Date Night Idea Jar

Me: What do you want to do tonight?

Hubbs: Ummm…whatever you want to do.

Me: I don’t know; that’s why I asked you.

Hubbs: Well now I’m asking you.

Me: I asked you first 😛

Hubbs: Well I don’t know so whatever you want to do…

…and then we more than likely end up doing some version of dinner and a movie lol.

Has this ever happened to you and your significant other?  If it hasn’t then I’d feel preeeeetty safe saying you’re in the minority.

Here’s the thing, my husband and I aren’t boring people; we aren’t  an “old married couple.”  We love AND like each other, we enjoy each other’s company and we have great conversation.  If we had a quality time complaint it would be that we always want more.  We just suffer from simultaneous brain freeze when we get that rare free time to actually have a date.

So, never being one to come to the table with a problem and no solution, I went on the hunt and started my “The T8s” board on Pinterest so I could save all kinds of amazing date ideas and put some variety in our dating life.

And what happened?  Nothing lol.  Oh, I found some wonderful posts with all kinds of things that I never would have thought of.  More variety than you could ever ask for.  And when the time came, we still had trouble choosing and planning.  Then one day, at the bottom of a pin, I saw a couple of pictures – one with popsicle sticks with ideas written on them and another with a jar full of sticks.

And that’s how our date night jar was born.

WWW.EXCELLENTLYIMPERFECT.COM (1)

Since then I’ve seen several iterations of the concept, each offering their own take.  Some, in my opinion, doing way too much in the way of design.  We’re busy people and I’m usually looking for a way to streamline our lives, not complicate them further.  So here’s how I created our cute (imo) and effective Date Night Idea Jar.

You’ll Need:

  • A Mason Jar (having pasta soon?  Grab a jar of your favorite Classico and wash it after you make dinner…reduce, reuse, recycle!)
  • Multi-Colored Craft Sticks (available at Wal-Mart, Dollar Tree, Joann Fabrics, Amazon, etc. )
  • Sharpie
  • Construction Paper (optional)
  • Scissors (optional)
  • Tape (optional)

My System:

  • Green and Blue: Free – inexpensive
  • Yellow: Mid-range cost/some planning required
  • Red: High cost/lot of time/advance planning required
  • Purple: Family fun!

What You’ll Do:

Make a list of eeeevery date idea you can think of.  Include your favorites and the things you’ve been “planning” to do for years.  I also put the names of restaurants we keep saying we want to try on a stick in their respective price range.  Now, everybody has to define what inexpensive, mid-range and high cost means to their individual budgets, but in our house, green is free – <$20, yellow is $20-60 and Red is anything over $60.

(If you need some date night ideas, you can get our exact list, by price category here.)

Putting it in Action:

I’d love to say we use our jar every week (getting back to weekly date nights is a work in progress…we’ll get there really soon), the reality is we do not.  However, when we have a date coming up (yes, I put them on the calendar when I see mutual free time), we decide what the budget range is and then get to pulling.  I’m sure in theory you’re supposed to pull one and that’s it, but we don’t work like that lol.  If we pull something on the first go that we don’t feel like doing, we don’t do it.  We’re not about forced “fun.” But we do limit the number of draws.  Lately we’ve been doing you pull one, I pull one and we either pick one or do both.  We have also done 2 sticks per person and we pick one or two.

The rule is that there are no rules.  This is a fun way to keep the spark in YOUR relationship so you have to decide what works for you.  Just remember to enjoy each other and have fun.  It’s easier to keep the spark than to have to re-start the fire.

Live and love well, my friends 🙂

 

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Seasons of Change

The sound of birds chirping and the smell of flowers tell us that Spring has indeed sprung. Long hot days filled with sun and relaxation remind us that Summer is here. The sight of orange and maroon on the trees indicate that Autumn is upon us. And the first flakes of snow let us know that Winter has surely arrived. We use all of these familiar queues to let us know when the physical seasons have changed, so why is it that we have such a hard time realizing when a season is changing or ending in our lives?

Lately, I’ve been feeling led (by God) into a lot of change, and unlike many, that doesn’t really bother me. I embrace change because it’s through change that we are able to grow and experience new things. It’s through some pretty drastic changes that I been blessed with the most amazing things in my life like my husband, my child and my budding career.

