Monday, October 19, 2009

How to Make Changes to Make Your Life Better

The other day I did my first (and so far only) flashback post. I looked back on the day the toddler was born and the day he turned one. Both days were so very special to me. I also remembered the hopes, dreams, and fears I had on both days.

The day the toddler was born, I right away started to think about how difficult it would be to go back to work. I didn't want to be separated from my baby. Luckily, I was able to do a lot of my work from home, so I didn't have to be gone all day. However, I still had to get my work done. The first year of his life I got less than four hours of sleep per night as I got up at 3:30 or 4:00 a.m. to do work. I also taught night classes for part of the year. I was exhausted, run down, and stretched beyond my limits. I did not take care of myself the way I should have.

The day the toddler turned one, I knew I had to change things. While I had made every effort to spend as much time as possible with the toddler during his first year, I really regretted having worked so much. And I regretted not having taken better care of myself. I felt old and exhausted. I didn't have enough energy to get through the day and relied on way too much coffee. I also still had about 15 pounds of "baby fat" to lose.

While I knew that I had to change things, actually changing them was hard. For a while, I just wasn't able to see beyond the way my life was at the time. What I mean by that is that it took quite some time to allow myself to see possibilities. Here is what I have changed over the past year and what I have done to make it work:
  • I work less (outside the home). We planned for it by truly looking at our finances and cutting back on some non-essential expenses (canceled Cable T.V., took a 3-day local vacation - we had to forgo our previously planned trips to visit family, purchased fewer new clothes & shoes, began meal planning, and decided that we would drive our cars for a long time.).
  • I make time for exercise every day. I realized that I had to put exercise in my day planner and treat it as an appointment that I can't cancel. I can't cancel class when I get busy, so why did I think I could cancel exercise?!!?
  • I learned that I sometimes have to say "no." While I think volunteering and giving back to the community is very important, I can't do everything all the time. I learned to stop and think for a minute before giving my time to something.
  • I plan meals. Meal planning allows me to buy what I truly need. My mom never, ever throws anything away and always only buys what she needs. I am getting much better at this... Meal planning has also made my life much less stressful.
  • I let go of my "all or nothing" mentality. For example, I realized that I can get a great workout in 30 minutes if I push myself hard enough. In the past, I had told myself that if I didn't have at least an hour to work out it wasn't worth it. A more recent example involves my juicer. When I bought it, I had every intention to juice every day. When I realized that that wasn't realistic, I almost gave up on juicing all together. However, now I am very happy juicing three or four times per week.
  • Midway through the toddler's second year, I started this blog. It has truly helped me to focus on all the joys in my life and to document some of our happy times. I have also "met" so many amazing bloggers, and all of you have enriched my life!
Questions: Where do you want to be in one year? Two years? What do you need to do to get there?

Be well,


  1. I love this Andrea, especially as THIS year is wrapping up I have been asking myself a lot of the same questions....actually I have also been AMAZED at how many changes THIS year brought. Changes I know are forever ones.

    This year was huge and I want to just keep going. I am planning for SAHM-VILLE in less than 3 years...the next part time job...and all the details in between.

    but mostly staying balanced. It's been the biggest and most rewarding change.

    and there is always much more room for improvement!

    I like your changes. I remember year one post delivery. I also got 3-4 hours a sleep per night and it took it's TOLL.

    glad that phase is over! I like a good night's sleep!
    Happy Monday

  2. I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. :)

  3. great post andrea!! looks like you have really adapted soem great changes into your lifestyle!! i love the point of letting go of the all or nothing mentality. We are humans, and not perfect and it is so easy to think that we SHOULD be acting or doing something a certain way or 'perfectly' when in reality it is great to learn from your mistakes, you never learn and grow without getting out of your comfort zone or letting go of this mentality!

    in 2 years, oh boy I would love to be back in school for nutrition or exercise physiology, this is my dream!

