Easy to be heavy, hard to be light

“It is easy to be heavy, hard to be light.” – G.K. Chesterton

I recently heard this quote, and absolutely cannot get it out of my head.

Why does it ring so true?  Why do I feel like this is so applicable to my life and my behavior?  Why do I find it so much less effortful to automatically react negatively to situations?  Do other people feel this way as well?  Do most people?

A few days ago, my boyfriend went to Publix (an amazing grocery store chain, for those of you not from the southeastern United States) to get some sandwiches for us for lunch.  In my typical persnickety, particular fashion, I had my boyfriend write out exactly what I wanted on my sandwich, expecting that he would read my instructions verbatim to the sandwich maker.

A six inch ultimate sandwich, with pepperjack cheese, on whole wheat bread, toasted.  Plus lettuce, tomatoes, black olives, green peppers, olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Simple, right?  Not at all demanding?

I stayed home with the baby while he went, but was already hungry, and really looking forward to my sandwich.  It felt like he took forever to return.  I was practically waiting at the window with the baby, watching for his car to pull into the driveway.

When he got back, he took out the two sandwiches, and I eagerly began to unwrap my half.  Before I could even get the paper off I noticed a familiar yellow tinge bleeding through the white paper and my heart sank.  I hate mustard on my sandwiches.  My boyfriend noticed my unease and remarked disdainfully, “Yeah, I think she might have put mustard on one side.”

I was angry.

I was angry at the sandwich lady for what I assumed to be an inability to follow instructions. (Yes, probably very unfair).

But even more so, I was angry at my boyfriend.  He must not have been paying attention when the lady was making the sandwich.  He should have checked it for correctness before he paid.  Doesn’t he KNOW that I don’t like mustard on my sandwiches?

I was pouting like a child.  I withdrew into myself and tried to scrape the mustard off the bread, but my efforts were fruitless.  The mustard had already soaked itself into the very fibers of the bun as mustard tends to do.  I ripped the bread to pieces trying to remove the mustard, and ended up just toasting two slices of bread we had at home and putting the filling of my sandwich inside.

Of course during all this time, it was painfully obvious that my mood was soured.  Over a sandwich.  I was barely talking to my boyfriend as I indignantly ate my Frankenstein sandwich.  Granted, even with switching out the bread, the sandwich was still delicious.  It was just easier to be angry and place blame than it was to simply let it go.

It was easier to be heavy, than to be light.

My natural instinct was to be bitter about the sandwich, rather than to be grateful that my boyfriend had used his time (and money) to go get us lunch on a weekday – something that we normally never do.  I finished the sandwich, which I had actually enjoyed very much, and gave my boyfriend a hug.  I swallowed my stupid little pity party and decided to be light about the situation.  I apologized for my behavior and thanked him for going to get the sandwiches for us.  He wasn’t upset and the atmosphere of heaviness that had been in the air for the last 15 minutes or so cleared out completely.  The atmosphere of heaviness that I had created.

I feel like we encounter so many moments each day, where things do not go exactly as we expect.  In these moments we have a choice to make.  It is easy to be heavy and let irritation or disappoint spoil your mood (and probably those of anyone around you).  But I promise, you will be much happier if you take the little bit of extra effort and try to find the positivity in the situation.

 

 

A Shift in Perspective

Isn’t it amazing what excuses we tell ourselves when we fail to make time for things we have committed to, or even the things we enjoy doing?

Like this blog, for instance. I love to write. Like really love it. And I love the idea of taking time for myself to write here every day – or even just a few times a week. This is something that I have committed myself to doing time and again, recommitting every few months with a renewed vigor. “This time for sure! This time I will make my list of post ideas and work on one to publish every 2-3 days. This time I’m really going to do it!”

Then without fail I enthusiastically throw myself into the creation of one grand post. I publish it. I feel amazing and creatively fulfilled and can’t wait to begin work on the next one.

And then a day passes.

And then another. And another.

My list of blog post ideas goes untouched as the excuses start to dim the rosy glow of creativity and satisfaction that had enveloped me following my previous post.

“I have to run errands today.”

“I don’t really feel like writing.”

“I don’t have any good ideas today.”

“This post isn’t perfect.”

“No body will care to read that.”

“My baby is taking too much of my time today.” (This is, in fact, a somewhat valid excuse I think. My almost 5 month old is still quite needy and dependent on me, as most 5 month old babies tend to be. I am writing this right now at 9pm after he has fallen asleep in my arms).

