The Shift Worker's Wife

Nimble Fumblings of a Mom, Wife, and Quirky Creative

Author: theshiftworkerswife (page 1 of 3)

Chop-Free Shopping Spree – A Real Life, Healthy “Convenience Foods” Grocery List

Are you ready for a fresh reset? Ready to slim down and tone up? Ready to have more energy and less bloat? Then the 24 Day Challenge may be just the thing to help you get your health and your habits back on track.

The thing I love most about this program is that, although you are using supplements to speed up your results and help you feel your best, the main focus is on EATING REAL FOOD. Nutrition education is our number one priority when we work with our clients. We love getting questions, we love to talk to our Challengers regularly to encourage them through struggles and celebrate with them when they have victories.

I personally commit to doing a Challenge at least twice a year. I am not perfect. I’m a normal person with normal cravings. I love a good French fry and I adore cheesecake. There are times—like during the holidays—that I throw caution to the wind and my scale creeps up. But the thing is, I know I have the knowledge and tools I need to grab back hold of the reigns so that things don’t get out of control for too long.

When you learn HOW TO EAT to fuel your body, and you have more ENERGY to exercise, you can still enjoy treats mindfully without completely wrecking your confidence and progress.

I’ll tell you the truth. My very first Challenge, I slipped off the wagon a lot. I definitely needed to learn better habits and develop a healthier mindset. But 3 years and 6 Challenges later, I actually look forward to sticking strictly to the plan because I always feel ah-maaazing after giving my gut a total break from junk that isn’t good for me.

I have several people on Challenges right now that have requested a Grocery List to help them get their kitchens ready to rock. Last year I shared My List of Healthy Foods and Portion Sizes. AdvoCare also provides a Grocery Guide on the Virtual Coach website. All of these resources are helpful and give plenty of general options, but today, I’m focusing on SUPER CONVENIENT, specific grocery items that I like to stock in my own kitchen. This list does prioritize convenience over cost, so if you’re on a tighter budget, you may need to be selective from this list and plan to do a little more prepping on your own at home.

I don’t know what your house is like, but my mine is constant, happy, CHAOS! My children are expert mess-makers, and we are busy bees always buzzing around to activities. So if I can avoid dirtying more dishes and spending extra time in the kitchen, I’m all about it.

I’m sharing with you some actual brands of foods that I like to buy. I am not sponsored in any way, so these suggestions are purely from my own honest opinions and experiences. I can find all of these products locally at Dierbergs, Schnucks, and Kroger stores, but I’m sure all larger grocery chains should carry them. This isn’t a lengthy list, but it will stock your kitchen with plenty of fresh color and variety!

So now… let’s go grocery shopping!

Produce Section

  • Pre-Prepped Veggie Platter (I’m lenient on ranch dip in small doses…your choice)
  • Pre-Prepped Fresh Fruit Platter (if it comes with sweet dip, throw that out!)
  • Fresh Snap Peas or Snow Peas in pods
  • Fresh Berries
  • Nature’s Sweet Cherub Tomatoes
  • Cuties Clementines
  • Del Monte Sunfresh Red Grapefruit – No Sugar Added (in jar, in fridge)
  • Pre-washed Baby Spinach
  • Taylor Farms Sweet Kale Chopped Salad
  • Chiquita Bananas
  • Fuji Apples
  • Sweet Mini Peppers (in a bag, in the fridge)
  • Wholly Guacamole Minis – in the produce refrigerator

Deli/Salad Bar

  • Rotisserie Chicken
  • Pre-Prepped, Peeled Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Applegate Organics Oven Roasted Turkey Breast Deli Meat
  • Private Selection, Alderwood Smoked Wild  Alaskan Sockey Salmon
  • Synergy Kombucha
  • Zico Coconut Water

Bread Aisle

  • Dave’s Killer Thin-Sliced 21 Whole Grains and Seeds Organic Bread – or other brand that has at least 6g protein and 5g fiber
  • Flatout Multigrain with Flax Flatbread

Dairy

  • Cracker Barrel Cracker Cuts Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • Oikos Triple Zero Greek Yogurt

Inner Aisles **Note, navigate these aisles with CAUTION!  Try your best to stick to this list.

  • Orville Redenbocher’s Smart Pop Kettle Corn Mini Bags
  • Kashi Fire Roasted Veggie Crackers
  • Blue Diamond 100-Calorie Almonds
  • Plum Organics Baby Food Fruit & Veggie Pouches
  • Jif To-Go Natural Peanut Butter Cups
  • Uncle Ben’s 90-Second Brown and Wild Rice
  • StarKist Herb & Garlic Tuna Pouches

Freezer Section

  • Shrimp Cocktail platter- from freezer section
  • Halo Ice Cream
  • Birds Eye Steamfresh Mixtures Broccoli Carrots Peas Chestnuts

 

I’m thinking about making a “Grocery Haul” video to explain why I like these products. What do you think? Would you watch it?

If you liked this post, have questions, or would like to share some other healthy convenient grocery foods that you love, please comment below or post in our conversation on Facebook. Thanks for stopping by!

Take It With You When You Go, Part 1

 In our life, leftovers are an essential part of survival. Hub works 12-hour shifts, but add in drive time and maybe a workout before or after shift, and he’s easily gone for 13-14 hours at a time. Leaving the energy campus to go grab food isn’t really an option, so we have to pack meals up for him.

I personally am not a huge fan of leftover meals, so the fact that Hub LOVES a good leftover is just more proof that we were a match made in Heaven. Nothing goes to waste in this house.

So if you’re like us, and you need some easy, go-to ideas for tasty, packable recipes, I hope you enjoy this post. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel right now with all of my own recipes, I’ve rounded up some awesome dishes from fellow bloggers who already have the whole food-blogging-thing in the bag. I trust they won’t lead you astray.

I’m thinking this topic will be revisited again in the future, so let me know if you find this helpful!

Oh…and I’m sharing my daily menu themes here, too. Yes. I really am that dorky.

Meatless Monday

Shrimp Avocado Salad from Natasha’s Kitchen

 When I initially suggested this start-of-the-week theme to Hub, I think the conversation went a little something like this…

Me: “Babe, I think we should start doing Meatless Mondays for dinner.”

Hub: “Ummmmm…no. I don’t like that idea.”

Me: “It’ll be great! We’ll save money and get some extra veggies in our diet!”

Hub: “Nope. I like meat.”

Truth. The man is, in fact, a proud and happy carnivore. He is also more than a little obsessed with protein—insert Arnold Schwarzenegger accent—GOT TO FEED THAH MAHSSULS.

Ladies…you’re welcome 😉

So we compromised. Rather than using Mondays to try new vegetarian recipes, we’ve opted for a more protein-packed lacto-ovo-pescatarian approach (yes, that’s a thing), allowing dairy, eggs, fish and other seafood into our Monday meals.

