A New Way to Start the Day

I love the start of my days.  They first begin early – around 5 or 5:30 – when Isabel wakes for her first, sometimes second, sometimes third, night feed and won’t settle back down.  I then bring her into bed with me and we both sleep from 6 till about 8.

Starting the day with my sweet baby girl asleep under the crook of my arm makes me so happy.  If I had it my way I would never change that part of my morning routine. Time is moving so quickly the second baby around and I am enjoying every moment of her littleness.  She’s almost 5 months now.  I feel sad just writing that.  And because this is our last baby it’s even more bittersweet.

My second start to the day is around 8.  I usually go in and get Nathan – who is now two years and four months and a proper little boy – but he’s been sleeping in lately which has been pretty wonderful because I get to enjoy some quiet time in the morning.

My Current Morning Ritual: Coffee

So this is my current routine: I go downstairs and make a coffee.  Whether the kids are sleeping or not, this is what I do.

First coffee then all the other things.

I love coffee.  And I need coffee.  But I don’t feel like it’s the best way to start my day.  (As I just down my first cup and contemplate a second..).

My New Ritual: Hot Water and Lemon

I’ve read in many places, and I’m sure you’ve heard this too, that the best way to start the day is with a cup of hot water and lemon.  According to Health Essentials it’s good for:

  • aiding digestion
  • staying hydrated
  • losing weight
  • preventing oxidation
  • getting in your vitamin C
  • providing a potassium boost
  • helping prevent kidney stones

Sounds pretty promising, right?  However, there are some who say drinking lemon water will not deliver all of these benefits.  In this Globe and Mail article the author, who is a registered dietician, argues that many of the most popular claims are over exaggerated.

Once I read this I felt a little turned off from giving this new habit a go.  But I want to give it a try anyways and see for myself if I notice any difference.  I want to start my day this way for these reasons:

  • To stay hydrated.  I’m still breastfeeding and I really don’t feel like I get in enough water during the day.  Starting the day this way will help kick start the whole ‘drink more water’ habit.  Plus I find after I have a coffee I’m not really that interested in drinking water for at least an hour after.
  • To see if if helps my digestion.  Coffee has not been agreeing with me lately I’m interested to see if swapping it for water first thing will make a difference.
  • To see if I can do it.  I want to see if I still have the willpower to cultivate new habits.  I liked how I felt when I was working on new habits and I haven’t been doing very well with my latest attempts.  Being able to commit to change made me feel like I could do anything that I put my mind to and I want to feel that way again.

I’m going to start tomorrow because I’m already one coffee in.

Oh and I just want to add that I am not, in any way, giving up coffee.  That would just be ludicrous.  Pretty sure I will down that cup of lemon water quickly just so that I can get on with the coffee.

Mmmm coffee.

I’ll try to post my progress as much as I can, but with two little ones at home it’s so hard to find the time.  I’m pretty sure this whole sleeping in till 9 is just a phase, and like all of the phases that children go through, this too will pass, I’m sure.  But I will try to let you know how it goes!

 

 

 

 

 

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Go For a Walk!

One of my favourite things to do is to go for walks.  I know, that sounds really lame, but I get a lot out of going for walks.  It’s a big de-stresser for me – especially if I’m walking amongst trees, or near flowers or the ocean.  I think a lot while I walk.  If I’m sitting at my desk and feeling uninspired or a little stuck, I get out for a walk and chances are ideas will come to me.  And then of course, there’s the exercise aspect.  It’s just so good to get up and move!

So I’ve been trying to get out every day for a walk.  I’ve said this before, but I work in a really beautiful setting.  I’m walking distance from a river, a canal, an arboretum (trees!!), and coffee shops.

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At the Arboretum near my work.

It’s actually crazy that I wouldn’t get out for a walk every day.  But you know how it is.  You’re at work, head down focused on something and the time just slips away.  Or you feel lazy.

I often feel lazy.

But it’s one of those things that once I get up and out I think, why don’t I do this more often!

So my new (ok, repeat) habit for this summer is to get out for a walk every day.

