priorities & pie charts. {& unplugging the television}

This week I start my very last class in my MBA program. By mid-May I will be school-free. That doesn’t just mean less time in class and studying and writing papers. It also means enjoying things more because the should-be-studying guilt won’t be there. Or planning things I really want to do because I won’t be worried if my next class will be too time-consuming to add another commitment to my plate. I am SO ready to move on to the next phase in my life. It got me thinking about how I currently structure my time, and how that could potentially change.

Which of course means pie charts. Naturally.

I thought about all the things I currently do with my time in a week, and estimated the hours spent. I even added some things to the list that, while I do them, it doesn’t really factor into my weekly average significantly. Of course, everything’s a guess, but I imagine it’s pretty close to this.

Current State

Anything of note? First, with sleep and work taking up over half of life, everything else is crammed into the other 43%. And that’s with not getting enough sleep. While I do appreciate my employment status and a dual income, my job is just a job to me, and that’s a bit depressing to think about.

Taking care of the household cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, meal planning, yard work, etc. takes up a lot of time. I feel like it’s about the second priority in my life – making sure the house is clean is second only to work (because I have to be there) and comes before school (because I can’t focus on studying in a house that needs cleaned). So it’s really no wonder social time is rather low on the scale of importance, including time with the hubby. Although we have been hitting the gym together lately in a sort of multitasking scheme of mine to spend more time together, really it’s only the drive to and from that we spend any time talking. And TV/movie time is usually husband-adjacent.. but that’s all it really is.

Probably my biggest revelation was my estimated 16 hours a week spent on entertainment-related screen time (blush). That doesn’t account for my office job (in front of a computer), homework time (in front of a computer), and gym cardio time (in front of a bank of ~20 televisions). I’m far too wired in. It is so easy to fall into mindless leisure time, then wonder why I never feel truly recharged. I wonder if I could talk husband into unplugging with me…

This exercise actually made something very clear. It’s no wonder that my life often feels out of balance. I spend 65% of my waking hours doing things I dislike, and the remaining time is comprised of things I feel really neutral about (like watching tv)!

In fact, if I made a list of the things I think about while I’m supposed to be working, studying, sleeping, cleaning, etc, it’s more like this:

  • Opening my own shop. Maybe online first?
  • Planning a garden.
  • Traveling.
  • Books I want to read.
  • How can I be a better Earth citizen? Help people? Help animals?
  • Friends I never see anymore.
  • Immersing myself in ____ (insert random creative hobby here; currently I’ve been wanting to try stained glass).
  • Saving money.
  • Throwing parties.

That in mind, I decided to do the same thing but allowing more time for things that make me happier, move me towards my actual life goals. Here is my near-future ideal state (because my distant-future ideal state is TBD):

Ideal State

Sure. My ideal state still includes work and laundry because those things are necessary. But I would love to eventually work fewer hours while I devoted more time to planning for my future possible business (more later). More of my work hours would actually point me in the right direction. This could take some real negotiating to make happen, but my place of employment is more flexible that it’s ever been, in part because budgets are tighter (and fewer hours are easier to negotiate than more money).

With school wrapped up, working fewer hours, and devoting less time to mindless time wasters like watching TV and reading blogs (ha!) I could theoretically get more sleep, do more creative things, spend more time with my husband and be more social in general. I also have worked in more fitness variety, some volunteer work, and time to read/write, which, I currently only really do in theory but not practice (sad).

Of course it’s simple, and embarrassing that it took a pie chart to realize why I am stressed out. I started to think about balance. Remember Freshman Psych? Hello, again. Which facets of life balance are missing in my life, and why doesn’t watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer seasons 1-7 really fit in any of them?

balance-wheel

There are things I feel are actually missing from my life.. appreciating nature, helping people, and putting the ideas in my head into something concrete. Creating. Spending more time on meaningful relationships (rather than avoiding all people because I’m so burned out from dealing with the few who suck the life out of me). Reminding myself that it’s ok to work towards making the things on my happy list mesh with the things on my to do list. Figuring it all out is something worth working towards and constantly improving on.

More to come..

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happy 2013 (:

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I’ve been agonizing over my 2013 resolutions for weeks. I love that clean slate, the opportunity to improve myself. My first instinct is to fix everything. Do everything. So my first strategy was to write down everything I want to change or do, then prioritize it, paring it down to 10. Then I realized how unrealistic that was, so I instead mapped out a detailed plan to simplify my life, with goals, milestones, and a list of commandments. That one stressed me out equally. Then I thought, maybe I should take a yin/yang approach to goal making, sort of a list of to-dos that balance each other. For example, if I want to do something for my mind, I should also do something for my body. If something for my left brain, I should find something of equal weight for my right brain. It was a mess. Finding simplicity and balance should NOT be a complicated process.

