It’s Not You, It’s Your Pattern of Behavior

Part 3: Recognize your patterns and begin to change your life

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash


Cultivating a mindset that works with you and not against you can be a messy work in progress. It’s not that you finally figure it out and poof, you’re Teflon to life’s troubles. You will still have bad days, but the difference lies in your ability to bounce back more quickly and with less mental effort.

The more you work at fine-tuning your techniques and invest in setting yourself up for success, the more quickly you can recover from an event that would normally derail you for days or months.

It takes showing up, again and again, determined to get better. Determined to ignore the inner voice and push through the discomfort that all change brings with it. But the more you show up, the more productive, successful, and aligned with your goals you’ll become.

Think of it like this. Many of us have the goal of wanting to lose weight. We decide it’s time, and we go about it in a similar fashion: exercise more, eat less and we should see the pounds melt off over the course of a couple of weeks. Easy-peasy.

That’s not the real issue though, nor is it the right strategy. Understanding your role in the problem is step one.

How do you do that? It begins by being brutally honest with yourself.

Next, it’s important to not hold yourself to unattainable standards. There is no “doing it perfectly”. You will falter and that’s ok. You’re human.

Finally, instead of diving head first into a new routine that turns your life upside down, you need to create a new system or pattern that can actually work for you in the long run. A new way to go about life so you can set yourself up for success, but one that aligns with who you are.

Getting up at 5 am to drive to the gym when you’ve never woken up before 7 is going to take a serious commitment from you. You have to ask yourself if that is truly something you can maintain and commit to for the long haul.

Things need to get uncomfortable in order for there to be change. This is the experimental phase. And this is where many people falter.

The real problem is the ease in which we can fall back into old patterns. Change is difficult and uncomfortable and as soon as we realize that, that’s when the resistance comes into play. We begin with the “shoulds” and the “I’m not good enough” banter and things begin to slide and soon we’ve abandoned our goals and slipped right back into our old ways.

Instead of berating yourself and letting your inner critic poo-poo all over you, realize that the problem isn’t you. The problem is that your system is the same, and your patterns haven’t changed.

Patterns are deeply rooted in our subconscious and difficult to extract ourselves from, but slowly and consciously, you can create the change needed to help you achieve your goals.

Take stock of your life and see how you treated exercise in the past. Did you ever have a long streak of working out? Think about what was working at that time, what patterns did you create and follow through with that made it possible?

When you lost weight before, what were you eating and how long did you sustain that for? Think of your day to day and what made it possible to eat healthier? Were you better at tracking your food? Were you cooking more at home? What positives can you take from past behaviors and apply to today?

It’s a process of figuring out a sustainable system that can work for you.

Maybe things aren’t working because you’re taking on more without letting some other things go. There needs to be a change in your patterns.

An example of a bad pattern can be something as simple as walking into the kitchen and grabbing a snack. I noticed this happening with me every time I entered my kitchen. My brain would automatically think, Oh I’m hungry, let’s see what there is to snack on in the panty.

My pattern became this: Walk into the kitchen, have a look-see in the pantry and grab something quick to eat. Repeat even if I wasn’t hungry.

Once I realized this pattern, it became possible to alter it. I don’t linger in the kitchen as much now. If work needs to be done, I don’t bring my computer to the kitchen counter, I take it up to my office. I even began walking into my kitchen a different way. There are two entrances, so I would take the path less traveled. Something as simple as that can throw your old pattern for a loop!

Other ways to break some common patterns are to stop watching TV at night so you can get up early in the morning to exercise or meditate, or journal.

You can stop buying convenience foods and instead devote time to cooking more at home (time saved driving to and from the grocery store can be spent cooking at home). You can pack your kids lunches at night so you can spend time in the early morning to write. Start or end your day in a whole new way to break up old patterns.

If you need things in your life to change, it’s better to invest in creating new patterns than a gym membership. Put in the effort to recreate parts of your day that aren’t working for you. No matter how small the change in pattern, it can create a ripple effect.

Understand that in order to be successful at anything, you must get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Change isn’t easy, and altering and creating new patterns isn’t a cakewalk, but the effort you put forth will set the groundwork for a new, healthier way of life, I promise you that!

• • •

Now it’s time for you to share. What little things can you do today to change up an old pattern that’s getting in your way? Can the dishes stay in the sink a little longer while you go for a run? Will the world fall apart if your son or daughter wears a dirty soccer jersey today? Can you change the conversation in your head that says you have no time to exercise today? In what small way can you begin to change a pattern?

• • •

This is my third post in a three post-mini-series on how to create a powerful mindset so you can learn strategies that can take you from where you are now, to where you want to be. To read more, click here!

You Don't Have To Do It Perfectly: How To Change Your Narrative

Part 2: Change doesn’t have to be perfect

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I gotta ask, who do you think you are, walking around here believing that in order to accomplish your goals, you have to be perfect in your execution? 

Are you not human? Or have you descended upon Planet Earth with the sole purpose of showing us meandering wildebeests how it’s supposed to be done?

Is nothing worth pursuing if you can’t do it perfectly?

Of course not! You’re human and you’re supposed to fall down. You’re supposed to not get it right. You’re supposed to screw up and have bad days, it’s something we all unknowingly signed up for.

It’s important to understand this Universal truth because sometimes we’re pretty hard on ourselves when we feel like we’ve screwed up.

When we screw up we let ourselves have it. We let loose our inner critic and allow for all the damaging thoughts, words and actions to run us over. We even allow it to back up and hit us again.

Sometimes we even go as far as giving up, accepting a less than stellar fate. We believe our inner critic and all the horrible things it comes up with because it’s the truth. (Or so we think!)

Change The Narrative

When the going gets tough, our stories kick into high gear. Understanding that these stories we tell ourselves, that we believe, are all rooted in fear is the first step in reducing their powers. 

When we tell ourselves that we’re not good enough, smart enough, skinny enough, that we’re too old, too young, too stupid, too overwhelmed, too stressed, too anything, that’s our inner critic using fear as a means to keep us exactly where we are: in our comfort zone (despite it being a miserable and uncomfortable environment for many.) 

Despite wanting more, we stay where we are because we didn’t it do it right, we messed up, slipped and fell and what’s the point in getting up, it’s just not going to happen. 

We ate the cookie. We skipped too many workouts. We berate ourselves when we mess up by belittling our efforts. 

If you change your story, you can change your life. 

I’m certain of this because I’m living proof. I’ve begun to challenge my inner critic after realizing how small I’ve allowed it to make me feel. For years I didn’t follow through, gave up too quickly, talked myself out of showing up every day because I believed I couldn’t do it. I simply wasn’t good enough so why bother?

This became my story. I wasn’t smart enough to get out of credit card debt, because I wasn’t talented enough at any one thing that I could build a career on. I fully believed that I would not make it, that I didn’t have it.

I became what I believed, not what I wanted. 

That’s a big blow when you think about it. If I couldn't work towards achieving my goals and allow for setbacks, then what was the point of showing up and consistently trying to improve my situation? I put more stock into the setbacks, gave more power to my inner critic, and ended up feeling lousy and unworthy, frustrated and powerless.

All pointless. All wasted energy.

It made me afraid. And that’s what your inner critic wants you to feel.

You’re not going to get it perfectly right the first time, and you’re going to experience setbacks. But that in no way means you give your inner critic carte blanche to destroy your dreams. To belittle you and tell you-you're not good enough.

What is it that you want so badly but in the back of your head your inner critic is there telling you a story that’s not in alignment with what you desire? What is your go-to story, the one that shows up when things get uncomfortable? 

So when you’ve missed too many workouts to count, or you raided the cookie jar, don’t let your inner critic loose on you. Instead, tell yourself that yes, you messed up, but you’re getting back in the saddle because your goal is more important than anything your inner critic has to say. 

And be done with it. Don’t get into berating yourself, it serves no purpose! Change your narrative and go for the things you think you can’t do, but want more than anything in the world! 

You can accomplish so much more once you begin to believe in yourself and change the stories you’ve created. Believe with all your might that you can have what you want. 

And it’s ok if you don’t get there by doing it perfectly or the way others did it. You keep trying because you believe it can happen for you!

Begin believing in yourself so you can show up every day inspired by your goals, instead of being fearful of doing them, and doing them perfectly. 

