My Mindfulness Checklist

In an effort to manage my depression and anxiety, I’ve developed a morning routine that is focused solely on helping me clear my head and start my day with positive momentum.  Getting up early isn’t really my favorite thing to do, but the benefits I get from waking up earlier than the rest of the house, having some time to myself, and working through these steps makes it completely worth it!

Before I started implementing these steps, I was very skeptical about it.  I didn’t think that meditation or affirmations would make any difference, and honestly I felt really foolish doing it.  It took me a long time to even give it a try, but when I kept reading over and over about these successful people I look up to, time and time again they talked about doing affirmations and meditation (or least some version of it).  If all of these people that I respect were doing it, why not give it a try?  Once I did this for about a week, I noticed a big difference and I became a believer in the process.

Here is how I work through my checklist; hopefully this gives you some ideas on how you can incorporate these steps into your day.

  1. A peaceful space: Find a spot in your house that will allow you to spend a few minutes alone, a space where you can keep your materials for your morning routine, and a space that makes you feel calm and peaceful. For me, I use a spot in my basement; it’s away from the rest of the house, it is comfortable and relaxing, and there’s a table next to my couch where I keep my Bible and journal so it’s easy to access.  It really doesn’t matter where you decide to make your morning mindfulness space, as long as you feel relaxed and can be uninterrupted for at least a few minutes–your kitchen table, your living room couch, your bedroom, your porch or deck, etc.
  2. 10 minutes of quiet solitude: This has been huge for me!  I wake up with a lot of tension–lots of thoughts swirling through my head, physical tension in my back, and stress thinking about my to-do list for the day ahead.  Taking 10 minutes of quiet solitude to start my day has allowed me to get rid of that stress and start my day with a lot more peace.  I use the Headspace app for their free 10-min guided meditation sessions–it doesn’t have corny background music, it doesn’t ask you to focus on anything except your breathing, and it doesn’t feel too hippy-granola to me.  If meditation isn’t your thing and you want to spend the time praying alone, awesome.  If you want to spend 5 minutes focusing on your breathing, fantastic.  If you want to just sit at your kitchen table and sip your coffee for 10 minutes, great!  The key here is to try and CLEAR your mind, not just sit quietly for 10 minutes stressing about your day or what happened yesterday.  It might be helpful to try a guided meditation once or twice to give you the tools, and then you could do it on your own.  I also have a list of positive affirmations about myself that I say out loud–things that help me change the negative dialogue in my own head.  One of my affirmations is “I am disciplined” to help me focus on who I want to be, instead of spending my day talking down to myself.  The affirmations help me change my perception of myself–when you talk negatively to yourself, you are a negative person.  When you talk positively, you become more positive.  It’s pretty simple, but it makes a huge impact.
  3. Intentional focus on spiritual development: I love doing this section right after my meditation because I’ve cleared my head, gotten rid of some tension, and I feel much more equipped to focus on my reading and prayer instead of feeling distracted by my thoughts.  My spiritual development is really all about focusing on my personal relationship with God and growing in that; I read my Bible (following a specific plan), do some journaling about what I read, and spend some time praying.  If you aren’t sure where to start with this, I love the She Reads Truth app–it’s free, includes a Bible in the app, and has a lot of great studies to choose from (free up to $3).  There is also a He Reads Truth app for the guys, too.  Focusing on this helps me keep my priorities in check, helps me have a good mindset for my day, and helps me focus on what is really important in my day instead of focusing on insignificant stressors.
  4. Physical activity: This one might be my favorite.  I like to do a full workout in the morning with Beachbody On Demand–I usually forget that I even worked out by lunchtime and then it feels like a rest day!  But even just a short and sweet workout, like some pushups and crunches, or jumping jacks and planks, even for just 5 minutes, is shown to benefit your mindset in the morning.  All exercise releases endorphins and helps you get your day started with positivity.  When I start my day with a workout, it helps me stay motivated to make healthy choices throughout my day, too.  Whether you choose to do a full workout, a few jumping jacks, or a 5 minute yoga flow, doing some kind of physical activity will help you lower your stress levels and get in a good mood for your day.
  5. Personal Development: One of my favorite things about my coaching business is the focus on personal development.  Being intentional about reading positive books that help me become a better person, better wife, better mom, better coach has truly made all the difference in my life.  Personal development is what helped give me the confidence to leave teaching and be a stay-at-home mom, and helped me be able to identify my depression and anxiety enough to know I needed to get help.  In choosing a personal development book, I think about one of my goals and what I feel like is holding me back from accomplishing that goal.  For example, as I’ve been trying to lose weight, I’ve realized that I struggle with emotional eating, and I looked up some books dealing with that topic before choosing Made to Crave, which has been an amazing resource for me.  Some of my business goals weren’t becoming reality and I realized I needed some help being disciplined, so I read a book called Take the Stairs that was a huge help.  You can also choose a podcast to listen to–I love the God Centered Mom podcast for personal development, too.  We all have aspects of our lives that we want to improve–I use personal development as a tool to become the person I want to be.  Starting my day with this helps me stay focused on making better choices throughout the day instead of going on autopilot with bad habits.

