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Setting out on a Self-Improvement Journey

It is the same thing that has happened to countless others. It has different looks and forms, but the root is the same: stagnancy. Those of us who eat out far more often than we should, because it is easy than meal planning and cooking. Those of us who are too busy to exercise, organize, learn, or enjoy the moments. Those of us who are slowly becoming tired and overworked without even realizing it.

I am one of those people. I have come to realize that I am one of those people who has a terrible diet, no exercise, and a life that feels like it is in chaos. Don’t get me wrong: I love being a mother and wife. I have a good job, and a sweet white cat. I also have a roof over my head and a car to drive. I am blessed to have all these things, and I am grateful for them everyday.

However, I can feel myself becoming overwhelmed. I eat out almost every day because it is easy. I lose sleep because I stay up late cleaning the house. I am tired so often, that I have a hard time enjoying the time I get to spend with my family. All this dawned on me one day, and I decided that I wanted to change. I want to live a long time and watch my baby grow up. That might not happen if I continue to eat garbage and stress all the time. It is time for me to take action.

“Your Life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change”

-Jim Rohn

My goals for this blog are varied. While I want to do some obvious things, I also want to improve some of my other skills. It is going to take some time, but I have made a list on how I want to improve myself:

  1. Diet Goals:
    1. Use the DASH diet to get control of my eating
    2. Get my anemia under control
    3. Eat food for diabetes prevention
    4. Get my GERD under control
    5. Prepare my body for pregnancy
  2. Build my endurance
  3. Body strength
    1. Exercise for back injury prevention
    2. Increase my arm strength
    3. Strengthen pelvic floor for delivering a baby
    4. Increase my shoulder flexibility
  4. Knowledge base that will allow me to take care of myself and my family
  5. Learn to pick up after myself when I am finished with something
  6. Improve my emotional intelligence
  7. Become stronger in my faith

I am sure this list will change as I continue this journey, but for right now this is a good place to start. Thank you to anyone who took the time to read this, and I hope that you are happy with your journey at whatever stage it is on. 🙂

-Aurora

My Stats as of March 1, 2020

February was a busy month! While I slid backwards on my weight goal again, I learned some valuable information on my potential issues. I realize I have been feeling overwhelmed, which has not been conducive to my health. While this month has not been good for my physical health, I have learned some things that are causing my mental health to plummet. This is good because now I can start working on the issues that cause me to have a strain on my mental health. Once I can tackle those, my physical health should improve as well.

Stress Less

Good news and bad news. Bad news – I was very stressed this month. Good news – I took the time to figure out what was causing the stress. Thus, I am now working on my stress triggers one at a time.

Lose the Weight

I am sad to report my weight loss dolphin has slid backwards again. He is still on the poster board, but not for much longer. If I hit 190 that will send him swimming off the edge. I want to make sure that does not happen in March!!!

Beat Sugar

While slow going, I am making progress in this area. I have discovered triggers that cause me to binge sugary treats. I hope that by working on those triggers, I will help reduce my need for sugar.

Drink more water

I started off February with drinking a bottle of water everyday, and then let it slide near the end. I have now acquired a second water bottle though, so that should help the process for march.

Be able to walk 3 miles easily

Haven’t tried this one yet. However, the weather is warming up so hopefully soon I will be able to tackle this one.

Boost the immune system

So far so good! Haven’t gotten sick yet in 2020. I am still taking the Vitamin C drops every morning so that has helped.

Get Pregnant

Still a no on this one. However, I did find an app that will hopefully help out! It is called Ovia, and it helps track fertile cycles. I plan to do a more in depth post about the app soon.

Stats as of March 1, 2020

  • Weight: 189
  • Weight Classification: Obese

-Aurora

Getting Organized: Insurance and Registration Holders

For quite some time, I have been a stresser (actually if I am being honest it has been pretty much my whole life 🙂 ). In the past months, I have started to identy and tackle some of the things that stress me out the most. One of those is organization. When I am not organized, it can play a big factor in how I feel. I get stressed out not knowing that everything is organized and will be taken care of.

Insurance and Registration Holders
Insurance and Registration Holders. Set of three complete!

One of the things I did to help get organized was make something to hold my insurance and registration cards for my cars. They had been in the glove box, buried under maps. It made it hard to find them when it came time to update the cards. Plus, I wanted to be able to quickly ensure that all the cars had the paperwork they needed.

