ADHD · advice · fitness · habits · mindfulness · motivation · self care

Go Team 2023: Today’s Best

Hey Team,

Last week was incredibly busy and stressful.

I was organizing/running an arts festival for a community arts festival and, at the same time, every project I’m part of that had been on hiatus for the summer was suddenly revived.

(Seriously,. Last Tuesday, I had four different groups write me to try and set a meeting between Oct 3 & 5…a time when I already had several things scheduled.)

And this is all my volunteer work so it doesn’t include regular work nor does it include household or family-related stuff.

I was getting overwhelmed and frustrated and I kept feeling those annoying, pointless thoughts creeping up on me.

You know the ones, I mean? They gang up on you when things get stressful – even if that stress was impossible to prevent. They start with ‘You should have…’ and they go downhill from there.

I was trying to just ignore them but that seemed to make them fight harder to be heard.

So, I decided to take a few minutes to review.

Was there any truth in those annoying thoughts?

Maybe a little bit here and there (I wrote those things down to journal about later) but mostly no.

I think my brain was looking for a reason why I was so overwhelmed and figured that I must be the cause.

So, I decided to set some boundaries with those thoughts and try to keep them at bay.

I made the little card below – well, ok, it’s two little cards next to each other- and said it aloud every time I looked at it. And, obviously, the gold star was for my hard work – both my work on the festival and my work to stand up to those thoughts.

And it really helped.*

Since I had decided that I was doing the best I could with the resources I had, the only thing to do was keep at it.

I had to do today’s best, whatever that was, with the resources I had at that moment.

I tried not to think about how things could have gone differently with different preparation or different resources, I focused on what I could do right now.

So, I don’t know about your stress level right now.

I don’t know what you have ahead of you, behind you, or around you.

I don’t know what you are trying to deal with.

I don’t know what your brain is annoying you with.

But what I do know is that you are doing the best you can with the resources you have.

I wish you ease and I wish you self-kindness.

And I offer you this gold star for your hard work – your work on all of the things, your work to focus on today’s best (or today’s okayest!), and your work to find ease and to be kind to yourself.

Go Team!

Image description: a drawing of a gold star next to black text that reads ‘You are doing the best that you can with the resources you have.’​
Image description: a drawing of a gold star next to black text that reads ‘You are doing the best that you can with the resources you have.’

*I’m sure that having some clear exercise goals that I could see on my wrist-spy without having to choose to track them also helped with my stress levels. Without my wrist spy on the case, I probably would have subconsciously put my exercise aside for the week. However, having this little phrase reminder close at hand helped on a completely different level. I guess the exercise did the heavy lifting and the little card cleaned up whatever stress was left over.

ADHD · goals · habits · motivation · self care

Christine is still keeping a fitness journal

Back in February, I started keeping a fitness journal. It started out as a handwritten thing but after a month or so, I started using voice dictation to keep my journal on my phone.

Every single Monday since then, I have opened my Google doc journal and chatted a bit about how things are going with my fitness plans.

This isn’t the kind of tracker I have tried to keep before – a record of the specifics of individual exercise sessions – it’s a reflection of how I feel about my exercise lately. I make notes about the kinds of exercises I have done, whether I am feeling better or worse for having done them. I pay attention to which exercises feel good and which ones are getting on my nerves – and whether the annoyance is worth it.

I do a screen cap of the weekly report from my Fitness app and write about whether my perception of my efforts matches the report.

I talk about whether exercise has felt difficult or easy or anything in between in the past week.

I note any specific highlights, struggles, challenges, or high points, what contributed to those feelings and whether the feelings lasted.

My fitness journal has become exactly what I hoped it would – a place to celebrate, a place to whine, a place to notice the changes, the differences, and the benefits that come from my efforts to move my body in beneficial ways.

 A photo of two white daisies ​amidst some grass
This has nothing to do with fitness journaling, I just like daisies. Image description: A photo of two white daisies amidst some grass

It’s a container for all of my ideas and thoughts around exercise and fitness. It lets me see how I have changed my mind, changed my approach, changed my plans over time. It shows me what works and what doesn’t work.

