Sleep Challenge

Good quality sleep is one thing we can agree to agree on—all of us could use more.  If you are like me, you may be searching for the elusive magic sleep formula—best number of hours, the perfect pillow, ideal mattress type, room temperature…the list goes on and on. And quite frankly, we are all built differently which makes the topic of sleep such an interesting topic to study.

But whether you are a light sleeper, an insomniac, or have a partner who just won’t stop snoring, there are some simple tips we can all start incorporating into our daily routines to help prepare our bodies for rest.

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Starting on Monday, I invite you to join me on a 5-day sleep challenge where you will commit to trying a new sleep tactic each evening. Some of these you may already be doing which is great because that means you are one step ahead of most people! Allow each new strategy to be cumulative so that at the end of the challenge you have set the groundwork for five new habits.

So who is up for the challenge? If you are ready to join me, type “READY FOR BETTER SLEEP” in the comment box below. 

Here are the “rules” of engagement:

Each morning, add a comment on the blog about the previous night’s challenge. Use these questions to guide your short reflection:

  • Did you accomplish that goal?
  • How do you think it affected your sleep that night?

And that’s it! And for those who love social media as much as me, you are welcome to share a funny (or serious) photo too! You can tag me on Instagram (sallyann_idlife) or on Facebook and use the hashtag #sleepchallenge.

Stay tuned—The first challenge will be posted on Monday!

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Making Your Resolutions Work in 2018

How are those New Year’s resolutions coming along friends?  Have you taken on more than you can handle?  Have life’s “priorities” gotten in the way?  Have no fear, it may just mean that your resolutions need a little more meat behind them. A lot of times we set pie in the sky goals that have no accountability to help us maintain our momentum—they sound great in theory, but then we struggle to actually implement them and follow through.

In today’s guest post, my friend Joanna takes her January 8 post on setting holistic resolutions to the next level.  Here you will learn how to set and keep SMART resolutions. As always,  I’d love to hear what you are striving towards in 2018 and what resonated with you in this post.  Leave a comment below!

Guest Blogger: Joanna E.

How to Make SMART New Year’s Resolutions

In addition to developing holistic New Year’s resolutions, another method I’ve learned to set effective New Year’s resolutions is having SMART goals. This helps create realistic goals that I can tell at the end of the year if I’ve accomplished them or not.  Too many times I’ve had broad aims in January I failed to revisit during the year. Then I’m startled at the end of the year when I didn’t meet them. Someone explained a SMART method to better make and keep my goals.

The SMART acronym is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time-bound. I will walk you through the logic of these categories and give examples so you understand how best to set your goals.

S – Specific
This area has plagued me in the past when making goals.  Sometimes I made ambiguous resolutions so I could say I met them, when really I had no idea if I did any better than the year before or not.  For example, some of my previous nonspecific goals included things like:

“Drink more water.”

Or

“Eat more vegetables.”

You can see the inherent difficulties with meeting these goals with the questions they raise.  More than what?  More than last year?  More than someone who is a carnivore and doesn’t eat vegetables?  It gets really murky. In some ways, I could feel good if I felt I drank more water, but there was nothing specific I could do to prove I had completed the goal for the year.
A better way to make these goals more specific is to define quantities.

“Drink at least five glasses of water daily.”

OR

“Eat at least two vegetables daily.”

M – Measurable
As you can see from my examples above, not only were they not specific, they were also not measurable.  Even the updated versions have some element of measurability incorporated into them, but they do not include specifics.  Better examples would be:

“Drink at least five 8 ounce glasses of water daily.”

OR

“Eat at least two full servings of vegetables daily.”

This differentiates between five shot glasses of water daily verses five 20 ounce bottles of water daily. The same with the vegetables.  It is not just two carrots a day, but two full servings of vegetables.

A – Achievable
I have learned to make goals I can complete given my individual talents and abilities. When I aim to do things I am interested in, I am much more likely to achieve them. My goals will be different than yours because we have different interests.  Also, I don’t want to overreach and continually frustrate myself when things don’t work out, but need to stretch myself so I don’t stagnate. I need balance. It would be unrealistic for me to try to switch to becoming a vegetarian. That is why eating two full servings a day of vegetables should usually be achievable.

