It's 4:51 a.m. and I'm sitting on the couch with a blanket and my doggies having a cup of tea, and decided this might be a good time to share some of he things I do for myself each day. I have had a couple people ask what types of things I do to help myself be healthy, mostly in regard to exercise, but then I realized that exercise is only a small part of it. There are so many small habits I have developed over the years that work with exercise to help keep me on the path to healthy.
Several years ago I had this mantra in my head to "just do a little more" and the idea was to try to do just a little better all the time, nothing drastic. I know so many wake up on a specific day with this list of insurmountable new daily tasks to change their lives, and most of those days land on January 1. And then failure happens by January 15th and another year feels wasted.
As I think about all of my daily routines and habits I realize that these are mostly things I sprinkled in here and there in an attempt to do "just a little more" toward the road to healthy living.
So when I share my day don't be discouraged. I did not just wake up one day and start successfully doing each and every one of these things. And there are some days that I don't do any of them. I give myself a break from the rigor on the weekends. But I figure doing the majority of these things 70% of the time is better than 0% so I feel pretty good about it.
* I set an alarm and wake up at 4:30 a.m. This is a new one. It used to be 6 a.m. then moved to 5 a.m. and in the past two weeks has moved to 4:30 a.m. I am someone who needs white space. I have to have peace and quiet ALONE time. With a busy life, that's hard to find, so I purposefully wake up at 4:30 a.m. to take advantage of the peace and quiet. And, I assure you, I am alone.
* I start my morning with a cup of hot green tea with Stevia and a few drops of lemon oil. I am not going to go into the sciences behind all of my decisions, but I know that green tea is good for you and something about a cup of hot lemon water is supposed to do something great for you when done first thing in the morning. Plus, it tastes good. (I have found that drinking this tea before exercising makes me feel better than starting with coffee.)
* Stevia. Several years ago I stopped using sugar (for the most part) and completely stopped using artificial sweeteners. I use pure liquid Stevia that I purchase at the Amish store. It does take a bit to get used to the slightly different taste, but it's all-natural and I love it as my sweetener. I do still use sugar sometimes while cooking, but it occurred to me this morning that I don't remember the last time I purchased a bag of sugar. I have the kids using Stevia for the most part, too.
* Early morning workout. If I do not work out first thing in the morning, I WILL NOT DO IT! Period. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I run 2-3 miles at 6:00 a.m. after I have taken Brynne to volleyball practice at school. In the winter I run on the treadmill. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I attend a local workout class where we do Insanity! Live one day and Piyo on the other. There are evening classes I could attend on Monday and Wednesday, but I just can't do evening workouts. Can't.
* Oil pulling. Recently I started oil pulling with coconut oil for about 15-20 minutes while I am getting ready in the morning. This is just where you swish oil around in your mouth, pulling it through your teeth. This is supposed to pull toxins out of your body and help with dental health. Whether it works, I don't know, but it's harmless so I do it. I heat my oil for 10 seconds before I begin swishing and spit it out in the trash when I am done.
* Green smoothies. For breakfast each day I make myself and Kyndal a green smoothie. Ours include Greek yogurt, spinach, half an avocado, frozen mixed berries, half a banana, flaxseeds, oats, and a splash of extra virgin olive oil.
* Coffee. I do drink coffee after I get done working out in the morning. As I am walking out the door to work I blend my coffee, some milk, Stevia, and a tablespoon of coconut oil. It's so yummy.
* Lunch. This is where I can easily fall apart because I love lunch foods! And lunch is the meal that I want to pig out. And I am usually starving because I don't get to eat lunch until 1:30 p.m. and am not patient to make something healthy that takes any time. If I'm going to fail, it's going to be here. I try to eat some soup, or some crackers and hummus with fruit, or some tuna, or a wrap. I have to pay very close attention at this time of day. I do think I would like to start juicing and having a veggie juice with my lunch each day. I am researching that right now (again "just a little more"). And I am thinking I will just go back to purchasing Lean Cuisine meals to heat up at lunch on those days that I feel like grabbing something crappy instead because of time and starvation.
