This last year was an especially challenging one for our family. It was a year of new family members, growing pains, and daily trials. We spent a lot of time with just each other and God.
It was a period of extreme adjustment and it gave me time to reflect on so many things. I definitely neglected my health in this time of intense stress. Not only were we dealing with the stress of our new normal, but I also wasn’t eating right, definitely wasn’t exercising enough, and I basically felt like crap.
Then April rolled around and I hit the big 4-0! As I stood at my kitchen island, Dr. Pepper in hand, with a group of close friends and family singing Happy Birthday, it hit me. What was I doing?
I had to make a change.
I needed to take care of myself so I could keep taking care of everyone else! I put the Dr. Pepper down, and decided I had taken what would be my last sip of soda! See, I don’t drink alcohol, not because I’m a goody two shoes who doesn’t drink, but because
1. I don’t like the taste of 99 percent of alcoholic drinks, and
2. I seem to have an allergic reaction every time I have even the slightest bit of alcohol.
So when most of you moms and dads are under a lot of stress, maybe you have a glass of wine to decompress. I can’t do that. So Dr. Pepper was my wine. I kid you not, I was drinking like 4 to 5 cans a day! I had a stash in the back of my fridge, and when things got rough, I’d run to the fridge to drink one. And things got rough a lot this last year, so you do the math!
So that was it, I was done with Dr. Pepper and I was done with being overweight, and I was done with feeling like crap. I knew my situation wasn’t going to change overnight so I started making little changes but they slowly turned into big changes. I started moving more, I started going to bed earlier, and I started eating healthier.
Now, I have to tell you guys, I do not believe in diets, they don’t seem to work for many people. I also don’t believe in denying myself stuff that I love, like chocolate and bread! I have found that if I deny myself those things, I only eat them in excess when I do eat them.
So why quit Dr. Pepper? Well, I really felt I was addicted to sodas, and if I didn’t quit cold turkey, it wouldn’t work. I’ve tried it so many times before, and each time I say I’ll drink just a little here and there, and then it becomes a daily habit again.
These small changes I made such a difference and I couldn’t be happier with the way they have affected me. I lost 30 pounds and got back to my pre-stress weight, I have so much more energy, and I just feel better all around!
Our “new” family is still a work in progress, but at least now I’m healthier and happier.
Sometimes, as parents, we forget to take care of ourselves. It’s so important for us to do so in order to be able to take care of others. I encourage you to stop for a minute and think about what YOU need. If you feel like I was feeling, then do something about it! There’s never a better time than NOW.
1. Get Moving!
I can’t tell you how important this is.
Challenge Yourself to Stay Active
I had gotten myself a Fitbit but I really wasn’t using it. Once I started using it, it made a world of difference. For me, having that personal challenge of hitting a certain number of steps each day was key!
The Fitbit will not make you lose weight, obviously, but it makes you accountable for how much you’re moving during the day.
Pick up a Sport
I started playing tennis again, and that felt great! I’m so happy when I get home after an hour of tennis. I feel like I can take on the world!
Find Creative Ways to Be Active Around the House
What I did during the summer, when it was impossible for me to go play tennis because all the kids were home, was set an alarm on the Fitbit for every couple hours, between the hours of 10-5. Every time the silent alarm went off I’d stop whatever I was doing and I’d go up the stairs 5 times, so 10 if you count the coming down.
That made a big difference in the number of steps I had each day!
2. Eat Healthier!
This is a hard one, I know! I love food! I love to eat! Like I said before though, I didn’t give up anything that I love.
I must admit though, that I may have had an unfair advantage in this area since my nephew Allan had just graduated with a degree in nutrition. So needless to say I was texting him constantly and asking for advice. He graciously helped me and I’m so thankful for that! I learned so much from him! He always tells it like it is, never minces his words, and I needed that!
He taught me that sometimes eating less does not always equal losing weight. What?!?! Now that’s advice I can live with!? The secret: you must eat more of the good stuff!!
Don’t Skip Breakfast
One of my bad habits was I’d skip breakfast, I have for many years. Then by 10 am or so I was starving and would usually eat whatever came in my way!
So I started eating breakfast every single day. Nothing fancy or complicated. My go-to breakfast, for example, is 2 pieces of thin rounds bread with maple almond butter on it, and banana slices on top. It’s quick enough for me with my busy schedule, and it’s so delicious! Also takes care of my sweet tooth! 😉
Portion Control and Making Better Choices
As for the rest of my meals, it boiled down to portion control and making better choices. I know it sounds simple, but it really works. It’s hard at first to make those “better” choices, but it can be done.
I’m eating healthy food that’s also delicious! Avocados, eggs, chicken, blueberries, whipped Greek yogurt just to name a few. I have to tell you guys my favorite find has been Bolthouse yogurt dressing. It’s amazing! My favorite is the Cilantro Avocado flavor. This stuff is so healthy and tasty, and you can put it on so many things! I use it on fajitas, salad and instead of mayo on bread. You can find it in the refrigerated vegetable section of your supermarket.
I’m not a nutritionist so I can’t give you advice on what to eat. All I know is what worked for me. I can tell you though, you can’t go wrong with controlling your portion sizes and with making healthier choices like drinking water instead of soda.
