Becoming a Better Me: 3 Months Later

Not gonna lie. I never thought I’d make it to three months into this whole process. In fact, I questioned whether I’d make it through the first 30 days. But, here I am! Stubbornness for the win!

As I mentioned previously, I took some “before” pictures of myself. I took those pictures on March 1st, because that’s when I was determined to make some changes for myself….. Fast forward to April 1st, and that’s when I actually initiated said changes. Better late than never, right?

Well, this morning, I had Hubby take some “after” pictures. I was kind of excited because I just knew the physical changes were awesome. Hubby couldn’t wait to see them side by side. He’s witness my progress and also knew the changes were pretty huge.

I wasn't going to post these for obvious reasons, but then figured some of you may ask. Clearly, the change has been staggering. #sarcasm
Clearly, the change has been staggering. #sarcasm

Except they weren’t. Obviously.

My ego was a bit put out by this. What the heck? I’ve been working my tail off for 3 months, changing my eating habits completely, exercising every flipping day, and there is very little noticeable difference?!?! I must different by now! I have muscles, for crying out loud! 

Then, in the middle of my ego-temper-tantrum, I remembered something. Something very important. I didn’t start this journey to look better. I started this journey to feel better. Looking better, should that happen, would just be a pleasant side effect.

After this realization, I thought about it. How do I feel after three months?

In a word? Amazing.

It took some time to get to this point. During the first four to six weeks, “amazing” was not at all what I was feeling. But something shifted between weeks six and eight, and then even more after that. I started to feel good, and then I started to feel great. I have more energy. I leave the house more often. I think more clearly with no more brain fog. I feel more confident in what I say and do, and just in myself in general. I look better to myself, even if it’s negligible in pictures. My clothes fit better. My skin is clearer. My eyes are brighter. I feel…. lighter. Many of the issues I started with have been resolved. For example, I did not get a hormonal migraine headache this month for the first time in probably two years. I’m sleeping better and actually wake feeling refreshed most of the time. Even better? My attitude is different. For the first time in a long time, I’m not pessimistic about everything. I went from a “yeah, but….” type of person to someone who sees a great future in front of me. I make better choices, whether it’s about what I’m going to eat or what I’m going to do or what I’m going to think about. I feel hopeful instead of constantly worried and overwhelmed. I am much less stressed, and events that typically would’ve caused me to meltdown no longer have that power. I feel more level-headed. Little things don’t bother me so much. I’m more even-tempered and less likely to either go off the deep end or throw a pity party for myself. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I hosted a pity party for myself!

It’s crazy.

The funny thing is, when this all started, the phrase “lifestyle change” was tossed around a lot. I would smile and nod, because of course I would change my lifestyle and tell you whatever you want to hear, while inside I was laughing my butt off and saying no way – I like my wine and coffee and desserts too much! And I hate exercising! But something happened. I feel too good to go back. Now, I have most everything back that I took out of my diet. At the moment, I’m still gluten and refined sugar free, I avoid soy based items and processed foods, but I’ve gotten back dairy and wine and coffee and such. And I’m making more intentional choices about these things. I know now, for example, if I have more than one glass of wine, I’m not going to sleep well and I’m going to feel a bit sluggish and headachy the next day. I know that if I choose to eat a little too much cheese, I will experience pain and bloating later. I know that more than one cup of coffee will give me an “off” feeling in the afternoon. I know that if I eat something carb-ish at night without adding some protein, I will not sleep well. And if I don’t eat or snack regularly, or if I skip a meal? My crazy starts to come back out. I’m learning what’s worth it, and what’s not. What to do, and what not to do. And gluten? I never in a zillion years thought I’d  be able to live without it, let alone want to avoid it. I have had a little recently, once unintentionally, and once in the form of a delicious crusted tilapia filet. I  had no ill-effects that I noticed, so it appears I have no physical “issues” with gluten. But I know that it will quite possibly be my undoing, so I’m leaving it out, indefinitely. I’m making better choices. That doesn’t mean I won’t ever eat a sandwich, or make my favorite cookies or brownies again. And the Butterfinger I have in my freezer from Easter is still waiting for me…. But, for now, I know I can live without it, so I am.

