Physical fitness does not mean the most fit person or the person who finishes the most races is the healthiest. Taking care of your physical self involves the movement of your body, your food and drink intake, and how much you sleep.

Running a marathon can be life changing. I have checked that box, but today I am not able to run down the block. Yet I can still be fit in other ways. I refer to this as “fitness without a finish line.” I have no diagnosis besides “things happen as we age.” This is not a blog about fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and the like. I am not a doctor. But I work on finding physical activity I can do today that will allow my body to keep doing the things I ask of it 30 – 50 years from now. What kinds of things have you tried to get moving?

I am not a registered dietician. I am not going to tell you that gluten is Satan or that you need to only eat cabbage soup and bananas for a week each quarter so that you will live a more intentional life. But what food choices are sustainable long term for you? What changes are you willing to make?

Sleep is my jam. I go to sleep before not just my kids, but really – all kids. I think I was a pioneer in my previous life the way I sleep and wake according to the sun setting and rising. This used to embarrass me, but sleep is the new Botox! It will cure what ails you, gang. I aim to convince you of that.

Is Sleep Self-Care?

Wow – so many of you reached out to me after last week’s post about deep feelings around Simone Biles. Thank you so much. I am slowly working on peeling the layers of the onion when it comes to writing about vulnerable topics, especially when they might be controversial.

Today’s peeling is less controversial, but still on the personal side.

I am 47 years old and only recently started staying up until 9:00 pm.

Source: Photo by Lux Graves on Unsplash

Sleep is a foundational component for me to live a life I don’t need to escape. I wonder if it might be for you too. We have talked in previous posts about the changes to your body when you are sleep deprived. In the past I have given you tips to making adjustments to your SusPro components to improve sleep.

Have you done it yet?

Why Not?

What is keeping you from getting the sleep you need? Be honest.

Is it the expectation that fun only happens after midnight?

Mindless numbing out to TV shows is more appealing than boring going to bed early?

Do you tell yourself post kids’ bedtime routine is the only grown up time or alone time you have?

Now I want to suggest you throw these reasons up against this framework to see if they stick. Byron Katie has a set of 4 questions that can help us truly inquire into our motives, thoughts and feelings.

  1. Is it true?
  2. Can you absolutely know this is true?
  3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
  4. Who would you be without that thought?

Let’s look at an example related to sleep. If you ask yourself what is keeping you from getting the sleep you need, you may come back with an answer along these lines: After the kids go to bed is the only time I have for myself.

Is it true? Is it really true that this is the only “free time” you have? Have you tried moving things around your weekend schedule to make time to be alone? If you look at your workday are there pockets of time that could be dedicated to what you want to do?

Can you absolutely know this is true? Have you tried to do a time study to see where your time goes? It may feel like you don’t have any time for yourself, but once you see it objectively in a time tracker, you may find out this is not actually true.

How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? What if it is true that this is the only free time you have for yourself? Notice what happens in your body when you realize that you spend 18 hours every day serving everyone else and leaving only crumbs for yourself? Do you feel sad? Anxious?

Who would you be without that thought? Katie coaches us to, “Take a moment to reflect, observe, and experience the situation again, this time without the thought. Who or what you would be without the thought?” In this example, what would you be if you were not a person who only had time for self-care by cutting into sleep/recovery time?

Why Not!

Let’s step away from the buzzword use of self-care for a second. Being rested is simply the right thing to do for your mental and physical health. You don’t have to frame it in a certain way to get what you need. I love what Marc Randolph had to say about this in his book about his founding of Netflix, That Will Never Work.

“But when I needed a morning off, to mountain bike and clear my head, I took it. Nowadays they call that ‘self-care.’ Back then, we just called it common sense. If we were going to try to fundamentally change an entire industry, we needed to have our wits about us,” Marc Randolph, Netflix founder.

What do you have to lose by at least trying to get more sleep? I am not saying you have have an 8 year old’s bed time like I do, but you will be surprised what 30-90 more minutes of sleep can do. Even lying in bed reading, doing deep breathing exercises, or meditating can help. Perhaps increasing your rest leading up to sleep can be a gateway of sorts to improving your sleep habits.

