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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
I am feeling very upset with myself tonight. Frustrated and angry would more accurately describe it. I just got back from another failed run. I picked running back up earlier this summer and while some days of my new training program have been awesome, some have been really, really hard. Today happened to be one of the hard ones. I was supposed to do a combined total of 34 minutes of running and about 18 minutes of walking (including warm-up and cool-down) but I didn’t even make it through half of the run before my body just couldn’t do it.
And while I know that this is just the way training goes (some days are good, some days are not), I’m also feeling frustrated because I know this is mostly my fault. It’s no surprise that my body could not perform optimally tonight (as badly as I wanted it to), when I haven’t been taking care of it nutritionally.
Several months ago, I was put on a fairly restrictive nutrition plan by my naturopath. The initial reasons for doing so were to heal my ulcerative colitis, overcome the extreme fatigue I’d been having, and to lose weight in a healthy way. After doing food sensitivity and blood testing, my naturopath eliminated the following from my diet: wheat/gluten, dairy, sugar, corn, peanuts, chickpeas, and cane sugar. It was discovered that I have a high amount of yeast in my gut (causing too much bad bacteria which causes my inflammation and ulcers) so she also put me on a yeast therapy treatment and gave me strict instructions to drastically cut back on sugar (which feeds the growth of yeast). I was also put on a hemoglobin supplement (my low hemoglobin would be one cause of my extreme fatigue and probiotics which would help boost healthy bacteria in the gut.
For a good while, I stuck pretty faithfully to this plan (with only a few minor cheats here and there) and took my supplements and treatments regularly. I saw almost immediate results – my boating and gas went down drastically, energy levels went up slightly, even my skin got clearer.
But, over the last few weeks I have lost my way. It started when we went on vacation and I told myself I could have more “treats”, but since coming home over a week ago, I just can not seem to get back on my nutrition plan. In fact, I shamefully admit I have gone completely off of it. I’ve been eating everything that hurts my body (white bread, bagels, crackers, peanut butter, tons of sugar, ice cream, cheese, fast food….) The hard thing is, I don’t know why I do this because nearly every time I do, I become consumed with guilt. I tell myself I shouldn’t have it but I do anyway, and then I feel badly. I tell myself I will eat healthier at the next meal, and then I don’t. I buy healthy foods when I go grocery shopping, but then they go back on my counter while I eat junk instead. And since my UC symptoms haven’t been drastic lately, it’s been easier for me to say “f*&$ it” and consumer whatever junk I want.
So it shouldn’t have came as a surprise that when I set out for my run tonight, I was battling some indigestion and my stomach was bloated. And when I started the running intervals, I felt like I was carrying a load of bricks around my middle. I felt heavy and sluggish. On top of that, since the weather was overcast, I had way underestimated the humidity and was sweating within minutes. Guys, I loathe being hot. Yes, I know you’re supposed to sweat when working out, but humidity just kills me!
Needless to say, about halfway through my run, I gave up and walked the rest of the way. I instantly felt hot tears of frustration welling in my eyes. The negative self-talk started up as I blamed myself for eating poorly and for not being able to fulfill the run I had hoped to do.
Maybe I am just not cut out for running, I thought. I’ve been dreading all my runs lately anyway. Maybe I am better off just being fat and out of shape. This is your fault, you should have known better…. Maybe I need to get a modified program, this one is too hard. All you did was eat carbs and sugar all day and you thought you could get away with it! You know better! What were you thinking?! You should have known this would catch up to you eventually!
But fortunately, my only saving grace tonight was that I’ve been working really hard on overcoming negative thoughts with positive ones. Sure, that harsh, judgemental, “you’re-not-good-enough-and-never-will-be” voice immediately piped up in my head, but then moments later so did the inner voice I like to think of as “my friend”.
Today is just not your day but not every day will be perfect. Forgive yourself. Yes you haven’t been making the best food choices but you can change that. It’s okay. You win some and you lose some, next time will be better. You are going to keep trying. Consistency will get you where you want to be. You can do it, don’t give up on yourself. Make one or two small changes every day and you will get there. Don’t give up.
And thankfully this positive, encouraging inner voice took over (and just so you know, I have to make a real effort for the positive voice to over-power the negative one, it’s not easy) because now I have had some time to reflect and to see that perfection is impossible but consistency is key and it’s never too late to get back on track.
What I have learned is that I need to remind myself why I started this nutrition plan in the first place. It wasn’t primarily to lose weight as I’ve been thinking of it lately (and somehow I had foolishly convinced myself that I can “cheat” with my food as long as I am working out and won’t gain weight… even though I know that’s not the truth!) The real reason I started this plan was to optimize my health. Even though, I am not currently experiencing the severe symptoms of ulcerative colitis, I am definitely starting to notice some of the warning signs since I have been eating poorly again. I’ve had far more gas and bloating lately, and am even starting to get bouts of indigestion again (something that I used to get so badly that I was taken to the hospital in the ambulance a few times because I thought I was having a gall bladder attack!) And while my energy levels have been better lately, I know that is primarily because it’s summer (which means I’m off work and it’s sunny alot!) If I were working and eating this way, I’d be feeling sluggish, tired, or even depressed. I know that if I clean up my diet, I will start to feel better. My bloating will go down (one step closer to a flat stomach!) and the digestive pain and discomfort I have will go away. My skin will clear, my energy levels will continue to increase, and it will get easier and easier to maintain the positive attitude that is so important to a journey of good health.