I made these holders using boxes food came in, and scraps of paper/old calendars. I really liked how they turned out! Now, not only can I find what I am looking for quickly in my glove box, but there is a bright spot of fun. 🙂 If you would like to make your own, I included the directions for the ones I made.

Supplies

  • A box with thin cardboard (like a box that crackers or noddles might come in)
  • A clear page protector
  • Scrapbook paper, an old calendar, or wrapping paper
  • Scissors
  • Double Stick tape
  • Scotch tape
  • Wasabi (decorative) tape

Directions

  1. Out of the cardboard box, cut two 8″ x 5″ pieces (Figure 1).
  2. Cover the outside of the pieces (the side with writing/images on it) with either scrapbook paper, a calendar page, or wrapping paper. Use double stick tape to adhere the covering to the cardboard (Figure 2).
  3. Cut two pieces of plastic from the clear page protector that measure 8″ x 4″ (Figure 3).
  4. Place on piece of plastic on the un-decorated side of one of the cardboard pieces. Line up the plastic and cardboard against the long edge (Figure 4).
  5. Using the decorative tape, tape the plastic piece to the cardboard. Put half of the tape (lengthwise) along the side with the plastic. Then fold over the tape to the other side of the cardboard (Figure 5). Do this to the three sides that the plastic is touching.
  6. Take the two pieces of cardboard, and hold them together with the plastic side in. Make sure the two sides that don’t have any tape are together.
  7. Using the decorative tape, tape the two edges together so they form a book.
  8. Open up the book you just made. Run a strip of regular tape down the middle of the book so it has extra support.
  9. Put your insurance and registration cards in, and put it in your car.

I hope that this will also help you with getting oranized in your life, or give you a fun project to do!

-Aurora

My Stats as of February 1, 2020

I am a little late (actually a lot late!) for this post, and I apologize. I did make sure to get my stats measured on the 1st, so that was a plus. Overall, I didn’t do as well in January as I would have liked. This left me with having to do a reevaluation (again) of anything more I should be changing. Good news is, the March 1 post will have progress!

Stress Less

This is another one that started out well, but then the end of the month was not so good. I became overwhelmed with work and life. I did, however, identify some key areas that I could improve to help with the stress. More on that for the next post.

Lose the Weight

Sadly, I gained a pound this month. Some contributing factors to that was that I was down in weight from catching the flu in December, so my starting number in January was 4 pounds lighter than before. I was working to not regain that weight plus lose more. I also slid back from cutting back on sugar, and stresses at work fed sugar cravings. Sadly I had to move the dolphin on my vision board back – hopefully he doesn’t get to the wall!

Vision Board 2020

Beat Sugar

This one started off well, then did a slide back downhill. I am learning I need to tackle stress at the same time in order for this one to work.

Drink more water

Forgot to focus on this one this month! Oops.

Be able to walk 3 miles easily

This one I will be focusing on more once our weather starts getting warmer, hopefully in March.

Boost the immune system

So far so good! I have been taking a Vitamin C drop every morning to help. It is like a cough drop, but is chock-full of Vitamin C. My husband and coworker have been sick, but I haven’t caught it. After catching the flu in December, I am really hoping to avoid catching anything for a long time.

Get Pregnant

Nothing yet, but I have been taking my pre-natal vitamins everyday so I will be ready!

Stats as of February 1, 2020

  • Weight: 186
  • Weight Classification: Obese

-Aurora

My stats as of January 1, 2020

I had hoped to post this much sooner, but life has been quite busy! After a rough start in 2019, I am hoping to have a second start for 2020.

I started my goals back in October, I was off on a good foot. However, after getting sick several times and a couple of stressful situations, I fell off the wagon. I have known for a while that I was using sugar as a way to cope with stress. However, I didn’t realize just how much cutting back on sugar would bring on the stress and panic attacks. When there were stressful situations, my go to was to eat something sweet. I realize I need to learn better coping mechanisms, but it is going to take awhile to train my body.

At some point I want to be on the DASH diet as I had originally planned. However, I feel my most important goal at the moment should be “mindful” eating. I think a lot of what I am eating is not at the forefront of my mind. I will be marking my progress each month.