• • •

This is my second post in a three post-mini-series on how to create a powerful mindset so you can learn strategies that can take you from where you are now, to where you want to be. These strategies can help you go from 20 lbs overweight to being happy and confident in your body. It can help you to quit making excuses and take action every single day.

• • •

Looking for more strategies to help you set yourself up for weight loss success? Click here to learn my 5 strategies to achieve your fitness goals… without breaking a sweat!

When Living In Your Head Gets To Be Too Intense.

A Simple Technique To Put Life Back Into Perspective

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A powerful, albeit slightly quirky visualization technique that I use during meditation has the ability to make me feel amazingly small and insignificant. Like a speck.

Now I don’t always enjoy feeling small and insignificant, but sometimes it’s what’s needed when life (or life in my head) gets to be too intense and overwhelming, and I find myself walking around feeling depressed, unfulfilled, and plain old tired of my circumstances. (A pointless backpack of emotions to carry around, weighing heavily on you.)

Time is better spent working on improving your situation than burdening yourself with feelings and emotions that deplete you. Usually, when languishing in your self-made negativity pool, the best thing you can do for yourself is to sit down and close your eyes.

This visualization technique I’d like to share came to me in the unlikely form of a 2010 Prius commercial that simply delighted my inner child. I’ll share it with you in a moment, but before that let me explain why feeling insignificant is something you even want to consciously pursue.

Your Wellbeing is Directly Tied To Your Thoughts.

In order for you to have true health, one that encompasses both physical and mental wellbeing, your brain has to be a team player. It must realize that for your body to feel amazing, for you to bounce out of bed in the morning, happily walk into work, or sit back at the end of the day beaming with joy and full of gratitude for another beautiful day, your brain has to be all in on this. Otherwise, it won’t work. You can’t joyfully do any of that if you’re thoughts are focused on overwhelm, depression, or stress.

There are plenty of days I begrudgingly get out of bed, mind already racing with overwhelm. Or at the end of the day, I’m exhausted from running around, feeling like I’ve accomplished jack because I didn’t get everything done, or I did but I could have done it better. I’m crabby and grouchy and want to curl back up in bed and forget it all.

That’s when I know I’m spiraling, and need to take a step back. To dimish the bigness of these negative emotions, I need to put things into perspective so I am no longer the one on center stage, but instead, the small speck in an infinite universe. Becoming that insignificant turns the spotlight outward and away from my attention-hungry ego.

This is what I lovingly refer to as my Prius moment.

Visualizing a happier (and cleaner) world

There’s more to life than what goes on in my head (despite what my brain may think) and the visualization that this commercial inspired helps me to see myself as this tiny little speck that’s part of a massive and amazing ecosystem. (As I said, it’s a quirky visualization, but the impact is solid.)

I begin by visualizing myself floating in outer space on a yoga mat, with legs crossed. (Weird I get it, but stick with it.) There I am looking at this amazing world that’s full of all the beautiful colors of the rainbow, overflowing with flowers and rivers and sunshine that spans the globe. (Much like the commercial.) It creates a lighthearted visual of the world.

Everything flows in tandem, all the beauty swaying in the breeze with ease. From my vantage point, I can see all of North and South America, top to bottom and the world is slowing, effortlessly rotating.

Within all this beauty, life is flourishing all around. It’s like you want to roll around and be free in it.

From so far away, it’s impossible for me to see myself down there. I’m nowhere. I’m so tiny I can’t be seen from my vantage point and that’s when I have to zoom in. And zoom in, and zoom in some more until I can finally see my state. There’s still so much going on that I have to zoom in even more. And then I see my town, and then my house, and then me, in the house, sitting there like a fool obsessing over how I don’t feel good enough. (No not really, that would ruin the happy space that I just created!)

Instead, what I see is me, with all this amazing life going on spanning thousands of miles and I can’t help but instantly understand how small I really am, and that there is so much more to life. So much more going on.

This quirky visualization pulls me out of my head and makes me realize how much I’m missing out on by walking around feeling stressed, overwhelmed and depressed.

Slow down and accept where you are right now in your life.

Nowadays we put way too much pressure on ourselves to keep moving at lightning speed. We have full schedules that keep us busy and an even fuller schedule for our children. Then we question how or why we can’t seem to get ahead in life or why we feel so unfulfilled.

We’re drowning in to-do lists and digesting social media posts for breakfast that portray motherhood as sacred and glorious as the second coming. If you’re not “doing it all” and your kids aren’t picture perfect then you must be doing something wrong! Talk about feeling like sh*t. (This feeling has been lovingly referred to as “compare-schlager” by a mentor of mine, Marie Forleo. It’s similar to that horrible hangover you get after drinking one too many shots of Goldschlager. Too much comparison and you’re destined to feel like a loser!)

With all this self-inflicted stress we endure day after day, it’s no wonder we’re running on fumes. It’s as if we’re in an endless cycle of self-sabotage.

Wouldn’t you rather walk around in a Prius kind of world?

Today, slow down and see the goodness. Understand the enormity of this planet we’re walking around on and let’s get out of our heads.

Take a stroll, walk in the grass with no shoes and let yourself realize how pretty awesome you are. Don’t try to fix anything. Instead, accept it all. The good, bad, the ugly, accept it all.

Then let it go.

Whatever attachments to your situations you’re creating, just let them go. You’re good enough as is. When we battle or arm ourselves against an invisible enemy (stress, perfectionism, keeping up with the Joneses) we fail to be true to ourselves, and girl, life is too short for that sh*t.

Give yourself a break

When you stop focusing on yourself, and the many faults you think you have, you allow there to be space, space to just be. Turn the spotlight 180˚ and see all there is to see in this big, crazy world. Understand that you’re ok and that you don’t have to be perfect. Stop comparing yourself to others and instead chill for a second so you can see what’s beyond your front door.

Life is big, so much bigger than we can even comprehend so don’t overwhelm yourself with the things you feel you need to accomplish, that you think will make you “happier”.

(Here’s a hint: no one but you can make yourself happy. Or feel accepted. Or feel loved. That’s all within you, you’re in the driver’s seat. But that’s a whole other post!)

Sometimes, taking a step back and turning your attention outward can be just the thing to save you. Yes, we all have problems and life situations can be intense, but every now and then you have to change your focus to give yourself a break. You’re an amazing, talented, beautiful human and it’s ok to not have it all figured out.

Turn around, look to the horizon and take a moment.

It’s when we slow down that we give ourselves the best chance to survive and thrive. (And to not be so hard on ourselves.)

Today is all about nurturing yourself and taking the time to notice where you are in life, to really stop and notice because life moves friggin fast! One minute we have little babies and the next time we look up, they’re off to high school or college! Take the time to enjoy where you are right now in life and try not to be so hard on yourself. You deserve better than that. (Sometimes it takes a quirky Prius commercial to remind you of that ;)

• • •

If you’re looking to lose weight, click here to learn my 5 strategies to achieve your fitness goals… without breaking a sweat! These strategies are intended to help you create a rock-solid foundation so this time around you can once and for all achieve and sustain your weight loss goals!



How Creating Non-Negotiables Can Help Speed Up Weight Loss

How to get serious about losing weight.

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Earlier this year, I decided to get serious about working out. While I may be a trainer, that alone doesn’t make me an avid exerciser. It was for me, as with some of my clients, drudgery and I never seemed to get into a steady flow.

That is until I made it a non-negotiable.

non·ne·go·ti·a·ble

/ˌnä(n)nəˈɡōSHəbəl/

adjective: not open to discussion

The thing is, in the past, working out was always open for discussion and highly debated!

There may have been times that the debate got so heated I didn’t even bother with the discussion the following day, I just went about my business, filling my hours with other things rather than taking the time to strengthen my body.

But it was always there, that nagging feeling that I needed to move my body with purpose and I wasn’t getting it done. The guilt started slowly becoming more powerful and surpassed in strength the ease of avoidance. The simple solution was to get my heart rate up and relieve myself of this guilt. I knew it would help. Obviously, I knew it would. I have clients who I tell this to on a daily basis. But I was not getting it done for myself. (Shhhhhhhh..)

To turn the tides, a simple matter of being real with myself, and finally deciding on taking action was necessary. My action step became setting up my non-negotiables and creating a system that easily promoted follow-through.

What this looks like is this:

Non-negotiable #1: Each week I will work out at least three times on the bike.