“Nowadays they call that ‘self-care.’ Back then, we just called it common sense.” Mark Randolph, Netflix Founder

Your Turn

What is one small adjustment you can make to improve your sleep habits? Maybe you want to consider why you stay up late even though you drag through half the morning. It might be starting to track your time to consider why you think you don’t have more time for yourself. Maybe adjustments to your environmental surroundings to give yourself a better chance at a good night’s sleep is the right next step.

Whatever it might be for you, let me know how it goes and what it brings up for you!

By |2021-08-16T20:05:11-04:00August 17th, 2021|Health & Fitness|0 Comments

The Birth of Fitness Without a Finish Line

Once upon a time, the only thing people knew to ask me about was what race I was training for. Between running and triathlon, there was always something on the calendar. No matter the weather or the state of my body and mind, I NEVER forfeited an entry fee. Even if it meant literally or proverbially limping across the finish line.

This was not sustainable, nor productive.

So in my early 40’s I set out to define Sustainably Productive fitness for myself. This is how the idea of Fitness without a Finish Line was born.

Step One – Identify What Isn’t Working

The first step was to identify what was not working for me. This fell into two main areas.

How I exercised. I was always trying to go faster or longer. When I finished an Olympic distance tri, I had to go for half Ironman distance. I knew I would never win so I had to try to impress people with the distances I was able to go. Even if “able” meant nerve pain sending streaks of pain through my foot or chronic headaches after every swim.

I also stuck to the schedule NO MATTER WHAT. I biked in storms, barely able to find old barns for shelter from lightning. I ran across icy roads barely able to keep from sliding. I swam in lakes in early morning dark hours when I could only hear (not see) the nearest person to me (I keep telling myself it was a person I was hearing).

I am lucky to have come out the other side of such poor choices as unscathed as I have.

Why I exercised. The short story is I needed approval (the long story is for my therapist). Whether it was wows over the distances or societal approval over my appearance, I exercised hard to bring in all the gold stars.

Running burns lots of calories quickly so I stuck to races that incorporated some kind of running. Even though I have exercised-induced asthma, I would run through colds, often pushing them over the edge into bronchitis – just so I could maximize the energy expenditure.

There were several tipping points to bring about my need for change. Once I identified that I needed to make some changes, I started with small adjustments.

Step Two – Make Small Adjustments

Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. SusPro methodology identifies value in what you are doing and encourages doing more of what works while you make adjustments in what is not working. Here are a few adjustments that I made.

  1. Racing sabbatical – no race entries for 6 months to see how it felt. The weirdest thing was that I did not have any quick conversation topics. Needless to say, this felt like a whole different problem that what we are talking about today. By calling it a sabbatical, I did not have to dramatically declare that I was never going to race again. I was just trying on this non-racing identity to see how it felt. Spoiler: I have not entered a race in about 5 years.
  2. Increased emphasis on pre-hab. Instead of waiting for injury to strike and cause another round of physical therapy rehab, I now have a pre-hab PT routine that helps to prevent those injuries. I added in some body weight exercises to boost my bone density where I can. Over the course of about 6 months I have gradually increased my pushups and can now do 100 military pushups in a day’s worth of strength training / pre-hab.
  3. Challenging yoga. My yoga studio closed during COVID forcing me to find another hot home for yoga. Never in a million years did I think I would land in power yoga classes in a hot studio. This is power yoga in 95-100 degree rooms. And I love it. This is for sure a COVID silver lining.

Step Three – Evaluate Progress

I track various fitness components in a spreadsheet. Here is a sneak peek from yesteryear (2018 I had knee surgery so the whole year was a bit of an outlier). Some days it feels useless to mark that I walked 1 mile, but over several months, it sure adds up.

And to be able to look back over YEARS is also pretty cool! Don’t try to recreate the past – just start today. You can download the Sustainable You Habit Tracker here for free!

As you are evaluating this progress, you just return to step 1 and evaluate what is not working and make more adjustments. You might have different seasons where schedules, weather, and interests impact your exercise routine. That is ok as long as you keep going. Be heartened that there is no finish line. You are never last, you can never fail as long as you keep trying.

Your Turn

Tell me about your exercise routine, choices, fears, and habits!

