Turning The Tide On Your Healthy Routines

Kids provide such great illustrations!

September is the month to get back to our healthy routines. School is back in session for many who have kids, but even for those of us who don’t, it feels like a time to get refocused. Do you have some healthy habits that went by the wayside over the summer months? Are you ready to turn the tide back in the right direction?

Over Labor Day weekend, I was relaxing around the hotel pool with family watching the kids create a whirlpool in the water. They were having a ton of fun getting the water to move in one direction and feel the current start to pull them along without much effort. What was really fun for us adults who were watching was to see them try to stop and turn in the direction of the current. Their eyes would get really big and the look of surprise came across their faces when they realized how difficult it was going to be, pushing against the tide.

That is exactly how we feel when it is time to get back on track with our healthy habits. We have allowed them to slip a little bit, we have gone along with the current of life, allowing it to pull us long. Now it is time to get back on track, so we turn into the tide.

We have the same reaction my nieces and nephew had in the pool:

  • Their eyes opened up real wide in surprise! I don’t know about you, but when I go back to the gym after a period of time off, I think that I should be able to start right where I left off. Hee Hee! NOPE! Every single time I am surprised by the fact that it feels like I have to start from scratch. Yes, you will probably be surprised when you step back into your healthy habit if you have taken a break for a while, but don’t let that stop you!
  • They actually place one foot behind them to brace themselves against the oncoming current. Because we are starting fresh, it takes a little bit to brace ourselves as we try to get going in a new direction. There will be a time of adjustment, and that is okay! The key is that you are standing firm and not allowing the current to push you backwards. You’ve got this!
  • They leaned forward into the tide. Because you know you can accomplish great things, you lean forward in determination. You look straight ahead with you eye on your goal and you go against the feelings of un-motivation or laziness. You are determined to move forward.
  • They took one difficult step at a time. Your starting to move forward! It is not easy, but you do it! The work is hard, but you feel a sense of accomplishment when you are done!
  • The tide started to turn. Before you know it, your routine becomes easier and easier! You feel the momentum going in the right direction!
  • Watch for tide busters! One of my nephews decided that he wanted to have fun and disrupt the tide the other kids were working so hard to create. They were all having a ton of fun, but it reminded me that there are many things that can stop your momentum. Some are within our control like laziness and excuses. Others are out of our control, like illness. Whatever the tide buster is, the key to success is to get moving back in the right direction as quickly as you can.
  • They turned the tide and so can you! Whatever healthy routine you want to get refocused on, get out there and get going! It might be challenging at first, but you will get back into a great routine and be back on track in no time!

Here’s to having fun splashing around in the tide, but ultimately taking charge of it and turning the tide in the direction you want!

 

Photo by Juan Salamanca from Pexels

Take A Break? Are You Kidding Me!?!

My Summer Experiment

You start your day and get dialed in to what you need to accomplish that day. Your “to-do” list expands faster than you can remove items from it and you have not even pulled out of the driveway. Whether you work inside your home or outside of your home, the demands on your time are never-ending. How could you even consider taking a few minutes to do nothing? To take a break?

One of my summer reads challenged me to start to take breaks in my day and in my life. The book Peak Performance by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness shared sound evidence stating that I would actually come out ahead if I took a few short breaks in my day.

This is counter-intuitive to the way my mind works. I feel like I will get more done if I keep plugging away, with no stops. Okay, maybe a bathroom break every once in a while, but only when it is an emergency! Brad and Steve were very convincing in their argument and their research. Convincing enough to motivate me to give it a try. It unexpectedly turned into my own personal experiment.

I started by setting the alarm on my phone for a morning and afternoon break. Once the alarm went off, I would find a natural stopping point in my work and take a ten minute break. One thing I have learned, before I get too much farther, is the longer I wait to take my break after may alarm sounds, the more likely I am to keep working and forget my break entirely.

Once my alarm sounds I head to the back steps of our office building for my break. The recommendations of this break is to allow your mind to wander and relax, not strategize your work for the rest of your day. There has been evidence shown that going outside is beneficial, and walking or adding in some sort of movement, is great too. I have heard of individuals going up and down the staircases at their work. Wow, what great exercise that would be. Each one of us work in completely different environments, so we do the best with what we have. The key is to allow our minds to wander during this time.

