Wednesday, January 4, 2012

31 Days to Better Health - Day 4

Before we get to the exercise for today let’s review what we have done so far.

Day 1 – we defined success as well as what was holding us back
Day 2 – we determined our purpose and whether we have passion or not
Day 3 – we set specific and achievable goals for this month

I don’t know about you but I think we have made a lot of progress in just a few days. Go us! I really hope you are feeling as good about your progress as I am about mine.

In terms of the goals I set yesterday here is what I have done so far:

1) Monthly Newsletters – I spent about two hours Tuesday working on this and at this rate I should have this crossed off my list in no time. *woo hoo*

2) Wearing my Body Bugg daily - I charged my Body Bugg Monday night and I put it on first thing both Tuesday and Wednesday morning and I have learned that I am definitely less active now than I was during the summer which I needed to know. As I like to say, we can’t change what we don’t know and now I know I need to step it up in the exercise department.

3) Scheduling at least one weekly date with my hubby - Dan and I made a date for Wednesday night which means he should be home by 7:30 this evening at which time I will have finished everything that I need to get done so that we can spend time together.

How about you, have you set things in motion to start making progress on your January goals? I hope so. If you haven’t gotten started yet please do. There is no time like the present to get moving. I can tell you from personal experience that it feels good to be making progress on my goals.

What Should You be Doing that You Have Been Avoiding?:

Today I am going to ask you to spend some time thinking about the things that you know you should be doing. Please do not let this upset you because there is something you aren’t doing. The purpose of this is to get you to acknowledge those things which you know you should be doing and then to get you to commit to do at least one of them this week. These items could be anything but should relate in some way to your idea of success and your purpose.

Please go back and reread what you wrote to the first three days exercises if necessary to remind you of your areas of interest. (Have you put your responses in a notebook or separate Word doc yet? I have mine in a notebook and it makes this easier.) The items that you know you should be doing could be as simple as drinking more water or as complex as overhauling your entire diet. I want you to think of the things that you have been meaning to do but haven’t. These could also be spending more time your family or friends, eating more greens are getting more exercise. What is important in this part of the exercise is to list as many things as you can that you have meaning do though they haven’t made it to the top of your priority list yet. For me the things that I think about often, but don’t do, are the ones that I really need to work on. I imagine the same is true for you. Sometimes the act of writing these things down also makes them more real or at the very least brings them to the forefront of your mind.

When you are writing your list think about how long you have been intending to do these things. Those items which have been on your list the longest are probably most important. The reason I ask you to think of what you know you should be doing is:

1. We all know ourselves better than other people know us. In other words each of us knows what we need to do better than anyone else knows what we need. Typically it isn’t that we are unaware of what we need but that we just need to move from interested in these actions to being committed. Make sense?

2. Tasks that we think are important are more likely to happen. To put that differently if you think you need to exercise more that feels completely different than if your spouse thinks you need to do it. Does that make sense? By determining your own “to-do” items you are increasing your probability of success.

Let me show you an example of something that most people should be doing, which is getting more sleep. Almost everyone that I know is chronically sleep deprived. Most of my friends work long hours, try to cram as much time in with their family as they can into their “free time” and what tends to suffer is their sleep. Since inadequate sleep is linked to weight gain, increased risk of heart disease, trouble concentrating and difficulty remembering things it is important to get enough rest every night not just on weekends. If you think that you might not be getting enough sleep this could be a good goal for you work on this week. Start by going to bed 15-30 minutes earlier than usual (to gradually change your bed time) and move up your bed time until you are getting a full 8 hours of sleep. You will know that you are getting enough rest if you wake up refreshed. I would suggest that you use how you feel in the morning, whether you “need” coffee, and how alert you are during the day, to tell you if you are getting adequate rest. Your body is sending your messages all the time all you need to do is listen to them.