I’ve included a printable version of this checklist for you to use as you create your own routine for mindfulness.  There is a lot of evidence for everything included here and the benefits of putting them into practice, but the only evidence you really need is trying it out for yourself.  Give it one week and see what kind of a difference it makes, and then come back and let me know how it went!

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Mindfulness Checklist

 

Healthy in Every Way–My Journey Through Depression and Anxiety

I have major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. (I tried to think of a nice introduction to transition into this declaration, but I couldn’t think of how to get there so I decided to just go for it.)  I’ve been fairly open about my struggle with depression on this blog before, and this past year has been a pretty dark place for me.  I’ve been pretty quiet about what’s been going on with me lately, but I want to share more about this aspect of my life because I’ve been realize just how much my mental health is connected to my physical health.  

 

I’ve struggled with depression for several years, but this past year has been the hardest yet.  The transition from working mom to stay-at-home mom is never an easy one, my husband has a new position in his work with some new responsibilities, and there have been lots of other transitions in other areas of my life, too.  I think that for a long time it was really easy for me to blame teaching for my depression, but once I left and the depression stayed, I was forced to really examine what was going on.

 

So, for the first time in my entire life, I started going to a therapist and taking an antidepressant.  This was honestly a really hard decision for me to make because even though I’ve recommended therapy to a lot of people close to me, I was embarrassed to admit that I needed that kind of help.  I’ve always had some kind of twisted pride in the fact that I was “managing” my depression without the help of therapy or medicine.  But honestly, I wasn’t managing anything.  I was barely holding on by a thread and constantly felt like everything was falling apart.  Every single part of my day was a struggle, from waking up to getting out of bed to taking care of my child.  I was miserable, so my pride in taking care of myself was pretty misguided.

 

Before I started therapy and learning different ways of coping with my depression and anxiety, I had pretty much one coping mechanism–food.  I’ve always known that I was an emotional eater, but I didn’t quite realize how deep my relationship with food really went.  I started to figure it out after I read “Made to Crave” and did Whole30, but once I finished Whole30 I basically fell into a giant pile of sugar.  I had certainly learned better food habits, but I hadn’t worked on the deeper issue: I was using food as a coping mechanism instead of actually dealing with my depression and anxiety.

 

As a result from this emotional eating+not working on my mental health combination, I gained some weight and started to feel bad about myself.  I lost energy, I lost motivation, I lost confidence.  I was embarrassed that I was losing control of my health–again–and I felt like a total failure.  Of course, that just made my depression even worse.  And then I continued to eat poorly to cope with all the negative feelings…which made me feel worse.  See the cycle there?  It took me months to figure out that connection.  Actually, it took me months to figure out that I was deeply depressed.  It was a rough year.

 

But, that is in my rearview mirror.  Once I figured out what was really happening, decided to get to a professional, and became open to medicine, things started to change.  Now, I have a mindfulness routine to start out my days.  I’m focused on my personal development to help keep my mindset positive.  I’m focused on being consistent with my fitness because a good workout does WONDERS for my depression and anxiety.  I’m learning different ways to cope with my issues instead of running to the drive thru for a sweet tea and cookie every day.  (True story).

