Zombies Only Chase Me in Nightmares (or “Our Exercise Adventures”)

A few weeks ago, I came across a podcast which started some big changes around here: Why Sleep is More Important Than Diet and Exercise Combined.

It was so interesting, I went on to download a bunch of Shawn Stevenson’s podcasts, and I’m hooked. They fun and interesting, and I’ve learned a lot from them. I’m also feeling a lot more rested than I did previously!

One thing has stuck with me more than anything else was this:

“A good night’s sleep starts first thing in the morning.”

Crazy, hey?! But Shawn had such a great way of explaining it – he said that cortisol and melatonin are on a teeter totter, of sorts.:) When one goes up, the other goes down. So you want your cortisol to spike in the morning, giving you energy, and you want your melatonin to go up at night, so you get a great, solid sleep. One of the best ways to make sure everybody’s taking turns like they’re supposed to is to get outside and exercise first thing in the morning. That shot of sunlight and getting your body moving is a very effective way of starting everything off right. Also, the earlier in the day you exercise, the more down time your body has to drop its temperature (super important for a great night’s sleep).

This all made a ton of sense to me, and gave me a “why”. I’m finding that when I have a good reason to hang onto, it’s easier to make myself do stuff. So I set my alarm, and when I woke up the next morning, I focused on getting some water and protein into me (hemp seeds, because they’re fast and easy!),  and headed out the door for a walk as soon as I’d done enough stretches to keep me comfortable. This is a completely different order than I usually use to start my day, but I felt the difference immediately – I had more energy, and just felt really light and happy all day. It was fantastic! I also started sleeping more soundly.

I felt so good, I started bugging Ben about trying the same thing. He’s wanted to get consistent with running for a long time, but it’s been hard for him to find a way to get motivated – having a “why” does not work for him the way it does for me! He needed to find his own way to get excited about implementing change.

This week, Ben came home bursting with excitement because he found his “why” – an app called Zombies, Run! It’s on ongoing story to listen to while you run, all about how zombies are chasing you, and you must complete different missions in order to save the town. If you stop running, you die.

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This sounds like THE WORST IDEA EVER to me!! I can’t even imagine how high my stress level would go – the combination of physical and emotional stress would probably give me a heart attack. Or I would just never sleep ever again.

I’m super thankful there are all different kinds of people, and we have the freedom to figure out what works best for each of us. I will continue to have my peaceful walks in the morning sunrise, and Ben can run all over Niverville with zombies nipping at his heals. To each his own.

And that’s exactly the thing: find what works for you, in whatever area you’re needing it. There’s something out there for everyone, proven by Zombies, Run! Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what that missing piece is. Some people are really good at brainstorming creative ideas – I have a couple of people in my life who don’t take no for an answer. Nothing is impossible in their eyes, and they will keep throwing ideas around until something captures my interest and sounds like a solution I can get behind.

Or sometimes something only works for a season, and then it’s time to switch things up, and find something fresh and new.Whatever it is, it’s totally worth the effort!

What motivates you and gets you going when you’re stuck? And would zombies chasing you be fun, or just a total nightmare??!!

 

 

 

Morning Routine

A huge thank you to everyone who has participated in this series so far! I’ve been sharing my favourite things of the year in honour of my birthday, and anyone who comments on these posts will be entered in a draw for an Amazon gift card. I have loved reading everything you’ve had to contribute! If you have any favourite things to share or thoughts on the topics of these last two weeks, please feel free to comment! You have until Friday, July 21!

This was the year I got serious about my morning routine. It’s so hard – I totally get it. Having young kids who wake up early makes it very hard to wake up even earlier. For the longest time, I just couldn’t do it.

But, as I’ve been talking about a lot this week, I’m an introvert, and waking up at the same time as Everett and having no personal time to get my day started on the right track was not working well, and I knew it was time for a change. I decided to start waking up just 15 minutes earlier than when Everett usually woke up. Even that felt super hard, but I knew in my head that 15 minutes wouldn’t make a huge difference in my energy levels, even if my body felt like it was a bad idea!

