#FinishStrong

With the beginning of the end of 2018 upon us, the change of seasons, and my approaching birthday in early November, I spent the end of September looking for something to add to my repertoire to keep motivated. As luck would have it just the solution presented itself…

I often listen to Rachel Hollis's Rise podcast, and am completely obsessed with her and the podcast…if you're into podcasts absolutely check it out! So on a podcast in late September she invited her listeners to join her for a year-end, challenge that she and her husband have done together for the past three years. It's called the Last 90 Days challenge, the premise of it is that instead of starting the New Year feeling like you've got a huge mountain to climb for personal goals that you add five goals starting in October with five commitments to finish the year strong and see how much farther ahead you are come the New Year.

To get involved Rachel's community commits to five daily activities that are as follows:

  1. Get up one hour earlier than normal to do something for yourself

  2. Exercise for at least 30 minutes

  3. Drink half your body weight in ounces of water

  4. Give up one food you know you shouldn't be eating

  5. Take time to write down 10 things you are grateful for every day

I thought…sure, let's try it…absolutely nothing bad can come from this and just maybe it'll be awesome. So I wrote out my commitments, did some planning and when October 1 rolled around I hit the ground running. Below are my commitments, how I've implemented them thus far, and my thoughts after 10 days:

Up early: I'm getting up at 6:30 every morning instead of hitting snooze at 6:45 and waking up whenever I can hoist myself out of bed before 7:30

    • With the help of a little technology and preplanning/problem solving it's actually been pretty painless. I've started using the bedtime setting on my iPhone and then leaving my phone in my bathroom instead of next to my bed. This was weird the first few nights, but now it's totally okay, and no, nothing has burned down from me not being constantly connected to my phone at all hours of the night.

    • So to practically apply this one I do my Instagram scrolling before bed, turn on my alarm, plug it in leaving my phone on the bathroom counter top, and then head to my bedroom.

      • When the alarm goes off I have to haul my butt out of bed to turn off the alarm, and I make myself turn on the bathroom light when I walk in, so far, this method seems to be pretty painless and successful. I will tell you that this morning I did have to have a pretty serious conversation with myself about commitments that that is was STUPID to get back into bed for 30 minutes of useless sleep. But overall it's been okay!

      • From some research I've done it's also better for us in general to get out of bed when the alarm goes off for two big reasons:

        • First, we run on about 90 minute sleep cycles, and every time we wake up, we reset that cycle which is why hitting snooze actually makes us tired more tired, because we restart a sleep cycle every time we fall back asleep

        • Second psychologically it's SO important for us to start the day by following through on a commitment we have made to ourselves. By starting my morning dong what I've said I would do, I have found myself more productive and trusting myself more. This has in turn had me feeling happier in general throughout my days.

Workout: With that time in the morning I'm going to the gym

  • This too, I thought would suck, but has been pleasantly surprising. Granted I'm very lucky in that I can either work out at my apartment, right out on my patio or in the living room, or at my gym just up the street. But the combination of my sense of accomplishment once I'm done with the workout with starting my mornings being active seems to really help to jump start my day.

    • Disclaimer for the ladies who worry about washing their hair every day: friends, I do not wash my hair every day. Some workouts are intense and others are just light cardio or stretching, and yes I have started planning them around my hair washing schedule. It's totally manageable. I promise! :)

  • The morning workouts have really freed up my evenings because I used to go to the gym after work. Since this is already ticked off the list early in the day I have essentially given myself SEVEN hours a week to do whatever I want at the end of my work day. What's looked like being more social seeing friends, doing some shopping and running errands that otherwise would eat up my weekends. This has been a huge and unexpected bonus that has also enabled me to get into bed earlier!

Water: I am very conscious to get in at least half my body weight in ounces each day!

  • When I wake up I immediately have a glass of water with after brushing my teeth and washing my face. I learned this tip from Aubrey Marcus's Own the Day, Own Your Life. By starting the day, very first thing with a glass of water as being similar to stretching or warming up before a workout. The water primes your organs to start functioning just as the stretch and workout does. It really helps to get my day started feeling good.

