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Down to the Last 10 Weeks of 2020

With my beautiful, new, pink 2021 Powersheets sitting in its bright yellow box, I’ve been finding myself a little less motivated to set goals. After all, we’re near the end of October. After this, we only have two months left for the year. It’s like pigging out on junk food before starting a diet; it’s easy to tell myself, “I’ll start that in the new year.” We’re less than 10 weeks away from the end of the year. Why not just take a break and start fresh in January?

However, this is also the start of my second third of #90DivineDays. While I have somewhat abandoned the concept of adding new goals in each of the goal areas we discussed: Food, Fitness, Personal Development, and Spiritual Growth, because I ended up changing and adding some new goals earlier in the month. I decided to make the changes when I saw a need instead of waiting for a specific date to try something new.

Personal Development

A few weeks ago, I decided to utilize a daily planner to schedule my to-do list and see if it would increase my productivity. I’ve been pretty inconsistent with using a planner this year. However, I’ve also taken the time to figure out what kind of planner system works best for me. I’ve learned that weekly planning isn’t efficient. I rarely know my schedule more than a day in advance. I have to plan things day by day. I never know what stickers to use or how much space to leave for each day when planning my week.

On the other hand, using a dashboard layout with a weekly to-do list also doesn’t work well. If I don’t decide on a specific day to do something, it doesn’t get done. So, I’ve been learning that using a combination of Google Calendar and a daily planner layout seems to work best for me. I use Google Calendar to record scheduled events and appointments, like job interviews, online meetings, and Holidays. Then, I look at any scheduled appointments, Powersheets goals, and any random-to-do list items I need to accomplish and fit them into my daily planner.

The system I’m using isn’t without its flaws. For one thing, I threw together a quick DIY daily planner using some Happy Planner daily refill pages, so it’s not a very polished system. It’s entirely composed of daily pages, so it lacks space to make generalized plans for the month or week. It would be nice to have a spot each week to add jot down a to-do list for the following week. 

However, despite its shortcomings, it seems to be doing the job. I’ve been a lot more productive, knowing that I have a daily to-do list. I plan on making some changes in 2021 if things continue to go this well. I toyed with the idea of frankenplanning my own 2021 daily planner with Happy Planner refills and inserts. However, I am not a fan of some of the compromises I’d have to make with the design. It would also end up costing me about as much money to buy a brand new Erin Condren Life Planner. 

I haven’t officially decided on placing the order yet. I want to make sure this is something I am going to use. I figured, while not perfect, my DIY planner will be enough to show me at least if a daily planning system works for me. If I’m consistent in using it during the 56 days I have leading up to the date I decided to order a new planner, I’ll place the order. Ideally, I’m aiming for 100% consistency, but I know things happen. As long as I hit 90% consistency by December 7 (and I still like the daily planning, of course), I’ll place the order. [There’s also a chance that I’ll order it sooner if I hit that same number of days before the 7th, but I still won’t order before December.]

Food

I’m not making many changes for food since what I’ve been doing has been working. I’m just tweaking things here and there as I see fit. However, I recently changed my supplement routine. Instead of taking my beloved SmartyPants gummy vitamins, I’ve switched to a multivitamin pill. I’ve also added things like fish oil, B-vitamins, and a few supplements that may help with muscle recovery, anxiety, and focus. I am still experimenting with a few things with the vitamins, however. Today, I decided to take my multivitamin with lunch. This past week, I’ve noticed an overall feeling of blahness with some slight nausea sometime between 9 am and noon. I realized that the culprit could be my new multivitamin. Perhaps, the iron in the supplement is too harsh on my stomach. It’s also possible that my Fab4 smoothies aren’t quite enough food to take with the vitamin. I feel a lot better today than I have felt, which is a good sign that the multivitamin is the issue. I’ll see how I feel after lunch today, but there’s a chance I’ll have to find a new multivitamin. 

Fitness

My fitness goal is more or less the same. I’m still exercising six days a week with a minimum of three strength training sessions. However, I’m changing things up just a little. A few of us started LIIFT4 a couple of weeks ago. I finished day two of week three today, and my arms are killing me. (So is my chest, for that matter). This round has been so much different than my first attempt at the program back in May. In May, I only had access to 2 and 5-pound dumbbells, which were ok for some of the moves but were far too light for most. I was also working part-time as a bakery dishwasher. Since I only worked on Mondays and Tuesdays, which were also the arm-heavy days (triceps on Mondays and biceps on Tuesdays), I didn’t want to push myself too hard. Tuesdays, especially, felt like a race to see if I could finish my work before my arms quit. Now, I have access to a nice collection of dumbbells ranging from 2 to 12 pounds. I’m eating more and fueling my body well. For the first time, I’m pushing myself and working out in hopes of increasing my strength and endurance.

