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Tag Archive: 15 Days to a Healthier You

Changing Your Life Begins With Changing Your Mindset

For 15 days, we’re exploring the topic of making our health and well-being a priority as part of the 15 Days to a Healthier You series. You can read Day 1 hereDay 2 here, Day 3 here, Day 4 hereDay 5 here, Day 6 here, Day 7 hereDay 8 here, Day 9 here, Day 10 here, Day 11 here, Day 12 here, Day 13 here, and Day 14 here

We’ve talked about a lot of different aspects of healthy living in this series on 15 Days to a Healthier You. As we close out this series today, I want to end with one of the most important lessons regarding health. And it’s not about eating better or exercising more or getting more sleep. It’s the belief that changing your life begins with changing you.

You could have the most amazing consistency when it comes to workouts. You could eat incredibly healthy. You could always get great sleep. Those are all wonderful things.

But you could still not feel happy and fulfilled and vibrant as a person. And that’s because your mindset affects everything else in your life. It affects how you think, how you process, and how you view all of life.

As we end this 15-day series (that has taken me much longer than 15 days to actually get written — thank you, thank you for your patience with me and remind me to stick with shorter series from here on out!! :)), I want to challenge you to make two mindset changes — that might impact your overall health more profoundly than any eating or exercise plan ever will:

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1. Stop Worrying About What Other People Think

Recently, I’ve gotten some pretty strong pushback for some decisions and choices our family has made. One of my friends — who knows about this pushback — called me yesterday and said, “Crystal, I feel like I’m supposed to tell you this. God just keeps bringing it to mind and I think I’m supposed to tell you to remember this: Don’t mistake your calling for her calling. Your calling is not her calling.

It was a profound word for me because my nature is to get really wrapped up in questioning and over-analyzing and worrying I’m doing the wrong thing when someone questions or criticizes decisions we’ve made.

I have to realize that, many times, those questions and criticisms come from a loving place. But they can also come from a place where a person is mistaking their passions and callings for universal passions and callings (i.e. She’s called to be a stay-at-home mom so she then believes it’s a global calling for all women everywhere).

We aren’t all called to do the same things or to live the same life or to follow the same path.

Some are called to adopt. Some are called to support those who adopt. 

Some are called to full-time ministry. Some are called to run a business. Some are called to have a business that is also a full-time ministry.

Some are called to write a book. Some are called to support those who write a book.

Some are called to be stay-at-home moms. Some are called to be working moms.

Some are called to move to another country. Some are called to reach out to those right in their own neighborhood.

Some are called to start organizations in their home town. Some are called to start worldwide organizations.

Some are called to volunteer. Some are called to say no to volunteering. 

And on and on it goes. 

Your calling is not her calling. And that’s the beauty of life and the fact that no one was created to be a carbon copy of another person.

We can celebrate our different seasons and gifts and callings, but we don’t have to feel guilt when they are very different from our season and gifts and callings.

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Focus on your calling. Do that well. And be okay that it might look very different from someone else.

Many times, we waste all sorts of time, effort, and expense to have others think highly of us or be pleased with us. But ultimately, we’re trying to fill a void that’s been created because we’ve believed lies about ourselves — that we don’t measure up, we’re not good enough, we’re failures, and so on.

Slowly ever so slowly, I’ve been breaking free from the bondage of worrying about what other people think. I’ve been focusing on seeking the Lord with my husband for what God wants for our own family. We’ve been making decisions for our family based upon what we believe is best for us — not based upon what we think other people would want us to do or what others would think we should do.

I realize that not everyone will understand why we do what we do. Not everyone is called to have the lifestyle we do or parent the way we do or follow the path that we are on.

We’re all different in different situations with different families and different needs. What is right for one family won’t necessarily be right for another family. And sometimes, those choices won’t make a lot of sense to everyone else, but that’s okay.

What’s most important is that our family is carefully seeking God’s will, carefully and prayerfully making decisions based upon the needs of our family and children, and regularly re-evaluating to make sure those choices and decisions are still the best for our family.

When we let go of worrying about what other people think and instead focus on doing what’s best for our own family, we’re all much healthier and happier for it.

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2. Stress Less About Stuff You Can’t Fix

I have control issues. Let’s just put that out there.

I like to have a plan. I like to follow the plan. And I’m a doer and a fixer.

Which translates into me wanting to also make plans and create solutions for other people. I’ve got great ideas for things they should change, goals they should set, decisions they should make, and ways that they can make their life “so much better”.