Weight as of 1-1-2020

Stats as of January 1, 2020

  • Weight: 185
  • BMI: 31
  • Category: Obese
  • Waist Size: 34.5

-Aurora

2020 Vision Board and Redefined Goals

It is here: 2020! A new decade lies before us, full of possibility. There is nothing like a year when more than one of the numbers turns on the year dial. Now is the time as well for resolutions and reflections. At at 12:31 am on 1/1/2020, I can honestly say I have not had any sugar or junk food all year!!

Thank you to anyone who has been with me on this journey thus far. I am sad to say the past couple of months were less than stellar. A series of stressful events led to bad eating, which in turned led to a lowered immune system. I ended up getting sick 4 different times! Nothing serious, but this last cold left me useless on the couch for a week. The week of Christmas none the less. I had big plans with the family, but they all had to be pushed aside to make way for my weak and wheezing body.

This year, I made a “vision board” for my goals. The board features a weight loss tracker, an area for notes for each month, my goals, and some motivational quotes. I plan to hang the board somewhere where I can see it daily and be reminded of my goals.

Weight Loss Tracker

One of the features of my board is a weight loss tracker. I took picture of the beach from an old calendar I had. I put tick marks along the bottom in 5 pound increments, all the way to the desired 50 pounds I would like to use. I have a dolphin picture taped to the beach, and I plan on moving it as I lose the pounds. I hope to see the dolphin “swim” across the ocean as I lose more and more weight. 🙂

My weight tracker

Monthly Tracker

I have spots on the board to keep track of my weight and any other vitals I want to record. By having it posted on the wall, I hope to be reminded of my goals daily. One of my goals is to be more mindful of what I am eating, so by seeing something to remind me to be mindful should help.

Thank you for everyone who has joined my blog and journey! You are the best. I hope that 2020 is a good year for you. 🙂

-Aurora Best

Fitness Wish List 2019

Note: This page contains Affiliate Links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

It is that time of year! The time of year when your loved ones ask you what you would like for Christmas. This year I am going for a fitness and health oriented list. As the new year begins and I start doing even more, there are a couple of items that would help me along the way.

#1 – Digital Scale: Right now I do have a scale. However, it is over 20 years old and starting to rust. I am not sure how accurate it is anymore, plus I would hate to cut myself on a rusty scale! I have seen the new digital scales, and a lot of them look great! I found one on Amazon that not only takes your weight but can also check your body fat.

Product: REDOVER – Bluetooth Body Fat Scale

#2 – Meal Prep Containers: As part of my get-healthy plan, I have been trying to do meal preping. That way when I go to work I have already packed a healthy meal and do not have to eat out. These meal prep containers I found have three different sections, which will allow me more options for packing. Also, it comes in a 20 pack so I could meal prep breakfast as well as my lunch for the whole week.

Product: Meal Prep Containers [20 Pack]

#3 – Acid Reflux Pillow: Yes, apparently there is such a thing as an Acid Reflux Pillow! When you have GERD, sleeping flat can cause real problems. Bile from the stomach can back up into the esophagus. I have been trying to combat this by using extra pillows. However, I recently discovered that someone had come up with a solution to this issue! A special acid reflux pillow: It is pretty much a big, soft wedge you can use to keep your head elevated. According to the reviews, it works well. I have never tried anything similar, but it would be nice to try it and see if it helped!

Product: 7.5″ Wedge Pillow for Acid Reflux

#4 – BP Cuff: Since I want to track my heart health, it would be nice to have a blood pressure cuff I can use at home. Right now I have to use the one at the local grocery store (which according to the sticker on it hasn’t been calibrated since 2014). Plus, if I had my own, I wouldn’t have to worry about the considerable amount of germs that may be in a public BP cuff. 🙂 The one that caught my eye is one that is used on the wrist. I have used one like it before, and it worked pretty well.

Product: Digital Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor

#5 – Pregnancy Workout DVD: Here’s hoping there is a baby in the near future! For my first little one, I was unsure what exercises are safe while pregnant. I did a lot of research to find ones that would work well with pregnancy. A DVD of pregnancy-safe exercises would be great to stick in the player first thing in the morning.