 

I’m going to be posting a little more about some of the specifics of my routine and different coping strategies, but I set an alarm to get up early so I can have some quiet time to do a 10 minute meditation, read my Bible and have some prayer time, read personal development, write out affirmations, and say some affirmations out loud.  I feel like a total hippie when I’m doing it, but it’s seriously amazing to feel the difference in my mindset every single day.  Those are my new coping mechanisms instead of food, and even though it’s still a struggle and I’m still working on it, I finally feel like I’m out of the pit and I’m able to get back to myself again.

 

So, why am I sharing all of this?  Part of it is to help myself get out of feeling embarrassed that I have struggles.  I deal with depression and anxiety–that’s part of my story and I don’t want to be secretive about it anymore.  It’s not anything to be ashamed of; it’s just part of who I am.  But more importantly, I want YOU to know that you’re not alone.  It has been amazing to me to hear some of my friends and family say “me too!”.  Whether it’s a struggle with depression or anxiety, or going through junk that distracts you from your health, or just dealing with gaining some weight after working so hard to lose it, you are not alone.  And you need to focus on your mental health!  It’s not just about your physical health–you have to take care of your mind and your spirit to be truly healthy.  

 

Since this is now a part of my health journey, it’s going to be a part of the blog more and more.  Stay tuned for more posts about this aspect of my story, and feel free to share any wisdom from your own journey, too!

More Than Fruits and Veggies–What I’ve Learned (And Am Still Learning) About Healthy Living

Until about two years ago, what I knew about being “healthy” was basically just eat less. move more, count calories, eat more fruits and veggies, and go running.  There was a lot of fuzzy facts in my head–if you eat at a deficit (intake less than you’re expending) you’ll lose weight.  Running is great cardio and will help you drop weight.  It was all about counting calories, paying attention to macros, and following a running plan.

Now for a disclaimer–there is nothing inherently wrong with anything in the above paragraph.  I love running.  You do need to pay attention to how much you eat.  You do need to be active.  Some people find a lot of success with counting/tracking calories and macros.  But for me personally, most of this didn’t work.  It was too vague, too fuzzy and broad.  I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted with this kind of plan and mindset.

I’ve learned that it’s not just about being active.  It’s about being active with a plan, and a plan made by someone who knows what they’re doing so I work different muscle groups in a strategic way to get the best results possible.  It’s about pushing myself–which for me means I need to have someone else telling me how long to go and when to stop.  If it’s up to me, I’ll quit after 10 seconds!

It’s not just about the calories for me–it’s way more about where those calories come from.  I can eat 1200 calories a day and not see results because they are calories from sugar, carbs, and unhealthy fats in processed foods.  Eating more calories from whole, nutrient-dense foods gives me better results.  In the past I would “make room” in my calories one day because I wanted ice cream or a candy bar, and then be frustrated that I wasn’t seeing results because I was following the “rules”.  Now I know how those different foods affect my body and my results, and I can plan to indulge without unrealistic expectations for my progress.

I’ve also learned that different things work for different people.  Some people thrive off of a small indulgence every day (like a small piece of dark chocolate); some people do really well with one off-plan meal a week; some people do best with strict plan that doesn’t allow for many off-plan indulgences.  I am one of those people who needs a lot of structure, so a stricter plan works well for me.  If I allow too many off-plan meals or foods, it tends to open the floodgates, so to speak and it’s hard for me to get back on track.

I’ve learned that I need accountability, so I have learned to be honest and vulnerable on my social media as accountability, and to open up to the ladies in my accountability groups and use those groups the way they are designed–to help me through my celebrations and struggles.

I’ve learned that working out at home with a streaming workout system is best for me; being able to walk downstairs to my basement, have over 7,000 workouts to choose from (different equipment requirements, different world-class trainers, different time commitments), and be able to get my workouts done with little fuss is the best equation for me to be consistent and successful.

I’ve learned that having a nutrient-dense shake that I can make in 5 minutes for a fast and portable breakfast is the best way for me to start my day.  It sets me up for success and helps my mornings go more smoothly.  I used to go through a drive-thru or get donuts at a gas station in the mornings, which started my days off poorly and didn’t give me the momentum I needed to make good choices.  Now, I have a healthy choice in just a few minutes that propels my day toward healthy choices instead of making me feel lethargic and bloated.

