A Good Night’s Sleep

A Good Night’s Sleep

Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep.

As I’ve gotten older getting good rest has become harder, I’m not sure exactly why.

But getting a good night’s rest has many benefits.

The most obvious one, of course, is that you feel less tired the next day. Sleeping well helps you have the energy to tackle all the tasks you have for the next day.

Your mind is sharper. When I get good rest I can think more clearly and I don’t have such a hard time remembering small details or facts that I need to recall.

I eat less when I have a good night’s sleep also. This is probably due to the fact that when you are not sleep deprived your body’s calorie burning and calorie measuring machine is working at optimum levels.

Problems and decisions that seemed so large the evening before usually become much more manageable after a good night’s sleep. This is probably why people say to take some time and “sleep on it.”

So how you get a good night’s rest?

I first thought about when it was in my life I had the best sleep and I realized it was when I was a kid.

I started constructing the steps to getting a good night’s sleep like I did back then and it really helped me. Here is what I do:

1. I go to sleep at the same time every night. I know it may sound boring and unimaginative but the body does get used to being on a routine. It is the signal that tells the brain that the day has ended and that now it must rest.

2. I wash my face and brush my teeth. Creating a little cleansing ritual–whatever that may be–begins the process of self care that tells your body to begin relaxing.

3. I kiss someone goodnight.  I know it sounds silly to make this a step–but for me it really works! As a kid I always kissed my parents before I went to bed. Now as an adult I always kiss my husband goodnight.

If you don’t have a husband or wife–kiss the dog goodnight or get a pet rock, whatever works for you. But it is important to know that there is love in the world and in your life and that tomorrow is filled with promise. This will help you sleep.

4. Say your prayers.  Before I nod off I always thank God for the day that just passed, for the health of my family, our safety and any other things that happened that day.  I also ask for continued blessings, help, patience, ideas, strength, understanding, compassion etc. that I may need or want for the next day. Amen.

At this point, I have set myself up for a good night’s rest and most of the time it works wonders to help me relax and let go of the stresses and pressures of living and it helps remind me not to take things–and myself–so seriously.

However, if I do wake up–or still have trouble going to sleep–after these steps, I just start to count.  I used to count sheep–literally, I would imagine sheep jumping over a small fence and I would count them–but now I just count until I fall asleep. I have never gotten past 200.

Setting yourself up to have a good night’s rest will give you far better chances that you will have a good night’s sleep and you will be ready to tackle another day!

What keeps you up at night? Does having a good night’s sleep help you have a good day? Share your thoughts in the comments below! And have a good day!

Six Steps to Happiness

Six Steps to Happiness

One of the good things about being older now is that it gives you a great deal of perspective. Things that seemed so important a few years ago are not as important now.

In the end, what most of us want is to be happy. I say “most” because there are a certain group of people who do not value being happy–and they thrive on making everyone around them as unhappy as they are.

Here are my six steps to happiness–starting with the unhappy people around us.

  1. Stay away from unhappy people!  

There is nothing worse than hanging out or being around unhappy people.  You know who they are–everything is bad, they are bitter about anyone else’s success, calm, or good fortune and they do everything they can to bring you down into pity-land along with them.

Stay away from people like this–they will spread their negativity to you and make you feel down down down.  Not fun!

  1. Let go of the past!

We all make mistakes.  In fact, we are supposed to make mistakes. That is how we learn and grow.  We are also meant to encounter many types of people in this world–that do not have good intentions toward us–this too is so we learn and grow.

Whatever we may have done or has been done to us–we need to leave the past in the past. It will not make us happy to relive bad moments or to treat people in our present badly as if they are going to repeat some hurt from our past.  Get over it–and let it go.

  1. Get out of bed and DO something!

Sleeping late or laying about all day, even when we feel “tired” can bring us down.  Get up, fix the bed and get moving. Getting the blood moving in our bodies make us naturally feel happy–it is the endorphins!

Make a schedule for yourself in which you get up and go to sleep at about the same time everyday and in between do stuff that will help you reach your goals or bring you joy.

  1. Get organized!

Disorganization, clutter and chaos bring unhappiness.  Get your houses in order. Not only is physical clutter and messiness a downer–but so is being disorganized at work, in your relationships and in your financial life.

It is all in your power to fix–fix it!  When everything is in it’s place: stuff, people, goals and money–you will be calm and content and you will feel happy.

