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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Getting Back on the Mat

I just finished my Tuesday workout – yoga.  This was the first full yoga routine that I have done in a very long time and it felt so good.

I mentioned in my last post that I had a tough pregnancy.  Back in May 2016 I, and my whole family, got really sick. I got the stomach bug, followed by a cold, followed by a horrible sinus infection.   Then just as I was feeling better, I started to experience morning (more like all day) sickness.  That lasted for months.  I also experienced a lot of physical discomfort this pregnancy – a lot of pain in my back and hips and I found the more I moved the worse it got.

All that to say, it’s pretty much been a year since I’ve done any kind of physical activity, including yoga.

Today’s Progress Report

The yoga routine that I chose to do today was one designed for postpartum – this is it here.  I have some separation in my abs so I need to be careful not to do crunches or anything that could strain those muscles.

I did the routine right after I put Isabel down for her first nap of the day.  I think this will be the time that I do all of my exercises.  She only napped for 45 minutes but it gave me enough time to do the 30 minute routine.

I have to be honest, I got a little bored half way through.  It was a really slow practice and I’m a little rusty so I’m not going to read too much into this.  I checked to see how much time was left on the video at 27 minutes, so not bad, and I did make it all the way through to the end.

Plan for Tomorrow

Tomorrow Danny has me doing:

SQUATS BANDS/ WEIGHTS
LUNGES BANDS/ WEIGHTS
AB THINGIE

We were going to buy some bands last weekend but we never got around to it so I’ll be doing the squats and lunges with weights.  As for the ‘ab thingie’ – well, you’ll just have to wait and see what that means 😉

So until tomorrow..

 

 

 

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.

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?

Healthy Avocado Pasta

I was going to start this off with ‘it’s day X of my feel healthier challenge’ but to be honest, I’ve forgotten what day I’m on.

That is not a good sign, I know.

BUT the good news is, it doesn’t really matter  because I don’t want this challenge to have an end date. I would like for it to go on and on and on.  I want to feel healthier every day for all of the days!

And even though I’ve lost track I’m not off track.  I’m still drinking a lot of water (making sure I have my water bottle on me at all times), I’m leaving my desk at lunch (I went to another awesome yoga class at lunch yesterday), and I’m eating healthy foods.

Like this avocado pasta I want to tell you about.

It’s pretty much the easiest thing in the word to make.  And it’s healthy.  And super tasty.

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We had no veggies in the house, so unfortunately mine is lacking that extra colour and flavour.

Ingredients:

  • one ripe avocado
  • one tablespoon of olive oil
  • whatever veggies you have on hand – best to use for this are zucchini, peppers, mushroom, onion, and tomatoe
  • salt and pepper
  • pasta (almost forgot to include this haha)

Method:

  1. cook your pasta
  2. chop up your veggie very small and fry them up in a touch of oil.  You can also just do this in water if you want to be super healthy
  3. grab a medium sized bowl and mash up your avocado
  4. stir in the olive oil
  5. when the pasta’s done drain it and add it to your avocado concoction
  6. mix it all up
  7. toss in the veggies
  8. season with salt and pepper
  9. enjoy!

The only problem with this ‘sauce’ is it doesn’t keep, so you don’t want to make too much.

If you make this let me know what you think.  Did you add anything to yours?

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!

 

 

Feel Healthier: Day 1

Yesterday was day one of my Feel Healthier plan and as promised, here is my daily update. I really hope these don’t get boring for you, but I find posting here really helps to keep me accountable.

So here’s how day one went.

Eating well.

My plan to start is just to track what I’m eating.  So yesterday I took pictures of everything I ate.  Looking at this I think it was actually a pretty good day.   I actually had about three times as much dinner as shown though. I’ve been so hungry!!

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Sure I had chocolate and coffee and ice-cream, but I also had fruit and vegetables and I managed to keep away from things that don’t make me feel good – namely chips and popcorn.  I have absolutely no self control when it comes to these two things and I always (and I mean always) end up with a sore stomach.

