Making the Most of Canceled Plans

With so many events being canceled and school/work closures, a lot of us are finding we have an abundance of time on our hands these days. This is a big change even for our homeschool family. I mean, the library is closed, people. That’s pretty much my social life. Actually, that’s a complete joke, but we can get to that in another post.

This post is from me, the introvert, to help you make the most of canceled plans. I’m really good at this, guys. So if you are freaking out about all this time at home, I got you, boo.

I also want to note that there is no pressure here. There are no expectations you have to live up to during this ridiculously weird season we are going through. This is simply meant as an encouragement to be intentional about how you use your time, to control the parts we can control and let go of those we can’t.

Get Some Rest

The biggest problem with our overstretched lives is the lack of sleep. It messes with you.

So make sure you get some rest and then work on getting yourself on a schedule that allows you to get the sleep you need every night. That might mean you have to make some decisions to drop things in your life once things start returning to normal. This is the perfect time to think through those things. Because catching up on the weekend doesn’t cut it.

Tackle Clutter

In our day-to-day busyness, things get pushed to the back burner. Tidying up or decluttering is one of the first things that goes for myself. I only have so much mental bandwidth and the things I’m not good at are the first to go. Unfortunately with clutter, this usually backfires because then the clutter makes me feel more anxious as I see all the things I need to be doing. Then I get overwhelmed and shut down and things get worse instead of better. It’s a vicious cycle I’ve been working on the last few years.

If that is something you relate to or you just need a good declutter session, prioritize that this week. It will help your home feel better. There is actual science that connects clutter with anxiety and depression. Give yourself the gift of good mental health.

Family Time

The statistics for just how much time families spend together at home these days is pretty abysmal. The latest statistic I saw was from 2018 and said that with everything we have going on, American families spend an average of 37 minutes of quality time together on weekdays. Use your cancelled plans to up your family’s average.

  • Eat meals together. Make it a point to have at least one meal each day where everyone puts their screens away and you all sit down at a table or just in the same room. Then talk. Talk about things you would like to do as a family when all of this chaos blows over. Brainstorm ideas for things you could do after the meal. This doesn’t have to be dinner, if mornings are better for you all to slow down together, then do breakfast or cook a brunch together.
  • Put a puzzle together. Don’t have one? Order one from Amazon (check out these options!).
  • Play a board or card game.

Exercise

Don’t let yourself get caught in a sedentary routine while social distancing. Be intentional about moving your body. If you find yourself sitting for long periods of time, get up and stretch. Get outside if you can. Fresh air and sunshine are great for your immune system and mental health.

If you can’t get outside, check out YouTube for exercise videos. There is a whole slew of people who have created various workouts, including dance routines to popular songs. If you need something more structured, sign up for a service like Beachbody on Demand and give one of their programs a try.

Goal Setting

I’m a fan of goal setting, it’s no secret. Now is a great time to think about where your life is heading and see if you are happy with that. Think about areas of frustration and see what you can do to walk towards change. Think about what brings you joy and see if you can make more of that happen in your life. If life has brought you a separation from things that you thought you couldn’t live without, think about how you want to move forward when you have access to that again.

Related Posts: Challenge Yourself…Intentionally, 5 Steps to Change Just About Anything, One Change You Must Make to Meet Any Goal

Making the most of your canceled plans is just a matter of priorities, take a look at what you really need to accomplish and then get to it. Now, if you happen to have kids at home suddenly and you don’t know what to do with them because they are all up in your face (trust me, I GET IT) or you are thinking of giving homeschooling a trial run since the schools are already closed, I can help you with that too. Just look for my next posts.

10 Classic Movies for Family Movie Night on Amazon Prime

We are a movie loving family. We love a wide variety of movies, but one area that we kind of lost touch with as the kids became teens is the classic family movies. We watched a lot of them like The Apple Dumpling Gang and Swiss Family Robinson when they were little, but not many since.

Today I thought I would share a list of classic movies for family movie night that are currently available on Amazon Prime. We are analyzing our budget and taking a close look at all the different streaming services we pay for each month. I’ve been trying to make the most out of our Amazon Prime membership that we pay for each month. I’m hoping to maybe drop one or two of the other streaming services in the process. But we will see since each one offers something different.

Just click on the movie titles to go directly to the movie on Amazon, no searching needed.

