Sunday, 20 August 2017

The power of habits

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What is You Are Unique?

My blog was inspired by a course called You Are Unique, which I wrote and presented some years ago. The course was about looking and feeling one's best, having a better life, and learning some daily skills. All without spending a lot of money. My blog is based on the course, and I still adhere to the same principles that I taught on the course, in my blog, and in my life. The course also emphasised the power of habits.

How long does a habit take to become established?

At the time of writing this course, it was believed that it took twenty-one days for a habit to become "ingrained". Now, it seems that it actually takes longer. It does take three weeks to establish a new habit, so some effort is needed in these three weeks to get the new habit done. Then it takes another nine weeks of repeating it, for it to really be a habit. So, rather than only three weeks, we are looking at twelve weeks, all up.

In the first three weeks, we may have to constantly remind ourselves, and make sure that we have made space for the habit in our life. We might have to prepare for the habit. For example, if you want to get up and go for a walk or run, you could get together your shoes and clothes each evening, where you can see them, so that they are a visual reminder.

I know, through experience, that I have to prepare things so that visually nothing else gets in my habit's way. For example, my trusty bottle of water, gets filled each night after dinner, then I just keep drinking it between dinner and sleep. Filling it again before bed so that if I get up during the night I can have another drink of water. And when I get up in the morning, that bottle is staring at me. It's at eye level. So I have another drink on my way to the bathroom.


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I also know to put my computer away each night so that it doesn't seductively call out to me to waste time on it rather than meditating and walking. (likeable bad habit)

                               
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So, that first three weeks, some effort is needed, some "tricks" to remind us to do the habit. But then we can tend to wane, in the second lot of three weeks, and we may have to keep re-establishing the habit, but if we keep on going, the last six weeks are when something really does become a habit.

Our habits take up half of our life

When I first wrote You Are Unique, I felt strongly that good habits were like the backbone of our life. That if we had good habits established that fed us and our life, then it would be easier to have a better, more enjoyable life. And yes, I still believe this. It seems that habits make up 50% of our lives. I'm quite sure that for many years, as a young mum, then a young working mum, then a "monk" (yes, a monk!), then back to the cycle of mum, working mum....etc, etc.... I'm so sure that my life consisted of more than 50% of habits! And we also have work habits, housecleaning habits, social habits. Our habits can be powerful in that they serve us in a very beneficial way, or they can be destructive. And the whole gamut in between beneficial and destructive.

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Losing the power in habits 

Now that I have so much more time, the problem is now letting habits regarding time, slide. I think that this is because the pressure is off me, so to speak, I don't have to earn a lot of money to provide for family. I can see how one could become so lazy, and just drift through life, by not adhering to habits. I constantly have to work on this. Like an ongoing project..... I don't want my habits to be creating a slack life. I do feel that when we get too slack, when we let our positive habits slide, we start to lose the power that has been generated by having these habit systems.

Maintaining the power habits

We can have power habits in any area of our life. For me, I would say that my power habits are those that enable me to have a better life, whether it's working (I am a yoga teacher, blogger, healer), or just in daily life. I find it easier to sort out the daily life "stuff" before looking at the rest of my life, for my daily habits are like a foundation of my life.

By this I mean...getting up at a regular time and having a beneficial morning routine that sets one up for a good day. Having a calming routine to prepare for a good night's sleep. Routinely "getting things done". I am shocked when some people retire and then start getting up late in the mornings! As a habit. To me, I find that when I get up late (seven-ish or later), then I am wasting my whole day.

The best way to maintain our power habits, I feel, is to just keep doing them. And if we stop, look at why, rearrange things better to suit us, then keep on going.

And habits also flow over into our personal grooming and how we look. A small skin care routine, done as a habit, gives really nice skin. Keeping our body clean and groomed makes us feel good.

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Ideally, how we look, should only be part of our life. But there is no doubt in my mind that a small number of habits for personal well-being, are like creating a foundation for the rest of our life. When we look after ourselves on a regular level, we do then start adding other aspects, like tidying up our diet, looking after our health, looking at how we work.

And if there are children in your life, they "pick up" good habits, too. Which is much easier than when we have to make it a chore for ourselves, hassling our kids to do things. Actions do speak louder than words.






