Cultivating Some New Habits

Oh hi there.  It’s been a while, I know.  Seven months in fact.  It’s been so long that I don’t even know how to begin this post.  So I will begin with why I am writing again.

I’m ready to cultivate some new habits.

And that’s really why I haven’t written here in so long.  I’ve been a bit busy to cultivate anything but babies.

Yes, babies, as in plural.

I now have two babies.  Nathan just turned two in February, so technically he’s not really a baby anymore.  He’s full blown toddler which comes with a whole lot of toddler sized “fun”.  Seriously though, he’s super cool right now.  Learning new words every day, really watching us to see what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, and he continues to be very brave and physical.  He’s also a bit of a lunatic, but aren’t all toddlers?

My second, Isabel, is just the sweetest baby girl.  She’s 10 weeks old and her smiles make my heart melt.  I had a tough pregnancy and a crazy intense home birth (maybe I’ll tell that story here one day) – pretty much everything was different the second time around. And she is so different from how Nathan was as a newborn.  He was high needs and could not be put down, including to sleep.  She is super chill and sleeps long stretches on her own.  It’s aaaaamazing.

So yeah, I’m 10 weeks post partum and I’ve got a few ideas for habits that I want to cultivate.   I’m finding that being a mom to two little ones makes me a bit obsessed with being a mom.  Which is not a bad thing really, but I don’t want to lose myself in motherhood.  I want to continue to do the things that make me feel like me.  And since Isabel actually naps and I have time in the day I want to make sure I’m making the most of that time –  meaning, not binge watching bad tv or scrolling through social media.

So I’m going to start with getting back into my physical body.

I’ve asked my husband, Danny, to put together a workout plan for me.  I asked him to keep it to 30 minutes a day, that I can do it at home, and to make sure it’s post partum appropriate (no crunches, not too intense – I honestly haven’t worked out in about a year, so I need to take it slow!).  This is what he came up with:

MONDAY
PUSHUPS
SHOULDER FLIES (with weights)
SHOULDER RAISES (with weights)

TUESDAY
YOGA

WEDNESDAY
SQUATS BANDS/ WEIGHTS
LUNGES BANDS/ WEIGHTS
AB THINGIE

THURSDAY
ELLIPTICAL

FRIDAY
BENT OVER ROW (with weights)
DEADLIFT (with weights)

I totally meant to start today but I didn’t.  And I have excuses!  But I can always have excuses, especially with two littles at home.  So if I want to do this, I need to prioritize it.  And I need to do it at the same time every day – but not at the end of the day which is what I had planned to do today.  I’m just too tired once the kids are in bed and our evenings are often a bit hectic.

Take tonight for example:  an entire beer smashed on our kitchen floor which woke the baby up which upset Nathan.  The dinner I made turned out disgusting (though the face Nathan made was pretty great) so we ate peas and pizza instead.  Both kids went to bed fairly easily but after cleaning the kitchen that last Corona in the fridge was just too tempting.  And we all know Coronas and pushups just don’t mix.

So today starts with just setting my intention.  Putting it out there that I will commit to this plan for 3 weeks.  After three weeks I’ll reassess and see where I’m at.

I started this website 3? 4? years ago as an accountability tool and that’s what I’m going to use it as once again.  Each day I will post here how many reps I did, any obstacles I overcame to get the workout in, and just sort of a progress report.

So tomorrow I will begin this journey with YOGA!

Super pumped.

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Do Something Different

I got an email today from a program that I did years ago called ‘Do Something’.  It was a 14 day program that motivates you to get out of your comfort zone and do things you would not normally do.

To shake things up.

To see things from a new perspective and experience something different.

Each day for 14 days I received an email telling me what to do.  It remember some being interesting and some being pretty lame.  I did them all for the first few days and then I started lagging.  I don’t think I completed the program.

Which is not like me!  I’m a cultivator of new habits! I stick to my goals and do what I say I’m going to do.

Turns out, I do what I say I’ll do, not what others tell me to do.  I guess that’s not so surprising.  After all, the motivation behind my own personal goals and testing out a new program are very different.