Hearty salads usually grace the menu board for this theme, so this recipe for Shrimp Avocado Salad from Natasha’s Kitchen fits the bill. It’s loaded with colorful veggies and protein for “thah mahssuls.” And, if you want to bump up the nutrition even more, add some drained and rinsed, canned black beans to the mix.

 

 **PACKING TIP**

If you think you’re going to eat the whole recipe in one sitting, go ahead and serve it all up together in big beautiful bowl like Natasha does. But if it’s going to be eaten as leftovers…

Toss the avocado in some lemon juice or sprinkle with Ball Fruit-Fresh before packing to slow its oxidation (browning) process.

Keep the toppings and dressing separate from the lettuce.

  • We usually just pack the toppings in one container, lettuce in another, dressing in another. It’s more dishes but everything will taste so much fresher that way.
  • OR if you’re kinda fancy, you can layer everything in a big mason jar (protein on bottom, heavier veggies next, lettuce on top), dressing in a little container on the side.

And one more nitpicky thing…I can’t stand tomatoes that have been refrigerated. It instantly ruins their flavor. So I buy cherry or grape tomatoes, wash them and send them with Hub in a little Ziploc bag to be kept OUT of the fridge at work. Personal preference. You do what you do.

**NO COOK OPTION**

If you’re extra short on time or just really don’t want to dirty a skillet, you could easily substitute packaged tuna for the shrimp. I really like this Starkist Herb and Garlic tuna in the pouch. I buy mine from Target and always keep a stash of pouches in our fridge.

 

Taco Tuesday

Sheet Pan Fajitas from Half Baked Harvest

 Unlike Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday was easy to sell to my crew. Of course, as you’ll notice from my suggested recipe here, I don’t limit this night to strictly traditional tacos. This theme includes burritos, enchiladas, fajitas, gyros (basically Greek tacos), etc. I like variety.

This recipe for Sheet Pan Fajitas from Half Baked Harvest is awesome. Easy, fast, healthy, colorful, filling—checkmarks all around. Chicken, steak, pork or any combination will work. You can use flour tortillas, corn tortillas, or if you’re watching carbs, just use a big lettuce leaf to hold all the goods.

This one is also easy to pack up. Just keep your tortillas or lettuce leafs separate. If you want cold toppings like cheese, sour cream, salsa or other fresh veggies, you would pack those separate, too.

Worldly Wednesday

30 Minute Mongolian Beef Stir Fry From Life Made SIMPLE

 Mid-week I try to inject a little global flair into our culinary repertoire. My kids have typical pre-schooler palettes—if they had it their way they’d live on pizza and waffles—but I refuse to raise picky eaters, so they are required to at least TRY two bites of every food served to them. If absolutely necessary, I’ll let them add a topping or condiment of their choice (hello, cheese and ketchup).

So on Wednesdays we try new things. I’ve dabbled in Indian cuisine and explored Scandinavian fare. Sometimes we like it and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes I can’t find or pronounce the ingredients listed in a recipe so I substitute something more familiar to us.

This recipe for 30-Minute Mongolian Beef Stir Fry from Life Made Simple is fast and family-friendly. I take it easy on the chili flakes for the littles, and if I’m short on time I’ll just use a bag of frozen stir-fry veggies instead of chopping up the fresh stuff. Uncle Ben’s Jasmine Ready Rice is my favorite accompaniment for this dish, or if you’re looking for bonus nutrition points, served up with quinoa.

This one is easy to take to go—just throw it all in a container to be reheated later!

Themeless Thursday 

Roasted Pork Chops with Brussel Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes
From Taste of the South

On Thursdays, anything goes. If all the leftovers haven’t been finished yet, we’ll work through those. Otherwise, I just whip up with whatever toots my whistle that night.

This recipe for Roasted Pork Chops with Brussel Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes from Taste of the South is my kind of meal…ONE SKILLET! Of course, you’ll also need to dirty a knife and cutting board, but otherwise, cleanup is pretty easy. I love cooking in cast iron…something about it just makes food taste like it was made with extra love.

  • Note: To “wash” a cast iron skillet, just sprinkle in some coarse salt, crunch up some aluminum foil into a ball, add a wee bit of super hot water, scrub the surface, and rinse. I never use soap on my cast iron skillet.

Don’t think you like brussel sprouts? Trust me and give ‘em another chance in this dish. These little fellas might just rock your world once you discover how to cook and season them correctly.   And they are so good for you! Cut them up into halves or quarters before tossing into your skillet so the flat surfaces can get richly caramelized. That’s the real game changer.

This is another recipe that’s super easy to pack up. Just throw it all into your to-go container to be reheated later.

Pizza Friday

Flat Out Pizza
From No Thanks to Cake

That’s right. At the end of the workweek I take a break from my alliterative menu themes because Pizza is amazing and deserves a weekly dedication even if it doesn’t fit into my daily play on words.

We are a second-generation Friday Pizza Night family.   My parents started the tradition and now it lives on in my home.

I’ll be honest with you, we usually let Friday night be our “cheat meal” and just order a pizza for pick-up from our favorite little Italian restaurant (Girolamo’s). But since this is a healthy recipe roundup, I’d like to share this super-speedy recipe for Flat Out Pizza from No Thanks to Cake.

Flat Out wraps make a sturdy, crispy crust while keeping calories in check. They also offer up a good dose of protein and fiber. For toppings, I like everything Kelly uses in her recipe, except the pepperjack slices…I prefer a mozzarella or goat cheese. I would also suggest lining your baking pan with parchment paper (NOT wax paper! Hub made that mistake once). The parchment helps the bottom of the crust get nice and toasty. You could also use your grill to cook the pizza.   Just keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn.

Sammy Saturday

Turkey and Tomato Panini From Spache the Spatula

Hub loves a sandwich (aka “sammy”). If I stack some meat and cheese between two slices of bread for him, I’m a hero. Just like that.

So Saturday is his day. And this recipe for Turkey and Tomato Panini from Spache the Spatula makes him a happy camper. It’s fast, simple and super satisfying.

I agree with Rach’s suggestion about using Dave’s Killer Bread – Thin Sliced. Bread isn’t always bad. Dave’s is a good choice. You could also use Ezekiel bread, found in the freezer section at the grocery store.If you don’t have a Panini press (like me), a George Foreman grill or something similar works perfectly. You could also use a regular skillet on the stove. Just press down on the sandwich with the back of a spatula while toasting each side.

Serve this up with a cool, crisp salad or some grilled veggies and you’ll have a delicious meal ready in a flash.

