8 Habits to Do Before Bed to Organize a Healthier Lifestyle and LOSE WEIGHT

 

8 Habits to Do Before Bed to Create a Healthier Lifestyle and Lose Weight

Losing weight is about lifestyle. Period. If you can include healthier habits into your daily routine then weight loss will happen naturally.

When I say healthy habits your brain might automatically go to “I need to eat certain foods” or “I need to exercise”. I want to push you to think beyond the basics of weight loss. Beyond the calories in and calories out.

MY OTHER RECIPES

Healthy habits don’t need to focus solely on food groups, or specifically what and what not to eat. Yes food’s important and you need to pay attention to calories, fat, and points (if you use Weight Watchers). However, one thing I’ve learned about sustainable weight loss is my environment absolutely needs to support and encourage my weight loss goals. If not, I fight a constant uphill battle. For example, I know should exercise 5-6 times a week. But if I don’t get enough sleep, have my clothes ready, and get up early then exercise is not going to happen. So it’s not about exercise per se but the things (habits) I do that will make exercise a priority. I know life isn’t perfect and sometimes I need to suck it up and exercise regardless but if I want exercise to be a regular part of my life there are habits I need to practice. Make sense? I’ll explain more in a bit.

Same with food. To eat healthy foods and snacks everyday I need to make time and prepare food for the week. But it goes beyond that. I also need to carve out time for meal planning and grocery shopping. Food prep cannot happen without either of those too. So as you can see it’s not just about the specific foods I eat.

It comes down to being prepared and staying out of the hot zone. Nothing good happens in the hot zone. I talk more about the hot zone, and strategies to stay out of it, in my ebook Organize Yourself Skinny. Again, life happens and there are things that will be out of our control. But it’s very difficult to manage stress, and adopt healthier habits, when everyday you feel like you’re just trying to survive. Been there, sometimes still there, and I can tell you keeping up with healthy habits is near impossible when I’m stressed out and not prepared ahead time. In fact, I often resort back to bad habits when I enter the hot zone.

There are things I try to do daily, specifically before I go to bed, to start the next day on the right track.

I’m putting these in order in which I do them. But, of course, you can adapt this routine in any order that suits you best.

#1 Clean kitchen and quickly straighten up

My nightly routine happens right after dinner. I load the dishwasher, clean dishes, and wipe down counters. I read the book Sink Reflections by The Fly Lady a few years ago and one piece of advice that stuck with me was to never go to bed with a dirty kitchen sink. This is huge for me. A year or so ago I wrote about how making my bed everyday helps my weight loss efforts too. Well the kitchen sink is the same concept. In my opinion clutter causes confusion and chaos. Cleaning my kitchen before bed gives me peace at night and helps me start the day fresh and focused. Again, it’s about living outside the hotzone.

After I clean the kitchen, I quickly straighten up the living room. This includes organizing papers, bringing toys upstairs, and possibly vacuuming. If I have time, and not completely exhausted, I will fold laundry. I usually wash a load in the morning when I run on my treadmill. Don’t think I’m spending hours doing this. In reality, if I don’t fold laundry, this quick clean up takes me about 45 minutes. Folding laundry will take me longer. But I find taking an hour or so to clean things up is worth it the next morning when I wake up to tidy and not a tornado.

The goal is start the day fresh. Waking up to a straightened up house let’s me move forward instead of focusing my limited time on yesterday’s messes.

#2 Make sure lunches and snacks are packed

The next thing I do is put together lunches for the next day. In the morning, by the time my kids get dressed and come downstairs we are about 10 minutes from running out the door. There’s no time to make lunches then. So, if lunches aren’t made ahead of time it’s quite possible my kiddos will be buying their lunches. I’m not totally against buying lunches, because I am human, but I try to limit school bought lunches.

Even though I don’t have time in the morning to prepare lunches it really doesn’t take that long at night. Probably because I’m not racing against the clock and I take time on Sunday to prep meals and ingredients for the week. See my weekly food prep guide here.