Here is my list of things that I know I should be doing (in the order that they popped into my head) as well as why I think I am not doing them and how they relate to my purpose and idea of success:

1) spend at least an hour a day working on ideas for my business – I guess that I am avoiding this is probably due to perfectionism rearing its ugly head again, this clearly relates to health both mine and others

2) measuring my calorie dense food like nuts and seeds - while I realize that all of us tend to have portions that grow over time I really dislike measuring even though I also know that it's a good thing to do periodically therefore I avoid it, this is also tied to health

3) organize and purge my clothes closet – I have been avoiding this because I hate to get rid of clothes that are too big but are still good so now the mess makes me unhappy and that is not good for my emotional health

4) make an inventory of my pantry - so that I don’t run out of staples as frequently which would be good both my physical and emotional health

5) start going to the gym at least twice a week rather than working at home all the time – exercise variety is a good thing and would be positive for my physical health

6) wearing my Body Bugg daily – which I started today (Tuesday) when I was writing this post and it is
clearly good for my physical health

7) eat more salad – this is one I have been avoiding for a while and I don’t know why but it would
definitely be beneficial for my physical health

8) eat fewer whole grains and more cooked beans – this is another one that has been on my list but that I have been dodging though it would be good for my physical health

9) get into bed earlier so that 5:30am doesn’t feel so early -  this would help me get back into the early
morning gym routine which would be good for my health

10) vary my exercise routine - again this is something that I know is important yet I like what I like and I really need to push myself to make regular changes to my workout routine for my physical health

Okay now you have an idea of what I know I should be doing that I'm have been avoiding. I decided to stop my list at 10 things but if you wish keep going I think that's great, please do! Once you are satisfied that your list is long enough please choose one item in your list to work on this week. You can either choose an easy one so that you know you will be successful or you could choose the item that you think will have the biggest impact. Remember you can always add to this list at any time. We will come back to this list next week so that we can tackle another item.

Now it is your turn, what are the things that you know you should be doing, yet you aren’t getting them done? When you are making your list think about how these items relate to your idea of success and to your purpose. Start working on items which relate to your purpose and will make you feel successful.

You probably noticed from my list that there are some recurring themes. Clearly exercise variety is on my mind as it appears in item 5 and 10. Also it is obvious that I want to make a few more tweaks to my food intake. The item I have been considering doing for a while in terms of food that I've been avoiding is measuring calorie dense items. I can't tell you how much I dislike measuring food. It feels so restrictive and unnatural to me. Currently I sprinkle nuts and seeds on things with no serious attempt to measure. Since I know this is an issue I'm definitely going to work on it this week so that I can better eyeball quantities in the near future.

While I only asked you to work on one item I am I am also going to commit to working on my business an hour a day. This is something that I've had in mind to do since the summer that I haven't gotten it done. Six months is enough time to procrastinate and now it is time for action. I will set aside an hour every day when I work on my business plans without interruption. I am confident that I know enough, in fact more than enough, to make a career out of health and wellness. Now I need to stop talking about it and just do it. In order to hold myself accountable I will tell you each day what I did. If you don't see me mention that in each post for the remainder of the month please ask me about it. Like I have been saying accountability is a good thing.  :-)

For those of you that want to get a head start on tomorrow that topic will be assessing whether you are an optimist or a pessimist. Since all of us know which one we are the next question is which one do you want to be? I will have some suggestions for how to change your attitude since I used to be a pessimist which I imagine surprises many of you but it is true. Believe me if I can become an optimist anyone can do it. ;-) I will explain this tomorrow.


The morning started like usual by my reading and meditating before Dan got up. Then I made Dan breakfast, while he made us double strength mugs of tea. While his fruit and nut oatmeal was simmering I packed his lunch and we chatted about the plans for our respective days.

My breakfast ended up being some broccoli and hummus that I had originally packed for Dan’s lunch but he thought that I was sending him too much food so it became my meal instead. I love broccoli and hummus so this was a fantastic breakfast in my mind. I sprinkle some paprika on top for a few reasons, flavor, extra vitamin C and the red color is pretty. ;-) I also added pine nuts for flavor, texture, protein and fat (to help me absorb the fat soluble vitamins in the broccoli).