I’ve learned that I have a very deep, very strong emotional connection to food.  That makes it tougher for me to be consistent at times (and is also why I do better with stricter plans).  This is something that I deal with every day, and am still learning how to deal with to keep my body fueled properly and have a healthy mental/emotional relationship with food.  I can’t recommend the book Made to Crave enough to help with this issue!

The biggest lesson I’ve learned with being healthy is that healthy living is a journey, not a destination.  It’s not a place you arrive to one day and then you suddenly don’t have to worry about making good choices anymore.  It’s not a set test you either pass or fail.  It’s not a checklist that you can easily click off each day.  It’s individual for all of us, and it requires patience, grace toward yourself, experimenting with what works for you, and a willingness to be flexible as you learn about yourself.

Sometimes you need help with this process and guidance to learn some of these things about yourself.  I am so thankful for the fit family I have found in my accountability groups, and I know that you’d find the same support!  If you need some extra help with this part of your life, let’s chat.  I’d love to take you under my wing!  wweaver0@gmail.com.

Meeting A Coach Hero (Louisville Super Sunday Recap)

I love going to live events for my coaching business.  Whether it’s the annual Coach Summit in the summer or the quarterly local events, I love getting together with fellow coaches to learn more about this business and be inspired to do more with my team!

Yesterday was one of those quarterly local events, and I was SO excited.  We had a special guest speaker coming that has a lot of personal significance for me.  Erin Young is a top coach that isn’t on my team at all, but as a fellow mom and high school English teacher, I relate a lot to her story.

Right after I finished crying. Lol.


When I was a brand new coach trying to decide what I really wanted out of my coaching hobby, I was also a working mom struggling with wanting to stay home with my son.  I had dropped him off at daycare and had seen a sign promoting their upcoming “Muffins with Mom” event, but I couldn’t go.  It was happening on the last day of school for me, and I would already be well into teaching by the time the event started.  I couldn’t take time off for it–it just wasn’t even an option for me.  I was so upset by that–I just wanted to eat a muffin with my kid.  He was asleep when I left for work every day, I didn’t get to drop him off most of the time because I’d have to take him in so early, and I didn’t get to see him until almost dinner every day.  I just wanted to be home with him, but was struggling with feeling like I was stuck in teaching.  That’s what I went to school for, that’s what we cash flowed my Master’s degree for–I couldn’t give up on that, could I?

My Dream Achiever Laci!


Right around this time, I saw a short video of this random coach, Erin Young.  She was talking about how she loved her teaching job, but wanted to be able to put her kids on the school bus and make them breakfast–with her teaching schedule, that wouldn’t be possible.  She talked about struggling with realizing that she wanted to do something different than teach and about how she had to give herself permission to dream a new dream with her coaching business.  This resonated so much with me and helped me in my decision with what I wanted to do–and ultimately I decided to make this business happen for me and stay home with my son!

Getting to hear her speak in person, learning some business strategies from her directly, and working out with her was so much fun!  I got a chance to talk with her for just a minute and ask for a picture, which was embarrassing because I totally lost it.  I was trying to explain how much her story impacted me and thank her for sharing her story and making a difference in my life, and I just cried.  So embarrassing!  But I also kind of don’t really care because this business means SO much to me and my family, and I love being able to share with the people who have impacted my life how much of a difference they are making.  She was really sweet about it and so inspiring for me.

Erin young during her presentation


My biggest takeaway from the event was that I am capable of accomplishing ANYTHING I want to accomplish in this business.  The only thing standing in my way is me and my own excuses!  It’s just like with my fitness journey–at first I thought that it was impossible to lose weight and reach my goal, but once I stopped making excuses and followed a solid plan, I not only got to my goal size, but actually got down one size smaller!  And this isn’t just true for me and my specific goals–it’s true for EVERYONE with ANY goal!  There is nothing standing in your way except for YOU.

I am so motivated by this event and it made me even more excited for my trip to New Orleans this summer for the annual Coach Summit.  Anything is possible!

