Motivation Monday: Morning Rituals

Greetings from Jekyll Island!

Jack and I are here to celebrate my – wait for it – 40th birthday! I can’t believe it’s actually here. But that’s another post…

Being in the hotel has reminded me yet again how much I value our morning routine at home. I was always a sleep-til-the-last-possible-minute person, until I’d lived with Jack for several years. I thought he was crazy for getting up early, to give himself time to drink coffee, check the news, exercise, whatever. I think he started it when his children were young, and it was his only time for some peace and quiet. He continued his routine after his marriage ended, and into our relationship.

I’m not sure when exactly I started to join him in rising a bit earlier than needed. I know that when I was in grad school and still working in restaurants, I was still sleeping until 8:30 for a 9:30 shift. It must have started after I started working in an office again and had to sit in traffic each morning, and after we had three dogs to feed and walk.

I’m also not sure when I started to add in a workout. But over the past few years, I’ve gone from sleeping until the last minute to getting up at 5am when I don’t leave for work until 8:20. And I love it. I wouldn’t change it. I’ve recently started waking up early on Saturdays (maybe at 6 instead of 5 though), and I’m ready to do it on vacation too. We slept until after 7 this morning, and I was bummed that I missed the sunrise and the cooler temps.

I never thought I would call myself a morning person, but that’s exactly what I’ve become. I’ve been seeing a lot of blog posts lately about morning rituals and wanted to chime in on them. I’m someone who can honestly say that I made a change, that I changed my nature. I go to bed early, I get as much sleep as I can, and I wake up at 5am (one day this week I got up at 4:30 and loved it!) and I’m so much better at life as a result.

If you’re a regular reader here, you already know I’m no saint. I love going out and staying up late and eating and drinking too much. Like I said, being a morning person is not necessarily in my nature. But it’s worth it to give up some of that to feel more in control, to have time for myself each morning, to be responsible first thing each day. And let’s be honest, if I run and clean house in the morning, I don’t have to do it at night, which leaves more time for cocktails J

Our morning ritual involves making coffee, cleaning up whatever mess we left from the previous night, drinking said coffee, feeding/medicating/walking three senior, high-maintenance doggies, going to the gym or working out downstairs or heading out for a run. We might have a banana before our run, but generally we make breakfast to take with us to eat in our cars on the way to work. We sometimes make our lunches, but hopefully our nighttime selves were nice to our morningtime selves and took care of that already. Possibly the most important part of our morning ritual is the time, peace, and quiet, for a morning poop. I tried to think of a delicate way to say that, but whatevs. A daily “evacuation” is pretty much mandatory if I’m gonna have a good day.

So yeah, there’s no yoga or meditation. Maybe there’s a cup of green tea, but generally it’s coffee with too much cream. I swear by some sparkling water with apple cider vinegar to keep my immune system up, but that’s about as hippie/new-agey as I’m getting. I always make the bed, try to do the dishes, and leave the house in a state that I’m happy to come home to.

I encourage you to start thinking about your own morning ritual. Here’s a little inspiration, but I say, think about what makes you feel happy, strong, and in control, and try to add that to each day.

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/featured/morning-ritual.html

http://mymorningroutine.com/

http://www.frugalwoods.com/2015/03/06/weekly-woot-grumble-mornings-are-for-winners/

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Motivation Monday

I’m starting this week off with a bit of inspiration!

I enjoy Matt Frazier’s No Meat Athlete blog and podcasts. I was happy this morning to wake up to some great motivation in my inbox, advice on finally making a change in your life. I’ll let you read his list on your own, but I’m really thinking about this one:

8. Increase the pain, fear, and guilt you associate with the way things are — instead of doing what most people do, which is everything they can to ignore or soften the pain. – See more at: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/change-now/#sthash.bwP6BbHC.dpuf

This is absolutely a habit of mine, a coping mechanism. I try hard to not feel pain, fear and guilt. I try to ignore those feelings, or to numb myself with booze. I can see this as a slippery slope though. I don’t want to berate myself and make myself feel worse about my shortcomings/failures. But I also don’t want to drink my feelings away. Something to be mindful of this summer…

I can vouch that #7 works: Start a blog or podcast about your change, and share it with everyone you know. Instant accountability. – See more at: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/change-now/#sthash.bwP6BbHC.dpuf

Putting together my list of resolutions at the beginning of this year and revisiting them at the end of each month has been an amazing source of motivation. It not only makes my wishes more real to have them living out there in the WordPress world, it also reminds me to stay focused and of what changes I really want to make in my life. I’ve completed my half-marathon, found a new job, and planned more meaningful travel this year. I’ve also started Project Downsize, done a lot of planking, and finished a 31 day writing challenge. I might have done these things without a blog, but writing about my goals made them much more real, and sharing my progress is fun and provides me with even more motivation.

