15 Simple Habits That Have Changed My Life

Kristen Marks

by Kristen Marks

Kristen Marks is a travel enthusiast, empty-nest mom to two young adult children, athlete, attorney, author, speaker, proud wife of almost three decades (to the same wonderful man!), and the founder of My Pink Lawyer®, Florida Estate & Legacy Planning attorneys. Kristen has been crafting professional estate plans for Floridians and their families for over 28 years.

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I read a book once that said by changing one small thing in your life, it often has a domino effect on other areas of your life.


I’ve often found this to be true. For example, the more I am working out, the more I naturally choose to eat healthier. On the other hand, if I’m going through a “lazy” stage and not working out much, you’ll find me more frequently scavenging the pantry or refrigerator, oftentimes out of boredom.


Well, I’ve been a busy bee so far this year in implementing new habit changes to improve my life with much success (if I do say so myself!). Here they are in no particular order of importance. Hopefully you’ll find them helpful too.


Physical Health:


 1. I weigh myself every morning when I wake up and log it in a journal.


Yes, our weight fluctuates daily (water weight and all that) but I’ve found that just by weighing myself and then recording it, that I know where I stand that day. Weigh a couple more pounds than yesterday? You better believe that I’m remembering the scale when I decide whether to indulge in dessert that evening or that second helping of dinner.

Plus, by logging my weight in a journal (you can also use an app on your phone), I can track my weight trends compared to my workout schedule and anything else extraordinary going on in my life, such as travel or if I’m sick.


2. Sometimes I track everything I eat and drink too.


Similar to habit #1, if I’m feeling particularly “stuck” at a given weight, I will simply log everything I eat and drink that day. I use an app on my phone for this which tracks my ongoing calorie count for the day and logs the macros I am consuming that day (carbs, protein & fat).


Although I don’t deprive myself of eating anything, you better believe I think twice before popping that Oreo into my mouth mid-afternoon when I need a pick-me-up. The very thought of having to record the Oreo in my app sometimes just seems too depressing and not worth the effort.


3. I eat the same breakfast, lunch, and snack every day.


To eliminate decision fatigue and to maintain my ideal weight, I have recently begun to eat the same healthy breakfast, lunch, and snack. By planning these meals in advance, I eliminate last-minute hungry foraging and feel confident that I am eating healthy foods. I don’t do this for dinners because (a) my husband often cooks, and (b) my family likes variety in their meals. I won’t force my “unusual” eating habits on them!


4. I sleep at least 8 hours each night.


I’m actually pretty good at this but I’ve been particularly aware of it lately since I’ve eliminated some early morning workouts recently. I love waking up rested and maybe it’s just in my head, but it seems like it’s easier to maintain my weight when I get at least 8 hours of sleep each night.


5. I’ve changed my internal dialog about hunger.


This came from a Tony Robbins book I read recently about changing your frame of reference. Instead of telling myself that I’m feeling “hungry,” I tell myself that I am feeling “alive” or “spectacularly alive” if I’m really famished. Sounds crazy I know but this simple change of dialog makes me grateful to feel hungry in the first place. After all, I’m still alive and healthy to even feel hunger in the first place!


6. I intermittent fast.


Unless I’m going on a long run or a race, I try to only eat between the hours of 10am and 6:30pm. By limiting the hours you ingest calories, you are allowing your body to enter a fasting state which promotes fat loss. Plus, I’m training my body and my mind that it’s ok to feel “alive” during the other hours of the day! There’s nothing wrong with a little self-discipline either.


Mental Health:


7. I leave my work at work.


That’s right. When I leave the office, I leave my work there as well. No more bringing work home. No more checking work emails from home. No more working on weekends. This break allows me to return to the office refreshed and even more motivated to serve my clients. Having another attorney in the office helps me with this one. Thank you, Amanda!


8. I reduced my social media consumption.


I don’t have to tell many of you that Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and other social media outlets can quickly become black holes for our time and our energy. Although I still post on Facebook (though much less frequently this year), I do so mostly for my own posterity. I consume very little content on Facebook. I don’t miss the advertisements or political rants, though I admit that I do sometimes miss the crazy cat photos!


