30 Day Challenge – Week 2

This is the third in a series. Read the initial post and Week 1 Progress.

30 day challenge - week 2 results (2)

Here is my Week 2 check-in of my 30 day personal challenge for the month of April.

“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.” ~Zig Ziglar

Difficult roads

Difficult Roads

To say these last two weeks have been difficult is almost an understatement. And I am not referring to my 30 day challenge. That has actually been the easy part! My husband has been gone on two different trips. Work has been particularly busy and difficult. I have been extremely busy with my volunteer work. And, oh, there was that little flare of fibromyalgia along the way.

So this week’s entry will be short, sweet, and to the point!

“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” ~John Maxwell

Week 2 Results

Where I am still falling short is on my sleep. This has always been difficult for me. Never enough, not refreshing enough. Even Saturday night when I was completely exhausted I didn’t sleep through the night. It didn’t help that one of the dogs was barking incessantly at a squirrel she had cornered in a tree!

As far as my daily gratitude, yoga, and logging my food, here are my results:

  • Workouts: I have practiced yoga every day. Even the day I overslept and then had a fund raiser after work, I made sure to come home and practice a relaxing session before I went to bed.
  • Weight: So far down 2.5 lbs. and 1.5% body fat 🙂 (happy dance inserted here)
  • Food: Logged every day, and haven’t gone over my calories. My next challenge, however, will be to work on the proper balance of calories between Carbs/Proteins/Fats.
  • Gratitude: Haven’t missed a day in my journal, and am thankful I have been so successful thus far!
  • Sleep: Still struggling here. I have had a few good nights of quality sleep, and a few not so good nights. Six straight hours of sleep is remarkable for me. 😦

This week’s goal: Better quality sleep!

This should be easier to accomplish, since I don’t have quite as many after work activities planned, I am hoping to take a couple of half days off of work, and I have a Saturday morning date planned with my husband for breakfast and a trip to the Farmer’s Market!

Do you have some bad habits or issues you would like to work on? Consider challenging yourself for 7, 14, or even 30 days!

Cheers!Cynthia

30 Day Challenge – Week 1 Results

This challenge is about being DELIBERATE. It’s about finding some peace with myself, my body, my physical capabilities, and my limitations.

I made it through week 1!

This is the second in a series. Read the initial post here. 

My body is wearing out. Since 2000 when I was diagnosed with a herniated disc in my lower back and a few months later fibromyalgia, my body seems to have been on a steady decline. I used to be a treadmill warrior, committed to reaching those 10,000 steps a stay so my Fitbit would say “Nice job, Cindy!”. Well injuries and physical therapy and doctors recommendations to try something else have convinced me that perhaps I needed to fold up the treadmill for good. Or at least for the next 30 days…

So I embarked on my 30 Day Challenge with these guidelines: Continue reading “30 Day Challenge – Week 1 Results”

30 Day Challenge to a Better, Stronger Me

I am embarking on a personal challenge for the month of April, to try to tweak some of my habits, to be more consistent with my practices. As JJ Virgin always says, “Little hinges swing big doors.” Sometimes those little tweaks make a big difference!

Continue reading “30 Day Challenge to a Better, Stronger Me”

It Begins with Sleep

I have taken a very deliberate break from blogging and social media lately, as the demands of my day job have been consuming my time and energy. And much like others at the beginning of every new year, I have been trying to lose a few stubborn pounds that have crept on. I already have a pretty healthy diet and exercise program, so I decided reducing stress and getting some extra sleep might just be the two missing factors. And when your schedule is already overflowing and you need some extra Zzzzs, something has to give – for me that was writing and browsing social media.

But, with Sleep Awareness Week around the corner it was time to write a new post….

It Begins with Sleep

If “cotton is the fabric of our lives”, sleep should be considered the fabric of bodies and minds, weaving together all of the ingredients to help us reach our goals. Sleep allows us to recharge, makes us less hungry, makes us more focused and productive, and keeps us happier and less stressed. For more about the benefits of sleep, visit here.

The word I am focusing on this year is Deliberate, so that included being more deliberate and intentional about getting a restful night sleep. I have some links below to past blog posts describing what I do to unwind at bedtime and prepare myself for bed and sleep. These days, even that takes preparation.

