Fave Reads Friday #12 – Health, Happiness, and Habits

It’s FRIDAY! Although my Friday is not going as originally planned, I’m just sticking with it and seeing what happens. I keep ticking off things on my list and that’s what’s going to get me through the day. That’s part of my work on my HABITS.

One of the things on my list today was to read through an IDEA Fitness Journal because I’ve started to accumulate a pile of them again. I grabbed the top one which happened to be October 2017 and started to flip through. Things I highlighted for today:

And, more pointedly, should we think of exercise as a weight loss drug?

The answer to the last question, according to Yoni Freedhoff, MD, is no. “Exercise is not a weight loss drug, and so long as we continue to push exercise primarily (and sadly sometimes exclusively) in the name of preventing or treating adult or childhood obesity, we’ll also continue to shortchange the public about the genuinely incredible health benefits of exercise, and simultaneously, misinform them about the realities of long-term weight management.”

~ Beyond weight loss: The many benefits of exercise by Tom Richards

SO TRUE! I am tired of hearing about exercise for weight-loss. I only want to teach people about all of the other great reasons to get up and move!

What does a 19-year-old have in common with a 60-year-old? Both achieve about the same amount of weekly activity, according to new research.

~ Lifetime Physical Activity Trends; Making News by Ryan Halvorson

I stress this so often to my students right now….we’re not thinking long term. Why are we not moving now and later? I keep kicking my kids out of the house to get more movement. I encourage my college-aged students to move around more. I am moving as much as I ever have….why? Because I don’t want to lose the ability to do that and to be independent when I’m older! It’s not just a now or then thing….it’s an always.

Perishable edibles such as dairy, vegetables and fruits are tossed at particularly high rates, leading to significant losses of underconsumed nutrients.

~Time to Eat Your Compost; Food for Thought

This is not the case at our house currently. Although we get the occasional bag of whole carrots that will go bad before we can get to them….I’ve noticed that our compost bin is containing less and less wasted foods now that we’re eating less processed foods, less animal products, and (because I have less time to make them) less baked goods.

And finally, there was an article on Why Modern Diets are Lacking (a fitness handout provided by IDEA) that noted

First of all, remember there are no superfoods, but there are staple foods high in nutrients…

Focus on getting a variety of foods…..

I’m not all about diets and weight-loss…I’m all about moving and feeling great; fueling my body; and living the best life I can. With all of that in mind, my habits are keeping me on track for this. And if you need some ideas for easy ways to make yourself happier, check out my favorite read from Amanda’s TOLT link-up this week:

How to (Quickly) Become Happier in 10 Aspects of Life

 

What’s the best thing you read this week?

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A Bedtime and Other Treats for Myself

Accountability is the fourth thing that Rubin writes about when talking about ways to make habits successful. I already know that accountability is a big thing for me. I run better with T and more often when I have paid for a race. I finish projects if someone else is counting on them. I clean my house when guests are coming over. I need someone to hold me accountable!

In some ways my planner can be an accountability tool for me. As a chronic Under-Buyer it doesn’t surprise me that I have had the same planner for two years. I re-purposed it and reused it as different kind of planner for this year. I’m a finisher and the new format allowed me to use all of the pages remaining in the book. So, today I forced myself to do something different as part of my plan for small steps in a new direction. I bought a new planner for 2018.

This would normally happen at the last minute or after 2018 had already started. Why? Because I like to research everything about an item and then weigh the pros and cons and then consider whether I really need the item and finally…..still put off buying it. However, today I looked at a few things. Decided quickly what I needed. And purchased it without hesitation. I’m super excited that it will be here on Monday!

My new planner from amberlotus.com

And I like the statement on the front. It’s something that I need to keep reminding myself because I sometimes find I’m too worried about the details and not enjoying the moment. So, that brings me to the Foundations and how I’m starting to figure out the habits for me with small steps.

Here’s the plan:

