How to Overcome the Winter Blues

It's winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere today (read: the shortest day of the year), and as we move head first into winter here in Australia, I'm feeling a slump in my day to day.

The darkness upon awakening (and let's be honest upon arriving home from work too) is leaving me less motivated than usual, and the grey season ahead seems unending. 

It may be winter causing it for me, but we all have these less than desirable periods - it could be a monotonous time at work, a lack of exciting social events to look forward to, or a completely unexplained stagnation.

Whatever may be causing it, here's some tips to help pull you out of the mire. 

Focus internally

The first thing I do is check in with how I'm feeling health-wise - am I eating well? Have I let my exercise slip? Am I sleeping well?

Lately I've noticed I'm out of my morning meditation/yoga routine, and I'm partaking in a little more red wine than I'd like.

I'm going to make a conscious decision to listen to my body and stay on the healthier side of the scale.

Look forward to plans

Having events to look forward to is a big part of happiness, so I'm making sure that, while I'm not overbooking myself, I do want enough on the calendar to keep me interested.

I've got a fun winter escape coming up with friends in Healesville and I'm also planning on a couple of hikes to enjoy this cooler time in nature (rugged up of course). 

Get cosy

While engaging plans are important, so is accepting the nature of the season. I do sometimes get the guilts for lounging around, but I'm working on embracing the slower pace and darker days.

There's nothing wrong with curling up on the couch with a tea and taking in a few episodes of the latest show - or, let's be honest, as I'm doing tonight, rehashing some of my favourite Sex and the City episodes. Bliss!

How do you get out of a slump? Do the changing of the seasons affect your mood?

Best of Where The Light Plays 2015

Happy new year dear readers! I hope you’ve had a great start to 2015.

I have to say a huge thank you for all your support in 2015 and for checking in each week to hear what I’m up to on my corner of the internet.

If you’re a regular, you may enjoy revisiting some of the most popular posts from the past year, and if you’re new here (welcome!), enjoy your first peek into Where The Light Plays.

Where I’m At interviews

I’m so glad you are enjoying these interviews as much as I enjoy doing them. I think it’s great to learn from other women's routines and benefit from their wisdom.

A huge theme I see over and over again in these interviews is the need for women to be easier on themselves and know that they’re already doing a great job - clearly a big theme here on Where The Light Plays.

A few of the top Where I’m At interviews in 2015 were:

Shannon Ables from The Simply Luxurious Life

Vlogger Elle Lindquist

Rachel Gadiel from (the new!) Dream Create Do

And to read through all the interviews, grab a cup of tea and click here.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up posts

Considering how huge this book was in internet land in 2015, it’s no surprise you’ve enjoyed reading my personal journey through the KonMari method.

I overhauled my closet and my bookshelves and next year I’m hoping to tackle a couple of new daunting tasks - the kitchen and spare room (aka dumping ground).

Enjoy the posts here:

The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up (or How I Broke Up With 50% Of My Clothes)

The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up: Book Edition

The Day I Officially Broke Up With Dieting

This was probably the most personal post I shared all year, so it’s pretty humbling to see it was so popular with you ladies.

Intuitive eating has been a huge mindset shift for me in 2015 and I’m so glad I’m not entering 2016 with the usual body shaming plan to lose weight and restrict my eating.

Yes I want to feel healthy but I can do that in a much saner way now.

If you’re struggling with your body, I highly recommend signing up for Finally Free (coaches Paige and Simi are above), the program that truly helped me ditch diets.

The Day I Officially Broke Up With Dieting

Finally Free program

My Morning Routine

Another popular post last year was the view into my daily morning routine.

I love when other bloggers post their routines so I’m glad you feel the same!

I’m planning on tweaking a few things in my mornings in 2016 so once I’ve adjusted my habits I’ll be sure to do an update on the blog.

Time Management Series: My Morning Routine

What were your favourite Where The Light Plays posts this year?

What would you like to see more of in 2016?