I’ve been known to take some pretty huge leaps of faith, but the catalyst has always been exactly that; my FAITH in the Lord. And while that means that I have been able to take those steps into the unknown confidently, I have never done so quickly. So what is it that causes us to hold onto something when we know deep within that what we’re holding is essentially dead?  We each have to figure out our own answer to that question, but the more I think about it, the more I believe the root of our hesitation is fear.

Fear of losing the little that we have, fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of being alone, fear of the judgement of others, fear of disappointing someone or hurting somebody’s feelings, fear of being misunderstood, fear of the unknown, fear of not being enough, fear of discovering who you really are…fear, fear, FEAR!  That tiny little word that has confused minds, ruined lives, paralyzed potential and shattered dreams all over the globe.  We let fear magnify the potential negative outcomes of a situation to the point that we can’t see all of the beauty that CAN come from change.

The truth is that, yes, some (maybe even all) of those things can happen.  You might lose the little that you have, but what if holding on so tightly to that little bit of nothing is keeping you from being able to grab hold of something great?  Yes, some people might reject you and your ideas and plans but that just means they weren’t the right people.  Do you really want people that can’t see your vision on your team?

It’s quite possible that you will fail, but it’s been said that the path to success is paved with failure.  I’d rather fail forward than be stuck going nowhere any day.  And what about success?  Success comes with it’s own “problems,” right?  If you succeed then that means that you’re capable; that you can do all of those things that you told yourself for so long that you couldn’t.  The thought of that kind of awareness and accountability can be scary, but that’s just a trick of the enemy to get you to stifle your greatness.

The fear of being alone, fear of not being enough and fear of discovering who you really are sadly all stem from a low self-esteem and lack of confidence and self-love.  And before you get defensive on me, please understand that I say that because I used to live at the corner of Low Self-Esteem Ave. & Self Loathing St.  How I changed my permanent address is another post (or series) for another day, but hear me when I say…

You are enough.

You are awesome.

You are beautifully and wonderfully made.

And if nobody has come along that has the capacity to handle and love you and your greatness, then you’re better off alone than wasting your life with somebody that doesn’t see you, appreciate you or really love you.

Now that we’ve gotten that all cleared up, you may have noticed that there are a few fears I didn’t address: fear of the judgement of others, fear of disappointing someone or hurting somebody’s feelings and fear of being misunderstood.  It sounds cliche, but the fact of the matter is that nobody can live your life except you.  That means that people can, and will, have opinions about what they think you should do, tell you what they would do (even though that’s probably not what they would do), or simply get offended that you’re even considering doing.  And that’s fine.  Even if it’s none of their business, we’ll go on and say that they are entitled to their opinions and feelings.  But you cannot let their expectations interfere with your destiny, despite how uncomfortable it makes you to have to disappoint someone.  I’m not saying we should be mean or disrespectful to move our lives forward; never that.  But we might have to endure some tough conversations, weather some icy looks and maybe even bear some hurtful remarks in order to get to the next stage of our lives.

This particular fear family has been one that I have struggled with more than some of the others.  Often in the past, when it was time for me to make a change in my life, I was more worried about managing the expectations of others than the actual risk OR benefit of the change.  And I believe that I have missed windows of blessing and “wasted” years of my life because of it.  I don’t want the same thing to happen to you.

Now that brings me to the fear that I do let govern my life; fear of being outside of the will of God for my life/fear of letting God down.  I had to come to the realization that at the end of the day…and at the end of my life…the only One that I need to be pleased with me is God.  And I’m happy to report that my desire to walk the talk now supersedes any fear, worry or doubt about whether things will work out, what people will think, what people will say, etc.

So as I move through the changes that I face in my life right now, I’m going to flow with the seasons.  No parkas at the cookout for this girl.  I’m acknowledging where I am and  doing what I know I need to do for God, me, my family, my business, my health and my sanity and I suggest that you do the same.

 

Best Sun Protection Practices – 2018 (and things to avoid)

The first official day of summer was just over a week ago and the 4th of July is only days away so today I want to talk about sun protection.

I know that it’s tempting to soak up all the sun you can in the name of Vitamin D and beautifully bronzed skin, but we really have to be careful about how much sun we get and how we get that sun.  Now, one thing that I try to always seek in my life is balance.  That means in most cases, I’m not going to recommend that you go extreme in any one direction.  Sun exposure is no different.