  1. Use my planner….scheduling and accountability will help me track progress better than the less tangible ways I was working through the Happiness Project.
  2. Give myself the gift of sleep by promising to go to bed no later than 1130pm on any night…..including tonight. This will guarantee at least 6 hours of sleep each night (a minimum number for most adults). I’m also going to try to remember to just go to bed when I feel like I’m falling asleep on the living room floor instead of allowing myself to sleep for awhile there and then have to try to re-fall asleep in the bed.
  3. Give myself the power to move. Rubin writes about “Act the way you want to feel” and how she makes herself move because moving makes her feel better. I do give myself permission too often to rest. So, instead I’m going to give myself the power to move. I am scheduling something each day to do to be active. It doesn’t have to be a serious workout, but generally saying I will be “Active” doesn’t always work for me. I need a more concrete plan to stay accountable.
  4. Keep fueling my body. I have mostly given up eating a lot of things that I feel were not fueling the lifestyle I wanted to have. However, I am still a firm believer in mindfulness and listening to your body. I think this also goes to Rubin’s rule of “Act the way you want to feel”. Last night I had a delicious salad for dinner. It was a meatless night for dinner and I had chosen to make salad with lettuces, spinach, pear, almonds, red quinoa, garlic croutons, shredded Cabot Vermont cheddar (a small amount), and Brianna’s Champagne dressing. It was HEAVENLY! I felt so full of energy after I ate it and full and satisfied. I slept well and woke up easily. I went through the first part of my day very alert…..but the muffin I ate for breakfast caught up with me and the Red Robin for lunch slowed me down. I am being more mindful of what is fueling me and what is draining me and I’m choosing the former more and more. Eliminating animal products is not for everyone, but it is for me, for now.

So, that’s my list for now. I’m not tackling unclutter yet. I’m also not done with the book, nor have I defined specific habits of mine that I want to change. But, baby steps….start with the foundation…..start now.

Where would you start?

Join me in naming a foundation to focus on and share it with the group in the comments below.

Another Happiness Project?

Today is my 37th Birthday. As I commented over at Fit is a Feminist Issue …..I still don’t feel like I’m 37. In many ways I feel like I’m still 19. That was my first birthday in college. That was my first birthday after my parents split. That was my first birthday that I didn’t really celebrate……

Today is also the last day of my Happiness Project. And….the results are in:

I am not any happier now than I was before.

I know, kind of anticlimactic right? The truth is that this take on making myself “happy” didn’t work any differently than any of my other resolution paths from the past. Why? Because I am who I am and that’s all that I am. (said Popeye the Sailor Man)

The real question is: Would I do this again?

Instead of a “happiness” project, I feel that I have begun a “habits” project. If you’ve been reading the blog the last week and a half, you’ll know that I’m reading Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before and focusing on ways to be better at what I do and who I am.

Yesterday I wrote a very brief post because I feel a little like the ground underneath me is shaky. I am trying to decide what my life will look like in a year from now. Do I go back to work full-time? Can I handle that kind of responsibility?

I’m trying to decide what my life looks like at the end of this year. Can I really drive two kids across the country by myself, again? I want to go and visit my family because I have this nagging feeling that it will be the last time that I see one of my grandmothers; even though there’s nothing to support that feeling at this time.

I’m trying to decide what my life looks like each day. Today I forced myself to keep a running date with T. While we walked first (at my request) I felt trepidation about the upcoming 1.5 mile run. Why? As we ran my mind wandered all over the place and I felt as if I hated running. Why? None of this is my “usual” and something is definitely off for me right now.

So, for now I am engaged in another episode of Self-Study. I am trying to figure out how to be the BEST ME.

What feelings does your birthday bring up?

Getting Better – Tracking

It’s Monday and I only have a few minutes to write this post. One thing I should be better about is scheduling posts, but I’m not and that’s just something that I’ve come to accept about myself. I am a planner, but I’m not a pre-planner.

In Rubin’s book she starts to talk about the things that make a habit stick. The first thing she writes of is TRACKING…..although I’m pretty sure she calls it monitoring. However, for me tracking is the best word for it.

I track lots of things….my mileage and performance on my runs (see my MapMyRun page), how many people view and comment on this blog, my hours working on projects for NETA, my students’ grades…..I’m even guilty of keeping score sometimes in relationships. Tracking progress is supposed to help habits form. So, you’d think that I’d be pretty successful at forming new habits……

The problem is that I don’t always track the things that I’d need to in order to create new habits. These are all things that I need to track for work or want to track because they’re already habit (like running). But, because of my nature as an Obliger, I think that tracking for future progress is harder than anything. If I don’t have someone accountable (like my boss or students) or don’t have a long standing tradition of something (like running), then it just doesn’t happen.

Part of the reason for me picking up this book is because there are some things I need to change about myself. It’s not that I don’t love myself; I do. I just find that I need a change, but maybe haven’t put my finger on which of my habits yet that it is that I want to and need to change.

What kind of tracking do you do in your life?

What habit of yours would you like to change?

Time, Values, and Habits – The Big Questions

This is my last post for the week on the subject of Rubin’s book Better Than Before. I’m still in the section on Self-Knowledge which is a big theme for me always. I’m a big believer in knowing yourself and the yoga Niyama of Svadhyaya.

