My January Goals

Two posts in one day! I know that in order to achieve big goals, I need to set smaller goals to help me along the way, so here are my goals for the first month of 2022.

Complete dry January. Bill and I are participating in dry January (not drinking alcohol all month) with friends. I’ve embarked on dry Januarys before but never actually completed one. I really want to do it this year!

Read three books. I’m about halfway through a book right now but I’m not going to count that. This goal is to completely start and finish three books in January. My mother-in-law generously gifted me an Amazon gift card for Christmas and I have it earmarked for books!

Get some sort of movement every day. Whether it’s strength training, dance, or just taking a walk, I want to move my body every day. I feel so much better when I’m exercising regularly.

Resolutions for 2022

This morning I woke up to a beautiful morning with sunshine in the sky and snow on the ground. It’s been a frigid week in Washington and I love waking up in gratitude for my cozy warm bed and plenty of snuggles with Bill, Saturday, and Ernie.

It feels like just the right sort of day for a fresh start, which of course I love! No matter what this year throws at me, I want to make it a time of self-improvement and I have some goals to reach!

Write in my gratitude journal daily. I did this in 2021 and I love the effect it’s had on me. My mind now searches out things to enjoy and be grateful for. Even little things like the smell of the bathroom when I light candles and take a bath with fragrant bubbles make me so happy and training my brain to notice these things has been really good for me.

Read at least 30 books. I set a goal last year of reading an average of two books per month and it got me back into reading. I don’t want to lose that! So I’m going to up my goal slightly this year to push myself to keep reading.

Work on my relationship with myself. This will be a little harder to tangibly accomplish but I’m going to try my best to really figure out why I’m so negative towards myself and to approach myself with kindness and curiosity, not with criticism.

Improve my nutrition and lose 25lbs. I’m excited to keep working with Trisha, my nutritionist, and to build good habits while also exploring my relationship with food and my body. I think this work will ultimately help me with my overall self-esteem too! And I really do want to lose weight because I’ll be both happier and healthier if I do.

Put at least $5,000 into my personal savings. In addition to our joint savings, my 401k and IRA accounts, I also have a personal savings account and I want to grow it. I think having a dollar amount as a goal will help me commit to saving!

Looking Back on My 2021 Goals

It’s here, the last day of 2021! This year was honestly such a mix of good and bad. But, I hope to look back and just remember the good things. We were able to get vaccinated against Covid and reunite with loved ones, and to slowly start traveling and doing more “normal” things. We went to a concert, and to a few hockey games!

I’m cautiously optimistic about 2022 and have some goals for myself that I’ll write about next year (haha). But for today I wanted to look back on the goals I set for myself in 2021 and see how I did.

Set monthly goals. I wasn’t 100% perfect with this goal, but I did do it for most months of 2021! I did really like the monthly goal-setting though.

Continue my good fitness habits. Eh, this one isn’t my shining star. I continued to work out in the mornings until around September, when I hit a wall and was just so exhausted that I decided to take a week off. A week turned into two, and so on and so forth….I did get back on track somewhat when I rejoined the gym in late October, but with the holidays and a lot of snowfall this last week I definitely haven’t gotten the walks or workouts I’d hoped for. This is an area of my life I plan to really focus on in 2022 because I know I feel so much better when I get regular exercise.

Make better eating habits. Again…eh. Truthfully my nutrition is still all over the place, but that’s why I’m working with a nutritionist now! I have a lot of hope for improving my eating habits now that I’ve taken that step.

Make daily entries in my gratitude journal. I wasn’t totally perfect with this (every now and then I’d miss a day and have to go back and make entries for a couple of days at once), but I did complete 365 entries of gratitude in 2021! I love this practice and I plan to continue. At some point I changed the entries from “Things I’m Grateful For” to “Fucking Hoorays” which feels like it suits me more.

Read two books each month. I completed this goal a few weeks ago and I am so proud of myself! I have definitely rediscovered my love for reading and books are a very welcome positive part of my daily life now.

Be kind to myself. Still working on this one. I am my own worst critic and I am still learning how to show myself the grace that I give others.