Here is what my experiment has revealed. The days I take my morning and afternoon break, along with my lunch break, I feel less “brain fried” at the end of the day. No joke! I have found dramatic results. The days I forget to take my breaks, I drive home like a zombie. My brain is wasted. I find that when I take my breaks during the day, I can work well all the way until the end of the day. When I forget a break,  I start to slow down by the end of my work day. When I take my breaks, I feel better and have more energy left for my evenings.

I have to tell you that I did not expect these results when I start taking breaks. The results are unmistakable. Breaks make a HUGE difference. I work better and I have more left over at the end of the day.

Two ten minute breaks and a lunch break is what I challenge you to try. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss one, because I still forget one here and there. Give it a few weeks and pay attention to the difference it makes. I know, for me, this is a lifelong habit that I want to create.

Here’s to trying something new, creating a habit that is great for you and those you love!

It’s Important to Reboot!

Four benefits to powering down

What is our first response when our smartphones or computers start to act quirky or get sluggish? We power them down. You know, you and I need the same thing, and summer is a great time to reboot our lives. Powering down and unplugging allows our minds and bodies to get some much-needed downtime.

Four benefits to powering down:

It allows your mind to rest. I was talking to a friend recently. She set off for a week-long adventure biking across the state of Missouri. She said it took her almost two days to allow her mind to slow down and to not think about her job. She said that once she did, she felt great. It really does feel great to allow our minds to rest and wander. If fact, there is more and more research showing that it is through this time that we allow our minds to wonder and rest when our minds actually grow. Yes, using our mind helps them grow, but over use is detrimental. Using our minds, then resting them, allows them to grow. So many times we forget how important downtime is for our minds, and ultimately, our well-being.

It can be good for your body. So many times, it is during downtime that we find time to do the things that feel good for us. Some of those things can be unhealthy, but some of them can be wonderfully healthy. It is good for your body to take that nap that you never have time to take. It is good for your body to get out on that walk or run that you would love to fit into your everyday life. It is fun to get out and try something that you have never tried before and take an adventure. Reboot your body by doing something that is good for it, even if that is catching up on some sleep.

It can be good for your relationships. Life is hectic and busy. Some days we cross paths with those we love as one is coming and the other is going. Or, like my husband and I, at the end of a work day, we try to put work behind us for the day, therefore we don’t talk much about it. It is during the downtime that we have together that we can really share how things are going, how we feel about things and where we want to go in the future. Downtime is a great time to reconnect with those you love.

It is good for our emotional well-being. I don’t know about you, but sometimes during my work week I really have to hold my emotions together. We all deal with a variety of personalities each day of our lives and boy, they can be challenging. Holding it together at a professional level takes a lot of energy. It is important to remove ourselves from that level of stress on a regular basis. Even more than that, it is important to have fun, be silly, do whatever it is that you enjoy. We all need an emotional break from our day-to-day life.

I could go on and on, but you want to read a blog post, not a dissertation. I hope this post will allow you to see the importance of downtime and allow you to give yourself permission to fit some into your calendar. It is good for you and those you love.

Here’s to some great downtime this summer!

P.S. Start scheduling downtime now for the fall and winter too!

 

The Not So Pretty Side to Busyness

And How to Change it!

We are all very busy, there is not doubt about it. Some of us enjoy the busy lifestyle and others don’t like it so much. I am starting to see a new trend that comes along with our busyness, that is becoming the new “norm” in our world, and I don’t think it is a good thing. I think we all want to do better!

Our busyness is turning us into not-so-nice people. I know we don’t have any intention of being unpleasant, but when we are busy, all we can do is focus on our world. People outside of that world can be treated poorly and we are too busy to even notice. To top it off, we are teaching our next generation that this is normal.

I want us to think about a few scenarios, and I want you to know that I am pulling right out of the Jen Regan play book. Most of these things I have found myself doing in the midst of my busy life, and they simply feel wrong.

I have been harsh to someone because they mildly inconvenienced me. I drop off my dry cleaning once a week early in the morning so that I can pick it up that evening. I get off of work at 5:00pm and that is when my dry cleaning is scheduled to be ready for pick-up. One night, the delivery person was running late to the dry cleaner and my clothes were not there. I became very frustrated and took it out on the very sweet young lady on the other side of the counter. You might, say “Jen, you had every right to be mad!” Maybe I did, but that is not the type of person I want to be. I want to be patient, just as I want people to be patient with me when I mess up. I looked back on that night and I was trying to fit too many things into a short amount of time. I did not leave any room for inconvenience, so when it hit, I blew up. I want to do better!

