The Year of You

learning to live without limits

Birthdays, Basketball and all Beef hotdogs — January 7, 2018

Birthdays, Basketball and all Beef hotdogs

I love pulling off a good birthday surprise, especially for my husband who has the unfortunate luck of being born a little over a week after Christmas. This smushed together holiday and birthday timing can lead to the “double gift” and “double celebration” for many people who have a birthday so close to Christmas. It’s because of this and the fact that I am married to a truly amazing man who I try to make his birthday extra special AND I make sure it is completely separate from all Christmas celebrations and/or gifts.

This year, I nearly pulled off a complete surprise which was really only spoiled because of my misjudgment to entrust a 3-year-old with a secret. Needless to say within an hour of telling my 3-year-old son what we would be doing to celebrate Jason’s birthday, he was informing Jason of this surprise and several of his gifts. Lesson learned. Luckily this was several weeks before his actual birthday and I never confirmed the truth of the spilled beans.

Fast forward to this weekend and Jason was following the boys on a scavenger hunt to find tickets to see the Chicago Bulls play the Pacers in Indianapolis on Jason’s actual birthday. (An ideal game would have been seeing the Bulls in Chicago but I’ll take what I can get.) The boys and Jason love the Bulls, the boys had never been to an NBA game, I had never been to an NBA game and we were all ready for a change of scenery for the weekend.

The boys traveled well to Indy and I had one more surprise up my sleeve. Jason has a love of Portillo’s that started when he attended college in the Chicago area. For anyone unfamiliar, Portillo’s is pretty darn good. So good, that we patiently waited in a line at least 50 people deep to order our lunch. The beautiful thing about Portillo’s is that it works like a well oiled machine. You are through the line and to your table eating cheese fries and hot dogs before you know it. After a quick search, I was so thrilled to find that there was a Portillo’s only 30 minutes from Indy, so birthday stop number 1 resulted in the family enjoying the best hot dogs and italian beef and in the case of Shane…french fries and pickles. The rest of the birthday events went perfectly right down to the ideal parking spot that was equal distant to the restaurant we were having dinner at and Banker’s Life Fieldhouse.  Also noteworthy, Jason’s tweet of us at the game was retweeted by the Chicago Bulls (kind of cool, right?!?) Plus, the boys got to swim in the hotel pool earlier that afternoon which is always a huge win. The only downside of the day was a double loss for two of the family’s favorite teams. Both the Chiefs and the Bulls lost that day. You can’t win them all.

We are all safely home now, although everyone’s just a little sleepier (and crabbier) than normal and not quite ready to start the week. I’ll take the sleepy somewhat crabby aftermath of a good weekend any day if it meant a fun family birthday celebration for the man who deserves nothing but the best in life.

Happy birthday, Jason! And side note, as of today, I can now say that I have dated/been married to you for over half of your life.

The Great Bath Debacle of 2018 — January 5, 2018

The Great Bath Debacle of 2018

I am not a bath person. More bathes made my 18 in 18 list this year as a way to challenge myself to find easy ways to implement more self-care. I started the whole bath thing this week and let me tell you, taking a bath is not as easy as you would think. I have attempted three baths in 2018 and all three failed miserably. You are probably asking yourself how this is even possible…well it is possible…trust me.

I set out to take the first bath earlier this week as the bath products I ordered had just arrived. One of these products is an aromatherapy bath gel called SLEEP. Sounds perfect to wind down the day, right? That’s what I thought. I began to run the first bath of the year, and read the directions on the bottle of SLEEP …”pour a generous amount into running bath water” so I did just that. It really did smell amazing…so I added a little more. I turned off the water, got into the lava hot bath (which is just the way I like it) and decided to use the spa setting on the tub. I was attempting to read a magazine which let’s face it never works out well in water. As I was reading my magazine, I failed to realize that the spa setting caused the “generous amount” of bath gel to morph into a giant blob of bubble monstrosity. This bubble monstrosity was growing by the second and about an inch away from overflowing the bathtub. I quickly started draining the tub which didn’t tame the bubbles and then I decided to run the shower and KILL the bubbles…nope, didn’t work.  This first bath was over and I was left covered in bubbles with a now useless People magazine.

I will spare you all of the details of failure two, but I will sum it up with my decision to go from using a “generous amount” to a “tiny amount” of bath gel. It just smelled so good that I couldnt go without it. Well, generous or tiny.…it did not matter. The bubble monster prevailed again.