I can get easily frustrated or bothered when other people don’t get all excited about the plans I make for them or my “amazing” fix for their life. I know, I have no idea why people wouldn’t… I mean, come on! 😉

In all honesty, it was really only this year that I woke up and realized just how much I try to control everything and everyone in my life. Oh, I usually do it in a somewhat gracious manner… but oftentimes, it’s passive aggressiveness cloaked as graciousness. I care more about doing things my way and following my plan than about trusting people to make their own decisions for themselves.

I’m slowly learning to catch myself when I’m trying to fix or control and instead, listen, care for others, and shut up with my unsolicited solutions.

And guess what I’m learning? The less I expend effort trying to keep everyone else’s life in line and according to my plan, the less I feel stressed and frustrated and the more I can just focus on enjoying and being intentional in my own life.

Check out the following posts for more encouragement and practical help:

I sound like your mother, but yes, you should take your vitamins!

For 15 days, we’re exploring the topic of making our health and well-being a priority as part of the 15 Days to a Healthier You series. You can read Day 1 hereDay 2 here, Day 3 here, Day 4 hereDay 5 here, Day 6 here, Day 7 hereDay 8 here, Day 9 here, Day 10 here, Day 11 here, Day 12 here, and Day 13 here.

I used to be one of those people who felt like you could get all the nutrition your body needs from food alone. But my husband encouraged me to start taking a high-quality multi-vitamin on a daily basis years ago and after I experienced the difference that it made in how I felt, I was sold and have been a faithful vitamin-taker ever since!

The truth is, when I take my vitamins, I operate so much better, get sick less often, and have so much more energy. Every once in awhile, I’ll be out of vitamins or forget to take them for a few days and I’ll begin to wonder why I’m feeling more lethargic and run down… and then I’ll realize I’ve not taken my vitamins in a few days!

Yes, you should take vitamins

If you’ve not been taking vitamins and you’re wanting to possibly start, here’s my encouragement to you:

1. Commit to Trying It

I encourage you to try taking a high-quality multi-vitamin for three months and see if you feel any difference. If you don’t, at least you know you’re not hurting anything to be getting some extra vitamins and minerals. 😉

2. Do Your Research

There are lots of other vitamins out there to consider taking, but do your research before you just start popping pills. Too much of a good thing can sometimes be just that — too much.

In addition, I would recommend scheduling an appointment with your doctor to have routine bloodwork done to see if there are other vitamins or nutrients you’re deficient in. It’s very possible that your lack of energy is due to anemia or some other vitamin deficiency you’re experiencing and simply adding some additional vitamins or supplements might make a major difference.

3. Make It Part of Your Routine

I used to be really, really bad about consistently taking vitamins. Then, I learned a trick: I had to make it part of my routine. Instead of just trying to remember to take my pills sometime during the day, I made vitamin-taking part of my evening routine.

Now, it’s become such a habit, that I pretty much can’t go to bed unless I’ve taken my vitamins. And I feel so much better as a result!

Note: Many people will say it’s best to take vitamins in the morning. Because the multi-vitamin and 5htp sort of make my stomach queasy if I take them when I’m awake, so that’s why I’ve opted to take them at night.

Plus, I actually remember to take them then! I figure it’s better to actually get them taken — even if it’s not the ideal time — then not taken at all. 🙂

The Vitamins & Supplements I Currently Take

Over the years, I’ve come up with what the perfect vitamin combination is for me. I occasionally tweak it, but for the most part, I’ve kept it the same for quite some time. My favorite multi-vitamins are the NOW Foods Special Two Vitamins. I’ve been taking these for a long time and they really make a difference.

I also take a probiotic, Vitamin D-3, and 5htp.

I also LOVE essential oils! Some of my favorites are Balance and Calming, Immune Strength, Thieves, OnGuard, and Tummy Rub. I don’t use these daily, but more on an as needed basis.

Day 14 Project

1. Do you take vitamins and supplements? If not, I encourage you to consider adding at least one quality multi-vitamin as a daily habit. 

2. Do your research and decide what multi-vitamin is best for you. Order or buy it.

3. Decide when you will take it as part of your daily routine. Let us know in the comments!

Looking for some more practical help?

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

How to Make Healthy Eating a Priority — Even if You Already Feel Overwhelmed With Life!

For 15 days, we’re exploring the topic of making our health and well-being a priority as part of the 15 Days to a Healthier You series. You can read Day 1 hereDay 2 here, Day 3 here, Day 4 hereDay 5 here, Day 6 here, Day 7 hereDay 8 here, Day 9 here, Day 10 here, Day 11 here, and Day 12 here.

I’ve always eaten fairly healthfully, having grown up with a mom who valued healthy living and taught us to love whole grains, real butter, and big salads.