**PACKING TIP**

I mentioned parchment paper for the pizza recipe…that stuff is also great for packing up sandwiches for leftovers. Wrap your sandwich up in parchment before putting in a sealed to-go container to help keep it crunchy.

Souper Sunday

Slow Cooker Sausage Kale White Bean Soup From A Cedar Spoon

Hub loves sandwiches and I love soup. So Sunday is my day!

Soups are easy to make in a crockpot, which fits right into our busy weekend schedules.

This recipe for Slow Cooker Sausage and Kale Soup from A Cedar Spoon is both hearty and healthy. Plus, soup is one of the very best leftover foods in my book.

Julia’s recipe is perfect just as she has it posted, but since this is my blog, I’ll share some minor adjustments I make for my family’s personal preferences.

  • Omit the celery (cooked celery is one of the only foods Hub doesn’t like)
  • Add 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1” pieces (adds extra color and sweetness)
  • Sear the sliced sausage in a skillet to caramelize the surfaces and render out some fat before adding to the crock pot (not necessary, but browning the meat adds extra texture and flavor)
  • For extra stick-to-your-ribs goodness, I’ll add 2-3 medium-sized red potatoes, diced
  • 15 minutes before serving, add 1 can of petite diced tomatoes (drained) and 1 fresh zucchini (diced) to the pot.

** Make sure that your kale has been thoroughly washed before you toss it in with everything else!

Yee Haw! Now that, my friends, is one heck of a recipe roundup! I hope you’ll give these recipes a try and let me know what you think!!!

Until next time, please connect with our Shift Worker’s Community on Facebook and follow along with all my blogging world discoveries on Pinterest.

Thanks for stopping by!

Spruce the Goose: The Persuasive Power of Putting Your Face On

I’ve been enforcing a new House Rule for Lent, but I think I’m going to keep it as a permanent tradition in our home. **Read the back-story HERE**

 Screen-Free After 5

After 5 pm, the TV goes off, phones get plugged into chargers away from quick reach, and computers and tablets are shut down. For the rest of the evening, it’s less-tech time. Music and phone calls are still allowed, but no texting, social media, video games, etc.

So far, we’ve used this time to do things like:

  • Play games
  • Ride bikes and go for walks
  • Cook dinner and make desserts together
  • Read books and magazines (with actual paper pages)
  • Do puzzles
  • Go to the gym
  • Visit face-to-face with extended family and neighbors
  • Work on hobby projects
  • Jump on the trampoline
  • Make crafts
  • Draw and color

It’s really been great! I feel much more present. My kids have been insanely cooperative. We’ve been going to bed earlier and I’ve been sleeping MUCH better. And most importantly (the main reason this new rule started), I’ve been spending more time in prayer, both before bed and in the morning when I wake up.

I have a legit addiction to my phone, so it has been hard for me to stay away from it. I’ve slipped up a few times, but I’m trying to get better. Hub has been assigned as my parole officer.

Reese Witherspoon Made Me Do It

Before the days of Pinterest and mobile-friendly Internet browsing, I used to love reading lifestyle magazines. Southern Living, Midwest Living, Better Homes and Gardens, Cooking Light, Women’s Health… every time I received one of these in the mail felt like Christmas.

I got my first iPhone a couple of months after Will was born. That was 5 1/2 years ago. I discovered Pinterest not long after that, and my once-cherished magazines fell from grace. I still had subscriptions for a while, but I never opened many of them. I just put them on a shelf to “read later.”

So the first week with our new Screen-Free rule, I was going through Pinterest withdrawals. I needed a visual fix. And that’s when I remembered all my unopened magazines from years ago. I went to my desk and found a Southern Living issue from September 2015. Reese Witherspoon adorned the cover. I like Reese, so I opened it up.

A few pages in, I found an interview written by Jenna Bush Hager (I’m also a fan of Jenna on the Today Show). It was entitled “REESE on the Secrets of Southern Style”

It starts out discussing her clothing store in Nashville, Tennessee called Draper James (named after her paternal grandparents).

She goes on discuss her attitude about style…

“I wanted to dig into the question of why Southern women dress the way we do. Why don’t we walk around in sweatpants? Why do we wear makeup everywhere? It’s just how we were raised. My grandmother would always say things like “SPRUCE THE GOOSE” and “PUT YOUR FACE ON.””

“My grandmother was so ELEGANT. She didn’t have a lot of dresses or anything, but she always looked PUT TOGETHER.”

Good Vibrations – Effort and Energy

For some reason, this just got me thinking. I wasn’t “raised” with that kind of cultural mentality. My mother was a dirt-loving farmer’s daughter.  When we were kids, she worked with my dad in the cattle fields and drove a tractor. She cared much more about raising daughters with a strong work ethic than she did about our sense of style. And that rearing has served me well in life.

However, I have always felt like it was important to put some effort into my appearance. I don’t think I learned it. It just seems like common sense to me.

I almost never leave my house without at least some mascara and a dusting of bronzer on my cheeks. I do NOT go out in public in my jammie pants (unless my jammies are fleece-lined leggings…those are perfectly acceptable to wear everywhere). And if I only have 2 minutes to get ready, I’ll put in a pair of pearl stud earrings, blast my roots with dry shampoo and whip my hair up into a tousled bun.

(See Missy Sue’s Messy Bun Tutorial Video HERE)

It doesn’t take that much effort, but I FEEL better when I put myself together a little bit.

And it’s not about vanity. I read a quote somewhere that said something like, “Dressing well is a form of respect.” And I’d say I agree. I don’t know about dressing “well,” but at least putting forth a little more effort than just rolling straight out of bed. I think it conveys self-respect, as well as respect for others. It communicates your energy and level of conscientiousness.

Now, I’m not saying that I always (or ever!) look like a million bucks. I’m a simple girl. I buy cheap sunglasses and bargain tote bags. Most of my wardrobe was purchased at Target alongside diapers and sippy cups. But putting on a bra and some sort of coordinated apparel (workout clothes count, in my humble opinion), sets a positive tone for your interaction with the world.

Guys…Please Ditch the No-Shave Nastiness

 This isn’t just a lady message here. The same concept applies to dudes. I can honestly tell you that the whole un-kept beard trend thing that is happening right now…I don’t like it. Please trim that shit up. We went to a bluegrass concert in St. Louis last week and the amount of fuzziness in that room was disturbing. Some of that facial hair looked like it could be harboring varmints.

I guess the Duck Dynasty guys can get away with it because it’s like their signature look or whatever, but the rest of you…especially city-livin’ hipsters. Nope. You’re not allowed.

Just a little bit of maintenance. That’s all I’m saying.

What Do You Think?

Honestly, I’m not exactly sure why I felt compelled to write on this topic, other than it’s fun to say, “Spruce the Goose.”