3. Do Something You Love
You know that thing you’ve been wanting to do but you keep making excuses why you can’t do it? You know what I’m talking about. In my case, it was playing tennis and starting a blog!
Playing tennis was my passion for so many years of my life. Yet, I managed to go the last 20 years without playing it and making excuses for why I couldn’t! I finally joined a doubles league last year and it was one of the best decisions I could’ve made!
Not only do I get to exercise playing a sport I love, but I got to make some amazing new friends, and have some quality “adult’ time once a week! Win-win!
Now, the blog is something I’ve thought about for so many years! I’m always constantly writing in my head! I swear, every day, I write about 20 Facebook statuses in my head!
It’s like a constant voice just writing and writing! Finally, I’m letting that voice out! It was about time. I was nervous at first but decided I just needed to take a chance. Hey, you can’t succeed if you don’t try!
And I’m so glad I did! I’m enjoying myself so much, and at the same time, it’s given me and Ryan the opportunity to work together again. That makes me the happiest. 🙂 So find that thing you love that you’ve been putting off and do it! No better time than NOW!
4. Declutter and Simplify
This is a huge one. I’m all about organization as you guys know but it’s so easy to let the clutter get out of control in our homes and in our minds!
We collect so much stuff throughout the years and hold on to things we don’t need or use. I feel it’s so important to have a clutter-free home in order to be more productive and have a clutter free mind.
Start Small to Build Motivation
Pick a small space or area in your home and get to it. You’ll want to pick a space that
- is visible
- is highly bothersome to you
- will take you no more than 10-20 minutes to declutter
Start by getting rid of stuff you don’t need. Toss it if it’s trash, or donate it if it could be used by someone else.
For the stuff that’s left, ask yourself “Does this stay here? or, does it go somewhere else?” If it goes somewhere else, take it to that spot immediately. Repeat this for each item until you have the space decluttered.
Completing a small yet visibly cluttered space in a short amount of time will help you build the motivation you need to work your way through the rest of your home.
By the way, I wanted to let you know about a wonderful book by Dana K. White called How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind. If you have trouble staying on top of your clutter and keeping your home organized, this book is for you! I can’t recommend this book enough. I feel like I’m pretty good at keeping my home clean and clutter free but I do have my own weaknesses. With a family of 7 to take care of, I’ve found it very difficult to stay on top of the laundry and dishes. Both were a never-ending struggle that made me feel both overwhelmed and frustrated. Using some of Dana’s wisdom, I feel like I’ve now conquered both. I’ll have much more to post on how I won the battle against laundry and dishes soon!
You can purchase Dana’s book here.
Toss The Someday Junk
Don’t collect things you may “someday” use. I like to call these things Someday Junk. Do you have any Someday Junk that has piled up over the years? Chances are if it’s been sitting untouched for years it will continue to do so. Trust me, that “someday” will never come.
Extra buttons, pieces to broken items, screws, instruction manuals you will never ever use again, extra cords and so on.
My dear hubby has such a hard time getting rid of these things!! He loves to say “You never know, I may use it someday!”
Just yesterday we were decluttering the bathroom and he had like 5 extra buttons for shirts or pants or who knows, and he set them aside. I asked him to please throw them out to which he, of course, replied, “But I may need them”. So I asked him a simple question, “How many times in the last 20 years of being together, have you ever used an extra button?” He looked at me sheepishly, mumbled something, and tossed the buttons in the trash.
Victory!! It’s the small things people!
5. Say No
This was probably the hardest thing for us to do over the last year or so. It’s so hard to say no. It’s hard to say no to family and friends when they invite you over. It’s hard to say no when someone asks you for a favor. It’s hard to say no to traditions that have been going on in your lives for years. It’s just hard to say no.
We had to do it though. When we brought our 2 new kids into our home, we warned our friends and family that they probably wouldn’t be seeing us as much for a while. We knew in order to make this work we would need to hunker down and say no a lot.
We had to say no to hosting a large Thanksgiving at our home, which has been a tradition for about 15 years or so. We had to say no to friends’ parties and invitations. We had to say no a lot.
Some people understood better than others, and that’s OK, I don’t expect everyone to understand what we went through this first year.
You just have to remember that when you say no to something, you’re saying yes to something else.
In our case, we were saying yes to God, and the plan He had for us. We were saying yes to our children, and we were saying yes to us. I admit, most days it wasn’t easy saying yes, but we knew it was what we had to do.
Now, I know our situation is different than most of you reading this, but it can be applied to anyone’s life. If you always feel the need to say yes to everyone because you feel bad or are concerned of how they will react if you say no, then, in essence, you’re saying no to YOU.
You don’t have to go to every event or party unless you really want to of course 😉
Just don’t feel like you have to say yes just to please others. Remember, when you say no, you are saying yes to what you really want!
What Will You Do for You?
There you have it, the things that helped me take better care of myself this past year. Maybe you’ll want to try one of the things that helped me, maybe you’ll want to try them all! Or maybe none of these will work for you. In any case, I urge you to think about YOU for a minute and figure out what you need to make this year the best one yet!