At the beginning of 2015 one of my main goals or ambitions was to find easy to implement lifestyle changes that would have an impact and help bring balance to my life. As I've mentioned before, not only do I want to chase my dreams but I want to make them a reality.
I think taking care of yourself both physically and mentally is absolutely vital in order to be able to achieve this. Why? Because if you're not feeling your best how can you bring your A-game to your goals? How can you find the stamina to keep going through the hard times?
Not to mention, that if everything feels difficult and impossible it's going to suck the passion and fun out of it making it harder to keep going.
So how do you achieve this when your to-do list is already a mile long and you can't imagine taking on anything else? By starting SMALL!
I don't know about you but I often lean towards 'go big or go home' approach yet the reality is that in order to for something to be effective it’s better not to overwhelm yourself.
But where or how to start?
Here are five simple changes that I've made that have had a major impact in my life. To be honest, when I first started I was very skeptical as to how big of impact these small changes would have.
The result? I’m feeling good about myself! Plus I’m eager to keep going! This comes not only from executing these small changes but also from feeling proud that I’m sticking to them.
It’s also definitely made me more open-minded to give other tricks and tips a try instead of quickly dismissing them like before. Trust me this was definitely an experiment lol.
And as a quick side note, none of the links below are affiliate links. I've purchased anything mentioned with my own money and genuinely suggest them to you because they’ve had an impact in my life and I want the same for you :)
Drinking H2O with Lemon
For some time I had been hearing about the many benefits of starting your day by drinking a glass of lemon water before breakfast. Apparently doing this every morning helps get your metabolism going for the day, helps your digestive track, and the vitamin C in lemons helps boost your immune system. Not to mention that my mom had also heard about the benefits and kept suggesting that I give it a try ;)
In February, I decided that I wanted to start building this habit. I made the conscious decision to start small and aimed and drinking it least three times a week for the first week. Once I had accomplished that I increased it to four times a week, then five times and so on. I also took advantage of the month at glance pages my planner to track my progress.
For each day that I drank the lemon water I would put a yellow sticker dot that I got at the dollar-store. Not the prettiest stickers but hey it got the job done. This system actually reminded me of 1st grade lol. The teacher would put a gold-star next to each student's name as a reward for not speaking English during French class.
It so funny how seeing all those little dots increase week by week gave me sense of accomplishment.
By the end of March I was drinking the lemon water 6 times a week, and that was mostly because Tuesdays I started my job earlier and struggled a little more with the morning routine. Now over six months later I don't need to track it anymore.
It's become automatic.
I've even come up with a system to take the lemon water on the road with me when I start earlier. On the very rare days when that for any reason I don’t do it, I would have this nagging feeling all day that I had forgotten something.
I've noticed it has made a significant difference in how I feel and in my eating habits. I feel lighter and (warning TMI) the bloating I had been feeling for months has significantly decreased. Not to mention that if you’re working on drinking more water each day, you already start off your day on the right foot. Talk about multitasking lol.
Personally, I also feel that it’s helps me better digest on days when I decide to indulge on my favourite not-so-healthy foods. And I definitely thinking it is one of the contributing factors to why I haven’t been sick as often.
Five Minute Journal
A few years ago while browsing YouTube I stumbled upon Mimi Ikonn’s channel and instantly subscribed when I discovered that she lived in Toronto (at the time) and had started her own business with her husband Alex while living in the basement of her in-laws.
I loved Mimi's story mostly because it inspired me, motivated and showed me that I could do the same if I set my mind and heart to it. If you have a few minutes definitely check out this video that tells you a bit more about her story. I think my favourite thing about this couple is their attitude and view towards life.
Recently I decided to make the investment and purchased the Five Minute Journal (you can find it here or here). The journal created by Alex, Mimi and their friend Uj Ramdas, aims at providing an option for the busiest person to have an opportunity to journal.
They describe it as the toothbrush for the mind. The time commitment is 5 minutes a day (2.5 minutes in the morning and 2.5 minutes at night) where you have prompts to help you focus on the positive things in your life now and in the future. The journal includes an introduction to explain why journaling and gratitude is scientifically proven to make a difference in a person's level of happiness and challenges the reader to make a commitment of only five days.
So I decided to make that promise and stick to it. Now over a month later, it is eye opening and I’m loving it!
I actually look forward to it every morning and night and have made it a non-negotiable part of my routine.
Why? Because it makes me smile, it makes problems during my day not seem so intense, it puts my mind in a good place when I start my day and when I end it :) What more can you ask for from something that takes only 5-minutes a day.
