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Can you believe it, we’re already one month into 2014?!  February is the month of L.O.V.E. so why not commit to loving yourself completely this month?  For me, that means doing the things that make me feel great and forgiving myself if (let’s be honest – when) things to go according to my plan.  This month of hearts and flowers is the perfect moment to revisit my Feel My Best list and celebrate my successes and make a plan to work on the areas that need some improvement.  In the spirit of self-love and forgiveness, I’m not interested in indulging in the “shoulds” but instead having an honest conversation with myself about where I’m at and where I want to be.

This “Feel My Best” process began at the end of 2013 when I read a post from my paleo pal, Meg McGrane.  Her post on un-resolutions was inspiring and helped to shape how I entered 2014.  Meg and I decided to reflect on our lists together and have a virtual conversation about how it’s going so join me in welcoming Meg to lattesandlaughs!

So what items of your Feel Best List did you really stick with this month?

M: Limit Dairy. I totally cut out dairy from cows. I allow myself a little bit of goat milk yogurt or goat milk cheese on occasion. I found that dairy is really a trigger food for me and I get hives all over my back now if I have it. (I even had a few sips of my husband’s coffee this weekend that had cream in it and ended up with a rash all over my back!) My complexion also improved which I attribute to ditching the diary. I used to have red irritation around my mouth and nose which has disappeared. The no cheating on my grains and other foods I also stuck with pretty tightly. If I don’t buy anything off my plan, I won’t eat it (this mostly pertains to granola…) I am generally good about that because it keeps me feeling really healthy.

I have to say another key was sleep(Sleep 7+ hours). Getting regular sleep and setting the alarm for seven hours from the time I turn in has been really helpful. At the end of the year my sleep cycle was really off from my shift work and some days I would sleep 5 hours and the next, crash for 9 or 10! Sticking to a schedule has really helped me. I know somedays I want to stay in bed but end up feeling WAY better if I get up and start my day with a workout.

Having a Clean Space was also HUGE this month. My husband and I cleaned our house like nobody’s business. It was a total overhaul of our home (closet, desk, books, kitchen, bathroom…NO item went unexamined!) I also did a major closet purge and realized I did not need SO MANY of the things I was holding on to, so I donated a lot and put some in storage. Having a clean space is so energizing and liberating. I highly recommend it.

S: This girl likes to drink!  I’ve been all about the beverages this month – the water, green smoothies, and herbal teas have been flowing.  Focusing on hydration has been life changing.  I used to go days (yes, days) without water but lots and lots of triple shot soy lattes.  Hello caffeine and sugar!  Now I consistently start every morning with 24 ounces of water and a green smoothie and drink more water and herbal teas throughout the day.  The heat has been running around the clock because it was a frigid January in the northeast.  It’s especially important to increase your fluids when you’re spending most of your time inside with the dry heat.  I also find the herbal teas can help me with sugar cravings.  My favorite is to throw a handful of fresh mint into boiling water to warm me up, aid in digestion, and curb the cravings.

I also limited my sugar intake in January.  I joined a great sugar detox Facebook group at the beginning of the month and it was instrumental in my success.  You don’t need to do this alone!  Whenever I was in the midst of an all-consuming dark chocolate desire, I would go to the Facebook page and get inspired with healthy sugar-free recipes, quotes, and personal stories.  My sugar intake is pretty low to begin with since I removed refined sugars over the summer.  But I was eating a very generous portion of raw dark chocolate every night.  I went all of January without chocolate and also cut back on using raw honey and pure maple syrup.

I practiced radical self-forgiveness after a week of eating dairy and gluten filled meals.  Typically the perfectionist in me would have beaten myself up about my choices to the point of being paralyzed.  And then I would have given up and continued feeling sick and mad at myself.  Instead I took time to reflect on why I made the decision to eat my “trigger” foods, forgive myself, and move on.  It happened, I lived to tell, I learned some important lessons, and I released it.

 Which item did you find most challenging? 

S: I need more sleep.  I have grand plans of going to bed early most nights but then find myself getting in bed after 10pm or going to bed early but still being awake at midnight.  And with a 4am wake-up call, that is not doing me any favors.  Lack of sleep impacts the rest of my list because when I’m overtired I don’t workout, am more likely to make poor food choices, and reach for caffeinated tea instead of water.  I’m open to any and all suggestions about how I can get more sleep during the week.

