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?

The Skin I’m In

Welcome to the fifth month of My Best Body Happiness Project! It’s Thursday and I’m sharing my progress over on Running With Spoons weekly link-up.

One element that I have slightly neglected in all of this body talk is my skin. I had a full skin check done back in February when I first visited the dermatologist about the cyst in my leg. Luckily….she found nothing really to be of concern about…..except the cyst. On Monday I was back at the “doctor’s” and my leg is still not healed. It keeps flaring up and the NP gave me an antibiotic for that plus whatever else this cough is that is currently plaguing me and fingers crossed that it heals this time!

Once it’s healed, I’m going to have a terrible scar that will look just as bad as when the cyst was in my leg. It’s kind of part of who I am….I scar. I broke my wrist in several places in March 2007 and had to have surgery on it and a metal plate inserted. The stitches were the kind that weren’t supposed to leave a scar….and yet, I have railroad tracks on my arm. They’re so obvious that more than one person has questioned if I tried to harm myself. I didn’t; unless you count snowboarding without wrist guards as trying to harm oneself.

My skin and I have always had a tumultuous relationship. I am very fair skinned in the winter and tan very easily in the summer. My siblings all have freckles on their face and I have random freckles on my body. I am allergic to “regular” sunscreen and I break out in hives if you feed me mushrooms. I get contact dermatitis from a few things like latex gloves and I had a weird eczema patch on my elbow during both of my pregnancies. I had the worst acne when I was younger and developed an esophageal ulcer thanks to strong medicine I had to be on for the bad acne. Basically, my skin kinda hates me….but not always.

There have been many times in my life when I thought my skin was beautiful! Like my headshot on the blog. It’s from the Christmas after my second son was born. I’m barely wearing make-up and it’s DECEMBER! I was simply glowing at that time. I don’t know if it was the prenatal vitamins, the happiness of being a new mom again, eating well because I was breastfeeding, or what the cause was, but I loved my skin at that time.

Your skin is kind of an amazing organ:

  • It accounts for about 15% of your body weight
  • Is thickest on your feet and thinnest on your eyelids
  • Renews itself about every 28 days
  • Changes in your skin can signal changes in your overall health

(Facts found at https://forefrontdermatology.com/skin-fun-facts/)

So, wow! and Yeah! I see why my skin has looked better at some times than others. For me, at this point in my journey, I would love to see beautiful glowing skin because of the dietary changes that I’m trying to make. However, they’re not always consistent changes. I am still struggling with how and what to cut out when and what fits into our social life.

For instance, last night we had a sick kid who wanted chicken noodle soup to feel better. It’s kind of a given; most of us were raised to believe that it has magical healing powers. So, we had chicken noodle soup….in JULY!

Also, you have to consider taste profiles. We’re learning to love new foods (my kids are digging nectarines like crazy!), but also struggling to find recipes that don’t involve cheese. Why? Because we tried the vegan cheese and it was the worst thing I’ve eating in a long time! It’s not a flavor I will get used to because I’m not interested in spending money on it again. Meatless meals are sometimes sooooo delicious (we recently had apple/almond salads with baby greens and broccoli slaw) and other times a big fail (enchiladas with sauce that tasted like it belonged on pizza or spaghetti).

My skin is responding to these foods and changes as is the rest of my body. But I used to be so good about taking care of my skin in other ways too. I used to have a million different lotions for different parts of my body and applied them religiously. Now I’m lucky to remember to apply any at all to any part. But I’m also choosier about what I put on my skin.

Currently I use:

  • Shea Moisture Fruit Fusion Coconut Water Energizing Bar Soap
  • Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen, Grow, and Restore Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Shea Moisture Argan Oil and Raw Shea Butter Body Lotion
  • Banana Boat Kids Sunscreen Lotion
  • Ology Facial Moisturizer with SPF

(Not a sponsored post)

I wish that I could afford Shea Moisture products all of the time, but I can’t. Currently all of the ones I’m using were bought on clearance. I wish that I could remember to put on my facial moisturizer every day, but as a mom sometimes my get ready routine means that I forget because I’m in a hurry. And I wish that I took the time to fully lotion after my showers, but I often am rushed then too. So, for the next month I’m going to try and pay a little more attention to my skin in three ways:

  1. Get sunscreen on every day to protect my skin when I’m running, at the beach, on play dates, and in general outside
  2. Take the time to get a pedicure because my feet deserve it (I was given a gift certificate for my birthday last year and I still haven’t used it!)
  3. Get my leg healed.

