with high blood pressure, which forced me to get serious about what I was eating to avoid a slew of medicine. I’ve got autoimmune issues, so have been gluten and dairy free, but sugar is a weakness. Went back to strict Wheat Belly/paleo and I’m down almost 20 lbs, but more important have energy again.

    1. #11.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Yeah, I have experimented with dropping gluten (which I am mostly doing now, too). It always gives me good results.

  11. #12
    Kelly Chase

    Great post! I started doing my job of “taking care of me” in August 2017. I’m a couple yes older than you and live in the same area as you do.
    I seriously changed what I ate and tracked everything in the My Fitness Pal app. I drank plenty of water, walked and did water aerobics for exercise. I also got enough sleep.
    I lost 60 lbs. in 6 months and I’ve kept the weight off for 10 months.
    Having the right food at home and mindset was key for me.
    I joined your FIT class this year to get new ideas and inspiration so I don’t get tired of what I’ve eaten or done for the last 16 months.
    I’m looking forward to a great 2019!

  12. #13
    Antoinette Naude

    I just absolutely adore you and they way you write. Wouldn’t want anyone else to guide me through this process to be honest. I’ve been an alumni student since the first one and your style and teaching methods are so fun and beautiful.
    As you say, no shame in continuing to try and that’s more than not trying at all.

    1. #13.1
      Cathy Zielske

      You are very kind. 🙂 And I’m so grateful for long time students who keep coming back!

  13. #14
    Carolyn Wrightchp

    I love reading your thoughts Cathy. You use just the right amount of humour & reality to get your point across. So grateful to learn from you these last few years with the Fit classes. I’m doing better in trying to find balance in exercise & eating but I still want to be more intentional in taking care of my self more as I get older.

  14. #15

    I love that you are so real. We all struggle, have issues and make mistakes. Your post is a great reminder to try and do better for #1, ourselves. I mean really, why wouldn’t we take care of our bodies the best way we can. (hint:because it’s fun to throw caution to the wind)

    I prefer to work out than change my eating habits. Again, not the smartest but sometimes it’s one day at a time. I’m back on the workout wagon, so next week I’ll start with food, mostly plant based. But you can’t work off 6 chocolate oreos. I mean I just can’t. haha~
    Anyway, thank you and keep doing the best you can and sharing of yourself.

  15. #16

    Oh 2 more things.
    I’m glad you are finishing your PL album. I couldn’t find on your site approximately how much you book costs. I’m trying digital PL this year myself.
    Also, if you haven’t taken your new pan back, the Plant Based people just saute food with veggie stock and/or water. No oil in the true plant based diet, vegan style. just an FYI.

    1. #16.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Hey Julie!

      It costs anywhere from $140 to $200 to print, depending on how many pages are in your book! Will report back when I order it and get it back!

  16. #17

    Cathy you might consider reading the book Bright Line Eating by Susan Peirce Thompson.
    Much of what she talks about has to do with addiction and sugar.
    It has made a huge difference for me.

  17. #18

    Thank you for sharing.
    I struggle with this type of behavior as well.
    Logically I know…..small portions and healthier choices. Realistically I buy snacks “just in case” I am still hungry. If snacks (salty -chips and sweet-chocolate) are around, I want to eat them.
    Thankfully, I think I’ve finally figured it out. Better late, than never.
    Self care and the journey it entails, isn’t for the faint of heart. Knowing, one’s true self is the hardest journey of them all.
    One day at a time is my new motto.
    I have been a CZ fan since your first Clean and Simple book. I love the C&S sequel book too. I keep hoping you’ll write a third book. Maybe >> Clean and Simple “Insights about life”.
    Your insight is profound, because you keep it real.
    Best regards!

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