I stayed there for a long time – 15 minutes wasn’t much, but it was enough for me to drink some water and read my Bible for a little bit before Everett woke up. I don’t know how long I would have kept things there, if God hadn’t given me a big nudge! For some bizarre reason, I suddenly went through a phase last fall where I woke up at 5:30am, every single morning for a week or two! Oh my word, I was so tired! But I could not fall asleep again, so finally, I just gave up and climbed out of bed. I didn’t want to be out of bed that early, but I tried to make the most of it, since it was happening anyway!

It turned out to be amazing. I had all the time I needed for morning devotions, and I got my exercising done before the kids were up. By the time I went back to sleeping normally, I was hooked. I craved that alone time each morning, so I asked Ben to start setting my alarm 20 minutes earlier, with the intention of working my way earlier very gradually. Finally, I told him one day that I was ready to wake up at 6:30, and he cheerfully told me I’d already been waking up at 6:30 for a few weeks, because he’d kept setting it earlier and earlier without telling me! I guess I stumbled out of bed so bleary-eyed, I never looked at a clock!

Fortunately, my body has adjusted, and I usually wake up before the alarm now, happy to get out of bed at 6:30am. There was a time in my life when I would NEVER have thought that would happen, but here we are, and it’s been one of the biggest turning points of my life this last year. I start my day with intention, I get more alone time, my relationship with God has grown because I’m spending more time with Him each day, and I’m exercising very consistently. It’s been a process, but totally worth it!

So here’s how I start my day:

  • Drink two cups of water first thing, and take any supplements I need to on an empty stomach
  • Read my Bible and write in my Five Year Prayer Journal, which is a new thing I started this year
  • Exercise for 45 minutes, or as long as I can until Everett wakes up, while listening to a message (which I shared in my post on podcasts)
  • To keep my mind coming back to where I want it to be throughout the day, I use an app that has an hourly beep. I got this idea from a Bridgetown podcast on hourly prayer, and it’s been so good! Every time I hear that beep, it’s such a great reminder to pray about whatever is on my mind right at that moment. I’ve found it to be very helpful for keeping my thoughts more on track.

That’s all been working well, but my goal for this next year will be to get more sleep! I listened to a great podcast this week called “Why Sleep is More Important Than Diet and Exercise Combined”, and it was a huge kick in the pants!! Yikes, I have some work to do. It’s pretty amazing how much sleep impacts absolutely everything, so I’m setting out to improve my evening routine, and get to bed earlier. I’m excited to see how this will go!

Do you have a consistent morning and evening routine? What works well for you?

 

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Finding Out What We’re Capable of

It’s been 10 months since I started the challenge of strengthening my weak, creaky body. Someone asked me the other day, “What exactly is wrong with your body?” I didn’t know how to answer that in a neat and tidy way – the best I could come up with is that I was never physically active, my body has always been small and weak, and then I had babies, and all my muscles went out of balance while trying to deal with the extra weight of being pregnant. And then I didn’t recover.

For those of you who have been following along regularly, you know that my therapist has promised great changes if I can reach a 10 minute plank – the ultimate way to get my muscles back into balance. He hints at more crazy exercises to follow, but won’t get into get into the details right now while I’m trying to accomplish my goal of a 10 minute goal.

In the beginning, I could plank for 25 seconds. I’ve been working away at it every single day since last December, and many of you rejoiced with me when I hit the five minute mark.:) You have no idea how much I’ve loved your sweet words of encouragement, and all of the reports from others who have also started planking! You guys are amazing!

Five minutes was super exciting, and it felt awesome to reach that goal, but it was never the intention to stay there, so for the last month and a half, I’ve been trying to increase my time, but I’ve been SO STUCK!!! It’s been incredibly frustrating to stay at that five minute mark for so long, but I’ve kept at it, knowing that at some point, things have to change.

