13 things I'm doing to get out of a diet + exercise funk

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People, it's been a long winter. In the midst of the grey, dull, cold, snowy skies that just wouldn't quit, a ridiculously long bout of sickness, and general winter funk, I feel like I've lost my exercise and healthy eating mojo. I wrote about it very briefly on here, but early this winter I took the big personal step of hiring a trainer to help me with my goals of losing weight and getting more fit. 

It's been one of the best things I've done for myself. Ever. 

But even though my trainer is amazing and those two days with her are a highlight of my week, there's still all those other hours of the week where I'm on my own. 

For me, good decisions beget good decisions. So when we were missing sessions because of weather and illness and whatever else was getting in the way, I found the interruption of our schedule becoming an excuse to slack off. And eventually the slacking off sucked up all the enthusiasm that I'd had before. 

A few weeks ago, my trainer and I had a 'come to Jesus' talk. Yes, I may have cried standing in the middle of the club. But in my defense, she had too. I was sick of the funk and ready to get back on track again. I was feeling frustrated. Beat down. And pretty discouraged.

We talked through a few ideas but that night I came home and made a list in my moleskine (this is how I use my moleskine for journaling) of the things that I do that help me pull out of a funk. I've been sticking to this list pretty religiously that past few weeks and it's really helping me feel back on track and moving in the right direction. 

I thought I'd share my list with you because I think it's helpful to see how other people do things and most likely, I'm going to need to refer to this post over and over again when the hard days come. And because many of you have told me that you want to hear more about what I'm doing with my healthy goals. When I started down this path my dad said to me something along the lines of "say it out loud." And I think there's something to be said for letting people know what you're going through, how you're doing and having that accountability for change. 

13 WAYS I'M GETTING BACK ON TRACK WITH DIET AND EXERCISE

  • Finishing the day well. Doing all the dinner dishes, tidying up the counters, taking a bath, figuring out where my exercise clothes are...all these little details help me both go to sleep and wake up the next morning feel organized and in control of the day ahead. Chaos and disorganization are two of my favorite excuses to fall off the wagon.

  • Living in workout clothes. Sometimes I don't feel like that walk or time on the rowing machine, or trip to the gym because the thought of finding my workout clothes, putting them on and going out the door makes me tired. I figure if I'm already dressed, it makes finding time to exercise that much easier. And bonus, putting on jeans and a tee suddenly feels so "put together."

  • Becoming BFFs with my water bottle. I have this nifty one that was a kickstarter project of a friend of mine. I love it, which is good because I take it everywhere. 

  • Reading things that inspire me. I'm taking time in the evenings, or while I'm making dinner to read books that motivate and inspire me to keep on keeping on. Currently: Foodist, Eating Well mag, Tosca Reno (in moderation--she's pretty intense, but the principles are good), The Perfect Recipe, Cooking Light. And this article with similar (and excellent) ideas.

  • Making lists (my List of 3), and writing down what I eat--a very enlightening experience.

  • Cleaning out my fridge. I love my fridge. It's huge. And when it's clean and organized it's so motivating to me. Before (almost) every grocery shop, I wipe down shelves, deal with anything moldy and combine the 15 bags of shredded cheese that have been opened and partially used.

  • Freezing fruits and vegetables before they go off so they're ready for smoothies. This was a lightbulb moment I had with a friend a few weeks ago when she told me that before her languishing kale, spinach or berries go bad in the fridge, she tosses them in ziploc baggies and freezes them for smoothies. I cannot tell you how many bags of stinky kale that never got finished have been tossed to the chickens. Freezing them? It changed my world.

  • Charging up my favorite fitness gadgets and getting all appy. I've had a JawboneUP band for awhile and after trying several different kinds, it is my current favorite. I love the app, love the data, but got out of the habit of wearing it. So I charged everything, updated my app and have been wearing it again. I'm also using My Fitness Pal for some food journaling and syncing it with the UP band app and getting a good idea of how I'm moving, sleeping, sitting, etc. (In fact, it just buzzed to tell me I've been sitting too long.)

  • Praying for my kids. So I know this doesn't sound like it belongs in my list but let me explain. I have found that I am becoming a bit of a worrier. During Lent, I decided that instead of giving something up, I was going to spend solid time praying for my children. (This book [ugly cover warning] has been the perfect framework for me.) Obviously, worry is no good. And these quiet moments put me in such a healthier frame of mind. It has been a really powerful part of my day.