In addition to my Liift4 schedule, I’m also incorporating Walk at Home workouts. Typically, if a session is around 36-40 minutes long, I’ll follow LIIFT4 with a 1-mile walk. On shorter lifting days, I’ll do a 2-mile walk. Wednesdays and Saturdays, I’ll walk 3-5 miles. However, I’m also allowing myself some flexibility to take that walk outdoors if I want. 

Spiritual Growth

The only thing I haven’t changed anything with is my Spiritual Growth goals. I’m still reading the same devotionals, and I recently started a new scripture writing plan. Perhaps, as this month progresses, I’ll make changes in this area. For now, I’m focusing on consistency and maintaining the habits I’ve started to develop.

Despite not starting any new habits specifically for the second third of #90DivineDays, I did create my new tending list for the next five weeks. This was the first time I ever made a tending list without much struggle. I have tweaked it a few times since the month started. I added a monthly task or two- including one I wrote in after it was already complete. I also swapped out one of my daily tasks. Initially, I put in my afternoon quiet time as one of my daily items. Then, I realized that with the deadline for ordering my planner approaching in December, using my planner each day was a more important goal to track.

Monthly Goals:

  • Get My Car Inspected
  • Finish reading The Slight Edge
  • Read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
  • Finish the Yes Fit Beauty and the Beast Race
  • Yes Fit Turkey Trot 10K
  • Finish my Christmas Wishlist
  • Enjoy Thanksgiving
  • Deep Clean Kitchen counter and stove/Spray Enzyme cleaner on spots that one of our cats frequently uses as a litterbox
  • Decorate bedroom for Christmas

Oh, and there’s one other item listed for this month, but I’m not ready to share it. I will say that I’ve already started working on it and I expect to finish it in a couple of weeks.

Weekly Action Items:

  • Workout 6 days per week (3x strength training)
  • Devote time to searching for a job Monday-Friday
  • Do a deeper clean of my bedroom (sweeping/dusting) once a week.
  • Wash my bedding on alternating weeks
  • Publish one blog post
  • Publish two Instagram posts

Daily Action Items:

  • Write for blog
  • Read
  • Nightly tidy
  • Stay in my calorie range and drink 1 gallon of water.
  • Use my planner 

I’m excited to see what these next five weeks have in store for me.

(And, don’t tell anyone, but I already put in a few monthly action items for next month!)

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Morning Routines and Priorities

When I started #90DivineDays nearly three weeks ago, I set my alarm for 5 am.

Unfortunately, I don’t always go to bed by 9 pm. I rarely go to bed that early. I was getting a lot done in the morning, but it came at a cost. I was not getting nearly enough sleep.

Now, I could argue that I got by just fine, not sleeping enough last year. After all, I didn’t even make an exception for a rest day on weekends. (Now, I’ll at least give myself an extra hour to sleep in on Sundays). However, that’s not entirely true. In fact, I think my refusal to rest more probably contributed to the fact that I got the flu twice during the last two months of 2019. 

I needed to make a change. I have some occasional evening commitments that prevent me from getting to bed before 9 pm. Therefore, I decided the first approach would be to wake up an hour later every morning. So, I set my alarm for 6 with plans to get in bed by 10 pm most nights. I also started making an effort to eat dinner closer to 6 pm instead of 7. (I’ve been getting to bed before 9 most nights this week). 

That meant switching things up with my morning routine. I loved how I structured my mornings with my workout sandwiched between my morning coffee/journaling time and time reading. I also really loved finishing my workout around 7 am.

Unfortunately, I can’t do it all. I can’t set a later alarm, follow the same routine I want to follow, and do my workout when I want. It’s just not possible.

On Sunday, I woke up and discovered that the single-serve coffee machine (a Clio) I had been using for the last two weeks decided to stop working. I decided to use this to my advantage and try something different. Last year, when I started working out, I did my workout immediately after waking up. So, I decided to give that a try. After all, as much as I loved the structure of my morning routine, I wanted to finish my workout earlier. 

My workouts this week have been pretty terrible. Last week, I killed it. For some devices, Fitbit now measures active time in terms of “Active Zone Minutes.” Activity that gets your heart rate into Fat Burn Zone gives you one Active Zone Minute per minute of activity. Cardio and Peak zone give you two Zone minutes per minute of activity. Last week, I had several workouts where my Active Zone Minutes met or exceeded the time spent working out.

This week? Not even close. Yesterday, I even picked a workout I know I love because the HIIT component drives up my heart rate. For some reason, that didn’t happen. I could not get my heart rate up. Despite my best efforts to focus on why I was working out, I was too unfocused. 