This last weekend, I hit a slump. There are times when the pain in my body flares up, whether it’s from stress, sickness, or just getting stiff from sitting too long. We’ve had a couple of fundraisers and events to go to where I haven’t been able to start doing yoga poses halfway through – sometimes, it’s just not socially acceptable to relieve tight muscles in public places, although I was tempted to bring my yoga mat and find a back corner somewhere where no one would notice what I was doing!

By Sunday night, I was in so much pain, I just sat on the floor in our living room and cried. My muscle therapist is out of town for a few weeks, and I didn’t know what to do. I could make an appointment with someone else, but he’s very specialized, and has been helping me for over five years, so quickly finding someone new wouldn’t really work well for this situation.

I knew I needed to plank, but couldn’t imagine that going well, considering the amount of pain I was in. I decided to do my best, and if I couldn’t last the whole five minutes, it would still be better than nothing.

Well, I hit the four minute mark, and was still okay, so decided to try for five. When I got to five minutes, I was still feeling okay, so went for another 10 seconds. Anytime I increase my time, I do it in 10 second increments, and then collapse on the floor, panting and unable to move for a few minutes until I’ve recovered. This time, I made it to five minutes and 20 seconds, then 30, 40…I finally stopped at six minutes!!! What in the world???!!! It was a planking miracle!! Ben said I didn’t seem that tired, compared to other times. It didn’t even make sense.

It felt like God wanted to give me a boost – a little supernatural strength to encourage me when things were looking too hard. I felt amazing afterwards. That’s the weird thing about planking – it is crazy hard and painful, but it actually makes me feel better when I do it.

The next day, I had no idea what to expect. I got into position, and sent up a quick prayer before I started planking – “God, give me strength. If that was a one-time thing, I’ll totally understand, but help me to do this!!” Six minutes again!!! My ten minute goal is looking closer all the time!

The most amazing thing about this whole process is seeing how God made the body able to work really well. I watch muscles developing in my arms, and see the different ways in which my body rises to the occasion. I can do this – my body is capable of being strong and healthy and meeting physical demands. I’ve never done anything like this before, but I’m finding all of it to be delightful. I’m told a six-pack is in my future, and I would find that delightful, as well!;)

I’m always on the look-out for inspiring quotes to keep me going on this little adventure, so here’s my latest bunch of favorites:

capablesource

yesterdaysource

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changesource

Do you have any goals you’re working towards? Surprising yourself of what you’re truly capable of?

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How I Did a Five Minute Plank

You guys, I am finally able to do a five minute plank!!! I’ve been working at it since December, and it feels absolutely amazing to have reached my goal! I don’t think there’s ever been something I’ve worked so hard physically to achieve. Except labor. Delivering babies is slightly harder than a five minute plank. 

Ben and I have been talking about habits a lot lately. He’s also wanting to get more consistent with exercising, and I want to be more disciplined about staying on top of our budget. How can we make these things stick?! Ben has been listening to some great podcasts about habits, and sharing interesting tips with me, so I thought I’d make a list of things that worked for me:

Reward Yourself

When we need to do something difficult and unpleasant, it makes sense to combine a tough challenge with something fun. According to one of the podcasts Ben listened to, it’s even better if the reward happens while you are completing the task – like listening to an audio book or watching a show that you only allow yourself to enjoy when you are exercising. But it works to treat yourself afterwards, too, if it’s not possible to combine the activities. In the months since I started planking, Instagram has become my little treat. Once I collapse on the floor, I give myself permission to not move for 10 minutes, and enjoy some guilt-free time on Instagram.:) If the kids need something or anything else comes up, Ben does it for me, because I’m not getting up until I’ve recovered. It’s funny how such a little thing is something I look forward to!

Accountability

We hear this one all the time, because it is SO TRUE. I need someone checking up on me. Ben has been encouraging me all along with exercising, but lately, Anika has also become my little cheerleader and planking partner. There was a day when I wasn’t feeling 100%, and convinced myself it was okay to take the day off. But then Anika came upstairs and asked me if I had done my planking yet, and was really disappointed when I said I wasn’t going to, because she wanted to do it with me. I didn’t want to let her down, so I decided to just do a short, quick plank with her. Once I got going, it wasn’t hard to keep going longer, so I did!