Let me know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

 

The Day I Officially Broke Up With Dieting

As I’ve mentioned lately here at Where The Light Plays, I’ve been engaging in more ‘intuitive’ eating strategies. I’ve also moved away from reading about health and fitness plans and trawling through their associated social media accounts. Now it’s time to tell you a major reason why.

But first a quote from the author Geneen Roth (and if you have the time, go and read all the quotes from Geneen Roth please):

“Diets are based on the unspoken fear that you are a madwoman, a food terrorist, a lunatic…The promise of a diet is not only that you will have a different body; it is that in having a different body, you will have a different life. If you hate yourself enough, you will love yourself. If you torture yourself enough, you will become a peaceful, relaxed human being.”

That’s what I believe dieting is really about - torturing ourselves, telling ourselves we’re not quite good enough and talking nastily to ourselves until we measure up.

I’m sure many women have had these thoughts:

‘I’ll be happier when I lose a few kilos’,
‘I need to lose some weight and tone up for this event’,
‘When I have the perfect body, then my life will be perfect too.’

Now here’s my story.

Over 10 years ago, I graduated high school. 

During my closet declutter (thanks to reading The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up) I came across the dress I wore at my graduation and thought...hmm, maybe I should try it on?

A potentially dangerous practice I know. But guess what?

IT FIT.

Enjoy the major flashback and daggy current day photo below.

I felt happy. And astonished. And angry and defeated. All at once.

I wouldn’t say I’ve continually been obsessed with dieting (and like most people have never actually ‘succeeded’ on any eating plan) but goddamn I’ve thought a lot about gyms and boot camps and quinoa and ‘starting afresh’ on Monday since I first wore that dress at the end of high school.

And guess what? It was for nought.

I am pretty much the same size I was back then.

I’m not telling you this to rub it in. I’m telling you because I was surprised. And because I realised I had wasted an enormous amount of energy and time.

If you take anything from me sharing this pretty personal experience, take this:

Don’t waste as many years as I did wishing you were a few kilos lighter. Don’t waste the amazing organ that is your brain reading about calories and HIIT workouts. It is not worth it and no one ever really finds success in this area.

Go and call a loved one. Go and read your favourite book. Go for a walk outside. Go and live your life. And for god’s sake, go and throw out all the dieting junk that has never brought you any fulfilment.

You deserve better.

Want to know more about intuitive eating and how it has helped me find my natural weight? Health coaches Paige and Simi run a brilliant course I've taken called Finally Free. I'll tell you more about how I've used their techniques to find freedom in future posts.

And here's one more quote from Geneen

“It's never been true, not anywhere at any time, that the value of a soul, of a human spirit, is dependent on a number on a scale. We are unrepeatable beings of light and space and water who need these physical vehicles to get around. When we start defining ourselves by that which can be measured or weighed, something deep within us rebels. 
We don't want to EAT hot fudge sundaes as much as we want our lives to BE hot fudge sundaes. We want to come home to ourselves."

The Birthday Post: 5 Lessons Learned

Well happy birthday to me! Another year has passed and I’m following my blogging tradition of summing up the lessons I’ve learned over the last 12 months. You can read last year’s post here

Let’s do this:

1. I measured my success by how much fun I’m having.

I’m going to post more about this in the future, but as we move deeper into adulthood, do you think we have we forgotten to have fun?

Between work, fitness, mortgages, kids, are we just slogging through life? I definitely was - or more specifically I was slogging it through to Friday, then finding solace in a pizza or bottle of vino.

This past year I’ve prioritised fun and I make sure I have something enjoyable to look forward to every, single day.

Examples of this include taking myself to lunch each Monday (rather than working through my lunch break while chowing down leftovers) and taking a bath on a Wednesday evening with a good book and a margarita. Don’t judge me, I’m having a blast ;)

2. I toned down on self-improvement.

My love of podcasts goes deep and whenever I’m alone I’m listening to one. This includes during my commute, on my lunch break, at the gym and while cooking.