Friday, 11 August 2017

more vegetarian confessions


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When I first started becoming a vegetarian, my (former) husband was a BIG meat eater. It was tricky. When he travelled for his job, which was often, my two small children and I would quietly morph into vegetarianism. I didn't tell the children, no, I just did it. I was very much inspired by old books which I found here and there, with scientific (and otherwise) information on food, and many vegetarian recipes.

What I did with my children was have a few recipes which I collected from like-minded friends and my old health food books. My husband liked rice, with nearly every meal, and it had to be white, so I used Uncle Ben's rice, which is steam-processed so that the vitamins and minerals were pushed back into the rice during processing. I don't know if the three minute ones have the same nutritional value, so I don't use them. I found the one that I used, which is still available, and takes 10-20 minutes to cook, to to be the next best thing to brown rice.  These days I just use white basmati, or ordinary brown rice, not long grain, and the organic ones are delicious. Grain ambrosia. Uncle Ben's, Doongara, Basmati, and brown rice are beneficial for keeping our blood sugar stable. I'm sure that there must be others too. p.s. you can also put in some stock or stock powder whilst the rice is cooking. I don't use the boxes of stock, as they often have tomato in them, and I'm allergic to tomato.

For my youngest, I also used a soya spiral pasta (soyaroni), for stir-fries, etc. I haven't been able to find it for a long time. But these days there are many different types of other pasta that are made from different types of grains.

And I was inspired by an article in a health magazine, years ago, titled "Confessions of a sneaky organic cook". I couldn't actually afford organic, but I bought the best ingredients that I could find. And I learnt how to quietly amp up our nutrition without telling anyone, especially my husband who had very fixed meaty ideas about what we were going to eat. (Making me a sneaky high-nutrition cook)

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I had home-sprouted sprouts on a dish on the table for the children to snack on. The nutrition within a seed, or a legume, is greatly amplified when they are sprouted. I made my own yoghurt from a culture which I note is identical to kefir culture (just saying...) and made extremely delicious iceblocks from fresh orange juice, real vanilla essence, and my yoghurt. Yoghurt and fruit was our usual dessert until one of my children found out that proper pudding involved ice cream and tinned peaches. I bought fresh wheat germ which I now can't find anywhere, just the imported one, or supermarket wheat germ. Most mornings I made wheat germ smoothies, which my eldest still wistfully talks about. Wheat germ is the heart of a grain of wheat, and is packed with vitamins and minerals.

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There was a non-instant milk powder which was processed differently from the instant, and had more nutrients. Again discontinued. I used it like a protein powder, and would add one quarter of a cup of this milk powder to our container of milk for extra protein. We had the aforementioned wheat germ smoothies: a banana, milk, vanilla essence, a couple of tablespoons of milk powder, a tablespoon or two of wheat germ, and fresh orange juice. Yum!! Sometimes I used unsulphured dried fruit: dates or dried apricots, as well.

Another smoothie is milk, a dash of honey, a couple of tablespoons of wheat germ, and about a half a cup of berries. Or, yummy yoghurt that has fruit puree in it, soya milk, one tablespoon each of wheat germ and protein powder. The permeations are endless!

With my youngest I used whey concentrate, which is less processed than whey isolate, instead of the milk powder and wheat germ, plus some yoghurt, and often added spirulina and berries. Now we both use a vegan powder instead of the whey. The whey that I used is Red8, made in New Zealand.

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Other more modern alternatives are to use coconut water, or one of the nut, seed, or grain "milks" as your base: such as almond, oat, soy, or rice milk. Then there is the nutri-bullet which is able to rend fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds into a delicious drink.

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I always felt that breakfast was a good time to I install some nutritious eating habits into my children, plus get some protein into them so that they had some brain fuel for the rest of the day.

When one decides to eat less meat,  it is still important to find alternative sources of protein and nutrients. Smoothies are great, and you can also use coconut or soya yoghurt.

