Create and Curate

Six Habits to Bulletproof Your Morning

January 11, 2018

I happen to be a morning person by intention. There is something inspiring about starting my day in the dark, and secret found-time that occurs before the sun rises; where the hours are slow and the day is filled with infinite possibilities. But to be honest, it wasn't always like this. There were years when I was literally dragging myself out of bed; and my first thought was “ I can’t wait for this day to be over, so I can go back to bed.” This is when I became dependent on caffeine. 

 

So what changed? How did I go from hitting the snooze button to hitting the gym at 5am?  I changed my habits.

 

Habits are incredibly important tools that can be used to help us create and curate the lives we want to live. We often go through life on autopilot; not paying attention to habitual behavior, or understanding how to harness the power of behavior patterns to achieve different outcomes. Your habits are either helping you or hurting you. As we age, our bodies and brains need more help to do their thing. Remember when you used to be able to eat and drink anything you wanted and never gained a pound?  You didn't need to go to the gym to stay fit and trim? Our metabolisms change, our lives get busier, and we develop detrimental habits that can sabotage health, wellness and happiness goals. One day you wake up and wonder WTF happened.

(Photo by: Kristen Coffield)

What happened is that we forgot to be the masters of our own destiny.  At any time we can decide to change that, and take back control of how we are living. 

 

I didn't particularly like the way my story was going, so I took a long look at the things in my life that I could control. “This is just the way things are” had to become “this is the way things can be.” I needed to set some new priorities and harness the power generated by putting goals into words — and asking the universe for a little help. Where were my habits in all of this? Were there little patterns of daily behavior holding me back because I simply wasn't paying attention to them?  There were many things in my environment that I could not change; however, I could change certain habits, and by doing so could make every day a little better than the day before. This is how I became an intentional early riser, made my physical health a priority, and started a process of transformation that literally changed the course of my life.

 

How you start your day sets everything in motion for the way the day will turn out

 

Being intentional about what you want to accomplish in your day is the first step toward harnessing the power of a morning routine. Here are 5 simple things you can do to make every morning the catalyst for productivity and happiness.

 

Set your day in motion the night before.  

       Lay out your clothes for the next day, prep your breakfast, lemon water 

       and vitamins, and create a priorities list. People who write down their 

       intentions have a higher success rate of accomplishing them than 

       people who don’t. 

 

2.    Get off your gadgets and other electronics an hour before you 

      want to fall asleep.

      We live in a world of distractions, and putting healthy boundaries on 

       the worst offenders will give you a competitive edge. Your phone, 

       computer, and television all light up the neurons in your brain, making      

       it harder to get your brain the detoxifying rest essential for productivity.

 

3.    Start every day by taking a few moments for gratitude and some 

      form of meditation, prayer or journaling.

      This simple practice sets up conscious and subconscious expectations 

       to help you have an amazing day.

 

4.    Rehydrate after the fast that occurs during sleep.

      Start your day with warm lemon water. 

       8oz of warm water with the juice from half a fresh lemon will help to 

       rehydrate your body, aid digestion, prevent oxidation, stimulate your 

       metabolism, and supply you with healthy doses of vitamin C and 

       potassium.

 

5.    Make exercise a non-negotiable activity.

      The thing that fit people and out-of-shape people have in common is 

       regular exercise is NOT their favorite thing. But fit people regularly 

       exercise anyway. Exercise can jump start your day with feel-good 

       endorphins, and will give you a great sense of accomplishment. 

       Working out first thing in the morning also avoids the conflicts that 

       often arise with trying to exercise later in the day.

 

6.    Stay off technology and social media for an hour after waking.

       Nothing will derail your high-productivity waking hours faster than 

       getting sucked into low-priority social media or checking your email. 

       Optimize your morning with a strict policy for making sure your first 

       hours are focused on gratitude, exercise, and some form of 

       mindfulness. 

      Do not confuse being busy with being productive.

(Photo by: Kristen Coffield)

Make this year great by using the power of routine to start each day with intention and purpose.

 

Be committed to the mindset that your new patterns of behavior will make you more focused, productive and happy.

 

Hold yourself accountable to doing these 6 simple things every day until they become your new habits. You can start tonight and proactively change the rest of your tomorrows.

 

Be sure to visit me at The Culinary Cure to learn strategies for living an inspired and healthy life.

 


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Sleep Is Your Super Power

November 13, 2017

Sleep is the single most important thing you can do to create a foundation for Beautiful Longevity. Restorative rest is the key to a happy, healthy and productive life; improving cognitive function, strengthening your immune system, and providing valuable time for your body to process stress.  On the flip side, sleeplessness is a contributing factor in heart disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension and depression — not to mention the development of cognitive impairment. Sleep is an essential part of our circadian cycle, providing time for the flushing of cellular debris generated by the body’s metabolic activity. You NEED at least 7 hours of sleep a night if you want to have normal, healthy levels of fluctuating hormones in your body.

 

Plan For Sleep:

Maintain regular sleeping patterns. Try to go to bed at the same time most nights and wake up at the some time most mornings.

Prepare for a good nights sleep.   Turn off your electronics an hour before your sleep time. Read paper books, practice meditation, pray or write in a journal.

Create a sleep ritual. Write down something for which you are grateful,  make a to do list for the morning, sip camomile tea.

Make sure your room is dark. Block out as much blue light from electronics and ambient light from your bedroom as possible.