That said, be aware life doesn’t always go as planned.  Sometimes I do everything in my power to complete a goal and it doesn’t happen.  Once I was on a work trip where all we had was meat and potatoes in Germany.  It seemed impossible to get two full servings of vegetables daily. That is ok, life happens. As soon as possible, I ate two full servings of vegetables daily.

Other times when my plans haven’t worked, I needed to reexamine and see if that is something I needed to keep striving towards.  A personal example is when I made a goal to go on a hot air balloon ride. I called several hot air balloon sites until I made a reservation. Then due to weather and other unforeseen impediments, either the company cancelled my reservation or I did—five times.  So I gave up. It wasn’t the right time.  Fortunately, several years later, the weather was great, the timing was right, and I finally went on a hot air balloon ride.  And it was even better because I went with my sister.  My original plans didn’t include her, and I probably wouldn’t have gone again had I already gone.  I still completed my goal, but in a different time and place.  And it was more than OK, it was Great!

R – Results-focused

I know typically, experts say to focus on the results. This may entail breaking down goals into intermediary steps to help reach the desired results. Sometimes big goals may seem intimidating, but when I break them down into smaller elements, it makes the entire process less daunting.  Also, it lets me gauge my progress towards fulfilling my goals as I go.  I don’t have to wait until the end to feel like I are getting somewhere.

Here is an example:
“Eat at least two full servings of vegetables daily. Research types of vegetables that are best for my health. Find tasty recipes so I want to eat more vegetables.”

I want to go beyond being results focused and give some additional insight.  Yes, I want the final result where everything goes as planned. But sometimes I can’t achieve everything, even when I try my hardest.  So I’m learning to focus on the process.  I ask myself – What am I learning while I move towards the goal? I have always been a “get her done” kind of person.  However, God is showing me it is better to focus on more than just the end result. The process is where I learn and grow the most.  When I rush through everything to cross items off my checklist, I miss the joy of living.  I don’t want my life simply to be a crossed off to do list.  What I do while I work to cross off those items is my actual life.  I want to enjoy the only life I get.  Also, for when I know it is partially my fault things didn’t go as I wanted– those times are covered by grace.  No one is perfect. That is why Christ lived a perfect live to take the punishment for my sins and reconcile me to a right relationship with God.  So, focus on the results, but don’t miss the lessons in the process.

T – Time-Bound

I have learned I must set specific time frames in which to achieve my goals. In 2008, I set a goal to write a Bible study, but didn’t have any timeline.  It is now nearly ready for self-publication in 2018, ten years later.  Give me a deadline, and I will strive to meet it. Without a deadline, I flounder.  I need the accountability a deadline implies.

Because I’m writing these goals in January, a year may be a logical time frame.  However I need to review my goals at least on a quarterly basis or even monthly.  Many times I’ve made goals then forgotten to review them until October and rushed to complete them.  When I routinely checked my lists, I accomplished much more. Some ideas to help remember goals putting reminders on the calendar or in a phone.

Now that I’ve reviewed how to have SMART resolutions, I’ve updated my holistic goals from last week to make them SMARTer.  I added some specifics, time frames, and intermediary steps I need to make to accomplish larger goals. I also put notifications on my calendar to do quarterly reviews of my resolutions so I don’t forget what I am working towards.

Physical – Workout at the gym or exercise at least twice a week. Bring my Bible or spiritual books to read at the gym to think about deeper spiritual things and know God better.

Mental – Go to the Blue Ridge Christian Writer’s Conference in May to learn more about writing.  Publish a short story by the end of 2018. To write a story ready for publication, participate in monthly writer’s meetings for accountability. Pray diligently before, after, and between writing so it honors God and blesses the readers.

Spiritual – Have daily time in the Word, and at least once a week spend at least an hour in deep Bible study and meditation so I can understand God’s character better and deepen my relationship with Him.  Jealously guard this time with the Lord so it is not lost in the busyness of life that can be all consuming.

Emotional – Journal at least weekly so I can gauge where I’m at emotionally and review it with God so I can draw closer to Him in the process.

What do you think about my updated, holistic, SMART resolutions?  Are there any steps I am missing or things I could add to hone my resolutions?

Reposted with permission. Follow Joanna’s work online at Words from the Honeycomb.

