The Daily Habit

LiftI thought I would write a quick update on what I am working on. I have a number of habits I am trying to build daily. I track them on the Lift app. Here’s a summary:

Eat Protein (1g/1lb): Recently I wrote a lot about how I am eating, (see: Food and Happiness) and that continues to go well. I have good days and bad days, of course. There are also times where I *think* I’ve hit my goal, but did such a lousy job tracking that I am not sure! Overall though, this is still working great. My weight is holding steady, I feel great and I never feel like I am dieting. The only new thing I am noticing is that my body doesn’t seem to like me to eat late anymore. I never used to think that mattered. I ate when I had time, so if that meant dinner at 9PM, then that’s when I ate. I’m starting to find that I feel better if I eat earlier in the day. If it is late and I haven’t had dinner, go with a light snack rather than a large meal.

Exercise: I’m still trying to find my winter groove. I’d like to do more, but for now I am content with whatever 15 minutes I can get, whether that is 15 minutes of shoveling snow or 10 minutes of shoveling, 4 minutes extra of dog walking and a few Kegels! I’m sure I’ll find my rhythm – I’m just trying to let that happen naturally instead of forcing it like I usually do.

Leave for Work On Time: Confession time: I am frequently late for work. Not a huge amount, just a few minutes here and there. I’m salaried, and I always make up the time by working through lunches or staying late, but I hate that feeling of walking in, knowing I am running behind. Especially now that the roads are covered in ice and snow, I am trying to ensure I always leave the house with extra minute to spare. The hardest part is distractions; not with fun things like reading a book or catching up on a game of Words With Friends, nope, those are never a problem. My problem is doing little “good” things that will only take a minute – emptying the dishwasher, throwing in a load of laundry, tidying the kitchen, and so on. One of those isn’t a problem, doing all of them is. So, I have a couple of strategies to help:

Making My Lunch the Day Before: This goal hits three areas: it helps me get out the door a little quicker in the morning, get my protein for the day, and it helps me save me money. When I do it regularly, I love it. I use up the food in my house, I have a great meal every day, and I spend less. Obviously this is more of a weekday thing than a weekend issue, but even on the weekends I am trying to think ahead.

Set Out My Outfit for the Next Day: Similar to the goal above, it’s helping me with my time in the morning and it’s saving me money. If I have time the night before to set something out, I can be a bit more creative with what I already have. I don’t need new clothes, I just need to figure out new ways of wearing them. It’s easier to plan that at night than when I’m in a rush in the morning.

Meditate: Like exercise, my meditation habit got derailed for a bit. I am trying to get back to it. In November, I was walking on my lunch hour and then sitting in my car for a while, but now it we’re having highs of 11 degrees. Yesterday I tried taking part of my lunch hour in the conference room. It worked okay and it was a nice place to sit quietly, but I kept worrying that someone was going to walk in. I might have to go back to meditating more at night before bed, but I’ll really miss those quiet minutes in the middle of a crazy work day.

Saving Money: I’ve mentioned that I am starting to budget again. Mostly I am just tracking figures, but the goal is to put together a reasonable plan for my spending. I have a ton of things I want to do, and many of them require money. Saving as much as I can is a good thing.

Sleep at Least 8 Hours: Another hit or miss habit for me. I love it when I can do it though. The last week had been pretty good, hopefully I can keep the streak going. I am a happier, healthier person when I get a good night’s rest.

Unclutter: As usual for me, I started removing clutter by jumping in with both feet. I was sorting out closets and cleaning out cupboards… and then I became exhausted. Lately, I am happy if I clean up the kitchen counters or tidy the vanity where I do my makeup in the morning. I have to say though, even a little bit of cleaning makes a difference. Just taking the recycling out makes my kitchen feel better, so even though I am not getting everything done that I wanted, what I am doing is making a difference.

So that’s it. That’s all the stuff I am working on. It sounds like a lot, but really it amounts to taking care of myself. All of these things are either related to my physical health, or my mental health. I’m just trying to feel better, about my finances, my job, and my home.