But as much as I appreciate Ben and Anika’s accountability, what really kept me pushing myself was having to report back to my muscle therapist every two weeks. He was always encouraging, but he wasn’t overly impressed with me when I was slacking off, and he knew I could do better. He kept telling me about the 70-year-old client he has who only took four months to reach a 10 minute plank, or the client who was stuck at seven minutes but stopped watching the clock and suddenly jumped to an 11 minute plank!!! What in the world. It would make me mad, so I’d go home and push harder. I needed that push. Find somebody who will give you a regular kick in the pants – pay them to do it, if you have to!! It is totally worth it.

Understand the Wisdom of the Process

This one comes from the pants-kicking muscle therapist. He is the most disciplined person I’ve ever met, so I asked him recently if he was always so disciplined, or if it was something he had to work at. He was surprised by my question, and said, “I’m not a disciplined person. I just understand the wisdom of the process.” He explained that once you understand the why of what you’re doing, and focus on how your future will be impacted by the choices you make today, you will have all the motivation you need to keep going.

This resonated with me, because I understand the wisdom now, but I haven’t always. When I first started seeing my muscle therapist, he would give me many different stretches and exercises to do, and I would, but not every day. He’d tell me to do yoga daily, but it hurt so much, I just *couldn’t*. It wasn’t until that month when I gave up every appointment, and felt like God was telling me to “act like a healthy person” when I finally got my butt in gear. I had nothing else to lean on, so I did every stretch, exercise, and yoga routine I’d ever been told to do, and by the end of the month, I was a new person.

Was it a miracle from God? Yes.

Did I work my butt off that month? Yes.

Could I have done it on my own without praying for a miracle? I would say no, because up until that point, I was never able to. I didn’t know what else to do, so I did everything I could, and prayed like crazy that God would do something new. And He did. I was finally strong enough to have a baby, and that is when Everett joined our family. It’s when I learned to push through the pain to bring about change. My body took a big jump forward during that time, but in the year and a half since Everett was born, I’ve still had a lot of pain.

That’s where planking came in. My therapist said it was the cure-all exercise because it brings every muscle into balance. It’s fantastic for people with back problems and neck issues, so he told me to start working towards a one minute plank. Then suddenly he was saying two minutes. Before long he was talking five minutes, then 10 minutes. I thought he was crazy – until that point, I had never even considered the fact that a ten minute plank was possible.

But I kept trying. IT HURT SO BAD!!! I would sit on the floor before starting and cry because I DID NOT WANT TO PLANK. I hated it. I felt more terrible than I’ve ever felt, because all my muscles were being challenged. I’d go to him and complain, and he’d pretty much say, “You have to push through it. There’s not a lot I can do to help you – your body has to adjust to using muscles in the right way. It will feel like you’re going to die.” So I’d go home, and I would feel like I was going to die, and I’d keep pushing, because I was so desperate. I wanted to be well and strong. I want to ride my bike and run after Everett.  I want to play piano again. I want to stop being the person who is in pain all the time. I don’t want my life to be defined by pain and limitations. I was sick of all of it. I had to trust that my muscle therapist was right – I was taking his word for it that this present torture would result in a strong and pain-free life. It’s taken nine months to get to five minutes, and he seems to be right – I have stretches of feeling really, really good. It doesn’t last, but it’s coming. Apparently, I won’t even feel my back by the time I get to 10 minutes. I asked him if it would take me another nine months to get to a 10 minute plank, and I liked his answer!! He said it’s like a big, heavy truck – it takes a long time to get going, but once it’s rolling, it’s hard to stop! That’s me. I’m rolling now, and I’m going to keep rolling right to a 10 minute plank…and beyond! I want to be the 70-year-old just killing the plank.

