5 Easy Ways to Be Your Own Priority

This month I am focusing on self love, self care and generally becoming a priority in my own day to day routine. This is no easy task friends! For a number of reasons, including being sick with a crazy cold, I am struggling to make this practice of self-care feel achievable for the long term. So, I started doing a little research on how to make this possible and I found a few little gems that are helping me to get things to a point where they feel like part of my regular routine.

  1. Identify your struggle. I’ve shared a lot about my struggle with positive self talk, and that seems to be the hardest part of self care for me. This one little mantra, each day, is a powerful reminder to treat myself as I would treat others. I am focusing on rewriting my self-talk script with this a simple mantra that I am working on making a part of my morning routine. I owe it to myself to love myself in the way I freely give love to others. This is an impactful reminder that I want to learn and embody for myself but also for my daughters.
  2. Keep it simple. The most impactful self care, I believe, comes from the smallest of changes. Take just one aspect of your life, health, technology, family, work, sleep, and whatever you choose, make a small but deliberate adjustment. For example, unplug from social media for an hour each day or read for 15 minutes before bed. Trying to make too many changes or invoke too many new “routines” at one time will be way too overwhelming and unsustainable.
  3. Be okay with saying “No”. Also, be okay with saying “Yes”. I know this sounds a bit contradictory but friends, life is about choices. By saying “Yes” all of the time, we make little room for ourselves, as those “Yes” responses often require us to give and give and give of ourselves and our time/resources. Conversely, saying “No” all of the time, may alienate or remove us from the possibility of exploring new experiences. Find your balance. Manage your time and resources like balancing your budget. You only have so much to “spend” so plan ahead to make the most of what you have. Both saying No and saying Yes can lead to new adventures, so take stock of your personal resources and make a plan to spend them wisely.
  4. Take a rest day. Often, self care looks like taking a beat for a chance to recharge. For athletes, rest days are just as important as those hard 2 a day practices. This is true for all of us. We live in a world of GO GO GO and sometimes we just need to press pause and rest our minds and bodies. Identifying that you need to rest, is a strength that most of us don’t employ. You can’t pour from an empty cup, you have to nourish to flourish, and you cant run the marathon that is life without every letting your body & mind take a moment to catch up.
  5. Lastly, practice makes perfect. Find a few little things to practice self care, and do them often. This will keep the practice going, strengthen your routine of self care and help keep you at the top of that “to-do” or priority list on the regular.

Follow me on Pinterest ( http://www.pinterest.com/michelledarrell)   for more self care ideas from contributors that I like to follow as well as on Instagram (@momdaymotivation) for my  “in the moment” self care practices.

Taking the Guilt out of Taking time for “Me”

Who wouldn’t love to blow off all responsibilities and spend the day at the spa, or heading to workout then brunch with a friend. What about taking time to tend to your mental health with a self led meditation or guided counselling session for the heart and soul? The thing I have encountered as a woman and even more so, as a mom, is the guilt associated with self-care. Will my child miss me while I am gone? Will I miss a milestone moment while I go I the gym? Will my husband resent me leaving right after he’s home from work? Will other women judge me for making time for myself?

The answer to all of these questions can be yes. That’s the kicker.

How do we carve out time for tending to ourselves and still being an individual outside of all of the social titles we are given? Mother. Lover. Wife. Friend. Daughter. And the list goes on. We have a lot of folks who look to us for a variety of needs to be met, but how often do we look inward and say, “girl, what do you need?”.

Self care itself can be defined in so many ways, but for the sake of this post I’m going to let you use your imagination and think about what you might do, solely for the benefit of no one but yourself for one hour if guilt were not an issue. Is it hitting the pavement with a friend to run off some stress? Is it to lock yourself in your bedroom with a snack and Netflix ? Is it a salon treatment? Is it a trip to the library? Is it a walk on the beach ?

I’m giving out these suggestions as a way to start your mind thinking about what you might do, but the options are so personal and endless that you really need to develop a self care wish list for yourself!