Drinking water.

I made a conscious effort to have a glass of water within arms reach all day.  I think I need to get a second water bottle – one for home and one for work.  When we went for a walk I brought one of Nathan’s sippy cups with me haha.

Moving my body.

I’ve decided to change this habit from ‘exercising’ to ‘moving my body’.  Even though I grew up an athlete, I am now intimidated by the word exercise.  Feels so onerous.  I don’t want to exercise.  But I do want to move my body.  Yesterday was a good day.  It was Sunday so I moved around a lot with Nathan, went for an hour long walk, and even got on the elliptical for 20 minutes (I tried for 30 but got bored).

Sleeping well.

I was really tired yesterday and went to bed at 9:30.  I read one chapter in my book and then it was lights out.  Unfortunately I woke up several times in the night.  Ever since Nathan was born I’ve become a ridiculously light sleeper.  At least I no longer wake up panicked that he’s in the bed and I can’t find him.  And then he cried out at 4:15 and was up for the day at 5:45.  So yeah, I tried.

All in All

I’d say it was a pretty good day.  Not bad for day one.  I’m not going to attempt to make any changes to my eating habits or routine for a few more days.

I think for now just being conscious of these four habits is a step in the right direction.

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!!
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  • 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:)

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!

The Basics of Breathwork

As part of my February challenge to relax every day for 21 days I’ll be doing a lot of breathwork.

In my experience, breathwork:

  • reduces my anxiety, like before a big presentation or on a crowded train
  • brings me to the present moment
  • helps me fall asleep
  • helps release muscle tension, particularly while in a challenging yoga pose

We use breathwork a lot in yoga by using specific pranayama techniques.  But you don’t have to be doing yoga to practice breathwork.

Four Basic Breathing Techniques

There are often times when we can’t control what’s going on around us.  But what we can control is how we react to stressful situations.  One very powerful way to control our reactions is to take a moment to check in with our breath.  It’s an easy habit to cultivate and one that can really help to balance your nervous system and chill you out.

Here are four basic breathing techniques that I use to relax.

Paying Attention

This is the most simple form of breathwork which I practice every day.  It’s simply paying attention.  Not trying to influence it, simply looking at it and observing the breath.  I do this everywhere.  When I’m commuting into work, in line at the grocery store, wherever.  It really helps me to feel present and grounded, no matter what’s going on around me.

Noticing the Breath Cycle

If I told you to take three deep breaths I bet you would begin your count on the inhale.  What if you thought about it beginning with an exhalation?  I like this simple technique because it causes a slight shift in the way I perceive my breath.  And interesting enough, by focusing on my exhale, I’m able to take stronger, longer, deeper inhalations.

Taking Deeper, Slower, Quieter Breaths

Ever notice how your breath becomes rapid, shallow and noisy when you’re angry or upset?  The breath is really quite amazing in that if you take five minutes to just breathe – deeper, slower, quieter – you can actually influence your emotions.  This can work even if you’re not agitated.  Can’t sleep?  Want to get into a more relaxed state?  Change your breath.  Even just slightly.  Take a slightly longer inhale.  A slightly longer exhale. Repeat and unwind.

Breathing into my Belly

This is very similar to what we call three part breath in yoga.  It’s making sure that the breath goes right down into your belly, and not just in your chest.  By sending the breath all the way down – by expanding the belly as we inhale – you can take a full volume of air into your lungs.  This is my go to breathing technique now that I’m pregnant.  With every breath I imagine I’m bringing oxygen to my growing baby.

When to do breathwork

I try to do breathwork throughout the day.  Any chance I get I take notice of my breath.  I expand my belly and think about my breath going deep, this helps me to slow my breath.

I also do it before meditation.  It helps me to relax into my space and become present in the moment.

So I encourage you to take moments throughout your day to give these techniques a try.  Your nervous system will thank you 🙂