Do you feel like your attention is being pulled in too many directions or that it’s been difficult to create time for yourself this year?  

Join us as we dive into creating grounding and healthy habits that allow us to feel good (even when we’re short on time or energy). 

Explore real-time ideas, journal prompts, and questions to focus your attention in February using our Meals, Movement, Mind Framework. 

Plus, we’re sharing lots of free resources including our downloadable Capsule Grocery List and our favorite last-minute dinner recipes roundup!

here’s a glance at this episode:

  • [5:25] Understand the Meals, Movement, Mind Framework and how to organize your focus for the month of February
  • [6:17] Meals: create your own top 10 list of fallback dinner ideas to create more ease around meal planning.
    • [12:01] Snack Dinner: no cooking, no dishes, everyone makes their own and only eats what they love.
  • [14:18] Movement: Ask yourself, what’s working for winter movement? See what comes up. 
  • [19:54] Mind: Notice whether your New Year’s resolutions or goals are strength-based or deficit-based. 

links mentioned in this episode

Last-Minute Dinner Ideas

25+ Last Minute Dinner Ideas

Capsule Grocery List

How to Use the Peloton App Without a Peloton Bike

The Balanced Life Online Pilates Membership

read the transcript

Robyn Conley Downs: (00:01)

You’re listening to The Feel Good Effect. Here’s what to focus on in February. Let’s make it happen!

Robyn Conley Downs: (00:10)

Radically simple and ridiculously doable. The Feel Good Effect will help you redefine wellness on your terms. Hi, I’m your host Robyn Conley Downs. And I believe that wellness isn’t about achieving another set of impossible standards, but instead finding what works for you, drawing from cutting-edge science on mindfulness, habit and behavior change. This podcast offers a collection of small mindset shifts that allow for more calm, clarity, and joy in everyday life and allows you to embrace the idea that gentle is the new perfect. I invite you to listen in, as we cut through the clutter and find the small shifts that create huge changes in your life. Less striving, more ease. It’s time to feel good.

Robyn Conley Downs: (00:59)

Well, Hey, Feel Good, fam. I am so glad you’re here for this episode on what to focus on in February, which is something new I’m playing around with as a series. And we’ll see how it goes. My goal with this episode is to give you some real-time ideas, prompts, and questions to focus your attention and your energy for this month. And I know it’s been a wild ride. In fact, I just listened to last week’s episode, which was about how to have a morning routine when you need a reset or how to reset your morning routine. And I said that we were in the middle of winter 2021, um, which obviously we’re not, it’s actually 2022, but that really gives you a sense of where I’m at with things. And my sense of time is completely maybe damaged beyond repair after the last two years.

Robyn Conley Downs: (01:51)

And I think that, you know, joking aside, whether I know what day it is or not, or whether I know what year it is or not, we are in a time where there’s so many things pulling our attention, there is so much about life that is different, that is challenging, that it’s more important to, than ever to have these grounding habits and grounding mindsets and questions and prompts to help us stay focused. Even when I, we don’t have a lot of time, even when we don’t have a lot of energy, even when life is like really, really wild. And we don’t know what year it is, and this actually comes from a personal practice that I’ve been doing for years.

Robyn Conley Downs: (02:36)

And at the beginning of a month, I set up my planner to ask what to focus on this month. And it’s not about creating huge list and setting myself up to be more productive. It’s really again about finding that 20% in my life that is moving the needle toward how I feel and making sure that the habits are in support of that. And then at the end of the month, I have another practice where I kind of look at what happened this month and I record that and I kind of connect it to what I was focused on. So that’s kind of part one, is what to focus on. And the beautiful thing is that I can share what works for me and what I’m focusing on in February. And you can use that as a jumping-off point because I say it a million times, but I won’t give you a prescriptive program, but I will give you a place to start from, a grounding set of habits and mindsets so that you can make those decisions for yourself.

