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Small Changes Have a Dramatic Effect

The last time I was at the doctor I was talking about my health, which was great, and I mentioned that I wanted to make some changes to be healthier (read: smaller). I prefaced my question with something that I know to do which is to lose weight: exercise more and eat less. Dr. W confirmed it is really all about math - more calories out than in. Her advice wasn't just "eat less, exercise more." It was actually more helpful, take the next year and make a different lifestyle change every month and in a year your life will be different.

I really took that to heart and when I got home, I made a list of 12 habits or lifestyle changes that I wanted to undertake. I gave myself credit for a few that I had started a while ago that were great changes that I felt made a huge difference. At the end of the year I will probably have made about 7 or 8 overall changes but some of them were steps to bigger things. They are small steps that have made a huge difference in my life. I've got a few more to add to, which I'll share with you here.

Writing these here (and anything I do here) makes it real. It keeps me accountable, not really to the people who read this, but to myself. "I wrote it down so therefore I must do it." This method might not work for everyone, but it works pretty well for me. I used to think I wasn't very competitive, but that was all a lie. I'm super competitive with myself in a pretty healthy way and fairly competitive with others in a sometimes unhealthy way.

So here is my list to keep me accountable and maybe inspire you to make some small changes as well. I've categorized them and numbered them based on the order I did/am doing them.

Item #1: A Better Prayer Life
1. Daily Rosary: I accomplished this by beginning to pray the Rosary daily on the Feast of Fatima almost three years ago. This has made a huge impact on my life. I've done this off and on since I was a Junior in High School, but this time it stuck.
6. Daily Mass: I did this as my Lenten resolution last year to get back in the habit. With work, I have a tendency to let my calendar take advantage of me, so to accomplish this I put an appointment on my calendar for every day from noon to 1pm - which I will move to 8:15-9:15am on days I can't attend the lunchtime Mass. Again I've been doing this on and off since high school more often than not, but I needed it on my calendar to make it a habit.
7. Better Spiritual Reading: I spent all of Advent with 30 minutes of prayer every morning which is an amazing way to prepare for the Birth of Our Lord renewing my Consecration to Jesus through Mary.

Item #2: A Better Work Life
2. Better Wardrobe: I've been speaking more for work so I needed to "professionalize" my wardrobe and play the part. So this summer I set about changing my work wardrobe. It's made an impact, that's for sure.

Item #3: A Better Night Life / Daily Habits
3. Better Sleep: This isn't want you're thinking!! I found that I wasn't sleeping well and was taking melatonin to sleep better but I was getting some really wacky dreams, so I had to change that up. So to improve my circadian rhythm I decided to cut out screens in bed including videos on the computer and my cell phone. I took up reading. I started this in October to also reinvigorate my love for reading. It's been pretty successful, although I have my nights where I watch TV in bed, in that I've read 43 books since then - not a bad number for 6 months.
4. Better Daily Habits: Small Disciplines to make a good start on my day beginning with making my bed every day. I wouldn't have thought this would have the large impact it did, but it makes a difference. And getting into a made bed at night is such a treat. I also started getting ready every day. In the beginning this was fully dressed in something other than yoga pants, but that's become unrealistic, so I stopped - but I do put in earrings or a necklace every day.

Item #4: A Better Physical Life
5. Better Fitness: I really dislike cardio and also think that it has a bigger impact on calories burned than it does, so it's annoying for me. But I do like yoga and love Bad Yogi, so I broke down and purchased Erin's Perfect Body Yoga Program (PBYP), which I wrote about here right before I began. Now I've been through Tier 1 and Tier 2 and am starting Tier 1 again.
8. Better Diet: I did this in two ways beginning back in November with a purchase to Real Plans (here) which completely changed my cooking and eating life. I can eat the same thing for breakfast every day and not get bored, but for the rest of my meals, that doesn't cut it. I don't even really enjoy leftovers, to be honest. So I needed some help with what I wanted to cook. This program is awesome because you can choose your meals or have them chosen for you and it creates a shopping list with the exact items you need to make the meals for the week. I recently purchased the NomNom Paleo upgrade. Paleo is another reason why I wanted to purchase this. You can have them choose recipes based on your diet needs as well as eliminate certain ingredients you don't like. For me, that's beans - I don't want them in my recipes and Real Plans leaves those recipes out!
9. Better Management of Food: I started an account with MyFitnessPal in January to count calories. I needed to be realistic about my expectations and what I was eating. I needed to keep myself accountable. So I set up a daily max and if I went over, then that at least I had to record it and know that I did it.
10. Better Paleo: I learned from when I did a Whole30 I am a healthier, happier, and lighter person when I adhere to the Paleo Diet. So I've been working on that. I'm very good on my own at home - and for Lent I made a sacrifice to only eat "non-Paleo" a maximum 3 meals per week, which has helped. Real Plans has also helped with all of their amazing recipes.
11. Better Cardio: To accomplish this I purchased a new FitBit after losing mine on the way home from Prague last summer. Now I'm beginning my sixth week on FitBit and have been increasing my daily steps by 500 every week until I get to 8,000, a respectable amount of daily steps. I've also started walking my neighborhood which is about 1,000 steps around if you walk every available sidewalk. It's very small with only 50 townhouses and doesn't make a circle. I've also made an impression on many of my neighbors as the crazy lady who walks the neighborhood between 5 and 8 times an evening. It's also been helping to listen down my list of Podcasts (the limited TV for Lent is also helping with that too). I feel a lot better that I've been doing yoga in the morning and walking in the evening. It's also helping me get together with my friends by seeing if they "want to go on a walk." Do you have a FitBit, want to be friends?

Item #5: A Better Life
12. Better Relaxation: This one was slated for September, but I've already done this twice by buying plane tickets. I wanted to take off for a vacation that wasn't me taking vacation to just go home or to lead a youth retreat, etc... So a vacation was in order. I've decided on two! The first is in two weeks when I am going go to Texas for 9 days from Good Friday to the following Saturday. It's going to be a good break for Easter and a super relaxing week. I've got lots of plans for visiting with family, playing lots of hands of cards, drinking wine, and reading tons of books! The second is in 117 days when LK and I leave for Greece! Yes, you read that right. We purchased a vacation package to Greece last week and we are going the first week of August. This will be our fun vacation!!

A Better Katie: All of these things are the basis for a better Katie. A happier, healthier Katie who people want to be friends with, who I want to be. Taking control of the things in my life I have the ability to control of helps me. I can't control my weight, but I can control how much I eat and what I do for exercise. I can't control what others think of me, but I can control how I think of me and if I'm the best version of myself by keeping my resolutions.

What can make you a better you just for you?


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