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!
- 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
- 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!
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.
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.World Health Organization
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.
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.
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.
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?
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In Texas, Spring break is next week! It has been a rough year (I see a trend!) and it is all to 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.
You know the demands of your career, family, other passions can outweigh the ability, energy, or desire it takes to fit a full workout in everyday, 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
- 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 for every hour.
- 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.
- 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 repurpose your phone time into movement so you aren’t spending a half hour phone call sitting in place.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Workout While Watching TV
Of course, cutting back on TV is the best way to be more active, but if you have that favorite show you just can’t miss, consider doing a low impact workout while you watch it. Or if you have weights at home, lift these while you watch. You could also stand for the entire program as a way to be more active while watching TV.
- 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..
- Cook Your Meals
Not only are home cooked meals just better for you, but they often time 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.
- 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 actives, or simply stretch each time, whatever you prefer. These reminders should be set to go off at least once every hour.
- Get A Dog
Now this one 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!
- 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 times 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.
- Skip The Elevator
Next time you need to head up a floor, skip the elevator and take the stairs instead! Climbing up stairs is an easy way to get your heart pumping and burn calories. You can even take it a step further and try to book a hotel room on a lower floor and try to take the stairs even while on vacation.
- 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.
- Use Your Wait Time
If you are waiting on 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 blood moving.
- 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 fitness class, the possibilities are endless!
- 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.
- Wear A Fitness Tracker
Do you know how much you sit each day? Do you work out enough? If you struggled with answering these questions, you are probably sitting more than you realize . And if you want to truly make sure you are moving enough, it’s time to invest in a fitness tracker that can help tell you when you need to move more.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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 instead of spending your evening in front of the TV, clean up for dinner then resolve to go on an evening walk, you may just be surprised at how much better you feel.
- 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.
- 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.
- Start A Workplace Challenge
If you work in a large office, 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 during a day.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 easy, 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Do A Workout Each Time You Go To The Bathroom
Depending on where you work, this one could get a little awkward, but every time you go to the bathroom you are leaving your desk anyways so try to take the opportunity to do a little workout.
Experts recommend a few quick jumping jacks or squats, but if your work bathroom isn’t very private this could also just be basic stretching or a few leg lifts to get your blood moving.
- Start Your Morning With Yoga
You don’t have to do a full yoga class but try simply setting your alarm to 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!
- 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.
- 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.
If you have a desire to boost your health, focus on making the things that you already enjoy a little more beneficial to her health. You can get pretty creative adjusting some of the activities you already engage in. Remember, anyone can improve their health with some tweaks and consistency!
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.
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
- 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?
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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
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!
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!
- Get Enough Sleep. This one needs no explanation and is totally underrated!
- Get ready for the day while listening to positive or productive podcasts and TedTalks.
- Drink a full glass of water. I do prefer mine warm with lemon, while I make the coffee.
- 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.
- 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!
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.
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!
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!
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 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!
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).
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!
“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.
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
Drop a comment here or anywhere you connect with me on this topic or any topic!
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
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
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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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:
- 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”.
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!)
- 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)
- 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!
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.
Stay tuned! I will share some easy recipes that will boost your immune system and satisfy!
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.
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!
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!
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?
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!