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What Are You Hungry For?

A woman staring ahead holding glazed donuts. Caption reads: What are you hungry for? Honing in on your motivation to eat when you’re not hungry.

Eating That Doesn’t Satisfy

Many suffer from what is known as emotional or binge eating. They differ in specific triggers or how they became habit, but the commonalities in them make it possible to take them together here in this post. In these conditions food is eaten for soothing, pleasure, or as a distraction from uncomfortable feelings or situations instead of for sustenance as food is intended. It is used as a coping mechanism to alleviate distressful feelings, such as, sadness, pain, depression, anger, boredom and even happy feelings. In an eating event, a lot of calories can be consumed–above and beyond what is considered to be healthful–in a short amount of time.

For me, my binge eating was triggered by restrictive eating (READ: DIETING) and that need to diet was due to self-esteem and body image beliefs. I would “successfully” restrict foods and lose weight for various lengths of time, only to binge eat, also for various amounts of time, only to regain all lost weight and then some. This yo-yo diet cycle last for YEARS.

Emotional or binge eating is much different than eating to satisfy real hunger, and either can be a culprit in undesired weight gain, other health complications, and emotional and psychological distress due to the guilt and shame that it can induce in those who engage in it.

Typically, the emotional or binge eater will choose unhealthy foods, like, ice cream, cookies and other sweets because it is the fat and sugar in them that brings a feeling of contentment and euphoria as they induce reward centers in the brain to release “feel good” chemicals, such as, the body’s natural pain killers, opioids.

Emotional or binge eating can be severe or an occasional occurrence, but for most it becomes a habit, and something that unfortunately they are not even aware exists in their own lives. Old habits die hard as the saying goes, and those who are unaware automatically reach for chips and ice cream when they are distressed or bored.

I experienced this blindness to my own patterns and behaviors until I worked with a coach. It is amazing how easy and completely we can sometimes be unaware of our habits. The brain is really efficient at executing patterns on auto-pilot and I always recommend journaling or tracking as a tool or practice to help you spot patterns yourself.

In order to break free from the cycle of emotional or binge eating, it is crucial to understand how it differs from real physical hunger. This can be trickier than it sounds, because dysfunctional eaters have spent months or years perfecting the craft of using food to deal with feelings, and are typically completely out of touch with their body’s actual need for food or what that feels like.

Since emotional hunger is a powerful thing, it is important to assess the signs and take a deep look at your own behavior should you be looking to stop the cycle of emotional eating and binge eating. Not to be cliche, but knowing really is half the battle in developing health habits, and no other habit has the impact that eating does on your overall wellness!

Emotional Versus Physical Hunger

The biggest area of concern is eating when your body is not really hungry. A shift in my mindset was considering the follwoing analogy: do you fill your gas tank up when it is empty (or even a little low) or when it is full? When you do, do pump until the gas is spilling out o987Our bodies are vessels and food is fuel. Eating when you need to is a key practice in getting a handle on your relationship with food and your body.

Emotional Hunger Is Sudden

Emotional hunger comes on suddenly, like an unexpected rain storm on a warm summer day. It is typically an urgent need for food, and it feels overwhelming. Conversely, physical hunger is not that urgent, it is more gradual and also expected, as it comes in anticipated intervals, such as, meal times.

Cravings

As opposed to physical hunger where a sensible meal will satisfy, including healthy selections like fruits and vegetables, in emotional hunger one has out of control cravings for foods that are high in fat and sugar. The craving is an urgent need, and sometimes feels like it’s something one can’t live without, and only that specific food which is being craved will satisfy.

Guilt And Shame

No one ever feels guilty about eating lunch or breakfast, its sustenance, it’s what humans are supposed to do. But emotional hunger is often marked by feelings of guilt, shame and regret after binge eating because deep down the eater knows that this food was eaten dysfunctional reasons.

Mindless Eating

Unlike with physical hunger where one sits down to enjoy a meal and savors every bite, emotional hunger is often characterized by mindless eating. Without awareness one can finish a tub of ice cream or a box of cookies without truly realizing how much they have eaten.

Unlike physical hunger, where one stops eating once they are full, emotional hunger is never satisfied. The emotional eater will keep eating and wanting more and more food until they are so stuffed that they feel sick.

Emotional Hunger Is in the Heart

As opposed to physical hunger that is felt in the stomach when there is an absence of food or it is meal time, emotional hunger is in in the mind, and includes imagining the smell, taste and texture of certain foods being craved.

Final Thoughts

As you can see there is a profound difference between these two types of hunger.

Can you identify any of these in your own eating habits?

For many emotional or binge eating is a habit that encompasses a large part of their life. It is not healthy, not for the body, or the emotional state of one who has fallen victim to this type of dysfunctional behavior.

Help is available.

The key is to identify and become aware of the problem and your own patterns in this regard, and then learn proper coping mechanisms that will eliminate the need to use food for emotional satisfaction.

Stay tuned as I next explore additional types of hunger and how to build new habits that resolve and soothe the hungers in a healthful way.

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Mindfulness & Gratitude: Natural Health Boosters

Woman at daybreak with outstretched arms as if in prayer. Quote reads, ““Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough” by Oprah Winfrey

Mindful Eating is Mindfulness

As a Food Relationship expert, I use mindful eating as a tool or skill to help break through beliefs and blocks surrounding our relationships with food and our bodies. But as mindful eating is just an extension of mindfulness, flexing in that area primes you for all mindfulness practices–especially gratitude practices.

Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness is scientifically supported with benefits for the mind, body, and spirit. In particular it has been found to be a extremely useful in stress reduction and in increasing overall positivity, happiness, and an attitude of gratitude.

So, it stands to reason that mindful eating is way to boost your health. It most certainly can! It is a very effective tool to get in touch with your body’s hunger and fullness cues, learn what food make you feel great (and not so great), cultivates gratitude for food, and can result in increased consumption of quality food–to name a few!

Mindful eating can be tough to practice during the holidays, as we rush between holiday parties and recitals and family gatherings. More on that later. I wanted to take a moment to talk about how gratitude can have some of the same benefits; after all, it is the season of giving, and there is no better giving than thanksgiving!

As we get into the groove of the holidays, we can endeavor to be ever-mindful of the best of the season, and the best of people.

“Thankfulness creates gratitude, which generates contentment that causes peace.”

— Todd Stocker

Emotions, Feelings, and Thoughts-Oh, My!

Emotions can bottle up inside you, but you don’t have to let them. You can master your thoughts, feelings, and emotions and learn to let them out in positive ways, so they don’t cause you stress and harm.

I work with some pretty awesome folks who somewhere along the way let their emotions rule their heads and then bellies and then lives. It doesn’t take much for that to happen. It happened to me and developing a mindfulness based practice was instrumental in helping me get back in control

Mindfulness begets thoughtfulness. Thoughtfulness begets reflection. Reflection begets possibilities. Belief in the possibilities is where the change in action and growth happen. It is really quite remarkable how the world looks to you when your perspective changes. It is all in your mind!

One of the best ways to improve your health and handle your emotions is by expressing your gratitude. Yes, really!

Mindfulness can:

  • help relieve stress
  • treat heart disease
  • lower blood pressure
  • reduce chronic pain
  • improve sleep
  • alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties. This is also a benefit of mindful eating!

Let’s look at some intentional gratitude practices that can help you get your Zen on and be healthier!

Season of Gratitude

Ask yourself: What are you thankful for? Who matters in your life? Even when life may not be going as planned, there are still many things to be grateful for.

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” 

Eckhart Tolle

Give Your Gratitude Away

No matter how much you appreciate someone in your life, that person may not have any idea about how you feel. Rather than just assume they know your thoughts and feelings, go ahead and speak up. Tell them how you really feel and what’s in your heart.

See the smile? It feels good, doesn’t it? When you smile back, laugh, and even share tears of joy and love, it helps your heart, mind, and body thrive. It releases a flood of chemicals that your body just loves. It’s a “feel-good” thing to do. That’s true for both you and the receiver of your gratitude.

Maybe you’re grateful for something you have, as opposed to a person. Did you ever think about sending a thankful message to the company that makes the products you love? They probably hear all about customer complaints, but how much gratitude do they get for the work they’ve done to make lives better or more convenient? Give them some of your gratitude and you’ll spread joy all around!

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” 

-William Arthur Ward

Ways to Show Your Gratitude

Showing gratitude is something you can do quite easily and all it costs you is a little bit of time and effort.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Tell your loved ones you care for them.
  • Hug a friend who’s hurting.
  • Smile at a stranger.
  • Write to a company whose product or service you really love.
  • Make time to listen to someone who needs to talk.
  • Spend some time out in nature, appreciating the beauty of creation.
  • Volunteer your services or help someone in need.

You can also show your gratitude just for being alive by treating others well and being kind to yourself. Relaxing and taking time to unwind from the stress of everyday life is very important, and you’ll be happier and healthier because of it.

Focus on What Really Matters

Many people are unhappy with their circumstances, and it’s often because they feel they don’t have enough money, a big house, or the ultimate car. These things are nice, but in the grand scheme of things, they don’t really matter. After all, when you’re on your deathbed, will you wish you had that red Ferrari? Or will you wish that you had more time with your loved ones?

“Gratitude and attitude are not challenges; they are choices.” 

-Robert Braathe

Connect with what really matters by being grateful for all you’ve been given.

There will be obstacles and stumbling blocks in life, but there is joy all around you as well. When you tap into that joy, keep a positive attitude, and show how grateful you are, you’ll prove that you’re able to let go of unnecessary baggage. It’s a great feeling, and one that you can give yourself, today, right now. What a wonderful thing to be grateful for!

Hopefully, you have been inspired to not only explore mindfulness, but also to freely express your gratitude this season and all year!

If you are interested in learning more about Mindful Eating as way to cultivate mindfulness and to develop a better relationship with food and yourself, grab a freebie about how to get started here!

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All Heroes Have an Origin Story

Reads If you look inside yourself, and you believe, you can be your own hero, by Mariah Carey in white letters against a lilac background next to a woman looking for something and her shadow is on the wall behind her with a cape like a super hero.

In the Beginning

I was working in non-profit management and asked for a raise. They said no. I gave my notice. I had a month to figure out how I was going to take my side hustle to a full time business. The next few weeks I spent convincing myself I was not crazy so I got a business coach and promised my husband if I could not get it going in a few months I would find a new job. Outwardly, I smiled and laughed and spoke to this overwhelming sense of relief. Man, I had to get up and do the damn thang!

The Middle

I was scrambling. Imposter syndrome was an understatement. I was fortunate to have found some clients for some personal training that was bringing in some income (not enough!) and I had stayed on with the non-profit teaching some fitness classes. I had some other random writing gigs that carried me but the looming threat of having to work outside of my passion was the match I needed to light a fire under this arse. Two months out from a full-time check, I decided it was time to get out there in a big way. FAST.

The Ending

It is not over by any means. I am looking to change the lives of women like me–or like I was once. Lying awake at night worried about if I could eat the last piece of lasagna without waking folks up. Or scared that if I did not get my eating under control I would develop all the diseases and die too early to see my daughter grow up.

My why is simple, as you may have guessed. I am a recovered binge eater. I had the help and support of a phenomenal coach and I honor her memory every time I give a tip or help another women live free from food rules and move throughout this glorious life with more joy. When women are balanced and well, we lift other up. There is a power in helping other women!

Ladies, if you need some skilled, empathetic, non-judgmental support, reach out to me right here.

I believe that you have the inner strength to be your own hero!

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Let’s Get it PREPPIN’

Search bar that reads, “How to healthy meal prep for beginners?” above filled food storage containers with a mug that reads Help Me.

Meal Prep Saves Lives

Or so it does, IMHO. I got started for the same reason a lot of folks do–to manage (or perhaps lose weight). But that was years ago, and I escaped the hold of diet culture, meal planning and prepping stayed with me. One reason is I enjoy it. My husband enjoys cooking, and the girls both love cooking programs and often have ideas about what to try (the big one) and what not to try (the little one)!

As you get savvier with meal prepping, you’ll often learn tips and tricks that help you to get things done quicker. As a newbie meal prepper, it can feel like you spend forever in the kitchen – usually because you’re not aware of the hacks that can cut your prep time! This was certainly the case for me! Now with tools like social media and groups (mine is here), a rookie can benefit from others and deeply cut the learning curve and get right to a sustainable–and hopefully enjoyable–routine!

These tried and tested meal prep hacks should help you to cut down on the time you spend in the kitchen and prep super healthy meals in less time.

The Hacks!

Two Planning Non-Negotiables

Gather the Recipes! I am too embarrassed to mention how many times I started prepping without a roadmap or recipes! When you start out, this is necessary. When you’re meal prepping for the week ahead, you don’t want to be hunting high and low for your go-to recipes. Save yourself tons of time by collecting together your tried-and-tested or still-to-come recipes in a swipe file that you can go to whenever you need.

Use the wisdom of theme nights (they need to make sense for your family and schedule!) Theme nights abound–Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, etc. If your family likes certain types of food create or search for a theme for each night of the week so that you can easily ‘rinse and repeat’ each week. It will make pulling the plan together so much easier and faster so that you can prep things that will use some overlapping ingredients or leftovers! Honorable Mention: having adequate food storage containers and space in the refrigerator!

Pre prepared foods can be a game changer

While it’s great to do as much as you can from scratch when you’re meal prepping, some pre prepared foods can be a huge help for cutting time spent in the kitchen. Spiralized zucchini or squash noodles can be super healthy and convenient, for example. And frozen fruits and veggies are usually just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts and have the added bonus of being super handy.

Don’t be afraid to use some pre prepared options to save you time, especially where fruits and veggies are concerned. Just be a little warier of the more processed options. Pre prepared sauces can be pretty processed, for example.

Prep veggies early on

When you come back from the grocery store, start prepping your veggies for meals to come. Stash them in the refrigerator or freezer until you need them and they’ll be good to go for cooking stir fries, pasta dishes and anything else that uses veggies. This can save tons of time later in the week, not to mention less stress!

Bulk buy meat when it’s on offer

Buying meat when it’s on offer and stashing it in the freezer for when you need it is super useful for your budget, as well as helping you to get more organized. It also means less time in the grocery store.

Prepping Hacks

Batch cook as much as possible

Planning to have soups or curries as part of your meal plans one week? Cook up a big batch in one go, either in a slow cooker or in a big pot on the stove. From there, it’s super easy to portion it up and freeze it for later in the week.

Grains are another one that can easily be cooked ahead of time too. Prepping and cooking them in one batch means you can repurpose them for lunches and dinners throughout the week, with minimal effort. They just need to be heated up later in the week for hot meals, or they can be left cold for salads.

One pan dinners are your friend

One easy way to spend less time in the kitchen when you’re meal prepping? Cut down on the amount of pans you use! One pan dinners are perfect for this. When you’re pushed for time or just want to have less mess, look for one pan dinner inspiration!

Repurpose your leftovers

If you usually find that you have leftovers after you’ve prepped meals, making good use of them can free up more time. With some creativity and forward planning, you can repurpose leftovers for another day and spend less time on meal prepping. Sounds awesome, right? It’s all about mindset and always asking yourself how you can use leftovers to create another lunch, dinner or snack.

You can also create “planned” leftovers by intentionally cooking more than you need so that you know you’ll have food left to use on future days. You definitely don’t have to use the extra food you cook in the same way (not unless you genuinely intend to have the same meal again for lunch the next day) and there’s plenty of scope for getting creative. Just cook a bit more rice or prep a bit more veg than you actually need and have some ideas in mind for what you’ll do with it.

An easy way to make any leftovers look instantly more appealing? Add a fried or poached egg on top.

Meal Plan and Prep Tips

This week in the FB group, we are looking at Meal Prep and will be discussing the ways to to use it for convenience and to support health and wellness goals (bonus: Meal planning saves MONEY, HONEY!) If you would like to take bite-sized steps, join us here!

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Mindful Eating 101: Fall into the Right Mindset

Have you been struggling with a negative or lack mindset? Do you have a hard time balancing your moods, or you don’t understand why you can’t seem to focus? These are all common signs of needing a shift in your mindset and luckily, I’m here to help you with that.

The fall season is an excellent time to start shifting your mindset and developing habits not just for your body, but your mind and spirit as well.

The Changing of the Seasons

As the leaves change in the fall, the seasons of your life also change. This can be a wonderfully transformative time in your life, which is why the fall season is great for changing your mindset. You might notice that near the beginning of the fall season, you just feel like you want to do something different. Pick up a new hobby, start a business, develop a new workout program, or find a creative activity. .This is completely normal and a great way to improve your mindset.

Photo by Irina Iriser on Pexels.com

Fall is a Time for Resting and Recharging

While earlier seasons in the year call for more productivity and getting more done, fall is more about adjusting your routines and allowing time for rest and recharging. This can be related to your mindset, about how you feel about work, finances, and your daily life. Recharging is not about completely changing your lifestyle, but getting a little more rest, enjoying time with friends, and not feeling like every second of your day has to be productive.

Comfort Leads to a More Positive Mindset

If you have had a negative mindset recently, allowing more comfort and rest into your life can make it more positive. You begin to relax when you add comfort into your life in the fall season, which then helps you see what is most important to you. You find clarity in those calm, quiet moments where you feel at ease and free of stress or worries. This is when you feel truly yourself and discover what shifts you want to make in your life.

Mindful Eating Mindset

Eating is pleasurable. But think about the last time you really tasted, smelled, or savored your food. It looks and smells good and twenty minutes later your plate is either empty because you inhaled it, half chewed, or it’s cold because you are distracted by blings, rings, and beeps from devices. Funny, eating is one of the few things over which we have utter control and we pass that control over to inanimate things. And folks are worried about AI robots taking over!

You Set Priorities in Your Life

Setting priorities in your life is so important when it comes to making positive shifts in your mindset. As you begin to develop a growth mindset, you feel more positive, and then can better set priorities. You discover what is important to you, and what you want to leave behind. You are really the captain of your destiny and wellness!

Your mindset is how you think about things, how you process different emotions, and what your thought process is like. Everyone has their own mindset, which is often influenced by a myriad of different things. With mindful eating, you want to develop a certain type of awareness in your mindset, but also a lot of positivity and acceptance.

Slow Down and Enjoy the Moment

To shift your mindset about eating and food in general, just slow down and enjoy it! This is truly one of the best things you can do. When you think about food as something to not enjoy, suffer through, or be completely mindless about, that will always be how you think about it. But when you can slow down, enjoy and savor every bite, and be more mindful, your mindset will change dramatically.