Brewster’s Millions

I came across this movie while putting together my classic television series post and the description sounded interesting so I added it to our watch list. It is about a former soldier that has to spend 1 million dollars in 2 months in order to inherit 7 million dollars.

Where the Red Fern Grows

A story about a young boy, his hound dogs and life in the Ozarks in the depression. It’s been a long time since I read this book or seen this movie, but I do remember there is a death that is particularly heartbreaking for young animal lovers. The movie is rated G, but if you have sensitive hearts, it may be one to wait until they are older.

The Yearling

Based on a Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novel, this story is set in 1870s Florida and revolves around the son of a poor family. The boy befriends a fawn and then faces some tough challenges. Why were so many family movies so sad in the 70s, 80s, and 90s?

The Treasure Seekers

This 1996 film is new to me. The movie follows a widower and his children in Victorian England as he tries to invent a refrigeration machine. The reviews on this one make it sound like a lovely family film for all ages.

Little Princess

Another one set in Victoria England, this is a classic Shirley Temple movie. Based on the book by the same name, it tells the story of a young girl who loses her parents and becomes a servant in the boarding school her father left her in before the war. Don’t worry, there is a happy ending with this one!

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

This is one of my favorite movies from my childhood. An inventor, storytelling father, an innocent love story, and a happy ending, what more could you ask for? There is a few creepy bad guy characters and the queen in the story sequence dresses a bit risque.

Clue

We love the game, but we’ve never seen the movie. It looks funny.

Support Your Local Sheriff

This is one that my husband has talked about for years so I was pretty happy to see it available in Prime. It is a western about a sheriff and is supposed to be pretty hilarious.

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

From 1963, this movie is also new to me, but looks like a riot. It is loaded with big name comedians from the era. I found this while trying to find a Don Knotts movie because he is a favorite of mine, but alas, I could not.

At War with the Army

Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin star in this 1950 comedy about two men who enlist in the Army with two very different goals.

I hope you found some titles to add to your watch list. Let me know if this little series of posts is helpful or of there is something specific you are looking for in the comments!

P.S. If you are not an Amazon Prime member yet, you can get a free 30-day trial to check out all the perks.

10 Classic Television Series on Amazon Prime

One of my favorite things to do is introduce my kids to things I enjoyed as a kid. Sometimes they respond appropriately and love it, other times they do not. Sometimes we stumble across a classic that I didn’t know about and we enjoy it together. Mostly, I just like experiencing things with my kids.

Classic television series have been one of our favorite things to bond over. Here is a list of options for those of you looking to maybe do a little binge watching with your Amazon Prime account. Click on each title to take you right to the show on Amazon.

The Andy Griffith Show

To me, this is the pinnacle of classic television. Follow along on the wholesome, often hilarious adventures of Sheriff Andy Taylor, his deputy Barney Fife, son Opie, and Aunt Mae along with a host of regulars. If you are looking for sweet, funny television, The Andy Griffith Show won’t disappoint.

Mr. Bean

A British hit, Mr. Bean is played by Rowan Atkinson and is a hoot. Mr. Bean runs into all sorts of comical mishaps thanks to his clumsiness and naivete. The first season is included with Amazon Prime.

The Dick Van Dyke Show

This classic follows the life of a writer both at home and at work. Dick Van Dyke plays writer Rob and Mary Tyler Moore plays his wife Laura. Its another comedy classic.

Dennis the Menace

Based on the comic strip featuring the lovable Dennis and his grumpy neighbor Mr. Wilson, you follow the hi-jinks of a trouble-prone little boy and the people who get tangled in his web of chaos.

The Beverly Hillbillies

The Clampetts strike it rich and move to Beverly Hills. The only problem is they are from deep in the Ozark mountains and were used to a more rustic way of living. But millions of dollars and new luxuries don’t change the Clametts which makes for some seriously funny tv.

Green Acres

This is a favorite of my youngest. Green Acres follows a sophisticated New York couple who buy a farm without ever seeing it. While Oliver dreamt of this life, it couldn’t have been further from the mind of his socialite wife, Lisa.

Magnum PI

This is a classic that I have not seen, but many have recommended. The show is about a private investigator (Tom Selleck) in Hawaii. There is crime involved so maybe not for the youngest kids, but the show has a TV-PG rating.

