GROW through what you GO through: Tools to help you navigate a difficult season

For so many of us this is an unprecedented time filled with questions, concerns, worries and fears.  But challenging times are also the best times to grow and evolve – to look for lessons + opportunities, and to come out on the other side stronger + better.

Today, I want to share some ideas that might help you during this unusual time. I want to give you ideas for practices, tools, and resources that you can use to  gain a fresh perspective and fill yourself with gratitude, optimism, and self-love during an otherwise difficult situation. (Side note: These tools can be accessed during any difficult season you’re going through, not just during the Coronavirus pandemic).

I’ve spent a significant amount of time in quarantine listening to podcasts and reading books on personal growth. I’ve been doing this because I can see that now, more than ever, we need to put self-care and positive thinking at the top of our list. We need to buckle down on good habits in order to help us deal with the uncertainty in a healthy and mindful way. In other words, we need to GROW through what we go through.

So, let’s get to it!  Here are my top 9 tips that you can do RIGHT NOW to help you grow through what you’re going through:

#1.  Be willing to adapt to a new routine

Many of us thrive off routine + structure and during this pandemic, many of our regular routines have been disrupted. While you may be tempted to throw up your hands and wallow on the couch, spend all day in bed, or binge Netflix for days on end, it may feel good in the short-term, but long-term these are not the habits that are going to serve you. Instead, we need to establish a new routine. Because it’s new, and because our lives have been turned upside down, I would caution you from being too rigid with your new routine. Try to find something that works for you and your family. Test it out for a few days and see how it feels, then make adjustments accordingly.  After a bit of reflection, I’ve established the following as my new daily routine:

  • Wake up between 8-9 AM (naturally, no alarm!)
  • 9 -11 AM (or 12 PM) – drink coffee, have breakfast, check social media and the news, watch some TV, journal, make a to-do list for the day, tidy the kitchen, help care for my two-year-old grandson
  • approx. 12 PM – take a walk and listen to a personal growth podcast
  • 1 PM – make myself + my grandson lunch
  • 1:30 PM-4 PM – get him settled down for a nap;  use this quiet time to get creative – writing blog content, taking notes from personal growth content I have listened to/read, creating content for my Facebook group, reading personal growth books, etc.
  • sometimes I take a nap too!  🙂
  • watch a bit of TV or check social media
  • do a few household tasks like cleaning, organizing, or laundry
  • 6-7 PM – dinner
  • After dinner – help clean-up, play a game with the family, watch TV, read, video chat with my parents/nieces
  • Bedtime – usually by 11pm – before bed I still journal + read every single night

You can see that there’s a lot of fluidity and choice in my new routine but having an idea of the layout and rhythm of my day has helped me accept this new and unexpected season of life I am in.

Also, you should be ready for unexpected changes to your routine. For example, teachers with my school board are just starting to begin a newly-implemented distant learning plan. We’re set to begin offering distant education to our students next week. Obviously, I am going to need to make tweaks to my new routine.  I think during the time of this pandemic it’s important to be ready to make unexpected changes at any time. That being said, having a routine will help bring a feeling of normalcy back to your life.

#2. Adjust your expectations of yourself + others

While we adjust to new routines, we need to be mindful of adjusting to new expectations as well.  First, consider  the expectations you’re putting on yourself. Are you feeling the pressure to use this time to re-organize and deep clean your entire house?  Are you expecting to use this time to build a new workout routine, and get in the best shape of your life?  Are you planning on using the time to start a home-based business?  While all of these ambitions are fantastic (huge shout-out to you if you’re actually going through with any of them), please remember that this is an uncertain time and you’re likely still in the adapting phase. Give yourself space to adjust to your new routine before you go too far with your expectations.

Of course, that goes for your expectations of others too.  In the first week of this quarantine, I couldn’t understand how my husband could lay on the couch day after day playing video games and watching movies. I couldn’t fathom how he wasn’t using this time to establish a new workout routine or catch up on projects around the house. Then I took a step back and realized everyone deals with situations in different ways. He’s still trying to navigate this uncertain time too. Just like I am trying to figure out what works for me, so is he. And although the things he is choosing to do aren’t necessarily the things I would choose to do, that’s ok!  We have to remember to let go of some of the expectations we put on ourselves and our loved ones, and meet each other where we are at.

#3. Focus on controlling the controllable

Admittedly, I’m a bit of a control freak. I get really uneasy if I don’t have a say in the things that impact my every day life. That being said, there’s obviously a lot of things that are out of our control right now. Instead of panicking and allowing myself to spiral, I am choosing to focus on controlling the things that I can.

The first thing I can control are my thoughts and how I react to situations. Yes, there are a lot of things we can be upset about right now but what’s important is how we react to those life changes.  Now more than ever we need to be intentionally seeking the silver lining.  Are you disappointed you had to cancel your trip? Yes, but at least your family is safe and healthy.  Are you missing friends and family?  Yes, but at least you have Internet access and video chatting so you can stay in touch.  Did you have to cancel or postpone a major life event?  Yes, but it’s only postponed – it will happen eventually.  By intentionally adopting a positive mindset, we can find the things to be grateful for even during a difficult time.  Which brings me to my next point…

#4. Finding blessings in this mess – adopting gratitude

When we focus on adopting a positive mindset and having more intentional thoughts, we change our perspective.  By changing our perspective, we can start to see the all the blessings in this mess. One of the ways you can do this is by keeping a gratitude journal. There is a ton of research out there about the benefits of gratitude and I believe that now, more than ever, we need to look for everyday blessings.  Here are some things to consider when it comes to perspective and gratitude:

  • Are you stuck at home, or are you safe at home?
  • Do you have a home you can stay in?
  • Are you getting more quality time with your family?
  • Have you been blessed with more time to accomplish little tasks or projects you’ve been meaning to get to? Or to read the book you’ve been wanting to read?  To learn a new skill you’ve been wanting to learn? Or simply to take naps in the middle of the afternoon?
  • Is your family safe, healthy, and happy right now?
  • Have you been getting outside more and enjoying milder, spring temperatures?
  • Is your pantry and refrigerator stocked with food, or do you have access to food to feed your family?
  • Has this time of slow-down and the world on pause giving you a new perspective about what really matters in life?!

