I’m feeling like the day is running me instead of the other way around. I want to wake up and start the day in a way that serves me best. What I really need is a morning routine that doesn’t call for lounging in bed for 20 minutes.
There’s actually some science around the importance of morning routines. When we wake up, our bodies get an energy spike in the mornings thanks to an increase in cortisol. It’s also when we tend to be our sharpest mentally. But that spike is wasted if we don’t have a routine that sets the tone for the rest of the day. Morning rituals/routines is a way to channel that energy. It provides mental clarity, making us more productive.
I used to have a morning routine and I felt happier, made healthier choices throughout the day and never felt restless. My mornings were 90 minutes of quiet “me” time. I kept it simple and consistent. I rehydrated with a glass of water. Spent 5 minutes thinking about what wanted to accomplish that day. Then it was time for my workout. Not only did that routine put me in a great mood all day, I always accomplished what I set out to do. More importantly, I felt happy, calm and focused. Never restless.
I’m starting a new routine and it’s a work in progress. I’m keeping it simple because I’m creating a new habit. What’s my routine?
Get out of bed when I wake up (no more lounging).
Rehydrate with a cool glass of water.
Hit the floor mat for hip physical therapy.
Turn on my diffuser and focus on a healthy goal that I want to achieve for the day.
Rap up my morning routine with a walk.
My routine runs about 60 minutes. I’ll make tweaks as I settle into it. I’m not expecting perfection immediately. My dog, who has her own morning routine, will see to that.
Do you have a morning routine that serves you? Or are you serving someone else’s routine?
The routine is simple. The first week consists of a daily 15 minute walk: 5 minute warm up, 5 minute power walk, 5 minute cooldown. Every week you add 2 minutes to the power walk portion until week 7. From there on, it switches between 2 and 3 minute increases. At the end of 12 weeks, I’ll be walking for 40 minutes.
Before my walk, I stretched for 15 minutes to loosen my hip flexor, hamstring, glutes, calf, and lower back muscles. Walking on level ground doesn’t bother me. But my home is at the top of an incline and any direction I pick, it’s uphill on the way back home. And unstable hips don’t like going uphill.
There was a chill in the air, but I didn’t mind. It felt great to be outside despite the overcast sky. I did have a gear issue. At 32 degrees, I had to wear my big puffy coat, making the walk hotter than necessary. Because the chilly, wet weather is here until April, I may pick up a cheap, light jacket. I plan on being successful, which means I won’t be able to use it in the fall. No need to invest serious dollars into clothes I can only wear for a few months.
All right, enough of the jibber jabber. What’s my baseline to measure my January walks by?
The good news is, other than some muscle tightening, the walk was pain free. The stretching pre-walk was a good move. My ankles felt a little tight at the start but loosened up about a minute into the warm up. I just need to add in some ankle rolls to my stretching routine. My lower back started tightening midway through the power walking section. I paused my walk and did a standing lower back stretch, which hit the spot and let me continue my walk.
However, my tight ankles and back muscles clearly altered my stride. One mile is 2,000 steps. I walked 1,773 steps, which is slightly more than 3/4 of a mile. My Runkeeper app showed I’d walked a little less than 2/3 of a mile. That means my tight ankles and back muscles forced me to take shorter strides, resulting in 300+ additional steps for a shorter distance.
Bottom line: my core is too weak. A lot of my weight gain is in my midsection, and my core isn’t strong enough to handle it. Core work and dropping 5% of my body fat will fix my back problem. Working on my core and continuing my hip routine should help improve my stride.
When I look at the numbers, my desire is to try to beat the 24 minute mile. But that’d be a bad move. My best bet is to focus on distance first, time second. Speed will come as my body gets used to movement again. And speed means nothing if it’s physically hard to walk more than a mile. When it comes to getting back in shape, I’m the tortoise not the hare.
I have to admit that during my walk I didn’t really focus on my tightening back muscles or how hard walking up a slight incline felt. Only one thought dominated the walk: When can I start training for a 5k?
The start of my seed collection with more on the way. Yes, I’m out of control.
Since the Winter Solstice, there’s an excitement building in me. The days are growing longer. Which means gardening season is right around the corner. Last year I really didn’t plan my garden. It was very willy-nilly.
Well this year the garden will have more structure and focus on growing (mostly) keto friendly vegetables and fruits. And I’ve even set a few goals for myself.
1. Have fun
The fun part is easy. From perusing the seed catalogs to building raised beds to starting seeds early, I love it all. But will I feel the same when things don’t go right? I killed a few plants last year and I know I’ll kill more this year. But I’m learning from my mistakes. I just have to keep in mind that gardening is more about the process than the results. Read More
Well it’s day 5 of our keto-carnivore challenge and I can honestly say yesterday was the low point. Coming off of a very bad day at the office, the husband ordered gluten free pizza. And yes, I had some.
