health

Self Care Time

I have written about self care many times. Each time it’s a different spin on the value of self care. Today is no different.

I made time for a spontaneous spa day. Finding a place with an appointment that fit my schedule was gonna be tricky. Then I found a partner in crime to share the day with which meant I needed two time slots. The level of hard to schedule increased immediately.

I got lucky. I found an opening. It was further than I wanted to drive but the car ride would end up being part of the experience with my adventure buddy.

A little lunch/snack. A little exercise. A lot of pampering. The massage was a bit odd as far as the methodology but the end result was amazing and my body said thank you 1,000 times. Oh how have missed a good massage throughout this pandemic.

I then opted to splurge for a facial. I had been in the sun a lot and felt the hydration piece of the facial was again something by body would appreciate. And it did. Another big win for my body. Totally different experience but rewarding.

Now the spa attendee said I’ll throw in a complimentary brow treatment since you are here. Great news but then she noted it was threading. I asked if it hurt? She said well a little bit, I don’t know your pain threshold. OUCH!

That settles it. Threading hurts for sure. It’s a different annoyance than the waxing but definitely a shocker on pain at least in my opinion. It was quick though. The hurt came and went before I could fully grasp the insanity. I lived to tell about it. I also think you should give it a try just to feel the experience if you haven’t already.

My partner in crime opted for some lash tints. Dark blue black or black. Is there even a difference? I really can tell the difference in the person but she said she loves the natural coloring vs mascara each day.

An expensive day of treating myself but it’s definitely and investment in me and why self care is important. Your version may not be as extreme as mine and that’s okay. The point of the post is to remember you. You matter and if nobody sees that you might have to show yourself. 

challenges, fitness and nutrition, health

A Million Little Pieces

I wrote recently about being part of a challenge where I’m cleaning out the clutter in my diet. In addition, there are many other little daily requirements in this challenge that aim to improve healthy habits. Every one had points associated with it. Here are some of the little things that I had to attend to throughout this month.

-Complete at least 4 workouts a week. This included a tester workout at the beginning and end of the challenge. I workout pretty much daily so this was not a big deal to achieve. I improved my score by quite a bit from beginning to end.

-Drink 80 ounces of water per day. Only 12 ounces can be unsweetened seltzer water.

This required more effort than the workouts. Filling up insulated cups daily, cutting fruits into the water to infuse them, it all helped. It’s paying attention and planning, just like the food part. I also set up a water reminder app but I don’t think that part encouraged me much. Just a buzz saying “it’s time to drink water” was too easy to ignore. I need to look into something with different sayings.

-Stretch / do yoga for 20 minutes per week

I embrace working out but stretching is something I do wayyyy too little of. And as a “woman of a certain age” I know stretching would help me in multiple ways. I usually broke this into 2 sessions after morning home workouts.

-Follow a sleep routine every night

There were many of these to choose from – drink herbal tea, meditate, turn off your screens an hour before bed, etc. You just had to pick one and do it daily. I chose reading before bed. I generally read something pretty mindless like a magazine. This was a switch from my usual scrolling of social media. I don’t have trouble falling asleep. Staying asleep doesn’t always happen.

-Limit or eliminate alcohol

As I discussed recently, this was already a part of my life. I will admit there were a few temptations with the stressful end of school chaos as well as more celebrations than usual with a lot of friends drinking. I still just refrained.

-Monitor and log progress

Logging points every week was a task to manage. With a bunch of little checkoffs, I wasn’t always diligent daily. But, I kept up. And I still weigh myself every day. The thing I still stumble over is photos. Why do I hate before and after shots so much? I always wish I took the time to do it but still don’t.

-Work on mindfulness

We had little exercises to think about our goals and our why. I knew cleaning up my act was a big motivator.

-Participate in other goofy activities along the way that keep the mood light and community connected

In the few challenges I’ve done before these are often things I ignore. But I did a couple this time just to stay in the game. One was to bite down on a wedge of lime while doing a farmer’s carry for two minutes to practice breathing through my nose. I’m not quite sure what this taught me but I know for sure that proper breathing is something I need to give more attention to.

Health isn’t just eating or just working out. It’s a whole collection of habits, practices, and choices. There were a million little pieces to this challenge. Many of them are things I know I should be doing but I just don’t. The water and stretching were probably what I needed to work on most aside from the nutrition piece.

