A time honored tradition as each year closes is to make New Year’s resolutions, usually containing things like “lose weight” or “make more money” but do they really do anything to help us improve our lives?
I don’t make resolutions but I do a review of the year and set goals for myself for the new year. How is that different? Resolutions are so much about pass/fail. Goals also include an action plan and progress towards obtaining those goals are a success!
In 1996 (I know, that’s crazy) I started a Dream Book. In it, I wrote out my values and then set goals for each year. Now, have I been perfect for the last 25 years? No, but I do review past years and craft my goals for the upcoming year. There were a few years I skipped (hey, it’s been 25 years!) I think about things I want to accomplish personally, family wise, professionally, and physically. I also started the book with a list of “life goals” which I still work towards.
Reviewing last year was interesting as so many goals were impacted by the pandemic. However, others goals appeared that I wasn’t expecting! I review goals periodically throughout the year and make changes as necessary.
I’m excited to set this year’s goals. I’m turning 50 (I know, I can hardly believe it myself) and I think this year will be an amazing year! What are some goals you have for 2021?
So I’ve been giving myself some grace. Some grace to not update my blog because I’m not feeling especially inspired. Grace to stress eat cake the week of the election. Grace to skip a workout because I’m tired. Grace to realize that despite all of this, the world kept turning and I didn’t fall apart! The alternative would be spending more time in the fetal position than is healthy.
Part of being healthy goes beyond just caring about your body. You have to consider your emotional state, including how much bandwidth you have to take on certain situations. Especially when we are dealing with post-election craziness and a global pandemic, you have to be fully aware what you can take on or more specifically what you can’t.
So as 2020 winds down, let’s all remember to give ourselves some grace every now and then!
As I write this, I just finished my first workout in two days. I planned to take Sunday as a rest day but when Monday came around, I listened to my body and knew I needed an extra one.
Rest days are important. They help heal your body from the strain you put it through during your workouts. Sometimes you also need the mental break from working out. Whatever the reason, no one ever lost all their fitness or weight loss from taking a rest day here and there. Could I have forced myself into my gym yesterday? Probably, but that extra day of rest allowed me to tackle the workout today with heavier weights and more energy.
Even an active rest day can be beneficial. Taking a walk or a bike ride, doing yoga or swimming in the pool; these are all great active rest days that allow you to physically and mentally take a break. You can even stretch or foam roll!
Yoga is one of those omnipresent things that it seems like everyone has tried at least once. One of the things I love about yoga is it strengthens your body and your mind. It also helps to stretch out all my muscles I make sore while I’m lifting weights. It can be your only method of exercise or you can fit it into a cross-training schedule. It is perfect for active rest days. I am pretty sure I do at least a few down dogs and crows every day just to stretch!
I was fortunate to experience my first yoga class on a rock pier jutting into the ocean in Jamaica. The teacher was an Expat hippie with dreadlocks down to her ankles. It was so amazing and zen, especially at the end, sitting in Shavasana (corpse pose which has you lying on your back, still, at the end of each class) at sunset. I honestly thought this is what yoga was all about.
I didn’t really start taking regular classes until after I had my daughter. I had gained 54 pounds with my pregnancy and when she was six months old, we relocated to Orlando. I signed up for the local YMCA and started attending yoga classes there. Taking classes three times a week, along with regular walks, helped me shave off those 54 pounds and then 10 more! I felt strong and clear headed. My favorite teacher (no deadlocks on this one) would put a lavender scented towel over your eyes while you were in Shavasana. Again, total zen!
Since then, I’ve had private classes in Las Vegas (surprise that I was the only one that signed up for the 8am yoga class), a giant class outside on top of one of the office buildings in downtown Orlando, tried out the Beachbody Yoga, a few apps including one called Pocket Yoga and quite a few yoga DVDs. The favorite DVD (also available online) is Body by Bethenny which is shockingly good for a celebrity exercise program, especially the core section. Yoga is so versatile that it translates to so many different modes.
