The Willpower Challenge – 5 Things Learned

I found the Willpower Training 7-Day Challenge on Pinterest while I was searching for week-long challenges, and as I said in my previous post, I knew it would need to be the first challenge.  How could I succeed at losing weight and exercising if I didn’t have the willpower to ignore the temptations of staying up late, of sweets, of eating too much, of playing Candy Crush or watching TV instead of getting up and moving?

So once that I was back to falling asleep okay without feeling like I constantly needed to cough, I figured that it was time to get started.


The seven days of the challenge each add a different habit to help you curb temptations:

Day 1 – Sleep

Day 2 – Meal Planning

Day 3 – Meditation

Day 4 – Replacing TV time

Day 5 – Learning new skills

Day 6 – Limiting handheld devices

Day 7 – Exercising / Doing a Challenging Workout

Each habit, once introduced, is continued through the rest of the week so that the challenge is progressive.  Details about each step can be found at the link above if you’re interested in giving it a try, too!

5 Things Learned

  1. Kids, man.  Kids.  Let’s just say that I was glad I was going to bed earlier each night because my daughter was getting up for a couple hours in the middle of the night or waking up two hours early.  Turns out she was coming down with another cold (that she so nicely passed on to me so that I’m up late coughing again), but without that extra sleep, it would’ve been an even rougher week.  In the end, I learned that getting sleep in this house had less to do with my own bedtime routine and more to do with kids that could sleep peacefully through the night!
  2. I learned that I still hate meal planning.  For someone who likes to plan and organize, you’d think it’d be my favorite thing.  I just can’t figure it out and get it simplified to my liking.  It’s hard to plan within budget AND what everyone will be willing to eat based on preferences and diet, and it never works the way I want it to.  There are just too many days where I come home exhausted from work and just don’t want to cook…no matter what the meal plan says.
  3. Even with the previous statement, though, I also learned that meal planning and sticking to it can really make a difference.  There were times when I wanted a snack here and there, but it wasn’t written on the meal plan….so I skipped it or had one of the designated snacks for the day.  It really helped provide willpower:  I can’t put it in my mouth because it’s not on the meal plan.  But I would have to plan out every bite of every day, and I don’t think I have the time or energy to do that.  (If you would like to give meal planning a try but don’t have ideas for dinners, a meal planning site might help.  I’ve been using No More T0-Go this past month to get some new recipes and add variety, and there have really been some delicious dinners as a result.  Sausage Ragu or Chimichangas anyone?)
  4. I learned that meditation, in my case at least, is good for sleeping.   The first day that I did it, I was almost falling asleep sitting up, and I realized it’s because the method that I was using from Meditation for Beginners: 20 Practical Tips for Understanding the Mind that I found after a little searching was one that I actually used at night when I was lying in bed and not able to easily calm my mind and fall asleep.  So I’ll be saving meditation for bedtime.
  5. I learned that when I’m working I actually don’t watch much TV and what little I watch I don’t want to replace with other stuff.  I mean I watch one 20-minute episode of something each night before bed, and I’m okay with that.

BONUS Lesson

Although each day of the willpower challenge had good ideas, I learned that when I’m working, I am entirely too busy to implement them all.  I just couldn’t fit them into my day while working, cooking, and taking care of kids.  So I have to admit, I gave up at the end.  Once I started back to work and my cough came back, all bets were off.  I managed to get to bed early–I had to considering how exhausted I was, but that’s about the only day of the challenge that I was able to keep up the whole time and will continue.  It’s actually one of my goals for the year–develop the habit of going to bed 8 1/2 hours before wake time–so I think that was more of a motivator than this challenge was.  In the end, I had to do a lot of searching online and finding my own ways to implement each day of the challenge.  I would’ve been nice if the challenge addressed a little more of the practical side.


If you would like to give the 7-Day Willpower Training Challenge a try for yourself, you can use the checklist below (click the picture to get access and download the Word document) to help motivate you.  I printed one off and had it hanging up as a reminder of everything I had to do each day.  If you try it, don’t forget to comment below with your own experiences and progress!


And though I know the Bible verse that I quoted above is intended for more serious temptations, I think keeping it in mind is important.  Even with every day basic things, or maybe especially with the basics, I know I can avoid temptation if I set my mind to it because God created me with the ability to overcome anything that is thrown my way.  The rest of the verse says,

“But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.”

It’s a good reminder to trust Him in all things….even the small things.