By |2021-07-12T13:36:15-04:00July 13th, 2021|Health & Fitness|0 Comments

Spring clean your body

This seems like a really dumb time to talk about how to spring clean your body. As I sit here writing this in Feb 2021, we are only 5 days out from one ice storm and in the middle of another. We are wedged tightly in the middle of winter.

Crepe myrtle branches covered in ice.

But it won’t always be like this. Spring will come – I promise. And with it comes droves of headlines about getting “Beach Body Ready” and “Spring Clean Your Body!”

While you can reduce the amount of these messages that come at you (the Media Lesson in the Environmental Surroundings Course can help you with this), you won’t get rid of them all. You cannot control how the messages come at you, but you can control how you accept them and incorporate them into your life.

Let me show you how.

Identify What Isn’t Working

Being bombarded with message to “Spring Clean Your Body!” gives off a vibe that what you have needs an overhaul. I would like to suggest that maybe throwing out everything about the person you are is not a Sustainably Productive way to change your habits or think about your Health and Fitness. By identifying what isn’t working you can start to make small, gradual changes that help you create a life you don’t want to escape.

Identify what isn’t working: Maybe you are exhausted all day. That dragging fatigue leaves you less motivated to exercise or cook healthy meals. Which leads to poor food choices, which leads to poor sleep… leaving you exhausted the next day. Vicious cycle.

The root of what isn’t working in this scenario is sleep – the foundation of all healthy habits. If you ever find yourself unsure where to start, I recommend addressing sleep habits first.

Step 1: Identify what isn’t working. Answer: Sleep

Once you identify what isn’t working you can move on to make adjustments.

Make an Adjustment

An adjustment can come in many forms, but I want to offer 2 different buckets that adjustments might fall into.

  • Something you do.

Experts recommend 7-9 hours of sleep for adults, but if you are sitting at a solid 5 hours nightly, lying in bed for 9 hours is not a Sustainably Productive adjustment to make. Start small. Make the action step something that is productive for you – it has to work for you, not just be something the experts tell you that you SHOULD. I also encourage you to make it sustainable – it has to be something you can keep doing. It is ok it you don’t get to the “should.” Just make it something you can repeat.

Here is an example. If you got 5 hours of sleep last night, go to bed 15 minutes earlier tonight. That’s it. Even if you lay awake for that 15 minutes. Then do it again tomorrow night. And the night after.

There is another type of adjustment you can make besides an action step.

  • Something you think about what you do.

A mind shift, reconsideration, or full on paradigm shift. Stop thinking about sleep as being the last thing in your day. This is just leaving you in a cold sweaty pool of panic, “HOW CAN THE DAY BE OVER, MY LIST IS NOT DONE!” No one sleeps well in a sweaty pool of panic. What if you shifted your thinking about sleep to be the start of the new day? Instead of sleep being a futile exercise in restoring the damage a stressful day caused, you start to think about it as building up reserves for the next day?

Step 2: Make an adjustment.

Evaluate Progress

After a few days – a week at most – check in with yourself to see how this adjustment is serving you. This is a simple 3-step process.

  1. Put it on the calendar. It may seem dumb to have a 5 minute appointment to ask yourself if thinking about sleep differently is helping you avoid a cold sweaty pool of panic. But life gets busy and time flies by. I know so many moms that kept a calendar of the baby’s poop schedule. I daresay your sleep habits are as important as poop.
  2. Answer the check in questions. Download the worksheet to answer the questions to decide if an adjustment is working for you.
  3. Make adjustments. If what you did worked, do a little more of it – back up your bedtime 15 more minutes for next week. If your adjustment did not work, ask why. Maybe you forgot to consider sleep as the start of the day and monkey mind kept you up again. Perhaps a reminder on your phone would help. At 9:00 pm (or whenever you want to start your evening routine), a reminder pops up: Today is over, you did your best. It is time to start tomorrow with the sleep I am about to have. Maybe you have the mindset, but it is so hot in your room you cannot sleep. Now your adjustment becomes action, not mindset. Adjust the temp by 1 degree every few nights until you find what works.

Step 3: Evaluate your progress.

Repeat As Needed

This process is a never ending loop. Today’s “Spring Clean Your Body” challenge might be sleep, but if you keep applying the Sustainable Productivity process and tools to it you eventually will create sleep habits that work for you. At that point you will ask the question, “What isn’t working,” and another answer will come up.

