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

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!

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!

You Will Make It!

Celebrate at the finish line!

Sometimes in the midst of life, as we work hard to take small baby steps and keep moving forward, we wonder if we will ever get to where we are going. We wonder if we will ever accomplish our goal. Will we ever see light at the end of the tunnel? Will we ever cross the finish line?

The answer is YES!

In the past few weeks, I have talked to a number of amazing women who are crossing the finish lines of big goals.

  • One is retiring after many years of hard work and savings. She is on to her next adventure!
  • One is finishing up her last class to receive her Masters degree! She sees the light at the end of the tunnel!
  • One is wrapping up all of the paperwork for a family member’s estate after they had passed away. What a relief!
  • One is making her last tuition payment for her children. How exciting!

You will cross the finish lines of your life, if you keep going and don’t give up!

I bet each one of the ladies above would share with you stories of their journey, and they would include the following.

  • Their journey did not look exactly the way they had originally envisioned it. We set out on a journey and I think most of us think we will travel from point A to point B in a straight line. Once we get on the road though, we inevitably run into delays, detours, and even distractions. These times can be challenging because we see where we need to go, but for whatever reason, we can’t get their on a straight path.
  • The time it took to travel their journey may not have been what they originally planned. This is not true for everyone, but it is true for many. Accomplishing big goals in life require time, growth, learning, and persevering. All of the delays, detours and distractions listed above require our time, and that waiting time can be hard.
  • They could not have done it alone. Thank goodness we do not have to tackle life alone! The people in our lives bring the spice to it! They also bring encouragement and, many times, real help that we need. People make our journey worthwhile and interesting!

Congratulations to all of you who are crossing the finish line of your goals! You have persevered through many small baby steps and have won the race! We celebrate your amazing accomplishment with you!

For those of you, like me, who are smack dab in the middle of our journey, let’s try to enjoy the journey, embrace the time of learning and growth, and know that WE WILL cross the finish line if we keep taking one baby step at a time!

For those of you who are getting ready to set out on a new journey in life, set your sights on that goal, keep it before you at all times, don’t be surprised if you experience a few detours, delays or distractions. Plan your course, keep moving one step at a time, and plan your celebration when you reach your goal!

Here’s to a great journey, great people and a great celebration at the finish line!

It’s A Season

How would you define your life right now? Is it easy? Hard? Enjoyable? Frustrating? Happy? Sad? Whatever season you are going through in life, a new season will come. For life is ever changing.

I have read the verses in Ecclesiastes many times about all of the seasons there are in life. I have to admit, that even though there have been distinct chapters in my life, the idea of seasons was kind of foreign to me. That was until recently.

This has been a very difficult season, that along with the midwest weather, is finally turning towards Spring. The sun is starting to shine again and new life is starting to grow. As I transition from one season to the next, and feel the contrast between the two, it has made me aware of all of you around me who are going through your own seasons. Both good seasons and challenging seasons.

Can I share with you what I learned during my most recent challenging season?

  1. Don’t fight the challenging season you are in because you will not win the fight. Like the changing of the season in nature, your season has a certain amount of time it has to live out. I spent 11 months fighting my challenging season I was in and all I achieved by fighting was exhaustion. When I decided to embrace the season I was in, and stopped fighting it, I found more peace.
  2. Surround yourself with loving people and rely on them for love and encouragement with no judgement. A professional counselor is a wonderful option as well. They are there to listen, encourage and help.
  3. Don’t stop moving forward. The reality is that you do have to go through it to get out the other side. This is where my famous baby steps come into play. Keep moving forward, no matter how small the step and how slow you feel you are going. You can keep going, and you will make it through!

I have three hopes for the future for us:

  1. That we will not forget our challenging times and how important they are for our personal growth and understanding.
  2. That we will better love and support our friends and family that are experiencing a challenging season.
  3. Now that the sun is shining in life again, we can better appreciate this time of joy and not take it for granted.

Whatever season you are going through in life, be kind to yourself, keep moving forward because you are truly amazing!