Take Away All Judgment or Guilt

You should not experience guilt, shame, or judgment about what you choose to eat or how much you eat during each meal. This is probably a result of past diets you have been on, comments you have had about your body or eating choices, or even what you have heard people say to others about what they can and can’t eat. But the truth is, there is room for any food in your life, as long as you don’t have an allergy or aversion to it.

By understanding that all food is allowed and removing that guilt, you start working on having a more positive and accepting mindset with food.

Flip Every Negative Thought Into an Accepting One

It may not be possible to always turn a negative thought into a positive one, but with mindfulness, you can get to a place of acceptance. It is unrealistic to think your mindset and thought process is going to be 100% positive and uplifting all the time. But what you can do is start flipping those overly negative and judgmental thoughts and instead just accept what is. This is a big part of mindfulness, as you just accept the current moment and where you are right now.

Take a Deep Breath Before Practicing Mindfulness

Breathing techniques are often used with mindfulness because they help to center and ground you. All this takes is spending a few minutes before you start eating to take deep breaths, and focus on your breathing. It is a good way to get into the practice of mindfulness, and can help you clear your mind and go into your meal with the right mindset.

Starting small and simple can help you really make the changes you desire when it comes to food and how you fuel your body! Jumpstart your mindful eating journey and download a free guide that can help you dig deep into your beliefs and values around food and get practical, proven tips to shift your eating in a week!

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In Case of Cravings, Try Mindful Eating

GIF with White Castle hamburgers behind a glass door that says Break in case of Cravings

Hands up if you’ve tried pretty much everything to kiss goodbye to cravings and had no luck whatsoever?

With mindful eating, you don’t need to spend heaps of time and energy on crushing your cravings completely.

The Mouth Wants What the Mind Misses

Telling yourself that you absolutely can’t have a particular food can work against you in the long term.

Think of it this way: if I tell you not to think about a purple elephant, guess what immediately pops up in your mind? No matter how hard you try, it’s super hard to shift the mental image of the purple elephant!

Your cravings can be a little bit like this too. Denying yourself completely often means that they don’t magically go away, even if you take tons of action to distract yourself. It’s pretty common for them to actually get stronger … a lot like the thought of the pink elephant.

It can also encourage a “now or never” way of thinking if you do give in to the craving. Often, this means that you’ll eat far more than you intended. After all, you’re not supposed to be eating it again seeing as it’s off limits, right? In reality, it will most likely happen again and you’ll carry on feeling super bad about it.

That Junk Wants to be in Your Trunk!

There’s another problem with craving ultra-processed food: according to research, it affects hunger hormones and makes it harder for your body to recognize when you’re genuinely full. Unsurprisingly, this means eating a lot more calories than you would otherwise … usually involving other unhealthy foods. Another finding from the study involved the speed at which food was being eaten. The group eating the ultra-processed food tended to eat more quickly, leading researchers to question whether this was a big factor in the brain being able to recognize signals that they were full.

Another finding from the study involved the speed at which food was being eaten. The group eating the ultra-processed food tended to eat more quickly, leading researchers to question whether this was a big factor in the brain being able to recognize signals that they were full.

How mindful eating turns the tables on cravings

Mindful eating can really come into its own in several different areas. In a nutshell, it puts you back in control of your food choices, which can often feel impossible when you’re constantly trying to beat your cravings into submission.

A few reasons why mindful eating can work so well:

You’re not giving into your cravings and letting them take control but you are allowing yourself a little bit of what you fancy and taking the opportunity to relish it. Your mind knows that there will be other chances to satisfy the craving so the “now or never” mentality isn’t a big issue. The end result? It’s a whole heap easier to bring your cravings in check.

The trick is to be super mindful with how you eat. When you take that first bite of something you’ve been craving, resist the urge to dive straight into the next one. Put your fork, knife or spoon down in between bites or keep putting your food down if you’re eating with your hands. The more you can chew each bite before swallowing, the better.

Take the time to really notice the taste and texture as you chew. This bit might surprise you, especially if you’re used to eating quickly on autopilot. If you’re eating junk foods, being more mindful with your eating might flag up how salty, sugary or just plain processed the taste truly is. And chances are, it’s going to be a whole lot less appealing once you get clued into this.

Even if this doesn’t happen, taking more time to savor your food helps you to enjoy it more and sometimes, you’ll realize that your cravings weren’t quite as strong as you thought and feel satisfied after just a few bites.

It can also lift the lid on why you’re getting cravings in the first place. Sometimes, you’ll know exactly what’s behind it but it won’t always be this obvious. Being more mindful with your eating can get to the bottom of what is triggering your cravings and the emotions that may be a factor.

It’s not always easy to get to grips with mindful eating, especially if you’re used to eating quick and not tuning into your body’s hunger signals. Over time, it gets a lot easier to overcome unhealthy relationships with food, including cravings, overeating and emotional eating.

According to the results of a 2014 study, a mindful approach to eating can help to build a healthier relationship with body image and curb “disordered eating” such as binge eating. And from a cravings perspective, many of the women who took part in the study also reported that they spent less time yearning for high fat and sugary treats.

A Free Resource

If you’re struggling with cravings, mindful eating could be the lifestyle change that helps you to get back in control of your eating habits and spend more time enjoying what you eat.

You can grab my totally free guide to help discover your unique eating motivations and habits and how to start eating more mindfully by clicking on the image below!

Happy and Peaceful Eating!

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Well, Summer is Almost Here!

Black woman fanning herself with two fans. Black-ish, ABC.

I live in Texas. So, yeah. Summers with Satan are a’coming. It is still spring because the Earth has not fully tilted toward the Sun yet but here were are a balmy 90 degrees (the humidity keeping the temps from reaching triple digits) with the solar system’s promise of more heat to come!

What I have come to appreciate, though, is the long growing season. Enter lovely, lush salad greens, succulent squash, savory herbs, and sweet little root veggies–all with relatively low effort! Today is Eat Your Veggies Day and tomorrow is International Picnic Day–just in time to feel your pre-summer vibes! You can even participate in Sauntering Day with a little easy stroll (Read joyful movement!) Do all at once for TRIPLE the fun!

Food Freedom and Gentle Nutrition

As a HAES-informed personal trainer and wellness coach, I am mindful about the messages I send when it comes to food, eating habits, and nutrition. However, folks seem to think that this framework throws all actual knowledge about nutrition out of the window, but that is not the case at all!

I encourage people to listen to their bodies and strive to eat in a balance for their unique needs. As we all know, or can imagine, that what you have a taste for, have access to, or the amount you desire are all dynamic variables. Note: it is GENTLE. Is it not about obsessing or creating new crazy food rules for yourself. It is really about doing what feels and tastes good and fuels your marvelous body with some nutrients so that your health is positively impacted.

Veggies, a Picnic, and Walk

If you are interested in improving your health by nourishing your body, these fun little days offer a trifecta of opportunity! They all have the potential to provide health benefits that can support you in your unique journey!

Veggies are:

  • Full of nutrients, vitamins and nutrients
  • Taste good (fight me!) and can be prepared a variety of ways
  • Can be thrown into soups, salads, or smoothies for quick and easy meals and snacks

Picnics are:

  • A fun place to eat veggies!
  • an accesible way to get you outside and into fresh air
  • a pleasant way to reconnect you with nature which is natural pick-me-up!

Sauntering, or walking is:

  • an natural way to help digest your picnic (and those veggies!)
  • an joyful way to move your body, and if it is not, don’t!
  • an easy foray into movement and can even be moving meditation as the pace is determined by you (listen to your body!)

I would love it if you would share some ideas or thoughts you have about improving your health in small, sustainable, ways that honor your body! Like, share, and follow this blog please! I appreciate you!

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Two Black women laughing together in front of a white background.
Two Black women laughing together in front of a white background.

This week two interesting observances fall: Laughter and Stress awareness. I could not have hoped for a better way to talk about one of my go-to cure-all techniques (laughter, the other being dance of course,) for relieving stress. I am utterly baffled that I was unaware of these days before last year. I just wasn’t blogging as regularly then! Thanks, Corona!
How Laughter Can Improve Your Overall Health
Laughter can be infectious. When you hear the sound of laughter, you can’t help but laugh yourself. When laughter is shared among others, it causes a binding between people and increases both intimacy and happiness.
It is well known that laughter triggers healthy bodily changes and healthy changes in the mind. Laughter can increase your energy level, lessen pain, strengthen the immune system, and protect you from stress. Laughter is the best medicine because it is free, fun, and easy.
Laughter is Strong Medicine
Laughter can be a strong antidote to conflict, pain, and stress. There is nothing else that works more dependably or quicker to bring your body and mind into balance than laughter. The use of humor can lighten your burdens, connect you to others, inspire your hope, and keep you focused, alert, and grounded.
With this ability to renew your health and heal you, laughter can be a great resource for whatever problems you may have. It can also strengthen your relationships, and can support your emotional and physical health and wellbeing.
How Is Laughter Good For Your Health?
Laughter can do many things for your health. These include the following:
• Laughter can increase your immune system. It can decrease the level of stress hormones within the body and increase the number of immune cells and antibodies you have, which will help you become more resistant to disease.
• Laughter is relaxing. A wonderful laugh can relieve you of stress and physical tension so that your muscles can be relaxed for up to 45 minutes following laughing.
• Laughter releases endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s feel-good hormones. When your endogenous endorphins are released, you feel a sense of well-being and a reduction in the sensation of pain.
• Laughter can help the heart. Laughter can increase the ability of the blood vessels to nourish all parts of the body. It can increase your blood flow, which in turn can help prevent heart attacks and other types of heart diseases.
The Overall Benefits Of Laughter
Laughter is known to have many health benefits, including physical, emotional, and social benefits. Some of these include the following:
• Decreases your stress levels
• Increases your immunity
• Relaxes your muscles
• Protects your heart
• Lessens pain
• Lessens fear and anxiety
• Relieves stress
• Adds joy to your life
• Enhances your mood
• Improves your resilience
• Attracts other people to us
• Promotes the bonding among group members
• Improves teamwork
• Strengthens relationships
Laughter Can Help Your Emotional Health
Laughter simply makes a person feel good. This good feeling persists even when you are done laughing. Laughter helps you maintain an optimistic, positive outlook so you can better get through situations of loss, disappointments, and other difficult situations.
Laughter is more than just a protection against pain and sadness. It gives you the strength and courage to find other sources of hope and meaning. Even when you find yourself in the most difficult of times, laughter or even a smile can take you far when it comes to feeling better. Laugher really is a bit contagious. When you hear someone else laugh, it primes your brain and sets you up to join that person in laughing, too.
Laughter And Mental Health
Laughter is associated with better mental health. Some things laughter can do to improve your mental health include the following:
• Laughter allows you to relax. A good laugh can lessen stress and increase your energy levels so that you can remain focused and get more things accomplished.
• Laughter can lessen distress. It is hard to feel sad, anxious, or angry when you are instead laughing.
• Laughter shifts your perspective. It allows you to see things in a less threatening and more realistic light. Being humorous helps create a psychological distance between you and stressful events so that you don’t feel so overwhelmed.
Laughter Has Social Benefits
When you use humor and engage in playful communication with others, your relationships become stronger and you trigger positive emotions and an emotional connection with those you are laughing with. A positive bond develops—one that can act as a powerful buffer against disappointment, disagreements, and stress. When you laugh with others, this is a more powerful thing than when you laugh alone.
How To Create More Opportunities To Laugh
There are things you can do to increase your chances of laughing. Here are some you might try:
• Attend a comedy club
• Watch something funny on television
• Watch videos of funny animals there are tons on YouTube, or just add the search term “funny” into the YouTube search bar
• Read the comics in the newspaper
• Be with people who are funny
• Share a funny story or joke with another
• Read a funny book
• Sponsor a game night with your friends
• Play with your pet
• Play with children
• Do something you think is silly
• Engage in activities you consider fun
Laugher can do a lot to help you feel better on a physical, emotional, and cognitive level. Don’t be afraid to share a good laugh with others for all around better health.

Racism and its Role in the Health Crisis

April 7th is observed as World Health Day. The following statement was taken from the World Health Organization website:

On World Health Day, 7 April 2021, we will be inviting you to join a new campaign to build a fairer, healthier world. We’ll be posting more details here shortly, but here’s why we’re doing this:

Our world is an unequal one.
As COVID-19 has highlighted, some people are able to live healthier lives and have better access to health services than others – entirely due to the conditions in which they are born, grow, live, work and age.

World Health Organization

Racism as an Epidemic

As a coach and helping professional, I bear witness to the wide and deep reach that this pandemic, not unlike any other pandemic, has on people. It has been a source of financial ruin, a spotlight on disparity, and the taker of lives. Today, I ask that you consider what I feel is the greatest health risk factor for marginalized groups in America today–racism.

I am not going to turn my little blog post into a white paper, though I could. Suffice it to say that several studies(hundreds to be sure), and increasing in complexity and number, have all teased out the many socioeconomic factors that create barriers and less than desirable health outcomes for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). The verdict of the recent review by PubMed? Racism is at the heart of it all.

You may be wondering how exactly. Consider this. Racism is the foundation of every structure in this country, particularly public work structures like education, the justice system, wealth and resource systems, and the healthcare system. If BIPOC have been and continue to be marginalized, they are not accessing resources at the same rate or depth as whites. It all makes sense. I am not speaking about one offs–I am speaking in general terms. I am aware that there are folks that have transcended some of these systems successfully. But that is where racism steps in.

We have seen that despite education, influence, or affluence racism still persists. BIPOC are still treated as valets at fancy venues, harassed by neighbors in nice neighborhoods, followed by campus police where they are tenured professors, and experience hate crimes at the hands of the police and citizens.

It is the stress that racism causes that is being linked to the dis-eases that plague BIPOC. Hypertension, caused by elevated blood pressure, is one of them, along with mental health issues and dis-eases that result in weakened immune systems borne of the chronic stress such as heart and kidney disorders. Additionally, Blacks in particular, but other ethnicities, also suffer from higher occurrences of Type 2 diabetes and higher rates of infant mortality.

For further example, black children are about twice as likely as white children to develop asthma, health statistics suggest. And racial and ethnic gaps in infant mortality have persisted for as long as researchers have been collecting data. People with diabetes who are members of racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to have complications like kidney failure, or to require amputations. These disparities persist when all other variables have been accounted for. The fact that racism–the missing factor–is now being talked about as a preliminary cause can help illuminate the voices of people who have been rendered invisible.

The Body on Stress and COVID-19

Stress. Stress is known to actually alter the composition and function of a body. Particularly when a body is being bombarded long-term with the chemicals produced as a result of that stress. There is nothing as long-term as your race.

As stress hormones like cortisol circulate in the body, they turn fat into sugar that the body can use to fight or flee. Unused sugars are often then re-stored as fat in the midsection; this makes them accessible for future stress responses but can damage the kidneys, heart, and other organs. Because cortisol is made from cholesterol, many people who are chronically stressed crave fatty foods as a way to replenish their levels, Juster says, which can then lead to other health problems. And the elevated blood pressure and heart rate that prepare a person for conflict can also lead to hypertension and an enlarged heart. 

NOTE: Both of these heart conditions—as well as the diabetes that’s linked to chronic stress—can put people at a higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19. And now we can better understand what the real co-morbidity issue was as the number of deaths for Blacks, which were the highest of any ethnic group, and the disproportionate numbers for Latinx stacked up.

In laymen’s terms, the chronic flooding of the circulatory system–whether it is frequent short bursts or longer periods without proper recovery–with stress hormones creates an overtaxed, overexcited immune system, which is less effective at recognizing a real foe and is prone to attacking the body instead.

In the short-term, stress hormones inhibit damaging inflammatory reactions. But over time the body becomes cortisol resistant, instead promoting the production of proteins from the immune system called “pro-inflammatory cytokines.” People with especially high allostatic load (for example, people from chronically underserved communities who experience severe trauma and racism), can be prone to producing too many of these pro-inflammatory cytokines, which can begin attacking other cells or tissues that aren’t a threat—the “cytokine storms” that have come to characterize some of the most severe COVID-19 cases.

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/racism-stress-covid-allostatic-load/

Stress hormones affect the ability to think clearly, preserve memory, and exacerbate other mental conditions. The damage can cross the placenta barrier and affect fetuses when carried by a mother under this type of stress. This widespread damage from chronic stress also leads to a broad premature aging of cells, which have had to divide more often in order to repair damaged tissue. Each one of our cells is built to divide a limited number of times, explains Arline Geronimus, a professor of public health at the University of Michigan. And each time it divides, the caps at the ends of its chromosomes (called telomeres) shorten a little. Once a cell reaches the end of its telomeres, it can no longer divide. This process happens in every body as we age—but not at the same rate. People with chronic stress “have, in effect, an older biological age than other people at their same chronological age,” she says.

Developmental psychologist Virginia Huynh brings this dynamic back to the pandemic, pointing out that “Black people were already at a higher risk for health problems because of racism” and that structural and workplace inequalities have intensified during this time. “It makes sense they’re disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” she says.

Racism at the Cellular Level

Just being in this society, as a Black person or a brown person means the recognition that you are potentially at risk for some sort of negative encounter,” Parker Dominguez says, “whether it’s with the police or elsewhere. Your level of threat perception in the environment is higher.” That threat perception leads to hypervigilance, which leads to heightened allostatic load.

It’s that “pervasive, persistent” experience of stress that is damaging to the health of Black Americans and other marginalized communities, and permeates every facet of life. A BIPOC person, and Blacks more so , are always on edge–waiting to see when they will have to run or fight.

The research of Virginia Huynh  indicates that young people don’t need to be on the receiving end of racist behavior to be affected physiologically, nor does the behavior need to be overt or extreme for it to do damage. In one study, Huynh and her colleagues collected saliva from 300 teenagers over the course of a day to measure cortisol levels. Teenagers who reported experiencing discrimination had higher levels of cortisol that did not decline normally over the course of the day—suggesting that they were not only experiencing more stress but that they weren’t recovering from it fully. In a second study, a cohort of college students experienced increased levels of cortisol after simply witnessing or overhearing a racist comment, indicating that even vicarious discrimination can create a physiological response.

Huynh emphasizes that these daily experiences of discrimination are often less overt and more insidious, the offhand comments or small interactions sometimes known as microaggressions. “Years of being followed around in a grocery store or liquor market—subtle everyday slight insults—convey to people of color and marginalized communities that they don’t belong, don’t fit in,” she says. When it comes to allostatic load, “it’s often cumulative, a lifetime of experiences that affect multiple regulatory systems.”