(I have a Peloton in my garage — and let me tell you, the mental fortitude it takes to even step into the garage in the winter when it’s 30˚ is a whole other discussion I had to squash! But I did it. I had no choice. It wasn’t up for discussion.)

Non-negotiable #2: In addition to the three bike days, I will get in two additional workouts.

I left these workouts wide open in length, so they could be as little as 5 minutes or as much as 30 minutes, and meditation counted as a workout. (I felt as long as I was taking the time to invest in my health then it counted.)

Non-negotiable #3: (And the most effective one to date) I will no longer entertain the discussion. Any discussion that can derail my efforts is no longer allowed.

Nothing was open for debate.

I picked times that worked well for me and when the bell tolled, I automatically put on my workout clothes as though a bot without a thought (not even about how freezing (or hot) the garage would be) and I got right into my workout.

The result: My follow-through rate is through the roof!

My muscles are stronger. My core is tighter. My endurance is growing. And my consistency is better than it’s ever been.

There are days I choose a 10-minute workout because that’s all the time I have, and I’m totally cool with that. I used to think I couldn’t get much done if I only had 10 minutes, but turns out the amount of time you have isn’t what matters most. What matters most is being consistent. If you do 10 minutes a day, that’s 70 minutes a week that you devoted to yourself.

Better than the zero I was tallying up the weeks prior.

Decide what are you tired of dealing with and refuse to let it be part of your life by not allowing it to be up for discussion any longer.

• • •

Click here to learn my 5 strategies to achieve your fitness goals… without breaking a sweat!



How To Set and Achieve Personal Goals: A 4-Step Process

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

Setting personal goals is a much more involved endeavor than we realize. It requires an initial investment of time that many of us don't consider. As with anything, when you build upon a strong foundation, you ultimately create a platform that can carry you throughout the entire process with a lot less pitfalls.

Setting SMART goals is s common practice and can typically create a better follow through rate than when we set willy-nilly goals like "I'm going to lose 10 pounds".

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable (realistic), Relevant, and Time-bound.

All well and good and a definite formula for success for many. However, this isn't the only effective way to set goals and if it's not working for you, there is still hope! It doesn't mean goal setting is off the table my dear, it simply means that we need to find another way to do the same thing, except we tie it in a way that's more closely bound to your emotions. 

What are you committed to doing? 

Can you say to yourself that running 10 miles a week can be done with your schedule? Or is two miles more realistic and something you can (and want) to do?

I know for me, I am committed to getting on my bike and doing at least three spin classes a week because I want to increase the strength in my glutes (yes, I would like a perkier butt please!). That's a definite and a non-negotiable for me. If I can fit in other training sessions during the week, that's a bonus for me. But the three classes a week are a MUST and I can easily fit that in. I am committed. 

I am also committed to losing 5 pounds by eating better. This means taking out all the white stuff that's sneaked it's way back into my kitchen. It means more veggies and fiber and protein and good fats. Plenty of options!

Write out what it is you’re committed to and determine if it’s possible.

What's your Why? What's the deeper meaning behind the goal and how are you emotionally connected to it?

Now we're getting a little more detailed. What's going to get me on that bike, and what is going to get me to not snack on junk or eat bread, pasta, pizza and all other foods that have snuck back into my diet?

I know that while the physical benefits of being on that bike are great, and a perky butt is a driving force, having a healthier body so I can move and play and participate in activities with my boys will keep me showing up. 

As for cleaning up my diet, it's super important for me to educate my boys on eating healthy so I need to set a good example and be an even better role model. If they see me in the corner of the kitchen near the pantry sneaking in handfuls of Kettle corn popcorn, aren't they going to think that that's an ok behavior to have? 

I want their relationship around food to be a healthy one and as long as I can still pack their lunches, I'm going to do my best to fill it right.

And that’s it. Your emotional connection doesn’t have to be this long drawn out tear-jerker. Keep it clean and concise so you can easily refer to it when your brain starts giving you a little push back and doesn’t want to do the work.

Create your process.

Things always tend to run more smoothly when you have a process or a practice you can fall back on when the going gets tough (and it will!). Think about what you can change in your life to support your ability to achieve your goals. What is realistically feasible in your current state of life? 

I know that I need to shop better and avoid going when I'm hungry or in a craving mood. Since I go to the store a few times a week, I go hungry more often than not! That’s something I need to change. Also, it's better to go without the kids so I'm not tossing in the extra bunnies and sugary cereals because truth be told, my little guy has a way of convincing me pretty easily!  (He's just too freaking cute I can't stand it!) 

As for getting in my non-negotiable three workouts a week, I’ve learned that these need to get don'e before the kids get home, because once that happens, it's snacks, and homework and prepping and making dinner. No time to sneak away. This means on some days I'm working out at 10:30 am, while others I can push it to 1:30. Knowing this helps plan my day so I'm not looking at the clock at 8:30 pm and feeling bad about not fitting in a workout. 

Lastly, set your timeline.

How long will it take you to realistically achieve your goal?

Think this one through! If you've ever done a renovation on your house, no matter how big or small, chances are you went over-budget and over your timeline! We typically think things are going to happen a lot faster and when they don't, we get frustrated and blame ourselves. Be patient and be kind with yourself, especially if you're looking at a bigger goal of losing 50 pounds or more. That will take time because there are habits that need to be altered which take time. 

My quest to lose 5 pounds by eating better and getting in my three workouts a week (at least) is a goal that should not take me a year to accomplish so I'm giving myself 5 weeks. 1 pound a week is an achievable and realistic goal as long as I stick to my plan. It may come off a little quicker but since I'm not good with change and I know it takes me time to adjust and switch gears when it comes to eating, I'm giving myself the benefit of time. And let's be honest, 5 weeks flies by!

Time moves quickly so if you're serious about a goal but achieving it hasn't been easy, take the time to go through these questions and fully answer them to best of your abilities so you can finally scratch these goals off your to-do list!

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Looking for more strategies to help you set yourself up for weight loss success? Click here to learn my 5 strategies to achieve your fitness goals… without breaking a sweat!

Want to Lose Weight? 3 Ways to Discipline Your “But I Don’t Want To” Brain

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#1: Stop having the conversation.

“I really don’t want to work out right now. This has been an incredibly long day, I really, really, really don’t want to do it.”

“Mmmmm, cookie. Too yummy to pass up... I’ll just have this one and then no more. I deserve it, it’s been a really stressful day.”

“My goal is to weigh 120 lbs, That was when I was at my skinniest and I want that again.” (20 years ago!)

Our brain is a lazy brain by nature. It enjoys sitting, contemplating, worrying, fretting, dreaming, and eating carbs, sweet treats, and salty snacks.

It loathes moving at high speeds with weights attached to it. It would rather take the time to figure out what goes better on a Nutella sandwich, crumbled graham crackers or chocolate chips? Would it prefer a glass of red wine or a beer? Would it rather workout or watch The Bachelor? Decisions, decisions, decisions!

When given the opportunity, your brain is going to fight you both tooth and nail to avoid doing anything that makes it really uncomfortable. And moving from a comfy spot to go sweat is not comfortable.

It knows what it wants and doesn’t want, and you know how easily it can win, especially at the end of a long day when your mental bandwidth is at its lowest, making it difficult to formulate a convincing rebuttal to “I’m exhausted and I don’t want to do it!”

The power of decisive action
When you commit to something, your decision-making process just got streamlined. There is no other option at that point. No conversations to be had. Whatever it is you’re committed to, it’s what you’re going to do and that’s final. You don’t give your brain the out, or the mere option of an out.

For example, I got back into working out when my husband got me the Peloton bike for my birthday. Initially, my inner conversations were running wild, none of which were grounded in positivity around this new bike. “Oh sh*t I really don’t feel like getting on that thing, but he’s here, and I know he’s expecting me to get on it, let me just get on it and get it over with…” is kind of how they went at first.

Not the most ideal conversation, so I knew that wasn’t going to last, guilt can only get you to do something for so long. (Unless you’re born Italian/Irish/Catholic — then guilt can pretty much run your life, but that’s for another day!)

So to switch gears and get the most out of this bike, I stopped entertaining the conversation and did something drastic instead. I picked a time that worked for me, and once that designated time appeared, I’d stop what I was doing, go put on my workout clothes, head down to the basement and get on the bike, without thinking for one tiny minute about how I had a million other things to do.

