The “FitBit” Method:

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I don’t have a Fitbit, but I know enough people who do to understand the drive towards getting in your daily steps. It’s a big deal to beat your friends or even beat yourself. It’s a fun easy way to motivate you to be more active. It’s a genius idea.

I found myself applying that logic lazily when I thought about reaching my social activity levels. The other morning I talked to my hairdresser while getting a cut, talked to a stranger in line for 30 minutes at the social security office, and I went and ate lunch with my mom. I had this brief image of a empty bar filling right up. I felt like I reached my mandatory social needs for the day, and that even if I did nothing else for the day I wouldn’t feel isolated.

We need to be active. We need to be social. These are parts of a healthy life. We also need to drink a certain amount of water, consume a certain amount of vitamins, earn a certain amount of money, do enough positive actions, and think enough positive thoughts. We have all these daily bars to fill, and we hardly ever think about it in those terms, but maybe we should.

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The role reminders play in self control:

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I’m trying to lose weight. Not a lot, but about ten pounds. I struggle with it because I don’t practice self control around food very well. Maybe it’s because I know I’m not that overweight. Maybe it’s because I like food too much. Whatever the reason, I failed at controlling myself for a week or two before I realized if I was going to do this I needed to find some sort of system to fix it.

I joined a Facebook group for weight loss support. I felt silly in it. People were trying to lose mass amount of weight and here I was trying to drop ten pounds. It seemed like maybe this wasn’t the place for me. But it was, not because I related to all the posts, in fact, a lot of them I don’t. It worked because I was constantly reminded of my goals, I was constantly reminded that I was trying to do this and I had decided that it mattered enough to me to join a group, or to comment.

I saw the posts when I logged on. I got notifications on my phone when people commented on something I had commented on.

Some people would argue that it was the support that I needed, but I haven’t made posts to have people support my journey. I’ve rather been supporting others. Dishing out support might be helpful, but it’s helpful in the same way giving your friend advice is helpful. It reminds you that you know what you’re supposed to be doing. You have all this knowledge, you just need to apply it! It’s simple if you get control over yourself.

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Little Fixes: Getting rid of my road rage made me a better person

 

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We all have little problems, problems that we sweep under the rug because they don’t seem to be a big deal, or we don’t see how changing them will change anything else. We try to tackle bigger things, and sometimes that works out for us, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes these items are to big to tackle all at once. Smaller problems also take time, but not in the same way, they take a week or two of constant reminder and discipline instead of months of it. But they change our lives too, sometimes in ways we wouldn’t think.

I recently was in terrible 5 o’clock traffic and got cut off by someone who almost missed their exit. I cursed under my breath something terribly unkind and had a moment of clarity were I realized that that action didn’t warrant that insult. I’ve cut people off in traffic before and it really wasn’t that big of a deal, because more often then not, it’s a mistake. This break through thought kept circling back around every time I muttered something unkind in traffic, and I started to realize just how often I was doing it.

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How to stay accountable: charting goals and health

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This past two years have been really crazy for me. I’m still getting treated for Lyme Disease, I got engaged, now I’m planning a wedding, and buying a house. A lot is happening, and when you add that onto the ever present task of bettering yourself, it’s easy to let things fall through the cracks. So I’ve been working on methods to stay on top of everything and I’m going to share the few things that have worked best for me.

Charting is something a lot of doctors suggest people with mental health problems do to track their moods and anxieties. I’ve had to do it for that in the past, luckily my mental health is pretty stable at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that charting hasn’t still been useful for my health overall. I’ve been using it to track progress with my lyme disease, as well as track what causes me to feel bad. For example, I’ve started creating a little list of things I’ve eaten that day in the corner of my planner, that way I can still see if gluten or sugar is effecting me like it used to (and I’m proud to say it’s not! It’s gotten a lot better).

I also have been using my planner to write down everything I’ve done that day, and I mean almost everything. I’m not just writing down appointments or lunch dates, I’m writing down whether or not I’ve walked the dog, what hobbies I did that day, whether or not I ate out for lunch. Having your day written down like that helps you track a lot of different things. It helps me track my energy levels in response to my lyme treatment, but it also helps me stay accountable for diving back into my hobbies.