This year, I have struggled to focus on my goals. It’s never been very difficult for me in the past, to accomplish the things I commit to, especially publicly. But this year, or at least the second half of it, my brain was just simply not cooperating. I have felt less connected, less motivated, and less energetic. Easily distracted, bordering on spacey. I’ve been sleeping poorly, less active, and more injury prone. I was sick in September. Then again from October… through… well, now (flu, then cold, then bronchitis..) My tendonitis is back. My shoulder is messed up. I’m always tired. My complexion is dull. Studying is a huge chore and work stress makes me emotional. I can’t focus on anything. I’ve gained back some weight I worked so hard to lose. It’s all connected. I want to fix it all, but it’s so daunting. I feel like my have-to-dos are so exhausting that I don’t get to enjoy the want-to-dos. So while I was trying to figure out where my 2013 priorities should lie, when I put it all down, all my ailments and shortcomings and guilt-sources, it got me down and made me feel hopeless.

So, in an effort to not give up and throw in the towel by January 5th, I’m reallyreallyreally simplifying my goals this year. No fireworks. No big declarations. Just one basic thing, for the first half of the year. Why? Because in May I will be done with school and priorities can be reassessed then.

So here it is.

Focus on healthy. Listen to my body.

There’s a great Henry Miller quote that says “Our own physical body possesses a wisdom, which we who inhabit the body lack. We give it orders, which make no sense.” I’ve been so guilty of ignoring the signals my body gives me and trying to compensate. I don’t have energy because rather than do the things my body wants me to do (move more and sleep more) I chug more coffee or eat more sugar. My tendonitis is back and my stress levels are high because I haven’t been going to yoga. When I do jump back into a good workout schedule, I overdo it and hurt myself rather than just easing in. When I need a day off, I guilt myself into chipping away at a to-do list I’ve created for myself. I can’t turn off that voice that says “must.be.productive.” If I actually were as productive as my intentions, that would be one thing. But what comes with trying to do it all is often frustration, guilt, disappointment, stress, and exhaustion. And when my life is out of balance, I don’t take something away; my instinct is to add something. Example: spending an hour at the gym is selfish, so I need to spend an hour doing something for someone else. This is well and good til every yin needs a yang. It becomes a bit of a monster.

So, my goal for 2013 is to focus on the foundation, take better care of myself. Let the other things fall into place. Do the things I know make me a happier person, like yoga and dancing. Be kind to myself, not beat myself up. Simple.

I’m going to do lots of other things this year. House projects and creative endeavors and getting my Masters, but those are all just life. I’ll get to them because I’m a doer. I don’t need a list of things to accomplish to be productive because I just am. But there are things I clearly need to focus on to make happen sometimes, and this is it right now. A little shift in mindset. And believe it or not, this is SO hard for me, to whittle it down like this. It’s not my nature, but I’m hoping this is exactly what I need right now.

What about you? What lies ahead for your year?

fitspiration

I’m extremely visually inspired, so I made myself a little fitspiration pin board to hang in my closet. My countdown to goal weight, little positive messages, and pictures of stuff I want to buy when I make it to my goal {or maybe before..}

As a bonus, hubby gets to check out VS models without having to sneak it. Ha.

This was just a cheapo art canvas I stapled some fabric to a long time ago. It was hanging in our old house in the basement and I just dug it out from a closet for this purpose. Push pins go right in and keep everything up securely. I could even hang some jewelry if I wanted to.

This will probably change a lot as I find things to pin. It certainly isn’t close to done now. But it’s a nice little reminder to get myself down to the workout room and put in my time.

Not to say I don’t love me some virtual pinboard, too! I have a board of things I collect online that also inspire me.

This one’s my favorite. So blunt, simple and empowering:

It’s my new mantra.

fear.less, Pt. 1

How would your life be different if you didn’t fear the unknown? Or didn’t make excuses why you shouldn’t try something new? What would you be doing? Would you live where you live? Would you hold the job you currently have, or be doing something different? Would you feel anchored to your possessions or more confident without them? What would you be doing?

Like most everyone, I’ve been held back by fear my whole life in one way or another. Choosing the practical over the fabulous. Not even taking a shot at something I want for fear I won’t get it. Holding off on things until I lose 10 pounds.