There are so many reasons to be grateful right now.  Control your thoughts, look for the blessings, change your perspective.

#5. Be Responsible for your environment 

Right now, it’s so easy to consume news and information that is scary, confusing, and depressing. It’s easy to live in a negative headspace if you allow it. While it’s important to evaluate your environment on a regular basis, I again believe that now, more than ever, we need to be careful about the type of information we are consuming and giving energy to.

Obviously, you should stay informed, but that doesn’t mean you have to be watching the news 24/7, incessantly checking Facebook for updates, or following people on Instagram who have no positive content to share. It’s totally acceptable, and even critical, to unfollow anyone on social media who doesn’t fill your heart with inspiration and joy.  You are responsible for your environment so surround yourself with things that are uplifting and make you feel good. Listen to happy playlists. Check out some personal growth podcasts.  Read books that are interesting and inspiring. Connect with people who make you feel happy.

#6. Connect with a Community

Which leads me to my next point.  During a season of social distancing, it can be incredibly hard to feel connected to a community. But another one of our  blessings is that many of us have access to the Internet, which means we can access all kinds of virtual communities. Did you now that there virtual groups for just about any topic on the Internet?  I dare you to think of the craziest topic you can come up with and then do a Google search to see if there’s a virtual community for it! (On the other hand, maaaaybe that’s not such a good idea – don’t do it! Lol) But the point is, if you have an interest, there is a virtual community waiting for you to join them on the World Wide Web!  So get online and find a community that’s interesting, supportive, encouraging, and inspiring to you!  Some of my personal favourites include:

  • The Hustle Sanely Facebook squad (personal growth community)
  • The Collective (personal growth community)
  • the Beachbody community (health and fitness community)
  • my personal Made for More Facebook group (health and wellness community)
  • Rebel Soul Tribe (social and creative community)

A simple Google search should lead you to a virtual community that interests you and can help give you the connection you need in this season.  Other ideas include things like FaceTiming or jumping on a Zoom call with your friends or co-workers for a virtual happy hour, girls night, or work session; FaceTiming or video chatting with family or friends; or even simple things, like sending a friend a text message to check in on them. However you do it, find a community that can help you grow through this season.

#7. Connect with yourself 

While connecting with others is important, it’s also critical that you spend time connecting with yourself. Finding alone time may mean making adjustments in your new routine, but especially during hard seasons, don’t let your you-time fall to the wayside. Filling your own cup is more important now than ever because others are going to need you and you can’t serve them from a place of depletion. You are going to go through scary, difficult and uncertain challenges and you need to be ready. You can do that by finding activities that are meaningful to you, that help you feel fulfilled, and that just simply bring you joy.  Here’s what I like to do during my daily alone time:

  • read
  • take notes on a favourite topic I am learning about
  • create content for my Facebook group
  • Write (journal, blog posts, or social media posts)
  • Go for walks while listening to a podcast or music
  • workout
  • meditate or pray

#8. Move your body to move your mood

I love this saying because it is so true.  I work out for my physical health but more importantly I move for my mental health.  Whether I’m already in a good mood, or am feeling down, I know a workout will leave me feeling better. I like to stay that I work out to build my actual muscles but also my emotional muscles. It takes a lot of positive self-talk to push through a hard physical challenge. That positive self-talk stays with us later when we are faced with a mental or emotional challenge (social distancing, anyone?)

Again, there is ample evidence and research that shows all the reasons why exercise is so important. But like I said, now more than ever, I believe you need to be moving your body in some capacity every, single day. There are tons of online workouts  that are currently available for free. I, of course, highly recommend Beachbody workouts (if you’re interested, let me know and I’ll hook you up with my coach!) Or better yet, why not take your activity outside by going for a walk or a run? (Just make sure to stay distant from others!) No matter what you do, find something that fits your life and your schedule, and move your body for at least 20 minutes a day.  I promise you it’ll help you grow through this season and you’ll come out stronger physically and emotionally when it’s all said and done!

#9. Give yourself and others grace

I’ve given you a lot of tips and tools that you can use to make sure that you are growing + evolving during this hard season. But, I’ve left the most important tip for last and that is that you must give yourself + others grace right now.  Change is happening daily and it takes time for us all to adjust in our own, unique ways. Stay attuned to yourself, listen to your body and mind, and give them what they need in order to flourish during this time.  Sit in your emotions, do some self-reflection, and consider what will serve you best – then make it happen! Do the same for others, keeping in mind that we all handle things in different ways. What serves you, may not serve the next person, but by working together we can get through this.

Finally, I want to remind you that I truly believe in you! You are strong, resilient, and so capable. We can do hard things. We are in this together and we are better together.

Now, what will you do to grow through what you’re going through?

 

Chapter 1 – January Reflections

As a person who enjoys setting goals and dreaming, I like to make a regular practice of reflecting on my progress so that I can make intentional choices about the direction I am heading moving forward.

I am happy to say that January 2020 was a great start to a new year for me.  Here’s why:

Mindset Work
For a few years now, I have found the week between Christmas and New Year’s to be a time of dreaming, goal setting, and inspiration. This year was no different. I spent the week reading personal development, journalling, creating my vision board, setting goals, and dreaming BIG.  The difference between this year and last (or any year before that) is that this year, thanks to the mindset work I have been doing, I have not allowed my limiting beliefs to shut down my dreams.  In the past, I’d enjoy my time dreaming and goal-setting and within no time, my own self-doubt and limiting beliefs would convince me that my dreams were unattainable, unrealistic, or impossible. I’d start to play small, settle in my regular routine, and forget about the idea that I (like everyone) am made for more.

But over the past few years, I have been training my brain to think differently and it’s made THE biggest impact in my life. I am now aware of those limiting beliefs and can stop them before they take over.  It’s been a long process – and one that I believe we never stop practicing – but the positive effects it has had on my life are undeniable.

