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.

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.

Whole30: Halfway There

I’m halfway through my Whole30! Find out how it’s going:

Yesterday was day 15 of my Whole30, which means I’m halfway there! It’s amazing how even though this is my eighth round (I think), I’m still learning new things. It’s also funny how some things get easier, but it’s a pretty safe bet that no matter how many times I do this, some aspect of it will always be hard (and it’s rarely the same thing!).

This round I’ve had a lot of help from The Whole30 Fast & Easy Cookbook and The Whole30 Day by Day. The cookbook has tons of meals with short ingredient lists and fast cook and/or prep times. I’ve tried several so far and have enjoyed each and every one. That’s including the ones where I improvised because I forgot to buy something or didn’t read the recipe thoroughly so I bought the wrong thing.img_2858

I can tell you one thing. Improvising in the kitchen is not something I ever would have done during my first several rounds of Whole30. And certainly not before the Whole30. My kitchen skills have improved tremendously over these eight-ish rounds and it probably would not have happened if it weren’t for all the tips they provide on their social media and in their books.


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In addition to trying lots of new dishes to keep things from getting boring this round, I’m also tracking things in the Day by Day book. It’s got tips, motivational passages, hacks, and more to keep me feeling motivated and to reassure me about where I am in the process. It also has spots for me to write down my NSVs (non-scale victories) and reflect on how I think I’m doing.

It’s everything I wanted for my first several rounds of the program but I lacked the discipline to actually follow through with (changing your eating habits is hard ‘yo). I basically carry it around with me all day (I work from home, so this is slightly less weird than it sounds) and write down what I ate and how I’m feeling. I also start every morning by reading the tip, motivation, and FAQ pages for that day. And I end the day by journaling about how things went and actionable things I can do to ensure success tomorrow.

While these two books have made a huge difference in how well this round is going compared to past rounds I’ve completed, I know a lot just has to do with me and my own motivation. I’m more confident in the kitchen, so I’m less afraid to try new recipes and buy weird-sounding ingredients (nutritional yeast, aka “nooch”, anyone?). I’m also really motivated by the pain I’m in.

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I’ve been dealing with pain from a shoulder injury for almost a year now. After seeing two doctors, having two different sets of x-rays taken, physical therapy, and an MRI, I still have zero answers for what’s wrong with it. My sole motivation for this round of Whole30 was to eliminate inflammatory foods to see if it helps relieve some of my shoulder pain.

Guess what? It’s day 15 and I’m finally starting to notice a slight improvement. Enough so that I’ve started working in some light shoulder mobility exercises when I’m at the gym. That’s a HUGE NSV for me, and I hope I continue to see improvements throughout the next 15 days. I am fully prepared to extend the program if it’s improving but there’s still some pain at the end of the 30 days. Then I plant to tackle the reintroduction to figure out which foods are causing the inflammation.

Other NSVs I’ve experienced so far:
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  • I no longer wake up with a headache every morning
  • My skin is much clearer
  • My belly isn’t constantly bloated/uncomfortable
  • I fit into a pair of jeans I haven’t been able to wear in over a year
  • My energy levels are higher and more stable throughout the day (I mean, I’m writing a blog post after working all day. If that’s not energy, I don’t know what is)

I’m still waiting for my sleep to improve and get more consistent. Part of my sleep problems are related to stress, I’m sure (stay tuned for a post about how I’m managing it). I’m also still waiting to see improvements in my running. Right now I’m not running much faster or farther than I was before I started. I suspect that will change soon though, and I can’t wait!

Are you doing the Whole30? What day are you on and how’s it going? What NSVs have you experienced so far?

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?

Happy New Year! I’m Doing the January Whole30…

Find out why I’m doing the January Whole30 and what all the excitement is about!

Except I’m starting on tomorrow instead of today. My reason? It’s my husband’s birthday, and every year we go to his favorite bar and have yummy food, cold beer, and then head over to the casino.

So although I’m eager to start my January Whole30, I love this tradition and so does he. We’re going to enjoy it and savor every french fry and every sip of beer. Then tomorrow I’ll do all my meal prepping so we’ve got healthy, delicious, Whole30-compliant food for the rest of the week.

january whole30If you’ve been following along for a while, you know this isn’t my first Whole30. Heck, it’s not even my third or fourth. It’s more like my eighth (although I’ve lost count). So why am I doing another round of Whole30?

Well, a lot of my healthy habits got derailed last year. Between my shoulder injury and a few bouts of depression, I lacked the energy and motivation I needed to cook nutritious meals for myself.

By the end of the year, it was painfully obvious I wasn’t giving my body the fuel it needed. My skin was dry and cracked, and I kept getting pimples because I was eating too much dairy. My clothes were fitting tight and I felt bloated constantly despite the fact that I’ve been running a mile or more every day since August.

