Praying for Sleep

I’m not particularly religious, but if I were, I’d be praying to whatever deity for sleep, which has eluded me for months now. 

I started tracking my sleep in January, but I knew that, for at least a couple months prior, I wasn’t getting enough sleep. From January to now, I get an average of about 4 to 5 hours of sleep each night. Sometimes I get as much as 6 or as little as 3, despite being in bed for 7 to 8 hours total.

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The light blue lines are periods of restfulness and the dark blue is deep sleep. Ugh. 

I’m not wide awake, though. There’s not a million thoughts running through my head (okay, that happens sometimes) and I’m not staring at my ceiling every night wondering why I can’t sleep (that happens sometimes, too). Instead, I’m tossing and turning and just restless in general. I’m exhausted, but I just can’t get comfortable enough to fall asleep and stay asleep.

My shoulder pain may be partly to blame, and I assume stress is also to blame. I’m doing everything I can to reduce those (seeing a chiropractor, more self-care, etc.), but there’s only so much I can do. I feel like I’ve tried everything people suggest to sleep better. I’ve tried:

  • Going to bed early
  • Getting up early
  • Going to bed/waking up at the same time every day
  • Turning off screens at least 30 minutes before bed
  • Reading before bed
  • Drinking herbal tea before bed (relaxing, yes, but I usually have to get up to pee)
  • Diffusing lavender and other calming essential oils in my bedroom
  • Getting more magnesium
  • Exercising regularly
  • Meditating
  • Not drinking caffeine after noon (more on this later)

I even got so desperate that I tried taking melatonin and Zquil. Neither worked. In fact, both of them made me feel exhausted but also completely wired (I’ve had the same experience with muscle relaxers in the past). And one of my main motivations for doing the Whole30 in January was to improve my sleep. While I saw a whole slew of other non-scale victories, better sleep wasn’t one of them.

So, desperate times call for desperate measures. In addition to praying to the Universe for sleep, I’m also giving up caffeine. Because caffeine can stay in your system for so long, I stuck to the hard and fast rule of no caffeine after 12 p.m., but that hasn’t helped. And I had previously tried going a couple days without my  morning coffee, but didn’t notice a difference so I quickly gave up. This time, I’m going to stick it out for a couple weeks at least and see what happens.

It’s the only other thing I can think to do. So I’ve traded in my beloved, caffeinated, bulletproof coffee for a decaf version. As of this posting, I’m four days caffeine-free and these four days have been entirely unpleasant. The first day I had a mild headache. No biggie.

By the second day, that headache was a full-blown migraine with a side of nausea for good measure. I was grateful to have a light workload because I spent most of the afternoon just laying on the couch. I ate very little and watched a whole lot of Netflix. I thought things were really looking up when I fell asleep relatively quickly and wasn’t tossing and turning, but then Penny started whining.

I checked the clock. 2:45 a.m. Ugh. I got up and let the dogs out. She definitely needed to go, so the whining was justified. I put them back in their kennels and went back to bed. Couldn’t get comfortable. I turned on some meditation music to help me fall back asleep. Didn’t work. Played a dumb game on my phone for a while until I was tired again. Finally fell asleep around 5. Alarm went off at 6:30. Decided to sleep in an extra half hour. Slept until 8 instead.

Despite the lack of sleep (I should be used to it by now), I actually felt a little better on day 3. My headache and nausea were gone. I made my decaf bulletproof coffee and ate a banana for breakfast to play it safe. Now I just have to wait and see how much sleep I get.

img_3230By the way, if you aren’t sure what bulletproof coffee is, it’s a pretty popular morning drink. It’s traditionally made with regular (ie caffeinated) coffee with grassfed butter and coconut (or MCT) oil blended in. Previously, I simply added ghee to mine, omitting the coconut oil, although I have done both in the past. More recently, I’ve added collagen peptides (check back for a post on this later) and ghee, and starting this week, I use decaf coffee. Then I top it off with a little dairy-free creamer and use a frother to mix it all up. It’s a delicious morning tradition I just couldn’t part with (hence the decaf).

Have you ever struggled to get a good night’s sleep? What are your best tips for falling–and staying–asleep? Are you a fan of bulletproof coffee or do you prefer yours black? Let me know in the comments!

PS: This post contains affiliate links.

Mindset Shift

I’ve been working on shifting my mindset a lot lately. I spend a lot of time worrying about horrible what-ifs and areas where things are lacking (ie I don’t have enough; I don’t make enough; etc.). To maintain a more positive mindset, I’ve been repeating a few mantras to myself lately:

  • Believe good things will happen and they will. 
  • I am enough. I have enough. 
  • Keep going. 

