Habit Spotlight: Reading

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I’ve been in a huge reading mood lately. There’s something special about getting lost in another world, another story. Bookstores are, by far, some of my favorite places to visit whenever possible (besides coffee shops, of course). There’s something magical about stepping into a bookstore and being overwhelmed by the endless possibilities and stacks upon stacks of books.

Growing up, I was definitely a reader. I preferred curling up with a good book instead of watching TV. My parents are also huge readers so being surrounded by books was not out of the ordinary for our family. We frequently stopped at the library and I joined summer reading competitions more than once.

In high school, I opted for Honors English, in which one of the requirements was to read 50 books in an academic year. Although this might sound overwhelming to some, I never shied away from a challenge.

Then college came. The habit of reading for fun was only practiced during the summer months. During the academic months, I hardly had time to pick up a book for PLEASURE. The books I read were related to my courses, and although some were interesting, most were text-books.

I’d sometimes study in bookstores because I loved the atmosphere and being surrounded by books. I’d see all of new releases and couldn’t wait until summer to read for fun again. At this time, audiobooks weren’t as popular as they are now so listening to a book wasn’t something I even thought of.

Fast forward a few years and the love for reading is still there. This year my goal is to read at least 35 books (not Honors English level, but I’ll get there!). I use Goodreads to track my progress and books I want to read. The hardest part was getting back into the habit of reading daily, and when I did sit down to read, the constant distraction of my phone seemed to always be hindering my progress.

Here are a few ways I’ve made reading part of my everyday routine so I crawl closer and closer to my goals:

  1. Set a timer. It doesn’t have to be a long period of time (even 10 minutes will do), but this helps me stay focused on reading when I know I’m being timed. It also eliminates the urge to check my phone every 5 minutes.
  2. Schedule the time. Sounds obvious, but finding the time to focus on reading is half the battle. Select time in your schedule when you’re the most likely to read, and plan on it. Don’t say you’ll “find time,” but actually schedule the time into your routine so it has a timeframe.
  3. Listen to audiobooks. Some say audiobooks don’t count toward your reading goal, but I’m in the camp that they definitely do. Yes, you can easily get distracted listening to a book while doing other things, so learning when to listen helps with that. For example, I only listen to audiobooks when doing something mindless that doesn’t require my full attention (i.e., doing my makeup, folding clothes, walking on the treadmill).
  4. Use Goodreads. Goodreads has honestly motivated me to stay on track on reading because I can update my progress and visually see how much of the book left to go. I also set my yearly reading goal on there so I can see how close I am to reaching it.
  5. Quit a book if it’s not for you. There are SO many awesome books out there that if you start a book and it doesn’t thrill you, quit it. Seriously. Don’t waste your time dragging through a book when there is a plethora of choices out there waiting for you!
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How I’m Becoming a Morning Person

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I hate to admit this because I never thought I’d say it.

I’m *slowly* becoming a morning person.

Not one of those “I wake up at 3am every day for fun” people. I’ll never be like that. I’m talking about the “I wake up at 6am” person, which may sound unimpressive but that is really early for me.

Apparently you are either a Night Owl or an Early Bird, and for years I thought I was the former. I stay awake until at least 12-1am almost every night and I thought that made me a Night Owl.

However when I started thinking about it, I’m not productive at night. I’m not inspired by or find that my prime hours of creativity are when the sun is asleep. I would rather watch a movie or read a book at night, not create something or clean my house. I realized I’m way more productive and motivated in the morning.

Now that I’ve started to embrace this realization, I love learning about others’ morning routines. YouTube is a jackpot for this. Learning what people do during their morning routines has helped me pinpoint what I can implement into my own.

If you’re like me and want a morning routine, or maybe you’re curious what I do before work, just keep reading.

{ONE} Create a to-do list the night before.

I’ve mentioned this in other blog posts but it is so important I’m telling you again. Creating a to-do list the night before helps me wake up focused and ready to conquer the day. I even add obvious to-dos like making my bed because who doesn’t like checking things off and feeling productive? 😉

{TWO} Don’t check social media.

This is a BIG one and something that is extremely difficult for me to do. I could write an entire blog post dedicated to this, but I’ll refrain (for now). I recently listened to an episode of The Date Night Diaries with Steve & Stacy Hart that was all about how the screen affects us. I was instantly motivated to change my habit of checking social media first thing in the morning. I find myself absentmindedly scrolling through Instagram and Twitter all the time. It’s insane how much time you can waste aimlessly scrolling. No one needs that kind of distraction in the morning and believe me, social media can wait a few hours! Put it aside, get things done, and enjoy being unplugged for a bit.

{THREE} Make your bed.

If you read about successful people and their habits, one theme is they all make their beds in the morning. It instantly makes your bedroom cleaner and helps start your day productive and ready to take on anything. A simple habit like making your bed can be the stepping stone to a good day ahead. As soon as I wake up, I make my bed because it also forces me to stay awake instead of crawling back between the sheets.

{FOUR} Drink water…

I have a difficult time drinking enough water most days. As soon as I wake up, I try to drink at least 16 ounces of water. Some people drink more, others less. As long as water is the first thing you consume, you’re off to a good start.

{FIVE} Then get coffee, ASAP. 

Honestly though, water’s great and all but it doesn’t have caffeine. As a “reward” to myself after drinking my morning water, I get coffee ASAP. It honestly is so nice to drink coffee while going through my morning routine instead of chugging it in the car on the way to work. There’s something about a cute mug filled with coffee that just gets to me every time.

{SIX} Straighten up.