  1. Give to others!

It is better to give than to receive.  It is! It always makes us feel better because it serves a purpose for us.  When we give our things away it serves to help us get organized in things we no longer need but that can serve someone else.

When we help others in good deeds it reminds us that we are in a good place where we have the ability to help others and are not in need ourselves.  And it makes us happy.

  1.  Give to yourself!

By giving to yourself I don’t mean go on a massive shopping spree.  I mean give yourself what you need–and what you want–that you know will be in your best interests and make you happy.

Stay away from negative people and situations. Give of yourself but don’t let others take advantage of your goodness. Live in the present and in a space that is clean and nourishing to you.

Happiness is not something that is far away or unattainable. It is right there in front of you–in your power.  You just have to decide that happiness is what you want. Go for it!

What steps are you going to take TODAY to be happy? Comment below or feel free to send an email to emptynestsaavy@gmail.com.

Happy Friday!

 

Me Time

Me Time

One of my favorite parts of summer is that I can disconnect–from work, from certain responsibilities, and from the laundry–at least for a little while.

I took last week “off”.  I did not travel anywhere but I did take a vacation from everyday routines.

As some of you noticed (and commented) I took time away from my writing and from most of my house chores. I stopped organizing and planning to organize.  I just sat back and relaxed.

I spent some time in my backyard, admiring the plants and the breeze. I caught up on some global news.  I did some reading, a lot of relaxing, and I did a fair amount of Netflix binging.

I painted my fingernails and toenails. I gave myself a facial. And I learned a few new yoga moves.

Me time.  

Most important of all I let go of worrying about things that are out of my control anyway. And I came to this realization:

It was a very good week!

So now I am back, in my regular routine, and I am loving it–again!  The planning, organizing, thinking, writing, spending time with my family.

I am a simple person.  And I am happy being a simple person and enjoying simple pleasures like clean sheets, home cooked meals, organized drawers.

We fail ourselves sometimes by getting too wrapped up trying to be all the things others want us to be. Because we don’t want to let people down.

We forget that what is important in our lives are the people around us and the things that are important to us.

Having a little “me time” gives you a moment, a day, or a week to step back, take a breath and see things for what they really are. To understand your intentions about things and sometimes to understand the intentions of others in relation to you.

It is a very powerful tool–me time.

I recommend me time for everyone! Carve out a little time from our run around lifestyles and just give yourself the time to:

  1. Think about the things that you are grateful for
  2. Enjoy the people you love and that love you
  3. Clarify what is important to you
  4. Let go of things that are not important to you

Keeping life simple helps us live better, getting things done smarter, to reach goals faster. That’s my objective–what’s yours?

How would you use some me time?  Would you use it to get other chores done from the never ending list or would you look inside yourself to find what is important to you?
Leave me a comment below–or send me an email with your comments at emptynestsavvy@gmail.com.

Sailing

Sailing

The dog days of summer have barely begun but already here in Texas we have some hot hot days with a heat index of 106 to 108.

I live near the coast now and going out to the beach is a beautifully short 20 minute drive away.

Since I am usually off for the summers, small escapes to the beach to sit and watch the waves or take a short walk along the shore are a great way to revitalize my batteries, spend some alone time, and think.

The beach holds a great deal of magic for me as our big vacations every year as a child always involved a beach.

We had long lazy days swimming in the ocean and in the hotel pool, with the smell of coppertone sun lotion and music playing in the background.

And the undivided attention of our parents who would swim and play with us. It is these memories I cherish the most and that remind me that there is a time to work and a time to relax.

The best place to relax of course is the beach.

From these summer escapes I always remember a song that no matter where I am or what I am doing, if I hear it, automatically takes me back there.

 

Sailing by Christopher Cross, the lyrics go like this:

Well, it’s not far down to paradise,

at least it’s not for me

And if the wind is right you can sail away and find tranquility

Oh, the canvas can do miracles,

just you wait and see.

Believe me.

It’s not far to never-never land, no reason to pretend

And if the wind is right you can find the joy of innocence again

Oh, the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see.

Believe me.

Sailing takes me away to where I’ve always heard it could be

Just a dream and the wind to carry me

And soon I will be free….sailing.

 

That song sounds like the ocean and feels like the breeze I remember from my childhood. It holds happiness, calm and promise.

This summer I hope to continue my trips to the beach, to visit the ocean and to find the calm-to find the joy of innocence-just as the song says…

Happy sailing!