In this way, subjectivity and individual perception can deeply affect health, she says. The stress of microaggressions reverberates painfully, regardless of original intent. “There’s often a number of explanations [for a microaggression], but ultimately the impact is that you felt it was offensive, racist, or discriminatory,” she says. “If you’re vigilant against someone being rude to you, and trying to figure out if it’s because of your race or gender, then your body is constantly feeling like it needs to prepare.”

Health in the Face of Racism

BIPOC alone should not carry and absolutely cannot carry the burden of coping with racism. Everyone needs to address structural disadvantage, socioeconomic deprivation, and institutionalized racism to reduce discrimination.

However, there is evidence to suggest that certain factors can help people cope with the negative effects of racism, both physically and mentally.

Fostering a strong sense of racial identity is one evidenced-based way to stave off the effects of racism. Studies have found a link between those with a positive self-image and decreased stress due to racism. Helping children and adolescents develop a strong and positive self-image can go a long way in mitigating the long-term affects of racism, which can transcend generations. To this end, Hunyh points to research showing that kids who feel a stronger sense of ethnic identity—whose parents have talked to them about what it means to be Black or Mexican or taught them Indigenous traditions—have lower allostatic load. Parker Dominguez points to California’s Black Infant Health Program, a program that provides social support and connection to resources during pregnancy to women across 20 regions of California and has made significant strides in closing gaps in pregnancy outcomes.

Engaging in critical dialogues about racist experiences, instead of bottling them up, have been proven to help a person process feelings of stress, anger, and frustration.

Having a strong support system to talk to for support, advice, and comfort can help people cope with racial discrimination. It can encourage a sense of security and identity and reduce negative thoughts and feelings, and even depression.  Research on resilience shows that social support, a sense of meaning, and feelings of control are “extremely beneficial in lowering allostatic load,” Juster says. 

Closing Thoughts

In this current climate, where conversations and movement on serious matters are taking place, I felt like speaking on this topic. I see the effects of long-term, or chronic stress, and I can an relate to the heightened sense of stress that I feel navigating American society as a Black woman. I can only empathize with those who have the additional intersection of being BIPOC and LGBTQIA or BIPOC and Fat, and so on. Stress kills and knowing how the stress of racism affects the body it is not a far-cry to say that even when a person is not murdered, that racism kills. This is the single most threatening variable in health care to BIPOC.

I would dare say that BIPOC the world over are experiencing the same kinds of chronic stress-induced conditions.

I stand with the organizations and individuals from all walks of life that are bravely showing up to end systemic racism. I will keep being a listener and an activist. I know that fighting racism will literally save lives.

Resources

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/racism-stress-covid-allostatic-load/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3258496/

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Step it Up this Spring

Spring, or Vernal, Equinox is here on Saturday, March 20. The seasonal changes brings on increasing amounts of sunlight (read: allergies) and weather that calls you to the outside (read: stock up on elderberry syrup and Benadryl!)

For me, just like it’s opposite Fall, I most enjoy walking. Walking might be the simplest, most enjoyable form of joyful movement, second only to dancing!

It’s All About the Endorphins

We all know that walking is good for your physical health, but did you know that walking for just 30 minutes each day can also significantly improve your mental health, mood, and life? Additional studies show that, as we age, daily walks can decrease cognitive decline and memory loss as well.

The best part? When you exercise, your body releases endorphins. Endorphins naturally boost your mood. These happy little guys are what get me to lace up and stroll frequently!

And an added bonus of walking outside for exercise is that you also benefit from breathing fresh air, soaking up the sun, and appreciating your surroundings.

Because walking is rather low impact, you can take a walk with a friend or your family and enjoy a chat and some quality time, which makes it an ideal activity for little ones (my 8 year old loves nature strolls!). Additionally, it also makes a great moving meditation practice! My personal fave!

Walking is the perfect tool to teach your children the value of daily movement and help them find some ways that feel good, enjoy time with your family, take your dog with you, or just get out on your own for some quiet, private time.

All of these are great ways to get those endorphins flowing and feel better!

In the context of our technology-driven (sitting!) and hectic lives, it can be a challenge to fit in these mood-boosting walks. If the long game is not in your schedule, try these ways to get in some bursts! It takes about 100 steps to trigger endorphin release, so check out which ones fit your flow!

12 Creative Ways to Add 100 Steps a Day

Adding more steps to your daily routine is an easy way boost endorphins, melt stress, or clear your mind. Walking as a joyful movement should be done at a pace or intensity that feels good physically. You are free to boost it up whenever you like, but I am not talking about in terms of a calorie-burning modality (although it certainly can be.) I am just giving some tips on how to make it enjoyable and fit it in!

Take More Steps at Home

Travel, foul weather, and family obligations sometimes make it difficult to go to the park or get in longer walks. Look for ways to get on your feet in the comfort of your own home.

Do Chores •Vacuuming two rooms can yield those 100 steps quickly, even more if you’re working on your stairs. For an outdoor challenge, trade in your riding mower for a push version. Those steps will quickly add up to 100 and you will reap the benefits of sunshine and fresh air–and the smell of cut grass is so sweet!
Break for Commercials •Turn TV viewing into a real mood-booster by marching in place during commercials. These breaks are also good for quick chores like going to the mailbox or taking out the trash.
Set Your Alarm •Your home is probably loaded with distractions that tend to keep you sedentary. If you have noticed some trends in attitude dips or less creativity, program your phone to give you an hourly reminder at those times so get a stretch as well as cheerful relief from the slump in mood or energy level the natural way!
Play with Your Kids •Most small children need no encouragement to run around. Install a basketball hoop in your driveway so you can play ball in the evenings. Go roller-skating on weekends. Sneak in a couple rounds of hide and seek or the floor is lava! Favorites that unleash endorphins as well as fits of giggles!

Take More Steps at Work

According to the Bureau of Labor, the average American employee spends almost 9 hours each day seated at work or on work-related activities. There is also plenty of opportunities to sneak the hundred or so steps needed for an at-the-office pick-me-up that is not caffeinated and more satisfying.

Phone It In •Place your phone calls standing up. Pace around while you’re chatting with colleagues and clients. Bonus: if you have a standing desk, the natural tendency to pace can add those steps in quickly.
Go Out for Lunch •Spend your lunch hour strolling through a local shopping district or public garden. Place take-out orders you can pick up yourself instead of waiting for delivery. Also, look into eating outdoors on the facility grounds; you can take your time and stroll back to your desk which will also help with digestion!
Schedule Walking Meetings •Suggest making your next staff meeting a walking session. Moving around increases alertness and stimulates creative thinking. This is best achieved in small or coaching meetings, but worth it!
Adjust Your Commute •Maybe you can walk to work. If the distance is too far, you can still park your car farther away from your office or train station so you can travel the last mile on foot. You can always opt for stairs (even if it just part of the climb if you work on the 78th floor of a high rise!)

Take More Steps Anywhere

Once you start reaping the benefits that a few extra steps here and there, you’ll see opportunities wherever you go to make walking more enjoyable. Put your imagination to work and you may find the desire to take longer walks or enjoy the spurts even more frequently.

Listen to Music •If you find walking boring, try adding a soundtrack or an engaging podcast. I frequently listen to affirmations or audiobooks on walks and feel better from the endorphins and can practice some personal development. It’s winning, squared! •Find a Buddy •Double the benefits of walking by sharing them with someone you care about. Invite your family to join you after dinner for a stroll around the neighborhood. Invite a friend along when you’re going to browse around the local farmer’s market.
Vary Your Pace • Alternating walking speed will help you to get those steps in faster and may increase the number of steps. It can be a fun way to break up the strolling and challenge you in a different way. On the other hand, if you’re feeling fatigued, listen to your body and slow down. Working at your own pace is preferable as the mini-walks
Use Technology •If you want to continue making progress, keep setting new goals. Evaluate your efforts by counting your steps with a simple pedometer or a deluxe fitness trackers.

BONUS: Of course, the bonus tip is a no-brainer. For me, it combines the nest of both worlds!

  • Dance to the music. Don’t be shy! Turn up your favorite music and dance with abandon! Dancing is not only fun, but it’s also a terrific way to rack up steps and endorphins! For every mood, taste, and preference, there is a genre of music and dance style. You can always make up your own steps! I frequently dance-walk and before I know, I have traveled quite a distance and feel just energized and blissful!

Tell me what works for you when you need a quick and easy mood boost? How will you take advantage of the Spring Season?

Please like, comment, subscribe, and share if you enjoyed the post!

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Don’t Sit Through Spring

In Texas, Spring break is next week! It has been a rough year (I see a trend!) and it is all too easy to simply “veg out”. While rest and relaxation are important components of health, consider the benefits of spending time in nature and joyful movement as well.

Recent studies by the American Heart Association find that the amount of time Americans spend sitting every day is approaching dangerous levels that can adversely affect long-term health. Decreased range of motion in muscles and joints, poor posture, decreased circulation and even links to greater and more severe depression have been linked to extended sitting.

Pretty African American woman with natural afro stretching her arms overhead.
Photo by Orione Conceiu00e7u00e3o on Pexels.com


You know the demands of your career, family, other passions can outweigh the ability, energy, or desire it takes to fit a full workout every day, so here are a few ways you can sit less and move more without going out of your way.


35 Ways to Move More and Sit Less

  1. Take Breaks Every Hour
    No matter where you work, make it a point to try and take a break for each hour you spend sitting. If you work in an office setting, this can be a quick trip to the water cooler to refill your water bottle, a walk to the bathroom, or even just you standing and stretching for 2-3 minutes. Whatever works for you, just try to move for about five minutes every hour.
  2. Drink Lots of Water
    First of all, drinking lots of water is good for all of your body systems, but besides just that, drinking lots of water will make you need to take more frequent bathroom breaks. Frequent bathroom breaks are the best way to have an excuse to get up when you work in an office setting. Plus, you’ll have to make extra trips to refill your water bottle too.
  3. Walk When You Talk on the Phone
    Sometimes you may need to take a conference call, or maybe you just constantly get stuck talking on the phone with that one relative for hours on end.
    No matter who it is, try to move while you are talking on the phone with them. You can pace, or even just stand and straighten your work area. Just try your best to put your phone time into movement so you aren’t spending a half hour phone call sitting in place.
  4. Eat Outside
    However long your lunch break may be, consider taking your lunch outside. This encourages you to leave your desk and go for a little walk, even if it is just down the stairs and out the door. You could even order lunch for pick-up nearby and walk to go pick it up on your lunch break to add even more steps to your day.
  5. Invest In a Standing Desk
    If your boss allows it, see about the possibility of getting a standing desk. Even if you have to purchase it yourself, it will be well worth the money. Most standing desks are convertible, which means you don’t have to stand all day, but you can easily alternate between sitting and standing as you work. This will help you sit less throughout the day. And you may find you like standing to work better anyways.
  6. Try Walking Meetings
    If your job involves scheduling a lot of meetings, see if some of the people you are meeting with would be willing to try a walking meeting instead. If the weather is nice, consider an outdoor walking meeting even. Studies have actually shown that walking can help the creative juices flow as it pumps more blood and oxygen to the brain! And if your someone who finds meetings boring, this will help make them more interesting. However, do note that walking meetings generally only work when you are meeting one or two other people.
  7. Clean Your Desk Frequently
    Another excuse you can use to add some movement to your life is by cleaning your desk regularly. When you do this, stand while you throw items away and take a walk to a trash can that maybe isn’t at your desk. You can also take this opportunity to wipe down your desk with disinfectant. Whatever care your desk may need, take this opportunity to turn it into movement.
  8. Park Far Away
    This one is easy. Whether you are going to work, the grocery store, or a restaurant, make an effort to park far away.
    Not only is this better for the environment as you won’t waste gas looking for a spot up close, but it will give you more of an opportunity to stretch your legs as well. And honestly, you’ll probably save time as well.
  9. Move While Watching TV
    Of course, cutting back on TV is the best way to be more active, but if you have that favorite show that you just can’t miss, consider getting in a little movement while you watch it.
  10. Take Commercial Breaks
    You can take your TV watching a step further by making every commercial break a workout break. Look up a few 3 or 4-minute high-intensity workouts and try to complete one every time a commercial comes on, then stop when your show returns.
    You can also use commercial breaks as an excuse to leave the living room and do other tasks around the house, like take out the trash. Regardless of what you choose to do, you should not be sitting in front of the TV during commercial breaks.
  11. Cook Your Meals
    Not only are home cooked meals just better for you, but they often require more activity than driving to a restaurant to get take-out. Try some new recipes to keep it challenging and fun. Another benefit is that cooking meals will also require you to go to the grocery store more frequently, which is another walking activity.
  12. Use Reminders
    If you find yourself struggling to move enough during the day, consider setting reminders for yourself. And every time the timer goes off, you get up and do some sort of activity. You can pre-arrange these activities, or simply stretch each time, whatever you prefer. These reminders should be set to go off at least once every hour.
  13. Get A Dog
    Now this can be difficult if you live somewhere which doesn’t allow pets, but studies have shown that dogs are one of the best ways to get moving. Not only do they require frequent trips outside and daily walks, but it’s likely they will want you to play with them frequently too. Just make sure you are ready for all the responsibility having a dog brings!
  14. Change Your Commute
    Try changing your commute, after all, you have to go to work each day anyway. If you currently drive to work, how far is it? Can you walk or bike instead? Even if you can’t walk or bike, you can still switch to public transport. Public transport often includes having to walk to or from a station, which may definitely add more walking into your day. You’ll probably save some money on parking too.
  15. Skip The Elevator
    Next time you need to head up the floor, skip the elevator and take the stairs instead! Climbing upstairs is an easy way to get your heart pumping and stretch your body.
  16. Stand During Meetings
    Next time you have a meeting that can’t be a walking meeting, see if you can stand the whole time. Chances are your boss won’t mind, and you’ll feel less sleepy. And if you are the boss, try to encourage your employees to stand during meetings. You can do this by stacking all the chairs or moving all the chairs to one side of the room instead of having them set up around the table.
  17. Use Your Wait Time
    If you are waiting for something, such as for the microwave to finish or documents to print, do a few exercises while you wait. Calf raises are a good standing in place exercise which won’t draw too much attention, but if you are in an area without other people try a few jumping jacks or squats instead to really get your body moving.
  18. Plan Active Hang Outs
    When planning things with your friends, try to plan something more active than going to the movies or out to dinner. If you both have pets, suggest a pet play date in the park, or maybe an evening walk downtown to window shop. You could even invite your friend to a fun dance class, the possibilities are endless!
  19. Make Chores A Dance Party
    Turns out Cinderella had it right! Everyone has those boring chores like vacuuming, laundry, or dishes. So, make these more fun by cranking up your music and making your chores a dance party! Not only will you get your body moving more, but you’ll probably start to enjoy chores a bit more fun.
  20. Do Your Errands on Foot
    If you live in an urban area, do any of the errands you can on foot. You will probably find this is more enjoyable anyway as it will be less stressful to get your errands done, and you don’t have to worry about parking or gas. All while you get a little exercise!
  21. Do Outdoor Chores
    Outdoor chores are the ones people tend to farm out to others the most. Although it may not seem like fun to rake leaves, mow the lawn, or pull weeds, these activities can really do wonders to help you be more active in your life. Next time your yard needs a little help, resist the urge to call someone and do the job yourself instead.
  22. Plan Outdoor Date Nights
    Date nights seem to always be planned inside, either sitting at dinner, or watching a movie. Change this by planning an outdoor date night in a fun location. Consider a romantic evening picnic, sunset hike, or an evening bike ride.
  23. Stretch
    Generally, it is best if you try to stretch every morning when you wake up, but this doesn’t have to be the only time you stretch throughout the day. In fact, you should stretch any time you feel any sort of muscle discomfort. If you’re struggling to think of things to do in your 2-3 minute breaks every hour, filling this time with stretching can be great for your body.
  24. Walk After Dinner
    In the US, after a large meal, most people migrate to the couch to digest. And while this may seem easier, it isn’t the healthy answer! So, try not to spend your evening in front of the TV, clean-up after dinner and go on an evening walk, you may just be surprised at how much better you feel.
  25. Shop Local
    With the advent of the internet, time people used to spend shopping on foot has turned into time sitting as well. So next time you need to purchase something, head to the actual store instead of buying the product online. This will not only give you more exercise but can help small local businesses in your area as well.
  26. Clean Your Home
    Although it may be tempting to spend more time watching TV and hire a maid to clean your home, cleaning really is a good physical activity. So, if you have the time, ditch the TV, and clean your house yourself instead.
  27. Start A Workplace Challenge
    If you work in a large office, the chances are you aren’t the only one who wants to move more. Talk to your boss about the possibility of starting a challenge within the office to be more active. The prize could be something simple such as a gift card for free coffee for the person who moves the most. Even if you aren’t allowed to start something official, don’t be afraid to ask a few coworkers to join you in a private challenge to see who can get the most steps in a day.
  28. Talk To Colleagues Instead of Email
    In an office setting, it can be tempting to email your coworkers when you need something. It’s time to put a stop to this practice, get in the habit of getting up to walk to your coworkers’ desk instead. Chances are you’ll enjoy the break and experience less communication issues this way.
  29. Pace While You Watch Kid’s Games
    If your weekends are filled with kids’ soccer or football games, you are probably used to bringing a chair to sit in while you watch. Instead, ditch the chair and walk up and down the field from the sidelines watching the action. This way you’ll have a better view and you’ll get to be more active in the process.
  30. Walk With Your Child
    Walking regularly is a good habit to instill in your child while they are still young. If they are too young to walk, you can take them out for some fresh air in a stroller. Once they are old enough to walk, but tire easily, you can encourage them to bike or scooter while you walk alongside them. You’ll both enjoy the exercise and this way your child will begin forming good habits when it comes to health early on
  31. Scope The Entire Grocery Store
    When you shop in your usual grocery store, it can be tempting to just go to the aisle you need and head out. Try instead to practice walking up and down each aisle—even if you don’t need something from that aisle. But make sure you write a list and stick to that list so you don’t find yourself buying a bunch of items that you don’t need.
  32. Wear Comfy Shoes
    You’re unlikely to want to move or walk if your shoes are hurting you, so invest in a good comfy pair which complies with your work standards. If you are having trouble finding some which look professional enough, you could also consider investing in some inserts which will help make walking more comfortable for you. If you’re a woman, and your work allows you to wear flats, do so, as this is the best for your feet.
  33. Start Your Morning with Yoga
    You don’t have to do a full yoga class but try simply setting your alarm five minutes earlier each morning and do a few quick moments of yoga to get you going.
    Studies have shown just by starting your morning with a little motion, you are more likely to remain active all day, so if you can do a full workout in the morning before work, do so!
  34. Walk The Long Route
    If there are two routes to walk somewhere, consider taking the long one. And this doesn’t just mean outside. If you work in an office which has two routes to the bathroom, take the longer one on your bathroom breaks. This will help add more steps to your day without even trying.
  35. Create Multiple Workstations
    Whether you work at home, or in an office, design your work station with movement in mind. Put the trash can far away, set up the printer in another room, whatever you need to do to encourage yourself to move during the day.
    You can even get really creative and set up a floor sitting area where you can read memos, this way you’ll have a reason to switch your sitting positions as you move from the chair to the floor.

