Morning Rituals

Meditating Milo

How you start your morning can determine the rest of your day. We all have good days and bad ones, but I’ve found if I try to begin the day with a positive outlook and take a little time for some self-care I tend to be in a better mood than I am on days when I’m rushed and flustered in the AM.

Here are a few things I try to fit into my morning before I head out the door.

1. Sun Salutations: I used to be envious of people I knew that either didn’t work a full-time job or had a large disposable income because they seemed to have the luxury of multiple daily trips to a fancy yoga study. While sixty minutes of daily yoga at my favorite studios isn’t something I can always fit into my schedule or budget I can start off the morning with five or ten minutes of sun salutations.

If you’ve taken a Vinyasa yoga class you’ve probably done this repetitive sequence of positions which are known as sun salutations. I have taken to keeping my yoga mat laid out next to my bed so I can hop out of bed, throw on some gym clothes, and face the window for some morning flow. There are different sun salutation routines out there and sometimes I do follow a video to switch it up. But if I don’t want to spend too much time thinking about what I’m going to do for a sequence my standby is: Mountain Pose, Arms to the Sky, Forward Fold, Lunge, Plank, Downward Facing Dog, Cobra, Upward Facing Dog,  Downward Facing Dog, Plank, Cobra, Opposite Lunge, Foward Fold, Arms to the Sky, Moutain Pose with hands in prayer position to heart.

2. Hot Water: Before coffee and breakfast I have a cup of hot water with apple cider vinegar and lemon juice to aid digestion and open up the esophagus. I don’t mind the taste, but if you want to try this and find it too tart you can add a little sweetener to your cup.

3. Bunny Love: I feed Milo and clean his space before going to work, but I also spend a little time giving him some pets and if he’s in the mood playing with him. If you have a pet I recommend having time to show them a little love before you head out.

4. Morning Pages: This comes from the book The Artist’s Way. The idea is to write three pages of anything and just put it aside. This way you’re not stressing about the words on the page being perfect but it’s a way to open up your creativity.

5. Quick Check In: I do a quick email check after I’ve gone through my other rituals. This way I can respond to anything that needs immediate attention and I can have a good sense of anything I need to be prepared for when I arrive at the office.

What are some of your favorite morning rituals?

Mindful Monday: Rituals

Cherry Tree

This week I’m focusing on rituals. The word ritual is a bit loaded since it holds a number of connotations and my association with the word has changed over time. Growing up I associated the term ritual as something you did in an organized religion during a high holiday or weekly ceremony. Over the years I’ve come to feel that a ritual is something that you can practice in the privacy of your own home and doesn’t always have to have a spiritual connection to it.

For me, ritual is a replacement for the word routine. I have a dislike of too much routine because it makes me feel like I’m in a rut. However building daily and weekly rituals has been a good practice in finding balance. Yes there are some days and weeks when I’m rushed and I don’t fit everything I want to in my day and I try not to stress out about that, but if I go too long without a routine I’ve come to find value in, its absence is felt.

I’ll be exploring specific rituals that I’ve adopted through the course of this week. Do you have any rituals that you’ve taken on?

Mindful Monday: Time to Wind Down

Goddess

This is one from the archives from the old site that I’ve updated with some more tips.

In the past meditation like yoga was something that I didn’t really get. I tried it multiple times and dismissed it as not being for me. My excuses were 1. I’m too type A for this, 2. This is too New Age for me, and 3. I don’t have time for this every day. Like yoga, though I found that practice and finding what works for you makes meditation easier.

I started by taking yoga classes that had a very brief meditation component. By brief, I mean 5 minutes or less. I figured I could handle five minutes. Five minutes turned into doing 9-12 minute guided meditations through apps at home. Eventually, I started doing as long as 30 minutes of meditating either at home or as part of a yoga class.

I try to start and end the day this way. Does it mean always sitting in a meditation pose and imagining I’m on a mountain or a lake no, although I do sometimes meditate that way. I tend to alternate between mantras set to music, guided meditation, and sometimes even just reading or listening to something worth reflecting on.  

Have I gained spiritual enlightenment? No, at least not yet. What I have gained is some peace of mind. I’ve noticed when I have this routine I’m more patient with people and have an easier time sleeping. My office has a meditation group that meets a few times a week. I don’t make it to every session, but if I’m really stressed or feel like I’m “too busy” to go that’s when I know I should. 

I recommend giving some form of meditation a try. If you don’t know where to start there are a number of great apps out there to get you started with guided meditations. My personal favorite is Insight Timer

Mindful Monday: Food is Your Friend

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This week I’ve decided to try a theme for the week which I’ve done in the past. This week I’m focusing on food. I have had this love/hate relationship with food my whole life. I’m a foodie. I love trying new dishes, cuisines, and restaurants. Trying a flavor for the first time is the same high as walking out of an airport or a train station in a new city.

The hate side of food has been how I’ve associated it with weight. If I didn’t like what was on the scale in the morning it meant I had failed and I needed to deprive myself of calories to make up for and punish myself for the day before. I could deprive myself for weeks and then, of course, I’d rebel when I couldn’t take it anymore. I’d eat any and everything I could get my hands on. This was classic yo-yo dieting.

This year I wanted to try to improve my relationship with food. Food is fuel and we all need it. Food should be delicious, nutritious, and something we enjoy not something we’re afraid of. So here’s are some of the changes I’m trying to make:

Stop weighing myself every day: I have friends who never weigh themselves. I would love to be comfortable in my skin to get to that point. To be honest I’m not there yet. I have gone from a daily weigh into a weekly weigh in. That’s a small step in the scheme of things, but a huge one for me. I want to be less focused on a number and more concerned with how I’m feeling.

