Hell Week Day 1: Habits

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Erik Bertrand Larssen for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

If you have been reading my latest posts, you know I am participating in the Hell Week Challenge based off the book “Hell Week: 7 Days to Be Your Best Self” by Erik Bertrand Larssen. I explained what Hell Week is all about and shared about my experience preparing to take the Hell Week Challenge. If you want to join me or start your own Hell Week Challenge next week, grab a copy of this super helpful book from Amazon.


If you are completing the challenge with me, be sure to use #HellWeekChallenge and #HellWeekTAOMAB so I can follow along with you!

So the Hell Week has started, and it doesn’t feel that hellish…YET.

There is not much that I had to change to adjust to Hell Week for the challenge.

I had to get up 2 hours earlier, at 5 am, I had to continue eating healthy like I already do, exercise daily like I already do, and focus like I try to do every day.

And yet, I am finding my weak spots, my energy and time drainers and finding some things more challenging than I thought.

So here is how I feel about doing all the rules today:

1. Wake Up at 5 am, Go to Bed at 10 pm

Easy peasy. I was dreading it the most, as most know I am not a morning person. So, I went to bed at 10:00 (or 10:30 once Lexi was asleep and I texted everyone good night) and my alarm went off around 4:30 am ( I use sleep cycle that tracks your sleep and wakes you up when you’re in the lightest sleep stage). I got up, I went to the kitchen and started preparing the meals for the day. I had a pear, made some eggs and spent the next 1-1.5 hours making food for the afternoon.

I packed my volleyball bag for the evening and prepared my outfit. I packed Lexi’s outfit and I was done.

Then I sat down at my computer and started getting some work done and writing a post once those were complete.

The most amazing thing is I felt like I had enough sleep. That’s all that matters, right?


2. Look your absolute best at all times

Ugh! Can I just say UGH? Why? Because I don’t have time. I am already exercising 3-4 hours a day, cooking for about 2 hours a day, driving for 2-3 hours a day, why do I need to spend 1 hour when no one will see me. Insert pouty face.

Instead I am putting my own spin on this. I am all for looking my best and taking the time to do it when I go out in public. I get where this week is about forming habits, not necessarily making sense.

Curling my hair and doing full make up for 2 hours that I don’t have is not a valuable habit for me. I would like to make a habit to shower, moisturize my face and my body every time, brush and floss my teeth twice daily, brush my hair when you wake up, exfoliate. Things that are extras but are going to keep your body in better shape as you get older. That’s the habit I want to form. So I will make sure I look my best when going out in public, but for the purpose of this exercise I want to make habits and a routine of taking care of my skin more than anything.

And even that is a challenge. I HATE taking the time to do all that when I know that my work time is limited and in just a few hours I have to pick up Lexi from school. But it’s important to me. So I’ll do it.

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3. Exercise to the extreme

After I sent Lexi off to school, I went for a rollerblading run. I was pushing the blades along the pavement, reveling in the burn in my muscles I was receiving. Something that Erik Larssen wrote in his book that stuck with me was that we need to receive pleasure from adversity. So I was enjoying the pain, enjoying feeling it, enjoying pushing harder. It’s something that I discovered motivates me (and other athletes) and what made me turn the corner on the “dreaded gym days.” It was when I learned to enjoy the pain, knowing what it is doing to me, my health and my muscles, that I started enjoying going to the gym. I applied the same here. I only rollerbladed for 20 minutes, because it was meant to serve as a jump start to the day, rather than exercise. I have 3 hours of intense volleyball cardio in the evening so I didn’t need to waste more than 20 minutes of my day on more cardio. Though, I am thinking I would probably do some harder and longer blading on my non-volleyball days.

4. Stick to a healthy diet

Got it! No problem here. I am always a really healthy eater, and recently I got on this meal prep kick which ensures that I do not ever eat junk food. Voila! This challenge helps me make food prep a priority. In those two extra hours I get in the morning, that is what I am doing. Today I made 4 meals for the day each with 2 oz of shrimp, 2 oz of mushrooms, 1/4 zucchini, 1/3 of edamame peas and buckwheat noodles. I will be eating them about 2-3 hours apart with the last meal being after volleyball. If you don’t want to make your own meals, you can always have your bodybuilding meals delivered

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5. Take charge of your digital life

Horrible. really horrible. I suck at this. I wanted to do better with it off the get go, but seeing as my work is on social media it took me at least half a day to get my bearings and set the right limits. And I will probably continue working on it. In the meantime, Elena, get the F off Instagram! I don’t watch TV, so that’s not an issue.