And my exercising….. wow. Who would’ve thought I’d become borderline obsessed with making sure I can get my workout in?! Over the course of three months, I’ve missed a grand total of three workouts. Just three – and that’s only because we were camping. I refuse to miss a workout, especially when I don’t feel like it. It’s become a game – a mental tug of war between the lazy, old me and the better, new me. So far, the better me keeps winning.  I’ve now completed the full 8-week 22 Minute Hard Corps program (plus an extra week of it just for kicks), and I just completed the 21 Day Fix program. Not sure what’s up next, but I feel pretty confident that I will not fall off the wagon this time. It may take only 21 days to form a habit, but I want a solid three months, just to be safe!

So, yeah, I’d say this becoming a better me journey is working. And I now wholeheartedly believe it’s been worth it. I still have about two months to go until I’ve completed the program with my doctor, but so far, the results, while not outwardly visible to most, have been more than I could have hoped for.

Becoming a Better Me: Supplements

This isn't even all of them. At least three other supplements were used up and tossed before I thought to take a picture!
This isn’t even all of them. At least three other supplements were used up and tossed before I thought to take a picture!

While this journey to becoming a better me is a lot about diet, I have been getting some additional help in the form of supplements from my chiropractor. Lots and lots of supplements. I’m regularly taking multiple pills and making different drinks with powdered concoctions. Some pills I take once a day, others a take with each meal, some I take every other day. Sometimes it’s one pill, sometimes it’s two pills twice a day. Luckily, I have the dosages written out on the caps of each bottle to keep track of what I need to take and when!

So, what do these little pills and drops and powders do? I have no idea. I mean, my chiro has been awesome with explaining everything, including why these will help me, but I can’t seem to keep them all straight. I know the ClearVite I take daily is to help detox my liver and gallbladder, the pill I take with meals helps with digestion, some of the pills I used in the beginning helped to get rid of the chronic infections, others are to help stabilize my hormones, some to repair my gut, others are for ….. I don’t know. But they were each explained to me, in detail, when they were first given to me.

Can diet alone make good, lasting changes in your body? Possibly. Will good quality supplements used at the advice of your health care practitioner help? I believe so, yes. My lab work shows that things in my body just aren’t working the way they are supposed to, and these supplements along with the diet changes are helping to correct that. The goal is to get my body working the way it’s meant to work and then stop the supplements, or only take certain ones as needed. Fortunately, I have access to great supplements, like the OmegaGize³™ pictured above. With my chiropractor’s permission I am able to use my Young Living supplements whenever possible. Bonus!

I’m nearly 7 weeks into the program at this point and still in the reintroduction phase. I’ll post soon about how I’m feeling and the changes I’m noticing, as well as what those around me (like Hubby) are noticing.

So far, so good!

 

 

 

Becoming a Better Me: Diet II

Some of the things I've been eating all month!
Some of the things I’ve been eating all month!

30 days of no grains.
30 days of no dairy.
30 days of no sweeteners or processed foods of any kind.
30 days of no caffeine.
30 days of no alcohol.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? And that’s not even the full list of no-no’s during my initial 30 day diet!

So, what did I eat for 30 days? I wish I could tell you. If I had kept a food journal, this post would be much easier to write. But I didn’t because, well, it just didn’t cross my mind. And I was really, really grumpy in the beginning, so odds are I wouldn’t have kept up with it anyway…

We’ve been eating a lot of eggs. (I’m on a modified AIP diet, so I’m allowed eggs and nuts. Woohoo!) We have easily been going through 4 dozen eggs each week at my house, and only three of us eat them. Thank goodness for Costco! Also, avocados, which sounds awesome until you realize you can’t have them as guacamole with chips (because no corn) or salsa (because tomatoes are also on my “no-no” list). I mean, I love me some avocados, but still. Sweet potatoes. I’ve eaten more sweet potatoes in the last month than I had in all the years of my life prior to this past month. Luckily, those have kinda grown on me and I’ve been enjoying them, especially when sautéed with some onion in bacon fat. Yum. I’ve also been inhaling almonds. I grab a handful of raw almonds as a snack with berries and carry them with me everywhere I go. Another favorite snack – apples with almond butter. Delish. And just spoonfuls of almond butter. That has become my dessert of choice since I have no other options. Obviously we’re eating a lot more meat and veggies. A lot more. Especially since we can’t get eat the usual “fillers” like rice or pasta or even beans (also no-no’s). The good news is that by eating this way, we’re getting a ton more nutrients in our diets. The bad news is that it’s putting a serious dent in our budget.