It has let me see what aspects of fitness and exercise matter to me and which ones don’t.

It has shown me what a little extra effort and a little more conscious relaxation does for my well-being.

Having notes from my previous self makes it a lot easier to do the things that matter to me.

And since my journaling only takes 5 mins or so every Monday, it is definitely worth it.

I’m giving myself a gold star for sticking with my fitness journaling practice. ⭐️

Do you keep a reflective fitness journal? What is your practice like? Do you find it helpful?

ADHD · fitness · self care · strength training

Another Question From Christine

Here’s another post in what is apparently my August Questions Series.

A couple of weeks ago, I was asking about core exercises.

Last week, I was wondering how you handle things when you’re feeling off-kilter.

This week, I’m wondering about strength training.

Specifically, I’m wondering about upper body exercises – what ones you do, what ones you like, and how you structure your workout.

(Yes, I could go see a trainer and I probably will but that’s a project for Future Christine. Current Christine is in a gather-info-then-DIY phase and it’s working for her…ahem, for me.)

Anyway, in a similar sort of way that many core exercises bore me, I find doing multiple sets of the same exercise boring.

For example, I hate knowing that I have to do three sets of bicep curls. I think I’d be okay if I could just do 36 in a row and be done with them but bodies don’t work like that.

Mine especially, since concepts like ‘repeat to fatigue’ or ‘repeat until you are too tired to keep good form’ make no sense to me whatsoever. I mean, I understand them in principle, I just don’t know how to recognize them in practice.

And I also hate knowing that I am going to have to repeat the same set of exercises I just did. As in, if I do one set of bicep curls, tricep dips, and two other exercises and then I have to repeat that same group of exercises two more times? Glerg.

My brain will immediately pull out all the stops to ensure that I never even start the first set.

I’ve tried (and enjoyed) doing strength training in my Apple Fitness + app but there are A LOT of squats in there. I don’t quite have the fitness level nor the coordination to do that many squats that quickly in good form without irritating the muscles around my right knee. (The hopeful word ‘yet’ should be in that sentence somewhere but damned if I can figure out where to put it.)

The ones that didn’t have a lot of squats included a lot of pushups and that’s tricky in a whole different way. I’m also working on that.


What I am looking for is a way to work my arms and shoulders and upper back by doing multiple exercises for each part.

For example, by doing three different bicep exercises instead of doing three sets of the same one.

I was hoping to find a YouTube workout or to Google a premade workout that I could use as a starting point but I couldn’t find the right combination of search terms to generate what I wanted.

And that’s where I’m hoping you can help:

1) Do you know of an upper body workout that doesn’t include multiple sets of the exact same exercise?


2) Do you have an upper body exercise to recommend? I have weights and all kinds of exercise bands and I like bodyweight exercises so I have lots of stuff to work with.

Thanks, Team!

PS – I know it would be more straightforward to “just” make myself do the boring, repeated sets but it’s hard enough to convince my ADHD brain to exercise in the first place, making myself do something that is hard AND boring burns a lot of energy that I would rather put into the exercise rather than waste it by arguing with myself. The straightforward thing in this case to for me to accept what I’m like and work with my brain instead of against it.

ADHD · fitness · self care

Pause or Push On? Christine and the annoying week.

I’ve had a bizarre and frustrating week.

(I mean, I usually post on Tuesdays and this is Friday so that should give you some idea!)

Nothing has gone terrible wrong but I slept kind of poorly and I just couldn’t seem to get a grip on several of the days this week.

a scene from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy movie in which Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect are sitting at a bar while a woman looks on from the background. Arthur is saying 'It must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.'
I feel like I have used this image before but, hey, if it works, it works. Image description: a scene from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy movie in which Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect are sitting at a bar while a woman looks on from the background. Arthur is saying ‘It must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.’

For various reasons, I had to do my routine tasks in a different order so my days didn’t get started quite ‘right.’

I got interrupted at unfortunate times and got thrown off as a result.

Ordinary, simple things took way longer than they usually do. (This is VERY hard on a brain that struggles to estimate time. I end up feeling cheated out of something I had already figured out.)

