Tag Archives: health

Healthier Together Series: 6D. Putting it all together – Organizing Your Day For Productivity & Success

hannah-olinger-NXiIVnzBwZ8-unsplashToday, we are finishing up our 6th series. You have all the tools and knowledge to make the choices to optimize your health. How do you make it all happen? Here’s how to set yourself up for success. Make adaptations to make it your own. Here’s the basics.

Once a week:

  1. Review what happened last week. Make notes about what you learned, what you need to do, what has to be carried over from last week. Are you making decisions that align with your mission statement and your values?
  2. Brain Dump. Make a list of everything on your mind, everything you need to do, everything you are worried about, anything that is taking up mental space. Empty the brain of distracting thoughts.
  3. Prioritize your goals for the week. What do you need to accomplish this week? Include your goals for nutrition, physical activity, sleep and relaxation as well as any social goals.
  4. Develop action items, or next steps towards achieving those goals. Prioritize them or mark the most important ones so you work on those first. Also, it helps to have  a list of action items that are take less than 10 minutes to complete so that you can easily complete those tasks when you have sudden open moments like when a meeting ends early or you find yourself waiting for an appointment.
  5. Next to each action item, it helps make some notation or color code it to indicate a location. For example, some actions require you to be at your computer (sending an email or creating a powerpoint or editing a document) or at home (pack for trip).
  6. Review your calendar for the week ahead and fill in any of the necessary appointments or usual activities and block out those times. Account for every hour of every day. Remember to include your commute times, food prep, eating, shower, workouts, relaxation times, sleep times, etc. There are 24 hours in a day and remember that you cannot be in 2 places at the same time.
  7. Now you see how much of your week is open for discretionary time. Find the largest blocks of time and block those for your most important projects or creative activities so you can do a dive deep into them. Fill in the smaller chunks of time with errands and To Do’s that don’t require much thought or creativity but take up some of your time.

At this time, you likely have a brain dump list, a prioritized list of goals, a prioritized list of action items with locations and a prioritized list of “10 minutes or less” tasks.

Daily:

  1. At the end of your day, review your day (see #10 below) and then review the weekly calendar for tomorrow. Make sure you have carved out enough time for a bedtime routine and sleep and personal hygiene. Review your list of remaining action items and “10 minutes or less” tasks. Determine which of those items and tasks need to make it onto your calendar- pick the most important ones first. Print out or write your schedule for the day with action items and tasks.
  2. Figure out your foods and drinks for tomorrow and prepare or plan for optimal nutrition. If you are going to eat out, make a plan for what you will have. If you are monitoring or logging your foods, you could enter in what you plan to eat or drink and review the nutrients and macros of your planned foods and drinks. This allows you to make modifications.
  3. Confirm your physical activity plan for tomorrow based on your body state, your schedule and time available. If you drank alcohol, your body will benefit by some exercise tomorrow morning.
  4. Identify a pocket of time for self care and self reflection – whatever will be best for you. Some days, your physical activity plan may also include self care and self reflection.
  5. In the morning, follow your healthy morning routine and check in with your personal mission statement, your goals and your day calendar. Avoid checking email or social media when you wake up. This is to prevent other people or outside demands from taking control of your mind and mood so early in the morning.
  6. Start your day in control and do what’s best for you.
  7. Use your calendar and lists to help you maximize your accomplishments during the day. This will save you from spending time trying to figure out what to do with your time.
  8. If you happen to have an unexpected time that’s open, make a choice to move around, listen to music, draw, sit in nature, meditate or work on your “10 minutes or less” tasks.
  9. Cross off the items or tasks as you accomplish them throughout the day. It feels so good to do that! Write in anything extra you complete or any alterations to your schedule so that you have a log of how you spent your time.
  10. At the end of the day, review your day. Look for patterns and learn from your day. Over time, you may identify patterns of your best, most productive times of the day, or that some things take longer than others, or that other items on your calendar are constantly skipped and may not be a true priority for you.

***Share your wisdom in the comments below.***

Photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash

The 5 Keys to Incorporating Morning Exercise & Healthy Nutrition – How To Guide

stil-N9uOrBICcjY-unsplashPrioritize your health. Learn to plan and to follow a plan successfully. Make “Success” your habit.

