July 20, 2016

What I learned from writing 30 blog posts in 30 days

This post is part of a 30 in 30 blog experiment, where I committed to writing 30 posts in 30 days with minimal planning between June 20, 2016 and July 20, 2016.

I did it. This is my 30th post in 30 days!

I admit I did a happy dance this morning when I got the notification on my phone. This little experiment has been really enlightening but I'm glad it's over.

The rules for the 30 in 30 series were that I write a post every day, and that I wouldn't recycle or finish anything that I had already written. My intent for my 30 in 30 series was to a) get me in the habit of writing every day without an agenda/outline, and b) get comfortable with posting imperfect work. I've also been really curious about doing a #100daysproject and this was a bit of a trial run.

If you've been following along, you know that some days were better than others. I didn't always proofread very well or as is the case with one post in particular, I just didn't care -- so the work was definitely imperfect. 

I did get in the habit of writing every day. At first it was because I didn't want to lose face since I'd made this big announcement and everything, but as time marched on it became more important for me to fulfill the promise I had made to myself. I really wanted to know that I could set a lofty goal and stick to it.

Here are the four things I learned that I hadn't expected:

1) Even though I didn't plan my posts ahead of time, I found myself thinking about them throughout the day. Sometimes by the time I got home, I was excited to write!

2) I think I might overuse commas. I need grammar & punctuation remedial school.

3) I can write through the inevitable discomfort that occurs when a post isn't going well. I hope to be able to transfer this to my fiction writing time. Sometimes I surprised myself and ended up really liking a post I started out hating. Those posts were worth all of the really crappy ones (at least for me).

4) I learned to let go. There were a couple of nights I didn't want to push publish because I knew it wasn't my best work, but it was late and I needed to sleep or I just didn't have it in me to do one more pass through, so I hit publish. 

That's it! I have no idea when I'll post again, but I'm sure ya'll need a break (I know I do). I'm going to be transferring my blogging time to fiction writing time starting tomorrow. 

If you're interested here's a list of the most popular posts from this month, and one that was my favorite.

3. Book Nerd Spreadsheet

2. Hack your Habits

1. Do you have a morning routine?

Have you ever done a #100daysproject or something similar?

When your brain needs a break

This post is part of a 30 in 30 blog experiment, where I committed to writing 30 posts in 30 days with minimal planning between June 20, 2016 and July 20, 2016.

I'm in the middle of a creative conundrum tonight, working hard on a deadline. Whenever I start to get too stressed out creatively, I want to do two things:

1) Eat
2) Play stupid games

Eating isn't much of an option, since I'm on this new health kick and trying not to eat for comfort, but I did end up havimg some raw cow's milk cheese and gluten free crackers tonight instead of dinner because it just made me feel better. (When I'm cranky I do not want salad--at least not yet).

Tonight in between drafts, I've been binging on Candy Crush (I love the jelly layers), Township (level 53), and Diner Dash (when I was a little girl, I used to want to be a waitress because they were always super nice to me and brought me crayons. LOL).

It's not the best, but sometimes you just gotta step away and let your mind wander a bit.

How do you decompress when you need to keep working but your brain needs a quick break?

July 18, 2016

What I learned after a week of eating clean

This post is part of a 30 in 30 blog experiment, where I committed to writing 30 posts in 30 days with minimal planning between June 20, 2016 and July 20, 2016.

What you must know about me first is that my diet before last week was pretty bad. I mean, I tried to be healthy in that way people try when they don't really want to change anything but know they have to. I'd give myself a pat on the back for ordering a medium sized Coke instead of a large at the drive-thru. Baby steps are good, but I wasn't really trying and I knew it.

When Cori, the amazing woman and coach behind the clean eating challenge, asked if I wanted to participate in her challenge group, I said yes but I'll be honest and say I wasn't excited about it. My inner rebel child had a field day with the whole thing. I've tried so many diets in the past, the rebel knows exactly what buttons to push. If you give me a rule she will chew it up, spit it out, then step on it as she skips away. This time, she had the brakes on full stop.

It turns out, the way to silence the rebel is to ask her to explain herself. A number of fears popped up as well as a bunch of "I dont's", and that's when I made the connection between the inner struggle I'd uncovered and what the term "leaning in" really means. I needed to be open to changing how I thought about food and being surrounded by a group of other like minded leaners was probably a good idea.

The challenge came with a meal plan, shopping list, recipes, and a private Facebook group of over 30 people ready to cheer each other on. I prepped meals and snacks in advance and Cori encouraged everyone to find some way to measure their "before," so I wrote up a few quick goals.

Monday was a piece of cake. Tuesday I woke up with the mother of all headaches thanks to caffeine and sugar withdrawal because I'd vowed to give up my most favorite beverage - Coca-Cola. I'd gone from drinking the equivalent of 24-48 oz of soda a day to none and my body was in full revolt. I barely kept my eyes open and people at work whispered to me like I had a hangover. Wednesday I was bone tired but alert. On Thursday a flight of stairs felt like climbing Kilimanjaro. Friday was better. Saturday and Sunday almost felt...normal.

I was shocked to discover my body was pretty resilient. I'd expected worse--much worse, but as usual the reality wasn't nearly as bad as what I'd imagined it would be.

So would I do it again? Yep. I exceeded my food goals for the week. I ate not just breakfast from the meal plan, but 90% of the rest of the menu. I was surprised by how obsessed I was with checking the Facebook group page to see how other folks were doing. I was inspired by the recipe tweaks people were posting - and it made me feel like I could mold this new way of eating into something I that worked for me.