But I think the biggest limitation I put on myself was my initial intent of making this a health/nutrition/fitness-y type of blog. I find myself struggling to come up with new and original post ideas that fit within these categories (when there is already SO MUCH out there), and have not even allowed myself to consider writing about other subjects.

But what if I didn’t just have to write about these things?

What if I were just to write?

I started this blog at a time when I was trying to transition from a teaching career to one in the fitness industry. I cared so much about getting stronger and having abs and counting my macros and having a popular Instagram.

But then I got pregnant. And eventually had my little baby boy. And my entire perspective on the universe changed so drastically that things that used to seem really important to me, all of a sudden diminished in their importance.

Don’t get me wrong, I still work out every day and lift heavy things. But my goals have shifted dramatically. I just want to lose the last little bit of my baby weight and stay active and healthy – not because I want to look like a fitness model, but because exercise makes me feel good, physically and emotionally.

I still love to cook because I am passionate about the process of cooking. It is one of my favorite ways to relax. But I don’t care about creating “macro-friendly” recipes that will somehow become Instagram famous and be shared around the internet. I just enjoy eating deliciously healthy food and sharing it with my family.

I don’t put time or effort into my Instagram because I don’t care how many followers I have anymore. The time I spend playing with my little guy and experiencing all his giggles and wonder at the big wide world is much more valuable. These are passing moments that are much better experienced with a fully present heart and mind, not moments to be constantly recording and uploading for others to ogle at.

This baby, little Noah, has changed my life and put so much into perspective. I find myself milking every last drop of joy out of each moment of the day. I have never felt so engaged and satisfied with my life.

Rather than letting him be an excuse for not writing, I’m going to use him, and the beautiful moments we spend together, as inspiration for writing.

And not just him (even though he is like, 96.3% of my life right now). But I am going to write about whatever I want. Fitness, books, food, me, gratitude, quotes. Whatever comes to mind, inspires creation, and contributes to my happiness.

Isn’t that what having a blog is all about?

Coping With Grief During Pregnancy

Going through pregnancy is supposed to be one of the most magical and joy-filled times of your life.  You spend your days eagerly preparing and awaiting the arrival of the beautiful new child that is growing inside of you.  Friends and family members shower you with more attention and gifts than you will ever know what to do with – seriously, I already have a wardrobe for my baby that spans at least to 24 months of age.  All of this excitement and happiness is what you expect from pregnancy.  At least, these are all the wonderful things I always expected from my first pregnancy.

What you don’t ever expect from pregnancy is having to cope with the grief over the death of a close family member during what is supposed to be the happiest time of your life.

It’s been a little over six months now since the tragic loss of my father.  I’ve had my baby (birth story to come!), but I think I am finally ready to talk about how losing my dad affected me and shaped the rest of my pregnancy.

This past November of 2018, I was about four and a half months pregnant.  I was nervous, but happy.  Floating along through my second trimester on the cloud that all expectant mothers find themselves on.  Halfway between “the pregnancy still doesn’t feel real” and “my belly is getting bigger every day.”  We had just moved back to Miami from Dallas, leaving my parents and extended family behind.  Before we left, my dad was sad that we were leaving, but knew we had to do what was best for our little growing family.  My parents were going through their own issues, and it was hard to be around so much stress at a time when I was trying to paint my life with positivity.  We left Dallas with promises from my dad that he would travel to Miami when it was time for the baby to be born.

I knew my dad had been sad.  I knew he had been depressed for what seemed like most of my life.  But he had always reached out before.  When my mom called me on a Friday night to inform me that he had killed himself, I was absolutely gutted.  The world disappeared from underneath my feet.  Nothing can prepare you for news like that.  It’s something you see in tragic movies and read about in novels, but you never think it can happen to you in real life.  I was so shocked and numb that it took me more than an hour to finally break down into tears.

I was hyperventilating on the phone with my mom and my aunt, almost in denial.  How could this possibly be true?  I was pregnant with his first grandson!  He had promised to come for the birth!  I hadn’t spoken to him in several days!  Why hadn’t he called me?!  He never said goodbye.  I had so much left to say to him.  My mind was spinning with all of these thoughts that I could not comprehend or accept.  I was overwhelmed.

