Abraham, Rachel, Soren and Liam. Our life together in Smalltown, Idaho.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Energy? Are you here to stay?

You guys. Over the past two weeks, I've only napped three times.

That's like some sort of world record, isn't it?

Since Christmas, I've made some lifestyle changes that I suspect have made a big difference in my overall well-being. It started out with a 3-week Beach Body Challenge initiated by my gorgeous cousin Lorette, and culminated in an 8-week Wellness Challenge at my workplace. I'm not gonna lie: my primary motivation for most of the changes I made was the thought that I'd made a $15 investment into the prize pot and I'd be damned if I wasn't going to get that cash back. I would ask myself, "Do you want to skip this workout or do you want $100? Do you want a cookie or do you want $100?" And I would totally do the workout or eschew the cookie.

But, far beyond the cash prize that I'm planning to claim soon, this health revolution has worked out incredibly well for me.

Here are some of the changes I've made that have helped beat back The Tired:

DAILY Exercise 
For years, I've been a devoted three-times-a-week exerciser. I didn't think it was even possible for me to exercise every day. That seemed like something only crazy people would do. But I decided to give it a try. And, by golly, it WAS possible. Not only possible, but even a little addicting. I'm currently rotating through Jillian Michaels' Ripped in 30 and 30 Day Shred (7 different workouts) for my morning exercise fix. I sometimes hate these workouts while I'm doing them, but I NEVER regret doing them. And I've grown awesomely strong over these past two months.

My legs have always twitched a lot while I 'm sleeping, and I've recently been suspecting that I have a disorder called PLMD, which can be exacerbated by SSRI medications  (anti-anxiety/depression meds), which I've been taking for over a decade. The daily exercise gave me the courage to try tapering off my medication. I've been med-free for two months. So far, I've felt better than ever. And guess what? Abe reports that I haven't been twitching as much at night.

I've been in bed by 10 and up by 6 almost every single day for the past 8 weeks. They say a consistent sleep schedule is best. They might just be right.

Fruits and Veggies 
Our company's wellness goal was to eat three servings of fruits or veggies a day. That sounds weak-saucey, right? But it turns out I wasn't doing that consistently. Once I got into the habit of three-a-day, it wasn't hard at all to bump it up to at least 5-a-day.

Now I generally start my day with zucchini scrambled with eggs, served with a stalk of celery  and peanut butter. Lunch is often a yam, plus a fruit, vegetable, and some sort of protein. My afternoon gets a boost with a green smoothie with a sprinkling of chia seeds for protein, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids. And at dinner I just eat whatever with the family, though I always include at least one fruit or veggie with the meal.

I've made a rule that I won't eat anything I don't love just because "it's good for me," so I've been exploring salad and soup recipes that make it actually enjoyable to work all that produce into my diet.

Daily Centering Time
Every morning I spend at least 20 minutes with A Course in Miracles. This incredible book is divided into"text" and "workbook" sections. The book's teachings have really helped me address and cope with many of my anxieties. I have also felt closer to God than I ever have in my entire life. I actually find myself WANTING to pray. (This has not been a normal state of affairs for me.)  

On this wellness challenge, we were avoiding sugar-based goodies, but we were allowed one "free" day each week. This was a perfect balance for me because it got me out of the habit of eating every sugary treat that happened to cross my path, but also left me feeling like I wasn't trapped in a dark world without sugar-spun happiness. I COULD have a treat, if I really wanted it. So every time I encountered a piece of cake or a bowl of ice cream or a bunch of raw cookie dough, I'd ask myself: Did I want THIS treat to be The One? Usually the answer was no, but sometimes it was yes, and that has worked out great for me.

I was always a pretty big water drinker, but I've made a more conscientious effort to drink at least 3 liters of water per day, per the Beach Body challenge group I participated in earlier. It's easy for me to drink two water bottles before work, two during work, two after work, and then a little more water with dinner.

So what's next? 

For the next eight weeks, I'm going to be focusing on continuing with the above habits and add the following two:

After-Work Routine
I get home from work at about the same time the kiddos get home from school. Traditionally, this has been a time for me to eat a ton of cereal, force my eyelids open while I made the kids do chores, and then crash while they had their "hour" of screen time. (Not gonna lie: I'd let often extend that time in exchange for more sleep. I will seriously sell my soul for more sleep when I'm that tired.)

These past two weeks, however, I've come home, done a little yoga, and made myself a big fat green smoothie as an afternoon snack. I have felt so much better and am excited to see how I feel after doing it for eight more weeks.

5-Minute Gratitude Journal
Every night before bed I'll spend five minutes writing about as many blessings as I can remember from the day. I've done this off and on over the years and love getting into the habit of looking for things to celebrate each day.


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