Your Daily Health Plan – Do These 5 Simple Things To Improve Your Health Today

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You can make small, healthier choices every day that get you closer to your goal. I’ve found that focusing on five small items each day has made a significant change in my health – even on busy days – and made me more focused, more alert and more content.  I encourage you to try adding one of these to your daily routine and watch your health (and sanity) improve.

Eat Breakfast Every Day

Start your day fueled and ready to go – choose a lean protein, whole-grain carbohydrates and something fun for breakfast every day. I love breakfast, it’s my favorite meal of the day. Breakfast foods are amazing and it’s always the meal where I’m the hungriest (Break-The-Fast makes sense).  I’ve heard some people say they can’t eat breakfast in the morning, but skipping breakfast is a bad idea.  I know on days I don’t eat a good breakfast, I make bad decisions the rest of the day (often with both food and life).

I typically eat two eggs, whole-grain toast a slice of cheddar cheese and tropical fruit & bananas.  It’s easy when I don’t have to think about it and I know I’ll stay full for hours. Try different healthy options until you find what works for you – oatmeal is an option, even turkey sandwiches are good! – if it works for you, then it works.

Plan Your Meals and Snacks

In addition to eating breakfast, I encourage you to plan your food for the day because it will help you make better decisions.  When I start each day, I know exactly what I’m eating throughout the day (by category at least) and it saves me time, thought and hunger pains throughout the day.  I try to eat 5 cups of veggies, 3 cups of fruit, 4 cups of lean protein and 4 servings of whole-grain carbs – I’ve noticed on this plan (I’m using the 21 day fix – the app is amazing) that I’m not hungry, I know what to expect and I’m losing weight (I had a baby in December, it’s the fastest I’ve lost weight ever).

When you are thinking about planning out your meals, I encourage you to think about one day at a time so you don’t feel overwhelmed.  Make your breakfast, pick healthy lunch and snack ideas and then think about what is best for dinner – even if you can only make progress with one meal or one day – you’re still making progress.

When you have time, make a list of healthy foods you enjoy eating and start adding them to your diet (I eat two cups of roasted carrots every day, yum and healthy).

Make Time For Things You Enjoy

When I spend time doing things I enjoy, I find that I’m more productive with all things.  If you schedule it as an appointment you’re more likely to do it.  Even if you just have 15 minutes to spend, I encourage you to plan something you like to do today.  My favorite right now is front-porch sitting.  Even 15 minutes and I feel like a new person.  Find it and do it today.

Push Yourself to Move More

Find ways to get out of your seat and move every chance you can.  I try to schedule meetings in other people’s offices, I refill my water bottle on the main floor of our building (I work on the third floor), I always take the stairs, and I park far away from many stores. All of these help me add extra steps to my day and get me closer to my goal of 11,114 K steps per day (5 miles).

I also schedule workout time 5 days a week (because this is what I enjoy).  Sometimes it’s my lunch hour, sometimes it’s after work and sometimes I have to wake up really early to make it happen – but adding it to my schedule means I know I have time and I know I’m doing something for me.

Put Yourself In Time-Out

Sure, it sounds like a punishment for a toddler, but it’s a saving-grace for adults.  I can tell when I’m too tired, too hungry or too stressed to deal with something right then.  And I’ve said before, “I need to step away for a bit.” I’ve taken time-out naps, walks or time-out snacks (healthy snacks, of course) and it does wonders for my decision making process, my sanity and my response.

Try it – put yourself in time out every time you realize you’re not at your best.  And do something you like to do.  You need time to recharge and refresh, so you’re better on the other side.

It’s not too late to make a healthy focus for the year. Start today.

How to make progress when you have zero time

I’ve been waking up at 4am regularly again.  This means that I don’t have enough time during the day and my mind wakes me up thinking of everything I need to get done. Our schedule is too packed, I’m too busy and I’ve noticed things are starting to pile up because I don’t have time to make the progress that I normally do.  I’m too busy, have zero time and it’s stressing me out.

I bet you’ve felt like this too – your schedule is full, your place is a mess and your stress level is rising.  I encourage you to take time to make necessary adjustments to continue making progress, even if you have zero time.  If you do this now, you’ll have a better chance of improving your schedule, your stress level and your sanity.

Remove things from your life.

When you look at your schedule, what do you see? I’ve got a packed work schedule and a packed free-time schedule. And it isn’t working for me.  I don’t have time to think if I’m running from one meeting to the next. It made me realize that I needed to start removing some things from my schedule, from my thoughts and from my life.  After taking a long look at what I’ve been doing, I started to make changes.  I’ve removed important, valuable things from my schedule.  Some of them weren’t easy to remove.  All of them were necessary to remove.  I could tell it made a difference as my stress level decreased with each removal.

I encourage you to look at your schedule right now.  How can you get others to help you? What can you remove? What adjustments can you make? The more you choose to focus on the most important things, the more you’ll start to realize how your schedule shouldn’t be filled up with the other things.

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Don’t Wait Until You Are Ready. Start Today.