Overall I’m happy with how I did on my 2021 goals. The ones I achieved inspire me to keep going with them, and the ones that still need work can be a focus in 2022.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Setting Myself Up for a Happy 2022

It feels so strange to say this, but there are only 10 days left in 2021! Personally I’m quite ready to bid goodbye to this year. In a lot of ways it felt even more difficult to endure than 2020, and although I know that the changing of the calendar to a new year won’t solve the world’s problems it does feel like a way to close the door on the things that happened in 2021 and to offer a fresh start.

I’ll do a recap of my 2021 goals next week, but I wanted to write a little update on the work I’m doing to set myself up for better results on my health and fitness journey in 2022 because I’ve made some changes in my life recently that I’m really excited about!

After going to Dance Church with my friend Kate back in October, I realized that I was pretty comfortable with working out in a mask (a requirement where I live, and also just a good rule right now while Covid continues to surge – I would not go to work out indoors at a place that didn’t require masks). Since I felt both comfortable and safe at Dance Church, I began to wonder if I would feel okay returning to my gym. I reached out to my friends at the gym who teach Red Hot Dance and asked to be a guest in their classes, which they very kindly agreed to. After going for a couple of weeks to see how I felt, I decided I was ready to re-join the gym. And I am loving it! I’ve been consistently going 3-4 times per week (except for the first week after our Hawaii trip when we quarantined ourselves). Because I weigh a little less now, I am happy to find that my performance in those classes has actually improved from when I was going pre-Covid. And being able to be back at dance has been such a good thing for me both physically and mentally. The holidays can be both a really happy and a really stressful time of year, but being able to go and spend an hour thinking of nothing but dancing is like meditation for me.

I’m also taking steps to hopefully get my nutrition figured out, after starting and stalling all year in that area. What I know about myself is that I do better at living a healthy lifestyle when I’m among likeminded people, which is why in my late twenties I was able to reach and maintain a goal weight while spending a lot of time in my Zumba community. Recognizing that made me decide that in order to be successful I needed someone to be accountable to. I don’t want to make that someone Bill or my friends – it isn’t their job to keep me in line! So I reached out to my gym’s nutritionist, Trisha, and set up a consultation with her.

I met with Trisha two weeks ago for the first time and talking with her was like cracking open the dark crevices of my food brain that I’d been drowning in and allowing me to finally come up for air. I left that first meeting full of hope that I’ve found someone who can help me do the work of changing my mindset around eating and my body so that I can finally find some peace. Although I do want to lose weight, I also want to stop the cycle of overeating and then feeling bad about myself over it. By learning to change my approach to myself from critical to curious, I’m hoping to get my behavior with food to align a little more closely with my beliefs about how I should be eating. It should be quite the journey!

I feel like I’m taking some solid steps to making 2022 a great year of personal growth!

Back to Calorie Counting

Well, I threw in the towel on the Space Food Diet in the middle of last week. The processed food was wreaking havoc on my body and even though I was losing weight, it wasn’t worth continuing. Not only did I continue to have problems with my stomach, but I had zero energy and I was feeling anxious and depressed.

Now that I’m eating a balance of whole foods again, I’m feeling a lot better and I’m still losing weight! I’m not exactly sure how much I’ve lost in pounds – I weighed myself on October 1st, then again on the 9th when I started the Space Food Diet, and according to the scale I had gained four pounds in between those two weigh-ins. But since we’d been on vacation, I know that most of those four pounds were not actual weight gain. If I go by my October 1st weight, I’ve lost 1.6lbs, but if I use my October 9th weigh-in as my starting weight then I’ve lost 5.5lbs. Either way, I’m much more interested in inches lost, so we re-took measurements on Saturday and I was down another 2.75 inches. That’s 8 inches total lost in two weeks. I’m feeling pretty happy with that!

So now I’m back to calorie counting, with goals of 1200 calories six days a week and 1500 calories one day per week. The higher calorie day lets me have a nice meal if I want to, while the lower days continue to help me normalize eating less food. It’s a steeper calorie deficit than I’ll probably set for myself long-term, but at least for right now it’s been plenty of calories to eat the way I want to.