Clarity Workshop
That leads me to my next big thing in January which is that I feel like I finally have some clarity.  As I mentioned, I love to dream. I often think about what other possibilities and opportunities are out there for me.  In my head, I come up with a million little puzzle pieces but they never seemed to fit together. I needed clarity. What is it that I am really made for? Where is my path leading me? What BIG DREAMS do I have ?  In which direction am I headed? I struggled to answer these questions and then…

I Accepted God
Enter my brand new relationship with God. For the record, I prefer to call him God but this is new to me and still somewhat scary (although I am trying really hard to believe). I sometimes think of God as Source Energy or the Universe or whatever power larger than us that is out there. Because there is a power and he/she/it works in mysterious and wonderful ways and when you start really truly believing ….. well, it’s utterly amazing!

Anyway, I found myself struggling personally at the end of 2019 and had a moment where I felt so desperate and lost that I didn’t know what to do except pray (I have never really been a person to pray so this was a breakthrough moment). I called out to God and prayed, and prayed, and prayed so hard. I poured my heart, my fears, my worries, my concerns out to him and basically begged him to hear me and help me.

And guess what?

He did.  The very next day.  To say I was shocked and amazed is a major understatement. It was a massive awakening for me.

And then, I had an even bigger realization –   He had been there all along!  I had simply never reached out to him before.  He was always there, waiting and watching and all I had to do was speak to him through my heart for him to show himself to me. (Mind blown!)

As you can probably tell, this experience was profound for me, but as I said it’s still a little scary and uncertain. I have never been a religious person but as I begin to form a brand new relationship with God it’s pretty fascinating.  And it takes me back to my original point – clarity.

When we start to listen to what God places on our heart, we start to gain massive amounts of clarity.  But we can’t just listen. We have to believe. We have to believe in the path he has put us on and in the direction he is leading us. We have to believe the voice that speaks to us when we get really silent and listen to what’s on our heart.  So that’s what I did, and for the first time in a long time, I felt so clear and so excited about the path I am on and the direction I am heading.

Stepping out of my Comfort Zone
Once I started to be clear on my dreams and really, truly believe in them, I knew I had to take some action. This is another step that I have never taken before. Last summer, I had an opportunity that would have been amazing, but I let my self-doubts talk me out of it and never pursued it.  But this time, as soon as I started to believe, I began to be presented with opportunities that I knew I couldn’t say no to.  I said yes and believed I would figure it out. Of course, my old limiting beliefs and fear started popping up, but I paid attention to it and turned my thoughts around.  Am I scared?  Absolutely.  Terrified would be a more appropriate word to describe how Iam feeling. But am I going to do it anyway?  100% yes. 

I also wanted to take the time here to say  that stepping out of your comfort zone doesn’t have to be big, terryifing things.  It can be small and simple.  For example, I often think of something nice to say to strangers (“I love your shirt”, “your baby is so cute”, “I love your hair – where do you get it done?) but usually stop myself from saying it over the fear that they might think I am weird/strange/crazy. Now that I am aware of how silly this is, I have opened myself up and just say what’s on my mind!  Just think of the positive impact giving a compliment to a stranger can have!

Personal Development Books
Almost any personal development book will tell you that nothing great comes from your comfort zone. They will tell you that you should believe in your BIGGEST dreams and that you should take any action – no matter how small – to move towards them. They will tell you that you are capable, amazing, and made for more.  They will teach you how to train your brain to be aware of your negative self-talk and how to turn it into something positive.  Personal development books are pretty much amazing, and empowering, and full of such incredible information that I believe everybody should be reading them on a regular basis.
If you don’t like to read, you could also listen to any one of thousands of amazing podcasts, videos, or webinars.  I believe in personal development so strongly that I am working on a whole blog post on what it is, why you need to be engaging with it, and where you can find it. Stay tuned!

Made for More Facebook Group
Another big win for me last month was that I created a health and wellness Facebook group for women who have similar goals. The intention behind it was that I wanted a space where like-minded women could come together to support, motivate, and inspire each other to get healthier and to believe in themselves and their goals. At first, I had some self-doubt (would anyone be interested? Who am I to give “advice”? This has already been done) – but I decided to give it a shot anyway.  Within just a few days I had nearly 100 women signed up to the group!  We’re now a month in and not only do I absolutely love creating inspirational content for the group, but many women are still actively engaging with it on a daily basis! I’ve even had individual women reach out and thank me for creating the group and tell me how it has encouraged them and motivated them. Now I call that a win!

Morning Routine
Another big success for me in January was my commitment to my morning routine.  A couple of weeks ago I attended a workshop and  felt like I found the missing pieces to my morning routine puzzle.  Because of my morning routine, I now have time every single day to do what I refer to as my heart work –  the reading, journalling, writing, and creating that sets my heart on fire and fills my cup so that it’s overflowing.  It’s amazing and if you don’t have a morning routine that lights up your soul and is the reason you spring out of bed in the morning, I highly suggest you start working on one.  Now.

Consistent Exercise
In January I also celebrated six months of consistent exercise!  I am finally at a point where I feel comfortable saying that exericse is a regular part of my routine and I am so proud of that!  I have exercised off and on for years but last July I made a commitment to a 100-day workout program – Beachbody’s  Morning Meltdown 100 – that changed everything. I built so much momentum with that program (not to mention endurance, strength + flexibility) that I knew I had to keep going.  So I did.  Since then I have completed an 8-week program and am going into my third week of the 8-week program for a second time.

The biggest thing that keeps me coming back to my work outs over and over again is the positive impact it has had on my mental health.  Exercise is my stress relief.  It is my proof that I can do hard things. It makes me feel strong and fierce physically and mentally. It’s true what they say about the power of endorphins after exericse – there really is nothing quite like it.

Nutrition
My biggest nutrition win in January was signing back up for Weight Watchers and beginning to track my food again. Tracking helps me to be more mindful of my food choices and to more frequently make better choices. It helps guide me towards healthier food options and away from mindless eating. I still really feel like healthy eating is the missing link in my health and wellness journey. Eating right has always been my biggest struggle. Even with all the exercise  I have been doing, my physical results have been slow because of the way I eat. I know that, and I continue to work on it.  Some days are better than others but I am not giving up and know that it’s the area I need to work on the most.