Talk about textbook emotional eating. It doesn’t take much for us to decide we need to “blow off steam” by eating out or bringing home a bottle of wine. After a couple of glasses, you do dumb things…like order gluten free pizza.
Oh, and it wasn’t very good pizza either!
I was upset with both of us last night as I went to bed. My last thought before drifting off: “Well, Day 1 just starts tomorrow.”
This morning the frustration is gone, replaced with resolve.
Day 1 of our reset was September 21, not September 25. We messed up. Badly. We’ll do better at the next meal.
Accept it and move on.
The only change we’re making to our keto carnivore challenge is no alcohol of any kind allowed. Period.
The netting helps keep the cabbage looper caterpillar from laying eggs.
I am growing a cabbage on my deck, and lucky for me I decided to do so, because a fat rabbit ate most of the other cabbage growing in my yard. Bastard!
After we’d put our cooking videos on hold, I needed to find something to keep me busy. With the long hours needed for my husband’s new project, this had to be something I could do given my limited mobility.
I’ve always wanted my very own garden. I had one when we first moved into our little “Love Shack.” It was tiny, but I loved it (except for another rabbit that ate all my lettuce). But alas, it was not meant to be, as my husband had to put in a huge deck right where I was planting.
My tiny container garden.
Due to my hip pain and lack of mobility, I ended up watching a lot of YouTube, which we all know is the “gateway drug” for anyone who loves hobbies. Gardening videos were the hook for me. I started reading everything I could on square-foot gardening, container gardening, annuals and perennials, making your own growing soil…it was a enormous rabbit hole.
I told myself to start small – a simple container garden. Just buy a tomato plant, herbs, a few flowers, and container soil from Lowes. Easy-peasy, right? Turns out that’s just not my style. I decided to grow from seeds. Oh, and if I’m growing from seeds, and I grew a lot more than I expected: eggplants, tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers (including a Ghost Pepper!) zucchini and yellow squash, watermelon, onions, scallions, green beans, lettuce, pumpkins, strawberries, cucumbers, basil, thyme, rosemary, catnip and big ass sunflowers.
Cabbage and snow peas are my fall crops.
My tomato corner, featuring a Red Beefsteak, Yellow Brandywine and Yellow Pear.
I loved growing my own food. For me, it tasted better than anything from the grocery store. But the real benefit was it got me moving.
When your leg feels like it’s disconnected from your hip, the last thing you want to do is walk. On top of that there’s the pain… The last thing you want to do is move around. But the pain doesn’t go away unless you move.
The garden became a type of physical therapy. Every day, rain or shine, pain or no pain, even before coffee, I’m in the garden watering, fertilizing, harvesting, and trimming plants. At dusk, I’m treating the plants for disease or fungus – that is when I’m not fighting caterpillars, vine borers, Japanese beetles, and those dang rabbits.
My newest addition – a Meyer lemon tree – which arrived a few weeks ago. I moves indoors soon for the winter.
When I first started, my movement was difficult, but I wanted the garden more than the comfort of not moving. It took a few of months before the walking, bending, squatting, and kneeling didn’t hurt as much. Of course, I had a few big spills (my balance sucks) but that didn’t deter me.
I think the garden also helped me get back into the keto game at some level. This week, I told you that I was feeling mighty sorry for myself thanks to my unstable hip. That self-pity lead to eating a lot of highly processed carbs and weight gain. At a subconscious level, the healthy me was screaming to take control, and I believe the garden was a voice for that.
There was no rhyme or reason to what I picked gardening. I just wanted to see if I could grow something from seed…or so I told myself. With the exception of the watermelon and beefsteak tomatoes, my garden was pure keto.
Heck, even with the watermelon, I only grew one small one, and I only ate ½ a cup (the husband devoured the rest).
A bit of the husband’s photography. He fell in love with our sunflowers.
It’s almost mid-September and my garden only has about 4-6 weeks left before the first frost hits, but I couldn’t be more excited. I’m busy planning out next year’s garden. We’re getting rid of the lawn and building raised beds. I just love growing our own vegetables, and the idea of making a truly ketogenic garden excites me.
Ugh! Either this cold is tougher than I thought or I caught something else. Runny nose, sore throat, sinuses throbbing, and an overall crappy feeling. To make matters worse the hubby is now officially sick.