What I didn’t realise was the insidious nature of the content I was listening to.

Many of the podcasts I listen to are about self-improvement and productivity, and often involve interviews with people who have written books or created courses on ways to improve yourself.

I was finding myself thinking ‘ooh, I should do that/buy that book/sign up for that course’ and it was exhausting me.

Even though you think you’re improving yourself (and that's got to be a good thing right?) there’s a time and a place for just ‘being’. Prioritising relaxation during your spare time is so important.

Nowadays I turn on some great music, or listen to a more ‘story-telling’ podcast, aka This American Life: activities that I find enjoyable, but that don't drive me to try and fix myself.

3. I broke up with diets.

Holy smokes, this was a big one for me. Let me know if you’d like a more in depth post on this, but thanks to the help of Paige Schmidt, I have at last broken up with trying to change my body. As a woman this is huge, and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.

I unfollowed all health and fitness accounts on social media, I unsubscribed from any healthy eating plans that were turning up in my inbox promising huge changes, and I now follow intuitive eating principles.

I’ve been eating as I please and doing the exercise that sounds good to me for about 8 months now and lo and behold (even though I very rarely weigh myself now) I haven’t gained any weight.

In past years, I would have been struggling with what I ate, forcing myself to do exercise I thought I 'should' be doing, and hoping I could shift the scale by at least a few kilograms. And for what?

4. I asked for help around the house.

Another big one for me. In line with the superwoman / maternal gatekeeping mentality, I was keeping it all together at home, trying to keep the house clean and working through a seemingly never-ending list of tasks around the house.

My husband has never been against splitting the cleaning, but I would either try and take it all on myself or criticise him for not doing enough / not doing it 'right'. Sound familiar?

So at last I asked for help. We drew up all the jobs that need doing and how often, and we split them 50/50. My to do list around the house is much more manageable and I can depend on my husband to do his share.

5. I focused on my relationships.

Relationships have been a big focus for me in the last year. Since using the Stop, Breathe, Think app, meditation has helped me get out of my own head and focus on the happiness of others. A la the self-improvement lesson, we can sit around pondering if we’re doing life ‘right’, or we can shift the focus outward.

When I go out to dinner with my husband, go on a walk with a girlfriend or call a family member for a long chat, I fill myself up and can focus on the bigger picture. It makes me grateful and it makes me happy.

What have you learned in the last year? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Where I'm At with Paige from Healthy Hits the Spot

Squeal! I am super excited to feature Paige Schmidt from Healthy Hits the Spot on the blog today. I looked back and I've now been reading Paige's blog for almost 3 years.

She is famous for posting her 'daily eats', but even more importantly for her views on intuitive eating and breaking up with diets.

Paige has been a huge influence on helping me move to intuitive eating and I can't wait for you all to read her interview.

I'd also urge you to follow her blog and social media if you are in need of a positive influence in your 'web life'.

What is your usual wake up time?

Since I work from home, my schedule is pretty flexible in the early morning and late evenings. I mostly plan those times according to my husband’s current work schedule so that we get the most time together. Currently, we’ll wake up anytime between 6:00 AM and 7:30 AM. 

How do you like to start your day?

During the week, our day starts with coffee, making the bed (hubby does this), cooking breakfast (I do this), cleaning up (both do this), praying together before he heads to work, and then I sit down and work on my blog.

Once I’m done blogging, I’ll usually jump in the shower and get ready for the day, and start work early on. I love answering emails from my clients in the morning and early afternoon.

There are also seasons in my life where I’m really great at incorporating morning quiet time, which I love… This includes reading a devotional, a little bit of my bible, and journaling. With our current schedule, I haven’t quite figured out how to get that quiet time plugged in, but I do love that time when I have it… For now, my quiet time has been praying with my husband before he leaves for the day. 

Do you like to plan your day ahead or allow some spontaneity?