Take Responsibility

This was super hard for me to do for a long time. For many years, I had a really bad attitude about health problems and a weak body. I was angry with how my life had turned out, and I was bitter about how much harder things were for me than a lot of the people around me. I was jealous of other young moms who were living the life I wanted, and these negative feelings sent me into a very dark time of my life. I felt completely helpless.

I kept sitting around, complaining and wishing things were different. I wanted somebody to help me, I wanted God to save me, and to make it easier for me. I’ll never forget the day it all snapped. It was like God pulled back blinders in my life, and I realized how unhappy I was, and that I needed to be the one to do something about it. He was pouring out blessings onto my life, and I couldn’t even see them because I was so consumed with how terrible I felt. Something inside of me started to rise up. Looking back, I don’t really know how things started to change – it must have been that God just planted a seed, and it started to grow. Determination rose up in me, and I started searching for a better way to do things. I started trying everything, I googled and researched to figure out what to do, and Ben and I prayed a lot for God to show us what path to take.

I needed to accept the health challenges in my life, and instead of complaining about them, start putting that energy into doing everything I could to make it better. I still have times where I break down and have a good cry, and I wish I didn’t have pain in my body, but I try not to dwell on it, because it doesn’t help anything. I can’t control all of the circumstances in my life, but I get to choose how I’m going to respond to them.

There’s a verse in Proverbs that says if you don’t work, you don’t eat. I don’t get the good stuff if I don’t put any effort into it. It’s up to me. It was a hard lesson to learn.

Moving On

So I’ve accomplished my five minute plank, but there are many, many other habits which need to be developed in my life! I’m curious to see how the lessons I’ve learned from planking will be applicable to other new habits. I’m finding that achieving a difficult goal gives me confidence and motivation to do other hard things. I can push myself farther than I knew before. Time to move on to budgeting!!

Do you have any tips for sticking to a new habit and accomplishing something hard?

 

 

Birthday Favorites Part 2

Hey, Friends! Thanks so much for all the kind birthday wishes! I spent my day relaxing as much as possible, because I caught the cold my kids have been struggling with for the last week!:( Ben and I postponed our birthday date to a day when I’m feeling better, but at least we had babysitting all lined up, so I spent down time on the couch with some Gilmore Girls episodes. Not really that exciting, but now we have more time to anticipate our birthday date.:)

For today’s birthday favorites, it’s all about exercise. This last year was my year to start strengthening my body, and that’s a big deal for me, as I explained in this post.

It’s funny, because I’ve spent most of my life thinking I wasn’t athletic in any way, and it took 37 years to figure out I was wrong. The school I attended was all about basketball and volleyball, which I couldn’t stand. I liked biking and walks in the sunset, but those weren’t considered “exercise”. When Ben and I first got married, I went through an aerobics video phase, but didn’t really enjoy that either. Exercise was something I felt negative about in every possible way, and I tried to force myself to do it, but nothing stuck.

It’s probably a large part of why I ended up with all the issues I’ve had with my back and hips, although there are other contributing factors. I had a crooked spine, and because I’ve always been very small, I just didn’t have the strength to do things other people would find easy. I tried to make up for lack of strength with tension, and the muscles in my body got pretty messed up, especially during pregnancy.

After spending a few years working on flexibility with yoga, massage, and physiotherapy, this was the year to finally begin strengthening my unhappy muscles. Besides my little team of therapists, who take fantastic care of me, I have four parts to my strengthening program which have been changing my life. That sounds dramatic, but seriously – there are major shifts happening in my body, and I delight in them every single day! When I pick up Everett, or open a heavy door, and am able to do these things easily, I feel very excited about my progress!! Someday soon, I’m going to ride my bike and mop the floor, and it will be a beautiful day….

In the meantime, here’s what I’m loving right now:

Going for Walks

For years, I couldn’t go for a walk, because my hips just hurt far too much. I was always really sad about this, because I had so many beautiful memories of walking down the gravel road with my mom when I was in high school – half a mile west into the sunset, and then back home again.