I shut the conversation down and the result was miraculous.

I showed up. And it was so easy. The workout, not so easy, but the showing up and starting wasn’t fraught with shoulds and coulds and woulds. I’ll even go so far as to say that it was actually peaceful in my brain, as if the mouse fell off the wheel and died because it couldn’t believe it wasn’t being entertained. (It woke up halfway through the workout and started telling me that this was enough, but again, I didn’t entertain it.)

The amazing thing is this can work for anything.

Don’t have the conversation about how good the cookie is gonna taste, or how it’s your favorite kind and it just came out of the oven and it’s so warm and you’re convinced it’s just what you need.

NO!

Don’t have the conversation. Don’t. Have. The. Conversation. Your brain will win otherwise.

#2: Get deeply connected to your goal

I know you want to lose weight. Your kids know, your neighbors know, all your friends know. You have a dress in your closet that hasn’t fit you for almost 8 years but you refuse to toss it because it’s the “goal” dress. We know. (We also know you do a lot of talking about it and not much doing about it.)

First off, ditch the dress. Secondly, stop telling everyone you’re not happy with your weight. Thirdly, get insanely attached to your goal — in a normal, healthy kind of way that is.

Connect your goal to a deeper reason. Why do you want to lose weight? So you can be the same weight you were when you were 20? What is that going to do for you? Most likely make you miserable because once you suffer enough to get to that weight, you’re still not going to be satisfied because what is it really giving you? Deprivation? Mood swings and emotional outbursts? And how long can you maintain that weight?

What if you connect your desire to accomplish this goal with being a good role model for your children? Or your parents? Or your spouse? What if you connect your desire to wanting to hike the Grand Canyon with your friends? Or walk the Camino trail? Or be able to walk up a flight of stairs and not lose your breath?

These things have real meaning, other than fit into an old dress you can’t let go of.

#3: Do “it”, whatever “it” is, especially when you don’t want to do “it”

This is probably the toughest one. And of course, it’s the most important one. You can’t accomplish anything sitting on your bum wishing you were doing the thing that you need to be doing.

You need to be doing the thing.

But if you do #1 and #2 on this list, #3 becomes that much easier because you’re going to find yourself doing the thing with clarity and ease because you know why you need to be doing it, and you’re not talking about it with anyone. Not even yourself. Especially not yourself.

I’d rather be in bed right now, but I sat myself down in front of my computer because I have a commitment to myself to show up and become a better writer, and the only way I can do that is to do it.

Do your “it” even when you’d rather be doing something else because you owe it to yourself to show up and be that better version of yourself that you imagine. The healthier version. The passionate version. The accomplished version.

Weight Loss Motivation: Using Gratitude To Lose Weight

Photo by Rosie Kerr on Unsplash

Photo by Rosie Kerr on Unsplash

The simple practice of cultivating more gratitude can transform your health and help you to effectively lose weight.

If you’re struggling to commit to a weight loss routine, or you’re finding it difficult to find the motivation to be consistent, I have two reasons why gratitude might be just the thing that can help you move forward and achieve your weight loss goals with ease!

• • •

#Twosday Tips are here! Your weekly dose of two tips to help you create a healthier lifestyle. This month is all about cultivating gratitude (which can ultimately help you achieve your weight loss goals more effectively! Yup, yup it can!)

Today I'm slightly deviating from my two tips and instead giving you two reasons why being more grateful and present in your life will motivate you to pursue your goals with a deeper sense of connection and meaning. 

Reason #1: Focusing on the good in turn makes you feel good!  

And that's when you can alter your resistance to eat better, and exercise more by dreading it less!

There's talk out there in the land of Google that 80% of our thoughts in one day focus on the negative. No matter how many thoughts we as humans have in a day (the numbers range from 12,000 to 80,000 thoughts per day!), it seems we're intrinsically geared toward focusing on the negative, which has us fighting an uphill battle all day long. Why bother pushing the boulder uphill when it will simply fall down the next day. Groundhog day IRL. 

Having this information is power for us though. If we know we're naturally going to sway toward the negative literally thousands of times per day, we can better prepare ourselves with a goal (to think less negative thoughts), and an action plan we can implement to help get us back to neutral when we've waded too far into the negativity pool. 

The 2-Minute Fix

If we take two minutes to focus on something good that happened in our lives, we can pull ourselves out of our negativity routine (because when you do something that many times a day I think we can safely call it a routine, albeit unconscious). 

When I feel myself in the throes of a negativity loop, I imagine a huge stop sign surrounded by big flashing red lights and two red and white crossing gates lowering down like at a railroad crossing. This is my cue to get a grip and check myself before I wreck myself with the oncoming onslaught of negativity. For the next two minutes I spend focusing on one good thing that recently happened in my life. I close my eyes, take a few deep breaths and put myself back into that good moment. I pick one detail from that moment and I really dive deep into it. 

When you allow yourself to detach from the negativity loop running in your head and instead focus on the bright and shiny moment, you can actually feel that mental shift, (even physically)—it's crazy how your body can respond.

When I allow myself the full two minutes to do this, I become so grateful for that moment that when I open my eyes, I'm refocused. How can you not be? I just got back from a trip to Montauk where my feet were buried under the warm sand under the clear blue sky, feeling the warmth of the sun on my skin. I could even feel the sand between my toes, the rough and scratchy texture of the sand with every toe wiggle. 

Boom, mood altered, funk averted. 

For the moment at least. This is a practice but getting into the habit will make it easier and easier to be grateful for the wonderful moments in our lives and help us to refocus on the good, so we can feel good no matter what challenges pop up.

Don't get washed away in the moment, instead realize your current mood, and do something new to alter it in a positive way. When you feel good on the inside, it creates lightness and ease, which make putting in the effort to take a step toward achieving your goals all the more probable. 

Next time you're more than willing to skip a workout because you're stressed, overwhelmed, depressed or rolling around in the funk, realize what's going on and take two minutes to close your eyes, breathe and focus on the good. Really focus on the good. Once you do that, open your eyes and see how easier it will be to get that workout in after all. Trust me, this works! I've used it thousands of times when I'd rather sleep in, or plop on the sofa and binge-watch. 

Well that reason was a long one, so let me keep reason #2 relatively short... 

Reason #2: Life is friggin' short, stop wasting time!

We've all said at one time or another "Man time flies!" or "Where did the time go, I can't believe my baby is starting kindergarten!" (I find myself saying that one a lot lately!)

Those comments are reminders for us to slow down and pay attention. There is no time like the present to appreciate where you are in life, the season you may be in, the hurdles you have to overcome, the goals you want to accomplish, and the future you want to create for you and your family. Now is the time to make a commitment to yourself to start now, no matter how small your "start" may look. One little step after another will carry you through the journey, but you have to start now. 

Time isn't going to wait for you, it's gonna keep on ticking away, stealing precious moments  from you if you choose to do nothing to stop it. And since there is no way to stop it, you're just going to have to jump in and begin. 

Go for that walk, stop eating that 9 pm dish of ice cream if you want to lose weight, make that call, have the tough conversation, take the stairs instead of the elevator, whatever it is you're resisting to do, be grateful for this moment and then choose to do something with it. 

Cultivating gratitude can open up your closed-up and internalized world so you can see the beauty that's all around you and provide you the boost you may need to get moving on accomplishing great things for yourself.

At the very least, being grateful can't hurt you or set you back... it's staying stuck in the moment that can do that. 

• • •

My goal is to help you to define your goals, create a deep connection to them and create the process to get you achieving them effectively as possible. My hope is that my #Twosday Tips can get you where you want to be, so if you’re enjoying these and find them useful, let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!

How To Strengthen Your Success Mindset

Photo by  TK Hammonds  on  Unsplash

Photo by TK Hammonds on Unsplash

Your mindset can create success for you, as long as you know how to use it to your advantage.

You can’t simply think your way thin. Just like you can’t think your way rich, healthy, or into an amazing relationship.

Sure you can visualize it, and try to imagine how you’ll feel once you’ve gotten to where you want to be, achieved what you set out to achieve. That’s all well and good, but it’s not what is going to serve you best.

Even saying it out loud, sharing with others, or writing it in a journal isn’t going to do it.

Think about how many New Year’s resolutions you’ve tossed around over the years.

This is the year I’m going to get healthy and lose 20 pounds.