The last few days I’ve been running myself ragged trying to get my mom’s apartment ready for her. I’m making sure she can move around with her walker easily. That means moving furniture, reorganizing rooms and putting things in storage.
Then there is the issue of the 2nd bedroom, which was being used as storage. I have to box everything up before we can set up my sister’s bed.
So of course, it is the perfect time to get sick all over again.
I think my body is telling me something. So I’m going back to bed for a little R&R before the packing frenzy begins.
The good news…I never want to eat much when I’m sick. So this can help my keto reset.
Yesterday was a bad day. I woke up cranky. I don’t know why. But dang it, I was not someone not to be trifled with.
Well my mom woke up in a similar mood. I should have saw it coming the day before. We briefly chatted about giving up her apartment and looking for assisted living arrangements. The last time we had this chat, she was an emotional wreck for a few days. I should have learned from that…but I didn’t.
Now she was on a mission. And it was going to be accomplished. Period.
We headed to her apartment to get her wedding ring set. Perfectly reasonable…but that doesn’t mean that “Cranky Dot” liked it.
However she wasn’t 100%. Her arthritis was bad this morning. Every move was painful. She felt really tired – I thought she was still recovering from a cold. And her breathing at times was labored.
There was a lot of walking involved to get to apartment. Much further than she has walked since breaking her hip. Physically she overexerted herself.
But there was the emotional side of this trip too. She was overwhelmed. Coming back to her apartment was hard. I think she is really starting to understand that she won’t be living her again. But wanted to prove herself, and me, wrong.
The result was a way too stressful day…for both of us. Tempers flared at times. She had a lot of near misses and almost ended up on her backside. So of course my frustration mounted.
After spending all morning together, it was time to get her to her physical therapy and a much-needed break for me.
Don’t get me wrong. Any other time we spend ½ a day in close proximity to each other it is a very good day. We have fun. But today, was a special supersonic black hole of emotional mess for both of us.
Mindfulness vs. Wine & Chocolate Pudding Cake
So what did I do? I was hungry and went out to eat. Yes I ordered low carb – a bun-less bacon cheeseburger with a side of grilled broccolini. Perfect. Until the wine showed up.
Before ordering the wine, I pulled out my phone and turned on my meditation app. Surely there was a 2 minute meditation to take help me relax in a busy, loud restaurant.
Maybe…but “Cranky Dot” wasn’t falling for it. Soon “Cranky Dot” morphed into “Self-Pity Dot” and she ordered one more glass…and was eyeing the chocolate pudding cake.
Thankfully “Keto Dot” appeared and stopped me half way through the second glass and turned my attention to the full water glass on the table. I ended up drinking 2 of those.
About 90 minutes later, mom was ready and I picked her up. She needed to rest and went up for a nap.
Emotionally spent, I scrapped plans for cleaning out the basement. I thought the drama for the day was done. While I was upset I ordered those 2 glasses of el vino, I was happy I pushed that damn cake out of my mind. Plus, my first reaction was to turn on my meditation app. It didn’t work this time, but I did reach for it first! So it was a partial victory.
Evening In The Emergency Room
Unfortunately the day wasn’t done. A few hours later mom had a bad fall. She was reaching into the closet for her robe and fell backwards. Besides worrying that the bad hip might have a crack, she hit her head…hard.
The next several hours were spent in the emergency room, waiting for the CT scans, x-rays, blood work and lab results. Thankfully no breaks…just a lot of bruises. But her iron levels are too low. She can’t absorb iron that well thanks to her bariatric surgery many decades ago. Which looks to be the cause of her tiredness, shortness of breath and sluggish movements.
While waiting for the results I had a personal victory. Over the last few months, any visit to the hospital always resulted in a trip to the vending machine. When you are a stress eater, quality of food doesn’t matter.
Last night. I wasn’t interested.
When we got home very early this morning, I experienced another victory. I made a small meal for mom (she missed dinner). The hubby pulled out a small box of wine that I use for cooking. He poured me a glass. I said no thanks and went to bed.
Refusing wine…granted it was crappy box wine so not too difficult to pass on. But all things considered, it still is a small victory.
Feeling like I’m over the worst part of this blasted cold, yesterday I did something I haven’t done in a long time. Food prepping for the week. Granted, it happened on Hump Day, but that’s neither here nor there. Doing something so simple felt great. It’s an habit I started when I went low carb and it’s been MIA for too many months.
What To Do With All These Tomatoes?
I deviated from my grocery list slightly by picking 2 pounds of tomatoes – Campari, heirloom and San Marzanos. Why? Oven-dried tomatoes of course! Great for salads, pesto, quiches. Nice add-ons to the dishes I’m making this week.
