10 easy ways to grant yourself the gift of self-care.

10 easy ways to grant yourself the gift of self-care | Maggie Whitley Designs

Something I’ve come to realize is that we as women need to be better at taking care of our selves. We have perfected the art of doing “just one more thing”, but that’s not the best action plan. Instead, the real solution is two-fold: saying “no” to things that aren’t a good use of our time (remember, “no” doesn’t mean never, it simply means “not right now”), and we need to know what fill us up. Once we recognize what inspires us, what exhausts us, what rejuvenates us — life feels great! Right?

It’s time to take action. It’s time to pay better attention to our selves and grant our selves the gift of self-care. Because when you really think about it, it doesn’t quite matter how you spend your day: whether it be with children or co-workers or working alone on a solo project, we are living out our purpose when we work on tasks that align with our callings.

In an effort to better care for ourselves — something I’m trying to be more mindful of personally, here is a list of 10 easy ways to grant yourself the gift of self-care:

1. Make a pitcher of iced-tea and serve yourself a tall glass (complete with a yellow chevron paper straw)

2. Grab your favorite bottle of polish and add a little color to your nails

3. Create a detailed meal plan for the entire week so you can spend less time frustrated in the kitchen and more time relaxing, reflecting, and rejoicing! Use your crock-pot, make double-batches (so left overs are available), and include lots of fresh fruits & vegetables so your senses are satisfied

4. Bake a batch of cookies (here’s my favorite chocolate chip recipe), and while they are baking write a gratitude list

5. Meet your girlfriends for coffee or an early dinner together

6. Preserve 30 minutes of time every day for an entire week and read a book (here is a list of books I’ve recently read)

7. Invite your family to take their adventure outside of the house so you can take a nap ;)

8. Dissect your dresser/closet, and get rid of any piece of clothing that doesn’t make you feel AMAZINGLY HAPPY :)

9. Spend an hour pursuing your hobby. Then, find some time within the next two weeks to pursue it again. Repeat every two weeks. (This is a fantastic book on the subject.)

10. Grab your journal and write until you have all of your thoughts on paper. Don’t stop to edit or pause to correct your spelling or worry if you sound selfish or immature or insecure, write until you have nothing more to share with your journal. Once you’re done, take a few minutes and review what you’ve written. What can you learn from yourself? What needs to be left alone, what deserves a little extra attention, and what changes can you make so you don’t feel so [x] quite so soon?

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Sometimes in the evenings I’ll find myself nitpicking a particular issue when Zack gently reminds me I’m exhausted, and if I just sent to bed I’d feel so much better (and the issue would most-likely disappear). And, he’s usually totally right! When I don’t take care of myself, most often through lack of sleep, I can draw an immediate parallel to how I’m feeling.

These 10 things have often been a saving grace to me, especially this year as I walk through my purpose.

PS. Number ten is my favorite, number two is something I frequent, and number nine has changed the way I feel about getting dressed in the morning.

What do you think about this list, and what would you add to it?

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An update on my running journey (with FAQs).

an update on my running journey | Maggie Whitley Designs

(This is part II of my running journey, click here to read part I.)

I’m 5 months into my running journey, and some days I can hardly believe this. It’s been inspiring, refreshing, and super hard at times, that’s for sure. What prompted me to begin happened on a whim… Back in February I was out with the kids and our dog, and I realized if wore my workout clothes for our daily 45-minute neighborhood walks I’d enjoy the walks a whole lot more. You know the feeling, right? You’re out with your young kids, perhaps you have a dog, you’re wearing your favorite pair of skinny jeans, but it doesn’t take much to feel flustered over the whole darn walk because all you can think about is how hot & uncomfortable you are! (And this was supposed to be a fun walk for everyone.)

The next day I switched my outfit and wore my workout clothes — something stretchy that would allow me to move more comfortably, plus a pair of running shoes — and off we went. Suddenly I had the idea to jog, so I picked up my pace and jogged the length of two apartment buildings. I walked a bit more, then jogged for another thirty seconds. I was suddenly searching for “landmarks” to either walk to or jog to, and I repeated this process for about 45 minutes. I had the double stroller and our dog, but oddly it didn’t feel all that difficult. When we arrived back to our apartment I felt so good! Like, so amazingly good. I had been wanting to become a healthier version of myself, but until that in February I wasn’t sure how to fit working out into our family’s routine.