Or this is the year I’m going to Marie Kondo my house, my office and my kid’s bedrooms (Oh Lord, Amen for trying sista! Keeping kid’s rooms organized is no easy feat. It’s enough to drive you insane!)

You were ready to commit… until you realized how difficult it was going to be.

Whomp.

Anyone can set a goal…

Where’s the Disconnect?

The problem isn’t you, or your goals. Your goals aren’t unachievable because you’re not good enough, disciplined enough or any of the litany of reasons our inner critic may come up with.

The problem is, you can’t think your way to success.

You have to act your way to success.

You literally have to put on your Superhero cape and be the actionable heroine in your personal story. Because no one else is swooping in to save the day for you.

The Superhero Mindset

Superheroes don’t let adversity derail them. It’s in their blood to thrive in the face of a really big, friggin’ challenge.

Have you ever seen Wonder Woman shy away from a foe? Of course not! She’s a thoroughbred. She was made and designed to do righteous battle. When she’s running towards adversity, she gets in the mindset. Or as we see it, she gets her battle gear on — three turns and she’s transformed from suburbanite to an all-out badass. (Anyone else, when they were a little girl — or even now — want to be Wonder Woman?! I had the figurine, the costume and even the under-roos!)

In order for her to do battle, she had to step into the shoes of who she imagined herself to be, literally. This is no easy feat mind you. But it’s a necessary and fundamental piece to the puzzle. The puzzle being how to close the gap between wanting something and actually getting it.

Wonder Woman wants peace and diplomacy among humans. She steps into her power and gets to making sure that’s exactly what happens.

What do we do?

“The payoff of living in the past or the future is you never have to do your work in the present.” ― Steven Pressfield, Turning Pro

Oftentimes we live in the past and ruminate on all the things that went wrong for us. How we disappointed ourselves, or how others let us down, hurt us, even scarred us.

Or we look to the future in a way that debilitates us. We don’t have the time, the money, the smarts, or the resources, right now. But once we do, then we’ll begin to make things happen. But not yet. We’re not there yet. Later.

That leaves us stuck, smack dab in the present moment, action-less. Living in fear. Living in pain, regret, and worry. Unable to move in any real direction. Sure we don’t necessarily want to be where we are, but we’re too busy worrying about the future or wallowing in the past to do anything about it.

Again, it’s not that our goals are unattainable. It’s that we’re not tapping into our true potential. We’re focusing on the wrong things in the wrong ways.

We need to learn to view the past as a great big learning experience. And then look to the future as a future we get to create, based on all the things we have learned.

It’s time to spin around three times and step into our power.

It’s time to be our own greatest Superheroes.

Your Future Self

Think about who your Superhero is. What does she look like? What’s her superpower? How does she play this game of life? Understand her, know her, love her, and trust her. Because she is you, and you are she.

She represents everything you strive to be, and can be.

Don the cape and be the heroine in your story. Don’t be afraid to pretend to be your Superhero. Be her without judgment. Play the part, and do what she does.

My Superhero is a prolific wordsmith and story flows from her brain and out her fingertips like a rambling brook. She’s patient with her children and believes loving discipline cultivates growing mindsets better than harsh criticism and yelling. She shops like a Frenchwoman, taking her time to pick just the right foods that compliment each other, creating a symphony of flavors at every meal. She also says no to sugar, drinks her water, and has six-pack abs! She’s a badass. And she’s my future self.

This is using the future to your advantage. You get to write your own story. You get to be your own Superhero, top to bottom. This can be such a fun exercise! You get to create who you want to be.

The trick here though is to not stop there.

Once you design your Superhero (aka your future self), you then put your battle gear on. This is where many of us stumble because we don’t know where to start. We think it will be too hard.

Stop thinking! Just do. Act.

Forget the fact that you may suck at this at first. You might be more of a Robin than a Wonder Woman fresh out of the gates, but that doesn’t mean you quit. It means you allow yourself space to grow into your Superhero. You keep showing up, not letting excuses infiltrate your Superhero mindset. Putting one foot in front of the other, each and every day, especially when you don’t feel like it, is exactly what you do.

It’s what she would do.

This takes practice, but each time you fall you get right back up and fix that cape. Adjust it, re-tie that bow if it came undone. That’s how anyone gets better at anything. They don’t sit around hoping to get better, visualizing themselves getting better.

They get off their bum and do something about it.

Superheroes don’t get to it later. If they did that, the whole of civilization would be reduced to a smoldering inferno. Planet Earth depends on them… and a few other galaxies as well.

Superheroes aren’t spared the burdens of the past either. They all have a dark and somewhat troubled past that without ever happening, wouldn’t have made them into the hero they are today. The past made them who they are today.

We all have that. There is plenty living in our own closets that could sidetrack us, mess us up, screw with our minds and keep us living in fear or regret. If left unchecked, that cluttered closet could do a world of damage in our current lives, working to create a similarly damaging future.

When you decide who you want to be a year down the road, and then behave as though you are that creative, inspired and motivated individual right now, you will soon realize that you’re making more progress than ever before. Leaps and bounds!

Act and behave as though you are your superhero NOW. Put the extra work in. Do not allow your mind the ability to entertain excuses. Take out all the internal chatter that’s been holding you back and stop living in fear, worry or regret and you start living the way you intend because girl, your Superhero needs you to walk the walk.

To help you get into your superhero mindset, I have a freebie for you that will help you to begin taking big strides towards achieving your goals! Download it here and commit to taking your first step now!


Who is your Superhero and how can you begin acting like her today? Share in the comments below, I’d LOVE to hear who you want to be!

Emotional Spring Cleaning: Strategies to Increase Your Productivity

Warning: Your Health May Be Affected As Well

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The objective of cleaning is not just to clean, but to feel happiness living within that environment. ~Marie Kondo

I’m pretty sure that magical Marie Kondo speaks both literally and figuratively when speaking about feeling happiness in the environment in which you reside. Extending beyond the physical and into your mental landscape (where all sorts of hoarded up sh*t lives!)

Let’s be honest, there’s so much old, useless stuff boxed up in our mental landscape that serves no purpose. Our brains, which main focus is to make sure we survive and thrive, does not use all that boxed up information productively, so why hold onto this mental garbage?

I’m a walking well of utterly useless information which I’m certain is the reason ideas get lost, caught in the tangled web of thoughts and memories I have harbored in my brain. It’s a minefield in there, you never know what you may unearth and how that can sidetrack you for minutes, to hours, to even days. 

When it comes to physically cleaning my house, which for me isn’t on the Marie Kondo level, but it’s pretty darn close, I feel lighter on the inside. There is a physical reaction I get like I’ve carved out space for myself and I can move around with a little more freedom, almost as if I can spread my wings a little wider. I’m one of those people who after they clean a room, will keep walking back into it just so I can stand there, admiring my handiwork with a half smile glued to my face. 

It makes me feel that good. I accomplished something. I’m organized, I got things labeled, put away in nice containers, there’s no more clutter… I’d go so far as to put this on the same level of really good sex! You’re breathless, a little sweaty, happily languishing in the moment with a giddy smile on your face, maybe a high five thrown in for good measure. You feel really good ;)

The power of spring cleaning clearly cannot be denied. It also falls during a great time on the calendar. Corporately speaking, we’re in the second quarter of the calendar year and what better time to look back on the year and review what we’ve accomplished and how we can improve going forward.

Turning this process inward and doing an emotional spring cleaning is a great yearly ritual as well. Remember those resolutions you set all the way back in January? Now is a good time to go back and see how you’ve progressed. Maybe you have to re-focus to get yourself realigned to accomplish those goals. Now’s the time! Or maybe you have exceeded your expectations and you can now set even bigger goals.

Going about cleaning out your mental clutter doesn’t have to be a gross undertaking either. Sometimes you’re going to have to dig into the dark, dirty crevices and sit with a memory or thought that brings up some icky feelings, but even simply bringing it to light can help lessen its effect on you. And while you may not be able to rid yourself completely of this memory or thought, you can place it in a healthy perspective so it’s not throwing you for a loop every time it decides to untether itself from its dark and dirty corner right into your lap. 

In my past life, I had a traumatic experience when coming home from work one night only to find that my fiance had packed up all his stuff and bolted without a word to me. Three months before the wedding. 