So although I may be feeling frustrated and angry with myself, I am grateful tonight that I know not to beat myself up (for too long anyway, haha!) and to take this as a learning experience. It’s time to put my health (in particular my gut health) at the forefront again and to know that some days just aren’t my day, but that there’s always tomorrow and that I WLL NOT GIVE UP on my goals!
Life is messy. Some days are hard and they’re hard for no particular reason. Today was one of those days. For no apparent reason, I let negative thoughts begin to formulate in my mind and for me, once it starts it’s ike a dangerous rollercoaster – one negative thought feeds into the next. They snowball out of control until I am so overwhelmed by negativity, I lose all sense of myself. Today, those feelings overtook my mind and my body until I was a hot, snotty, crying mess. But now that I’m back on even ground, I realize that that’s okay. (Trust me, in the height of these feelings and thoughts it’s anything but okay). We all have those days. And I’m okay now. I have grounded myself. I have turned off the negative thoughts by thinking every positive thought I could think and then writing it down because that’s how I cope best.
Now I feel so much better. It’s about embracing it all. The good, the wonderful, the terrible, the hard, and everything in between. Here are my positive affirmations that helped turn my mind around today. Once I got started they weren’t hard to come up with. It’s when I am feeling the most intense feelings that my fingers fly over the keyboard the fastest. We have to be aware of when we’re filling our own minds with negative thoughts and use every strategy we can to turn them back into positive. For me, it’s the only way I can go from being a complete emotional wreck, to feeling happy and calm again. I simply turned on some calming music, shut myself into my room, and started to write to remind myself of all the reasons I should feel good. What are your coping skills for the days when life just seems so hard?
Positive Self-Talk 💕
(While doing this I imagined I was talking to one of my best friends, because after all we should all be our own best friend!)
You have been working so hard at making yourself healthier. You have been educating yourself about nutrition and sugar and making changes to improve your health and weight. You overcame the fierce addiction to coffee and flavoured cream and other junk food and treats. You have been able to say No to them. You have been brave enough to experiment with alternatives. You sought out answers for yourself. You have reached out for help and support when you needed it. You have stood firmly by your own beliefs and stood true to them even when others you respect may disagree. You have said no to fast food and temptations numerous times. You are strong. You have been feeling good about your body and the changes you see in it. You are proud of yourself because you work so hard. You have learned so much about school and technology lately and have worked hard to make engaging lessons for your students. You have worked tirelessly and endlessly to help each and every individual student and to be the best teacher you can be. You have stayed patient and have not been yelling at the kids when they frustrate you. You are doing your best. You are a hardworking, open-minded, dedicated teacher. You are a positive person. Be gentle with yourself. You are YOU. You are kind. You want the best for people. Your husband is amazing and suppportive. He went to buy you cold medication when you weren’t feeling well. He let you use the bigger blanket because you weren’t feeling well. He listens to your irrational tangents and sits with you and continues to speak logically to you and ground you and he does it for as long as he needs to until you are okay. You laughed with your husband and your son last night and it felt so good. It felt so good to share a joke with Brandon and to watch him laugh at himself. It felt so good to hang out with Brad in the garage doing something of his choosing but just enjoying each other’s company and laughing together – it felt like we were dating again. You have amazing family. When you called your Mom yesterday her voice sounded so happy to hear from you. Your nieces love you and were so excited to talk to you on video chat. They are adorable and you love them so much. You looked at your daughter’s grad photo this morning and thought about how beautiful she is and how proud you are of her. You have a home that you have worked hard for, that you take good care of, and that you love to be in. The sun is shining and summer is coming. Soon you will go on vacation. You will be near water and read books and go camping with your family. You will feel invigorated by the city and by the fresh air and just by summer in general. You have been trying to so hard. I see your hard work, your endless dedication, it’s enough. You are good enough. You are happy and positive and loved and smart and dedicated and hard working and beautiful and special. Now slow down. Enjoy life. Enjoy YOUR life and what truly makes you happy. You may have to find it again. It will take time but whatever you find it is good enough. It will bring you joy and true happiness and peace and serenity. Don’t listen to the judgements from others. Most especially don’t judge yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others. You are okay. Things will be okay. Life is hard sometimes. Really, really hard. It’s okay to be sad sometimes. To feel frustrated, overwhelmed, not good enough. But when those things happen, it’s okay. It’s all okay. It is life and you have such a beautiful life. So many reasons to be happy. You won’t always understood, have the answers, feel satisfied, but trust the process. One day at a time. You got this. It’s all okay. Everything is okay and you are happy, light, happy, and free. I love you. I love you so much.