August 3-tiny steps of exercise

I am a high school English teacher. Teaching, despite what people think, is sometimes a very physically demanding job (on your feet all day). A lot of teachers get out of shape during the summer. I don’t think I am out of shape, but I am definitely not in “ready form” to begin school. School meetings start in 20 days. Starting today, I am doing the elliptical for one MORE minute each day so that 20 days from now, I am exercising for 20 minutes.

I am typing this after completing my one minute today. Tomorrow, I will do two minutes. The next day, three minutes and so on. This may seem silly to you and I won’t lie, it felt silly right now to complete the minute and then getting off the elliptical because I was “done for the day.” However, that is the secret sauce of tiny steps.

Today felt easy. I am motivated, not discouraged, to exercise again tomorrow. Could I have done more? Absolutely. But I have done that before (especially around Jan 1, wink wink) You have too, I know it. You get excited and motivated. You join a gym. You buy new sneakers or a fitness monitor. You workout and feel good and then the next day (or day after) you are sore so you push your workout to Wednesday. And then your kid gets sick so you don’t exercise the next day. Now, its Friday-because we ALWAYS start on a Monday! And its Friday, so you sleep a little later and have a donut at work and someone brought you a coffee and you are going out after work for drinks with your colleagues. Then its Saturday and Sunday and you are right back where you started. You had the best of intentions but life got in the way.

Here is where the tiny steps come in-I am not going to let life get in the way. I can do one minute. And tomorrow I can do two. No matter what. And I keep going until I feel like I can’t do anymore. Maybe its 20? Maybe its 30? Maybe 45? I don’t know. What I do know is that I will keep increasing the minutes until I feel like I “can’t.” And if that is only 15 minutes a day? Then it is 15 minutes more than I have previously been doing so that is good! I will be more ready for school this year than if I had done nothing, and that is the point. I will keep you posted on my progress!

Thank you to my 54 followers! Each morning on the elliptical, I will think of you. Keep it tiny!

August 2-tiny changes can make a BIG difference

I am sure you have heard the above phrase and have maybe even considered it. However, like most people you think that it is crazy and you blow it off. Well, I am here to tell you that you can’t blow off this statement.

Last night, I cleaned the fascia of our house. I am not sure if that is exactly the right word for it, but we are having gutters installed in the next week or so and I thought I would clean the little trim piece of the house that is right above the gutters and below the roof.

WOW. I mean wow. It looks SO much better. To the unsuspecting eye, I am sure it looks like nothing. To me, it looks like accomplishment, hard work, cleanliness and pride in home ownership. It may seem silly that cleaning that little piece of my house could do so much, but it really did. It was a tiny little change that makes me super proud. We got a W today.

In sports, getting a W means that you got a win. This clean part of trim is a win. We also (my husband mostly) built a fire pit yesterday. How can a simple metal ring with some pavers around it make you feel? AMAZING. Another win! These are not huge changes to the house. Yes, they required some sweat and hard work and a little bit of money. But they have both made a huge improvement to the house.

We bought a bit of a fixer upper house, something very new for us, and so we have been making small changes for the last 5 weeks. Similar to a person, a house needs love and this house had not gotten any love for quite some time. (Older owner, then mother with 5 kids), so we are putting the love back into it and just like a neglected child, there are good days and not so good days.

Today is a good day. Today is a W.

To my 52 followers, I hope you have a W today!

July 28-“I must break you”

I love the movie Rocky IV. I think it is one of the most inspirational movies ever. The music is great. The story behind it is great. Everything. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.

So there is a scene where Ivan Drago (Rocky’s opponent) tells him “I must break you” in the ring. Then he hits Rocky’s gloves and Rocky shakes a bit because Ivan hits them so hard.

I feel like Rocky. Recently I have had a few personal challenges that feel as tough as Ivan Drago. Just like Rocky, I got “hit in the gloves” and shook a little. It wasn’t fun. It hurt. It was scary. All the emotions that I am sure Rocky felt in that scene. But yesterday I made a decision…

I WILL NOT LET THIS BREAK ME. If you watch the movie, you know what happens (I won’t spoil it for you), but I feel like this must be what Rocky said to himself.