Product: 10 Minute Solution: Prenatal Pilates and Denise Austin: Firm and Fit Pregnancy

#6 – Jump Rope: I don’t know if anyone else remembers this, but back when I was in 1st grade there was a big push to get kids to jump rope. Each kid would get a sparkly new jump rope and encouraged to use it. The exercise was supposed to be good for your heart. Now as an adult, I have read that it is still true! Not only is jumping rope good for the heart, but it is a good way to work out the core muscles as well. It also works for people of all fitness levels, which is perfect for a beginner like me. 🙂

Product: DEGOL Skipping Rope

#7 – Weights: Although getting toned arms is not one of my foremost goals, I would like to develop some upper body strength. Whenever there is something heavy that needs lifted, I usually bow out. I even have a hard time holding my little one for long periods of time. I found a weight set that has 2, 3, and 5 pound weights. They even have a nifty stand that comes with. This is the kind of “weight training” I need to start out with. Something simple so I don’t over-strain those muscles. 🙂

Product: Amazon Basics Neoprene Workout Dumbbell Weights

I hope this list will help you find something for your budding fitness guru on your list!

-Aurora

When Sugar Treats = Happy Memories

It is that magical time of the year when the coffee shops get peppermint white-chocolate mochas on the menu. That first sip that tells you it is indeed time for the merriment of the holidays just around the corner. Holding the warm cup in your hands as you watch the snow dance gracefully along the street. Smelling the steam that comes off, warming your heart and soul.

As I write the top paragraph, I realize their may be another reason for my sugar problem: Happy memories associated with tasty treats. For me I get excited when I have my first peppermint mocha of the season. Or second. Or fifth. Or tenth. It is just a thing I have during the cold winter months. And it conjures up sweet memories along with that sweet taste.

So what is a sentimental fool to do? I could say “it is just for the season, it won’t hurt to keep having my coffee concoctions for this small length of time.” However, how then do I justify the Peeps at Easter? The pie at Thanksgiving? The chocolates at Valentine’s Day? Name a season and I can find a sweet treat that can go along with it.

I could say “No, I will not have one drop of Peppermint Mocha this year!” But what if that creates a worse beast that what I have? What if by cutting it out completely, I start diving in to all the other assorted goodies out there: Christmas cookies, candy canes, pies, chocolate, and the list goes on and on. I know myself, and the odds that I will be able to keep all these at bay is worse than those of winning the lottery.

For this year, I am instead going to limit myself. I can get one on the first day of December, one during our Christmas shopping session, and one on the last day of work before we break for Christmas. I hope by limiting myself, I will still be able to enjoy my memories without being overly saturated with needless calories.

In the meantime, I am going to try and find some non-sugar based food to turn into a seasonal treat. While I doubt I can convince my brain that kale will be just as much fun as my mochas (bleah!), maybe I can do something else. Green bean casserole? Peppermint Tea? I will have to try out my options and get back.

Thank you everyone for reading. I hope that this season finds you having fun and enjoying your favorite treats (in moderation)!

-Aurora

20 Blog Followers – Thank You!

I started this blog less than a month ago. I started it so I could have a place to post my progress with my self improvement journey. I figured if I had a place to put down my progress, it would help hold me accountable to my goals. I honestly didn’t think though that anyone would be interested in my goals or my progress. I was so surprised when I saw that people were following my blog! Today I hit 20 followers on WordPress. I am not sure if that is a lot of followers or not for a month old blog, but I know that it makes me feel happy to know there are that many people who chose to follow my progress. It makes me more motivated to make progress and become a better and healthier person. To everyone out there, thank you for joining me on this trip! You are the best. 🙂

Screenshot of my good news. 🙂

-Aurora

Programming a Honeywell Thermostat

On my quest of self improvement, one of my goals was to be more self sufficient. This includes learning how to work the thermostat in our house. I will admit: The confounded contraption is confusing and not at all user friendly. My husband set the schedule on it, and I have just always left it. If I wanted to turn the heat up, I would just press buttons until I either gave up or something happened.

No more! I not only learned how to set the schedule and adjust the temperature, but I created instructions and added to my home procedure manual for future reference (I don’t trust myself to remember how to do this in the future).


Honeywell Thermostat Programming

  1. System: Used to turn on the thermostat settings.
  2. Fan: “On” means the fan will run all the time. “Auto” means the fan will only run when the heat kicks on.
  3. Set: Used for setting the schedule.
  4. Hold: Used for setting the temperature apart from the schedule.
  5. Run: Used for taking the temperature off of manual mode and back to schedule.
  6. Arrows: Used to set the day, time, and temperature.