But I would like to hear your opinions on this topic, whether you agree or disagree. Connect with our community on Facebook or post your comments below.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Lenten Resolution: Screen Free After Five

It’s Lent. I’m a member of the Methodist Church I grew up in, and Methodists don’t have hard rules like Catholics do about this season—not eating meat on Fridays, and “giving something up” for the 40 days prior to Easter. But I thought I understood the symbolism of the Catholic Lenten tradition, anyway.

Lent is traditionally described as lasting for forty days, in commemoration of the forty days which, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spent, before beginning his public ministry, fasting in the desert, where he endured temptation by the Devil. In most of the West, it begins on Ash Wednesday.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lent

I attended my first-ever Ash Wednesday church service this year. I knew people always left those things with ashes on their forehead, but I really didn’t understand why, and I had no idea what to expect during the service.

We prayed for open hearts as we entered into an attitude of worship, and sang a couple traditional hymns. Then our pastor asked us a profound question:

“What is ONE thing in your life that you know is hindering your faith and your relationship with God?”

I’m sure all of us there could think of several roadblocks, but we needed to pick one. Mine stood out quite clearly in my mind. ADDICTION. I am without a doubt, addicted to my phone and computer. TV isn’t a huge one for me, but the other two…it’s bad.

Read this article by Jessica Safko. Truth.

The instant gratification of social media, text messaging, and browsing consumes me. I rarely go 20 minutes without at least glancing at one of my screens.

Yet, how often do I pray? I think about God a lot, but actually praying? We say Grace before meals and sometimes I remember to pray before I fall asleep at night. Definitely not enough. If I only spoke to my husband once or twice a day for just a few short minutes, our relationship would suffer. So it only makes sense that my relationship with God is suffering from my lack of prayer.

WHY SHOULD WE PRAY (IF GOD ALREADY KNOWS EVERYTHING ANYWAY)?
By Melanie Redd

Pastor Bill had us write our confessions down on a slip of paper, fold it up so no one could see it, and take it to the front of the church where he had a Cast Iron pot set up on a table. We all dropped in our papers and returned to our pews.   He took a lighter and proceeded to set fire to our confessions.

I can think of multiple interpretations of this demonstration. For me, that night, I interpreted it as a call to incinerate the habits that are keeping me from having a closer relationship with God.

The ashes from the cast iron pot were used to mark a cross on our foreheads, reminding us of the greatest sacrifice in history.

In closing, Pastor Bill encouraged us to use this Lenten season as a time to focus on repenting from the things on our slips of paper to improve our faith.

Before that service, I had tossed around the idea of giving up something like French fries or candy for Lent. After that service I understood that it wasn’t just about doing something difficult, it was about repentance for the sake of faith.

Separating From My Screens

I have to use my phone and computer during the day for work, but at night, I really have no NEED to be on them.  So I decided that during this Lenten season, the evening hours will belong solely to my family and my Lord.

After 5 pm, the TV goes off, phones get plugged into chargers away from quick reach, and computers and tablets are shut down. For the rest of the evening, it’s less-tech time. Music and phone calls are still allowed, but no texting, social media, video games, etc.

So far, we’ve used this time to do things like:

  • Play games
  • Ride bikes and go for walks
  • Cook dinner and make desserts together
  • Read books and magazines (with actual paper pages)
  • Do puzzles
  • Go to the gym
  • Visit face-to-face with extended family and neighbors
  • Work on hobby projects
  • Jump on the trampoline
  • Make crafts
  • Draw and color

It’s really been great! I feel much more present. My kids have been insanely cooperative. We’ve been going to bed earlier and I’ve been sleeping MUCH better. And most importantly, I’ve been spending more time in prayer, both before bed and in the morning when I wake up.

It has been a couple weeks since Ash Wednesday and my Screen Free After Five time has been an absolute blessing in our home!  I may have started this because of Lent, but I have every intention of maintaining this new House Rule.

How About YOU?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.  Please connect with our community on Facebook or leave your comments below.

Thank you so much for visiting my site, and God Bless!

Liquid Motivation

Hey there, Shift Lifers.  This post is way overdue. I’m truly sorry that I’ve withheld this valuable information from you for so long.

So you or spouse works a weird schedule. Your sleep patterns are all jacked up. You’re feeling foggy and groggy, but for some reason the world still thinks you should be a productive member of society.

What’s a guy/gal to do? I mean, coffee helps. I am in a committed relationship with my morning coffee. It’s a ritual for me and I have no intentions of ever splitting with it.

HOWEVER, once my morning coffee wears off…Houston, we have a problem. The coffee crash is real. In the past, I would just drink another cup of coffee. Then another. Then another. I would drink coffee pretty much every two hours throughout the entire day just to keep me going.   And if coffee was out of reach, I grabbed SUGAR. Candy, cookies, soda, or generally anything easy that would give me a quick pick-me-up.

It was an ugly cycle.

Until one fateful day…

Love At First Sip

I met her at a business networking meeting. She was full of spunk and shined brightly in the crowd.   She gave a presentation on some company I’d never heard of, and handed samples to the newbies in the room. It was some kind of drink mix that was supposed to give an energy boost.

I was tired (as usual). So I found a bottle of water, sprinkled in this alleged magic dust…

And the rest is history.

Afternoon Delight

Unlike my beloved coffee, there was no crash with this new juice. No jitters, no aggressive jolt—just a smooth, steady boost. I felt more focused. More friendly.

And it was delicious! Fruity and refreshing. I usually struggled the most after lunch. When my belly was full, my eyelids got heavy. But after that lunch meeting, I felt fantastic.

I asked for a sample to take home to Hub. I needed to know if he felt the same way.

Not long before that, he had fallen asleep driving home after a 13-hour night shift. His car bounced off of a guardrail along the side of a highway. Thank God he wasn’t hurt. Every night shift after that, I worried about him. He started carpooling with a coworker to give me some peace of mind, but it wasn’t always super convenient for either of them.

Maybe this new stuff could help. He took it to work that night and I told him to drink it before the drive home.

 “Spark Saves Lives”

We say this to our friends with a cheeky tone, but it’s true. The morning he drank his sample, he didn’t come straight home and hit his pillow. We actually had a conversation and ate breakfast together. It was lovely. He said he wasn’t tired during the drive at all.

In fact, these days, he even has energy to hit the gym after a long night shift. Life. Changing.

Spark makes me a happier, more productive person. And since I’m not riding the energy roller coaster anymore, I’m not eating as much junk. My pants appreciate that.

Do You Know What We Know?

Have you heard of Spark? Have you tried a Spark? Because if the answer is no, we must remedy the situation.

It comes in 10 yummy flavors and mixes easily in water.