Once Dan left for work it was time for me to do some work on the computer. I spent a couple of hours finishing up the post for Day 3 and then it was time to start this post. It sometimes shocks me how much time I can be on the computer.

I did take time to enjoy my hot tea with grapefruit and cinnamon, watching Masi being mesmerized by the snow flurries, and then I did some cleaning and cooking and it was noon. How does the day go by so quickly?

Since my morning had been relatively inactive I opted are of very light lunch most of you proud because snack of a banana and some almond butter. I had planned to get outside new quickly 3 miles this morning. With a temperature of 31 and a wind chill of 21 the idea of getting outside for exercise was not terribly appealing to me. Gee, I wonder why? Given the weather it made much more sense to work out inside today. Thank goodness for exercise equipment at home is all I have to say. On days like this I appreciate they have will stay warm inside.

Once I had finished exercising I had a bowl of leftover bean, mushroom and kale soup over quinoa. I hope you are noticing that we eat a lot of leftovers. Having intentional leftovers available is the biggest reason that we are able to eat this way. If it weren’t for those leftovers I would not have time to do anything other than cook which would make this lifestyle all but impossible.

After lunch I spent more time working on the blog, gathering items for future exercises this month, as well as cleaning and planning meals. When I got a few free minutes I took the time to do a little reading in the public health book which I just bought. Who knew textbooks could be so interesting? LOL

I also found two hours to work on my newsletter project. I should be telling you more about that very soon. However I can tell you it feels good to be making progress on something that has been on my to-do list for entire too long. In addition to the newsletter project I also spent some time working on my business plan today. Productivity was in full swing at my house on Tuesday. *woo hoo*

Dan was a little late coming home because he stopped at the boat on the way home since our overnight temperatures were supposed to dip into the mid-teens. Even though the boat has been winterized he wanted to increase the temperature inside the boat overnight just to be safe overnight.

Dinner at our house was another huge salad which I am sure shocks you…..LOL. The salad had a base of baby spinach, I used salsa in place of dressing, added some broccoli, raw sunflower seeds and hummus. Dan’s salad also had cold cooked quinoa for a few extra calories and protein.

Wendy sent me an email yesterday asking about how I eat salads without dressing and any suggestions that I had for her since she can’t imagine enjoying undressed salad. Since I am sure she isn’t the only thinking this I wanted to share my thoughts on this with you too.

In terms of salad without dressing I think that is something that becomes your new normal in time. Back in the “bad old days” there was nothing that I loved more than blue cheese dressing which was my favorite. Hard to imagine isn’t it? Then I went through a long period of olive oil and vinegar. Now when I have salad, evenly lightly dressed, it just takes greasy to me. Again this is something that I NEVER thought would happen.

My favorite salad dressing currently is salsa and hummus. I just toss the greens with a little salsa and top it with hummus. I find that if salad has enough “juicy” foods in it (like artichokes, tomatoes, or fruit) that I don’t even need the salsa or hummus. However I wasn’t always like this. In the past I would place either raw sesame seeds or raw cashews in my Vitamix and add flavors like: raw garlic, lemon juice or vinegar, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and herbs and spices and then blend until the dressing was creamy. There are lots of these recipes on my blog just search for “salad dressings” and many of them will come up.

I hope the salad tips helped a few you. Thanks again for the question Wendy. :-)  Keep them coming!

Happy Thoughts:

• Today it was very good to have exercise equipment at home. It was so cold and windy outside there was no way I could face 3 miles outside. Thank goodness I was able to stay warm inside yet still get my exercise in for the day.

• Making progress on goals which have been languishing on my to-do list feels great. I hope you are finding the same thing at your house.

• I realized that my daily activity is lower now than it was in the summer and fall. Now that I know this I plan to step it up starting tomorrow. This is exactly why I bought the Body Bugg and how I think it is best used. I admit that I don’t wear mine all the time, which probably makes more sense, but even wearing it periodically is enough to point out trends that require action.