Last spring, Ben encouraged me to start getting out of the house for a walk, no matter how short it might be. He kept saying a little bit was better than nothing, so I listened to him, even though it felt really dumb to walk past four houses down our street, and then turn around, because that was as far as I could possibly go. But very slowly, I started getting stronger, and I could get past five or six houses. All winter long, no matter how cold it was, I put on a million layers, and I got outside for a walk. My anxiety got less, my sleep improved, and my body got stronger. I love it. Now I go for a daily 20 minute walk, and every single time I head out our door for a walk, I am so full of joy and thankfulness because I can walk again.

walkingPlanking

Oh, I have such a love/hate relationship with planking!! I love how it’s strengthening my body, but it is so hard to do it! In the beginning, I would actually cry because I dreaded it so much! But my therapist has said it is the BEST thing for back issues. He promised I’d start noticing the difference by two minutes, be in a great place by five minutes, and not even feel my back by ten.

I thought he was insane.

I started with 30 seconds, and it seemed completely impossible to plank for one minute, never mind five or ten. I started in December, and I’ve made it to four minutes. Suddenly five doesn’t seem so impossible anymore! I like to flex in front of the mirror now, because I’m still trying to believe weak little me is actually able to have some muscles in those arms. Anything is possible, I tell ya!!!

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Ashtanga Yoga

This isn’t exactly new – I’ve been doing it for about three years now, but this last year has been exciting because I’m really able to notice the health benefits. There are many different types of yoga, but this is my muscle therapist’s favorite, and it’s incredibly effective. You can check it out on youtube here, but the white spandex shorts are a bit much, so I bought this book, since I don’t want to turn the TV on every night when I do yoga. There are pictures of each pose at the back, if I can’t remember the new stuff I’m working on.

Ashtanga Yogasource

Trigger Point Ball

trigger point ball

I love this ball. The idea is very basic – find a sore muscle, and lie on the ball. Sooo much pain, but it makes such a difference!! Unfortunately, Everett also loves it, too, and he runs away with my ball all the time. It rolls under furniture, and sometimes it takes me days to find it! I am very sore those days – I might need to consider getting a back-up. I’m told a lacrosse ball works just as well, and I’ve also used a baseball in desperation!

There you have it – the tools an unsporty girl is using to get strong and active! What’s your favorite way to exercise? Do you enjoy being active, or is it hard to get into the habit?

Struggling to Life

My body hurts.

As I’ve shared before, I’m going through the painful process of strengthening my weak muscles which were injured from having babies. According to my therapist, this strengthening phase is exciting progress and I’m doing well, but unfortunately, when it comes to exercise, “doing well” can actually be really painful. These creaky muscles are being challenged to do things they’re not used to doing, and there’s no easy, fast way around that.

The good news is that I’ve been at this long enough to start experiencing some of the benefits. Although I hurt all the time, I can feel certain movements getting easier, and am noticing how my body feels stronger, which is outrageously exciting.:)

But sometimes, I just get tired of hurting. On one of those days, some dear friends were praying for me and the pain I’ve been trying to push through. One  friend said, “It’s like a butterfly trying to get out of it’s cocoon – you’re struggling to life!”

That resonated deeply with me, because years ago, I read about a man watching a butterfly struggling out of a cocoon. After a long while, he couldn’t stand watching helplessly, so he carefully cut the cocoon and instantly freed the butterfly. But what he didn’t realize was how necessary the struggle was – the butterfly lay there, unable to fly, because the fight to be free was what strengthened its wings.

The struggle is necessary and life-giving.

Our culture is all about instant gratification, but the struggle to true strength and health does not come instantly. I really wish it did. I’ve prayed for a miracle for years. I believe God could heal me instantly, and this would be convenient and awesome. But one day, as I was asking God to take all the pain away in a moment, it became clear to me that I was asking Him for something I could really do myself.

God made my body to work well. There is nothing permanently broken in my body – there’s just a lot of weakness and muscles out of balance. And while I know He could fix it all in an instant, I also know that I could get my butt off the couch, and go use my muscles the way God intended me to use them.

