Lately, I've been feeling like I've been in a bit of a funk. My energy has been low, my motivation hasn't been as high and my healthy intake has been kind of mindless... as in, I eat whatever I feel like having without putting much thought into its health benefits.
I've been telling myself that I need to make a change for a while. But my lack of motivation has been playing devil's advocate. I continue to say:
"After this vacation, I'll be able to buckle down and focus more."
"After the weekend."
"I'll wait until I get that mind shift. I can't force myself or I'm not really gonna change unless I really want to."
Excuse after excuse happened. And let's be honest, this has been going on and off since I had my little Lila, who is now 16 months old. 😳😅
I needed to take my own advice that I constantly give to others and MAKE. A. CHANGE.
Today is the eighth day of my mental and physical health journey. And it is something that I made a choice ahead of time. I mentally prepared for it. I know I'm not going to be perfect at it, so I am choosing to imperfectly improve myself, my well-being, and make a happier, healthier environment for my family as well.
Since 40% of our behavior is habit-driven, we must take control of our ability to be self-disciplined, we have to control our habits. In particular, there are 10 habits that I am working to achieve every single day to help discipline myself.
These are some things I did to prepare BEFORE I STARTED my own mental and physical health journey...and if you want to join in I will be your teammate! Because we are all in this together:
First, I went on Amazon and bought stick-on dry erase vinyl. I stuck it to my bedroom wall, where it faces me when I wake up in the morning. It may not be the prettiest decor in my room, but it holds me accountable from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed.
On one sheet I wrote my weekly, monthly and end of year goals.
On the other sheet, I wrote my to-do list for the day. It is one of the most satisfying things to physically check off a box on your to-do list. It is very difficult for me to end the day staring at an unchecked box, so it gives me that much more motivation to get that box checked! Who's with me?
I categorized my to-do list by putting down my most important to least important tasks in order- or at least numbered them from most urgent to least. (Reason to follow)
Here are 10 habits I am adding to my everyday routine to bring more satisfaction, joy, and strength in my life.
1. WRITE YOUR GOALS & TO-DO LIST IN A HIGH TRAFFIC AND VISIBLE PLACE.
2. WAKE UP EARLY
One of my goals was to wake up "early". 7:30am. 😂 I'm not a morning person, so that is early for me. But I decided that I was going to wake up before my kids and accomplish the top three things on my to-do list. Make sure they are the three things you feel are most pressing and will keep you feeling less stressed throughout the rest of the day.
The first thing I put on my to-do list when I wake up is a 3-minute meditation to get my mind balanced and more focused. A great app to use is Headspace, it's a wonderful tool to use, especially if you are a first-time meditator like me.
What is the importance of meditating? Meditating helps us to control our mind and thoughts and turn off our mind when we do not need it anymore.
If you are anything like me, I am not a napper. I go to bed too late and when I try to go to bed early, I toss and turn as my mind runs a mile a minute. Thought after thought consumes me to the point that I sometimes need to get up, make lists, write down my thoughts or even put my loose thoughts into action. (Which is why it is important to write a to-do list every day, so that I can relax and remember that I accomplished my most important things for today and I don't need to worry so much about the small things.)
4. DO SOME PHYSICAL EXERCISE.
This has been my biggest hurdle since I had my last baby. I have worked a lot on my self-worth and in the middle of it, I got into this mindset of being okay with my body and the changes it has gone through, since becoming a mother. I would say to myself, "it's okay if I have a little flab, a few extra dimples and a little too much jiggle in my steps. I am happy with my body, and I don't have to obsess over the little things."
But then, something changed. I went back to the gym more than one time in a month! I was working out with my husband, doing squats and box jumps, when that feeling of accomplishment, power, and strength came over me. I missed that feeling. I didn't know it until that moment. A voice came in my head and it said: "you're back". It was the most satisfying and motivating feeling I've had in a while. But let me be honest with you, this feeling only lasted for a few days, maybe even hours. It was still hard for me to get my butt to the gym every day... it actually took weeks until I got my white board and physically wrote down my goals.
I made exercise my weekly goal. It was my goal to go to the gym 5 times this week. I wrote M, T, W, TH, F, S all with boxes below them for me to check off after each day. Not only did I go to the gym 5 times last week, I went 6! So I'm feeling pretty proud of my self-discipline and commitment. The check boxes are working!