Are You Overloaded?

I have talked to a number of ladies, just in the past few weeks, who feel like they are drowning. They simply have too much to do and not enough time to do it. Life is stressful enough, a long to-do list adds to that stress, but not seeing the time in your schedule to take care of these important things almost makes life feel unbearable. Have you ever felt this overloaded?

It breaks my heart that you have to go through moments in life that are so overwhelming. I wish I could provide for each of you, exactly what you need to calm the storms of your life. The reality is, that you will have these times, but also know that it is possible for things to slow back down.

The life-preserver that I throw out to you today is not going to surprise you. I hope with all of my heart that you grab a hold of it and utilize it to lift your head up out of the frenzy you find yourself in.

The life-preserver I throw to you today is the reminder to utilize baby steps. I know, you wanted a better life-preserver than that, and trust me, I wanted to give you one better than that. I have not found one that works in real life though. It makes me sad to say this, but we do have to go THROUGH these challenging times in order to get out the other side.

I just recently went THROUGH a similar time, and I am not out of the woods yet, but it’s getting easier. A few times in the processes, I felt a high level of stress bordering on panic. I wanted out! I wanted something or someone to save me. I wanted immediate relief, but that did not happen. I hated the idea that I was going to have to push through on my own. To be honest with you, I got angry with myself for teaching the concept of baby steps. I wanted to throw that life-preserver back, but it was my only hope. It was all I had.

I know sometimes you are pushing through deep water in your life, but know that as you get closer to the shore, the water becomes easier to push through. Keep taking one step at a time and before you know it, the water will only be ankle-deep.

Here’s to keeping our eyes on the shore, dreaming of sitting in the sun and taking one more step to get there!


Action Steps:

  • Make a list of the thing you need to get done. Divide the list into “must dos” and wanna dos”.
  • Start to take one baby step at a time to work through your lists.
  • Celebrate each baby step that you accomplish.

 

They Have Gotten Me Through

I have had a week filled with systems at work that failed and needed updating immediately, the health decline of an immediate family member, not prioritizing a loved one and letting them down, and I topped off the week today by catching a cold. With each of these came a multitude of tasks with urgent deadlines, except for getting sick, then everything halted to a stop!  In addition to all of these things, laundry still needed to be done, bills still needed to be paid, I still want to eat right, exercise and keep going. The one thing that got me through this week were baby steps. I kept asking myself “what is the next thing I need to do?” then the next, then the next, then the next.


I started this year out with a set of videos on the topic of baby steps. I never imagined that I would have utilized this concept as much as I have this last year. Baby steps have gotten me through the ups and downs of life. Even though it was stressful at times, knowing I could take small steps to move forward brought me some level of peace and comfort.

I also shared with you that many small steps over a long period of time bring us to great places. I now look back over 2017 and I am thrilled with how far I have come. For me,  it has not been a year of great task achievement, but it has been a year of essential learning that will propel me into a great future. I hope you can look back over this past year and say the same as well.

Whatever it is you need to do, even if it is get through the next 24 hours, take it one baby step at a time. Ask yourself “what is the next thing I need to do to move forward?” and do it…then repeat. Baby steps keep us inching forward even when we don’t feel like it is possible.

Whatever it is that life throws at you this week, keep striving for your best! You are doing great things, one small step at a time!

I feel like I’m letting everyone down.

It is a horrible feeling to feel as though we have let others down in our lives. Is there a solution? Is there a way to live our BEST life and manage to be everything to everyone? I think we all know the answer to that, but it is not easy when you are in the middle of it.

As I was driving home for lunch one day this week, I was listening to a friend’s message sharing a story of a woman in her life who was feeling overwhelmed and brought to tears this past week. When my friend talked to her, she simply said “I feel like I am letting everyone down.”  As I continued to drive home, my heart broke for this woman, but, also exposed in me a very similar feeling. I too felt like I was letting a number of people down this week, and it was a horrible feeling.