At the end of the chapter Rubin talks about the big questions that don’t always seem big until you ask them. She breaks down questions into three categories:

  1. How you spend your time
  2. What you value
  3. Current habits

Some of these questions are easy for me to answer; like would I like to spend more time with friends or by myself? With friends. Would I be happy to see my children have the life I’ve had? No. If the people around me could change one of my habits, what would they choose? My controlling nature.

It’s hard sometimes to own up to the truth as in that last statement. I am totally type A and I’m a first born. I find that those are often my excuses for liking to be in control and from time to time I’ve wanted to change that about myself. However, I’ve come to realize that it’s part of who I am and that there are times when I need to be take charge and stand my ground.

Other questions were harder to answer; like do I like racing from one activity to another, or do I prefer unhurried transitions? Here I’m stuck and do not know myself. I think I like unhurried transitions. I like to take as much time as I need to explore a place or an event. But, at the same time, I like to have a lot going on. I’m not much for traditional “down time”. I don’t particularly like days of doing nothing and hours of watching tv or laying around. When I do spend a lot of time sitting and reading I feel productive because I’m usually learning something along the way.

What’s most satisfying to me: saving time or money or effort? Well, I’m always interested in saving money, but I feel like doing things right also saves time and effort. Sometimes researching the best and cheapest option will save time and effort in the long run. Also under that same category was: do I like to listen to experts, or do I prefer to figure things out for myself? Another hard one because I believe people are “experts” for a reason. I wish more of my friends and family would listen to me about living a healthy lifestyle and exercise because I have been an “expert” in this field for some time now. I’ve been a certified fitness professional for 13 years and had my master’s degree in the field for over 6 years. I work in the field and I live most of what I teach and know. But, I’m also a kinesthetic learner myself, so there are somethings that I need to try and figure out for myself. I’m also keenly aware of the fact that there is no “one size fits all” for anything in life other than Be Nice to Others.

And, if I could magically, effortlessly change one habit in my life, what would it be? Oh man, where do I start? I can imagine changing whole scenarios and situations and feelings and thoughts, but not one habit. I guess, as far as habits go, I wish I were more organized. My desk is constantly clutter and I have a lot of unfinished projects (despite being a finisher) that are of the crafty and memorabilia nature. I wish I could find a way to relax and give myself more time. I wish that I didn’t always feel the need to be on the go. And I wish I could work faster so that more time would appear to me.

My favorite question she asked throughout this all was:

What daily or weekly activity did I do for fun when I was ten years old?

Read, write, run.

I have always been an avid reader. I used to carry a notebook around and write in it. I used to run as did most of my family. And now, I still read, write and run. It’s telling of who I am. It’s an answer to the question: Of my existing habits, which would I like to see my children adopt?

With this in mind, I’m going to read over the weekend. I’ll be back writing on Monday. I plan to run again this weekend and all next week as regularly planned. I look forward to your responses to these same questions!

Head Problems

So, it’s Thursday and I’ve debated whether or not to link up with the Think Out Loud crowd and decided at the last minute to say yes I will. I’m still writing today about the Distinctions in Rubin’s book that I started talking about the other day. You can read the first part here and the second part here if you like.

Today (and yesterday) I have been suffering from a bout of depression and a migraine that is threatening my sanity. I don’t get them often enough for anyone to do anything about them. For the most part I can keep them from getting bad. I usually down a Mt. Dew at the first sign of a smaller headache and I’m good. But I know when the big one is coming and a caffeine laced drink isn’t going to stop the storm. So, I am suffering through with the feeling that part of my head is going to pop off and roll away. I hate all noise. I hate all light. I hate standing up because I feel like I’m about to collapse. I hate food as the smell and taste make me nauseous.  But I taught today and I’m eating and drinking and pretending to be normal.

It’s part of my baby steps. And one of those steps was a goal I had last year….to get back in the pool. So, today I donned my swim suit for the first time that I can remember (probably since before my first son was born over 6.5 years ago) and I got in the pool. The tightness of my cap and goggles aggravated my migraine and I almost gave up before I started. But I told myself that I could do 20 minutes….and I did. It wasn’t pretty, but I did it.

Why? Because I’m a finisher. I know that about me. I’ve had that same swim suit since I coached swimming in Colorado. I left that job in 2007. I like to wear things out….to see things through to the end. Starting new things on the blog and in life are always a little tumultuous for me. I think I’ve passed that trait on to my oldest. He cried today over old tennis shoes. I know the feeling….sometimes new isn’t as exciting as old is comfortable.