All of that was annoying in itself but what really got me was that I couldn’t figure out what would help.

Did I need to push myself a little bit so I could get my day moving in the right direction?

Or did I need to pause and rest a bit?

Now, to be clear, this wasn’t about trying to be productive or trying to work hard or trying to look busy, this was just about feeling a little less like I was at loose ends.

And I couldn’t figure out what to do.

In fact, this whole week was like running a really irksome science experiment with a single test subject who was trying her best to be cooperative but with limited success.

Here are some of the things I tried over the course of the week:

  • bringing my planned to-do list down to the bare minimum
  • taking a bath and reading
  • reading while lying on my yoga mat
  • taking a nap
  • yoga
  • taking a walk
  • calling a friend
  • drawing
  • tidying up
  • meditating
  • doing a few easy tasks
  • tackling a challenging task
  • strength training
  • using my rowing machine
  • running errands
  • helping someone else with a few tasks
  • having tea with a friend
A drawing of shapes created by thick, black, curved lines that takes up the whole piece of paper. Each shape is coloured with a different bright coloured marker. The shapes are somewhat similar to how beach rocks end up when they wash ashore.
This didn’t help me get a grip on my day but it was a lot of fun to draw and colour so that’s totally worth spending time on. Image description: A drawing of shapes created by thick, black, curved lines that takes up the whole piece of paper. Each shape is coloured with a different bright coloured marker. The shapes are somewhat similar to how beach rocks end up when they wash ashore.

These things were all enjoyable or useful and they kept me from getting *more* annoyed but they didn’t help me get a grip on my days. Some days were better than others but I have spent a frustrating amount of time feeling at loose ends.

So, since there was no definitive answer as to what would make me feel better overall, then all I could do was practice self-compassion, try to get more sleep, and keep reminding myself that this feeling will pass.*

Maybe next week, the days will have handles.

In the meantime, how do you deal with days like the ones I have been dealing with this week? (again, I’m not asking about “productivity”, I’m asking about finding some ease)

Do you push yourself a bit to see if you just need to find some momentum?

Or do you try to find more rest?

Or do you try some combination of the two?

*I know that some of you will be reading this and wondering if this is grief-related. Grief is no-doubt a contributing factor – it’s not as all-pervasive as it was at first but it is present and it affects me in different ways at different times. However, I have had this feeling before (it used to happen way more often before I was medicated for ADHD) so it’s not solely grief-related.

ADHD · fitness

Seeking Some Core Fun

Given that a lot of exercises for your core are 1) repetitive 2) tricky 3) hard, it’s no wonder that my brain hates them and finds them boring.

I can do plank…if I can also read at the same time (it’s hard to turn pages though) because plank is booooooorrrrring.

I can do dead bugs but there seems to be so many variations that my brain always insists I am doing the “wrong” ones. Besides that, they’re boring.

I flatly refuse to do crunches because they feel bad, no matter how careful I am with my form. Oh, and they’re boring.

Yeah, I know that exercise is about exercise not about being fun or interesting.

But I also know that I have ADHD and if I don’t make it fun or interesting, I won’t do it. In fact, it will barely be a blip on my to do list radar.

Baby Jump GIF by ProBit Global - Find & Share on GIPHY
This looks fun, do you think it would help strengthen my core? Image description: A GIF of a big round brown seal bumping down a path on its belly while two people walk along behind

So, I’ve been trying to find core exercises that feel good, are kind of interesting and that have the possibility of being fun.

The video below from Heart and Bones Yoga looks promising but I’d like to find some more ideas.

Got any suggestions for me?

Clearly I am not the only one who finds this stuff boring, Brea from Heart and Bones Yoga thinks lots of people feel that way. Image/link description: A video from Heart and Bones Yoga’s Instagram account. In the image, the instructor is wearing black shorts and a black tank top and crawling on a wooden floor on her hands and on the balls of her feet.

ADHD · fitness · meditation · mindfulness

Christine and the Meditation Mystery

I have been doing a short meditation (less than 5 mins) every day for almost 3 months now.