I love a little bit of both. My personality definitely leans more toward the planning side. When things are planned, I feel like I can look forward to them for a longer period of time, which brings me a lot of joy. 

To create balance for myself (I talk about this in my eBook [http://www.healthyhitsthespot.com/shop/]), I typically plan more of the work week and leave room for spontaneity on the weekends.

How do you spend your ideal lunch break to recharge for the afternoon?

When it’s time for lunch, I shut down the screen on my computer, head to the kitchen, and enjoy a quiet lunch.

I leave my phone behind, and sit at the table so I can enjoy some peace, quiet, and a few non-work moments as a recharge. I’ll often step outside for a few minutes too, just to get some fresh air. 

Right before I head back to my office, I’ll usually make a hot cup of peppermint tea to sip on as I ease back into working. This feels refreshing and helps me to “recharge.”

What kind of workout schedule do you try to adhere to?

I don’t have one. I aim to move my body in some form each day, and I’ll ask myself each day what would feel good and what I would enjoy. Some days this might look like a walk, others it might look like a run outside, or a trip to the gym to hop on the elliptical and lift weights.

As a woman, I try my best to honour that my body has different needs day to day. 

How do you like to end your day?

During the week, if my husband is home at a decent time (5:00 PM), we’ll usually have dinner together, walk around downtown, and watch Netflix shows together. Some nights we’ll walk to the nearest RedBox and pick out a movie. 

If my husband is working a long day (home around 10:00 PM) I have the evening to myself. In this case, I’ll eat dinner whenever I get hungry, I usually find myself taking a long hot bath, I’ll likely spend a little time at the gym, and I’ll end my night with reading in bed. I don’t enjoy TV or shows much when I’m alone.

What time do you doze off?

I go to bed anywhere between 8:30 and 10:30 depending on what time I’m waking up the next day. During certain seasons I have to wake up at 4:30, and in those seasons we’ll go to bed at 8:30. Right now, as I’m waking up between 6:00 and 7:30 I usually fall asleep around 10:00 or 10:30.

What do you aspire to every day but never / rarely actually do? (you can tell me, we all have them!)

Hmm… Good question! If I had to choose, I would say quiet time.

However, I really don’t love setting goals over and over and not reaching them, so I often like to get realistic with myself.

If I haven’t been doing it, and I’m fighting it day in and day out, I usually cut myself some slack and just take it out of my routine completely until I realise that I miss it and would like to bring it back. 

I’m a fan of following through with what I’ve told myself I’ll do because I really believe it’s important to create trust with ourselves.

That being said, if I occasionally plan to exercise, or something along these lines, and change my mind later on, I do my best to make this a conscious choice. So, instead of saying “I have no time or control over my schedule, I just can’t go.” I’ll say something like “Realistically, things come up, and for today, going to the movies with my husband (for example) feels more rewarding than sticking to my goal of exercising this evening. So, I’m making a choice to enjoy the movies and quality time instead.”

Any advice for women trying to find ease in their every day?

Remain calm. Don’t be hard on yourself. Take good care of yourself.

When we feel taken care of (by our own selves) we’ll feel happier, more in line with who we were created to be, and we’ll feel more valued.

Can you give my readers your go to recipe for after a busy day?

Above all else know that you don’t have to have endless time to be healthy. Feeling good and healthy in your body is not as hard as some people make it out to be.

Here’s a post I wrote on eating your favourite foods and feeling healthy too! http://www.healthyhitsthespot.com/2014/05/07/you-can-eat-your-favorite-foods-be-healthy-too/. (Ed: So many delicious recipes here!)

Thanks Paige! What really hit home for me with this interview is changing your goals according to what is working for you, and not being hard on yourself if you consciously choose to do something else. 

You can read Paige's blog and follow her over at:

Website - http://www.healthyhitsthespot.com

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Healthy-Hits-the-Spot/109111482522205

Twitter - http://twitter.com/HealthyHitsspot

Instagram - http://instagram.com/healthyhitsthespot

Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.com/paigeyyybee/