Can you believe it’s March already? The year is going so fast! How are you doing with the self-care challenges so far? Have they been helpful to you? Are you making time for self-care each month? What would you like to see for future challenges? We have nine more months to go, so there is a lot of time to expand your horizons! I mentioned earlier that the challenges were going to get more…ahem…challenging, and I want them to be, but I also do not want to make them so difficult that you give up. Giving up is not the goal, moving the boundaries a bit to expand your comfort level is the goal. So…for the March Self-Care Challenge for Women, there are a few tasks that may be a bit outside your “comfort” zone but there are plenty of challenges that are easy to implement, too. Are you ready?!
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The March Self-Care Challenge for Women
If you have been following my health journey, you know that I started incorporating the Mediterranean Diet in my life last August. In November, I added intermittent fasting to my self-health care. I’ve done well with the diet, but January was a struggle for me. I had slowly but steadily been losing weight before January, even during the holidays, but I plateaued in January and only lost a pound or two. It was super frustrating, but I am in it for the long-haul, not the instant gratification, so I was determined to step up my game.
I am happy to report that the plateau ended about a week ago and I have lost six pounds in the past two weeks. Since last August I have lost a total of 54 pounds. Yay me! The key (for me) was that I was not eating enough healthy fats, and I needed to increase my fasting window to 18 hours a day. I am now doing intermittent fasting on an 18/6 schedule six days a week, then take a day off on the seventh day. I have a specific weight loss goal in mind for my son’s college graduation in May, so am glad to be back losing again. In fact, I purchased a dress two sizes smaller than my current size (I’ve gone down 3 sizes already) to give me the incentive to keep losing.
It’s As Easy As Riding A Bike
One of the challenges for March is to go for a bicycle ride. Do you know the old phrase “it’s as easy as riding a bike”? LOL, they lied. Riding a bike, when you have not ridden a bike for many years, is not easy! Several years ago, my husband got me a beautiful old-fashioned baby blue cruiser bicycle. That beautiful little bike sat in a dark corner of my garage for six years, waiting to be ridden.
For my birthday this year, I mentioned to my husband that I wanted to start riding again and use my bike to go to the local coffee shop and grocery store. My husband lovingly replaced the tires, oiled the brakes, and shined it up like new for me. The first time I hopped on it, I was ready to conquer the world. After fifteen minutes on it, my legs had other plans! OMG. I thought I was going to die, my legs hurt for three days after!! But, I was not ready to give up. With sheer determination and a bit of arnica cream, I ventured out more each day. So…if this is the first time you will ride a bike in years, the first time you get on it, it will likely hurt like hell. Keep going. Keep going!
Turn That Hobby Into A Side Hustle
One of my biggest obstacles to life in February was juggling work and life. Self-employment has so many wonderful qualities, but it also makes it more challenging to separate work from home life, especially when one works from home. February was my busy month for business and while I am thankful for the busy schedule and love making people’s travel dreams come true, I have tried to enforce better boundaries so I am not working seven days a week. For the March Change Self-Care Challenge for Women, one of the challenges is to take a favorite hobby of yours to the next level and turn it into a side business. For many years I was a travel advisor and missed working full time, so when my son went to college, I decided to dip my toes back into travel advising and formed a new agency. Today I have a thriving business I love and I cannot imagine doing anything else. Do you have a favorite hobby? Do you make jewelry, paint, or sew clothing? Are you famous for your cheesecakes or cookies? If you have always wanted to turn that hobby into a business, now is the time! Just be mindful not to let your new endeavor take away from your family or the time you need for self-care! ♥
Here is a PRINTABLE copy of the March Self-Care Challenge for Women.
- Get Some Zzz’s: Most people do not get enough sleep, especially women. There is always one more thing for us to do before we go to bed, and we wind up staying up later and later. At least once in March, turn the electronics off early, grab a good book to help you relax, and go to bed 40 minutes earlier to get some extra shut-eye. Extra challenge: Buy yourself some new comfy PJs and go to bed 60 minutes earlier than you usually do.