Robyn Conley Downs: (03:33)

Now, depending on where you are in the world, February could mean winter, or if you’re in the Southern hemisphere is the opposite. I happen to be in a Northern part of the Northern hemisphere. So for me, February is very much winter. Actually in the Pacific Northwest, I have to say that February is you kind of start actually glimpsing spring. The days are getting longer, which is huge for anyone living in the Northern climate in the Northern hemisphere, in the winter, any little, extra bit of light at the end of the day, such a game-changer, mood changer. And we can actually get some really beautiful days and a glimpse of the sun. And I know in other parts of like more new Englandy Northeast when February is real, real winter still. And so I’m definitely shaping this coming from a perspective, someone that lives in the north.

Robyn Conley Downs: (04:25)

And if you are somewhere where sunny and warm, you can adapt this, obviously, but no matter what we’re, we’re, we’re only one month into 2022, that is the actual year. And it’s a great time to think about what our goals are, what our intentions are, what our habits are, because January was for many people, such a difficult, difficult, difficult month. And I know a lot of people say like, I wanna, I wanna do over and we don’t need to do over, but it’s almost a better time to kind of take stock, not necessary re resolutions, but maybe goals and ask yourself these questions of how do I want this year to be, and in terms of what I have control over. And now that we’re maybe through a little bit of the darkest deepest part of winter and the latest surge and all of those things, then maybe we can kind of regroup, reground and, and focus on some things.

Robyn Conley Downs: (05:25)

So that’s what I am talking about today. I love to use my meals, movement, mind framework as a way to organize what I wanna focus on for the month. I think it’s just a really nice way to look at a holistic picture of wellness and health is to think about what am I focused on when it comes to meals? What am I focused on when it comes to movement and what, what am I focused on when it comes to mind? Because that helps me really take into account, like, how am I eating? How am I moving? And also, how am I taking care of myself and my mental wellbeing? The other advantage is that it keeps me from making a list of like 200 things to focus on because we know in the research that you are not gonna get far, if you’re focused on too many things. So that’s where we’re coming from when it comes to meals movement in mind. And I invite you in your own life to use that framework, as you think about what to focus on this month as well.

Robyn Conley Downs: (06:17)

So let’s talk, let’s start with meals. Many of you know that I am editor-in-chief and recipe developer at And I also love food just in general. I think about what I’m going to eat next all day long . And so I’m all probably just partial to starting with meals, but a couple of things that I’m focusing on when it comes to meals in February is that last-minute dinner idea list that we talked about two episodes ago, if you just wanna go back, it’s called last-minute dinner ideas, or last-minute meal ideas. And in that episode, I talk out kind of how to create your own last-minute meal, um, ideas. And then I also gave you a recipe Roundup of my top, like 25 fallback recipe ideas. But I have found that at, by the end of January, I feel a little bit burned out on cooking . And at the end of a the last two years, I feel a little bit burned out on cooking. And I don’t want to project that onto you. Maybe you’re feeling inspired and excited. And if that’s the case, then obviously you would wanna pick something else to focus on. But for me, I’m a little bit tired of cooking. It’s part of my job, but it just in general, it’s not my favorite thing right now. And so what I am challenging myself to do this month, and it’s not even a challenge, it’s an invitation, right? Which is to just write down the top 10 fallback dinner ideas, write it down and put it on the fridge or put it in the pantry or put it on the back of a cabinet door. And that’s it. That’s my focus for meals for this month.

Robyn Conley Downs: (08:04)

Now, if I was living by myself, I would do this by myself. And actually I think it could be, I mean, maybe not, but I’m gonna throw this out there that this could actually be fun, that you could write down a meal list of your 10 fallback meals and think about like, what do you love eating? What do you, what would you look forward to at the end of the day? What have you, what is easy to make? And also maybe what have you not made in a long time, but that you love that would be fun to bring back?

