The end of the year is just as crazy for me as it is for everyone else. Last year I began using the Flylady’s Cruise through the Holidays system. This year I decided to add the #Last90Days Challenge. I feel like I should add a little caveat, that I’m not really trying to change my life. I’m honestly very happy. But I’m looking for accountability to help me stay focused on doing some things to care for my health through a busy season.
The entire purpose of the #Last90Days is to finish the year (last 90 days) as though you are starting the New Year. Instead of making resolutions on January 1, you start on October 1. The foundation of the challenge is what Hollis calls her 5 to Thrive.
- Wake up 1 hour earlier and use that time just for yourself.
- Drink 1/2 your body in ounces of water each day.
- Get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day.
- Give up one food you know you shouldn’t be eating.
- Write down at 10 things for which you are grateful each day.
One hour earlier
The reason I wanted to add #Last90Days to my life over the next few months, is really to keep me motivated to get up earlier. This is a struggle for me. I am not a morning person. I tend to stay up late and mindlessly watch Netflix. Is it fun? Sure. Productive? Absolutely not. I am far more productive, and therefore less stressed, by going to bed earlier and rising earlier. But through this busy season I am also committed to NOT sacrificing my rest to this goal. The importance of adequate rest to overall health is far too often overlooked. So if I find that Little Bit and I have a rough night, or travels push bedtime back, I will happily shut off that early alarm and let my body sleep. Remember, my personal goal in all of this is to continue to focus on my health during a busy season.
Staying appropriately hydrated is honestly not much of a struggle for me. It is a habit that I have practiced for many years. I blame it on all those years I worked in the hospital. Hospitals are very dry environments. If I didn’t say well hydrated, I dried up like a prune. Super attractive.
I’m going to be completely honest with you though, this goal may not be right for all people. This goal is a great launching point, but don’t be surprised if you need to make adjustments. But how will you know if you need to make adjustments? By the color of your pee. Yep. I went there. Urine should be a light yellow color (think lemonade). If it is essentially clear, you are drinking too much water. If it is dark yellow you need more fluid. There are many factors that play into fluid needs for a person, and some of them are highly variable. But that is a entire blog post topic in and of itself – stay tuned! For now, just know that I’m keeping my stainless steel tumbler close by and full of ice water.
30 minutes of exercise
Movement is an important part of health. But hard core recommendations such as this one can be off-putting, and I’m not a big fan. Not everyone has a body that can handle intense exercise. The attitude of no pain, no gain, is not embraced by most. I am going to be completely transparent right now, I’m not someone who enjoys exercise. I have some back issues that require me to make modifications to my exercise routine. Thankfully, the issues are not so significant that I cannot live a full and normal life, but you won’t find me in crossfit. Years of working with Physical Therapists has taught me that GENTLE movement and my body is a great combination. So Pilates has become my go-to. During busy times, though, the first thing I let slide is gentle exercise. With a goal of caring for myself during the #Last90Days, I’m focusing on taking a brief period of time each day to move my body in a way that leaves me feeling refreshed and renewed, not sore and painful.
Why I don’t restrict food
I will NOT be giving up any food during these few months. This is because I’ve stopped food restriction in my life. Years of being a Dietitian has taught me a few things about the practice of restriction. First and foremost, the more you restrict a food the more you want it. I have tried dietary restriction in the past. It lasted about 2 seconds. All I thought of was that food. Nothing satisfied me. I ended up eating everything else in sight in an effort to suppress craving. I would end up eating far more calories than if I would have just eaten the food I was craving in the first place. For example, I have tried to eat fruit when I really wanted a brownie. I would eat fruit. Then I would eat something salty because I still wasn’t satisfied. Finally, I would just eat the brownie. I would have been better off just eating the brownie in the first place.
Other common responses to food restriction include over eating once the restriction is lifted. Ever eaten a doughnut at the office in the morning, and thought, “Well, I’ve blown it for today.” You then proceed to over eat throughout the day, and finally go to bed feeling excessively full and emotionally guilty? Or do you have the, Eat, Drink, and Merry, for Tomorrow We Diet, mentality? Restriction leads to over consumption.
Stop telling yourself No
For every person reading this who has ever raised or help raise a child, what happens when you tell a child not to do something? Do they listen to you? Or do they do the action anyway, while watching your reaction? They do it anyway, right? And how often do they happily and willing do all those you want them to do? Like make the bed? Not very often. The word No has great power doesn’t it?
I have stopped telling myself No regarding food. I give myself permission to eat whatever I want. And you know what? I find it really easy to choose foods that fuel and nourish my body and mind well. Taking away the power of No in my life has freed me to listen to my body. I have found that I feel my best when I eat lots of carbohydrate rich foods. I have energy when I eat carbs. My gut feels amazing when I consume plenty of fiber, so when I’m traveling and want to enjoy myself, I eat lots of salads. But at the same time, I love food and I love to try new dishes. When dining out, I choose what sounds like it would taste good, not what will fit into a specific diet plan. As we go into the holiday season, there are some foods that I know will be served and I will want to partake. I love pumpkin pie. Seriously. Love it. I eat it once a year at Thanksgiving. When we trim our Christmas tree, we drink wassail. It is part of our tradition. I will be drinking wassail in the next 90 days. Giving myself freedom from dietary restriction is part of my plan to foster and care for my health.
In a time of year where I feel like our consumerism tends to take over, I cannot think of a better time to truly express gratitude. It is not lost on me, that my entire career has been dedicated to helping people eat well. My career has relevance because I live in a country where access to food is abundant. While this country does still have citizens that battle hunger, our issues are not nearly as widespread as other parts of the world. So in a season where people often lament the amount of food served, let’s take a moment and be grateful.