We all know that the sun, sunlamps, and tanning booths all give off ultraviolet (UV) radiation and exposure to UV radiation causes early aging of the skin and skin damage that can lead to skin cancer.  However, moderate sun exposure may have benefits for your health, including stronger bones, better sleep, improved mood, and a healthier immune system.  In fact, non-burning sun exposure is associated with a reduced risk of melanoma, while sunburns are associated with a doubling of the risk of melanoma.

I want take a moment to dispel the myth that if you have a darker complexion, you can’t get skin cancer.  Anyone can get skin cancer, regardless of race and, according to a July 2016 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, melanoma is actually more deadly in people of color.  Darker skin does produce more of the pigment called melanin that does help protect skin — but only to a certain extent. People of color can still get sunburned, and can also develop skin cancer from UV damage.

So how do we enjoy the sun without increasing our risk for cancer?

Here are some tips to protect your skin from sunlight:

  • Wear a hat with a wide brim all around that shades your face, neck, and ears. Baseball caps and some sun visors protect only parts of your skin.
  • Wear sunglasses that block UV radiation to protect the skin around your eyes.
  • Wear long sleeves and long pants. Tightly woven, dark fabrics are best. Some fabrics are rated with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF). The higher the rating, the greater the protection from sunlight.

Keep in mind that the sun’s rays…

  • are strongest between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., so be especially vigilant during those times
  • they can go through light clothing, windshields, windows, and clouds
  • they are reflected by sand, water, snow, ice, and pavement

Now, what should you do if you aren’t going to do aaaaall of that stuff?  Because I know you’re not because I don’t always do it 😝  Well, you should wear sunscreen products with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. (Some doctors suggest using a product with an SPF of at least 30 but don’t be fooled into thinking that the higher the SPF the better the sunscreen.)

Here’s the thing though, not all sunscreens are created equally. According to the 2018 report from Environmental Working Group (EWG), 2/3s of the 650 beach and sport sunscreens that they investigated don’t work…That’s roughly 67%! Which means they provide inadequate sun protection and/or contained harmful ingredients.

Per the EWG’s report, there have been major improvements over the last 10 years or so, however the majority of sunscreens available for purchase in the U.S. still contain damaging chemicals or fail to offer enough protection against ultraviolet rays aaaaand about half of the beach and sport sunscreens sold in the U.S. that EWG analyzed would not be allowed on the market in Europe due to inadequate protection against UVA rays.

It’s important to remember that there is no perfect sunscreen. Many contain harmful chemicals, and even mineral-based ones often contain nanoparticles which are minute ingredients that can cross the blood-brain barrier and also harm aquatic life. Also, sunscreen is unique compared to many other personal care products because you coat it thickly onto your skin, often multiple times a day. You don’t get that type of hours-long, skin-absorbing exposure with something like soap or shampoo that you quickly wash off or even moisturizer that you apply in a thin layer once or twice a day.

That’s why it’s very important to look for safer sunscreens if you use them and to recognize that you can’t only rely on sunscreens alone to prevent sun overexposure.  You need to incorporate the other tips I mentioned earlier as much as possible as well.

Some interesting things I read in the EWG Report (some paraphrased):

Active ingredients in sunscreens come in two forms, mineral and chemical filters. Each uses a different mechanism for protecting skin and maintaining stability in sunlight. The most common sunscreens on the market contain chemical filters. These products typically include a combination of two to six of the following active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. Mineral sunscreens use zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. Laboratory studies indicate that some chemical UV filters may mimic hormones, and physicians report sunscreen-related skin allergies, which raises important questions about unintended human health consequences from frequent sunscreen application.

The Food and Drug Administration has not reviewed evidence of potential hazards of sunscreen filters – instead it grandfathered in ingredients used in the late 1970s when it began to consider sunscreen safety. EWG has reviewed the existing data about human exposure and toxicity for the nine most commonly used sunscreen chemicals. The most worrisome is oxybenzone, which was added to nearly 65 percent of the non-mineral sunscreens in EWG’s 2018 sunscreen database. It is an allergen and a hormone disruptor that soaks through skin and is measured in the body of nearly every American.

