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Health

Developing Your Morning Habit Routine

Fashion, DIY, How To, Healthy, Petite Style, Lifestyle, Inspiration, Style, TravelCrystal JacksonComment
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Lately, I’ve begin growing into the discipline of developing habit routines. After reading a few incredibly inspiring books like Thrive and The Power of Habit I’ve learned to begin my day the way I need to so that I set up a foundation to be kinder, gentler, more compassionate and most of all loving. There was a time in my corporate work career where I moved from one activity to the next without giving any thought to how it might affect my body, mind and soul. After a decade of living like that and burning the entire candle not just both ends, I’ve made a conscious and deliberate effort to change a life of chaos and develop a life of purpose, discernment and intention.

While hardwork and diligence is a discipline, I was far exceeding discipline and I turned it to a full obsession. I was a corporate supervisor’s dream… always ready to tackle more. Always willing to say yes. Never realizing that the more times I said, “yes” without hesitation or intention I was slowly become less of me and more of something I did not want to become. Late nights at work spilled over to not being able to sit still and enjoy time at home. I literally lived in chaos for a decade. Although I appreciate every single experience from that time, I now realize I can achieve a better life by implementing discipline into my morning habit routines that will allow my mind to have the space it needs to flourish. At the beginning of May I set out on a new journey. A journey to redefine my purpose - you can read more about that in last week’s post.

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After exptensive research and trial and error I begin to develop new routines. I start my day with a glass of water beside my bedstand. Before I even move or stretch I get this first glass down to fill my body with the hydration it needs. I spend a few minutes making my bed and stretching. I slowly let my body come alive instead of being my previous pop tart of a self. Then, I read a small meditation or excerpt from something inspiration and journal about thoughts. From there, I make a list of three categories:

  • One Big Thing I’m Going to Accomplish Today

  • Three Important Tasks

  • A Timeline for My Day

I begin with the end in mind which is how I am going to accomplish one big thing. That way if nothing else goes my way, then at least I knocked off one thing. Sometimes the one big thing is a long workout. Sometimes it’s a project or chore. My one big thing has become the center of the day. From there I list three other important tasks - pick up dry cleaning, coffee with a friend, or maybe write a blog post. I base my entire day’s timeline on these four items. I allow plenty of time to accomplish things and keep my schedule simple. I’ll be sharing my daily schedule with you guys over the course of the next few weeks on Instagram Stories.

If I could rewind the clock I would have been kinder to my twenty something self. I would have taken more breaks. Turned off work and slept more. Turned off the phone, the emails and late texts for work. I became consumed with being a slave to deadlines and projects. I literally could not go on a Sunday drive through the city without thinking as I passed by an industrial building that maybe I could help them become a client. While I do believe that many work inspirations can bloom out of the office, I was not being inspired… I had conditioned my mind to think only about work… about the next meeting, the next sale, the next goal I needed to reach to support my family financially. Now my days are different. My morning routine sets me up with intention. I realize what’s important and urgent and what can wait. At the conclusion of my day I reflect upon the things I put on plate and decide if it’s too much or too little. Whatever your current routine is I challenge you to start with just five minutes. Take five minutes to think about your purpose in life. Build your day around that purpose.

How do you prepare for your day? Anything especially helpful? Leave a comment or send me a tweet!

All photographs courtesy of the talented Andrew Sherard.

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Fitness Style: Expectations vs. Reality

Fashion, Healthy, Lifestyle, StyleCrystal JacksonComment
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50% off Until 3pm Today:

Use Code: NEWFAVES

While I usually don’t dress completely in one brand, there are a few exceptions. LOFT is one of those classic but current brands I’ve loved for almost two decades. I wore one of their sweater dresses in yesterday’s post and since they are having a HUGE sale through 3pm today I thought I’d share a workout look with you guys! The reality of working out in style is not always easy to achieve. Sometimes I end up just doing yoga in my living room or BBG in sweatpants. When I head outside I try (not always succeeding) to look somewhat put together. I’ve found a few ways to easily put together athleisure and work out outfits that easily can transfer to other activities like running errands or grabbing coffee.