My tiny habit each day is just some simple self talk. I will not let these challenges break me. I am tougher than my “Ivan.” So to all of you out there that are facing some tough challenges, make a decision. Ask yourself-is this going to break you? Or are YOU going to break IT? I invite you to dig in and go for it. I know I am.

THANK YOU to my 52 followers! Keep your head up and your habits tiny!

July 25-be honest with yourself

I would love to be a professional writer. In my mind, a professional writer wakes up, drinks some coffee for inspiration, types out words that inspire and teach and entertain others, and then receives a check in the mail every few weeks that is more money that she can make at a “day job.”

I realize a lot of you are laughing out loud right now. The professional writer “dream” or “wish” is what I described above. It is kind of like wishing or dreaming of winning the lottery. It is something you want to have happen and you think it will make your life perfect if it does.

However, here’s the disconnect. You can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket and you can’t become a writer if you don’t put pen to paper. I understand the first one, so why am I struggling with the second one? I think it is because I want the fantasy of being a writer-a JK Rowling that puts an idea on cocktail napkins and then has more money than the Queen of England. But fantasy does not get the job done. It does not get the actual job of WRITING done.

So this morning I had to be honest with myself-how much time and effort am I truly putting into this dream? And if I am completely honest? It is kind of like I am buying a lottery ticket and then just waiting for something to happen. I get on facebook, do a load of laundry, do some dishes, drive to the grocery store, etc… I am not REALLY trying very hard. And that is a tough pill to swallow.

So I have two choices-I can keep “dreaming and wishing” and hoping that someone shows up at my doorstep with a giant monetary advance OR I can swallow the bitter pill of honesty and start taking steps toward figuring out how to be a professional, aka PAID, writer.

The first one is much easier. But it is not producing any results. So it looks like I need to start in on the second one.

First tiny step-be honest with myself.

Second tiny step-make a dedicated writing spot.

Third tiny step-apply butt to chair (my writing professor in college told me that one) and start writing, and researching, and reaching out to others to figure out how the heck to do this. I will keep you posted.

THANK YOU to my 52 followers! You inspire me to keep going every day!

July 16-change your systems (just a little)

We bought a house a couple of weeks ago. This is our fourth house as a married couple. Over that time we have accumulated stuff (we have decluttered each time but stuff still accumulates) and accumulated systems for doing things like laundry, dishes, housework, yard work, etc…

As I was doing the laundry today, I realized something. Our previous system was not going to work. Our first house had main floor laundry. Our second house had main floor laundry. Our third house had laundry in the finished basement. This house has laundry in an UNFINISHED basement. This may seem like a little thing but it actually isn’t. In all the other house, I would just put dirty laundry on the floor to sort and to wait to go into the washer. The cement floor is kind of dusty and I don’t want the clothes to get any dirtier than they already are SOOOOOO I have to change my system.

This made me wonder how many times we try to “fit old stuff into a new space.” A new school year, a new house, a new weight loss or gain, a new job, a new dresser or closet, even a new backpack or lunch bag for school. We use the “old stuff” because it is there and it worked in the past. Well I am here to tell you that the old stuff might need to be changed. I am not advocating running out and buying new things. Actually the exact opposite. See what you can subtly change (in a tiny way) in your house/school bag/lunch bag/ bedroom/ etc… that would make a huge difference. That is what I did with the laundry.

Here’s the laundry fix-I have two hampers. One is in basement. One is in the bedroom. I have a 31 tote that is easier to carry than a laundry basket and that is what I will use to carry dirty clothes downstairs and clean clothes upstairs. I will look for a table or something (in the attic at my parents house) that I could put in the basement to keep laundry off the floor (folding and sorting).

