Why daily means daily…until it doesn’t

I have some non-negotiable daily tasks/habits. They’re pre-made decisions that help me avoid bailing on things that I know are good for me. For instance, when I was working on my housekeeping skills, I did the dishes every day (usually twice, since we had 6 people in our house at the time). Now that I have the habit down pretty well, I can sometimes skip a day without dire consequences. I also have a reliable plan for where to start if our house is in shambles. (For more on cleaning and decluttering, check out this blog.)

I’m discovering that one of my issues with eating and exercise habits is that I don’t have a solid place to start when things go wrong (and, believe me, they do). I rotate through different ideas and strategies so much that I have no anchor habit like I do with cleaning my house. So, I’m starting one.

I’m picking something with clear boundaries (because I need them) that doesn’t need a tracking system. I want it to be so ingrained in my mind that I don’t need a checklist. Don’t get me wrong. I like lists. Sometimes, I just need to give it a rest, though.

What the anchor habit is doesn’t necessarily matter as much to me as it’s purpose. Washing dishes every day naturally reminds me at this point to think about things like wiping down counters and sweeping. Seeing results helps me to keep going.

So, I’m not going to say what my anchor habit is quite yet. When I start seeing other ways it’s affecting my health habits or when I mess up and start again there, I’ll let you know.

Trading Good for Best

In two days, I will have my one year WordPress anniversary. This is my 77th post (which doesn’t include the handful in my drafts folder…contrary to popular belief, sometimes thoughts aren’t really worth sharing). On big days like this, it makes sense to take a step back and see the big picture. Big pictures are not always my strength. I tend to focus so much on the details that I forget why I was focused on them in the first place. They become ends in themselves instead of means to something greater.

During the past year, I’ve gotten this tunnel vision on a lot of things: weight loss podcasts, cleaning, hair care, gardening, Monster Legends (lol!), making food from scratch, and even writing a blog post every day for a month. All of these things can be good things when enjoyed from the security of finding my identity, sustenance, and foundation in Jesus. This was true for me some of the time. When I find that I’m investing too much time chasing after something else, I typically toss it out of my life (an appropriate choice for things like Monster Legends). It becomes tricky when those things are needed in every day life, like cleaning and hair care.

So, how do I as a Christian measure whether these things are taking a healthy place in my life? There are a couple of things that I’ve picked up from different places (like sermons, books, and workshops) that have been helpful for me to gauge whether something good or neutral is starting to take the place of what’s best.

  • What is driving my decisions in life? I’m a part of a Facebook community for people with wavy hair. It’s been a great resource for me to figure out the information that I ignored when I was an adolescent. However, there are some people who take pictures of their hair every day and post them on the group, fret about their decisions about what hair product will give their hair more or less ______ (fill in the blank), and schedule their lives around their hair. If my hair is driving my decisions, it is distracting me from what should be.
  • When I’m not thinking about anything, what do I think about? This just means, “What does my thinking naturally gravitate toward?” In Psalm 1:2 (and many other places in the Bible), it says that a person is blessed when “his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” I want my thoughts to drift toward God all day long, not what I ate for breakfast or what steps I need to take to get my plants to survive.
  • I become what I behold. What am I beholding? I spent over a year listening to weight loss podcasts every chance I got. There were times when I stepped back and took a break from them, but in the grand scheme of things, I spent a lot of time beholding a certain weight loss philosophy perspective. It’s one that I happen to support and tend to agree with most of the time. When I spend that much time putting myself in front of one thing, it begins to shape how I think and act. While it’s not bad for someone who is trying to lose weight to study the habits of someone who has already lost the weight, it’s not the best thing for me as a Jesus follower to invest so much of my time in.

I’m not saying that I’ve wasted a year of my life. I’ve learned very necessary skills that I should have probably learned much earlier in life. I’ve developed a better mindset and perspective on weight loss and health. What I’m saying is that it’s time for me to focus on something greater. I’m tired of spending so much time looking in the mirror and at other people. I want to look into the face of Jesus, and, as I behold Him, I pray that I will become more like Him.

 

TV and Me

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My most-watched TV shows of all time are likely Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. People have mocked me for this. I don’t care. I’m not ashamed. I’m not 1,000 years old. I just like words and really hard trivia that even super smart people don’t always know. Other than that, I watch some ABC sitcoms and an occasional show on Netflix (things like Gilmore Girls, Switched at Birth, Chuck, iZombie, and Fixer Upper). According to one study, the average American watches around 5 hours of TV a day. I’m more of a 1-2 hours per day kind of girl.