In general, I just had low energy levels, again, despite exercising every day. So it’s well past time for a reset. Plus, I got The Whole30 Fast & Easy Cookbook and The Whole30 Day by Day, which I am so excited to use during my January Whole30.

The cookbook has tons of quick meals ranging from slow cooker to one-pot/pan/skillet meals, and I’m excited to give those a try. I think they’ll be perfect for a January Whole30 since it will be a busy month for me. Plus, those quick meals will ease me back into cooking regularly without making it a long, drawn-out ordeal every night.

I’m particularly excited to use the Day by Day book, though. It’s part journal, part timeline, part coaching and cheering from Whole30 headmistress herself, Melissa Hartwig. It will make tracking what I eat and how it makes me feel (especially during reintroduction) so much easier. It will also make it easier to pinpoint and track any non-scale victories I experience, like more energy and better sleep.

After I finish my Whole30, I also intend to read Food Freedom Forever, which I finally got as an ebook, but still haven’t read yet! I figure post-January Whole30 will be the perfect time to read it and make a plan for my own food freedom in 2018.

I am so excited to start my year off with the Whole30. It’s definitely going to help with my goal of being healthier and happier this year.

Have you ever done a Whole30? Are you planning to do one this year? Why or why not? Is there something holding you back?

*Please note the links to the Whole30 books are affiliate links.

 

100 Days of Running

Reflections on 100 days of running.

My run streak reached 100 days last Wednesday (and is still going strong—day 108 today)! If you had told me 100+ days ago that I’d run 100 days in a row, I’m not sure I would have believed you.

I’ve accomplished so much over the past 100 days. I’ve run two 5ks (and PR’d in the second!). My pace has improved. I’ve pushed my limits on speed and distance. I’ve learned when it’s time to take it easy.

Most importantly, I’ve learned my body is capable of far more than I give it credit for. This run streak started because of my shoulder injury, which was keeping me from doing yoga and lifting weights. In fact, I had stopped exercising regularly altogether after my shoulder injury.

My run streak added much-needed regular exercise back into my life. It reminded me to be grateful for what I am capable of rather than dwelling on all the things I can’t do.

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The face of someone who spent the last 100 days running!

I have no idea if I’ve lost weight. (My clothes aren’t fitting much looser, so probably not.) But the weight loss (or lack of) doesn’t matter. I feel better. My mind is clearer. My body hurts the way it should after exercise.

Running every day has made me want to improve other aspects of my life, too. I’m trying to make my way back to eating mostly paleo (and I’m planning to do the January Whole30!). I’m trying to make my sleep a priority so I’m rested enough to run every day. And I’m making more time in my days for quiet reflection and journaling.

These 100 days haven’t been easy (I’ve been harassed twice now), but they’ve been 100% worth it. I don’t have any specific run streak goals. I just want to keep the streak alive for as long as possible. I do have plans to run a 10k and half marathon in 2018, though. Stay tuned for my posts reflecting on 2017 and all my goals for 2018!

Have you ever tried a running streak? (Or any other type of streak?) How did it go and how long did it last? Let me know in the comments!

3 Reasons I Didn’t Do the September Whole30

Why didn’t I do the September Whole30? Here’s why.

If you know me or have been following my blog for a while, you know I’m a big fan of the Whole30. I’ve done at least 5 rounds in the last few years and will probably do more. And I always recommend it to others who either want a better relationship with food or who are trying to learn more about how specific foods affect them.

A couple times a year, usually in January and September (September is the new January), there’s a massive group Whole30. It’s great for people who aren’t ready to go it alone, as they share tons of resources and support, and there’s literally thousands (or more) of others doing it with you.

I briefly considered doing the September Whole30 this year, but decided not to for several reasons:

  1. Until recently, I’ve really struggled with my energy levels. While eating Whole30 would certainly help boost my energy, I was worried all the planning and preparation that goes into it would zap any energy I did have.
  2. I wanted to focus more on the things I know I’m sensitive to already without limiting too much else. That meant avoiding dairy, eggs, and gluten, but being free to eat things like rice or corn tortillas (because tacos are basically a food group in our house).
  3. I also wanted to be able to eat at places like Chipotle when I was too tired to cook (the only compliant meat they offer is the pork, which I’m allergic to). Not doing a Whole30 also means I can have store-bought, egg-free mayo because I haven’t found a homemade recipe I like (I buy Just Mayo—it has sugar in it, so it’s not compliant).

After a tough summer struggling with depression, low energy, and almost no exercise, I wanted to focus more on the baby steps: exercising, eating mostly healthy, and doing as little meal prep as possible so I have plenty of time to actually rest and recharge.

I imagine I’ll do another round of Whole30 later this year or early next year when I’m ready for another reset.

Have you ever done (or thought about doing) a Whole30? Did you do the September Whole30?