New Goals and a New App

LiftI’ve been using a new behavioral app. Yes, I have a “thing” for these kinds of apps. What can I say? They work for me. Though sometimes I wonder if that’s a good thing. Of all my awesome and amazing friends, I seem to be the only one with whom behavioral apps work well. I have talked a number of friends into trying MyFitnessPal and no one else seems to love it the way I do. These are seriously cool people! Am I not cool?? Sigh… it’s silly to think about, I know, but I do anyway.

So yeah… a new app. You know I use MyFitnessPal to track food, and I use RunKeeper to track runs, bike rides and dog walks. My newest app is Lift. The idea is fairly simple. Lift helps you start and maintain daily habits. They can be simple things like flossing your teeth every day, getting to bed on time or telling your spouse that you love them. They can be fitness goals or even things like trying to “listen more and talk less.” The way the app works is: you create an account, select the things you want to work on, and when you do them, you click a big green check box to check in.

Now, there are lots of other people trying to do the same thing, so when you check in you see everyone else check ins – some that are doing something for the first time, some that are on their 168th time. You can click a little icon to give them “props” for what they did. You know what? I like seeing those little props from others popping up on my phone. Sure enough – it motivates me. (There is a great article about the science behind Lift here.)

Here are the things I am working on:

  • Exercise: By this I mean anything other than walking the dog. (That I do every day, twice a day, already.) What I want to do is make sure that I am getting additional exercise in every day, or as often as I can. It can be power walks on my lunch, bike rides, learning boxing, strength training, going for a run or whatever I want.
  • Write a Blog Post: That is for you, dear readers! Also, writing makes me happy.
  • Inbox Zero: Someday…. someday. I’m working on it, and got both of my big email inboxes down to under 50, but I want to see them both at zero.
  • Sleep at least 8 hours: I love sleep. I need sleep.
  • Unclutter: This part of what I was writing about earlier. I am trying to get rid of junk I don’t need. Get out of my life, junk!
  • Meditate: I’ve been meditating on and off since my senior year in high school. I have had years where I have a strong practice and sit daily… and years where I forget what sitting quietly even looks like. I’ve been wanting to get back to it for awhile. I’d like to get back to making it part of every day.

So, that’s it – what I am working on right now. As I am sure you can guess I have a lot to say about all of them. Good thing I am planning on trying to blog daily!

If you use Lift, feel free to find me. I am there under first name: LongView last name: Hill.


Cleaning Up and Clearing Out

On of the many, many piles of clothes that no longer fit.

One of the many, many piles of clothes that no longer fit.

As I mentioned yesterday, our annual garage sale was incredibly successful. We had a record year this year – better than any of the previous seven years. I certainly broke my own records. Why? Because I purged. Not only was I able to get rid of tons, (and tons,) of clothing, I also got rid of all sorts of household items.

The clothing was easy. In the past ten months, since losing weight, I have gone from a size 16-18 to wearing a size 4 in slacks. Even though I’ve tried to hold onto a few things, size 2X clothes look pretty ridiculous on a size Medium frame. At some point, I decided it all had to go. Between donations to the thrift stores, gifts to friends and the sale, almost all of my old wardrobe is gone.

But it isn’t just clothes that I am getting rid of. I’ve been divorced for several years now, but I have finally hit the point where I’ve decided to purge everything. For a long time I kept things that my ex bought, but that I still liked. Not anymore. The truth was that even if I still liked the object, it still reminded me of him. Every time it looked at that chair or that rug, I had a tiny twinge of “yuck.” My divorce was fairly amicable, but that doesn’t mean I want to be reminded of it. So, in addition to clothes, I purged stuff.

And even though I feel great about all the junk I cleared out, I realized that I am not done. It’s time to pare down my possessions to just the things I love. I need to clean up my house, just like have done with my health, and keep only what is important to me. I started this blog because I was trying to find the next step on my personal path. That step has been weight loss and getting fit. That is still going to be a big focus for me, but I’m ready to start thinning my possessions – along with my waistline.