What are you goals for this week? This summer? What inspires you to make a change?

Back on Track

I’m happy to say I’ve started off the month strong! After my recent pity party and six weeks of being off my game, I’m feeling much better in the motivation and discipline department.

I know that taking care of myself is directly linked to being disciplined. They are inseparable. I have to be disciplined enough to take care of myself, and taking care of myself makes me much more motivated to maintain that discipline. It’s challenging to start back up when I’ve gotten off track, but once I do, it’s not too hard to keep on rollin’.

It’s my birthday month, and I want to turn 40 feeling strong, both physically and mentally. I want to be one of those obnoxious people who’s like, “I’ve never felt better!!!” So far, so good. I’m back in my workout schedule of alternating days at the gym and running. I have a 10k race on the 4th of July that I’d looove to finish in under an hour, so I’m pushing myself to run faster rather than farther. Here’s hoping that will help with the running burnout I’ve been feeling for the past few weeks.

I’m really working on my diet. I used to eat super healthfully – tons of fruits and veggies, no meat, lots of salads and stirfry and oatmeal. When we did low-carb last fall, that opened my diet back up to eating meat and a lot of fat (butter and cheese, hello!). And then when we were training for the half-marathon and doing a lot of 8+ mile runs, I was eating all the carbs I could, including ice cream, candy bars, and pastries. I’ve basically been out of control and nothing has been off-limits. I also all but stopped working out with weights. So while I haven’t really gained any weight, my body has definitely changed in the past few months. I’ve lost some of the muscle I built up last fall and winter and have traded it for soft fluffiness 😦

I would definitely like to drop about five pounds by the end of the month, so my clothes will fit better and I won’t be completely mortified to be in a bikini. I’m going with the all-things-in-moderation route. No tricks or gimmicks or anything. Just self-control, and not too many drinks. Here’s to a good month!

13.1: Completed!

I did it! And it’s over! I survived, and I didn’t come in last. In all honestly, it was actually pretty amazing. I was slow for sure, but I kept going. The adrenaline in the beginning was great and made the first four or five miles a lot of fun. I started getting a little tired around mile six, but I had a gel and some caffeine jelly beans that I ate every three miles or so. I won’t lie: the last three miles were tough. I was pretty exhausted by mile ten, but I just kept thinking, c’mon, you can always go run three miles. Just 30 minutes to go! So I powered through, and by the last mile, another surge of adrenaline was much appreciated 🙂

Jack and I ran most of the second half of the race together, which was so nice. He’s had some achilles issues, and the last few miles were really hard on him. My sister and my niece were there to cheer us on at the end. This was a great treat, since the race came out of the woods and then – surprise! – up a big hill. And then, just when you thought you were done, you realized you had to run around the track before you crossed the finish line.

So yes, it was hard, but I don’t think it was as challenging as I was expecting. The course was so pretty, through pastures and wetlands and the woods. Dirty Spokes, the company that put the race on, was wonderful. I’ve never done such a well-organized race. The shirt is awesome too 🙂

Afterwards, we had mimosas in the parking lot, went to the playground with my niece, and then headed to the Biscuit Barn for a well-deserved pigout. I had chicken and dumplings, some kind of crazy-good “fresh peas,” and mac and cheese. And of course, a biscuit (covered in honey, aw yeah):

20150418_113837I really thought that once I had accomplished my half-marathon goal, I’d be over it. I got a little bored with the long training runs, and I didn’t like that it kept me from spending as much time in the gym as I’d wanted. But I’m hooked! I can’t wait to start planning the next one. I’m not thinking about a marathon any time soon, but ya never know – maybe in a year or two?