I have rushed around the grocery store with a scowl on my face, not caring who I walked in front of to get to the toilet paper isle. Again, I’m very busy and I have a number of things that I need to get done on my way home from work. I’m too busy to let the person walking in with me, go in front of me, so I just barge my way in first. I am in my own world, needing to get in and get out,  that I don’t even realize the people I walk in front of. Then there is the race to the check-out line. I have to tell you, I am kind of embarrassed to admit this stuff, but I have done it, all when I am simply too busy.

I witness on a daily basis a driver whip across three lanes of traffic, almost causing an accident, because they forgot they needed to run by the Pharmacy on the way home. When I am driving, my brain is thinking about a million things. I have driven past my destination numerous times because my mind was somewhere else. Unfortunately, many people remember at the last-minute, swerve across traffic and put many other people in danger in the process. It is not polite at all.

I know this is not my normal positive post, but we need to think about the people that we really want to be. We need to think about the next generation that we are teaching through our example. I think we want to be the smiling, loving, generous people in our world, and busyness is keeping us from living that out many times.

I encourage all of us to think about the kind of person we want to be, slow life down, and be intentional about being that kind of person. I know this post has hit home for me and I need to make some changes. I hope you will join me, too. We all want our world to be a better place, so let’s start with ourselves.

Here’s to slowing down, opening the door for someone else, making their day, and making our day in return.

How to Tackle Those BIG Projects

Three ideas that will get you moving!

Summer is my favorite time a year! There is so much to do, and I generally have the energy to tackle some good projects. But sometimes, the projects are overwhelming and it is hard to get started. After all, the garage did not get into that bad of shape overnight, now I have to clean it out and get it organized? I’ve also been watering my front landscaping to ensure that my new bushes stay watered until they become established. Well, the weeds loved the water too, and are now starting to overtake my landscaping. I don’t mind projects, but they can become a little overwhelming at times. Baby steps are the solution!

I used to live by the philosophy that I would only work on big projects when I had a big chunk of time. Well, big chunks of time are rare in our lives today, but it still feels great to move forward and get things accomplished. You and I can make it happen through baby steps. Here is how:

  • Divide your big project into smaller, more manageable projects. Instead of weeding the entire landscape, decide to weed a small section. You will have it done in no time and feel like you have gotten something accomplished. Instead of cleaning out the entire closet, work on one section at a time. The next time you have a small period of time, work on the next small sections. Before you know it, you will have the job completed.
  • Shift your mindset. If you have not worked in baby steps in the past, it will take some getting used to. Stop looking at the project in terms of the BIG project. Divide it up in your mind into smaller pieces. Then move forward one small project at a time.
  • Accept the fact that some jobs will never be done. I know, I don’t like it either, but there will always be more laundry to do. In my case, there are always weeds growing that need to be pulled. Don’t get me wrong, tt does feel good to “check these things off our list”, but who says our laundry has to be 100% done? Sometimes these are expectations we put on ourselves that simply make us miserable. Let’s get done what we can, and be happy with what we accomplished.

What project do you want to tackle this summer? Right now, divide it into small projects and start on one at a time. I bet a few months from now, you will be amazed at what you have accomplished. One small baby step at a time!

Here’s to a great summer and accomplishing a bunch of mini projects!

An Important Key To Performance

It doesn’t matter what role you are living out in your life, I believe you want to perform well. You want to perform well as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, employee, boss, coach, or friend. There is one key area that can tend to be neglected, that is vital in the pursuit of performing well, and there is science to back it up. The key is Rest.

If you have read my blog for any amount of time, you know that I am a huge advocate for rest. I think, at times, we run ourselves ragged and we take our loved ones, even our children, along for that same rough ride. Summer is here. It is time for some fun in the sun, but it is also time for some much-needed rest and rejuvenation.

I read a very interesting book that is filled with stories and studies about how peak performers stay highly successful in their pursuits that is called Peak Performance by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness. They introduce the equation for growth and success. Part of the equation is rest. Top performers don’t just know how to work hard, they know how to rest hard, too. They know that their bodies and minds need down time. They know that in giving their bodies and minds rest, they are able to grow and take things to a level that many of us only dream about.

Imagine it…

You want to be a great mom. Work hard at it, but also rest hard at it and you will take your ability to be a great mom to the next level.