Of course, they take 8 hours or so to dry out, but they do taste spectacular. Frankly the taste is even better when they sit in a delicious extra virgin olive oil (frankly, the amazing oil coming out of California is replacing Greek and Italian olive oils in my home).
Rinse, Chop, Make Ahead, Repeat
While the tomatoes took hours to make, the rest of my food prep took just 2. I quickly dispensed with the veggies: washing, chopping and storing – about 30 minutes total.
Next up, the cooking portion of my prep work: whipping up hard-boiled eggs, testing my Instapot (that poor spaghetti squash!), and preparing a make ahead meatloaf to pop in the oven for dinner.
The nice thing about all this prep work was how relaxing it is to work in the kitchen. Just turn on some music and focus on the simple task at hand. No worries. No melt downs. Heck, even when I knocked over my big tumbler of water, I just laughed as I cleaned up (and played a little ice cube soccer with the pup).
Food Prep Takes Stress Away…It Really Does
Two hours of my time to save me hours during the week. So simple. Yet it’s too easy to fall back into that bad habit of mine — sitting on the couch scrolling through a Twitter feed.
Not only is that bad habit a waste of time, but it added to my stress. How many times I felt rushed to try to cook meals for my family. A little bit of food prep yesterday and I saved 20 minutes this morning making a Swiss and mushroom omelet for my mom. My husband just reached in the fridge and quickly put his lunch together (my meatloaf the day after is awesome!).
I’m 4 days into my keto reset and I’d love to tell you I’ve been perfect. But because I’m Dot, you’d know that’s a crock! Two days in…2 days!…and I have a meltdown. The husband’s solution: Go out for dinner.
I ate as keto as possible — steak and steamed broccoli with butter. But el vino did flow. And how it flowed.
Stress. That’s my nemesis right now. I need a solution that doesn’t involve a corkscrew.
I used to have 3 sure fire ways to contend with stress: 5-mile walks, 5k training, and my spin class. Well only the spin class is an option right now and it ain’t available when I need it.
So now I’m determined to find time for myself. Any time. A minute here … 3 minutes there.
Letting Chores Go For Now
As I type this, mom is upstairs getting dressed and I’m looking at a sink that has 6 dirty dishes in it (yes I counted them … and I am lame). It has taken everything not to go and just load the dishwasher. After all, it takes minutes. I can come back to writing this blog post after…
But the truth is I wouldn’t. I know that once I do the dishes, I’m wiping down the counters, cleaning the stove, sweeping the floor… Then it’s time to make my mom’s lunch.
The dishes are gateway chores. They just lead to more cleaning.
They will get done like everything else … sometime. But focusing on my needs has to come first for now. And that will free up time for me to do…
I Found The Time. Now What?
As sad as this sounds, my first thought is to do absolutely nothing. And when I mean nothing, I mean NOTHING. Just sitting. No tablet. No social media. No thinking.
Oh, sure, thoughts come to mine. Random feelings. Or noticing my leg is falling asleep. I did “nothing” first-thing this morning, and that’s then it hit me: this is what “Mindfulness” is about. After months of reading about mindfulness – and not getting past the mumbo jumbo – I finally achieved it by doing jack squat.
Doing nothing definitely de-stresses you. But I need a little more than nothing in my life.
Sure enough, after about 10 minutes of nothingness, the old idea hamster started spinning the wheel again. That idea hamster was loaded with ideas for me to do in my spare time. But that idea hamster is also an “ideal” hamster. Lots of ideas on what to do, but nada on when to do it.
Then it dawned on me – create a morning ritual! Plan activities that de-stresses and energizes me to start my day right.
I’m up before anyone else, and that gives me a good 30 to 90 minutes before the house stirs. Instead of wasting that time on Twitter (a major time suck!) or chores (there’s always time later), I’ll use that time for my own mental and physical health.
First up, nothing … ummm … I mean mindfulness ... I’m going to sit in my recliner (feet up) with the day’s first cup of coffee and do nothing, think about nothing, for 10 glorious minutes.
After that, 20 minutes of stretching. That’s more than enough time for my calf exercises and to work on the rest of my body. Plus, it always puts me in the cheerful mood. I’m all about cheer right now!
Lastly, I’ll spend a whopping 2 minutes on gratitude. I’m moaning a lot lately, but there’s an awful lot in my life I take for granted. I think a little appreciation every morning can turn my inner Eeyore into the more optimistic (and cuddly) Pooh Bear.
Yes, it’s only 30 minutes out of the day, but it’s my 30 minutes.
If I do this right, it’ll jumpstart my day, and keep me from dreading it and all the tasks lying ahead of me.