- Moisturize Those Hands: Make an effort to keep your hands better moisturized. I put a tube of hand cream in my car, and every time I go somewhere where I am going to be in the car for at least 20 minutes, I put some hand cream on and let it soak in. Extra challenge: Get yourself a pair of cotton gloves to wear to lock in that moisture and keep your steering wheel from getting slimy.
- Grateful Showers: Every time you take a shower, make a conscious effort to think about three things in your life you are grateful for. Extra challenge: Try to make the three things you are grateful for different each time you shower.
- Lunchtime = Friendship: This month, bring someone you don’t know very well a surprise lunch or offer to take them to lunch. Sometimes getting to know someone over a sandwich or salad will open the door to a new friendship. Don’t believe me? I have a personal experience with this. Many years ago, I worked with a girl named Kathy. We were pleasant to each other, but I had a preconceived notion of what she was like, so I did not make an effort to get to know her. One day, I needed to get my car repaired at lunchtime, and she offered to pick me up from the repair shop. To thank her for picking me up, I offered to take her to lunch. IT WAS THE BEST LUNCH EVER! It turned out we had so much in common, including a love of Star Trek, 80’s New Wave, and travel. At that lunch we got to know each other, we laughed, and we formed a friendship. Those preconceived notions I had of her? They went straight out the window! She was nothing like I expected and turned out to be a truly wonderful person. In fact, we became inseparable best friends, with each other through thick and thin, and she was maid of honor at my wedding eight years later.
- A New Adventure: Have you always wanted to go someplace but never got the nerve (or money) to go? It’s time to make it happen! It does not have to be this month or even this year, but choose a place to go and figure out how much money it will take to get there, then start saving. Put a little bit away at a time and eventually, it will grow enough to make your travel dream a reality. Extra Challenge: Invite a friend to go on the adventure with you and start planning and saving together.
- The Natural World: Bring the outdoors inside for you to enjoy whenever you want. When I travel, I make a point to collect something from nature in each place I’ve been to. If I go to the beach, I collect seashells. When I go hiking in the woods, I collect an acorn or unique stone. Whatever you collect, place them in a bowl or jar, and when you have a stressful day, touch them and let them take you back to the quiet moment you found them. Extra Challenge: Turn that nature into art. I took some fall leaves I collected and placed them in frames to hang on the wall. Now I get to enjoy a New England fall wherever we live!
- Set New Boundaries: Sometimes people take advantage of us and we let them because we care about them. But healthy boundaries are important for your self-esteem and mental health, especially when you give more than you take. Evaluate the relationships in your life and make certain that you have healthy boundaries with the people you interact with. If there are those you do not have healthy boundaries with, it is time to reevaluate the relationship, practice self-care, and develop boundaries that work for both of you. Extra Challenge: If you need some extra help in establishing boundaries, I highly recommend the book Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. I took an eight-week class working through this book several years ago and it worked wonders for several of my relationships!
- Listen Up: Podcasts are such a wonderful invention! One can listen and learn a new subject from the comfort of their own home, via a mobile device or tablet. There are podcasts about music, true crime, work + relationship development, beauty, health, and society – – whatever interests you! Extra Challenge: Get a few friends to listen to the same podcast(s) so you can discuss it with them.
- Have A New Vision: Are you familiar with a Vision board? It’s a giant board where you collect some of your main goals, hopes, dreams, and possibilities in one place. The idea is that if you visualize your dreams, you can manifest those dreams into reality. Sounds kind of hooky? Maybe, but what do you have to lose? Buy yourself a giant poster board, grab a few of your favorite magazines, and some colored markers, and get to work creating your visions! If you don’t want to create a vision board, buy a journal and write down a few goals you want to achieve, then get to work making them come true Extra Challenge: Have a vision board party with some friends. Provide snacks and poster board, and have them the magazines, glue, and markers.
- Wheels Up: Have a bicycle collecting dust in a dark corner of your garage too? Pump up the tires, grab a bike helmet, and get wheeling. If you have not biked for years, take your time so your legs don’t rebel against you. Extra Challenge: Find a new bike path and get out and explore it on the weekend.
