Don’t Break the Chain – Goal Tracking Calendar

Hey everyone! How are those New Years Resolutions going? We’re a couple weeks into the new year, already…

If you watched the video I linked to a few weeks ago about goal setting, I loved what Nikki had to say about setting small, routine refining goals that are achievable. Goals that are so small it seems silly to not do them because they’re so easy. I liked that she set some of her goals to literally just 2-5 minutes a day. In other words, don’t be afraid to set the bar low and let these things become habit and then amp them up to something bigger later on.Don't Break the Chain

One of my new years resolutions is to bring back a habit I literally had my entire life until a few years ago and I’ve had the worst time regaining: reading. Since I could read, I’ve always spent my last waking moments each day with my nose in a book. I dropped the habit for a while and have struggled ever since to read more and get the ball rolling again. I’ve put a few measures into place that are helping that I’ll probably go into more later, but today I’m talking about tracking the goal I set for myself: 5+ minutes a day reading.

So, how do I track whether I’m actually doing this reading every day? I found a great little gimmick, also thanks to YouTube, called the Don’t Break the Chain Calendar. The concept is simple: make the longest “chain” possible by checking off the days on the calendar as you do your goal. I’m keeping it right by my bed with my book so I can see my progress and check the days off as I do my reading. It’s simple, easy, visual, and gives me a little extra reminder to just crack the book for a few minutes before shutting off the light. Plus, anyone who’s attempting to keep me on track can check at any time. I could even put these up in a public place for more pride and/or shaming, if that’s what it takes.Do you have any tips for how you track your goals? Let me know, I’d love to hear them!

Grab your own printable calendar from Karen’s blog here: Don’t Break the Chain Calendar 2013
The calendar was designed by the ever-talented Karen Kavett and inspired by the so-cool-like Charlie McDonnell. I recommend checking out both of them on YouTube and/or the myriad of other social networks they frequent!


Product Review: Philips Wake-up Light

Confession time: I am a snooze button abuser.  At my worst, I can need up six or seven snoozes to wake-up enough to actually get out of bed. Yes, that’s an hour or more. An hour I could use doing almost anything and it would be a better use of my time. Six times I roll over and realize I just. can’t. wake. up. Hit the alarm. Repeat. Ugh.

Philips Hf3470 Wake-up Light

Maybe a year and a half ago or so, my friend Amanda told me about her new alarm clock she had purchased after she moved into a basement bedroom and had no natural light coming into her room in the morning. This magical clock was one of the best things she’d found to help her get up in the morning. I looked into this mythical, morning-saving wonder, and soon enough I had my own Philips Hf3470 Wake-up Light gracing my nightstand. I’ve never looked back.

Basically, the concept is simple. We naturally want to wake up as the sun slowly rises and gently eases us out of sleep. But, we’re almost never on the same schedule as the sun. The “wake-up light” or sunrise alarm is basically an alarm clock with a ambient lamp that slowly begins the “sun” rising in your room about 30 minutes before you have your alarm set to truly wake you up. The light gradually increases over that time, helping to ease you out of your sleep and into your day.

Think for a moment about how much waking up to pitch blackness sucks in early mornings and then imagine waking up to a gentle, not-too-bright, light instead. And, instead of a blaring alarm jarring you out of sleep, my Philips Wake-up Light also has birds that chirp slowly with more joining in over time in a somehow-not-annoying chorus of chirping! Are you convinced yet? Another benefit I’ve only very recently realized is that if/when I wake up in the middle of the night, I have fallen out of the habit of checking the time. If I wake up and it’s still completely dark in my room, I know it’s the middle of the night and not close to time to wake up and I simply roll back over and go to sleep. No focusing on how frustrating it is to be awake at X hour or habitually checking my phone; I just go back to sleep.

I will give you fair warning, though, these are not cheap clocks. I think I spent about $80 on this (just looked it up and the price has increased to $100!) and I got the one with the fewest features. But, the amount of pain and suffering it has saved me this year is well worth the cost. It’s not the most attractive bedside lamp, but it’s not ugly either. You can use it as a lamp at any time if you want, though it’s not very bright. Lately, I have also been using the radio as I get ready in the morning. Gotta keep up with those traffic reports! There are other versions or similar concept clocks that include iPod docks, CD players, and even aroma therapy. Mine is just a clock radio with a [optional] bird chirp alarm, and a light. You can set the alarm to go off without the light, too, if you want.