Then when you have a few options, grab the day planner and go on a treasure hunt for time. Days are short and there is a lot in your plate but you can make it work, I know you can! Find one hour, block it out. That’s YOUR time! Then share your plan with those you need to be involved to make it work… that may be your spouse, a friend, whom ever and whatever you need to do. And when that twinge in your belly starts to pile up the excuses as to why you can’t fit it in, think about what you would say to your spouse or best friend when they say they need a break? Would you say, “yup you’re right, don’t make time for you you don’t deserve it!”? Of course not? You’d be supportive, hell I bet you would even bend over backwards to help make it happen!

This one hour of time will do wonders for your mind, body and soul. Additionally, it will remind you how important YOU ARE, and how much you can and should continue to carve out time for YOU.

This week, of an hour doesn’t feel doable, take a few minutes just for you and see how it makes you feel and start to build a self care plan from there. I promise it will be worth it.

And as for the guilt? Well, that will take time. I share my self care plan with my spouse so he knows what’s up and he sees an obvious difference in me when I do take this time for myself so now he encourages it. My kids, they get a chance to miss me and I them. And that friends, is a gift. I also work to surround myself with likeminded people who share a passion for self improvement and have an “it takes a village” mentality so we can lean on each other when we need help executing our self care plans or we self care “date” and enjoy time together!

It does take time and effort but it is beyond worth it. In my world, self care is not about indulgence but necessity. I am a better mom, partner, friend and loved one when I remember who I am. Just me. Michelle.

Pack up that guilt, put it far away where it can’t taunt you and get to taking care of yourself! You will love how it feels to be important in your own life!

~M~

Defining Me : January Wrap Up

Wow, does anyone else feel like that was the quickest month EVER?!

Phew, I am still sweating from the race from start to finish that was January! It is not lost on me that the saying goes, “Time flies, when you’re having fun” and I can truly say that I strived to make my January health and fitness goals as much fun as I possibly could.

So, lets talk about how it went over all then I will break down the nitty gritty as well as let you know whats to come for February!

I am generally proud and pleased by my progress month, even though the scale isn’t showing a lot of my hard work, I am feeling fantastic and seeing lots of NSV’s (non scale victories). I am hitting up the gym or getting in an at home workout 5-6 times a week and doing 20+ minutes of yoga each and every day. I successfully accomplished the TRUE, Yoga with Adriene challenge and loved the days when hubby would join me on the mat for this awesome practice in exercise and self care! It was great for our physical well being as well as quality time together shared as a couple.

I crushed my Lululemon Strava challenge and scored 25% off any purchase so splurged on a new pair of my FAVE crops from them! If you haven’t tried their Align pants or crops, you are missing OUT! (Note to self, and to you guys,Things I Love Thursday needs a LULU edition ASAP)

As for the kitchen goals, I’d say I was at a 75/25% for success in planning and prepping. That being said, my hubby was away for two weeks and that always throws me for a loop but I didn’t go off the rails, I just approached things with a more laid back attitude and chose my battles carefully. Sometimes, I’ve learned, that when I over stress about the plan, I set myself up for failure. For instance, if one little thing goes off the track, I use that as an excuse for falling off the proverbial wagon. Deployment can often be one of those plan wreckers so I flipped the script and made a less stringent plan for those weeks so I could feel good about how things were going. I must say, this really worked for me and my girls. Less stress = more success!

Other NSV’s for me were:
1) feeling more comfortable in my clothing. I’m really starting to see things getting a little looser or fitting more flattering which is always a motivator and confidence boost. Also, in terms of the physical, I’m seeing my skin feel less oily and subsequently less break outs which is amazing.

2) I am loving that my mood has  improved and my approach is generally more patient and relaxed. When I feel like I have things, like my weight and health, under control, I am more positive, patient and less anxious. This shift in mental health for me is key. When I am physically uncomfortable, it greatly affects how I present myself outwardly and how I feel mentally. I exude more confidence, positivity and cultivate more motivation when I am on track physically which includes healthy diet, exercise and self care.