  • Making my bed every morning. Okay, I know most people do this already, but there are many (MANY) mornings when I slip out of the blankets and leave behind a child or two still snoozing in the sheets. We often get middle of the night and early morning visitors so the bed often goes unmade. Now, when I wake up, I dump the kids onto the floor so I can make the bed. Kidding. I don't. But I do make a point to go back and make it. Makes everything feel a little more buttoned up.

  • Sharing the load. Speaking of kids, I've broken out the old chore chart again. I've realized that if I reach the end of the day and feel like my kids' time hasn't been productive that day, it puts me in a bad mood. Really, what's probably happening is that I'm taking my guilt out on my kids--that's another conversation. But organization, a good plan, and helping out the family is good for EVERYONE. Right now, as I type, there's a small person setting the dinner table. It's one of her chores. And sharing the load makes me happy. And that makes everyone happy, right?

  • Taking a new approach. Besides trying to do some intentional things to keep me on track, I'm also beginning spring with a new approach. I'm going to be focusing a lot harder and more intensely on nutrition and swapping out some of my training sessions to focus on this. I'm feeling really good about this new direction.

  • Talking about it. I swear, I won't be so wordy in the future, but I think it's going to be really good for me to keep talking about how I'm doing, what I'm working on and where things are going. So prepare for more. 

So obviously, I'm not doing all these things, every single day. I mean, let's be realistic. But I'm trying my darnedest to stay on top of these little things that have a big pay off for me. If you see me out in my jeans, not carrying my water bottle, you may want to ask me if my bed is made. (No, people who see me in real life. Please don't. I'm already wincing at the thought of publishing this, and the people who will read it.) But for now, finding the things that help this absolutely chock-full life feel slightly balanced and in control are just what this journey needs. 

Thanks for listening to my lengthy list of to-do's. More soon...xo.

Spring lambs: One year later

A few weeks ago, I stood outside in the parking lot of our 4-H meeting talking with our club leader about her new batch of baby lambs. We made the decision not to breed May and Penny this year in an effort to keep things a little simpler (mostly, on me). But sitting there listening to her stories of her babies, a little part of me missed those weeks just over a year ago, when we were welcoming our first-ever baby lambs to the farm

And while I wouldn't recommend your first crop of lambs arrival to be simultaneous with the fixing up and moving to a new farm, those days of romping, leaping fuzzy-headed lambs in the barn sure were sweet. 

A year later, and it's hard to believe what big beasts Pete and Paige have become. Just this weekend, I scheduled their appointment with a shearer and hopefully we'll finally be able to see their sweet eyes again under those fluffy cheeks.

Though I do the occasional fill-in for chore duty, Emma is their person. As soon as the back door slams and they know she's headed to the barn, the shuffling around the gate begins. 

By some magical contortions and animal husbandry tricks, she manages to get all animals out of the field and sorted into pens, fed, watered and bedded down for the night. 

In a few days, we'll add two more lambs to our flock that will be Emma's 4-H project for this year. There are pens to be built, hay to be bought and trucks arranged (or else we'll be carrying them home in our laps, not unheard of in my family.) 

After this year off, I'm thinking that we might have to get back in the baby lamb business again. Looking back at these pictures is like flipping through the pages of my girls' photo albums...I'm probably only remembering all the good and forgetting the stress, worry and sleepless nights. But still, we consider doing it all over again.

I'm not sure I'll be able to top four

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have picked up on the fact that my youngest child is mildly horse crazy. (understatement of the year.) Her riding helmet and jockey goggles are pretty much standard daily uniform. We've watched The Man From Snowy River so many times that we've burned out the chase scene--right where the horses start galloping through the snow in slow-motion. She talks about Jim and Jessica like they were family.

If she's not downstairs on her belly playing with her horses in front of the wooden barn (we scored out of the neighbor's TRASH), she's upstairs on the rocking horse listening to the soundtrack from The Man From Snowy River and reciting lines perfectly in time with the scenes from the movie. 

So, when it came up at our New Year's Eve party that my aunt and cousin's had the perfect little Shetland Pony that could come live here as long as we wanted, plans were set in motion for the best birthday present a four-year-old girl could want.