I also learned how to listen to my body. I feel great. I'm alert all day, sleeping well, my heartburn is gone, and I'm eating better proportions. I'm hungry about every 2-3 hours, but it's been a while since I knew what hunger felt like, so that's still a win. The other thing I remembered this week was how GOOD food tastes when you are hungry. I mean...GOOD. I practically sang an operetta after eating a slice of toasted Ezekial Bread topped with organic peanut butter and sliced fresh strawberries.

The best part about participating in a group like this is that it gave me a model of what my diet could look like. And it wasn't as daunting as I'd thought once I broke it down into smaller chunks. Having a starting point like a meal plan to base it on made it so much easier to do.

I admit I didn't follow ALL the rules. I didn't make some of the recipes, but I got brave and crafted equivalent ones. I had birthday cake on my mother's 73rd birthday. I ate two "healthier variety" frozen meals for lunch instead of what the meal plan called for, and I drank a total of three non-caffeinated grape sodas. I mention this because I learned this week that I don't have to be perfect, I just have to keep going.

And yeah, I still crave not so healthy food. Today while driving to my chiropractor's office I fantasized about eating a Culvers Double Sourdough Melt with no onions. I reallllly wanted one. I decided to be excited about eating something else instead, then drove home and had homemade spaghetti sauce over yellow squash (it was so good, people).

I can sum up all of my week into this: Lean in, do the work and keep swimming. You are resilient.

If you are interested in joining a clean eating group, check out @FreeHeartFitMom on Instragram.

Have you ever done a food challenge before? Did you like it?

July 17, 2016

Weekly Goals Recap + What's up for the week

So, last week I blogged about some goals I wanted to achieve as part of the Clean Eating Challenge. Today is the last day of the challenge. I plan on posting my thoughts on the challenge tomorrow, but today I'd like to recap my goals, whether or not I meet them, and set new ones for this week because the accountability really helped me stay focused. Join me and link to your post in the comments if you're looking for an accountability buddy!

Last Sunday, I defined three goals. A new goal that I could accomplish with moderate effort, an expansion goal that builds on something I am already doing., and a stretch goal that makes me a bit nervous and will require some effort.

Last Week's Goals

New Goal: Eat a homemade breakfast everyday.  Complete! I did it. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I'm kinda shocked.

Stretch Goal: Gave up Coca-Cola for the week. Complete! Not. One. Sip. I had a helluva headache on Tuesday which I affectionately dubbed "My Coke Hangover." Thursday and Friday my (likely emotional/psychological but possible biological) cravings kicked in. I miss it, and I imagine this will not change for a while. But I faced the beast and one. Score!

Expansion Goal: I'm committing to move my body six days this week. Fail. I didn't to this. In fact, I kind of went backwards on the whole thing, only attending my gentle yoga class this week. I'll talk more about it tomorrow, but I was pretty exhausted most of the week. Also, I seriously need a chiropractic adjustment. I'm going to have to start scheduling them closer together as I challenge my body to do new things. I listened to my body and rested, and I'm okay with that. I've spent 20 years ignoring it, so if it needs a little TLC while I'm making a change, then so be it. I'm feeling pretty good about what I accomplished this week.

This Week's Goals

New Goal: Get out of bed at 7 a.m. everyday.  I'm not defining what I do with my extra time, just that I am OUT OF BED at 7.

I'm really not excited about this. I'm actually dreading it because I am not a morning person. I have three alarms and the first one goes off an HOUR before I have to get up. Going to bed too late is part of the problem because I am naturally a night owl, but also because SoundMan's schedule means he doesn't get home until late sometimes and it's nice to see your spouse once in a while, you know? Seriously though, the morning is where it's at as far as getting things done. You may be wondering why I don't vow to go to bed earlier. I've tried. I figure that if I consistently start waking up at a certain time, eventually my body will win the war and I'll start going to bed at a decent hour. It's worth a shot, anyway.

Expansion Goal: Keep up the healthy eating. I'm still new at this and the temptation to give in to old ways is there, lurking. I can feel it. I've already bought my groceries for the week and have a rough meal plan in place to help with the task.

Stretch Goal: This should be no surprise...I want to move my body 4+ times this week. 

I really wanted to add in a writing goal this week, but I've got this 30 day blog commitment which is taking up a lot of writing time and I figure once I hit 30 posts (on Wednesday) I can transform that blogging time into writing time. Also, in the grand scheme of things, my health has to come first. I want to be around to get published someday, right?

It's kind of relaxing to narrow down the focus to only three things for the week. I used to have lists of ten or more things I wanted to do EVERY DAY and it always felt so overwhelming. Three is a perfectly doable number for the moment.

Tomorrow I will tell you how I feel after a week of clean eating, Tuesday's post is yet to be determined, and Wednesday is my final 30 in 30 blog post where I plan to sum up my findings on the experiment. 

What are your plans for the week? Have a good one!

July 16, 2016

I wonder as I wander

The name of this post is one of my favorite holiday tunes. 

I wanted to post this video yesterday, but I didn't because I feel like everybody watches VlogBrothers videos on YouTube and so it seemed silly but I'm still thinking about this video and the concept of wonder and how much I want more of it in my life.

If you haven't watched John Green's video from Tuesday, here you go.

Wasn't the sunset pretty? It makes me want to go back up to the North Shore. I spent the day outside on the deck writing and enjoying the time with my pups as we frittered the day away in the sun and shade. While out there, I made sure to spend time noticing things I normally take for granted so I could practice doing the work that awe requires.

When was the last time you felt wondrous?
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