3) I took my measurements on January 2nd, then again this week and “bam” I am down 2 inches. That’s a move in the right direction for sure. This really does motivate me to keep moving forward and focus less on the scale and more on loving my body inside and out. That being said, I still have a number goal in mind, but ultimately, feeling good and being fit/healthy is the priority.

4) This one is a bit superficial, but who doesn’t LOVE a nice compliment?! At the gym two days ago, my Body Combat instructor pulled me aside after class to tell me how amazing my form was and that I am looking fierce and strong in class! Can I get a HELL YEAH?! That put me on cloud 900! Ill take that and make sure I am there at the next class ready to kick some a$$!

Alright, alright, enough about what I did already, lets talk about whats to come. This is just the beginning of my journey this year and although my focus in February will be taking a new angle, it doesn’t mean this part comes to an abrupt end. Health and fitness is a journey; a journey of and FOR a lifetime, and I am in it to win it! You’ll still hear about that part of my journey here and on Instagram (@momdaymotivation) but Im going to up the ante and indulge in a little love for the month of February. Self Love. Self Care. Self Talk that is kind and loving and courageous. I’m going to embrace the beauty that is ME; I will own it and give it a big ol’ hug!

I hope you met some of your own January goals, I know you have been working your tails off!! Literally! Share your progress with me. The good, the bad, the ugly and the down right AMAZING! Also, join me in continuing this exploration of self and add in a little love.

You’ve got this!

~M~

Five steps to a Motivational Monday

It’s Monday. Again.

Most of us are feeling the need for that extra cup of coffee this morning and likely a little groggy as the alarm yelled at you to wake up, far too early. Weekends go by way too fast as we try to cram in every bit of fun time, down time, family time, social time, and time to workout. The weekends can be so much fun but also really freaking exhausting! In my humble opinion, that’s why so many Monday mornings can feel daunting and draggy.

I am here to say I have found 5 easy ways to help Monday mornings be the motivation you need to get through a great week! I know what you’re thinking…this chick must be insane, but honestly I think you will like at least one or two of these ideas and be able to implement them into your lifestyle without too much extra effort.

First things first, you’ve got to have the right attitude. I think the best way to start your Monday morning off on a brighter note, is to stop repeating those social negative norms to yourself. If you assume Monday is going to be a drag, chances are thats the way you will start your day. Before you close your eyes Sunday night set an intention for the day ahead. “Monday will be the beginning of a week of accomplishments” or “Monday will not get me down”. It kind of sounds a bit cheesy and like a load of fluff, but honestly it works! According to Psychology Today (Aug. 2, 2011):

          As far as your brain, every thought releases brain chemicals. Being focused on       negative thoughts effectively saps the brain of its positive forcefulness, slows it down,              and can go as far as dimming your brain’s ability to function, even creating                                                                   depression.

And, that is just one example of how positive thinking can truly be beneficial to finding your Monday Motivation. There is so much research on how positive thinking, including practicing gratitude, can be impactful, it is overwhelming. One article I loved from positivepsychologyprogram.com goes so far to say :

The latest findings in Neuroplasticity, however, indicate that the happiness set point can be changed, based on what we focus on and the activities we perform.

So as we practice gratitude, optimism and self-compassion the neurons in our brain form more connections, and the area of the brain grows and becomes stronger. Over time, this alteration in our brain can change our set point of happiness (Greater Good Science Center, 2014).

Positive thinking truly is THAT powerful. Thats a game changer.

My second method to finding your Monday Motivation is all about the practice of gratitude. Gratitude changes the Attitude! So, you guys are probably getting sick of my constant promotion of the practice of gratitude, but this is the stuff that happiness is born out of my friends! Honestly, just try it for a few days, commit to a week, but every day think about what you are grateful for and jot it down some where. I write three things I am grateful for each day in my Fit Planner, but you could grab a small notebook, you could jot a few things down on a sticky note and stick them in your agenda, write them on your calendar. Hell, grab a napkin and jot them down and keep them in your bag. But commit to it, keep your notes and reflect at the end of your gratitude “trial period”. I think you will be pleasantly surprised to see how much more positive and exciting each day is when you see what you have to be thankful for. Some people think these have to be deep, intense moments of gratitude but some times I am thankful for kids who go to bed on time, or a cold drink on a tough day. Other days I am grateful for my health when I see someone struggling. It varies day to day. There are no right or wrongs here. No judgements. Its all you.