I want to be a great writer. I have to work hard at it, but also give my mind time to rest and grow, and I will take my writing to the next level.

The unfortunate news is that the chronically busy lives we live work against this concept of rest, therefore, the benefits of rest. It is suggested that we get between 7-9 hours of sleep a night and many of you start to laugh out loud when I even suggest it. What science is telling us is that when we are not resting, we are not working at our peak performance when we are awake. What science is saying is that if we prioritize sleep and rest, our awake hours will be much more focused and productive.

How, then, do we make the change? One small manageable step at a time. I do not take my morning and afternoon breaks at work. I would even bet that if I did not have to go home to feed my dog at lunch, I would probably work through it, too. What the science is telling me, is that I will be more focused and productive if I take those two extra breaks in my work day. Those are the two small manageable baby steps I am going to start this week.

What is it that you want to take to the next level? Work hard at it, allow yourself breaks throughout your day, week, month and year, and that rest will foster taking whatever it is to the next level.

If you are not giving yourself enough rest right now, how can you change that? What small manageable step can you start this week to prioritize rest?

Summer has begun! Enjoy it! If you want an encouraging yet motivating book to ready, grab Peak Performance. Give your time to what is most important to you, then rest and see yourself and your endeavors grow!

Here’s to being the best you can be, doing the things that are most important to you, and enjoying a good night’s rest!

How To Get Off The Starting Line

Remove four obstacles that can stop you before you get started.

Spring is here, and summer is right around the corner. It’s the time of year that we experience new-found energy. We are ready to start new things or get back on track in areas of our lives that were put on the back burner over the winter months. Getting going again should be simple, right?

I would love to tell you getting started will be easy and simple, but I have found that very few things that are important and good in our lives, are easy and simple. Getting started has its challenges, but these challenges can be overcome. When you are aware of the obstacles, you can push through them and move on to accomplish what is important to you.

Obstacle #1: It’s easy to look back at how things used to be and get discouraged with where you are today. You were younger in the past. As you grow older your body changes, which can bring discouragement. At the end of last summer you were in great shape. How is it possible that all of that progress was lost? I have found that looking back is good for the sake of learning from our past, but not good when we compare where we were to where we are today. Stand proud on the starting line today and be proud of yourself. You are starting fresh and moving forward in an area that is important to you! I am proud of you for that!

Obstacle #2: It’s hard to find the time in your busy calendars to prioritize starting fresh in this area of life that is important to you. Isn’t’ it crazy how our calendars fill up? If there is an open time slot, it is quickly filled with something. If you want to start fresh and move off of the starting line, blocking out time right now on your calendar is essential. It is always hard to hear, but if you don’t fill your time with what is most important to you, someone else will fill it with things that are important to them. Figure out a plan, block off time and make it happen!

Obstacle #3: The first few steps off the starting line can require the most amount of energy. Sometimes we want to jump right up to the line and speed off only to stumble and fall. Starting fresh on what is important to you might require some thought and planning. Do you need to plan out a menu and do some grocery shopping? Do you need to plan out and prepare the clothing or equipment you need to get started? A little bit of planning and prep will allow you to jump off of the starting line and keep moving forward more smoothly.

Obstacle #4: There will be hurdles in your path. Deal with them and keep moving. I don’t know if this has ever happened to you, but just when you get started, something happens to stop you in your tracks. This past week I got out on my bike for my first ride of the season. It felt great and I had a great plan to keep going. One day into my plan I came down with a cold that put me out of commission for a week. How frustrating! The reality is, it happens. Some things we have control over, some things we do not. They might keep us down for a short period of time, but don’t let them stop you for long. Get back up and get going!

Is it time for you to get started on something that is important to you? If so, push past the obstacles that get in your path and keep moving forward towards the results you desire. You can do it, and I will be right here with you, pushing ahead one step at a time! I am proud of you for getting up and getting going!

Here’s to a great week ahead and being proud of starting fresh!

UGHHH! It’s Been One Of Those Days!

Have you ever had one of those days where you feel like you failed those around you? Your boss is not happy with your report, your loved ones are displeased with your selection for dinner, your friend or family members are disappointed that you could not make it to their get-together. It’s a day where you feel like you have let everyone down.

I don’t wish these kind of days on anyone. They drag us down to the point where it is hard to pick ourselves back up. Here are a few things I want you to remember on days like these.