You with me?

Feel Healthier Days 2 and 3

I was going to just write an update on yesterday’s progress (day 2) but realized that I have no idea how I did yesterday.

My days are too long.

So I figured I’m probably better off recapping the day at the end of the day.  Makes sense.

So here we go.

Day 2 (Yesterday)

Eat well.

It’s a good thing I took pictures, otherwise I’d be drawing a complete blank.  Thanks to my visual reminder, I can say that yesterday was a big carb day.  What can I say, I was hungry.

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I had a small breakfast (oatmeal, yogurt and papaya) and ate all my lunch and snacks by noon.  By three I was starving and bought a raisin bread cake thing (which was super disappointing). And, apparently, a giant plate of pasta wasn’t enough dinner for me because I had a bowl of cereal an hour later.

I woke up the next morning with a headache and a stomach ache.

Takeaway for the day: Bigger breakfast. More veggies.  Less bread.

Drink water.

I refilled my water bottle twice at work.  I think that’s going to be my baseline, or bare minimum.

Move my body.

I couldn’t remember if I went for a walk and then my phone pictures reminded me that, yes, I did and I enjoyed it very much (thank you phone!).  It was a chilly 45 minute walk but so worth it.

I also did a 30 minute yoga routine from www.doyogawithme.com and that was lovely, as always

Sleep well.

I’m considering taking this one off the list of habits to cultivate this time around.  As much as I want to get 8-10 hours of non-interrupted sleep the reality is that I have a baby and he makes noise and I wake up.  A lot.  I do go to bed early, but I can’t always fall asleep easily.

Last night I was in bed reading at 8:30.  Didn’t fall asleep till after 11.

Day 3 (Today)

Eat well.

Much better day today.  Had a bigger breakfast.  Lots of veggies.  And I even skipped my afternoon coffee so we’ll see if that helps me to sleep better tonight.

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I guess posting this at the end of the day is good incentive to not snack at night time.  I kind of want cereal though.

Drink water.

I didn’t quite make it through two water bottles while at work today.  Going to put more effort into this tomorrow.

Move my body.

I went for a 30 minute walk and I also made it out to a yin yoga class.  It was a hot class all about the hips and it was heavenly.

Sleep well.

It’s only 8pm now and I’m falling asleep typing this.  Looks like skipping that afternoon coffee is working…

All in All

Not such a bad first few days.  I’m definitely becoming more aware of these four habits, which is really the first step in making any change.

See you tomorrow!

 

 

Breaking one of my Bad Habits

I was given homework at my last osteopath appointment – stop sitting cross legged and get down into a full squat (malasana style) 6 times a day.

I haven’t being doing well on either one of these tasks.  But I’ve decided to give them a real try.

To get myself to stop crossing my legs, I’ve decided to approach this like my other habits and:

  1. Be clear on why I want to change the habit.
  2. Identify roadblocks to accomplishing my goal.
  3. Notice the bad habit.  Identify the trigger.
  4. Swap the bad habit with something positive.
  5. Reward the new good habit.

Why I’m Trying to Change this Bad Habit

The motivation behind this habit change is my overall health and comfort.  I’m nearly 30 weeks along in my pregnancy and my hips are getting angrier and angrier.  And I know crossing my legs isn’t good for me – pregnant or not.  It can affect my circulation not to mention the stress it puts over time on my pelvis, hips and knees (I mean, it’s not exactly conducive to proper alignment).

Also, my osteopath told me to stop (how strong a motivation that is, I don’t know).

Potential Roadblocks

It’s so comfortable!  All these years even when I have caught myself I didn’t really care.  Comfort is a very strong motivator to continue to do something.  If something feels good, why stop?

Second roadblock I guess is that I wear a lot of skirts and dresses and it’s just second nature for me to cross my legs in certain outfits.  All lady like and all.  Now I know, not crossing my legs does not mean I have to be all spread eagle, but I know it’s just all the more tempting to swing that leg over if I’m in a dress.