1. Develop a PLAN. Every 2 weeks: Plan exercise in 2 week chunks. Make your exercise plan every 2 weeks.

  • Sit down with notebook and calendar.
  • Write how many continuous weeks you have been exercising as planned.
  • Review how the last 2 weeks went & determine how you change your workout or advance it for the next 2 weeks.
  • Write down what you learn from your review.
    • I total the calories I burned in the last 2 weeks and the total minutes exercising.
    • I make notes of what I want to do differently or if I will try a different exercise or weight.
    • I note if certain music correlated with more enthusiasm or a better workout.
  • Then write what you will change for the next 2 weeks, such as increasing the weights you were benching or the incline on the treadmill or the lower body exercises you are going to do in the upcoming 2 weeks.
    • I write my plans for improvement
  • Look on the calendar and note any significant scheduling challenges in the next 2 weeks (such as travel).
    • I might move a harder workout to a better day fo th
  • Look at the next 2 weeks and pick 5 days each week that you CAN workout in the morning. PUT IT ON THE CALENDAR exactly when you will work out. Include time for your shower, blow dry, etc. and your commute if applicable.
    • For example, I am least motivated to workout on Monday mornings and Friday mornings- so those are my “flex” days when I don’t plan to work out. The rest of the days of the week, I will plan a workout. I figure out when I have to be on the road to work & I schedule my workout 2 hours before I go off to work. 2 hours gives me time for my planned workout & shower & getting ready for work & eating breakfast. If I will be travelling or have a particularly EARLY morning, I may move one of my workout days to Monday and/or Friday– my “flex” days.
  • Make sure there is NEVER 2 days in a row without a work out.
    • For example, I have been following my plan and working out Sat, Sun, (Mondays are off),Tues, Wed, & due to a family emergency, I miss Thursday (which is my usual workout day), I will make it up on Friday (instead of taking that off as would have been my usual). So, Mondays & Fridays act as my make up days, my “flex” days.

2. TRACK it. Every Workout Day: Log every workout in the notebook on the day you work out.

  • Log at a minimum: date, time, what you did.
    • I log my weight & my heart rate (HR) monitor data: average HR, maximum HR, calories burned. I also take a minute to rate how motivated I was prior to my workout (scale 1-3) and how much effort I put in (scale of 1-3).
  • Jot down any notes on the past 24 hours including today’s workout .
    • I might reflect on how much I was yawning during my workout & recognize that it is because I ate so many starchy carbohydrates yesterday. Basically, by reflecting, I am learning to read my body and understand how I am feeling and how to optimize my daily function and happiness. It is kind of like mindfulness meditation.
  • Review what you will do tomorrow & make adjustments as necessary based on your reflection of the past 24 hours and how you are doing today.

Again, prioritize your health. Learn to plan and to follow a plan successfully. Make “Success” your habit.

  • KEY POINT: Once it is planned, you do not deviate from the plan unless you “plan” to deviate from it at least 1 day prior to the event. Here is an example using your workout plan: you planned to work out Upper Body on Tuesday, Lower Body on Wednesday, Upper Body on Thursday. Tuesday goes great. On Wednesday, after your Lower Body workout, you realize your Upper Body is not going to be ready to do the workout that was planned on Thursday. On WEDNESDAY, you can ADJUST your original Thursday workout plan, while you are reviewing the next day’s workout. You should change the workout plan for Thursday on that Wednesday- maybe you decide you will just walk on the treadmill. Now, when you wake up on Thursday and get ready to workout, your notebook tells you the plan is to walk for 20 minutes at a brisk pace. Fine. You are still ON PLAN and being SUCCESSFUL. You know the adjustment was thoughtful and deliberate instead of because of your “mood.” You are training yourself to be healthy and successful and feel good about what you are doing.

3. Have a BACK UP Plan. ALWAYS makeup any missed workout with SOME movement.

  • If possible, even if the workout will be missed, consider doing at least 5 minutes of some physical activity that will boost your heart rate.
  • 8Fit is an app with quick body weight exercises that can be done without any equipment in a small space- even a dorm or hotel room.
  • From the example above, that upper body workout that I planned not to do on Thursday, I will plan to make it up on the Friday morning. I put it on the calendar. I will also note that when planning my next 2 week workout schedule, I will need to reconsider if I need to change my workout pattern, the weights or the exercise(s) I am doing.