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Creating goals for 2019 and reflecting on those from 2018:

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Looking back on my goals for 2018, I can say that I didn’t knock them all off my list, but that’s how it always goes, isn’t it? Maybe not, maybe you’re much better at this than I am. But I’m still proud of my half finished list, because a lot happened this year that wasn’t on my list, so I still feel like I came out ahead.

  • More time on hobbies, less time online: Check! But could use to do even better at this. I still spend too much time online.
  • Read the entire bible: Opps. I started strong and then faded out.
  • Be more aware of what I’m eating: Check! My diet has been so great this last year, really unrecognizable from 2017.
  • Being a better friend: Half check? I did better some months than others.
  • Read more than 30 books: I read about ten, but to be fair they were all over 600 pages. That counts, right??
  • Finish writing two novels: I finished one! Still not bad!
  • Wean myself off sleeping pills: Check, haven’t taken one in months!

Now for my upcoming goals for 2019:

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Goals for 2018:

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New year, same me, but I’m hopefully going to make some improvements. I had started a yearly recap post, but I decided to toss it after realizing that all I could seem to say was that this was a year of reflection and painfully slow process. It all needed to happen, though, and somehow I’ve managed to make great strides without much physical movement.

I feel more awake and aware than I have in a long time, so I figure I’ll make some goals for 2018 since I know some of these things need to start happening. I’m not going to call them resolutions, though, because those are supposed to be firm decisions, and I never seem to hold too firm to mine, so here’s to revisiting these every month and realistically trying to keep up with them.

  • More time on hobbies, less time online: Alright, I’ve only talked about this in a dozen posts (x, x, and many more) but I need to seriously cut back on social media and invest it in reading, writing, my horse, photography, friends, even this blog (just less scrolling through dozens of feeds).
  • Read the entire bible: That’s right, the entire thing- in order. The other day I picked it up for the first time in a while and I had one of my faith based questions answered right away, it made me realize how I really hadn’t covered enough of the text and always went back to my “favorite” sections.
  • Be more aware of what I’m eating: I need to be eating less sugar because I have Lyme Disease, but I’ve also recently been added snack foods that have ingredients lists I can pronounce. I realized how many chemicals I’ve been processing on a daily bases, and though I’ll never be a purest, trying to move towards more organic food would be good for me. Especially with snack brands that make it insanely easy.
  • Being a better friend: I’ve gotten so I talk to my friends less, and it wasn’t on purpose! Some of it was being sick, some of it was starting work, but none of it was okay, so I need to get better at being the friend a friend would like to have. (funny- I’ve talked about this one before too. You can tell how good my follow through is.)
  • Read more than 30 books: Last year I wrote over 400 Word pages, but I hardly read a thing. So I’m trying to find a little more of a balance. I’m starting strong, we’re on the second day of 2018 and I finished one of the books I started in December.
  • Finish writing two novels: This shouldn’t be too terrible. I finished one at the very end of November, and I have two that are 80% done, along with one that is in the beginning stages. I’d really like to finish all three of them, but I’m trying not to get too carried away.
  • Wean myself off sleeping pills: I’ve become reliant on sleeping pills to get a good night’s rest. I know what I have to do to pull back- less screen time before bed, a better diet, more exercise- but I haven’t seemed to care enough to do it. So here’s to getting my sleep on, naturally.

So here is to a new year, to a metaphorical clean slate, and here’s to you and what you’ll get done during it.

Your dreams don’t have to be big.

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In college I remember being hit upside the head with a realization.

My dreams are boring.

Everyone around me was talking about big dreams. They were talking about changing the world. They were talking about having the kinds of jobs that only a select number get to enjoy. They wanted to be professional nomads, traveling the world and working digitally. The ones that didn’t care about work had huge adventure bucket lists. They’d talk for hours about their plans, some of which that sounded so big that it’s hard to believe they could happen. Then they would turn to me and say “Anna, what do you want?”

“A house on the outskirts of town. A husband. Some kids. A horse. A job that allows me to afford it.”

“That’s it?”

“It’d be really awesome if I could get some of my novels published too. I’d like to have people read them.”

That’s all I want, those are my biggest dreams. They say shoot for the moon and if you miss you’ll land among the stars, but maybe I want to land on a three acre lot somewhere in North Carolina.

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