It is different. It will be different. However, it is a tiny change and I think it will help a lot. So as I navigate a new home, I will continue to look for TINY changes in my systems that may help things move smoothly. I truly believe that tiny fixes and changes are the way to do things and keep overwhelm and anxiety at a minimum-hence the reason for this blog.

THANK YOU to my 52 followers! You keep me inspired and motivated! Have a great day/week!

July 9-back to tiny (expectations might be too big)

We moved into a new house about a week ago. Once again, overwhelming. It is a bit of a fixer upper. When you couple that with having some stuff at my parents house, stuff still in boxes, etc… I don’t really feel “settled.” People keep asking if I feel settled and despite working 10-12 hours a day for the last 1-2 weeks on the house, the answer is NO, I still don’t feel settled.

And of course I took this time of not feeling settled to try to eat better, workout more, organize, clean, you name it.

WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?!?! Why do we do this to ourselves? Or maybe it is just me? People always say to have high expectations and then rise to meet them. Yes, but my head is spinning. I can’t remember anything. I can’t seem to focus. So, again, I need to go back to tiny. I really believe that tiny is the way to go-even when I try to go big.

I put away one box/bag of clothes and then I sat down and took a break.

I gave myself a “break” from trying to cook and eat healthy and instead went through a drive thru and got a fast food burger.

I worked on one small area of the house and then took a break from the other areas.

I bought giant ziplock bags to put my winter clothes in so they can be stored in the basement.

These tiny steps are helping me. I am starting to feel a bit more settled. It is not perfect yet but at this point, I have to stay tiny. Its the only way to go.

THANK YOU to my 50 followers! FIFTY! SO EXCITING! You keep me smiling and staying tiny 🙂

June 21-Bonus post. “Tiny time”

I, like many other people, get overwhelmed with big tasks. A lot of people either give up or just don’t do whatever it is that needs doing until it takes a LOT of time to rectify the situation (think all day Saturday house cleaning.)

So, my solution is “tiny time.” I am currently packing up to move and it is an overwhelming task (where did all this stuff come from ?!?!?!?!). So, I have been tackling packing in tiny bursts of time. I put on the home renovation tv channel for inspiration and during every commercial, I pack a bag, box, drawer, etc… Then, I make SURE to sit down and watch the episode until another commercial happens. It has been a great motivator. Today alone I have packed two dressers, the stuff under the kitchen sink, and 3 cabinets in the kitchen. And it is only 10 am! Plus, I am still motivated to keep going instead of dreading the next items that I need to pack.

Other “tiny times” that I have taken advantage of are

Washing a few dishes while water boils or the stove heats up.

Wiping down the bathroom sink as I swish mouthwash around.

Folding laundry on commercials.

Putting away last night’s dishes while my morning coffee brews.

Grading papers in the hallway during passing time (I teach in a high school and we are expected to stand outside our classrooms to monitor passing time)

Sorting paperwork while my husband watches baseball (I don’t enjoy watching baseball but he does)

I know that the “disaster cleaning videos” are fun to watch on Youtube but I have to wonder “what if these people would clean and tidy during “tiny times” and save their days for something more enjoyable? Just a thought. Have a great Monday!

THANK YOU to my 47 followers-you keep me going and keep me smiling!

June 20-A month of crappy eating

Why is it so hard to take care of ourselves? I have lots of excuses (and so do other people). No time, too hard, stressed out, no access to workout place/healthy food, it was a holiday/vacation, want to just enjoy myself and not worry, ate out a lot, my favorite bakery just opened for the summer, etc… There are plenty of the old standards for excuses and I think I used them all in the last month. My favorite is…well I have already eaten poorly today, this week, etc… so I might as well eat some more crap.

As I type them out, I can see how ridiculous they sound but in the moment, they make perfect sense to my brain.

So here is where the tiny steps HAVE to come back in. They are essential. The “no sugar” was working so well and yet, I went away from it. Why? Well, see the above excuses. However, I believe the tiny steps are what will help me get back on track quicker and sooner

So walking each day and saving sugar for weekends (if any). Those will be what I work on this week. Tiny steps and tiny habits. Its summer and I want to enjoy. I think these things will help me to do that, while still helping me achieve my goals.