If you are getting another answer besides sleep today, let me know what it is. Let’s talk about it in the comments below!

By |2021-02-21T09:09:41-05:00March 2nd, 2021|Health & Fitness|0 Comments

Sleep Deprivation is Making You Overweight

Exercise and nutrition are not the only factors that contribute to weight loss – your sleep deprivation is making you overweight.

Are you filled with self-hate because you have gained weight since starting to work night shift?

Do you rely on will power to keep you from high calorie, high fat, salty foods when you are sleep deprived?

The first step to a healthy, Sustainably Productive life is to get the sleep your body needs. Let’s take a trip back to Biochemistry class to look at why. But no quizzes, exams or lab experiments this time, I promise!

Basic Biochemistry

There are a couple hormones that contribute to feelings of hunger: Ghrelin and Leptin.

Ghrelin is a hormone that increases hunger, while Leptin decreases hunger. I imagine Ghrelin looking like Stripe, the Gremlin. I also know my hunger can do some damage to a bag of kettle chips just like Stripe did damage to his world in Gremlins.

Tell me you don’t feel like this when your stomach is growling. Photo source: https://images.app.goo.gl/zxnFvyNbmb5DxzgT9

When you are sleep deprived, your body releases Ghrelin which leads to increased hunger. This seems to be primarily related to acute (short term) sleep loss.

Here is how this could look.

Short Term Sleep Deprivation

Let’s say you are a teacher nearing the end of the semester. You have piles of ungraded projects that need to be completed, then grades calculated and turned in by a non-negotiable deadline. Because of a looming final exam and end of term project, your students have lots of questions. They come to you in person and your after school/office hours time runs longer than usual.

Those that don’t see you in person send emails that you need to answer. There is no getting ahead so only after the last exam is taken and project turned in can you begin to grade. Long days turn into late nights until the work is done.

To keep you going through the pile of projects and exams you may get up early and stay up late for a few days until grades are turned in. This is short term sleep deprivation. Your body releases Ghrelin.

These are the times when a handful of M&M’s won’t do. Gone is the bag.

You seem hungrier than usual so you may eat more often and more.

This increased hunger leads to more snacking, which leads to weight gain. That short term sleep deprivation is making you overweight.

It is not lack of willpower – it is hormones your body releases thinking it is doing right by you. Something similar happens with long term sleep deprivation.

Long Term Sleep Deprivation

When you are sleep deprived, your body inhibits leptin which leads to increased appetite and storage of body fat. Data from the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study found that sleep deprivation is a greater contributor to obesity that hormone imbalance causing high leptin levels, and that sleep deprivation is directly linked to increased BMI. This seems to be primarily related to chronic sleep loss – continued sleep deprivation over time.

Shift work is an example of a situation where this would play out. Working overnight and sleeping during the day is counter to your natural sleep patterns and causes leptin to be suppressed, which leads to storage of body fat.

This long term sleep deprivation is making you overweight.

The reason for our bodies doing this goes all the way back to prehistoric times. In the Sustainable You Course you can learn about why your body thinks using Ghrelin and Leptin trying to be good to you as well as what to do to reduce this impact.

In the meantime, I invite you to give yourself a break. A healthy weight is not just about exercise and calorie intake. Take a good look at your sleep habits to see if there are changes you can make life more Sustainably Productive.

By |2020-12-07T07:48:12-05:00December 8th, 2020|Health & Fitness|0 Comments

Quick Breakfast Recipe to Change Your Mornings

This quick breakfast recipe will change your mornings. Now, I am no chef so this is not going to be complicated. It is the productivity coach version of a perfect recipe.

Breakfast literally “breaks” the “fast” of not eating while you were asleep. The first meal of the morning replenishes your body’s supply of glucose, which in turn boosts your energy level and alertness.

You know breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Your mothers told you. Health teachers told you in school. Every magazine article on health told you. Yet it is often skipped in favor of coffee or extra sleep.

There are very few things I will insist a client include in her morning routine, but breakfast is one of them. I get some pushback, but this recipe contradicts each of the arguments against breakfast. I will give you an example of a challenge in each of the pillars of Sustainable Productivity – Health & Fitness, Mental Well-being, and Physical Environment.