I keep saying “we” because I wasn’t going to do this alone. Actually, scratch that. I wasn’t going to buy/cook foods that I couldn’t eat. So really, there was no choice for Hubby and the kiddos. I’ve kept very little dairy or gluten products in the house, so everyone has had to adjust a bit. No bread. No cheese. No baked goods. The kids have been getting long-grain rice cooked in bone broth or brown rice noodles with their dinner on occasion, as well as gluten free cereal some mornings. I decided that was tolerable and necessary for my sanity. The amazing thing is, the kids have actually been eating. Turns out they will eat more than just plain noodles, chicken nuggets, or cheese quesadillas! Who knew?

The first week we had planned on a ton of new recipes. I spent hours in the kitchen. I ruined things, burned things, didn’t like most of the things (cilantro was in many recipes, and it turns out that I really don’t love cilantro), and basically was just miserable. The timing on “experimenting” was horrible because I was already a cranky beast. I was getting zero coffee, zero sugar, and zero wine. In hindsight, my planning was definitely not well thought out. By day three I was ready to quit. Fortunately, day three was also a doctor’s appointment, and she talked me off my ledge.

Week two was better in the food department because I just decided we’d be boring. I don’t do fancy in the kitchen (unless it involves baked goods, and this most certainly does not). That’s how we started on eggs most mornings, salads or leftovers for lunch, and basic dinners consisting of meat and veggies. Nothing fancy. Pork chops with roasted brussel sprouts. Chicken breasts with broccoli. Pot roast with sweet potatoes. You know, “normal” foods that I could actually make without bursting into tears. The second week was much better than the first.

But something was missing… Pancakes. I attempted to find some recipes so I could feel like we were eating “real” pancakes, even though I couldn’t have butter or syrup. *sigh* I did manage to find a recipe that I tweaked and all of us enjoyed. Well, the kids loved them, but I think it was really just because it’s been so long since they had “real” pancakes that they imagined they were better than they actually were. Hubby and I just tolerated them. I also attempted a “cookie” recipe that the kids won’t touch (and I don’t really blame them), but I eat because it “feels” like a cookie, even if it doesn’t taste like one. The lack of baking has definitely taken a toll on me because that’s the one thing I enjoy doing in the kitchen.

We did, however, find recipes that we really and truly do love. We have a turkey sausage recipe that we all enjoy, and we’ve been making at least 2 pounds each weekend to have during the week. Hubby and I love sweet potato hash, whether it’s at breakfast topped with fried eggs or dinner with some leftover chicken mixed into it. And the best one? Bacon burgers. We chop the bacon and mix it into the seasoned burger meat and grill it to perfection. Topped with grilled onions, it’s to die for. (No bun of course.)

Now, I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that it was an awesome 30 days. It wasn’t. I was cranky a lot the first half and had my bad days throughout the month. I still want donuts and wine and cheese and wine and coffee and did I mention wine? I had hoped that the 30 days would “break” me of wanting those things, but no such luck. There were many days that I felt crabby and wondered if it was even going to be worth it. I distinctly remember one day telling myself, “there’s not really anything that wrong with me, so I don’t really need to be doing this…” But I stuck with it. I have no idea how, to be honest, because I am not known for willpower, but I made it all the way through my 30 days with no cheating. Actually, that’s a lie. I cheated on accident when I tasted a smoothie I made for the kids and it had yogurt in it. But it wasn’t a purposeful cheat, so I don’t think that counts as a real cheat. Right?

Now that my 30 days are over, how do I feel?

First of all, I’m starving all the time. I am eating three meals a day plus at least two snacks – more than I ever used to eat! With the amount of food I’m eating, you would think that I would feel full often. But no, I am always hungry. Amazing what happens when you take out all the empty calories and fillers. I just ate a pretty big meal about an hour ago, in fact, and I’m realizing that I’m hungry again as I’m sitting here. Pumpkin and Hubby are the same way. The three of us are constantly famished. Peanut, not so much, but she’s also the one not really eating like I am because she’s the pickiest. I’m not sure why I’m always hungry, but I am. So I just keep on eating.