Snacks are organized in a snack bin, cheese cut, fruit and veggies are washed, and other ingredients are prepped. Most weeks I have mason jar salads, soups, and/or other recipes portioned out and ready to go. Are you seeing a pattern here? Prep, prep, and more prep.

#3 Prep ingredients for tomorrow’s dinner

Here we go with food prep again! But I’m telling ya even the littlest bit of food prep will make a huge difference in your week. During the week I don’t do a lot of food prep – most of it’s done on the weekend. Now it’s just about remembering to take things out, making sure I have certain ingredients to finish a recipe (ex. salsa and cheese for tacos), or prepping the slow cooker for the next day. Basically, if there’s something I can do the night before to make dinner run smoothly the next day I will do it. Within reason of course. You won’t find me cooking complete recipes during the week. However, I will do that on the weekends and then portion out and store in the refrigerator or freezer during the week. I do that with our Hello Fresh meals. Hello Fresh is meal service I subscribe too. They send me ingredients for 3 dinners a week and I found it to be a great addition to my meal planning routine. I receive the ingredients in the mail on Saturday and then prep the dinners on Saturday night or Sunday and then store in meal prep containers.

mealplanmarch28

I also use Plan to Eat to organize my recipes, create a weekly meal plan, and print out grocery lists. Both of these services keep meal planning and prep running smoothly for me.

Anyway, I take time on the weekends to prepare the bulk of my foods and then a little time the night before to make sure dinner is ready to go for the next night. This keeps us eating fresh healthy foods when we don’t have a lot of time.

#4 Lay clothes out

Now that food is all ready for next day I turn my focus to clothes. Did you know the world would end if my youngest can’t find anything to wear in the morning? True story. These “I can’t find anything to wear” meltdowns can turn a great day bad in about 2 seconds. My simple solution is to pick outfits out the night before. Yes I know this sounds basic but trust me there are still nights we forget.

More importantly, I need to have my exercise gear ready. This includes my clothes, hair bands, earbuds, and sneakers. My attention is easily diverted from a workout when I don’t have my exercise gear ready. I know that’s a lame excuse but I’m not a diehard exercise person so it is what it is. I’ve learned this about myself so if I want to prioritize exercise I need to have everything ready. Trust me, the last thing I want to do at 6:00am is search for my ear buds and sneackers. Nope. I will go back to bed.

I also get into my exercise clothes right when I wake up. This is also a little tip I learned from the Fly Lady book. She wasn’t talking about exercise but more about getting your mind ready for the day. When I put my exercise clothes and sneakers on my brain becomes mentally prepared to workout.

#5 Write a todo list

Okay the dishes are done, house straightened up, lunches made, dinner prepped, and clothes are ready for the next day. Now what? I write my todo list. My personal and professional life would not function without a todo list. In fact, on days I don’t have a todo list I can get overwhelmed and often don’t get anything accomplished. It’s not like I have all these important tasks. I’m sure my day looks a lot like yours. But if I don’t write it out then many of those tasks will get lost in the shuffle.

My todo list is the roadmap for my day. I used to write out every single thing I wanted to accomplish in life on my daily todo list but guess how that went? Ha! Yep nothing got done and I felt discouraged and overwhelmed. Today I keep my todo list manageable with 4-5 tasks a day. Those tasks include business and personal. On days I don’t have appointments I have about 4-5 hours to get things done. Obviously, that’s not a lot of time so I need to manage my time as best as I can. I’m still working on that.

I’ve used all kinds of online todo lists tools but honestly the one that work best for me is good old fashion pen and paper along with white board calendar. Some things I put in my phone calendar but I find it helpful to see tasks written out in front of me. It keeps me focused.

I also love to cross tasks off as I complete them. This motivates me to keep going.