Health & Fitness

Argument: I don’t have the ingredients.

No big deal – just dice whatever veggies you do have. Just a couple handfuls. No veggies? Toss in a few herbs. Doesn’t really even matter what – oregano, dill, garlic, even rosemary. Just a pinch of each.

I think cheese makes everything better so I always top off each cup with cheese. You can leave it off if you are lactose intolerant or not a cheese fan. I recently made these and did not have shredded cheddar cheese so I just tore apart pieces of sliced Colby. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. It did not look pretty before it went into the oven, but it sure came out delicious!

Mental Well-being

Argument: I don’t have time to cook in the morning.

I have a solution for you. Knock out a batch of this quick breakfast recipe on Sunday, and you have 2 egg bites ready for every day of the work week (plus 2 for the freezer for another week). If you add breakfast meat you will get even more egg bites out of each batch. Last weekend the grocery store had Boston butt on sale so Bixby got one and made chorizo. After mixing in a bit of chorizo, I had 20 egg bites instead of the usual 12. More for the freezer for a future week when I don’t even have 20 minutes to make a batch of bites.

Physical Environment

Argument: I am not hungry in the morning.

Brilliant! These puppies will travel wherever you go. They are good cold if you don’t have a way to heat them up once you get to your destination. The flexibility of this breakfast will be good for wherever you are – home, the car, the office, or school!

There is no excuse for skipping breakfast. This quick recipe can change your mornings with just a short amount of prep. Here are the bones of the recipe. Mix it up and make it your own!

Quick and Easy Egg Bites

12 eggs

1/2 cup milk

vegetables

cheese

crumbled breakfast meat

Mix together and cook in muffin pan (don’t use wrappers) for 20-25 minutes on 375 degrees.

By |2020-09-13T17:19:09-04:00September 15th, 2020|Health & Fitness|0 Comments

3 Reasons to Let Go

As we develop sustainably productive habits, there is a need to flip the coin over to look at what we need to stop doing. To let go of what is not serving us physically, mentally, and environmentally means we make room for what we want to build in our lives. 

Let’s be clear – letting go is hard. But we can do hard things. I am inspired by what Louise Smith has to say about it.

“You can’t reach for anything new if your hands are full of junk.”

Louise Smith

Today’s post will apply this idea to each of the three dimensions of sustainably productivity. 

Physical 

For many years I considered myself an endurance athlete. I raced in dozens of triathlons, half marathons and marathons. I am turtle slow, but they gave me a race bib so I call what I did racing. All the miles eventually caught up with me and running became unsustainable for my body. I had a few orthopedic surgeries. Then the doctor said if I wanted to be able to hike and walk the dog in my 80s I needed to stop running now in my 40s. 

I cried right there in the office. I did not want to let go of running. Which is so ironic considering 

1 – I am not good at it. See Team Turtle comment above.

2 – For years playing basketball, running was punishment.

3 – Running hurt.

But alas, love hurts, right? All the songs tell us that. But Tina Turner reminds us: What’s Love Got to Do With It? 

Lucky for me I was in a place in life where I was making changes towards sustainable productivity. I knew that continuing to run was not something that would be productive for me long term. That surgeon knew exactly what button to push with me.

Yes – I do want to be able to get out in nature in my 80s (and beyond!). If I needed to leave my ego and my running shoes behind to do that, I was open to it. 

Mental

Speaking of Tina Turner, have you ever been in a relationship you knew had run its course. You knew it was not good for you, but you just did not seem to leave it? We may not have an extreme version like Ike in our lives. But I bet we all have Ike-light relationships we are hanging on to because it’s hard to let go. 

Do any of these sound familiar to you:

  • A friend who is always bashing her spouse and encourages stories about frustrations with your partner. 
  • A coworker you go to lunch with regularly who has to “one up” everything you say.
  • A book club where you are the only one who actually reads the book and didn’t just come to drink wine. 

Relationships can weigh heavily on our minds, drag down our spirits, and even negatively impact our physical health. After following 10,000 subjects for 12 years, a study found that compared to subjects in healthy relationships, those in negative relationships were at a greater risk for developing cardiac issues – including fatal heart attacks.

We need to let go of relationships that do not support who we are or who we want to be. This will make space for relationships that are sustainably productive. Maybe that relationship is with yourself. 