Now, I was kind of expecting a moment somewhere during the diet when the heavens open and the angels sing and the sun shines down on me and I suddenly feel awesome. Because I really, really want to feel awesome…. but that hasn’t happened. Instead, my body is working better. (Please don’t ask me to explain. Just trust me.) I think I’m sleeping a little better, and I’m getting up early without too much struggle. And energy? I don’t necessarily feel it, but I must have more energy. I mean, I’m not bouncing off the walls and cleaning every corner of my house (wouldn’t that be a nice side-effect?), but I’m not lethargic during the day. I’m not having to spend time on the couch because I just.can’t.move. I’m actually busy and productive during the day and into the night. I’ve been out and about frequently during the last couple weeks, and that’s unheard of for a self-proclaimed hermit like me. I’m even still dressed by the time Hubby gets home from work in the evening instead of in my robe on the couch in mombie-mode.

As cheesy as it sounds, things also seem brighter to me. I remember driving back from a doctor’s appointment one morning and noticing how blue the sky looked and how bright and cheerful everything seemed. I even rolled my eyes at myself for thinking it, but it’s true. Life just seems better. Am I happy all the time? Of course not. But I think I’ve been happier and less stressed lately. And that’s a win for me!

Ok, so, now what?

I’m only one month into a five month program. I’ve just entered the re-introduction phase. On Wednesday I got some foods back like nightshades (tomatoes and peppers!) and all fruit (bananas!). I also can have beans again (hummus!) and sweeteners like honey and maple syrup within reason. (We have to keep my blood sugar levels consistent.) Those are my “go for it” foods that I can have as long as I have no ill effects. We’re also slowly adding other things back in, one at a time every 4 days. I asked for wine, but that was a no-go. (Sad but not surprising.) Instead, I settled for oats. That gives me something else for breakfast besides eggs. After four days, if I have no reactions to the oats, I can add rice (and rice pasta). I figure that’s a good second step because, again, it opens up so much more for meals. Next week we get to decide on two more items to add back.

I think I’ll try the wine again.

I’ll keep you posted as I move along!

 

Becoming a Better Me: Diet I

Ah, yes. Diet. The word just about all people love to hate.

Let’s clear up what my “diet” is and is not, shall we? First of all, my diet is NOT for me to lose weight. Hubby has lost some weight by following this diet (mostly) with me, but that is not the goal for me. That being said, it is a nice side effect. Next, this diet was NOT my idea. At all. In fact, this diet basically took away all that I love to eat and drink. There is no way I would do that to myself without really good reason. Heck, even with a really good reason it was hard to decide to do it! So, why am I putting myself through it…..?

If you read my why post, you know that things needed to change with me. I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t tell you exactly what. I was tired, unmotivated, depressed and easily overwhelmed, plus I had actual physical issues like migraine headaches, recurrent UTI’s, digestive problems, and other things that, while not life threatening, were nonetheless taking away from my every day living. Something just wasn’t right. So, I went to get outside help.

To start this process, I had a neurological workup done and a huge questionnaire packet to fill out. From there, we moved on to comprehensive lab work to find out what was actually going on with me. Turns out, I’m not crazy! There are actual, real, measurable problems that need to be addressed. Nothing too serious, but had I continued on the path I was going without intervention, things would have gotten much worse. I’d love to explain it all to you, but to be honest, I don’t think I could. It all made sense when my doctor explained it to me and broke each test result down, but as soon as I left the office, the information was just a mishmash of long words. But the lab results did show that there are real reasons for my all of my issues. That in itself made me feel a better. At least there is something to work with – something to be “fixed”. It’s not just all in my head!

Let food by thy  medicine and medicine be thy food.

~ Hippocrates

First step in fixing my issues is to fix my gut. I’m a firm believer that most of the population in this country has gut issues because of the “foods” we regularly eat. What most people don’t realize is how important a healthy gut is to our overall health. I’ve done some reading on it in the past but was still blown away when my doctor tied everything I’ve been dealing with to gut (and liver) issues. I’m by no means an expert so I won’t weigh in too much on all this, other than with what I’m experiencing personally.