How do you take care of your skin?

What make it its best?

Meditation Monday #40 – How to Meditate: The 5 Koshas (Annamaya)

Welcome to another rainy Monday at the beach. Do you know I haven’t taken my kids to the beach at all this summer? How terrible is that?! Last summer our beach days were play dates and there were many of them, but this summer our beach buddy is also my running buddy and play dates have been of a different nature. *Sadness*

Alright, enough about the rain….today I’m here to talk to you about meditation again. Why? Because it’s something that I’m making a priority in my life these days. Over the weekend I was in Asheville teaching the NETA PT Review Workshop to a great group of people at the Woodfin YMCA. They were wonderful to hang with and chat with and to work with. I love it when I have great weekends away like that!

I had intended to go and scout the 8K course for the race this fall after I got done teaching on Saturday, but it was raining….and I had left my car windows open….and my lunch from Whole Foods was disappointing. I had also missed breakfast and hadn’t drank hardly anything all day. I think the run would’ve sucked if I had attempted it.

Instead I chose to go back to my creepy hotel (don’t stay off of Tunnel Road) and work on the Inclusivity Training and some NETA writing. I experienced some seriously great meditation practices in this course that I cannot wait to share with you! And that motivated me to start back up with the How to Meditate series again today.

So now, after that seriously unnecessary introduction to this post, I want to talk to you about Koshas….which is not a slang way of talking about Jewish foods or pickles. Koshas are the five layers or sheaths of the body; the outermost of which is called Annamaya or the “Food Layer”.

First off, this has nothing to do with the food you’ll eat (we’ll talk about that layer later), but rather with the fact that we all must die someday and (if buried) eventually become food for the earth and other creatures on it. We liken these layers to nesting dolls with each successively deeper layer representing a deeper part of the self. However, unlike nesting dolls, the layers cannot be separated.

Annamaya is most often cared for where people start their yoga practice….with Asana (postural practice). Both Asana and Annamaya deal with the muscles, the bones, the flesh. Consider your Annamaya layer and ask these questions from Rebecca Pacheco’s book:

  • What physical experiences nourish me?
  • When am I most comfortable in my skin?

For me the obvious answer for both is exercise. But, during meditation I often find more.

When am I most comfortable in my body? When I’m taking care of it. And that includes eating well, getting enough sleep, making time to move and rest. Not just exercise, but when I’m playing with my kids and when I’m not thinking about the body and all the ways in which I’ve judged it in the past.

What physical experiences nourish me? The little things like putting lotion on, brushing my hair, brushing my teeth with a new toothbrush, drinking warm tea, wrapping up in a cozy blanket, hugging my children, snuggling close to my husband, holding his hand, laughing with friends.

My Happiness Project is all about my body and I started with health and now I’m working on eating (again), but I am not neglecting the Annamaya layer in this process. Perhaps you should give your Annamaya layer a little more attention this week?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on/response to the questions posed above.

Breaking Up with Dairy in the Toilet Bowl of America – A Happiness Project Reset

So, it’s technically three months into this Happiness Project of mine and I’m kind of at the point of starting over. In the first month of my project I focused on getting myself well. Because the whole point of this project is to make me happy by giving me My Best Body, that included getting things right with my health. But, oh did that ever change for me in the last week?!

If you’ve read the blog at all, you know that I’m a big fan of documentaries…..I’m also a great proponent of eating what fuels you and not subscribing to restrictive eating plans. However, a shift has occurred within me that’s been coming for awhile. For a long time now I’ve felt on the verge of making a big change; something inside of me wasn’t quite yet defined, but I felt like the way I was eating was wrong for me. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I watched What The Health.

Now, before you stop reading, let me put this disclaimer out there….

I still believe that each and every person has to make their own decisions based on what they feel is the right food for them and their body (diet). This decision can be made for health reasons, ethical reasons, financial reasons, cultural reasons…whatever. And I am not a Registered Dietician, so I will NEVER tell anyone what they should and shouldn’t eat.

With that in mind, I have made a choice for myself to slowly cut out animal products. Why? Because for some time now I’ve felt that they didn’t benefit me in the way that they used to. The food didn’t make me feel as good (hence the reason I went mostly meatless on travel weekends), it didn’t taste as good, it felt like a crutch. After watching many of the disturbing and disgusting facts presented in a wide variety of food documentaries, after always being informed about the secret funding behind our food guidance systems, and after my own experiences with dietary intake, I decided that dairy and meat aren’t really for me.

