habits

Welcome to the first of December

I remember being a kid and LOVING an advent calendar. 

My mom had several, one was this big puffy tree thing that I got to put ornaments on each day. 

I loved counting down the days. LOVED IT. 

This morning I thought about how this month is unique in the way that most of us count down the days together. This month can be somewhat of a ticking time bomb. There are a lot of expectations built into the holidays. Lots of warm fuzzy commercials that we all might aspire to realize. 

And through that aspiration we might get stressed, short, and caught in trying to make something... something more. And then we miss out on what actually is, what is here, what is now.

At the beginning of each month I take a moment to write down three goals for the month on a sticky note (I love a sticky). One of them was just to remain present. 

What are your goals for this holiday-infused month? 

What is the first thing I should do?

How can I get the most BANG for my BUCK?

Is there a magic thing that I should be doing RIGHT NOW?

And you know what, there are some good places to begin - one of my favorites is breakfast start at the beginning of the day and build from there. 

But honestly, there is no perfect place to start. The magic is unsexy. Because the magic comes from consistency.

It doesn't matter so much where you start, but that you continue. And something is always better than nothing.

What if you were determined to run a 5k.

And your goal was to get out and run for 30 minutes each day. But, then life happens, things happen and 30 minutes might as well be 30 hours. 

So what if instead your promise was just to run around the block?

Do you think you'd be able to commit to that?

And do it everyday?

And then do you think somedays you'd do more, go further, maybe hit that 30 min mark?

So basically:

  1. Start
  2. Choose a bite sized goal (1 pushup, 1 walk, 1 minute of meditation)
  3. Keep it consistent 

I know you all think I am uber wise, how could you not? This is crazy revolutionary! Ok, ok, it isn't but it IS hard to implement. All of this is logical, but there are so many people that set BIG goals, start strong, and then when those goals start to go sideways they abandon what they set out to do. 

Start smaller, be consistent, and you will win all the things!

Sleep.

I'll SLEEP WHEN I'M DEAD!

There was a time in my life where I subscribed to the philosophy “I’LL SLEEP WHEN I’M DEAD BITCHES!!!!” Go, go, go, so much to do all the time! Never time to miss the FUN. At the time, I had a few friends that were SUPER into their 8 hours of sleep every night. And I remember thinking -

 WEAK!

They were made of frailer stuff than I. I who was doing AWESOME on my 4 to maybe 6 hours of sleep. I WHO WOULD RULE THE WORLD.  If I could just stay focused long enough... and not fall asleep on my desk... and not... zzzzz.... what? what just happend?

Looking back I want to shake young me - SLEEP IS SO IMPORTANT - I want to stress this so hard that you tell me to shut up, you tell me ANNETTE WE GET IT, CALM YOURSELF!

Sleep is magic for your body.  People pay a crazy amounts money on powders, supplements, cleanses, detoxes, etc. when a more effective cure is free and overlooked.  Sleep is way more powerful and impactful to your health than you realize.  

Sleep affects how you see the world.  It affects how you make decisions.  It affects your mood.  How you recover. Aging, your digestion, how you learn, how you retain.  It affects weight loss (or lack thereof).  It affects your stress levels.  Your focus.  Your memory.  Your ability to be patient.  To be kind. To be grateful. Sleep plays into all of that.

Mark Sisson over at Mark's Daily Apple wrote a great guide to sleep, worth a gander. 

I know a lot of people have the best intentions when it comes to going to sleep, but have trouble shutting down. There are a few things you can try to make this transition easier:

1) Get off your devices - do this at least an hour before you intend on going to bed. The light is stimulating and messes with your body's understanding that it is time to shut down.

2) Night time ritual - I recommend tea and writing. Dim the lights, make some tea, write down thoughts of the day, or a few things you are grateful for - doing this regularly will make your body understand ahhh this is the thing we do before going to bed. It is like a puppy, sometimes it needs to be trained.

3) Bring down the lights - transition into a more nighttime looking world.