Final Thoughts


If you have a desire to boost your overall well-being, getting in a little more enjoyable movement can really help! This list is just some of the things that I have tried and I encourage you to do what feels good for you and is within your ability. You can get pretty creative by simply adjusting some of the activities you already engage in and enjoy. Remember, anyone can improve their health with some tweaks and consistency!

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March Forth and Take Action!

Events in this country require that I inform you that this post is NOT about QAnon’s hope that he who shall not be named will return to power on this day. LMAO!!!

Today–a completely made-up day of observance–is based on a play on the words March Forth (4th). It is a day for taking action and this post contains a couple of tips to help you to do just that!

Here we are, already in the third month of 2021. I know from coaching that motivation and focus is starting to wane. Folks are looking at their progress towards their goals and are wondering where the time has gone! Keep reading and get reenergized, motivated, and most of all, down to action.

How to Take Action Consistently


Actions speak louder than words. Talking and planning aren’t enough to make progress with most tasks. Some of us specialize in daydreaming and planning. We might have the best ideas, but ideas without action are a waste of time and mental energy. It’s important to spend the majority of your time actually doing something. Action is the key. Those with control over their lives and their time are able to take action on a consistent basis.

Actions speak louder than words illustration
Actions speak louder than words illustration


Become more action oriented and gain control over your time:


Realize that nothing changes until your behavior changes. Visualization and positive self-talk have their place, but they’re only effective if your behavior changes. You can try to wish your way to a new Bentley, or to make a million dollars by aligning your chakras with the universe, but it won’t happen unless you’re actually doing something different. Understand that a consistent change in your behavior is the key to real change.

Know the outcome you desire.

It’s not easy to take action if you don’t know what you’re attempting to accomplish. Be clear on your intention. Take the time to determine what you want to accomplish. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years? What actions can you take today to move in that direction?


Start by taking small steps.

Do you want to jog for 60 minutes each day? Get started by jogging for one minute each day. You won’t get in shape by exercising for only one minute, but you will develop the habit of getting out the door each day. After a week, up the time by another minute or two.

  • After 4-6 weeks, you’ll have developed an exercise habit and can begin to exercise for real.
  • Does it seem like that schedule is too easy? Good! How much running did you accomplish in the previous 12 months? There’s nothing wrong with easy, provided you’re patient and can see the big picture.


Limit your planning time.

Those that are slow to take action love to plan, but the best plans are worthless until they’re executed. While you’re trying to work out the fine details, everyone else is already taking care of business.


There’s no reason to be hasty, but set a limit on how long you’re going to strategize before you actually do something.


Use rewards wisely.

Small, meaningful rewards can help you to get off the couch and get busy. Decide on a few rewards and when you’ll receive them. Get excited and begin taking action. When you’ve earned a reward, enjoy it.


Get started early in the day.

  • If you can accomplish something worthwhile before 9AM, you’ll be motivated to do even more during the rest of the day.
  • If you fail to do anything substantial by noon, you’ll feel bad about how you wasted the morning. Then you won’t feel like doing anything in the afternoon. Then you’ll let yourself off the hook by telling yourself that you’ll get twice as much done tomorrow. Many people make this process a habit. Avoid becoming one of these people.

Take a close look at the most successful people you know. Notice that there’s nothing exceptional about them. They aren’t smarter or more capable than you. But they do manage to get things accomplished each day by taking action consistently. The good news is that you don’t have to be spectacular either.


You only need to learn how to avoid wasting your precious time. Consistent action is the key to wealth, health, strong relationships, and anything else that matters in your life. An additional tactic I would like to suggest is the use of affirmations . They can boost your mood and self-belief, and we all know the adage: if you believe it, then you can achieve it. They have been very helpful to me and I am sure that the strategy is worth a try!

Repeat them until you have memorized them, or jot them on notes to read first thing in the morning. Record them on your phone and replay them during your commute. Additionally,

  • I take action.
  • I put my ideas into action.
  • I hold myself accountable. I live up to the commitments I make to myself. I avoid commitments that interfere with my priorities.
  • I focus on what I can do today instead of rehashing the past or trying to predict the future.
  • I build my confidence. I review my accomplishments and skills. I remind myself that I can handle hardships and deal with challenges. I think positive and focus on solutions. I give myself a pep talk when I need to raise my spirits.
  • I make plans without letting my preparations hold me back. I would rather bring my dreams to life than keep refining them. I stop procrastinating. I make a start right now instead of waiting for conditions to change.
  • I take things gradually. I break big projects down into smaller steps. Each small victory encourages me to aim higher.
  • I give myself credit for making an effort and taking risks. Even if I stumble, I can learn from the experience.
  • Today, I take responsibility for my happiness and success. I swing into action

Self-Reflection Questions:

  • How does taking action help me to overcome my fears?
  • How do I define being a doer?
  • What is one thing that I have learned that I could implement today?

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Morning Moves For The Win

Man in hair bonnet and bathrobe, drinking coffee with smirk on face, waiting for toast to pop up in toaster. Text on picture says, "Actual footage of me working out."
Robert Blackmon.

I am certain that by now, the above image doesn’t represent any of you! I will admit, I don’t like working out in the morning. The science is out on whether or not it really makes a difference. For me, my mind is firing and I need to do brain work then. I like evenings, when everything is done and I can throw my booty in a happy little circle and not think about email, dishes, and the like. To be sure, I am of the school that believes the workout you will DO and ENJOY is the best one. Hell, it is really the only one you should be doing.

The following three strategies are ways to get you up and going! Have fun trying them all (if you do #1, please comment FOR SURE). The point of this month was to get you some morning motivation so that you can establish routines that support the tasks necessary to crush your goals this year! If you have gotten better about the routine but maybe are struggling to break down the goals, read this.

  1. Awake using the Wim Hof Method. Full Disclosure: I had not heard of this and have NOT tried it. It sounds a little to jolting for me. However, those who do it, rave about it and tout effects like decreased stress and improved performance. Taken from the website, the protocol is as follows: 1. As soon as you wake up, sit in a meditation posture. 2. Do 30 power breaths — inhale through the mouth or nose and exhale through the mouth in short powerful bursts (like blowing up a balloon). 3. Hold your breath until you gasp. 4. Take a deep breath in and hold for 10 seconds. 5. Repeat for three more rounds. 6. Have a cold shower. Meet me at #2.
  2. Rise and Shine 2.0: Years ago, I started following the Fly Lady. One thing she talked about was “Shining your sink” and getting “dressed to the shoes”. Those things have stuck with me and my wake up ritual consists of rising (to greet the day with a quick stretch), smoothing the bed (not making it as it still holds the hubby), and getting dressed and shining that sink while I drink water and make coffee!
  3. Move your body, of course. I know that are some people who will prefer to get their joyful movement in the morning. If that is you, go ‘head with your bad self. If it is not, maybe you can get in the morning magic and get your full on workout later! It does get the blood and thoughts flowing and I do enjoy walk breaks all day!
Man dancing and spinning on a fast moving treadmill conveyor belt.
Man Dancing on a treadmill.

I hope that these posts about starting your day have been useful to you as we start this year! In February–you guessed it!–I will be talking about the basis of love, self love. Cultivating that love is tantamount to you living your best life–now.

Join the free 5 day Self Love Challenge boost your self confidence starting on Monday, February 1st!

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Morning Mood Boosters

Witch grumbles sarcastically about hating gorgeous mornings. She is wearing dark cloak and is in a candlelight dark room.
Bette Midler in Hocus Pocus

Today, I have a quick round-up of 5 doable habits to add to your mornings that will boost your mood–even if you are not a morning person!

  1. Get Enough Sleep. This one needs no explanation and is totally underrated!
  2. Get ready for the day while listening to positive or productive podcasts and TedTalks.
  3. Drink a full glass of water. I do prefer mine warm with lemon, while I make the coffee.
  4. If you can, do a brain dump of all the ideas you have and of things on your mind about the day. When you settle in to work, you can review and make sure critical tasks are being completed.
  5. Do something creative in the morning. Work on your side hustle; write a blog (YASS!) or page or two of your book. Sketch. You get the point. It will give start your day with something you enjoy and you can concentrate on work things!

What go-to habits are built into your morning routine? Do they help you or distract you? Drop a comment and let me know how you launch into your day!

College football fan dressed like astronaut, pretending to blast off, jumps and lands in hedge.
SEC Football Fans


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5 Minute Mind-Body Morning Hack

Animated Cinderella turning over in the bed and covering her head up with a pillow.
Cinderella Morning Reaction.

Mornings, am I right?

I only recently became a morning person in the past few years. And not because of some grand, lofty lifestyle overhaul strategy. It was literally the only time my house was quiet enough for me to think.

I started by getting up only 15 minutes earlier than my husband. At the time, he was up at about 6:30am. I didn’t get up until about 7:00am. After the couple of days of adjusting and actually getting a list of tasks together, I realized was how much more I got done in all areas of my life. Over the years, I have worked myself up to a 4:45am alarm (Monday – Friday). Disclaimer: I am in bed by 8:30 on ‘work nights’ and usually get in a 30 minute power nap when schedules may push my bedtime later.

FACT: How we start our morning often sets the tone for our day.

And, more often than not, our busy lives dictate a busy morning!

The Morning Makeover Challenge is about to wrap and if you missed it you can catch the next one here. In the meantime, I challenge you to wake up 5 minutes earlier in the morning and do at least ONE stretch (or yoga pose) and think of ONE thing for which you are grateful. That’s it.

One stretch won’t take you 5 minutes, so you may choose to stretch a little longer, learn a new yoga pose or take a few extra minutes to relax, enjoy your coffee or get ready for your day.

Waking up 5 minutes earlier and doing ONE stretch and ONE gratitude practice is TOTALLY doable. And transformative.

Stretching increases your flexibility and mobility – making movement and daily tasks easier. It also increases body and mind alignment and can also decrease stress. This slower, deliberate movement may even encourage you to get in some fun, healthy movement before you are off for the day.

Studies show that a daily practice of gratitude can lead to increased optimism, satisfaction, enthusiasm, motivation and HAPPINESS.

Consciously choose to think of one thing you are grateful for each day. Honestly, it can be the same thing every day. Just take a moment at the start of your day to be thankful.

Can you wake up 5 minutes earlier for the next 7 days and do ONE stretch and ONE gratitude practice? Leave an emoji or comment if you accept the challenge.

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Do Your Routines Serve or Sabotage You?

It is the beginning of the year and goals are at the top of everyone’s lists. Resolutions sound great but a 12 month time horizon all but sets them up for epic failure-again.

If you want this year to be different, listen up!

Goal accomplishment is what you want. We all set goals, but most overlook how daily routines can serve us or sabotage us.

Routines are important and powerful. They allow us to save time by not having to make decisions. They can support you, your vision, and your goals, or they can work against what you actually want.

We all have routines, but few of us actually chose our routines. We just seem to fall into them, and we keep our routines unless they’re obviously failing.

Your current routines might be okay, but are they bringing you closer to your goals? Do they support your values and priorities? Examine your daily routines and determine how well they serve you.

If you think that your routines could use a tune up, then join in the Morning Makeover Challenge. It is a free email mini-course with 5 strategies that deliver. One of my beta testers, Aaria, said:

I had never thought about a morning routine. I was used to my mom getting me up and me rushing to catch the bus. When I went to college, I was scared I’d be struggling to manage school, athletics, and fun. The Morning Makeover really helped me set my day up so that I got more done and made better progress than I could have ever made on my own. I won’t lie–knowing that sleep was a strategy had me sold from the start!

Aaria R., College Beta Challenger

Challenge begins Monday, January 11th. Join in and learn actionable steps to start your day on SLAY!

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Look Out 2021!

It’s a New Year and a New You – How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

Do you struggle to keep your New Year’s resolutions? More than likely, the excitement of starting a New Year wanes away and you find yourself back into your old routines.

Even when you have adequate motivation and the will to change, seeing it through can be damn-near impossible! The trick is to turn your optimism for the New Year into concrete actions. Once you start a routine, it becomes easier to follow through.

Whether you’re making multiple resolutions or wanting to work towards one bigger goal, be sure to pick something that’s achievable within the year’s time frame. And then, break those goals into chunks-or smaller goals that you can tackle in 4-, 8-, or 12 weeks time. I assure you, this is only way to prevent the ‘time horizon’ from getting the best of you.

I outline a few critical actionable steps that you should add to your resolution protocol!

Photo of pale pink office supplies and planner for the year 2021.
Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

Set Achievable and Clear Goals (S.M.A.R.T.)

Strive for making your goals achievable so you don’t set yourself up for future failure. For example, let’s say your goal is to save money. Determine where you stand currently, and then give yourself a goal that can be achieved putting back or cutting about 3-5% of your income a week.

You’ll also benefit from making clear goals. Rather than saying that you want to save, state a specific dollar amount. Then define the “how” as well. Are you going to follow a specific budget? How are you going to cut costs? Are you going to start an account that bears interest?

By now, we are all familiar with SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. This works! With a clear, achievable goal and a set plan of tasks you know you can complete, you virtually guarantee your success! You know exactly what you want and how you’re going to get there. All you need to do now is take action.

Take and Track Action

Taking action is usually where people tend to run into some trouble. It’s easy to get pumped up about an idea, but when it comes down to executing your plan, you might be tempted to fall short which is why smaller, less daunting goals is helpful in avoiding overwhelm and procrastination.

In this situation, you only need to muster up the energy to start. Tell yourself that you’re going to stick to your new plan for one week and then evaluate how it went. On the other hand, if you take everything in all at once, you’ll be less likely to begin in the first place. If it looks overwhelming, just focus on the short term.

Establish Strong Routines

I personally believe this to be key. Rituals or routines can set the stage for success if you develop them when motivation is high. Then you experience lulls in motivation, you will be accustomed to the work part and will be able to power through until you are feeling motivated again. Failing to plan for a lag in motivation is what distracts and derails most people.

For example, in our money saving scenario, paring back spending can be especially tough if you’re not accustomed to budgeting. The early days can leave you without items of convenience and feeling deprived. That doesn’t sound like fun at all! However, those first few days are the worst you’ll endure. You will need to plan for entertainment and expenditures and perhaps prepare meals instead of dining out. After your rituals are established, however, you may find that you are exceeding your savings goal and having a good time in other ways as well.

Join me for the first email challenge of the new year, Establishing Your Morning Routine! It’s free and great way to get a running start on accomplishing your goals!

Reward Yourself

Reward yourself often for your excellent efforts because you deserve it for working hard to change yourself for the better. You don’t need to wait until the end of the year to treat yourself.

Break up your goals into smaller pieces and every time you achieve a milestone, give yourself something that you enjoy. It could be an item you’ve been wanting or maybe a night out on the town.

Rewarding yourself for a job well done motivates you to keep going!

Do It Again!

After your first successful year of bettering yourself through New Year’s resolutions, you can then repeat the process and work on another aspect of your life. Before you know it, you’ll be a perfectly happy and healthy person because of your awareness, perseverance, and hard work!

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Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

Living in a culture so distracted by the thin/fit/cis/white/able-bodied ideal leads many to a disconnected relationship with the body, instead of one of reverence,”

@benourished (Instagram).
Family gathered around a table with wine and several food dishes as if celebrating in the fall.
Family gathered around a table with wine and several food dishes as if celebrating in the fall.

When I read this post, I immediately replayed tons of comments about holiday weight gain, not enjoying favorite dishes, or eating quantities of comfort foods that would starve a bird. I get it. In my full-time career I work in a YMCA. I constantly reflect on the sheer depth of diet culture and how it has permeated the fabric that is woven into the tapestry of health and, subsequently, of one’s self-image. Honestly, I am so grateful for the exposure. It was the catalyst that pushed me to liberate myself from the entanglement with this culture through education, self-discovery, and lots of effort. You have no idea. Old thought and behavior patterns are hard-not impossible-to unlearn.  It is also why I am hopeful that others can too.

To that end, I hope that you will enjoy this season with a true zest for life! If that means eating your favorite foods, eat them. If you are binge baking to compensate for distance from family, mourning a loss, or for sheer pleasure, enjoy! Let this holiday season be the beginning of you learning to listen and trust your body again. Let this be the beginning of you committing to live more fully-on a full stomach! Let this be the beginning of knowing that there is so much more to life than dieting and feeling bad about your (AWESOME) body. I am here! I have club, and my dear soul, you are accepted 100% as you are right now. If you change your body in anyway, you are accepted. If you don’t, you are accepted. And honored. Truly and completely.

Wishing you the best that humanity and the universe has to offer this season and every day!

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Moving Towards Oneness

“Othering” is a term that not only encompasses the many expressions of prejudice on the basis of group identities, but we argue that it provides a clarifying frame that reveals a set of common processes and conditions that propagate group-based inequality and marginality.

https://www.otheringandbelonging.org/the-problem-of-othering/

Moving past the tolerance of those that are different is only a step. It is my sincerest wish that we can move beyond that step towards a circle of human concern. All the humans. We are all painfully aware that this lofty goal seems unattainable. I have faith though. But faith without work is dead, and my work is to move in the circles to which I have access and continue to advocate for the acceptance of all–as they are. To paraphrase Iyanla Vanzant, we are all here on purpose with a purpose because we were created from a place of purpose.

A photo of a hand of a person of medium brown skin touching the hand of a person of white  skin. Together the hands create a heart shape. The photo conveys the ideal that differences can be overcame to create an accepting, diverse society with all.
photo of a hand of a person of medium brown skin touching the hand of a person of white skin. Together the hands create a heart shape.

That could be the start of a deep and ongoing conversion, or more accurately, the continuation of that conversation. Today, though, I am here to ask you to do something.