• The meditation course (Practicing Mindfulness) that I ordered from The Great Courses arrived yesterday and I have already watched 3 hours of it because it is that good. If you are interested in meditation I think you will enjoy these DVDs. When I finish the entire series I will tell you more about it.  BTW, the courses go on sale often, if one you want is full price just keep checking back, it will go on sale.  I have many of these and haven't paid the list price for any of them.

• I checked on my parents today and they are doing well. My mom was feeling good enough to go out and that was nice to see. For those of you who do not have elderly parents having them up are around is a big deal.

• Dan checked on the boat this morning before work and everything seems fine. Given that it was colder here this morning (17) than it was in Minneapolis (25) we are both grateful that everything with the boat was good.

• I realized today that I haven’t watched the news for many months. In the past I used to start my morning watching the news and then would turn it on during the day and again in the evening. While I didn’t intentionally put myself on a news fast, that is what happened by accident. I have found that by not watching the news I am much more at ease and less worked up. Apparently there is something to what people say about 24 hours news being overly stimulating. Since I just realized this I wanted to mention it to you. BTW I also discovered that when something happens that I need to know I still get the information usually by talking to others. It is nice to be able to spend my free time focusing on things that are much more positive in nature than the news which is almost always bad news.

Signing Out:

It is time for me to start working on the next post. I got so carried away watching the DVDs on practicing mindfulness that I haven’t started the next post yet. *eek* I better get my tush in gear.

I hope you are having a wonderful week and that you are enjoying my January posts. Again, if you have any suggestions or feedback please feel free to share either here on send me an email. You can reach me at Talk with you again tomorrow.


  1. So glad to see you back and doing well Alicia!
    I totally agree with you about the news. I was a serious news junkie and since I went back to school I rarely have time to see or listen to it, and it has done wonders for my outlook:P

  2. I just wanted to let you know again that I'm totally loving this series, Alicia, and it couldn't have come at a better time in my life. I did today's exercise, too (! By the way, that soup looks incredible. I think I'll have to do a mushroom-bean-barley one next week. It's not even remotely wintery out here, but I've still been craving soup.

  3. Wow, that was an inspiring post!

    Thanks for breaking it down and giving me some food for thought.

  4. I'm glad to hear that you're having such a constructive start to the new year! You've provided a lot of "food for thought" and I've been thinking about your questions. There are SO many things I want to fit into my days (and it's tempting to add "and not enough time to do them", but I don't think that's very positive). Here are my goals for this month: to meditate for 20 minutes a day, eat at least two servings of dark leafy greens and any amount of mushrooms each day, and eat at least one veggie with every meal. I've been doing that on most days, but I want to be more consistent. It feels good to write it down!

  5. Janet,

    Hey there, how are you? Long time no talk!

    Thanks for letting me know you agree with me on the news fast. I was really surprised by how much calmer I am without it and like you I was a bit of news junkie.

    Yay for going back to school. Good for you! I hope you are loving it as much as I expect.

    I hope you have some fun planned this weekend,

  6. Brigid,

    Thank you so much for letting me know that you are enjoying this. I am glad it came at the right time for you. Wow you did the exercise quickly. I will need to stop by and read your answers. Sorry for my delay in replying, I have been extremely busy and things are backing up on me.

    I forgot that you moved until I read the part about not it being not remotely wintery there. Enjoy the weather for all of us please. It was very cold here this week.

    enjoy your weekend,

  7. Spooky Vegan,

    Thank you for letting me know that what I wrote caused you to think about your own life. I really believe that we are all stronger together than alone, and that we should all share things that others might benefit from. Wouldn't the world me a much nicer place if everyone did that?

    enjoy your weekend,

  8. Laura,

    Yay for thinking about the questions and sharing your answers. Good for you! :-)

    I have the same problem of trying to do too many things and then setting myself up for failure. Like you said that isn't a good idea. However your goals for the month seem very doable to me. Good luck with them and thanks for sharing them with everyone.

    I hope you have something fun planned for the weekend,


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