We wanted to start the new year with a look at our least healthy habits and challenge ourselves to make them a little more positive and in line with our values. To do this, we obviously needed some help, so we enlisted Revolution U’s Melissa Novack to guide us.
Melissa and her husband Matt have developed an online wellness community that starts with the principles in Melissa’s new book: Revolution U—Change your habits, change your life: a step-by-step program & daily planner for intentional, feel-great living, $29.
We had an online chat with Melissa and Matt to talk about our goals (and failures), and she gave us tons of tips. Can we note that every one of her suggestions came with a lot of positive energy? It’s what made us want to work with her and give every one of her ideas a spin.
We each focused on a different change we wanted to make and tried out her suggestions for a week. Here’s how we did.
Marjie’s New Evening Routine
My new nighttime habits are intended to prevent me from falling off the rails after dinner when my energy fades. I’m really a morning person, Melissa helped me realize. I’m not writing the great American novel or doing restorative yoga in the evening. I’m snacking or watching dumb stuff on TV or pouring myself another glass of wine—when what I really need to do is go to bed.
Melissa suggested my “habit stack” begin with shutting down all screens at 8:30pm, brush my teeth (which I always do), floss, wash and moisturize my face (which I don’t always do), settle down with a cup of tea or sparkling water, write in my journal and read an actual book until I fall asleep. My book must be boring or I’ve been seriously sleep deprived because I haven’t been able to keep my eyes open past 9:30pm. I stuck to this plan during the week but pushed it back by about an hour on the weekend, because I’m a full grown woman and I can stay up past ten if I want to!
There’s something maternal about putting myself through this early bedtime routine—it’s like I’m both a cranky toddler and the devoted mother. But once snuggled down with my book, I’ve been feeling very virtuous. I’m such a good girl! No guilt over consuming unhealthy stuff, no anxiety from scrolling through my news feed right before bed. And even though I get tons of sleep (one night a whopping 8.5 hours) I still wake up around 5am most days—feeling rested and excited for my day. Look at me, nurturing myself. It has only been a week, so these habits haven’t been life changing, but I can see how they will be over time. My gums and skin feel better already. I’ll continue to be more flexible on the weekends, but otherwise, I’ll keep it up! Side note: I’ve been working through the exercises in Melissa’s Revolution U workbook and they’re fun and illuminating. I’m learning a lot about myself.
Laura’s New Morning Routine
Since the pandemic, my mornings have fallen apart. I used to be on the clock: counting every minute to get in coffee, exercise, shower, dress, commute to work and then settle in front of my computer for breakfast and emails. Now, I can count on that morning mug of joe, but little else. Suddenly, it’s 10 am and I’m still in my pjs and the day is slipping away.
Melissa suggested starting each morning by stacking an intention-setting time with my existing habit of brushing my teeth. I changed that slightly and stacked the new habit with my morning cup of coffee (otherwise my main thought was how much I wanted coffee). Following a journaling page in Revolution U, I used its prompts to start each morning with these questions:
- How I want to feel today
- Here’s what I will do to feel this way
- Here’s what I’m grateful for today
After completing the journaling exercise, I set my phone’s timer for two minutes and meditated on a phrase like: “Today, I am…” or “I am a person who…” to seal in the day’s intention.
Melissa was absolutely correct that stacking habits makes it easy to remember a new habit. But also important was the routine’s simplicity and the clear direction. If I was given a blank page and told to journal and meditate, I would have started unloading the dishwasher. I loved the nudge to start the day with some gratitude, and I found out that even I can meditate if it’s only for two minutes.
Am I as productive as I was pre-pandemic? No, of course not. But I also don’t need to be. What I needed was a reminder that setting my attitude for the day is as important as setting a goal, and how my day unfolds is largely up to how I feel. It was a great reminder and an easy routine. I rate this challenge a success!