On Beginning

I often have so many things running through my head that I have a hard time relaxing. I realize that this relates to the fact that I am rather Type A, and also to the fact that, like so many people I know, I am balancing multiple roles: mom, wife, dentist/health care provider, business owner, sister, daughter, friend, boss, etc.  It feels like a lot to sort out and I often feel completely overwhelmed by my to-do list, especially since I want to do everything and do it really well, though that is a completely unrealistic expectation. I recognize that I can’t have it all – no one can, though some may seem to. Rather, I have to choose what my priorities are and learn to let go of the rest.

This is often easier said than done, unfortunately, but in order for me to manage my stress, I’m going to have to be realistic about what I can tackle, especially over a short time frame. At the same time, when I have a arm’s-length to-do list, I feel bad about myself if I don’t at least make some progress in crossing items off. What’s a girl to do?

begin_angiewarren_sunflowerI’m sure there are a few books out there that I could read about stress management, time management, and work/life balance, and I might get to a few someday, but today, I was inspired by the poster to the left, which is available as a free download from Paper Coterie here. It was created by Angie Warren and it gets to to heart of what I’m feeling these days. I need to stop overthinking everything and start doing what I feel is important.

Spring is a really great time for me to start living and feeling rather than letting the same thoughts run through my mind over and over. My mind has been crowded by “send out birthday invitations” and “buy paper plates” and “rent a car for Hawaii” and “book a bikini wax.” I want to start getting organized rather than just thinking about getting organized. I can make all of the lists I want to, but if I lose those lists or spend hours worrying that I should start by organizing the basement storage room rather than the office, then what’s the point?

As part of this desire to focus on living and feeling, I’ve recently started a new blog over at www.mfmhappinessproject.wordpress.com. I was inspired by the book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, though I’m putting my own spin on it so that it doesn’t feel overwhelming. In a couple of days, I’m putting together 5 resolutions for April 13th-May 12th, and organizing will be part of that, but I think 1 of my resolutions will have to relate to Being Myself and letting go of the pressure I put on myself to do everything.

You’re probably wondering why on earth I would create another blog when I’m not exactly blogging regularly here. Isn’t that just another item to add to my pile of to-dos? Honestly, I blog for myself, mostly as on online journal, though I enjoy reading the comments I get and love some of the suggestions I’ve received from readers. In addition, writing helps be sort out my thoughts and the blog format allows me to store everything online rather than cluttering up my space with paper (I have enough of that already). I may not blog frequently, but I do enjoy the time I spend mulling over my life as I put together a post.

Have you read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin? How do you de-stress?

P.S. Yesterday, I ate really well, ran/walked over lunch, lifted weights in the evening, and got a short yoga sesh in. Feeling sore and tired today, but in a good way, and I feel really proud of myself for having a great day yesterday.

Falling Off the Wagon

Let It GoI was doing really well with eating and working out for a couple of weeks, and then halfway through last week, I hit a wall. I couldn’t seem to dig deep enough to convince myself to workout and I ate way too much (and way too much sugar) over the weekend. I’ve been beating myself up about it and decided I needed to LET IT GO.

While I’m willing to let it go and move forward, I do recognize that lack of consistency is a big thing for me. As in, it’s consistently a problem for me (see the irony there?). I have been struggling with it for years…actually, a couple of decades, if I’m perfectly honest. I guess the good thing is that I haven’t completely given up on trying to be healthier; I just happen to fall off the wagon a lot. I did get back on today and went outside for a short walk/run. To be clear, I’ve still got nagging ITB and SI issues, but despite the snow and cold that we’re still living with around here, I needed to get out into the sunshine and get running, because running makes me a happier person.

Tonight, I’m lifting weights and getting some yoga in. Tomorrow, I’m planning to do some cardio and yoga. Thursday, it’ll be the weights, yoga, and intervals. Friday = cardio. Saturday will be weights, cardio, and yoga. Sunday, I plan to take it easy and maybe do some yoga.

If anyone has a strategy for maintaining motivation long-term, I’m all ears! Note: I’m probably not talking to you if you’ve always found it easy to be active and eat healthfully, as I’m totally jealous of you 🙂

Resolution Review

It’s been about a month and a half since I posted. I think that’s the longest I’ve gone without blogging since I started! It was not a deliberate choice and I’ve missed the process of sorting through my thoughts that occurs when I write a post.However, January and February were taken over by the kids’ activities and work. I have been working out more regularly, but I’m still finding that it’s something I put off when my schedule fills up. I’ve also been going to bed ridiculously early, have managed to sneak in a few dates with my husband, and have started organizing a few things around the house.