Something needed to change. Yesterday, I spent a good 40 minutes scrubbing an old Mr. Coffee coffeemaker. I purchased an inexpensive bag of whole bean coffee at Aldi. 

This morning, I woke up, got dressed, and started my morning with a cup of coffee. I did my journaling and devotionals while drinking my coffee. Then, I started my workout just before 7 am.

It was the best workout all week. I decided to skip my scheduled Tone Every Zone workout and do the sample workout from LIIFT4, followed by a two-mile Miracle Miles walk. I was focused and energized. For the first time all week, I finished my workout feeling good.

Now, the morning wasn’t without some setbacks. The coffeemaker I scrubbed yesterday decided it didn’t want to work this morning, so I had to spend time cleaning our second machine. I’m new to making coffee, so I took a few minutes to figure out how the coffee grinder works. Still, I’m convinced that my morning will go more smoothly in time. 

Most importantly, I had a good morning. 

Was it everything I wanted from my morning? No, of course not. However, I need to accept that I need to decide what’s most important to me. I thought it was finishing my workout early. While I still love the idea, I think I would rather exercise an hour later in the morning if it means I get that hour to wake up, caffeinate, and set myself up for a workout that feels good. 

This is what progress looks like at times. It’s always not about sticking to rigid goals. Right now, it’s about experimenting with routines until I find something that works for me. It’s about learning to prioritize- even if it means making some difficult decisions. 

Am I going to stick to this routine of having coffee before my workout? I can’t say for sure. I am going to do it for a few days before I make any final decisions. However, I’m pretty sure that I will continue for a while. 

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#90DivineDays

I’d say 2020 has been a hot mess of a year, but that would be a gross understatement. 

On the bright side, 2020 is nearly over. I think there is a hope that things will return to normal at the start of 2021. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Despite the year being a disaster, I’m determined to keep moving forward. 

Last year, Brianna introduced me to the Hollis Company’s concept of Last 90 Days. I’m not the best about commitment to my New Year’s Resolutions, but I have a knack for end-of-year goals. I tend to lose weight around Thanksgiving and Christmas than at any other time of year! So, despite never really getting “into” Rachel Hollis, I fell in love with the idea of finishing the year out strong.

In the last 100 days of 2019, I went from despising exercise to working out most days and learning to love it. I lost about 20 pounds switching from PointsPlus to SmartPoints (MyWW Green). Despite a few set-backs (like getting the flu twice in those 100 days), it was, by far, the most productive few months of my life.

This year Brianna’s community is making Last 90 Days our own with #90DivineDays. As a group, we decided to spend the next few months focusing on cultivating habits in four different areas: Food, Fitness, Spiritual Growth, and Personal Development/Self-Care. 

The idea is to add one new habit each month for each of the four categories. By January, we’ll have 12 new habits to bring into 2021. Some people are habit stacking by adding one new habit a week. Others, myself included, are adding on all four at once.

Food:

This month, I will stay within my calorie range and drink a Fab 4ish Smoothie for breakfast every day. It’s a pretty simple goal. Usually, staying within a calorie or points target shouldn’t count here since I’ve been doing that for most of 2020. However, my goals are a little different right now.

I have taken the rest of 2020 off from weight loss. I stepped on the scale on September 21, 2020, and will not weigh myself again until January 4, 2021, at the absolute earliest.  I’m spending the next 15 weeks trying to stay in a calorie range that should result, not in me losing weight, but maintaining it. (Though, I won’t be mad if I lose weight).

I’ve never tracked for maintenance before. Eating over 2,000 calories a day is easy. However, it’s never been my target when tracking. It’s been a learning experience: figuring out how to enjoy foods I once restricted when eating a calorie deficit without taking this newfound freedom and losing control. I’m also realizing that having permission to eat more doesn’t mean I need to take advantage of every calorie.

The smoothie goal is secondary, but I figured it would be an excellent way to keep me grounded. The Fab 4 is a term coined by nutritionist Kelly LeVeque in her book, Body Love. Without going into too much detail, it involves incorporating four things into your meals: fat, protein, fiber, and greens. One of the easiest ways to do this is by blending these into a smoothie. My smoothies generally have a base of unsweetened protein powder, acacia fiber, collagen peptides, leafy greens (spinach, kale, lettuce), nut butter (usually almond), and a secondary vegetable (cauliflower rice, beets, zucchini). Occasionally, I’ll add things like pumpkin spice mix, cinnamon, or cocoa powder.

My goal is a Fab 4ish smoothie, not a Fab 4 smoothie because I am giving myself a bit of grace in one area: sugar. I prefer unsweetened, plain protein powder because I can’t handle 0 calorie sweeteners well, so I rely on fruit for flavor. I try to keep my portions moderate, but I probably use fruit more than recommended. If I don’t put fruit in my smoothie, I’ll use date-sweetened RX nut butter, honey, or maple syrup.