Anyone who is reading this and might be considering their first half-marathon, all I can say is: you can do it. You don’t have to be the best runner ever, and it’s ok if you’re super-slow like I am. The race day adrenaline and camaraderie will carry you farther than you think. And the sense of accomplishment is insane. Plus, you get to eat all the carbs 🙂

Write 31: March 7th

It’s the weekend, yay! Jack and I had a carb party last night, pizza and cheesecake, aw yeah 🙂 We have a nine mile run scheduled for this morning. Last week we were eating super healthy, think veggies and brown rice and chicken, and we had the worst run ever. We were supposed to do 8 miles but quit after 4.5. So we definitely blamed that on all the healthy eating. It’s an experiment, y’all!

Accountability: 3/6/15

  • Food: Evol Lean & Fit breakfast burrito with an orange; half of a chicken BLT panini, Lays; protein bar; small slice of cake from a co-workers birthday (damn those work snacks!); 3 slices of bacon cheeseburger pizza with ranch (I’m a pig!), small slice of cheesecake, glass of wine and a cocktail
  • Workout: None, since Fridays are off days before long run Saturdays
  • Spending: $30 on pizza night

Notably missing: any vegetables. That is a bad day for me. It’s good for me to see this listed out here, because I really felt like I had all this self-control yesterday and was making good food choices (excluding dinner, of course). I think we’ll be eating much healthier tonight to make up for last night. And at least I’ll burn some of that junk food off on the run this morning.

I don’t think we have much of anything else planned for this weekend, which I have to admit, I’m pretty happy about. While I’m not anti-social, I do crave time for myself, and this was a really busy week at work. Non-stop meetings, vendor lunches, and a team presentation. I feel like I was talking to people all day every day. I’m looking forward to being quiet.

What about you? Anyone have the Best Weekend Plans Ever???

Write 31: March 4th

Y’all. I did this yesterday and it kicked my butt. It’s been awhile since I’ve done any HIIT training, as I’ve been focusing on increasing my running miles and doing weight training. I forgot what an amazing workout it is! I felt so energized afterwards, I cleaned the kitchen and walked to the grocery store in the rain, all before 7:30am. Boom.

Food wise, I had a giant bowl of oatmeal (we’ve been cooking it with chopped up banana – so good!) with fruit and nuts and a green juice for breakfast. Lunch was sushi. I was super healthy with my roll – just fish and veggies and brown rice. But then everyone ordered dessert to share, so I kind of had to eat some bread pudding and banana waffles. Plus a little bit of calamari for the appetizer. Wouldn’t want to be rude, right? The benefit of eating a giant lunch was that I didn’t snack in the afternoon, which is unheard of for me. For dinner, we had leftovers again: chicken, kale, potatoes, with two cookies for dessert. Thank goodness Samoas are only around for a month or so each year! I had a cup of tea before bed, and resisted even a glass of wine. I think writing here that yesterday would be booze-free totally held me accountable. ❤

Today I’m looking forward to a four mile run this morning (and it’s not freezing, woo hoo!) and another free lunch. Tonight we’ll be watching the Louisville vs Notre Dame game, so I imagine it will not be a booze-free evening. I’m thinking a lot about budgeting, and trying to get my husband and me on the same page. I’m also thinking about creating good habits, and how much one can really change themselves. I always get fatigued when I’m trying to change too much at once, aka, trying to increase my self-discipline/self-control across more areas of my life. I know to think of willpower as a muscle, and to continue to work on it and to also allow it to “rest” now and then. I’m beginning to think, however, that my willpower is not necessarily limitless, that I may not be able to practice it in multiple areas of my life simultaneously with success. Like, if I’m not drinking and I’m not eating sugar and I’m exercising every day, I might really struggle to not go shopping or to keep up with the laundry. Or maybe it just requires more practice, more patience, more failures-as-learning-experiences…

Ack, or maybe I’m just making excuses. On with the day!

