Sleepy Time

Happy New Year, Readers!

My consistent wishes/ joke has been that I hope 2018 is more amazing than 2017 … which should not be hard given the bar is so low.

So how did you celebrate?

Both myself and my really good friend, Beverly, realized that both of our beaus were doing their own thing. Hers was hunting and Maciej is visiting his family in Europe. Upon this realization, we thought it would be a great opportunity to have a “girls night in” as well as officially engage in wedding things as she is my co-maid of honour.

When her train arrived, we went shopping and I started looking at wedding bands (and finally found one that I really like that has a fun significance!), she tried on bridesmaid dresses (and we finally settled on one) and I tried on my wedding dress again because … what can I say … I am so excited!!! It was such a fun day and definitely one of my most memorable New Years celebrations.

After we went to the cinema and saw Pitch Perfect 3. I really enjoyed it despite it being a hokey chick-flick. The plotline is in no way deep but when you are out with your girlfriend(s) and are around my age – as I found the context was very much targetted to us who are veering close to the 30 mark but not quite yet – it was a funny movie.

After the movie, we came back, I iced a homemade chocolate cake – which I cheated with a gluten-free box because I am recently over being ill LOL but I did bake it in my oven!! – and I made homemade vegan baked nacho dip for dinner. Confession: For a box mix, this cake is legitimate. Often with gluten-free, there is a weird aftertaste due to the use of potato starch or rice flour in the mix. With this mix, you cannot tell the difference between the gluten-free and a real cake … at least that is what Beverly said because I have not eaten gluten in almost three years.

We drank wine and I evilly introduced her to Drop Dead Diva on Netflix. Like an old person, I took a nap a few minutes before the countdown and when the clock struck midnight, we took pictures, blew noisemakers and then we … are you ready for it *Taylor Style* … went to bed!

With the advent of a new year, many people discuss their resolutions and goals. Some are opposed to this and others use this calculation of time as an opportunity to make lifestyle changes. I personally have eight areas I am working on in 2018. One of the lifestyle changes I am trying to make is ensuring I get enough sleep! I think this is an “I am almost 30 and all-nighters are not cool anymore because I turn into a raving bitch erm … crazy lady” situation. The reality is, I am very productive in the mornings and I genuinely enjoy sitting in my favourite chair before people have started texting and e-mailing as I watch the sunrise and sip on my coffee. It is a truly hygge ritual that I value.

In the past, I have overworked late into the night and I would often sleep through alarms, become short-tempered and extremely anxious with physical symptoms. During my undergraduate degree (oh the dawn of your early 20s), it was not uncommon for me to be at school at 6:00 AM reading and drinking a coffee in the library, doing courses/ lectures until 2:30 PM to 5:00 PM, getting back on the bus home and writing papers until 11:00 PM, sleep until 4:30 AM, continue working then go in for my part-time government job for 9:00 AM and occasionally attend an evening course from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM that night! Insane … I know! I really have no idea how I pulled this off except maybe my age made the onset of the physical repercussions sneak up on me a bit slower. During this break, I have started turning off my alarm and resting up. At this point, I feel caught up on sleep and am slowly going to be pushing back to earlier bedtimes so that ultimately I am able to wake up well-rested by 5:30 AM.

One thing I am incredibly guilty of is sleeping with Netflix streaming on my iPad. I have read a lot about the negative effects of blue light on your circadian rhythm and I know this bad habit needs to be broken. Some of the effects include: a) suppression of melatonin production; b) not feeling rested after sleep due to a lack of REM cycles; and, c)  poor overall quality of sleep. The full recommendation actually indicates that devices should be shut off 30 minutes prior to sleep. I would love to get into this habit! 21st century me is already toying with what I could be doing if all devices are off for 30 minutes. Some ideas include reading a paper book and meditation/ yoga. But I recognize this is going to be a slow transition if it is going to work.

Truth Bomb: In my final year of high school, I was extremely anxious as I (thinking worst case scenario) did not want to return to high school for a “victory lap”. Complete nonsense, I know. As a result, I suffered from chronic night terrors for months! And these were vivid and terrifying. One of the times I was so scared I jumped into bed with my sister. This is when the habit started because I found that sleeping with the TV on stopped my night terrors. I did this for years – far longer than necessary; however, I was scared that my night terrors would return if I did not sleep with the TV on. Has anyone ever experienced this? Now I am at a point where I cannot sleep without the background noise.

So what do you think? Have any of you ever tried eliminating technology and ensuring you are getting a routine 8-hour rest? What were your strategies? How about night terrors? Have any of you experienced this?

Let me know and may 2018 be amazing to all of you!

Steph xoxo

Learning to Run & Menu Plan – July 31st to August 6th 2017

Well here we are again! Another week has passed and I must note, the word of my week has been: stamina. 

I have two things on the go: (a) my thesis is going through its finalization process (I’m so f***ing tired. I apologize but seriously, this warrants swearing); and (b) I have begun the process of learning to run.

I have come to realize that writing a thesis is literally like building a baby. It takes months out of your life. You cannot properly be a friend, a family member or a girlfriend because you are so tired building this thing as you devote every. waking. hour. to it. (Trust me, if you want to know who your real friends are, go to graduate school). You laugh and get excited during the milestone triumphs (you know, the “EUREKA!” moments). You cry when you cannot take the process of building the parts to your argument anymore. Heaven forbid you think you have a final product only to be let down because it is not ready yet as it is returned to you with cold-hard edits by your lovely partner.  I am mentally exhausted and realistically, I am fed up. I want it submitted so I no longer need to be that awful friend who ditches every occasion or the crappy aunt whose spider-nephew hangs-up FaceTime on you because he’s pissed off you won’t come over and play (even though you really want to). I am nearing completion at this point and more importantly I am on my role. I realized yesterday that there are only a couple weeks left until I am leaving for my trip to Dublin to attend a conference and that hit me hard. I really need to finish this all up and get some additional work done as well as prepare for my presentation abroad. There is no rest for the weary, I’m afraid.