(Truth: we basically never bought white bread unless we were making croutons or feeding the ducks and I don’t recall a time we ever bought margarine. Yes, she was pretty hard core when it came to health!)

My husband wasn’t so keen on health food when we got married. In fact, he was more keen on McDonald’s and Vanilla Coke. ?

Making Healthy Eating a Priority

During our lean law school years, I just did the best I could do with the small budget we had while also making sure the food I cooked was stuff Jesse would actually eat. We didn’t eat terribly unhealthy, but I knew it could be improved upon.

As our financial situation bettered and my husband started becoming more interested in fitness, we’ve slowly made small changes in our diet.

First, we eliminated artificial dyes. Next, it was corn syrup. Then, we stopped cooking with anything but olive oil, coconut oil, and butter. And then we stopped buying bleached flour and refined sugar.

Making Healthy Eating a Priority

This journey has been years in the making, but as we’ve made slow and steady changes, we’ve seen such positive improvement in so many areas in our lives.

And that’s not really surprising because food is your body’s fuel. If you’re mostly fueling yourself with donuts, candy bars, and carbonated beverages, there’s a good chance that’s contributing to you feeling tired, worn out, and lethargic.

We only get one body. There are no replacements. So it’s in our best interest — and in the best interest of everyone we love — for us to fuel that body well.

However, let me be quick to say that the last thing I am trying to do with this post is to make anyone feel stressed about how they are feeding their family or heap on mom-guilt. Trust me, we don’t eat anywhere near “perfectly” and that I find that it can be overwhelming to even figure out what is best for your family with all of the noise and chatter out there from so many different sources telling you that you should eat this and shouldn’t eat that.

Making Healthy Eating a Priority

With this in mind, if you’re I just want to encourage you to focus on three priorities when it comes to healthy eating:

1. Keep it simple.

Don’t stress over making your own kombucha, soaking your grains, growing all your vegetables, or driving miles away to get the “best” dairy for your family. If trying to eat healthfully feels overwhelming and stressful, it’s likely because you’re making it more complicated than it needs to be.

Keep it simple. Make one small change every month or two. Eliminate one item from your diet or switch out a healthier alternative (maybe eliminate food dyes or switch out white rice for brown rice or start using whole wheat pasta instead of pasta made with refined white flour, etc.)

Once you feel like that one small change has become part of your lifestyle, add another small change. And then another. And then another.

Over time, these babysteps will add up to a lot of progress and traction made!

How to Make Healthy Eating a Priority

2. Focus on YOUR family’s priorities.

What matters most to your family? Is it eating more whole grains or having more fruits and veggies in your diet or eating consistent meals or cooking from scratch?

Don’t worry about other families and what they are making a priority. Tune out a lot of the conflicting reports out there telling you that you MUST eat this or you MUST eliminate this from your diet.

Really think about what is best for you and your family. And then make a plan of action based upon that.

Making Healthy Eating a Priority

3. Prep ahead.

My biggest secret for actually eating healthfully 95% of the time is because I choose to make it a priority by planning and prepping ahead.

Here’s the thing: Life is likely always going to be full of responsibilities and to-do’s. Every day, we can come up with excuses for what we just can’t eat heathy today.

If you’re not willing to make something a priority, it will always fall to the bottom of the list and then probably not happen at all. Healthy eating happens when we choose to make it a priority and then we choose to plan ahead to have nourishing food options available. 

I’ve found it helpful to make raw fruits and veggies really accessible. If I have a big bag of carrot sticks pre-washed and chopped in the fridge, fresh fruit already cut up, and eggs already hard-boiled, I have a lot fewer excuses for not grabbing a healthful snack or for not filling up on good foods at lunchtime instead of reaching for empty carbs and desserts.

Making Healthy Eating a Priority

My Personal Guidelines for Healthy Eating

A lot of people have been asking me what I’m eating now that I’m working out in earnest multiple times per week. Here are some of my own personal guidelines right now (please remember that these are my guidelines, not guidelines I think everyone should follow or adopt!):

1. Eat breakfast every day, early in the day. (I have a tendency to get busy and then it’s 10 a.m. and I’m starving… not good if you’ve been up since 5 a.m. and put in a strenuous 1+ hour workout.)
2. Eat smaller meals/snacks at least 5-6 times per day.
3. Eat when you are hungry. (i.e. If your body is telling you you need to eat, listen to it.)
4. Eat healthful foods at least 95% of the time. (I give myself a little wiggle room for splurges and cheat foods a few times per week.)
6. Eat a big salad every day.
7. Drink water. And more water.

Most importantly: I’m learning to re-define what “healthy weight” is for me. I used to let the number on the scale define me and how I felt about myself.