Lately though I have felt the overwhelming urge to start saying YES to myself. The last two years have been the healthiest in my life. I went vegetarian. I (re)started practicing yoga. I started training for a half marathon. I started cooking mostly vegan. I’ve been inspired to do more good for myself and my health. Finding reasons why I should instead of shouldn’t. Some stories:

Late last year, I took a yoga workshop. I’ve taken yoga classes off and on for almost 10 years, and have been consistently doing it twice a week through all of 2011. I’ve wanted to advance my practice but was feeling nervous about leaving my comfort zone. I went for it and signed up for the workshop (it helped I didn’t go home and think about it but registered on the spot). This studio is on the creaky third floor of an art gallery, run/frequented by advanced yogis, and exactly the atmosphere I told myself I would some day practice yoga in (as opposed to the all-levels class next to the racquetball court at my gym!) This was by far the best yoga experience of my life. An entire hour was dedicated to understanding the history and healing powers of yoga. (As someone who healed my gimpy, weak, chronically hurt wrists, I am already a believer!!). Followed by an hour of practice more advanced than I am used to, but that I happily could keep up with. I’m so glad I didn’t talk myself out of going.

In November 2011 I took my first belly dancing class. Ever since seeing belly dancers as a kid, I wanted to do this. It’s even on my list of 30 things to do before I’m 30. But I never did because I was afraid I would look silly. I LOVE dancing of all kinds but there’s just no place in the adult world for it, unless you MAKE a place for it. My notions about it were so wrong. I thought everyone would be very good at it and I would be the awkward girl.  Truthfully, once I was there, I didn’t compare. I noticed and appreciated the talent of some of the others, but it didn’t make me feel inadequate. It made me feel inspired. It makes your curves, the same ones you curse and pick apart in the mirror, look beautiful – you need curves to make belly dancing look good. Empowering! I went back for more until my school schedule changed and overlapped the class. However, it got me in that door and I frequented lots of weird things at that studio since. Pilates, Zumba, candlelit yoga. In a studio run by a renowned pole dancer. Really. When my wrists really strengthen up I’m going to try Pole. Can’t wait.

I’ve since been bouncing around from obsession to obsession, getting my fitness on in weird and awesome ways. I just finished Ripped in 30 {Jillian Michael’s program} and moved on to p90x this week. A year ago when my husband started p90x I said there was no WAY I would even try it. It took a year of baby steps but last night I was doing pullups from a door frame in our basement and chanting “FIGHT FOR IT!!” over and over. Who is this girl?

I am a firm believer in writing life lists and making goals. Had I not put “belly dancing” on my 30 before 30 list, I wouldn’t have gotten around to trying it, and I’d be missing out on a positive, women-centered, empowering experience.

I’m writing my bucket list right now and plan to post it, for accountability/cheerleading/inspiration purposes, knowing it will evolve, grow, adapt, but also knowing that putting it in print helps me make great things happen.

I challenge you all to try something new, or start working on your bucket list now. Let me know if you do! We can cheer each other on.

harder.better.faster.stronger.

I signed up for my first ever half marathon yesterday!

Just ten days ago when I wrote this post I was mulling over the idea, not wanting to commit and sure I would talk myself out of it. But I decided to go for it – I need things to work toward. And for me, this is a big deal! I have always been the slow kid. I can kick some booty on the elliptical machine or yoga mat, but even looking at a treadmill gives me a sideache and shin splints, I’m serious. NOT a runner, so I thought.

But I’ve been working up to it in the last month and I kind of sort of don’t hate it. I kind of like breathing the chilly air all bundled up and hitting the pavement. And I especially like that there are no rules – that every day is completely different. That on a Monday I can be tired after 3 minutes and Tuesday I can break my own record – I’m so new that it’s unpredictable what kind of day I will have and I’m so new that I’m frequently still surprising myself that I CAN do it. Even though I’m not running great distance yet I feel like it’s ok to say “I’m a runner” and just that in itself motivates me to go go go (so far!).

I’ve got six months to train, and I’ll be using this guide to get me there starting in December. November plan stays the same as my last post with maybe a few more runs and less cross-training. This is just what I need to avoid total hermit mode all winter – here we go!!!!!!!!

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” -Mark Twain

some fitness goals – here goes nothing!

You know me. Always making goals. I’ve been workin’ on my fitness these past couple months and finally to the point I feel I need real structure again as I’m in the exercise habit! (getting to the gym regularly was a general goal that worked for me – just get there. HA!).

So posting for the world to see, my weekly workout schedule. This is what I’ll be working with through November. I plan to change it up for each new month. This is roughly what I’ve been doing for the last 2 months with a little less cardio.