  • Listen to the Yoga and “Removing the Concept of Other” Podcast. Along with colleagues, I am featured in the episode where we discuss how Yoga can help move our society closer to a circle of human concern. On all the major platforms, listen on Spotify here and iTunes here.
  • Comment, like, and share this website and that podcast, please! Our Socials: @fiercefitness.atx @innerexploreryoga @dexcellentfitness @bodybliss.tm

THANKS!

Drop a comment here or anywhere you connect with me on this topic or any topic!

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Getting to Know You

During this (extended) time of “sheltering-in-place” in response to the Corona Virus Pandemic, lots of folks are going “stir-crazy”. Like globally. Divorce rates are up. Depression is setting in. Everyone apparently is baking. In the fallout, self-awareness has emerged as the skill of the decade. I am glad and can acknowledge that it was something I had to work to develop. Thankfully, there are some actions that one can take to get started on this journey now.

Self-awareness is the ability to objectively reflect and compare one’s actions to the internal standards and values. There is no blame or shame. Just the opportunity to live in alignment with the values you decide are important to you. The ability to remain objective is important as it is where you are able to provide your own approval and dismiss the judgments of others about how you look, love, or live your life. Your superpower as a sovereign being begins with self-awareness!

Some people are better at this than others. For years as a young adult, this was a struggle in that my self-awareness lacked objectivity. I would argue that pure objectivity is impossible, but what I was doing was really blaming others for when things did not turn out how I wanted them to. Feedback analysis was a useful tool for me and it forced me to acknowledge when I had lived in a way consistent with my internal beliefs. Eventually, I went on to do value alignments and really got to what was important to me–not what others had told me was or should be important. Nothing boosts your self-esteem like self-approval! And nothing helps you build that foundation like being self-aware.

The Man in the Mirror

Photo by JESSICA TICOZZELLI on Pexels.com

Becoming self-aware connects you with your truest self. It is important because when we have a better understanding of ourselves, we are able to experience ourselves as unique and separate individuals. We are then empowered to make changes and to build on our areas of strength as well as identify areas where we would like to make improvements (University of Warwick). In experiencing ourselves as unique, we can build a positive self-image where our individuality is valued and appreciated for its uniqueness.

We are all multi-faceted and complex, layered, like onions, with experiences, feedback, patterns, and learned behaviors. According to Positive Psychology, self-awareness can be integral in learning about your desires and values, strengths and weaknesses, help you reach goals, learn or relearn behavior or thought patterns. It is in this intentional reflective process that you learn who you really are and can also work to overcome any challenges or limiting behaviors and beliefs.

3 Quick Action Steps

Make It Happen Positivity Attitude Possible Graphic Words

Here are three easy activities that you can do to start learning about yourself on a deeper level.

  • Completing a Triggers worksheet that can help identity situations that may triggering for you. this can be really useful in uncovering past experiences or discovering hidden biases or beliefs. You can try one here.
  • Completing a Life Goals worksheet. This can help a person who feels like they “spinning their wheels” or living a life void of purpose get motivated and visualize what working towards their goals looks like. Try this one!
  • Try Feedback Analysis. This is an approach where when one undertakes a project or makes a decision, they record how the made the decision and their expectations. At the end of the implementation, they review their results with the expected results in order to evaluate whether or not they were successful and why or why not. This objective analysis is particularly useful for those who lack emotional intelligence and have an inability to see their role in successes or failures. This was method I started to employ when I became a teacher and it spilled over to how I look at personal decisions as well.

I hope that these resources can help you or someone you know develop self-awareness. It truly amazing how self-awareness can potentially enhance every experience in your life as it a tool to reflect, ground, evaluate, and make good decisions.

Bonus: Read Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Jean Greaves and Travis Bradbury. It comes with a code for an assessment which can be really helpful!

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The Holiday Struggle is Real!

Click on the poll block above to edit it directly in this post. Add a question, and multiple answers and even change the styling of the block using the sidebar controls. Add new poll blocks by searching for “poll” or type “/poll” in a new block.

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Express Your Gratitude to Improve Your Health

Emotions can bottle up inside you, but you don’t have to let them. You can master your thoughts, feelings, and emotions and learn to let them out in positive ways, so they don’t cause you stress and harm.

One of the best ways to improve your health and handle your emotions is by expressing your gratitude. Yes, really!

Ask yourself: What are you thankful for? Who matters in your life? Even when life may not be going as planned, there are still many things to be grateful for.

Give Your Gratitude Away

No matter how much you appreciate someone in your life, that person may not have any idea about how you feel. Rather than just assume they know your thoughts and feelings, go ahead and speak up. Tell them how you really feel and what’s in your heart.

See the smile? It feels good, doesn’t it? When you smile back, laugh, and even share tears of joy and love, it helps your heart, mind, and body thrive. It releases a flood of chemicals that your body just loves. It’s a “feel-good” thing to do. That’s true for both you and the receiver of your gratitude.

Maybe you’re grateful for something you have, as opposed to a person. Did you ever think about sending a thankful message to the company that makes the products you love? They probably hear all about customer complaints, but how much gratitude do they get for the work they’ve done to make lives better or more convenient? Give them some of your gratitude and you’ll spread joy all around!

If a person could do only one thing to increase their health and happiness, expressing gratitude might be it. Martin Seligman, a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, has remarked, “when we take time to notice the things that go right – it means we’re getting a lot of little rewards throughout the day” (BrainyQuote, n.d.).

Ways to Show Your Gratitude

Showing gratitude is something you can do quite easily and all it costs you is a little bit of time and effort.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Photo by Marcus Wu00f6ckel on Pexels.com
  • Tell your loved ones you care for them.
  • Hug a friend who’s hurting.
  • Smile at a stranger.
  • Write to a company whose product or service you really love.
  • Make time to listen to someone who needs to talk.
  • Spend some time out in nature, appreciating the beauty of creation.
  • Volunteer your services or help someone in need.

How Does Gratitude Impact Mental Health?


“But I know that I spent a long time existing, and now I intend to live” – Sabaa Tahir


Stress does not have to control our lives when we feel and express gratitude regularly. There is no part of well-being that is untouched by gratitude, be that physical, mental, or social. Practicing gratitude is gaining a life-view of thankfulness. By appreciating ourselves, our dear ones, Nature, and the Almighty, we experience the purest form if all positive emotions. It helps us to realize that nothing is obvious and nothing is to be taken for granted – for it is the little things in life where our real joy lies.
Dr. Emmons, in his studies on the striking effects of gratitude on mental health revealed:

  • Gratitude practices reduce cardiac diseases, inflammations, and neurodegeneration significantly
  • Daily journaling and gratitude jars can help individuals fighting with depression, anxiety, and burnout
  • Writing gratitude letters brings hope and evokes positivity in suicidal patients and those fighting terminal diseases
  • Gratitude improves the sleep-wake cycle and enhances mood. It helps people with insomnia, substance abuse, and eating disorders.

A Take Home Message


Practicing gratitude is synonymous to expressing our feelings for others and ourselves. By simple words of love and praise, we not only make others feel good, but we also feel a lot better of ourselves and our lives. Gratitude is about feeling the right way, about the right things, and at the right time. It is inseparably linked with self-discipline and motivation. It may not give us instant relief from pain and stress, but it brings the feeling of control back to us.
By acknowledging and appreciating our assets, gratitude gives us the charge of our own lives. As Robin Sharma has beautifully put it:


“Gratitude drives happiness. Happiness boosts productivity. Productivity reveals mastery. And mastery inspires the world”.

Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com
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Healthy and Easy Chicken Soup

When Healing and Nourishment are the Doctor Ordered!

I look at food and recipe blogs. I enjoy them. But more often than not, I am in a time-crunch; I am searching for a recipe fast. I need to prepare it even faster. Enter in my Easy Chicken Soup-in an instant (yes, InstaPot!)

Full disclosure: This is not a sponsored or affiliate post. I don’t even own the branded InstaPot. My little sister gave me an knock-off electric pressure cooker. I love pressure cooker (I call it the InstaNot) and I love my sister even more for the gift that gives!

To the recipe!

There is no real recipe.

I make this bad boy when I want to dose myself or family with a quick nourishing meal that keeps the cold and flu or “the blahs” away. It is not fancy; it is very typical. It is budget-friendly. Chicken soup has solid immune-boosting foods naturally, I help mine with a dose of turmeric and a pinch of ginger (not usually a curry blend. Although in a pinch I have and it was great!)

  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Celery
  • Red or gold Potatoes (mostly so I don’t have to chop, but Russets will do fine)
  • minced garlic (quite a bit)
  • minced ginger (a wee bit)
  • turmeric
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a bouquet of herbs if you have it (I grow Rosemary and Basil so usually I through some in, Bay leaf if I have it!)
  • broth (chicken or veggie but I have had to use beef–it was still great!)
  • chicken (if it is not leftover, I use whatever I have–typically boneless, skinless thighs or tenders–once I used chicken fajita meat and yes, you guessed it–it was great!)

You put everything in the pressure cooker, quick cooking chicken on the top. Cook for about 15 minutes on high pressure cook. If you have a cooker that has a poultry setting you can use that one.

Note: This can easily be adjusted to crock pot or slow cooker. In the pressure cooker, I use about 4 cups of broth, I decrease it by a cup in the slow cooker. The pressure cooker needs the liquid to create the pressure and some will evaporate when it depressurizes.

That is it! A dose of vitamins and immune-boosting nutrients that can go from 0 to table in about 30 minutes with leftovers so you can do this any.night.of.the.week. BOOM! Tell that cold and flu to BACK UP OFF YOU!

Check out the other post with tips to keep the cold and flu at bay here!

Hope you and yours stay healthy!

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3 Simple Ways to Boost Your Immune System This Winter

What We All Should Know…I hope!

Good Hand Hygiene is Your Best Line of Defense Against Cold and Flu (and COVID-19) and Avoid Getting Sick by Keeping Your Distance

Hopefully, you and your family have mastered these two basics of health. But running a three-way tie behind them are easy and just as important!

Eat Plenty of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

All systems of your body work best when they are properly fed. This includes your immune system. Stick to a mainly whole foods based diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. If you feel like you might be a little under the weather or suspect that you may have come into contact with someone sick, increasing your intake of Vitamin C may help as well. Eat a few citrus fruits. Broccoli, cauliflower, and kale are other great options.

Avoid eating processed foods. It takes a lot of time and effort to digest them and you don’t want to weigh your body down with extra work when that energy could be used to boost your immune system, keep you from getting sick, or help you get well sooner.

Get Some Exercise

In addition to eating well, get out there and get regular exercise. For best results, work out in the fresh air. Something as simple as a daily quick walk can help you stay well and strengthen your body. It has the added benefit of helping you to de-stress. I don’t have to tell you that you’re more likely to get sick when you are stressed out. Use daily exercise to destress and stay well. It will also help you with the last way to boost your immune system.

Make Time for Sleep

This last tip is easy to skip over, yet it is the most important one for most of us and the one that can give your immune system a great boost. It’s getting enough sleep. Make the time to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Practice good sleep hygiene. Don’t let the word scare you. It means turning off your phone and other screens a few hours before bed. Keep your bedroom calm, quiet, and at a temperature that encourages sleep. It also includes establishing and sticking to a bedtime routine. As an added bonus, you’ll feel more energized for everything else you have to do all day.

We all have times when we could use a little extra boost to our immune system. Cold and flu season are certainly part of that time, or the long winter weeks when we’re stuck inside in close quarters, our hygiene gives way to comfort and we are more likely to catch something. It’s also important anytime you board a plane for holiday travel or when your kids start school. The above are three simple things you can do daily to strengthen your immune system. Check out this quick video that has a bonus tip suitable for all!

Stay tuned! I will share some easy recipes that will boost your immune system and satisfy!

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Juicing – Helpful or Hype?

After the post about debunking myths, I got a few questions on other platforms about juicing as a means to weight loss and a sort of fall-reset.

Let’s start with defining “juicing.”

Juicing is a process that extracts the juices from fresh fruits and vegetables.

Why “juice”?

Juicing has been said to boost your immune system, help with weight loss, lower your risk for cancer and other health issues, and provide balance to your digestive system.

Drinking fresh, pure fruit juices also provides phytonutrients, which are powerful nutrients that increase the strength of your immune system.

Some people choose to replace meals with juice in order to lose weight.

But here is the thing – all of those nutrients that you are getting from juicing are the exact same nutrients that you would be getting if you ate the fruit whole.

And a major con of juicing (aside from the work, clean-up and large amounts of fruit you would have to buy) is that you don’t consume the fruit skin, which is where all of the fiber is held. So by juicing, you are actually losing some of the benefits of eating the fruit.

Fiber plays a key role in weight loss – so if you are juicing to lose weight but missing out on the fiber, it is a little counter intuitive.

A great alternative would be to blend your fruit. There are some juices/cleanses that you can purchase nowadays that are whole-fruit juices too. They are better and way more pricier. For me and my money (and, quite honestly, my satiety), clean, whole foods are the way to go.

Plus, you can throw in some protein or fat for a balanced meal versus an all-carbohydrate fruit juice (because fruit is a carbohydrate) – that will likely leave you hungry short after!.

That being said, sometimes it is easier to grab a drink and go!

So, is juicing worth it?

As with all things – in nutrition and life – there are varying theories.

Based on the loss of fiber (a necessary part of your diet) when juicing and the fact that you can get all of the same nutrients from eating fruit – juicing might seem like a lot of work for a lesser effect.

If you feel you are not able to eat enough fruits and vegetables throughout the day, juicing may help you get those important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

But if you are using juicing as a means to lose weight or in an attempt to get all that you can from fruit, eating or blending whole fruit is the better alternative. Stay tuned for a post about apples-a fabulous, fall fruit that is also abundant, inexpensive, tasty, versatile and a nutrient-dense powerhouse!

When all things are considered, would you try your hand at juicing? Why or why not? Comment, like, follow, and share!

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Who You Gonna Call? MYTHBUSTERS!

A Look at 3 “Bad-for-You” Foods

Media and the nutrition market is saturated with advice and guidelines on what NOT to eat. 

But the truth is, with most things, moderation is required. Not total avoidance. 

🧂 Myth #1: Salt is bad for you.

High amounts of salt have been linked to high blood pressure. But your body also needs salt! Proper transport of chemical and function of your muscles, like you heart, depend on adequate amounts of sodium.

As the Standard American Diet (aptly abbreviated SAD) has morphed into a diet full of saturated fats, additives, and larger portions, our diets have become overloaded on lots of different things. A lot of processed foods have a high amount of salt added to them, which over saturates the body with sodium. Coupled with increasingly sedentary lifestyles and genetic tendencies, excess sodium can be harmful.

Eating tweaks and increase in exercise can help you get the necessary sodium and stay in good health. Moderating your salt intake by eating whole foods is much more beneficial than attempting to cut salt entirely out of your diet. 

🍳 Myth #2: Egg yolks are bad for you.

Egg yolks get a bad rep for being high in cholesterol. And a lot of weight-loss fads have included opting for egg whites and avoiding egg yolks. But egg yolks actually have a lot of protein and other nutrients that your body needs. 

Studies have also shown that the link to higher cholesterol has been exaggerated. When a person is healthy and their naturally occurring cholesterol is within normal ranges, eating eggs will not unduly contribute to cardiovascular disease or stroke.

🥩 Myth #3: Red meat is bad for you.  

As with so many things that we consume, red meat has been linked to an increased risk in cancer. While it is true, the red meat of today is different from the meat of 100, even just 50 years ago. The animals receive hormones, antibodies, and medicines. They graze on fields and grains that have been treated with pesticides and chemical. The plants themselves have often been genetically modified as well. However, red meat itself may have a bad rep for no good reason.

From an evolutionary perspective, humans most likely would not be who we are in terms of physical development and brain development, i.e.. intelligence, without the protein from meat consumption. Our bodies most efficiently extract needed proteins from meat. There are necessary and beneficial vitamins, minerals, and amino acid chains found only meat sources or they exist in concentrated amounts. For example:

  • Vitamin B3 (niacin): 25% of the RDA, Vitamin B12 (cobalamin): 37% of the RDA (this vitamin is unattainable from plant foods), Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): 18% of the RDA, Iron: 12% of the RDA (this is high-quality heme iron, which is absorbed much better than iron from plants), Zinc: 32% of the RDA, and Selenium: 24% of the RDA. Creatine and carnosine are amino acids found only in meat and deficiencies can impede muscle and brain function.

While overly processed or smoked red meats can carry certain compounds that may be detrimental to preventing cancerous cells, red meat in general – and in moderation – does not pose the risk that many fear. Again, simple swaps for grass-fed and hormone-free can reduce or eliminate the risks that are increasingly being tied to chemicals found in practices and not in the meat itself.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet, exercising regularly, avoiding tobacco products, and limiting alcohol consumption are much more important than cutting out red meat.

🔑 Moderation is the key!  

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Getting Enough Movement In Your Day!

With all of  the apps and technology available today, people are more aware of how much movement they are getting. 

But how much movement should you be getting each day?

Studies show that the average adult walks between 3,000 and 4,000 steps per day. 

An ideal number of steps is actually closer to 10,000 per day. 

With so many of us working behind laptop screens all day, it is no surprise that the average person is falling behind in movement! That sit-time has only increased in the pandemic. And it has spread to children, who have also been decreasing their activity levels over time so much so they are the first generation in the United States to have predicted lifespans shorter than their parents (American Academy of Family Physicians).

Start a baseline to determine how many steps you are getting each day. 

Then work your way up to the ideal amount by setting a goal to add 500 steps per day until you get to the 10k. If you fall short or the goal, refer to the post here on ways to sneak in extra steps.

Adding a 20 – 30 minute walk to your daily routine is an easy way to increase your movement. I personally like mine after dinner. It helps with digestion and ensures I am tried enough to turn off the screens and go to bed.

As a bonus, check out this indoor walk video that gets in about 4200 steps in 30 minutes which is equivalent to about 2 miles at 15 minutes a mile! Disclaimer: the in home walk does not replicate the added resistance of forward propulsion or terrain, so this is slightly easier but still a good way to get started and is accessible to all fitness levels!

I tracked the steps in the video on my Fitbit Versa. Do you track your steps/movement? If so, what is your favorite movement app to use? 

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Pandemic Got You Down? Walking=Better Mood + Memory Boosts

Walking might be the simplest, low-impact form of valuable aerobic exercise.

Not only is it easy and free to take a walk, but there are many serious health perks. 