I want to write a moment on how overwhelming it can feel as a new mom to workout, especially if you have more than one child. I wasn’t “new” at my mamahood (although there are days when I feel very, very new), but I had a new baby. Getting outside to workout with our children was overwhelmingly difficult for me for months. Many times I texted and called my girlfriends asking for advice, and I learned the best thing I could do for myself was continue to try finding a solution. Because eventually it came, and eventually it will come for you, too.

When I started running Natalie was not quite 4 months old and Max was about 23 months old. Bauer always came with us (his life goal is to never stop running/moving!) and I had a staircase to navigate, alongside a small bag of baby/toddler essentials, water, and getting our double stroller down to the ground level. All of this felt impossible, but I kept trying new solutions and reminding myself that many other mamas have succeeded at this very same thing :)

Fast forward to two: almost every weekday I run with the kids and Bauer. Right now my two exceptions are Monday’s when I work and Tuesday’s when we go to the beach, although I usually get in some sort of long walk both days. I was accepted into Britax’s blogger program before Natalie was born, and I run with their B-Ready stroller. We have used it for nearly 9 months now, it’s gone to the beach with us, walks around our neighborhood, multiple mile runs, and on road trips, and it’s a trooper. The frame is durable and not too heavy, although once both toddler seats are clicked in place it does feel a bit heavier. But, this is to be expected — it’s a double stroller!

On the weekends I try to run on Saturday or Sunday, but without the kids or dog. These are sort of my “let’s see how much progress you’ve made during the weekday” day — I try to run the entire 3.88 mile loop and I definitely compete against myself to set a new minute/mile pace at least once per month ;) It’s a fun challenge. Comparing the last 30 days, my last solo run minutes/mile paces have been 15:25, 13:19, 12:34, 13:54, 13:08, 13:33, 15:08 and 13:45.

For my workout clothes I alternate between capris and shorts; tank tops, t-shirts, and long sleeve shirts, depending on the weather. I always wear my Asics, my Fitbit, and use the MapMyRun iPhone app. About a month ago I bought a wristband for my Fitbit Zip, and it’s been perfect. I don’t always have a pocket for my Fitbit, and wearing it clipped to my pants or bra has been (oddly) a little inconvenient. Having a wristband has been a “two thumbs up” experience for me :)

FAQs:

Running has become a huge part of my life — if I don’t make it out on a run I definitely notice a change in my patience and energy levels, so I wanted to answer a few common questions I’ve received through social media or email.

I just started running but I hate it. Any tips on how to love it more? Try alternating walking with jogging, then over the next month set a goal towards running more often and for longer splits. Having a great pair of running shoes is also important! Think about why you don’t enjoy running and try to pinpoint the source of your frustration. Do you need a better pair of shorts or a sports bra? Are you going for a run at the wrong time of day? Do you feel rushed to get in “a good workout”? I would definitely give it a solid month before giving up. Write down three things you hope to accomplish through running/working out and then review your list after 30 days. Don’t give up just yet :)

You definitely inspired me to get moving! While I am not running, I am walking, and it feels so good! So proud! You can definitely accomplish your fitness goals through walking! I actually look forward to the days I walk more instead of run. It’s so therapeutic (and a great time to listen to your favorite podcasts or audio books).

How do you keep your kiddos entertained on your runs? I recently started walking in my neighborhood with my double stroller and my kids look so bored by the end, even when they have toys/snacks/drinks. Is it bad I have never even thought to bring snacks with me, unless we’re going to the park to play? I usually bring a water bottle for myself and Max, but I don’t typically bring something for him to eat to help pass the time. Instead, I talk to him about what we see. We walk through residential neighborhoods and a quaint downtown area, so there is always something being built or repaired, fire trucks driving by, bicyclists, dogs, other kids, trees, mailboxes, flags, etc., and we talk about all of these things. Some days I put in my ear buds and listen to a podcast or music, which I don’t feel guilty about doing. I want my children to learn how to enjoy their surroundings and be observant independently, as well as engage in conversation with me. So, I try to mix things up for Max. (Natalie usually takes her morning nap in the stroller, so she’s almost always asleep while we’re gone.) Of course, this isn’t to say Max doesn’t cry when he’s in the stroller — usually every day he has a toddler moment where he whines or cries over [X], I think this is normal and I always address the situation, then refocus on my run. He always bounces back quickly. Most days we stop by the water fountain or the park so Max can get out to play. Or, I have him walk alongside me and pick up little bits of nature (sticks, leaves, rocks). And may I add: he is never bored. Max is used to being in the stroller for a daily walk, it’s something we’ve done since he was a baby. Now that he’s almost 2-1/2 I explain to him I’m doing my workout so I can be his healthy and strong mommy. I think consistency has definitely worked in our favor here, and it most likely work in yours. Is there a library or other city landmark you can stop at to break up the time? You could also bring a couple books for your children to look at, too :)