Reverse Meal Planning

I love to cook.  I love looking up new recipes to try, experimenting with different ingredients, and trying to think like a chef as I throw things together.  But sometimes that causes us to spend more money than we wanted–at the grocery to get the needed ingredients, or eating out because my experiments didn’t go well.  Oops.

This month my husband and I are challenging ourselves to spend less money on food, both eating out and at the grocery.  So, I decided to try something new this week based on a tip I saw on a Facebook moms group I’m in.  Instead of making a meal plan and then going to the grocery, I went to the grocery first.

No list. No meal plan.  It felt SO backwards to me–how will I know how much food I need?  What if I don’t buy enough?  What if I buy a bunch of random things and then won’t know how to put it all together?  It was so foreign to me to go shopping without a list, but it ended up being really fun.

First of all, I needed to have a little more faith in myself–in my knowledge of the staples we use up every week and of my ability to throw foods together to make something yummy.  I’ve been cooking and following food blogs for years now, and I’ve got a good arsenal of information in my brain to help me.

So, I got the pantry staples and produce staples that we use up every week, and then I shopped for produce and meats that were on sale.  I had already looked through my grocery’s app to look at the weekly ad and their digital coupon options and downloaded the ones I thought I might use–which means I skipped the ones for highly processed, unhealthy foods.  I’m trying to save money, but also still eat healthy.  We’re not suddenly eating unhealthy foods because there are more coupons for those kinds of foods.

I ended up with the list you see below.  I was AMAZED at how much less I spent.  We got good, healthy foods (although you can see some of the unhealthy treats my husband picked up) and spent about $30 less than normal.  I saved almost $25 between sales and coupons!  I was shocked at how much I saved this way.

 

So with these ingredients, these are the meals we made this week:

Gluten-free spaghetti with ground turkey (with sauce from my freezer)

Clean-eating sloppy joes

Smoked whole chicken with green beans and roasted red potatoes (this made a ton of food that we ate off of for several meals!)

Clean eating taco bowl with ground beef

 

It was actually a lot easier to come up with these meals than I thought it would be, and we had enough food to last us almost every meal all week.  We did eat out a couple of times, but that was in our budget, too.

I’m excited about trying this reverse meal planning more to see how much I can get and how much I can save!  Do you always shop with a list, or have you tried this way of shopping before?

Acid Reflux–My Experience and How I Manage It

When I was a senior in college, I woke up my first day as a freshman orientation leader feeling really gross.  My stomach was hurting, I didn’t feel like eating, and I honestly thought that I might throw up.  So I avoided breakfast, got a Sprite, and pushed through the day.  Little did I know that I was going to feel super gross for MONTHS.  It seemed to not matter if I ate or not, what I ate, what I drank–no matter what I did, I just didn’t feel good.  Sometimes I would have to run to the bathroom because I thought I was going to be sick; sometimes I woke up at night feeling awful.  I lost about 15 lbs in a couple of months just from not eating enough because I was trying to avoid feeling sick.  It was awful.

When I finally went to a doctor and got diagnosed with acid reflux, that was the beginning of me trying to figure out how to manage my symptoms.  I was put on prescriptions, told to eat Tums all day every day, told to eat more cake and brownies to “soak up the acid” (for real, a doctor told me to do that), to drink more milk, and lots of other things that, frankly, didn’t help.  The medicine I was put on helped make my symptoms less severe, but I was still suffering from it every day.   We even went so far as to have an endoscopy to check my esophagus to check for damage or any other signs of something deeper going on than just acid reflux–only to come up with no answers.

It took me a long time to figure out how to manage my own symptoms, but after paying attention to what I was eating and how it made me feel, I was able to identify my trigger foods so I can avoid them: peanut butter, red meat, dairy, carbs, and sugary foods–like  the cakes and brownies I was instructed to eat at first.  Hmmm.

Coincidentally, when I started my health and fitness journey, one of the biggest changes I noticed was that my acid reflux basically disappeared.  When I’m taking care of myself–eating clean, working out, and drinking my Shakeology–I have no issues with acid reflux.  When I eat too much junk and skip workouts, I can tell immediately in my acid reflux issues–I will start to feel sick and not be able to sleep well.  It’s one of the biggest signs my body gives me that I’m not taking care of myself.