We all know that walking is good for your physical health, but did you know that walking for just 30 minutes each day can also significantly improve your mental health, mood, and life?

Studies also show that, as we age, daily walks can decrease cognitive decline and memory loss!

When you exercise, your body releases endorphins. Endorphins naturally boost your mood. 

And an added bonus of walking outside for exercise is that you also benefit from breathing fresh air, soaking up the sun, and appreciating your surroundings. 

Because walking is rather low impact, you can take a walk with a friend or your family and enjoy a chat and some quality time while you get your work out in!

It is a great activity for all ages. 

You can teach your children the value of daily exercise, enjoy time with your family, take your dog with you, or just get out on your own for some quiet, private time.

Taking a walk by yourself allows you time to slow your thoughts and destress. 

So whether it is taking a walk with your family after dinner or a morning stroll with your coffee before work – I challenge you to add a walk to your plan today!

Fitness and healthy lifestyles consist of daily choices. 

My passion is to help you learn how to make those choices. I have different coaching and wellness packages that I have developed with research, education, and my own personal experiences. If you are interested you can reach out to me here!

My Life Changing Lesson about Going Solo

Teacher of the Year Goes to 2022

This year was a doozy. It was the first year that I was a full-time entrepreneur as a holistic ED recovery coach and making that move on the heels of the slow-exiting COVID-19 pandemic (like–move on already and stop holding the door open!!) was scary and exciting. I figured it would be slow going and slow growing, and it was in some ways. I am not going to bore you (I hope) so I will get to it!

Going Solo is Work

Like a lot.

And it all fell to me. And life gave no f*cks. So there’s that.

Marketing-me. Public relations and media-me. Operations-me. Finances-me. Strategy-me. Research and development-me. Legal-me. Billing-me. Making freaking copies-me. I just wanted to help people. Where was the time to do that part?

I was under the impression that I would have a plan, and I’d work the plan, and BOOM! Business! After all, I had been moderately successful at side-hustling in this industry for about 12 years. I knew my market and had matched my skills to my scope. Not until I left my steady non-profit leadership position (with limited problems and a staff!), I realized how much I had underestimated everything–the workload, the learning curve for tech, for social media, the self-imposed pressure, and how my friends-non-entrepreneurs-understood about what I was doing.

I watched as the pandemic slayed some time-and tech-weathered businesses and new ones cropped up with near overnight success. I wondered why–what did they know or do that was different from established ones.

And of course, in my own business, as potential clients started to trickle in, they looked like me, and maybe like you. There were challenges and the pain of countless relapses and “1 step forward and two steps back” tales when it came to conquering their eating disorder. A lot–so many it makes me want to shed a tear–opted not sign on with me as a coach or did not stay long-term. They almost all stated that my freebies or brief services had been helpful and they would try to take it from there on their own.

I am no stranger to this attitude of doing it myself. After all, I had traded in my 40 hour a week position to work ALL THE HOURS myself. Even the first years of my recovery from binge eating disorder I toughed out alone. But I know that only when I got help and how that support helped me to stick with it did things really turn around for me. It is “getting to the other side” that I want to help people to experience!

Going Solo Does Work

But it is really hard.

Just like in business, going it alone in recovery can work. There may even be times where that is the best way. You may lack treatment access or options that are suitable (like if what is available has caused you more harm). In my realm, for example, being in a larger body and dealing with disordered eating may lead to the suggestion that you lose weight which can only make the disordered eating worse.

But often, there are other issues that treatment, therapy, or coaching can help with as well, like depression, or severe and life-threatening ideations or behaviors. Sometimes, health can become so bad before a decision to seek help is made and issues like organ damage is not reversible and possibly could have been prevented with earlier intervention.

Needless to say, working towards a new reality in business or your wellness will be a tough and often uncomfortable journey. The effort is well worth it but help and support can make it so much more achievable!

Community Support Can Save a Solo

This year in particular, there were lots of stories about the rise of eating disorders and disordered eating born of the pandemic. That trend helped my business as an eating disorder recovery coach for sure. (This was a problem of sorts in and of itself. As I grew an audience, there was an influx of potential clients that I was not really equipped to handle. But I digress.)

There were lots of stories of celebrity eating and body image struggles and the ones that coped the best all had major support. I get it; they have access to resources. But my clients who made the most progress also had strong circles of support. They did so much better than the ones who only had me, that I created a community to help bridge the gaps. Being isolated in a healing and recovery journey is not the only option. Not by a long shot and honestly, it has given me hope.

Even with entrepreneurs, there are communities to share stories, relate to, and learn with and from each other. I cannot say how lucky I was one to find a peer group of entrepreneurs in my niche. Instant connections, support, and understanding of what I was going through just made this year easier!

Community Lessons

The following are the TOP ten takeaways I have this year from working within a supportive community and by creating one for my clients:

  • Continuing to work on my dreams or recovery is a choice and my happiness is my responsibility.
  • I am enough and have value not tied to my weight (or income)
  • Don’t get caught in the trap of comparison.
  • It does get easier.
  • Everyone has a lesson to teach you.
  • Not everyone will come along for the journey and that is okay!
  • Cravings, and feelings, are temporary. They may be uncomfortable but they pass.
  • I do not have to take part in the expectations of society.
  • Even times of 2 steps backwards, you don’t lose what you learned. You can pick yourself up and keep going.
  • Make peace with the past.

Some of these lessons, I am just really understanding 15 years into recovery. Some are new. All are nuanced and it doesn’t matter if you have or have not learned them yet. It is likely that you will or have learned many more.

The Biggest Lesson (Yet!)

The biggest lesson I learned this year was that I am stronger when I ask for help.

As I write about it, it seems so simple. But this was tough for me. I look back and realized that I took on so much responsibility and was battling imposter syndrome, fear of being called lazy, and the fear that I would be viewed as less than (this took me straight back to my early days of recovery).

Fortunately, I realized that my clients were dealing with these feelings too. So, I took my own advice and sought help with the things I did not know or just when I needed to talk about things.

I believe that I am still here because I was able to get outside support and different perspectives. I was also able to give others a chance to help, which made them feel good and was within their zone of genius. Talk about a win-win.

I am certain that you can see yourself in this situation. I hope so. I hope that you can ask me for help with your recovery journey. I hope that you have access to a supportive community for whatever you are trying to accomplish in your precious life!

Whether the journey that you are on is about entrepreneurship, eating disorder recovery, or just wellness in general, hopefully these can be a help or hope to you on your path ahead. Please know that as long as this little corner of the web is up, you are never really alone!

Do you have other gems that you have mined from your experiences? I would love for you to share them in the comments!

Diabetes Management During the Holidays

To Balance Blood Sugar BALANCE is the Key!

The fall and winter holiday season can be both a wonderful time and a challenging time if you have food relationship struggles or chronic illness, like Diabetes. Roughly 12% of the population has some type of diagnosed diabetes, so it is likely that you or someone you know needs to maintain blood sugar balance. The rich sweet treats served during the holidays can be troublesome if you are not careful. Holiday parties and long-distance travel can pose an extra challenge when you have diabetes. With reasonable choices and advance planning, you can enjoy the holidays and manage your condition at the same time.

While I am not diabetic, I have diabetic clients and concerns are always discussed. I grew up with two diabetic parents, as well as several other family members with this disorder. I have helped in finger sticks, insulin doses, and nutrition-based strategies for most of my life. I have seen amputations, vision loss, dialysis, and kidney transplants JUST IN MY FAMILY as a result of diabetes. I have also seen active and long lives.

Courses of treatment and medications are individualized and constantly evolving as medicines and monitoring devices develop as well. From finger sticks to CGM (constant glucose monitoring), oral meds to glucose pumps, I have had to learn about it! Of course, movement and food choice (and timing) continue to be a cornerstone of traditional treatments–which is where I can help in conjunction with medical professionals.

For this tip-based post, I have the pleasure to collaborate with Dr. Liz Kopco, PhD.

Disclaimer: Please understand although I am a certified health and nutrition coach, I am not your coach nor am I a doctor or physician. All content on this blog and website is for informational and educational purposes only. The information provided does not constitute any medical or health advice nor does it constitute or establish any kind of a coach/professional – client relationship by your using any information on this site. Although I strive to provide accurate and helpful information, the information presented here is not a substitute for any kind of professional, medical, or health advice, and you should not rely solely on the information presented on this site. Always consult with the appropriate professional in the area for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making professional, legal, medical, or financial investments or transactions.

Mindful Eating and Living Strategies

As an Eating Disorder Recovery Coach, I use Mindful Eating as an accessible and effective tool. Mindful Eating can help reconnect us to our natural inner wisdom and we can reestablish communication with our bodies. Hunger and fullness are only two ways that our bodies communicate with us! Mindfulness can be applied to almost anything and here are few ways that mindful eating and mindful living can help in balancing blood sugars and enhance your diabetes management enabling you to enjoy the holidays!

  1. Listen to your body (and not the external environment) for any cues to eat or to stop eating.
  2. Eat and enjoy your meals without distractions from technology (sports games, cell phone, TV) and focus on enjoying the food and company.
  3. A timing tip: Try to eat your carb rich foods towards the end of the meal. This gives your body time to ramp up insulin production so more is present in your body when you eat your carbs.
  4. Decrease mindless eating by using small plates, drinking from smaller glasses, and simply having more nutrient-dense foods at eye- and arm- levels.
  5. Build in movement-based activities like family post-meal walks or friendly dance battles! Make it fun and easy for all generations to join in.
  6. When traveling, ensure you have extra medication (in case of delays) and all of your pertinent info (prescriptions, dosages, doctor’s contact, and insurance information) in case of emergency. Travel with meds in their original packaging and labels!

A mindful eating study has demonstrated that mindful eating education is just as effective in diabetes management as nutrition-based education in decreasing blood glucose and keeping it balanced (Miller et al). The study showed that both strategies are effective in the management of diabetes (blood sugar balancing, insulin as prescribed, and movement). This means that when people can receive general nutrition information and how it applies to diabetes, that tapping into our inner wisdom is one of the best strategies we all can access to have the best quality of life without hyper-focusing on foods, which can lead to disordered eating.

Dr. Liz’s Advice

I always want to share great information and build community with those with lived experience. I am so lucky to have crossed paths with Liz at an eating disorder conference and reached out to her for her best tips! Dr. Liz Kopco, a Latina Health Coach and Advocate, strives to share her experiences as a PhD in STEM (Molecular Biology) to learning how to thrive with type 2 diabetes for well-being of the community. Here, she shares her tips for the holidays:

  1. Pay attention to your mood: Blood glucose levels can really impact our moods. Higher blood sugar levels can make us easily irritated and frustrated. Low glucose levels can make us feel extremely drained, exhausted, and foggy-brained despite being well-rested. 
  2. Check your pee: Keep an eye on how much you’re urinating and the color. Frequent urination can be a sign of high blood glucose levels. Darker-colored urine can indicate dehydration. Staying well hydrated by drinking at least half your body weight in oz can help keep your blood glucose levels within your target range.
  3. Eat everything in moderation: Living with diabetes doesn’t mean you have to restrict what you eat. Eating everything in moderation, so individual servings versus eating straight from the bag/container will help you be mindful with your eating, enjoy your favorite foods, and not have extremely high blood sugar level spikes. 
  4. Swap or Keep: You can still enjoy all of your cultural foods when living with diabetes! To be mindful of your blood glucose levels, you can make ingredient swaps like using cauliflower rice instead of white rice in dishes. You can also enjoy your recipes just as they are but be mindful of the portion sizes you are eating. Enjoy that naan or tortillas!

Bonus tip: If you use a CGM, it helps to occasionally confirm your blood sugar levels with a blood glucose meter to make sure it is accurate before making any decisions about your health. 

Dr. Liz believes that everyone deserves to live a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life. You can check out her website here!

Holidays are for Memories

The holiday season is a time of food, family, and fun. Diabetes, although serious, should not stop you from enjoying the season or a long, wonderful, life. Effectively managing your diabetes lets you enjoy all the festivities of the winter holiday season without compromising your health. Keeping yourself in top condition is a wonderful gift for yourself and your loved ones.

Reference:

Carla K. Miller, Jean L. Kristeller, Amy Headings, Haikady Nagaraja, W. Fred Miser. Comparative Effectiveness of a Mindful Eating Intervention to a Diabetes Self-Management Intervention among Adults with Type 2 Diabetes: A Pilot StudyJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2012; 112 (11): 1835 DOI: 10.1016/j.jand.2012.07.036

Holidaze: Surviving When in ED Recovery

Tips to Manage the Season NOW!

While the holidays can be a time of joy, connection, and memory-making, when you are recovering from an eating disorder, they can also be a time of stress, anxiety, and possibly fear.

During the early years of my recovery, I was in the closet with my family about my treatment. I wish I could tell you why. I think that they would have been supportive enough but maybe not quite understand or validate my experiences. But that was the way it was so control of the environment was critical to me so I hosted Thanksgiving (which was the biggest feast for my family).

As you might imagine, this caused me a great deal of stress that I eliminated only through planning. I needed to prepare the family faves AND as the hostess I could send them home with the bulk of the leftovers so I would not have some elbow-deep dressing and cranberry binge later.

The holiday season was where I really learned to rely on my mindful eating skills–particularly around satisfaction and how beneficial planning and permission to enjoy the foods were to keeping me building a positive relationship with food.

I want to share some strategies that worked for me and my clients. If you have any experience, I would love to hear what has or is working for you!

Plan for You

The plans you make are for your benefit. You cannot expect the same people not to do the same things whether they are aware of your struggles or desire to change. Family and friends often mean well but can cause you stress and anxiety without knowing.

  • Know where you will be going and who will be there. If there are allies, recruit them!
  • Planning your events will help you anticipate your triggers and reactions so you can rehearse a different reaction beforehand. It is near impossible when you are completely caught off-guard at every turn!
  • Have a self-care survival kit on-hand. This can include a snack or excuses to take a walk or sit quietly. You do what you have to for you.

Present Moment Is Key

Staying in the present moment is key to getting through this time. It is not helpful to dwell in the past or let your loved ones drag you down memory lane if it is not helpful. Additionally, these times are meant to be enjoyed so allow yourself to savor the flavors, the smells, the laughs, and the hugs!

  • Bring your new self–and the skills you are learning–to the present moment. Do not feel like you have to revert to patterns of the past when you didn’t have the skills you have now. Your loved ones need to see you now.
  • Don’t forget to breathe. A few deep breaths can be grounding and give you an opportunity to get your bearings enough to recall and apply any tools you have in your recovery toolkit!
  • The holidays are a few days and will not break you although it may feel like it. The very next day is a day to start over. Recovery is a journey and not a destination. Be compassionate with yourself–you deserve it.

Mindfully Manage Your Expectations

If you are trying to heal your relationship with food and your body, the holidays can be challenging enough without you having the pressure of meeting the expectations of others or the ones you impose on yourself. This goes hand-in-hand with focusing on the present moment–that what is versus what should be!

  • Avoid making major decisions (as possible) until the second week of January. The influence of holiday cheer (and eggnog) may not lead to the wisest choice.
  • Avoid overscheduling yourself too. Spreading yourself too thin can make it easy to fall into old patterns.
  • Practice non-judging others and yourself. Don’t enter into situations with any expectations, just a positive attitude.

Hopefully, these strategies will help you enjoy a wonderful holiday season and keep you making progress with recovery or change this year. Bonus: these tips can be useful year-round for other gatherings like weddings, graduations, and reunions!

Wishing you the best of the season and wellness!

Please like, comment, and share with someone who may find it useful!

Is Stress Eating You?

Stress… we all deal with it. It’s unavoidable in fact but there are ways to cope with it and lessen its effects on our minds and the habits that form as a result. Eating is a coping mechanism for stress because when we eat something (Especially satisfying) just to eat it, this is a sure sign of stress eating.

Let’s delve further into the issues of emotional eating and pinpoint exactly why we stress eat and how to stop doing it!

Why We Turn To Food?

A survey conducted by the American Psychological Association found that about one-fourth of Americans rated their stress levels at about 8, with a 10 showing the most stress. It’s a pretty discouraging statistic as we all know stress is no fun mentally or physically as it can cause a host of health problems.

When stress persists, not only does it alter appetite and cravings, it can also change the chemistry in our bodies. High levels of cortisol, leptin, and adrenaline can negatively impact your sleep to organ function.

Stress eating, sometimes called comfort eating or emotional eating, can be an undesired pattern of behavior of using food to cope with stress, and various difficult feelings, such as boredom, pain, anger, and loneliness. If emotional or stress eating is something you struggle with you might not be surprised to hear that food is not a solution and can eating behind your emotions can lead to serious medical and mental health problems such as the development of an eating disorder or depression.

If you are using food or eating as your primary coping tool, it may be time to take a hard and long look at your eating patterns and to see how food temporarily helps you to avoid negative feelings and emotions, but does not really solve the root of the problem. That ice cream may feel really good going down at the moment, but likely after the binge is over, your distress remains and you probably feel even worse than before because of post-binge guilt and shame.

Relaxation is Key to Managing Stress

Stress is a constant companion, and most of us, through lots of practice, have become experts at elevating our stress levels. The ability to relax is an acquired skill too. Luckily, you can teach yourself to handle stress in a manner that minimizes it. However, the more stressed you feel, the more challenging it can be to relax.

Here are some relaxation techniques you can use instead of emotional overeating that can help you get on a path to better health:

  • Meditation. The art of relaxing your body completely and focusing on your breath and your mind can cause the same release of feel-good hormones in your brain that occurs when you eat junk food, except it has absolutely zero negative effects. There are many types of meditation methods and it may take some time for you to learn the techniques that will help you the best. Learning meditation and practicing it daily can eliminate the impact of stressors in your life so you can finally quit eating to overcome stress.
  • Visualization. This is similar to meditation except that you use your mind to “see” yourself making good food choices and being thinner as a result. If you are overweight or obese because of your eating habits, you can use visualization to help you establish a thin body image of yourself that is unencumbered by the constant need to eat in order to feel relaxed.
  • Exercise. When you exercise for relaxation, you are not simply trying to burn calories but you are trying to find some source of happiness in simply being more active. Exercise can be a simple part of your daily life; you don’t have to be a star jogger or world-class athlete. Taking a simple walk around the block before dinner can relax your body so that you are only eating for good health and because you are hungry from exercise. Exercise releases positive endorphins in the brain that makes us feel better, and is an all-natural stress reducer that also has zero negative side effects.
  • Tai chi. Tai chi is an ancient form of Chinese martial arts that has been found to be a great source of relaxation for many Westerners as well. Tai chi involves going through a series of martial arts type of movements done at a slow and fluid pace. The practice of Tai chi will not only relax you but it will burn calories and give you a better posture and better balance. It can be practiced by people of just about any fitness level.
  • Yoga. There are many different types of yoga you can practice. Some are specifically designed for relaxation and comfort so you feel less of an urge to eat for comfort. Others are more strenuous, involving more complex poses that, when combined with meditation and breathing, serve to relax you and improve your level of well-being.
  • Qi Gong. This is another practice we Westerners have picked up from ancient traditional Chinese medicine. It is similar to tai chi but is not as taxing. You use qi gong to enhance the flow of vital qi energy through your body to encourage balance of self, to feel better about yourself and live a healthier life without overeating. 