I would love to come to you with an amazing solution to this problem, but I do not know of one. In fact, I was laying in bed last night coming to the realization that there was nothing more I could do this week. I did what I felt like I could do and sometimes that is simply going to fall short of the expectations of others. I forced myself to acknowledge what I did accomplish and find a way to be okay with falling short in other areas. It was hard to accept, but, once I did, I was able to relax and give myself a break. I felt my shoulders relax, not even realizing how tense I had been. I realized the longer I felt the guilt and pressure of letting others down, the more depleted I felt. I realized the more I focused on letting others down, the bigger that feeling grew in my mind and the worse I felt.

I certainly don’t want to make light of letting others down because many times it is our own choices and over-commitments that get us into those situations in the first place. It is not something I want to do often, because it does hurt others as well as me. I did find, though, that it is not healthy to ruminate on it either. I tried to learn from the experience so that I do not do it again. I got a good night’s rest and tried to treat the new day as a fresh start.

I know I am not going to be perfect, but I am going to try to put the past in the past, and try to live my best and give my best each day.

Here’s to being kind to ourselves! We are amazing individuals giving life our all. Let’s keep our heads up, give today our best, accept the fact that we won’t be perfect, and know that tomorrow is a new day with new opportunities.

And…..ACTION!

Is there any area of your life where you feel fear? Is there a situation at work? Do you have a big decision to make? Have you committed to something, but feel fear as the deadline approaches? Fear is a part of our everyday lives. The question then, is how do we live with fear and still live our best?

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Fear is a part of our makeup as humans. Fear keeps us aware of things that might harm us and allows us to respond to find safety. There are a lot of things that are out of our control in the world we live in, but there is a lot of fearful things that are within our control to change. That is what I want to focus on in this post. What fear is within our control to change and what is the best strategy? I believe it is ACTION!

Conquering fear with action is not a Jen Regan original idea. I have read this concept in countless books and articles. The concept has been around and taught for so long because it works. All you have to do is try it once to experience its positive effects.

Recently I needed to discuss an issue and a potential solution with someone in my life. The person I needed to talk to is a wonderful person, but, because she is a person of authority in my life, I was not sure how she was going to respond.  I became very nervous about the discussion. Because she was very busy, I wanted to wait until the time was right, but as the time passed, I became more nervous. It seems silly, but as she became available, I knew the time had come to approach her and my heart started pounding out of my chest. As with fear, I wanted to run the other way, but I told myself “just do it, NOW!” So I called her and asked if she had a few minutes to discuss something. I was still nervous, but I dealt with my fear with action. The outcome of the conversation is not relevant here. What is relevant is that I felt a huge amount of relief when I took action. The fear was gone and I know that I took control of it instead of allowing it to take control of me.

Here are a few things that I have found helpful with regards to taking action against fear.

Take action as quickly as possible. The longer I hold off, the more stress I fee and there is a greater chance of me giving in to the fear and not taking action at all. Now, I do believe in taking time to think through things and not rushing into them, but once I have made a decision on how to proceed, I try to take action as soon as possible.

Don’t allow the fearful thoughts to take control. Take control of your mind and remind yourself that you are very capable of handling the situation. I feel fear frequently because I am trying to stretch myself in a lot of areas of my life. As you continue to take baby steps towards your goals and dreams, fears will crop up as well. Many times we question ourselves and our abilities. If I am confident in the direction I want to take, even though I may not know completely what the future holds, I have to fill my mind with motivating thoughts. I have to remind myself that I can do what I need to do. I have to take action in my mind to fill it with good thoughts, and in turn, push out the fearful thoughts.

I acknowledge the great feeling that action against my fears brings. After I had the nervous discussion mentioned above, I walked away, caught my breath, smiled and said “Good job Jen!” Celebrate your successes! Give yourself some positive reinforcement. It takes a lot of courage to take action against our fears. We deserve some kudos! Taking action against our fears is not easy. I do believe that the more successes we rack up, the more our mind remembers that we will make it out the other side. Regardless of the outcome, we can and should be proud of taking control and taking action.

