The Wellness Challenge: 1/3 of the way there

This habit change project is cumulative – every month I add a new habit and keep going with the ones I’ve already developed. So far, I’ve resolved to sleep more, eat a real dinner each night, decrease my stress, and walk every day. I thought that since we’re one third of the way there (!), I’d post an update on how it’s going.

Sleep: I have such a hard time making myself go to bed at a reasonable hour every night. It’s not that I’m not tired. Believe me when I say that I am. But there’s so much to read for school, so many things around the house that need cleaning. Then there’s squeezing in a daily workout, spending time with my husband and the pup, work, all of the things I waste time on (electronics are the devil’s work. I lose so much time to Pinterest and reading all of the awesome blogs out there…YoungHouseLove is my current favorite). Long story short: I’m still not getting enough sleep. I also sleep in too late on the weekends, because I’m tired from the week. It’s a vicious cycle, but one that I intend to continue working on.

Dinners: I still go out to eat, but not as often as I had. I think that I am eating more real meals at home, about five nights a week on average (we grab dinner once a week with friends, and I think I lose another night on average for all of the takeout pizza/date nights/parties at friends houses and other sporadic non-minified dinners). I’ve learned some things along the way:

  1. packaged vegetable stock is easier and faster than making my own, and sometimes worth it
  2. a rice cooker with a steamer basket on top is a lifesaver. Quinoa and broccoli, rice and mixed vegetables…top ’em with a little soy sauce and you’ve got a super quick homemade meal.
  3. frozen veggies are quick and easy and just as nutritious as fresh, and they keep longer, so in the winter when fresh veggies aren’t as abundant at the farmer’s market…I dig ’em.
  4. I’m no purist – I’m perfecting the art of the “mostly minified meal.” Sauteed veggies and some rice (all homemade) with packaged, storebought naan? S’okay with me.

Stress: This semester is off the charts. So much reading, and all of it totally worthwhile, but there just isn’t enough time. It’s a scramble. But I had an epiphany about getting everything done: communication is the key. I asked my husband to take over dealing with the car we share (registrations, oil changes, inspections) and he has – he’s done a fantastic job. I asked my adviser to identify some priorities on the grant I work on, because I was struggling to balance everything, and he did – the clarification helped! There’s also an element of making tough choices to decreasing stress. I’ve turned down fun social stuff, and great volunteer opportunities, because I’m not going to be any fun or very much help if I stretch myself too thin. And I’ve been trying to be more balanced in how I spend my time (making time to bake and make crafts and hang out with friends) rather than devoting all of my time to school and work…because no matter how hard I try, I’m never going to be the perfect student. I’m just going to do the best that I can, and call it good enough.

Walking: Every single day, without fail. Rain. Shine. Spectacular cold. No kidding. I’ve even been running a little bit. This is because I’m so much more devoted to the dog than I am to my own health. Maybe my priorities are in the wrong places, but then again, maybe it’s human nature to love the ones around us (including our pups) enough that we’re capable of being better. He’s been the best motivation for habit change…and he’s pretty darn cute, too!

our "mixed use recreational area" - AKA the abandoned tennis court - is the only place near home where he can play off leash. He likes to gather all of the balls on the court in one place and then sit on them like a broody hen.

Anyone else making any habit changes? How’s it going?

As for the months to come, I’ve been ruminating on my whole sleep problem. I think maybe just adding new good habits is contributing to it – maybe it’s time that I gave something up, or started really limiting the time I devote to the things that aren’t so important (like Pinterest, for example). Anyone got good ideas for how to manage time so that you stress less and get more sleep (and have more time to make real meals, and take long walks…)? Share ’em in the comments!

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