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?
My new toy to track my steps. Over 4 days I averaged 12,000+ steps a day. And on Sunday I rested.
Concerned that I was falling back into my old couch potato ways, I decided to buy a pedometer to track my steps. The last few weeks the weather’s been wet and windy. Who wants to walk in that? Not me. So poof, the idea of getting the pedometer popped into my head. I was curious.
It arrived late Wednesday. I quickly set it up and put it on my bedside table, ready for Thursday morning. Sure enough, I woke up, clipped it to my PJs, and started my day. I made a promise to myself not to look at it until the end of the day. I just wanted an idea of how much I move in a day. I guesstimated that I’d hit around 2,500 steps.
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
Evenings are quite cold now. Time for my carb chicken zoodle soup.
Sorry for the lack of posts recently. The husband and I decided to pack up the pup and take a road trip to Texas to visit my sister. We loved the trip and it’s always great to see family. But once home, I got back into the kitchen. The thought of eating out again made my head spin.
I also had a good time trying out a few new recipes. The biggest mistakes I made with my garden this year? Not enough low carb/keto recipes for all the food I grew. Planning is well ahead for 2020. I finally figured out what I want to grow. Now it’s time to start concocting some tasty and keto friendly dishes.
Layering the first test of my taco casserole. A few more tweaks and it’s a go!
This week I tried out 3 recipes. Two need work. The third…a disaster never to be spoken of again.
Shredded chicken taco casserole (too many eggs, not enough smokey salsa!)
Roasted poblano soup (too many carbs!!!!),
“What was I thinking” casserole (always make sure the diced zucchini you grab isn’t actually cucumber instead).
After several days of cooking, experimenting and cleaning, the itch to go out for dinner hit me real hard. Thankfully my husband just ignored my hints and I went back into the kitchen to cook some Peruvian chicken with green sauce and green beans.
My constant companion while I cook. Just waiting for morsels to fall or a few scritches.
Dinner was delicious. We saved money. Most importantly, I’m loving being back in the kitchen.
And the timing is good with Thanksgiving just weeks a way. Let the cooking (and recipe testing) commence!
This tomato (and pepper) harvest lead to me getting my butt back into the kitchen and rediscovering what I love.
Although the garden is winding down, in the last 2 weeks we’ve seen huge harvests of peppers (hot and sweet), beefsteak, yellow pear, and heirloom tomatoes. Granted, most of the yellow pear tomatoes are green. We owe that harvest to a squirrel who decided to jump on the plant and shake it clean of fruit.
Despite the ongoing battle with the neighborhood fluffy-tailed rodents, I’m actually quite grateful. That squirrel helped me get back into the routine of cooking our food again. This past year we’ve spent an awful amount of time in restaurants. It was just easier (and less painful) than standing at the stove. Also, we were “getting out of the house” all that. Despite choosing restaurants where we could still eat low carb, we didn’t always do so. And we drank wine …
I figured once my hip stopped hurting, I’d get back into the kitchen. But the pain came and went and we still were eating out. A little honesty: since my most recent reset, we’ve eaten out twice. To be fair, that was an improvement – we used to go out almost every day (and boy did it take a toll on our wallet).
That said I’m still not happy with myself. I hate the idea of letting food go to waste—and my hard work in the garden—and so I’ve started cooking again. I broke out a few tried and true low carb recipes – slow cooked meatballs in yellow tomato sauce, roasted tomato soup, chicken & zucchini au gratin, low carb meatloaf (with a ghost pepper twist), and chicken parmesan.
We mostly stayed true to our keto reset (thoughglasses of wine did pop in a couple more times). No, we weren’t perfect, but I rediscovered my love of cooking healthy, delicious meals for us. I simply can’t give in to the ease of having someone else make and serve our food. Besides, my cooking is better anyway!
Right now I’m planning my garden for 2020. The plan is to grow more peppers, tomatoes, squash, and greens than I did this year. Which means I need to come up with more keto/low carb recipes for all that food I’m growing…
This is a great lesson to me: if you’re constantly trying to get out of the house, do something that makes staying home more appealing.
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.
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.
Of course I made peace with hitting the half-century mark. And it was at this point where my husband pounced – a long weekend getaway.
His plan: fun, guilt-free days away from chores, pets, the gym and (most importantly) the scale.
This was about celebrating my 50th by rejuvenating my soul with some pampering tossed in to the mix.
No scale! It was scary but it was exactly what I needed. So I agreed to letting any guilt go. Of course I was challenged as soon as we checked in. Awaiting me in our room – a birthday cupcake with cream and a fancy piece of dark chocolate (my fave) on top.
Yep…freakin’ fancy dark chocolate.
It seemed like a lifetime to decided if I was going to indulge or not. In reality it was more like 5 seconds. Yes, I quickly debated what to do. Then I looked up from the cupcake, saw my reflection in a mirror and noticed the huge smile on my face.
I didn’t eat the whole thing. Just a few bites. I indulged but stayed in control. After all guilt-free doesn’t mean I toss LCHF/Keto out the window. And it’s not like I do this everyday.
So we’re having a blast. No cooking, working out, cleaning, running errands or any cares for a few days.
Oh, and yes, our little excursion means I’m skipping my weekly weigh in this time around. And after an awesome massage (the ultimate pampering), any guilt over that melted away.
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Stuart Miles.
I’ve been away for a bit. I do love blogging. It’s just that the old, bad habit of being lazy really took hold for many months. Sure, I’m doing cooking videos and vlogging about “My Final 50.” However the idea was to keep a daily written “confessional” about how I’m doing. You know, the accountability thing.