Write 31: March 2nd

It’s day 2 of my Write 31 challenge. So far, so good 🙂

Yesterday was a productive Sunday. I did an at-home, full body workout, and went for a hilly 45 minute walk. I bought some new running shoes that I’m anxious to try out this morning. I also ran some errands, got my emissions test done, cleaned up from Saturday’s dinner party, and read a lot. I also listened to my tired ass and went to bed at 8:30 (and it was amazing!). On the food front, I was pretty good. Oatmeal for breakfast, leftover mac and cheese (with BBQ) for late lunch/early dinner, and a protein bar. I finished the night with salad, popcorn, cheese, and two glasses of wine.

Now for my February 2015 Resolution Check-in:

  1. Handstand: Meh. One theme you’ll notice here is that being sick for 2+ weeks really set me back. Frustrating, yes, but not much I could do about it. Anyway, I was not able to work out as much as I wanted, and I lost some strength as a result. I need to work back up to one-minute planks and then up to doing them daily.
  2. Debt: As expected, we lost some momentum from January. I didn’t pay anything extra against our debt this month, except for one accidental double payment to one of my student loans. This should be a better month, however, as I find out today what my annual bonus will be. We did file our taxes and are expecting a refund that we can put towards some debt, but we also need a new mattress, so that will eat into the debt payment. I attended a retirement planning workshop and managed to talk my husband into putting money into his 401(k), so that is a win for sure! I am meeting with a financial planner this week as well.
  3. Being anal: This is one that I haven’t been spending a ton of time thinking about. I feel like I have been more accepting and like being thoughtful about that is becoming more of my personality. I think I’m making progress.
  4. Half-marathon: I’m doing pretty well on this. Again, I wasn’t able to run as much as planned due to my cold/double ear infection/bronchitis/worst sore throat of my life. But, I mostly kept up with the long runs and I’m trucking right along. Race date is April 18 and we’re on track.
  5. Downsize: We found out we have to stay in this house until the end of May in order to avoid paying taxes on any capital gains from the sale. We’re taking this time to continue to clean out closets and pare down our stuff. We’re planning a big garage sale for next month. We went to check out a neighborhood of older, smaller townhomes, in an amazing location, so our list of ‘hoods is up to four. We’re also toying with the idea of truly living downtown, which is a bit of a novelty in Atlanta, but which really appeals to us. Just not sure about the dog-friendliness of it.
  6. Meditate: FAIL.
  7. Booze: FAIL.
  8. Counseling: My husband has continued his anger management therapy, which has led to lots of good conversations between us. I can also see he’s making strong efforts to change his behavior during our arguments. I’m slower to come around, but I’m trying to be mindful of it. I know we definitely need counseling together.
  9. Write: Meh. I have not felt inspired. I’m not sure about the direction of this blog, but I’m taking on this challenge to write daily in March. I’m hoping it will give me some focus and restart my creative energy,
  10. Eating: Mixed bag here. I did not very healthfully in February, but I sort of felt like it was what I needed. When I’m sick, I need extra calories, and the same is true for doing longer runs. Unfortunately, I put on a couple of pounds from eating more and exercising less (shocking, I know). But I ended the month with a recommitment to healthy eating and have been doing well for the last week or so. I need to find the balance between nourishment and indulgence.
  11. Minimalism: See #5.
  12. Empathy: I was not very mindful of this in February. I will use this check-in as a reminder of my need to improve my empathy.
  13. Volunteering: I was scheduled to do part two of my orientation at the pet rescue spot down the street, but they cancelled it due to the threat of bad weather. I need to reschedule but the spots are Saturday mornings, when we do our long runs. But no excuses!
  14. Travel: We didn’t take any trips in February. We are currently planning out what to do for Jack’s birthday (end of this month), our anniversary (cabin in Asheville is booked for mid-May), and most importantly, my 40th birthday in June.
  15. Job: Strange progress in February. There were up and downs at my current job (great review/fighting with my boss). I put out some feelers on some other jobs; one never responded after I told them my goal salary, and I’m still talking with a start-up but it probably won’t go anywhere. I’m attending a conference in late April, so I really want to stay in my current role until then. I really do love the company I work for, and I don’t want to leave. I did some internal networking and will continue that for the next few months, and then start looking for new roles this summer. Unless, of course, I change my mind again 🙂

When I think back on February, I just feel worn out. The combination of being sick, the dark, cold days, and the fading of the New Year excitement — it wore me out. But March is here, and spring is so very close. Time to move on.