Attack of the Sleep Monster and What To Do For Lent (if that’s your kind of thing)

There is little worse than nights when you cannot sleep. I went to bed around 9:30 openly yawning and didn’t fall asleep well past midnight. It was one of those sleeps when you feel like you didn’t sleep at all, even though you probably did at some point. I fixed my alarm to skip the early morning workout because due to my lack of sleep, I was certain it wasn’t going to happen. Ended up I wasn’t sleeping well in the morning anyways and my alarm was an unwelcome sound blasting in my ears.

Sometimes this happens, drink coffee or tea, eat balanced meals, and suck it up.

I started my day still drowsy by mixing half a cup of milk with half a cup of water and boiling it for my oats. I tossed in some mashed banana, peanut butter, strawberries, blueberries, and cinnamon and mixed it all around until it was this delightful mixture. A nice warm bowl for another cold, snowy day.

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Lunch was a salad and soup kind of day. I chopped up some carrots, celery, peppers, and beets and threw it on top of a bed of baby spinach with a little feta, leftover pulled chicken, and Italian dressing. The soup was from Panera- which they sell in the grocery store- and it was mostly corn and black beans (supposedly chicken tortilla) but it was still pretty good.

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Dinner for the evening were steak tips, potatoes, cauliflower, peppers, and squash. Quite an arrangement of flavors and colors! Can you tell I’m obsessed with barbecue sauce lately, especially with steak? So good!

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One of my favorite yogurt combinations- I eat a Greek yogurt almost every afternoon- is an odd one. For awhile, I was going with the pomegranate seeds because they are so juicy and pair well with plain yogurt. Then I was being slightly lazy and running with the pre-flavored varieties. I took one look at the sugar content on those bad boys and knew it couldn’t be an every day occurrence. Now, I’m spooning in a handful of grapes- I prefer the black ones for their sweetness- and sometimes even a little teaspoon of chocolate chips. The grape-chocolate combination sounds like an odd one, but it’s really tasty!

Since it’s that time of year, I’ve been considering what I should give up for Lent. Sometimes, I’ll try to do more good things, which I’m definitely still considering, but I need to learn a new habit: staying away from the candy jars at work. This shouldn’t be so hard, but when you put something sweet in front of me and it’s 3:00 in the afternoon, I’m going to mindlessly dig into it. My hope is that by “giving it up for Lent,” I’ll learn NOT eating candy as a new habit. The other thing I need to do more of is standing while I work because sitting all day is going to detract from all those healthy benefits I gain from my morning workouts.

More suggestions for a healthy Lent? Giving up any kind of sweets or salty snacks is usually a good go-to. I wouldn’t give up all kinds though, maybe pick one or two, so that you’re mindful of what you’re eating, when, and why. Many times- I know I’m guilty of it- I’ll indulge without even taking enjoyment in it. In the end, it’s just more useless instant gratification without actual satisfaction. Another goal I’ll be working on in my life in general is doing things with intention. It sounds so much easier than it is! I’ve got a wedding to get ready for though as MOH and these pants are feeling a little tighter from the winter month and treats.

More good options are to start that regular workout routine. Dedicate time 4-5 days a week and go for 30-60 minutes every day. Exercise is my main source of stress release, but it took me awhile to get to that place. I mentioned the Elliptical machine that now RIP as my starting point. Find something, take your time, and get moving. It is so good for you and the benefits are so high!

Drink more water, less or no soda. Four years ago-AH!- when I was a junior in college, right before the moment that would kick me off on this weight loss journey, I was obsessed with soda. It was so easy to drink it every day, especially in a college cafeteria. I tried to give it up for Lent, knowing it was not a good habit, but it wasn’t an easy one to kick. I couldn’t do it then. My will was not strong, especially when I started having dreams about it. A year later and well into my weight loss journey, I decided to try it again. I haven’t made a regular habit of it since and I don’t miss it. Sure, I had my moments where I thought-NEED- but I overcame them, turned to fruity water (the natural kind with chopped lemons, limes, strawberries, etc) instead. So much of me changed just from this one little act. My taste for natural foods, like fruits and veggies, increased exponentially. My skin was clearer, I felt more energized, and less greasy. Keep in mind, I had a DIET soda habit, not regular. Both are pretty bad for you. Occasionally, especially if mixed with alcohol, i.e. Fresca with sangria, I’ll pour a little soda, but my taste for it has diminished.

Lent is another one of those times- if you choose- that help people focus on their habits and make changes. That doesn’t mean it’s the only time, but life is busy and we don’t always stop and realize what we’re doing until more of these days come to pass, i.e. New Years. Don’t see this “sacrifice” or choice as a negative thing, but as another notch in striving towards healthier, happier living.

If you’ve given something up for Lent before, then you’ll remember the feeling of Easter morning (or if you’re like my mom and aunts, Good Friday evening), and finally indulging in that tasty treat you’ve given up. You put so much care and appreciation into each bite, savoring all the tastes and morsels so mindfully. That’s how we should be eating every single thing that we eat. I’m not good at this, but I’m aware of it, and I’m ready to tackle it as my next challenge.

Mindfulness is a gift, but it’s also a skill that has to be practiced and honed. Care to join me?

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