If I were to describe the first three quarters of the year, I would say it took lots of adjustment. Like most, I had to cope with a lot of changes in such a short span of time – from getting married in Q4 2019, and moving to our new place and furnishing it, just to be quarantined in it 2 days after we’ve officially moved in. Surprise!
The emotional and mental toll caused me to have different phases such as The Doomsday Prepper, The Germophobe, The Fitness Nut, and The Plantita – my husband has a very high EQ so good for him. But now, on top of the fact that my immediate family has remained safe during the pandemic, I am grateful that I have found solace in the new normal.
I am happy to say that I have found my groove represented by the daily structure that I’m about to share with you now. You are free to follow what’s applicable to you but first, here are some guidelines:
- I know that I might not be able to follow this on the dot every day, and I don’t stress about it. I just do my best to always get back on track.
- If I take time to structure and imagine the next day the night before I sleep, and in the morning before I start with my activities, then I can efficiently group and move tasks when I have scheduled engagements.
- I welcome adjustments that may be required as life progresses such as regular classes, coaching, or kids. Learning the schedule and sticking to it will give the sense of certainty that I need to get started.
Here’s the general structure of my day:
6:00am. Wake up. Check the plants. Do affirmations & breathing exercises.
At 5:00am, our Alexa app shuts off our air-conditioning to slowly force us to wake-up. At 6:00am, it plays the Morning Rhythm Playlist from Spotify – I chose this because the beats are gentle even when played out loud.
Our dog, Chocnut, is the one who gets the job done though. He always looks forward to his morning walks – my husband, TJ’s job – so he will not stop making noises until he is taken out.
The first thing I do is to see if any of my plants look thirsty. It is best to water them first thing in the morning so that the roots have all day to adjust with the moisture introduced.
7:00am. Make coffee or tea. Read fiction. Give Chocnut his first pets of the day.
After doing some quick tidying, it’s time for coffee or tea! I have accumulated a remarkable collection of coffees and teas, and brewing equipment during the quarantine since we are not able to visit cafes. I am happy to make my own healthy beverages.
At this time of day, I read at least 10-15 pages of a fictional book because I barely read fiction. Most of the books I have are about medical nutrition, physiology, food, business or human behavior. I find that it is good to nurture our idealist side as it gives our brains a good balance of thoughts.
8:00am. Do a 45-minute workout, then a 15-minute hygiene time.
In the new normal, we need to be self-sufficient with our workouts. This means being able to choose authentic digital learning tools, especially when it comes to exercise as this comes with risks when not done properly.
MadFit, Fitness Blender, and Yoga with Adriene are three of my go-to Youtube channels when it comes to user-friendliness and reliability. They are good at adapting workouts to both new and skilled audiences.
In a week, I make sure to do strength training, cardio, and flexibility exercises to keep my body at top function.
9:00am. Structure the day. Check messages. Start with the most urgent.
After a workout, I have a quick bath for a fresh start to my day. Before anything else, I moisturize my face to keep the skin hydrated – cleansing dehydrates the top layer of your skin!
Once I’m settled at my workspace, I orient myself about the demands of the day, and see if I have new messages that would command my priorities.
10:00am. Conduct personal or work calls. Continue doing urgent tasks.
This is the earliest time that I would set my personal or professional online meetings or speaking engagements because I feel that I can prepare for them without bulldozing my earlier routines.
On days when I don’t have meetings, I just get an early start to my work day wherein I create outlines and content, prepare for consultations and lectures, or provide input and commentary on team collaborations.
11:00am. Make lunch or continue tasks.
In a day, we would have 2 small and easy meals, and 1 big and complex meal. The easy meals are usually what I call automated meals such as muesli, breads, sandwiches, leftovers, fruits, oats, and basically anything that would require little effort to prepare.
Because I love cooking, I prepare 1 high quality complex meal daily. This takes more time and effort to do. That’s why the big meal for the day depends on my schedule.
12:00pm. Take a break to eat.
For example, I am having a busier morning today so what we have is cheese bread, banana, and chocolate soy milk for our first meal at noon.
Yes, we do meal periodization – otherwise known as intermittent fasting but I stopped using this term since fad diet cults have tainted it. We do it as a simple strategy for disciplining ourselves as we only eat between 12:00pm to 9:00pm.
1:00pm. Focus on task completion – until 5:00pm.