Notice the Habit.  Identify the Trigger

The idea here is to become aware of how much I do it and at this point to just consciously take note.  This is really important because I know that crossing my legs is an unconscious behaviour I seem to have established.  The goal here is to notice the urge to cross my legs and not simply catch myself in the act.  I’m not forcing myself to stop quite yet, but instead paying attention to the triggers – the things I do right before I cross my legs.

One trigger seems to be as soon as I sit down.  I’m pretty much guaranteed to cross my legs if I’m in a firm, upright chair (at my desk, at the kitchen table, etc), not so much on the couch.

Another trigger is boredom.  I shift around in my chair a lot when I get bored.  I catch myself crossing and uncrossing my legs.

I know there are others.  I’m sitting on the couch now with my legs on our coffee table and I keep crossing and uncrossing my ankles.  I think it’s because I’m slouched and my back is getting achy.

Swap the Bad Habit.  Reward.

I’m not quite at this stage yet but the seed has definitely been planted.  I’m motivated and I have a plan.

For sitting in a chair, perhaps sitting up tall or grounding my feet could work.

As for boredom, f I can, I think the best thing to do is get up and go for a short walk.  If that’s not possible (like I’m in a two hour meeting) perhaps breath work could do the trick.  When I catch myself getting antsy I can focus my attention on taking three long, deep breaths.

For the couch, I think sitting upright for one.  And not being on my computer on the couch would probably help too.

Not sure how I’ll reward myself quite yet.  I know that the intrinsic reward of “good for my body” is not going to cut it.  I’m going to need immediate gratification.  Like high fives or chocolates that magically appear.  I’ll have to give this a think.

But for now…

For now I’m going to keep noticing my behaviour and identifying new triggers.  Once I’m totally noticing the triggers I’m going to start introducing the new habit, bit by bit.

I know this bad habit isn’t going to go away overnight (my legs are crossed right now as I write this) and that’s OK.  I’m going to just do my best and be kind to myself along the way.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you the exciting story of why I’m failing at the second part of my homework – squats.

 

 

Smoothies and Fragile Routines

So yesterday’s smoothie was disgusting.  It was so gross. I forced myself to take three big gulps and then decided I just couldn’t do it and poured the green globby mess down the sink.

gross green smoothieTurns out I shouldn’t try to make smoothies with whatever I have laying around.

If you’re curious, this one had wayyyyy to much spinach, papaya, watermelon, an apple, a carrot (cause why not), and water.

I mean, just look at that thing!  Seriously, what was I thinking?  I really shouldn’t have got so creative, not this early in the game!

So today, to avoid a second catastrophe, I turned to the experts (aka the internet) for guidance and took note of a few.  Here’s the one I made today:

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

  • 1 banana
  • 2 tbsps of all natural peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp of cocoa power – if I were to make this again I would add less
  • 1/2 cup of milk plus a splash if it’s too thick

It was good.  Not as good as the mango banana smoothie, but still pretty tasty.  Hermes was super interested.

peanut butter banana smoothie

I’m finding making these smoothies as soon as I get home to be a bit of a pain and it’s kind of getting in the way of my other habits.  After the 21 day spring clean challenge I had cultivated the habit of cleaning as soon as I got home every day – if only for 10 minutes.  This has made a huge difference in the cleanliness of our house!  Now that I’m four days into smoothie month, my cleaning habit is falling to the wayside.  Not good.

I was also doing yoga and practicing pincha mayurasana once the cleaning was done.  That’s now been moved to after dinner when I have little energy and desire to do anything.

I honestly never realized how fragile my routine is.  Move one thing in and it all starts to fall apart!  The important thing, I think though, is to notice it and change it right away.

Maybe I can make the smoothie the night before and have it in the morning?  That way I don’t mess up my routine AND I don’t have to be subjected to the sound of a noisy blender first thing in the morning.

OH and yesterday I did this.  I tried that for the first time ever in February 2013.  I am just over the moon with my progress and it’s all because of my current 100 day challenge!  YEEHOO!

 

What I’m Learning from my 100 Day Challenge

Today is day 30 of my pincha marusana (forearm stand) challenge and I’m feeling really good.  Unlike my splits challenge, here I’m actually seeing progress and learning as I go.