After each session, my app (Insight Timer) prompts me to journal about it and even though I haven’t gone back to read what each journal entry says, I know that today’s entry was a pretty typical one.

It went something like this “Hard to focus, kept getting distracted. Still worth the effort though.”

I’m not judging myself for not being “good” at meditation.

I know that bringing myself back to my breath over and over is good for me.

I know that the practice is the point.

Also, holding onto the habit of meditating, no matter how “successful” I have been, has been extremely helpful amid the emotional challenges of the past two months.

So, I was going to forge ahead with short practices and see what happened.

A light haired dog sitting peacefully on green grass under a tree.
Khalee also does mindful meditation sessions but she doesn’t overthink them like I do. Image description: a photo of a Khalee, a medium-sized, light-haired dog sitting peacefully under a tree on a green lawn. Patches of sunlight are here and there across the grass. She is peaceful but alert with all of her paws folded under her body. This position is often described ‘being a loaf’ or ‘loaf dog’

Then I came across a program that involves longer meditations led by an instructor I enjoy.

And even though I was hesitant about my ability to do longer meditations, I decided to go for it and I started last week.

And here’s where we get to the mystery:

It is just as hard for me to convince myself to start a 12 minute meditation as it is for me to start a 2 minute one but once I get started…

It is WAAAAAAAAY easier to meditate for 12 minutes than for 2 minutes.

Not only do I feel better afterwards, I feel better DURING the 12 minute practices.

Mysterious, right?

Shouldn’t my ADHD brain be getting bored?

Shouldn’t it be HARDER to do a longer session than a shorter one?

Why doesn’t my brain want to peek at the timer every 30 seconds during a long meditation the way it does during a short one?

If the 12 minute sessions were guided meditations, my relative ease might make more sense but they aren’t guided, they just have some specific instructions for when thoughts arise. And those instructions don’t seem all that different than most standard advice about meditating.

Perhaps my brain likes the opportunity to try focusing over and over again in a longer time frame. Maybe my subconscious doesn’t think it is worth the effort to focus for just two minutes?

I haven’t solved this mystery.

Clearly I need to gather more clues.

*closes eyes, begins to breathe slowly*

ADHD · fitness

It’s a good thing I’m not a plant

This has been an incredibly raw and challenging month but I’ve have been doing my very best to take good care of myself.

Or so I thought.

I’ve been asking for help and accepting offered help way more than usual.

I have been resting regularly and keeping things low-key whenever possible – especially after nights when I’ve slept poorly. (That is happening a fair bit.)

I’ve been sticking with yoga and walks and stretching because any time I push myself harder, even a little, I’m instantly exhausted. I suspect that after a certain point any physical exertion feels like stress to my sad and tired brain and it is refusing to play along. *

I have stuck with my daily writing and drawing and meditating routines even when I didn’t feel like it because they lend familiar shape to my days.

I’ve made sure to stay connected to friends and to sprinkle fun activities throughout my week without getting overwhelmed. I’ve kept my work and volunteer tasks to a minimum.

So, that all felt good, like I was taking charge of the things I could take charge of and letting myself do and be the way I needed to be.

How foolish, hey?

Thinking I had everything well in hand, almost like I was trying to do a ‘good job’ of grieving.**

And all along I was forgetting something something important, something incredibly basic.

A most essential element in caring for a human.

 My water bottle (bright green with a black cap) sits on my patio railing. There’s a (still!) leafless tree directly behind it, and in the background there’s a stretch of grass, a few other leafless trees, and my circular swing.
Image description: My water bottle (bright green with a black cap) sits on my patio railing. There’s a (still!) leafless tree directly behind it, and in the background there’s a stretch of grass, a few other leafless trees, and my circular swing.


I have been drinking ridiculously little water.

I’ve had a small glass of water with my meds in the morning.

I’ve had A LOT of tea.

And, sure, I’ve been getting some hydration from my tea (it’s mostly non-caffeinated) but it’s not even close to the same as drinking the amount of water I usually do.

And I felt feeling cranky and twitchy and just off as a result.