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A New Approach to Setting New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year, friends! It’s been a really long time since I’ve blogged and I plan to change that for 2018!  To get us started, I’m excited to share my dear friend Joanna’s new blog post about setting holistic resolutions.  If you’re like most of the population, you probably started the year with only the best of intentions and now that it’s January 8 you might be thinking, “oh great, I’ve already let life get in the way of meeting my goals!” Don’t worry, you are not alone.  That fresh, clean slate feeling you had on January 1 can stick with you throughout the year, but it requires a bit of reframing.

In today’s guest post, Joanna walks us through how to set holistic goals through the lens of a Christian faith perspective.  You’ll be challenged to identify how your resolutions overlap multiple areas of your life and how to tackle them in a more intentional way, rather than simply another to-do checklist.  I’d love to hear what you are striving towards in 2018 and what resonated with you in this post.  Leave a comment below!

Guest Blogger: Joanna E.

How to Make Holistic New Year’s Resolutions

As I hung my new calendar on the wall, I got excited about all the new things that would happen to fill those months. I really want this year to be better than the last, but know it won’t happen without planning and intentionality. So, as I make my own goals, I will pass on some of the things I’ve learned over the years that have helped me craft better New Year’s resolutions and actually accomplish them.

For starters, consider being holistic in creating your resolutions. Sometimes I made goals in one area of life and let other areas languish. Then I learned we as people have interconnected physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional needs. When one area is off, it impacts the others.  When we are stressed at work and mentally frustrated, it can come out in physical pain. When we’re emotionally upset and distressed, it can impact our spiritual lives if we focus on our circumstances instead of God’s character.

God’s Word highlights we are to love the Lord with all four of these areas of our lives. Jesus said in Mark 12:30And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment.” Find ways to use your resolutions to help you love God more in all of these dimensions.

Once you’ve resolved to be holistic, PRAY before making any goals.  Ask God what He wants you to do in the upcoming year.  You may be surprised. Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” We can make all the plans we want, but if they aren’t what God has for us, they won’t happen.  Don’t spend the year striving to do something without seeing if it is what God wants.  When you seek Him, even if you face obstacles, God will enable you to accomplish His desires. Philippians 1:6 reads, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

All that said, here’s some insight based on what I’ve learned, and ideas for goals in each arena.

Physical Goals
These seem to be the easiest goals to make.  And then break a month later.…  If you are a believer in Christ, your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). We shouldn’t worship our bodies, but treat them well because of who we host. Personally, I only floss because it glorifies God. One thing that helped me keep my physical goals was by connecting them to other areas. I never went to the gym until I started reading spiritual books while doing cardio. This gave me the added incentive of having time to think without distractions at home and let me do something fun to override the mundane of a treadmill.

Examples of physical goals include:

  • Prayer walking your neighborhood to work out your faith and your legs.
  • Picking three new super foods to try and feeling like a super human.
  • Running a 5K for a cause you love.
  • Riding a bike. Many cities are paving bike paths – go try one.

Mental Goals
Ours minds are muscles that need to be exercised to stay fit.  Mental goals should challenge our minds. Last year, I took a writing class through my county, which really helped me better understand the nuances of fiction writing.

Examples of mental goals include:

  • Learning a foreign language. Buy language learning software or register for a class through your county’s adult education program.
  • Completing a Soduku or Crossword Puzzle daily to keep your mind sharp.
  • Reading at least one new book every month.

Emotional Goals
Perhaps this sounds a bit fluffy.  Emotional goals – what are those?  When we don’t admit we have emotions – regardless of whether or not we show them – we miss out on key areas of our lives. I have learned when I try to repress how I feel in one area, it often comes out in frustration in another area.  When I examine what I feel and why, I can work through it and grow as a person in the process.

Examples of emotional goals include:

  • Journaling at least weekly about how you feel about life.
  • Starting a gratefulness journal where you write down things every day you are thankful for.
  • Writing a letter to someone you care about to tell them how important they are to you and why.
  • Choosing to forgive a person who hurt you, knowing it still takes time to feel better.

Spiritual Goals
We need spiritual goals to grow in our relationships with Christ and find ways to share His love with those around us. Recognizing that we will never be fully mature here on earth, we need to keep knowing and pursuing the knowledge of the Lord (Hosea 6:3). Remember, each person’s goals will look different because each person is unique.  Find something to expand your view of God and know Him better.

