My Mindful Morning Routine

6:00 -6:10 am // wake up - check email and social media

I know this is a big no no! but I still do it, the first thing I do when I get up is walk to my kitchen and grab my phone (I charge my phone in my kitchen because it;s recommended to not have your phone in your bedroom) and lay on my bed, and scroll through emails and social media (Instagram for cute cat videos to give me a cuteness boost)

6:11-6:13 am // get up and drink a big glass of lukewarm lemon water + take supplements

After going through my social media and motivated by cute cats videos, I like drinking a glass of lukewarm water with lemon, and take all my supplements (to make sure I don't forget to take my supplements, I usually place all my supplements on my kitchen counter the night before).

6:15 - 6:25 am // Sun Salutation, Meditation and Intention for the day

Doing a simple sun salutation and mediation before I start the day allows me to be intentional with my day and be present.

"Today, accept what is instead of resenting what isn’t"

6:30 - 6:50 // Take shower, brush, do hair, make up

 I usually have a full shower the night before, which allows me to have a quick shower in the morning and put my make up while listening to my favorite podcasts (Ear Biscuits, Why Won't You Date Me, POD Save America, POD Save the World, Congregational, etc.). Getting ready doesn't take that much because my closet is super minimal,  so I often don't encounter the morning paradox of going through my clothes and saying "I have nothing to wear".

6:54 - 7:15 // Eat breakfast, and prep lunch

Given my tendency toward habit, my breakfast is always oatmeal - Last month and this month is Bagel with cream cheese. While eating breakfast I might catch up on the news, or watch clips from my favorite late nigh show (e.g. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, John Oliver etc.), as well as prep my lunch if I haven't done it the night before.

7:30 // Leave the house - ready to tackle the day

I always leave the house at 7:30is - this gives me enough time to drive and park my car, and then walk another 1 blocks to my work.

Journey to Health and Wellness with Becca Shern: Minimal Wellness

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This is another of my favourite feature because combines three things that I love talking about, health, wellness, and minimalism. Before going into the post, I just wanted to thank Bex (Beeca) for being so patient and understandable through this whole process. This post was supposed to come out five months ago, but due to heath issues, I had to postpone and took a little break from blogging, not knowing when I'll be back again - but five months later and Bex still agree to do this, which I am forever grateful for. 

That being said, down below shares her journey to minimalism, health and wellness and how she incorporate minimalism into her healthy lifestyle. This is a two part feature, in the upcoming days Bex will be sharing her favourite recipe with us. 

Tell us about yourself (Who you are, what you do for living, where you’re from, anything interesting fact about yourself)

Hi, I'm Becca — I'm a mom, partner, registered dietitian, recreational athlete, and wellness nerd. For the past decade, I’ve been working and studying as a Registered Dietitian, with a particular interest in public and environmental health. I started and run Minimal Wellness, a nutrition coaching business to help people find, navigate, and enjoy the simple path to optimal health. My partner, Joshua, our four year old daughter, Ella, and I currently live in Missoula, Montana — Big Sky Country. Although we currently live in Montana, I’ve been a bit of a nomad — living in Alaska, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Most of my family still lives in Minnesota, where I grew up on a small hobby-farm outside of Minneapolis.  

What does minimalism mean to you? 

For me, minimalism means living with the essentials to enable vibrant health and allow pursuit of my passions. It means that I continually evaluate the things, activities, and relationships in my life and curate them to allow me to be the most optimal version of myself — meaning that I am the best mom, partner, and member of society that I can be. What is essential to me, will not be what’s essential to someone else, but I think it’s helpful to consider minimalism as a mental and physical framework that helps us continually grow and evolve into better people.

When did your journey to minimalism begin? And what or who inspired you to pursue this life style? 

I grew up in a household that believed in simple living. I feel fortunate to have been surrounded by family and friends that valued someone’s contribution to the world more than how big their house was, what kind of car they drove, or how stylish their clothes were. But, I began jettisoning unneeded material things in earnest a couple of years ago after I realized my life was not headed in a positive direction.