Third Rock from the Sun

This show from the 1990’s is full of slapstick and colloquial misunderstandings. The story revolves around four aliens who have been sent to earth to research the human race. They are given human bodies and then we laugh as they sometimes struggle to understand our strange ways of relating to each other. There is a lot of innuendo and I would recommend the show for teens and up.

Murder, She Wrote

I’m a big fan of cozy mysteries when it comes to books, but I have never seen this classic television series. With a TV-G rating, it seems like it would be a great fit for my cozy mystery tastes. The show follows a mystery writer as she solves actual crimes.

The Cosby Show

I grew up with the Cosby show. I know there are many who disagree with me, but I think the show still deserves to be seen even with the sins of the titular character. I think the show still has merit. It was a funny, loving family show that my kids and I both love.

There you have it, 10 classic television series currently on Amazon Prime if you are looking to binge-watch something new, but not new. Know what I mean?

52 Books in A Year, Or Am I Crazy?

I have set the same reading goal for 2017, 2018, and now 2019. I want to read 52 books in a calendar year. One book a week. When I was a teenager, I could read multiple books in a week. Chapter books.

Things tend to change when you become an adult and have actual responsibilities like other lives depending on you for things like making them food and forcing them to shower. Superfluous things like leisurely reading tend to fall by the wayside. Then as those other lives do things like make their own plans and have hobbies and activities that you have to drive them to, you lose the time for even the helpful reading (like books that teach you how to not screw up those other lives).

What am I blathering on about? Basically, I haven’t read enough books as an adult and it is all my kids’ fault. Well, not really. As I said in last week’s post, I haven’t always handled things well. When you are struggling to keep up with household work, you need to put aside reading for that season. It’s a choice I made, even if by default.

Enough chitchat. Today’s post is a list of the books I am currently reading and from my Want to Read list that I am most excited about reading this year. These are the top priority books for me.

Currently Reading Books

These are the books I’m wanting to finish first in January. Most of these I started in 2018 so I’m a good way’s through them.


. .


I have about four more books sitting on my Goodreads “Currently Reading” shelf, but I’m not actively reading those right now. I’ll tell you about those when I am.

Books I Am Most Excited to Read in 2019

These aren’t necessarily new books, they are just the ones that I’m most excited about this year, in no particular order. Also, I have over 300 books on my “Want to Read” shelf on Goodreads. I have plenty to choose from. 😬





 

  • Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick – I’m a sucker for memoirs, love them. I just hope this doesn’t go the way of my last “celebrity” memoir. I’m looking at you, Anna Faris
  • A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro – It’s a twist on Sherlock Holmes. I also like retellings.
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas – This is one author I haven’t read, but my oldest is asking to read some of her series so I’m checking her our first. I don’t always do this, but I’ve heard that this author’s works are better suited for older teens and I’d like to find out why before letting my daughter loose with her books.
  • Word-Filled Women’s Ministry: Loving and Serving the Church by Gloria Furhman – Just another “on my mind” topic.

Through the making of this post, I have come to realize that I need to cull my “Want to Read” shelf. I’m not so interested in some of the titles on that list anymore. This actually excites me since that list has kind of had me feeling even more “behind” with my reading. It will be nice to shed some of the weight off my mind.

But since I am a glutton for punishment in that I love to add books to my huge “Want to Read” list, tell me about the books you are most excited about this year!

Blogging, Goals, and How the Things Change

When I first started blogging (back in the mid-2000’s…well over 10 years ago 😱), it was to share bits of my life and to rediscover writing after the baby years. Eventually I learned that there were some crazies actually making money doing this thing and so I figured that should include me. After all, I am a blogger and I just might be crazy. Along the way, I tried a variety of topics trying to find my passion because all the blogging experts were telling me that’s what I needed to do. Focus, Vicki, focus!

Here’s the thing. I’m not really good with focus. I’ve always been a daydreamer and as an adult, I’ve always been good at anxiety and worry. Those two things usually leave my mind constantly trying to figure out what I’ve done wrong in this moment and how I’m pretty sure I’m screwing things up overall. This leads to me chasing squirrels and overplanning just about everything. Because if you fail to plan, you plan to fail, amiright?

Then the panic attacks happened, relationships in my life went haywire, and I sort of mentally imploded and stopped everything. Except buying washi tape and books, let’s not get crazy here. I walked away from a position in my church, blogging, and anything else that was causing stress to our family. Let me say this, the problem I was having was me and how I was handling things, not necessarily the things I walked away from. Other people handle these good things just fine. I just wasn’t one of those people at that point. When I get overwhelmed, I shut down. This rarely helps things.