Examples of spiritual goals include:

  • Reading through the Bible in a year. If you read four chapters a day, you finish in a year. I’ve now read the Bible over 20 times, primarily using this method.  It never gets old, and I learn something new every time.
  • Praying for the world in a year.  “Operation World” covers every country in the world and provides specific ways to pray.
  • Adopting an unreached people group and praying for it. A great resource to learn about unreached peoples is the Joshua Project.

Based on what I shared, here are my holistic resolutions for 2018. I recommend having at least one goal in each of the four areas, but no more than two so it is not overwhelming.  In each goal, I seek to tie it to how I can know and grow in Christ.

My Holistic Resolutions for 2018

Physical – Workout at the gym or exercise regularly. Bring spiritual books to read at the gym to think about deeper spiritual things and know God better.

Mental – Go to a writer’s conference to learn more about writing. Publish a short story by the end of 2018.  Pray diligently before, after, and between writing so that it honors God and blesses the readers.

Spiritual – Have daily time in the Word and weekly time in deep Bible study and meditation so I can understand God’s character better and deepen my relationship with Him. Jealously guard this time with the Lord so it is not lost in the busyness of life that can be all consuming.

Emotional – Journal so I can gauge where I’m at emotionally and review it with God so I can draw closer to Him in the process.

Next week I will post about how to make SMART resolutions to help strengthen my goals.

Now it’s your turn to set your holistic goals. 

  • What are ways you can add these concepts into your plans?
  • How do you think holistic goal setting is different than how you set previous resolutions?
  • How do you think this can enhance what you’ve done before?

 

Reposted with permission. Follow Joanna’s work online at Words from the Honeycomb.

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A New Way To Find The Runner’s High

My friend Margaret returns as a guest blogger to share a new twist on reaching the “runner’s high” feeling.  What’s her secret?  Adult summer camp!  Read below to learn about her magical adventure and how you can get involved too!

Guest Blogger: Margaret Chapman

Do you remember running through the trees, feeling the complete joy and freedom of summer camp knowing that you had zero responsibilities and your only task was to stay awake long enough to make s’mores at the campfire? As adults, we don’t get that opportunity very often.  For me, I feel it some with running.  When I’m out on the trails for 1-3 hours, it’s like a little vacation from reality.  It’s my meditation and I definitely feel like a kid sometimes – picture the Friends episode where Phoebe is running in Central Park with her arms and legs flailing.  I do that, sometimes, just for fun.

What if you could get that childlike feeling again (but with the benefit of no real rules and curfews)? Guess what? You can!  I have! This year was my third time attending adult summer camp.  And not just any “adult retreat” where there are no under-18s around.  This one takes your phone, your Fitbit, your name and your title. You pick a new name (I’m Polly Wanna Cracker).  You don’t worry about time or status or making work connections.  CEOs sit next to recent grads and they both learn the careful art of friendship bracelet making. The most important part of your day?  Deciding whether to spend your morning participating in water sports or making sun carvings. Do I take a nap or go join that Frisbee game that just got started?  It’s one of the most remarkable experiences I’ve ever had.

I know Sallyann’s blog is focused on running – and you can do that there, too. There are trails and fields, plus a bunch of other sporty activities to choose from. But for me, this seemed relevant because it’s one of the few times where I have found the thing that normally only running endurance events gives me – a true high on life.  You know that feeling when you hit something around mile 4-5 of a half marathon? It’s the time where I’m over the “why did I decide to do this again” mindset and entering the “omg this is incredible, I feel invincible” one. Imagine having that for three days!  I’ll admit – the first little bit of camp for me still falls into that “why did I decide to do this again” place.  I’m not a fan of dirt; I don’t like sharing showers and bathrooms.  But then, by the first night I’m at mile 5 again and I’m singing along to campfire songs while toasting marshmallows.  This year, in a true moment of “vulnerageousness” (a camp term for being vulnerable and courageous), I participated in the camp play.  We literally wrote it one afternoon and performed (mostly as improv) later that night. The amazing part of that whole experience was the feeling of unconditional support from all my fellow campers.  So what I forgot a line or made up some stupid accent?  They loved that we did it and put ourselves out there and were ready to give us a standing ovation no matter what.

Rock paper scissors

Epic rock, paper, scissors battle.

I know it sounds crazy – and maybe we all are for going back year after year. But, I had to share this experience with everyone I could.  It’s meant so much to me to learn, grow, and push myself way outside my comfort zone.  If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend trying an adult summer camp. You’ll make friends for life, learn things you never knew you wanted to know, and understand yourself a little better.