  • Then, I'll of course have water during my workout, I have a massive water bottle on my desk that I get through before the end of the day, and am sure to have at least 10-20 ounces in the evening before bed. I'm pretty sure this gets me closer to 3/4 my weight in ounces of water daily, but I am obsessed with drinking water

Food: I've given up cheese. And let me tell you, I love cheese more than anyone you have ever met, and I ate it as often as I cold get my hands on it, which was always, because I kept it stocked in my apartment. It's my most favorite topping, snack food, and general meal substitute. I knew it was not a super healthy decision to always be eating cheese, but it is so good I just decided it was okay.

  • So when I listened to the Five the Thrive podcast Rachel asked what we thought from a knee jerk reaction we should give up. She said something like "you know exactly what this thing its, you've had it too much or you now it isn't good for you. What is that thing you need to cut out?" and that little voice inside of me was like "Sarah, you know it's cheese." So before over-analyzing and talking myself out of it, as I'd done a many times before, I just went for the commitment to give it up, again with some planning:

  • To prepare I made sure to be stocked up on other, more healthy snack foods like bananas, berries, cashews and almonds. This way, I had a substitute when I came in from workout or long day and was starving before meal time.

  • A few observations thus far:

    • Do I miss cheese? Of course. It kinda feels like when summer is over and it's starts getting colder and you miss summer but are excited for the changing of seasons. I'm looking forward to trying other things and seeing how I feel without the constant feeding of cheese.

    • Am I dead from not eating it? …. No.

    • Is it as hard as I thought it would be?…. No. BUT only because I planned head with having substitute foods on hand

Gratitude: I was most excited about this commitment because I'd been wanting to commit to writing out daily affirmations for quite sometime but didn't really know where to fit it in. So I got myself a notebook and every morning while I'm eating breakfast I've been writing out ten things I'm thankful for in that moment.

  • I don't really think, I just write down immediately whatever comes to mind that I appreciate about my life. Sometimes it's my personal relationships, family, health, work, or quiet mornings. It could be a song or podcast I've just listened to or something beautiful I've recently seen.

  • I take this assignment just one little step further and write out 5 pretty WILD dreams that I am excited to reach. I write them in the present tense so that my body and subconscious align with the expectations I'm setting for myself. I am excited to see where these things take me a year from now

  • This I think has had a really profound effect on my mindset that I really wasn't expecting. It's really nice to take the about 60-80 seconds it takes to consider just 10 things in your life that you are grateful for, and it's gotten me naturally into the practice of looking for those kinds of things.

  • I have a picture of the visual tracker that the Rise team shared to monitor my progress and commitments, and I really have to say that measuring my success and keeping with these commitments has been fun and has genuinely improved the quality of my life.

ACCOMPLISHING THREE OF THE FIVE THINGS ON MY PERSONAL "TO DO LIST" EVERY MORNING BEFORE STEPPING OUT THE DOOR EACH DAY SETS ME UP REALLY, REALLY WELL TO DO THE SAME THROUGHOUT THE WORK DAY.

Because it's been going so well -- I've also recently started Whole30. I figured, since I'm giving the cheese up anyway, why not just go all in and make tons of huge changes all at once...I'm on day three currently and doing alright thus far! This is something that the Whole30 book It Starts with Food touts as being the best way to make changes because sometimes when we make small, incremental changes it just fall back into our habits. Conversely if we don't have something else to fall back on out of habit we are more likely to stick with the entirely new program. So far its working well and I look forward to sharing my progress.

Stand by for an update on my Last 90 Days and Whole30 meal plans in the coming weeks. I can't wait to share with all of you.

Between now and then I'd HIGHLY recommend joining the Five to Thrive community and definitely feel free to use my tips if they are useful to you! How do you make changes personally? And have you tried anything like this and how is it going?

Until next time!

My best,

Sarah