6. Get hyperfocused

I discuss this a bit below, but damn, for as focused as I get, there a million things vying for my attention, including that darned left hand reaching for the phone to check texts and social media every time there is a pause in thought or action. SLAP! Get back here, left hand! Again, I am working on it. Focus! Hyper focus! It’s a process, that’s for sure.

7. Step up your game

Dude, my game is already stepped, there is nowhere else to go! I am an intense person. I really am. This is why Hell Week appeals to me so much just as an exercise. I find it fun to challenge myself. But I am not perfect and I could use some improvement even in this department. Doing everything as intensely as I like to do gets tiring sometimes, so I rest, and you know what, I hate that rest. I just want to go go go and do do do, all the time. I can push myself harder and further. Not just in things that I enjoy but in everything. I like that.

I didn’t think I turned up the intensity today as much. Probably because there is nowhere to turn it up to, but I am just gearing up. I want to find that extra step I can take. Thank you, Hell Week! I love you. I am so happy!

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MONDAY task: Analyzing your habits

As part of the first day I am supposed to look at my negative habits. Over the years, I’ve done this on my own and tried to eliminate them, so there is nothing I found ASIDE from what Hell week attempts to correct.

I am ADDICTED to my phone and social media. It is a true problem. partially because my work is all about social media, partially because I work from home and I crave the social aspect I am not getting. Add to that, I am a strong extrovert, and you can easily understand why I feel I need it.

However, it is one thing is to need it and use it wisely, it is another thing is to allow it to distract you. And that’s what I have allowed it to do. I have been trying to resist checking it as per Hell week rules, but I haven’t been able to justify not doing what essentially is my job. But it takes a lot of time and distracts from what I am doing.

I am currently devising a plan on how to control it and keep it updated in a more systematic way. The nature of social media is so fluid and in the NOW, that scheduling content seems “fake” (and i do schedule some content). I want to post when something happens if I can, when I am motivated to post.
Seeing as I do not have a very good plan on how to deal with this, I am going to have to sit down and come up with one.

The second issue I see is focus in general. While I consider myself pretty focused, I have so many important things running though my mind that often in the middle of a longer task, I get carried away by the thought that makes me do something else. For example, I will be writing a post, which takes about 3-4 hours to get to completion, and in the middle of that I will remember that I need to get a SATA connector for my 2nd hard drive (real life example that happened to me this morning). It takes two seconds and if I don’t do it, I will forget. So I do it. One item off the to do list (except for it was never on the list anyways, it was in my head, so I don’t even get the satisfaction of crossing it off), but I lost my train of thought in the post I was writing. Yes, the connector was more urgent than the post, but does it justify me pulling away from doing what I was doing? I don’t know. I believe in being flexible, but does it hinder me? I think it probably does.

Then I think of how great it would be if this post would write itself and how I could just speak it and my computer would type for me while I do other things. So I go to look for an app on my computer that will do it. You see what I mean? It’s incessant. If I don’t do the things that pop in my head, I will never get to them and they will periodically be bugging me. If I get them done right there and then, I will be constantly pulling away from what I am doing.

So this is something to think about too. Check in with me tomorrow to see how things evolve and see how I handle the theme and challenge for Tuesday!

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  • Reply
    June 29, 2016 at 6:55 PM

    Hi! I also struggle with being distracted from the task at hand by remembering or thinking of things I also need to do. One thing I read that has worked for me is to keep a notepad near you while you work and jot down ideas that come to you to do later. So for instance you could have written down to buy a connector or look up an app and do those things later. Also at that later point you might decide that those things are not that important after all . Hope this helps! Thank you for the info on hell week.

    • Reply
      Elena @The Art of Making a Baby
      June 30, 2016 at 3:55 PM

      Yes! That’s exactly what I do but with my to do list. I open my wunderlist and just add it to inbox and sort later. But I still find it takes away focus from what I am doing!
      great suggestion!

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