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One of the easiest ways to throw a good outfit together is to dress in a color scheme of two or three colors. I layered a lavender scarf and puffy vest over a simple lavender long sleeve cotton shirt. The puffy vest is so great for this time of year especially on the warmer days with chilly mornings and evenings. I love being able to stay cozy but not get ridiculously hot. A brisk walk will get the blood moving and all that’s needed is a vest instead of a bulky coat. If you are in a colder area you can layer a cute winter jacket over a coat for additional warmth.

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I love a good pair of leggings and these are made out of the best material. The dark charcoal gray is so slimming and a good change from plain black leggings. You could swap the athletic top and vest for an oversized blazer with pumps to transition this to a work look. Being able to take a pair of pants from dressy to casual or vice versa makes it so versatile and worth purchasing. When you are putting together an athleisure outfit make sure to keep it simple. You don’t want a ton of pieces getting in the way of your workout or being able to just relax.

Shop More LOFT Athleisure

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The reality of working out is that you usually get sweaty. I prefer cotton tops so my body breathes. Due to having sensitive skin synthetic fabrics do not always agree with me. In fact, certain materials (specifically found in sweaters) will break my chest or back out if I wear them all day. To prevent my body from having a bad reaction I try to workout in breathable fabrics or natural materials. Cotton is my absolute favorite because it comes in a great price point and you can wear it most of the year.

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What are your favorite pieces from LOFT right now?

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Create a Sleep Routine and Improve Anxiety

Fashion, Healthy, How To, Inspiration, interior design, Lifestyle, StyleCrystal JacksonComment
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In college and in my twenties I was hands down the worst about getting enough sleep. I am one of those people who have a ton of energy (I’ve been accused of that on more than one occasion) and I would rise before 5am and rest after midnight. Years of trying to meet deadlines, quotas and being hard on myself required me to work diligently into the wee hours of the night. It was exhausting but every day I would push through. Well, fast forward to my 30’s. All of that stress added up and took a toll on my body. Lack of quality sleep became a big factor in developing paralyzing anxiety.

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Anxiety is one of those disorders many people suffer from. You can have varying degrees of it but I got to a point where it was taking over my life. I started fearing EVERYTHING to include passing out in the car (which I’ve never done) to forgetting if I locked my door and obsessing all day about it. When I finally sat down with a psychiatrist last September we discussed what was going on and he talked to me about the importance of sleep. Sleep directly impacts anxiety.

I explained during the visit that I have trouble sleeping. When I lie down at night I suddenly have thousands of thoughts fly through my brain. It’s exhausting mentally, but my brain is so stimulated I can’t find a way to relax and rest. Humans can’t be on the throttle full time every moment. My psychiatrist and I worked on a plan to create a better lifestyle and improve my mental health. It’s now been four months later and although I still have nights where I’m just awake, I have a strategy for getting better consistent rest. Here are a few ways to create a sleep routine if you also struggle in this area:

Create a Nightly Routine

Even though I have bursts of energy and creativity that make spontaneity a huge part of my life having a routine morning and night helps keep me grounded. I have both a morning routine and nightly routine to make sure no matter where I am I feel some sort of stability. French people do routines really well. They love to focus on the balance of life and ensure their bodies are getting the nutrition, exercise and rest needed to fuel them. I did some research and found that routines create a rhythm for all of us. Here’s what a typical night looks like whether I’m on the road or at home:

  1. Take a bath - I start almost every evening by soaking my muscles in warm water. A nightly bath does two things for me. The first is to ease the pain of soreness and relax my muscles. After working out or having a long day, it’s the first step in my nightly routine. It’s almost like hanging your hat when you get home from work. The second is that it is alone time (away from kids, phone calls, etc) and helps my brain move into a relaxing mode. I also start with a bath so it gives my body a few hours to cool down before trying to sleep. Afterwards, I always slip into cozy pajamas and this nightgown and robe is perfect for winding down for the rest of night.

  2. Review tomorrow’s plan - Before I start to get too tired I give my calendar a quick glance to make sure I am aware of anything due tomorrow. Sometimes it’s work related while other times it’s just to see if my child has an event the next day. Knowing where I’m headed tomorrow gives me the chance to jot down a few tasks to do and clear my mind. I also set reminders on my phone (alarms actually) for anything I need to be prepared for or complete.