Want to join me next time? There’s another one coming up in August just a few hours from DC in Massachusetts. Three suns, two moons and countless stars await you at Camp Wonderful. Come run through the fields and jump on the trampoline with me!

Join me at: www.campwonderful.com.

 

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Overseas Adventures–Races in Stockholm and Oslo

In December, my readers heard from my friend Laurel as she shared her first marathon experience in Helsinki, Finland.  Today she continues Part II of her story with two more running adventures!  After reading these, I can understand why people get the bug to sign up for overseas/destination races.  Leave a comment below to tell us about your favorite overseas race experience or even better…message me to share your story as my next guest blogger!

Guest Blogger: Laurel Wemhoff

Part II:

Stockholm Ultra Marathon

stockholm ultra.png

In my previous post I talked about my first half marathon and how it inspired me to sign up for my first full marathon. This post will be about two other marathons I have completed: the Stockholm Ultra and Oslo Marathons.

Now many of you might not believe this, but after I finished my first marathon I felt so great, I said to myself, “I think I could have kept running!” Crazy, I know.

I decided to register for the Stockholm Ultra Marathon, taking place August 9, 2014.  There were two distance options: 50k and 100k.  I chose to do the 50k.

My parents were still living abroad at this time, so they agreed to meet me in Stockholm and my older sister and best friend also flew over from the States. I’m telling you-having a cheering squad makes all the difference. After running the Helsinki City Marathon the previous year in August, I realized that summer in Scandinavia was a great time to run.  I remember when I was training for this race in June and July, it was incredibly humid in D.C.  I figured it would give me an advantage to train in the extreme heat and humidity, since Stockholm would be a bit cooler and less humid. To my surprise, and to everyone in Sweden, August of that year was one of the warmest on record for them.  It was in the 90’s, humid, and very sunny.  It turned out that my training paid off. J

map-and-finish-line_stockholmThe course for the 50k had more gravel and trails than pavement. It took place on an island, right outside of Stockholm, and consisted of six, 5 mile loops.  There were not many runners in both the 50 and 100k races.  When I was at the start line, I met another American girl, from California, who was studying abroad in Denmark.  She told me that she had to buy all new running gear because the airline lost her luggage–including her shoes, shorts, and other clothes.  Lesson learned: If you’re traveling by plane for a race, be sure to keep your gear in your carry-on bag.  I always make sure I carry my shoes on the plan, because those are what I have been training in and what my feet are used to.  Running a marathon in brand new shoes should be avoided at all costs.

laurel-blog-stockholmBecause this was a smaller race, with not a lot of runners, the course itself was very pleasant to run. There were aid stations and food every 3 miles or so, where they had coke, pickles, chocolate, granola bars, Gatorade, water, and mixed nuts. Right by the start/finish line they had tents set up for runners to stop and get a massage, either during or after the race.  With about 2 more laps to go I had to stop and have the therapists massage my calves and hamstrings.  They were throbbing like I have never experienced before.  If I wouldn’t have stopped for that 20 minute massage, my time would have been better, but who knows if my muscles would have been able to continue without it!

Oslo Marathon

oslo-marathonMy most recent marathon took place in September of 2016 in Oslo, Norway. This was the third race I had done in Scandinavia.  As like previous marathons, I wanted to run a race on or around my birthday, and combine it with a mini vacation.  My sister, who lives in Barcelona, decided to sign up to run the half marathon.  We both flew into Oslo and explored for a couple of days, to adjust from the jet lag and orient ourselves with the city.

oslo-maraton_me-and-libsThe marathon consisted of two 13.1 mile loops throughout Oslo. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day to run a race; t was in the 70’s and sunny with a few clouds.  I was so fortunate to have my sister there with me.  Her half-marathon didn’t start until 2pm that afternoon, whereas the marathon started at 9am.  She was able to see me at a few different points along the route.  I know I’ve said this before, but having people, or even just someone, cheer you on makes a huge difference.  It gives you that extra kick of endorphins to keep going and stay positive.

mile-13

Halfway there!

 

Out of the three marathons that I’ve done, I have to say that the Helsinki City Marathon was by far the best. I think that because it was my first marathon, it will always hold a special place in my heart. Oslo takes second place, due to the beauty of the city and the race course.  The Stockholm Ultra stands out for the simple reason it was a 31 mile race instead of 26.2.

olympic-photo_oslo

Olympic glory!