This is something I've done on and off for years. Personally I've always found it makes a difference, even if it's just a multivitamin or vitamin C. Especially with winter around the corner. I prefer not to share which ones I take as I have absolutely no background or training in this field and wouldn't want to suggest something that wouldn't suit your current health situation. What I can suggest that you look into taking at least a multivitamin and speak to your doctor, local pharmacist or doing some quick safe research on reliable sites.
Try and take vitamins or supplements that will help you with something you're already dealing with. For instance, I was dealing with some hormone related acne and started taking a supplement that helps clear that.
It's something small that you can do for yourself that will boost your energy levels and make you feel good about yourself.
Plus it is the rare person that is able to acquire all the vitamins and minerals that our bodies need on daily basis from their diet alone.
Exercising For 7 Minutes
For as long as I can remember, I've been trying to figure out a exercise routine that I can stick to on a regular basis. My biggest reason for wanting to do this is simply that it's good for me. We all know it, so I'm not going to preach to you the long list of benefits of incorporating exercise into your lifestyle.
Personally, the two reasons that resonate the most with me is that when I do make the effort I gain more energy, which when you're trying to balance multiple passions it is a definite necessity. The second is that I've always heard that exercise causes an endorphin, a chemical in your brain, to release. This chemical boosts your mood and make you happier.
Now who doesn’t want to feel happier?
Several months ago, while watching this video on YouTube I learnt about a 7-Minute exercise app. Now I know what you’re probably thinking ‘what the heck is 7 minutes going to do!?’ Although that was my initial thought as well it was quickly followed by ‘7 minutes is better than nothing no?’ Plus the app was free so why not give it a chance? Worse case I just got back to not working out lol.
So I did and I’m ashamed to tell tell you that the first time I tried this 7-Minute app I was on the floor by the end of it lol.
But you know what? It felt awesome and it really didn’t take that long.
Similar to adding the lemon water to my routine, I gave myself a goal to work out twice a week and then slowly increased from there. Shortly after feeling motivated, I downloaded this ab workout app that offers 5-minute ab routine and incorporated that as well. I also started stretching for 5 minutes before each workout.
Now don’t get me wrong it didn’t happen overnight and I definitely still skip a few days here and here. Yet the fact that I was trying, and that there more yes days than no days is the important part. And by slowly adding the other apps I’ve ended up with a 20-30 minute workout that’s adaptable if my schedule gets crazy.
What I love about these types of apps is that with a push of a button you have a voice telling you what exercise to-do and for how long. Less thinking, more doing. And please don’t feel any obligation to use the one I used - their are plenty of free options out there. Here are a few I’ve tried (here and here).
The point is to pick one and try it!
See if this might be a feasible option for you. I'm not guaranteeing you'll stick to it, what I'm saying is that it's another option and that it might just be the one that works. And if it doesn't, then you're no worse off because they're free lol.
One habit that may not seem obvious but I think is vital to develop is rewarding yourself. This helps in not only achieve your goals but also make you happier. It doesn't need to be complicated or expensive. Something as simple as picking up your favourite coffee or tea or making plans with a friend or buying that gorgeous gold-foil notebook you’ve you had your eye on.
Now don’t get me wrong, if you want to pick something bigger such as a weekend getaway then go for it!
It’s totally based your tastes and passions. The point is to pick something you love and that will motivate you on days where you just have absolutely no desire to keep going. And trust me, we ALL have those days. Sometimes my biggest challenge is having the discipline to give myself the swift kick in the pants that I need.
Setting rewards helps you associate something positive with a something that may have not been your favourite thing to do. It give you something to look forward and it’s a positive reinforcement which you will (hopefully) want to repeat. I’m actually planning to write a more in depth blog post about the topic of rewards and consequences, but it was important to me to share with you what has been working for me so that hopefully you can gain some inspiration.
What I'm Trying Next...
Personally my next habit that I'm testing is going for walks on a regular basis when I get home from work and enjoying the outdoors more. It's incredible the impact going for a short walk and getting some fresh air can have on your mood and creativity.
There's nothing to prevent you from starting these habits or any other habit today. The only way that you can figure what works for you is to give it a try but remember not to be hard on yourself. If you're like me and tend to be hard on yourself, think of it as an experiment rather than a commitment you’re making that you might fail at. It’s like trying a new flavour of ice cream….sort of lol.
Make it a goal that by the end of the year so it becomes part of your routine that you don't even need to track it anymore. It just becomes automatic.
What about you?
What habit are you going to experiment with?
I would love to hear about it the comments below or feel free to send me a message here.