- Do The Hustle: You can’t help but feel good when you listen to disco music, plus dancing is a great exercise for your body and mind. Turn back the clock and get dancing! Need some inspiration? Add some Bee Gees, Donna Summer, KC& The Sunshine Band, and Gloria Gaynor to your playlist and boogie like there is no tomorrow! Extra Challenge: This one will take a leap of faith. Ready? I dare you to go out in public wearing your best sequin blouse and bell-bottom jeans. Not ready to go full garb? Get yourself a pair of oversized sunglasses and be a diva instead.
- Culture Club: It’s St. Patrick’s Day this month but why should the Irish have all the fun? Grab a world map, close your eyes, and place your finger on the map. Learn everything you can about the culture of the country you put your finger on. Try out some of the food, study the traditions, and learn more about its history and culture. Extra Challenge: Download Duolingo and learn the language.
- Give Thanks: In January and February, we worked on instilling more gratitude in our lives. This month, write thank-you notes to three people who have had a positive impact on your life, perhaps an old teacher, a former boss, or a friend who is always your best cheerleader. Extra Challenge: Write five thank-you notes.
- Electronics Free Zone: At least four times this month have dinner with your family without cell phones or the tv on. Share what is going on in your lives (the positives and negatives), talk about current issues, and learn something new from each other. Make sure you listen more than you talk and ask questions. This task allows everyone in your family to practice a little self-care! Extra Challenge: Need some ideas for topics of conversation? This Around the Table game has topics of discussion that will make dinner time fun.
- Coffee, Cabernet & Cocoa Club: Coffee, wine, and hot cocoa make the best excuse to get together with a group of friends. Can’t decide which beverage to sip? Have all three available! Make sure to allow time for individual and group discussions during the event, have a variety of snacks to complement your beverages and be sure to share hosting duties so you don’t do all the work every month. Extra Challenge: Don’t just drink for the sake of drinking, turn this into an opportunity to learn about the types, profiles, and flavor notes of coffee, wine, and chocolate. Visit local wineries, coffee roasteries, or chocolatiers, talk to the experts, and learn to savor the flavors, all while bonding with friends.
- Your Secret is Safe: Be a secret helper to someone at work, school, or church this month. Take on some of their more tedious administrative tasks to help them have a less stressful day and do it without them knowing you helped them. Bring them their favorite beverage and leave it on their desk, bring them a home-baked treat, or surprise them with a new plant. Kind of like Secret Santa, but all year. The act of brightening someone else’s day will have a positive effect on your day as well. Extra Challenge: Treat your significant other to a few surprises as well. Send them on a scavenger hunt and have dinner for two at the end, leave flowers or balloons in their car, or send them secret love notes to make them feel loved and appreciated.
- Dig In: When it comes to food, are your tastes a bit…uninteresting? It’s time to cast off those culinary inhibitions and try a few new unique international foods. Don’t worry, you don’t have to eat grasshoppers or snails (unless you want to), just try to expand your dining repertoire a bit. Peruse your local gourmet grocery and pick up some plantains, kohlrabi, rutabagas, or rambutan. Make a list of foods to taste and try a different food each week. Extra Challenge: Visit your local library, pick up a few international cookbooks and get cooking, there are so many wonderful dishes around the world!
- Walk It Out: Remember in January when we started walking? I hope you haven’t stopped. A walk a few days a week is good exercise, but it is also a great way to unwind from a busy day. Plus, walking is something you can do all for yourself. Upload some favorite tunes to your cell phone, strap on the headphones, and hit the trail. Extra Challenge: Try to get in 8,000 steps a day at least three days a week.
- Put the Pieces Together: Did you know that working on a jigsaw puzzle improves visual/spatial reasoning, allows quiet concentration, and is a good stress reliever? Get a 100-piece puzzle to start and work on it for 10-15 minutes each day. Extra Challenge: If you are feeling really ambitious, get a 1000-piece puzzle. Try not to get too frustrated while doing it, concentrate on the shape, texture, and colors while you try to fit the pieces together.
