This past winter has been a major time of transformation for me. Sure we’re only three months in, but I have been deeply focused on changing my life. And not just in a New Year’s Resolutions that you never keep kind of way. I’m talking about a balls-out, admit to the dark and unhealthy paths I was very far down, and then do something about it no matter the cost, kind of way. It’s been the slowest, most painful, most spiritual, most honest, most deliberate, and most rewarding time of my life. My only regret is that I didn’t start sooner. But even when you are your own worst critic, you aren’t always able to admit your worst flaws.

So here’s the truth: I was drinking too much. I wasn’t exercising. I was eating foods that were not nourishing, all the time. I was hyper-focused on material things. I was angry. I hated myself. I was taking my relationship for granted. I wasn’t sleeping. I had no connection between my mind and my body. I wasn’t kind. I wasn’t flossing my teeth, or paying attention to my reproductive health. This had all been going on a slow-build for at least a year, some of it for longer – and it showed. My emotions were wrecked and irrational. My work wasn’t my best. My skin’s tone and quality was crap. My eyes were sunken. My clothes were tight. My whole body was exhausted inside and out.  When you are in your mid-30s, these things combined WILL impact your well-being and WILL impact your future and WILL inhibit your ability to be present. For me, they’d created a vicious-cycle-vortex of deep unhappiness and I was at risk of losing all that was good – by my own making.

So here’s what I did: I broke it down into pieces and went slow – and I’ll keep doing this for as long as it takes to be whole and better. I started with sleep and spent the month of December focused on getting a lot of it. That was the ONLY thing I focused on – I didn’t go after all the things I needed to change at once because I didn’t want to get burnt out and abandon ship. More than exercise and healthy food, sleep is critical for mental health – it allows your brain to literally clean itself so that you can think clearly and function optimally.

Then in January, I kept the sleep practices and added on light exercise and meditation – trying to do them every day if I could but giving myself a freakin’ break and not entering a shame-spiral if I missed a day or two. In February, I faced the alcohol problem and cut it out. I upped the ante on my exercise (Crunch Then Brunch, bitches), vowed to floss my teeth everyday and started tracking my menstrual cycle and migraines like a hawk. All while worshipping sleep and 5 minutes of meditation per day as the bedrock of a healthier life. Now March has simply been the month to let all those new health habits ride so that they stick, and instead of adding anything new, I’ve come back to my blog with fresh eyes and an honest point of view.

The key to keeping this all going is tracking everything – EVERYTHING – like my life depends on it. I have a jam-packed journal (which I’ll dedicate a whole post to soon) and a couple apps that I rely on to keep me accountable as I dedicate every waking hour to this journey around change. I’ve lost 8 pounds, and my clothes are fitting again. Gained some arm and butt muscles. Eaten 40 salads. Had 3 periods and 2 migraines. Finally got sinus surgery and dealt with my severe allergies. Flossed my teeth 90% of the time. Taken 20 barre classes. Slept about 75 solid nights. Seen a therapist regularly. Brought my A-game to work daily. I could tell you ALL my statistics and it would take all day – which is probably the total amount of time I’ve spent meditating over these 3.5 months. Is it neurotic? Maybe. But is it working for me? Yes.

Here are my tools I can’t live without:

  • A gym membership to ExhaleExhale‘s formula of 3 barre, 2 yoga and a little cardio each week is working for me. Finally! An exercise routine I can stick with.
  • Cute, cheap workout wear – from Target, TJ Maxx and the sale rack at Exhale. I have to have a cute outfit if I’m gonna do this. This one pictured today is my favorite. The bra is by Jockey and the pants are RBX (both TJ Maxx) and the top is Target.
  • Clue menstrual cycle app – I wrote a post about it last week but I’ve learned a lot about my body by tracking its behaviors and functions each day.
  • Calm meditation app – thanks to my sister for introducing me to Calm. There are guided meditations on self-forgiveness that really help with the remorse I feel for getting so deeply unhealthy.
  • Ink and Volt plannerthis notebook is a game-changer with it’s goal-setting pages and easy tracking templates.
  • Mocktails – yep, I’ve tried it all and my favorites are a virgin Bloody Mary and a virgin Moscow Mule at brunch and dinners out. Sparkly water with juice splashes go with dinners at home. When I do have a drink now, I go for something really good and stop before I get drunk. Cutting the drinking is the hardest and best thing I’ve ever done for myself in my entire life. It’s a challenge everyday and will continue to be one for a while, I imagine.
  • Himalayan salt lamp – to neutralize ions and detoxify your room and to help with sleep. It has a lovely glow – and it’s pink – obviously it’s awesome.
  • My Pillow – yep, that pillow you see on infomercials is the shit!
  • Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project – my inspiration for this whole thing. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend this book and her website.
  • Humility

So if you’re still reading, thanks for hearing me out. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. It’s a journey that’s still new, so I expect hiccups and set backs. But this time around, I won’t let those derail me. Because nothing and no one can be perfect. But I can be present. So that’s where I am. Here.