Happy New Year! Have you ever made a new year’s resolution, only to abandon it a short while later. Resolutions can be challenging when they are not clearly defined or when they are set for an infinite amount of time. I recently listened to a book by Shelley Wilson, called How I Changed My Life in a Year. In this book, she took on a new resolution each week for one year, thereby changing her outlook in life and creating healthier lifestyles. I have decided to recreate this process in my own 52 Week Resolution Challenge. Please feel free to follow my progress or join me in your own quest to create better habits and change your own outlook on life.
January – Do More
Week 1 – Sleep More
Yes, you read that right! My first challenge is to sleep more! So often, as adults… and particularly parents, we try to squeeze as much into a day as possible. How do we do that?…. By sacrificing our sleep! Sleep is so important. Not only is more sleep important for fighting off diseases, but it can also help improve your mood, your sex drive, reduce your risk for injury, improve your memory and more! This week should be easier than most to accomplish this goal since my kids are not back in school yet. However, once school starts and lunches need to be made, bills need to be paid and laundry needs to be folded, my challenge will truly start!
Here is an interesting article from WebMD that I found on reasons to get more sleep. https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/9-reasons-to-sleep-more#1
- My Plan – Set my phone alarm for 10pm to start getting ready for bed vs. my usual time of 10:30 or later.
- Day 2 – I made it to bed on time last night and was even tired enough for sleep. However, I had trouble falling asleep because my brain didn’t seem to want to shut off. So, despite being in bed at a decent time, I’m still feeling tired. No worries, these things happen!
- Day 3 – Note to self… don’t let Netflix start another episode of That 70’s Show ten minutes before you need to start getting ready for bed. I made it to bed a few minutes later than I intended, but I’m feeling pretty refreshed this morning and am ready to tackle the day!
- Day 4 – Getting to bed at the same time every night is proving to be more of a challenge than I thought. I started to head to bed at 10pm last night, but then remembered that I had to switch the laundry, put away the laundry that was folded on my bed and then wash my hair. I made it into bed twenty minutes later than I originally intended. In addition to that, my mind was active and I had trouble falling asleep again.
- If you’re having trouble falling asleep, here is a helpful article I found on Help Guide: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/getting-better-sleep.htm .
- Day 5 – Duty calls! There were patches to be attached to a scout uniform, dishes to be done and a Pinewood Derby car that needed to be completed for the next morning! Being a parent means sometimes sacrificing sleep in order to get the job done. Thankfully, I didn’t get to bed too late!
- Day 6 – Parents, don’t let your child put his Bay Blades arena on top of his head like a helmet! This lead us from a birthday party, which we were already leaving on the late side, straight to the emergency room! While my husband was at the ER with our oldest, I was at home putting our other two to bed. It was a late night for all of us and everyone was quite tired in the morning!
- Day 7 – I got to bed on time and felt quite refreshed this morning! It was a good thing too! It was back to school and work for everyone!
While my first week of my challenge wasn’t perfect, I did well enough to call it success. It is hard to stick to a schedule 100%. Things come up… as they did! Being an adult, particularly a parent, often means putting others before yourself. This not only applies to your kids, but your parents, friends and neighbors. It can often mean work, school and other activities too! We do have to remember that taking care of ourselves is extremely important as well. If we become ill, injured or cannot function because we are not emotionally or mentally well, we cannot take care of those who depend on us the most! With that in mind, try to get more sleep!
Week 2 – Exercise More
This is a no brainer! We all know that we need to be active to stay healthy. Whether you are young or old, here are some reasons to get active! Exercise helps control your weight, wards of diseases and other health conditions, keeps your body fit, boosts your energy, improves your mood, helps you focus, can improve your sex life and helps you sleep better! However, in today’s sedentary society, getting enough exercise is challenge most of us face! So, how do people overcome this challenge? We have to get creative, look for pockets of time and get into a routine!
- My plan: Since I’m a stay at home mom, I’m on my feet more than most people. This gives me an advantage of getting plenty of steps on my pedometer. However, I don’t necessarily work my muscles to the point of building muscle. On the days when my youngest is at home, I plan to get creative with my exercise! My youngest just learned how to skip, so we may go skipping around the block! Since the weather is going to be nice for about another day, we may ride our bikes together or hit the playground… with Mom joining in on the action and not just standing on the sidelines. I may also dedicate an extra 10 to 15 minutes at lunch time for weights, crunches or walking. Doing some squats while I clean may burn a few more calories too! I’m ready! Let’s get this started and see what I can come up with!
- Day 1 – Since my kids started a brand new school this semester, and are now starting an hour later, I used the extra time this morning to do some crunches, lunges and push ups… plus add in 10 minutes of extra sleep and breakfast with my hubby! I also did some skipping in the parking lot with my youngest and ran around the house with a big long string with our two young cats in hot pursuit!