5. BE PRESENT
This is always a hard one for us all. With the whole world at our fingertips every second of the day, emails coming through, social media constantly popping up in our heads, wondering about what everyone else is doing, and constantly thinking of the next thing we need to do. It is so refreshing and eye-opening when you stop. Take a minute to look around you, actually look at people in the eyes and simply Be. All. There.
Funny enough, the "Presence" was testing me as I was writing that last paragraph. My daughter, Haven woke up early from her nap and came running in to hug me. As I held her in my arms and showered her with hugs and kisses, she then asked me if I could "please color with her". My immediate thought was, "I will after I finish this blog post." But then, the exact thing I was writing about and preaching about was there to test me. "This blog post can wait, I said to myself." and with a definitive "YES!" I followed Haven to her coloring table and we shared some one-on-one time that we rarely ever get these days.
I could have missed out on such a sweet, memorable moment with my daughter. And I'm so thankful that I chose to be all there. One thing that I have tried to do since I had my girls was to not work when they are awake. I work during naptime and bedtime, that way I can be more present with them during the day. I know sometimes things come up and I can't always do that, so I set a timer for 20 minutes to spend completely with my girls. To be 100% there with them, and it has really helped with my mom guilt.
6. GO ON A DATE WITH YOUR BUDGET.
Putting together a budget and saving a certain amount of money before the end of the year was on my Goals list. This was a topic that Cory and I have been putting off for far too long, and even when I had it on my to-do list, the box stayed unchecked for two days. You know how much it pains me to see an unchecked box, so it shows how much I didn't want to look at our finances and figure out a budget and set a goal to save X amount by the end of the year.
Back story-- I grew up in a family of 8 other brothers and sisters. So money was a constant topic of conversation with my dad. Better yet, the words "We don't have money for that" echoed through my head. It wasn't that we were poor, but we definitely weren't rich and my parents had to be frugal. When we went to the fair or an amusement part, we brought our own food in, there was no way in hell we were getting some kind of special treat there, unless we bought it with our own money. If the refrigerator door was open for longer than 10 seconds you would hear my dad's voice from the other room yelling "close the door, you're letting all the cold air out!!". It was like he was lurking around every corner to make sure to tell us to turn the lights off, to open a window instead of turn on the a/c, etc. So I decided a long time ago that I never wanted to live with so much strain to be frugal and tight with my money. If I wanted to do something or buy something I was going to buy it without constant worry if I had enough in my bank account. That is why I started babysitting as soon as I was old enough. I made my own fliers and passed them out throughout the neighborhood. The day I turned 15, literally on my birthday I had a job interview at one of the only places that hired 15-year-olds, Wendy's. I have been working ever since and worked all through college, just so I could have my own financial freedom.
With that being said, it's hard for me to have a lot of discipline when it comes to my budget. Not that I go crazy and max out my credit cards, I have actually never had credit card debt. But, it is important to be more aware of your spending habits and where your money is going. I am trying to spend smarter rather than mindlessly. So we officially set up a budget last night, made some cuts and now have a plan for where our money is going.
7. EAT WELL. BE WELL.
I'm going to be real honest with you, I haven't really gotten myself to this part yet this week. Mainly because I was making a lot of changes, to-do's and goals this week I didn't want to over do it and make myself feel too overwhelmed.
First and foremost, I do not believe in crash diets. I believe in lifestyle changes. My biggest problem is that I don't eat enough, if at all in the mornings. I eat random snacks, bread, little treats and/or a salad for lunch and then, for the most part, have a pretty wholesome meal for dinner. Then, after the girls go to bed I indulge in a treat. So it's not like I have horrible eating habits, but my problem is making time for me to eat something, filling and healthy. I also spend way too much money on Starbucks and their little Bistro Boxes, you know, the ones with the apples, grapes, two boiled eggs, bread and peanut butter? Yeah, those are a staple in our outings.
This week is the week to start really disciplining myself to choose healthier options. I'm planning to do the following things:
- Only have 3 sweets a week
- Instead of having "cheat days" I will have 3 cheat meals on different days. That way I won't feel like a total failure for a whole day.