One of the best revelations that my doctor helped me uncover is that for me, my acid reflux seems to be very linked to stress and anxiety.  I was told that the fact that my acid reflux literally just started one day, and during a stressful time of my life–planning a wedding, senior year of college–suggested that my symptoms were really caused by stress.  Working out regularly and properly fueling my body lessens the stress my body experiences, and thus reduces those symptoms.

For anyone else who is suffering from acid reflux, I would recommend a few things from my own experience:

  • Keep a food journal to keep track of what you’re eating and how it makes you feel.  Don’t just assume that your experience will fit the traditional trigger foods or relief foods that you’ll find online–it doesn’t fit my experience!  Keeping track yourself will empower you to make food choices that make you feel good instead of gross.
  • Work out!  If you’re like me and stress impacts your acid reflux, working out will reduce the stress by giving your body another outlet to release that stress without making you feel sick.
  • Drink Shakeology.  Part of what makes Shakeo awesome is that it has probiotics AND prebiotics to create a healthy environment in your gut, which could mean fewer issues with acid reflux (which means the pH levels in your gut are not what they should be).

Obviously, everyone is different, but these tips can help anyone.  Knowing what makes you feel awesome and healthy, versus what makes you feel gross, is an empowering thing.  Take some control of your health and make empowered, informed choices!

3 by 30

In just a few months, I’ll be turning 30 years old.  I thought that perhaps I would feel depressed or weirded out by this, like I did when I was turning 25, but honestly I’m really excited.  I am doing exactly what I want to be doing with my life and where I feel called to be–at home with my son, focusing on my family, and spending more time helping people change their lives.  I’m less stressed, I’m happier, and I’m content with this season of my life.

It’s been a trend on blogs and throughout the internet world to come up with a list of 30 things to accomplish before you turn 30 (or while you are 30), and I’m debating coming up with a list like that.  In the meantime, I have a few fairly major goals that I want to accomplish before my 20s are over.

My biggest goal that I want to focus on for the next 3 months is losing 20 or more pounds.  I have 15 weeks between now and my birthday, and if I can lose 1-2 lbs per week for those 15 weeks, I will have lost at least 20 lbs.  That is a huge goal for me, but it’s also realistic.  I’ve gained some weight over the past year, but most of it has been in the last 6 months or so since I have been preparing to leave teaching and adjusting to staying home.  I laid out my plan to get out of my rut last week, and this goal just gives me something concrete to work toward.

My next goal is to get on a better schedule for myself.  I’ve been having a lot of trouble sleeping, which means I’ve been staying up too late, waking up in the middle of the night, turning my alarm off in my sleep, and sleeping until Liam wakes me up to start our day.  Even though I don’t have a set “start” time to clock in as a stay at home mom (well, I guess whenever Liam wakes up) that I HAVE to be up and ready to go, I have things to get done that are really hard to accomplish if I don’t get up earlier.  I am going to be following the “miracle morning” routine (and I’m doing a free group for it next week on Facebook!) to help me get my workout, Bible study, and personal development reading done before anyone else wakes up in my house.  I’m also joining an accountability group with other women who are doing this routine for the next 90 days to help my accountability and motivation with this.  It’s always easier to accomplish your goals when you have some like-minded people to help you!

My last goal is related to the first two–I want to continue to build my business!  I love helping people get healthy, running challenge groups, helping people figure out how to overcome struggles on their journey, and just talking with people!  I’ve taken a step back from those activities just a little bit over the past couple of weeks to focus on myself and really get a plan of action together for taking care of ME, and I’m really excited to get back into a routine with my business, too.  Because of my weight gain and my sleep issues, my business has suffered a little bit because I’ve been spending my days trying to fit in the things that I should be doing in the mornings.  I’m really excited to see how focusing on my first two goals will help with my third goal!

Life is all about seasons and balance.  There will always be ups and downs.  The key for me right now is giving myself some grace with where I am, making goals for where I want to be, and knowing that I can get where I want to be because I’ve done it before!

Do you have any goals for the end of 2016?  I’d love to hear them!