Denmark and Iceland are the two Scandinavian countries I haven’t yet run…so stay tuned!

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Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Sleep, energy and weight loss are three of the most talked about health challenges of which we all desire to have more. If only we could just snap our fingers and get what we want. Advertising inundates us with magic bullets to help us get there.  Many of us wouldn’t be reaching for so many quick fixes if we all just had more and better sleep on a consistent basis.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to never underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep.  Even at 35 years young, my body does not bounce back as quickly after a race or tough workout. Sleep can be the maker or breaker of our outlook on life.  It gives us the stamina to get through stress and long days, and to perform at our peak, mentally and physically.

Thankfully, I’ve been blessed that I have never had to experience any major sleep issues.  I’ve never battled with insomnia, sleep apnea or night tremors. And I know people who do and can’t even begin to know what they experience day in and day out. I fall asleep easily and typically aim for 7-8 hours BUT what I have trouble with is getting RESTFUL sleep!  Have you thought about the last time you’ve dreamed?  Many of us just don’t dream anymore and I’m not talking in the literal sense (although that isn’t happening enough for people either these days). I am referring to the dreams we have at night, when our bodies are so at rest in deep REM sleep, otherwise known as dream sleep when our brain is active. This is healthy becomes it happens right after the restorative sleep period that we ABSOLUTELY need to function the next morning.

Sleep is such a huge issue for so many.  This is a great infographic from IDLife, a health and wellness movement that I support and appreciate for the value its brought to my health.  We try to find solutions–through things like prescription sleep medications–that simply aren’t sustainable for the long-term. So let me ask you, are you getting enough sleep? Wsleephether you are someone who has serious battles with bedtime, can’t remember the last time you dreamed, or struggles with feeling rested the next day, we can all strive for better sleep!

I’ve culled together some tips that can help you perform at your best.  So whether you are an athlete, a busy parent, a working professional, an all-nighter college student, or someone approaching or already in those more senior years of life there are simple sleep tips that we can all benefit from as part of a daily routine. Many of these will sound familiar but my guess is that most of you haven’t done the follow-through.  Try one a week and continue to build with an additional one into the following week.  Soon you’ll be setting some new habits and sleeping like a baby!

  • Set a bedtime routine: 
    • Two hours before bed time stop eating (and at least thirty minutes stop drinking water).
    • Thirty minutes to an hour before bed  time turn off all electronic devices. I also do things like read for 10 minutes before bed or listen to a 10-minute bed time meditation exercise (HeadSpace is the app I use).  These activities are all helpful for slowing down the body and mind and preparing for sleep.
    • Go to bed and wake up around the same time each day.
    • Look into supplements like melatonin (did you know that as you age your levels decline, especially after the age of 40) that can help with sleep. I recommend trying IDLife’s sleep strips–a minty strip that melts on your tongue and includes L-Theanine, 5HTP, and Melatonin to offer a tri-phasic approach to help you fall asleep, stay asleep and achieve a restful, restorative deep sleep. I guarantee you’ll start dreaming again!
  • Exercise: Incorporate an exercise routine that you find enjoyable. Your body will appreciate rest all the more when you worked your muscles!casper_athelete_sleep_x2_v08
  • Eat balanced: I could go into a whole other blog post about foods we choose to put into our mouths.  My simple tip here is to listen to your body and your cravings, but do so in a way that doesn’t compromise your exercise habits.  Everything is connected so if we are eating poorly (and late at night before bed) our body may not process those foods as easily which could in turn lead to a lot of tossing and turning and running to the bathroom when we should be sleeping.

As you begin setting healthy habits you’ll find that your body will love you so much more.  Your energy and weight loss/maintenance goals will start to improve and you may find your stress levels melt away!

In addition to my quick tips, my friends at Casper Mattress (your source to learn more about sleep technology and research) developed this great guide that includes sleep tips for athletes, benefits of each sleep cycle for recovery and other interesting statistics.

Remember sleep is there for a reason.  We need it to help us become the best version of ourselves!  So get to it…sleep like a champion tonight and wake up ready for your best workout (and day) of your life!

I’d love to hear from YOU!  Share your sleep tips in the comment box below.  What have you struggled with and how have you improved sleep?