Send a comment or drop me an email at emptynestsavvy@gmail.com!

The Extremes

The Extremes

If you have been following my blog you know that I am on a journey to make my life the best it can be…faster, smarter and better…and hopefully give you ideas for your life as well.

Along this journey I have been examining life have have learned a great deal about myself, others and life in general.

Part of what I am digging into is human nutrition–me being the main human I am examining. I mean really, how can we live our best life if we are sick and tired all the time?

I for one was sick and tired of being sick and tired–so I was ready for the changes I am making and up to now am happy and better for it.

With that said I want to talk about changes–and when they go wrong–and that usually happens when we mere people take things to an extreme.

Most–but of course not all–people make nutritional changes to their diets because they want to lose weight. We realize we cannot continue on the upward trend the scale is making.

So we go on a diet–and we lose weight–and then we go back to our merry lives and we gain it all back and more…so we go on another diet.

I know…I’ve done it this myself and so we conclude that those diets don’t work.  Are the diets to blame? Or the dieters?

In my opinion it is neither. Here is what I mean:  We start a nutritional program and we are committed to it and we lose weight.  Both the program and the person are successful UNTIL we encounter something that doesn’t fit in the program.

Like donuts brought in by a generous coworker, an invitation to a baby shower or a birthday party.  Or Thanksgiving and Christmas come around again–and the diet is broken.

The real reason this happens is because most diet programs and the people following them–yes, including me–take them to an extreme.

If the program calls for no sugar, we try to cut out every drop of sugar in our entire lives. A no carb diet? We kill ourselves making sure we have not one gram of carbohydrates. Low fat? We cut out anything with any kind of fat–even the good fat that our bodies need!

Then there are the fad programs that call for eliminating everything but one component in order to lose weight: The grapefruit diet: only grapefruit; the coffee diet: black coffee 3 times a day! The banana diet–well you get the picture.

These ideas are not sustainable and they are not healthy!

Some can be very dangerous because it changes the functions of the body and can cause major problems–especially if you are seriously cutting back on carbs or not getting enough vitamins and minerals needed for healthy functions.

However, I do believe that all diets or nutritional programs have good ideas that can be used to make lasting change.

And change is the hardest part of all of this.  Instead of going to extremes each one of us needs to find the nutritional program that works for us–stop making excuses and then just make the life changes we need to be healthy and happy.

No extremes, no excuses.  Make your life better–faster and smarter.

Send me your comments on how your nutritional plan is going (or not going!)  or email me at emptynestsavvy@gmail.com with your thoughts and questions! We are all here to share and help each other!

 

Carbs to the Rescue

Carbs to the Rescue

Ah Carbs!  The pleasure trigger of the taste buds and the bain of all the empty calories we consume.

Carbohydrates get a bad reputation as being the worst thing to enter our dietary lives–EVER!

But as with most things the majority of people are getting this wrong. This is mostly because they are not doing the research themselves because they are relying on all the sound bytes they hear…

And while I am just another sound byte–I have at least done my homework.

Carbohydrates are a necessary part of our nutritional plan. It is where we get our energy so we can, you know, do stuff.

If we were not getting energy from our food we would feel deflated and tired–all the time–and you would quite literally be unable to function.

If you are trying to lose weight many diets encourage you to cut out carbohydrates–completely.  

Many people grab onto that advice and cut out all carbs!  This does lead to weight loss but very often that weight loss is too much, too fast, can be very dangerous and is not sustainable.

Those diets fail–or I should say the people on those diets fail to reach their goals because they cannot follow the program long term as a lifestyle…I’ll discuss that next time.

Back to carbohydrates–we cannot survive without carbohydrates in our system everyday and this is why:

Carbs come in 3 main categories:

  1. Sugars or simple sugars like glucose, fructose etc. that are basically already broken down for us. These go into our system, give us a little zip of energy and then fizzle out quickly. Because they are simple it takes a lot of them to make us feel “full” or “satisfied” so we eat a lot of them.
  2. Starches are more complex sugars that need to be broken down by our digestive system to create the glucose our bodies need for energy.  So these carbohydrates take longer to break down and give us a slow burn of energy.
  3. Fiber.  Fiber is a carbohydrate that cannot be broken down by the body but is needed to aid digestion and to give us a happy gut and happy bathroom experiences. This, as you know, is super important!

When we eat too many carbs, the body can store some of them for future energy and turns them into fat. Not good.