If anyone’s wondering about my fitness facility access, I am SUPER DUPER spoiled with options. I work in a building with a little gym right down the hall (good for lunchtime workouts), and work on an Air Force base with 3 different gyms, 2 outdoor and 2 indoor running tracks, and a pool. The gym use and *most* of the classes there are free (the ones that I do are) for my use. I’ve been doing the yoga class for 6 months or longer, twice a week, and I can’t imagine life without yoga now! As for my home workouts, I live in a safe, flat neighborhood but it’s unlit at night, so that’s a factor for winter running as is the iciness! (so I’ll be utilizing the indoor tracks on base). I have space at home for most floor workouts and free weights but no other gym equipment.

My fairly loose (as in, we’ll see as I go) plan for the next couple months (yay Holidays!) is as follows:

November: above. Still getting used to exercise so trying to keep it fun and diverse while upping my cardio.

December: step up the cardio. Fit in more running and less cross-training workouts. LIFT ACTUAL WEIGHTS. (:

January: Aim for running 5 miles/week

oh yaah and um – and I love this (new motto):

How’s everyone getting their fitness on?

some thoughts on weight loss/maintenance and motivation

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” – Zig Ziglar

Today I hit my Saturday Weight Watchers meeting planning to just weigh and go, but saw the quote above on the board. I am a sucker for motivational talk, goal-making, and inspiration gathering. It made me think for a moment about my week. It was a successful one, health-wise. I got 6 workouts in, lost a couple pounds, tried some great new vegan recipes, and took some time for myself because my husband was out of town. I was motivated by my week’s freedom, to take advantage of my time better. It was lovely! Not to say I wanted my husband to never come back- ha! But I certainly needed some re-focus time.

Next week’s going to be particularly busy. My little brother is getting married Friday! I am throwing a party for them at my house Friday evening, which I am absolutely looking forward to, but that also means the week will be super-busy with cleaning, party prep, shopping, food assembly and cooking, etc! Work’s gonna be super-insane, too, and husband and I are going to a concert Tuesday night! Phew!

It’s weeks like the upcoming one that I find myself making excuses for not staying on track. So I decided to make myself a little list of things that motivate me (short and long term) for weeks like this, when I need a little push to make the smart choices {fully aware some of these are so ridiculous, but whatever works!}:

  • That next goal. I’m almost to my 5% weight loss goal! This week should get me there if I only stay with it. GREAT motivation.
  • That little “carrot.” For all my planning ahead, squeezing in gym time, foregoing the cocktails, munching on actual carrots – a girl deserves some reward carrots! This week my eyes will be on a super-awesome prize… cashing in my manicure gift certificate next weekend!
  • A new season. Time to embrace healthy soups, skinny jeans, running outdoors, hiking… there are healthy things about every season, even the ones that encourage you to wear MORE layers.
  • That one picture. You know the one. It’s either that one you want to burn forever or that one you want to use as your FB profile pic because you’re kind of under the delusion that’s still the real you? Whichever motivates you! For me it’s a picture I self-took in the mirror in 2008 of a t-shirt reconstruction project. I had dieted and ran my ass off to get to a (small for me but healthy/realistic) 115lbs. Keeping it off is the hardest part but I sometimes just need a reminder I got there once and I can get there again. THEN it will be time for the before picture magneted to the fridge.
  • That one walking cautionary tale. This sounds horrible, but sometimes the best motivation in the world for me is seeing someone who’s a what-not-to-do billboard. I have one in my office. Don’t want to be requiring surgeries and multiple meds in 15 years? Don’t do what this person does. Do the opposite. This stuff matters over the long haul and it’s easy to “forget” when it’s inconvenient.
  • Blogs. I check my faves often but really I should make time to do so every single day for the motivation factor.
  • Those silly mini-goals. I try to give myself a couple little healthy mini-goals and just incorporate them into my to-do list each week. I am pretty diligent about my to-do lists, and seeing those each day makes me take them seriously and work them in. These aren’t lifestyle changers – more like, try a new recipe, or stretch ever day, or walk at lunch 3 days. No matter what this tends to get me at least one or two wins for my week!
  • Planning ahead. It’s easy to be motivated to do things that take less effort. Duh. So that’s where planning ahead comes in, which is something I struggle with at times. Since I know my week will be busy, tomorrow I will spend some time cooking for the week ahead, planning meals, pre-chopping, etc. No excuses!
  • Blog about it. This is for me here because it works when I reiterate what I know and hold myself accountable. It’s powerful stuff! I am seriously considering starting my own food/fitness blog (would anyone read?) for my own motivational purposes!

How about you guys? How do you get/stay motivated? What’s on your to-do list to make you healthier and happier?