We had a really productive and enjoyable weekend. Yesterday, we rented a Uhaul and cleaned out our storage unit, taking several unused and rather worn-out items to the transfer station. It’s nice to have our storage cleaned out and organized! Today was pretty stormy, so we spent the afternoon carving the fake pumpkins I got at craft stores. I’ve wanted to carve pumpkins every year since Bill and I first got together, but it always feels like October gets away from me and before I have time to even stop and buy the supplies Halloween has come and gone. I’m so happy we got to carve them this year! I feel good about finding new things to do that are fun (or that yield results that make me happy, like organizing our storage unit) and I feel like these activities were made possible by our commitment to eating better and spending our time differently.

Day Ten

Today is day ten of the Space Food Diet. After not seeing a lot of movement on the scale, Bill and I re-took measurements last Saturday and in the first week I’m down 5.25 inches. Hooray!

Although I’m super happy with the loss of inches, I’m even more happy that I’ve been able to resist temptation and actually stick to a plan. Even though it’s not really that long a time, ten days is by far the longest I’ve stuck with any eating plan in a LONG time. I’ve noticed that my appetite isn’t raging all the time and on the few occasions when I have had cravings, I’ve been able to acknowledge them and then move on. On Friday night I was especially food-lusty, but when I told Bill how I was feeling he agreed to do a dance workout with me (something he has never done before!) and by the time we finished exercising I was in a much better mood and able to enjoy my healthy dinner.

Although the diet is giving me the reset I wanted, the space food has proven to be incredibly hard on my stomach. I’ve never experienced this before, on any diet or eating plan, and it was the last thing I was expecting. For the first few days, I accepted it as part of my body adjusting to a new style of eating, but by last weekend I was getting annoyed by how I was feeling and by today I’m considering going off of the space food and designing my own daily meal plan. I’m going to give it a couple more days before I make a decision, but I believe it’s important to listen to my body and so far it has been screaming at me that it is not happy being fed this way and it wants its whole foods back.

No matter which direction I decide to go in, I’m happy that I embarked on this diet because it really did break the cycle of poor eating that I’ve been stuck in for awhile now. Even though eating the way I am now is not something I intend to do forever, it helped me remember that a “lifestyle change” truly means that you have to make changes to your life to see results. And I know that I really do want to live a healthy lifestyle, one that I can be proud of.

Reflecting on Buying New Appliances

Last year, in lieu of Christmas presents, I bought new appliances for our kitchen. It’s the first time in my life that I have kitchen appliances I chose myself; always, in the past, I just used whatever came with the house I had purchased or (more often) was renting. Although when Bill and I bought our condo three years ago I did have some vague ideas about things I wanted to do to upgrade it, we didn’t really do anything until we found ourselves locked down when the pandemic hit last year. We did some projects like replacing the hideously ugly lighting fixture in our dining room and swapping out the brass door handles, hinges, and other hardware for matte black, and those seemingly little updates made a big difference in the overall look and feel of the place.

Around October, we started having issues with our stove. It was probably the original that came with the condo when it was built in 2002, and it was definitely not high-end even when it was new. One of the front burners didn’t really like to light, and one morning when I preheated the oven to make my breakfast eggs, the oven wouldn’t get hot anymore (this issue resolved itself a few days later, while Bill was on the phone with a repairman – figures). Rather than wait for further problems to crop up, I decided that I was going to take some of the money I’d been able to save last year and treat us to our first set of brand-new appliances.

It took several weeks to have everything delivered and installed, and we didn’t get the new stove until after Christmas because the first one we got was badly damaged in transit and looked like someone had thrown it down a mountain, but eventually we did get our new microwave, fridge, stove, and dishwasher. The stove is by far my favorite of the new items (although the fridge, with its roomy freezer and separate drawer just for drinks, is a close second). I’ve discovered a love of cooking and there’s something so soothing after a long day about chopping, prepping, and cooking a favorite meal. I’ve branched out a lot and tried more and more complicated recipes that I would probably have been afraid to even attempt a few years ago. Bill also enjoys cooking and agrees that the new appliances are a huge upgrade in our house.

I was incredibly proud of myself for being able to make such major purchases and to feel very confident that I could afford them, without needing to put them on a credit card (pro tip: I actually DID purchase them with my credit card, so that I could get the rewards points – I just paid them off right away). Not only does it make me happy that I’m able to do more than just pay for basic expenses every month and I was able to save up the money for new things, but it makes my home nicer and more enjoyable having appliances that work well and look great in the kitchen. Even when I’m just making my morning coffee, being in a bright and cheery kitchen sets a good tone for my day. And making meals is not a chore to me, it’s something I enjoy doing and feel proud of.