What would happen if you ate lunch alone instead of with your needy colleague? You might read, listen to music or podcasts, or just sit and eat with no distractions. What if this is the break you needed to take your afternoons by storm. Could you finally make headway on that project that has been stalled? 

What if you surround yourself with other women who cherish their partner? Sure they still have conflict in their relationships. But they have encouraging stories about how they worked through it because they had a partner who was worth it. 

Without letting go of the relationships that are not working for you, you can’t make way for the ones that will serve you and sustain you. 

Let go

Environmental

Decluttering is always popular and it seems like this quote applies most intuitively here. If you are hanging on to your literal junk, you cannot reach for anything new. 

I have a section of my closet dedicated to my business suits. I no longer wear business suits. If I am honest, I probably no longer fit into said business suits, but am unsure because it’s been 15 pounds 10 years since I tried. 

But alas I cannot let go of these suits. As I have been cleaning out closets in our home, these suits have loomed large in my conscience. They seem to be waving at me (or flipping me the bird) when I go into my closet. I seem to be given them lots of power. 

Instead of just fabric, for me they represent moments in my career where I felt strong and in flow:

  • Job interviews
  • TV segments
  • VIP presentations 
  • Community lectures

I finally took down one suit over the weekend and channeled my inner Marie Kondo. As I took it off the hanger, I thought of all these moments of flow with fondness. I had a moment of Wizard of Oz type of clarity that the suit did not give me strength and flow to deliver on these occasions. It was in me all along. I am still here, the business suit was just a witness to it. And now it is time to allow it to witness for someone else. It is time for me to reach for something new. In order to do that I need to let go of these suits. 

Now to be clear, I was still a little sad and still have about 10 more suits in the closet. But a start was made. That is all we need to do today is start. 

What do you need to break off a little piece and let go of? Is there something in your life that you are holding tight that you might need to release? What if you just loosen the grip?

How naps are saving me during COVID-19

Naps are definitely one of the things that is saving my sanity (and marriage, if I am honest) during COVID-19 Stay at Home Order. When I feel my mood, productivity, and general mojo slide, I will set the timer and get a little shut eye.

But real talk? Naps are not a new thing for me.

When I was little my ability to sleep anywhere at anytime was a family joke. I regularly fell asleep before we left the block. Once I fell asleep standing up on the front passenger floorboard of the car, hands on the dash (this was before the time of mandatory seatbelts, of course). On a family vacation I slept my way across the Canadian border, unconscious to the border agent looking into our car and everything. When I started driving I did not know how to get anywhere because I was never awake on car trips.

Let's begin by taking a smallish nap or two. AA Milne

My mom always told me, “You’re going to sleep your life away!” like it was a bad thing. Turns out, Young Susan was onto something. According to the Sleep Foundation, 85% of mammals take naps. Many of these mammals are super stars:

  • Winston Churchill
  • John F. Kennedy
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Napoleon
  • Albert Einstein
  • Thomas Edison
  • Susan Sanders*

*OK, the Sleep Foundation did not have me on the list, but I am a rock star mammal napper.

under bed covers
Me in my natural super star mammal napping habitat.

The benefits of napping are well documented. I have talked about naps here, and there have been more scientific looks into it as well. Not only does it make me feel less stabby, but NASA says military pilots and astronauts who napped for 40-minute improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%.

If you like more aggressive benefits, Sleep.org says napping can “zap stress.” There are lots of hormonal explanations of this that we won’t get into here. I just love the idea of a nagging stress ball being lasered away by Mister Sandman while I am burrito’d under the covers.

There are some naysayers among you. These people fall into one of 2 camps.

  1. FOMOs. Those who are afraid they will miss out on things if they nap. My sister falls into this category. Our mom always lamented the toddler days because Sister was always popping up from naps to find out what everyone else was doing. The weird thing is that she does not seem to be able to nap or need naps. I am not sure what to say about this – doesn’t seem possible.
  2. Nap Deniers. Those who say it isn’t possible to be refreshed in short amounts of time or sleep that night if you conk out for a couple hours in the afternoon. These people are fearful rookie nappers that should be ignored. Knox McCoy recently dissed naps in his book All Things Reconsidered. Side note – I might be overblowing his comments about naps because this was also the part of the book where he said LeBron was better than Michael Jordan so I was a little salty at the time.
Spiderman likes to nap
Source: ifunny.com

I will let those non-nappers have their moment, because I know napping is a coping mechanism for me. Like all coping mechanisms, sometimes I can abuse it. Napping to avoid cleaning the bathrooms, for example. But when used for good, a wee nap helps make any day more sustainably productive.