Overall, I cannot recommend this clock enough. I’ve never had any problems with it and it truly does make my mornings less painful. I’m hardly skipping and dancing out of bed, but I’m at least in a better mental place and that’s the most I’ll ever hope for out of my mornings. 🙂  The only downside is the price, but like I said, it’s well worth it. I did see on Amazon today that someone has released a SunRise Traveler Clock that is only $50, so that might be worth trying if the full-size Philips clock is beyond your reach and you really like the concept.

I think this wraps up my first product review! If you know me in real life, it’s possible I’ve already talked your ear off on this subject, but I wanted to share it with you blog readers as something that’s helped me make a bit of a refinement to my routine, if you will.

To sunnier mornings,

Fitness DVD Review: Jillian Michaels’ Kickbox FastFix

Disclaimer: I purchased a copy of Jillian Michaels’ fitness DVD “Kickbox FastFix” with my personal funds. I did not receive any payment or other compensation for writing this review.

Jillian Michaels Kickbox FastFixDVD Title: Jillian Michaels’ Kickbox FastFix
Date released: March 2012
Duration: Three 20-minute workouts
Number of discs: 1
Cost: $9-$15 (I’ve seen this DVD for sale at Target and on Amazon)
Additional equipment needed: Hand weights and a mat if you are working out on a hard surface

I currently own three Jillian Michaels’ fitness DVDs, and Kickbox FastFix is one of my favorites. The DVD includes three 20-minute workouts that target specific muscle groups: workout one targets the upper body, workout two targets the lower body and workout three targets the core.

What I love about this DVD is that the workouts are short enough to fit into my often hectic schedule but intense enough that I’m always dripping with sweat at the end of those 20 minutes. All three workouts offer a fantastic cardio workout while integrating some strength training. They’re a great option for those days when you don’t have a lot of time but you still really want to get a workout in.

I am also a big fan of Jillian Michaels’ fast-paced style; she doesn’t give me time to get bored or think about how tough the workout is that day. I have actually stopped in the middle of a fitness DVD because the pace was too slow, not because I’m super fit but because a slow pace gives me too much time to think, which then makes me feel tired and bored. I don’t have that problem with Kickbox FastFix.

As the title of the DVD suggests, the workouts are inspired by martial arts, so most of the exercises use body weight for resistance. This means your results will be directly affected by the effort you put in. If you halfheartedly throw kicks and punches, you won’t see any results from this DVD. Be sure to watch and participate in the tutorial included in this DVD so you understand how to properly execute the moves for maximum results. Also, don’t get frustrated by the combination moves when you first do the workouts. It took me several times to get the combinations right because they get more and more complicated as you go (it’s almost like a game of memory), but I started to have a lot of fun once I got the moves down.

Be warned that Jillian throws in some unexpected exercises into this DVD. You’ll see body resistance exercises such as pushups, situps and bicycle crunches; you’ll need weights for strength exercises such as back rows, head bangers/skull crushers and chest flies; and she amps up the cardio with suicides and even some plyometrics. A tip on those suicides: If you don’t have a ton of floor space, which I don’t, pick up your knees as high as you can to intensify the workout.

My overall rating of this DVD is four stars out of five. It’s an intense, fast-paced workout in just 20 minutes, but the complicated combination moves might be a deterrent to some.

Setting Goals for the New Year

After a week on a vacation to Hawaii followed by a quick trip home to clean out some of my stuff from my parents house, I came back to Dallas with the idea of jumping back into blogging. Then got the worst migraine I’ve had in ages, missed my first day back at work, and I’m still feeling kind of sketchy today.

But, I just came across this video from a YouTuber that I follow and thought I would share it here. She has some great points on how she’s setting her goals for the year and the steps she’s taking the achieve them. It fits great with the theme of this blog, so I thought I’d share it.

Be back soon with some new posts for the new year!

Happy 2013!