4. Keep meal planning simple. Have a plan for your basics (as back up in case you don’t have more exciting meal plan available) & modify as necessary. Here is an example of mine using drive thru which is on way to work :

  • 4 Breakfast options – availability and convenience are key, I don’t have to think about it.
    1. At home: Eggs with baby spinach, mushrooms, feta cheese with avocado &/or tomato slices or other veggies. Tip: Make Omelette Muffins. Mix up a large bowl of 12 eggs with a handful each of: chopped vegetables (left overs from dinner the night before are fine), chopped ham/bacon/sausage/lox (optional), and grated/crumbled cheese (cheddar, swiss, goat, or feta cheeses work great) and pour into greased muffin tins. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes into omelette muffins. Store in the fridge or freezer for quick grab and go breakfast options that can be eaten cold or heated up.
    2. Home or easily transportable: Omelette muffin (above), Chia seed pudding or Plain Greek yogurt with 1 Tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes, dash of cinnamon and 2 Tbsp almond butter. Bonus additions: chopped pecans or ground flax seeds or Chia seeds too. Occasionally, I add 1/4 c. fresh berries. If weight or carbs is not an issue for you, you can add 2 Tbsp Old Fashioned Oats and/or 6 bittersweet chocolate chips.
    3. Traveling/On Road/No Kitchen/No Time: Drive thru breakfast sandwich or wrap with at 2 eggs (ask for the extra egg if it only comes with 1)- key when I am not able to eat breakfast before leaving the house and the boys ate the last of my prepared breakfast options.
    4. Anywhere: Large iced or hot coffee with cream with plan for midmorning “snack” or  late brunch out or just plan “not hungry.” Tip: If you make your own coffee at home, add cinnamon to the coffee grounds to jazz it up.
  • 3 At-Work QUICK Lunch Options:
    1. Time crunch day- no time to prepare or plan or grab a salad: In my work refrigerator: plain Greek yogurt, almond butter, cheese, boiled eggs. Will mix up yogurt, nut butter and nuts (always in my bag) for protein power lunch.
    2. Bring from home: salad or prepared salad pack & leftover protein from dinner night before or salmon or tuna pack. Often, I add cheese crumbles and/or avocado to the salad. Salad dressing at work.
    3. In a Rush/Out of Groceries at home: Drive thru Cobb or other salad with chicken, egg or other protein on top with unsweetened iced tea.
  • Dinners Vary. Make extra for lunch the next day. Always have protein & non-starchy vegetables. If no salad earlier in the day, I will have one with dinner on most days.
  • Drinks: Drinks are water, black coffee & unsweetened teas.
  • Desserts: Dark chocolate and berries and unsweetened fresh whipped cream,  individually or in various combinations, are favorite desserts. Nuts and cheese make a nice crunchy/savory option too.
  • The Day OF my plans to go out for dinner: If I am going out for dinner, ie. on Friday, I eat breakfast later and then nibble some cheese, handful of nuts or celery with peanut butter in the afternoon if I get hungry before dinner.
  • Eating out: Majority of the time– keep it simple with protein & veggies. Replace the bread/fries/potato with side of veggies or salad. If I had a great workout and did not eat any sweets or starchy carbs earlier in the day, I may share a dessert.

Keep your nutrition plan simple and easy to keep track of. Eat lots of veggies and eat your protein and stay hydrated. You don’t need to spend energy thinking up new ideas or figuring out what you need to eat when you are in a panic or have limited choices. Plan ahead and be prepared. Follow your plan.

5. Develop Self Compassion. Perfection is not the goal. You are human. Striving towards excellence as a human, as the most perfect version of you, means that sometimes, there are deviations. In those moments, practice saying to yourself: “I am doing the best that I can, right now.” Then, let it go.

Tomorrow, you can choose to reflect and learn from it. Ask yourself if there was something you could learn from that experience. For example:

  • Reflect: Was there something, a person, an event, a place, that triggered the deviation or altered your plans?
  • Learn: Is there anything you can do differently in the future under similar circumstances?
  • Reaffirm: Repeat to yourself, “I am doing the best that I can, right now.” Then, move forward as a wiser and more prepared You.

Summary: Prioritize your health. Learn to plan and to follow a plan successfully. Make “Success” your habit.

This post is in honor of my mom.

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

Healthier Together Series: Cycle 1 D. Putting It All Together — Midwest Winter

In this section, I am hoping to integrate people’s experiences and wisdom and/or offer examples of how we apply what we have learned. Please be sure to share your experiences and wisdom. This is how we can help each other and become healthier together.
*Disclaimer: Apps or links are listed as examples & do not necessarily represent the BEST ones or the only options. They are included to help you get started on your search for the right resources for you. So please share what you are using too.