Fruit Punch (my personal favorite)
Blue Raspberry (Hub’s fave)
Mandarin Orange
Pink Lemonade
Limeade
Cherry
Watermelon
Grape
Green Apple
Mango Strawberry

It’s also sugar-free and loaded with good-for-you vitamins and amino acids. Wins all around.

Want to know more?  You can view label info HERE.  Message me through Facebook or email me at shiftwife@gmail.com for other details.

Wake Training Boot Camp for Grownups

“It’s time to get up, it’s time to get up, it’s time to get up in the mooooooorning!”

 That’s my wake-up song for the kids. Pure lyrical genius, I know.

I dance into their room, throw open the curtains and gleefully tickle two grumbling piles of Avengers blankets. It totally annoys them. But I’m actually a little jealous.

I wish somebody would come sweeping into my room to pull my ass out of bed in the morning – and by “somebody,” I mean a person other than my husband, like a personal trainer. If Hub tried to do it I would physically assault him.

But alas, I’m on my own. I’ve found there are lots of resources out there on how to Sleep Train a Baby (not that I used those resources when I should have… my minions are terrible sleepers), but not so many helpful resources out there on how to become an “early riser” as an adult. Basically, I think we’re just supposed to have the will power to pop out of our warm, cozy bed when the alarm goes off before dawn. Who does that?

Well, my husband does.  When Billy was in the Navy in Norfolk, VA, he had to leave our apartment at 5am to get to base on time. His alarm would go off at 4 and he would pop out of bed and blast a Frank Sinatra playlist while he cooked himself a hot breakfast. It was disgusting. You know why? Because he’s one of those people who just has the will power to do stuff like that. Yuck.

Me on the other hand, not so much will power in my tank. I need more push. More pull.

So I came up with this real-life, no BS Boot Camp for waking up early.  The strategies you’ll read below are exactly how I taught myself to start my day before sunrise.  It’s also the only reason this blog is back in action.  These wee morning hours are the only time I’m able to focus on writing without a slew of distractions.  It is currently 5:27a.m. on Saturday morning as I’m typing this. The rest of my family is still a-snooze, including the two dogs sitting next to me on the couch who keep huffing in aggravation because I’m disturbing their peace. Lazy daisies.

This blog is a volunteer effort. There’s no whip being cracked at me to be awake right now. And yet, here I am. Bright-eyed and bushy pony-tailed, drinking my coffee in my fluffy, pink robe.

It wasn’t an easy habit to form, but now this is my favorite time of day.  Do you want to wake up earlier?  If so, read on…

Step 1: What’s Your Worm?

“The early bird gets the worm.” You know the saying. Metaphorically speaking, my worm is my me time. Like I said, my family is still sleeping right now. The house is quiet. I finished a whole cup of coffee before it got cold. I’m spending uninterrupted time doing something I enjoy. These early hours may be the only time I have completely to myself for the rest of the day…and that is extremely valuable to me.

So if you want to start waking up earlier, you need to wrap your head around WHY you want to make the change. How is it going to benefit you?   What would make it valuable to you? Some examples…

  • Want lose weight? You have to eat right! Give yourself extra time in the morning to prepare and portion food for the day.
  • Want to boost your mood and/or sculpt your body? You have to exercise! Use the golden hours of the morning to knock out your workout before the day gives you excuses.
  • Want to strengthen your marriage? Enjoy spending time with your spouse while you are both well rested and stress from the day hasn’t set in yet.
  • Want to have more confidence? When you look good you feel good, so spend a little extra time putting yourself together.

There are lots of other reasons to get out of bed. Know what you want. Wake up and get it.

Okay, I realize this first one bares a resemblance to the whole will power thing, but you have to start here and then move on to my next tips.

Step 2: Go to Bed Earlier

You had to know this one was coming. SLEEP IS ESSENTIAL to life. So don’t skimp. I won’t go deep into this topic now because it will be a resounding theme on this site, but just know it’s an important part of your Wake Training.

Step 3: Anticipate Sabotage

 I told you this is a no BS list. In real life, your good intentions will be thwarted. It’s almost guaranteed. The first morning you set your alarm to wake up early, you’ll have insomnia or your kid will get the stomach flu. Expect it before it happens. Know your resolve. Roll with the punches. Just keeping trying to make it work. Eventually the sabotage will end and you’ll be able to get into a groove.

Step 4: Be Assaulted By Your Alarm

 This is Wake Training Boot Camp, Sunshine. At first it’s gonna suck. A gentle alarm makes it way too easy to just slip back into slumber. Don’t be a snowflake. We mean business here. It’s time to WAKE UP! Set an alarm that is going to jolt you out of bed. Here’s my Alarm Assault criteria:

  • Make it LOUD – as many decibels as possible.
  • Make it OBNOXIOUS – jingly wind chime noises ain’t gonna cut it. Find a sound that you can’t stand. Maybe an air horn? You have to be desperate to make the noise stop.
  • Set it FAR AWAY from your bed – Your feet have to hit the floor. You have to be erected into a vertical position. You have to open your eyes to hunt down the assailant.

Okay. Now you’re out of bed! Let’s keep those eyes open.

Step 5: Caffeinate…Fast

Unless you have a major sensitivity, I believe this to be non-negotiable during Wake Training Boot Camp. Pick your poison. SPARK works wonders. Coffee gets the job done. Whatever you go with, it needs to be at the ready to shoot down the hatch. It needs to hit your veins within minutes of waking. If you’re brewing coffee, chug some ice-cold water while you wait. This is no time to mess around.

Step 6: Light It Up

No, I do not mean a smoke…that’s gross. I’m talking ILLUMINATION. Flip every light switch in your reach. Make your domain as bright as possible. Tell your brain that it’s time to fire up the engines.

I’ve recently started using a Sunlight Simulating LightBox first thing in the morning and I love it!  Whether I’m hitting my treadmill or sitting down to write in the morning, I prop the LightBox up in front of me and soak up the energy.   Good stuff. 

Step 7: Go Forth and Be Awesome

You did it! It’s time to start your day. Game on. Can you feel it? That’s victory. You’re awake. Force a smile, give yourself a high-five and go get your worm.

Do you have other tips on learning to wake up early? I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below and join the conversation.

5 Lies You Should STOP Telling Yourself

Pinocchio_LyingAdult-ing is hard. The struggle is real. But you know what my mother would say? She’d say, “Quit complaining, pull up your big kid britches and get to work, because it isn’t anybody else’s job to adult for you.” She’s a tough broad, and she may not be generous with her sympathy. But you know what? She’s usually right.

As I approach my 30th birthday tomorrow, I’m reflecting back on all the ways I’ve screwed up this whole adult thing in my 20s, and how I can improve in the next decade.