  4. Great post. I really need to learn to say no. That is why next week is so busy for me. I always want to do things and never like passing anything up, even if it means I am super busy. In one year I will still be on the island, so my only goal is to exercise more, which I am working on. In 2 years my physical location will be up to the military, but I hope somewhere nice and that has a hospital so I can work as a clinical dietitian again.

  5. This is an excellent post. I like how deliberate you were in deciding where you wanted to be and how to get there.

    I'd like for us to be more financially secure (who wouldn't?) in one year with some savings.

    In two years I'd love to see my book published by a real publisher!

  6. This post really fits perfectly with the title of your blog. These are wellness notes if I've ever seen any.

    Where would I like to be in one year? I would be happy if I were still at my job, if my debt had not increased, and my stress level is lower.

    Not sure what I can do about the job. Keep working hard and have faith, I guess. I can watch my spending closely and be careful at Christmas to keep my debt from increasing. The lower stress level? Not sure what to do there. When nothing I do ever seems quite good enough, it's hard to overcome the stress that creates. I do know that if I continue to try to eat well and exercise regularly, it will definitely help!

  7. I hope to still be working in the next year. In the industry I work in, it does get unpredictable. Hopefully I'll be able to shoot my film. I just have to keep plugging away at it until something happens. Determination.

  8. What a great post, it was exactly what I was needing today!

    1 year from now? I really hope to be debt free (with the exception of the mortgage!) and 100 pounds lighter. I hope to still be spending most of my time with my little girl. I hope to have my husband living at home again rather than working on the road.

    2 years? EEEK! I can't even think that far right now!

  9. Way to go taking control of things! I'm sure it's not easy, but sooo important!

  10. Your post was great! Your question at the end kind of scares me though, because I have no idea where I am going to be in one year. In my latest post I talk about's scary trying to figure out your life!!!

  11. Nice post and very realistic thoughts...thanks!

  12. Wonderful post! Thanks for sharing your personal experience... I can relate to learning to say NO. We can only fit so many things into a day.

    In one year, I plan to be married and saving for a house. In two years, I would love to start my own business. I believe I'm on the right track... my fiance and I are already saving. I hope my nutrition/wellness blog eventually opens up new opportunities for my career.

  13. Anonymous10/19/2009

    great post Andrea, it made me think about what I've been through last year. What I want to achieve within the next year or two is to settle down, form a family and finally be able to be with the person I love. Living alone for 3 years made me appreciate more family and the precious time to spend with them. It has been tough but it made me grown up too! :)
    thanks for sharing your thoughts with us and made us reflect about our lives too! :)

  14. Anonymous10/19/2009

    Loved this post!! :) Hmmm... where do I want to be.. I guess where I am now only organized! I get going on so many things it seems but then slack off... meal planning for one.. *blush*, even though it helps SO much... I need to "keep up" with what I need to do kwim? Tips for me? :)

  15. i would love to be a mommy a year from now, blogging about it just like you!

  16. I love this post. I love the changes you made to make things happen - and they did! I think in th next few years I want to be a mom... so i'm trying to get my stuff together: meal planning, exercising, etc. I want a healthy, organized life before baby - and i'm trying to get there!

  17. great tips thanks i have a toddler to, I can't believe thats what she is now!

  18. Anonymous10/19/2009

    AWESOME post Andrea! It is so practical, so real, so relatable, and so applicable! Your list is really impressive, Super-Mom!

  19. Change is hard, but it's inevitable and often for the best :) It's neat to see your list--very inspiring. In one year, I certainly hope to be moved back to CA and have some semeblance of a career!

  20. Happy belated birthday to the the toddler and happy give birth day to you!

    It's amazing how having children change things are a big part of "finding yourself", I went through so much of what you did too.

    I need to start meal planning - you are so good with it, I think of you often when I'm in the grocery store trying to figure out what I might make this week - and then again when I'm running in for 1 or 2 ingredients. I've just got to take the plunge and plan out a week of meals. I don't know what I'm waiting for!