#6 Stop eating past 7:00pm

An important part of my nightly routine, that I try hard to stick with, is to stop eating past 7pm. I won’t go into to much detail becaue I wrote an entire post on this strategy a couple weeks ago. But I will say having this strategy as part of my nightly routine is very important to me. It keeps my calories under control and helps manage my weight.

#7 Do a quick toning routine

I’m a runner and run outside, or on my treadmill, at least 4 times week. However, I don’t do as much toning exercises as I should. I want to, and have every intention to do so after my runs, but rarely do. Why? Because I’m a sweaty mess and ready for a hot shower. A solution I came up with was to do toning exercises before bed. I asked OYS writer Melissa to put together a quick toning routine. This toning routine takes 10 minutes to complete and can easily be done before bed. I haven’t done this as much as I would like but plan to fit it into my nighttime routine moving forward.

#8 Quiet time

I know it might seem odd to see “quiet time” in this list since it really has nothing to do with organization or weight loss. Also, “quiet time” might seem impossible with little kids or a busy life. However, life can be quite chaotic. You can have a newborn, a parent dies, maybe you’re going through a divorce, or have teenagers, or maybe it’s a combination of a few different things. Being an adult is not easy. Like I said earlier, some things in life are not in your control, it’s just the way it goes. But you do have control over the way you cope and handle stress. You choose the way stress affects your life. Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way is a skill that will take you very far in life. It will keep you on track with goals and will be the difference between thriving and surviving.

One way I handle the stress of life is to prioritize quiet time. I wouldn’t say that I meditate although I know people that do and love it. For me I just need time every night to myself. Most of the time that happens when I take my nightly shower. I turn music on and just relax for 10 -15 minutes. If I don’t take a shower then I try to make time for myself after the kids go to bed. Either way I need that time to relax and reflect.

I also get that time when I run. Not only do I keep my body in shape with running but it tremendously helps my stress levels. I often say that running is my happy pill. After a good sweaty run I feel focused, relaxed, accomplished, and can handle life much better.

Do I practice all these habits religiously every night without fail? Of course not. I’m human. Trust me, I get tired and lazy with the best of them. However, I can tell you that when I do make each of these habits a part of my nightly routine I’m more likely to make healthier choices the next day. I feel less stressed because I’m organized and prepared and this helps me stay on on track with eating healthy and exercising.

Also, keep in mind that I didn’t wake up one day, incorporate these habits, and all of the sudden I had the perfect nightly routine. Ha! I wish it were that easy. It took me time to adopt these new habits and I still slip up. I’d be willing to bet you’re already doing a lot of the things I talked about and just need to make a few tweaks. Or maybe you do need to make some big changes. Either way don’t get overwhelmed. Just make 1-2 changes at a time. After you practice these habits, and experience the benefits, I know you will make each one a part of your nightly routine.

What does your nightly routine look like? Do you have any tips or ideas to share?

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Comments

  1. Celestia says:

    Thanks so much for sharing and helping us to focus on a healthy… Organized lifestyle!!

  2. I’m going to try your toning routine before bed! Thanx for suggesting it!!

  3. 1. I thought lunch was free in US schools? I suppose you don’t like your kids buying lunch, because it’s french fries and nuggets or something horrible like that?

    2. I’m actually on the opposite of to-do lists. I found that if I write something vague like “write an article today”, mentally it feels like it’s a lot of work. So I break every single task into small and specific tasks, that way my mind focuses on one small thing and at a time and it doesn’t feel overwhelming.

    Oh, and I use a little app called Todoist for my task management stuff. You may want to check it out, it’s free. But if you want more features it’s only something like $20/year.

    3. I don’t believe in all that “don’t eat past (insert time here)” concept. I track my calories, if I didn’t have time to eat for dinner and I have calories left, I will eat no matter what time it is. Doesn’t really lead to any weight gain, at least for me.

    Also, there’s an unfinished sentence: “I know that’s a lame excuse but I’m not a diehard exercise person so it is what it.”

    …what it is.

    But great tips overall!