Also THANK YOU to my 47 followers-you keep me going and keep me honest!

May 16- week 4 no sugar. Stress eating.

I have started to cheat a little on the “no sugar” thing. It is not a full blown sweets attack, but it does seem like a slippery slope. A bite of a cookie here. A taste of some chocolate there.

As a teacher and spring sport coach, I am under a lot of “End of season” pressure. Every night is a match or awards ceremony or just practice and trying to get dinner on the table. Couple that with arthritis in my neck (just found out) and trying to buy a house (and my grocery store being out of my favorite type of grapes!) and here I am having trouble sticking to a diet that I know is best for me.

I have known for quite some time that I eat to relieve stress, and usually it is some sort of carb or sweet food. I am not alone in this habit. Everyone has a way that they cope-food, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, work, exercise, etc…

So part of me thinks that I don’t need as much help on my “diet” as I think I do. I know what to eat (fruits, veggies, water, lean protein, etc…) and what not to (cakes, cookies, donuts, etc-at least not every day).

Instead I think I need help on stress reduction and I am tired of seeing internet stories about “ideas” for that. “Take a bath, read a book, take a walk, call a loved one, sleep more, meditate, drink less caffeine-hahahahahahah-you must be joking!”

These all seem like really good ideas, but none are as fast and effective as eating a pint of Ben and Jerry’s or grabbing a cookie at school ( I am sure I would be reprimanded if I told the high school principal…excuse me, that was a super stressful class-I am just going to run home and take a bubble bath and be back next hour! Thanks! Bye! LOL)

So I can see why people turn to food-it is quick, cheap, and easy. I can’t read a book in between classes. I can’t call a loved one all the time (they have jobs and life and work and are not sitting around waiting for my phone call)

I can’t go “sleep more” in the middle of the day or take 15 minutes to go meditate. Therefore, insert sweet food/carbohydrate and keep moving about the day.

So while I am going to keep working on eating properly, I have come to see that having quick and easy stress relieving activities might be more important. So those will be the tiny habits I work on for right now. I will keep you posted on anything I find that works.

To my 40 followers….THANK YOU! I picture your faces reading these words and today maybe giggling at them a little.

May 9-week 3 no sugar is working but…

I have cut out desserts (cakes, cookies, chocolate, etc…) for 3 weeks now. And I wanted to see if it was working. Here are the results…

I have been sleeping better

I have had more energy

I have lost 4-5 pounds (and I am not really restricting my eating except for the sweets) so it is working.

So why am I disappointed? Because I miss sweets. Not all the time, but I miss them. It was teacher appreciation week and Mothers Day today. I had ONE cookie for the week (from a special bakery in town) and one small piece of pie today. I have avoided a lot of the sweet stuff this week but in those two instances, I gave in. And here is the disappointing part-instead of eating them and feeling good, I just wanted more. I really think, for whatever reason, that eating sugar is like pouring gasoline on a fire for me. It ignites my hunger and my desire for more. No matter how much I have, I want more.

I need to use this information and move forward and continue eating healthy. I know I am doing the right thing but it is hard. I also really struggle with eating poorly when I am stressed and these last few days have been extremely stressful and it doesn’t seem like it will calm down any time soon either (random back and neck pain, teaching, coaching, house shopping, etc…)

Tiny habits that I am still practicing are saving spare change for a trip to Paris, washing out my lunch dishes at school instead of waiting and bringing them home, and parking farther away in the parking lot (easier now that the weather is getting a bit nicer in Michigan)

As I start week 4 of no sugar, I encourage others to do it. I am fully in support of small changes but in some instances, a drastic change may be necessary and this is appearing to be the truth with me.

Until next week-stay healthy!

THANK YOU SO MUCH to my 40 followers! I think of each of you when I write my posts. Have a great week!