BUT – I loved the idea, and I still do, which is why when I got this email from them announcing a new program I immediately signed up.

The Do Something Different Program

So this one again is a 14 day program. For 14 days I will receive emails with things to do.  I can then log into the app check off that I did it (gotta love a little accountability built in!) and I can comment and share my thoughts with other people in the community.

Before starting the program they had me answer a bunch of questions.  They do this so that they can tailor the program for you so that you’ll get the most out of it.  They asked things like:

  • behaviours that best describe me (like introverted, extroverted, calm, energetic, etc)
  • some of my habits (like screen time, spending time with people you love, noticing good things around you, etc)
  • my wellbeing (feeling happy, coping well with problems, physical heath, etc)

They then gave me a ‘score’ – which I gotta be honest, I think is a load of crap.  They say that I’m only using 10% of my potential personality.  Oh and that 80% of my personality is waiting to be unlocked – ha yeah, ok.

Despite this silly report, I’m still open to giving it a try.

The First Do

So I got my first ‘do’ right away and it’s an easy one: switch seats today.

And I’m gonna do it.  I work at a university (and I do all my work on a laptop) so there are a lot of great places that I can go work.  Maybe I’ll go work here today:

screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-9-56-03-am

Only it won’t look like this because 1: it’s rainy and gloomy outside, and 2: it’s the second day of classes and the campus is packed with students.

I’m sure I can find a quiet place on campus to work.

I’ll keep you posted on this program and let you know how it goes.  Or you can just give it a try yourself (it’s free).

 

Feel Healthier: Day 5

Well, the past two days haven’t been the healthiest for me.  It’s funny how one bad day, one slip up, can destroy all good intentions.

Luckily, I do still have good intentions.

In fact, I still have every intention of keeping up with this challenge.  I just need to do what I always do when I start to lose motivation.

I remind myself why I’m doing this.

I’m doing this because:

  • I hate waking up with a headache
  • I hate feeling groggy throughout the day
  • I hate how I feel after I overindulge on wine, chips, and pastries (those are my biggest weaknesses), when I don’t drink enough water, when I sit at my desk all day, and I don’t get enough sleep
  • I don’t like how I feel when I’m not taking care of myself

Better yet – eating well,  drinking water, moving my body, and sleeping well will make me feel:

  • happy
  • healthy
  • motivated
  • energized

And I want to feel these things every day.  Especially first thing in the morning.

I just need to keep these four habits top of mind and make more of a conscious effort.  And not let one bad day spoil it all.

Accept.  Learn. Forgive.  Move on.

My Feel Healthier Plan: 4 Habits

I woke up this morning feeling not so great. It might have been the entire bag of microwavable popcorn I ate.  Or maybe the three glasses of wine I drank.  Or the fact that I didn’t fall asleep till after 12.

I do know for sure that I feel healthiest when I’m:

  • eating well
  • drinking water
  • exercising (preferably outside)
  • sleeping at least 7 hours

I know, pretty shocking stuff right there.

And so, for the next 21 days, if not more, I am going to focus on cultivating these four healthy habits.

Starting today.

My Feel Healthier Plan

  • Eating Well.   I found that when I did the three day Get Healthier Challenge (forever ago) recording what I ate really helped me to become aware of what I was eating, which in turn helped me to eat healthier.  So for the next little while I’m going to track what I eat (by taking pictures) and after a few days I’m sure some not so healthy patterns will become apparent.
  • Drinking Water.  This has been at the top of my habits list right from the beginning of Cultivating Habits.  I’ve learned that the only way for me to drink more water is to carry my water bottle with me at all times.  Or have water near me.  Right now I have a coffee next to me, not sure that counts.  I will get a glass of water as soon as I’m done writing this post.
  • Exercising.  I’m going to try to get in 30 minutes every day.  This will probably be either walking or doing yoga – basically the laziest kind of exercise you can do.  Today was great.  I went on the elliptical for 20 minutes (ugh so boring!) and then Danny, Nathan and I went out for an hour long walk.
  • Sleeping.  OK this one is a tough one because I can go to bed as early as I want, but if I can’t sleep, there’s not a whole lot I can do.  Hoping that the exercise will help with this.