My aunt emphasized that I should take care of myself and take care of the baby, above all else.  I felt pressured to “be okay” and to “stay strong”, so as to avoid harming the baby in some way.  What I came to find out, however, is that grief (pregnant or not) is a one-way journey.  There is no way out of it except to go through it.

I know that I am not the only one who has lost someone dear to my heart during pregnancy.  Reflecting back on my pregnancy, I want to share some of the lessons that I learned on how to cope with such a life-changing, heart-wrenching event while simultaneously trying to create a beautiful place in this world, and in your heart, for your new baby.

Allow Yourself to Grieve

I think the first and most important thing is to allow yourself to grieve.  Feel all the feelings.  Crying your eyes out is not going to harm your baby, no matter what others may tell you.  The joy of your pregnancy does not cancel out the despair, just as the despair over your loss does not cancel out the joy of your pregnancy.  Suffocating these intense emotions and ignoring them for the “welfare” of your baby will only cause them to resurface in a more detrimental way later.  Allow yourself to grieve, but also allow yourself to feel the joy that comes along with your pregnancy.  Some days will be wrought with sadness, and others you will find yourself in such mother-to-be bliss it will almost seem like the tragedy never happened.  The emotions will come in waves.  Ride them.  Experience them.  But don’t ever try to swallow or ignore anything you feel, whether it be positive or negative, especially for the sake of others.

Honor Your Loved One

My dad may have never had the chance to meet my baby boy, but I wanted to make sure that he would always be a part of my little one’s life.  We knew our baby’s first name was going to be Noah, but were having a difficult time choosing a middle name.  We had even toyed with the idea of not giving him a middle name.  Before we left Dallas, my boyfriend and I went to dinner with my dad and suggested to him the idea of making the middle name David – my dad’s name.  He kind of half laughed it off, in the way he always did.  We thought about it, but still weren’t sure.  The night I found out about my dad’s death, I knew that Noah’s middle name had to be David.  Giving the baby my dad’s name felt like the right way to honor his life.

And Noah will always know that he was named after his grandfather, even if he never gets to meet him.  He will always know who his grandfather is, and what a wonderful, sarcastic, funny, and intelligent man he was.

Find an Emotional Release

Whatever it is that you like to do to relieve stress, do that thing.  If you love to paint, spend time every day painting.  If you like to cook, cook.  My personal therapy is working out.  Having that hour every day to move my body, lift weights, sweat, and focus solely on myself really helped me to work through my emotions.  It provided an outlet for my anger – the anger I felt at the world for taking my dad away, and the anger I felt at my dad for leaving me without saying goodbye, the anger I felt at myself for not reaching out to him just one last time to make sure he was doing okay.  Even on the days that I felt like doing nothing but laying in bed and staring at the ceiling, I would force myself to get up and go to the gym.  It would get me out of my funk and give me the energy to continue with my day.

Seek Some Sort of Support

Losing a loved one to suicide can be really isolating.  Losing a loved one in any way can be isolating.  Your whole world has crumbled and come to a screeching halt, but everyone else around you just keeps moving forward with their lives.  Please understand that you don’t have to go through these emotions on your own.  You don’t have to hold everything in and pretend like you’re okay.  You aren’t going to bother people with your problem.  Find someone to talk to, whether it be a friend, family member, therapist, or even a support group.  Most cities have grief support groups for the survivors of suicide and other tragic events.  It can be scary to confront the feelings you have, especially around people that you may not know very well.  But you are not alone.  Find someone to talk about your loved one with.  Find someone to share your feelings with and to share all the wonderful things about the person you have lost.  Personally I found that focusing on the beautiful memories I have of my dad really helped me to grieve him in a healthy manner.  I am lucky to have those 27 years of memories with him, when so many others may have never even known their fathers.


I am not usually a very religious person, but I can’t help but feel like I was blessed with this baby boy because the higher power out there knew what was going to happen.  The love I feel for my baby has helped tremendously with my healing.  It has allowed me to focus my energy on creating something beautiful.  This love has reminded me what a gift it is to be alive and how important it is to cherish each moment.  Life is painful, but life is also a wonderful adventure.  Beauty and pain will always coexist with one another, and we cannot truly appreciate the blessings without also experiencing the suffering.

I always tried so hard to help my dad see this.  He had a difficult time finding the beauty in life.  My life will never be the same without him.  Every night he is in my dreams, and in my dreams he is always still alive.  I love him so much and am so grateful for how hard he worked to give my family the life that we had.  But depression is real and dark, and sometimes people just can’t find their way back into the light.  My only hope is that he has finally found his peace.