EWG recommends that consumers avoid sunscreens with oxybenzone.  But there are other sunscreen chemicals that also penetrate the skin and can cause hormone disruption.  The ones I would caution against are: Oxybenzone,Octinoxate, Homosalate, Octisalate, and Octocrylene.  Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide, Avobenzone and mexoryl SX all have a score of 2 with EWG which means they have a lower toxicity concern.

One other ingredient of concern is a common sunscreen additive, a form of vitamin A called retinyl palmitate.  Studies by federal government scientists indicate that it may trigger development of skin tumors and lesions when used on skin in the presence of sunlight. Other governments warn that cosmetics may contribute to unsafe amounts of vitamin A, and recommend against using vitamin A-laden cosmetics on the lips and over large portions of the body. Too much pre-formed vitamin A, including subtitle: retinol, retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinoic acid and retinyl linoleate, can cause a variety of health problems, including liver damage, brittle nails, hair loss, and osteoporosis and hip fractures in older adults.  There is another camp that says that the risk of vitamin A overexposure from cosmetics is low but I personally don’t know that I want to take that risk.

As for inactive ingredients, beware of the preservative subtitle methylisothiazolinone.  Laboratory studies indicate that methylisothiazolinone is a skin sensitizer or allergen.

So that’s it for my spiel on sun protection.  There are a bunch of sunscreen products that got good scores from EWG, but I’ll list and link the top recommendations from EWG for sunscreen products in 2018 below to make them easy for you to find.  You can also find the full EWG sunscreen site  here if you want to read the whole report, search for your favorite sunscreen products to see how they rate or see the entire list of sunscreens and their ratings.

And remember, in order for even the best sunscreen to be effective you have to follow the manufacturers instructions.  Generally, that means applying at least 30 minutes BEFORE exposure and reapplying every 2 hours or immediately after coming out of the water or sweating.

Here are some of the best sunscreen products (based on effectiveness, health hazards and sunscreen stability)^:

The Best Sunscreens of 2018, Beach & Sport

 

The Best Sunscreens of 2018, Moisturizers

 

The Best Sunscreens of 2018, Kid-Friendly

 

8 Best Sunscreens That Are Cheap ($10-20) & Widely Available 

 

And for those that you should absolutely avoid…

Worst Sunscreens for Kids

  • Banana Boat Kids Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 100
  • Banana Boat Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100
  • Coppertone Water Babies Foaming Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 70
  • Coppertone Kids Sunscreen Continuous AccuSpray, SPF 70
  • Coppertone Kids Sunscreen Continuous Spray, SPF 50
  • Coppertone Wet’n Clear Kids Sunscreen Continuous Spray, SPF 50+
  • Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
  • CVS Health Kids Clear Sunscreen Spray, SPF 50 & 70
  • Equate Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
  • Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen, SPF 60+
  • Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Stick Sunscreen, SPF 70+
  • Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Sunscreen Spray, SPF 70+
  • Up & Up Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
  • Up & Up Kids Sunscreen Spray, SPF 50

And here are some of the other worst overall offenders scoring in the Red Zone (7-10) for major safety concerns:

  • Panama Jack Sport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 85
  • Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunscreen, SPF 60+
  • CVS Health Sun Lotion, SPF 60
  • Up & Up Sport Sunscreen Spray, SPF 15, 30 & 50
  • Panama Jack Sunscreen Continuous Spray, SPF 15, 30 & 70
  • NO-AD Sun Care Sport Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 50
  • Neutrogena Wet Skin Sunscreen Spray, SPF 50 & 85+
  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Sunscreen Spray, SPF 30
  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen, SPF 70, 85+ & 100+
  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen, SPF 70, 85+ & 100+

 

Reference Articles:

EWG’s Sunscreen Report 

8 Best Sunscreen Bets When You’re in a Pinch 

Dark Skin Tones and Skin Cancer:  What You Need to Know 

National Cancer Institute: Sunlight 

The Risks and Benefits of Sun Exposure 2016 

The Best Sunscreens of 2018 (and Toxic Ones to Avoid) 

 

^Pulled from DrAxe.com, based on the 2018 EWG ratings list

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Most Amazing Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

Perfect soft and chewy paleo chocolate chip cookiesLiving on a paleo diet was never something that I aspired to.  It was thrust upon me by an autoimmune condition and has been a bit of a challenge (cheat day just hasn’t been the same).  Nevertheless, I have been a good sport about it because I feel so much better and it is a healthy way to eat so it’s all good, right?