I still ask Him to take the pain away, but I also ask Him to give me the strength to push through this season of pain and struggle. I ask Him to help my body work the way He made it to.

I’ve lived with pain for so many years, I don’t remember what it’s like not to have it. Right now, though, the pain I’m experiencing is different – before I hurt because I was weak and my body was not working right. Now I hurt because I’m getting stronger and pushing myself to new levels. Totally different kind of pain! Can we call it “exciting pain”?! The pain of progress? A friend suggested I find a new word for “pain”, just to remind myself how this present pain is different from the old pain. I like this idea, but I’m still working on finding the right word!

For on the days when I get discouraged, and wish this was all a lot easier, I’ve been putting together a little collection of quotes. Since I’m doing a lot of squats these days, I found it fairly amusing to come across this quote: “No sweat, no beauty. No squat, no booty.” When I shared this with Ben, he said, “That’s my life  motto, really….”

Here are a few of my other favorites, in case you are also in need of a little inspiration!

Hopesource

Strugglesource

Weaknesssource

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And when I can’t make it seem pretty or inspirational anymore, and I’m just down to pure desperation, there’s always this one:

Pukesource

 Anything you’re struggling through right now? What’s your motivation to keep going?

34 Days of Favorites: Morning Routine

For many, many years, I was one of those people who slept in as long as I possibly could.

Fortunately for me, we’ve been blessed with children who don’t wake up before 8:00 in the morning, so I could usually get away with staying in bed until then. When I’d hear them making noise, I’d finally roll out of bed, and my day would start at exactly the same time as theirs did.

Although this kind of worked, way back in a deep, dark corner of my mind, I knew it wasn’t the best plan.

For one thing, I was always a bit cranky in the morning, because I hadn’t really had time to fully wake up.

Another problem was that I really like to have a bit of alone time first thing in the morning, but it could never happen when I woke up at the same time as the girls.

The most annoying part were all those women who kept talking about their “quiet time” in the morning, starting the day with devotions. I immediately felt defensive when I’d hear about early morning quiet times, because my conscience bothered me. I tried to justify everything by telling myself that prayer can happen any time of day, but really, I knew my day would go better if I would have the self-discipline to start it right.

I stuffed down these problems for as long as I could, and found other times of day for doing what I needed to do. Kaylia was still taking long afternoon naps, so I had time for reading with Anika, exercising, doing my devotions, and taking a quick nap each afternoon.

But one fateful day, Kaylia decided she was done with naps. At the ripe old age of two. I had been expecting a few more years of naps out of her, but it was not to be.

Suddenly, I had no time for exercising or devotions, and I knew something had to change.

I started waking up 15 minutes early. Not much time, but it was a start.

Before long, I changed it to half an hour earlier, and stayed there for quite some time. I got my exercising done, but that was about it.

After a few months, I decided to wake up 45 minutes earlier than the girls, so that I could exercise and do my devotions.

And I’m still going strong. Some mornings I wake up an hour early, if I need some extra time for working on the computer.

The weird part in all of this is that the very thing I most dreaded for many years has become one of the best parts of my day. Now I will sound like all those annoying women when I say how much I love a quiet house on an early, fresh morning.

I spend a little bit of time praying, and then I do yoga. I love that time.

If I’ve ever gotten to bed exceptionally late, wanted a bit of extra sleep, and gone back to waking up at 8 am, I feel completely disgusting.

I don’t know if it’s because my body is so used to waking up at 7:15 am, or if I just really need that quiet time alone before I’m ready to jump into the day, but if I sleep later, I am grumpy.

Finding what works for my morning routine has made a huge difference for how I feel about the rest of the day.

My new goal for this next year is getting to bed earlier! Oh my goodness, is that ever a hard one for me! But maybe by next year, I’ll love going to bed earlier as much as I love waking up earlier!

We’ll see…

What’s your morning routine? And do you have any tips for how I can get my evening routine working a little better?