But since EVERYTHING feels off right now it took me over a week to figure out what the problem was.

In fact, it was only as I was using the water from my water bottle to water my plants one evening that I realized how little water I had actually consumed that day.

(Yes, I had frequently followed my usual habit of filling my water bottle in the morning. I just didn’t do the drinking water part of the routine.)

If I was a plant, I would be drooped over the side of my pot by now.

I guess my tea helped save me from that fate. – I have been feeling pretty droopy though.

For the record: I do NOT recommend forgetting water.

*Yes, I know a good workout would probably be helpful overall and would probably help me sleep. However, I’m listening to my body and it is saying ‘Nope.’ There will be lots of time for more intense exercise later. Also, my ADHD brain doesn’t do so well with the ‘later reward’ business and I don’t have extra energy to put into convincing it right now.

** I wasn’t literally thinking this but, in retrospect, it kind of comes across that way.

ADHD · fitness · habits · meditation

Meditation Experiment Week 1

In last week’s post, I told you I was starting a meditation experiment. The plan was to try reframing my meditation as if it were one of my medications – something I ‘take’ regularly that provides benefits over time. And, hence, to anchor my meditation practice to taking my other meds each morning.

How did that go?

Let’s say results were mixed.

The reframing part, the *idea* of meditation as medication is a good approach for me.

Considering meditation as a necessary component for my well-being is really helpful. With this approach, embracing meditation as a self-prescribed medication, the practice becomes less of a ‘task to get done’ and more part of the foundation of my daily life.

Yes, it has only been a week but I can feel the shift in my own perception and it feels good.

I’m not feeling a lot of the ‘give myself some extra brainspace’ benefits yet but it has only been a week.

I am, however, finding that it is much easier to actually start a meditation than it was at the beginning of last week. AND my meditation itself feels a bit better, a little more breath-focused, a little less scattered.

So, from that perspective, my experiment results are very encouraging.

However, the second aspect of my experiment?

Not so much.

In fact, trying to link the practice with my tangible medications was an abject failure.

As I had guessed, that part of overall my day is a little too unpredictable to include meditation.

And in attempting to link my meds to my med, I found myself taking my doctor-prescribed meds a bit later. Taking them later is not only less-than-ideal for my health and concentration, it increases the risk that I will forget them entirely.

After 3 days, I reassessed and decided that the link in timing was not all that important to me, but the change in perspective was vital.

So, I abandoned the idea and just included my meditation whenever felt best each day.

In fact, after a very busy day on Friday, I ended my meditation at 11:59PM. Just under the wire for a planned ‘daily’ practice, but it still counted!

Overall, this approach is working – it’s easier to start meditating each day and the practices themselves feel pretty good. I know the mental-space-at-other-times part will arrive whenever it gets here, so I’m not trying to rush it.

And I’m actually pretty proud of myself for not stressing about the ‘failed’ part of this experiment.

There was a time when I would have had to scrap the whole thing, convinced that I was missing some key piece of information and hence doing the whole thing wrong.

That instinct still pops up for me from time to time but it rarely details me any more. Apparently, the work I have done on that sort of stuff is really paying off. 😉

ADHD · fitness · habits · meditation

A (another?) Meditation Experiment

(This is a little stream-of-consciousness because I’m not really finished thinking this through. Please bear with me.)

So, I’ve been carrying around some ambient stress again.

I’m not feeling stressed about anything in particular. There’s no overwhelmingly stressful thing going on.

In fact, my *brain* doesn’t feel stressed at all.

My body, however, is telling me otherwise.

My first response to recognizing that stressed out feeling was ‘I need to meditate.’

And meditation does help me release that feeling in the moment, which is great, but reactive meditation is not nearly as helpful as regular (preventative) meditation would be.

See, I know that when I meditate regularly, I get a little more space in my brain.

And that space helps me make better choices about how to spend my time and my energy.

Last fall, I had a month or so when I meditated daily and I really found it beneficial. But then something came up, I couldn’t meditate at my regular time and I got off track. I’ve had a few short streaks of practice since then but it hasn’t really stuck.