So, how did I find myself pulling out my KitchenAid at close to 10 p.m. on a random Tuesday?  Well, as it turns out, PMS doesn’t care one bit about my grain-free, refined-sugar-free diet and I was practically climbing the walls because I just wanted a GOOD chocolate chip cookie.  I have tried recipes in the past and none have hit the mark (most disappointing Christmas baking ever).  Having grown weary of getting my hopes up and wasting my time, energy and expensive paleo-friendly ingredients on recipes that don’t even turn out like the picture, I decided to put my 26 years of semi-amateur baking experience to work to create my own paleo chocolate chip cookie.

Perfect soft and chewy paleo chocolate chip cookies

I actually started with my mother’s modified version of the recipe on the back of the Nestle bag and converted the sugar, butter and most importantly the flour.  The result? An absolutely aaaaaaa-mazing cookie.  They turned out soft, but not mushy, with a nice chew.  Sweet, but not too sweet.

Perfect soft and chewy paleo chocolate chip cookies

I was really worried about changing so many ingredients at once and the dough came out a little loose for my liking so I baked one lonely little cookie so I could try to adjust the batch if need be (seriously, if you’re paleo you know how much more expensive these ingredients are)…

Perfect soft and chewy paleo chocolate chip cookies

But thanks to this God-send cassava flour from Otto’s Naturals, I was pleasantly surprised with the results.

Perfect soft and chewy paleo chocolate chip cookies

Keep in mind, your dough and final cookies will be darker in color because of the coconut sugar.

Perfect soft and chewy paleo chocolate chip cookies

Like I said, they turned out quite soft and chewy, which is great for me, but if you want a less chewy cookie, I would recommend reducing or removing the molasses in the recipe.  (I added it for chew because I always tended toward more brown sugar than white sugar in my traditional cookie recipes.)

Perfect soft and chewy paleo chocolate chip cookies

I’ll definitely be experimenting more with cassava flour and can’t wait to see what delicious baked goods I’ll be able to create and share with you all.

Soon, I’ll be moving over to the more strict AIP (autoimmune paleo) diet so I’ll be making an AIP-compliant version by subbing the eggs and chocolate chips, so stay tuned for that.  Until then, enjoy these yummy little morsels….in moderation of course 🙂

Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prep: 10 mins

Cook: 6-9 mins

Yields: About 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, Silpat or other silicone baking mat.
  3. Mix flour, baking soda and salt, set aside.
  4. Cream together coconut butter, coconut spread and coconut sugar and vanilla.  (I used my stand mixer with scraper paddle.)  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets.  (I use this cookie scoop.)
  6. Bake for 6-9 minutes, depending on your texture preference.  Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Perfect soft and chewy paleo chocolate chip cookies

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Release from my Invisible Prison

This is what the last year and a half of my life has been like and what 22 years of misdiagnosed symptoms has led to.  And 5 weeks ago, I was able to name the culprit that has been stealing my life, trapping me inside my own body, making me feel defeated and sending me into hiding.  I’d like you to meet Hashimoto’s Disease.

In short, Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition in which the body attacks the thyroid.  It is often diagnostically undetected until the later stages of the disease once the thyroid has been damaged.  However, a person can suffer a myriad of symptoms for DECADES without their thyroid levels going out of normal range.  This is because the body is working so hard to keep thyroid hormone levels normal that other functions are essentially taxed and/or neglected.

For me, things really came to a head summer 2016.  I noticed that I was exhausted all the time, no matter how much I slept, I couldn’t focus and my mind was constantly cloudy, I had mood issues that included anxiety, depression and irritability.  I didn’t see any life in my face anymore and started to hate taking pictures.  I had a lot of joint pain and my hands and feet were often swollen.  My hair was falling out, literally entire sections of locs were just coming out.  (I actually found another bag since filming that video so the total is approximately 200.)