You can even do virtual yoga! My friend Kelly is a yoga teacher in at the Yoga School of Miami. Unfortunately, I was never able to take her class because of the distance but now anyone can! Just sign up here. With Kelly, you get Pink Floyd, David Bowie & Prince, which is an awesome way to do yoga! Check her out. She does yoga teacher training too!!
Yoga is perfect for all fitness levels and ages as well. There are even programs specifically for kids. I have heard many times that there is no ego in yoga. You only try and improve yourself each time your practice. I have also found the others in my classes are only encouraging. At the Y, we would have time to practice stands, whether it be shoulder stands, head stands or even a handstand. It would usually involve lots of laughter and cheering when someone achieved the stand that had been working on. I always leave yoga a happier person then when I started! So where some people don’t enjoy working out at gyms, yoga is a much more inviting space for group fitness.
I love to plan. I am a planner. One of the things that has been so difficult during the pandemic is the cancellations! In the beginning, events would cancel slowly. Things started getting crossed off bit by bit until there was nothing left. I eventually just threw my old planner away and started fresh. Even then, I was only putting in new events with a sticky note.
Even without a pandemic, things often go off the rails. You forgot an ingredient for a recipe, you have work dropped in your lap or you don’t feel good enough to workout or cook that meal you were planning. This last weekend, we had rented a boat for a day of fun but found out late Friday that our reservation had been cancelled due to mechanical issues. I also had a migraine Saturday and Sunday which made my planned workouts impossible. Fast forward to Monday morning which is the first day of virtual school for my 5th grader. Not only do we have the expected glitches with 200,000 kids all signing on at the same time, but then our power goes out in the house! No WiFi, laptop battery running low and no A/C!!
When things like this happen, the most important thing is not to panic. Being a lawyer, you always have to think on your feet. When there’s a problem, just stay calm and think what can I do to fix it. I know this is easier said than done but if you can make it even a tiny bit better, you’ve done something. The root of the panic really boils down to not being in control. The quicker you can get some of that control back, the better you will feel. Another big thing is to drop the expectation on yourself of perfection. No one, I repeat, no one is perfect. Everyone is out here just trying to do their best.
So our boat trip turned into a day at the beach. Not quite the same but it was still a lovely day with the family and we chose a beach that we knew wouldn’t be super crowded. A bonus was the sea air and the ocean water helped keep my headache at bay for a bit! When we got home, my body was telling me I needed rest, so I just shifted my planned workouts a bit and I will be finishing 21 Day Fix tomorrow instead of yesterday. I had to drop the expectation of finishing perfectly.
We didn’t give up on virtual school this morning either! We got the laptop hooked up to my cell phone hot spot and just as she was about to run out of battery, the power came back on! If we hadn’t had that stroke of luck, we would have moved on to another laptop and hunted down any battery packs we could. We did the best we could with what we had!
Here’s hoping that our crazy streak is coming to an end but if it’s not, we will just continue to do the best we can! It’s all we can do.
So I’m publishing this a little late today and that’s OK. That was part of my self-care. We were on vacation last week. We had a busy weekend with my Husband’s birthday and then had some friends over for a social-distanced pool party. This togetherness and relaxation was exactly what I needed. Letting myself take a few days off from writing was great!
In days past, self-care may have been thought of as a massage or a mani/pedi. I used to get monthly facials, which I found very relaxing and they made me feel good about myself. However, in the pandemic world, these things aren’t as accessible (or relaxing!) as they were before.
Just because we may be at home doesn’t mean we don’t still need self-care. We just need to change our standard idea of what self-care is. Instead of thinking about getting pampered, think about it as putting yourself first. It’s about suspending deadlines or outside forces that have you doing something that you would not be doing if you had a choice.