- Day 2 – Today, while watching a webinar, I tackled my abs again with some crunches, lifted some weights and did some squats!
- Day 3 – While I’m trying to incorporate more movement into my day, I don’t really feel like I’m getting that much more exercise. Therefore, this morning I decided to push a little harder. When I woke up at 6AM, I made myself a protein shake and put in The Biggest Loser Workout – 30 Day Jumpstart video that I have at home. I like this DVD because all of the workouts are only 10 minutes, but you really feel like you’ve done something by the end of the workouts. The first workout is a solid 10 minutes of cardio and always seems to kick my butt! In addition to the video, whenever my little one wants to turn on Minecraft, I have him jog in place with me while the video game loads. It’s not much, but every little bit helps, right!
- Day 4 – Today was kind of an odd day. School was letting out early due to snow showers that rolled in and I had several errands to run before I ran to preschool to pick up my youngest and then to the bus stop to pick up my older two. My husband came home early too. After waiting at the bus stop for 25 minutes in the cold, we made some homemade hot chocolate and the afternoon just seemed to get away from me. By the end of the day, I realized that I didn’t get in any planned exercise (just running around), so while the kids were brushing their teeth, I did some crunches on the floor. Mission accomplished!
- Day 5 – It snowed 9 1/2 inches last night! There was no need to go do an exercise video! Today, I spent time with the family! We built a snowman, had a snowball fight, went sledding and shoveled the driveway! Plus, I carried a tuckered out 4 year old and sled up a snowy hill numerous times! I am exhausted and aching! We had fun though! It was time well spent!
- Day 6 – Today was another day that just seemed to get away from me. We went to church, the hardware store and my mother-in-law’s house so that we could fix her toilet. After lunch, I decided that I would spend part of the afternoon helping my kids build a snow fort. Then I spent about 45 minutes packing up the rest of the Christmas decorations and making several trips up and down the basement stairs. So, I guess I didn’t do any planned exercises again today. It happens, but I did get physical activity. That counts!
- Update to Day 6 – Before I went to bed, my husband invited me to play a game on his VR (virtual reality) device. He develops this stuff for his work, so yes… we have one! Anyway, the game was called Beat Saber. It’s a fun little game in which you have light sabers and you’re slicing targets in time to the music. I enjoyed it and was able to get a little bit of cardio in before bedtime!
- Day 7 – Today, the kids had off from school again! Apparently, the roads in some of the more rural areas of the district were not clear enough for buses. So, I took advantage of the opportunity and did my Biggest Loser Workout video. Then, after the kids were up and dressed, we bundled up and went to the zoo! Yes… snowy days are a great day for the zoo! They are not crowded and you can get personalized attention from the zoo keepers! Besides the point… I was able to get some walking worked into my day!
Overall, my week of more exercise was a success!
Week 3 – Eat More Healthy Foods
Last week, my goal was to do more exercise. While I was getting exercise in every day, I didn’t see much improvement in my weight. Granted, it was just the first week, but I also probably had one too many hot chocolates and a few too many sweets (I’m addicted)! Exercise is only one part of the equation. To be truly healthy, you need to balance exercise with healthy eating habits, getting plenty of rest and participating in activities that make you happy and emotionally healthy. This month, I am planning on undertaking all of these challenges!
As I go through the week, I will post what I’m eating, as well as give some of the recipes that I used. The recipes will be located on my resources page. Please be patient while I get them loaded. I will try to do so as quickly as possible.
- My Plan – When trying to eat healthier, one of the first things you should do is look for some recipes that you are willing to try that fit into your time schedule and budget. So, my first order of business will be to look for some recipes, then hit the grocery store! After that, I will try to do a little meal prepping, chopping up lettuce for salads, some vegetables, etc. If you’re pressed for time, you can always by precut vegetables or fruit. However, this option does cost more.
- Day 1 – This morning, after snoozing and snuggling with my hubby for an extra fifteen minutes, I got up, did some small exercises and then ate a tasty breakfast with my kids. My breakfast consisted of a mini bagel with some mascarpone cheese, mixed nuts, blueberries and dried cranberries on top. On the side, I had a clementine and 4 chocolate covered almonds, plus a glass of milk. Unfortunately, by 9am, I was hungry again, so I had half of a banana for a snack. In the future, I will probably couple this recipe with some yogurt or go with a larger size bagel. For lunch, I ate a ham sandwich with mayonnaise (made with olive oil), mustard, avocado and lettuce. I then had broccoli and pepper with hummus, a few crackers and cheese, some blueberries and a glass of water to drink. In the afternoon, I had two Nature Valley Almond Butter Granola Cups. My supper was simple… leftover homemade chili, cheese and crackers, a couple pear slices and a glass of milk. This evening, I had 5 chocolate covered almonds to satisfy my sweet tooth craving. Overall, it was a very tasty, healthy first day to my challenge!