My ex husband hated "brown" bread, so I learnt to use unbleached flour (yep, bleach in our "white" flour - surely this is poisonous?), and in each cup of flour that I was using, I would first put a tablespoon each of milk powder, wheat germ, and soy flour, then topped up the cup with the flour. I used this for the infrequent baking, fritters and scones, that I did. Again, more nutrients, and more protein. Plus wheat germ has vitamin e, and b vitamins. I quietly did this for years, and as I write, I'm wondering why I'm not still doing it.

That there are alternative choices of protein than meat. And using some of these other foods means that we are also not spending so much money on expensive protein.




Friday, 4 August 2017

recap

I thought I'd mention some of the earliest suggestions from this blog, & also let you know how I am going along with them myself:

Attitude

Being aware of what we are doing, with a relaxed attitude. As I mentioned in my previous post, I was getting too relaxed by getting up late each morning and then fluffing around. But, now I'm back to earlier rising. And yes, being more relaxed about it rather than stressing. I was totally stressing each day after wasting so much time when I was lax! Relaxed awareness keeps us calm and sane, I feel.

See here for some of the principles on this post.

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Don't be too attached to the outcome

Trying not to put too many demands on the outcome of what you are trying to do, or want to do. Be excited about it, eager to achieve it, and without being "fixed" that things have to work out a certain way. Generally, when we achieve something, the results are better than what we could have imagined when we first set about achieving whatever it is. So, for a scheme I'm working on, I do just that: I get excited about doing it, and am eager about it being completed. Not completed a certain way, no... just successfully completed.

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Sometimes we need to change things

If something is not working out, despite our consistent efforts, it may be that we need to change what, or how, we are doing things, so flexibility is important too. If we are fixed in our determination for specific outcomes, we can keep going along the wrong path, just because we are determined that it is the only way. So with my scheme.... I have regrouped to do things an easier way.

The Art of Doing

We need to do something to achieve anything in life, from washing dishes,dancing, eating, planning...& so on,  big or small, it doesn't matter. action gets results.

Use common sense to work out your goals, making them relevant to your life, & easy to fit into your life. Keep it all simple...& succeed! (the KISS principle)

The first post on doing and the act of awareness is here

Constant practice

Keep doing whatever it is you need to do (constant practice) to achieve your goals, aims. As long as it's working out, of course. Aim for progress, not perfection, as progress is often achieved in small increments. And this attitude is so relevant for an impatient person like me: just progressing, not redoing something over and over until it's perfect.

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Habits

Have good habits that serve you well, rather than relying on self discipline. This  also cuts down on "choice fatigue" and gives us more energy for a good life.

Our habits should be able to be absorbed easily into our life. Good lesson this one! Who amongst us has not had crazy schemes whereby we try to do more exercise than our spare time allows, or crazy diets that don't work with our life? The first habits post was here

5% rule

When change is difficult, make a 5% change when you are looking at achieving something. This has a 20% extra effect. Mine at present is drinking water in the evenings. Sometimes I forget, but mostly it's 500 mls. I'm off to dinner with friends tonight, and I know I'll have had my 500 mls before I eat. At home, if I have a bottle of water right where I can see it, I then drink it. I now grab my bottle for a big glug as I pad past it, as soon as I get up. And if I get up during the night to go to the bathroom... another big swig of water.

I'm usually going to bed earlier so that I can get up earlier the next morning, then opening the curtains & windows asap. This is for kick starting the awake hormones that tell my body that it's time to get moving.

The 5% rule was on my first post!

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Looking better

When I was being tardy and getting up later and just generally getting not much done, I noticed that I was getting sloppy in my appearance. So now I quickly put on a wee bit of make-up and dress nicely. A la Elizabeth Hurley, one of my secret mentors. Elizabeth says that it takes her four minutes to put on some make-up and look good. And I'm sure that Elizabeth would also approve of my borrowing her routine of doing sit-ups and bottom clenches.

My Elizabeth Hurley stalking has been chronicled many times...starting here plus here also here

Going back to square one

These are all aspects from when I first started writing this blog, and I do like to re-address them from time to time. Sort of like doing an audit on myself. I sometimes wonder if Elizabeth does this sort of thing also? Or... is she too busy being Elizabeth Hurley? One of life's little mysteries, to be sure.

Socialising

                                                                                 Inspiration to socialise I was reading about a woman wh...