The Willpower Challenge-False Starts

Tired.  Headache.  Don’t feel like cooking.  Especially don’t feel like cooking what’s on the meal plan tonight–roasted pork.  “I have enough points for Taco Bell,” I tell my husband.  He agrees that it sounds good.

Two nights ago, it was Pizza Hut.

Even before New Year’s when I was planning my goals for the year (while downing fudge and other goodies) and deciding what challenge would be the first challenge, I knew that the Willpower Challenge should be first.  Willpower is the basis for everything, and as I looked at each day for the challenge, I knew it was onto something.  It hits on the main things like lack of sleep, lack of planning, too much screen time, etc. that often make us lose our willpower and feel like “What the heck?  Screw ____.  I’ll get back on track tomorrow.”

And that’s where I am right now.  I was supposed to start this challenge on January 2nd.  It’s written on my calendar:  Willpower Day 1.  I developed a horrible cough on January 1st.  Instead of going to midnight on the 1st like I had been used to doing for the last week or so, I went to bed early in order to prepare for the first day of the challenge which focuses on going to bed 8 1/2 hours before you need to wake up.  I went up at 11:00, laid in bed for over an hour, fighting the urge to cough, trying not to wake up my daughter, before I finally got out of bed, went downstairs, and played Candy Crush hoping the cough would go away.  I had taken Mucinex earlier like I had been for the last couple weeks of being sick, but it hadn’t helped the cough.  I eventually decided that I had to search online and see if I could take an antihistamine with it, and thankfully, I could.   I took it, and I fell asleep…but not until around 1:00.  So much for going to bed earlier.

The next several nights were similar, though I now knew to take the antihistamine instead of Mucinex at night.  I finally decided that I just needed to wait until I got over this cough.  I waited and waited.  On the 6th, I saw a doctor online who said it’s probably bronchitis and prescribed antibiotics.  Based on my previous experience with Augmenti,n I figured that by the weekend, I’d be feeling much better, so again on my calendar, Saturday, January 9th, I wrote “Willpower Day 1.”  I was ready to get this started.


Here I am, Sunday, January 10th.  I was up late again last night.  No medicine was helping.  I had to stay up until I was too tired to stay up any longer before going to bed.  (I had gone to bed but had to come down again because I was back to fighting the urge to cough.  All the more important since my daughter woke up at 5:00 the morning before, and the day before that was up between 3:30 and 5:30 a.m.  I wasn’t going to dare waking her up and being up for two hours again!)

So I’m tired.  Tired of coughing.  Tired of not sleeping when I want to sleep, and therefore, I have no willpower to start the Willpower Challenge (or to do a lot of other things I want to do).  It will just have to wait until the cough subsides.

On the bright side, I’m still drinking my glass of water every morning. I still do some pilates/yoga in the morning, and I’m still working through each day of the declutter calender…so I haven’t been completely useless.

Anyway, try to be patient with me.  No challenges to report on yet, but hopefully by the end of the month, I’ll be able to try one and report back.  And for some of them, I’ll have a bonus freebie like a checklist so that you can try the challenge, too, if you want.  Here’s hoping your New Year is starting off better than mine…at least in the health department!


Happy New Year! …and Setting Goals

This is me.  20 pounds lighter than I was last January 1st.  My house is just a little more organized and a little less cluttered (at least in theory–all the incoming Christmas presents make our house, once again, feel cluttered).  Our finances are a little more in order, and this blog is a little more populated with posts from the previous year.  And this is all because at the end of 2014, I set some goals for 2015, and though I didn’t achieve all of them 100%, I did enough of each one to know which I’d like to try again and which I’m done with…at least for this point in my life.

This enabled me to make some goals for 2016.  Some are health related and about developing and maintaining healthy habits (like drinking water, starting my day with yoga/pilates, getting enough sleep).  Some are spiritual.  Some are house and organization related.  (Yes, I’m going to do the declutter missions again!)  Some are business related (like adapting my business and helping Raf start his), and others are family and relationship related.  I actually have a lot of goals this year.  I don’t expect to achieve them all 100%, but I’ll do what I can do.  And I know from this past year that even doing all them of at least a little feels like a big accomplishment.

I’ll be completing challenges (usually 5- or 7-day ones) that I find online and elsewhere every few weeks to improve all these different areas, and then I’ll be blogging about them here afterwards so that you know if you want to give them a try.