To keep myself accountable I’m going to record my progress here every day – at least for the first little while.

Going to get that glass of water now.

See you tomorrow!

 

 

New Routines and Old Habits

I just finished my first whole week of work after my one year maternity leave and it’s going well.  Better than I had expected.  It helps so much that Nathan’s home with Danny.  But I still miss him so much.  It’s hard to go from 100% at home with him to getting only a few precious hours.

This first week was really about finding a new routine. I’ve found that being back at work has brought back some old, not so great, habits.

So here’s where I’m at right now.

Mornings

I have no need for an alarm clock anymore.   I do wish that I could set the alarm that wakes me up.  I would set it to go off at 6 and not 5 and I would have it set to giggles, or chirps and not cries.

(Although Nathan doesn’t always wake at 5 and he doesn’t always wake up crying, it does happen more than I’d like).

He is sleeping through the night, for the most part, so that’s something.

But needless to say, my days start a whole lot earlier now.

Usually I’ll go in and get Nathan and bring him right back into bed with me to nurse him.  He’s not very interested in nursing anymore so this is often a short session followed by him clawing his way off of me to grab whatever is on our night stand.  Or he beelines it to the bottom of the bed to play with the blinds.  Needless to say, morning cuddles in bed are pretty  much non-existent.  So we get up.  I change his diaper and we head downstairs.

I put him on the floor with his toys while I make coffee.  My coffee habit (ahem addiction) is not one I’m wanting to change at the moment.  I would like to have a healthier start to the day – drink lemon water or have tea instead – but I need coffee.

I then sit on the floor with him while he plays/tries to grab my coffee.

Depending on the time I’ll then have breakfast with him (oatmeal, toast, pancakes or eggs usually) and then at 7 Danny takes over while I get ready for work.  I shower, get dressed, watch a show on my iPad while putting on my make-up and do my hair (right now I’m watching reruns of Being Erica on Netflix). I’m trying to establish the habit of having a glass of water while getting ready.  I need to put more effort into this.

By 7:45 I’m ready to leave for work.

Work

My work days have been going by really fast.  I’ve had a lot of catching up to do from the time I was away (I haven’t done this role in about 2.5 years) and I have a number of projects and ideas that I want to initiate.  (If you’re curious, here’s my other blog where I talk about the work I do.)

In the week that I’ve been back I’ve noticed some not so great work habits that need changing.  I want to:

  • drink more water – I bring my water bottle with me and I try to fill it up as soon as I get into work
  • bring enough food – it’s so easy to spend a lot of money at work on coffees, muffins, chocolate, and pastries
  • stop eating so much chocolate – at home I kept a bar of dark chocolate in the fridge at all times and munched on it throughout the day but am not so keen to keep this habit going, especially now that I’m not breastfeeding as much (those calories are not going to burn themselves off anymore!)
  • leave my desk at lunch – this is a big one, sitting all day is hard! I’m doing yoga at lunch on Mondays with my good friend Charlotte (she teaches the class in an art gallery) and I hope to do more yoga at lunch at a nearby studio – we’ll see though it’s often hard to time it right. Once the weather gets nice I’ll for sure be getting out for walks, but for now I just need to move more.  I’m not used to sitting all day or staring at a computer for as long as I do now.

So yeah, work is good.  I miss Nathan but Danny and I email back and forth so I get all the news. We even met up over lunch one day this week!  I’m so lucky!!

Evenings

I’m usually home from work by 5 and am greeted by a very happy baby and a happy, but tired husband (he’s adjusting to our new routines too).   Danny’s been making dinners so we usually sit down to eat pretty much right away.

After dinner I hug, kiss, cuddle, and tickle Nathan on our living room floor.  We play with his toys and I tell him a billion times that I love him.  He laughs a lot, makes sweet noises, and tries to walk (he’s almost there!).

I love this time but have been really tired this week.  I know it’ll just take some getting used to.

I then start Nathan’s bedtime routine at around 7 and he’s down by 7:30 (usually).  He (usually) goes to sleep without a peep and sleeps through the night.

After he’s down I do a clean-up and relax with a glass of wine or tea.  Usually wine.