As a matter of fact, I think I will go do a little napping research right now! What about you? Are you team nap?

By |2020-05-04T14:19:50-04:00May 7th, 2020|Health & Fitness|0 Comments

Distractions!

Let’s talk about creating a sustainable pace of life during quarantine. I have heard from friends who cry daily. Other friends are canning food and sewing supplies like it is end of times. Some friends are considered essential and work in a contagious disease hospital dedicated to COVID19 patients daily. Some friends have their head in the sand and are going on vacation.

I am none of these and a bit of each of these. I have cleaned out the junk drawer, napped on my lunch break, spent an hour writing one work email because words would not come, sewn masks, and zoned out with garbage media. All in the same day. And this is ok. I am not team “choose joy all the time” because sometimes it just sucks right now. Feel your feelings – even the yucky ones. If you keep shoving them down, they will come out in weird ways eventually.

So in this post I want you to bring you a few things that have been keeping me company / distracting me as I try to create a sustainably productive pandemic pace of life. I refuse to call this “new normal” because it won’t be like this forever. But I wanted to share a few things I am loving right now.

Watch – Tiger King

Like many people in the country, I cannot get enough of this train wreck. I watched the whole Netflix series in a day, then did a deep dive on John’s teeth. I was feeling sad I did not pace myself.

John Finlay Tiger King
Just a preview of the delight that is Tiger King

Then my favorite podcast announced that they were doing a recap of each episode. Full disclosure – I did have to become a Patreon supporter. This was not a huge barrier for me because I used to be a Patreon supporter, but cancelled when Patreon changed their financial structure. Plus this content is 100% worth ANY PRICE.

Read – Know My Name

This was a 5-star book I could not put down. I read this book as an audio-book. It is always a bonus for me when the book is read by author, which this one was.

Know My Name should be required reading for all high school and college students. Yes, kids should read it twice. The topic is this important.

“…when you cannot differentiate the statements of the President of the US and a 19 year old rapist…

Paraphrasing a sentence from the book that was like a kick in the gut for me.

This is not ok.

And the way the author was able to access, then verbalize, her experience is incredible. Especially for someone as young as she is.

Do – Cycling

I feel like I have been rehabbing my knee forever. Although I have been on my bike in the last 18 months, it has really just been in the neighborhood and the next street over. I wanted to stay close to home in case my knee wasn’t feeling as strong as I thought it was.

This week I finally ventured out onto the big, wide world. It was so great to do a familiar loop, and I felt strong. My average speed was higher than usual because I did not have to slow down for cul de sacs and so many stop signs. My route included a nice downhill too – I was able to spot over 33 mph on the computer at one point!

While going faster felt great, the best part was I out rode the crabbiness that hung over me all day that day. As much as a dream self-isolation is for this introvert, the uncertainty of the world today has been weighing heavily on me. How long will this last? What does it mean for my job? Why am I not learning a foreign language in all this “downtime?” I get bogged down and crabby.

These distractions have been great to alleviate some of the grumpies for me. I hope they help you too. Feel free to jump in with what is distracting you too!

By |2020-04-13T18:57:56-04:00April 13th, 2020|Health & Fitness, Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Two Lies and a Truth – My Unsustainably Productive Life

I cried the whole way to work. And back. An hour and fifty minutes round trip, most of which was spent at hurtling down the highway at 75 miles per hour with tear-blurred vision.This was when I decided life as I knew it was no longer productive nor sustainable. 

Physically Unsustainable

Each day I worked around 10 hours in the office, commuted close to 2 hours, and went to night school for my MBA. To exercise I had to get up at 4:00 am, so I did. To spend time with my boyfriend I had to see him after 9:00 pm, so I did. Needless to say I was exhausted. My stomach was in knots, my head hurt, and I often cried before, during or after work. 