This weekend was the big day. An extra stall was secretly made ready in the barn. A trip to Dover Saddlery "just for fun" was actually me shoving brushes and tack boxes at the ladies behind the register (who were delightfully in on the secret) while Birdy was lost in the corner full of Breyer horses. Trailers were arranged. Family gathered. 

While everyone assembled outside, I stayed on the inside of the house trying desperately to keep Birdy away from windows. Birdy, who was suddenly completely uninterested in watching a movie or any other normal distraction a four-year-old would like. (We ended up making beds together. Go figure.)

Elizabeth was also being surprised with the pony. She's slowly moving up the ranks as the next horsey girl in the family, and I knew she'd get just as much (if not more) fun out of the pony. There's nothing like a little Shetland to help you learn the ropes of riding--especially when you get bucked off and it's not very far to fall. (Both girls have already tested this philosophy.)

Just as I thought, they were stunned to silence. No tears of joy. No squeals of excitement. Just mouths open, eyes unbelieving. But as the dust settled on what had just happened, the joy was pretty evident.

Seriously, there's not much better than this on your birthday.

The next morning, as I was carrying Birdy downstairs for breakfast, we stopped at the window at the landing, which gave us a perfect view of the red pony grazing in the field. Tinkerbell, is her name. And Birdy leaned in to me and whispered, "I'm so happy Tinkerbell gets to live with me."

Happy birthday, Birdy. And PS. I'll probably never be able to top this. 

From the fog

My family is emerging--both figuratively and this morning, literally--from the fog. We've been battling a stomach virus that has been slowly taking down members of the family one by one for the past week (two weeks?) or so. 

I feel like I've lost track of time in the haze of sickness and laundry and trying to maintain some kind of order. Apparently a crazy super-bug is making its way through our county. It's big local news, as they try to track its source. 

Dan has been the last one to fall and sickest of all of us. A trip to the urgent care clinic turned into a trip to the emergency room and I felt like I was walking in to something out of a movie. Triage, people clutching buckets and moaning, crying. People being treated in the middle of the waiting room in order to move people through more quickly. 

Meanwhile, I kept my face down, my hands to myself and applied what I imagine was the equivalent of one gallon of hand sanitizer on a constant basis. Thankfully, the nurses liked us, and placed us in the back "behind the curtain" to wait out our stay and test results. 

Today, we're still limping along. I'm running on little sleep and lots of chaos. I waffle between running this house like a tight ship--chores divvied! school work checked off! laundry humming!--and blinking back tired tears while trying to text a friend and tell her how tired I am.

But. BUT. Normal will return. In fact, I can see it on the horizon. The fog IS lifting and there are things to be thankful for!  

  • We have electricity. As silly as it sounds, every time I throw another load of laundry in the washer I think, imagine doing this if the power was out. 
  • It's not snowing.
  • My kids are doing chores like champs.
  • We're still managing to get school work accomplished.
  • The fog was beautiful this morning.
  • Birdy's daily outfits make me smile.
  • Barn cats swirling around your legs when you walk out the door? That's free therapy right there.
  • This sickness is only temporary.
  • We're about to have our birthday marathon and one of my girls is getting a huge surprise.
  • It's spring! Hallelujah.

So that's where I've been. Hiding out, recovering, changing sheets and serving up ginger ale, crackers and toast. But still...finding little things to lift my spirits in the moments that try to drag me down. 

Thanks, as always, for listening. 

xo.

Going home + a list

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Hello, friends. Easing back into this space with a list of things that are striking my fancy. 

*The photo above is the house I grew up in. Sorta has a Woodlawn feel doesn't it? This Saturday I went home for a 'celebration of life' for a very close childhood friend. Though he is rapidly losing the battle to ALS, he decided that to celebrate LIFE and bring together the people he loves now, instead of after he's gone. I admit to really dreading the weekend--the uncomfortableness of why we were getting together, seeing people I haven't seen in years, worrying about the 'right' things to say in a situation like this. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that all my fears were all about me. And this celebration had nothing to do with me. My friend is one of the bravest people I know. He is facing this with courage and grace. And I am so grateful to him for bringing us all together, truly, to celebrate. 

More soon...xo.