For now, try setting some goals for 2016, even if they’re just a couple.  (My husband has 2 goals.) Write them down and hang them up so that you can look at them throughout the year.  It’s easy to remember them now, but in July, how likely will it be that you can remember exactly what you wanted to do?  (For me, not likely.)  Writing them down also allows you to check them off as you achieve them, which is satisfying and acts like receiving a reward, which in turn is motivating and encourages you to continue improving yourself and working toward becoming the you that you want to be.

So, Happy New Year!  If 2015 was good to you, I hope that 2016 is even better and that you will actively work towards making it your best year yet.  If 2015 was a difficult year for you, I pray that 2016 gives you rest and peace and that you give yourself permission to not take on so much.  Good luck this year, and God bless!



Someone I know recently shared the following post on Facebook:

We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we are frustrated…

Posted by Merih Büyükcivelek on Tuesday, October 27, 2015

I encourage you to read the whole thing.  It actually contains a lovely sentiment, though I think it’s somewhat misguided.  At the end, it contains these fairly famous lines:

Happiness is a journey, not a destination.

Work like you don’t need money,

Love like you’ve never been hurt,

And dance like no one’s watching.

Although I understand the idea behind “work like you don’t need money,” the problem is that we actually do need it.  I am major financial support for my family.  I am the health insurance that will keep us from going bankrupt in the case of a medical emergency.  I have to work and think about the money.  Of course, we all wish we didn’t have to, but that’s the world we have created and that we have to live in.

So one problem with this advice is that for most people, it’s not doable.  The other problem is that when we look at the other ideas for happiness, they’re just so abstract.  And maybe that’s good in some ways because it makes it more applicable to more people, but how about some concrete ideas for improving happiness?  Well, another person on Facebook shared an article called “Researcher reveals 4 rituals that will make you happier.”  It’s definitely worth reading when you have a moment.  For this post, I want to focus on this tidbit:

“Research shows getting five hugs a day for four weeks increases happiness big time.”

Big time.  Hugs.  How simple.    According to the article, physically touching people reduces pain, and it’s not just hugs.  It’s really any meaningful contact.  The article even says, “Don’t have anyone to hug right now? […] Neuroscience says you should go get a massage.”  (Great excuse to book one today, right?) So any kind of physical human contact will do.

December is starting very soon, and I’ve decided to name it Hugcember.  My goal will be to get five hugs and to make sure that each person in my family receives five hugs.  And don’t be afraid to hug me when you see me.  I know it’s Hugcember.  You know it’s Hugcember.  Let’s try to spread a little happiness this month in a tangible way that costs no money and benefits everyone involved.  I can’t think of a better time of year to give this a try.   


Create a Paper-Plate Skeleton for Halloween

Meet Ada and CJ’s paper-plate skeletons.   By the faces, you can probably tell which was done by the 2-year old and which one was done by the 7-year old.

It’s always nice when a good idea comes to me.  Of course, I don’t mean that I came up with this idea.  I’m rarely that creative.  By “come to me,” I mean found me.  I didn’t even go searching for it. It ended up on one of my feeds, probably Facebook, maybe Pinterest.  In the end, that doesn’t really matter, does it?  All that matters is that the kids had a great time making them and were really happy to see them come together and get hung on the wall.

You can find the directions and templates at Pickup Some Creativity.

Some tips from having done it already:

  1. When you trace and cut out the templates, don’t worry about drawing/cutting out all the jagged edges.  If you use the cheap paper plates, they have a crinkly edge that gives a similar effect without all the work.
  2. Since you have to cut out all the bones for the arms and legs, it’s easier to trace it onto the top plate of a pile of plates (3 or 4 at a time) and cut through the whole stack of plates instead of tracing and cutting one at a time.
  3. If you’re doing this with a small one that can’t trace and cut by themselves, it might be better to do most of the work beforehand and just save the tracing of the child’s hands and feet, the drawing of the face, and the assembling of the skeleton for them to help with. The tracing and cutting part is pretty boring when they can’t really help.
  4. The original directions call for string to tie the parts together.  We had metal fasteners, and it’s always CJ’s preference to use them.  I think they worked really well. The skeletons would be even taller if we had used string, so I think the fasteners worked out best for us.

So if you have young children in your house, why not try making a paper-plate skeleton for Halloween?  It’s fairly easy and fun.  And if you do end up trying it, take a picture and share in the comments.  I’d love to see them!

Love is patient.

