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4 minimum requirements for vibrant living…are you meeting them?

A few weeks ago I was walking out of my children’s preschool when I bumped into another mom I’ve known casually over the past two years.

We stopped to say hello and catch up a bit, and the conversation moved into talking about my business. As I was telling her my story, I said, “Honestly, while I do have a passion for wellness, the real reason I began this business when I did was because I needed something of my own.”

See, we had been sharing about the intensity of mothering young ones and being home with them all day. And as soon as I made that comment, tears welled up in her eyes.

She stood there crying in the hallway as a huge wave of emotions overtook her, because she so deeply related to how I had felt a couple years ago. She felt disconnected to parts of herself that she deeply missed.

After a really long hug, we smiled and giggled a bit at how the lives of women can look so different on the outside but are really similar on the inside, and that we rarely talk about it. And also how good it feels when we do.

But the next part of the story is what I most want to share.

After her tears, we chatted about what she used to do before becoming a mother. We even started to brainstorm around how she may start to weave things she used to love doing back into her world.

And then she stopped. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “Really, though, I think I’m just so tired. I wonder how much of this would feel so intense if I could just get a good night’s sleep.”

Bang. In a moment’s time, I was instantly reminded of the wisdom she just tapped. So often we jump right to thinking the solution is in some higher-level change…when all along, we’ve chronically ignored the minimum requirements for thriving.

Our basic, fundamental needs…

Ask yourself these things:

1. Food: How are you feeding yourself?
2. Rest: How are you sleeping?
3. Calm: How are you handling stress?
4. Activity: How are you moving (aka exercising)?

Yes, of course we need love and joy, laughter and fresh air.  We need spiritual connection and mental stimulation and creativity and purpose.  But the truth is, a chronically sleep-deprived mama living off of Diet Coke and cheese doodles is nowhere near as prepared to experience the kind of deep, vital, and vibrant life meant for her. To some degree, we simply must take care of the basics first.

We often breeze past these fundamental needs and go straight to fixing the higher-level needs in our life.  But if we don’t have a proper, sturdy foundation in place, any attempts at flying will fail.

In order to spread our wings, our roots need to be well established.

This time of year, we begin making big visions for our lives and crafting ambitious goals, which are all good and exciting.

But I encourage you, while you’re setting high-level goals for the new year, take time for a foundations assessment.x Inventory how you are doing in the four critical areas mentioned above. They will be the raw materials you need to succeed at wherever your life needs to expand and increase.

Lately I’ve been preparing to lead my signature course, Designed for Wellness, which starts in January 2012. And I’ve been thinking about the process of establishing goals that are truly reflective of where we are and where we want to be this time next year.

It seems to me that many women could use a simple, straightforward way to identify not just their ideal goals, but also the skills they need to meet their goals.

I created a three-part video series to take you through that exact process. If you’d like to gain access to these videos, at no cost, just click here and sign up. The first video will be sent to you immediately.

Each video will take you through a simple, targeted exercise that helps you focus on the specific goals that are right for you, as well as identify the actionable steps for getting there successfully.

I’d love to hear how you are doing in these four foundational areas. Which of the four areas are in most need of attention right now in your life?

Reading Time:

3 minutes





  1. Amy W.

    Tsh, a few years ago I made a list of what I knew I needed in my life to to feel well established. I have never had all of them at one time for longer than a moment, but I feel that I am closer than ever to achieving them all at one time. I feel that #4 is now a constant, and that has made all the difference in how I live my life.

    1. Be on organized.
    2. Be on time.
    3. Be healthy.
    4. Always be thankful.

    • Lisa Byrne

      Amy- I love those 4 minimum requirements! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  2. Kacie

    Was it ME you were talking to? Because that could have been me. I feel like I could be so much more effective if I could just get a good night’s sleep. It has been years since I’ve woken up feeling refreshed and I think my body has forgotten how to do it.

    I have hope for the future, but still. Wow. Being a mom of little ones can be so draining.

    • Lisa Byrne

      I think we all can truly relate on the sleep issue, I know I can! It’s no easy feat to both strive to experience the most vibrant health we can AND stay in a place of grace and acceptance for the season of life we are in (which sometimes simply means our basic requirements are not met perfectly at all!)