For whatever reason, I found taking my supplements challenging.  First I ran out of probiotics and needed to wait several days for a delivery.  And then my routine was disrupted and I couldn’t get back into the rhythm.  I’m working to be more organized with my daily routine and supplements are included.  I’ve set alarms for the morning and evening to remember to take my probiotics, aloe vera, and Natural Calm.  I also made apple cider vinegar gummies to get my ACV and gelatin in each day without having to think about it.

I’ll be honest.  I didn’t even try to stop grains last month.  And I’m okay with it.  I eat so little grain and for now that seems to be working for me.  I try to stick to no more than half a cup 2-3 times per week.  My go-to grains are quinoa, brown rice, and gluten-free oatmeal.  I do want to cut out the cheats, though.  I’m a sucker for the “just one bite” and right now one bite leads to two bites which too often leads to eating the rest of Andrew’s meal!  I’m done with the bites here and there.

M: Oh boy, I had a hard time relaxing without a device in my hand (Spend more time without a device). I embarrassingly caught myself watching TV and flipping between the iPad and my cellphone. More than once. Oh and having the computer open, iPad propped up and cellphone in my lap. I know I need to do a digital detox..but I’m not there yet. Maybe next month.

I also did not conquer “Tea Over Coffee”. So I just decided to do tea AND coffee. (Is that wrong?) I have been making it a point to drink more tea and have at least a cup each day. I am loving Dandelion Tea by Traditional Medicinals.  But I still love my morning cup of coffee. I love this MindBodyGreen article on how your cup of coffee can be a healthy part of your morning routine. Since coffee is one of the most heavily sprayed crops, I am sure to stick with organic. Marley Coffee is my favorite, hands down.

Which part of the list do you think of daily?

M: I think to Meditate Daily, every single day. It just doesn’t always happen in the form of sitting in my quite space in my office with music on, which I have to let go of. When I work a few long shifts in a row, it is all I can do to wake up, get my act together, pack my meals and get out the door on time. By reminding myself daily to meditate, I am sure I don’t just scrap it because I am busy. I find a way. I have to. Meditation makes me a better person every. single. day. If I am feeling really stressed at work or even tired, fatigued, or worried about something I will try to stop and mentally take a beat (aka Gabby’s famous Stop Drop and Meditate!). Sometimes it is twenty seconds, but it makes a WORLD of difference. I have gone in to the bathroom, the hospital pantry, and even an empty room a few times on a bathroom break and taken time for a tiny meditation. It may sound weird but I will close my eyes and just repeat a little mantra or count my breaths, quite literally for just for a few breaths. My new favorite mantra to work with is “all is well”. Try it this week! Close your eyes and take 10 slow deep breaths telling yourself “All is well” on each inhale.

I also think about working out every day. I love to workout. I was pretty good with getting to yoga three times per week but I did not have 100% success with working out every day this month. ( A few days it just didn’t happen. The day after a night shift. The day we uprooted our entire bathroom in a DIY home improvement project that lasted 15 hours. You know, life happened!)  I did try to squeak in a quick stretch or down dog/sun salutation on those days just to get some blood flowing but it certainly did not count as a workout. I am committing to thirty days of fitness with Jenny Sansouci’s 30 Days of Movement Challenge on her blog Healthy Crush. February is looking up in the fitness realm!

S: Like, Meg, I think about meditating daily.  Meditation and water are non-negotiable.  It doesn’t matter where I am, what I’m going, or how I’m feeling…I will drink my water and I will meditate.  I’ve been practicing a lot of Kundalini meditations lately which I do for 40-day cycles.  I’m also in the habit of meditating on the fly.  I have my favorite guided meditations and music loaded on my phone so I can Stop Drop and Meditate as needed.  I frequently sit in my car in the parking garage and meditate for 5 minutes before going to the office, close my office door at lunch time and breathe, or silently recite “Peace Begins With Me” while practicing the mudra (hand positions) under the table during a meeting.  I even meditate (with my eyes open!) while stuck in traffic.  Meditation is my ultimate survival tool.

Also like Meg, I think about working out daily.  Unlike Meg, though, that’s where it ended for me in January.  I was pretty sedentary last month.  But that is changing in February.  I’ve committed (along with Meg) to Jenny’s 30 Days of Movement challenge and recruited Andrew to join in too.  We’ll be motivating each other to get up and move this month.

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If you haven’t already, I encourage you to write down your Feel My Best list and have the best year ever!

Also, don’t forget to visit Meg in her corner of the blogosphere, on Twitter, and Instagram.  She is also guest blogging for Kristin McGee about staying healthy this winter.