- Day 2 – This morning, I started my day off with two delicious, whole wheat waffles (made from Kashi) topped with yogurt, chia seeds, blueberries and strawberries, with a glass of milk on the side! For lunch, I ate a chicken wrap that consisted of a whole wheat tortilla, red pepper hummus, chicken, shredded cheese and lettuce. For a side, I had veggies and dip, some berries and a glass of water. About midway through the day, I was feeling hungry, so I decided to have a chocolate chip Cliff Bar. After school, it was a rush to get the kids fed and then be out the door for their evening activity. So, we reheated some leftover pizza, had some cut up veggies with ranch dressing and a Southwest Grain Salad from Aldi’s. I wanted something with some flavor to drink, since I will often drink some soda with pizza, so I settled on some Crystal Light peach tea. By the time we put the kids to bed, I was feeling quite tired, but I really felt like I needed a snack. I poured myself a bowl of Special K Chocolate Delight cereal and then relaxed a little bit before heading to bed.
- Day 3 – This morning, before eating breakfast, I weighed myself on the scale and was pleased to see my weight starting to tip downward. Today, my kids joined me on my healthy eating quest! They all ate the Greek Berry Waffles and claimed it was the best breakfast ever! I highly doubt it, but I’ll take it! I ate a Breakfast Banana Split, which is basically a banana, topped with yogurt, berries and granola. For a little more punch, I added chia and pumpkin seeds! For lunch, my youngest again joined me in my healthy meal and gobbled up a salad, with fruit, garbanzo beans and a poppy seed dressing. Along with the salad, I made myself a Trail Mix Bagel, had a glass of water and then had 1 Girl Scout Almond Butter Chocolate candy. What can I say… I was putting something away and it caught my eye! Thankfully, it was the last one! For supper, I fixed popcorn shrimp, Shrimp Powerbites (from Aldi’s), Chicken Quinoa & Kale Ravioli (from Aldi’s) and cornbread. As for my drink, I had the peach tea that I had fixed the night before. Like the night before, I was tired and hungry after putting the kids to bed, so I fixed myself a bowl of Special K Chocolatey Delight cereal.
- Day 4 – Today, I started off my day with some low- sugar oatmeal topped with blueberries with a side of milk. Then, for lunch, I had a shrimp wrap made with the leftover shrimp from last night’s dinner, topped with some coleslaw mix and sweet & sour sauce. On the side, I ate some leftover ravioli and some berries. For a snack, I ate a couple apple slices with almond butter. When dinner time arrived, we made an omelette, had ham on the side, along with some mini quiches from Aldi’s. Since it was Friday night, my husband and I were really craving some ice cream, but we opted for some V-8 Splash juice and a few chocolate covered almonds!
- Day 5 – For breakfast, I ate an egg and ham sandwich with some milk. After a cold morning of selling girl scout cookies with my daughter, I had a small bowl of chili for lunch, some cheese and crackers and, of course, hot chocolate! My daughter insisted! I settled for a Fiber One Brownie for snack and then fixed a treat for supper! My husband and I had a bacon wrapped steak medallion, with a Tuscan Grain Salad (from Aldi’s) and some leftover sweet potatoes. The kids are not old enough to appreciate steak, so they had hot dogs and macaroni, along with a small portion of the other sides. After a very vigorous and fun, family game of hide and seek, my husband and I sat down, had a bowl of cereal and a mini blueberry crumb cake muffin! This weekend has been a little difficult for me! I have been craving the sweets… and my husband bringing these home from work, did not help!
- Day 6 – I’ll admit it… I’m struggling these last few days! It’s not hitting me so much during the meals, but in between when I want a snack! I’m really craving something sweet! Thank goodness for my husband! He has helped me stay the course more than once! Today, I started off with a protein shake, did some yoga and then had some almond butter toast, topped with blueberries and sliced almonds, a yogurt parfait and a glass of milk. I steered myself away from the hospitality table of goodies at church. Then, for lunch, I ate a slice of ham, a salad, a couple of the raviolis from the other night and some pear. For my drink, I had water, which is what I normally drink. For supper, we made pizzas. This pizza was a little different… at least for my husband and me. We made veggie pizzas on whole wheat pita bread. Since, we made it a movie night, I fixed some popcorn and had a few almonds with it.
- Day 7 – The last day of keeping track of this goal…. I made it! Plus, I’m down 1 pound from a week ago! My refrigerator is starting to need restocking. I decided to keep things simple this morning and just go with cereal. I chose Nature’s Path Organic Sunrise Crunchy Vanilla, which was probably the healthiest thing on my shelf. I added some blueberries and had a glass of water to drink. For lunch, I ate a wrap made with some buffalo chicken dip that my husband made last night. It was layered with cucumbers and lettuce. I ate cheese and crackers on the side and yogurt with strawberries for dessert. For snack, I had a little of the popcorn from the night before. My dinner was fairly simple too. I fixed a frozen chicken stir fry meal, had a piece of toast with jelly on it and then yogurt and blueberries for dessert. I finished my day off with a small bowl of cereal.