Time went on as it does and my life got busier in other ways. I taught several classes at our homeschool co-op (including a two hour kindergarten class last year 😬). Our kids joined activities and had the audacity to develop social lives outside of our home. I took on a cleaning job with my oldest daughter so the kids could have the chance to earn some money (and I would have a bit for books…). My husband jumped jobs a few times, took on an assistant pastorship, started leading worship in a church plant, and generally got busier in addition to his full time job.

I’d like to tell you that I handled it all much better than I previously handled the busy, but I’m not certain that is the truth. In some ways, I did handle it better and my family was able to do the things they wanted and needed to do without much added stress from me (at least I think so, ha). The bad thing is, I basically alternated between internalizing it all or ignoring how overwhelmed I was feeling. Which brings me to now.

Where am I now?

To be honest, I’m not even sure. I know this time of year usually brings me to a place of reflection and this year has been no different in that regard. But what I am finding different is the kinds of goals I am setting and how I am going about it. In times past, my goals have looked a lot like tasks to check off my never ending to do lists. There are a few of those, but this year, my goals for 2019 overall are a bit different.

A couple months ago, God really started opening my eyes to some things and the recurring theme has been habits. So when I sat down to write my goals for this year (well, the first time, it took me a couple weeks to actually get them settled), I knew I had my One Word for the year. I didn’t bother with it the last couple years, but this year it was an obvious choice.

2019: The Year of Habit

It’s really simple, the goal is to break some bad habits and make some better habits. But I can’t just leave it there because that isn’t really quantifiable and I need quantifiable to be able to track myself. So here is my master list of habit goals for 2019 (and beyond):

  • improve my bible reading habit
  • establish a planner habit that actually works for me
  • establish a workout habit
  • improve my reading habit
  • decrease my phone habit
  • increase my writing habit
  • improve my sleep habits
  • improve my housework habits
  • improve my money habits
  • improve my food habits

It feels like for the first time, I actually have goals that makes creating to do lists, prioritizing, and getting things done actually possible. From this list, I went to on to start a “Habits I Would Like to Build” list. This list is not conclusive. I hope to add to it as I start conquering things. My current list:

  • making my bed first thing – to tell my brain that we are done sleeping for the day
  • getting dressed first thing – to better define my days, build more structure, so a day of rest is earned and valued
  • a set laundry cycle/schedule
  • get back to consistently meal planning and cooking dinner at home – planning ahead and using my slow cooker for more of those busy days
  • one on one time with each kid at least 1-2x’s/week – help my older ones learn to set up goals, make plans, and to hold them accountable
  • a morning time routine 3-4x’s/week – build a family culture to give my kids a more intentional foundation
  • a regular exercise habit

I stopped myself there because I have SO many habits I know I should have, but I am really trying to not overwhelm myself…again.

Armed with my prioritized habits list, I set a few goals for specifically for January. There are couple “themed” goals that will make an appearance on my goal list each month this year. For example, I’d like to read through the New Testament in addition to our bible study readings this year. So I will pick a book or books to read for that each month. I’m wanting to write out more scripture, so that is there. I’m also trying to stick with the habit tracker in my goal planner, I want to work up to using that daily so I’m starting with a small step.

  1. Read New Testament – Matthew
  2. Write Scripture – James
  3. Good Habits – Hit 40% of the days for my habit tracker
  4. Finish 10 Books
  5. Finish 4 Projects
  6. Maintain use of my planners – specifically my small daily and my goal planner

I set a goal to read 52 books for 2019 over on Goodreads. However, I didn’t make last year’s goal (same) and I have several books already in progress. I want to finish those and read a couple new ones before the year gets really busy.

The four projects is from a master list of things that need to be done at our house. They range from small (reorganize the junk drawer) to big (repainting the wainscotting), but there is enough on the list that finding four that I can complete in January should be pretty easy.

So what does blogging have to do with all this? Well, I’m going back to my roots. I’m sharing my journey. Occasionally you will get some other resources, but mostly I look for this year to be a bunch of sharing my planners, my new routines, my broken bad habits, and lots of books. Oh how I’m hoping for lots of books!

