better than before

outdoor-voices-standard-hotel3 outdoor-voices-standard-hotel10

Gretchen Rubin’s book, Better Than Before, about making and breaking habits based on your personality tendencies, was a true game-changer for me. Inspired by Rubin’s “Twelve Personal Commandments,” I identified the four pillars of my “daily feel-good foundation.” As someone who easily leans towards depressed mood (often without even noticing), I’ve found these four healthy habits make day-to-day life a lot easier and more enjoyable. I tweak and adjust little things all the time, but these are the basics:

1. SLEEP. Perhaps the most significant habit I broke is my lifelong snooze button abuse. I’ve had trouble waking up for as long as I can remember. Until this year, during the work week, I had to set my alarm a full hour before I planned on getting up just to accomodate repeated snoozing. Now I use a progressive alarm clock app that dings with increasing frequency over 10 minutes (you can adjust the time window) and I leave my phone in the bathroom so I have to get up to turn it off. Making the bed immediately after helps stop me from going back to sleep, too. As much of a night person I am through and through, I also have been forcing myself to go to sleep early and at the same time every night. I am never thrilled about going to sleep at 10pm!, but I recognize that prioritizing eight hours of sleep makes it easier to keep up the other habits.

2. EAT. Dr. Frank Lipman’s Be Well Cleanse is a full dietary reset I do every year. Three shakes and two healthy meals a day makes cleansing almost effortless with no feeling of deprivation. Once I hit the “cleanse flow” I feel like I could do it forever. Even with a vicious sweet tooth like mine, this program kicks all sugar cravings completely. The mood improvement is motivation enough to maintain the healthy eating. As an abstainer, not moderator, I know refined sugars have no place in my everyday life. I also cook the majority of my meals so I know exactly what I’m eating and drink 3-4 liters of water a day with this.

3. MOVE. Physical activity is non-negotiable for my mood. I don’t care if “I feel like it,” which I almost never do at the start, I need it. Five days a week of Tracy Anderson streaming is a gift from above and so is my weekly one-on-one boxing session where I get to hit shit for an hour. Kundalini yoga, I am learning to like you.

4. BE MINDFUL. Phrases like these often trigger inner eye roll, but it’s just as important as the first three. After joining a 3 min/day x 40 days meditation challenge I saw subtle but incredibly significant shifts. I know I can’t honestly say I don’t have three minutes a day to spare. I do, so I use this guided “Ego Eradictor” meditation every day right now. Lastly, I love the Gratitude Journal app. It’s simple and sends me a reminder asking “What are you grateful for?” every night. I tend to focus solely on the negatives and miss the positives, so this keeps things in perspective. Once I get going, I have a lot to be thankful for, whether it’s nice things I did for myself that day, the willingness to keep up healthy habits or basics like food and running water. I piggyback this with setting my alarm every night.

Photos: Outdoor Voices, of which I want everything. As Rubin says, the best reward for a habit like exercise is something that keeps you exercising (enter good-looking workout clothes).

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relationship

“An honorable human relationship is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other. It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation. It is important to do this because in doing so we do justice to our own complexity. It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.”

ADRIENNE RICH

Categories: words
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