So, how does one fix their gut? By eliminating foods. A lot of foods. Foods that I consume regularly. And you know what? That’s really, really hard to do! My doctor put me on a 30 day modified RepairVite program, which is an AIP (auto-immune protocol) diet. I call it Paleo on steroids because it’s more restrictive than Paleo, but along the same lines. Basically, it takes out everything. No grains, no dairy, no sugars of any kind (natural or otherwise), no nightshades (peppers, tomatoes, etc), no soy, no beans or legumes, no high-glycemic fruits like bananas and dried fruits, no condiments because they usually contain gluten, no caffeine, no alcohol…… There are a lot of “no”s in this diet. (Did you see the no coffee and no wine?!?!) Fortunately, I have no autoimmune issues so I am allowed to have eggs and nuts (just not peanuts). That’s why my diet is “modified”. For 30 days, this has been my life. There were a bunch of times when I wanted to quit, but I didn’t. There were loads of times I wanted to cheat, but I didn’t. If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right!

And I did.

Next up, what I have been eating, and any changes I’ve noticed….

 

Becoming a Better Me: Fitness

Necessities each morning. And water. Lots of water.
Necessities each morning. And water. Lots of water.

I am working on “becoming a better me” both inside and out. In order to get the “outside” part improved, it means exercise. And hard work. And good habits. None of these things have been strengths of mine over the last few years decade.

Back in the day, I was in pretty good shape. I was strong for a girl my size. I remember lifting in college and getting a kick out of shocking the shorts off the guys in the weight room.

“Here, let me help you with that.” says random guy.

“Nah, I’m good.” I say with a smirk and an eyeroll, then smash out my reps.

Guy picks jaw up from floor. 

Ok, maybe it wasn’t quite like that, but it’s my story so I’m sticking with it. Either way, I have not been that girl in a long, long time. She was tough. She was strong. She was confident.

I want her back.

I’ve been able to stick with short term fitness goals for myself when I set them. Run a few days here. Yoga a few times there. The problem is, I’d always stop. I’d skip a day or two, and instead of getting back at it, I’d make excuses and just be done. Then any benefit was erased. And you know what? I’m kinda tired of that. I know I feel better when I exercise. I know I sleep better when I exercise. I know I ultimately will look better when I exercise. So why don’t I just suck it up and do it!?

So, I am. Sucking it up, I mean.

I committed to an 8-week program from BeachBody called 22 Minute Hard Corps. Someone showed it to me and I knew it was right up my alley. So, six days a week (SIX!!), I get up and do my workout. It has a schedule all set up so there is no thinking on my part (which is good because it’s early and I’m currently off coffee). I just push the DVD button and get to work. And, like he says in the videos, “it’s only 22 minutes…..”

And it sucks and it’s awesome all at the same time.

This program is tough. I have to modify many of the exercises, and I can’t always do all the reps they do. But I’m still working. And I’m sweating. And I’m getting stronger. And I’m seeing results.

I took “before” pictures, and I plan to take “after” pictures. (Jury is still out whether or not I post them.) I did all the measurements like they say to do, and I even did the fitness test at the beginning so I can measure my progress at the end. Curiosity, and my vanity, got the best of me.

I’ll be starting week 6 tomorrow morning, and I haven’t skipped a single workout. That means on the days when I woke up with a headache, I still did the workout. On the days I was exhausted because I was up with a child the night before, I still did the workout. On the days I just didn’t want to, I still did the workout. On the days I didn’t think I’d have time, I got up earlier and still did the workout. I’ve completed five straight weeks and allowed myself zero excuses. You know what that means? That means I have no reason, ever, to skip my workouts. If I made it through a full month cycle and managed to keep it up, there is no reason why I can’t continue. Right?

(For full disclosure, I have a little extra motivation. Hubby will reward me with dinner anywhere I want if I make it through the 8 weeks without skipping a day. A little external reason to keep it up helps. Especially when my reward dinner will include an amazing steak at one of my favorite restaurants.)

Now, in order to be sure I don’t just stop after I complete the program, which is what I’ve always done in the past when I’ve reached the end of a goal, I need to have a plan. I need to start the 8 weeks over again or have some other schedule in place. I haven’t gotten that far, but you’d better believe that the plan will be in place during the last week of this program. I do not want to go backwards from the progress I’ve made!