As you can see, I am celebrating a lot of wins for the month of January. For that, I am extremely grateful because I know that it was not that way for everybody. Many people struggle through this season when the days are long, dark, and dreary.  I saw family members, friends, and colleagues face their own challenges this month. And it’s not to say that I didn’t face any of my own. But overall, it was a positive month and for now I am choosing to focus on the good.

Life is full of ups and downs and I fully believe that when we are moving upward we need to celebrate and soak it all in. We need to do the work to strengthen our mind, body, and soul so that when life takes a downturn (as it inevitably will) we can move through it with grace and strength.

I’m ready February –  bring it on! 

xoxo

Rise + Shine – A Peek Inside My Morning Routine

Do you feel like there’s never enough time in the day to do the stuff that truly fills you up and sets your heart on fire?  Do you feel pulled in every direction, by all kinds of people, all day long?  Do you feel like you never get a moment to yourself?

These are some of the struggles many people (especially women) feel on a daily basis.  Not only are we constantly needed (by our kids, our spouses, our family members, our friends, our colleagues, etc) but we live in a society where we are constantly bombarded by external stimuli.  Unless we make time to fill our own cup, we can be easily left feeling depleted, drained, and exhausted.

Enter: the morning routine.

A morning routine is the practice of setting aside intentional time for yourself before the rest of the world needs you.  It’s about getting up early to the do the things that make you the happiest but that you never seem to have the time or energy for.   It’s about filling your own cup and setting your heart on fire, so that you can shine more brightly for others.

The morning routine is something we are starting to hear more about as we begin to realize that intentional time to fulfill our own needs is not only enjoyable, it’s critical for our mental health and overall wellbeing.

I have been hearing about – and working on implementing my own – morning routine for at least a year now.  Although I am always tweaking it to meet my own needs and to best serve the season of life I am currently in, here’s an idea of what it can look like.

(Disclaimer: The key to a successful morning routine is to do the things that fill YOU up and what sets YOUR heart on fire.  YOUR morning routine may look different than mine, but I’ll share mine just to give you some ideas and because I believe that some of my own personal practices should be part of every woman’s morning routine.)

No phone in the bedroom

My morning routine actuallly starts the night before and that’s with a good night’s sleep. For awhile now, I’ve made the commitment to leave my cell phone out of the bedroom.  Not only does the blue light from the screen negatively affect our sleep, but I know that I will stay up way later if I am scrolling mindlessly on my phone.  Instead, I use my Alexa Amazon for my alarm. If you don’t have an Echo you could get an old-fashioned alarm clock or I’ve heard about these really great alarm clocks that are available on Amazon that emulate a sunset so that you can wake up to the room gradually getting lighter rather than a blaring alarm!

Say no to snooze

The second part of my morning routine goes hand in hand with the alarm clock and that is that I do not snooze (or at least I try really hard not to!) There is a lot of research out there about how detrimental snoozing is and how it negatively affects your day!  The Five Second Rule by Mel Robbins and The Ripple Effect by Greg Wells both have awesome information about why you should not snooze.  Make it part of your morning routine – your alarm goes off and you get up and get your day started!  Really, your morning routine should be so fulfilling  that you can’t wait to get up and get started!

Start your Power Hour

I always try to wake up so that I have at least an hour for my favourite activities before I need to start getting ready for my day.  Lately, 5:30 has been working well for me. When my alarm goes off at 5:30, I get out of bed and know I have the next hour (or more) to do the activities that make me the happiest.  Between 6:30-7:00, I start getting ready for work (hair, makeup, breakfast, dressed, brush teeth, etc) so that I can be out the door just after 8:00.

Meditate/ Quiet Time/ Pray

When that alarm goes off and I am out of bed the first things I do are pee, wash my face, and drink some water.  Then I head to my home office where I light a scented candle, turn on some relaxing music, and sit in silence for anywhere from one to five minutes (or more if I am really feeling it).  During this time, I am basically practicing meditation.  Other than  the music (which you can eliminate if you prefer total silence) the house is silent because everyone else is still sleeping. I focus on my breath (without forcing anything unnatural) and use this time to listen to the voice inside my heart – aka my intuition.  I listen to my inner voice (my thoughts) and acknowledge them without judgement. Then I let them go.  Recently, I’ve also started exploring my spirituality so I sometimes use this time to talk to God -whether it’s sharing what’s on my heart or thanking him for all my  blessings.  Although this is a fairly new practice for me, it’s incredible how amazing it feels to just sit and be with myself and my thoughts + feelings.  After all, it’s really the only time in my day when I am not reacting to or responding to external factors!

Journaling + Writing time 

Next in my routine, comes my favourite part – coffee + journalling!  I am a writer at heart so writing has never been an issue for me.   Sipping on a warm mug of coffee while writing?  Even better! Normally, I write what I call my ”morning pages”. Basically, I just sit at my iPad and write about whatever comes to my mind.  This is a free-flow type of writing that I find helps me to sort through my thoughts. Sometimes I will reflect on thoughts that came to me during meditation, other times I will write about how I am feeling about the upcoming day.  Other times, I have written out prayers, a list of goals that I am working towards, or read a religious devotional and write a quick reflection on it. I also enjoy writing out a list of positive affirmations so that I go into my day feeling confident + positive.

Another thing that I have just started doing is  writing my gratitude list at this time. I used to do it at the end of each day (as part of my nighttime routine – stay tuned for a future post!) until someone suggested writing about the day’s ‘wins” at night. That idea really resonated with me so now I write my gratitude list in the morning.

Personal Development

The next part of my morning routine has been an absolute game changer for me and that is reading (or listening to) personal development. Personal development is basically a more modern term for “self-help”.  I feel like my own personal development has been a journey on its own (again, stay tuned for future blog post) so I could go on and on, but basically what I do in the morning is either read a personal development book (my most favourite so far is You are a Badass by Jenn Sincero) or listen to a podcast and take notes.  The nuggets of information I get are absolutely amazing and have brought me miles on my personal wellness journey.  Like I said, I will write a post soon where I share my own personal development journey and share lots of great resources for you to check out!