As for the rest of my resolutions, here’s a summary:

  • Lose 25 lbs: lost a few, and then gained them back. My eating has improved a ton, but I’m still eating too much to lose weight and the treats keep on sneaking in there.
  • Get back in shape (can it get any more broad than this statement?!?): haven’t make significant strides here. The workouts I’ve been doing have been very basic, but I feel like consistency with exercise will be the key here, so I’m viewing this as a long-term resolution.
  • Clean out and organize my home office: office has been cleaned out (just this past weekend), but we’re still working on the organization part.
  • Put together a list of family traditions to try out this year: I’ve been reading The Book of New Family Traditions (Revised and Updated): How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays and Every Day but haven’t put together my list yet. Some great ideas, though!
  • Be nicer to my husband: I have definitely been nicer, but I know there’s room for improvement here.
  • Host friends and families for suppers every other week (but keep it casual and don’t turn it into a chore!): Just had the first supper of the year yesterday, so I was a little delayed in starting this resolution, but we do plan to continue on with this.
  • Start learning Portuguese: haven’t started yet, but having been eying up the Rosetta Stone website.
  • Put the drama of dental school behind me: I took all of my notes out of my office, put them in a closet, and labeled them for destruction in 1 year’s time. I also shredded some correspondence from my school and felt good about it, and any time a negative thought comes up, I tell myself to let it go, and I do.
  • By January 7th, break my resolutions down into attainable, measurable goals and build some reminders into my calendar to follow through with everything: This did NOT happen, but this is something I will be working on tonight – it’s time.

How have your resolutions/goals for the year been going?

Resolution #1: Make Exercise a Priority

I have struggled for years and years to make exercise a priority, a habit. I did well for awhile in my 2nd and 3rd years of dentistry after starting to work with a personal trainer I really liked, being able to find the necessary time on weekdays to fit in my workouts, and training for a few races to boost my motivation. Then my trainer moved away, my schedule at school became heavier and those weekday hours disappeared, and I was dealing with a chronic running injury (which still lingers).

I’m now a business owner, working long hours, with kids in lots of activities, and my husband is also starting a new business venture. I hate morning workouts – really it’s not about the workouts; I hate getting up in the morning and it takes me a long time to get going – and have found that if I schedule morning workouts, they don’t get done, even though I realize that the best time for me to workout would be first thing since I don’t have to get up that early. I really do have time in my schedule to fit in workouts, but I’ve been struggling with the whole “just do it” thing. Despite all the reasons to fit in even short workouts, I am really good at talking myself out of getting the exercise I need. Let’s face it – going to bed early after a long, tiring day or sitting on the couch a little longer is a whole lot easier than finding all my gear, hopping on the treadmill or heading into sub-zero temps, getting all sweaty, and adding an extra shower into the routine. Did I mention that I also can’t run, which is my true exercise love, and not being able to run is a really great addition to my list of excuses 🙂

Okay, so now that we’ve got the excuses out in the open, it’s time to excuse-proof my workouts and make exercise a priority in 2013. I’ve included a few links for articles I’ve read below, but if you’re short on time and don’t want to skim through the links, here’s a quick summary of what the experts say:

1) set realistic goals and ease into exercise

2) schedule your workouts into your calendar and stick to it (yes, I’ve tried this and it helps but doesn’t totally work for me)

3) workout first thing in the morning (yeah, think I’ve covered that above – I’m a baby and hate mornings, so I’m setting myself for failure if I have to get up early, especially in the winter)

4) workout immediately after work (I do like the idea of this, but since I’m spending an extra hour at work most days finishing up paperwork, my husband would be extremely unhappy if I came home even later than I already am. Using my lunch break for exercise or paperwork is an option)

5) reward yourself for achieving your goals

6) that being said, set goals, and make them SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely)

7) make your workouts fun and switch them up so you don’t get bored

8) buddy up and find someone to exercise with

9) keep track of your workouts

10) walk pretty much daily and then add in higher intensity workouts

11) pay for a personal trainer or fitness class so you feel more committed

I won’t be incorporating all of these tips, but my plan for January is as follows:

1) walk outside or on the treadmill for a minimum of 30 minutes 3 times per week

2) full body strength 2 times per week

3) yoga 2 times per week

4) schedule 2 workouts on the weekend (1 strength, 2 cardio)

5) fit in a workout over the lunch hour 1 time per week

6) plan a Friday afternoon workout 2 times per month (I only work until 1pm on Fridays but often schedule other appointments or catch up on paperwork those afternoons)

7) set aside 30 minutes every Sunday morning to review the prior week, plan workouts for the week, and lay out exercise clothes for the week

8) set aside an extra 30 minutes the last Sunday of the month to  review January and plan out goals for February

The relevant links:

http://www.active.com/women/Articles/6-Ways-to-Make-Exercise-a-Priority

http://women.webmd.com/features/exercise-habits

http://www.fitsugar.com/Healthy-Habit-Make-Exercise-Priority-2760291

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=1644

http://www.besthealthmag.ca/get-healthy/fitness/how-to-make-fitness-a-priority

How do you make exercise a priority in your life, or are you still struggling, like me, to be consistent?