Robyn Conley Downs: (08:33)

Now I live with a spouse and a child who is going actually I think when this show goes live, she’ll be 10, which is wild. I know some of you have been with me since she was two. So that’s saying something. So my 10-year-old. And so they have input into this as well. Like let’s together as a family, come up with our 10 fallback dinner ideas so that if the meal plan falls through, or if life gets busy, we’re about to start spring soccer again, that we collectively have decided that these are 10 meals that like someone could make, it doesn’t have to be me. It doesn’t have to be Mom and that everyone’s gonna be happy with it. And maybe it’s something different or maybe it’s something that’s very comfortable and very much the same. And you could really do this with cookbooks. If you love that, if you wanna pull out your favorite cookbooks and flip through and, you know, be reminded of some of your favorites, maybe you have a little recipe, family recipe box. Maybe you have family members who you don’t see all the time, this could be a very fun conversation to have with them. Like what should I put on my 10 fallback meal list? And that’s it. So that’s what I’m focusing on.

Robyn Conley Downs: (09:43)

We’re rebooting our 10 meal fallback meal list. And I definitely still capsule meal plan. Um, I definitely still use all the tools that I talk about, but the, there are nights where this happens. In fact, it happened last night. I’m testing a slow cooker, corn beef and cabbage recipe, which maybe doesn’t sound appealing unless you love that, then you’re excited, but I’m, it’s actually really, really good, but it took so much longer than I thought, which is why I test recipes so many times, but dinner was not, not ready when I thought it was going to be. And so I have my 10 fallback recipes and I made a backup dinner. Do I love cooking dinner two times in one day? No, but that’s just the nature of the job sometimes.

Robyn Conley Downs: (10:30)

And so one of our far fallback, top 10 is saute shrimp like garlic shrimp with lemon and cream. In this case, I used a dairy-free creamer. I used Nutpods. So I did garlic and then shrimp and then a lemon juice and some cream and a pasta, and then a big salad, which I assigned to someone else to make because I was already had enough. And so that beautiful meal for us is everyone likes it. Yes, Elle eats shrimp, as long as it’s on the side and not mixed into the pasta, she wants plain pasta with butter and the shrimp on the side and the salad deconstructed. But either way, everyone likes it. We were happy. It was done in under 20 minutes. And it was not this emergency urgent disaster that we didn’t have dinner when it, when the plans fall through.

Robyn Conley Downs: (11:20)

So that is why I have a top 10 list. And you know, the best part is that it does go along with my capsule grocery list. So I always have those ingredients on hand so I can put it together, but I don’t even wanna bring that into this right now. Cause I feel like some of you that’s a little much for February, so yes, it can go along with the capsule go grocery list. Yes, I have one, if you wanna download it for free, but mostly what to focus on February for meals is top 10 list, top 10 fallback recipes, put it on a cabinet, put it on the fridge and invite people to be part of that. Or have it be something that you really think about for yourself? Like what do I love eating? What do I wanna make and what would make me happy and what would make me feel good?

Robyn Conley Downs: (12:01)

All right. I have to throw this out there as well. One more thing about top 10 list and your fallback meal ideas to focus on in February is snack dinner. And, uh, I shared this on Instagram the other day, and some of you were fully on board already, like snack dinner professionals. And then some of you were like, wait, what? I can do that? And so snack dinner is really, there’s three rules for snack dinner rule. Number one is no cooking rule. Number two is no dishes. Rule number is everyone gets to make their own and only eat things they love. And in this case, for example, Elle’s plate was I think a couple kinds of cheese, some bread and butter pickles, olives, bread with like sourdough bread, with butter, CU, baby cucumbers and tomatos and almonds. So I do try to think about like, do we have fiber, fat, protein, but beyond that, anything goes, and she was so happy and I was so happy. And then I had avocado toast with tomatoes and sprouts, and then I had almonds on the side, some olives and some tomatoes and baby cucumber, which I love. And so if you wanna add snack dinner to your top 10 highly recommend it. The best part is to just remember when you’re at the store to get some things that work well, you know, some like jarred things, pickled things, um, something with like protein that’s snacky, um, veggies that you love that you could eat raw. That’s kind of how we do it. Someone messaged me and said that they call it grazing dinner and they just put everything out on the counter and they all just eat there. We did plates mainly cuz we wanted to sit on the couch and what were we wa I think we were watching Boba Fett, but that’s another story for another day.