  3. Narelle @ Cook Clean Craft

    Lack of sleep is such a common thread in life with small kids, and I think it impacts on the other 3 requirements. I’ve had a year of sleep-deprivation, and because I’m so tired, I crave high-sugar food (which really doesn’t help), I over-react to stressful situations, and I don’t have the energy to exercise, and so the downward spiral continues. People ask why I don’t sleep when the kids are sleeping, but I have so much that I need (and want) to do that guilt sets in. My kids sleep is improving, so hopefully I’m turning a corner, but I also should be putting sleep higher up on my priority list. Thanks for getting me to think about this!

  4. Erin OK

    What a great post! I’m working on a post on learning to get your needs met, I’ll definitely link back here. I realized when struggling with postpartum depression that I had to take charge of identifying my own needs and finding ways to get them met.

    I’ve been focusing on wellness lately, and I’m doing okay at each of the four areas. Okay. Not great. But okay. I’m working on it all!

  5. Courtney

    This hits a major nail on the head for me. I need to work on #3 and #4. I’m making progress on #3, but have totally fallen off the wagon with exercise. Thanks for pointing out how these basic needs must be the foundation for any other goals!

    • Lisa Byrne

      You’re welcome Courtney- thanks for your comment!

  6. Stephenie

    Oh, this is just so true. Sleep is the foundation for me…if I fall off the sleep wagon, everything else slides. Particularly my ability to handle stress, eat well and do any kind of activity. It is all so interwoven. The thing is, when our kids are asleep, we often feel driven to “get things done” rather than just resting ourselves. The top of the ” to do” list should always be “take care of yourself!”

    • Lisa Byrne

      Absolutely! You nailed a really common issue I find working with moms- the feeling that we should be using our time to DO something not to REST…it’s a hard balance to strike the sweet spot for sure- but when we do and trust that rest really is essential, so many other things flow so much easier!

  7. Liz

    My ‘littles’ are bigger now, 6 and 3 and we’re expecting our third, so I’ve bookmarked this page to remind me for when things get crazy again!

    • Esther

      Just had to say a little hi…my husband I have an almost 6 yr old and a 3 yr old as well and #3 comes this May 2012. I’m really enjoying this time with my kids before things, like you said, “get crazy again”! 🙂 Blessings to you.

  8. Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy

    Yes, yes, yes–this is SO true for me (especially the sleep!) And somehow these basic things don’t come as easy for me during the cold winter days when there’s not enough sunshine.

    Thanks for this. I’m interested in seeing what you say in the videos!

    • Lisa Byrne

      Thanks Anne…I’ll see you in the videos 🙂

  9. nancyc

    My kids are a bit older now so sleep is no longer an issue – though I clearly remember thinking “omg I’m really never going to sleep for 8 hours again” – with tears in my eyes I really believed that!! #1 Food is, I feel, the real key. We are what we eat sounds so cliche but it is just fact. These are the raw materials we have to create how we look, feel, react, and think.
    Great post – going to take a look at the videos.

    • Lisa Byrne

      Yes and yes!

  10. Alexis

    Yes, yes, yes and yes!

    I see a lot of martyr moms (must do it all, have perfect house, stay up all night making handmade ornaments, etc.). To their eyes I probably look a bit lazy. In my worldview, I wonder how much fun are you having over there?

    • Lisa Byrne

      🙂 You’d love it at my house, we’d be in good company together 🙂

  11. Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles

    The basics are sometimes the easiest to forget. Great reminders for taking stock of our busy every day lives!

    • Lisa Byrne

      Thanks Brenda!

  12. Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable

    You nailed it!!! What an excellent perspective and so true for so many women. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story:)

    • Lisa Byrne

      Thanks Andrea!

  13. Rita

    Woke up just this morning and marveled that I’d gotten more than 8 hours of sleep. I work at a high school, so I’ve been on break this week–and my body is sleeping in ways it never can while I’m working. I typically wake up after 6 hours with my mind racing (despite melatonin and a host of other practices). And I can so feel the difference! Rest is so vital. Will be working on this one in the coming year.

    • Lisa Byrne

      Love that you are FEELING the truth of this right now in your body!