    • Thanks for the tips and pointing out the typo. Will fix 🙂

    • There’s no such thing as a free lunch….They do have a program for low income student’s but the majority of us pay $2-$4 a day depending on what the kids eat.
      Todoist sounds interesting. I’ll have to check it out.

    • Cher Corrigan says:

      Lunch is only free in America if your family income is under the poverty level. For the rest, it cost about $3.00 a day and is processed junk.

  4. Great tips! I’m so guilty of not cleaning up after dinner! Need to work on that one!

  5. I do clean my kitchen most nights. I usually clean as I’m messing things up while cooking. I prepare my food each night, but I enjoy it and have the time. I need more routines to keep my life organized. I always enjoy seeing the links you share in your posts.

  6. Stephanie Peffer says:

    I used to always be on track and now I feel like I never am, and I realize – that’s because I have let myself get all crazy and chaotic! I need to practice many (most) of these tips. I printed off the toning one to try!

  7. And just how long does all of this take

    • It take about 3-4 weeks to form a new habit.

    • Sounds like about 3 to 5 hrs of work to me.

      • Sorry realized I read this wrong. I spend about 2 hours with my night routine. Sometimes i do it all and sometimes I only do a few things. My point to start finding a couple routines before bed that can help make the next day easier. I found that I’d rather spend a little extra time getting organized and cleaning up than spending time stressed out trying to find something in the morning or waking up to a sink full of dishes. But trust me I have my moments I don’t feel like doing anything.

        • Yes, I read this and thought of how easy it is to fall out of a routine. For those of us who spent our whole lives moving around the planet with our military spouses, it was a truly challenging thing to find routine through the chaos: About the time you’d find friends, a routine, discipline and classes and a job to dig into, it was time to wind down, pack up boxes, and leave again. I realized this wore me down, I just lost my energy and the motivation that had been so prevalent for so long. I bet there are others who have felt that sting of transitioning over and over again, a lot of goodbyes, a sort of loss, a reorganization of life again and again, having to expend energy on the rest of your loved ones, and then you feel spent. I have to now find that energy again, and reading some of this makes me realize it happens, we are human, but we can get back in that groove. I found I was making everyone else’s lunches, putting out their clothing, and now I need to take time to do it for myself, too! I always made sure everyone else had their stuff together, so time for me to put a bit more energy into the focus for my workout wear, my nicer lingerie, my pretty tights and bras, my accessories for the next day. Fashion is a motivator, and I think I’m going to focus on a couple of things in my closet and online that I want to save for a weight loss plateau and try on with a little “fashion shoot” or to even go shopping when I see I’m on a real course for change with a couple of rewards on the way. Thanks, great ideas and so many good points shared here about the reasons to get organized before bed and how much better we feel about the day ahead!

  8. Viki Edgell says:

    Thanks Tammy 🙂 Good stuff! I’m a 64 or old retired Grandmom and I can still use many of your principles to keep me going. Of course no making lunches and such but I pick and choose those that still fit my lifestyle. No one warns you when you retire that being active is maybe more important than ever. If you aren’t careful you can fall into the trap of a sedentary lifestyle. I like your thinking 😉

  9. How does anybody have time to do this everyday? I have to split it up. I’ll do laundry every other day. Pack lunches in am. I pick up just as a part of living. I’m in my kitchen, see trash, t guess in trash can. I’m in the restroom, I’ll wipe the counters. Every bathroom and the kitchen has their own cleaning supplies for everyday fast cleans. We don’t have laundry baskets. It’s a waste of space and we don’t let that accumulate. When everybody takes off their clothes, it goes in the washer, unless it needs a special wash, like dry cleaning or bleach wash, then it goes in a small basket in my laundry room. On days both my husband and I work, less gets done around the house. On days he is off and I work, the kids fold and put away the laundry. On days I’m off (3 a week), I’ll do everything. Dishes, we rinse off and put in the dish washer right away. When it’s full, we run it and then immediately empty it. It there are dishes in the dishwasher, they ARE dirty. There’s never a question of that. So as you can see we live in the ultimate, clean as you go lifestyle. Unfortunately, we have to eat past 7pm. My husband gets home from work 3-4 days a week at around 830pm. I get home 4 days a week at around midnight. It is what it is. We have VERY limited time. No time for “cleaning days/laundry days”. So we just do it as a part of existing. My husband and I are also doctorate students, so that along with working full-time, forget about it. And exercise? What’s that? Absolutely no time for that besides a plank out yoga pose while reading homework assignments.