Sleep and Electronics

It seems that while most people know these things, not everyone is listening. People use their smartphones as alarm clocks – so the device is usually just an arm’s reach away from the bed. Tempting to reach for it when we hear the buzz or ding of some email or post! While it’s best to keep your smartphone in another room altogether, if you’re going to use is as an alarm clock, use these other features too:

  • Use the “Do Not Disturb” feature so that you’re not being bombarded with alerts all night.
  • Make sure the display is off to avoid “blue light” emissions that suppress melatonin.
  • Use a sleep timer and play some soothing sounds or music to help you fall asleep.
  • Keep it far enough away that it’s not easy to reach for – and definitely don’t sleep with it under your pillow!

Sleep and Children/Teens

The actual Sleep Awareness Week this year (March 11-17th) happens to coincide with “Spring Break” around here in Texas. I find this funny, since teens see Spring Break as a time to abandon their normal sleeping routines and bedtimes, preferring to stay up late binge watching Netflix, playing video games, or Snap chatting with friends. All of this extra electronic stimuli wreaks havoc on their ability to disengage their brains for some good quality sleep. And we all know that teens rarely want to listen to the advice of their parents when it comes to bedtime, but getting quality sleep and having a regular routine can help anyone better manage stress and maintain healthy habits during the day.

I find it disturbing that I opened my Target ad today to find a sale on “sleep aids, sleep vitamins, or energy supplements” and one of the items depicted was “Children’s Sleep with Melatonin” that promotes restful sleep. As a society have we become so addicted to our “always on, always connected” mentality that we now have to give our children aids for sleeping? We would rather reach for a pill than change our habits to adopt healthy life style changes. That is definitely not me. I will do anything first before reaching for a pill, save for the few vitamins I take.

Sleep and Fibromyalgia

As someone who has suffered from fibromyalgia for almost 20 years now, I know the double-edged sword this condition creates. Lack of sleep exacerbates the pain and daytime fatigue, and the pain makes sleeping at night difficult. Then you add to that the OTC or prescription medication used to help one sleep, and that can add to the daytime drowsiness and hungover feeling. Although I still usually sleep about 6 hours during the week and 7-8 hours on the weekend, my goal is for quality, uninterrupted sleep to help me recharge. And that comes from good bedtime habits.

Links

Here are some links to additional reading and past blogs about getting better sleep:

References:

My Past Blog Posts About My Sleep Strategies:

Begin with the End in Mind

When doing any sort of strategic planning session, I always “begin with the end in mind.” So when we are thinking ahead to the next day of our busy lives, we should think about getting a good nights sleep, design what we think that looks like, and then plan for that in our schedule as well. Remember, it begins with sleep.

Do you have any tips for better quality sleep? What are your bedtime routines?

Cheers!

Cynthia

Click here to learn more about Sleep Awareness Week 2018

How to Sleep Better

“Sleep is the Golden Chain that binds health and our bodies together.”

I fully intended to get this blog posted back in May during Better Sleep month but, as is often the case, life got in the way. I have struggled for years with getting good quality sleep. There are nights where I just cannot fall asleep, and others where I just can’t stay asleep. While the ideal amount is between 7-9 hours for most, I still average about 6 hours a night. More than 7 hours of sleep, and I feel out of sorts. Lately I have been much better about sleeping through the night, since incorporating some simple strategies.

Those who suffer with fibromyalgia syndrome know how difficult it can be to get a good night’s sleep. In fact, sleep disturbances are one of the common symptoms associated with the condition, which then compounds the daytime fatigue. But allowing the body to rest and recharge at night is so critical to everyone’s physical and mental health, not just those with fibromyalgia.counting-sheep-1

“Sleep is the Golden Chain that binds health and our bodies together.”

~ Thomas Dekker

Health Benefits

That old saying “early to bed, early to rise makes your body healthy, wealthy, and wise” is more than just an old wives’ tale. Here’s a list of health benefits from getting adequate sleep:

  • It can help you fight off diseases
  • It can help improve your mood
  • It can lower your risk for obesity and help you lose weight
  • It can decrease inflammation
  • It allows the body to repair itself from stress and ultraviolet exposure

“By helping us keep the world in perspective, sleep gives us a chance to refocus on the essence of who we are. And in that place of connection, it is easier for the fears and concerns of the world to drop away.”
Arianna Huffington