Three years ago, I was a salaried professional working mom, a student trying to complete my master’s degree, and was in a mismatched marriage. My then spouse and I bought a house, in part because I thought home ownership — the missing component of the American Dream I’d completely bought into — would cure my discontent. Unsurprisingly, the house wasn’t the answer, and my marriage ended shortly thereafter. At the same time, I stumbled upon a TEDx talk by two guys living here in Montana, called The Minimalists. Since then, I’ve been paring down and honing in on what is essential in my life.


When did your journey to health and wellness begin? How do you incorporate your minimalist lifestyle into the meals you create?

I've been interested in health and wellness for two decades. Our family was fortunate to have my mom shape our eating habits — she's an outstanding cook who always grew a garden and prioritized making delicious healthy meals for us every night. As a kid and teenager I was an athlete, so being fit and healthy became part of my identity. When I entered college, I drifted away from many of my healthier habits. But luckily after a couple of years, I stumbled upon an intro to nutrition course and found my way back to loving wholesome food, fitness, and a healthy lifestyle.

The recipes I create at home and for Minimal Wellness focus on simple, real ingredients, and easy preparation methods. I try to decoct healthy eating for people and make it as straightforward yet delicious as possible. The recipes emphasize the essential components of any diet — tons of vegetables, healthy fats, protein, and fruit. The recipes don't require complicated equipment or a pantry full of millions of ingredients, they minimize unnecessary grains (I believe some grains for some people are fine, but the standard American diet places far too great an emphasis on grains), eliminate gluten, and contain as little added sugar as possible.


As a minimalist mom, what has been the biggest challenge of raising a child in minimalist household?

Our daughter is four, so I realize that difficult times might come in the future, but in all honesty, minimalism hasn't posed any direct challenges with parenting — it's only made life raising a child easier. There is far less mess, we have fewer distractions, and we're able to enjoy more time with one another.  Our small issues arise occasionally around gift giving with friends and relatives. We encourage experiential gifts over physical items, but that's not always possible, so we try to be flexible. 


How are you teaching your daughter (Ella) to lead a minimalist lifestyle? 

We lead by example. When she has questions, we talk to her about why we live the way we do and its benefits. We include her. Quarterly, we go through her closet and toys together and discuss the items she uses and the ones she doesn't. She identifies the things she doesn't use or wear and decides what she wants to donate. We don't have friends in town with children younger than Ella, so most of the things she grows out of get donated instead of given to friends. When we do purchase an item, we specifically buy the most durable goods in order to pass them onto someone else when Ella's no longer uses it. 

If I had one recommendation to make to others considering minimalist parenting, it's to eliminate the TV from your home. Ella still watches a few select shows from a tablet, but she's spent her young childhood without the outsized influence of a large light-emitting rectangle on a wall. Not having a TV does a few things for our family, first and most notably is the lack of direct advertising — she simply doesn't see the vast majority of stuff that other kids see and therefore she doesn't ask for it. Second, not having a TV eliminates that large volume of time that adults in the family often choose to watch shows while the children are still awake (Josh and I do occasionally watch something in the late evening), so we have more time together as a family. 


Is Minimalism for everyone?

I think we can all benefit from being intentional about what we purchase and how we spend their time and attention. Our society dictates what we "need" and what we "should" do — it makes sense to question this template and determine for ourselves what we want out of life. Often when we start questioning and searching, we find that we need far less and are happier and more fulfilled by creating our own path.    

Take us a through a day in life of Bex.

5-7am Wake up. I don't use an alarm and I wake up when I'm rested, usually that's after 7-8 hours of sleep. 

7:30-8am Ella wakes up and makes her bed. Then we get her ready for pre-school (get dressed, brush teeth, take vitamins & probiotics, have a snack (usually nuts or a hardboiled egg and some fresh fruit). 

8:30-9am Drop Ella off at pre-school.

9am-5pm Work. I'm fortunate to have a flexible schedule and the ability to work from almost anywhere, but client sessions require privacy, so I usually work from our home office. 

10am Breakfast. My mealtimes aren't set in stone and I let my hunger cues determine when I eat, but these times I list here are pretty typical. I do a type of intermittent fasting that extends the overnight fast to 14-16 hours. This means I usually finish eating for the day before 7pm and don't eat the next morning until somewhere between 9am and 11am. You can read more about my eating pattern here

1:30pm Light lunch or substantial snack.