  14. Michelle

    We had a really long and dreary northern winter last year. On top of it I fell on the ice in Jan and wrecked my knee (for 9 months) so my exercise stopped 100%. I felt myself spiraling into depression and found myself searching books and the internet for a solution. Like you pointed out I started making ambitious lists for what would cure me.

    And then I stumbled on something very simple. I already got enough sleep at that point. What I didn’t get was… outside. Fresh air. Light.
    So I made it a point to start going outside… every day. Even if it was cold. Even if only for 5 or 10 minutes.

    It helped me so much.

    You are very right about doing the basic things FIRST.

    • Lisa Byrne

      The simplest answer is often the truest indeed!

  15. Katherine

    Sleep! I lack sleep. And I have no excuse. Both of my kids are in bed by 7:30 and sleep through the night. I stay up too late. Also, I have a weird hatred of not being able to fall asleep quickly, or of being woken up abruptly once I finally fall asleep- so I frequently don’t even take advantage of their naptimes to nap myself.

    • Lisa Byrne

      Naps are lovely as well 🙂

  16. Erin

    This is just what I needed to be reminded of today. I tend to get so caught up in trying to get everything done for the kids that I often don’t take very good care of myself. I guess I know what to make my new year’s resolution about this year!

    • Lisa Byrne

      Beautiful, so glad to hear it was useful!

  17. megan

    Man, I can relate to this post. With a 4 month old, my sleep is suffereing and I just thought yesterday, “I am not mothering the way I want to be.” I did feel greatful to realize the cause of my low feelings, and its amazing how such a basic thing, sleep, can change my world. This time will pass and I know I will keep sleep a prioity in the future.

  18. Jennifer

    What an excellent post, Lisa! So simple, so true! Thank you for reminding us of what is so obvious but so easy to forget! Now, implementation…

  19. charis

    great post – so simple and yet so profound for so many of us in the season of life we are in. i would add a #5 as time with God. even when i am sleeping decent, eating healthy, getting outdoors, and lower stressed, i feel empty and directionless when too much time has passed since i either got in the Word, spent time singing and worshiping at my piano, or just had a serious heart to heart prayer time.

  20. Marie

    This is so true for me! Many times I wonder why I can’t get to a higher level at X or Y. I start feeling guilty that I can’t “do it all” for my family. But I forget to take into consideration that I’m battling a bad cold that has been running through my family, it’s a very stressful month, and I’m not sleeping well and getting no exercise. No wonder I don’t have the energy to be “wonder woman”!

    • Lisa Byrne

      Oh Marie– it feels so good to start turning inward with loving kindness and grace toward ourselves- sometimes simply acknowledging that we are doing the very best we can can take such a load off. We so often weigh our own self down with unreal expectations. Hoping for a swift recovery of your cold!

  21. Kathy

    I had my second baby in January. By the time June rolled around I thought I was severly depressed. My OB asked me two questions. One: “Are you getting enough sleep?” To which my response was “No. Two: “Are you exercising?” To which my response was also “No”. Basic needs.

  22. Brittnie (A Joy Renewed)

    I really enjoyed all three of your videos, Lisa. Thanks for making them free and accessible to all of us!

    When I was deeply struggling with my eating disorder, obviously food was my main area of weakness which in turn directly impacted my ability to rest & sleep well. During therapy I was able to identify ways to better manage my stress, as opposed to trying to control stress with my (lack of) food choices, and as I found new ways to cope with said stress the areas of food and rest became easier to attain.

    I would say today I struggle most with exercise. I seem to always have an excuse or find something else that I just need to get done instead. What is funny is that when I do choose to just get out there and be active, I never regret it!

  23. Amy @ Missional Mama

    This is good stuff to start resolutions with for the new year! Thanks for sharing!


  24. Alicen

    So glad to read this post today! I rolled out of bed this morning, after hitting Snooze 3 times and said to my husband, “I sure hope I find a couple of days to sleep in over the holidays.” I just started back to work early from maternity leave, and even with a baby who sleeps quite well, I still am suffering. So badly in fact that this morning I left my manual transmission car in neutral, and forgot to use the park brake, and it rolled backwards across the parking lot, narrowly missing 2 other cars. I need more sleep! Finding some time for exercise would be an improvement too 🙂

    • Alissa

      And grace! Those first few months back after maternity leave are really rough – everyone trying to find their groove. Give yourself grace and TIME to get into a routine that works. Starting with sleep (when I was back to work with my non-sleeping second child, I occasionally took my lunch break to drive to a nearby parking lot, set the alarm on my phone, and sneak in a 20 minute power nap!)