It’s crazy, my boyfriend is Cuban and his whole family has dark hair, dark eyes, all dominant genes.  Most of my family is light haired and light eyed.  I have blue eyes, but my dad was always the only one with kind of hazel-green eyes.  We thought for sure the baby would be born with dark features, but Noah David was born with greenish eyes.  Just like my dad.


If you are currently pregnant (or not) and experiencing grief over the loss of a loved one, please do not hesitate to reach out to someone. If you are having thoughts of self-harm or feeling suicidal, I urge you to reach out to a friend or family member before making a decision that you can never undo.  You can even contact me directly by email at clairelaster91@gmail.com or on instagram @paleoclaire.  You are not alone, and I would be happy to hear you and help you.  Life is beautiful and there is always something to live for, even if it seems like the pain will never pass.

Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

Snapseed (8).jpg

As I mentioned in my post on dealing with sugar cravings during pregnancy, one of my favorite ways to allow myself to indulge in a sweet treat every now and then is to simply make a healthier version myself and keep them at home.  That way I know exactly what ingredients are inside and can more or less control the amount of sugar than I’m consuming.  That being said, a lot of baking experiments happen in my kitchen.  Here is the result of one of them, and I am so excited to share them with you today.

This recipe is super simple, relatively quick, and definitely offers a healthier option if you L-O-V-E chocolate chip cookies as much as I do.  These cookies turned out fluffy and perfectly sweet, and you definitely need to try them. Like today.

Snapseed (6).jpg

Closeup of the melty, chocolate-y goodness inside.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar free maple syrup (I use Cary’s because it’s super cheap at Walmart)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 scoop of vanilla whey protein powder (my favorite brand is Gold Standard Whey by Optimum Nutrition)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or dark chocolate, whatever you prefer!)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, slightly melt the coconut oil and mix it well with the maple syrup.
  4. Add the egg and vanilla to the coconut oil mixture.  Mix with a whisk until nice and smooth.
  5. In a separate medium bowl, add the almond flour, protein powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Mix until well combined.
  6. Add the flour mixture into the bowl with the coconut oil mixture.  I like to use a rubber spatula to combine them, because the dough gets all stuck inside the whisk and you are definitely not going to want to waste any of this cookie dough!
  7. Fold the chocolate chips into the dough.
  8. Use a tablespoon or a regular spoon to spoon the dough onto the cookie sheet.  This dough is a little sticky, so don’t say I didn’t warn you!  I got 10 medium/largish-sized cookies from my batch.  Make them slightly smaller and you could easily get an even dozen.
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes until cookies just start to turn slightly golden on top.  It’s important not to over bake these to ensure maximal fluffiness.
  10. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before enjoying!  Store in an airtight container in your fridge for up to 5 days.

img_5187

image1.jpeg

In case you’re the type of person that cares about these sorts of things (which I’m totally not right now), here are the nutrition facts per cookie:
Calories: 255.2
Protein: 9g
Carbohydrates: 13.5g
Fat: 19.5g
Sugar: 7.6g
Fiber: 3.4 g
*these numbers are based on a batch of 10 cookies.  For more cookies, numbers will be slightly less.

Hope you all enjoy!

Hold the Pickles, Pass the Ice Cream

The Gummy Bear Files, Part III – Dealing with sugar cravings during pregnancy.

Snapseed (5).jpg“Are you having any weird cravings?!”  This is the number one question I have been asked since becoming pregnant.  And the answer is, NO.  I am not having any weird cravings.  No pickles and ice cream for me.  My doctor even told me about women that have craved fresh mud when pregnant (ew).   Definitely also not me.

Now let me clarify something.  I said I was not having weird cravings, but that does not mean I am not having any cravings.  Namely I am having cravings for one thing only: SUGAR.  Before getting pregnant I was on a very low-carb (almost zero sugar) diet.  Before I even knew I was pregnant my desire for cookies, cupcakes, brownies, and all things sugary and sweet skyrocketed and I did not understand why.  I found it really  stressful to deal with, and in the beginning of my pregnancy I gave in to those cravings.  A LOT.  I gained more weight in my first trimester than I needed to, but this is also my first pregnancy and I have definitely learned from this experience.