The image of bare hangers in his closet, some hanging, some on the floor, and his empty drawers with a paper clip here and a loose button there, haunted me for years. And even now, almost 15 years later, a song on the radio can propel me back to that time in an instant. 

I’m not getting rid of those memories unless I go through some sort of mental shock therapy, and quite honestly, I don’t want to forget those memories, they’re a part of the woman I’ve grown into. They’re part of my fabric, weaved into my true self. 

But I’ve learned to not let them ruin my day anymore. They pop up, I see them, ruminate over it for maybe a minute, and then I put them back in their box, up on the shelf, and walk away.

Spring cleaning is taking the toxic junk and filing it away, instead of allowing it to run amuck, creating chaos, despair, and providing you a reason to wallow in it. (Thus creating massive un-productivity.)

We can get all tripped up in our heads which in turn can create varying levels of chaos in our physical worlds. We get caught up in our thoughts, and old limiting beliefs that serve no purpose. (Which by the way have no scientific backing proving their validity. Are you really not good enough or is that something that’s easier to hold onto than putting in the hard work required to prove otherwise?) 

Clean that thinking up and increase your ability to be more productive, if you’re looking for that. Maybe you’re as productive as you want to be and you’re in a good head space… then bravo my friend, there are a many who are jellie of your position!

Increasing your productivity can be directly correlated to cleaning up your mental clutter. 

This doesn’t have to be a dirty, mind-bending task. This is more about creating space in your day that isn’t spent last-minuting things and coming when you should be going. It’s about being more efficient so you can enjoy that satisfied feeling, like when cleaning a room. 

Get your sh*t in order so you can actually get to the things that light you on fire, and fill you with passion. I love feeling like I have a purpose when waking up, it’s those days I’m able to get out of bed filled with excitement, which is a welcome reprieve from the other days when getting out of bed is a chore. 

It’s not that difficult to take a little time to get a few minor things in place that will go a long way in helping you to get more out of your day, allowing you to accomplish goals and be more productive. 

Ways to Simplify Life and Become More Productive

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Here are a few simple and easy wins you can bring into your day to get the ball rolling in the right direction. Try them on for a change and see how well they fit into your life. 

(In an attempt to manage expectations, these tactics aren’t mind-blowing, out of the box ideas. This is about sh*t you know you should be doing that you’re not, and I’m here to keep it real. Why you’re not doing this stuff, I’m sure you have your reasons, but maybe you’d like to figure that out because it’s tripping you up and leaving you feeling less than productive.)

Plan your meals

Yes, this seems very rudimentary, but I’m telling you, to have a plan in place so you’re not eating crap for dinner is motivation enough to start flipping through all those cookbooks you’ve collected. 

If going old school with printed word is not your thing, there are about a million other ways you can go online and create a meal plan, or have one created for you. Check out Plan To Eat, PlateJoy, the Six O’Clock Scramble or many of the other services for little to no cost. It’s worth the chance to wave goodbye to the evening mad dash around your kitchen attempting to feed adamant little ones who want their dinner NOW! 

If you employ this little tactic, you seriously will feel like Mom-of-the-Year. 

Health Warning: Planning ahead will allow you to avoid the last-minute pizza dinner, the frozen waffles breakfast for dinner theme, and the boxed mac n’ cheese we’ve all fallen prey to. Veggies will be planned for, prepped and ready to eat when little monsters get hangry. And when picking at your kid's leftovers, you won’t feel so guilty because it will most likely be veggies you’re eating, not tater-tots. 

Write a daily to-do list

Now I struggle with this one, and I’ve figured out why. 

I have come to believe that if I write something down and I don’t get to it, then I’ve failed. And I’m pretty sure I’ve failed enough in my life to last twenty lifetimes, so I’m over it. Here’s how I changed that thought pattern.

When I’m not getting something done on my list, I delete it. Boom, no lingering guilt. Clearly, it’s not that important. Or if it’s something mundane like making a dentist appt for my kids, I decide right then and there to call up and get it done. Those are not the kind of things I want lingering on my list. That’s just pure laziness and I call my lazy ass on it. And it actually feels good. 

Sometimes calling yourself out is helpful. Don’t go overboard with it though, this is not a self-deprecating moment… just say, what’s up self, why can’t you do this? See what self says and then stop the conversation and make a decision. Cross it out, or get it done. Move on.

To-do lists will organize your life and allow to actually get more stuff done than if you head out the door, keys in hand, uncertain of where you’re even heading! 

Health Warning: You may become addicted to working out because it’s something you’ve placed on your to-do list every single day. It’s a mentally uplifting non-negotiable you’ve been trying to add into your life repeatedly but didn’t know how. Now you do! And if you find this to be the one thing that’s always getting crossed off your list, you need to start asking yourself some powerful questions.

Get up before everyone else

Ain’t gonna lie, this one is a toughie. I fought this one for the longest time. It didn’t work for me the few times I tried it in the past as it only gave my kids all the more reason to get out of bed at 5 am and begin playing. I realized I was starting my day as Mom that much earlier and that was not working for me. 

So there may be a chance that this isn’t the right time for you to try this, and that’s cool. Turns out this year is better for me to get up at 5:15 because my kids are a year older and sleeping a little more soundly. I get in about an hour of uninterrupted time to write and I actually love it. Me. Who’s not a morning person. Never have been. Never wanted to be. Now I really enjoy it. It can happen for you too. 

This time allows you to do some of the things you claim you have no time for during the day. Now you may get overly excited at the thought as you think of all the things you can get done in that time, but I’ll tell you one thing, it’s best to have a plan (another plan, yes!) for what you want to accomplish when you wake up. Simply waking up with no plan will put you either on a social media site, get you checking email, or have you hightailing it back into bed. 

Get a plan, get your sh*t together, and do something to help you become more productive. 

Health Warning: Creating this sacred space in the morning has the ability to open you up to new experiences. When the sun rises early you can go for a nature walk, practice meditation, start a writing practice, stretch your body… you can do the things you never get to during the day that will do wonders for your mindset. 

All of these tips center around the theme of organizing your life so you can steer your ship a little more efficiently. There is power in cleaning, planning, and organizing and it will serve you well if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed with life. Dissect things, break them down and then tackle them. This philosophy works in all aspects of your life, you just have to take the time from your hectic, over-scheduled, alarmingly overwhelmed life so you can realize you have more power than you thought. 

• • •

So what’s it going to be? Are you willing to try at least one strategy, or do you think all three might be just the boost you need to become more productive in your life? Share in the comments below, I would love to know what’s working for you!

Living A More Intentional Life: How To Practice It Daily

Photo: Heather Ford - Unsplash

Photo: Heather Ford - Unsplash

Living a more intentional life means learning how to be more present and conscious while going about your day. It’s realizing that you have the power to not let life happen to you, but to consciously decide how you interpret and react to what’s happening in your external world, and your sometimes murky inner world.

All too often, and without us even realizing it, we bring into our day all the ick and upset from the day before, and go through the mental motions of continuing to “deal” with it all. We don’t jump out of bed all pumped with enthusiasm, ready to crush some serious goals.

We’re too caught up in our habitual thoughts patterns about what we have to deal with today, just like the days before. It can be grueling and uninspiring. Aren’t you tired of that? Don’t you think you deserve to wake up, full of hope and excitement for the day, like children do? (My little guys bolt around our bedroom at 6 am while I’m grumbling go back to bed. But they’re too busy rolling around laughing trying to get under our blankets to listen to my pleas. I wish that were me!)

Instead, my way of waking up is painful. Immediately my mind goes right to my to-do list. Ugh. There is no joy to be had when thinking about all the work that has to be done. And it doesn’t help that my inner voice sounds more like Eyore than Mary Poppins. Such a drag. The crazy part is that this all happens unconsciously, within seconds of waking up, and I allow it to happen… unconsciously of course. I wake up, think about what I have to do and set about doing it. I begrudgingly start my day.

Whomp.

And it’s not like I’m unhappy, but maybe if you’re my husband and I mumble a good morning as I sluggishly walked into the bathroom while shooing away the kids, you may think I’m quite the unhappy participant in this joy ride called life.

I’m happy and one morning I realized that I didn’t want to get out of bed because I didn’t want to get the day started. That is not ok!

Getting up that way, sluggish and unmotivated, bringing into my day what I went to sleep thinking about was no longer an option I decided. I didn’t want that anymore. So I set about trying to figure out what could work for me that would positively impact my life so I’m waking up wanting to create my day, instead of letting it walk all over me.