  3. Journal - Even if you are not a big writer, taking a few minutes to reflect on my emotions or the prior day. I’m REALLY hard on myself and somewhat analytical. If I receive criticism or had an emotional day I oftentimes will keep obsessing over it trying to solve the issue at hand. Being able to release those thoughts on paper also helps give my mind ease and I know if I need to refer back to something in the future I have it written down. Journaling also allows you too spot patterns if you are going through something tough in life.

  4. Play a mind game - This may be different for you, but sometimes giving my brain something to do tires it. Some evenings I play a few rounds of Wordscapes. Lately I’ve been working through logic questions to sharpen my mind using the LSAT Prep app. I really prefer that since I have to work things out on paper and spend less time looking at a screen. You can also buy a word scramble workbook or even just read instead of TV. The idea is to tire your brain a little so it can go to sleep.

  5. Meditate - The last thing I do is turn on Headspace and meditate. I love the new sleep podcasts they’ve created for people with busy minds. Meditation is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I started it back it 2015 when I was going through one of the lowest points of my life. Meditation helps you train your mind to focus on breathing. The deeper your breaths are the more oxygen is sent throughout your body and you can relax. If you don’t want to pay for an app, set a timer on your phone or use your breathe app (one of my favorite features of the apple watch) to focus on deep breathing.

  6. Create a restful environment - One of the ways I’ve achieved this is to have a somewhat tidy bedroom and no TV. Yep, I do not watch TV in bed. In fact, I don’t even get in bed if I’m not trying to go to sleep. I complete my journaling, mind games and daily planning from my couch or desk instead of taking those tasks into my sleep space. If you live in a studio or smaller space then try not to use your bed for anything but sleep. Once I do crawl in bed I turn on headspace and my body knows it’s time to let go for the day. Having nice sheets, comfy pj’s (you can check out my Cozy Winter Pajamas post from December here), the fan on and low lighting also helps!

Now the above routine didn’t happen all at once. I started with creating a good environment and a bath then slowly added what worked best for me. Sometimes, I’ll have a cup of herbal tea or put lavender oil in my diffuser. Whatever routine you decide to start, begin as early as you can and be as consistent as possible. See what works best for your body and make notes. Last but not least, if I am wide awake I will get out of bed go do a few tasks or read and attempt an hour or two later.

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What are ways you try to get better sleep? Any suggestions?

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Getting More Activity in Every Day

Fashion, Healthy, Inspiration, StyleCrystal JacksonComment
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Back in 2014 I ended up with a knee injury that caused me to wear a brace. It was pretty ecruiciating to walk most days and I found out that I tore my miniscus which is a little muscle on the inside of the knee. Up until that point I was walking every day in heels for work and at least an hour in workout gear after I arrived home. On weekends I tried to clock 4-6 miles on Saturday. But my knee was in the worst pain. It left me from walking all of the time to zero. Soon enough my muscles grew out of shape, stress increased and I entered a lower point in my life.

Being that walking was my number one form of exercise up until that point outside of dance which now I could do neither for a while. It was so hard and frustrating. I think we all go through peaks and valleys of working out and feeling really fit. I’ve been unhealthy and skinny and I’ve also been healthy and fit. I had to start slow after my knee injury and build back up my endurance to walking. I’m sharing this with you all, because whether you are out of shape, overweight or have undergone an injury yourself you can increase your activity little by little everyday to get enough activity in to help maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The other day I ran into an acquaintance whom saw me walk often to pick my daughter up from after school care. She asked if I still walked as much and I answered “yes, of course.” Now I just walk to different places since my kiddo rides the school bus. I thought back to that time in my life when walking a mile felt so heavy and difficult. It felt like with each step my body was made out of lead. I thought with so many people’s new years resolutions includes getting back into shape or exercising regularly today would be a good time to talk about building endurance by increasing your step count.

Wear Comfortable Shoes

I always have a purse big enough to throw a pair of flats in it. NEVER use the excuse that your shoes are uncomfortable. You can store a pair of flats in your desk for lunch walks or keep them in a larger purse if you are going out for the evening. Recently, I bought this pair and they required ZERO breaking in. Actually, I have a ton of cute flats that are comfortable and stylish for dressy outfits. I’ve rounded up my top used flats and sneakers for you guys below if you are looking for a good pair. Choose a neutral color like blush, white, black, tan or a navy so they go with lots of outfits!