And that’s the last distinction… I think, that oddly enough, I’m a little more of a novelty lover. This seems to go against the idea of being a finisher and wearing things out, but I like things to be new in certain categories. This is part of the field I’ve chosen. I teach at colleges and universities…..each semester means new students. I might teach the same thing over and over again, but I tend to teach it slightly different than the semester before (or even the hour before). I like both the familiarity of teaching and the novelty of new ideas and experiences that it brings. I like the novelty of the ever changing fitness industry.

I like the novelty of moving to a new place and new faces and new running routes. But, it’s all the same at the same time. I like to see my same furniture in a new house against a new wall in a new arrangement. I like to see my same books on the shelves of a new office. I have had 20 residences in my lifetime, and yet, I still have the comforter that was on my bed in high school…..it’s been at all my residences since and still hasn’t worn out. I’m definitely a finisher.

What this tells me is that probably part of the reason I’m feeling down these days is because I have been in one place for longer than I’ve ever been before. My “new job” isn’t that new;  I’ve taught this class before….new school….same class….new students….same problems. I am still a little antsy about wanting my PhD and I feel like I haven’t been traveling much lately. Perhaps I just need a new adventure? Maybe it’s just a symptom of the moment?

What are your thoughts on familiarity vs. novelty and finishing vs. opening? Tomorrow I’m going to work on the next part of Better Than Before. I hope you’ll join me then.

The Word “DOWN”

I searched my old posts for the word “DOWN” today and found a fair amount for the past few years. Why? Because (although not currently formally diagnosed) I suffer from depression from time to time. It’s something I sought treatment for once in my life. Treatment that was offered didn’t work for me. It was a combination of medications and therapy. I found neither to be helpful. I’ve found exercise to be helpful and journaling to be helpful, but both are sometimes just patches on a gaping whole in my heart. Today the patch isn’t holding. Today I am down.

I decided to get on here and write instead of continuing to lay in bed and feel depressed. I can feel depressed and hopeless while not laying in bed. I also feel sad, scared, and angry. The anger is usually what motivates me to start moving. And then when I think about being angry and how it hurts to feel angry, I get sad again. And then I start crying and trying to figure out what would help. Time. That’s about it. I just need time to move from this state of being to the next state of being.

I read an interesting article on NBCNews.com the other day:

How Being Angry Can (Sometimes) Be Good for You

but I’m not interested in being angry right now. I want to feel good and good seems a million miles away, but getting out of bed is one of the first steps in the right direction. Writing here is my second step. This tells me a little more about how to be me:

I take little steps.

This was really evident in the way that I approached running awhile back. I wanted to get more consistent and faster, so I started running the shortest course I had and added on a little at a time. I need to remember that it’s not big steps that motivate me, it’s little ones.  And

I’m a marathoner.

When I work on a project, like myself or work, I take a long time to do it. Everything in life takes me time. And sometimes that means I have to step away from the work in order to better assess if I’m headed in the right direction. Today I needed to get in bed and just be for a minute….I needed to get away from life for a minute to reassess…and then start back up again. Even this far into writing and I’m already feeling a little more “normal”. Finally,

Sometimes I just can’t decide who I am.

When thinking about the promotion vs. prevention focused personalities I’d say I’m pretty much a split down the middle. Promotion focused individuals are looking for achievement; something I’m always seeking….to feel like I’ve finished something and done it successfully. Prevention focused people are seeking to avoid consequences like loss and punishment; this is also me. I am a health and fitness professional partly because I want to avoid the health problems that have been prevalent in my family members. I budget because I’m afraid of being in debt. I had a speeding ticket and am now terrified of getting another. Yet, I’m always looking for gains. Sometimes….I’m just not one or the other.

More of what I’ve learned about myself today is that it’s okay to be me, even when me is not who I want to be.

Please share a few of your thoughts and join me tomorrow as I finish exploring this portion of Rubin’s book.

Being Me

In her first book on happiness Gretchen Rubin writes about “Being Gretchen” as one of her personal commandments. It’s something that I have always been driven to be….authentically me. Today authentically me feels like someone who yells a lot….both to be heard and out of frustration (and sometimes a combination of the both).

In Better Than Before Rubin writes about going deeper than the Four Tendencies framework and thinking about how to better define the self. These are the distinctions that make us not like all others, but like some. Kind of how I sort my laundry at the end of each day…..some things I would wear again before washing (like hoodies) and things that definitely need to be washed before they touch me again (like socks I ran in). The world is a little simpler (and sometimes so are we) if we can define ourselves in one of two groups.

Here are the questions she poses:

  • Early riser or night owl?
  • Marathoner, sprinter, or procrastinator?
  • Overbuyer or underbuyer?
  • Simplicity or abundance?
  • Finisher or opener?
  • Familiarity or novelty?
  • Promotion or prevention?
  • Small or big steps?