  10. Lisa pagliaroli says:

    I really agree with all of this. But, for me, I haven’t found anything that helps my stress. Nothing. I joke around and say I was born stressed! I was probably in the hospital nursery stressed! I was on medication, which did help a little, but it made me gain weight. Quite a bit of weight. Which of course stressed me out even more. Ha. I’m on no medication and I just try to deal with it. I eat very healthy and work out a lot. I have lost all the stress weight and then some! But how I wish for a stress easy fix. Or heck just a fix! Who cares how long it takes. Lol. And I do everything you do! All the food prep, kitchen cleaning, and clothes ready for my next work day. I get up at 4am monday-friday and if my Clothes aren’t out and my breakfast and lunch aren’t ready for the next day I’m pretty much doomed. So I loved this! Thank you

  11. This is awesome thanks

  12. Oh and you rock

  13. Your post inspired me. So organized! Wow! Think I need to read your post every day

  14. great ideas, thank you for this article

  15. I started laying my clothes out the night before, both workout clothes and work clothes. It transformed my mornings!! So basic and it makes a huge difference!

  16. Good post! Most of these are things I tell myself every evening after kids are in bed, but all to often exhaustion and laziness win out and I only do 1-2 of these things. Seeing this post reminds me just how important each small changet can make. Thank you!

  17. Mary Veronica Vicenzi says:

    This is pretty much what I did from the time my kids were little. Our youngest graduated from high school last year. The extra effort was the key to a smoothly run, organized household and a HAPPY family! Nice to see that someone else recognizes that these things are important!

  18. Love the ideas! Thanks for the list. I’ll give this a go and see if it helps to remotivate me on my journey!

  19. Very helpful. I am going to write down my routine using this essay. I already have some of these things on my list but some things need to be incorporated

  20. Christina says:

    Quick question…what time do you go to sleep? We have some chaos due to teen sports and all. I am lucky to get 6 hours of much need sleep. I am willing to try the lunch prep night before routine but I fear my daughter’s PB & J will get soggy. We will see how it goes. Thanks.

    • I have found when I spread a thin layer of peanut butter on both pieces of bread and make sure that every speck of bread is covered, the jelly can be in between oily peanut butter layers without soaking into the bread.

  21. I would never, in any day of the week, along with just doing “Life, unscheduled” as it happens (which in itself is totally exhausting most days) be able to run around at night and accomplish all this stuff. I’m just not nearly on the organizational spectrum this writer is. But still, happy this works for some!

    • I don’t think you need to do it all. Some nights I don’t but it’s helpful to try to do at least 1-3 of the things before bed. It just makes life so much easier for me in the morning.

  22. Great post! I moved to a two story house and all my organization and fitness went out the window! Can’t wait to move! On the other hand this post has inspired to rethink my routines, great ideas thanks!

  23. Hey just found your blog and want to say that I am totally on board with u! This is what I have found does wonders for me and my life. One addition, I always make sure my quiet time includes gratitude journaling! Giving thanks for everything in my life keeps me focused on the positive and moving forward!

  24. Bron Barker says:

    In my quest to instill some semblance of organisation into my life in order to make time for exercise / fitness / health I’ve decided to have an ‘active wear drawer’.
    Traditionally we have an undies draw, sock draw, jumpers etc in different draws. I’ve recently changed all of that. In order to cut down double handling, I just open appropriate draw and everything is in there because I put it away in there in the first place . I now have an:
    – Active wear draw – tshirts, trackpants, sports bras, sports socks etc
    – Work clothes draw
    – Gardening/cleaning clothes draw
    – Going out clothes are all on hangers in wardrobe – I try to hang them in outfits, but that is a work in progress, lol!