- Drink more water (90 oz a day)
8. HELLO, GOD.
Spirituality is such an important part of my life. It helps me to know that I will always have someone by my side no matter what I'm going through. I'm going to be honest, I have not been as good as a could be at talking to my God, reading scriptures, or sometimes even putting forth much effort to recognize His hand in my life. But the amazing thing about my belief of God, is that he is always reaching, always there to comfort me and is a constant listening ear when I need someone.
There have been many times of trial in my life where I have felt more sorrow than I thought I could bare. But when I reached for my God, I could always feel him reaching back. For me, his presence in my life is something that keeps me feeling loved, important and guided in my decisions.
There is a quote by C.H. Spurgeon that says, "To trust in God in the light is nothing, but trust Him in the dark- that is faith.
I am a firm believer in these words and I feel that in order to keep that faith strong, I need to keep a closer relationship with God. Therefore, I have made goals to talk to him in the morning and night and try to reflect on one verse a day. Since doing this, I have felt more compassion, gratitude and love for those around me, and that makes me happier person.
I feel that when I am not being fully aware of what I'm grateful for, I am constantly looking for more to satisfy me. The habit of gratitude helps move us away from constantly wanting what we don't have, and towards appreciating what we do have. When we do this, some remarkable shifts begin to occur.
Gratitude reaches so much further than we think. From improving our mental health, to our emotional well-being, and our spirituality, gratitude can do so much. But most importantly, it helps to move us away from a state of lack and towards a state of abundance.
Lately, my husband and I have been in a stand still when it comes to advancing in his career and where our family is supposed to be. For a while I have been caught up in how we aren't where we both thought we should be. We don't own a house yet, all while most of our friends are buying their first home, settling in and really starting their family journey. We are surrounded by very successful people who seem to have it all. So it is easy to get caught up in the comparison game and wonder when we will get to that point, asking, "why is it so much harder for us?"
Now, I am decided to make a shift in my mind. To be more grateful for what we have accomplished and where we are now. If we work hard, with a grateful heart, things will work out despite all the confusion and twists and turns life can bring us.
Sleep is directly connected with our ability to discipline ourselves. When we get the proper amount of sleep we have so much more power to get things done. As I'm sure you've noticed that when you don't get enough shuteye your mood is greatly affected. And if you're anything like me, I drag through the day, I'm more moody, shorter tempered and my ability to focus is like a dog on a walk (squirrel!). Our diets are affected as well as our overall health.
Studies indicate that people who are deprived of the proper amount of sleep on a regular basis are at a greater risk for certain diseases. Our lack of sleep has a great impact on our immune system.
While we all know, that getting more sleep is better for our well-being, why is it so hard for us?? I could tell you the studies and facts of lack of sleep all day long, but until we get to the bottom of why we aren't getting enough sleep, we can't change it. So for me, I have the following problems:
- I stay up for at least and extra 45 minutes mindlessly scrolling through social media, reading random stories and pretty much procrastinating until I can barely keep my eyes open.
- As a parent, I don't really get a lot of "me" time. So night time is the only time I can relax and focus on work, watching a show, reading a book, and/or talking with my husband.
- WORK. As I mentioned above, I don't have a lot of time without my girls around. I don't like to work when they are awake, so I work when they nap and when they go to bed.. Therefore, leaving me to work late at night sometimes.
These are my solutions to work on:
- Put my phone in the other room so it doesn't tempt me. Put my journal by my bed instead and write about my day, my gratitude and loose thoughts. I tend to have a hard time quieting my thoughts. So if I write them down, it will be easier to have them out of the way when I'm trying to actually go to sleep.
- Do some breathing exercises after the girls go down for bed. Try to relax the mind for 20 minutes and set an alarm for when I should begin my nightly routine. (Wash face, brush teeth, write in journal, talk to husband, pray, sleep.) I know this isn't going to be easy, but when you make it a priority and really discipline yourself to do these things, it will get easier.
- If you don't do it one night, or even a few nights, don't let it ruin everything. Just try again the next day. Like I said previously, be okay with imperfectly improving yourself.
If you can instill these 10 habits into your life, you can create the foundation for achieving your goals, but most importantly let this be the beginning of a happier, healthier lifestyle.
Join me in this journey and share your experience by tagging @bebonafide!!