Weight-lifting has helped me realize that I feel happier and stronger and healthier when the number on the scale is higher than it once was. And it’s helped me feel liberated to realize that the number on the scale does not dictate or determine my worth.

You are more than a number.

Day 13 Project

1. Decide what your family’s priorities are for healthy eating and what areas you want to change or improve.

2. Pick one area that you’re going to focus on for the next 3-6 weeks. Remember to keep it simple and doable.

3. Leave a comment letting us know what area you’re committed to focus on for the next 3-6 weeks. You can do it! I’m cheering for you!

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Looking for some more practical help?

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Fall in love with exercise… even if you don’t have a fit bone in your body!

For 15 days, we’re exploring the topic of making our health and well-being a priority as part of the 15 Days to a Healthier You series. You can read Day 1 hereDay 2 here, Day 3 here, Day 4 hereDay 5 here, Day 6 here, Day 7 hereDay 8 here, Day 9 here, Day 10 here, and Day 11 here

Exercise is often one of the thing that tends to get pushed to the back burner when schedules are busy, but starting the day with a little exercise is one of the best ways to wake you up and make you feel energized for the rest of the day.

If you’re dragging along and feeling like you’re lacking energy and enthusiasm for life, exercise just might be the best antidote.

How to fall in love with exercise... even if you don't have a fit bone in your body!

Exercise is one of those things that you’ll likely never regret doing. Instead of making excuses as to why you can’t find time to exercise, change your mindset and start thinking of ways to you can fit some exercise into your morning — or somewhere in your day!

Your health is worth the sacrifice of a little time, sweat, and effort. And the trickle down benefits you’ll experience the rest of the day — in having more energy, feeling more encouraged, and feeling stronger — will make it all the more worthwhile.

If you struggle to regularly exercise, here are some practical ideas and suggestions — none of which require you to hire a personal trainer, invest a lot of money in workout equipment, or buy a gym membership!

1. Check Out a DVD From the Library

If you can’t afford to pay for a gym membership or a trainer, check out the workout DVD selection at your local library. Typically, they have quite a large variety to choose from.

Some of my favorites are by Jillian Michaels (more intense workouts) and Leslie Sansone (these are great for beginners or those looking for low impact exercise).

I’ve found exercise DVDs are a great way to mix things up — especially if my current routine seems like it’s becoming a bit mundane. And it’s a lot less inhibiting (especially as an introvert!) to work out in your basement or living room, rather than in a group of people at a class at the gym! 🙂

Free Workout Videos Online

2. Watch Exercise Videos Online

Can’t make it to the library? The internet is goldmine of exercising videos and resources. Here are some links to get you started:

How to fall in love with exercise... even if you don't have a fit bone in your body!

3. Experiment With New Things

If you don’t enjoy exercising, there’s a good chance it’s because you’ve not yet tried enough different kinds of exercise options to find one that works best for you.

Exercise doesn’t have to mean going to the gym and sweating it out on the treadmill. It could be a walk at the park with your friend, or playing basketball with your son, or swimming together as a family at the neighborhood pool, or taking a family bike ride, or walking around the mall with your husband.

There’s pretty much something out there for everyone, so keep trying things until you land upon something you love. I’ve done exercise DVDs, running, walking, bike riding, the elliptical, and this year tried my hand at rock-climbing, snow-boarding, knee-boarding, and fell in love with weight-lifting.

I didn’t know that I’d fall in love with weight-lifting. Honestly, I thought I would hate it. But I made myself go out and start doing it every day and committed to stick with it for a few weeks.

At the end of a few weeks, I realized that it wasn’t the torture it once was. Instead, there was a little part of me that was enjoying it — much to my shock. And the more I’ve done it, the more I’ve fallen in love with it!

Remember That Something is Better Than Nothing

If you only have five minutes in the morning to exercise, then exercise for five minutes. Sure, you’re probably not going to get the benefits of a 45-minute workout in five minutes, but you can definitely work up a little sweat and get your heart pumping with a short and intense workout.

Do what you can do with the time you have. Something is always better than nothing when it comes to exercise.

How to fall in love with exercise... when you don't have a fit bone in your body.

4. Find a Workout Partner

Teaming up with someone else can be a great way to be more successful when it comes to fitness. Why? Because it’s amazing how much it will motivate you to actually follow through with your plan when you know someone else is going to show up and hold you accountable!

Find someone to meet you for a morning jog, to come over and do that exercise DVD with you multiple times per week, or ask who will text or email you and see if you followed through with the goals you set for exercise each day. There are also many different online accountability forums and Facebook groups (or you could start your own!) for whatever exercise program or regimen you want to do.