On another note, I promised myself I would learn to run and this week, I started! My stats obviously were not great. Maciej poked fun at my average of 7:04 min/km (he is half of that!!); however, I saw a quote about running that stuck with me given the challenges I have been facing:

It does not get easier, you just get stronger.

Realistically, this is true for many facets of life in addition to it encouraging me to keep up the physical fitness (something I have not been great about during university if you have read my about page).

With my thesis, at first it completely sucked; however, now that I know what I am doing, I have my role. I got stronger.

With aspects of love in my life, the first time I fell in love, it completely sucked – a whirlwind of poor decision making, really; however, now that I know how to remain true to myself with another person, I am happily in love. I got stronger.

When I started a new job and was thrusted with responsibility that no post-secondary institution can prepare you for, I panicked. I wanted to leave. However, now that I pushed myself to learn from others was humbled to reach out to those who have more experience than I do, I made a very good name for myself and carry a strong reputation. I got stronger.

When I had to bravely stand up for someone who could not stand up for themselves earlier this year and face the wrath that triggered my anxiety beyond anything I had ever experienced to the point I did not want to work again, I pushed through it and I am still ready to stand up for those who need a voice. I got stronger.

Something I have come to learn is that real success is not sheer luck. It is being malleable to your surroundings and willing to be uncomfortable while you push forward for the best version of yourself. And with that, I have this weeks meal plan to keep me fueled as I run as well as keep my mind healthy and nourished as I keep climbing these mountains.

Click on the image to enlarge.

Admittedly, breakfast this week is (albeit delicious) but very monotone. My reason for this is, I find that the iron and protein in the green monster smoothies are keeping me energized and focused while I write. I mean, like, I am totally strong and not snacking out of boredom when I have one in the morning. They are seriously magic. Additionally, I need a quick breakfast because my brain works best in the morning at extensive mental work and I am better at physical work in the evening. As a result, I aim to quickly eat a healthy and nutritious breakfast but get straight to work so I can get the most out of my day. Hence, cereal and smoothies it is!

Additionally, my dinners are very summery. Usually by August, I have no patience for full-on meals and tend to opt for BBQ type meals, fruits and salad. I have not tried the Smoky Vegan Carrot Dogs; however, I have heard about people in the vegan community making these carrot dog things and I figured after smelling the barbeque smell in my neighbourhood that it would be a fun recipe to try. I will definitely let you know how it goes!

While it is not listed in my meal plan, I have been keeping up with my water intake and the results are amazing. I have no idea how I let myself get so dehydrated because the more water I drink, the better I feel. I find I am not snacking as often, my thought processes are clearer, I feel stronger and way healthier both physically and mentally. Honestly, I really suggest everyone to try and increase their water intake because it is difficult to put in words, you just feel amazing when you do. It makes a huge difference. I will be starting up a new challenge this week, so stay tuned for that!

If you missed it last week, the blue items shown in the meal plan are linked to other blog posts (as well as a few non-blue items) which I will list below:

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

**Lightened-Up Crispy Baked Fries from: The Oh She Glows Cookbook – Vegan Recipes to Glow from the Inside Out by Angela Liddon p. 203

Snacks:

And there you have it! Very simple, mostly quick and light meals to accommodate my hectic work schedule as well as the warm weather.

Wishing everyone a productive week in hopes that you too, will become stronger no matter what challenges you face!

14 Day Simple Hydration Challenge

Hey there!

It is 1AM and insomnia has hit me hard!

I have no idea what it is but I have had a rough go of making sure I get enough sleep. I keep rolling around and getting out of bed. I recognize that I should get 8 hours every night but here is my issue – or rather, the internal debate:

If I sleep in pure blackout silence, my thoughts race and I cycle around ultimately leaving myself feeling frustrated because … what the heck … it is 3AM and I know I could have accomplished something in the time between when I tried sleeping and that point.

ALTERNATIVELY

I often listen to a TV show on Netflix (cue endless episodes of Friends and Grey’s Anatomy), but sometimes I get hooked on the episodes and stay awake. Additionally, I hear the blue light is really bad for making sure that you are rested.

I have a feeling that my life stresses are hitting me hard and that is a major component in me making sure I get enough sleep … maybe a future challenge? Thoughts?

Speaking of challenges, onto my first blog challenge! I am admittedly very excited. I decided to make this challenge an easy (well, not easy but one that I can accomplish even though this week is incredibly busy) and healthy one. And hey – maybe this one will help with this insomnia? *sigh* I have my hopes. But without further ado,

Simple hydration.

There are a whole series of metaphors about the healing power of water. Water hydrates, cleanses, and purifies. There is no doubt about the benefits of drinking water, however – despite my better judgement – I am not great at keeping myself hydrated. I have tried various strategies like the large water bottle labelled with times on it (was very popular on Pinterest for a while), but each of these things have failed me. So instead, I present to you my system of scheduled water intake … or rather, my daily “water breaks”.

I have recently gotten into the habit of using my iCloud calendar for scheduling and I have been very receptive of my notifications so I thought I may schedule the times I drink water and see if this works.

How about you readers? Are you good at keeping your water up? What strategies do you use? Keep me posted!

Good night everyone!