If you have stuck with me this long, bless you. Seriously. BLESS YOU. If you want to here more about these things, you can sign up for the email list and I will try my best to let you know when there is new content to be read. Or you can use a feed reader, which may be the better option for staying on top of things, to be honest.

Next up, a list of the books I’m most looking forward to reading this year!

Photo by chill’in on Unsplash

Make Someone’s Day with Happy Mail

Over holidays, I received a package from DaySpring that contained some gifts that I had ordered and a little note that said the average person receives something like 12 pieces of personal mail per year. I’d double check the number, but the note was pitched in the holiday chaos. It was a really low number. DaySpring included a free card with the encouragement to be the 13th (or whatever came next) for someone.

Being that this is the time of year that I reflect on my goals and plans for the new year, I decided this was a great fit for me. I’m wanting to be more intentional about reaching out this year (among other things) and who doesn’t like to get a piece of mail that is personal, just for them and NOT a bill or junk?

I’d like to encourage you to do the same. Make a point to mail out a card or letter every week or so to someone you love. Packages are great and if you can do that, go for it! They can be a bit expensive to mail though so if you are like me, they tend to be far and few between mailings. A letter, card, or a postcard costs you roughly 50 cents.

Make someone's day with happy mail! Send a letter today!

Who should I send happy mail to?

Don’t know who you should mail or give a letter to? Here’s a list to get you thinking:

  • Family. Parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. They don’t even have to live far away, you can mail a letter next door!
  • Friends. You know those people you talk to on Facebook, through text, and other electronic means? Take a minute to write them a short personal note and drop it in the mail.
  • Co-Workers. Let them know how much you appreciate them.
  • Church Family. You see them on Sunday, let them know that you think about them through the week, too.
  • Kids. Your kids or someone else’s, it doesn’t matter. Kids LOVE getting mail.
  • Community Workers. Send notes of thanks to your police officers, firefighters, EMTs, pastors, and volunteers.
  • Military. You can find addresses through Any Soldier or send letters through Operation Gratitude.
  • Government Leaders. Yeah, those people making laws and generally on the receiving end of all kinds of nastiness? Be different. Be encouraging.

What do I say?

Don’t overthink this. If you aren’t comfortable writing your feelings out, find a card that says just what you want to say and add an “I love you” or “Though of you when I saw this” to the bottom.

Just remember that the point of this is to brighten someone’s day. If someone is going through a hard time, share an encouraging thought, prayer, or Bible verse. If someone recently celebrated something, celebrate with them and send them well wishes.

If you are writing a politician and you want to address something, be gracious. Be kind in your words. Be encouraging.

What do I send?

Currently in the United States, it costs 47 cents to mail a first class letter or card. It costs 34 cents to mail a postcard. Those are the cheapest options.

You don’t have to buy an expensive card, a letter requires a piece of paper, a pencil or pen, and your time. You can make cards with simple craft supplies (ahem, easy washi tape craft alert).

If you want to make it a little more special, choose a fun stamp from the USPS to dress up your envelope.

If you choose the postcard route, there are LOTS of options for you. You can pick up post cards in some restaurants, gift shops, and even on Amazon.

Will you join me in brightening someone’s day this year?

Puzzles for the Whole Family – A New Family Favorite

You know those hobbies from your childhood that you introduce to your kids and they aren’t interested? That’s how it went introducing my children to puzzles above 50 pieces. While they enjoyed the 24-48 piece puzzles as preschoolers, they did not have any sort of patience for larger puzzles. They had outgrown the smaller puzzles, so they were shelved.

I have several of those little puzzles that are still used because I still have a preschooler, but the larger ones remained largely untouched. Then on a whim the other day, I ordered this for myself:

It was a total impulse buy and one that was purely for fun. Just for me. It came Sunday afternoon and I couldn’t wait so I got right to work:

The puzzle is coming along nicely.

A photo posted by Vicki Arnold (@vicki_arnold) on

I spent the rest of my day working that puzzle and then the kids helped me finish it the next morning:

We finished it!!

A photo posted by Vicki Arnold (@vicki_arnold) on

MY KIDS ARE HOOKED! They wanted to do all the puzzles and were sad when we couldn’t keep going. They also all put 1000 piece puzzles on their wishlists for this Christmas. This is one request I am more than happy to oblige.

I spent hours putting together puzzles as a teenager. I know, wild child, right? There was a favorite 750 piece one that I am hoping we can find at my parents’ house in storage. It was a picture of craft supplies. Yes, glitter, pom poms, pipe cleaners, etc. I put that together many, many times. I got pretty fast at it, too.