Lesson #1: Go for it

I’m learning, first hand, that sometimes you just have to go for it.  Let go of all the thoughts (how does this work? Where do I put my hips?) and just do it.  The first time I kicked up into forearm stand I didn’t anticipate it.  I didn’t sit thinking, am I ready?  Instead, I just did it and it felt amazing.

Lesson #2: Breathe

It’s amazing how much easier things become when you just breathe.   The first few times I kicked up I didn’t worry too much about staying up.  I was just happy that I found the confidence to go for it.  Now that I can get up there, I’m focusing on staying calm and enjoying the pose.  Taking long, slow breaths and not worrying about getting to the next step.

Lesson 3: Listen to my Body

One day I came home from work and I was really tired.  I tried over and over to kick up and it just wasn’t working.  My mind and body were not in sync and, as you can see from the video, it didn’t work out so well.  This pose is also hard on my shoulders, abs and back.  It’s important that I take the time to not only build up the strength in these areas, but to allow my body to recover.

Lesson #4: Enjoy the Journey

This is a process and I’m enjoying every little victory.  Sure, I look forward to the day that I can get into the pose with grace and be able to do it without the wall, but I’m in no rush to get there.  That’s the nice thing about it being a 100 day challenge.  I still have 70 days to go.

Gratitude Challenge: Day 1

Today is Day 1 of the 21 Day Gratitude Challenge! This week the focus is on things for which we are grateful.

The challenge today is to take notice of the things in your day that bring you JOY and to take a moment to be grateful for these things. It doesn’t have to be jumping up and down joy. I can be anything that makes you smile.

As I sit at my desk writing this I see that I am surrounded by things that bring me joy – things that I purposefully put around me for this reason! At this very moment I am grateful for the smile brought to my face by:

  • a card from a friend,
  • a happy plant from a wedding,
  • a beautiful smelling candle,
  • a picture of my wonderful siblings,
  • delicious coffee in my favourite mug (who doesn’t have a favourite mug!?),and
  • this challenge and all of the wonderful people who are joining me.

Things that bring me joy

All of these things bring me joy and for that I am grateful.

I love having an intention to bring with me throughout my day.  I will be keeping an eye out for things that bring me joy today, and I know I will find them even on this rainy, gloomy day!

What brings you joy?

New 100 Day Challenge

My 100 day do the splits challenge is now over – I made it to 100 days!  I, unfortunately, didn’t get my splits at the end, but I did make some progress.  I’m going to continue to work on it, continue bringing it into my yoga practice and hopefully, one day, I’ll get them.

Onto the next challenge!

For the next 100 days I will be working my way up into pincha mayurasana – aka feathered peacock pose, aka forearm stand.

I’ve never tried this pose on my own, so I will be taking it very slow.  One, because I don’t want to hurt myself, and two, because this pose freaks me out.  I don’t quite understand how the weight distribution works or which part of my body is supposed to be doing the work.  From what I gather it involves shoulders, core, and balance.  So I will be working on those three areas over the next 100 days.

Just as I did with my splits, I’ll be posting a weekly update on my progress.  Wish me luck!

Starting and Sustaining a Reading Habit and What I’m Reading Now

We’re on day five of the 21 Day Spring Clean Challenge and my kitchen is looking pretty awesome.  Doing a little bit every day has been easy and all of these little efforts are really starting to add up.

Starting with small tasks is huge for me when it comes to cultivating new habits.  Especially in the first 21 days of cultivating a new habit.  Starting small gets me started.  And it keeps me going – often I’ll do more than just the small task.   This has been true with cleaning every day, and it was true with reading every day.

When I started my habit of reading every day, I started with reading for only 10 minutes a day.  I knew I was wasting 10 minutes in other places (computer, tv, etc), so finding 10 minutes wasn’t hard.  That small step rekindled my love of reading and I now read every day.