I heard advice recently that you shouldn’t wait until you are ready.  Because if you wait until you’re completely ready, you’ll probably never do anything.  It made me remember how important it is to take risks, to make progress every day, and to purposefully spend time developing your next step.  I know I need to practice this even more than I currently do and I encourage you to do the same.  Start something now, even before you think you’re ready.

Start when the idea is just an idea.

I spend many of my days in brainstorming mode.  And I come up with some crazy ideas.  Some are crazy good and some are crazy terrible.  But all of them are worth their time and discovery.  Staying in full-thinking brainstorming mode forces me to create and develop tons of ideas and helps me move forward before I’m entirely sure of the end result.

I encourage you to spend a regular amount of time each week thinking up new, crazy ideas. In fact, I want you to schedule that time – it could be your workout time, it could be in the shower, it could be at 4am (when I unintentionally do some of my best brainstorming). You’ll start to notice that you look forward to that time and can think more clearly and purposefully with your big ideas.

Start when the idea scares you.

Recently, a friend applied for a promotion at his current job.  His response when asked, “Well, they’ll either hire me or hire someone better than me.”  I was impressed with this thought process and wondered how ready he’d felt when he applied.  I’d bet he felt mostly ready to take on a new position like this.  If you wait until you’re completely ready, you’re already too late.  To late for the job, the experience, the chance.

I encourage you to move forward when you feel about half-way ready.  You should feel a little scared-excited with what you’re planning to do.  Once you’ve figured out this scary step, be purposeful with your time and effort to help make this step happen.  You’ll start to notice that scared-excited begins to look more and more exciting when you really make progress.  And soon you’ll be right where you want to be.

Start when things will get messy.

I love a clean process, it’s refreshing to get things done and have them turn out exactly as planned.  Do you know what never happens for me? A perfectly neat and tidy process.  You know what I’ve learned over the years?  To enjoy the mess.  In fact, now I really look forward to it.  I know things are going to get messy and disorganized. And that’s OK. Because eventually, the same things will get cleaner and organized and totally make sense.

I encourage you to look forward to the mess.  Try to do a little something each day.  My house is full of projects, my office is full of tasks and I have lists and lists of ideas to start.  Each of them have their own life cycle of ideas, mess and success.  I know where I am with each item because I focus on a little each day.  And I know it will get messy, but I know I’ll also make progress.  You may only have fifteen minutes – use it.  Doing a little bit every single day will make a big difference over time.

It’s easy to wait until you’re totally ready to do anything.  It’s too easy.  Don’t let yourself get that complacent. Start before you are ready and you’ll start to notice how much progress you can make.

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Why micro-goals may just change your life

I read an article recently that talked about Micro-Resolutions and how instead of hoping for good intentions to work out, you could use these micro-goals to shrink down and reach big goals one at a time.  I love this.  I’m often setting enormous goals and excitedly thinking of how to break them down into smaller pieces – but I love the idea of starting with the smaller goal from the very beginning.

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I had to make many changes this year for my goals.  After a year of aggressive goals that failed, I needed to re-focus and make goals that would actually work and micro-goals have served me well.  Here’s what I learned:

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Teach Yourself to be Assertive: Be Prepared & Aware of Opportunities to Share Your Voice

Your voice matters. We need to hear it.  

And even if it’s terrifying to present in front of superiors, share information in large groups or speak at all – you are better for it when you are assertive and speak your mind.  In fact, you safeguard yourself from tough situations by building the confidence to stand up for yourself. And when you look around at the opportunities you have in your life, and in your day, you’ll realize that you have many opportunities to practice this talent and make it a strength.

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Don’t wait for perfect: Why progress matters no matter what

Recently, I was traveling with a friend and she shared a bit of wisdom that has stayed with me.  It’s what I’ve been thinking about in my free time and helped me gain perspective on something I’ve been struggling with for a while. She was telling me about how she’s been burned out with an area of her life – a necessary area of her life – and she realized she had to make a plan to work on things a little each day.  She told me, “I knew it wasn’t my best work, I knew my heart wasn’t in it.  But I kept going because I knew I needed to.  And I’m glad I did, because now I’m in a much better place and my work has improved.”

I couldn’t believe it – it was exactly what I been struggling with too! I love spending time writing, but lately my results and readership have exploded (I know, #firstworldproblems) and I felt like I needed to share that perfect post with the world – I mean it’s what 10,000 people per month are expecting.  And it was overwhelming, I mean what do you say to a crowd that big?

You can’t wait for things to be perfect.  You have to start somewhere.

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16 ways to practice mindfulness in 2016

What are your goals this year? My first goal is not to set so many goals. I’ve realized I need to be more aware of what is realistic from the very beginning; learning to practice mindfulness is at the top of my list this year.  And contrary to past experience, it’s the only goal I wrote on my list this year.  Sure, I have some things that I want to accomplish, but I’ve realized that delusions of grandeur in January lead to exhaustion in the later months.  

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Here is what I learned last year about practicing mindfulness this year:

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