3pm Workout. Like mealtimes, my exercise time is fluid, I do some type of purposeful movement everyday, but never on a routine. I've been doing at least 15 minutes of daily yoga lately which I enjoy in the early morning as a wakeup or in the late evening before bed. If I do cardio or weight training, that usually happens sometime in the middle of the day.  

5pm Ella home from pre-school.

6pm Dinner

7:30-8:30 Bedtime routine for Ella: a bath with lavender epsom salts, reading, rocking in her rocking chair, sleep by 8:30 at the latest. We're strict with her bedtime and nightly routine. 

8:30-9:30 Unwind time: clean up, get things ready for the next day, make nighttime tea. 

10-11pm Reading and sleep.


When do you feel best in your body?

I feel best about my body when I take care of myself by consuming nourishing food, enjoying frequent movement, managing stress, and getting adequate sleep. For my 35th birthday, I donated my bathroom scale which did far more for my ability to love my body than just about anything else (beyond the four pillars of health I mentioned above) I've ever done. It's always been relatively easy to not let the number on the scale determine my self-image or worth, but the scale had become a mild source of negativity. For the better part of a decade my weight had been stable within a small five pound range. I was used to that range and felt good about my body within that range. I started doing some weight training this year and put on a few pounds of muscle. Although I still felt great in my body and clothes, which has always been my primary barometer of health, seeing a different number on the scale was hard to reconcile. So I got rid of that input. It's not that I deny my weight, I just realized I don't care what my weight is as long as I feel great, which I do. 


What’s your workout routine? And how do you remain motivated? 

Honestly, with the exception of 15 minutes (or more) of daily yoga, I don't have a workout routine. I know I need to exercise to be able to do the things I enjoy in life and to feel the way I want to feel. I want to be able to keep up with Ella and set a good example for her of how we can live healthy lives without feeling compelled to exercise. Removing the obligation from exercise and finding your "why" seems to be the key to being happily active for life. My why is simple, I enjoy being fit. There are many times I don't "feel" like exercising, but as with lots of things, if you wait for the times you're in the mood, it doesn't happen. Sometimes you have to act your way into right thinking, and not not wait for illusive motivation. Nike's slogan "Just Do It" is catchy because it's the distillation of many active people's view of exercise, including mine. I want to be fit, it's important to me, so I exercise.  


How can minimalism help one lead an optimal and healthy life?

We live in a world that profits from confusing health messages. Massive industries — food, healthcare, fitness, even alternative medicine — all have different and often opposing motivations, which unfortunately results in information that is frustratingly conflicted.

Health is not a commodity, but that’s often how it’s treated in modern society.

Applying minimalism to our lifestyles can help us achieve a healthy life in a simpler and more enjoyable way. Filtering out the thousands of conflicting messages helps clarify the path and focus on a simple framework makes a healthy life more tangible, accessible, and achievable. For me that framework is: eat nourishing whole foods, move your body, get sufficient sleep, and manage stress. Focusing on and committing to continual improvement in those four areas of our lifestyles leads to a healthier life.


Balance is the key to healthy living, what are some tips to creating and maintaining balance? 

Indeed, balance and moderation are central to healthy living.  It's important to understand that everyone's balance point is different and will shift over time. What feels balanced to us now won't necessarily be what works in the future. Conversely, what worked in the past won't necessarily lead to balance today. One way we create balance is by understanding that 180 degree changes don't happen overnight — we’re unlikely to be successful with a drastic diet plan, or a very intense exercise routine if it’s significantly different than our current routine. Those enormous shifts are destabilizing and unbalanced. Instead think of change in terms of committing to small and realistic pivots from our current habits —  with time and effort, we end up in a radically different but balanced place, living a beautifully healthy life.

What advice would you give for anyone who wants to become a minimalist? 

My partner, Joshua likes to say minimalism isn't a radical lifestyle, it's a practical lifestyle. Getting rid of the excess in our lives helps us focus on what's truly important and that's different for everyone. For anyone contemplating the minimalist approach to life, understand that it's not really about the stuff, it's about being intentional with all of our resources — money, time, attention — it's about living more deliberately. When I started down this path, I played The Minimalism Game a few months in a row, which ingrained the habit of evaluating the physical items in our home and jettisoning the stuff that wasn't necessary. Since then minimizing been a continual process without an endpoint. I didn't cross a threshold of "having less stuff" and suddenly become a minimalist, it's been an evolution.


