7 New Things I’m Doing in January {SQT}

1. ABA

We finally started ABA, and it has been wonderful! My dear almost-3-year-old man separates easily, engages with his super-fun therapist, and has learned so much already. His goals are mostly language, attentiveness, and self-regulation. Yesterday we did a whole puzzle together, and then he helped me clean up his room (without being asked!) That never happened before!

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Make Everything Easier with Good Habits

How do you form good habits? Most of us say “I want a new habit, guess I just have to work out for a few weeks. If I stick with it, eventually it will become second nature.” Nope! Habits don’t magically appear out of repetition.


Here’s an example: Let’s say your New Year’s resolution for 2016, you wake up, and smack yourself in the face with a frying pan. It’s character building. You knuckle down, and keep doing it For 365 mornings in a row, you diligently whack yourself to uphold your yearly promise.


On January 1st, 2017, will you smack yourself again? I’m betting not.


You had only done it so long out of sheer willpower, not easy habit. The same thing happens with so many diets or exercise programs.


You do a Whole30, and a month later you’re eating a whole pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Finish the 30 Day Shred, and you never want to see Jillian Michaels toned face again. Having reached the deadline, you leave the routine behind.

Where did your habit building go wrong?


I absolutely love Habits by Charles Duhigg. He breaks the construction and purpose of habits down to an exact science. Here’s the big secret: you cannot muscle through on willpower alone.


Habits have a distinct beginning and end point. The framework of habit building goes cue -> routine -> reward.


Most of us zero in on only the middle part, routine. You didn’t hang the routine on a cue, or finish it with a reward!
How do you form good habits? Habits don't magically appear out of repetition. Bad habits and good habits alike are built in three simple steps.

To form good habits, find your cue

Rather than trying to create a new habit from scratch, hook it onto an existing cue.


As an example, I struggle with late-night snacking. Almost every night, I sink into the couch at the end of a long tiring day. I laugh with my husband at our favorite show. Then I mindlessly, habitually, get myself a little treat.


My cue is relaxing on the couch at night. Until recently, my routine was to get an unhealthy after-dinner treat.

Insert your new routine

Instead of snacks like popcorn or ice cream, I’ve switched to a nice tea. Now I have special caffeine-free teas and a mug, all on a delicate tray on the counter.


I look forward to my tea time. As I pass the tea tray with a basket of laundry (or hungry toddler), I envision the ritual of making tea in the coming evening. The anticipation makes it 10x more satisfying.

Finish your good habit with a natural reward

Ideally this will be the same reward as you had originally in your bad habit. So if the exhilaration of victory enticed you to endless hours of video games, the reward of a cozy scarf will not take you from MMORPG champ to crochet queen.


The tea time reward is a very particular feeling of indulgence and self-care. I feel the warmth of the cup. Inhale the fragrant steam. Sink down into the couch cushions beside my hubby. Much as I did with a bowl of ice cream, only I consume far fewer calories now.

By keeping the reward and cue the same, you can focus all your efforts on changing the routine. What are some bad habits you’d like to improve? Or good habits you’ve been meaning to implement?

7 Ways My Fitbit Makes Me A Better Person

First of all, this isn’t a sponsored post or Fitbit review. Fitbit Inc doesn’t even know I exist. Links are affiliate, because it’s a product I personally bought and love. Glad we got that out of the way 🙂


My sweet husband, understanding my desire for practical gifts, bought me a Fitbit Alta for my birthday present this year. After getting it set up, I’ve had so much fun with it!


Yes, you will be more active and less of a couch potato. With a glance at your wrist, you see how much or how little you’ve moved today. But that’s barely half the functionality. Here are some unexpected ways a Fitbit can made you a better person.

Fitbit Aria

  1. Less snoozing, since the Fitbit Alta tracks your sleep. I  hop to it, when my silent, vibrating alarm goes off. If I don’t, there will be a digital record showing I hit snooze twice. Ok, 4 times. But now I’m beating the sloth-monster by rising on time!

  2. In the neverending quest to get more steps, I’ve become a park mom. Every day, my son plays on the community playground. The fresh air and exercise benefit him too!

  3. Among my friends, I’m a late adopter of the Fitbit technology. Now I have a new way to connect with them online. We’re in a private encouragement group on the Fitbit app. Plus, we compete in daily step challenges. You literally cheer each other on!

  4. Another consequence of the accurate sleep tracking. I’ve had to stop playing the “I’m more tired” game. You know when moms compare and basically brag about being tired?

    Radical honesty. I’m only tired because I stayed up until 12:19 last night. But not that tired, since I was restless a mere 3x, and slept 7 hours through the night. I’m not going to one-up anyone. My lack of sleep is my own fault.

  5. My dachshund, originally a reluctant partner for our long daily walks, is no longer one of the 53% of American dogs who are overweight. I’m a better pet parent!

  6. I’m building community. To many of my neighbors I’m “the walking lady.” We see each other every day on my walks, or as I circle the playground. I frequently stop for a quick chat, and really connect.

  7. As we learned from Legally Blonde, exercise creates endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t shoot their husbands. My husband hit a home-run with this gift!

How has your personal journey towards fitness and health improved others’ lives? Drop me a comment below!

4 Steps to Overcome Decision Paralysis

How many times have you been unable to make a simple decision?

It’s not that you were tired, hungry, cranky, or otherwise indisposed. You were just frozen, unable to choose between a variety of options. We have all been there.

The source of decision paralysis lies in anxiety! The best ways I have found to conquer decision paralysis are through changing a few negative thinking habits, and harnessing my little wins for future success.

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How to Find Your Core Competencies

Cultivate a greater sense of ownership over the necessary, everyday, unglamorous tasks. Caring for your home, and your loved ones is more vibrant when it is intentional. Click to read more.

The first time I encountered Laura Vanderkam’s definition of core competencies, I was awestruck. “What do I do best, that other people cannot do nearly as well or do at all?” I clutched my little Kindle in hand, and read the lines over and over again. In the background played the measured, steady breathing of my sweet toddler son, asleep in the bed next to me. I let the question roll back and forth in my mind.

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