Listen to my cravings: This goes back to the depriving thing. I used to ignore my cravings if I felt they were for something that was “bad” so of course, I’d eat everything else and nothing would satisfy my appetite until I gave in to what I really wanted. So now I listen to what my body is telling me. Lately, I’ve been craving dark green veggies like there is no tomorrow. I think that’s mostly because I couldn’t eat them when I wasn’t feeling well last year. But there are times when I’m craving chocolate or some rich dessert and I let myself have it without guilt.

Spread out eating: I don’t do well with three big meals. I feel sluggish after them and am starving in between. Instead, I try to break my day out into five smaller meals. I basically eat a smaller breakfast, lunch, and dinner but I have two substantial snacks. I stay satisfied this way.

BYOL: I’m trying to be better about bringing my lunch to work. I do at least three days a week. I also try to pack my snacks. I find when I don’t plan ahead I eat the highly processed foods that are lying around not because I want that but because it’s there and I’m hungry. When I pack things like fruit, pickled veggies, hummus, and yogurt I don’t want to eat the chips or candy bars in the office. Packing lunch is also a great way to save some money each week which is another goal I have for the year.

Stay hydrated: If I’m diligent about drinking water throughout the day I eat less because I’m not as hungry. When I feel extra hungry some days I check in to make sure I have been hydrating throughout the day. I’ll drink a glass of water and wait 20 minutes. If I’m still hungry I eat something but most of the time I’m not.

 

 

 

 

 

Mindful Monday: Time Can Be on Your Side

  
If you’re like me you feel you have a million things to do and sometimes you get home from work overwhelmed and instead of getting through that endless list of tasks you pass out on the couch watching Netflix. I’m a little obsessed with time management and finding a healthy balance. For the past few years I’ve used task management tools not just for work projects but for my personal ones too. We live in a busy world and while we will rarely get through everything we think we need to get done we can cut ourselves some slack and try to focus on what’s really important.
Here are some simple tricks that help keep me on track when I have a lot on my plate and help me escape the couch potato rut.  
Plan ahead: Putting out your clothes the night before, packing your lunch for tomorrow before you go to bed, and making your to do list for the next day are easy ways to go to bed with the piece of mind that you won’t forget something important as you’re scrambling to get ready in the morning.  

Multitask: I say this with caution. As someone who was trained to have multiple balls in the air at once this isn’t always the best mode to operate in especially when you’re stressed. Sometimes details get missed and you end up with half assed projects if you aren’t careful. Where this tactic can be helpful is during activities that can easily be done simultaneously. Cooking is a great time to multitask. If you can cook a few meals at one time and freeze them you can be set with most of your dinners and lunches for the week. I also try to clean while listening to audiobooks so I can enjoy a new book while tidying up. 

Have a Plan B: If you organize your time well you can fit in everything that’s important to you into your week. I try to make sure that I don’t let things like exercise fall into the optional category for me. This means planning my time well and being flexible. If I know I need to work late I try to fit in an early gym class. If I have an early morning meeting I try to leave before dark so I can fit in a run. Life doesn’t always work out the way we want to so it’s good to have a backup if things get off schedule. If that morning class gets canceled then I fit in a run or some circut training. If it rains after work then I do some yoga or a fitness video at home. 

Mindful Monday: Going Meatless 

For Mondays on this site I’m choosing to focus on mindfulness. Mindfulness means a variety of things for different people. For me it incompasses feeling healthy in body, mind, and spirit, having self confidence and worth, and keeping life in balance.
In March I made a pledge to give up meat for 30 days to see how I felt and decide if that was a change that I wanted to try and stick with beyond that month. I am an animal lover, but that wasn’t the main motivation behind this change. I kept seafood in my diet and dairy. I have bouts of acid reflux and also was noticing that I felt sluggish after certain meals. I have been working with my doctor and nutritionist on coming up with a lifestyle plan that works for me. I’ve been trying to trust my gut…literally. I found that when I ate meat I felt bloated and fatigued afterwards.
Giving up meat for a month I noticed that I felt less tired and uncomfortable. Eliminating meat also helped me recognize other foods that make me feel this way which are white flour and sugar. I haven’t cut those out completely, but am weaning myself off to consuming less of each. I’ve also been working with my nutritionist on making sure I’m getting the proper nutrients. I’ve taken a multivitamin, calcium, and vitamin D for years. I’ve started taking iron because I am anemic (this was from blood work taken prior to giving up meat) and I also started taking a vitamin B complex because I have a deficiency there too. Lastly I’m taking a probiotic which I really think has made the biggest difference in terms of acid reflux. I’m not a doctor or medical expert. All of these changes in my diet and supplements have been under the supervision of medical professionals. I’ve said it before I don’t think there is one diet or medical answer that works for everyone, you need to find what works for you.
So I’ve stayed with my eliminating meat plan. I eat seafood maybe 1-3 times a week, but aside from that have stuck to a mostly plant based diet. I don’t really miss red meat other than an occasional burger craving, which I try to satisfy with various veggie burgers. I do sometimes want poultry and have found that adding spices and sauces to tofu, seitan, and even certain vegetables placate those desires. I’ve actually had a lot of fun with getting creative in the kitchen and at restaurants and finding meat free options that are delicious and well balanced. I don’t advocate that meatless is for everyone, but at least for now it seems to be making my tummy happier.