I’m currently working out with my husband and a good friend every week day using a pretty intense workout plan Jesse put together based on the book Thinner, Leaner, Stronger. We work out every week day at 5 a.m. There’s incredible accountability to get up and get out of bed when you know that someone is showing up at your house at 5 a.m. to work out!

While the workouts are kicking my tail and I sometimes have a bad attitude because they are hard, I’m now at the stage where I’m all, “Bring it on!” Why? Because I have SO much more energy, feel so much better, and am already seeing some real, legit muscles in places where I’ve never seen them before. Plus, if I take a few days off, I can tell a difference — I feel more sluggish and unmotivated and I don’t sleep as well.

The best part is that my husband absolutely LOVES that I’ve become one of his workout partners. Our workouts in our garage “gym” every day have become one of our very favorite parts of the day! We cheer each other on, we sometimes tease each other, we have deep conversations while we’re resting between sets, we laugh, we process through hard things in our lives.

How to fall in love with exercise... even if you don't have a fit bone in your body!

5. Set Small Goals

A lot of people want to lose weight or run a marathon, but wanting to do something won’t get you anywhere. You have to actually set a goal and break it down into bite-sized, realistic pieces if you want to be successful.

What are your fitness goals? What tiny steps can you can take this week to help you get where you want to be in six months from now?

If you’ve never exercised before, don’t expect that you’ll be running five miles in a few weeks. Start slowly, set small goals, and focus on the progress you’re making (even if it seems tiny) instead of being discouraged by the fact that you’re not where you want to be.

You’d rather slowly build up your endurance and stamina then to try to do much more than you’re capable of and end up burning yourself out before the first week of exercise is over with.

Tip: What motivates you? Plan some rewards for when you hit your goals. Maybe you decide to put a quarter in a jar every time you exercise for 25 minutes and then you can use this money on a little special treat (coffee at the coffee shop, a used book from Amazon, etc.) every few weeks.

 

How to fall in love with exercise... even if you don't have a fit bone in your body

6. Track Your Progress

Don’t just think about the goals in your head; actually put them on paper (or on an app!) and then track your progress.

Each week, keeping a log of the workouts you do, how much time you worked out for, or how many miles you ran. This will inspire you to keep going, will encourage you as you see yourself growing stronger and building endurance.

There are many different online sites to help you track your progress such as: MyFitnessPal, SparkPeople, or Nike+. All of these have cool features that make logging your exercise time more rewarding.

I got a Jawbone UP3 earlier this year and it has literally made SUCH an impact on my life. I realized within a few days that I was getting a lot less sleep and was a lot more sedentary than I realized. The band has inspired and motivated me to make sleep and exercise a much higher priority.

It’s amazing how motivating the act of setting goals, breaking them down into small pieces, and then tracking your progress can be. You can do this — one step at a time!

How to fall in love with exercise... even if you don't have a fit bone in your body!

Day 12 Project

1. Choose one type of exercise or exercise regimen that you are going to commit to doing for the next two weeks.

2. Tell someone you’ve made this commitment — or post it in the comments here or on Facebook or other social media space.

3. Ask someone to keep you accountable to stick with your plan. Make sure you tell them what you are planning to do and when you are planning to do it.

4. Track your progress and check in with your accountability partner regularly. You can do this!!

Looking for some more practical help?

Why you might have a drinking problem & what to do about it

StrugglingToDrinkEnoughWaterEveryDay-TryThis

For 15 days, we’re exploring the topic of making our health and well-being a priority as part of the 15 Days to a Healthier You series. You can read Day 1 hereDay 2 here, Day 3 here, Day 4 hereDay 5 here, Day 6 here, Day 7 hereDay 8 here, Day 9 here, and Day 10 here

Most of us suffer from dehydration, whether we know it or not. Many times, we think we have some physical problem in need of medical attention, but the cause could be that we just need to drink more water!

Drinking more water boosts your metabolism, fights fatigue, improves your skin, encourages better digestion, relieves headaches, and might even improve your mood! Which is why it is so important that we make getting hydrated more of a priority.

How to Drink More Water Every Single Day

Need some encouragement to drink more water? Here are five ideas:

1. Track Your Water Intake

The average adult should drink at least 64 to 80 ounces of water per day. If you think you’re currently drinking that much, track your water intake each day for two weeks. You might be surprised to realize you don’t drink as much as you think you do!

There are many ways to track your water intake — apps like the Waterlogged app, printable worksheets to track water intake, or even a custom time-marked bottle with daily goals.