I can honestly say I’m actually looking forward to 30. Sure, my genetic eye wrinkles are coming in full force and gravity is for sure taking its toll on my post-child-bearing bod, but those things are being offset by greater wisdom. I’ve discovered a new sense of peace during this last year of my twenties that I’m excited to carry over into the subsequent phases of my life.

Unfortunately for me, this newfound peace was birthed from a place of self-loathing. Not a good time, feeling like I just wasn’t doing anything right. And I truly believe it was because I was telling myself these lies. Lies about life that society misrepresents as truth.

So if you haven’t done so already, I urge you to denounce these lies sooner rather than later. Because there’s loads of potential and happiness inside of you that can shine brightest after you lift the weight of these lies off your shoulders.

Lie #1) You Can “Have It All,” All At Once

joneses-300x210We’re grownups now, right? So we “need” stuff and, unfortunately that stuff costs money. Stuff like…A beautifully decorated home that stays clean and organized. A nice car. A techy cell phone. Cable TV and a movie streaming service. Classy date nights. Tropical Vacations. A home and vehicle maintenance fund. An emergency fund. Health insurance. Property insurance. Life insurance. Disability insurance. Personal liability insurance. And you also need diversified retirement funds. Money for wedding gifts, housewarming gifts, bereavement gifts, birthday gifts, holiday gifts. And if you’re like really on the ball, you have money set aside to help pay for your kids’ college, their wedding, or maybe to help them with a down payment on their first house. Ok. Got that?

Now you’re also going to need to be very mindful of this little non-renewable resource we call TIME. Time to work for all that money to pay for the things listed above. Time to relax. Time for family. Time for friends. Time for service and philanthropy. Time to exercise. Time (and energy) for sex. Time to shop for, prepare, and eat nutritious meals. And time to sleep.

I mean…that’s doable, right? WRONG! If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past decade, it’s that having and doing all of these things all at the same time is a physical and emotional IMPOSSIBILITY. That is, I guess, unless you’re an independently wealthy heir to a family fortune. Lucky duck.

As for the rest of us, we’re only human! We are lying to ourselves if we think we can have it all, all at once. You can have some of it during one phase of your life, and some of it later in life, but you’ll make yourself miserable thinking you’re going to have it all right out of the gate.

The truth is, you have to choose. You have to decide what is most important to you right now and gracefully allow the other stuff to slide until another time. Talk to a financial planner. Talk to a therapist. Talk to your grandma! Grandmas are so smart, seriously. And discover your best balance somewhere in between being awesome and being a complete slug.

Lie #2) Your Health Can Wait Until Life Calms Down

ticktock-1Nope. Just nope. We know better than this, people! Bad health habits compound over time. Not sleeping? Eating a bunch of junk? Ignoring pain? Justifying excess stress? Don’t lie to yourself and act like it’s okay. These things will catch up to you if you don’t do something about it NOW. Life simply does not “calm down” on its own. You have to take control. You have to take action.

We can’t fix everything overnight, but we can be progressive. Focus on one problem at a time and stop making excuses. Find resources and use them. I’m sorry I’m NOT sorry about my crass opinion on this one. I am my mother’s daughter after all…

Lie #3) You Make Enough Money to Afford That Loan

loanOh boy, we sure believed this lie!!! And we ended up financing ourselves into a very tight corner. We were making a healthy income, so we felt like we “deserved” to have nice things without the wait. Bad life decision.

I know we’re not the only ones. Unfortunately, I think most people have to learn this truth the hard way. I wish my parents had emphasized the importance of responsible money management as hard as they emphasized the importance of getting good grades.   But I can wish in one hand and poop in the other, right? No use crying over spilled milk. I can’t be the pot calling the kettle black…yes, I’m stalling because I’m still in the process of learning how to fix the money mistakes we’ve made.

I realize I’m not the best person to give advice on this topic. I just know we’ve screwed this one up and I hope you, my readers, are smarter than me.

Lie #4) It’s Someone Else’s Fault

shutterstock_116562400_Man_Being_Blamed_300pxDangit, sometimes I really wish I could blame someone else. The good old blame game–it’s so easy to play, but you can never really win. Like me blaming my parents for not teaching me to save money. It’s not their fault. My own actions got me into debt. And I’m going to have to work my way out of it, fair and square.

I’m not saying that I don’t still allow myself to believe this lie sometimes…like when I have to waste 20 minutes of my day talking to a customer service robot…but you know what? I chose to give my business to that company. Shame on me, not blame on them.

This lie is like one big umbrella. It covers so many areas of life — relationships, money, health, happiness, time, and on and on. I’m trying not to preach, but I truly believe that passing blame and having a victim mentality dilutes our human potential.  We just gotta own it.

***NOTE: The one exception here…when hubby places his dirty socks on a countertop or table…why in the $#@! would he do that?!?! Totally his fault. My fury will be unleashed.

Lie #5) You’re Too Cool for a Minivan, Dammit

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Quick, somebody call the Wambulance because I’m about to cry about this one. Yes, my name is Jenny, and I drive a minivan. There. I said it.

And you know what really pains me… I actually love my minivan. My kids LOVE the minivan. My dogs love the minivan. My hunky husband looks like a huge dork driving the minivan, and he loves it. This is real life, people. Get ready for it.

Denial was expensive. First I had an Equinox – it was uncomfortable. So we traded for an Armada – it guzzled gas when prices hit $4.10/gallon, yikes! Then we were working really hard and super stressed so we traded for a 4-door Jeep Wrangler because it would be “fun” with 2 kids – that was just plain stupid. And finally, after all my kicking and screaming, I surrendered to the practicality of the damn minivan.

I’m pretty sure I wasn’t cool before the minivan, but now I’m just waving my Mom flag loud and proud as I cruise the strip in my “Super Ship” (that’s what my superhero-obsessed sons call it…seriously).

It’s a Nissan Quest. It gets great gas mileage. It’s comfortable and it has a movie player in the back seat. I’m slowly buy surely learning to accept the fact that I’ll be driving a minivan until my kids no longer have to ride in car seats (which probably won’t be until they’re like 18, thanks to super safety laws). Neat.

 

So there you have it. My raw, unadulterated, finger-in-the-air, soapbox-style advice on adulthood. Kids, love your naps and respect your parents. Please and thanks.

Now go forth, and adult like you mean it. 

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Work, Wealth & Health: Spring Shape-Up

The month of March kicks off several challenges for me. Good challenges. The kind that will motivate me to get closer to where I want to be.

 

Work

My work life is a juggle.  My number one priority, full-time gig is trying to be the best mom and wife that I can be.  On the side, I’m employed part-time outside of the house as a marketing and sales associate for a local business.   I am slowly but surely working to build residual income with AdvoCare.  And finally, I have this blog…which isn’t really work.  I do it because I love it.  Someday I hope it turns into an income stream, but for now it’s just a hobby.