What’s next for Minimal Wellness? 

I'm offering a web-based program in October called the 23-Day Priorities Reset. This will be the third "class" of the Priorities Reset and I love coaching these small groups of highly motivated, like-minded people. I also plan to do more writing this fall and am looking forward to seeing where the creative process takes me.


Where can people find you?

Minimalwellness.com is the source for blog posts, recipes, information on coaching services, and my contact information. I'm also active on social media (@minimalwellness), my preferred platform is Instagram, but I'm also on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

26 Things I’ve Learned In 26 Years

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Today I am 26, but it doesn't feel like it and I don't look like it either!! I generally don't celebrate my birthday, given that it's on New Year and the focus is always on New Year and less so about my birthday. This year was a little different, I feel the need to celebrate it, but I am not sure how - until then I thought I'd share few things I've learned by 26. These are in no particular order, and trust me, I could probably go on and on but I don’t want to bore you - 25 was one hella hard year, it was an age of learning things the hard way and having life teaching me some hard life lessons the hard way. But all that aside, I am thankful for all the things that happened and to get to continue living and learning. Wishing all my Capricorn a Happy Birthday Month, sending you lots of love. 

1. Take care of yourself. I cannot stress this enough, and its something thatI think we are not told enough of. Realizing that you're responsible for your own happiness, not your partner, friend or family. You know yourself better than anyone else and what makes you happiest. 

2. Make sure you know what you're willing to struggle for. Often we give too much fuck about things that are pointless and meaningless. Knowing what you're willing to struggle for allows you to give fuck about things that really matter (From: The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck by Mark Manson

3. I know it's hard to say this, but hard work sometimes doesn't work or pay off, but it doesn't mean you should give up. Keep working and pushing yourself, it will eventually pay off

4. Be kind to others, it cost nothing to be nice to people

5. People will disappoint you, but that's okay - you move on and don't hold it against them

6. Be comfortable with saying NO

7. Speak up!!! even if you think your idea is stupid!! 

8. Be patient and everything will follow- you don't have to rush everything, take your time

9. You CANNOT control WHAT happen to you, but you CAN control How you respond to it

10. Being vulnerable is NOT a sign of weakness!

11. Your flaws, weakness, imperfections and scares make you who you are!! be proud of them

12. Always have an open door

13. Everything happens for a reason, even when the reason doesn't seem clear at first

14. Sometime life can be one mean montherfucker bitch!! but it's for a good reason, to make you see what you've been avoiding 

15. Intentional distance is necessary sometimes in relationships

16. A glass of wine may make you feel better today, but you have to face your problems tomorrow, so find a productive and healthy way to deal with your issues

17. Seeing a therapist doesn't make you weak, sometimes we all need a stranger to talk to and hear us out 

18. Be intentional 

19. Take time off - go on vocations whether it's a long or short vocation, get out of town for a day or few hours

20. Life is now!! not yesterday or tomorrow - stop living in the past and live in the present, tomorrow cannot happen if you don't live today 

21. Your work matter - no matter how insignificant or unimpressive you believe your work to be, there is value in it. Take pride in what you do and others will too. Commit yourself to a high level of quality work in your occupation, continually learn & improve yourself, and embrace failure as part of the process.

22.  Isolation is avoidable. For us introverts, it's easy to fall into this self-inflicted trap. Make it a priority to surround yourself with people who are good for you. Even if it is just a few trustworthy comrades. No man is an island!

23. Be careful who you surround yourself with. Choose your influences wisely. They say you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Don't be too careful though or you'll just start hanging out with your succulents like one of my friends  

24. Try new things!!! being a creature of habit is great, but it's dangerous when it prevents you from learning or trying new things 

25. READING!! always have  book that you're reading

26. Be open to change. Especially when it comes to people in your life.

 

 

Managing Social media Addiction

 

Avoiding social media distraction can be difficult and often we think that avoiding the different social media sites we will be missing something very important, life-changing event. But often times we value these social media sites but we might actually have few helpful use for them. Often at work or even at home, we catch ourselves browsing Instagram, Facebook or other social media sites simply out of boredom. In the process personal interactions, home chores and work tasks are ignored as our endless news feeds occupy our attention. Today we depend on social media for everything and being online is essential not only for keeping in contact with distance friends but also for our careers and professional development.