This commitment is relatively short-term. 8 weeks is good, but I need this to become a lifestyle change. I want to be healthy and fit as I get older. I want to be in amazing shape by the time I’m 40. So, #fitby40 is the new goal. I have plenty of time to get there. (Sort of.)

That’s what I’ve been doing to become a better me in terms of fitness. I will start running again after my 8 weeks are up, assuming Mother Nature gets her act together. I will look into other home workouts now that I have a nice little set up in the basement. I will re-enroll at my local gym so Hubby and I can work out together. Baby steps toward long term progress and lifestyle changes.

Up next, the diet I’m doing….. Stay tuned!

Oh, and no, I’m not a BeachBody coach or rep or whatever they are called, and I’m not getting anything by mentioning the videos. But I do love this workout!

 

#5amclub

It’s been about a week since I started myself on a 5am Club routine. And you know what? It’s been remarkably easy for me.

This makes no sense in my head because I reeeeaaaallllyyyyy like sleep. You know those people who need very little rest and have an “I’ll get plenty of sleep when I’m dead” attitude? That’s the opposite of me. If I could stay in bed for 10 or 12 hours, that would be heaven. Maybe it’s because that’s the only break I have in my day, but bedtime is definitely my favorite time. Well, after wine time, of course.

So, what gives? Why have I not struggled at all since I started? How have I managed to wake up and even get out of bed before my alarm a few times? (I admit, starting this during the weekend of the time change was genius. Accidental genius, but genius nonetheless! )

First of all, I’ve still been getting plenty of sleep. I’ve been in bed by 9pm most nights, and I’ve been falling asleep pretty much immediately. (I am NOT a night owl. Once the sun goes down, I’m ready to go down as well.) In fact, I’ve learned that 8 hours of sleep must be my sweet spot because on the two nights where I was so exhausted that I went to bed by 8:30, I was awake on my own by 4:30 and ready to start the day. Of course, if I start having interrupted sleep from small people in my house, I’m sure I won’t be nearly as rested… but so far that hasn’t been the case. *knock on wood*

The main reason I’ve been excited to start my day at 5am? Peace and quiet. I’ve been getting up and having time all to myself. I don’t have that during “normal” hours. My kids are up early, and Hubby comes home when they’re getting ready for bed, so I never have time just for me. Yes, there have been occasional hours here and there where the kids are outside playing and I’m technically “alone”, but those times are filled with laundry or dishes or cooking or cleaning or guilt about all the other things I should be doing. So daytime hours are not mine.

But at 5am, I’m alone. It’s dark and it’s quiet. The day hasn’t started. There is nothing that I have to be doing for the kids or the husband or the house. (Well, I have to let Daisy out, but I can handle that.) I have time to just focus on me. So, what have I been doing during my 60+ minutes of solitude before others wake up?

First I have my big glass of water. I started this habit in January, and I’m quite proud that I’ve managed to keep it up. I drink at least 16oz of water with lemon oil, supplements and such before I let myself have coffee. Did you catch that? Before I let myself have coffee. I put a major consequence in there for waiting too long on the water in the morning. Talk about motivation!

After that, I stretch a little. I’ve been trying to do some of the basic stretches I learned in my yoga class. I love yoga, yet somehow managed to stop going right when I was getting decent at some of the poses. Do you know what happens when you stop going to yoga and then later try to stretch at home? You realize that you’re getting old, stiff, and make weird cracking noises. Sigh. I also started to do push ups after I stretch a little. I do five “good” push ups for now. And hey, five is way better than none, right? (Baby steps, people!) It’s a huge bummer for me to only be at five because, back in the day, I was strong. (That’s one of the things I plan to will work on for myself, but that’s another post….) For now, five it is, and I’ll work my way back up. Gotta start somewhere, right?

After that I bring my well-earned cup of coffee down to my art studio in the basement. No, I’m not back in touch with my inner artist – yet. I go down there to read my Bible. It’s the only room in the house that’s my own, has decent lighting, and doesn’t squeak when I walk. Spending a good 30+ minutes reading the Word and journaling about it gets my day going in the right direction, and I could use all the help I can get. I’m working through Proverbs now because I wasn’t sure what else to do. I do a chapter each morning. (For those of you who don’t know, there are 31 chapters in Proverbs, so a chapter a day works for a month-long study.)

