It’s a new year, which means it’s time to re-evaluate and set new healthy goals. For me, that always means trying to refocus on self-care.
As those of you following along know, I always have a hard time prioritizing the little things. So far, I have 3 big self-care goals that help with that for 2017.
Get Organized for Self-Care
Planning in Writing
I always have a planner for scheduling our company’s social media because I like to have it in writing. But this year, I took it a step further and bought myself a Passion Planner.
If you haven’t heard of Passion Planner, it combines a lot of things, like keeping a bullet journal, setting goals, imagining your future, and reminders to take care of yourself. Here’s a peek at what that looks like:
It’s built to help you track time, workload, and to-do tasks for your personal life and goals, and it even makes you find the good in your week.
In an effort to fight off my workaholic tendencies, I’ve been thinking a lot about time and time management. There’s one TED talk in particular that has had me thinking for weeks:
https://pc.tedcdn.com/talk/podcast/2016W/None/LauraVanderkam_2016W-480p.mp4 Video via TED
This idea that there is enough time for the things that matter to you, even if you live an extremely busy life, feels so wonderful. Not only do I have no doubt that she’s right, it’s also an idea to live your life by.
For me, I’m adding a third-column to-do list to my Passion Planner, which is the self-care to-do list Laura recommends in that video. Too frequently things like my chipped toenail polish are such a low priority that I never make time for them (and I can only imagine this just gets worse as you have kids).
By putting them on my list, I give myself permission to make those little things a priority, to make time for them, even when they seem selfish or stupid. I can make time for reading a book, checking my personal email, playing with my dogs, anything. This is how I plan to make self-care a priority.
Soon, I will use the pages at the end of each month to evaluate how the first month of this is going, how my goals went, what was good and bad this month, and more.
Meal Planning and Tracking
I’ve been trying to make healthy meal plans and grocery shop in advance each week, which again, requires I make time for it.
This great video series of bento box lunches from Mind Over Munch, one per day in January, has really been helping me to get inspired with each day’s meals. (She also has a digital cookbook of these if you need more than 30 days of inspiration!)
How I Meal Plan
To meal plan, I’ve been using a lot of tools to make it happen, which makes it a lot more fun for someone like me who loves checking things off.
First, I have a lovely Wonder Woman list that I write down meals for the week on, organized by breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I try to choose at least one recipe for a nice big breakfast on the weekends, at least one recipe for a few lunches (something I can make multiple times or a big batch of something, like soup), and then 5 or 6 dinner ideas that I’ll make over a week and a half or so (taking leftover days off from cooking). And finally, at least 1 dessert because I have a huge sweet tooth. I label where each recipe is coming from and use it as a weekly menu, marking off things I make as I go along.
From there, I make a grocery list on the lovely Wunderlist, which is my favorite because it syncs across devices, but there are lots of other grocery shopping apps you can try.
And I use that whiteboard beside my Wonder Woman list to keep track of all the meal prep I need to do, like boiling eggs, making homemade salad dressing or sauces ahead of time, or prepping veggies and snacks for the week.
Then, I keep a calendar whiteboard on my freezer with dinners scheduled out. It helps me plan which days I’m eating leftovers, which ones I need something easy, or when I’m going out.
I also keep a more thorough list in my planner of what I eat for each major meal.
I’ve also just been trying to find little things that make my life easier in the kitchen, like my new knife block, which swivels to hold a cookbook or tablet while I’m cooking:
Tech and Digital Organization
Finally, on the organization front, I’m trying to clean up from a digital standpoint. This means a lot of things. I got a wireless speaker for Christmas. Syncing it to my cell phone lets me play music wherever I am in the house without needing a stereo or getting my computer close to water, like while I’m cooking or showering.
I’ve also been trying to clean up my digital presence, like organizing my iTunes, consolidating multiple Netflix and Hulu profiles I’ve had on different accounts, organizing all my bills online, backing up files like my writing on Google Docs, keeping track of my different passwords and profiles, and more.
I’ve also been taking the time to use digital solutions to solve some of life’s inconveniences, from the Tile on my keys to organizing all of my loyalty cards and memberships with Key Ring and tossing all of those business cards without guilt by backing them up in CamCard.
It’s amazing how satisfying throwing away all that clutter can be.
(Looking for more ways to clean out your wallet? This Real Simple article can help! It even has handy suggestions for using the leftovers off all your gift cards!)