Third, have a plan. This does require a bit of work on your part, but if it means that you don’t waste an entire day of the week moping about and being grump simply because that day is Monday, then make a plan to make it great! Some ideas are to make a plan for the evening to have something to look forward to. This could be as simple as a plan to veg out and catch up on trash TV when the kids are in bed, or a random dinner out with friends/family. It could be that you plan to wear a new outfit to work this Monday or that you’ll get up a few minutes earlier to get all dolled up instead of just throwing on whatever is in front of you and putting on more than the 5 minute face. This was one of my all times FAVES when I was working outside the house. Maybe its your cheat day, maybe you just plan to get up from your desk and take a moment of mindfulness and self care on your lunch hour to help fuel you for the rest of the day. You get the idea. It can be as simple or thought out plan as works for you!

My fourth tip is, get excited! Get pumped up about the week ahead. Man, we are blessed to have a job to go to or a hobby we love so find a way to incorporate that passion or love for something into your Monday routine. If your favorite part of your job is networking, maybe you can plan a meeting for Mondays to connect with likeminded folks for a planning session. Or maybe, you LOVE getting your hair done and your salon is putting on a class, sign up! It could be planning a trip to the local pool with the family after dinner or a hike with your fur baby after work! But get excited about something! That will help propel your positive thinking on Monday morning and hell, you may even be grateful for it in your gratitude practice later!

Fifth, if at first you don’t succeed, try try again. So, what I failed to mention is, this will likely not be easy. Progress not perfection is one of my mantras for the month and it completely applies to this practice of finding your motivation on Monday morning. Sometimes best laid plans fall apart. Life happens, and it can throw us curveballs even when we think we have a plan A through Z. This doesn’t mean it CAN’T be done, it just means you may have to try again. This may come with feeling discouraged and frustrated but I am speaking from personal experience when I say that, with time, it WILL happen. Mondays don’t have to be a mythical sucker of all things fun, Monday IS and CAN BE the gateway to full-filled weeks and goals accomplished.

If today was less than motivating for you, give these 5 tips a go and let me know if and how your perspective changes. And, believe me, I am practicing all of this right a long with you!

 

~M~

Its a Group Effort: a tribal approach to healthy living

January is in full swing, and so are the throngs of folks striving hard to get through the first month of resolutions and vows to be more active, healthier, stronger, faster, skinnier, more muscular. This “global” push to be healthier in the new year feels a little different for me this year. I have come to realize (or maybe remember) that on my journey to maintain healthy living,  while I am independent in deciding on a ‘plan’ that works best for me,  I see the most success when I utilize my support system. My tribe.

I am generally an open book when it comes to talking about my weight loss journey. I am ok with telling people that and my heaviest, I weighed 285lbs. I am also comfortable telling them that I am a lifetime Weight Watchers member. I am not currently at my lifetime goal but I am working, damn hard, to get back there. And “there” is the place where I feel best in my own skin. I have been in this journey for a LONG time now so I know a thing or two about how I gain and lose weight. What I hadn’t factored in really, was how important the give and take of having a “healthy living tribe” has been to me.

After I reached my goal, I was feeling invincible. Almost as if I was “cured” of being over weight and cured of my bad habits. As time wore on, I got complacent and life circumstances shifted my priorities. I gradually put a few pounds back on and forgot about how i had gotten there in the first place. Aside from determination and dedication, “my tribe” was a huge key to my success. That being said, when I started looking at “Defining Me” in the month of January, I knew would be missing a key component of who I am, if I didn’t include this tribe.

For the purpose of keeping this post an acceptable length (as you all know I can be wordy to say the least) I want to talk about how I am getting back to leaning on those around me, near and far, to help me succeed in my journey.

