Well, in today’s post I am going to be pretty transparent, because #iamhuman and because I think it’s important to talk about what ISN’T WORKING in our lives as much as what is working. I have recently discovered what I believe to be the ultimate tool in my life hacking toolbox for about $5/month, and I’m going to tell you all about it, but first let me just take a moment so I can explain why I haven’t been practicing what I preach and I have found myself in a major health slump as of late:
I am a real human with real stressors and struggles, and my own perfectionism causes 99% of them, which is ridiculous.
I know all about chronic stressors contributing to health and energy decline, and in fact, I blog about it constantly and have even created an entire online program to help other perfectionist women like me reverse it. So it seems pretty ass-backwards that I would be deep in the throes of adrenal fatigue myself, now doesn't it?
Well, it is ass-backwards, but here we are. I am not immune to chronic stress or pushing myself way past the limits of what is "good enough" and striving for perfection all the time. Guilty as charged, and to show for it, I have found myself getting really fatigued and having some funky hormone issues as a result. Creating two huge online courses in the last 6 months has really done a number on me, even though the stress of it all is a good stress! I love my business and I am so jazzed everyday about all the new endeavors that are taking flight for me right now, but even good stress wears out our bodies if it goes on for too long and we aren't taking care of ourselves.
Even though taking care of my health is one of my top priorities, I still struggle with the day to day application of it, sometimes.
For me, exercise is not a chore but rather something I look forward to on a daily basis. Over the last 6 months of feeling like every waking minute of my day was being fought over between my husband, kids, friends, community AND way-more-than-full-time business obligations, exercise took a backseat. Translation: exercise was no longer even in the car and I left it out on a deserted highway somewhere.
If I'm really being honest with myself, I have to say that food preparation and social commitments have also really suffered right along with exercise for the last 6 months. Even though it's all with the best of intentions, I have tried to fit way too much into my life as of late, and at the expense of some of my favorite things. I have really really bonded with my computer and my home office, but the outside world hasn't seen much of me, and my weekly meal rotation has been pretty bleak.
So here's how I am tackling an overhaul of my chronic stressors and making a plan for restoring my mojo:
I had to have a mini-intervention with myself earlier this week and just cut through all the excuses and bullshit and figure out why I have been so invested in helping other women address their chronic diet and lifestyle stressors to heal their fatigue and hormone issues that I have let myself develop fatigue and hormone issues. (No, the irony is not lost on me.)
Phase 1: Create a list of 3-5 biggest joys I want to have in my daily life then strategize a plan for incorporating them. For me this means exercise, and not bailing on social events due to work constraints. This obviously means that I need to free up time in my daily schedule and/or mentally free up some “space” in my priorities to realize that if my kids’ beds aren’t made I can just shut the door and still go to coffee with a friend instead of bailing on coffee and spending an hour cleaning up. (This should be obvious, I agree...but I am neurotic AF so I have to actually write this shit down before I see it as plainly as it is. Embarassing but true.)
Phase 2: Create a list of 3-5 hugest stressors in my daily life, then eliminate or say no to any big things that can be delegated or eliminated. (Yes, I hate the thought that anyone can do something as well as I can, but let's face it: they're probably better at it than me, anyway. Delegate and let it go.)
Phase 3: Now it's time to strategize how to batch the rest of the daily stressors and obligations that I couldn't get off my plate so that they don’t mentally weigh me down, and instead get tackled in batches. Specifically, I ended up realizing that I needed to batch my cleaning and cooking.
Great, I have a plan, but how am I actually freeing up hours every week to do the things that make me happiest?
Instead of addressing every unmade bed or laundry pile or streaky mirror the moment I notice it throughout the day (because I work from my home office), I needed to "batch" my cleaning into a morning and evening mini-session each day and then do deep cleaning on the weekends. Boom. Anxiety instantly lifted because I just wasn't letting myself worry about housework if it wasn't during the appropriate time. This new gameplan replaced my usual "always cleaning something" every time I walk through the room type of attitude, which was a huge distraction from my work productivity, and ultimately made me super stressed. I feel like this has freed up at least an hour per day for me.
As I referenced already, eating and feeding nutrient dense food to my family is really important to me, and something that also takes a ton of time and effort. This is an occupational hazard when you’re in the field of holistic nutrition and know the power of quality food: Happy meals are not in the equation anymore. (Even though I long for the days of ignorant bliss when they were….)
In looking at my list of what was really (mentally) weighing me down on a daily basis, I had to be honest with myself that my (lack of) meal planning/prep and cooking big meals daily was a big source of stress. I actually love to cook, so that’s not the issue, but rather having to cook something from scratch 3 times per day is stressful. I feel like every moment I am spending in the kitchen is a moment that I’m not getting my work to-do list checked off, which is, ultimately, a huge stress for me. Checking off big items on my to-do list is basically an aphrodisiac to me, so as weird as it sounds, I needed to free up more headspace in my day to be able to get my work items done and off my plate. I’m sure there’s a metaphor that I’m missing here with a clever use of the word plate, but we’ll just let it go.
So now I'm going to finally get to the point, already. It was in this journey of honesty with myself that I stumbled upon the greatest invention in the history of 2017 (for me) which is PlanToEat.com. HOLY SHIT. It is everything you have ever wanted and didn't know you could have. For the low LOW price of $4.95/month you can basically save yourself like 10,000 hours of planning out your food and grocery lists, and you can try it free for the first 30 days. I tried this bad boy out and on the first day realized that I will be paying for this forever, because it's amazing.
You can submit your own recipes to your PTE account, or you can share recipes with friends, OR you can import them from anywhere on the web. That's right, folks: You can just click into those Pinterest boards with a billion recipes in them, drag and drop them into PTE, and it will do a super ninja move and pull out only the ingredients and quantities for you. THEN, you can drag and drop to fill up your calendar with the meals you are going to make, and BOOM: it populates a grocery shopping list in 2.3 seconds with exactly what you need for the recipes you have on your calendar.
Let me reiterate: It takes your Pinterest vault of recipes and populates a calendar and shopping list for you. Like magic.
I'm happy to say that (I think) I have a better handle on my own life schedule for now, because I delegated the hell out of my obligations, started batching my cleaning, and decided that I only want to cook about 3 times a week for the entire week's worth of food.
Since I now actually have the ingredients on hand for the food I want to make without having to stop at the grocery store for "just one thing" every. damn. day. I feel like I gained about two hours a day to reintroduce myself to my old friend: the weight set.
***Yes, this post includes an affiliate link that I may be compensated by (at no extra cost to you!) if you decide to purchase. All opinions are 100% my own, and I only recommend products that I use and love in my real life.