While there is nothing wrong with being online, or watching endless cute kitten videos, or having a Facebook page, it becomes an issue when you are constantly being distracted by these social media, or your lives comes to be revolved around being online. Like anything, when done in moderation social media can be an effective and meaningful way to connect and learn things, but when abused, it can be very destructive.

With a number of studies coming out saying there is a problem, it is clear that there is a problem and it’s growing an since social media and social media networks are unlikely to disappear anytime soon, there are some precautions that high-frequency users might take to keep addiction in check, accordingly leading a more productive or fun time available for real-life activities.

These are my top three strategies that I used to keep media addiction at bay. While these strategies works with me, it does not necessary means that it will work for you too, so I’d recommend trying what I’ve offered and see how it works and if you find that this technique is not working, there are many sources and article online to help you with your journey overcoming media addiction.

Social Media blockers

If you’re finding yourself spending time browsing social media sites or even spend a lot of time browsing meaning fewer videos on YouTube, you likely nee to find a way to limit your usage smartly. If you use Google Chrome there are different ways to prevent the social media distraction. One of my favorite right now that I use often is Forest Stay Focused, be present. This is a fantastic app because you can set your own focus times from 10 minutes to 60 minutes. The one that I use for my phone is Freedom, it’s also compatible with, Mac OS X 10.8 - 10.12, Windows Vista, 7, 8, 10 and iOS 9+ (iPad, iPhone). I really like this app in particular because it doesn’t block all access to social media and Internet, but only a list of site that you can create. You can create unlimited lists of websites and apps that distract, assign blocklist to any device or schedule.  Add websites and apps to custom lists use our pre-defined blocks, and block the entire internet - for times when you really need do not disturb. The one thing that I really enjoy about this App is that it does not allow you to modify Freedom sessions when running. In other words, once you’re set your unblock time to be 10 pm at night, you have no choice, but to wait until 10 pm to be able to have access to your list of social media block.

Turning off your notifications

Turning your notification may seem somewhat insignificant, but it makes a big difference. When you stop notification from distributing your normal routine, you might find it easier to focus on your daily tasks and not get distracted so easily every time someone likes your photo, or you receive an email. Notifications are a constant reminder that something is happening in the online world and you might feel like you’re missing out. There is something also somewhat rewarding to being able to avoid media all day and then having to go online again and seeing what’s happening in the online world – it’s like accomplishing something. Not only that but when you come around to checking your social media, you may have a build up more notifications which will make it more exciting and will make the experience more rewarding. Personally, I find this strategy to be the most effective for me, and ever since I started using it I have noticed that the time I spend on social media has declined significantly, particularly for Instagram.

Schedule Social Media Time

This technique has not been the most effective for me for certain social media sites such as Instagram, but I have found that with social media such as Facebook it has worked significantly. Also, it’s been effective during the school period, where I am able to take social media breaks. Set a timer on your watch or phone to limit the amount of time you spend on social media. Choose a limit depending on the severity of addiction, i.e. an hour, and every time you go on any of the social media site set your timer, once you’ve reached your limit. In addition to setting a timer for social media spending time, the other option is schedule your use of social media. Unless there is an overwhelming reason, don’t leave any social media site open in a web browser tab all the time. If you schedule one hour, stick that time. I was introduced to this idea while listening to the Minimalist Podcast, where Josh Fields Millburn talked about how he overcame his media time by setting a time for it during the day, for example, an hour or two hours at night to binge watch YouTube videos and others online crap to get it out of his system.

These are my three strategies that I always use to undermine my social media addiction and these techniques have been effective for me, but again it does not necessary that it will also work with you. Find a system that works for you and helps you in your journey to overcome social media addiction. It's easy to feel hopeless and like there is nothing you can do, but always ask yourself whether the social media is actually contributing something meaningful as Josh and Ryan from the minimalist would say. You are in control! Don’t let social media and the Internet control you, and when in doubt ask you is this useful?

For more helpful tips, I'd recommend listening to The Minimalists Podcast on media