So, how did it all turn out? Results to follow soon.

celebrations, challenges

My Superpower

I had the thoughts that many probably do…”Will they still want to hang out with me?” “Will they think that I am no fun?”

All the worries. The anxiety. But years later, I’m happy to say all those worries were unfounded. I still have most of the same friends. Even though I don’t drink. A testament to the quality of my friends.

I have a long history of alcoholism in my family. My dad, my grandparents, many more. I didn’t have my first drink until I was 21 and away at college. But, I quickly made up for lost time. As an adult I fell in love with beer. I collected IPAs as a hobby, but would drink spiked seltzers and sweet cocktails at times too. I did many things I would like to forget. I probably did others that I actually did forget because I was too far gone to remember. It’s not something I am proud of. I am grateful I never hurt anyone.

I gave alcohol up a few times. Once when I was pregnant. Another when I thought I was too dependent. And the last time I put the bottle aside was several years ago, when I decided I was serious about losing weight and wanted to see how much giving up drinking would help. I was surprised not only by the weight loss, but also by how little I eventually missed drinking.

Now, years later, I go to wine night and have a mocktail. I am sometimes the sober buddy for another friend who is attending but not drinking. I recently went on a wine tour for a friend’s birthday and just watched others partake. I smelled the wine. I touched a few little sips with my lips. But in the end I just enjoyed the company. I enjoyed people enjoying themselves. I held everyone’s bags and jackets while they took vineyard photos. (I don’t usually take photos with drinks since I am a teacher and we are under higher moral scrutiny by many.) I ate a lot of cheese and crackers. Win win.

Being the all-time designated driver is not a bad thing. In some ways you can be the hero. Saying no to what isn’t healthy for you can be a superpower. I’m grateful for friends who accept me as I am and value me as a person and not just as a drinking buddy.

giving, health

Feeling Good

I’m feeling good today. The best I’ve been in a while. I’m firing on all cylinders and nobody is generally up my ass. Not sure how long this peaceful state will last but I’ll take it for even five to ten minutes.

Since I was feeling good today I thought I would write a post about being thankful since Thanksgiving is approaching. 

First and foremost I am thankful for my health. My general ability to rise each day and move freely without mobility restrictions.

I am then thankful for my family and friends. Without them I wouldn’t have the support I need to carry the heavy load I do each week. Each person is placed in my life for a reason not a season.

I am thankful for opportunities. The opportunity to serve others. The opportunity to inspire and motivate those around me.

The list goes on and on. Take some time to yourself and reflect on what and who you are thankful for this holiday. Drop a note, make a call, drop by for a visit and let your circle know how valued they are. This is free but many won’t do it.

Be thankful this year for something or someone. If you’re not thankful make a donation. Somebody will benefit and be thankful for you!

healthy hacks

Same But Different

I was on a podcast kick for a while. Then, as it happens with many things, I got burnt out on it. Many of them started to get repetitive. Still, I do a lot of driving and sometimes music doesn’t cut it. If there isn’t anyone to talk to, a podcast is worth a try.

I thought I would try to freshen up my podcast listening library. I’ve been thinking a lot about mental health lately…my own mental health as well as the mental health of my friends, my students, my family, even society at large. So Gretchen Rubin’s Happier Podcast seemed worth a shot by name alone.

I don’t know about you, but my attention span is shorter these days than it used to be…or at least it feels that way. Maybe it’s covid fatigue. Who knows. So short little tips are much more useful to me than long drawn-out explanations.

The happiness tip / healthy hack she gave at the beginning of the podcast was to do something familiar in a new way. Novelty amuses the human brain. We like to do new things. So doing something we already enjoy and adding a twist can light up the happiness spots in our brain. The hosts mention doing familiar activities at different times of day or with different people (or alone.) So go on a hike in the afternoon instead of the morning. Or go to a restaurant by yourself instead of with family. Change it up.

This seems both more challenging and more necessary during the pandemic. So many of us are very closed in, even locked down, to routines and schedules. I feel the doldrums of routines at work and even at home to some extent. For me, it might be riding my bike outside in the afternoon instead of the stationary bike at the gym in the early morning. Maybe have a hot drink in the afternoon instead of just the morning. A different scent of candle of lotion? Extra walk in the evening? Breakfast for dinner? Who knows. Take a new trail. I’ve often heard that changing up our routines can keep our brains nimble. Maybe this is a related perk.

What are some things you can do that are the same but different? What happiness hacks do you use in these challenging times? Share in the comments.