Do you feel like you keep dropping the metaphorical balls in your life? Total Badass in one area and a Hot Mess in everything else? Yeah? Me, too. I think we all do, with some days having more mess than badassery. Here are 10 ways to start getting your shit together and make your life Less of a Mess.
First things first… You can’t have it all!
At least not at the same time and maybe not in the way you first envisioned. I think this notion of “having it all” working outside the home, kids, hobbies while maintaining a home is antiquated or at the very least misguided. I think we need to support women in creating the reality they want instead of pushing them into an unsustainable juggling act.
We push ourselves and we are driving ourselves crazy to try and achieve it all. Maybe what we should be doing is utilizing our assets and working on the things that light us up and trying to outsource the rest whenever possible.
Embrace the Turtle Mentality
Good change is slow change. It’s the super not sexy kind that just plods along. But big things come from persistence and slow deliberate actions. Think Grand Canyon. Sure, it’s gorgeous now but it was once a ditch. Making small little changes allows you to make it a habit and it makes it easier to recover when things go awry. Let’s face it this is life and shit always goes awry. You get sick, your kid gets sick, you injure yourself, the electricity goes out, the toilet breaks, the list goes on.
If you try to change too much the thought of getting back on track after a derailment is overwhelming and the guilt from not doing stuff is worse. However, if you’ve adjusted slowly to a new lifestyle you are less likely to go totally wheels off anyway and you won’t see it as an all or nothing venture. You just slowly correct course and not feel bad about it.
Eventually the goal is to have some back up plans in place that you can implement when life gets crazy (Freezer food, 10 min. mini-workouts) but until that magical day comes you just get back on track as soon as possible and keep turtle stepping along.
Food and Drink
Drink Your Water
You feel better, you are less likely to drink higher calorie drinks, and you will eat less. Flavor your water with fruits and herbs if you need to but if you are short on time just drink the water. Strawberry Basil and Cucumber Lemon flavors are especially yummy!
I find it a real necessity to keep a water bottle with me and I prefer one with marks for how many ounces are in it. It’s a pyschological thing but I like to see the water line moving own the numbers. It’s motivating.
I do find it easier to drink more when I’m at work and the bottle is sitting at my desk but at home I do better to just carry it everywhere with me. As a side note you will drink more with a straw but it also is more likely to cause wrinkles around your mouth. Pick your poison I guess although once you are in the habit of drinking more water the straw isn’t as much of a necessity.
Clean up your diet
I think the first thing to do when trying to organize your life is get your diet in order.
You can’t tackle and take on the world if you are sluggish from eating crap. It’s that simple. I don’t think you need to do a cleanse or a complicated cold turkey thing with sugar if you don’t want to do it. Just start making little improvements. Pick a meal a week to overhaul or add in a meal every 2 weeks that you are going to make healthier.
I realized, after a particularly nasty go round with heartburn and IBS symptoms (sorry if TMI), for me it was important to start watching my FODMAPs so that I didn’t feel like a bloated beached whale every night.
What are FODMAPs? They are certain types of carbohydrates that some people have trouble digesting and they are the good kind of carbs like cauliflower and apples. So, you may think you are doing well by eating them but if you are sensitive to any of them you have to be careful not to eat too much at one time. I’m looking at you cauliflower crust pizza!
I used these two books when I was working on figuring out the FODMAP situation. Both were written by dieticians so I felt like they were a trustworthy source for info.
The moral of that story is that not only is eating healthy important but so is determining if any foods just make you feel bad. If they do maybe you need to stear clear or reduce when you eat them.
Meal Plan and Prep
Yeah, I know it’s a hassle but do it anyway. If you have food to pull out and eat you are waaaaaay less likely to eat the junk food. You need to make it harder to fix something bad rather than just eat what you already have prepared. This also helps the weeknight craziness if you already have food to pull out for the kids.
Embrace the Boring – Food as Fuel
When you don’t have time meal plans that are somewhat repetitive are your friend. You can prep protein on the weekend like chicken or ground turkey and add veggies of some sort or fashion for weeks when you don’t want to think. If you have a week with more time or just need the occasional variety then add in one or two more complicated recipes.
Eventually, your goal can be to have a variety healthy foods each week you make from scratch but in the meantime pre-cooked grilled chicken strips from Costco thrown on top of some mixed greens will help you meet your goals just the same. In the equation of time versus variety something has to give and you have to do the math yourself for your situation.