It’s an awful thing to believe you’re not good enough, and I’ve spent so much time believing that about myself. I’m choosing to focus on the good that could happen and I’m choosing to believe that I am enough.

Last week, thanks to this Instagram post, I added a new one to the rotation:

  • What do I have to lose? What’s the worst that could happen? 

It’s been a great reminder to take risks, particularly when I have nothing to lose and the worst that could happen is someone says “no”.

I’ve been looking for full-time jobs lately (and regular freelance work in the meantime). After applying for a full-time job with a company I was excited about working for, they unexpectedly asked if I’d be willing to start in a contract (ie freelance) position first. I immediately said yes because I’m excited about the company and position.

I didn’t negotiate rates at all. I just accepted the range they gave me. The last time I did that, things didn’t turn out well, and I’ve always regretted not negotiating for higher pay. So when they sent over the contract for this freelance position, there were a few concerning items, in addition to the low pay I had initially agreed to.

I felt a little strange negotiating rates after already verbally agreeing to what they offered. But I thought to myself, I have nothing to lose here. The worst that can happen is they say they can’t go any higher and won’t make changes to the contract, at which point I walk away. Sure, I’d be missing out on the possibility of it turning into a full-time position, but I wouldn’t be any worse off. I still have some steady freelance work and I’m still looking for other full-time jobs. 

So I went for it and asked for a higher hourly rate that better reflected my experience and what my target salary would be for a full-time position, in addition to the other changes I wanted to see in the contract. I didn’t hear back for over a week, so I assumed the “worst” had happened. I let it go and refocused my energy into looking for other jobs. Yesterday I finally got a response from them and they agreed to the higher rate and the other changes I had proposed.

Now I’m just waiting to see the final draft of the contract so I can sign it and get to work. I feel so great for “leaning in” and asking for what I wanted and needed. This time last year (heck even just a few months ago), I might not have had the guts to do that. I’ve been working really hard to have a more positive attitude about life in general and I’ve been taking more risks, both personally and professionally. Hopefully this is the start of all that hard work paying off!

Have you taken any risks lately? Did they pay off? How do you maintain a positive attitude—or is that something you struggle with like me?

I Finished the January Whole30 But…

I’m not stopping at 30 days!

FFC47689-CEF1-4C6C-8E10-193496F631AC-19105-0000117502365E44.jpgAs of today, I’m on day 32, and I’m going to keep going for a while. The past 30 days have been pretty great (I’ll get to my non-scale victories shortly), but it’s just not enough this time. My primary motivation for this round was to see how it would affect my shoulder. And while it has eliminated that 24/7 chronic pain I was dealing with, I think it could be better.

So I’m going to keep on keepin’ on for another 10-15 days at least to see just how much better my shoulder can feel. I also didn’t see as much improvement in my sleep and energy as I’d hoped I would (I mostly blame this on stress), so I’d like to see if those get any better as well.

IMG_2863.jpgMy experience wasn’t all negative, though! Before I get to all my amazing NSVs, I want to talk about the two books that were total game changers for this round of my Whole30. First, The Whole30 Day by Day is the journal I wanted to keep during my first several rounds but was too lazy to do so. I was able to keep track of how I was doing and feeling, the NSVs I was seeing, and it offered tips and tricks to help get me through those “kill all the things” days.

For those 30 days, I read and journaled in that book every morning and night. It became a familiar ritual (which I’m now replacing with journaling and meditation) that gave me some perspective on the day ahead and allowed me to reflect on what I learned. I’m not saying I couldn’t do another round without this book, but man, it would be hard.

IMG_2858.jpgThe second book that made a huge difference for this round was The Whole30 Fast & Easy cookbook. This book was full of new and exciting recipes to try, most of which involved few ingredients and minimal prep/cook time. I tried a bunch of them and they were all delicious (although many did not turn out nearly as pretty as the photos in the book!). I even got creative when I realized I was missing a few ingredients and/or bought the wrong things. Improvisation is not something I would have been comfortable with prior to this round.