This juggle suits me.  I get bored easily, so keeping my days fresh with variety helps me stay sane and happy.  I also feel like the combination of these “jobs” satisfies all parts of my brain — emotional, analytical, creative, personal growth, and social.

This month, I’m challenging myself to step up my Work game.  I’m waking up earlier.  I’m planning my days more effectively.  I’m limiting distractions and I’m setting specific professional goals.

Wealth

Of course, one of my professional goals includes growing my income.  As an employee (at a small, family-owned retail business), my pay is really just dependent on the number of hours I work and the amount of time I’m with the company.  I might be able to squeeze out a raise based on my effort and asserting that I directly add value to the company, but realistically, I expect my income growth there will be slow.  It’s just the nature of the beast.

So among all my “jobs,” the greatest potential for income growth right now is with AdvoCare.  My friend Jeannette–who originally introduced me to this company–went from dead broke to earning over $300,000 a year in just 3 years.  Now, I’m not moving that fast, but I know the possibilities.  Stay tuned to find out more on this.

Next, in my role as CFO of Kirsch, Inc., I’ll be working directly with our Chairman (Hubby) to cut costs and reduce our financial liabilities.  We are using our Debt Busters plan to help us prioritize.  We have one credit card left to go and two loans to knock out within the next 4 years.

Health

And last but not least, I’m going to participate in a 12-Week Transformation Challenge that leads up to summer swimsuit season.  I’ll be using the following products daily:

  • MNS-3 – A comprehensive Metabolic Nutrition System
  • ThermoPlus – A powerful fat-burner
  • Spark – A delicious multi-vitamin energy drink
  • Catalyst – An amazing amino acid supplement that aids in muscle tone and definition.

But in addition to my products, this Momma also needs to get her butt to the gym!

Which leads me to the feature of this post. My very best friend in the whole wide world is married to Mr. Jason Domnanovich, the Director of Sports Performance and a Personal Trainer at The Academy of Athletic Advancement in Mt. Prospect, Illinois.

I must say, Jason is by far the most passionate and committed fitness professional I have ever met. And besides the fact that he’s practically family to me, there truly is no other person I would trust more to help me come up with a workout to share with you guys!

So I reached out to Jason and asked if he could suggest an efficient, full-body workout that can be done 30-minutes either at home or at the gym.

I personally prefer to workout at the gym because I feed off the energy there, but my gym is 40 minutes away from our house! So there is no realistic way I can get there more than 2-3 times a week.

And when I’m at home I have two little minions at my ankles 90% of the time, so if I think I’m going to get a workout done here, it better be quick!

Equipment

All you need for Jason’s routine is a set of dumbbells and a jump rope. I used just  12.5 lb. weights for my first try and felt like that was tough for me!

As I knew he would, Jason delivered a great routine that is just as effective as it is efficient. It can also be easily modified for different fitness levels. He even packaged it up for us in this very cool video…

 

Aim for 10-12 reps of each move and 3-4 circuits

Renegade Row with Pushup

Goblet Squat

Kneeling 1-arm Overhead Press

Dumbell RDL (Romanian Dead Lift/ “Stiff Deads”)

Jump Rope or other cardio burst for 2 minutes

 

My sister and I did this routine last night at the gym and I can confirm…it is a FULL BODY workout! We were sweating, heart rates were up, and I’m positive that I’m going to be feeling it tomorrow. Just try not to spend too much time resting in between exercises. A quick pace will keep your heart rate elevated to burn more calories.

Modifications

The only modification we made was replacing the 2-minute jump rope sets with just 1-minute of mountain climbers (because I’m out of shape and thought I was going to die after 45 seconds). You could also do a high knee jog.   I’m a little embarrassed to say that the only reason we substituted was because I didn’t want to have to go to the front desk to ask for the jump ropes. You do what works for you.

My Pre-Workout Cocktail

We made it through 3 circuits…though I’m pretty sure I have to give some credit to my Amplify AT and  O2 Gold with an Arginine Extreme + BioCharge pre-workout cocktail…because I haven’t pushed myself to that intensity in a long time!

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The Game Plan

I plan to do this routine every other day, increasing the weight of the dumbbells as I go. I’ll aim to do at least 30 minutes of some other cardio activity on the other days, and schedule one rest day each week.

I’d love to hear what you think about this routine. If you are interested in joining me for the 12-Week Transformation Challenge, let me know and I’ll get you some more information.

 

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

Strawberry Pretzel Jello Salad

Strawberry & “Pretzel-Pecan Crack” Jello Fluff SaladIMG_1478

Oh, how I have craved this dish! My first experience with this recipe was in the form of layered bars made my my mother-in-law several years ago. It was indulgent, yet refreshing at the same time. A perfect combination of cool and creamy, sweet and crunchy, with a bit of saltiness to balance it all.

And although the bars were practically perfect in every way, I believe my mash-up here provides all the same textures and flavors in a simplified serving method—just grab a spoon and dig in!

We took this dish along with us to our nephew’s 1st Birthday party, and boy was it a crowd pleaser! I’m tellin’ ya… you can’t go wrong showing up to a party with this one.

I used my Cuisinart Food Processor and Kitchenaid Stand Mixer to help me out, but you could definitely make this without any special equipment.


 

Here is our lineup…

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I started off by pulsing the pretzels and pecans in the food processor until they were finely chopped, but not powdered. Then I stirred in the melted butter and brown sugar using a spatula.

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The “pretzel-pecan crack” mixture gets spread onto a sheet pan and popped into a 400 degree oven for 7-10 minutes. I didn’t do this, but I suggest leaving open space in the center of the pan because the outer edges will cook faster than the center. You’ll want it to be bubbly all over, but not overly brown when you pull it out of the oven.

While your crack is baking, you can work on the Jello Fluff. Boil 1 cup of water on the stove, remove it from the heat and stir in the Jello powder until completely dissolved. Then add the marshmallows and stir until they are mostly melted.

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Mix together the softened cream cheese and pineapple (including the juice), then add the Jello mixture and stir it all together until evenly incorporated. There will be some lumps. No worries.

 

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Pop the Jello mixture into the fridge for 30-45 minutes, or until partially set. By this time your pretzel-pecan crack should be out of the oven and cooling.

Next, chop your strawberries into small pieces and break the cooled crack into about 1-inch pieces.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the strawberries and 1/2 cup of the pretzel-pecan crack to be sprinkled on top of the salad.

Grab the Jello out of the fridge and gently fold in the Cool Whip. When that is evenly combined, fold in the strawberries and as much crack as you want…it’s good stuff so don’t be shy.