Reading Challenge as Self-Care
There are all kinds of reading challenges all over the internet, practically one for every interest you could have. Popsugar’s yearly challenge is always a good general challenge, but looking at it, I just kept thinking about all the books I already know I want to read.
So instead, I’m making my own reading challenge. I used a Christmas Amazon gift card to buy a big stack of books that have been on my list for a while and combined them with a handful I’m in the middle of or have been hoarding,
(Why yes, that is a dog toy “hidden” on top of my books…)
On my self-care list, I’m forcing myself to dedicate at least 15 minutes a day to reading a book. Not the news, not my phone, a physical book.
And once I’ve forced myself to sit still and focus for those 15 minutes, I inevitably find time for at least 15 more.
Healthy Eating Self-Care
In keeping with all that self-care and meal planning, I have to follow through with making those healthy meals too.
Skinnytaste’s cookbooks have a variety of recipes to make up for my comfort food favorites, from chicken enchiladas, chicken parm, and baked potato soup to staples like homemade marinara, which I’m trying to avoid buying at the store.
And, you may not know it from looking at me, but nachos, bar nachos especially, and chili cheese fries are my top 2 favorite foods. (Closely followed by all things sweet, mostly candy, but that’s beside the point.) So The Dude Diet is perfect for me.
It has all kinds of healthier takes on hearty classics, even going so far as to have Taco Bell copycat tacos. (Be still my beating heart!)
So far, from simple Pad Thai, where the weirdest ingredient I needed was Sriracha, to truly bar-worthy BBQ chicken nachos, this cookbook has yet to disappoint.
I substituted chicken for shrimp in The Dude Diet shrimp Pad Thai recipe.
Drool-worthy spicy, baked BBQ chicken nachos.
Using these cookbooks, I’ve been slowly tasting my way through their wonderfulness, and it’s making a difference! Not only can I see it, but I can feel it. And the best part is I’m not sacrificing anything. These recipes are delicious and doable.
Build your own group of recipes that you trust and love, or start exploring healthy cookbooks yourself. Enjoying what you’re eating is the only way you’ll be able to make a healthy lifestyle feel achievable.
Do It Yourself
Not sure how to get started setting your own goals? Our wellness tool, Rally, can help you set food, exercise, organization, and even reading goals.
Follow us on Pinterest for more healthy recipes, or find us on Instagram to see my progress and what I’m cooking up.
And join me in setting your own healthy goals for 2017. Let’s make this our healthiest year yet!
It’s been a busy year for my team at Health Alliance, so I hope you’ve been enjoying Nicole’s Chasing Health series while I’ve been too busy to post!
When life gets busy and stress takes over, the first thing that always goes for me is sleep. I’ve never been very good at getting a lot of it, even though it’s one of my favorite things in the world, especially when stress sets in.
Unfortunately, that’s not doing my health any favors:
And since stress and being too busy already make some of these things worse, like my mood and healthy eating flying out the window, not getting enough sleep on top of all that is not good.
Not to mention that it’s definitely not helping my work:
The moral is clearly that sometimes, you have to make taking care of yourself a priority, which is unfortunately easier said than done.
Rally, our online wellness tool, can help by offering missions that help you get 7 to 8 hours of sleep, stick to a bedtime, start a bedtime ritual, and sleep better.
Start a bedtime routine. I used to have one, but that’s all but disappeared the last 6 months. I need to start again, and I’m going to try adding drinking something warm (and decaffeinated) to that schedule.
Listen to soothing music. Normally, I leave something playing on Netflix as I fall asleep, but soothing music or a sound machine, without the light, would be a much better idea. Maybe I can make use of Adele’s new album or apps like Rain, Rain, which makes thunderstorm noises.
Cut back on electronics. This and making my bed a work-free zone are nearly impossible for me, but I do need to work on cutting back. Setting a curfew when I set down my phone or laptop, like at least a half hour before bed, could really help.
Make up for lost sleep. Adding an extra hour when I didn’t get enough sleep the night before could help me with my sleep debt.
Don’t toss and turn. I do this a lot, and if I can’t fall asleep for more than 20 minutes, I should try getting up and doing something relaxing (NOT work), like knitting or reading.
One thing I can tell you I won’t be trying off this list? Kicking my pet out of my bed.
While I know this must be a problem for some people, I don’t think it’s a problem for me. And I’m not alone. A new study finds that 41% of people think having their pet in the room helps them sleep better.
I know that I would worry about her if she wasn’t in my room. Plus, cuddling her is about the most relaxing activity in my life. In fact, that’s frequently how I fall asleep now. I mean, how can you resist that?