How the Schedule works

Before setting the schedule, I had to wrap my brain around how the programming worked. This was the part that was most confusing for me, since the system assumes that nobody is in the house during the week day. Pretty much, you set what time you want the heat to come on in the morning and at what temperature. You then tell the time you leave the house, and at what temperature you want the house to stay at while you are away. Then you tell it what time you will come home, and have a temperature set for the rest of the evening. You then tell it your bedtime, and what temperature you want the house at while you are sleeping. It will stay that temperature until you are “awake” again and they cycle completes. You may want to set all your schedules 30 minutes early, so the house is warm before you are awake/home from work. Knowing that ahead of time might help with setting the schedule.

Setting the Schedule

  1. Press the “Set” button
  2. Set the time that you get up in the morning (or what time you want the want the temperature to come on in the morning): Use the up and down arrows anytime you would like to adjust the time
  3. Press the “Set” button again
  4. Set the temperature you would like it to be for the morning: Use the up and down arrows anytime you would like to adjust the temperature
  5. Press the “Set” button again
  6. Indicate what time you will be leaving the house
  7. Press the “Set” button again
  8. Set the temperature you would like it to be during the day
  9. Press the “Set” button again
  10. Set the time that you will be coming home (or the temperature you would like it to be for the evening)
  11. Press the “Set” button again
  12. Set the temperature you would like it to be for the evening
  13. Press the “Set” button again
  14. Set the time you will go to bed
  15. Press the Set button again
  16. Set the temperature you would like it to be all night while you are in bed.
  17. Press the “Run” button.

Setting the Temperature Manually

  1. Using the arrows, adjust the temperature to where you would like it to be. If you don’t do anything else, it will stay that temperature until the next time the schedule kicks in. For example, if you set it manually to 79 degrees at 4:00 pm, and you have it set on the schedule to go to 71 degrees at 6:00 pm, it will stay at 79 degrees until 6:00. At that point it will adjust down to 71 degrees.
  2. If you do not want it to revert back to the schedule, press the “hold” button after you set the temperature.
  3. If after pressing the “hold” button you want it to revert back to the schedule, press the “run” button.

Hope this is helpful for anyone else struggling with their thermostat!

-Aurora

5K or .5K: At least I am moving!

Before I had a baby and while I was pregnant, I would participate 5K (3.1 miles) races all the time. 5K’s are very popular with many people as a fun way to enjoy some physical activity. While a lot of people run, some others jog or walk. I was always one of the walkers. Even with just walking, it was a good way to get an hour of exercise. Usually I would be joined by family and friends. We would walk and talk and have a great time. I have done some really fun ones, including ones where they threw colored chalk dust at you as you went by. They were a good way to get off the couch and get some fitness time in without a whole lot of training. As far as exercises choices go, I always liked walking and the benefits that came with it.

Today the Little One and I entered a 5K race called the “Gobble Wobble”. The weather was perfect for some walking. This particular one was gathering donation items for the local food bank, which was nice. Normally when I do a 5K I am surrounded by family and friends. Today it was just me and my son, who was riding in his stroller. The two of us tackling the course! It was on a college campus, so the makeup of the race was comprised of college athletes. I knew that we would be heading up the rear, and I was OK with that. 🙂

Once the horn sounded, we were off! The course was comprised of a loop that everyone was supposed to do twice. The 5K I did today was the first one I have done in probably 7 months, so I wasn’t planning on walking very fast. However, there were two coworkers with me who were walking pretty fast. I decided to try and keep up. However, after a couple of minutes, I realized I was in worse shape than I thought. The coworkers got ahead of me, and I decided to cut across the course and go back to the starting point. I didn’t want them to not see us come back and think that there was some mother and her child in distress somewhere. 🙂

I am not sure if I ever did get a quarter of the way through the course, but it is alright. I got some exercise, some fresh air, and some quality time with my son. As a bonus, at the start of the race, I saw a motivational sign on the light post that had a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “You must do the thing that you think you cannot do.” It was a great thing to see as I am trying to start a blog and get in shape. Also, it shows me that I might want to incorporate some more walking into my daily routine. 🙂

-Aurora