Right now I’m reading The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert – the author of Eat, Pray, Love.  I didn’t love EPL, so when I heard she wrote a new book at first I wasn’t interested.  And then I saw this TED talk that she did in 2009. She talks about moving forward after writing a freakishly popular novel and how she thinks about creative genius.  It’s intelligent.  It’s touching and it’s honest.  I liked her a little more after I saw this.

I have to say, she stepped up her game with this new book.  It’s much more complex than EPL. It’s very ambitious.  A part of me thinks she’s overcompensated in some areas, trying to show that it’s not another EPL, but it’s done well.  She is a great writer and it comes out so much more in this book.

I’ve been taking my time with this book, which is nice to do.  I’m not in a rush to get to the end – it’s not exactly a page turner, but I am enjoying the twists and turns she takes.

I’m nearly done and will need another book to read after this one.  Any suggestions?  What are you reading now?

 

 

Spring Cleaning

Creating a Habit of Cleaning Every Day

The 21 Day Spring Clean Challenge starts next week and I’m really looking forward to it.  Not only because I have a wonderful group of people joining me (yay!), but because my house really is in need of a good spring clean.

My personal goal in this challenge is to develop a habit that goes beyond 21 days.  It’s to create a habit of cleaning a little every day.  My house has got a bit out of control these past few weeks and cleaning it has turned into a ghastly one hour commitment. I know that if I can just get into the habit of doing a little every day, keeping my house in order won’t be a big deal.

For every habit that I’ve cultivated I go through three stages before I actually do it: I think about what I want to do and why I want to do it (done), I decide to do it (done and done), and then I start planning how I’m actually going to do it.

The formula for cultivating a habit is pretty simple.  Essentially there’s a trigger, an activity, and a reward.  And for it to be extra powerful, there’s an underlying craving or anticipation.  This is called the habit loop.

I want to be successful in this challenge (obviously) and I want those who are participating in it to be successful too.  So I’ve designed it around this formula  Here’s what it’s going to look like:

1. Anticipation/Craving

21 Day Spring Clean Challenge Facebook

First thing every morning, beginning April 1st, I will post on the 21 Day Spring Clean Challenge Facebook event page telling you exactly what you need to do.  You probably won’t do it right away.  I know I won’t.  Instead this serves as a means to get you thinking about it, hopefully anticipating it (yes! can’t wait to clean my fridge kind of thing haha).

2. Trigger

time to clean

A trigger is simply the thing you do right before you do the activity.  The trigger is up to you.  It’s best if you schedule to do the activity right after something you’re already doing.  So for me, it will be as soon as I get home from work.  Maybe for you it will be as soon as the kids go to bed.

3. Activity

lady cleaning

Here you actually do it.  Start with doing the bare minimum task (I will tell you exactly what that would be).  You may stop there,  or you might find that once you get started you’ll get on a roll and keep going with the more ambitious task (I’ll also tell you exactly what that would be).  Oh, and put on some music!  Have fun with it!

4. Reward

spring clean accountability

The fact that you’ve made something sparkle might be enough of a reward, but if not there’s posting on the Facebook event page.  This works well for me based on my experiences with this blog.  Posting will give me the satisfaction of doing it and allow me to share my success with all of you.

So basically, you check the Facebook page in the morning to see your daily task.  You think about doing it.  You start doing it right after something you’re already doing every day.  You do it for 10 minutes.  Maybe longer.  Then you admire your work and post your success on the Facebook page.  Every time you post your name is entered into a draw to win an awesome thing.

If you miss a day, don’t sweat it.  Do what you can!  But if you do find you’re tired, or miss it because you just don’t want to do it (I gotta warn you, not all of the challenges will be sexy!), just remind yourself that you only have to do the bare minimum and that it will only take 10 minutes.  Getting started is the hard part.  And remember, I’m there with you!

And if that’s not enough to motivate you, remember that there’s a prize to be won at the end of all this!

I know I may not have actually sold it here by going into the nitty gritty, but I promise, it will be fun!  Oh and it’s won’t all be cleaning – we’ll be doing some spring cleaning for your life too!  We have such a great community forming and I can’t wait to get started!

21 day spring clean