Goals for September

After taking August off from monthly goal-setting, I’m feeling more motivated to get back into it for the month of September. I took most of last week off from working out and it seems to have helped a lot – this week, I’m back to being able to wake up and get up for my workouts without feeling super sluggish. Yesterday I had great energy all day. Today I hit that 2pm slump for sure and was slightly wishing for a nap, but I was able to push through it and get through my afternoon meetings.

Bill and I are supposed to leave for a vacation in Hermosa Beach in October, and I really want to look and feel my best for that trip. My goals for September are designed to help with that.

Average 10,000 steps per day. I haven’t hit this step goal in a few months now but I really want to get back into the habit of walking more. I love being outside even in gloomy weather and I feel better when I’m getting my walks in regularly.

Eat my pre-planned snacks every weekday. My usual snack fare for workdays is an apple in the mornings and a Greek yogurt in the afternoons. This goal isn’t about limiting my snacking, but normally if I reach for my planned snacks first I find that they satisfy my hunger and I don’t need to eat anything else. If I forgo them and nosh on chips or popcorn instead, I eat more calories and usually still don’t feel as satisfied as I would if I’d just eaten my apple and my yogurt.

If I feel like snacking, have a cup of tea first and see if the craving goes away. There will be days when I am legitimately hungrier than normal and that’s okay, but I want to get out of the habit of just automatically reaching for an additional snack. I’ve been drinking decaf tea when I want something warm but don’t need the extra caffeine, and I’ve noticed that I don’t feel like snacking as much when I do. If I have the tea and still feel hungry afterwards, then I can have another snack – and I keep Boom Chicka Pop sea salt popcorn and Clif nut butter bars in the pantry for days when I want something extra.

Strength-train at least four days a week. I just started a new workout program called MBF (Muscle Burns Fat) this week, and although it’s a seven-day-a-week program I don’t like working out that much. My plan is to do four or five of the workouts each week and see how that feels.

Be at least 80% consistent in my calorie cycling. I was only 68% consistent in August and down about a pound, but ultimately I want to be at 80% consistency every month without giving it a second thought.

Taking Some Rest Time

Yesterday Bill and I cleaned the house and I washed sheets and towels, so we were able to go to sleep in a nice clean bed and wake up to a tidy house. This delighted me immeasurably.

Getting good sleep last night was something I desperately needed. Over the last few weeks I’ve been having a really, really hard time waking up for my workouts. Monday morning, I increased the amount of weight I lift, and by the afternoon my lower back was starting to spasm. Yesterday I woke up feeling lightheaded and sort of dizzy, but went for a walk anyway because I wanted to get in some sort of exercise even if I didn’t feel up to strength training. I probably should’ve just rested because I felt awful for most of the day and ended up needing to lie down for a bit in the afternoon. This morning when I woke up I still felt tired, so I let myself rest instead of trying to push through and work out.

I think that I struggle with resting when I really need to because I’ve been super consistent all year in my workouts and I absolutely hate the thought of losing that momentum. I haven’t missed a workout in months and I don’t like the idea of ending that streak, but at the same time I also know that I’m going to get hurt or sick if I don’t take it easy right now. I can tell the difference between feeling a little sleepy and just needing to push through it, and actually being rundown and needing the rest. Right now, I’m legitimately rundown and actually feeling frustrated about it.

I’ve also been beyond hungry the last couple of days. My normal weekday routine meals and snacks are not even close to enough and I’ve been starving in between. I know that I can lose weight in a calorie deficit, but I also know that certain foods give way more benefits than others – 100 calories of chocolate is the same as 100 calories of apple, but the apple has fiber and nutritional value and is going to keep me full longer than the chocolate will. I’m definitely noticing that I need to swap out some of my food choices so that I feel less hungry in between meals.