Another thing I like to do during my personal development time, is work on skills or projects that I call my “heart work”.  My heart work is like work but it totally sets my heart on fire.  It lights me up and makes me so excited.  It is my passion. Lately for me,  this is planning + creating content for my health + wellness Facebook group Made for More (if you are not part of the group, and want in, message me!)  I’m also going to be using this time to plan my very first workshop I’ll be leading coming up in April!  I’m parterning with Rebel Soul Tribe and going to be talking about the power of a positive mindset when it comes to healthy eating!  I am totally terrified but also really excited – I’ll share more details as I know them!

Movement

I’ve included movement here because most people who have an intentional morning routine include some sort of exericse or movement and swear by the benefits of exercise in the morning. For me, personally, I have a pretty well established evening workout routine.  I prefer working out in the evening because  it helps me blow off any stress I’ve experienced that day, and I prefer to shower at night so it makes sense to work out before I shower.  What’s most important about movement and exercise though is that you find a routine that works for you!  Who knows, maybe some day I will try incorporating it in my morning routine. For now though, this works for me and that’s what’s most important!

So there you have it!  Like I mentioned above, this is my morning routine and yours won’t necessarily look the same. I would encourage you to try getting up even 15 minutes earlier and seeing what you can incorporate in the morning to fill yourself up before you have to face the demands of the day!

If you do try to incorporate a more intentional morning routine, I’d love to hear about it!  Or if you already have an established morning routine, please tell me all about it!  As I said, it’s one of my most favourite times of day because there’s really nothing better than filling my own cup so that I can pour into others!

xoxo

K.

7 Steps to Actually Reaching your Goals in 2019

Although January has been long + cold, it’s still hard to believe it’s already coming to an end!  We are already into the last of January so I am curious…  have you kept up with your New Year’s resolutions?

So many of us enter the new year full of anticipation + determination to make THIS the best year yet!  We swear THIS will be the year we lose the weight, THIS will be the year we stop smoking, THIS will be the year we pay off the debit, THIS will be the year…. (fill in the blank). But then a few weeks pass, motivation wanes, we become tired + feel crummy, and before we know it, we’ve completely given up on the goals we were once so excited about.  Sound familiar?

If so, that’s okay because you are not alone!  Many of us set goals with determination + excitement and then quickly lose motivation and fall off the wagon. Moving towards goals (especially big ones) is hard work! But I am here today to remind you, that it’s NEVER too late to get back to working on your dreams.  This is only the first month of the year, we have ELEVEN more to go!  As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day and reaching our goals takes time too!  We want everything to happen overnight but a lot of time it just doesn’t work out that way.

So how can  you get back to working towards your goals + actually make progress toward them in the remaining eleven months of 2019?

 

Here are 7 steps for reaching your goals + building healthier habits:

Take action

It’s one thing to say you’re going to do something, but have you taken action to actually get that thing done?  What’s one small thing you can do to move yourself in the right direction?  Can you have one less cigarette today?  Can you exercise for just 10 minutes?  Can you add a vegetable to your dinner?  Pay $10 on your credit card? One of the goals I want to work on this year is creating a weekly blog post.  But that isn’t going to happen if I don’t sit down at my computer and write!  Even if it’s terrible, I get started because getting started propels you in the right direction.  Taking those baby steps, those small actions each and every day builds motivation and will get you to your goals that much quicker.

Trust the process

Speaking of getting to your goals quickly, you have to learn to trust the process. Sometimes we set out with one thing in mind and as we work towards it, life takes us in a totally different (and often more exciting!) direction.  Trust that the universe has a plan for you and that you are on the right path.  Everything you need to accomplish your goals is moving towards you in the right time. You are capable and worthy of your goals + dreams.  Enjoy the journey, stay open to opportunities, and be grateful for how each and every day you are becoming a better person.

Don’t expect perfection

Hear me when I say this – you are going to stumble along your way and that’s perfectly okay.  If we don’t mess up along the way, we don’t learn what works and what doesn’t.  No one’s journey towards their goals is perfect (despite what social media may make us believe).  In the past, whenever I tried to lose weight I’d go all go all in and follow whatever program I was on 100%.  Eventually I’d slip up, get down on myself,  and then give up altogether. Now I know that every slip-up or mistake along the way is an opportunity to learn, to grow, and to move closer toward my goals.

Keep trying

That being said, it is important that when you do stumble or fall off track, that you keep on trying! It may mean your path looks a little different or maybe even points you in a completely new direction, but you must keep plugging away.  Even if you’ve fallen off track for weeks, months, or years, it’s never too late to work towards the goals + habits that are meaningful to you!  Keep trying.  Find what works + what doesn’t, but keep working one day at a time.

Parent yourself

Let’s be real. As adults, sometimes we have to do things in life that we just don’t want to do and sometimes that involves the work that it takes to reach our goals. Remember when you were a kid and your parents made you do your homework before going out to play? Or forced you to eat your vegetables at dinner?  Well, it’s now your job to parent yourself.   Do I always feel like working out? Of course not but I know it’s good for my physical and mental health so I make myself do it. Are you going to want to eat a kale salad instead of a burger?  Probably not, but what’s going to serve your goals?  Is your business going to grow if you watch another episode of The Bachelor instead of answering emails?  Of course not.  It takes discipline but you’re not going to accomplish your goals laying on the couch eating potato chips (although wouldn’t that be nice?)

Find Your Tribe

This being said, if you’re like me and aren’t that great at parenting yourself, then you need to find a tribe that will keep you accountable.  You need a friend (or a group of friends!) that will be real with you and tell you when you’re being lazy or neglecting the work you need to do to get to your goals. For me, my husband has always supported me in this way.  It took me awhile to get used to his harsh truths but eventually I came to understand that it’s coming from a place of love + support. I also found a tribe of women through Beachbody that support, uplift, and encourage each other to work out, eat clean, and live healthy lives. I don’t think I’d be on the wellness path I’m on right now, if it weren’t for my tribe keeping me accountable + on the right path!