So, because I didn’t make this decision in an instant and I didn’t do it for ethical reasons (although I wish I could say that I did), I am making a slow transition away from these foods. I’m just not buying more dairy as it gets used up. I’m just not buying more meat as it gets used up. I am going to allocate more of my food budget toward whole fruits and vegetables. I enjoy almond milk and am going to try making my own cashew milk. I am going to try some alternative dairy products and eat more whole grains. I am going to explore different snacks and flavors. I’m rethinking what breakfast means. I am exploring and giving myself until the end of 2017 to see how this experiment goes.

The only expectation I have at this point is to try. I want to live happy and free from disease. I want to love the body that I’m in and feel that I am taking care of it. I am resetting my Happiness Project to have My Best Body in 2017!

Have you seen the documentary?

How do you make your food choices?

What is your favorite meatless meal?

50 Years Stronger

50 years ago in the Boston Marathon a woman attempted to compete. She was attacked partway into the race when it was discovered that she was a woman. Yesterday she completed the same event while running one of her fastest marathons ever. This is the kind of strong that I aspire to….not just for MY BEST BODY challenge, but in life. I aspire to be stronger each day. I aspire to stand up for what I believe in. I aspire to get better with age. Kathy Switzer’s race number (261) was officially retired yesterday after she crossed the line.

What will you be doing 50 years from now?

How strong can you get?

Read the whole story here…

Happiness Project Month 2: Strength – My Second Big Truth

For me and my body I first wanted to focus on health because of all that has gone on with my body in the first few months of this year. Now that I have resolved a few things with my health:

  • The cyst is out and my leg is still healing
  • The final lupus tests were negative
  • No cavities at my dental check-up
  • I’m still as blind as I’ve always been per my eye exam
  • I have had enough blood drawn this month to create a new human

…it’s time to move on to the second major part of my happiness project: Strength. Continue reading “Happiness Project Month 2: Strength – My Second Big Truth”

Meditation Monday #31 – Finding Inspiration for Discipline Everywhere

Yesterday was National Plant a Flower Day….and although I couldn’t plant anything new because of the weather…this tulip persisted!

Happy Monday All! Today is a good one! I made some decisions last week regarding MY BEST BODY Happiness Project and all of the pieces are falling in line. I hope that you find the time to go back and read more about this project and enjoy the process this week and beyond.

Today I decided to get back on the Gate’s book and opened to Day 75 where he was covering Tapas. Continue reading “Meditation Monday #31 – Finding Inspiration for Discipline Everywhere”

Fave Reads Friday #8 – Spending Out

Found this sticky in the back of my library copy.

So, I’ve finally finished The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I don’t know if you’ve ever looked at what else I read, in terms of blogs, but hers has made it on to my WP Reader. I’m sold! I want more happiness in my life and I’ve started on my own HAPPINESS PROJECT: MY BEST BODY. More and more about that to come in the next few weeks. However, today, I want to talk about 3 things that are sticking with me (not totally unrelated to my own happiness project, but not directly either).

I have to be honest here…..I read the first half of the book feeling so inspired and aligned with the author. I mean, she’s a work from home mother of two who writes. However, I felt like a lot of the things she tackled in the first half of the book are things that I deal with already….tasks to make myself happier that I’ve already undertaken. So, I set the book down….unintentionally…..and when I came back I was ready to address the real work that would lead me to my own happiness project. Continue reading “Fave Reads Friday #8 – Spending Out”

Meditation Monday #30 – My Best Body: A Happiness Project

I’ve been reading Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project book this year. I haven’t quite finished it yet and that’s why you haven’t been privileged to a Fave Reads Friday post on the book yet. But, I thought that it was time for me to define my own Happiness Project. The book has been very inspiring in many ways and made me consider many aspects of my life and ways that I have chosen to live in regards to a yoga lifestyle. Yoga has helped me in my relationships, my professional career, my parenting, and with my mental and physical health. It’s help me define who I am and what I stand for. Now, after a weekend of teaching yoga, I have the ultimate goal of my own Happiness Project….MY BODY!

Continue reading “Meditation Monday #30 – My Best Body: A Happiness Project”