Even though I don’t spend an unusual amount of time watching TV, I have a little bit of TV guilt sometimes. There was, for instance, the summer that I came home from work and watched Gilmore Girls until I went to bed every night. Also, I recall a time when  I couldn’t stop talking about how ridiculous the premise was for Switched at Birth until I finally watched it and couldn’t stop. I happen to also do this with games on my phone and podcasts. I have a problem. With the Netflix binge watching that’s all the rage these days, our nation as a whole has a TV problem.

So, how do we balance the desire to watch good (or even so-so) TV with our desire to watch our waistlines?  Well, sometimes I just need to sink into the couch and take a break. No matter what culture would have us believe, it’s okay to do something that isn’t super productive once in a while. Life is not about doing as much stuff as possible.

There is something to be said, though, about staying active as our bodies were meant to be. I sometimes get a little restless when I’m watching TV. I feel like I should be doing something more meaningful. Sometimes I ignore the feeling, Other times, I use the TV as a backdrop for my workout. I also will play Netflix on my phone while I’m cleaning the kitchen or use commercial breaks as a time to do a quick pickup in the living room and dining room.

Whether it’s watching in moderation, cutting TV out cold turkey, or just do a little multitasking, I think it’s important for us to be aware of entertainment habits and whether they are supporting our goals. On that note, I’m going to watch some iZombie. 🙂

The Workout Shirt

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My husband said I needed to write a post about this, so here it is!

Weight is not the only thing I’ve been working on lately. I’ve also been trying to improve my housekeeping habits, like dishes and laundry. These don’t come naturally to me, but I know they’re important. As I was folding my clothes last night (this in itself is a victory), I found the only t-shirt I owned that I could fit in a year ago when this whole thing started. It’s a 3XL and I hadn’t worn it in a while (possibly because it was under a pile of other clothes…like I said, I have work to do…). I HAD to try it on, and I was thrilled to see how it fit (or didn’t fit, I guess).

I’m down 36 pounds as of this morning. Here’s to the stomach flu for getting me to the 230’s! 🙂 The next time you hear from me will be my one year anniversary post next weekend. I’m starting a new series called 5 Things, and my first one will be looking back at the five things I’ve learned in the last year.

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Thanks to my 6-year-old photographer.

 

Slow Down

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In most things in life, I take my time:

  • Washing dishes
  • Making decisions
  • Running (actually, I think it’s considered walking…)
  • Reading (I love to read, but I also like soak everything in as I go.)

Some call it slow. I call it detail oriented and intentional. Even though striving to be faster at some things has its benefits (deciding where to eat dinner, for example), I’m learning to embrace my slower tendencies.

In the realm of weight loss, I’m focusing on savoring my food instead of wolfing it down. I’ve decided that I would rather have a little bit of some exceptionally delicious food and take my time than eat a bunch of so-so food. My dessert plate at Thanksgiving dinner this week will be a true test of how I’m applying this lesson. 🙂

It’s not just limited to food or weight loss, though. I spend so much of my time rushing from one place to task to another that I don’t appreciate God’s beautiful creation or the good gifts He’s given me.

The world around me tends to value productivity and efficiency, but taking my time and noticing the details helps me remember what really matters, from a beautiful sunset to a fun date with my husband to story time with the kiddo.

Something New Sunday – Cleaning for Fitness?

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Cleaning is the worst. Let’s just say it’s not something that comes naturally to me. I grew up in a fairly messy house (looking back, I realize that was partially my fault…kids are messy). I have always envied the people who clean to relieve stress or just automatically rinse the dishes after dinner every single night without fail. I, on the other hand, have watched episodes of Hoarders to 1) feel better about the condition of my home and 2) get motivated to clean (thank goodness it’s not that bad…let’s keep it that way).

What does this have to do with weight loss and fitness, though? Well, my challenge for August is to get in at least 10 minutes of physical activity a day. Cleaning is physical activity, especially for those of us who aren’t in the habit of doing it constantly. According to WebMD, a 150 pound person burns around 123 calories per 30 minutes of vacuuming. As you might guess, I would burn more since 150 pounds is still down the road for me. I guess it’s a good thing I fixed my vacuum yesterday.

As I’m changing my health habits, I’m finding that the strategies are transferable to other areas of my life. Just because I don’t have time to keep my house perfect (who does?) doesn’t mean I should just not try at all. Even a few minutes a day can make a big difference.