I, however, am not.  Not at all.  At least I feel like that tonight after walking down the stairs from putting my 2-year-old daughter to sleep.  The constant tossing and turning and refusal to just lie still so that she can fall asleep.  Aaaaahhhh!

And breath.

I try to remember this verse while I’m up there with her.

And who isn’t familiar with this I Corinthians verse?  If you’re married, this was likely read at your wedding.  I even know non-Christians that have had it read at their wedding because, well, this is what we all hope that love ends up being in our lives, and it’s hopefully what we all aspire to as humans.

You’ve probably heard the story of the mom that asked her daughter to change “love” to her boyfriend’s name to test and see if he really is showing love…or something else.  You may have also seen the challenge to replace “love” with your name:

Sarah is patient.

Sarah is kind.

Ha!  I can’t even make it first the past two.  I mean…I have my patient moments.  I have my kind moments, but mostly, I am neither.  And, is it just me, or is it often hardest to show patience to those we love the most?  It’s time to work on this.

The article “How to Become a Patient Parent” provides 10 tips to try to develop the habit of patience.  Yes, habit.  It makes sense really when you think about my article about triggering habits.  Habits, good and bad, have triggers.  If we have a bad habit, we can’t just stop it.  We have to replace it with a good habit, so if lack of patience shows itself with habits of yelling at the children, snapping at my husband, or just plain snarkiness and sarcasm, then I need to figure out what the triggers are (1st grade homework and toddler bedtime anyone?) and then replace those negative reactions with good habits.  The article has some good suggestions that I’m going to try (see the original article for the details about each one):

  1. Counting to 10
  2. Taking deep breaths
  3. Imagining that someone is watching you
  4. Teaching
  5. Laughing
  6. Loving

Let’s try, with the people that we love, to have more patience.  Love is patient.  We are patient.  We are love.  (New mantra!)  Of course, we are called to love all people, but if we can develop the habit with our families, then maybe we can apply it with strangers (like during rush hour maybe?).   Let me know how your struggle goes.  What are your triggers?  What methods do you use to help you develop a habit of patience?  What’s working?  What’s not?  Please share!

Stir Fry

Since I’m doing Weight Watchers (and so is my husband finally!), having vegetables and fruits is a must.  They’re zero points, which means I can load up lunches and dinners with them without overdoing it on points.

The easiest meal to make that includes lots of veggies is a stir fry.  In a previous post, I talked about 3 ways to add more vegetables to meals and even showed how I added them to stir fry.  It’s always a delicious meal, so I thought I’d share my secret.  My recipe is inspired by an infographic I found on Pinterest.  Yes, it’s true.  Of course, I added my own twist to it.

My favorite part is the list of stir-fry sauces:


To make the sauce pretty much zero points, I use Stevia (3 packets) instead of brown sugar.    I’ve tried the basic sauce and the black pepper sauce (super spicy!), and I always add red pepper flakes.  I’ve done chicken, pork, and steak.  All good.  And when I do steak, I grate some fresh (well, actually frozen) ginger.

I don’t own a wok, so I don’t follow the exact cooking instructions on the infographic either.  I usually mix up the sauce while I’m defrosting the meat.  Then, I slice up the meat and add it to the sauce to marinate while I get some rice cooking.  I add a little oil to the pan (and more red pepper flakes :)), and heat it up a little before adding the bowl of meat and sauce.  Once it starts bubbling, I stir it, lower the heat a little, and cover it to let it simmer.  That’s when I prep the veggies I’m going to add.  Last time, I put some carrots and romaine into my Ninja and chopped them up.  I also threw in a couple frozen shredded zucchini cubes and, of course, my go-to stir-fry veggie:  broccoli slaw.   I generally wait to throw in the vegetables until the meat is pretty well done.  Then I mix everything up, make sure everything is covered with the sauce, and I cover the pan again.  I check on it every few minutes, stirring it around a bit, and then covering it back up.  I keep it on low heat until the other parts of the meal (like the rice) are done.  Simple and delicious!

So give the infographic a try, and make some stir fry.  You can go directly to Cook Smarts and get a nice printable version for free.  In fact, I downloaded it, printed it, and keep it in a binder for easy reference!  Let me know how your stir fry adventures go!

One Badass Life

Live the Life You Deserve


Free samples before any purchase because one taste and I know you'll love Each and Every Crumb.

My Clean Eating Experiment

How I Changed The Way My Family Eats