Get your head right

By this I mean that you need to work on your thought patterns and your mindset as much as possible if you are going to make any real progress towards reaching your goals. With the right mindset, you can conquer so many of life’s challenges and really accomplish anything!  There are all kinds of resources out there right now that help you to get your head in the game whether it’s books, websites, podcasts, videos, webinars, or conferences.  I make it a habit of listening to a podcast or reading a personal development book every day to make sure my head is in the right space to get the work done that I know I need to do.  The change in my mindset has been the biggest game changer for me.  If you don’t know where to start, stay tuned for a future post about my favourite personal development books + podcasts!  But in the meantime do a Google search for Mel Robbins or Rachel Hollis.  I promise, you won’t regret it.

So, there you have it!   Don’t worry if January has passed and you haven’t made near as much progress as you thought you would on the goals you set for yourself earlier this month.  You still have the rest of the year to learn, grow, and make progress and I know you can do it!  I believe in you and am cheering you on! Also, if you have any other suggestions for accomplishing goals + building better habits, I’d love to hear them!

Becoming a Morning Person

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

For the longest time, I never considered myself to be either.  I liked to go to bed early and sleep in late.  But not too long ago, I began working on the habit of having a morning routine and it’s pretty safe to say, I’m already a big believer.

They key to my morning routine is making time for things that are really meaningful to me.  Throughout the day, so many people + things need our attention but during the quiet hours of the morning, before the rest of the household is up, I can give my full attention to things that fill my cup.

Keeping in mind that it’s still a routine I am working on, here’s what my morning routine has looked like recently.

First of all, it actually begins the night before and that’s because I no longer bring my phone to the bedroom (shout out to Mel Robbins for inspiring this one!) No matter how many nights I intended to go to bed and read for awhile before going to sleep, I’d find myself mindlessly scrolling on my phone, repeatedly checking the same social media feeds over and over again.  Not only is screen time before sleep detrimental to our sleep quality, but I’d stay up later than intended because I’d lose track of time.  Now, not only is my sleep not inhibited, but most nights I actually get to that book I’ve been meaning to read!

The second habit I’ve built into my morning routine is that I no longer hit the snooze button (again, inspired by Mel Robbins’ author of The 5 Second Rule which I highly recommend!)  Did you know that hitting snooze can negatively impact your energy levels for the first four hours after you are awake?  Energy is something I already struggle with so deciding not to hit snooze anymore was an easy decision.  That doesn’t mean it’s always easy to do when the alarm goes off at 6 AM but I am getting better.  Also, instead of using the alarm on my phone I use our Amazing Echo Dot and ask Alexa to set my alarm.

Once my alarm goes off and I’m out of bed, I start to get ready right away by doing my hair + makeup (I usually shower the night before).  This helps me feel “ready” to start the day.  I often listen to music or a podcast while getting ready.  I do stay in my pyjamas for a little while longer because they are just so cozy + I like to be comfortable in the morning!

After my hair + makeup are done , I head to the kitchen where I let out the dog, make myself breakfast + a coffee.  I usually eat in my favourite armchair and catch up on social media while having breakfast.

After breakfast, I take the remainder of my coffee to my office.  This is one of the times of day I love the most because it’s when I get to do the things that really nourish my soul + give me a positive mindset for the rest of the day. Plus I’m out of the way while my son + husband start getting ready for school/work.

Once in my office, I diffuse some essential oils and set to writing in my gratitude/mindset journal.  I always list at least 5 things I am for grateful and then write a list of goals + affirmations that I want to focus on. I always write my goals in present tense as if they are already happening (a tip I learned from my girl Rachel Hollis).

After writing in my journal, I turn to the personal development book that I am reading. I have read so many good ones + and they’ve helped my mindset immensely.  I’ll do a post on my top personal development choices but so far my top 3 favourite are:
The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins, Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis, and You are a Badass by Jenn Sincero.   Reading personal development in the morning fills my head with positivity which sets a great tone for the day.

(Side note: I just started reading The 5 AM Club: Own Your Morning Elevate Your Life by Robin Sharma for a little added early-morning motivation!  I’ll keep you posted.)

After I’ve read for about 10-15 minutes, it’s time to brush my teeth, get dressed, + head to work.  My lunch + bags are always packed the night before so it’s easy to grab them and go.  I try to arrive at work about 30-45 minutes before my students arrive so I can make any necessary copies + finish last-minute prep before they arrive.  I also sit down at my computer and open all files we’ll be using that day.  Having everything ready to go before the kids come in the door makes me feel organized, focused, + ready to take on the day!

So that’s it.  I’ve been doing this routine for about two months now and I feel like it’s had a huge impact on my mindset + mental wellness.  I feel more content, fulfilled + just generally happy lately.  I’d say that’s definitely worth getting up a little bit earlier for!

Do you have a morning routine?  I’d love to hear about it!

 

Back to Routine – My Personal Schedule

Recently one of my favourite bloggers, Merrick from Merrick’s Art, shared a post about her daily routine/schedule and it inspired me to create my personal daily schedule.  Merrick is a working stay-at-home mom with a super successful blog and three young boys.  I am the step-mother of two teenagers (one who lives on her own), a full-time elementary school teacher, and part-time Beachbody coach.  Although are day-to-day schedules look very different, I liked the idea of creating a daily schedule.

I was party inspired by my efforts to establish a new morning routine before our return to school in just over a week!  For the last few weeks, I’ve been building a morning workout routine and learning to avoid hitting snooze in order to wake up earlier.  Eventually, I’d like to have this established well enough that I can get my workouts done in the morning before heading off to school.  I know myself, and the longer into the day I wait to do my workout, the less likely I am to do it, especially after an exhausting day of teaching!

I also started thinking about how my day at school is very structured and scheduled.  Every year a great deal of time is spent on timetabling, scheduling, planning, and preparing.  Why not take those skills and apply them to my personal life?!

Not only am I interested in making a personal schedule to make sure I fit everything into my day, but I also think it might prevent me from over-working myself.  For example, if I schedule an hour after school hours for staying and getting caught up on work, then I’m more likely to actually stick to that hour instead of letting it go longer and then running out of time to do the other things I need to get done.  Also, it forces me to include time for things like relaxation, self-care, and family time.