Turn the temperature down.  67 degrees and below creates the best temperature for deep sleep. A cool room improves the quality of sleep.

Your bed should be reserved for sleep and sex. Get the TV out of the bedroom and get off your gadgets when in bed.

 

Eliminate Sleep Disruptors:

Avoid caffeine after 2pm. Your body needs time to process it so it doesn't affect your sleep.

Limit alcohol. You should also not drink for two hours before bed.  While alcohol may make you drowsy, it is a notorious sleep disruptor. It causes the release of adrenaline which disrupt the production of serotonin, one of the brain chemicals important for sleep.

Eat dinner 2-3 hours before bed time. You do not want to be too full or hungry when going to sleep. If you are hungry before bed, consider 10-15 raw almonds to bring your blood sugar up and avoid insomnia-causing nocturnal hypoglycemia.

 

Sleep Promoting Habits:

Consume your daily calories over a 12 hour period.  Fast the remaining 12 hours. This is the way your body was designed metabolize, and helps maintain a healthy weight.

Get exposure to the sun within 2 hours of waking.  This will signal your circadian clock to reset itself for the day.

Workout in the morning. If morning workouts are not your thing, avoid vigorous exercise within 3 hours of your bedtime.

Take a magnesium supplement at bedtime.  Magnesium is responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions in the body and you must have it for your cells to make energy. Magnesium helps anything tight relax and can improve your sleep. Try 300-500mg of magnesium citrate, glycerinate taurate, or aspartate before bed.

Drink sleep promoting herbal tea.  There are many delicious sleep promoting teas like Chamomile, Lavender, Holy Basil and Ashwagandha. Try making a medicinal dose by steeping 2 tea bags for 3-4 minutes and drinking before you head up to bed.

 

Longevity Benefits of Sleep:

Improved memory.  Memory consolidation takes place during sleep through the strengthening of the neural connections that form memories.

Increased longevity.  7 to 9 hours of sleep a night are associated with a longer life span.

Decreased risk of disease.  Healthy sleep lowers the levels of inflammatory proteins in the blood, decreasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, obesity and premature aging.

Maintaining healthy weight. Sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same areas of the brain. Lack of sleep triggers the hunger hormones, and makes it harder to lose fat. Insufficient sleep, fewer than six hours a night, is linked with weight gain.

Lower stress and improved cardiovascular health. During REM sleep one of the stress-related brain chemicals, noradrenalin, is switched off. This allows us to remain calm while our brains reprocess all the experiences of the day.

Reduced anxiety and less risk of depression. Normal sleep is a restorative state that reboots the body and brain and processes out daily stress. When sleep is disrupted or inadequate, it can lead to increased tension and irritability. Inability to sleep or oversleeping can be signs of depression and lack of sleep for any reason can make depression worse.

Improved immune function. Sleep decreases the levels of inflammatory triggers in the body, increasing resistance to infection.

 

Make sleep a priority to keep you living younger longer!


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This One Daily Habit Can Make Tomorrow Better

October 2, 2017

I like to think of myself as an organized doer. Most of the time, I am; and my friends and family will tell you I am someone who “gets things done.” Yet, I have a dirty, little secret. In one of my cabinets is a “shove shelf “ — full of important paperwork, including unopened bank and investment statements. I really don't know why I let that mess pile up, and I get angry with myself for not taking the time to sort it. I procrastinate going paperless and applying for digital statements. I am literally paying to have that paper sent to me, clutter my space and stress me out. After a little self-flagellation, and some chiding from my patient husband, I decide I don't need a 12 step program; but I do need a better system for dealing with things I’d rather avoid. Lets face it, those papers need to be looked at; so never is not an option, even though my inner procrastinator says otherwise.

 

Avoidance behavior is dangerous stuff. It holds us back from achieving our goals and dreams. How can we possibly have the lives we want, if we don’t pay attention to the details? This is especially true when the devil is in those details. When we put things off, and leave them undone, it creates a vortex of negative energy —  taking us away from more productive and enjoyable pursuits.

 

Organize one space every single day.

 

Just because you organize a space once doesn't mean it will stay organized. Life gets busy, and a tidy space today, becomes jumbled mess tomorrow. By making organization a habit, and not a chore, is becomes more pleasurable and less stressful — a tool that moves our lives forward.

 

Commit to cleaning one space every single day. It can be your glove compartment, the kitchen catch-all drawer, a file cabinet, your spam filter, or any area you would probably rather avoid. This will help you eliminate things that do not serve you, freeing you from the distractions that come with disorganization.There is a certain joy in opening a drawer or cabinet and finding exactly what you are looking for. 

 

Tips 

 

1. Start with small, easy to organize areas.

 

A bathroom cabinet or drawer is a great starting place.

 

2. Work your way through one space at a time. 

If you started in the bathroom, work your way through; organizing under the sink, drawers, toiletries, etc. You will feel a great sense of accomplishment when you have one room completed .

 

3. Reward your success.

Treat yourself to some new organizers when your space is done. Donate items you no longer use or need.

 

4. Be accountable.

Keep track of your organizational accomplishments. Seeing your successes in writing is positive reinforcement and helps make your organizational habits stick.

 

Even if you don't think you need a more organized life, this practice can help you prioritize truly important activities like health, fitness, creativity, travel, learning and relationships. Organizing helps you stay focused, on course, and brings you closer to your larger goals and dreams. So start small and finish big! You got this!

 


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