- Pick a Color, Any Color: Have you ever wanted to color your hair but could not get up the nerve? Stop thinking about it and do it. You can have a hairstylist do it or you can get a box mix at home and can go as subtle or extreme as you want. Extra Challenge: If you want to do a temporary color that washes out in 5-6 washes, try this Keracolor Color Depositing Clenditioner. I use purple to add a few streaks of discreet peek-a-boo color under my layers and platinum to keep my blond/gray more even-toned.
- Hobby Up: Are you the neighborhood pie baker or champion quilt maker? Have you always had a dream to own your own business? Now is the time to turn your favorite hobby into something more. Part of self-care is having the confidence to believe in yourself and your abilities, and one of the best ways to do that is to take something you love and turn it into a small business. There are many resources and support groups available for small business owners, so what are you waiting for? Put together a business plan, determine how many hours a week you would need to work to meet your sales goals, and talk to family members to get their okay. Extra Challenge: Once you have gotten your business plans together, make sure to tell family and friends so they can support your efforts.
- Show Some Support: Do you have a favorite cause? Don’t just passively sit back and support it, get involved and volunteer some time. If you are passionate about animal rights, work at an animal shelter. If you support education, volunteer to read to children in your spare time. There are many worthy causes and they are always looking for volunteers. Extra Challenge: Is there something you are passionate about but there is no local cause? Get some family or friends involved and start your own cause. (Be sure to educate yourself on state and federal laws regarding non-profit organizations so you don’t run into any legal issues.)
- Savor Life: Try this self-care experiment. Take a favorite piece of fruit, vegetable, or dessert and cut it into pieces. Pick up a piece of the food, look at it, smell it, and gently taste it, rolling the flavor around your tongue for a few seconds before swallowing. Do this with each piece. While you are nibbling away, recall a happy memory of eating, cooking, or gathering the food, then go to that happy place and enjoy the memory. Black raspberries always remind me of my grandmother, of picking raspberries with her on her farm in the Catskills. I recall a warm summer day, a light breeze in the air, dandelions growing in the grass, and bees buzzing in the clover nearby. I remember my grandmother showing me the best berries to pick, our bowl filling to the brim with plump purple-red berries, and the occasional bite into a tangy-sweet berry, the juice dribbling down my chin. I remember the salty-sweet taste of the fresh cobbler my grandmother made with the berries, and vanilla ice cream melting over the hot cobbler. She has been gone 28 years but a bite of a raspberry always takes me right back to her. Memories are a special way to keep those we love with us, and food is a wonderful way to invoke those memories. Extra Challenge: Pass on those memories and start new ones with someone you love, centered around food. Bake cookies with your kids, sign up for a cooking class date night with your sweetheart or go berry picking with your grandkids. Pass down a few old family recipes and create memories your family will treasure someday.
- Quit It: Do you have a bad habit you’ve wanted to stop? Now is the time to do it. Perhaps you are a smoker and want to quit smoking, or you have some weight to lose and want to eat healthier? Talk to your doctor and make a plan to live a healthier life without that bad habit hindering you. Extra Challenge: If you have already quit a bad habit, help someone else who needs some extra encouragement. I started a Healthy Midlife Living Facebook group to encourage others to live a healthier life and to hold me accountable for my own health goals. It keeps me motivated to continue healthy habits and pays it forward a little to help others on a path to healthier living. ♥
- When You Wish Upon A Jar: Take a piece of paper, write down about 8-10 different goals or dreams, then fold up those pieces of paper and put them in a large canning jar. Once a month, close your eyes and grab a goal from the jar, then make it come true. Recognize that the only person holding you back from achieving what you want is you, but you are your own fairy godmother and you have the power to make your dreams come true, you just need a bit of motivation. Extra Challenge: Make sure to put a few “lofty” goals in that jar too, just to keep things interesting. Be ready to follow through on making those dreams come true too.
If you have not started the challenges yet, begin with the January challenge, then the February challenge, then catch up with us for The March Self-Care Challenge for Women. Are you also following our A Cork, Fork, & Passport Facebook page and our Pinterest page for recipe ideas, food & cocktail discussions, travel tips, and more?