But enough about my wild teenage years…

When I started looking through Amazon, I found thousands of options. I was thrilled by this because, well, I love to shop. Since I’m also a blogger who also enjoys writing blog posts, you get a post. Yay!

Beginner Puzzles

We have these first four puzzles and my preschooler loves to put them together. He can’t do these all on his own, but that’s a fun part of preschool, making memories. Right?

And these are the ones I added to the list of potential gifts for my preschooler:

Intermediate Puzzles

These puzzles are slightly harder than above. They have smaller pieces and/or more of them.


Advanced Puzzles

Looking for a bigger challenge for the cold winter months or something to do with a loved one? These monsters are just what you are looking for.

If you are up for a REAL challenge, give this BEAST a try!

Ravensburger Disney Puzzle – 40,320 PIECES! The puzzle is over 22 feet long by over 6 feet wide! I’d love to see it actually put together, wouldn’t you?

You Might Like These Puzzles Too!

Puzzles - A great family tradition to start today.

Simple Steps to a Healthier Life

A friend says, “Hey, how are you doing?”

“I didn’t sleep well last night, but I’m good.”

Another acquaintance asks, “How have you been?”

You reply with a genuine smile, “Busy, tired, but who isn’t?”

You find memes about coffee and caffeine being your daily fuel to be all to relatable. I mean, they are funny, but it kind of concerns you that your body doesn’t have the energy for your day without a stimulant like caffeine.

Or your body is so sensitive to caffeine that a simple cup of coffee too late in the day will wreck your night of sleep with a panic attack.

This has been the story of my life for the last few years. My 30’s haven’t been very kind to my body. Of course, I haven’t really been all that kind to my body most of my life. I guess turnabout’s fair play, huh? I think I’ve been due for a few simple steps to a healthier life to correct things for a while now.

With my panic attacks and some issues that come around (or not, ha) on a mostly monthly basis, I’ve finally found a regimen of supplements (herbs, vitamins, and minerals) and essential oils that I find extremely helpful, but they haven’t had near the impact that I’ve seen with tweaking my diet and adding more movement to my day. If you are interested in reading about my supplements and oils, let me know in the comments and I will find a way to tell you about them that doesn’t get me in trouble with the powers that be regulating. 😉

Simple (I Promise!) Steps to a Healthier Life - Vicki-Arnold.com

Simple Steps to a Healthier Life

You may have picked up from the above paragraph that my simple steps have to do with food and movement. Before you roll your eyes or feel exasperated because you’ve tried this before, hear me out.

I’ve tried being intentional about exercising daily, I even made it about 6 weeks with this goal last fall. I’ve tried just about everything you can think of for cutting or reducing sugar in my diet because, frankly, I’m a bit addicted. None of these have stuck, but this spring, I think I have found a few simple steps that will stick.

1. Drinking a glass of water before anything else in the morning. I tend to not drink a lot during the day. I had days where I would get to dinner and realize I hadn’t drank any water that day. Not really helpful for my body. This way I have at least 16 oz. of water (one of our drinking glasses) in the morning. I usually take my supplements with this so it’s easy to get it all down.

2. Focus on veggies at lunch. I try to have a salad for lunch each day. As much as a creature of habit I am (I typically have the exact same salad), I also fight routine like nobody’s business so it’s ridiculous how hard this can be some days.

I’m not focused on specific items, just aiming to have vegetables. Previously, I’ve actually had days where I hit dinner and realized I hadn’t had a vegetable all day. Yeah, you can see why simple steps needed to happen for me.

3. Stop striving for perfection. This simple step has probably been the hardest to implement. I tend to be all or nothing and this often leads to a lot of nothing because who really can be “all” perfectly? Not me, that’s for sure.

What this looks like for me is that when I do great a few days in a row and my mind starts making all these grand plans of how I’ll get it right and do it EVERY.SINGLE.DAY from here to eternity, I tell myself to shut up. Well, not exactly, I just stop and take some deep breaths. Then I thank God that I’ve managed to do something right for a short consistent time because I know that isn’t me.

Then, when I miss a day or two, I don’t stress. I simply make a mental note to pick up where I left off or start again right then, depending on what it is. I’m aiming for every day, but realizing that isn’t always going to happen. For a lot of reasons.