If you are lucky enough to have family members on board with your healthy eating it makes things easier so you don’t have to eat the same thing multiple times in a week. You can also plan some meals that freeze one weekend so you can utilize these on different weeks to offer variety.
Unfortunately, my family is full of picky eaters so while they eat semi-healthy they do not eat the same things I do. I may try to pull out the same protein source or sneak meals in for them we can both eat like turkey chili with hidden veggies but I’m past the point of stressing about separate meals for me and them. I wanted change so I had to change what I was doing and that means different foods right now.
Move a Little More
In the beginning as you are cleaning up your diet just start making time to move. You will start to feel better as you eat better and will have more energy to move your body. Even if you don’t feel totally energetic adding a 10-15 min walk each day starts to form the habit of movement.
Use What You Have at Home
I have always said I do better with group fitness classes or with a trainer and this is probably true. However, there are no convenient classes near me so I just had to get over myself and use what I had at home. If you are like me you already have work out books and dvds and online resources for working out that you are not using. SHUT UP AND USE THEM! It doesn’t have to be perfect you just need to do more than you have been doing in the past.
For me this means I can do weights on my own from a written plan but throwing in some DVD/online stuff for cardio or interval workouts helps me and makes me feel like I have someone pushing me. If you have the funds available and the resources to go to a gym or hire a trainer go for it but it is not necessary AT ALL to get in shape and improve your fitness level.
There are a multitude of online programs now with fairly decent monthly fees, Beachbody, Daily Burn, “Fit, Healthy, Happy, Mum”, Moms Into Fitness, and Fit2B Studio. Find one that excites you and fits your budget but in the meantime throw in some squats while you brush your teeth!
Have a Movement Goal
A long-term goal keeps you focused on something you want and gives you a tangible reward. It’s a positive reward system and who doesn’t like rewards? Sometimes it helps to have two goals one short term and then a more longterm goal. I’m not above using a short term goal of fitting in a certain outfit for an event but then having a long term goal of being healthy and fit enough to ski this upcoming winter. Just be healthy about fitting in the dress or you burn up the all-important muscle you need to ski.
Have you read the 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss If not, the basic idea is to delegate everything you can to free up your time. It’s talking about in a business of course but running a household/life is similar. For me this means delegating to my kids. Meal prep is faster when I have a soux chef browning meat. There is sooooo much more I could be delegating but I’m making progress. Litterboxes – delegate, vacuum – delegate, laundry – delegate
If you have the ability to pay a maid or have someone do all your laundry then do it! And for damn sure don’t feel guilty about it. That’s not my current reality but we can all free up some time in our schedule by giving other people jobs to do.
If it doesn’t immediately require you consider letting go of it. This is way easier with older kids but if you are feeling stressed and torn in a million directions make sure your spouse is pulling equal weight. It might be time to reassess who is doing what in the household.
Just because a spouse is doing lots of household chores if they are doing them without the kids around they automatically have an easier job. Mowing the lawn may be physically draining it’s not the mental workout of cleaning while entertaining three tiny humans. Ask for what you want and need!
Communicate with Your Friends
I’m terrible about getting caught in the daily grind and forgetting to touch base with friends. It really is vital to wellbeing, though. Make a goal to call at least one friend a week. Send texts to friends and plan a girl’s night out. It doesn’t have to be a girl’s trip away, although those are awesome. Sometimes drinking coffee and walking around the park while the toddler plays is enough to refresh both of you and allow you to keep adding deposits to the friendship bank.
Write it Down
It’s easy to think that we want to change something. Old habits are hard to break though and having a way to track your goals makes you more successful. Otherwise, it’s just wishing not actual change. Step 1 is to write down your goals and Step 2 is to have a tracking system. For example write down each day how much water you drink and when you work out.
This doesn’t have to be some fancy hand drawn bullet journal. If you are squeezing in time to work out chances are you don’t have hours to spend creating journal layouts with markers. (Unless, that’s your de-stressor thing then feel free to go for it) But for me it falls under the outsource category. Pay for a planner that already has stuff laid out and if I want extra I’ll throw a unicorn sticker on it.
It can also be as simple as writing on your phone calendar whether you did it or not.
Marking it off each day gives you a sense of accomplishment and pushes you to keep going. You can even set little motivational goals for yourself like a new outfit after so many days of working out in a row. Little treats keep you going as your reach for your larger goal. In fact that is probably the twelfth item – set little goals and rewards.
Now get out there and set some baby goals and change your life. It may be slow but it will happen!