I’ve been in bed early (a habit I’d like to keep with).  I usually read (I’m reading Harry Potter right now haha) and then lights out by 10 the latest.

And then up at 5 or 6 to do it all over again.

All in All…

I’d have to say life is good.  I’m happy with our routine and I’m excited about this stage in our lives.

Now to tackle those habits….

Practicing Yoga at Home

I tried to get to a yoga class today. I was ready in time, even left the house but once again the foul weather kept me from the class.

I really am trying to get out to some classes.  But when I don’t I’m really not too hard on myself about it.  Sure, I want to get the most out of the monthly pass I bought, but it’s not like I won’t practice yoga if I don’t go.

I love, and am very committed to, my home yoga practice.  Most days I prefer it over going to a studio, and here’s why:

  • I don’t have to go anywhere.  Baby, it’s freeking cold outside. Plus I’m pretty lazy.  Plus,  as much as I want (and need) to get out of the house, I really really love spending time with Nathan.  He is pretty much the cutest thing ever and I miss him when I’m away from him, even if it’s only for a few hours.  I mean, just look how cute he is!!
    12606941_10153959782319170_285258988_n
  • I don’t have to put forth too much effort. All I have to do is throw on some comfy clothes (lulus not required), throw my hair in a bun, and roll out my mat.
  • I never feel self conscious.  Whether it’s because I can’t do a pose or I’m not wearing the right pants or I haven’t shaved my legs or my feet are a mess, at home none of that matters.  Hermes is pretty much the only one around when I practice and he sure doesn’t care. (Or does he?)
    Hermes 2
  • I can change it up as much as I want.  I suppose I could do this at a yoga studio too, but I think it’s kind of expected that you’ll follow along.  Coming back to the previous point, I’d feel rather self conscious if I wanted to chill out in childs pose for 10 minutes while everyone else is doing sun salutations.
  • I can listen to the music that I want to listed to.  I love to do yoga to music and although the studio I go to actually plays awesome music, you just never know.  If I’m at a studio I’d much rather have no music than bad music – so distracting!
  • I can have a glass of wine or a snack or go to bed right after.  No commuting home.  Just relax time.

This isn’t to say I always want to practice at home.  There is definitely a lot to be said for getting your butt to a studio.  The one I go to is hot, which is awesome on cold days (or any day really) and I suppose I could crank the heat up at home, but yeah, not quite the same.  I also love the challenge.  I for sure push myself way harder at a studio.  Plus it’s fun to get out and do something you enjoy.  Lord knows that since having Nathan I could use more of that!

Having said that, today actually worked out because as soon as I walked in the door I put on Day 12 of Yoga Camp and got to it.  This one was great.  It even included a little bakasana (crow) play, which I haven’t tried in ages.

I do plan to get to a 9:30 am class tomorrow.  I’ll let you know if I make it there:)

Renewal

Happy new year everyone!

So this year marks three years for Cultivating Habits. Over these three years I’ve:

  • published 228 posts,
  • received over 65,000 views to the site and over 12,000 video views, and
  • attempted to cultivate over 2o habits.

Notice the attempted to haha. But you know, it’s not about whether or not the habit actually stuck because this whole thing is, and always has been, about so much more than the habits.

It’s about me doing what I say I’m going to do.  Following through on my promises to myself and sharing my journey with all of you.

So when I got the email telling me that it’s been another year and that my domain – cultivatinghabits.com – was up for renewal I was surprised when I found myself wondering whether or not I should renew.

In 2015 I only published 28 posts and I think I worked to cultivate only three habits.  Not only that, but my latest attempt to ‘Get Strong’ didn’t even make it past the first week.

I had wanted to bring back the 21 Day Spring Clean Challenge, which was my first community challenge and actually a lot of fun, and I just couldn’t get my act together.

(OK, when I say I couldn’t get my act together what I really mean is I was too busy taking care of my (at the time) 2 month old baby so I really should cut myself some slack there.)