Robyn Conley Downs: (13:56)

So what to focus on in February meals, make your top 10 list, have it be fun, have it be a way to kind of take the boredom and the burnout out of dinner and invite people to be part of it. And bonus points if you do snack dinner and if you do, I love seeing what you’re up to. You can tag me, um, on Instagram @realfoodwholelife.

Robyn Conley Downs: (14:18)

Moving on to movement. What to focus on in February for movement. Now again, if you’re in Northern hemisphere, Northern climate, February is just such a tough mental month for movement if you are someone that likes to get outside and move. If you like to walk, if you like to run, you know, I, at least at this point while I’m recording, the Northeast has just been having like wildly cold temperatures and it’s just not safe to get outside. So it doesn’t matter how you know, determined and how much you have a routine. You’re not going outside. And I get that. So the question for you, and even if you’re not in some place that’s like super cold, at least here, it’s just rainy and uninspiring and the couch and my, my PJs are so much more inviting than getting outside. And so I have one question now that I want you to ask. You could journal this. You could write in a planner. Is: what’s working with winter movement? And I really want you to talk, look at it. Talk, you can talk to somebody about this too. let’s let’s chat. You can connect with me or have a conversation with a friend or a partner about this. What’s working when it comes to winter movement? Because I want you to think about what’s working versus what’s not. We’re so good Negativity bias is our brain’s predisposition to focus on the negative first. We’re really good at that. It’s just a cognitive bias that we have. And so we don’t have to go all toxic positivity on things, but we can neutralize negativity bias by focusing on strengths, on what’s working and especially this time of year. So important to do that. So really just the question is: what’s working for winter movement? And see what comes up. And if nothing comes up, that is your, what to focus on is, is find something that works, whether it’s maybe digging out that treadmill that you have, that you haven’t used for a long time, maybe it’s investing in the spin bike. I have a whole article on my website about how to turn a regular spin bike into, um, a Peloton bike, really inexpensively using a cadence sensor and the Peloton app.

Robyn Conley Downs: (16:27)

If you do have indoor workout equipment and you’re not using it, here’s a chance to ask why that is. And it’s not necessarily just about willpower and discipline. It might be that it’s too cold. If you have something in a garage and you just don’t wanna go out in the cold garage, that is a fixable problem. Maybe you could move it inside. Maybe you could get an inexpensive space heater. Yes, it’s okay to put a space heater in a garage, if that helps you to get out out there and move. And then beyond exercise equipment, maybe like in other areas. So walking with a friend is working. So how can you make that happen more often, maybe getting out in nature is working. And so you wanna make sure that you’re focused on that and then you’re making space for that this month, maybe online working out is working for you or it’s maybe sporadic, but there’s ways that you could enhance it.

Robyn Conley Downs: (17:18)

