Hi there and Happy Monday to you!
I’m coming to you in a great mood, thanks to a weekend full of family time, productivity, exploring, and a little bit of relaxing. I want to chat about something that is really important to me right now, which is making this year healthier and happier than the previous ones.
Those who have followed along over the past few years have some insight about the emotional roller coasters (yes, plural) that my husband and I have been through. From unexpected job changes and cross-country moves to infertility struggles and challenges with our apartment, it’s easy to get caught up in all of it and be “okay” with having a crappy year. Or few years. And I truly believe that’s fine.
I’ve been thinking about our journey a lot lately, and it’s been on my heart to share the other side of the struggles with you, now that I feel like things are falling into place again. It’s hard to keep hearing that there is a rainbow at the end to the storm when you’re in the thick of it. And I know because I’ve been there, which is one of the big reasons why I pulled back on posting regularly. But that’s another post for another day.
Today I’m here to touch on better times ahead, and what I’m currently doing to make this year healthier and happier than the last.
Here we go!
- making sleep a priority
You know how most adults are told that they function best when getting anywhere from seven to nine hours of shut eye every night? The 2019 me would actually laugh out loud at the thought, since I would typically average anywhere from five to six hours a night, if I was lucky. The reason closely related to my job that required a 5 a.m. arrival time (woof), but what it all comes down to is actually making sleep a priority … which is something that I certainly didn’t do.
I will say that I’ve made a point to at least get seven to eight hours every night over the past few weeks, and I legitimately feel like a new person. I don’t “need” coffee right when I wake up, I have more energy to be the best mom, wife, friend, etc., and my skin looks clearer and brighter. Looking back at my sleeping averages from the past few years, there’s no way that I could live my healthiest lifestyle when I wasn’t setting my body up for success long-term. It’s time to change!
- practicing the art of saying “no”
I think we’ve all heard the term FOMO by now, which is short for the fear of missing out. I admit that I’ve felt it before, but in general, I get way more satisfaction out of missing out on certain things and admiring others experiencing them from the comfort of my pajamas and cozy couch at night. Let’s call deem it the joy of missing out, if you will.
While I do enjoy a night out on the town, a girls’ trip, and traveling (and I think it’s equally as important to do these things), I get just as much happiness out of laying low. In fact, when I don’t get enough time to retreat and recover from all of the activities on my schedule, I get cranky and stressed. It’s like my body is telling me to chill, and I’m finally listening to it. I’m not saying that I’m going to say “no” to everything, but I now look at an opportunity from the perspective of how I will feel putting in on my calendar. Is it going to be something that I look forward to or will it become something that will stress me out? Ditch the stress, y’all.
- drinking more water and less caffeine
I’ve always been good about drinking water before my cup of coffee in the morning, but I’ve also been guilty at grabbing another cup and then another cup later in the day. It might be a comfort thing, but that isn’t always the case. I allow myself a small cup of coffee in the morning with Skyler, and then drink my “real” cup of coffee around lunchtime when he goes down for a nap. This is the time that I use to write, focus on my work, and plow through my to-do list, so it’s worth waiting for. And then I cut caffeine out for the rest of the day.
I think back and cringe at the days where I slept horribly, worked three jobs, had a very active social life, and downed coffee and soda all day, every day. Thank goodness I realized that was awful for me long-term and changed my habits, pulling back one small drink at a time. When in doubt, go for water first and then see how you feel!
- tidying up for at least fifteen minutes every day
I used to have a set day of the week where I cleaned for hours, did all of the laundry, organized, and ended the day exhausted. That strategy works for some, but I’ve learned that I do better and I am more efficient cleaning a little bit every day, even if it’s focusing on one room per day.
I’m happiest when there isn’t six loads of laundry staring at me, so I’ve been doing a load almost every day to eliminate stock piling. It’s made the chore a lot more enjoyable and I knock it out quickly.
Other things that I’ve been doing on a daily basis include wiping the counters clean, putting all of Skyler’s toys away, and taking care of any dishes in the sink. It may sound silly, but waking up to an organized environment instantly heightens my mood and makes me feel more ready to attack the day and get moving. You can clean more than you think in just fifteen minutes, and it makes a huge difference!
- writing out my goals and specific plans to achieve them
Does anyone remember talking about SMART goals? I shared the importance of being specific with your goals and how to achieve them earlier this year. I’m currently practicing what I preach by merging my to-do list with my goals list.
