“Break the cycle. You’ve got to break the cycle.”
Wise words from a wise friend who visited in December.
I knew she was right. I just didn’t know how to snap out of it.
What’s my cycle? It goes a little something like this. I wake up usually a bit tired and out of it. I make it through the day with the kids that is equal parts fun and obliteratingly exhausting. After dinner prep, bedtime prep, cleanup, etc. I collapse into a chair with a glass of wine. The wine tastes pretty good, and I think of a snack that will go well with it. Maybe popcorn. Cheese. Chocolate. I run out of wine before I run out of snack which means I need to get more wine. I stay up too late and then stay up even later reading. Repeat.
On the one level, I understood that there were things that would make me feel better. Like exercising. Sleeping more. Not eating crap. I just couldn’t do these things. I was too tired to do things to make me less tired. A vicious cycle.
After one of our rounds of guests, I was completely knocked on my booty. That week I did all the things. I ate all the things. I drank all the things. I stayed up too late. It was a bad scene, man.
I finally decided that I’d had enough. I knew what I needed to do. Mac finally mostly started sleeping through the night. I was out of excuses. It was time to make a change.
I scoured the internet for things to make me feel better. It isn’t rocket science though. Exercise. Sleep. Good food.
Instead of incremental change though, I decided to make a bunch of changes at once. That’s me. All or nothing. Weird, I know.
These are the 12 challenges I settled on to improve my health and mood.
1) Ab Challenge
I decided to add in some exercise. My sister mentioned a 30 day ab challenge she did. It sounded perfect. Four exercises? I can do that.
2) Plank Challenge
I was reading again somewhere about how planks are supposed to be the best exercise ever. So why not a plank challenge! Just planking? That’s all I have to do? (Never mind that the ab challenge also includes planks.) How hard can it be? (You can stop snickering now, thank you very much.)
I know what you’re thinking. Well, these challenges are all well and good so far, but what about cardio? I hear you. I’d like to start running again, but that just seems really hard right now. Not just the running part but the making time to run and washing my hair more and all of that good stuff. Maybe running on the next challenge?
I decided to locate my Jawbone Up and at least track some steps. Our lifestyle involves a good bit of walking here. They add up. I forget what the thing is set for, but I think it is a little over three miles.
4) Get Up Early
If I’m going to do all this exercise, I need to find time to do it. I really want to reclaim my mornings. I used to be a morning person. (An extreme morning person, actually.) Now I can barely get up by 7:30, which seems laughably late.
Besides having some “me time,” I want to add some purpose. I want to wake up for my life and not just to my life.
Regular readers probably could have guessed this was coming. I halfheartedly attempted a whole30 a few months ago, but I only made it ten days. It’s so hard, I whined to myself. This is Italy! I can’t give up wine. And cheese. And bread. And pasta.
Yes. I can. It is time.
6) Drink 8 Glasses of Water Each Day
Once upon a time when I worked in an office, I had zero problems drinking enough water. The water sat in front of me. I drank it. Bathroom break and refill water bottle. Repeat.
Now we move around all over. I try to get at least a glass with meals, but I’m hurting on the in between times.
It’s just water. How hard can it be? Besides, I’ll need something to replace that wine I’m missing . . .
7) 5 Minutes of Meditation Each Day
I feel like I’m always seeing articles about how to revolutionize your life in just a few minutes per day that tout meditation as being the end all be all answer. I remember a day frantically googling meditation articles at biglaw and trying it out, but I think that only lasted two days. (Spoiler alert: I still felt stressed.)
I guess there are many different ways to meditate, but I remember my twelfth grade english teacher telling us that one method would be to sit quietly, be conscious of all the noises in the room, and try to hold them at the same level in your head. I could try that. Worse case scenario, I can sit quietly with my own thoughts for a few minutes. Couldn’t hurt; might help?
8) 20 Second Real Hug
I laughed at some relationship challenges I found in my search of the internets. Go see a concert with your partner. Hahahaha. Basically, it was like a string of 30 date nights. My lifestyle does not support that right now.
BUT then my friend posted something on the benefits of a 20 second hug. I like James. I like hugging him. I hate to need a challenge to make this a more regular thing, but there you are.
9) Real Kiss
On the subject of James, I also decided to throw in a real kiss as well. Not a peck on the way out the door. Not a hi-honey-how-was-your-day. A real kiss.
10) Wash My Face at Night
That same wise hugging friend? She is a beauty products dynamo. I recently emailed her about my beauty routines, or lack thereof. Her response: “you don’t wash your face at night???”
I know. But I haven’t. My mineral makeup doesn’t seem to cause breakouts (and seems to have worn off by the end of the day). I just get eye makeup all over the pillow.
But this is something adults do. And my face is not getting any younger. I need to build some better routines.
Speaking of better routines, we dentisted recently and I was reminded once again about the importance of flossing. (I was also reminded to spread the toothpaste on the chewing surfaces of my teeth first and to only brush up and down. You’d think I’d have figured out toothbrushing in 30 odd years, but no.)
James has actually been gangbusters at flossing lately. I think 99% of his success is overcoming the “out of sight, out of mind” hurdle. Instead of tucking the floss away (as I would prefer), it sits front and center on the shelf by the mirror.
Am I petty and ridiculous enough to consider this a competition? (Do I even need to answer that?) I REFUSE to let James win at teeth.
12) Bedtime Alarm
I need more sleep. This is known.
The known-ness of my actual bedtime? Not so much.
See, I usually “go” to bed around 10 or 10:30. But then I read. I think I’m reading for just a few minutes, but it’s not. It could be hours. I’ve actually stopped looking because I don’t even want to know.
To facilitate better habits, I’m setting bedtime alarms. My 2106 alarm is to alert me that it is time to get ready for bed. All that facewashing and flossing takes time, yo. The 2206 alarm is to shut it down. Put down the book. Go to bed. Unless, of course, I’m already sleeping in which case I’ll make sure to turn it off. (Snort.)
So there you have it! My twelve challenges for 30 days. I thought about adding in some other challenges, like a minimalism challenge, but I’ll save that stuff for another day.
But you want to know the best part about all of this?
So all this week I’ll be providing deets on how it went and how it all turned out. Stay tuned!
My only regret? Not doing it sooner. But I couldn’t. I just wasn’t ready.
Do you prefer gradual change or everything all at once? Tried to build any new habits in a month?