Fitness

I work out Monday through Saturday. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I do a cardio workout. I do a mix of both cardio and strength training on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. 

Now I’m still figuring this one out. I love the Walk at Home digital library, but unlike Beachbody on Demand, it doesn’t come with scheduled workout programs. I often struggle to decide which video to do when I’m not strength training. I added a little structure to my strength training routine by alternating between Walk it Off in 30 Days and Tone Every Zone walks.

Walk it Off in 30 Days consists of two 30 minute workouts: Burn 30, a 30-minute cardio walk, and Firm 30, a short walk to warm-up followed by dedicated full-body weight lifting.

Tone Every Zone consists of three 20-minute workouts. There’s a 20-minute fast walk and both upper and lower body circuits. The two circuit workouts, at 20 minutes each, alternate walks with lifting.

I switch things up when I do these workouts by doing the segments in a different order. I’m also starting to swap out the cardio sessions for other walks. Instead of Burn 30, I’ll do any walk that’s at two miles or 30 minutes. I will exchange the 20-minute fast walk from Tone Every Zone for any 20-minute or one-mile walk. 

On non-strength days, I aim for a minimum of three miles. This ends up being anywhere from 36 to 60 minutes, depending on the mile’s pace. If there’s no mileage listed anywhere, I assume three miles is roughly 45 minutes. I’ll go for a four or five-mile walk if I want, but I’m under no obligation to go more than three miles for now.

Spiritual Growth 

This one was hard. When it comes to my faith, I’ve been struggling.

I can’t even blame 2020, social distancing, and churches closing for this struggle. For years, I’ve felt like I’m just going through the motions when it comes to my faith.

Even my goals feel that way. I started reasonably small, with scripture writing and devotionals.

Every morning, I write out a verse from whatever “scripture writing” challenge I’m following. (Right now, I’m doing a 31 day one focusing on goal setting). After I copy out the verse, I use the rest of the page in my journal to write any commentary that comes to mind.

Initially, I read four different daily devotionals, but I wasn’t absorbing any of the information. So, I decided to narrow it down to only two for now. If that’s still too much, I’ll drop one more and focus on 100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs. As an Obliger, I like that a couple of us are reading it together.

Perhaps, in the coming months, I’ll find a more structured Bible study to add to my routine. 

Personal Development/Self-Care 

My personal development goals are the foundation for everything I’m doing. Therefore, they’re the most important ones. If these slip, everything else is likely to follow suit.

I’ve made keeping my physical space organized a priority. While it’s not entirely spotless 100% of the time, I have stopped letting piles of clothing, dishes, and trash accumulate. I make my bed every morning, tidy up before bed, and do a more thorough cleaning weekly.

In the afternoons, I try to take some time to unplug from social media and enjoy myself. This “Quiet Time” is usually around an hour, but I don’t have any timers set. I’ll read, listen to music or an audiobook, knit, play Bananagrams or Solitare, soak in the tub, work on my diamond painting, or pet my cat. The only “rule” is that I need to stay off my phone and computer.

The final, and probably most important, thing I’m focusing on is my morning routine.

I wake up between 4:30 and 5 AM, depending on where I am in my sleep cycle. Then, I make my bed, get dressed in workout clothes, and make a cup of coffee.

Once I sit down with my coffee, I do my morning journaling, scripture writing, and devotional readings. Then, around 6 AM, I work out, followed by a bedroom “shower” (I can’t always get into the shower before getting changed out of my sweaty clothes), and curling up in bed with a book.

Except for using it to control my bedroom lights or as an emergency hotspot for my workout videos when the internet is down, my phone stays off until at least 8 AM.

I’m still refining my morning routine. These last few mornings, I have been slow-moving. My first thought was to set an earlier alarm to give me more time to wake up, but the real issue is sleep deprivation. I usually go to bed between 9:30 and 10 PM, but it’s not without some difficulty. It seems unrealistic to go to bed earlier, so I might need to accept a later wake-up time. Unfortunately, I may have to switch things in my routine to make up for the time lost. 

Flexing my goals as I figure out what works and what doesn’t work for me is a new concept. I’ve always acted like whatever rules I’ve set for myself are written in stone. However, I’m learning that some of the habits I’m working on instilling may not be sustainable. Rather than force myself to do them as written, I’m giving myself the grace I need to modify them as needed. This could be having a non-smoothie Fab 4 breakfast, taking a shorter walk once a week, reading fewer devotionals, or setting my alarm later. I think my biggest fear is that I’ll become too lenient with myself.

Fortunately, I am confident that if I start to veer down that path, I’ll have a much-needed dose of tough love to knock a little sense into me.