    Night time habits that I have implemented already (I add one habit a week – my goal is 52 new habits in 52 weeks – I’m on week 4) are
    – Wash face and a quick underarm etc wash at night so that in the morning I feel a little fresh, slap on tinted suncream moisturizer in the morning, and deodorant and I can be out the door in 10 mins walking with the dog.
    Takes no more than a minute at night, uses less water than a shower and means I have a nice hot shower when I finish my walk.

    – Charge my phone away from bed so that I’m not tempted to have a “quick” browse. I’ve been reading more and sleeping better and longer.

    – Go to bed no later than 9pm

    • This is wonderful! I do have a workout wear spot in my laundry room, but I like this idea. I have used some of my old trashcans, the plastic ones I used to have under the sinks in former homes or apartments (we moved a lot with hubby’s job), and now I use one for socks, one for track/sports bras, but I think having a drawer would be even better! I like this inspirational idea for organizing. I am going to see what I can pull together, maybe not today or this week but during the holidays, to make my workout wear easier to find, keep separated, and ready to wear!

  25. Omg are you for real?! This is a whole day’s work. Everyone knows these habits (aka control freak symptoms) would enable us all to stay away from the snacks and wine but who has time to do all this especially before 7pm?! You need to spend time with America’s real working moms!!

    • Hi Sarah! Thanks so much for your comment, I appreciate the feedback. Just to clarify I worked 40+ hours outside the home in a full-time job for 15 years until I quit it to run this blog full-time. I worked full-time outside the home when both of my girl were babies, toddlers, and into their elementary years so I am very aware of what America’s real working mom looks like. I also built this business while working full-time so I get it. The point I made in the article and I will say again is I get that it’s not always feasible to do all this. We are human, tired, and stress and sometimes just need to survive. I get it. However, I also know that when I changed my habits and prioritized getting things done before bed that my life became easier in the morning and during the day. Life got easier for me and less stressed. I wasn’t running around overwhelmed and like a chicken with their head cut off. I felt confident and organized. Because of this I manage my time in a way to make some or all of these habits a priority. But again these are suggestions and do what works for you. I do believe doing some of these habits will help to keep life moving smoothly during the day. Thanks again!

  26. I am reading this now, and I completely agree, 100% with what is given here as suggestions, inspirations, food for thought (no pun intended there!), and an overall tip of a practical nature. I am thinking of the few areas of these 8 suggestions that were truly more “in order” for my life when I was not struggling as much with my weight (a new issue for me in just very recent times) and I bet if I put a bit more of these steps in sync again I would also find other things lining up, too. Then, as you put it, slowly it can help people quiet themselves and find a bit of peace or even a spare moment of less stress to focus on SELF. I do find that we can make it happen, can fit in a lot more than we think we can at least some of the time, if we don’t make excuses or blame others. It’s easy to let the excuses creep in and become part of the narrative, if I’m honest. And, I remember a conversation I heard recently from a former mentor of mine who is struggling with her health that is mostly weight-related, and she’s so bitter at others, blaming everyone and everything else for who won’t visit, who doesn’t love her, and it even made the things some of us were doing feel less effective. Then, I thought of how easy it is to become that person, to let things become a mindset, and that’s what we all have to fight off, to give ourselves the gift of positive living while we make time and energy for the new change of mind, heart, and eating/lifestyle. If we don’t take some of the burden of self-loathing or chaos out of the picture, we make it tougher for ourselves, and that is what you say here! Thanks a ton, a great Thanksgiving present to me as I start fresh and make a new set of goals and a new course ahead.

  27. Thank you so much for sharing these tips. I really think that I can incorporate this into my evenings.

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