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Reflections of 2016

Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe that we are almost a full month into the new year. If you are anything like me you approach January with anticipation and hope of all that is in store. There is nothing better than the pages of an empty calendar waiting to be filled with new dreams, get-togethers with friends, vacations and weekend getaways. It’s also the perfect time to reflect on the year passing…to celebrate the wins and to grow from the challenges. There will always be a bit of both, that’s just life, but I believe that as long as we remember that God is in control of our path we can have a lot more peace each day.

Overall, the last year was a pretty good one for me. Professionally, I worked tirelessly on a huge research project and learned so much along the way. In November, I started my journey to become a health coach (super pumped about that and the path it will take me on). Personally, I’ve had some fun adventures to different parts of the country. The highlight was seeing God’s glory come alive during a hike in Joshua Tree National Park this last October with my mom. Amazing! My greatest personal accomplishment in 2016 would have to be tackling the ultra-marathon–I completed my first one in Prince William Forest Park (Virginia). So that was fun! And I logged many more miles this fall and winter, including my first Thanksgiving Turkey Trot in Delaware with my awesome dad and other fun runs with friends (a 10-mile trail run at Fountainhead Regional Park, a half-marathon in Baltimore, and a New Year’s Eve Run in Fairfax, VA). Perhaps all that running was to my detriment as I am managing a back issue at the moment and banned from running (but we won’t dwell on the negative). I’m grateful for the new friends I have made this year and for the quality time with old friends and family—beach trips to the Jersey shore, Virginia winery outings, two weddings, and other various travel excursions to Arizona, Texas, North Carolina, and California to name a few. Sweet laughter with nieces and nephews and growing deeper with my group of Bible study ladies are moments I’m grateful for. I am blessed by every person I had the opportunity to spend time with this year—you have each taught me something to carry forth into the New Year. And if we didn’t get to see each other in 2016, let’s change that for this year!

 

And yet, as good as most of the year was, on December 16 my dear, sweet grandmother passed from this earthly world to the heavenly one. Sara “Sally” Frances Dunn Funk was my maternal grandmother—90 years young. I was beyond blessed to have known her these last 35 years. As her namesake, I have big shoes to fill! While I’ll never be a renowned artist like her (even though I may have wanted to as a kid, especially when I painted over an art piece she was working on), I like to think that I inherited her caring and loyal disposition. She was a single mother who raised my mom and two uncles during a time when I know that couldn’t have been easy. My grandfather, the love of her life and college sweetheart, came back in to her life when they were in their 40’s, married her and moved the entire family from Oklahoma to New Jersey. He loved her so much!

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A Duke love story

It was a love story like no other and she would recount their story to me many times (along with my grandfather adding his pieces to when they first met in the library of Duke’s East Campus….his roommate by his side with a baseball bat to keep the ladies at bay). He always was the practical jokester, but maybe it was true! He was a handsome devil after all.

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Late 1960’s/early 1970’s

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Perfecting

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The Art

 

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Of The Selfie (summer 2016)

 

Needless to say, my grandmother, or “Mom Mom” as I called her, and I had a very special bond. There are too many words to describe her. She was smart, brave, kind, strong, loving, funny, and beautiful. I think my stepdad said it best: “I will miss her gentle presence in our family’s life.” I’ve been wearing the beautiful cross necklace that she gave me over Thanksgiving when I visited with her for a few days in the hospital. It is a wonderful reminder of the love that she had for all she knew….a perfect example of Christ’s love for us. My grandfather passed during the wee early hours of Easter Sunday 2015 and I know she missed him terribly this last year and a half. While I mourn the loss of them both, I know that neither of them is in pain anymore. They lived amazing full and beautiful lives. My guardian angel, Mom Mom will always be in my heart and I know that I will see her again someday, for God has paved a way for us through Christ to all be together in eternity. I thank her for having such an indelible imprint on my life.

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Celebrating the 2011 marathon with my grandmother and mom

As 2016 has come to a close, it’s time to keep the special memories close in our hearts and make new ones with the people who mean the most to us. To wake up every day with a heart of gratitude and to love and lift one another as Christ would have us do. I plan to live more in the moment this year, to do my best not to stress about what is not in my control and to give God the glory. May you all be blessed in this year ahead.

“Life passes us by quicker than we ever imagine. To miss even a single moment of it is something we will later regret. Be present in the world.” -Headspace

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