Any of these measures, when practiced daily, can help you improve your quality of life and can replace the negative habit of emotional eating and making poor food choices. Try them and you might be surprised at how effective they can be. 

Final Thoughts

It’s true… stress will never completely go away but if you heed to the information about the negative effects and decide that it’s time to end it right now, you’ll thank yourself later in life. How we treat our bodies and minds right now will determine how we function and feel later in life.

Finding food-free ways to cope with stress and getting in touch with our feelings teaches us to not cover them up but to understand why we turn to eating in the first place. It can be important to identify when you need additional help too so reading this post may be helpful as well!

Don’t be ashamed to help yourself overcome stress eating because you have one body and it’s essential that you keep it as healthy and functional as possible!

Beating Binge Eating with Mindful Eating

A photo of the author sitting at a table in a cafe with a bento box lunch and green juice drink on a graphic with the blog title above her.

I am happy to share my journey but it is lengthy and I have not gotten a good short version yet! What I will say right here, right now is that it was years before I even thought I needed help and even then, I need different kinds of help at different times. As the layers got pulled back, something else came up for me in my journey. I am grateful that my first “therapist” who was a clinical psychology grad student (and friend) needed a subject and that she was really great (and well-guided by her professor). I am also grateful that as we were both learning, we were into mindfulness and that led us to choose to learn and practice Mindful Eating.

On this blog, you can read about the basics of Mindful Eating here or here so I am not going to explain that now. Instead, I want to share a little about how it helped me and then offer a free resource that might help you or someone you know and care about.

For me, much of the work of conquering my binge eating disorder was about healing from traumatic and formative events that had essentially stunted my emotional growth and maturity. I lacked some serious coping skills and filled in the gaps with food and disordered eating patterns. Once I named the event, accepted it and was able to process it completely and safely, I was able to replace eating in response to that sensation. There were a couple of events that triggered the urge to binge and with time, I was able to not feel the urge to binge mostly.

I say mostly because as a Black woman I am still triggered by acts of race-based violence and injustice. This is because one of the big traumatic events for me was race-related. It wasn’t until I started healing that I had to grapple with the fact that this trigger would likely be a part of my life and I had no way to control its occurrence. I could only cope with my feelings.

Enter mindful eating. This practice helped me to learn what physical hunger felt FOR ME. It helped me learn what satisfaction -and the difference between being satisfied and full–felt like FOR ME. I learned that it was different from day to day, from meal to meal.

Mindful eating helped me take “mental” learning and “feel” it in my body and this was a game changer when it came to putting a little space between the urge to binge and the actual binge event. I won’t lie. In the beginning, the space created or delay wasn’t always an effective deterrent. But as I healed and learned about what I needed most in those moments of feeling triggered and compelled to eat, it was enough to ask myself about what I needed and gave me time to get that or do that instead. Mindful eating worked in tandem with my healing as a key tool to delay and disrupt that binge cycle. I had the chance to learn a new behavior that was centered on my needs and rarely was eating what I did.

This is why it can be a powerful tool for others. So, I am giving away a free guide for those who join my mailing list (you can expect periodic emails that are like a roundup of tips and resources and funny things and valuable info for eating disorder recovery. There is sometimes info about a promo I may be doing!) right here! There is NEVER an obligation to buy anything but I would appreciate not sharing the guide but instead sharing how to get the guide from here!

Please like, comment, and share this blog post!

Fall, Foods, and Brighter Moods

Pretty woman smiling as she eats a bright salad and the title of the blog, “Fall, Foods, and Brighter Moods” on the graphc.

Here in my neck of the woods, there have been some hints of autumn with cooler mornings and evenings, but we are still in the 90s during the day. But the changing of the weather (not quite SWEATER WEATHER) has a couple of questions popping into my inbox. They can be summed in two basic queries: “I am early in my recovery and have previously battled SAD–largely by eating. What can I do?” and “Can certain foods help keep me energized and in a good mood during dreary months?”

First, I am not a doctor, so I can offer only what I have seen in personal or professional scope as a certified holistic and nutrition coach. If you are suffering from significant anxiety, depression, or mood swings, please consult an appropriate physician or qualified medical professional.

Seasonal depression is a more common term for a condition named SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). SAD is a recurring depression that often occurs in the late fall and winter months. Contrary to common belief, there are some actions you can take that can really help combat seasonal depression long before you feel its effects.

Can food help us maintain a good mood?

During cooler months, it can be easy to hunker down and just be inside more. If you’ve ever found yourself in front of the TV after a bad day, mindlessly digging ice cream out of the container with a spoon or plowing through a bag of chips, you know that mood and food are sometimes linked. This can be made worse during periods of shut-in or isolation. But while stress eating is a verified phenomenon, the relationship between food and actual mood disorders, such as depression, is less clear. Can the things you eat influence your mood, stress, or anxiety — and if so, what are some changes that can potentially improve your mental health or boost your outlook?

“The research regarding dietary factors and depression is still inconclusive,” says Patricia Chocano-Bedoya, a visiting scientist in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. But there have been hints that food may play a role in depression and mood.

Food-based Strategies That May Help

I have found, even if only anecdotally, a snack and a nap can go a long way with both mood and energy-which can negatively impact your mood and tolerance levels. The following strategies can be incorporated by nearly everyone.

Eating regularly

If your blood sugar drops you might feel tired, irritable and depressed. Eating regularly and choosing foods that release energy slowly will help to keep your sugar levels steady.

Slow-release energy foods include: pasta, rice, oats, wholegrain bread and cereals, nuts and seeds.

Quick tips:

  • Enjoy your meals mindfully. Mindful eating can increase your enjoyment of the present moment.
  • Eating breakfast gets the day off to a good start.
  • Instead of eating a large lunch and dinner, try eating smaller portions spaced out more regularly throughout the day if possible and feasible for your habits and lifestyle.
  • Sometimes pairing a fat or protein rich food with foods which make your blood sugar rise and fall rapidly, such as sweets, biscuits, sugary drinks, and alcohol can be a good way to enjoy those foods.

Staying hydrated

If you don’t drink enough fluid, you may find it difficult to concentrate or think clearly. You might also start to feel constipated (which puts no one in a good mood).

Quick tips:

  • It’s recommended that you drink between 6–8 glasses of fluid a day.
  • Clean water is a precious gift so take advantage of it when possible!
  • Tea, coffee, juices, smoothies, and water-rich foods all count towards your intake.

Getting Nutrient Variety Each Day

Vegetables and fruit contain a lot of the minerals, vitamins and fiber we need to keep us physically and mentally healthy.

Eating a variety of different colored fruits and vegetables, as well as seasonal picks when possible, means you’ll get a good range of nutrients. For example, folate, thiamine, and magnesium are believed to heighten your mood. Research has shown that these minerals positively impact those with depression.

Quick tips:

  • Fresh, frozen, tinned, dried and juiced (one glass) fruits and vegetables all count towards your 5 a day.
  • Choose fall foods like lentils, leafy greens, pistachios, and pumpkin seeds as great sources of these minerals.

Looking after your gut

Sometimes your gut can reflect how you are feeling emotionally. If you’re stressed or anxious this can make your gut slow down or speed up. For healthy digestion you need to have plenty of fiber, fluid and exercise regularly.

Healthy gut foods include: fruits, vegetables and wholegrains, beans, pulses, live yogurt and other probiotics.

Quick tips:

  • It might take your gut time to get used to a new eating pattern, so make changes slowly to give yourself time to adjust.
  • If you’re feeling stressed and you think it is affecting your gut, try some relaxation techniques or breathing exercises.

Getting enough protein

Protein contains amino acids, which make up the chemicals your brain needs to regulate your thoughts and feelings. It also helps keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Protein is in: lean meat, fish, eggs, cheese, legumes (peas, beans and lentils), soya products, nuts and seeds.

Quick tip:

Whatever your diet, why not do some research into other foods that contain protein, and find something new to try?

Managing caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it will give you a quick burst of energy, but then may make you feel anxious and depressed, disturb your sleep (especially if you have it before bed), or give you withdrawal symptoms if you stop suddenly.

Caffeine is in: tea, coffee, chocolate, cola and other manufactured energy drinks.

Quick tips:

  • If you drink tea, coffee or cola, try switching to decaffeinated versions.
  • You might feel noticeably better quite quickly if you drink less caffeine or avoid it altogether. If you are sensitive to caffeine, experiment with alternatives like chai tea or a full-bodied tea.

Eating the right fats

Your brain needs fatty acids (such as omega-3 and -6) to keep it working well. So rather than avoiding all fats, it’s important to eat foods that contain some of these.

Healthy fats are found in: oily fish, poultry, nuts (especially walnuts and almonds), olive and sunflower oils, seeds (such as sunflower and pumpkin), avocados, milk, yoghurt, cheese and eggs.

Additional Tips to Stave off SAD

Enjoy the sunshine

If you are able to get outside during the day, do so as often as possible. When it is not, consider the purchase sunlamps that mimic the rays of the sun. Light therapy is one of the most recommended treatments for seasonal depression.

Quick tip:

  • Sunlamps can cost anywhere from $100 to $250. However, the special sunlamp replacement bulbs can cost as little as $10 for a pack of three.

Nurture your social life

Being socially active is an important part of keeping up your spirits during the wintertime. Avoiding feelings of isolation and loneliness are probably the second-best thing that you can do to feel the warm fuzzies that can keep us in good spirits.

Quick tips:

  • Have a weekly dinner with your friends. If the weather is nasty, host a dinner in your home or head over to your friends’ house for a nice evening. If the weather allows, head out for a weekly cocktail night with the girls or poker night with the boys
  • Vacation in the winter instead of the summer! This may be a good choice if you are really affected by seasonal depression. If your budget doesn’t allow for two vacations a year, try swapping out the summer one for a winter one. Additionally, maybe it can be a gift to you and your family at the holidays. It may also help you avoid the stressfulness of holidays too!

Take Care of Your Body

Taking care of the physical needs often take back seat in the winter. Let this season be a time of rejuvenation and pampering instead!

Quick tips:

  • Make an effort to exercise daily. Video games that are action based (we love our dancing ones!) can be helpful. Online classes and virtual apps can keep you going all year!
  • Wear clothes that make you feel good. I tend to dress for comfort but always feel better if I wear “outside” people clothes inside or for meetings!
  • Maintain a healthy skincare regimen. This can be a real treat in the drier climates!

I certainly hope that you find something of value here ahead of the longer nights and the onset of SAD this year! If you have any other tips, please comment and pass it on to someone who may benefit!

Share this with someone you think will be uplifted and put the tips to use!

In health,

Leslie

The Power of Pampering

Graphic of lady hugging heart below a caption that reads World Mental Health Day. The Power of Pampering

How Self-Care Can Help Ensure Good Mental Health

The overall objective of World Mental Health Day is to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health. As an Eating Disorder Recovery Coach, mental health is centered in my work. Today, I invite you to take part in observing World Mental Health Day and help normalize talking about mental health, seeking treatment for mental health issues, and increase awareness of mental health disorders.

Have you ever experienced bouts of feeling down, like your mind is racing, or that you’re generally out of sorts? Have they ever disrupted your life or made you wonder what was going on with you? When you strengthen your mental health, you’ll feel better all over and your life will be more satisfying. Try scheduling a Pamper Day to get a much-needed and beneficial mental health day.

A pamper day. “What on earth is that?” you think to yourself, and “Why should I take a day off just to pamper myself?” Or perhaps you want to take a pamper day, but you keep pushing it back. Pampering yourself is whatever pampering yourself means to you. Caring for yourself doesn’t mean treating yourself to luxuries you don’t need or can’t afford. Pampering is in the eye of the pampered!

It could be a day where you play video games, watch YouTube videos, hop on a streaming service, drink some wine, draw a bath, light some candles, take it easy, and relax—a day where you put your happiness first. A day you choose–not one you are forced to take due to stress or illness!

This concept might sound foreign to you, especially if you are someone who struggles to make yourself rest.

Consider these powerful reasons to take a pamper day:

  1. You get to plan your ideal day. Choose a day. Mark it on your calendar. That day is your day. Your pamper day. Spend quality time with yourself doing something you enjoy. Spend that day enjoying and exploring, relaxing, and learning more about yourself.

● Giving yourself time off is important. It’s also important not to feel guilty for taking time off. So, take a break from your normal day-to-day. You’ll return revitalized and happy.

  1. It’s invaluable for your physical and mental health. Rest is as vital to your health as good nutrition and exercise. Occasional pamper days save you a bunch of health problems. You get to take a breather when no one else is taking a breather.

● Most of your pamper day methods cost nothing but are excellent for your mental health. Your body benefits when you take a break. Rest is essential. If you don’t let your body rest once in a while, you’ll get overwhelmed by fatigue, eventually.

  1. Take a step away from all the stress. The effects of stress on our bodies have been well-documented – from its impact on our skin to our hearts. If you don’t have fun once in a while, you will have no alternative to a stressful life.

● You’ll take days off to rest, not when you want to or because you want to, but because you’re forced to.

● Compare that to getting a massage to take the pressure off. You’ll come out of it feeling energetic and refreshed. It will make you feel better and have more energy.

● You also recover from emotional stress. You reduce your risk of burnout. Reduce your stress level by taking a relaxing break from the grind.

  1. Gives you something to look forward to. What’s the point of working so hard if you don’t get to enjoy the fruits of your labor? You won’t feel bad about doing something nice for yourself if you plan for it. You are motivated to work harder when looking forward to a day of relaxation.

● The opportunity to recharge and do something nice for yourself because you deserve it works as a morale boost. It’s a way of appreciating and encouraging yourself. It also sets you up in a positive cycle as you develop a healthier relationship with your work.

  1. You make wiser decisions. Relaxed people make better decisions regarding their well-being, work, and even relationships. With the stress taken away, you can examine matters more carefully. Decisions are well thought through and balanced.
  2. You have more positive relationships with others. When you return after taking a day off, your mood improves drastically. When we are stressed, we snap at others, and things get ugly fast.

● After a pamper day, you help others genuinely and not out of a place of resentment. Self-care and self-love are important because if you don’t show them to yourself, you can’t sincerely show them to others.

  1. You are more productive. When working out, actual gains occur during recovery. That applies to working. Rest heightens your productivity. The productivity momentum is not broken when you rest, and it is balanced. Let your body rest to recover from the work you put it through.

● When you take a day off, it is essential to do so in a guilt-free way. Do something that is recharging. Don’t waste your pamper day stressing and beating yourself up for being unproductive. Letting your mind and body rest is part of being productive.

Try these ideas on your day of relaxation and enjoyment:

  1. Do what you enjoy. This is not a chore day (unless that makes you happy). No one else can create your happiness. You’ve got to do it for yourself.

• Create spaces you love within your home.

• Take long walks or practice yoga to bring peace and serenity.

• Read about the places you wish to travel to someday.

  1. Avoid involvement with people who bring you down. Many of us have a friend or family member who dampens our spirits when we’re happy or excited about something. Recognize that while you probably can’t change that person, you can choose your relationship with them.

• Although you might feel compassion and understanding for those who bring you down, it’s important to ensure that they don’t interfere with your own happiness and health.

  1. Get plenty of sleep and eat right. When your body is well nourished, your mind and spirit tend to be healthier as well. You’ll most likely be in a better mood and have the energy to accomplish more.
  2. Surround yourself with people you love. Stick to the people you’re comfortable with, who show their love for you. A strong, emotionally supportive network is your safety net when times get rough. You’ll be able to call your friends or family when you need a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on.

Regardless of how old you are, where you live, or what you do for work or fun, good mental health is integral to your life. Use these ideas as inspiration to come up with ways to ensure your life is happy, fulfilling, and bountiful.

Taking a day off when you’ve planned to and can enjoy it is much better than taking a day off because your body is broken and fatigued. Resting seriously makes a huge difference. You will come back massively refreshed and able to boost your productivity. Rest is critical to progress.

Wishing you the best in wellness!

I would love for you to comment with your go-to pampering activities!

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Boosting Body Image with Mindful Eating

Mindful Eating Helps You Become Mindfully and Intentionally Connected to Your Body

Picture of a feminine hand writing in a journal during a meal of a salad.

Mindful eating is often thought of as a way to change your eating habits and help you understand more about your food fears and anxiety, and help you to have a better relationship with food. But it can also heal your relationship with your body and actually help you identify many physical traits you weren’t even aware of.

Body Image Basics

The term body image refers to the way we think, feel about, see our body, and how we perceive others think, feel, and see our bodies. We receive messages about our bodies and how they should look, from external sources like family and the media constantly from an early age. An unhealthy body image can lead us to struggle with low self-esteem and can adversely affect many different aspects of our lives, including the development of an unhealthy relationship with food.

Positive body image is essential to both physical and mental health. Positive body image has been tied to health promoting behaviors like movement and lower stress levels. Conversely, low or negative body image has been linked to depression and eating disorders (Ferreiro et al 2014).

The pervasive thought in today’s culture is that body image issues primarily affect young girls in Western culture. This belief falsely assumes that others, including boys, men, older women, people of color, and members of the LGBT+ community do not struggle with the stress of assimilation or pressure to conform. I believe that these groups can suffer from poor body image even more. The truth is, body image issues can and do affect people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds.

It follows then that a negative body image can change our relationship with food as food becomes a way to alter the body’s appearance. Food is not only essential for our survival, but it is interwoven throughout our culture in many ways. However, if our relationship with food is laden with guilt, shame and anxiety, it can take the pleasure away from the experience of nourishing our bodies and connecting with others in this way. Practicing Mindful Eating is one way to reconnect with our inner wisdom and foster a healthy body image and relationship with food.