And, on top of all that, my writing is ruuuuusty.  I have 17 posts saved as drafts.  Crazy, right? The thing is,  I’ve become overly critical of my posts and instead of just writing and publishing I sit on it.  Even now I’m writing, deleting, writing more, deleting more and it’s taking me FOREVER.

So if I’m not cultivating any habits and I’m not publishing any posts, does that mean this is it?

Has Cultivating Habits run its course?

I started this because I was bored and I was in a rut.  I’m not anymore.  I don’t feel I need (or even want) the extra challenge in my life right now, but at the same time I don’t want to stop challenging myself.  I don’t want to stop doing the community challenges.  The Spring Clean Challenge was fun, but the Gratitude Challenge was something else. The feeling I got from reading everyone’s daily gratitude posts was something I’ll never forget.

Maybe a renewal is exactly what Cultivating Habits needs.

New year.  New habits.  Maybe even a new purpose.

Because it’s more than just a domain.  It’s actually been a really big part of my life over these past three years, and I hate to let it go.

So I think over the next few days, weeks, month I’m going to really think about where I can go with this.

Because I’m not ready to give it up just yet.

 

 

Day 1 of my Get Strong Challenge Complete!

Phewwwww man I am seriously out of shape!  I just finished day one and my legs feel like jello.

So yeah, after we got Nathan down to sleep (which, let me tell you, was not an easy feat tonight!) Trainer Danny had me do squats and abs.

Not just any squats though.  Squats with weights.  Because apparently we’re taking this very seriously.

He put 20 lbs on each side of this long bar thing and made me hold it behind my head, resting on the back of my neck (super uncomfortable, by the way) and then squat – butt out, back straight.

This was supposed to be my ‘warm up’.  HA.  Funny guy.  I barely made it to 10 squats.  Pre-Nathan this might not have been a problem but like I said in my last post, I’ve lost a lot of muscle.  I can not only see it, but I feel it too.

We then added another 5 lbs on each side to up the intensity but after just one squat I felt a twinge in my hamstring, so yeah, no thank you.  We stuck to the 40 lbs and I did three sets of 10 with two minute breaks in between.

By the time that was done my 20 minutes was actually up and I was ready to have that glass of wine that’s been waiting for me.  But he made me do abs anyways.

He’s a tough trainer that husband of mine.

So I did three sets of 15 crunches.  Again, pre-Nathan this would have been a sinch, but now I’m so weak!  I know I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.  Pregnancy and birth do a lot to the body and I’m still in awe of what my body did only 9 months ago.  And I’ll get it back.  After all, this is why I’m doing this challenge.

After I was done I went upstairs to get a glass of water and wine (of course, hello reward!) and I felt really shaky coming down the stairs. I think I’m going to be sore tomorrow!

So according to Trainer Danny tomorrow we’re doing push-ups (ugh so dreading that!) and triceps.

And there you have it. Day one complete!

Meditating in the Morning

Yesterday I read that the best time to practice meditation is first thing in the morning when your mind is clear.  My mind is not clear in the morning.  Quite opposite actually. I’m one of those people who wake up thinking, thinking, thinking.   What’s most annoying is it’s first thing in the morning, as I’m snoozing for the third time, that all those little things that have made me angry, or frustrated come back to haunt me.

Apparently I’m not pushing things down far enough.

And as a believer of making things as easy on myself as possible, I’d much rather attempt meditating when my mind is clear and calm, which for me is at the end of my day.

Mornings are my time for thinking.  For being creative.  For writing and planning.  (Though not the best time to book airline tickets, trust me on this one.  No serious planning before coffee!)

Evenings are for winding down and being clam.  A little bedtime yoga, a bath and a good book is my idea of a good night.

I’ve tried going against this grain and it doesn’t work.  Meditating in the morning when my mind is buzzing is hard work.  Whereas writing, planning, and working in the morning come easily and naturally.

Everyone is different and it’s important to know your best times.  Are you quiet and reflective in the morning?  When do you feel most energetic?  Most productive?  Most creative?