However, once again, I am determined to find my way back to that daily practice.

On Monday, I was trying to figure out a good time for my practice when I (once again?) made the connection that meditation is similar in one way to my ADHD medication – it gives me a little space between my thought and my action so I can choose to be more effective, to be kinder to myself.

So then I thought ‘What if I put meditation in the same category as my meds?’ – that is, something that needs to happen daily, at the same time, in order to have the best effect.

And then I considered whether I could meditate right after I medicate.

I went back and forth on that for a few minutes because mornings can be a tricky time to find quiet minutes to myself but maybe I can take my meditation and my medications at the same time and it will work out just fine.

I’m going to give it a week and see how it goes.

I’ll report back next Tuesday with the results of this utterly unscientific experiment.

I’ll even take notes.

a photo of a light-haired dog curled up in a red leather armchair.
What does this have to do with meditation? Absolutely nothing. But it does make me feel calm so that’s kind of tangentially connected, right? image description: Khalee, my light-haired dog, is curled up in a red leather armchair next to a white pillow with gold stars on it. In the background, there is a patch of sunlight on the wall, a tower fan, and the rear wheel of a bicycle.
ADHD · advice · fitness · motivation · self care

Christine takes advice from her past self

I have been feeling a little frustrated with my six week fitness plan.

The first two weeks of 10 minutes a day was great and I was enjoying the second two weeks even though it was harder to fit in 20 minutes per day.

And then the side of my knee started hurting.

And then I got a cold.

And then I had a migraine.

And then my back got cranky with me.

Basically, things went awry as things tend to do.

And my two weeks of 20 minutes is going to be three or three and a half weeks of 20 minutes with some days off here and there.

It was annoying.

I wasn’t being hard on myself. I knew taking the days off was the right thing to do and I didn’t think poorly of myself because of it.

But I was ANNOYED.


I wanted to stick with my plan. I wanted to be able to keep going. I wanted to stay on schedule.

I wanted it to be straightforward.

I had been doing so well adapting the exercises and being kind to myself and working really hard during each session.

And I was afraid I was going to get frustrated enough to lose momentum.

Then, this past weekend, Facebook offered up some advice from my 2016 self that helped me shake off both the annoyance and the frustration and tell myself a better story.

Here’s what past me wrote in a type of post I used to do before my Hey Team! advice:

Your challenge today is to take the easy way.

That sounds like bad advice, I know, but I find that I often take the hard way without thinking about it and I end up working way harder than I need to in order to reach the same place.

See the pics below? That’s the hill behind my kid’s school. I was all set to walk up that steeper, slippery slope when I realized that

A photo of a steep hill mostly covered in ice and snow but with a few muddy/grassy patches.
Image description: a photo of a steep snow/ice covered hill with a few muddy/grassy patches. There are bare trees at the top and a building can be seen in the distance. It’s a sunny day with a cloudy blue sky.

ten feet to my left there was a much more gradual slope that would be much easier to walk up.

A photo of a gentle hill covered in ice and snow with a few muddy patches.
Image description: a photo of a gradually sloping snow/ice covered hill one route is much steeper than the other. There are evergreen trees and a cloudy blue sky at the top. Some red and blue poles from playground equipment are at the top left.

I still got where I was going, but the trip was much more pleasant.

Sure, taking a challenging route is good sometimes, if the challenge is the point but sometimes, you just need to be at the top of the hill.

So, take a look at the point of what you are doing today. Are you looking for a challenge, looking to test yourself, or is the point to get to the top of the hill so you can move on?

If you just need to get up there, then you have my official permission as a life coach, as someone’s Mom and as a kindness ambassador to just stroll up the easy way.

Or, to put it in storytelling terms, is this the story of how you climbed a hill and persevered or is the story about what came next? Choose your path accordingly.

May your easy path be clear today. 💚

And then that’s when I realized that this is NOT the story of how I did these specific workouts in this specific time frame.

This is the story of how I can feel better and be more focused by getting more exercise.

It’s the story of how I can be stronger.

It’s the story of how I can build and maintain sustainable fitness habits.