I like to start every week by making two lists. One is to-dos for the next day or so, and the other is what I would like to accomplish by the end of the month. Mondays help me check in on what my monthly goals look like and reassess when necessary. I’ve also learned to be as specific as possible, and strategize exactly how to make something happen by getting on a schedule. For example, I had almost 10,000 emails piled up from years of an error with my Life In Leggings inbox. Yowza. It’s important for me to go through all of it without mass deleting, so I set a goal for myself to clear out a total of 100-200 emails per day. I tackle this while winding down for the night, and I’m currently down to 7,700 since January. We’re getting there!
- getting rid of things I don’t use or wear on a weekly basis
Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up took 2019 by storm, and organizing became something that people actually looked forward to doing on the regular. I’ve never enjoyed organizing per se, but I do get a lot of satisfaction seeing that everything has a place. In order to feel that way in modest apartment living, going through closets and drawers and giving away anything that isn’t useful or anything that I haven’t worn in a while is a must.
So far, I’ve been good about gathering things in question, and now I need to do something with all of it. There are things I can sell, so I’m working on those items while everything else gets donated. Only seeing things that I love around me really does spark joy, and I’m here for it!
- cleaning up my beauty routine
Speaking of cleaning things up, it’s about time that I feel great about the skincare and makeup products I’m using. Your skin is your biggest organ, so if we’re watching what we’re eating and what’s going in our bodies, why wouldn’t we be concerned about what’s going on them?
In the past, I purposely left this category off of the blog because I didn’t feel good about promoting something that wasn’t necessarily a clean product. This is the biggest reason why I decided to partner with Beautycounter last August, and I’m so, so happy that I did.
My skin has never been happier, the makeup is fabulous (and clean!), and the best part is I have left the harmful chemicals in the products that I used to turn to behind. Now that I’m on cleaner products, I can’t imagine ever going back to brands that aren’t as transparent or in-the-know about what toxic ingredients are being used. If you have any questions about better beauty and/or want to get started on your own safer skincare journey, please reach out!
- cooking at home on a regular basis
I am a minimalist when it comes to cooking meals. I will look for a new recipe to try every now and then, but I generally buy a grocery haul full of mix-and-match items that I can easily assemble to create meals during the weekdays.
In case you missed it, I shared a video all about my quick and healthy meal prepping tips, and this strategy helps me to cook at home more than ordering out. And that’s a win for 2020!
Also, check out this throwback post where I shared helpful meal prepping and planning tips for people who don’t like to do it. This is the extent of my meal planning, and it’s working well.
- focusing on my passions
Change is scary and risky, but it’s also liberating and usually worth it in the end. I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone this year to finally pursue things I’ve been wanting to do “one day”. You’ll be seeing me a lot more here on the blog (yay!), and I’ll be working mostly remotely to be able to spend time with Skyler and feel a little more sane during Scott’s travels.
I also have smaller goals to read more books (sadly, this has been an area where I’ve lacked over the last couple of years due to spending every spare moment working on something), exploring more of our neighborhoods in NYC, and spending more time outside.
- taking longer walks
Piggy backing off the above, I’m committed to getting outside more this year. I spent a lot of my days outside when we first moved to Brooklyn, and I got so stuck inside as the time went by.
I realize that I have a huge advantage of being my own boss with a flexible schedule, so I think it’s important to acknowledge that. I’m so thankful for this season that I’m in right now. Even so, it’s easy to get caught up with all of the projects and stay glued to a computer whenever there’s a spare moment to get something done.
Over the past few weeks, I have made a point to take Roadie for longer walks during the days, and everyone has been happier because of it. I know he missed his quality time in the park as much as I did.
Even if it’s fitting in an extra few blocks on your nightly walk after dinner, I highly encourage you to do so. If you aren’t able to do much walking due to a busy schedule, challenge yourself to getting outside more during a lunch break, taking the stairs more than elevators, or even wearing some type of device that reminds you to get up and move more.
I don’t obsess over the numbers, but it has been nice to have a daily standing, move, and exercise goal on my Apple Watch to keep me in check!
- unplugging when necessary
This is a huge one for me, especially when a lot of my work is done on my phone throughout the day. We’ve set a rule in our house where we don’t have phones at the dinner table (the texts and important messages can wait fifteen minutes), we don’t bring them into bed for aimless scrolling, and we take a day to breathe on “Do Not Disturb” from time to time. It’s nice to remember what life was like before we all got buried into our smart phones, and it makes me work more efficiently when I’m on mine.
I plan to keep working throughout the weekdays and saving the nights and weekends to check in here and there, as I want to mostly unplug from social media and enjoy what’s happening in front of me with the people I love.
And there you have it … my list of what I’m currently doing to focus on having a happier and healthier year ahead. I hope this helps you move towards a goal that you have for you this year, whatever it may be!
I appreciate you checking in today.
Have a great week, my friends!