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How to Find What Works for YOU (and Only You)

A lot of exciting stuff has been unfolding lately, and our plates have been full.

And on the outside, it all looks pretty amazing. Doing exciting shows with killer booths, 2300 mile road trips, and pitching to major retailers in New York in just two short weeks– business is bustling! We’ve also been spending lots of quality time with our two boys (ages 4.5 and almost-3), Rob is balancing his new job (same company, different position), and we’ve been trying to sneak in fun amidst it all. By this point in the paragraph, you might be thinking, “Wow! She’s amazing! She totally has it all together! I have no idea how she does it all.”

But you all know my secret. I’ve already told you that I can’t do it all–but even more than that, I’m going to go deeper today: when things get hectic, I let things fall through the cracks. Just like everyone else.

And since we started our crazy round of Spring shows in late April–which is now up to 7 shows done in 10 weeks–I’ve had a very hard time maintaining a healthy diet with consistent exercise. You see, of those 7 shows, we’ve done a total of 11 days of selling (typically 8-12 hour days). And many of our actual selling days I’m either a) too nervous or b) too busy to eat real meals. (Yes. I still get nervous at shows.)

Add in 2 additional days of set up for our two shows where we used hard walls–those days were between 5-9 hours each. And finally, we factor in travel. We’ve spent a total of 82 hours on the road amongst all of these shows, many of those travel hours around meal times.

It’s been a huge time investment. And that’s only the active time during the shows themselves–not including the prep time, packing, washing tablecloths, depositing or withdrawing money, ordering replacement raw materials, taking inventory…you get the picture.

Not surprisingly, our days have been really, really busy. And I’ve let my health take a back seat.

Prior to these shows, I’d been doing CrossFit at our incredible local gym here in Tehachapi at least 3-4 times a week, which was great for my recently-operated-upon knee. I’d been doing a decent job of watching what I ate and getting enough water on a daily basis. I’d been getting enough sleep to keep me chipper.

And suddenly that came to a screeching halt. I suddenly was struggling to make it to the gym, waking up (literally) at 4am and working on work or being a mom or being a wife until 9 or 10pm. Without stop. We were eating a lot on the road traveling to and from shows–In-N-Out and Starbucks have made a lot of money off of us in the last 2 months. And sleep…I don’t quite remember what sleep is.

As a result, my health has of course suffered. I’ve gained some weight back that I had fought hard to lose. The muscles I’m usually super-proud to show off are beginning to fade away. My pants are tight, I’m dehydrated, and I’m really tired every day. .

I definitely don’t have it all together. I’m very, very human. Even when things are going amazingly well in other areas.

But–and this is a big BUT–that doesn’t give us an excuse to give up on the places where we are faltering. We need to be okay with the fact that it can’t all be 100%…but for us perfectionists out there, it also doesn’t mean that we can use that as an excuse to write that off as an opportunity to say “Oh well, guess this can’t happen then.”

Knowing where we aren’t living up to our potential at least gives us a starting point to make different choices later today, and tomorrow, and again tomorrow afternoon. The point is that we continually work with the shifting puzzle pieces to figure out the right combination of energy, effort, and focus that works for us. And it’s going to be different for each of us.

Because we’re all different, I don’t think I can give you a list of the “Top Three Things You Can Do to Change Your Life TODAY!!!” kind of a blog. What works for you might not work for me. And what works for me might not work for my husband. We all respond to different stimuli, we all have different motivations, we all set different kinds of goals.

But what I can do is give you a little list of how to figure out what works for you. I’ve found it to be helpful over the years, and I’m going to be using it over the next few weeks to try to get myself back to living up to my potential, too.

1. Think about what has worked in the past…and do it again. Knowing where you’ve found success in the past can be a huge key for being successful again in the future. You have history to draw upon–why did it work? What roadblocks can I anticipate and plan to work around? Can I go back to a similar plan–even if that means changing the context a bit for my current circumstances? For me, I know that when it comes to eating well, I do best when I plan. Planning my meals, packing food for the road, and planning trips to the grocery store when we’re out of fresh fruits and vegetables is key. And I know I’ll slip up if I don’t plan. It also helps me to have a back-up plan for exercise. If I don’t make it to CrossFit, I need to go for a walk or do an exercise DVD. That way I know that I always have an option available. I even downloaded an app on my phone called “7-Minute Workout” that gives me the option to do at least a little something, even if it’s in the last few minutes of the day.

2. Set a realistic time chunk where you’ll commit to putting in the effort. This one is really, really personalized. It involves dedicating yourself to a particular effort for a particular amount of time. For some people, they can say “I can do anything for 2 months!” but I’m at the point where I am needing to say, “I can do anything for a week.” Sometimes, it is even “I can do anything for one day.” And on really hard days, “I can do anything for one hour.” The point is to make a commitment that you’ll stick with something for your allotted time period. And then, when you reach the end of that time period, you re-evaluate. Am I better off from when I started? Did that feel too hard or doable? Would I change anything? Can I give this another round and succeed again? And if the answer to the last question is realistically “yes,” then give it another go.

3. Figure out what motivates you. Working toward a goal that makes you feel “meh” will bring about “meh” effort. And this one can be a hard one, because sometimes we feel like a goal should be a really big motivating factor, when in reality it’s only motivating for someone else…but not for us. When I was part of an organized weight loss program in my 20s, a lot of people used to say things like, “I’m going to get a manicure for each 5 lbs lost” or “I am giving myself $20 for new shoes when I reach my 10% goal.” But for whatever reason, those motivations never really worked for me. I know they work for a lot of people–just not for me. And I was confused at first as to why these “tips” that were given by the leaders to create prizes as goals didn’t quite work for me…until I realized that I wasn’t motivated by those things. I had to try several things before I found out what worked, but for me, it was always something I called “Happy Pants Friday.” I’d have a specific pair of pants that would start out tight (or even unwearable). And every Friday, I’d try the same pair of pants on. And as I got closer and closer to my goal, the pants would get looser and looser…and eventually fit! And it made me feel so happy to have my “Happy Pants” be such a measure of success. Remember: your motivation is a very personal thing. Find out what motivates you…not what motivates other people. Motivating someone else doesn’t do you any good.

And with all of that…I’m writing here and now to say that I’m going to figure out how to get back on track with my health, even amidst the chaotic and exciting events that will be unfolding over the next month. I am worth the effort it takes to work toward my best self. My kids are worth the effort it takes to set a good example for them. My husband is worth the effort it takes to have a wife that is energetic, happy, and fit.

I started yesterday by doing a Jillian Michaels DVD, eating healthy, home-cooked food, making coffee at home instead of going to buy a fancy coffee drink, and got my kids to even try a new vegetable.

Start where you’re at. Find what works for you. And never give up on being the best version of yourself.

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