I am on week 3 of running. I am ready to quit because I don’t feel any better or stronger. Oh friend, don’t get up just yet! There are so many factors that could be slowing down any progress — the most common factor being time. I think you should give it 3 more weeks at least and then reevaluate where you’re at. Also related to time, how many minutes are you running for and how frequently each week? Do you do accomplish more through setting goals? Through having an accountability partner? Next time you’re out, think about how you feel that very moment. What areas of your body do you want to improve, if only your per mile pace? Keep that in mind the next time you’re out for a run. You can do it :)

Do you run the whole time? No, at least not at firstWhen I began in mid-February I definitely walked more than I ran, and since then I’ve been working towards being able to run for about 17 minutes straight with about a 1 minute walking break in the middle. I have noticed though that it takes me 1.5-2 miles to really pick up momentum. Once I hit 2 miles I feel like I could run forever — it’s such an amazing feeling!

Have you found a nursing-friendly sports bra? I have not! But if you have, I’d love for you to share a link :)

How do you incorporate running into your daily routine with Max and Natalie? My suggestion is to simply get started right away. Regardless of how old your children are now, just start (especially if you need to bring them with you while you workout). I could get up really early and run alone while Zack is still home in the mornings, but I don’t do this for three reasons. The first is I really enjoy our morning time together as a family. Secondly, I don’t want to get up early to workout (#honestyisbest). And thirdly, bringing the kids with me allows them to have time outside where they can play and learn. It’s a double bonus that I can also workout during that time. Once my run is over it’s nearly lunch and nap time, and suddenly it’s nearing 3pm. This schedule has made our days at home go by quickly with lots of fun. In the afternoons we alternate between playing at home or heading out for errands, play dates, or visits to the park/library.

When (and how) do you shower with two littles at home with you? Very fast and very quickly ;) Of course you’ll need to make a plan that is safe for the ages of your children, but here is what I did/do: when Natalie was younger I’d set her in her bouncer and then bring Max into the bathroom with me. Now that she is older I usually place her in her jumperoo and have Max watch a little show on TV while I shower. I keep the bathroom door open and try to avoid anything other than a quick shampoo/condition and body wash. Because we leave right after breakfast (around 9am) we are usually back home around 10:30am/11am, which gives me enough time to shower and get dressed before starting lunch. Having showered prior to lunch starting is so helpful for the rest of the day to be “on track”. Once they’re done with lunch they go straight to bed for naps, which gives me about 2 hours of dedicated work time (either on my blog or shop).

Do you find that you eat more when you are running? That has been an issue for me when I’m working out super hard – I eat more and then it hinders my weight loss. How do you keep this from happening? Oh, I definitely eat more! I’m also nursing a 9 month old, so it’s like I’m being hit on both ends of the spectrum. A few suggestions… try modifying your workout so you are burning more calories (running up a hill or steps, running longer durations) and/or increase your protein & vegetable intake. Of course the more you workout the more “fuel” you’re going to burn through, so the trick is eating the right kinds of foods so you give your body the best kind of fuel. Don’t over eat. Don’t snack. Don’t eat a lot of sugar or carbs, our bodies disagree with these types of foods. I’d also suggest seeing a personal trainer or nutritionist for even more advice, a single session could be exactly what you’re looking for :)

How do you keep your kids cool in the heat? Thankfully our stroller offers awesome sun protection. The top seat, which Max sits in, has a really long umbrella overhang. The bottom seat, for Natalie, has a smaller umbrella overhang but is highly shaded from the top seat. I also try to run in the morning (finished by 11am), and since they’re sitting still they’re (hopefully) not exerting too much energy. Does your stroller offer add-ons? Could you modify your umbrella?