I started by realizing that technology was going to be one helluva weapon in terms of tapping into all of my supports. As I am living thousands of miles away from some of my most supporting of friends and family, I rely on Facebook groups and texting as a major part of my support. I literally have people I text or message every single day about our journeys ranging in age, background, and from all the globe. Some days, sending a simple text to say “tell me I should put down the spoonful of Nutella”, helps keep me focused. Also, when a friend reaches out to ask my advice or input, their commitment to their own journey helps keep me motivated to stay on track.

Some of my tribe members are the ones who remind me to forgive myself when I have gone off track (the Nutella wins the battle sometimes). Others in my tribe are always there with a good recipe when I need it, or a “pro tip” on how to maximize my workout time. My tribe is diverse. Its membership includes marathon runners, personal trainers, Zumba lovers, dancers, walkers, foodies, vegans, vegetarians, world travellers, meat lovers, moms with yoga pants and messy buns, CrossFit enthusiasts and cake connoisseurs. Many, including myself, are a combination of many of these things.

What do I learn from this tribe besides the obvious tips and tricks of being healthy? They all have a way of proving to me that I am surrounded by good people. When I see (via Facebook) my old Weight Watchers crew from Nova Scotia supporting each other daily online, I am energized by their love for each other and genuine want to see each other reach their goals. When a friend messages me that they thought of me while busting their ass on the stair climber because Salt N Peppa came on their playlist, I push harder in my workout. When I meet new friends because I put myself out there to head to a WW meeting in my new town, and they just “get it”, I know I have the support I need to succeed. When my husband hits the yoga mat every night with me for a month long challenge and doesn’t complain once, I push myself harder, because my family is my “why”. And today, if just one person asks me about my journey, or makes a healthier choice because they read this little post of mine, I will stick to my plan and make good choices along side them, because together we can accomplish more great things than alone.

As I continue “Defining Me”, from the perspective of healthy lifestyle, I will lean hard on my tribe; I will accept their help and advice. I will give back as much as I can in love and support and together, my hope is, that we will all see greater success.

You’ve got this. We’ve got this!

~M~

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Defining “Me”… January

This year, I am not just looking to promote some New Year, New Me mentality for myself or anyone else, but as I mentioned in my previous post, I really am someone who is motivated by the start of a new calendar year! If you follow me on Instagram {@momdaymotivation} you have seen my umpteen gym selfies and posts about my workouts and my meals. I, like the million other lifestyle bloggers out there who are talking about Healthy Living are really pushing hard this month. And, while you’re double tapping the ones you like, or follow often, you’re probably almost numb to all of this resolution overload.

This is where this post comes in. This year, it has taken me a bit of time to really really understand the bundle of ideas that have been swirling in my brain about what I want 2018 to look like. The endless maze of ways I want to focus my motivation and intention for the year. After about 40 podcasts, which included some serious bingeing on Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations, reviewing my posts here, rereading my notes and thoughts and dreams in my journal, and taking stock of the number of novels and self improvement books on my night stand, I have had a revelation!

This year, I want to devote a large portion of my time to Defining Me. I am a multi faceted person who carries A LOT of titles, as we all do. But in this, my 39th year, I really want to dig a little deeper. I thought I was ready for that last fall when I started this little Momday Motivation blog, and I did start to scratch the surface, but I was still healing and reeling from a year of BIG changes and the weight of the year was still too much of a burden for me and I could not really allow myself to shift my focus entirely.

In, what some might call, a narcissistic venture, I will be sharing my journey with you via updates, at least monthly here on the blog and I hope you that if and when you read them, you think about your motivation and intention. Not because mine will be so prolific to inspire you or anyone really, but because may, just maybe, if you’re taking the time to read my journey, you will allow yourself to take the time YOU need to start your own.

In this month of January, I am focusing my intention and motivation on the physical me. So I will be slugging it out at home and at the gym; in the kitchen, and on the mat. I will be joining the throngs of people trying to make this year healthier, with more self love and less self sabotage.  I will be laying the foundation for healthy physical habits as, personally, I always see a direct correlation between how I feel about my body and in my own skin, to how I feel mentally, emotionally and even my connectivity to my spiritual self.