Lindsey emailed me and said:

“I’ve known for years and years that I need to drink more water. The problem wasn’t that I drank soda or juice instead of water….the problem was that I simply wasn’t drinking enough at all. I used to set goals for drinking more water and then I beat myself up over not achieving them. I thought I had a will-power problem, I thought I wasn’t trying hard enough, I thought there was something wrong with me, etc.

Then one thing happened that changed it all. My husband bought me this water bottle for Christmas last year — the Hydr-8 Water Bottle.

This bottle made drinking 8 glasses of water a breeze. My husband fills the cup for me before going to work and I only need to refill it once at the office! Yes! I know exactly how much water I am drinking (it’s like the water bottle version of the Dave Ramsey envelope system…it’s very easy to track how much money or water you have left).

[The only downside is that it looks a little funny to take to office meetings … so I keep a regular water bottle on hand at my desk for those.]

The big lesson that I learned is that we are too eager to beat ourselves up when we don’t achieve a goal. In my case of not drinking enough water, it wasn’t that I was a bad person or that I lacked willpower or that there was something wrong with me — the problem was that I needed a system that put water consumption on auto-pilot; I needed to put conditions in place that made success inevitable. -Lindsey

You might have a drinking problem & what to do about it

2. Find a Cup/Glass/Water Bottle You Love

I don’t really have any scientific proof to back this up, but I’ve certainly found it to be true in my own life: when I have a cup/glass/bottle that I love, I’m much more apt to drink more water. Splurge and buy yourself a cute cup or water bottle and see if this is true for you, too!

I love to drink out of Mason Jars with ice and a stainless steel straw. TJ Maxx usually has quite a great selection of cute water bottles, glass water bottles, and mason jars. You can also check your dollar store to see what they offer. If you are willing to spend a little bit more, you might check out the following bottles: Glass Water Bottle, CamelBak Water Bottle, and Contigo Water Bottle.

I’ve found it helpful to always have a glass of water nearby me, no matter where I am. And when it’s a glass or bottle that I love, it makes me smile and makes me reach for it more often.

3. Start Your Day With Water

Most of us do not drink anything for at least 6-8 hours overnight… which means that we wake up dehydrated every morning.

Chris Bailey from A Life of Productivity says:

One of the best things you can do after you wake up: drink at least 16oz (500mL) of water. Water fires up your metabolism, hydrates you, helps your body flush out toxins, gives your brain fuel, and may even make you eat less.

Many experts recommend starting your day with Lemon Water instead of just plain water. Here are some other beverage ideas to start your day with — most that are water based.

You might have a drinking problem & what to do about it

To be honest, the thought of drinking water right as soon as I wake up is a bit much. I usually get up, get dressed in my workout clothes, and go to the garage to workout. Within about 10-15 minutes, I make myself a glass of ice water and try to start sipping on that and get down at least 8 oz. before making coffee. I can definitely tell a difference in how I feel overall when I do this.

4. Drink Water Instead of Soda

Drinking soda pop is addictive and expensive. If you drink one pop per day and you get it on sale with a coupon, that’s still close to $100 spent per year for one person. If you pay for drinks from a restaurant or vending machine and you drink one pop per day, it’s going to be closer to $150 to $250 or more spent in a year for your soda pop habit.

There is almost no redeeming value in soda pop, except that maybe it tastes good and makes you feel good. {Though it does neither for me, but I also basically never drink it — because I’m weird like that! :)} The calories in non-diet drinks can wreak havoc on your weight and the chemicals in the diet drinks can wreak havoc on your health.

So, all that to say, I’d heartily encourage you to consider cutting back on the soda habit — or maybe even get brave and ditch it altogether?

One simple way to start: Order water at restaurants when you go out. Drinks are one of the most price-inflated purchases at restaurants. Order water with lemon and you’ll cut calories and costs. Not to mention that water is one of the most healthful things you can drink.

My husband's brilliant idea for getting us to drink more water!

5. Experiment With Flavored Waters

Don’t like the taste of plain water? Don’t despair! There are so many combinations for flavored water that can change things up. If you’re looking for Flavored Water Recipes, check out this post for lots of ideas and suggestions.

Earlier this year, Jesse came up with the idea to make Flavored Water for us on a daily basis. He went and found a jar at Kohl’s to use (Amazon has a similar jar available), and has been making new flavored water combinations for us. It makes me kind of feel like I’m staying at a high-end resort every time I get a glass of water! You can do the same idea on-the-go with an Infusion Water Bottle.

Other ideas for getting more water are to drink herbal tea (hot or iced) or one of the many, many variations of Good Girl Moonshine.

How to Drink More Water Every Single Day

Day 11 Project

1. Track your water intake for at least 2-3 days to see if you’re getting enough water on a daily basis. This might surprise you!