* Dinner. At dinner I allow myself to eat whatever we are having as a family. We don't get too out there for dinner, but usually just eat pretty simple things. I try to always have a protein, a carb (usually a small pasta or potato), and everybody has to have a veggie and usually some fruit. I like mine steamed, but Eli likes raw carrots and Brynne likes raw mini colored peppers. I try to stick to the healthiest foods as possible, but I really don't go overboard because of time and laziness.
* Water. We are a water-drinking family. In fact, I hardly ever buy soda or tea. We do have apple juice available at most times, but the kids are only allowed one glass per day. And there is always milk, but nobody really just drinks milk. We drink water. I try really hard to drink 60-90 ounces of water each day. I drink out of my 30 ounce Yeti and attempt to drain it three times a day.
* We do as much nothing in the evenings as we can, weekends, too. Brynne plays sports so we do have games to attend. But on the nights and weekends that we don't have something like that on the calendar, we just veg out at home. We are all homebodies and introverts and we thoroughly enjoy our quiet time. Most evenings/weekends we will all be in our own rooms doing our own thing. There are a few television shows that we like to watch together as a family, so we do that regularly. But when they are over we separate again.
* Early bedtimes are important! I get up at 4:30 a.m. Brynne gets up at 5:30 a.m. most days. So we are ready for bed early! She is asleep by 8:00 p.m. most nights and I do my best to be in bed reading by 9:00 p.m. My goal is to have the lights off at 9:30 p.m. so I can, hopefully, get a full 7 hours of sleep. Ideally I would like 8 hours, but try as I might I cannot get everything done in the evenings and to bed in time to be asleep by 8:30 p.m. Eli has a different schedule than us because he homeschools, so he goes to bed at 10:30 p.m. and gets up each morning at about 9:00 a.m.
* Right before bed I take a hot bath. This is something new I started about a month ago. I am not really a bath girl, but I have read about the health benefits of taking a steaming bath at the end of the day with 2 cups of epsom salts and some lavender oil. This is supposed to draw out all of the toxins from your body from the day. The goal is to last 12-20 minutes, and that's about all I can take. By that time I am sweating profusely and am so hot and tired. But, I will say, that when I get in bed right after that I am more relaxed than I have ever been in my life, and when I am ready to shut off the light I fall instantly asleep.
* After my bath I do not add any chemicals to my skin. I do not put on deodorant or lotion. I do not moisturize my face (although I am looking into non-toxic facial moisturizers at this time). I figure that I am giving my body a break of about 8-9 hours of chemicals while I sleep. Somehow that makes me feel better. I do wear deodorant after my shower in the morning, and I do completely moisturize my body, as well. I am also a huge fan of Bath and Body Works body fragrance sprays and completely cover myself with them each morning. I wear makeup that contains toxins. No matter how "green" I try to get with my cleaning products, those toxins are still there. This is my little bit of care I give myself at the end of the day to help counter-balance some of that.
* I end my day reading. My goal used to be to read 50 pages a night. Now I am usually too tired to do that. So I try to get in about 30 minutes of reading. As I start to read the last chapter I chew a Melatonin gummy and shut off the light. And BOOM I am asleep.
Mindfulness is a big word for me these days. To do all of these things I have listed, I have to be mindful. These things take a schedule, and a pretty strict one, at that. Like I said, I try to do all of this about 70% of the time. So I don't feel bad when I don't get it done the other 30%. It takes a lot of planning. And when we are on vacation, all bets are off. Again, these are not things that I woke up one day and said, "I am going to start doing every one of these things starting today!" Nope. Many are things I started doing years ago, and I have added in new things even as early as a couple of weeks ago. If something is not working, I stop doing it and try something else that does work. So far, at this stage in my life, these things are all working for me.
I feel better physically and mentally than I have in years. I feel healthy, am well-rested, and am satisfied and not deprived. It's all good.