9.  I only read my Kindle in bed.


I love to read and read every night in bed. Digital books are my thing and I used to read them on my iPad in bed. However, I found that if I am on my iPad, I’m always tempted to check emails, look something up online, or visit Pinterest, or shop online, or …. you get the picture. I would end up staying up way too late and sometimes even spend too much money (Sale ends tonight at midnight!)


So, I instead switched to reading on my Kindle in bed rather than my iPad. In fact, my iPad is not even allowed in the bedroom at night. The only shopping I can do on the Kindle is to download another book. Not only am I now going to sleep earlier, but I’m spending less money, and I’m reading a ton more books.


10. I’ve cut back on my activities.


You previously read that I am a recovering activity addict. Something had to change because I was tired of running around like a chicken with my head cut off.


In deciding what activities to eliminate from my personal schedule, I came up with a list of personal priorities for this year. My list looks like this:


  • Spend time with family and friends.
  • Stay strong, lean, and healthy.
  • Have adventures.
  • Read and learn.
  • Write and create.
  • Improve my financial health.


When I run any proposed activity through the above framework, it becomes super easy to decide what activities to dump, what activities to add, and what activities to keep in my life.


Running and working out make the cut because it helps me stay strong, lean, and healthy. Plus, our destination races and ultra races make for great adventures!


Andrew and I have started monthly dinner socials at our condo. I admit that I actually dreaded these dinners in the beginning because I’m a natural introvert. However, now that we’ve hosted three or four of them, I actually look forward to the next one.


I am reading a butt load of non-fiction books. I’m working my way through books on decluttering, simple living, and financial independence. I’ve probably read at least 12 books so far this year.


I continue to blog and write these emails regularly. I also have some book ideas rattling around in my brain. Writing provides me with a creative outlet and judging from your feedback, many of you enjoy reading my posts. Thank you for reading!


11. I spend 5-10 minutes every evening picking up the house before bed.


I do a sweep through our living room every evening and return all errant items to their rightful owners or places. I wipe down the kitchen counters and maybe run the vacuum for five minutes. It’s absolutely lovely to wake up to a clean living space and it doesn’t take much time when you do it every evening!


Financial Health:


12. I no longer “go shopping.”


Oh, my daughter who is away at college will hate this one! Shopping is no longer an activity in my life. Sure, if I’m on vacation and we happen to pass a shop, I’m not averse to going inside and browsing. But gone are the special trips to T.J. Maxx, DSW, the mall, etc. to see what sales are going on and what new inventory might be in stock. When did shopping become a de facto pastime anyway? It sure wasn’t when I was growing up.


This doesn’t mean that I no longer buy things. I just don’t go shop for “stuff” per se. If I really need something (note that I said “need” and not “want”), I can always order it online or wait until I happen to pass by a store that I know will sell such item. Then I just go in, buy said item, and be on my way again before the siren call of “sales” beckon to me.


13. I no longer buy anything online in bed.


Going back to #9, since I no longer have my iPad in bed with me, I have no way to shop online in my bedroom. Poor Amazon doesn’t know where I’ve disappeared to! This has saved us a buttload of money in just the past two months.


14. I track every expense on my phone.


Similar to tracking my food, I am currently tracking every expenditure I make using an app on my phone. Cash, check, credit card, it doesn’t matter.


You can only change what you monitor and I wanted to stop mindlessly spending money on “stuff” that doesn’t matter. Just like tracking my food, having to track every single purchase is a huge deterrent to spending anything at all. Do I really want to log a meal out when I can easily whip something up at home? That $7 Starbucks coffee? (I don’t skimp on tips!) Not today thank you very much.


15. I carry cash with me and have removed my credit card from my wallet.


I can only spend what I have on me and there’s only so much cash to go around, folks. ‘Nuff said.


So, what do you think? Anything helpful here? What habits are serving you well in your life? I’d love to hear from you!


Kristen “Getting My S*&! Together This Year” Marks


P.S. There’s an amazing women’s self-defense workshop coming to town on March 2nd and 3rd. Space is limited. You can register online here or by calling 850-934-7977.


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