How do you manage running when you don’t take the kids with you? I run when Zack is home, either in the early (early!) morning before he goes to work or on the weekends when he isn’t working. I don’t typically run at night since he isn’t home before dusk. Another idea for you to try would be a babysitting swap with a friend. You watch her kids while she works out, and then she returns the favor for you to work out.

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I’d love to keep the conversation going in the comments. Please let me know if I missed anything or can elaborate on a topic listed above. Follow my running journey on Instagram by searching #watchMaggierun and share your workout progress by using #girlgetupandRUN.

You can do great things, the secret is to just start!

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Exactly how it feels when I run.

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and healthy mama®, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #gethealthymama http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

I woke up, and even before my feet hit the floor to pick up Natalie from her crib, even before I knew the day was starting out earlier than I wanted it to, I was ready for my morning run. We’ve been outlining what we want to accomplish each weekend because the two days go by so fast if we’re not bossy with our time, so naturally it was already on my mind.

healthy mama energy drink maggie whitley

My first cup of coffee was just as I hoped it to be: warm and comforting, with a touch of hazelnut. I sipped it slow and played with the kids on our woven rug. A little while later, I made breakfast for the family and then got ready for my run.

healthy mama energy drink maggie whitley

It’s been nearly five months since I became a runner, can you believe it? What’s inspired me to keep on going, to work through the pain and the wobbly legs and the daily commitment to exercise, is remembering how it feels when I run.

It’s something like this:

It’s an overflow of peace. I can run fast or I can run slow. I can turn a corner quickly and run down the adjacent street, or I can jump up the curb’s edge, or I can leap over a crack in the sidewalk. I can (and I do) run up steep hills, and then as I walk back down and reach where I began I turn around and run up the hill again. All because I can.

running maggie whitley

When I’m out running, it’s just me and the sound of my tennis shoes. The beat coming from my ear-buds encourages me to maintain my speed. My body feels light and my hands are free. Practice makes perfect, my body has tightened up and becomes more familiar. The only thing holding me back is the clock, but even so, I boss it around and decide how I’ll use my minutes.

My running workouts are almost always planned. During the week, as I’m behind a double stroller, I hand out water and re-position rattles and call after our dog, but during the weekend I am boundary-less. I am an overflow of peace, and I run to catch myself.

running maggie whitley

One of the most common reactions is something like, “HOW do you run with two babies and a dog?” And I almost always respond with, “I don’t know how I wasn’t running before February.” Sure it’s hard to get the stroller downstairs, along with the kids and Bauer, but you find a way. Some mornings are harder to get going, of course. The kids don’t always sleep well, or I am restless myself, when the new day arrives. The clock tries to threaten me with time, but I always find a way to boss it around once more.

healthy mama energy drink maggie whitley

I like to have a little something in my stomach before we leave in the morning. Usually a muffin or a banana to give me fuel, along with a cool drink to help keep me hydrated. Target carries a new line of prenatal/postnatal products called healthy mama®, which includes a caffeine-free protein energy drink. Obviously my interest was piqued since Natalie is still nursing. I tested it out over the weekend and am here to report back a positive experience. I’ve only had a few protein drinks before, but this one surprised me with its pleasant taste. Also fun, the full line of healthy mama® products at Target have such creative names (Tame the Flame!, Nip the Nausea!, Calm the Crazy! —wink), but I hear there’s a “while supplies last” deadline for purchasing.

running maggie whitley

Over the weekend I finished my 4-mile run in 57 minutes. I am proud to be chasing my goals to become a better version of myself (self-care is so important!). What goals are you chasing today, and how does that make you feel?

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A great purpose.

park chalk kids maggie whitley

Today I’m doing something I’ve never done before: I’m speaking to a summer enrichment class at UCLA in the morning. I’m not nervous, I know what I want to share with this group of pre-college students. I’ve been reflecting on my presentation all week, when I’m at the park with the kids or making their lunches or reading with them as we’re cuddled on the loveseat together, and it all comes back to this…

The community of handmade has given me time with my family I wouldn’t have had otherwise, and it’s encouraged me to dig deep to find my purpose so I can share it with the world. It’s not similar to my neighbors purpose, no, but the fact that we all were born with a great purpose is what ties us together. I keep going back to my creativity from my childhood and am finding so much affirmation that what I’m doing today is definitely linked to what I was doing then. I love that. (And I can’t wait to share more about how this morning went!)

PS. a book that has inspired & encouraged me so much? A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman.

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