I’m still not exactly sure what my personal schedule will look like when I go back to work, but I am hoping it might look something like this if I can continue training myself to be a morning person (still working on that!)

5:30 am – Alarm goes off – do not hit snooze – change into workout clothes, have coffee and check social media

6:00 am – Beachbody workout – lace up those shoes and press play!

6:30 am – Shower and get ready for work

7:30 am – Make healthy breakfast and/or Shakeology depending on time/mood

7:45 am – Leave for work

7:50 am – Arrive at work – prepare for the school day (set-up, photocopies, marking, prepping)

8:45 am – Students arrive and school day begins (use breaks to check things off to-do list school or Beachbody-related)

3:15 pm – School day ends – students dismissed – tidy up workspace and make preparations for next day

4:00 pm – run errands/ check social media / Beachbody work

5:00 pm – prepare dinner

5:30 pm – eat dinner – clean-up and prepare lunch for next day

6:00 pm – Household chores – sweep, laundry, garbage, etc.

6:30 pm – School and/or Beachbody work

8:00 pm – Relax – read, watch tv, family time

9:00 pm – prepare for bed – brush teeth, wash face, pyjamas, read/journal

9:30 pm – Goodnight!

Do you have a daily schedule or routine that you follow?  What does it look like?  Am I missing anything on mine? I would love to hear from you!

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Intentions for 2018

Every year, as the New Year approaches I spend a lot of time thinking, daydreaming, and considering what resolutions I can set for myself that will make the coming year the best one yet.  I love the time to think about areas of my life that could use improving and then setting goals to strive for.

This year has been a little different in the fact that I haven’t really been able to come up with clear, cut and dry resolutions.  When I  look back at last year’s post, I had a very detailed, organized list of resolutions that I hoped would bring good health, peace, and love into my life in 2017.  And while, I didn’t necessarily achieve every single goal I had so carefully laid out for myself, I certainly feel like I made strides in most of those areas.

This year, in an effort to release some of the pressure I put on myself, I have decided rather than focussing on the finish line of meeting a goal, I am going to concentrate on the journey of getting there.  Achieving goals or keeping resolutions is not a static process with a clearly defined beginning and end; rather it is a fluid, ever-changing process with many lessons, challenges, and celebrations along the way.  This year I want to embrace the journey of the intentions I have set for myself so when New Year’s Eve rolls around next year, I can celebrate the progress I have made, rather than think about all the resolutions I did not “keep”.

I suppose in a way, this is my way of going easy on myself.  There are so many areas of my life where I place far too much pressure on myself and I don’t want New Year’s resolutions to be one of them any longer.  That being said, I’ve always loved setting goals (and writing lists!) so below is a general idea of some of the journeys I hope to go on in 2018.  May it be as blessed and wonderful as 2017 and all the years before that.

2018 INTENTIONS

  • Find a nutrition plan that optimizes my health (heals my gut and IBD, helps me to lose weight in a healthy way, gives me lots of energy, a clear mind, and clear skin)
  • Do at-home workouts (BOD) on a regular basis
  • Establish an early morning workout routine
  • Stop hitting snooze on the alarm clock
  • Make sleep a priority
  • Spend more time outdoors (hiking in the woods, cross-country skiing, walking the dog, camping)
  • Socialize with friends more often
  • Learn calligraphy & lettering
  • Be creative – find new creative outlets (art classes?)
  • Push myself harder in some areas (exercise) and less hard in others (work).
  • Complete a Learn to Run program (again)
  • Do more yoga (at home and at the studio)
  • Continue writing and journaling
  • Live more slowly — pause & think before reacting — prioritize
  • Cut back on hours at work – let go of the perfectionist mindset
  • Keep a positive mindset at work – one day at a time
  • Drink more water (from a reusable bottle)
  • Continue to be positive and to notice the beauty all around us (snow on evergreen trees, sunshine on freezing cold winter days, students who have a desire to learn and be loved…)
  • Continue to show gratitude
  • Volunteer

Wishing you all the happiest of New Years!

xo

 

 

 

 

 

My Personal Reasons To Exercise: What Are Yours?

Over the years, I have tried many different types of exercise ~ running, Zumba, yoga, weight lifting, rollerblading, walking, biking, cardio classes, dance, cross-country skiing, soccer, baseball, plyometrics, home DVDs… the list goes on!

But when it came to why I exercised, I only ever saw it as a means to an end – a way to lose weight. For most of my adult life I have battled my weight and I learned early on that exercise is a key component to any weight loss endeavour.  So throughout all those years, and many different types of exercise, I always had one goal in mind – If I do this, I will lose weight and if I lose weight I will look better.

Sure, sometimes I also told myself that exericse would make me feel better too, but I don’t think I ever truly paid attention to what that meant.

Until recently…

This past winter was the first time in my thirty-six years of life that I ever realized there is far more to exercise than simply being a tool to lose weight (nevermind the fact that there are far more important things to our health than simply losing weight – that’s another blog all on it’s own) This past winter was about the third year in a row where I noticed a marked difference in my mental state.  As late fall/ winter rolled around, along with it came a dark cloud over my head.  I lost my normal ambition and positive mindset, and felt unmotivated, anxious, and very, very exhausted all the time.  I hated how I felt and it dragged on for months – until summer rolled around.

At one point though, it started to become clear to me that just as my mood and mental state could be linked to the poor weather, it could also be linked to my lack of exercise.  Since then I’ve been doing more research and am reminded again and again that there are myriad reasons to exercise – and that some are far more important in our lives than the size of our waistline!

A couple of the people I have learned this from best are my former Beachbody coach Melanie Watson and a wonderful lady I follow on Instagram (Check her out: moms.can.be.fit – she is such an inspiration!) Both of these incredible woman are constantly preaching the real reasons to work out ~ not just to lose weight (although that can certainly be a positive side effect) but to have the right kind of mindset that will get us through life! Plus, so many other reasons that help us to achieve overall vibrant health.

