10 Ways I Improved My Quality Of Life In 2018

  1. I hired a housekeeper to come for 2 hours in the morning every Monday-Thursday. She cleans the kitchen, does the laundry, makes the beds, takes out the trash, and runs errands. We pay her $25/hr in the Bay Area, so I’m guessing this would be cheaper elsewhere. Before I hired her, my kitchen was always messy and my to-do list was never complete. For years I’ve struggled with chronic illness and fatigue, and I have a very limited amount of energy to get me through the day. On top of that, I have to cook each of my meals at home due to my myriad of food intolerances. That makes constant mess that I don’t have the energy to deal with and my husband would always come home to a disastrous kitchen and have to spend time on top of his busy day to help clean. Hiring a housekeeper has improved our quality of life tremendously. In fact I outsource most of my chores so I can use whatever energy I have to work, exercise, and feed myself. Hiring help is within our means, so there is no good reason not to. Now I spend my mornings exercising and writing. Keep in mind that this new hire is in addition to the maid we already have coming bi-weekly to do deep cleaning and other help we have like a handyman, a person to wash our cars, grocery delivery through Good Eggs, my husband’s meal delivery through Munchery, and a gardener (which the landlord pays for). Calculate what an hour of your time is worth, and if you can afford to outsource your chores, then do it! I swear it will change your life for the better.
  2. I built a gym in our garage. It is a Rogue powerlifting setup that takes a surprisingly small amount of space, and we can do everything we need to do. It’s incredible to be able to workout in the privacy of our own home, and on a sunny day, the view is downright stunning. My husband and I work out together in the mornings, and we don’t have to worry about a commute to the gym, waiting for machines, or sweaty benches. Most importantly for me, I feel comfortable working out at my own pace, and I no longer have to be afraid of fainting in public or being judged for being underweight (because of my illness). Here is a tour of our gym.
My house before hiring a housekeeper.

3. My husband and I sleep in separate rooms. It’s taken me a while to accept this, but I hate sleeping with my husband. I love my husband, and I love snuggling with him (his body is like a space heater!), but I need to sleep solo. I’m a light sleeper, I toss and turn a lot, and I have insomnia, and all of those issues stress me out less when I’m alone. Also, my husband loves sleeping with the dogs and they snore and move around too much. So we sleep separately, but we take the time each night to snuggle and talk before bed.

4. I’ve removed all the foods I’m intolerant to from my diet. After a long period of self-experimentation I’ve determined which foods I’m intolerant to (gluten, dairy, and eggs) and completely removed them from my diet. It has improved my health exponentially and my skin is finally clear. I’ve been able to taper of all of my meds and am optimistic that I can continue to improve my health and fitness. This has been a challenging lifestyle change, but it is well worth it.

5. I’ve narrowed down my dermatology routine to one treatment: fraxel. If I had an unlimited budget, then I would spend my money on all sorts of anti-aging treatments, such as botox, fillers, microdermabrasion, thermage, ultherapy, facials, etc. But this past year I’ve been trying to save more, so I’ve determined the one treatment that provides the most value for me and that is fraxel laser skin resurfacing. It does it all: tightens skin, reduces wrinkles, scars, and hyperpigmentation, and stimulates collagen. It’s about $1000 per session and I do it at least once a year, preferably more. And let me tell you, my sister is only 16 months my senior but she looks way older because she hasn’t done fraxel (she doesn’t read this blog, so we’re cool). Just sayin’.

6. I turn off my phone on the weekends. There was a time I was addicted to social media, and it was bringing me down. I found myself picking up my phone anytime there was a moment of silence or an inkling of boredom, or I had trouble falling asleep. It’s a habit that is more insidious than you might think, because it psychologically draining and distracting and has a negative effect on the brain. So I weaned myself off the phone by going cold turkey for a little while (I even quit social media for months) and eventually designated usage times for work. I don’t use the phone when I’m driving and I have a generous “do not disturb” period for sleep. I also make sure to disconnect on weekends so that I can be in the moment, enjoy nature, and spend quality time with my husband.

7. We moved out of the city. I have been trying to convince my husband for about a year that we would have a better quality of life if we left the city. But he was worried about giving up the convenience, shorter commute, and access to nightlife and friends, and he generally doesn’t like change. I was fed up with the insane cost of rent, the lameness of the millennial social scene in SF, the noise, the traffic, the lack of parking, the homelessness, the piss smell, and the general cityness of it all. When we got evicted from our apartment for the second time in two years (they were selling our apartment for $1.4M!), I found us this incredible house in Marin that cost about the same rent as our modest apartment in Bernal Heights. My husband relented, and he has not regretted it once. The house feels huge, the neighborhood is quiet, the setting is gorgeous, and it only takes my husband 25-30 minutes to get to the city. We still go into the city for nightlife and nice dinners, but we find ourselves wanting to do that only once a week. And now we are also closer to our country house, where we spend most weekends.

Our backyard in Marin on a foggy day.

8. We spend more time in nature. Thanks to our country house, we rediscovered the regenerative power of being in nature. And now that we live in Marin, I am almost constantly surrounded by nature, and it feels serene. My favorite things to do now are hiking in the woods, taking the canoe down the river, and watching the birds from our deck. Maybe this is because I’m old now, but I am so much happier when I get to spend at least some of the weekend outside amidst natural beauty.

9. We got a second dog. I’m guessing this is what’s it’s like to have a second child, but with way less stress. Bringing a second dog into our home has expanded our hearts even more, and we get to revel in watching our two pups play together. They have very different personalities but are remarkably compatible (they are the same breed) and they really love each other. I can tell our first dog is happier now with a companion, and the cuteness overload is real you guys.

10. My husband and I figured out our “love languages.” We have a great marriage, but there was a mutual feeling that we could do more for each other. We finally figured out that the ways we were expressing love were not necessarily being appreciated by the other, because we have different “love languages.” There are books on this subject, but I don’t think it’s necessary to read them. Maybe just take the quiz with your partner. You’re probably already aware of the gestures that make you feel most loved. Are they acts of service, like help with chores without you having to ask? Are they gifts or romantic gestures, especially the ones you weren’t expecting? Is it your partner’s undivided attention and the quality time you spend together that you cherish the most? Or is it affection above all else that makes you feel the most connected? While it’s obvious to me what I value the most, it’s not obvious to my husband because he can’t read my mind, and vice versa. I was surprised to learn that what my husband valued most was affection, and then quality time together, and he doesn’t care that much about the gifts I was frequently getting him. My favorite ways to receive love are through acts of service and gifts, but my husband was showering me with attention and affection, and honestly, affection kind of bothers me. So we were showing the other love in the way we wanted to receive it, instead of the way the other actually needed it. So I am working harder to be more affectionate, and my husband is making more of an effort to help me out in practical ways and surprise me with gifts.

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