Here is an example of putting it all together:

Scenario: Midwest. Winter. Cold. Darker earlier, longer. Work is busy. Traffic is terrible in bad weather- longer and more frustrating commutes. Not going outside much. Limited exposure to nature. See fewer people socially. Sleep is messed up. Craving and eating comfort foods that increase blood sugar and therefore insulin. Gaining weight. Getting more tired. Being less active. Feeling bad about not exercising, eating poorly and weight gain. Feeling progressively more down…sound familiar?

Thank goodness for Spring! However, what about all those months before Spring arrives?

Winter happens EVERY year. Plan for it. Let your healthy habits continue to help you. Many people schedule a break to warmer climates during winter or early spring (maybe too expensive for some of us), or they embrace it and find a physical activity that they can do in the midst of nature’s healing effects. Mental planning helps. Journal or keep a log of your observations. Here’s a plan:

1. Limit your new transitions that use up your activation energy and brain energy. You have lower reserves in the winter. Keep the things, people, activities that rejuvenate you and give you energy, maybe even increase the duration of exposure to them. Note: not adding more, just make it longer. It might mean eliminating some of the energy drains.

2. Maintain your healthy eating habits. In particular, keep the amount of white starchy carbs and sugars lower. This will keep your energy and mood up and also your weight stable! Stay hydrated- UNSWEETENED clear nonalcoholic beverages are best, like water or unsweetened tea.

3. Always continue your regular daily physical activity, especially in the winter. This is not the time to change it up or take a break. Start your day with a boost of activity- as little as 7 minutes will help you! It will save you from the winter blues and regulate your sleep and eating and your weight. When you are away from home or when there is a time crunch, try the 7 minute workout which you can find online. A sample iphone app: The 7 Minute Workout “Seven” with High Intensity Interval Training. There are MANY online videos that also show how to do the complete body workout.

4. Practice your self hypnosis to allow you to develop control of your mind so you can relax or sleep when you need to. When you are particularly stressed or if you have insomnia, it is nice to have your brain help you. Given the nights are longer, maybe you can use some of the extra darkness to practice relaxing the mind. 2 sample apps on the iphone: *Hypnopack. Has 5, 15, 20 & 27 minute programs and also can be used for other behavior change helpful for public speaking, anxiety release, studying & memory, etc. *Create Inner Peace & Calm with Glenn Harrold is another iphone app that many find helpful, has some free & some components you can choose but have to pay for.

5. Reach out and connect with nature and the people who energize you. This might mean taking a walk or snowshoeing in nature on a winter morning with a friend.

Bottom line: you can learn from previous experiences, what your patterns are and maximize the joy you get out of your life with a little planning. Taking care of yourself is a choice and it helps make the world a better place. And you deserve it!

Healthier Together Series: Cycle 1 A. Nutrition — Make one change…

hisu-lee-bQLCyj-9-tk-unsplashThis week’s nutrition notes:

In an earlier a post, I mentioned how our body starts out in our personal best metabolic state…basically after >6 hours of sleep, not eating or drinking anything, our body is burning fat for energy (which is possible because our insulin levels are lower). We like that. Most of us have enough fat on our body that we can spare to burn some for fuel. Our body’s insulin levels dropped down while we were sleeping & we wake up in a fat burning mode. Use this to your advantage.

This week, make sure your first meal of the day has protein. You can add leafy veggies too. You can add fat too. So breakfast might include organic free range eggs, nitrite free bacon, left over meats/chicken/fish from night before, avocado, butter, spinach, hard cheese, etc. ***The key is to avoid the starchy carbohydrates (potatoes, bread, pancakes, waffles, crepes, anything made with wheat flour, etc.) and sugars.

If you eat protein & fat for breakfast, your blood sugars stay stable, you DON’T have an insulin surge, so your body can continue in a fat burning mode from overnight & you continue to nourish your body with nutrients. Also, you may notice that your hunger levels are better later in the day and you have more energy the rest of the day.

So, look for low carbohydrate breakfasts with natural proteins, fat with or without leafy veggies and water, tea, or coffee (with cream if you like, but hold the sweetener). Make your breakfast work for you.

Photo by Hisu lee on Unsplash