20170902_092159

And the one that had me and those closest to me truly baffled was the weight gain.  Despite my clean diet and 6-day-a-week workouts, I started gaining weight.  At first it was a few pounds so I thought maybe I’d had a few more cheats than normal so I cut them all out and the weight just kept coming.  I was gaining 2-5 lbs a week, every week.  For months I tried everything in my fitness and nutrition arsenal to get the weight off but I honestly would have settled for just stabilized.  Each time I’d make a change I’d lose a couple of pounds at first and then they’d come back, sometimes bringing friends.  After all of that, some unhelpful trips to the doctor and useless blood work (I’ll talk to you more about all of that another time), I honestly felt completely defeated.

Here I am, a fitness and nutrition coach who suddenly had an unexplained weight problem.  Talk about being bad for business!  And aside from that, the fatigue and brain fog were so bad that I felt completely unproductive in many areas of my life and my normally calm and even temperament had been replaced with anxiety and mood swings.  I truly felt like a prisoner in my own body.  And I have one of the most amazing support systems in the world, but still felt very alone.  So, I retreated into myself.

Good news though.  I can treat this homeopathically, which is my preference.  And no, there is no conventional medicine alternative, for those who may think I’m anti-medicine.  The truth is that conventional medicine’s solution to Hashimoto’s is to prescribe synthetic thyroid hormone to replace what your thyroid can’t.  The dosage is increased as the damage becomes more severe and eventually the thyroid gets so damaged it has to be removed or no longer produces any hormone and your dosage is increased once again.  That doesn’t address any of the symptoms that you may suffer NOR does it do anything to answer one really good question.  Why did my body start attacking itself?

So, I’ve been treating myself since I named my villain 5 weeks ago, with the help of Dr. Izabella Wentz and her online resources and books.  Hashimoto’s Protocol has become my healing Bible and I highly recommend it.  I’ll talk about how I’ve been treating it much more in the coming weeks and months as I learn more and continue to heal, but just briefly, I have removed gluten, soy, dairy, sugar and caffeine from my diet as well as doing a liver cleanse that I’ll complete in a couple of days as well as some supplementation.  Also, I simply don’t have the capacity to do as much and I need to allow my body some time and rest to heal, so I’ve had to find my “no”.  Honestly it’s my new favorite word.

I will say that I have already lost 7.5 lbs, 3.2% body fat (and they’re continuing to trend downward), I have more energy (still not awesome, but improved), less brain fog, the glow has returned to my face, my joints don’t hurt like they did, and my hands and feet have returned to their normal size 😊.   I’d love to take you on this journey with me so if you’re up for the trip, you can follow my new YouTube channel Conquering Hashimoto’s or hashtag #conqueringHashimotos for all of my updates.  Thanks everyone for your support and I’ll talk to you soon.

A Different Kind of Spring Cleaning

Every year, I look forward to the first signs of spring.  As soon as I notice the sun setting well after 5 p.m. I start to feel a special warmth deep in my heart.   Don’t get me wrong; there are some very lovely things about winter.  The holidays, the lack of bugs and white chocolate peppermint mochas, to name a few.  But there are also some things about winter that can really set you back in your goals and make you long for it to end like laziness brought on by the lack of sunlight, Christmas cookies and white chocolate peppermint mochas…funny how that made both lists…

This winter took its toll on me a little more than some and I’m more than ready to do anything in my power to loosen its grips on me.  A little over a month ago, I started working outside of my home again for the first time in a year.  It wasn’t a bad decision, but my schedule changed drastically in a matter of a week.  So, certain things (sleep, workouts, cooking) started to slip through the cracks.  So this year, my spring cleaning routine is going to be more about me than my apartment.  I need to repair the cracks in my foundation.

As I’ve begun to adjust to working 50 hours a week again, I have realized that I need to leave some room for error in my plans, which is not my strong suite.  So I enlisted the help of my husband with coming up with the guidelines for what I’m calling my Spring Reboot Challenge.  Here they are:30Day Reboot Pin (1)

 

1. Get 6-7 hours of sleep per night
2. Get 20+ minutes exercise at least 3 days each week
3. Have 30 minutes of quite time/meditation/reflection per day (no electronic devices allowed)
4. Have 4 green salads each week
5. No sweets or refined carbs (nothing white)
6. Eat at least 1 cup of vegetables (outside of your salads) per day
7. Drink at least 8 cups (64 oz) of water per day
8. Read for at least 10 minutes a day (Something educational, motivation or for personal development.  Let’s chat if you need recommendations.)
9. No more than 60 COMBINED minutes of Social Media and games per day
10. Have 2-3 conversations (with 2-3 different people) every week. These should be actual verbal conversations either in person, over the telephone or on a video chat for at least 10 minutes.