This is the time of the day when I would sit on my desk to get tasks completed. This just means turning off possible distractions, including any chats.
This is the time that I am seated for the longest so I try to end every hour by taking a 5-10 minute break to stand, stretch, and walk.
Sometimes, my breaks involve giving my dog a little attention.
Chocnut is a 3 year old pure shih tzu who is more of a cuddle bug than a high energy type dog. At the start of the quarantine, he was confused because we are home all the time but we don’t play with him.
I guess he’s adjusted too because now he just takes his naps when we are on our computers.
Did you know that you can judge your previous meal by counting how much time elapsed until you feel hungry again?
In general, it is normal to feel peckish about 3 – 4 hours after a meal. Small meals make you hungry at around 3 hours, just like me today.
However, if the last meal you ate was a highly processed high-calorie food item with low nutrient density – like a donut – then you might be hungry in just 2 hours. That’s how a cycle of cravings begin.
Whew! By this hour, I would feel the need to get out of the chair more than ever. But if I am not having any physical discomfort such as a strain in the neck and shoulders, I would implore myself to keep going – like what I did today.
To do that, I would need to revisit the planner and realign myself with what else needs to be accomplished.
If I cannot continue with my seated position, I would first just stretch my spine. Then I would see if I can do something else such as tidying the house, sorting clothes, and organizing storage.
5:00pm. My turn to take Chocnut out to walk and get social with other dogs.
Finally, it’s time to go out! Face mask and shield at the ready, I’m just as excited as Chocnut. We don’t know who among our furry friends we’re going to meet today.
A funny thing among the dog owners these days is that we humans don’t know each other because our faces are covered and have to observe reasonable personal distancing. So for example, people just refer to me as “Chocnut’s mom.”
After our walk, I wash and towel dry Chocnut’s face and paws to keep our place clean.
6:00pm. Make dinner or continue tasks.
I am always excited for my more elaborate meals, especially when I switch up our usuals. So for tonight, we have a Spanish-themed meal of potatoes, chicken, and bell peppers.
I’m wholly thrilled to turn these amazing marble potatoes into my favourite Patatas Bravas! These are potatoes, seasoned & baked, then served with a spicy smoked paprika tomato sauce and a garlic aioli.
Did you know that potatoes are amazingly wholesome sources of good protein and carbohydrates? Not just that, but they are also high in minerals such as iron and potassium, and vitamins such as Vitamin C and Vitamin B6 that help regulate metabolism.
7:00pm. Eat dinner.
Along with the potatoes, we had skinless chicken fillets – fat in poultry are mostly in the skin – rubbed with a mixture of paprika, thyme, sage and garlic powder. These were pan-seared with olive oil.
In the same pan, I sautéed the onions and bell peppers then simply seasoned it with salt, pepper, and a little bit of cumin.
And voila! A healthy and delicious dinner.
8:00pm. Resume tasks. Prepare to close the day and set-up for tomorrow.
After dinner, I just tidy up the table, then TJ takes over the dishes and equipment for washing.
This is the part of the day when I would push myself to review what I’ve worked on throughout the day. I also update my planner, BuJo style, so that I’m on track for the following days.
9:00pm. Take a full bath. Do something relaxing and enjoyable.
One of my house rules is that you are not allowed on the bed if you haven’t taken a full bath. So you have to wash away all the dirt and grime you’ve accumulated all day so that it doesn’t get absorbed by the mattress.
Then I would either read my books, or watch something that a close friend or sibling has recommended. My sister recommended David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet so I watched it – a beautiful, realistic and urgent film.
10:00pm. Wind down. Set the mood for sleep.
One of the last minute projects I took on tonight is to add fairy lights on our vision board so that we can appreciate it when it’s dark.
I choose my scent for the night and turn on my lamps and uplights to try and naturally get my melatonin going.
11:00pm. Take vitamins and complete skin regimen. Time to sleep!
Lastly, I take my supplements to nourish the inside of my body, then I do my skin regimen to nourish the outside and I sleep with a face mask on once a week.
So that pretty much sums up my (new normal) day.
Hope you enjoyed going through the day with me. And always remember to (1) have plans for the future but cherish the moment you’re at; And (2) be accepting of what you can and can’t control to have a good grasp of what to do next.
That’s all for now! Remember: stay healthy and keep safe.