I’ve said it before on here, but I’ve always loved reading and writing, and I’m not always very good at making time for it. I read a lot of news but not that many actual books anymore. Funny, because I don’t have any furniture in my apartment, besides the books on books.
It’s been one of my goals to make it more of a priority again. In the past month, I’ve read both Mindy Kaling’s book, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” and Amy Poehler’s “Yes Please” (which has really wonderful and funny advice for young women), and I just started Stephen King’s “On Writing,” which makes me want to stop everything and write.
But there are lots of reasons to read and write every day. Rally, our wellness tool, has challenges for just that, so you can make your brain a priority. In one, it challenges you to read for 20 minutes, and in another, to write in a journal every day.
So what’s this doing for your health?
Reading has been shown to slow memory loss, increase concentration, and reduce stress. Not to mention, one study found that reading helped improve your social skills, your ability to understand others and their emotions, and your ability to feel for others. Reading can literally help you treat other people better!
Not to mention that taking 20 minutes a day to read with your kids can make an amazing difference in their education and development.
Not sure where to start? This 2015 Reading Challenge from Popsugar gives you goals without locking you into a set of books you wouldn’t choose for yourself.
So far I’ve got a funny book, a memoir, a mystery or thriller, and a book from an author I love that I haven’t read yet checked off for the year. What can you check off?
Writing for Your Health
And there are LOTS of reasons to keep a journal. Don’t believe me? Here are 101 reasons.
I’ve never been much of a journal writer (my writing brain drifts toward fiction), but as I’ve said here more than once, I love lists.
And that’s the beauty of keeping a journal! There’s always a way to make it work for you. Here are some alternatives to the traditional “Dear Diary” format.
Don’t want to write about your feelings? You can keep a journal without it being personal. Keeping a work journal can help you stay organized and productive.
A bullet journal helps you organize and categorize your tasks, events, notes, and ideas quickly with lists.
Do you want to mix things up in your writing? If you want to paint a picture one day and write fiction or poetry another, there are creative journal tips to help you.
I’ve been keeping a form of a bullet journal in my fitness binder on that handy grid paper I told you about. It’s really just a record of the most important things that happened to me that day that I can easily find later. I use other elements of this in my work to-do list and in organizing things like the social media topics I’ve done in the past. Below is a taste of what mine looks like, or this blog has really good examples of this in action.
(Don’t mind the ghost talk in the middle there if you can read it. That’s just me noting a plot idea for a fictional horror story.)
This lets me keep lists instead of trying to write a paragraph about things that don’t need any emotion or explanation. And my favorite part is it helps me organize things like character and story ideas, something I am known for jotting on anything around me until I have a strange collection of crumpled notes on things like napkins, CD sleeves, or even mail.
Head over to Rally, take your health assessment, and start meeting your goals for strengthening your mind!
My move is complete! While I have no furniture outside my bedroom (partly from a very trying, calorie-burning, failed attempt to get a couch through my front door) all of my things and my dog have successfully made the transition.
A new kitchen and plenty of living room space for yoga (because falling down is a lot easier in a room with no furniture) have made it time to refocus on my healthy journey.
Right now, I’m working on small steps. I’ve bought some running shoes, and now that the weather has finally gotten up out of sub-arctic temperatures, it’s time to take action.
If you’ve followed my journey, you’ve heard about our wellness tool, Rally. Rally helps you evaluate your health with an easy test and then has you pick challenges in order to earn coins, which you can use to enter drawings for rewards.
Rally is a great way to hold yourself accountable to your goals each day, and I’m going to help connect you to ways to make your Rally goals happen. I’ve done a few of the challenges before, and while I’m not going to do all of them permanently, I am going to spend all spring testing them out and connecting you to resources to meet your goals.
The first two challenges that I’m going to test out and help you with are cooking at home more and tracking what you eat.
I had tracked what I ate before with a handy app called MyPlate. I still recommend it, but I’ve taken a different route this time.