I decided to try a few different tactics, like journaling before bed, or journaling once I woke up. Reading inspiring passages from certain books after dropping the kids off to school. Meditating before getting into my work. Keeping a gratitude book and listing three things I’m grateful for every day. All good things, but nothing ever really stuck. So I continued to dig and try and experiment, and I finally came across a practice that I’m able to do, on most mornings, that make me feel like I have some say in how my day plays out. And that’s a pretty darn good feeling!

If you’re looking to be more intentional in your day, to gain control over how you want to feel, and to be clear on what you want to accomplish, this may be a good practice for you as well. Use these steps as a guide and adjust as you see fit.

Setting the tone for your day before stepping into your slippers!

Photo by  Tracey Hocking  on  Unsplash


1. Before getting out of bed, think of the exact emotions you want to feel during the day.

Create the tone of your day by focusing on how you want to feel. This challenges the brain which only wants to focus on what’s not right, what needs fixing or is insanely worrisome. (Ever notice that?)

By consciously deciding on the emotions you want to feel, your thoughts will follow suit. Say to yourself three positive feelings you want to experience that day. They may be fulfilled, courageous, and vibrant… and then sit with those emotions for a moment.

2. Next, think of three things you are grateful for.

It could be ANYTHING! The air you breathe, the warmth of the sun you will feel on your skin, the smile on your child’s face, the amazing day that is before you… and feel those emotions that pop up. Really FEEL them. Soak them up so you can carry them with you during the day.

3. Lastly, list three things you’re going to do that are going to set you on the path to achieving your goals. Make sure they align with how you want to feel, which you clarified in step #1.

It could be cooking dinner at home which will make you feel healthier if you usually order take out.

If you want to feel happier, allow yourself the ability to ignore a negative thought when one arises. Tell yourself you don’t have to dwell on that thought and that your’e going to instead think of something positive in that moment.

If you want to feel accomplished, commit to getting in 20 minutes of exercise come hell or high water! 

It may seem ridiculously simple, but that’s the point! I’m telling you, doing this before you even get out of bed can change the trajectory of your day and allow you to accomplish more than you imagined. Plus, it will help make your day that much more enjoyable. Trust me by giving it a try! 

Now tell me, is this something you can easily implement into your mornings? Do you have something you do that helps to keep you focused on the day ahead? Please share in the comments below, I would love to learn about you!

5 Tips on How To Begin and Commit To a Workout Routine That Sticks

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One of the most difficult things about working out is committing and staying motivated. You start off strong, filled with excitement and motivation and visions of grand accomplishments. You’ve purchased the new clothes, joined the gym, and you’re into it… for about a week.

Then the excuses come. And they come. Easier and easier, day after day, they begin to slowly take over. Your enthusiasm dies a slow death and you find yourself saying you’ll get to it, just not right now. Tomorrow. Or later in the week. Maybe.

Slowly your commitment fades further and further into the darkness, unlikely to resurface anytime soon.

This very common phenomenon can be remedied, it is possible to get into the flow of a routine, you simply have to be willing to ask yourself a few simple questions:

  1. How willing am I to change up my routines?

  2. How confident am I in my abilities?

  3. What activities do I enjoy?

If you’re not open to new activities, new ways of doing things or beginning a new routine, how do you plan to implement your new goal of losing 20 pounds?

If you lack the confidence in your abilities to follow through and be successful, how are you going to rise above the mental challenges that you will inevitably face?

If you think you should join a gym but the thought makes you cringe, how do you plan to muster up the mental fortitude to show up there every day? If you don’t enjoy the activity, there is no way you can summon up the excitement to follow through.

These are questions you need to ask yourself if you’re serious about creating change. And to lose weight, a change in your routines is a must!

How to commit and stick with a fitness routine

Motivation is helpful and it will generally get you to up your fitness game, but it’s tricky. It too is like a workout. You need to show up every day and be your own cheerleader.

Motivation wanes quickly so you need to be strategic about how you find and reinforce your motivation on a daily basis.

This, in turn, is what will help to make the commitment part a little more easy and consistent.

How do you get yourself to be excited about the motivation side as well as the working out?

These are some things I’ve implemented in my life that have helped me in the past to work hard and keep reaching toward achieving my goals.

Tip #1: I took a photo of myself in my undies - yikes!

That was the wake-up call. If you need motivation, check yourself out in the bathroom mirror. But don't take it too seriously. Yes, you can be discouraged, but only for about 90 seconds! Then snap out of it and use that photo for good, not evil (your inner critic would love nothing more than to CONSTANTLY whisper in your ear about that photo - don't give it the time of day!)

Tip #2: I found something I truly enjoyed.

At that time it turned out to be Crossfit. The crazy hard workouts, the sweat, and the camaraderie kept me focused and inspired to keep coming back. When you have all that on your side, it's hard to skip.

Tip #3: I signed up for an event.

I'm always up for a good challenge, and every month my gym would post a challenge of the month. Once it was a 5-minute plank challenge, and another one was a 100 push up challenge. (Truth be told I never was able to hold a plank for 5 minutes or do all those push-ups, but I practiced a lot and got better, much better, at both!) I call that a win. 

Tip #4: I found a devoted fitness buddy.

And it was my husband (who got me into Crossfit in the first place!) When you don't feel like going and your buddy simply isn't listening to your litany of excuses, that's when you know you have the right buddy!

This also works with a class. Once you find an instructor you like, they’ll keep you moving and motivated because they love doing that for their class! You simply can’t lose with the buddy system.

Tip #5: I rewarded myself! 

This is a fabulous idea. Rewards are little motivators that can help you work through any excuse that pops up. I use the star reward system on myself (it’s not just for kids!) Every day I work toward my goal, I give myself an emoji thumbs up on my calendar. That little, teeny, tiny “reward” makes me feel so good when I can look over the past month and see all those thumbs up looking back at me! It makes me feel proud and gives me the motivation to keep moving forward so as to not “break the chain.” (And even if I do break the chain, I pick right back up the following day — I don’t let my inactivity linger because to me that means something isn’t right and it needs my attention quickly.)

These are just a few tips that have worked extremely well for me in the past. I know they are effective and can help you when you feel you’re lacking the commitment and motivation.

There are so many more ways to motivate yourself, you just have to figure out what works for you and will help you to be successful. You’ve taken the first step in starting a program, now it’s all about the follow-through. You can do it if you set your mind to it and keep the motivation flowing!

I want you to know that you’re not alone if you’ve fallen off track and are struggling to find the motivation to get back into it. I hope these tips can help you rediscover your motivation and get you moving again! They definitely helped me. 

I share tips like this every Tuesday that are centered around fitness and wellness, I call them #Twosday Tips. If you’d like to follow along and pick up a few helpful tips, follow me on Twitter @am_costanzo or Facebook @amcostanzowellness :)

. . .

What strategies have helped you in the past when you’re feeling stuck?

4 Ways to Get Into the Right Mindset For Exercise

Fill it to the brim!

Fill it to the brim!

When you create the right mindset around working out, you can quite literally change your life!

There is so much more that goes into exercise than simply pulling on a pair of yoga pants, lacing up your shoes and tying back your hair. Lord knows there is so much more! There is the internal struggle, the ‘should I stay or should I go’ conversation, the good intentions only to ever so easily waver at the first sign of trouble…

What? I don’t have any clean socks? I can’t go out with dirty socks, that’s gross. Let me do a quick load and theeeeeen I’ll head out.

I’m hungry. Do I have to wait at least 30 minutes before exercising after eating? Or is that only with swimming? Well, either way, I don’t want to be all crampy and uncomfortable. I’ll eat now and try going later.

Ugh, I really need a pedicure. It’s been weeks and I only have time for one or the other… ugh, I can’t stand looking at my toes in the shower, pedicure it is!

You feel me right?

We can pretty much justify any reason whatsoever to avoid the pain of actually having to muster up the mental fortitude to work out. It’s mental warfare. It’s so easy to simply avoid it altogether. And many of us do just that. Avoid. Ignore. Put off for another day.

How do we stop the cycle??

Well, it’s actually not as difficult, or mind-bending as you would think. In fact, it’s as simple as changing the conversation you have with yourself and implementing a few strategies that will have you saying YES, it’s time for my workout, and NO to anything else!