Fear is a part of life, even our BEST life. Here’s to taking action, taking control, and being proud of ourselves as we continue to move forward in the areas that are most important to us.

What’s Essential?

If we want to accomplish something in our lives or start something new, one of our greatest barriers is not having enough time. The questions then is,  how do we move forward in our goals? How do we make our dreams a reality? How do we move forward?

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I might have you trained well in my philosophy to say “ Baby steps Jen, that is how we move forward” and I don’t disagree with that. I do know though, that even baby steps take time. What I am trying to figure out is how to make more time for the areas that are most important to me. This will then give me more time for more baby steps, continuing to move forward, steadily,  towards what I want to accomplish.

What I am working on right now, is to find more time to identify and remove non-essentials in my life. Non-essentials generally fall into the category of “good” things in my life, not “best” things. I think all of our lives are filled with a lot of “good” things, but they do indeed fill up our time. I am trying to differentiate between the “good” and “best” and distill my life down to the essentials, the BEST!

What does this look like?

  • The first thing I have learned is that this is a very individual and personal process. What I may define as essential for me may be non-essential to you, and vice versa. It is important not to compare ourselves with others. We can use others as examples, but at the end of the day, we each have to decide and be comfortable with what is essential to us. I have asked myself if training for my triathlon is essential for my life right now. After putting some thought to it, I have decided that it is essential for my physical, mental and emotional health right now. I can almost guarantee that training for a triathlon is not essential to you. Your essentials will be very personal to you.
  • The second thing I have learned is that things change over time. Things that I may define as non-essential at this time might be able to be elevated back to essential in the future. It is up to each of use to decided. I play the upright bass, but I have put the bass down for almost a year now. It does make me sad that I have not played it, but I know in my heart that it is a non-essential right now. Here in a few months, my plan is for that to change. After my intense training for my triathlon is done, the nights start getting longer and the weather starts getting colder, it is my plan to prioritize my bass playing again. If you have to set something aside for the time being, know that it can be picked back up at a later date.
  • Non-essentials take different forms. So far I have found non-essential thoughts that need to be removed from my life. I have found non-essential possessions, aka clutter, that needs to be removed. I have found non-essentials in my schedule that need to be removed. Non-essentials are anything that fall into the category of “less than best”.

How do we move forward on our dreams and goals by eliminating non-essentials?

  • I have found that identification of non-essentials is the first and most challenging step. I have spent the last 5 months asking myself what I can remove from my life, what is non-essential. It has been a slow process of many baby steps to identify the many “good” things in my life that I am willing to give up for the “best” things. In the end, we have 24 hours in a day and we have to make choices. If we want to find time and move forward with our dreams and goals, non-essentials will more than likely need to be removed.
  • Removing non-essentials is the next step which takes time and that is hard to find in our schedules as well. A non-essential I recently removed from my schedule was my container garden. The past few years I have set up a container garden on my back deck. I did the same this last spring, but with a very different schedule this year and very dry weather, my container garden required a lot of time and attention that I just did not have. Instead of being an enjoyable experience, it became a burden. I decided that, for now, the container garden needed to be closed down for the year. It took time to do that, but it has brought relief in the long run.
  • Next, I keep an eye out for the next non-essential that needs to be removed. Just this week, we had some small renovations done at our house. In the process, I have had to move some things around and find new homes for a few things. It has come to my attention through this process, that it is time for me to say goodbye to some non-essential possessions. It feels like I am drowning in clutter right now. My plan for the next week or so is to identify and start to remove some of the physical clutter from my space and life.
  • Lastly, we have to be on guard for non-essential creeping back into our lives. I think the more we spend time focusing on what is most important to us, the easier it is to identify the things that are non-essential, but we still have to watch out for them in our lives.

The end result to all of this is to spend as much time and energy focusing on what is most important in our lives and removing the things of less importance. This is hard and it is a process, but as I am finding out, I will not have time for the areas that I want to move forward in unless I make these hard choices.

Join me in focusing on the “best” and working to remove all of the non-essentials in our lives.