Know your times and use them to your advantage.  Schedule your day around this.  I really think this is an important step in designing a life that you love.  If you think you don’t have time for something (exercising, meditating, reading, writing, whatever) maybe you’re just not making the right time for it.  Because if you do it at a time that doesn’t work for you, it will feel like work.  And we all know how that turns out…

 

Recap of the Creativity Challenge – My Favourite Moments

Yesterday marked the final day of the 21 Day Creativity Challenge.  Whenever challenges come to an end I’m usually a bit relieved.  When I did the no drinking challenge I was looking forward to a glass of wine.  For the no sugar challenge I was happy to go back to my regular, balanced diet.

But the community challenges are different.

For those of you who don’t know what I mean by community challenges, these are the ones where people join me in completing daily tasks related to the theme.  So far they’ve been spring cleaning, gratitude, and now creativity.

When these challenges end I feel like a little sad, like I’m saying goodbye to friends I won’t see in a while.  And this time is no different.

It’s been so wonderful getting to know the people who joined me and I was inspired every day by their creativity and willingness to share their gifts openly with the group.

My Favourite Moments from the Creativity Challenge

This challenge was unique in that I think I got more out of seeing everyone’s posts than actually doing them myself!  Here are just a few of my favourite moments in this challenge:

Day 1: Take a photo from a unique perspective of something that brings you joy.

This was such a great way to start the challenge. Seeing everyone’s creative photos made me so happy.   I loved this creative shot from Yolanda.  shower shot

Day 4: Go for a walk.

One of my favourite things to do when feeling stuck on a problem is to get away from my desk and go for a walk.  This was a great photo that Clarie took while out on her walk.  The colour of the tree, the bright boat and water – perfect!

boat in water

Day 7: Spend some time daydreaming.

This one brought me to sandy beaches and lush jungles.  I liked what Jaimie had to say about this task:

I took an extended trip to Bora Bora for not 10 mins but 15. And on that trip, I took my amazing husband. Together we took the boats out, walked along the sandy beaches, swam with the fish, and now that I am back to reality, I want to close my eyes and return for a longer stay

dreaming of bora bora

Ahhh bliss!

Day 9: Finish the picture.

In this task people were given two lines and were prompted to finish the picture.  This one was amazing!  It was so cool to see where everyone’s imaginations took them.  Here are two very different interpretations from Steven and Aleksandra.

hand topography

little owl

Day 10: Write a fortune cookie.

So many amazing and creative fortunes were created in this one!  Here’s what Maggie came up with:

You will have a creative adventure soon.
A change in weather will bring a change of heart.
The more you keep your eyes open, the more you’ll learn about yourself.
Love your work and you will find true prosperity.
Love is always the answer, and when it isn’t – move on.

Day 14: Spend the day imagining a world of bright, vibrant colours.

This was one of my personal favourite tasks to complete.  I did this on my way into work that day and three things happened: time went by really quickly, I showed up to work in a great mood, and I really noticed the beautiful colours that were already around me, like the pink roses outside my building at work.

Day 19: Create a puppet.

This one was fun!  My mom and I created some pretty cute puppets together 🙂  It was so fun to see everyone’s posts.  How great is this one from Catherine!?

create a puppet

Day 21: Write your horoscope.

I loved ending with this tasks.  Everyone wrote such amazing and inspiring horoscopes.  Here is the one that I wrote to everyone in the challenge:

December will be a month of serenity and joy for those born under the creative sign.

You will experience an abundance of creative energy this month. You will continue to view the world from your own unique creative perspective, seeing dinosaurs out of snow hills and discovering beauty all around you. This perspective will inspire you to experiment with a new creative outlet involving music.

December will be a time for friends, both old and new. New friendships will be made which will support you in your new creative endeavors. You will inspire an old friend to challenge himself or herself creatively.

Technology will not be your friend. It will drain you of your energy. This will be a good month for you carve out some quite time to reflect and breathe. In doing so you will become more present and grateful for all the gifts you have in your life.

What’s Next?

I’ve been thinking about the next challenge for some time now and I’m excited to get started.  It’s going to be a 100 day challenge (not a community challenge this time) and one that I know will challenge me.

I’m not going to start it for another two days (I’ll tell you why later) and just for the fun of it I’m going to leave you all in anticipation and not tell you what it is until tomorrow.  Stay tuned! 🙂