Download a Step Tracking App

Last week I shared about my Favorite Features of the IPhone Watch which uses an activity app to push you to exercise, burn calories and stand throughout the day. Prior to my watch I used both the Apple Health App and Runtastic App to achieve tracking my steps. What I really like about the Runtastic App is how it shows you on a pie chart displaying every month the days you hit less than half of your goal, less than your goal but more than half, and when you hit your goal. It also averages your activity steps every month. I loved using it! Even though I have my watch now, I still reference Steps on my phone when I do not utilize my watch. I think the first step in improving ANYTHING in your life is to begin by tracking progress. Take a picture of today in a typical workout outfit and start monitoring what your body is doing over the next few weeks.

Create the Habit of Walking

Our bodies love knowing what to expect. For the first two-three weeks just make it a point to walk every single day. Maybe that’s for 15 minutes at lunch or when you get off work. Set an alarm to remind you to get up and get moving no matter what. When I worked at a desk I used to walk the first half of my lunch break and the second half I’d eat what I brought for lunch. It worked out perfectly for months. Once I created that habit, I would walk for longer and faster periods of time to burn more calories. So much of exercise is mental (ask any yogi and they will talk about how the alignment of the brain and body is key to holding half of those poses!) For the first few weeks just focus on a walk every day to get into the habit of it. Don’t worry about speed or distance. Set a time of 15-30 minutes and just get moving.

Take the Long Route

Unless I’m in a HUGE hurry I park as far from anything that I can and walk. It may be a trip to Target or meeting up with a friend at dinner but I park at the furthest point from the entrance in the parking lot as possible. If I’m at a shopping center I park at one end and do not move my car until I’ve run all of my errands in that area. Yep, the long route is an easy way to get more steps in daily. Walking takes so little mental effort. You put shoes on and get up to go. It takes me far less time to park at the back and walk inside somewhere than it does to fight traffic finding a close spot. If I’m just grabbing a few things from a grocery store, I walk to it! I am lucky that I live about a half mile from a store but I can take longer routes if I have extra time to pick up a few groceries. I also live within 2 miles of two coffee shops. You better believe I walk to both! Taking that long route gives me a reason to exercise.

When Strapped for Time Set a Timer

Most days I have some sort of a schedule or time constraints therefore I set a time for half of the time I have available to exercise and walk in a single direction. When the timer is up I turn around. For instance, if I am awaiting a friend for lunch and arrive 10 minutes early I set a timer on my phone for 5 minutes and walk down the street. Then, when the timer goes off I turn around and come back. A good rule of thumb is 1,000 steps for 10 minutes if you are going at a moderate pace. All of those little 10 minute increments add up! Another trick is to take an extra lap all the way around the grocery store or even a department store when shopping. We have humongous grocery stores in Texas and most of the year it’s really warm. I take advantage of their air conditioning and add a lap in before I check out.


Take a Walk When Recieving Phone Calls

Whether you decide to pace around your home or go on a strut outside phone calls are an easy way to get more steps in. Plus, you feel more energized when you are engaged and active. I use my walks to catch up with friends, make work calls or even conference calls that don’t require a lot of notes. Again, it’s super easy and only requires you to get up and get moving. Lately, I’ve entered the world of listening to podcasts. A walk is a perfect time to kill two birds with one stone. Go for a walk before work for 15 minutes and listen to a motivating podcast or informational podcast. I’ve been loving the Instagram Husband series! It’s been really insightful and inspirational. You can also learn a new language while walking with a language podcast or app.

Take the Stairs or Walk Up an Escalator

This is probably my favorite tip! I take the stairs up parking garages (yes all five or six flights) or at the airport to get to baggage claim. If I see the option to only take an escalator I walk up or down to stay moving. I also live on the second floor at my apartment building so getting in multiple flights is pretty easy with a dog needing to go out several times a day. Remember you are looking for the long route at all times. Take advantage of stairs and you’ll see you work muscles in your legs you didn’t know you even had.