Remember, you are very talented! You have many talents that you have worked hard through the years to grow and foster. Remember, you are a very talented and capable person.

Remember, you have wonderful strengths! You have many strengths that are unique to you. Your strengths make the world a better place every single day.

Remember, Making mistakes are a part of the process of becoming even more amazing! As hard as it is  to make mistakes, it is through that process that we become, better, stronger, smarter. Any mistakes you have made today, are stepping-stones to a better you!

Remember, you have done a lot of things very well! It is on these hard days that we focus in on all of the things that have not gone right. I am here to tell you, you have done many things very well! Take a minute or two to remember and acknowledge those great things.

Hang in there if you are having a rough day. Remember, you are amazing! You are beautiful! You are the perfect you! Celebrate those things today!

It’s Good Medicine!

During the ups and downs of life, it important to fill our lives with good things. Many times, we have to be very intentional about adding these good things to our lives, because they do not happen on their own. One of those “good things”, which brings contentment to our lives, is gratitude. It is good medicine!

I do not know what your life looks like right now. You might be going through some really tough stuff. I have found that it does seem easier to feel grateful when life is going well. Although, it is in the midst of the hard times of life where we can find glimmers of peace, joy and contentment in gratefulness.

I encourage you today, wherever your journey has taken you, to take a few minutes to think about the following area, and the blessing you have to be grateful for.

  • The important people in your life. Family, friends, significant others, co-workers.
  • Your mental, emotional, spiritual or physical health. The health of those close you to.
  • A roof over your head and comforts like clean water to drink, heat, running toilets, transportation, etc.
  • Your job and income to meet your needs.
  • Blessings that are special only to you.

There is much to be thankful for and gratitude warms our hearts. It is worth the short investment of time.

I am thankful for you! Enjoy your week and the blessings that are all around you!

Something’s Gotta Give!

In the midst of your busy schedule, have you ever felt absolutely exhausted and like something has got to give? I think we have all been there at one point or the other and I am here today, to tell you that when life throws you a curveball and your busyness goes to a whole new level, something should give.

What happens so many times, is that we keep pushing through without making any adjustments. We pile the added project onto our already busy life. I am all for pushing through the hard times, because it is in the pushing through that eventually gets us out the other side. However, I also believe it is essential, during particularly difficult times, to make adjustments to help us make it through in one piece.

Here are a few positive ideas to help you through the tough times.

  • Be extra kind to yourself by giving yourself some grace. If you do not get everything done, it is ok. This is when you get back to your “must do” and “wanna do” lists. When life is particularly busy, give yourselves the grace to just focus on what has to get done for now. There is even a chance some balls may be dropped in the process. Be kind to yourself, take responsibility, ask for grace from others and keep going. I am having to remind myself of this exact thing right now in my life. It is hard.
  • Be extra intentional about blocking off some rest time for you so you don’t get worn down and sick. Our bodies can only take so much. When you get worn down, your immune system gets worn down too. Take your calendar right now and block off some time for rest, and make it happen.
  • Find and savor the little moments in the day where you can get outside, get some fresh air, some sunshine, and some peace. Every day at work, I have to walk down a nice long driveway to get the mail. It does not take long, but I try every day to take my time, enjoy the moment, take some nice deep breaths and savor the few minutes of peace. Find a similar moment in your day. It’s there if you look for it.
  • Listen to some uplifting music. Listening first thing in the morning starts your day on a positive upbeat note.  Listening as you wind down for bed sets your mind on something positive as you fall asleep.
  • Try to keep up with the things that will ultimately help you feel better and give you energy. I know sometimes we are so tired and don’t want to get to our exercise class, or would prefer a big old candy bar over something more nutritious. I am all for rest and treating ourselves to something special, but I know we always feel better after we have worked out. Eating the more nutritious food gives us much-needed long-term energy to keep us going.
  • Remind yourself that this time is temporary. If you have an “end” date, mark it on your calendar. Countdown the days to when life gets back to “normal”. I know there is not such things as “normal” but,  you do have to be intentional about slowing yourself down once the additional commitment is removed. Plan a celebration dinner, plan a weekend away, or send yourself flowers to mark the end of the difficult time you have made it through.

I know there are a lot of you with added pressures right now. Be kind to yourself, keep pushing through and celebrate as the end approaches!

Take care of yourself, for you are amazing!