In a nutshell–we need to eat carbohydrates that are complex and whole to provide us with that slow burn and with fiber. Processed foods that are high in carbohydrates and low in everything else are just empty calories that do not serve us!

The amount of carbohydrates that we need depends on the number of calories you need per day to reach your nutritional goals. I discuss that in a previous post called The Big Mac.

The best carbohydrates are found in vegetables, whole fruits, potatoes, legumes and whole grains. It is important though to remember to watch the serving sizes and the preparation of these foods so that we don’t change a good carbohydrate into a fattening dish.

We also don’t want to eat so much of a good thing that we turn it into a bad thing by overloading our bodies with too much sugar–even from whole foods–that is needed in a day.

For people who are currently battling obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease a low carb diet can be life changing. And I think–especially given our current society–that this is important to mention.

And while a low carb diet may come to your rescue–we need to include the proper water intake, exercise and a host of other changes to our habits as a permanent life change for our rescue to be sustainable.

Remember that carbohydrates did not cause our obesity and a host of other health problems.  Our ancestors ate all kinds of carbs and were healthy–and thin!

Our ancestors, though, ate whole foods–not processed foods!  And there is a way to include whole foods and the science of convenience in processed foods to help us achieve both nutritional values and health objectives!!

While I am still digging for the answers–remember to take everything you know and understand to be true with a grain of salt. Do some discovering of yourself and what works best for your body–because no two bodies are alike!

Reach out with a comment or email me at emptynestsavvy@gmail.com with your thoughts and questions!

Protein Packed

Protein Packed

I am quickly learning that my curiosity about nutrition is very hard work which was not what I expected, but I have always enjoyed a challenge–and a challenge this certainly is.

Learning more about macro nutrients and how they impact the body has been an exciting ride–which I can’t seem to get off of–and today I am full of protein!

Protein is one of the important macro nutrients that we need to have for a healthy diet. Getting the right proteins and in the right amount is the trick.

Where do we get our protein, what are the best types of protein and how much is needed?

First–where do we get our protein?  I thought the easy answer was meat! Beef, chicken and pork are very good sources of protein, but they are not the only sources of high protein.

There is protein in dairy products like eggs, natural cheeses, yogurt, 2% milk, organic milks, and whey and casein protein powders (for protein shakes.)

Proteins can also be found in seafood like Halibut, Yellowfin Tuna, Salmon, Tilapia, Anchovies and Sardines–and in all kinds of beans: black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans and so on.

I was very surprised at the amount of proteins found in nuts and grains like almonds, walnuts, cashews, oats and brown rice. Who knew? Well, I think many people knew–but I didn’t or I wasn’t really paying attention.

How much protein does each person need?  If we remember that protein is needed to build and repair muscles, organs and our skin then it makes sense that we need a fair amount of that.

For a normally active person of normal weight 25-30% of your daily calories from protein would be a good amount. Once again, math will have to be involved in your plans.

That does not mean that I am advocating going out and having a couple of greasy hamburgers a day! While that may have a lot of protein–it also has a lot of other stuff that is not good for you!

Protein also has some magical powers if you are looking to lose weight. When you increase your protein the body’s metabolism increases–burning more calories faster–at the same time that you are feeling fuller and will then eat less of everything.  Magic.

On top of that, proteins help you build muscle mass, which will keep your metabolism at an optimal level to keep burning calories–even when you sleep!

The most exciting thing I have learned in recent days about proteins is that it helps create enzymes that not only repair muscles–especially after a workout–but it helps repair organ tissues.

There is a great deal of research that is showing that increasing your protein intake–as we get older especially–helps us lower blood pressure, and combat diabetes and since it helps maintain muscle–it keeps us stronger longer.

Can we over do it?  Of course, as with anything else–too much of a good thing is not always a good thing.  There is some evidence–although no real scientific proof yet–that if you have kidney disease, too much protein can be harmful.

But for a healthy person getting the right amount of protein each day can help you stay healthy, maintain a good weight, prevent muscle loss as we get older, and keep our metabolism working at optimal levels.

Most healthy women should have between 45 and 75 grams of protein a day and healthy men should have between 55 and 90 grams of protein a day.  The more active you are–the more protein you should have!

Living our best life is important to living a long healthy life–and being healthy and active is the key!

Think about how you can protein pack your days to a healthier you!

Leave a comment below or contact me on emptynestsavvy@gmail.com!