And with that non-scale victory, let’s get into the list: IMG_2942.jpg

  • Tried one or more new recipes per week
  • Got really good at meal prepping
  • Relied on my allergy medicine less (I was taking one every night, now I’m taking it as-needed)
  • No more belly bloat
  • Fit back into my favorite pair of jeans
  • Tried beets again (still don’t like them, but I gave them another shot)
  • Clear skin
  • Lightened under-eye circles
  • Tried new Lacroix flavors and discovered I love the grapefruit one
  • Ran almost 55 miles over the month and started training for a 10k (more on that in a separate post to follow)
  • I met my goal of exercising every day during my Whole30
  • Created healthy rituals and routines that aren’t focused around food, like journaling each morning and reading before bed each night
  • Gained more confidence in my appearance and my abilities
  • Had the energy and courage to tackle hard things
  • Stopped waking up every morning with a headache
  • Fewer stomach aches
  • No more brain fog

I didn’t weight myself before starting and I didn’t take any “before” photos. The weight wasn’t that important to me—I just wanted my clothes to fit better, and they do! There are probably more that I’m forgetting, but that’s a pretty impressive list of NSVs if I do say so myself. Hopefully in another week or two I can say my shoulder is almost pain free and I’m sleeping better. Time will tell!

In the meantime, I’m reading Food Freedom Forever, which I started about half-way through my Whole30. It’s another game changer and I highly recommend it!

Did you do the January Whole30? How did it go? If you haven’t done a Whole30, but you’re curious, let me know how I can help!

*Please note this post contains affiliate links.

Happier, Healthier, & More Successful In 2018

My plan for a happier, healthier, & more successful 2018.

The past couple years I’ve made a list of goals I wanted to achieve in the new year. Although I made progress on those goals, I rarely achieved them. This year, I want to try something different.

You may have heard a lot of people choose a word for the year, rather than making a list of resolutions. I’ve wanted to do that the last 2 years, but couldn’t decide on just one word, so I went with the long and overwhelming list instead.

For 2018, I have a word. It started out as adventure. But a few weeks after I had settled on that word, I couldn’t remember exactly why I picked that word. As December wore on, I realized what I really want in 2018 is health, happiness, and success.

Of course, that’s 3 words, so I needed to narrow it down, or come up with a word that embodies all of them. Essentially, I want to be my best self in 2018. I want to flourish. (Which means to grow, prosper, thrive, succeed.)

So that’s my word for 2018: FLOURISH

Ironically, I’m still making a list of how I plan to succeed, er, flourish, in the new year. But the list is much more fluid and flexible than goals would be. And there’s a lot more focus on self-love and self-care, because I know I need to take care of myself to be my best self.

I won’t make a long list like I have in the past, but here’s a few things I want to incorporate into my daily routine so I can flourish in 2018:

  • Eat nutritious foods. I really got careless with what I was putting in my body by the end of 2017, and I have paid for it with unhappy skin and upset stomach. I’m starting 2018 by doing the January Whole30 (which you can find more information about in a separate post here). After that round of Whole30, I hope to carry Whole30/paleo eating throughout most of the year.
  • Continue my run streak. I forgot how happy running makes me. And maintaining my run streak makes me feel accomplished and strong. Essentially, it makes me healthy and happy. I also want to run a 10k and a half marathon in 2018!
  • Keep journaling. In 2017, I started a new morning routine. After I let the dogs out and feed them breakfast, I sit on the couch and journal for about a half hour. I start off by writing down one thing I need to let go of (a grudge, anger, resentment, etc.), one thing I’m grateful for, and then 3 things I need to focus on that day. Then I simply journal about whatever’s on my mind. Some days I vent about something that pissed me off. Other days I come up with plans to achieve a goal. Some days I have more to write than others. I really enjoy starting my day this way, so I want to keep it up.
  • Start reading everyday. A former boss once asked me why I don’t read books that would be good for professional development. The honest answer is I should, but I also know that you can get a lot of benefits from reading fiction, too. While I do need to make professional development more of a priority this year, what I really want is to start reading for the sheer pleasure of it again. I’m trying to start reading at least a chapter in whatever book I’m currently reading each night before bed.
  • Meditate everyday. I’ve meditated on and off for a year or two now, but I’ve really struggled to make it a consistent habit. So for 2018, I want to start small. Just a few minutes a day, morning or night (or maybe in the middle of the day to take a break from work) to clear my mind.

There’s a few other things I’ll probably add to this eventually. But I think those are the essentials I need to flourish this year. I just want to focus on doing things that will make me happy, healthy, and successful.

Really, that simply means I need to do more to take care of myself this year. In 2018, I’m going to flourish. What will you do this year? Are you picking a word or theme for the year? Or did you make a list of goals or resolutions?