I made it! You can too! Here is what I learned. Have recipes that are easy to fix. Most of the meals that I had were relatively quick and easy. It helps to have things precut and ready to go. Also, have healthy snacks on hand. The first couple of days of this week, I was not feeling satisfied and needed a snack to get me through. It also helps to have a healthy go-to treat that will get you through a craving. Have a built in “cheat” day. I think if I would have had this, my cravings wouldn’t have it me so hard the last few days of my week. Also, if possible, have someone to keep you on track! My husband helped me when I really wanted to cheat!
Check out some of the benefits of the foods that I was eating this week… such as quinoa, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and whole grains!
Week 4 – Connect More With My Family
Over the course of the month, I have been working on different ways to be healthier. However, overall health is not just physical. This week, I will be working on being more emotionally healthy. For me, this comes down to having a happier family. So, I want to find more ways to connect with my family. I have been working on this since the beginning of the year. Last week, we had a fun family day playing in the snow, playing hide and seek, playing games in the evening and even helping my kids build various cardboard box projects.
- My plan – This week will probably be a little more spontaneous. I will be looking for things that kids want to spend time doing. I may send some notes in their lunch boxes, as well find maybe fix a special meal.
- Day 1 – My connections today were simple and for the most part unplanned. I mostly just looked for cues to play around a little with my kids. I skipped in the parking lot at Target with my son. We also wrestled a bit in the afternoon when he was starting to pitch a fit about something, but it led to some fun and laughter as we chased each other around the house. At dinner time, I was trying to get my daughter and son to sit down. They were clearly done, but hadn’t cleaned up yet and they were dancing so that they could see their reflections in the patio door. So, as the saying goes, “If you can’t beat them, join them”. I started dancing with them and then made up a plate, utensil and cup dance to the dishwasher, which they thought was funny and then joined in. I also put notes in with their snacks and reinstated our “hug time”, which I sort of got from the movie “Trolls”! Every night at 7:30, my phone goes off and we hug!
- Day 2 – Wednesdays are a challenge! I barely see anyone because it’s off to school early, the kids get off of the bus in the afternoon, then we eat and send them off to their evening religion class. I tried to call my husband over lunch, but didn’t get through, so I texted him. I did snuggle each of the kids just a bit before bed.
- Day 3 – The morning was a little hectic with the kids. There were a couple of fights that broke out before they were evening out of the house for school! I did manage to make them some of the Greek Berry Waffles that I discovered last week. They love them! I also took my youngest to the library and then after the library, my parents stopped by for a surprise visit! This was a nice change of pace, as we got to eat lunch with them and just spend a little time around the table talking! After doing some cleaning, I played dinosaurs with my little guy…. but then fell asleep while sitting on his floor! It was a late night last night! I was up late working on my girl scout meeting! The girl scout meeting ran late, so we tucked the kids in bed, I packed Uncrustables for lunch and then folded some laundry with my hubby before going to bed ourselves.
- Day 4 – The day was a pretty typical school day. However, that evening, we attended our first event at our new school…family bingo! The kids were very excited and even won a couple prizes!
- Day 5 – The morning started off well with a healthy breakfast! My oldest was inspired by healthy morning and decided that he was going to eat a healthy breakfast and exercise as well. He then turned on his favorite song on Alexa and we both started to boogie down! The afternoon was quite filled with two back to back birthday parties at the same martial arts venue! In the evening, we finished watching Harry Potter with the kids.
- Day 6 – It’s Sunday and this morning, we were treated to a visiting priest whose sermon was more like a stand up comedy routine! He was hilarious! He even had our kids’ attention! After lunch, I let the kids spend some time on electronics while I called my mom and emptied the dishwasher. After electronic time, I called the kids down and we had hot chocolate and played some UNO, followed by Mousetrap.
- Day 7 – Today, my son and I spent a little time playing transformers, making Optimus Prime out of Bunchem’s, and talking with Grandpa on the phone.
Overall, the week was ok. I plan to continue working on connecting more with my family. It was just a busy week this week, but that’s when it is most crucial to find the little ways to make those connections. Keep in mind that life happens and nobody or no situation is perfect. Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t turn out the way you intended. Just keep trying your best!
So, January is coming to a close! I have officially done more and am healthier for it! I am eating healthier and am inspiring my children to eat healthier. I have found tidbits of time to exercise more. I am being more spontaneous and letting loose with my kids and husband to have a little more fun and I am continuing to work on going to bed earlier!