I’m going to start my Challenge on April 1st and let it run for the full month.  Now, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t spread the love and ask for some friends to join me on this endeavor.  So, please commit to this 30 days to set the rest of your year on the right foot!  If you’d like to have some support for the challenge, you can join my FREE 30-Day Spring Reboot group by filling in the information below.  We’d love to have you join us!

Motivation, Discipline and Habit

Despite the fact that I was up until after midnight, this morning my alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. simultaneously with the chirp of a “get up” text reminder from my success partner.  This has  been the story of my life Monday – Friday for the last six weeks, without fail.  The good news is that I’ve actually been getting up when that happens…for at least the last three weeks 🙂  It took a LOT of effort to get to the point that I just go on and get up, no matter what time I turned in or how warm and cozy my bed and husband are.  And this morning as I was getting ready for a 6:30 “meeting” I could see the 5 hours of sleep in my face (I’ll work on that next) but I had to smile because I’m so excited that my 5:30 wake-up time has become a habit.  That’s when I decided to talk to you about the difference between motivation, discipline and the sweet reward of habit.

The best way that I can explain this is to first explain why on earth I worked so hard to achieve a habit that makes most people cringe 😛  I don’t have an office to report to at 7 or a field and animals to go tend to; I simply like getting my day started early.  If I wake up even at 6:30 or 7:00 I feel like my day is rushed and I find myself in a constant state of overwhelmed.  My motivation was that I was so over being overwhelmed all of the time.  But that motivation hadn’t really been enough to help me make the necessary changes to my day…every day.

Now, as I mentioned, this successful practice didn’t happen overnight.  I spent months trying to figure out the best rhythm for my days.  Once I knew that getting up early was my ticket to success (which I already knew and was avoiding because I came to like sleeping in), I made the decision that I needed to figure out how to make it happen.  That’s when discipline got invited to the party.  This is where I had to drag myself out of bed and go to the living room.  Even if I only got up because I wanted to be able to text my success partner back that I was awake.  Even if I only read one verse in my Bible or prayed one sentence before nodding off.  Even if I started my workout and had to give it 50% effort because I was tired.  Getting up on time had to become a “no matter what” goal.  Over time, I was able to tell myself to turn the TV off and put the phone down a little earlier at night so that my mornings weren’t as much of a struggle.  And eventually, I was rewarded for my efforts.

By getting up at 5:30, I am able to drink my detoxing green tea while I have my quite time with the Lord, then plan my day and maybe even start working (or working out) all before the house starts to wake.  These practices start my day on the right foot and bring a sense of calm to my mind and spirit.  It is this time that enables me to have a more productive, energetic and positive day, even if I haven’t gotten enough sleep.  And I love that feeling.  I CRAVE that feeling.  That feeling of success and the great increase in my productivity are the trigger that allowed me to create the habit of getting up early.  And the beauty of habit is that I don’t even have to think about it anymore.  I just get up 🙂

I encourage you to stop relying so much on motivation.  Motivation is simply your desire to do, to change, to have; but it doesn’t get you results.  Discipline is the secret sauce.

Stop Seeking Perfection and Be Excellent

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I don’t know if you can tell or not but that smile was just a reflex today. I have had a crazy few days for some reason and haven’t slept much since Thursday. I even missed my workout yesterday. (I know, right.) I’m exhausted. I’ve been feeling like I can’t think straight and I just haven’t feel like myself.

But with all of my muscles and joints wanting to milk every possible minute of sleep before Jeremiah’s alarm went off, I literally jumped out of bed and got my workout in. I’m not going to lie, I struggled quite a bit through it but I just backed off when necessary and got it done. And you know what? I’m still exhausted but my day is going smoothly and the endorphins from my workout broke the fog over my brain. So glad I didn’t sleep in!

The truth is life happens and things don’t always go as planned. There will be days that you just don’t feel it. There will be times when your best in the moment is less than 100%. And that’s OK! If you genuinely have 50%, give your most excellent 50%. It’s not about perfection; it’s about really SHOWING UP and being intentional with what you have.