2. Pick one of the ideas listed above for making getting hydrated more of a priority and think of a simple way you’re going to incorporate it into your daily life.

3. Leave a comment and tell us what you’re planning to do in order to drink more water. I can’t wait to hear your creative ideas!

Looking for some more practical help?

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.


Why you need to stop short-changing your sleep

For 15 days, we’re exploring the topic of making our health and well-being a priority as part of the 15 Days to a Healthier You series. You can read Day 1 hereDay 2 here, Day 3 here, Day 4 hereDay 5 here, Day 6 here, Day 7 here, Day 8 here, and Day 9 here

For years, I ran myself ragged. I burned the candle at both ends. I thought that the best way to be more productive was to be as organized as possible, work as efficiently as possible, and get up really early.

Being organized, working efficiently, and getting up early can all be great things, but in my case, I forgot one very important truth: if I get up really early only to go throughout my day completely exhausted, I won’t be able to work anywhere near as efficiently and I won’t be able to stay at all as organized and focused.

Not only that, but not getting enough sleep for days and days and days on end is a surefire way to hurt your health and to probably also go through life feeling frazzled and irritable.

Today we’re going to talk about the importance of getting a great night’s sleep. I truly believe that this one of the keys to a better morning. When you wake up feeling refreshed, rested, and energetic, you’ve given yourself a huge head start for a fantastic day.

Ever since I first started blogging, I’ve known and preached the importance of good sleep. For years, it was something I really wanted to make happen and did try to make a priority, but between babies and toddlers and a business and life, it was hard for it to ever really consistently happen.

I love the quote that says, “If it’s important to you, you’ll find the time. If it’s not important to you, you’ll find an excuse.” This was true for me with sleep.

Even though I preached all about sleep and had amazing intentions to get good sleep, it was rare that I actually got a good night’s rest more than a few days in a row. And there were a number of periods of time where I ran on fumes for days on end and had to just keep pushing through in order to meet the deadlines and goals I had, follow through with my commitments, and still have time for my family.

I had bought into the lie that, “I had no other choice.” That I needed to say “yes” to these things in order to be a good businesswoman, a good friend, a strategic author, a good wife, a good mom.

Go to Bed Early Challenge: Want to join me?

In reality, I had brought almost all the stress, the to-do’s, and the tasks on myself. I had said “yes”, I had chosen to feel obligated, I had set those goals. I was the problem, but I was also the solution! I could choose to say “no”, I could choose to not feel obligated, and I could set fewer goals.

This Year of Rest has been bursting with lessons and a-ha moments. One of the greatest lessons for me has been that saying “no” to a bunch of things hasn’t ruined my life or my business. If anything, it’s made things so much better because I’m only doing a few things which means I can do those few things really, really well. And not just that, but I can also fully enjoy those few things instead of feeling stressed over what else I still have to do and what’s coming up right around the corner.

This breathing room in my life has giving me the space to start actually getting good sleep. Not just one good night’s rest here and there. No, it’s becoming very rare that I get less than six hours of sleep in a night and it’s becoming very normal for me to wake up before my alarm clock — something I basically never, ever did before.

2 Strategies for Better Sleep

If you’re struggling to get enough sleep at night, I want to challenge you to try these two strategies:

1. Learn Your Triggers

Are there specific things that are keeping you from getting a good night’s rest? Things that are either keeping you up at night or keeping you from going to bed at a decent hour or waking you up early in the morning?

Now obviously, those things might not be a thing; they might be a baby or a toddler who is waking up at night! I get that because that was my life for about six years. My nights were full of interruptions and crying babies needing to be fed.

But in that season, I also had other triggers: I was addicted to busyness and productivity. I felt worth from what I did. And I had bought into the lie of chasing after “more”.

So instead of getting up with the babies and then letting myself sleep in or take a nap to compensate, I got up early and worked through the baby’s naps. Because there was always so much to do… almost all of which I had put on myself.

As I’ve talked about before, I struggle with being a performer and a people-pleaser and this fed into how I short-changed my sleep.

I have been so challenged by Emily Freeman’s quote in Simply Tuesday“When I’m performing for my own acceptance, burnout is always the result.”

If you’re feeling worn down and worn out, take a step back and examine if any of the exhaustion is a result of trying to earn someone else’s acceptance. Are you only saying “yes” to that opportunity because you want someone to like you? Are you only volunteering or sending that email or showing up for that event just so someone else will be impressed with you?

5 Days to a Better Morning Challenge

2. Track Your Sleep

One of the most helpful things I’ve done in the past two years is to start tracking my sleep. I always had a general idea of how much sleep I was getting, but actually tracking itreally opened up my eyes in big ways.

