Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Don't Underestimate the Power of Fifteen Minutes

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Fifteen Minutes

Yesterday when I got home from work, I was hungry. Really hungry. The trouble with that is, I’m trying really, really hard to lose a few more pounds before we leave on our 25th anniversary trip next week. So, I needed to come up with a healthy snack. I decided to make some Kale Chips. I was introduced to Kale Chips by my long-distance trainer/weight-loss mentor, Alysia Gadson, back in December.  She put up this video  of how to make them. They’re hard to describe… sort of like crispy, salty lettuce. They’re healthy and I like them, so I decided to toss a batch in the oven. Trouble is, they take fifteen minutes to cook.

Fifteen minutes is a long time to wait for a snack when you’re really hungry. I needed to keep myself busy, to keep from diving headlong into a bag of some forbidden snack. I emptied the dishwasher… still time left. I filled the dishwasher back up again… still time left. I washed the dishes that didn’t go into the dishwasher… still time left. I mixed up a batch of bread dough for dinner. Just as I tossed the last of the flour into the mixer, the timer rang. 

I couldn’t believe how much I got done in those fifteen minutes. As I sat down with my feet up, munching on kale chips, I thought about how many times I’ve wasted fifteen minutes or more, just messing around with computer games or mindless TV programs. At the end of those fifteen-minute sessions, I would often feel like I wasted my time, that I had nothing to show for it. Right then, I felt like that had been the best fifteen minutes of my day. I felt great about getting so much accomplished.  I tried to think of some things I could accomplish in a quick fifteen-minute time period:

  •  Exercise… in fifteen minutes, I could jog a one-mile route, which would be a great workout. Or, I could pick up one of my heavier kettlebells and do a swing workout (with a 25- or 35-kettlebell, fifteen minutes is incredibly long!). The Biggest Loser just came out with a “Power Walk” DVD that has four one-mile walks. They incorporate arm motions, weights and some other exercises. They may only be fifteen minutes, but they get intense! If you’ve got fifteen minutes, you can still get in a good workout.
  •  Take some “me time”… polish my nails, curl my hair, freshen up my make-up. The other day, I put on some new sparkly nail polish. I was amazed at how much that perked up my afternoon. When I looked at my sparkly nails, I smiled. I mentioned that to my husband, he said, “Why don’t you do that more often?” My answer was, “I don’t have the time to keep my nails looking nice.” It only took a few minutes, and it made me smile for a couple of days. I’d say that’s fifteen minutes (or less) well spent.  
I took some me time to get rid of my gray hair today... took longer than 15 minutes, but it was worth the time spent!

  • Tackle one of those chores you’ve been putting off… For me, one of those chores is cleaning up my desk and the table next to it. I tend to accumulate piles of stuff that I will sort out “when I have the time,” but I figure it’s going to take a long time, so I keep putting it off. Sometimes I’ll just set a timer for fifteen minutes and say, “I will concentrate on this mess for fifteen minutes. I won’t let myself be distracted. It’s only fifteen minutes.” A lot of the time, after fifteen minutes, I’m so close to finishing up the job that I just keep going and finish it… or it might even be done before the fifteen minutes is up! I kept stuffing my clipped coupons into an envelope for about three weeks, dreading how long it would take me to sort them out because I didn’t do it for a couple of weeks. It took me about five minutes.
  • Send a card or letter to somebody you haven’t contacted in a long time. I would say to send an e-mail, but I know if I get on the internet, I’m probably going to get distracted with something else! 
  • Get organized… take some time to plan out meals for the coming week, make a list of stuff you’d like to get done, a shopping list or list of errands.
  • Relax… When life is absolutely frantic, sometimes the best thing to do is just take a break. Put on some relaxing music, light a soothing candle, stretch out on the couch, and just give yourself fifteen minutes to do absolutely nothing.

Time for me to get off the computer and spend fifteen minutes with my 35-pound kettlebell…

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