Failure number three was a completely different issue. I had learned my lesson on the bath gel, and I didn’t even think about putting anything in that tub except water. What I forgot (until I went to check the temperature of the water) was that I had just done a load of laundry and run the dishwasher……no hot water. Damn you chores! Bath failure #3!

I will get this right. I am determined, and here is what I have learned this week:

  1. Taking a bath is not so simple
  2. Spa tubs are not meant to have anything in them that will create bubbles
  3. Bubbles are not as fun as they were when you were a kid
  4. Baths before laundry and dishes
  5. The bubble monster will always prevail…always

Until next time, wish me luck! I will get this right.

 

Preparing for 2018 — January 1, 2018

Preparing for 2018

2018 is finally here, and we are all starting to wind down our first day of this new year. As many of us have set resolutions for this year, today was our first day to pursue these quests. Preparation is key to being successful in your goals whether they are big or small. I like to use the first day of the new year to help set myself up for success on my list of 18 objectives for the year.

The first thing I did was print an actual copy of my list of 18 objectives. I want to be able to refer to this list at any time and keep myself on track. If you have one big goal, you may consider printing the goal to an image and framing it. Because it is cold and I couldn’t bear the thought of heading to a printing store so instead I took a picture of my list and printed it as a 5×7 that will be delivered to my door in the next week. The $3 was worth the convenience to me.

The next step I took was to obtain all the relevant supplies. Two years ago when I set out to run a 5k every month of the year, I needed to procure running shoes and the athletic clothes to go along with it. This year, to support my goals, I purchased items like Thank You cards (to support goal 1), bath products (to support goal 16) and I downloaded the app SPACE to track my phone usage (to support goal 3). To see my full list of goals take a look at my earlier post Cheers to 2018.

Once you have the physical items you will need to be successful, make sure to set-up a plan for yourself. As I am pursing a list of objectives, which include more things that I want to incorporate into my life, my plan is pretty loose. Referencing back to my 5k goal, that goal required planning, planning to register for the 5k’s each month and planning to train.

The final step to setting yourself up for success is to build a support system. Share your goals with the people around you. Hopefully, these people will be supportive of your goals, but if nothing else you have made your goals public and that may help you to hold yourself accountable on your pursuit.

Happy New Year’s Day everyone! Let’s crush this year!

 

Comfy, cozy and content — December 31, 2017

Comfy, cozy and content

As my winter break winds down and I sit here writing on New Year’s Eve, I reflect fondly on the lazy no agenda routines that we have created this week. Playing (and putting together) new toys, sometimes spending the entire day in jammies and only leaving the house to go to the Y and just spending time together as a family. This is pretty normal for us during the winter. We wear comfy clothes, light candles, drink tea, and just generally lounge around enjoying each others’ company. Recently I learned that there is a Danish word that describes my life in the winter and its hygge.  According to Google, hygge can be defined in many ways but is generally described as a feeling of cozy contentment through simple activities….I live for hygge in the winter.

Here are my tips for creating your own routine of winter hygge and maximizing your state of cozy during this cold dreadful winter months.

Step one: Find a partner who enjoys comfy coziness as much as you do…someone who doesn’t mind a good snuggle.

Step two: Build a solid collection of comfy clothes which can include: thick warm socks, a nice long robe, gray jogger sweatpants (which are a must for me), and slippers…there must be slippers.

Step three: Light candle(s) or maybe make a fire (in a fireplace of course), put on aforementioned comfy clothes, make tea and settle in.

Step four:  This may be the most important step of all….dont set any expectations. Just let it be. Expectations can often get in the way of truly being content and living in the now.

This is exactly how I will be spending my New Year’s Eve. Relaxing in my home, playing games and watching movies while snuggling up with my family. I would have it no other way. I will be enjoying the simple….enjoying the cozy.

Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone! See you in 2018!!

 

Cheers to 2018 — December 29, 2017

Cheers to 2018

2017 has been a truly transformational year. My objective for the year was to pursue balance in all areas of my life and I am happy to say that I feel successful in this quest. I have found greater peace with myself, worked to live more mindfully, started a daily gratitude practice, I gave meditation a go (I’m taking a break from it now but will get into that some other time), and most importantly I’ve shifted my focus to total health including mental and emotional health instead of just physical health. All in all this year has brought me so much joy and resolution. I am ready to see what 2018 will bring for me and my family.