I told myself that it was okay to eat whatever I want because I was pregnant.  But in all honesty this is not actually true.  When you are pregnant it is even more imperative to maintain a healthy and balanced diet.  Everything that you put into your body is going to be broken down and digested by the baby as well.  And with my family history of diabetes, there is always a chance that I could develop gestational diabetes.

My challenge became: How can I manage my sugar cravings without completely going off the rails? 

Here are my tips for doing just this…

  1. Make sure you are eating a healthy, balanced diet. Include plenty of lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, some starches, and healthy fats.  Whole foods keep you full much longer than processed sweets.  Oftentimes if I’m craving something sweet I literally just eat a regular meal of chicken and veggies.  I promise you there’s no more room for a dessert after that.
  2. Eat 5-6 smaller meals throughout the day, rather than eating 3 large meals.  Not only will this keep your blood sugar from crashing at any point, but it is also incredibly useful for keeping that pregnancy reflux and excessive bloating at bay.  Trust me.  If you eat too much your already growing and swollen belly will not feel very good.
  3. Keep sugar out of the house! This is pretty common sense, but if sugary foods are not easily accessible to you, you will think twice about having to do the extra work to obtain them.  Set yourself up for success.  If you know that you won’t be able to stop at just one serving of ice cream, don’t leave the grocery store with a pint of your favorite flavor!
  4. Fruits.  I always keep my fridge stocked with fresh strawberries, blueberries, and apples.  The fructose in these is usually enough to satisfy your sugar cravings, plus fruits have nutrients in them that you won’t find in that pack of oreos.  Win-win.
  5. Distract yourself.  If you’ve just eaten a meal and find yourself yearning for an unnecessary dessert, distract yourself by going for a 15-20 minute walk.  Not only are you getting a little bit of movement and exercise, but by the time you get back you probably won’t even be thinking about those donuts that were on your mind before you left.  Endorphins from exercise can be just as satisfying as the high you get from a sugary treat.
  6. Drink a glass of water.  When that mid-afternoon hankering for a cookie sets in, drink a full glass of water.  Sometimes your brain mistakes thirst signals for hunger.  You’ll get a little extra hydration, plus the water will take up the space in your stomach where that cookie would have resided.
  7. Delete food delivery apps if necessary.  Fortunately (and unfortunately) we live in a world where your significant other does not have to run to the grocery store at 10 pm to pick up whatever sweets you might be craving.  It is so simple to just push a few buttons on our iPhones and someone will deliver fresh baked cookies (or even Dunkin Donuts!) right to your door.  If you find yourself falling back on Postmates or UberEats on a regular basis, even if you are not keeping sugary foods in your house, do yourself a favor and just delete the app until your pregnancy is over.
  8. Don’t restrict ALL the time.  Allow yourself to a indulge a little every once in a while.  If you always say no, you will wear out your willpower muscle and this can lead to binges and overeating.  I like to set parameters with myself.  5 days of the week I do not allow myself to have any sugar.  That gives me two days of flexibility, so if I go out to eat with friends and decide to partake in dessert, I won’t feel so guilty.

One of my favorite ways to allow myself to indulge a little in dessert is to make healthier options to keep at home.  I love to experiment with low-carb and low-sugar baking.  If I have an absolutely unbearable craving for something sweet, I like to at least know exactly which ingredients (and how much) are in what I’m eating.  In fact, in my next post I’m super excited to share one of my favorite recipes for almond flour chocolate chip cookies with you all!

Most importantly, remember to go easy on yourself! If you do eat something sweet you hadn’t planned on, don’t beat yourself up!  It already happened, just keep moving on and make sure to have plenty of vegetables in your next meal.  It is absolutely OKAY to treat yourself every once in a while, just make sure the bulk of your diet comes from healthy, whole foods.  This is true of anyone, but especially for pregnant women like me, who are using all of our resources to grow tiny and healthy humans!

Sunday Rituals

Snapseed (7).jpg

Clean out your fridge weekly.  An organized space lends itself to an organized mind.  Plus no one likes old food in their fridge.

We all have them.

Once upon a time, in a kingdom far away, my Sunday ritual consisted of recovering from Saturday night.  Maybe sauntering to a midday brunch with friends where I would continue my “recovery” with bottomless sugary mimosas that left me feeling sluggish and out of commission for the rest of the day.  Daytime drinking coupled with poor food choices throughout the weekend would leave me feeling bloated and guilty on Monday morning.