Ultimately I’d like to add more during this amazing time that I’ve made for myself. I’d like to run again (when it’s warm). I’d like to pick up a paintbrush again. I’d like to write more. But for now, I’ll stick with my baby steps of stretching, push ups, and reading. Once my habit is securely set, then I’ll start tweaking.

Until then, it’s early to bed for me!

And yay for those of you who are up with me! YOU are part of the reason I get my booty up – I know I need to put my wake-up post on my Facebook page! So thank you!

 

Towels and toilets

20150106_092903

I have a confession. I am a horrible housekeeper.

It’s true. I know at some point in the past I was pretty good at it. In fact, I remember enjoying cleaning the house. It was nice to have rooms sparkly and clean, and it gave me a great deal of satisfaction when it all looked perfect!

And then kids happened. Suddenly I lost the motivation to clean. Not to say it’s because of them that I don’t clean, of course. But you have to admit, it’s a lot easier to keep the house sparkly clean when (a) everyone in the home works full-time and is rarely there, and (b) there is no one living there under the age of 18. Once the little ones came about and I became a stay-at-home mom, it was a lot harder to keep up with the house. Impossible for me, in fact. How can you possibly keep anything clean when you finish an area, turn to start another, and the first is inexplicably trashed again? The perfectionist in me thought, “well, if I can’t keep the whole house clean at the same time, then why bother with any of it”. And it went downhill from there.

Now, I can fake it with the best of them. My house, at least the parts that people may actually see, looks presentable when necessary. I can pick up the clutter and quickly dust (maybe) and vacuum (sometimes), and I’m great at wiping down the bathrooms (at least one of them). But it’s not really been clean – deep, down clean – in….. years? Let’s see, we moved into this house about five and a half years ago, so I’d say the last time it was really clean would have been about five years ago.

Sigh.

So things have to change, but baby steps are definitely needed.

About three weeks ago, I dubbed Tuesdays as “towels and toilets” day. Basically, I’ll wash the towels and clean (and by “clean”, I mean wipe down the sinks, mirrors, and toilets) every Tuesday. That way I know it’s been done because there *may* have been times in the past when it wasn’t done every week. Or even every month. (Oh, honesty. Ugh.) So, I made this mini habit to do bare essentials every Tuesday. So far, so good.

Then today, I had an epiphany of sorts. What if, on the first Tuesday of every month, I actually clean the bathrooms? Like, for real clean? Then the other weeks I can maintain them until the first Tuesday of the following month. Eureka! A routine!

So, I got all my supplies and headed to our full bathroom, since the powder room was the most recently “for real” cleaned (but I won’t say when). Motivation high and I started scrubbing away. The sun was shining, music was blasting – I was even using a toothbrush in the crevices, people, that’s how motivated I was! I washed the walls, ceiling, shower, floor, even the grooves on the base of the toilet! You know, the part near the floor where all the dust and hair and grossness collect? Yep. Even cleaned there.

I’d love to tell you that the burst of motivation lasted, but about halfway through that bathroom I realized something. I realized that it was hard work. I realized that no matter how motivated I was, having a 4 year old there to “help” is bound to delay things. I realized that perhaps letting it get this bad was not the best move on my part. After two hours in one bathroom (yes, two hours, partly because it really needed a good scrubbing, partly because of my little helper and all her helping), I decided to leave the deep cleaning of the powder room til next week. So a quick wipe down happened instead. And that’s ok.

Baby steps, right?

Today, our main bathroom is “for real” clean, but not perfect. The shower curtains were washed, but the exhaust fan was not. The sink was scrubbed, but the shower isn’t as good as it probably should be. But you know what? It’s a really good start. And sometimes starting is the hardest part. And getting past that hardest part feels really good. And letting go of perfect feels really good, too. Mini win for me!

Next Tuesday, I’ll tackle our much smaller powder room and just maintain the main bathroom. Then, two weeks of quick wipe-downs before another bout of deep cleaning. If this works the way that I’m hoping it works and I actually follow through, that deep cleaning should take far less than two hours – for both bathrooms! And, if I can keep it up, I’ll start adding other rooms to deep clean during the other weeks of the month. This could be huge for me!

But we won’t rush things. Baby steps are all I need.