Today I’m going to start with just a few of these and I hope that you’ll consider them as well and share your thoughts on where you fall in these groups.

The first one that stuck out to me is the overbuyer vs. underbuyer. I am most definitely an underbuyer which you can read about in my post “How Many Do You REALLY Need?” This is a constant source of pain in my life. I find that most people I know are always spending money or looking for more STUFF! I just can’t stand the stuff. I feel like holding on to sentimental items clutters my life enough that I just don’t have room for more things that I won’t use.

I have moved many times in my life. I am still in my 6th state, but this is the 3rd city I’ve lived in in this state. This is the 3rd residence I’ve had in this city. And each time I move I look for what more I can give up without actually wanting to get more. The funny thing is that my houses keep getting bigger…..

I guess that would make me also somewhat of a simplicity lover over an abundance lover. I do like things simple. That’s probably part of what has drawn me deeper and deeper into the practice of yoga over the years. It’s simple: be kind and good and that is enough. However, I love the feeling of abundance when it means that I am surrounded by friends and laughter. I used to think that most people felt that way, but I’ve met a large number of people who prefer time alone. I get it. It can be nice to have the quiet, but I wouldn’t change my rambunctious boys for a quiet house….ever! Even when they’re driving me up the wall and asking for more stuff! 😉

So, what do these things tell me about myself and why is it important to decide? I think that knowing myself in this way will lead to more happiness in my life. I like a small, uncluttered space, filled to the brim with friends and family. That is my ideal life. The question will always be….is that reality?

Please share a few of your thoughts and join me tomorrow as I talk about a couple more of these distinctions.

Meditation Monday #45 – Tapas: The Spirit of Inquiry

Gray Mondays seem to be a theme in my life. This one is being caused by the outskirts of Irma. Irma means goddess of war or noble and will likely be a retired name on the Hurricane List after this year. Her spirit will live in infamy.

What about your spirit?

Spirit is a hard topic to wrap one’s head around sometimes. Sometimes we put spirit in the same basket as soul and other times it’s attitude. Some people believe they have a spirit animal (I guess T would say mine is the gazelle). I remember our nanny telling our youngest that he was her spirit animal when he suggested that they bake cupcakes after her car had been broken in to.

I picked back up the Gates book today and read Day 77 about Tapas in which he defines it as “the spirit of inquiry”. And I journaled

“having the heart of an explorer” Gates writes about tapas. My mental health and the desire for it keeps pushing me forward to learn more in life. It’s part of this final month of My Best Body Happiness Project. It’s about a “willingness to work hard” and in my physical health, in my eating changes, I work hard without developing hardened and steadfast rules. Rather I work hard to achieve this feeling of “honestly knowing myself”, my successes and my limits. I don’t know that I have the “desire for spiritual health” the way that my grandmother does; the way that some of my friends express; and even how a a few of my students do, but I know more and more each day about what I stand for and still seek “to know more”.

So, what about you? Are you practicing Tapas?

What is your heart’s desire?

Your drive?

Your spirit?

Not Bad For

Yesterday was a little bit of a lead in to what I need to talk about today…..

A phrase I need to stop using with myself or in description of others:

“NOT BAD FOR….”

Have you ever said this about yourself? As in, I don’t look bad for 36. Or that run wasn’t bad for 36. I find myself often comparing how I do, look, etc with my age. I haven’t fallen so far down the rabbit whole as to say not bad for a girl, but I have said not bad for a mom of two before and then cringed inside. I rarely find myself using that phrase with others, except my kids….

Not bad for 4 or 6 when it comes to reading, drawing, folding laundry, etc. I am apparently secretly obsessed with what is “normal” for a certain age. I am not sure where this standard comes from. Was it taught to me? Is it something that’s unique to my mind and the failures within? Am I trying to reach some sort of goal that I haven’t yet defined?

I remember back when I was married the first time and had decided what “good enough” would look like after I had kids. “Good enough” is just another way of saying “Not bad for” in my book. Good enough for government work was a phrase tossed around our house a lot back then. But why does anything have to be valued in that way? Why is it not ever my best? Or, in honest, my worst?

What is so bad about saying, today I sucked? Or today I rocked it? What’s so bad about not putting a disclaimer on my performance in life? I feel like this phrase is mostly hurting me in my life. If I were to judge my work as “not bad for” I probably wouldn’t get much work. If I judged my performance as a mom as not bad for…..my kids might get taken away. I want to spend this month ditching this phrase in an attempt to help my mental health.

What’s the one thing that’s holding you back?

Have you ever put a disclaimer on your life?