Daytime drinking is also not very conducive to the productive sorts of activities that promote readiness and success for the upcoming week.  I arrived at work on Monday not only feeling a complete lack of physical rejuvenation, but a lack of mental revitalization as well.  Somewhere along the way, as I matured and started integrating more mindful and healthful habits into my life, I found my Sunday priorities drastically shifting.

There is something so satisfying and refreshing about waking up on Monday morning knowing that things in your life have been literally and figuratively put back into their proper places.  I no longer drift through my Sundays dreading the week to come, rather I intentionally prepare myself to be as successful as I can for the week.  I am a firm believer that how you spend your Sunday will completely set the tone for the following week.  If you fail to prepare, you will be frantic and stressed on Monday morning, and that attitude will carry itself throughout the remainder of the week.

It is important to engage in activities that make your home feel organized, as well as your mind.  This way you can arrive into the week with a tranquilly clean slate.  Exactly how you choose to prepare for your week is up to you, but here are the activities that I engage in every Sunday (yes every) in order to ensure that my life is in order.  Some of these things may seem boring or mundane, but I find that I actually quite enjoy my Sundays and even look forward to this process.

5 Sunday Success Habits

  1. Cleaning – I am actually the most OCD person, so I tend to clean a little bit each day rather than saving it all up for the weekend.  I wake up with so much energy on Sunday mornings that I usually spend about 30-45 minutes doing this first thing  just to get it out of the way.  Whether I need to sweep the floor or straighten our bedroom, I just. DO. IT.  Keeping your space clean and organized will help your mind stay organized.
  2. Laundry – Is there anything better than starting the week with fresh smelling clothes? This is especially true when you basically live at the gym. I never start Monday morning with dirty clothes in the hamper.  Also, never leave dirty clothes on the floor or on “that chair” (you know the one).  It literally takes .037 seconds to throw those socks into the hamper *ahem men in the house ahem*.  If you like multi-tasking like me, throw one load of laundry in and then start your cleaning while the clothes wash.
  3. Church – Maybe you are not very religious.  I haven’t always been, if I’m being perfectly honest, but we go to an amazing church (check it out: Vous Church) here in Miami.  Every Sunday we leave the sermon SO PUMPED to be our best selves.  It’s a chance for self-reflection and a chance to refocus on what is important in your life.
  4. Groceries/Mealprep – My boyfriend and I have been mealprepping our lunches for almost two years now.  Every Sunday we go together to get all our groceries for the week (usually Trader Joe’s because it’s awesome) and split the cost down the middle.  We generally get exactly what we need, no excess.  And if we decide on Wednesday we want to eat something that’s not in the house? Too bad, put it in on the list for next week.  This is an amazing way to save money and to avoid food waste. The mealprepping process is messy and experimental when you’re first starting out.  But with practice you will get it down to a science and figure out exactly what you need.  We probably spend about an hour grocery shopping, and 2-2 1/2 hours cooking each Sunday.  I usually take this time as well to reorganize and clean out the fridge.
  5. Gratitude Journaling – Some people make this a daily habit.  I choose instead to take 15-20 minutes each Sunday to reflect on the week that has just passed, as well as the week ahead.  I set my intentions for the week and this helps me to start Monday morning with the most positive mindset possible.  Cleaning your house is important, but I would argue that cleaning your mind out each week is even more important.

That’s it.

These are the things that I cannot go to bed on Sunday without having completed.  If I do, I feel very thrown off and unprepared.  Even with these 5 essential activities, there is plenty of time left in the space around them to relax and recharge.  Use this time to catch up on reading, catch up on work/emails (if that’s something necessary for your Monday success), or even catch up on sleep.  Technically I don’t think its scientifically possible to “catch up” on sleep, but naps are always nice 🙂

If you are a keen observer, you will notice that I did NOT include working out on this list.  The truth is, I go to the gym just about every Monday-Friday, and most Saturdays.  So even though I am just a little obsessed with crossfit and working out, I am completely okay with taking Sundays to recover.  Sometimes we go for a nice, sunny walk with our pup, other times we just spend time with family, friends, or each other.

Last, but not least, GO TO BED EARLY.  I cannot reiterate enough: get a full, restful night of sleep on Sunday night.  If you start Monday morning grumpy, sleepy, and exhausted, not only will your Monday obligations be challenging and unpleasant, but I promise that this will carry throughout your week.  As I mentioned, you can’t just catch up on sleep, so it’s important to get at least 7-9 hours each night.