I’m a writer at heart. I’ve been saying I was going to be a writer since I was 4, when I wrote my first book, which was about bears. (I realize this might make me sound like Dwight to you lovers of The Office, but my bears weren’t eating beets. They were being ballerinas and astronauts. You know, real bear stuff.)
While humiliating myself is always a fun side effect of blogging about my life, I bring this story up for a reason. I like writing things down, and I’ve always liked writing things down. There is nothing so satisfying as putting a physical check mark beside a task. I work on the Web team, and I still keep a physical planner and to-do list.
So I’ve decided that maybe I stopped keeping up with the app (conveniently right around the holidays) because there was no satisfaction or memory in it for me. If I write something down, I feel it and remember it. If I just select an item out of a digital list, I will not remember how many calories those Skittles are costing me every day.
So I’ve made myself a My Healthy Journey fitness binder. I’m using it as a one-stop, life-hub of organized information. It’s amazing.
I started with supplies. I bought a beautiful binder that I can live with carrying around every day.
Then I gathered office supplies:
Plenty of paper (for printouts).
Grid paper, which is perfect for making lists. All of the little boxes make perfect check boxes right alongside your tasks.
Binder dividers, a three-hole punch, and a large variety of highlighters, pens, and markers.
Plus my laptop, grocery list, and coffee because no morning project unfolds well in my house without coffee.
The first thing I did was waste a lot of time on Pinterest looking at fun, inspirational typography. As a writer and designer, I’m a font geek, and I decided that I would start each month of my binder with some hand-drawn, cute, inspirational quotes. My dog and I worked on this in bed while watching documentaries. (She hated it because it meant I wasn’t petting her…) While it might sound like a waste, it has truly made me love my binder. My beautiful binder and I have formed a loving bond through hours of coloring. I definitely recommend it.
Then I printed some things that are actually useful. First up is a weekly printable meal planner. If you search for that online, you can find tons of free downloadables, both with and without grocery lists. Or you can try the one I chose or this colorful other option. I opted for a simple planner and to continue to use my awesome Wonder Woman grocery list. Choose whatever works for you.
Then I printed off some calendars. I have a planner for work, but I don’t like to put personal stuff in it because not only do I sometimes show it to people when scheduling social media plans, but I also don’t look at it outside of work. So this calendar will have things like my dentist appointments, the dates my prescriptions run out, and the dates all my different bills are due. I naturally color-coded all of this with highlighters, like an organization geek.
The last important piece of the puzzle is a printable daily food log. Again, there are lots of these to download for free on the Internet. This blog inspired me to make the binder and has a log you can download, or WebMD has an especially good Food Journal. With a little computer magic, though, I made my own, which combined spaces for food, calories, and exercise and has a water section to remind me to drink more water. The best part about making it yourself is you can add anything you want. Do you want a space for vitamins, medicines, or even reminders for things like flossing? Add anything that you think a physical reminder will help you stick with. You can also download My Healthy Journey Food Journal (it’s two pages, so you can print it double-sided!)
I’ve only been doing it for a week, but so far, I’ve noticed that I remember how many calories are in my food far better when I’m forced to calculate and write it down myself every single day. You really think about your choices when you know you have to add that candy onto your day’s calorie total. The menu planner also forces me to sit down at the beginning of the week and plan out meals. While I haven’t stuck to it perfectly, it really does make grocery shopping and cooking much easier to plan for.
And just in case you need some ideas when you sit down to plan, here are 50 Healthy Dinner recipes you can try, or follow us on Pinterest for new healthy recipes all the time.
And follow me on Instagram, where I share inspiration and my healthy journey, mostly through food.
Here’s a taste of the day in the life: bright green Pea Pesto Pasta, Raspberry Sorbet (a go-to dessert at just 120 calories a serving), and Pineapple-Lime Salsa Chicken Tostadas with Corn Guacamole for just 380 calories. (The chicken is of my own invention. I just put 2 chicken breasts into a crockpot with a small can of chopped up pineapple tidbits, a quarter jar of salsa, and the juice of a lime and cooked it on low for 8 hours. Then I shredded it for delicious, sweet and savory tacos.)
Join me there in making cooking and health more fun, one image at a time!