Mentally Unsustainable

Because I was stretched so thin, I was hurrying and making mistakes. And let me tell you – the only thing a perfectionist hates more than making mistakes is other people noticing them. So I spent an increasing amount of time checking and rechecking work. Mine and my direct reports. I micromanaged people into the ground and was a nightmare to work for. Honestly, a nightmare to be around in general. I was crabby and short tempered. I was moody and unpredictable. 

unproductive overwhelmed woman

Environmentally Unsustainable

Another byproduct of this season of my life was my house was a dump. Not hoarder level, but I was not comfortable in my own space. A giant pile of papers needed to be filed. I had clothes to iron and put away. I never ate at home because I was always too rushed to spend time to wash dishes. My garden was weedier than I preferred, and my yard was taller than both my neighbors and I preferred. I could not catch up. And this cluttered environment prevented me from seeing my home as my refuge. 

Life was not sustainable, but my belief system was preventing me from making changes. I wonder if that might be where you find yourself right now too. So we are going to play a game. Let’s play Two Lies and a Truth. But with a twist – I am going to tell you upfront which is which. 

Lie 1: I should be able to do this. 

Should, schmould. Several years ago my sister and I tried to make a list of all the “shoulds” we hear on a regular basis: 20 minutes of cardio, 10 minutes of stretching, 5 minute face cleansing routine, 20 minutes of reading to your kids, 1 hour of personal time, 1 hour of couple time, 8 hours of sleep… The list went ON AND ON – it totaled about 42 hours per day of shoulds. Friend, I would like to suggest you reconsider the things you do just because you think you should. What in your life are you doing out of obligation or expectation? Stop “shoulding” on yourself and make space for the things that sustain you.

Lie 2: I am a horrible person because I cannot keep up

Once you start realizing how much you do out of obligation, please do not berate yourself. You are not a terrible person because you are not keeping up with expectations. Similarly, you are not a terrible person because you are not keeping up with other people. Do not judge your insides by other people’s outsides. For example, baking is not my jam so if there is a baked goods request for my kids, I am the add-it-to-the-online-grocery-order Mom.

I want to spend my time crafting or biking or reading – activities that bring me joy. Newsflash: our worth as a person is not measured by baked goods. But if baking is your thing – you do you! I have a friend who enjoys cooking and makes extraordinary baked creations that belong on The Great British Baking Show. That is her thing, she does not do it to show up the other moms (as she has been accused of). Let’s stay in our own lane and focus on what brings us each joy.

Truth: You can’t un-know this

Have you ever been shopping for a red sweater, then all of a sudden all you see in ads or crowds are red sweaters? Once something comes into your consciousness, you cannot be unaware of it. I invite you to consider that you may start to become more aware of your limits after reading this post. You are allowed to have limits and not feel ashamed of them. I invite you to become aware of what is soothing you and what feels like an itchy sweater on a hot day.

The great awareness comes slowly, piece by piece. The path of spiritual growth is a path of lifelong learning.

M. Scott Peck

Celebrate that awareness. You don’t even need to act on anything, just be aware. What people, places and things feel unsustainable for you in this season of life? What seems to put a little wind in your sails? And know this – it is just a season. This too shall pass. Things will look different in a year or so and you can make other choices then. Consider today and what feels like it is draining your energy. 

If this resonates with you, but you are not sure what in your life is causing these feelings I want to help you. I have created The Sustainability Checklist to help you identify patterns in your own choices that might help you find clarity on what is and is not sustainable. Let’s work together to help create a Sustainable You!

Getting My Chi Straight

Sunshine through fall trees

Holy God I was emotional Sunday. At one point I was working on the online grocery order and about burst into tears. Not sure what was happening. Grocery prices weren’t that high.

I tried my usual cures – reading, crafting, getting shit done, cleaning, organizing. Zilch. I told Bixby to get his hiking shoes and the dog and we hit the trail. Five miles later I did not feel like ripping off my skin.

I think it was part endorphins from exercise. I think it was part Vitamin D from sunshine. I think it was part watching Lucille have the time of her life fetching sticks and swimming. All I know is it helped get my chi straight.

How do you pull yourself out of bad moods? What is your go to mood booster?

By |2019-11-03T19:43:09-05:00November 4th, 2019|Health & Fitness, Mental Well-being|0 Comments

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