I started out by tracking my sleep with the Sleep Cycle App. This is an app that you download and run on your phone during the night. You choose a 30-minute window of time when you’d like to wake up and then it tracks your sleep patterns (based upon your movements) and wakes you up when it’s the most optimum time during that window.

The Sleep Cycle app also tracks your sleep and gives you a report each day on your sleep cycles and how deep and restful your sleep was. You can read more how it works here.

While I found this to be a really great start, I felt like the tracking wasn’t as accurate or in-depth as I wanted. Sometimes when it would say I got great sleep, I didn’t feel like I had.

So I started researching other options. Though I had resisted getting a fitness tracker for a long time as they felt like such a “fad”, I finally caved and bought myself a Jawbone UP3 at the beginning of this year. I’m SO glad that I did as it truly made such a difference for me.

Not only have I found myself much, much more motivated to be active and get in more steps, I’ve found that the sleep tracking has been incredibly enlightening.

For instance, I’ve learned that when I go to bed hungry, I don’t sleep as well. I’ve also learned that it takes me a lot longer to actually go to sleep than I realized. So I’ve made adjustments to my schedule so that I’m in bed for at least 7 1/2 hours in order to get close to 7+ good hours of sleep.

I’ve also determined that stress and certain other factors result in a lot lighter sleep. So I’ve worked on eliminating as many of those things from my life — or at least around bedtime! — so that I’ll sleep more restfully.

In not only making sleep a priority, but also in making deep sleep a priority, I’ve discovered that I have much better focus, I feel a lot calmer, I’m a lot less irritable, and I’m a lot happier! And all of those things definitely help make for better mornings!

5 Ways to Get Better Sleep

5 Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

Struggling to get more sleep? Here are 5 suggestions:

1. Go to bed earlier.

If you’re having a difficult time going to bed early, you can try the shock technique or the gradual technique. The shock technique involves getting up earlier a couple days in a row, until you’re so exhausted that you can’t wait to fall into bed earlier than usual. (This is actually why I did the get up early challenge first, so that I could force myself to get used to an earlier bed time.)

The gradual technique involves gradually teaching your body to adapt by choosing an earlier bedtime by 5 minutes each evening until you’ve reset your bedtime to what you want it to be. Once you’ve reset your bed time, try to go to bed at the same time each night.

Most importantly, learn how to go to bed when you’re tired. Don’t wait for your body to catch that second, third, or fourth wind.

2. Plan ahead for great sleep.

Start getting ready for bed at least an hour before you want to go to bed. Having an evening routine can really help you get in the mindset for going to bed.

Think about what helps you relax. Maybe it’s reading a book, taking a bath, or listening to music.

You can also prep your environment for a great night’s sleep. Here are just a few suggestions from my Say Goodbye to Survival Mode book:

  • Make sure your room is cool and dark.
  • Dim the lights early.
  • Have white noise in the background as you fall asleep.
  • Try using an eye mask or ear plugs to block out sight and sound.
  • Diffuse or apply lavender essential oils.

I personally love drinking Sleepy Time Tea as part of my evening routine and applying Badger Sleep Balm to my feet before bed.

3. Drink less caffeine.

I love my coffee, and I will not be giving it up any time soon. I do limit myself to two cups per day, and I try not to drink it after 3 p.m. each day.

If you’re struggling with falling asleep at night, limiting your caffeine intake might be something worth trying.

4. Turn off the electronics.

Turn off the electronics at least an hour before bed time. Taking e-mail off of my phone helped me so much. I used to instinctively check my e-mail right before bed and feel like I needed to deal with it right away, which always prevented me from winding down and relaxing because my brain wouldn’t shut down properly.

Now I try to shut down the computer after dinner and not turn it back on until the following day. This helps my mind stay calm so that I can wind down, relax, and wind down at night.

I’ve also found that when my mind is racing, it helps me so much to write down anything that’s keeping me awake. This is why I love brain dumping and planning out the following day before I go to bed each night. It makes for a much more peaceful night’s sleep, knowing everything is out of my brain and onto paper.

5. Give yourself grace.

Sometimes you don’t get a good night’s rest, and that’s okay. Choose to make the most of the day and try again tonight, even if last night didn’t go well!

Day 10 Project

1. Think through what your triggers are that are keeping you from getting a great night’s sleep. Are there things you could avoid, remove, or eliminate from your life in order to cut down on hindrances to a good night’s sleep?

2. Start tracking your sleep and see what you learn from it. I recommend tracking it for at least two weeks so you can notice trends and see what’s working and what’s not working.

Looking for some more practical help?

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.