  25. Jessica

    Thank you. I am almost too sleep deprived to comment but this post is a gift to me. I have adored co-sleeping with my little girl but now at 12 months and still nursing ALL NIGHT, something needs to change. I felt this in my spirit this morning and now reading this is confirmation. Sleep needs to become a priority for me and it is my job as her mom to teach my little one the skill of sleeping well. It may be a process and my style will be a gentle one at that but sleep is my goal right now. Thank you.

  26. Alissa

    This is great affirmation for me of some things that I often feel guilty about:
    1. Taking the time to menu plan for the week and spending so much time/money preparing wholesome foods. I need to come to terms with the fact that this nourishes our bodies AND my soul because I really do take great joy from working in the kitchen (but not the dishes).
    2. Leaving things undone because we’ve hit our bedtime. My husband heads for bed when the clock strikes 10, and I’m often tempted to stay up and try to get “just a few more things” done. I guess I should be thankful that his habit is healthy for all of us!

  27. Diane

    Wow. Zing. Speaking as someone who doesn’t get nearly enough sleep, never exercises and consumes way-ay-ay too much cheese doodles and diet (Pepsi , for me thank you very much,) this post hit me square between the eyes. I have been feeling the Lord calling me to step back, relax, and actually take care of myself for a change… maybe I should start listening, huh?

    Thanks so much for writing this:)

  28. Alexandria

    So so so true. Great post!

    There were certainly years where getting a good night sleep was pretty much impossible. BUT, by the same token I did realize my limitations. Those very few years were all about “survival mode” for me. Not about big dreams and goals which I had plenty more energy and brain power for before and since.

    I just wanted to comment too, that when other moms get into a place where they are doing too much and feel they can’t get enough sleep or exercise, they don’t tend to be very supportive of moms who do take care of themselves. I think it’s time for moms to step back and pat each other on the back for taking these steps. If you are jealous, now is the time to step back and figure out what you can do to create a healthier lifestyle and a happier you. I was raised by a unhappy mom that didn’t take care of herself, so I feel strongly about putting my sanity first. I know my kids are better off for it. I’ve been taken aback by attitude from other women, though. (That I am so selfish to care about my health and take the time? I don’t know – it’s a weird dynamic).

  29. Amy

    Two weeks I decided to work on my eating (cut back!) and up my exercise. I was suprised (though should not have been all that surprised) that I gained seven pounds since August. Why wait until the New Years!? I have never felt this great around the holidays–most of the time I get anxious border line depressed the week of Christmas. The four areas work together. When I am exercising, I sleep so good! When I exercise and eat well, it decreases my anxiety.

  30. Leigh Ann

    This post very well become my 2012 guide. I’m NOT meeting them. I eat like crap, barely feeding myself lunch but the scraps my kids leave behind; I stay up way too late because it’s the only time I can get ANYTHING done; I lose my temper way too much with my kids these days; and I rarely get out for physical activity because I’m so wiped out at the end of the day. I credit all or most of this to the fact that my 3.5 year old twins stopped napping, essentially stealing 2-3 hours of time from me during the day. But since naps aren’t coming back, I need to get myself back on track and start taking better care of myself. Thank you!

    • Diane

      Leigh Ann… I know this is from a few days ago and therefore ancient history, but as an older mom I wanted to throw you a little tidbit that saved my sanity for many a year. My kids were not big nappers either and gave them up wayay before I was ready to give up those precious midday hours sans offspring. I instituted something we called “quiet time”… basically just an hour to an hour and a half where everyone had to be on their beds playing quietly or reading or resting. It took a bit of training to get everyone used to the idea and to set the boundaries in place, but once it was a set part of our day… oh mah lordie! What a blessed relief. Often the kids would surprise me and actually go to sleep in spite of themselves, but even if they didn’t, we all still benefited from a bit of quiet solitude. You might want to consider adding it or something similar to your family’s day. Just prayed for ya:)

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