As January 1st is right around the corner, I know many people will be setting resolutions for the year and hopefully making plans to achieve those resolutions. For me, January 1st is just like any other day in that you cant expect to wake up and become a different person.  What makes January 1st so symbolic is the fresh start that it brings. I urge you to use this fresh start to go after the things you want this year. Make a plan, hold yourself accountable and just go for it. It feels really good to push yourself and be successful in the things that challenge you.

As I mentioned in my last post, I will be doing Gretchen Rubin’s 18 in 2018 this year. For me, these will not be 18 strict goals to hit, but more objectives to keep me focused on what I want to achieve for myself this year.

So here they are in no real significant order. You will note that number 9 is omitted because it’s personal. I’m sure you can understand.

My 18 in 2018

  1. Write more thank you notes
  2. Go on more dates…with Jason, the kids and friends and family
  3. Spend less time on my phone
  4. Write more
  5. Take swimming lessons
  6. Increase my focus on my family’s nutrition (I am pretty strict with myself but not as much with the kids)
  7. Learn how to install our car seats (I am not proud to admit that I have never learned how…in 7 years Jason has always done this for me)
  8. Find a primary cause to support
  9. [Omitted personal goal]
  10. Eat less meat
  11. Be more purposeful with my photo taking
  12. Continue finishing another room in our home
  13. Explore more…hike more…more family walks
  14. Visit someplace(s) new
  15. Box more….and dance more
  16. Take more baths
  17. Be a more mindful and patient parent…play more
  18. Plan out my next career move

I cant wait to see what this next year will bring. Thanks for everything, 2017 and cheers to you, 2018. I’m ready for you.

 

18 in 2018 — December 15, 2017

18 in 2018

The New Year is quickly approaching, and this year I will be setting goals in a new way. Instead of setting one big goal, I will be working towards 18 things that I want to accomplish in 2018. My 18 in 18. I recently heard this idea on the podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin and loved it. As we get closer to January 1, I will be sharing some of these 18 mini goals, but wanted to get this out sooner for anyone who wants to join me and come up with their own list of 18. There are no real guidelines except that these should be things that you want to build into your life or accomplish this year. They can be as simple as learning to iron a dress shirt (this one is seriously on my rough draft list) or preparing to run a marathon. Be true to yourself and make sure to build in a little challenge.

Enjoying The Holidays —

Enjoying The Holidays

I love the holidays…the traditions, the time with family…and the food. Oh, the food. The holidays can be a particularly tough time when trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It’s a busy time and fitting in regular activity can be tough. Food is everywhere, and cookies seem to appear out of nowhere every day in my office. It’s just a really hard time of the year to stay on track. To help provide myself some sanity, I have devised a few helpful tools and tricks to use this holiday season.

  • First, you must set reasonable expectations. It is a joyous time of year and let’s be honest you will eat some of those cookies…and that’s okay! Don’t expect to hold strong at all times. You need to enjoy your life and sometimes that means eating several of your mom’s homemade oatmeal cookies. Give yourself the freedom to make these choices by establishing guidelines and structure for health in other areas.
  • Schedule your workouts. Scheduling workouts allows you to plan your exercise for the week. Sure these plans may have to be adjusted, but try to make a commitment to yourself to stick with what you have scheduled as best as you can. By taking the guesswork out, you will have fewer decisions to make and will be more likely to follow your plan.
  • Attend a classe. Sometimes I just don’t feel like preparing my own workouts and keeping myself focused in that workout. For those days, I find it much more successful to join a class at my gym where all I have to do is follow someone else’s instruction.
  • Try a new class. I use this time of year to try out new classes to keep myself motivated. Last week, I took a Barre class for the first time. It was a great workout and brought me back to my years of ballet. A few weeks ago I started taking a HIIT spin class. Both of these classes kicked my butt and have helped keep my workouts fresh.
  • Never leave home without a snack. You will likely be doing some shopping this holiday season, and don’t let yourself shop on an empty stomach! Either eat before or bring a small snack with you. When I get really hungry, I am much more likely to cave and eat something that is terrible for me.
  • When you do decide to indulge in something, make sure the second and third bites are just as good as the first bite. If they aren’t…you are not obligated to continue eating whatever it is.

 Have a great holiday season and I hope you enjoy a cookie or two or three!