We are lucky enough to have a pool and an amazing backyard so a great way to my self-care is floating on a raft in the pool with a cool drink! We also really enjoyed binge-watching Season Two of the Umbrella Academy on Netflix last weekend. We walk the dogs or just play with them in the backyard. When I can get my daughter to cooperate, I love to play games. I experimented with a lot of new recipes (which I will post in the coming weeks). Of course, exercise is a big part of my self-care and something that helps keep me sane! I’ve also been making a point of reading more and practicing my Spanish.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the status of being busy. You’re too busy to attend that social event or to cook for yourself or to start that workout program. However, self-care is the cancellation of being too busy, even if it’s just for 30 minutes or once a week or one night a month. It’s taking a break to put yourself first.
What are your top methods of self-care in pandemic times? What are you most looking forward to doing again when it is safe to do so?
But sometimes sleep doesn’t love me back! Between a husband who snores, an elderly dog who is up several times throughout the night and crazy blood sugar numbers that need attention at 2am from my daughter, sleep has been fleeting the last few months. When all the stars align and I can sleep without having to get up, it’s a feeling like no other!
Why is sleep so important? You probably know that you feel better and think better when you’ve had a good nights sleep. Did you also know that sleep allows you body to slow down, rest and get stronger? Your blood pressure decreases which helps your heart functions. It also regulates your blood sugar and helps prevents type 2 diabetes. You are also less hungry if you are well rested and are less likely to give into unhealthy temptations.
On the flip side, lack of sleep can make you cranky, as my family can attest to first hand! It also impairs your cognitive functions like problem solving and alertness. Chronic sleep loss can increase your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and type 2 diabetes. It also ages you and give you puffy or listless skin. It messes with your metabolism and can cause you to gain weight. If I wake up too tired, it’s hard to get motivated to workout and my best chance to work out is first thing in the morning. For me, too tired equals no workout, which makes me feel even worse!
So how can you get the best sleep possible? For me, I try and keep a consistent schedule where I am in bed no later than 11pm and I get out of bed between 6am and 6:30am. (If it’s been a particularly sleepless night, I may sleep longer than 6!) I also cut caffeine, at first just after lunch and now it is rare that I drink coffee at all. Everyone in my family, even my 10-year-old, benefits from a little melatonin about an hour before bedtime. I prefer Good Day Chocolate and my husband prefers the Zzzquil gummies. A good cup of Sleepytime or chamomile tea may help as well. I also try and limit my screen time on my iPad while I’m in bed and I recently invested in a Kindle, which doesn’t use blue light and doesn’t disrupt your sleep. Of course, a good workout during the day along with keeping balanced macronutrients through the day helps too.
And as unpopular as it may be, especially during the stress of a pandemic, limit the alcohol you drink before bed! Any deep sleep you get when you first lay down after many drinks will be ruined by the disruptions that will come throughout the night because your circadian rhythm is off. This goes the same for a heavy meal or snack right before bed. The only time I’ve ever had a good workout after a night of drinking is my forced morning runs in Las Vegas!
Here’s hoping the stars align for us all to get a good nights sleep!
Well, maybe you shouldn’t. At least not exclusively. There is not a one-size-fits all way to stay healthy. You have to takes bits and pieces of what works for you and make it into your own healthy lifestyle. I just hope that you will find some of those bits and pieces here!
A great example of this is my group of friends. We are all different ages and even though we are all different types of lawyers, we all have demanding jobs, community activities, social lives and families. All of us fit that healthy lifestyle as well but nothing we do is the same. I prefer home workouts, mixing lifting weights and cardio, following various Beachbody programs. One friend does CrossFit. Another runs and a truly bad ass one does Spartan Races and Ninja Gym training.
One thing we do all have in common is that we understand there is more to a healthy lifestyle than eating nutritiously and exercising. We know that spending time with each other, our other friends, our family and our larger groups of acquaintances and colleagues is important. We all volunteer in service of our profession and to the community we live in. We practice self-care. When we went into lockdown in March and these things were curtailed, we made a point of spending time together via Zoom or FaceTime and we update each other on a group text almost daily.
When you decide to make some positive changes in your life, first write down all the positive things you have, like some in the lists above. Then figure out how to use those positives to help you make the changes you want. Let me know what you think is a positive that helps you!