Getting those Zzzz’s

While you sleep, your body is working to heal itself, build up your immune system, and recharge your brain cells. Now the struggle is that people with fibromyalgia have trouble falling and staying asleep. We often don’t reach that deep sleep stage required for all of the restorative health benefits. There are a myriad of underlining conditions that could be preventing you from getting a good night’s rest:

  • Health Issues such as allergies, sleep apnea, asthma, narcolepsy, or hormone imbalance
  • Physical Issues such as chronic or acute pain, or certain prescription drugs
  • Mental Issues such as depression, stress, or anxiety
  • Environmental Issues such as too much light in your room, drinking alcohol or caffeine, or performing shift work

So assuming you don’t need to have a medical condition checked out, how do you improve your sleep, to reap those benefits? Getting into a routine helps. Here are some simple strategies that might help you establish that routine:

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
  • Set a regular bedtime routine.
  • Curb the electronics in the bedroom, that is no TV, iPad, etc. before bed.
  • Keep your bedroom comfortable, quiet, dark and cool.
  • Avoid heavy meals close to bedtime, and don’t eat 3 hours before bed.
  • Exercise daily.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Do not use tobacco.

“Golden Slumbers fill your eyes. Smiles await when you rise.” ~ The Beatles

Bedtime Routines

As we age we need less sleep, but we still need good quality sleep. Uninterrupted sleep. One of the best habits is to take a warm bath or shower before bed. This raises the body temperature, and then allows it to cool down faster, which helps you reach that deep sleep. Couple that with some aromatherapy, and you should feel relaxed and calm for bedtime. I developed my routine after reading Arianna Huffington’s book Thrive that discussed redefining success and details her wake-up call. She has another book called The Sleep Revolution that undoubtedly has more information on the subject of sleep as well.

Here are some of my favorite bedtime and bath aids:

So go draw a bath, sip some tea, rub some lavender oil between your toes and get a good night’s sleep. These are my tried and true methods. You’ll thank me in the morning!

For more sleep strategies, visit the National Sleep Foundation,”The F Word” blog and Sarah’s Fibromyalgia Sleep Chronicles series, or listen to JJ Virgin’s podcast with Arianna Huuffington – two big proponents of sleep!  Do you have other sleep strategies you use?

Cheers!

Cynthia

Lavender Lullabies

Lavender is an herb that is both beautiful and beneficial.

As November is Sleep Comfort Month, I thought I would write one more post about sleep. I have written about my fibromyalgia and difficulties sleeping (here and here). I have various sleep strategies I use, including using lavender oil or spray. So recently at lunch with a few girlfriends, one of them mentioned she hadn’t slept through the night since March due to various things going on in her life (stress!). Someone said, “Have you tried Ambien?” It’s really a shame that some people think first about a prescription medication to mask the problem, rather than trying easy at-home strategies first. I mentioned Lavender, Melatonin and Valerian root to her as a natural alternatives to try, but my favorite is still lavender.

bee-and-lavender-with-quote-marion-mccristall
Picture from Quotesgram.com

Continue reading “Lavender Lullabies”

To Sleep, Per Chance to Dream

image002
“To sleep, per chance to dream – for in this sleep of death what dreams may come.” ~ William Shakespeare

Having Fibromyalgia, I find I quite often don’t sleep well. I can’t fall asleep. Or I can’t stay asleep. Or when I do sleep a few hours, it’s not restful. And I certainly don’t remember my dreams very well. All common issues for those who suffer this condition.

Some nights, despite how tired I may be and how many good habits I use to prepare for bed (hot tea, warm bath, lavender spray…), it seems like I am wide awake once my head hits the pillow and I turn out the lights. My mind will be racing and I just can’t seem to be able to turn it off.

Those are the nights I pull out a little journal from my night stand, and I write down the random thoughts that pop into my head. I just write for as long I can, whatever gibberish I want. And somehow, the process of getting those thoughts out of my head and onto paper helps. I am able to quiet my mind, lie back down, and somehow sleep…per chance to dream.

Cheers!

Cynthia

P. S. Fibromyalgia and sleep troubles are, to me, very much like the chicken and the egg. Which came first? Does lack of sleep and increased fatigue lead to FMS? Or does FMS create the sleep disturbances which then leads to the increased fatigue? Some studies indicate FMS is a by-product of sleep disorders. Seeking out the help of a sleep specialist might then be the cure for a good night’s sleep.