4) Focus on breathing - calm your mind by sticking with your breath. Breathe in - count one, breathe out - count two, breathe in - count three, breathe out - count four, and so on until you reach ten - then repeat.

 

Sleep is money on the table.

Pick it up, put it in your pocket - see how awesome it feels.

Gluten Free

If the box says "gluten-free" it must be good!

Right?

I mean, right?

Well no.

What I truly, TRULY, believe in - is REAL food. The jury is out on whether or not "gluten intolerance" is a thing, it might not be the gluten after all! But what IS true is that refined carbs tend to be fairly terrible for most people. (Celiac is legit, no questions there.)

And the items you see in the store that are marked "gluten-free" are REFINED CARBS TO THE MAX!

It is kind of like Snackwells.

Remember Snackwells? NO FAT! Must be good! I'll just eat twenty. 

All that sugar! All that processed food! You blood sugar sky rockets and you aren't getting anything your body can use by way of nutrition.

Your body needs nutrients to do all the crazy and amazing stuff you do every day! Your BRAIN needs fat to operate. You need real food to operate properly and essentially kick ass at life.

 

Gimme caffeine!

You know what is magical?

Coffee.

Oh man, it is good stuff. I hold it closely to my heart and my lips. Coffee has been my friend through good and bad. I love the smell, the taste, the routine, and that fun little buzz I get.

Sadly. Coffee is a beverage of diminishing returns.

One of the jobs I worked I got in at 6 am, which meant getting up at 4:45... which meant that by the time I was dropped off in Downtown Seattle all I wanted was coffee in my mouth. I didn't want to TALK to people, I didn't even want to hold up the thin veneer of social grace and be semi-polite to people. I just wanted my coffee. Now. Yesterday. GIMME!

I'd order a 12oz 4 shot Americano. It felt amazing for 2 seconds and then I needed another hit. GIMME MOAR! This was in my less enlightened days where I was still consuming sugar on the regular and thought there was nothing wrong with having a Redbull daily (along with my coffee).

I was constantly looking for a boost. Though I wasn't really aware that is what I was doing and if you had asked me at the time I would have said - I don't know why I get so tired/unfocused/fatigued I eat a pretty well! I workout all the time! I digress... 

Let's focus on the caffeine.

There are different viewpoints. Dave Asprey famous for his butter/mct oil/coffee blend (which I dig) is a big coffee fan and he believes that as long as the beans are sourced properly most people will be okay attributing some of the negative side-effects to mycotoxins that can be found in not properly prepared beans.

Mary Vance is on the more conservative side of coffee, she loves it, as I love it, but tends to keep it to once or twice a month due to negative side effects like "anxiety, energy fluctuations and blood sugar instability".

I flirt on both sides of the line.

What I know from self experimentation is that pulling coffee out sucks. I have a bad couple of days. It feels like all the "happy" has been taken from me. Why life. Why ever do anything. How be happy?  = my brain on no coffee... AT FIRST and then I get over the lack of happy. I begin to feel ok again and I notice the benefits:

1) I sleep better

2) I wake up better (much better, I mean a lot... like I actually don't mind waking up)

3) Overall better energy regulation

Then when I reintroduce caffeine I am like WHOA THIS STUFF IS IMPACTFUL! THIS STUFF PACKS A PUNCH! 

It is really cool to actually FEEL what coffee does to you again. And for this reason alone I recommend cutting it out for a while.

NOW...

There was a time when I cut it out and I did no coffee whatsoever - meaning - no decaf, no stimulants, no teas - etc. I just drank water in the morning. I was SOOO miserable. I love the ritual of coffee and this made me super sad. Almost not worth it sad.

So this last time I switched to decaf, I do tend to use the bulletproof decaf because I appreciate the care that goes into processing AND it tastes good! Going decaf was so much better for me - so much less painful - I got to have my ritual, my morning drink, and that made everything so much better.

Most recently I am back on the caffeine dragon. My mornings are suffering. I realize it is time to jump back off for a bit, but friends, let me tell you - this can be hard.

But.

It is worth it.

Give it a try. See how magical coffee can be again :)