With this, I started to consider my own personal reasons for working out.  Although I still have weight to lose, this alone hasn’t been enough to motivate me to exericse lately (yes, I’d like to lose some weight but at the same time, I’m sort of comfortable with the weight I am now. Also, I’ve been trying really hard not to focus on my “weight” and to focus on my health so this could be why too….).

But what got me started back to exercising this morning, after being off again for a couple of weeks, was the realization that just around the corner is back-to-school/ work!  Whether I like to admit it or not, I am about to enter a season where the lazy days of summer are going to come to an abrupt end and our days will be filled to the max with schedules, work, and responsibilities.  (I’m also preparing myself for a challenging year as I will have thirty sixth-graders which is the most kids I’ve ever had in a class!)

I know that the best way for me to handle the upcoming challenges of back-to-school/work (combined with some other challenges happening in our personal lives), is to get into a regular workout routine. That led me to start thinking about all my personal reasons for working out.  You’ll see that losing weight is on the list but there’s now so much more to it than that.  I hope that when I feel the urge to skip a workout or fall off the wagon next time, I can look to this list to keep myself on track!

My Personal Reasons To Exercise

1. Happy endorphins!

2. Mental clarity and focus!

3. To feel proud of myself!

4. Mental strength!

5. Positive mindset!

6. To gain physical strength and to feel strong!

7. So I don’t feel lazy! (A feeling I loathe)

8. It motivates me to make better food choices!

9. It gives me way more energy ~ I hate the feeling of constant exhaustion!

10. To lose and/or maintain weight

11. To overcome challenges (see: mental focus!)

12. To prove to myself that I can do what I couldn’t do before ( physically and/or mentally)

13. To make some things in life easier (ie. climbing stairs, walking long distances on hot/humid days)

14. To be overall healthy, vibrant, and positive!

15. To have confidence!

16.  To look good in cute clothes!

17. To like what I see in the mirror!

18. To feel accomplished!

19. To be an inspiration to others!

20. To be an inspiration to myself!

Are there other reasons you would add to this list?  I’d love to hear them! 

 

 

Lesson Learned: Listen to your Gut

I have a confession:  I have not been taking care of myself lately and now I am paying the ultimate price. As I sit here and write this, I am in a lot of discomfort and some pain that could probably have been avoided.  Here’s why:

Several months ago, I visited my naturopathic doctor who gave me a nutrition plan to help heal my ulcerative colitis.  The plan is very Paleo-like and was developed after I had food sensitivity and blood work done.  Basically, according to her instructions, I am supposed to eliminate all eggs, dairy, wheat, gluten, peanuts, corn, white potatoes, legumes, and sugar from my diet.  This, along with some supplements she’s prescribed, are supposed to help repair the damage done to my intestinal wall, decrease the amount of bad bacteria in my gut while increasing the amount of good bacteria, and get rid of the inflammation that causes the terrible symptoms of ulcerative colitis.

I followed the plan for a few weeks (with a few minor cheats and treats here and there).  But over the course of the last month, I’ve pretty much gone completely off my nutrition plan.  I’ve been eating whatever I want and if you know me, that’s nothing healthy.  There’s been ice cream (and lots of it), bread (and lots of it), fast food, chips, crackers, diet pop…. the list goes on.  And because, up until this point, it didn’t seem to be having too much negative effect on me, I kept it up.

Over the last couple of days in particular, I have eaten very poorly.  We got some upsetting news the other day and I’ve been using that as my excuse to eat junk.  And now I am paying for it…

Last night when I went to bed, I felt the old familiar pains of indigestion (a tight, painful squeezing feeling in my upper abdomen) and was also a tad bit nauseous.  I prayed that these pains would not send me into a full-out stomach attack like they’ve done in the past, where I am crying on the floor in cold sweats and excruciating pain caused by severe indigestion.  Fortunately, I was able to fall asleep and slept pretty well throughout the night.

This morning when I woke up though, I could still feel tiny hints of the indigestion although it wasn’t nearly as bad as last night.  I went about getting my day started.  Then all of a sudden, I got terrible stomach pains and a bit of nausea and had to hurry to the bathroom.  Without going into too many gruesome details, let’s just say it was not a fun experience.  It was very painful and when finished, the toilet bowl was full of blood (sorry).  This has not happened in a quite some time and I was devastated. Now the bottom end of my digestive tract is very sore and irritated, not a pleasant feeling.

As much as I hate to admit this, I had this coming.  I was foolish and had myself convinced that since I wasn’t really experiencing any of my typical UC symptoms, I could eat whatever I wanted.  Having a “treat” here and there led to a full-out free-for-all.  And now, my UC symptoms seems to be back (at least for now) in full vegeance and I am paying the price.

I am writing this for a couple of reasons.  First, I want to be able to look back on it to give myself that much-needed reminder about why it is so important for me to stick to a healthy eating plan.  I know I will get too comfortable again, but hopefully by coming back to this, I can more clearly remember the awful physical pain that it puts my body through and prevent myself from going too far off track.  It is so important for me to track my foods (something I have stopped doing recently) and to pay better attention to the physical and mental reactions to the foods I eat.  This isn’t just about trying to lose weight to look good anymore, this is my health, and I don’t know why I keep playing with fire….

Secondly, I want to spread the message to others that what we put in our bodies really does affect us in so many ways!  Sometimes, we may not see or feel the physical results of feeding our body unhealthy foods, but they are there!  Don’t be like me and wait until your body is unhealthy and you are in pain to make the change.  We need to start getting people everywhere to nourish their bodies.  Too many of us (myself very much included) eat for pleasure or to comfort ourselves.  We only choose our foods based on how they taste and not on how they are going to affect our body and our overall health.

As painful as it was, I think this is the wakeup call I needed this morning.  Unfortunately, I need to remember this feeling so that I can have a constant reminder of how important it is to follow the food plan that is going to help heal my body.  I need to be patient enough and to trust that when I make these changes, I will feel a positive effect (more energy, clearer skin, healthy bowel movements, slimmer waistline, etc.) It’s hard to be patient when you’re making these changes, but if we don’t do it, we end up back where we started, which in my case, is painful and unhealthy.