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Involve the Family

Dogs are a good way to get you out an moving. They are always eager and love to spend time with you. They can easily add a couple thousand steps to your day without you having to give it much thought. There was a time where I would walk my dog while pushing a stroller with my toddler. We’d go for hours stopping at a park to play. I’d bring snacks for the kiddo and a coloring book or her tablet to play with to keep her busy. Now she’s too big for that so we use walks to spend quality time together. I stay off my phone and focus on our conversations. It’s so much like car time. My daughter now walks 4-5 miles with me to grab dinner, go to the grocery store or just make a few laps at the park. Oftentimes, I incentvize her to make the process a positive thing. But really, she enjoys getting to talk more than anything!

The more steps you take, the lighter your body will feel. You can reference your step tracking apps and pictures to keep you motivated and track your progress. Start by just walking and soon you’ll find your body feels so much lighter, you have more energy and you are naturally incorporating more steps into your every day life!

What are some ways you try to get more activity in your day?

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Favorite Features of the Apple Watch

Style, Lifestyle, Healthy, FashionCrystal JacksonComment
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As much as I love technology and worked in the tech field for a decade you may be surprised that I’m not always the first person to jump on the new gadget bandwagon. I’ve found over the years that first editions of most tech devices are overly expensive and come with glitches or kinks to be worked out over time. That’s why when the apple watch debuted a few years ago I wasn’t the first to go out and buy one. I wasn’t really sure why I would need a watch on top of my cell phone. Although I love watches (like this beautiful wood version from JORD), they haven’t been an item I wear everyday.

Let’s fast forward to today. After months of research about the Apple watch, I decided I wanted to get one. Lucky me received it for Christmas this year and I couldn’t be happier. In fact, it was my favorite gift received this year! I’m still getting to know all of the functionality but for today’s post I thought I would share what I already love after using it for just a few weeks.

Effortless Set Up

One of my hesitations for upgrading my cell phone is that it’s such a pain to set up a new gadget. The Apple watch is different. You charge it up, turn it on and it walks you through exactly what to do and how to pair it with your phone. I have zero clue if it can be used with non-Apple products, but if you are an iPhone user it’s completely effortless. Apple has this amazing ability to make things easy. Apple also trains you on new features as they roll out which is another reason to love their products. The easier something is to set up the more motivated I am to immediately put it into good use.

Getting Directions on Your Watch

I oftentimes am not the one driving but the designated navigator. I found that it’s so easy to miss your turn when you are the navigator if you get distracted by multi-tasking. With the apple watch it automatically gives you directional updates and vibrates your wrist when you need to make a change in your route. It’s saved me many times already from missing my next turn (thus, decreasing the stress on the actual driver - haha!) Now I know when my watch notifies me to quickly make a move in the next direction.

Closing those Activity Rings

Tracking my steps was the number one reason I wanted to get an Apple watch. I know there are Fitbits and other pedometers, but I’m one of those people who likes less than more when it comes to gadgets. I figured if I was going to invest in a step tracker it might as well sync with my health app on my cell phone. What I discovered about the Apple watch is it challenges you more and more everyday. It reminds me when I’ve been sitting too long and tells me if I’m behind in the day on hitting my activity goals. It also separates exercise from steps by measuring your heart rate. It’s almost become a game to me to make sure I close all of the rings each day.

Answer Calls Without Having to Pull Your Phone Out

There’s nothing worse than being out and about with your phone tucked away in a pocket or purse when you receive an important call you just don’t want to miss. The watch will allow you to put a call on speaker so you don’t even have to touch your phone! Also, if you don’t want to answer a call you can simply dismiss it using your watch instead of your phone. The best part is, your phone doesn’t duplicate things! If you dismiss a call on your watch it doesn’t tell you that you have a missed call on your phone. The two act in tandem to make things easier!

Relax and Breathe Feature

This was an unexpected feature I’ve grown to enjoy. The breathe feature will randomly remind me to take a full minute and focus on breathing. It uses an expanding and contracting visual design to help you take a moment to relax. Being a person diagnosed with anxiety and panic disorder this really helps me slow down throughout the day. I am defintiely one that needs to be reminded to relax and the app is perfect for keeping me on track!

There are a ton of other features that I know I haven’t even explored yet. The ones listed above were immediately active when I started using my watch! I love the silicon pink band and overall aesthetic of the rose gold face of this version. I’ve found it looks great with most of my casual outfits and if I get dressed up I can still wear it under long sleeves. I plan on eventually looking for a dressier band but for now I’ll stick with the classic blush pink hue this one came with!

If you have an Apple watch, what are your favorite features?

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