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Pile it all into a pretty bowl, sprinkle the reserved strawberries and crack on top and prepare for the ooohs, aaahhhs and yummmms.

 

For a printable version of the recipe, CLICK HERE


Strawberry & “Pretzel-Pecan Crack” Jello Fluff Salad

INGREDIENTS

Pretzel-Pecan Crack

2 c. crunchy pretzels, chopped into tiny pieces (makes about 1 c. chopped)

1 c. pecan halves (or 1/2 c. chopped pecans)

3/4 c. packed light brown sugar

3/4 c. butter, melted

 

Jello Fluff

1 c. boiling water

1 small box of Jello Strawberry geletin powder

1/2 package of Jet-Puffed mini marshmallows (about 3 cups or 5 oz.)

8 oz. can Dole crushed pineapple

8 oz. Philidelphia cream cheese, softened

8 oz. Cool Whip

1 (16 oz) package of fresh strawberries, topped and chopped

 

DIRECTIONS

For the Pretzel-Pecan Crack – Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine chopped pretzels, chopped pecans, brown sugar and melted butter. Spread out onto a rimmed baking sheet, leaving some empty space in the middle of the pan. Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until the mixture is golden brown and bubbling all over. Remove from the oven and place aside to cool.

Once cool and crispy, break into about 1-inch pieces.

For the Jello Fluff – Heat the water in a sauce pan on the stove, once it comes to a rolling boil, remove from the heat and stir in the contents of the Jello package until completely dissolved. Stir in the mini marshmallows until they mostly disovlve.

Combine the softened cream cheese with the pineapple and juice. Add the warm Jello mixture and stir until well combined.   There will probably be some lumps of cream cheese and bits of marshmallow, and that’s okay.

Refrigerate the Jello Fluff for 30-45 minutes or until partially set. Gently fold in the Cool Whip.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the chopped strawberries and 1/2 cup of the crack to be sprinkled on top of the salad. Stir the remaining strawberries and crack into the Jello Fluff.

Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle with toppings and refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

The Slippery Slope of Sleep Debt

imagesThis past weekend, Hub and I left the kiddos with Grammi and took a quick trip with some friends to a cabin in the southernmost part of the state. We had so much fun laughing, catching up, and just decompressing from the daily grind.

The timing of the trip for me couldn’t have been better. You’ll hear me say this far too often—but I do NOT love winter. Like, at all. So a simple change of pace and scenery was just what the doctor ordered to help me nip my S.A.D. in the nads.

For my dear husband, however, a different weekend would have probably served him better. He was scheduled to work 12-hour night shifts Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. He had taken 24 hours of his vacation time to cover the Friday and Saturday shifts, but kept the Sunday and Monday shifts.

Friday night at the cabin, neither of us slept well. Saturday night, I slept great but he still didn’t catch up. Sunday we got home around 11 a.m. hoping that he could get some rest before going into work, but still, sleep evaded him.

After his 6:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. shift Sunday night, he came home and went straight to bed, but was only able to stay asleep until about 11:00 a.m. He lounged around the house Monday afternoon, still not able to make himself take a nap, and pushed through a fourth night without adequate sleep.

So he got home this morning (Tuesday), is scheduled to be off Wednesday and Thursday, then will leave Friday morning at 5:30 a.m. to begin his round of weekend 12-hour day shifts.

Good Lawdy, let’s talk about “sleep debt”! Because my man is seriously in a hole right now. So I want to know: how bad is it and what can we do?

What is “Sleep Debt”?

Sleep Debt was surely established by some hard-number-lovin’ scientists. It’s basically a mathematical equation used to quantify the accumulation of inadequate sleep sessions. It goes like this:

(Number of Ideal Sleep Hours) – (Number of Actual Sleep Hours) = Sleep Debt

So if you usually need 8 hours of sleep to feel well, but only get 6 hours one night, you have a Sleep Debt of 2 hours.

Now, there are stipulations for repaying your “debt.” So let’s take a look…

Balancing the Books

Many sleep studies have been conducted to assess the physical and attentive symptoms of sleep deprivation. In these studies, scientists have concluded that no more than 2 hours of sleep debt can be recouped per day, and only recent debts (within a 1-week span) can be repaid.

Using my man as our example:

Over the course of 4 days, he has accumulated at least 12 hours of sleep debt. He only has Wednesday and Thursday off and can only pay back 2 hours per day. Even if he sleeps soundly for 10 hours both days, he will still have an 8-hour deficit.

When he starts back on shift, he’s only home for 10 hours total in a 24-hour span (after we factor in drive time and shift turnover). So by the time he eats, showers, packs food, etc., he’ll be doing great just to get his full 8 hours on those days.

So at this point, he has to accept that our lovely weekend cost him a total of 8 hours (a full night) of healthy sleep that can never be recovered.

So what…

You Can Sleep When You’re Dead?

Eeesh! I can’t even tell you how horrifying for me it was to research the dangers of sleep deprivation, especially in regards to workers on rotating shifts.

  • Irreversible brain damage
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Psychological disorders
  • Immune system disorders
  • Digestive disorders
  • Attentive and reactive impairment

…And the list goes on and on. The results of sleep studies make it quite clear:

Adequate sleep is as ESSENTIAL to our health

as adequate nutrition and exercise.

And yet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that around 40% of Americans do not maintain healthy sleep habits. And I’m not just pointing my finger at my husband in this post… I’m one of them! I struggle with insomnia and restlessness on a weekly basis. And on top of my own issues, I’m a mother of two pre-schoolers who aren’t awesome sleepers either.

So, What Can We Do About It?

In his book Power Sleep, Dr. James Maas suggests that sleep debt should be paid back by going to bed earlier, not by waking up later. He recommends always keeping the same wake-up schedule to maximize your energy and alertness during the day.

He also suggests that naps can also be helpful for repaying your sleep debts, as long as they occur before 3:00 p.m.

As for sleep quality, I’m sad to say that I have yet to find a miracle solution, but I do keep a box of AdvoCare SleepWorks at home to help me relax if my “busy brain” tries to get the best of me at bedtime. And we also try to practice basic sleep hygiene tips such as:

  • Leaving electronics out of the bedroom
  • Making sure the room is cool and dark
  • “Unplugging” 30-60 minutes prior to bedtime
  • Using a white noise machine
  • Writing out our to-do list for the next day at least 1 hour prior to bedtime
  • Stretch while praying or meditating to relax muscles and calm the mind

I guess what I would like to be the main takeaway here is that sleep is VITAL to our overall health, so we need to be aware of our deficits and how quickly “sleep debt” can pile up.

Of course, as with any topic, I’d love to hear from you on this. Do you have any tips on healthy sleep habits? Feel free to comment below or connect with me on Facebook.

 

 

 

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