Whether it’s putting clothes away or tossing junk mail, I also try to straighten up a bit. When my surroundings are clear, my mind is clear. It’s a pleasing sight to see that my space is already clean when I come home at the end of the work day.

{SEVEN} Read.

As mentioned before, one of my 2018 goals is to read more. One of the ways I’m fitting this into my daily routine is to read for at least 15-30 minutes in the morning. Whether it’s a few pages or a few chapters, it doesn’t matter. As long as I’m inching my way closer to completing the goal, I’m good!

{EIGHT} Start your get ready routine.

Eventually the “fun stuff” comes to an end and I have to begin by get ready routine. This isn’t as exciting as the other things, but one of the major pros to waking up earlier is doing all the other stuff BEFORE the get ready routine. By waking up earlier, I no longer scramble to fit everything I need to do within a crunched timeframe. Establishing a morning routine is helpful and ensures your day is off to a great (and productive) start.

The Movement Challenge: 6 Ways to Move More

This month I’ve been challenging myself to MOVE.

Now this may sound pretty straight forward and obvious, but if I’m being honest with you (and myself), some days I’m really bad at moving. I work in an office where I sit for most of the day, whether at my desk or in meetings, and when it’s a busy day I am usually “chained” to my desk. (Not really, but you get the idea.)

I mentioned in my Monthly Roundup: 7 March Favorites blog post I received a Fitbit HR recently from my fiance. I love it but it also was a visual reminder that I didn’t move enough during the day. It alerts me every hour to walk at least 250 steps and on some days in March, I would go a few hours (if not most of the day) without walking a single step from 9-5 p.m. (Terrible, I know.)

They say sitting is the new smoking, so this month I decided to do something about it.

I still work at a desk job so my 9-5 p.m. schedule can’t change too much, but here are a few habits I’ve started to incorporate more movement into the day.

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I’m changing my “I can’t” to “I will.” Before action comes the mindset. I sometimes say, “I don’t have time.” That’s not true. I do make time for what is important to me. If movement was important to me (and it is), then the mindset must change. In April I began changing my thinking from “I don’t have time” to “I will have time.” Using an “I will” statement is a promise I don’t want to break.

I wake up earlier. Let’s be honest here, we love sleep. I’m not a self-proclaimed morning person but this month I’ve been trying to wake up 1 – 1.5 hours earlier than I did in March. When I wake up earlier, it is so difficult to get out of bed, but when I’m up, there are no excuses to skip my workout. I can’t say “I don’t have time,” because I do! So I roll out of bed and do Insanity and by 7:30 a.m. (when I’d usually wake up), I’ve already completed 3 healthy habits: more sweat, more steps, and more water.

I park farther away. Granted, the parking garage is directly below my office building so I don’t have to walk blocks to arrive at my desk. BUT, parking farther away from the entrance makes me walk farther and therefore, move more.

I take the stairs. I refuse to go on an elevator unless I absolutely have to. In the mall, at the office, in a hotel… wherever it might be, I don’t take the elevator. I opt for the stairs. It gets my heart pumping a bit if there are multiple flights to climb and it is also an easy way to get more movement in my day.

I drink more water. This is a win-win because you a) drink more water and b) walk to re-fill the bottle. This month I’ve tried to drink at least 64 ounces of water a day, which is honestly a lot harder then I originally thought. Consequently I’m less hungry, feel healthier, and consume less coffee (sad but good).

I walk laps around the office. I can get so buried in a task that I don’t even realize I need a mental break. My Fitbit HR helps me out because it buzzes a reminder that I need to walk before the hour is up. It’s my cue to stop what I’m doing and take a lap around the office. Even a 5-minute mental break from looking at a screen makes me feel refreshed and motivated to do my best work.

I’ve enjoyed The Movement Challenge so far. It’s not only been a positive change, but a much needed one. What are some ways you add movement to your day? Leave a comment below!

28 Healthy Habits You Can Start Right Now

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How are your New Year’s Resolutions going?

A lot of people laugh at this question nowadays because by now, many have given up on them.

Admittedly, I was this person in years past, but this year I chose three words to shape my 2018 perspective. One of those words is “Change” and the other is “Do.” You can attribute so many resolutions to these two words alone that the list is endless!

When it comes to healthy habits, I’ve struggled a bit. As I experiment to see what works and what doesn’t, I realized something.

Every little thing counts.

In my mind, I have thought of ‘being healthy’ as a series of huge decisions destined for failure. But really, that is not the case at all! I started listing out all of the healthy habits I’m already doing and looking at the list, I realized it’s not hard to be healthy.

You simply have to change little things in your life and then, as Nike says, just do it.

  1. Take the stairs.
  2. Eat an apple with your lunch.
  3. Park farther away in the parking lot.
  4. Do squats while brushing your teeth.
  5. Do squats while watching TV.
  6. Do squats basically whenever you’re standing still.
  7. Drink a glass of water in the morning.
  8. Drink a glass of water at night.
  9. Drink water more often in general.
  10. Eat a big breakfast.
  11. Don’t eat late at night.
  12. Try black coffee without tons of creamer and sugar.
  13. Do sit-ups during commercial breaks.
  14. Do planks.
  15. Laugh often.
  16. Go to bed at a decent hour.
  17. Rest when your body needs it.
  18. Get outside.
  19. Cook at home if you can.
  20. Eat more fruits & veggies.
  21. Stop drinking soda.
  22. Sit less, stand more.
  23. Don’t snack if you’re not hungry.
  24. Eat sitting down.
  25. Don’t drink your calories.
  26. Eat colorfully.
  27. Walk more.
  28. Read more.

There are so many more, but those are the ones that came to mind. What is one healthy habit you’re going to start today?