What I like about all this is that I’m feeling a lot more dialed in to how my workout and food choices are making me feel, rather than just what they translate to on the scale. For me, that’s progress. I’m starting to notice that when I don’t eat enough protein, when I eat too much in general, or when I have a few drinks, it throws off my sleep for at least a night. That leaves me feeling sluggish in the morning, so my workouts are impacted, and my overall mood is more morose when I’m tired. Choosing to make changes because it’ll help me feel stronger and more energetic feels like a bigger payoff than doing it just to be thinner.

Things That Make Me Happy

Last week I wrote a post about how I had been struggling with burnout. Truthfully this week started off even worse, due to a combination of terrible things happening in the world, but I’m trying to work on getting myself into a better headspace by finding little things that make me happy and treating myself to as many of them as possible.

I am a person who definitely enjoys simple pleasures. I don’t need anything grand or extravagant; little happinesses suit me perfectly. Since writing my burnout post I’ve been trying to pay particular attention and take note of the things that have been making me feel good and decided to write about them, so I can look back and have a handy go-to list when I’m feeling blah.

I typically start my workdays with exercise. I like getting my workout done at the beginning of the day and starting my morning with movement tends to put me in a better mood. Once I’m finished working out, I definitely need a shower desperately, but lately I’ve found myself having a lot of anxious and racing thoughts while I shower. Bill recently got a Bluetooth speaker and he helped me sync my phone to it so that I could listen to music while I get ready in the mornings. It’s helped so much with my anxious shower thoughts! Instead of overthinking while I shampoo my hair, I can focus on the music. I created a short “shower playlist” on Spotify for myself and am only putting songs on it that make me feel happy, calm, or energized. So far it’s doing the trick!

I also decided I needed a new evening ritual as I’ve been having trouble falling asleep at night, even though I feel tired. Since I’ve fallen a little bit behind on my 2021 goal to read 24 books by the end of the year, I decided that reading would be the perfect before-bed activity. Nearly every evening for the past week, I’ve brewed myself a cup of lavender chamomile tea and taken it, along with two Dove dark chocolates, to bed with me to read for the last hour before I go to sleep. I had just finished a Jen Lancaster memoir and needed a new book to read, so I chose to begin the Harry Potter series again. I’m halfway through the first book, and honestly even though I remember liking it I quite forgot just how much I love the series. Reading it again is making me SO happy, which is a nice feeling to end the day with.

Speaking of rituals, who washes their hands more often than they ever imagined possible now? Uh, that’d be me. Back at the beginning of the pandemic, hand soap became incredibly difficult to find and I tasked myself with placing orders with Bath & Body Works to stock up on soap and hand sanitizer. Since I was buying everything online, I had no idea what any of it smelled like and was ordering solely based on names of scents that I thought would be nice. Some of the choices I made turned out to be duds, but others are delightful. Over the weekend I needed to replace one of the soaps in our guest bathroom and randomly selected a Violet and Freesia scented one. I washed my hands with it just to try it out, and it was like the clouds parted and the heavens opened up and cascaded down the amazing scent. I liked it so much that I put it in my own bathroom instead and got a different soap for the guest bath. Something about the smell reminds me of when I was living alone in my Victorville apartment, back when I was 22, but I can’t recall what I was using at the time that smelled similar or why it’s triggering a pleasant feeling of memory. The Violet and Freesia soaps aren’t currently available at Bath & Body Works, but I hope they bring it back so I can buy more.

Another scent I’ve been obsessed with lately is the Malicious Women Co. candle I bought for myself on a whim. I have a bunch of different candles from the company, which is woman-owned and based here in Snohomish County, and I really didn’t need another one but I got upset when an anti-vaxxer group started trolling them online and I wanted to show them some support. The new candle is Anxiety Girl, and the scent is Lavender and Coconut Water. I love it and it helps me to be less of an anxiety girl myself.

Feel-good TV has been making me happy lately, too. I was inspired to start re-watching Friends after the reunion special aired earlier this summer, and just like the Harry Potter books, I knew I loved this show but I forgot just how much. Everything about it makes me happy. In addition to re-watching an old favorite, Bill and I discovered the show Ted Lasso on Apple TV, binge-watched the first season, and are now caught up in the second season and watching new episodes as they air. The show is not only funny, but it’s heartwarming and positive and just has a feel-good vibe.

I’m hoping that by focusing on things like this that make me happy, I’ll be able to battle my burnout and start feeling better.