Food and Stuff Part 2 —

Food and Stuff Part 2

Today we continue (finally) on my multi-series post and talk about nutrition. While exercise is a huge component of living a healthy lifestyle, I firmly believe that nutrition is the foundation. What you put into your body impacts what you are able to get out of your body (and your mind). The topic of nutrition and diet can be overwhelming and sometimes downright confusing. The important thing is to find a nutrition plan that works for you, your lifestyle and your family.  Below I provide some tips to improve on what you are currently doing or help you to start improving your nutrition based on strategies I have used for myself.

Let’s start by all agreeing that there is no one diet that works for every person. There are so many options promoted that it’s hard to really understand what works and doesn’t work. In one diet you can eat fruit. In others, fruit is the enemy. In another plan you can eat carbs, but only an hour after exercising and if it happens to be on a Tuesday. In other diets fats are good and protein is bad. It. Is. Just. Too. Much. Because of this, I am not going to recommend any one named diet plan. What I will recommend is getting back to basics.

  • Eat more whole foods like fruits, vegetables, complex carbs, and lean proteins.
  • Do try to limit the number of processed foods you consume each day. I like to measure this by the number of food packages I open in a day.
  • Try to minimize sugary drinks. If this seems too difficult try phasing them out. Move from soda to tea to flavored water them finally to water with lemon.
  • This next one seems like common sense, but only eat when you are hungry. Just because it happens to be noon doesn’t mean you have to eat lunch if you aren’t hungry.
  • Portion control can be made easier by using smaller plates and bowls. You can also portion out snacks in advance to help minimize binge eating.
  • Meal prep is also a great way to keep yourself on track. Set a weekly meal plan and get your family involved with what you will be eating. For lunches, you can prepare these over the prior weekend. Not only will you have better control over your weekday lunches, but you will save time during the week when you don’t have to pull something together each day.
  • Along these lines, get your family on board. It is really difficult to make changes if those who live with you aren’t willing to do the same. Make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to any changes and get everyone involved.
  • Finally, if you don’t buy it, you can’t eat it! Monitor the snacks you purchase and don’t buy them if you don’t think you can resist them.

When it comes to changes, make them small to get big results. You may decide to eliminate cereal from your household or limit going out to eat once per week. Whatever small changes you decide to make, they will be easier to stick with if they feel reasonable and then you can continue to layer on additional changes over time. Nothing works for every single person, but by trying to make a few changes, it will feel more manageable.

 

Tis the Season — November 26, 2017

Tis the Season

Holy cow, this has been one busy Fall. With work, the kids’ school and sports events, weddings and all our annual Fall traditions…we have been non-stop. I am so ready for Christmas time, to spend time with family and relax. Thanksgiving weekend marks the start of our Christmas holiday traditions. Once the last dish is washed on Thanksgiving night…it’s Christmas time in my house. Friday is for decorating the house, Saturday is for putting up lights on the house and our town’s annual lighted Christmas parade (which was better than ever this year!), and Sunday we relax and start watching Christmas movies. I just love traditions.

This year we decided to start a new tradition and cut our own Christmas tree. Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good “pick your own” fruit/vegetable, but getting a real tree for Christmas was new for me. The boys loved going to pick the perfect tree. We spent a good 15 minutes searching, and there it was. We all agreed instantly.  Getting the tree home felt a little like Clark Griswold. We did have a saw, but instead of tying it to the hood of our SUV, we put in the way back of the car…a 6 1/2 foot tree in the back of MY car. Good news is my car now smells great.

We got the tree home safely, it is now up and decorated and I have to admit…I really do love it. It makes the whole house smell like Christmas AND I didn’t have to fluff it like I would a fake tree. I cant wait to see what the rest of this holiday season brings because it is sure off to a great start. I know one thing is for certain…it will be a season filled with family and tradition.

And one last thing….because I know the question will come up…it has several times in the past…..the fifth stocking on the mantle is for the dogs to share…not a third baby on the way.

The Year of Weddings —

The Year of Weddings

This year, Jason and I had four of our really close friends get married, and for three of these weddings one of us was in the wedding party. With bridal showers, bachelorette/bachelor parties and the weddings ceremonies and receptions, this year made us realize just how blessed we are to have such great friends. This past weekend, our good friends The Nicks got married and it marked the final wedding of the year.  We couldn’t be happier for this awesome couple. The weather was pretty crappy, but the day was perfect.

As I reflect on this year of weddings, I have realized that it was a gift that I never expected to receive.  Jason and I spent more time with friends, we had the opportunity to celebrate these momentous days in their lives,  we got to dress-up and get fancy (which I really do love),  and we got to dance the night away like we never had before…… not once but four times. I am thankful for the year of weddings.