Where does this leave me currently? Well, week one has been successful really. Ive been able to focus on building a plan to help me find a solid routine and create a habit of meal planning and physical activity. My mantra for this part of my journey will be “progress, not perfection”. I need a little reminder to be kinder to myself during my journey to a physically better me.

To boost my confidence, and keep me motivated, I have started a few challenges to help me on my journey including one on the app Strava, where I am connected to the Lululemon community. They have a 40/80 challenge that a friend told me about, where you pledge to walk/run either 40 or 80kms in a two week period. Last year, Lululemon gave those who completed the challenge some free swag so I figured, why not? A week in, and I have completed 27km of my 40km goal. I also committed to a 30 day Yoga challenge, which is free on YouTube and 7 days later, I am LOVING it! It is led by “Yoga With Adriene” and I ADORE her challenges, her vibe, her teaching and her knowledge of yoga! Check her out if you haven’t before! She is a gem and did I mention it is FREE?!

To start to wrap up this “chatty” post of mine, I want to leave you with a little brain food.

Handsome!

What guru/author/motivational speaker offered that little gem? None of the above.

That one is all me folks.

It’s a compilation of some learnings I am taking in and invoking as a integral part of my daily routine and practice. Practice, being the key word in all of this. Nothing becomes habitual without practice. Healthy living, self care, quality time, gratitude, setting intention, spirituality, they all require practice.

Dayyyum, this got deep! and I liked it! If you enjoyed my kick off to Defining Me, I hope you’ll join me in exploring your own journey, or take a peek here now and again to see how Im making out!

With that I will remind you, and myself to stay focused and “you’ve got this”!

xoxo

~M~

It’s a New Year with New Motivation

Happy New Year to you near and far! I love the fresh feeling that comes with turning that calendar page to a new year! It signifies so much more than resolutions and burning off the unwanted calories consumed over the holiday season. For me, it is a crisp new page in a journal both literally and figuratively.

My awesome hubby got me a wish list item for Christmas this year, a Commit 30 journal, and I am stoked! I am working on filling out the vision board for my year ahead and making some attainable goals each month as I strive to live a balanced life full of gratitude and lead with intention. As I do this, I am reflecting upon the year behind me.

2017 was an incredible year. It had high highs, some tough lows and a helluva lot of change. My motivation last year was simply to “get through it” which, was literally how I dealt with almost six full months of the year. I saw the year as a gateway to something better and at times I forgot to seize the moment as much as I would have liked to. Honestly, that approach was more exhausting than actual “living”. With that realization, i focused on doing better which was easier with our family of four being under one roof again. When I let the walls down a bit and started to embrace the change and embrace the moments, I saw more connectivity with my family and friends. I felt more balanced. I truly felt like I had gained something from the experience of just getting through. I saw resilience and strength in myself, but also in my marriage and in my children. I saw that there was more than just “getting through” challenges. I was reminded of the beauty in the struggle, like the rainbow after the storm.

That leads me to think about my goals and my motivation for this bright and shiny new year ahead. My motivation is simple. My family.

Our health and wellness, our adventures and our routines. I want to really experience the hell out of it all. I want to be present in the moments. I want to make time to get on the floor and play with my girls, no matter if I have my coat on ready to go out the door. If even just for a moment, to engage on their level, they will be reminded that they are important. I want to make time to be engaged with my spouse, in the midst of parenting chaos and life’s challenges, to really be connected. I want to embrace the beauty of technology when managing relationships long distance from family and friends. Making time for those I love is important and will continue to be so. I want to make new memories and enjoy the new experiences in this adventure we are on. I want to continue to grow and learn and lay down roots in this new home of ours. Because in this life, the military family life, home is where you are and “normal” is forever evolving.

So, as I crack the spine of my new journal, I do so with courage, excitement and eager anticipation, mixed with a healthy pinch of nervous energy.

Will I always get it right? Hell no. And I would never wish for “perfection”. As we all know deep down, life is a journey, not a destination, so put on some comfy shoes and walk this walk with me. I look forward to sharing my days with you and I hope you share some of yours with me.

Cheers to you and yours! Here’s to the magic that awaits us in 2018!

 

~M~