So for me, what I’m focused on in February is I do my daily walk, no matter what, it, it doesn’t ever get cold enough here that it’s dangerous so I just do it even when it’s dark, even when it’s raining, even when I don’t want to. But the other thing that working really well for me is barre and Pilates. I talk a lot about my love for Pilates. I’m happy to share what I use and I have a discount code, of course, but the thing about it is it just wasn’t happening as regularly as I wanted, but I know that it feels good in my body. And I know I look forward to it. I just, wasn’t kind of making it work in the day. And so what I did, what I did is I started doing it after dinner, after I digested, which is a time that I’m very attached to the couch. Like I love my snuggle time, my relaxed time, but I have a gas fireplace. And so I found that if I put the fireplace on and I put my mat down in front of the fireplace after dinner and I got into, you know, comfortable clothes that I could move in, as long as I could get down on the mat, I I’m very happy to do a 20, 10 minute, 20 minute, 30 minute, uh, movement whether it’s barre or Pilates, while my family is watching TV. So again, there’s a lot of Star Wars and Marvel movies happening in my house. And like, I just don’t really care that much about either of those things. and so I’m fine to have, I wanted to be in the room with them. I wanted to be, I didn’t wanna be separate. I didn’t wanna be in a cold room somewhere else, but I actually just put it on my phone. I put like a little head headphones in and I do my workout while they’re watching TV, as long as I don’t block the TV and it’s working so well for February. So maybe that doesn’t resonate with you, but I think the point is to ask what’s working and to, to make sure that you’re doing that. If something’s not working, are there these small tweaks that you could make? Cuz for me it was really about, I didn’t ha I wasn’t when I do my walk and then I try to work out, I wasn’t having enough time to work. And so I was trying to find another time in the day, but I didn’t wanna leave my family and go and isolate somewhere away from them. So, and I didn’t wanna be cold . And so those two things, I was able to fix the problem by just moving in front of, in front of the fire and then being with my family while they’re watching something I don’t really care about. So that’s what I’m focused on in February is just consistency with that online movement. And having it feel really good in my body and continuing to build strength and mobility and the cold months so that I’m strong when summer rolls around.

Robyn Conley Downs: (19:54)

And then the last thing to focus on with mind, I could go lot of ways, but I figure if we like this, we can keep doing this and I’ll have more, more options to give you later on. But with this knowing that we’re just one month into the year, I want you to think about if you have any goals that you set or any resolutions that you made. And I want you to think about whether those goals or resolutions are strength-based or deficit-based. And the whole research around strength-based goals comes out of positive psychology, but also out of, um, education. So there’s a lot of research around this. And what I’ve noticed is, especially as adults, we make goals and resolutions around things that we find to be a deficit, something that we’re missing or lacking or not good at. And I get it. And I’ve talked about that before. I’ve used those as examples, but I want you to just ask this for February, is: are my goals or my resolutions based on things that are lacking or missing or that I’m trying to get better at? Or are they more focused on my strengths? And one is not good or bad. It’s just a question so way to kind bringing awareness to this area of your life.

Robyn Conley Downs: (21:11)

And if they are all deficit-based, for example, you know, I’m not meal planning, so I wanna be better meal planner. I’m not exercising and I wanna exercise or I’ve been eating junk foods. I wanna eat healthier. If they’re all deficit-based, I want you to ask, what would it look like if I added a goal or resolution or an intention around a strength and how would that change things? So what if you asked, what am I good at? What do I love? Where do I already have momentum? And that can be eye-opening on its own and you can go further and then actually do some intention setting or goal setting around things that you love doing or that you’re already good at, or that you have momentum and just see how that feels. So that’s my invitation of what to focus on for mind in February.

Robyn Conley Downs: (22:02)

I already mentioned mine, I think a goal around or an intention around Pilates and barre around strength and mobility. It was already working for me. I do love doing it. I just wasn’t quite getting it into the spot of the day that worked. And so focusing on something I love, I’m already, you know, regularly doing, I very much enjoy, but kind of enhancing that and growing it is a, a really different experience than trying to focus on like maybe I should start running when I don’t like running.

Robyn Conley Downs: (22:34)

So that is what to focus on in February for meals, movement, mind. Create your top 10 list of fallback meal ideas. I would love to see those. I think others would as well. So if you wanna share on social I’m @realfoodwholelife. Movement is asking the question, what is working and really trying to amplify that and grow it. And then with your mind, looking at goals, intentions, resolutions, or habits, and asking are any of these strength-based and if not, what would it look like if I focus more on my strengths and when I was it at and growing that.

Robyn Conley Downs: (23:11)

I hope you enjoyed what to focus on in February. Would love to hear from you if you did. And as always, I wanna thank you for being part of this Feel Good movement, and for giving this time for yourself. Until next time, here’s to feeling good.

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