Mind-Body Balance is Natural

We are all born with an innate ability to regulate our eating. This is ability is driven by a deep and natural connection to our internal cues and sensations. Babies, for example, are experts at knowing just how much to eat and when they are full. They are unconcerned about timing and other external information about meals and amounts. They learn about meal times and such. Even this simple social construct starts the process of disconnecting us from our internal cues. It only worsens as we grow up.

In today’s culture, pressures to adhere to certain diets, exercise regimes, and body image ideals can lead us to engage in weight loss efforts, dieting behaviors, and even what is essentially normalized disordered eating. Instead of listening to constant messages from our bodies, we let external cues be our guide. This can often lead us to feeling out of control of our eating and disconnected from our bodies. So what can we do to regain this mind-body connection?

The Power of Mindfulness and Mindful Eating

Mindfulness can be defined as the practice of being in the present moment with awareness, openness and acceptance. It is not new by any stretch although its popularity in the West makes it seem so. Mindfulness encourages us to pay attention to our bodily sensations, feelings, and thoughts without judgment and has been shown to enhance both psychological and physical well-being.

Mindful eating is a mindfulness practice that encourages us to understand the impulses and the motivations that drive our urge to eat for comfort or distraction. We learn to tune into our bodily sensations and decide whether or not we are physically hungry. If the answer is yes we are physically hungry, we can eat while paying attention to the appearance of the food, the smell, the taste, and what the mind is thinking about the food that we are eating. If we understand that we are not physically hungry but are responding to learned impulses to comfort or distract, then we are able to explore those urges and the meaning behind them; to develop the knowledge and skills to eat in the way that aligns with our well-being goals and needs and to develop a healthy relationship with food.

Mindful Eating is Not a Diet

As you can see, this practice is not a diet. there is no judgement about food choice or amount. There is no emphasis or pressure to change your body shape or size. Those things may or may not happen as a result of Mindful Eating. The point is about the relationship you have with your body and food. The goal is connection to your inner wisdom and balance between the mind and body.

The core premise of mindful eating is ‘it is not what you eat but the way you eat ‘, (Albers, 2008).

Common Reasons for Eating

  • To sustain life
  • For energy
  • To satisfy physical (and other types of) hunger
  • To comfort or calm ourselves
  • To cope with overwhelming emotions
  • To deal with childhood/family trauma/issues
  • To feel safe or because it is the safest choice available
  • It is reliable
  • As a distraction
  • Because we don’t know what else to do.

Eating is necessary to sustain life and for energy to live life in a fulfilling and satisfying way. Eating is and should be an enjoyable part of life. However, eating can become problematic when we overuse it in some of the ways listed above, particularly when other areas are not getting the attention they need. Although eating can be valid ways to manage our feelings when we are unsure of other ways to manage or cope, we can learn other ways to cope as well. Reconnecting to our bodies can help us feel better about our bodies and give us the courage to heal from past hurt, develop new coping skills, and develop confidence in our ability to meet our needs.

Mindful Eating Strategies to Reconnect Mind and Body

Use the following questions as a guide to help you tune into the messages that your body is communicating with you. I suggest using a journal to jot down anything that comes up for you as you practice mindful eating and how your body responds. It doesn’t need to be more than a notebook designated for your reflections

How Do You Feel When You Are Full and Satisfied?

Instead of just focusing on how you THINK about being full, try to use your body’s sensations and cues to know when you FEEL full. Fullness is usually easier to learn first as it is typically a physical sensation that is hard to fake or substitute. You may overstuff yourself trying to feel that fullness and that is okay. It will not be long before you recognize your body’s sign that means enough. Additionally, the mindful eating will help you enjoy food more and you will notice satisfaction doesn’t require feeling stuffed. That is often an uncomfortable feeling that your body will want to avoid. Often times, we are motivated more by our thoughts, worries, and fears, as opposed to our actual feelings. Your body is smart and will tell you everything you need to know, if you know how to listen to it.

It tells you when you are hungry, what you are craving, and when to stop eating as you get closer to fullness. But if you wait for your mind to tell you, you might find sometimes you purposely eat less than your body needs to cut calories, or you eat well past fullness because you just aren’t paying enough attention.

Being mindful with your body and paying attention to how you feel while eating (and throughout the rest of your day), is so beneficial.

What Foods Don’t Feel the Best?

Another way mindful eating helps with your body’s mindfulness is by understanding how different foods makes you feel. This isn’t about restricting your food or trying to go on a diet, but simply being more aware of the way different foods affect you. Be sure to consider how you feel at the time you eat them and how you will feel a couple of hours later.

For example, you might find that while you absolutely love sweets, they tend to cause a pretty bad energy crash if you have them earlier in the day. By being mindful, you then know to save them until later in the day.

Use what you learn through mindful eating to decide what meals are most appropriate for different times of the day, while still eating all the foods you love that nourish your body properly.

Are You Learning Your Actual Hunger Signals?

As you practice mindfulness more, you can start noticing your hunger signals in addition to fullness cues. This might take a little more time if you are used to just eating at designated times during the day, or you have an issue with emotional eating. But the more you practice mindfulness, the easier this will be to pay attention to.

The real win is learning to recognize hunger cues and the types of hunger. Yes, the types! Physical is the only one that needs food. There is nose, eye, and emotional hunger too! Every time I go to an carnival and smell corn dogs and funnel cakes in the air, I want them! Even if I just ate! I have the best memories tied to them and it never fails so I make the necessary adjustments so I can enjoy them and still feel good. That typically means eating some fruit before and sharing the corn dog with my little girl and sharing a funnel cake with the big girl! Everybody is happy!

Consider the following:

  • Eat free from distractions
  • Eat slower
  • Question your cravings
  • Explore your food and mood connection

Mindfulness and specifically mindful eating, can be a helpful tool to increase both body awareness and acceptance. It can do the same for your relationship with food as well as discussed on my blog. However, if you feel that your relationship with food is a problem, or you are wanting to further improve your relationship with your body, coaching may help. Complete my online inquiry if you are in need of additional support.

Move Your Body–Old School!

The Garcia Family: Dad, Mom, and youngest daughter at Morgan’s Wonderland.

Back in the Day!

Were you an active kiddo? Chances are if you are over the age of 35, you came from generations that were told to “go play outside” on the regular. Some kids weren’t even expected home until the street lights came on. Those days may be long gone, but your fun memories are right there when you call them forth. What was your favorite form of play? Dodgeball? Tag? Riding your bike? Skateboarding? Jumping rope? Or just good old play-until-you drop on a playground?

Just because you are a grown-up doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the activities you loved as a kid. There isn’t any activity that is off limits, and engaging in childhood favorite activities can be more than nostalgic. It can actually improve your health – both physical and mental. Calling forth great memories and engaging in activities that have special meaning can cure fatigue and burnout.

I remember drinking off of water hoses and going from yard to yard, to the neighborhood parks and gathering places all day on the weekends and on breaks from school. We seldom played inside–usually only in inclement weather. Growing up in Oklahoma that was usually just tornadoes or lots of snow. Even in those times, we had games we would play until it was too bad!

Old School with a New School Twist

It’s fairly common for some organized activities to be available as an adult. Softball leagues, bowling teams, and pickup basketball all come to mind. What about other activities from days gone by? There are some old favorites that are making a comeback in organized activities:

Professional tag/frisbee

Professional tag is seriously a thing. World Chase Tag is an organized group that competes in arenas in obstacle course settings and is making an old favorite new again. I am also adding here pro frisbee-style games like Ultimate Frisbee and Disc Golf! These are modern recreational and professional takes on old school frisbee, which has never gone out of style!

Parkour and free running

With the international craze of competitions like Ninja Warrior, free running and parkour has grown in popularity. Parkour is the art of using obstacles to move over, under, across, and through. Free running is included in parkour, but it adds elements of twisting, flipping, and turning along the way. While training or instruction can be beneficial to avoid injury, it may not be necessary.

Martial Arts tricking

“Tricking” is using elements of martial arts in open spaces to flip, kick, jump, and tumble. As a child, you may have participated in martial arts and earned colored belts that indicated your achievement. Tricking is a modern way to play at martial arts.

Roller Skating and Derby

Roller skating in and of itself is still going strong! There are family and adult only classes and leagues where I live and even travel. There is no shortage of skate influencers to follow for mini lessons or trick and skill ideas either! Roller skating takes on a new meaning when combined with tough attitudes and crazy monikers. Roller derby clubs are available for men and women and can be fiercely competitive.

No matter what activity you enjoyed as a kid, you can easily pick it back up as an adult and regain the sense of freedom and fitness you once had. Spend some time thinking about the ways you enjoyed play as a kid and try some of the activities out. A quick Google search will tell you if there is an organized version of your favorite activity near you. If not, consider starting one yourself and see who shares your enthusiasm.

Hope you spark some joy and fun with some of your childhood favorites! Enjoy the summer!

Please share, like, and comment if you enjoyed the brief read! I would love to hear about your favorite childhood games and activities!

Team up to Win!

Co-ed Team giving a hi-five in a huddle.

As a mom and movement coach, I am an advocate of team sports for my girls. They are very different personalities and ages (21 and 9), and differently-abled (the 21-year-old is a typically abled person and the little one has down syndrome), but there have always been team activities they both participate in and enjoy. I am no less an advocate for my clients to get involved in team sports. Even well into adulthood it is an amazingly fun way to get your body moving all while making friends and having a blast!

And no wonder! Many people thrive in teams. They love the camaraderie and friendly competition. They feed off the energy of others, and enjoy relying on a group for a common outcome. For this type of people, organized teams or groups are a winning option. Being part of a team is rewarding, inspiring, and motivating.

Is there a time you were part of a team?

Did you:

Play sports as a kid?

Participate in scout troops?

Attend college as an athlete?

Serve in the military?

Represent a professional sport?

Getting active may simply be a sign-up away when you find a team or group that piques your interest.

Looking for a team and don’t know where to find them?

Try these ideas:

  • Community colleges
  • City Park and Recreations
  • Work-based intramural and weekend teams
  • Church leagues
  • Meetup.com
  • Craigslist
  • Facebook groups
  • Gym-based leagues and groups

There are many ways to connect with like-minded men and women who want to be a part of a team and compete or simply engage in an activity. The bigger the area you live in the higher the chances are you’ll make a connection.

Some of the most common and not-so-common groups are:

  • Softball teams
  • Road biking groups
  • Lumberjack competitors
  • Adult track groups
  • Basketball leagues
  • Strong man competitors

I really enjoy the co-ed adult recreational volleyball league I play with weekly. It is hosted by the local Parks and Rec and is for older adults and free! Additionally, I teach for the local YMCA association and can attest to the various group and team play opportunities. It never ceases to inspire to see how beneficial movement is to the mind, body, and spirit across the lifespan. I teach, dance with, and play volleyball with several folks in their 80s and 90s!

Thinking sports aren’t for you? Consider these alternatives to team sports:

  • Hiking groups
  • Bird watching groups
  • Kayaking groups
  • Ski clubs
  • Fishing clubs
  • Walking groups

These activities still create a bond and get your body moving. You don’t have to be all guts and glory to be part of a team. Finding an activity that you love and a tribe to do it with is a wonderful thing. If the activity you love doesn’t have a formalized group, it might be your calling to step up and create the opportunity to bring people together. After all, this is how the Pickleball craze started!

Consider:

  • Being a coach
  • Hosting a group
  • Launching a league
  • Organizing a community event
  • Raising awareness

Your passion may become the next big wave of activity that storms the internet and gets people moving their bodies and getting healthier. Whether you love to be hard-core and down and dirty with competition, or you simply enjoy the teamwork of a group, you can engage in a team and have a great time. You can increase your stamina and range of motion, gain community, and find new ways to connect and feel part of something bigger than yourself.

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You Should be Dancing!

This month, I am sharing about ways to rekindle joy and fun in movement. So, if you are looking for a great way to move your body, dancing is a fun (and my absolute favorite) way to get your body moving. Dancing can be done no matter your age or ability level. One can dance standing, from a chair, or even lying down in bed! All you need is your idea of good music and space to move safely. From finger dancing in the car to a dance party in your living room, dancing enables you to move and express yourself without rules or restriction!

Here are some amazing benefits of dancing that will inspire you to get moving:

  • Dancing increases your heart rate, which is great for cardiovascular health
  • Dancing causes serotonin levels to increase (nature’s mood stabilizers)
  • Dancing is aerobic and can burn calories while you’re having fun
  • Dancing builds muscle and fine motor skills, improving agility and stamina
  • Dancing is a form of expression that transcends differences and creates common ground in groups
  • Dancing is a great escape from stress or anxiety and can help revive the spirit
  • Dancing is a form of worship and restoration of the soul

Dancing comes in many styles and is a true form of self-expression. From formalized dancing to freestyle, unbridled movement, dancing can be experienced by anyone anywhere. It is universally understood and undeniably a way to unite all ages, genders, and affiliations. 

There is no wrong way to dance. Your preference might be taking classes or participating in a group setting. You may love dancing alone or in the club. Your favorite way to dance might be with your kids or under the stars with your spouse. There is no limit to where, when, and how you can dance.
Some possible dance options are:

  • Taking Zumba or U-Jam Fitness classes
  • Community College courses in dance
  • Organized dance troops for tap, jazz, modern dance, or others
  • Watching dance videos
  • Dancing at a concert
  • Creating a playlist for at-home dance parties
  • Playing dance-based video games

The options truly are limitless, and there is no way you can go wrong. Here are some ideas to get you excited about creating a personalized dance plan:

  • Create a playlist of your favorite songs. Consider multiple lists for different moods or occasions. Choose your list based on what feels right in the moment and dance away.
  • Join a group that meets regularly. Build new relationships and social experiences through dance.
  • Watch street performers dance for entertainment and be inspired by their passion.
  • Attend a ballet or dance competition and expand your exposure to multiple dance genres.

Being a dancer requires no skill, nearly zero financial investment, and can only bring you positive outcomes. No matter what sort of music you love, your body can benefit from moving with the beat – so turn up the music and start dancing!

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Tin and Marriage

This week, my husband and I will celebrate ten years of marriage. That is no small feat. There is so much give and take and often we individuals don’t want to compromise. After ten years, I can say that me and my husband did not know each other that well when we got married! But, at this point, in for a penny, in for a pound and with lots of gratitude, we not only made it this far, but are happy in our marriage.

Any one married knows how much work a marriage can be. We were a blended family when we married and now have a daughter together. He did not speak very English and we mostly conversed in Spanish. Looking back, there were quite a few miscommunications and bouts of silence to avoid upsetting the other person. These are things that make us laugh now.

In the United States, the traditional gift for the tenth anniversary is tin. I think this is so appropriate! A soft, silvery metal, tin is pliable but resists corrosion from everyday things like tap water. But it can be damaged with strong abrasives or acids. If that doesn’t sum up a ten-year marriage, I don’t what does!

Together, we have become more pliable as a couple but also as individuals. I remember wanting to start a fight one time because he bathed our daughter in the backyard and snapped her onesie on the outside of her pants. Really? He had seen his child properly dressed hundreds of times at that point! But to him, that just wasn’t important. He’s been frustrated at me for things that I thought were inconsequential too and so it goes. We both learned early on that acidic or stinging words and attitudes were only useful on the way to unhappiness so we dug our heels into respect and communication when we both could handle it.

Ten Tips

Relationships are hard work. Anyone who’s been in a relationship for more than six months knows this. There’s plenty of advice out there that you’ve heard at least 100 times.

However, there are probably a few things you’ve either never heard of or you’ve forgotten about. One of these forgotten items might make a huge difference in your relationship.

Consider these 10 relationship tips:

  1. Choosing a partner is a serious matter. Most people fail to appreciate the gravity of choosing a partner. This is especially true when it comes to marriage. Consider the amount of time and energy a partner requires. Now, consider the damage done to your life by divorce. Make your decision with care.
  2. Learn from your past. Look back on your past relationships for guidance in your current and future relationships.

● What do you want to change about yourself to be more successful in the future in your love life?

● What type of people are you regularly attracted to? Do you have a type? Is it a type that’s good for you? What does your relationship past suggest?

● What were the challenges in your past relationships? What can you do to avoid them in the future? Are you better equipped to deal with those challenges if they happen again?

  1. It takes years to REALLY know someone. Be careful about jumping in with both feet. While it’s not necessary to wait 10 years, keep in mind that you’ll still be learning new things about the other person for at least a decade. There’s more there than you can learn in just a year or two.
  2. No one can read your mind. Avoid saying the classic, “I shouldn’t have to tell you what’s wrong.” This is unreasonable. Take responsibility for helping others to satisfy your needs. It only makes sense to make it as easy as possible for someone else to make you happy.
  3. No one can fulfill all of your needs. There is no person that can satisfy every need you have. You’re going to have to rely on yourself and others to pick up the slack. No single person is a one-stop solution to your life.
  4. No one is perfect. If you want someone perfect, you’re either going to be disappointed or alone. You’ll have to accept some flaws in your partner. If you’ve chosen the right person, their positive qualities will far outweigh their bad.
  5. Avoid getting into a relationship to solve your problems. A relationship shouldn’t be based on solving your challenges. Get your life under control before getting involved with someone else.
  6. It’s hard to take back unkind words and actions. Think before you speak. There are things you can say in the heat of the moment that will never be completely forgotten.
  7. Your partner’s friends and family matter. You might not like the other important people in your partner’s life, but it’s important to make an effort to get along with them. Your relationship will suffer if you treat them badly or attempt to avoid them altogether.
  8. Always remember to treat your partner like they’re the most important person in your life. Because they may well be. The day-to-day grind can cause us to forget to treat our partner well.

● In fact, many of us ignore the niceties altogether and treat our partner worse than how we would treat a stranger. This is a mistake!

● Show your love in your thoughts, words, and actions. Even when you disagree, make your opinion known in a loving and respectful fashion.

Neglecting your relationship can have catastrophic consequences. Relationships require monitoring and maintenance to survive and thrive. Dust off these forgotten tips and put them to good use. Your relationship will be stronger and more satisfying for both of you.

I could go on and on, but Number 4 could have been my downfall! Traditionally, the third anniversary is leather (another material symbolizing ruggedness!) and the modern one is crystal. This year we did our leather gifts but I also gave him a crystal ball as that year was really tough in terms of developing a better communication rhythm. He got the joke and now it is a source of laughter. Either of us can just glance at it and we will immediately know that communication is faltering so we can regroup and communicate clearly! It keeps things light and always gets a laugh or funny story. That laughter–that is a bonus tip–always find a way to share a smile or laugh. Definitely softens the heart and fosters closeness!