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??!!

 

 

 

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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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Good Morning = Good Day

A friend recently told me about the idea that giving God the  first-fruits of our day is as important as giving Him the first-fruits of our money.

This idea stuck with me, because I struggle with mornings.

Actually, I struggle with evenings, which results in a struggle with mornings. I have a hard time being disciplined about going to bed early.

But here’s what I know to be true:

1) Enough sleep = A happier Kendra

2) An early bedtime = A better morning

3) A better morning = A better day

Giving God the first-fruits of my morning actually starts the night before. I think I have much nicer fruit to offer Him if I’ve had a good sleep.

morning

You know what bugs me, though? Someone out there has sold us all on the idea that we are all either a “morning person” or an “evening person”, and if we just so happen to be a natural night owl, we are no longer responsible for giving God the first-fruits of our day, because we don’t “do” mornings.

I am on a journey here, and most definitely don’t know everything I need to know yet, but I would like to add one more awesome truth to add to my list:

4) The first-fruits of your morning don’t have to be long, and don’t have to be at a certain time. They just need to be first…ish.

I find it difficult to get up early enough for full-on devotions at six in the morning. I like to do that in the evening, before I go to sleep. I used to feel guilty about this – like it wasn’t as godly to have devotions at night, as it is in the morning.

Then one day, I thought, “What about doing devos at night, which I love, and just spending a few minutes praying in the morning, giving my day to God?”

And it worked out beautifully. And I felt quite pleased with myself for figuring this out, but really, I don’t know why it took so long, or why I had such a hang-up about what exactly “devotions” had to look like. They can look however I want. At whatever time I want.

But first-fruits still need to be first. Because when I remember God first thing in the morning, and I give Him my day, and my plans, and myself, my mind is in a much better place to get through whatever the day holds. And it doesn’t need to take hours. Sometimes I do it when I wake up, and I’m still lying in bed. Sometimes I do it as I stand in my kitchen, drinking a glass of water and admiring the pink sky. It could be done in the shower. It could be done while blow-drying your hair. Anything that you do every single morning could become the reminder to spend a few minutes giving the day to God.

And then some days are just plain crazy, and all good plans and habits totally fall apart, and the only goal is to survive and get out the door on time.

But hopefully, those days don’t happen every day. And when they do, we just try again the next day.

Thank goodness for a fresh start each day!:)

34 Days of Favorites: Sleeping Habits

Okay, everybody, ready for some more weird favorites?! Here we go….

Sleep has not always come easy around here. Ben and I are completely opposite in our sleep issues. He falls asleep in about two seconds, but wakes up many times in a night.

I take a looooong time to fall asleep, but once I’m asleep, absolutely nothing will wake me up again. I am blissfully unaware of Ben getting up to answer the girls’ calls for nighttime potty breaks or bad dreams.

I consider sleeping soundly to be a great gift. But I’ve had my struggles with insomnia at different points in my life, which is one of the more miserable things I’ve gone through. I get a little bit crazy after being awake for too many hours. And I get really tired of myself by morning. Sleep is a good way to have a break from yourself.

Anyway. Once I am sleeping soundly, it appears as though I have some self-destructive habits. I clench my teeth like crazy, and without knowing it, move into positions that have resulted in pain and tension in my body. I used to wake up with wicked headaches every morning, until I started seeing a new chiropractor and massage therapist.

Which sounds very normal, but that’s because you haven’t met Nigel Jeffers. I’ve written before about his extremely unconventional methods. He has a suggestion for absolutely any problem you could throw at him. And all of suggestions are weird.

So when I complained to him about my headaches, he sent me out to buy a buckwheat pillow. (You can buy them for $30 at Dania Down.)

How do I describe the strangeness of a buckwheat pillow? It’s a little bit like sleeping on a bean bag. It’s very heavy (because it’s filled with grain), and once you get it molded into place for the night, it holds it’s position quite well.

This is what makes it wonderful. It provides excellent support for the neck, and since using it, much of the tension in my neck has been relieved.

I take it with me everywhere. I cannot sleep without my buckwheat pillow.

My other big bad sleep habit is lying with my arm up over my head. I never did this while I was awake, and I didn’t know I did it in my sleep, until Nigel asked about it. I told him I didn’t, but he was pretty sure I did, since my shoulders and neck were so tense.

And sure enough, after he started asking me about it, I would wake myself up during the night by putting my arm over my head.

So I had to go back and confess to Nigel that I had been wrong. But what on earth can be done to stop myself in my sleep?

Nigel’s answer was simple: Sleep with your arms in your shirt.

What??!!

I felt like a complete idiot that evening as I stuffed my arms into my shirt. Ben thought it was hilarious. He liked to think about what I would do if there was a fire, and I was trapped in my shirt.

That first night was awkward. I kept waking myself up in a complete panic, fighting violently with my shirt, trying to be free. It took a few nights before I stopped waking up in a struggle, and then sleep was absolutely wonderful. I noticed a huge improvement.

Nigel said to keep sleeping with my arms in my shirt for three weeks, and then try going without it, but immediately, those arms popped up above my head again. So, back in the shirt they went.

I’ve tried to go without the entrapment method a few other times, but this is a stubborn habit which appears to be going nowhere.

So I sleep with my arms in my shirt every night. I’m so used to it by now, I really like it. It makes me feel all snug and cozy, to which Ben said, “I could swaddle your whole body in a blanket like a baby, if you like.”

No, thanks. We’ll just stick with the shirt.

It feels a little ridiculous even asking if anyone wants to try these favorites, but if you do, you really must come back and tell us all about it! If you have head or neck aches, I’m telling you – a buckwheat pillow and arms in the shirt. Tried and true Nigel techniques, right there.

And other weird but wonderful sleep suggestions out there? Feel free to share – obviously, I’m up for trying just about anything!

(To read more about “34 Days of Favorites”, click here.)

And, in case you missed some favorites and want to catch up, here are the links!

Body Brushing

Pinterest

New Camera

New Friends

Serious Music

Happy Music

Apple Cider Vinegar

Movies

Smiling

TV Show

Books

Clothing

Daddy’s Home to Play

Ben is home again, and we will live happily ever after.

Kaylia set right to work playing the “Bed Game” with Daddy. Ben is still very tired from his trip, so he thought “Bed Game” was perfect. For Kaylia, it’s all about getting tucked into someone’s bed (our bed, Anika’s bed, she’s not picky), and arranging the blankets and pillows just so, and then pretending to sleep, or hide, or play with toys.

It’s very relaxing.

We hope “Bed Game” continues for a long, long time…

Remembering How “The Basics” Can Make Such a Difference

I read a fantastic blog post a few days ago, and now I can’t find it again anywhere, but it’s stayed on my mind constantly ever since. It was about how we as parents can have more patience with our kids. Five steps to becoming a better parent. I read it very eagerly. And guess what – most of them had nothing to do with the kids.

Most of them had to do with getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, eating well, exercising.

I was expecting great new parenting strategies. It was an excellent reminder that if  you’re not taking care of the basics, nothing else will go very well.

I’m painfully aware of that this morning. A friend was over last night until midnight, and while the conversation was inspiring, I knew I would feel it in the morning. And feel it I did. Anika and Kaylia felt it, too, I’m pretty sure.

It’s very hard to be patient when you’re tired.

So I could beat myself up for being a crumby parent today, or I could realize that I need some sleep, and we’ll try everything again after a nap. I’m trying to be realistic about limitations and expectations. Naps are a wonderful thing.