4. Prepping vegetables and other items as I can. One of the things that annoys me about vegetables is all the chopping it takes to use them. I don’t have time to chop lettuce, broccoli, onion, shred carrots, etc. everyday for a salad. So I don’t.

I keep a large, covered Pyrex bowl in the refrigerator with cut up lettuce. Then I keep a sandwich size bag each of broccoli bits, chopped red onion, and diced bell peppers in the deli drawer. I buy my carrots pre-shredded. I shred hunks of Tillamook cheese that we get from Costco and keep it in a gallon size bag, also in the deli drawer. I only have to do this once every 4-5 days, depending on who else eats salads.

I used to think that I needed to have a set day to do this in order for it to be an official routine, but I’ve let go of that and just do it when it needs done. That’s routine enough.

5. Front load my day with productivity. This is the step I actually do the worst with, being intentional about getting the productivity wheel going each morning. I am NOT a morning person in the slightest and so it takes me a while to get going in the morning, and no, a cup of coffee doesn’t help this.

My productivity often looks different each day. I have days where I try to get a one mile walk in before breakfast. Some days it is reading my bible and reading an actual book for personal growth. Other days it is specific homeschool group work done before lunch. Some days it is dishes and laundry.

It really doesn’t matter what it is, just something that needs to be done and that doesn’t involve a screen. Screens are a big, time-sucking rabbit trail for me.

6. Whenever possible, exercise before breakfast. For me, this is my one mile walk. It takes me 15-25 minutes, depending on who ends up going with me or if I get to go alone. I have short legs and walking at 3.5 miles per hour is really moving for me (I know this from walking on a treadmill). This walk isn’t meant to do anything other than get me moving early, out in the fresh air, and clear-headed, so I walk at a relatively leisurely pace most of the time.

The point is movement early in the day, not a super sweatfest. If you want a super sweatfest, then have at it. It’s just not me yet.

7. Making breakfast very protein-heavy. This is hands down the simple step that has made the biggest impact for me. Sometime in March, I started focusing on protein for breakfast. Being the creature of habit that likes to think she doesn’t like routine that I am, this is fairly consistent in content, too. Typically it is 3 breakfast sausages (fully cooked, frozen ones from Costco that have no msg, nitrites, or preservatives), 1-2 eggs, and a few berries.

Sometimes I will sauté some veggies in the pan and then crack my egg over that, just to get more vegetables in my day. This doesn’t happen often because it adds to the time it takes to make my breakfast since I only use one pan for my breakfast because, hello? Dishes.

Previously, I didn’t get much protein in my day either. At this point you may be wondering what the heck I ate and drank since veggies, protein, and water were often lacking from my diet. I’ll give you an example: breakfast would be cereal, oatmeal, or a bagel; lunch would be mac and cheese or pancakes (kids can make these); and then dinner would be some sort of pasta, which would have some veggies or protein usually. Add in there my sweets and snacks of pretzels, crackers, or such and you have a very carb-heavy day of food.

This is why the simple tweaks of a veggie-heavy salad for lunch and a hearty, protein-packed breakfast make a huge difference in how my body feels. And it really is hugely different. On the days I get all seven of these things in, I feel amazing. Like conquer the world amazing. I can definitely use more days like that, how about you?

Last week, after #7 being the only simple step that I had maintained consistently for a month, I realized that my mid-section was significantly less fluffy. My husband noticed it the next day. I haven’t stepped on the scale to see if those numbers have moved and my clothes don’t fit a ton better, but there is a definite improvement in my waist comfort of my pants. It’s enough to keep me headed in this direction.

One of the other results that I have noticed when I implement these simple steps to a healthier life is that I actually don’t crave sugar as much, and there is simply less time for me to eat it so I am naturally eating less sugar. I’ll take it!

If you are looking to make some improvements to improve your overall health and energy, be encouraged that small changes really can make a big difference. While I look forward to a day when all seven of these simple steps feel easy and natural, I am thrilled that even one makes me feel so much better. Give it a shot.

If you are the type who needs more direction, try them in this order – 7, 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6. Keep #3 in mind the whole time and knock them off one at a time. You really can do this, trust me. If I can, you can. Tell me in the comments or shoot me an email and let me know that you started and I will pray for you and root you on!

Simple (I Promise!) Steps to a Healthier Life - Vicki-Arnold.com