Happy Sunday, friends! I hope you all have a productive Sunday full of gratitude and good energy!

YOU GOAL GIRL!


So much to look forward to in the coming year.

Since it’s the last day of 2018, I’d like to take a quick intermission from my pregnancy series to talk about goal-setting and some goals I have for the upcoming year. I don’t really like to use the term “resolution” – that word conjures up images of grand schemes that fizzle out after the first couple weeks of January. To me GOALS is a more long term way of looking at New Years Resolutions. You can make and stick to goals at any time of the year, not just beginning on January 1st.


Goal-Setting 101

I’m not sure where I first heard about it, but I think the simplest guideline to setting goals is to make sure they are SMART. I mean obviously you don’t want to set dumb goals *eyeroll*. But if you just say your goal is “to lose weight”, for instance… how would you even know when or if that goal has been met? So make your goals…

  1. Specific – write down your goal using specific language rather than ambiguous terms. What do you want to accomplish, where and why? “I want to lose 15 pounds” is much more specific than lose weight. Also, what specific steps can be taken to attain that goal? “I will go to the gym 4 days a week” or “I will not eat desserts 6 out of 7 days of the week.” Those are both very specific steps that can be taken to help you achieve your goal of losing 15 pounds.
  2. Measurable – make the goal something that you can actually objectively track the progress of. You can’t track an ambiguously phrased “lose weight”, but you can step on a scale each day to measure how much of the 15 pounds you’ve lost. Seeing the progress in real time will actually do wonders for your momentum and motivation.
  3. Attainable – YES, even goals are confined to the laws of physics. I know, I know, we all wish we could just have one million dollars by tomorrow, but this is not a realistic or attainable desire. It is attainable to make a goal to “save up $5000 in 6 months” or something like that. It is attainable to “lose 15 pounds by next Christmas”. Make sure the goal is actually something that you can achieve and not just a wild fantasy you have, otherwise nothing but frustration will ensue.
  4. Relevant – I guess this means a goal you set should be something that’s worthwhile to you while also in line with your other goals. Your goals should complement each other and help push you to be exactly who you want to be.
  5. Time-bound – I think this might be the most important of them all. Exactly by WHEN do you plan to meet your goal? “I want to lose 15 pounds.” By tomorrow? As if. Set a time limit. “I want to lose 15 pounds by June 30, 2019.” Thats about a 6 month time frame. Not only would this be perfectly feasible, but the sense of urgency that a time limit sets will allow you to stay focused and motivated.

I want to mention one more goal-setting guideline that is not included in this model but I think is absolutely CRUCIAL. WRITE YOUR GOALS DOWN ON PAPER. Put them in a place where you will see them and be reminded of them daily. Each day ask yourself, “What have I done today to bring myself closer to my goals?” Every day you should do at least one thing, no matter how small, that will propel you forward. Going back to the theoretical weight loss goal, maybe the one thing you did was make the choice to not eat the donuts your coworkers brought to work. AND THAT’S A HARD CHOICE, TRUST ME, I KNOW. But every day you have the chance to make little choices that add up to big changes. If you just have your goals floating around in your head, it will be harder to take real-life steps toward them. Writing them down makes them tangible.


My Goals for 2019

So what are MY goals for 2019?? I may have a couple…

Maybe that last goal isn’t quite measurable or specific, but that one may be the most important to me of them all. I am going to be a mom. It is still crazy to me but each day I will do whatever I can to make sure that little baby feels loved and safe.

Each of these is important to me for different reasons, but they are all intended to help me be the happiest, healthiest, and most successful I can be. Some of these goals are stepping stones to even longer term goals (education, career, etc.). I have been especially overwhelmed lately with the concept of getting a graduate degree, especially with the unexpected little bundle of joy that will be here before I know it. My goals have had to shift a lot from what they would have been were I not now growing my little family.

But that’s okay. That’s just life. Life is unexpected and will always throw curveballs your way. What’s important is the ability to remain flexible and adapt and grow with those changes. Maybe 2018 didn’t end for you exactly as you would have planned, but you’re about to have 365 brand new, shiny and fresh chances to make the most of each day, to grow and to learn and to appreciate all of the blessings that life gives you. You are breathing and you are alive and this coming year is going to be SPECTACULAR. ✭