1. Get clear on why you exercise.

Why do you do it? Why do you feel the need? Why do you think it’s good for you? Because it’s not all for naught. Nuh-uh. The release of feel-good hormones is reason enough for me to lace up and get my butt out the door. I know for sure I’m a much nicer person after working out. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, or a little depressed, or I’m struggling in some facet of my life, I make sure to get moving that day, (most especially on days like that!), because it gets me back to neutral.

Understand your why and make sure it fills a need.

2. Stop comparing yourself to others.

Talk about taking the wind right out of your sails. Do you really think it’s effective, or empowering to put yourself up against some random skinny chick you happen to come across on Instagram or Facebook or wherever you hang out? Do you find yourself saying, “Man, I’d love to have her body.” And you realize you’re saying that with a deflated tone as if your inner child were speaking to you. You’re not filled with joy and enthusiasm when thinking that. That voice reeks of disdain and disappointment in yourself and makes you feel plain old lousy. Not the inspiration you need.

Leave the comparing where it belongs… in the trash. And then get your big girl pants on. Talk to yourself like you love yourself. Fill your mind with positivity. Stop comparing. When you feel yourself starting to do it, replace it with a simple, “I love myself” (even if it makes you cringe at first. Do it enough and it will get easier, I promise!) 

3. Feel your vision and then set your plan into motion.

Vision boards are a great source of inspiration. They take what you’re thinking, all that stuff that’s firing away at lightspeed in your brain, and lays it all out before you so you can actually make sense of what you want and what you will achieve. People do this all the time when they want to move or change careers or fall in love. Why not do it then to achieve the health and wellness you want and deserve? 

But don’t fill your board with skinny models and unrealistic interpretations of what you think you want… like I said before, don’t use a pin-up model as someone to compare yourself with. 

Instead, think of the emotions you want to feel, like happy, joyful, content, excited, satisfied, or accomplished. You can want the flat tummy, firm arms, or a bootylicious bum, but I want you to focus on how that is going to make you feel in your body. Imagine yourself feeling happy with how you look. 

Better yet, imagine trying something new you’ve always wanted to try but fear managed to constantly get in the way. Maybe you’ve always wanted to attempt a triathlon, or rock climbing, or hiking the Grand Canyon, but you thought it impossible for you to accomplish. Take away the barriers and limiting beliefs you have about your abilities and feel how it would be to attempt those things. How does it make you feel? Really feel it. Let it get you excited. Focus on those feelings that are lifting you up and igniting a fire within. That’s what you want to put on your vision board! 

From there, you then create the action plan to achieve it because the plain truth is, you’re stronger than you think and you can accomplish more than you can imagine. Get out of your head and into your body!

4. Create your cue

This is probably the most important step for you to take.

Once you’ve got all the other steps lined up and are raring to get started, you need a cue.

Your cue is your trigger which sets your new routine in motion. Because without a new routine, all the excitement, good intentions and determination will fade away, leaving you feeling defeated and frustrated. As it has in the past.

But we’re done with that. This time will be different because you. are. prepared!

It took me a long time to figure this whole “cue” thing out, and once I realized that a simple cue could get me in the right mindset, without any internal banter back and forth of should I or shouldn’t I, everything changed.

I use my workout clothes as my cue. Pretty darn simple. All I have to do is put them on. That’s it. Every day, same time, same cue. Works wonders!

If you can eliminate the conversation in your head and let the cue be your guide, you will save yourself so much time and energy. Cue leads to routine leads to reward. It’s the habit loop and to create any change in your life, it needs to become a habit.

Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses. - George Washington Carver

Stop entertaining the internal conversations that create the excuses. Use your cue, everyday!


Freebie “Fun”sheet!

If you implement these four mindset changes today and begin to take massive action toward achieving your goal, I’m gonna tell you right now you’ll be met with such motivation that working out will never be a dull and burdensome task again.

And to help you get started, I have a funsheet for you to fill out. Do yourself a huge service by printing this out, and take the time to fill in the answers. This little exercise will help to strengthen your follow through muscle!

Download you funsheet here!

And if you do try these three changes, let me know! I always love to listen and learn from you so please leave a comment below. The more I know about you, the more I can help!

Tips To Control Your Eating (When You Can't Control Yourself!)

Learn how to tame the inner food beast and eat happily

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Hangry: bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger.

When hangry comes to my house, it’s best to just hand over the potato chips and step aside. Grabbing at absolutely anything is the name of the game and attempting to intervene will only make you vulnerable to my hangry’s wrath. 

I’m a beast when I’m hangry. No one, including myself, enjoys or wants to participate in the behavior, but I’m not the driving force here. I try to ignore it and continue on with my work, as if the beast could be ignored.

Calming the beast

Sometimes when things get to this point, you've swayed too far into the darkness and relinquishing your power will require brute strength and a rock solid Deepak Chopra mindset. 

Tip: Preparedness can help you when you do reach that level. It will ensure that when you do go Incredible Hulk on your pantry, you have in there a few healthy choices that are easy to smash and grab. Prepare for the beast and you shall conquer it. 

When it comes to dieting, ease up on the dieting

Even the mere mention of the word diet sends me into panic mode. I was never a dieter, I never wanted to diet because I hated the thought of having to say no to myself… I simply always wanted what I wanted when I wanted it. 

Considering the world is not perfect, my flawed thinking about dieting clearly needed to be altered. 

So go a’changing is what I did, but I did it in the most nondramatic way I could think of, and this is what you need to hear if you’ve hung with me thus far. 

The 80/20 Rule

There is an 80/20 rule out there that pertains to life and it claims that if you follow this rule, it can change your life for the better. 

I’m certain you‘ve heard of this rule, yet I ask you to think again about adopting this method into your life. It makes sense and is a practical tool to have in your weight-loss arsenal.

Takes the thinking out of dieting

Eat clean 80% of the time, and go hog wild the remaining 20%. You’re not counting calories, or eliminating an entire category of foods. You’re not freaking out, engaging in tearful good-byes to chocolate, or pouring out every last bottle of wine. 

Let’s break this down and look at its benefits.

Let’s say you’re eating about five small meals a day (breakfast, lunch, dinner and two small snacks in between), that’s 35 times you’re making a conscious effort to put a decent amount of food into your mouth per week. 

80% of that is 28. So 28 times you’re going to choose from the healthy menu. You’re going to do your veggies, and your lean protein or plant protein, and maybe perhaps a grain. Berries and seeds and nuts are your go-to snacking buddies (who will help calm the hangry). 

You’re going to decide to save the cheese and crackers for your 20%, which equates to seven. Seven times you get to put whatever the hell you want to put into your belly. 

That’s not so bad when it comes to thinking about dieting. Because dieting sucks and it shouldn’t be a thing. Living well and eating right (your 80%) while enjoying the moderate amount of junk (your 20%) sounds like something I can sign up for and not dread the weigh-in. 

Having a little wiggle-room in your diet helps you mentally when faced with the challenges of losing weight and eating right. 

No one wants to deprive themselves, and if you do you can be pretty certain that you’re going to cave to the crave sooner or later and getting back up on that diet horse will be even more difficult. 

Tip: Giving yourself some wiggle-room still lets you enjoy the things you crave without having to go on a junk food bender that leaves you horrified at how much crap you can eat, guilt-ridden and feeling like a failure. 

This is how to make a lifestyle change that you can adhere to. It gives you control because really you only have to “control” yourself 80% of the time. The rest, well that’s up to you!


How To Stay In Shape While Traveling: The 3 Best (and Easily Packable) Pieces of Fitness Equipment You Need to Take With You

Who the hell wants to work out while on vacation? This is a terrible idea for an article because I am right there with the naysayers. Vacation is my time! I am off from all the responsibilities of life, of motherhood, of the business of being in shape and helping others get into shape. I want to be off! From it all.

But who am I kidding… we can never be off. We’re moms. We’re dads. We’re responsible adults who no longer vacation at the stud-studded Jersey Shore, or it’s cross-country equivalent (which would be??? Is there anything that can compare to the cheese of the Jersey Shore?)

We’re not in our 20’s anymore — at least I’m far from it and I no longer bounce back the way I used to after a vacation of over-indulgence.

So even though I like to break out of the routine every now and then, I also know that when I do, getting back into it is really, really difficult. Thus, there is no point. I travel, I take fitness equipment that can travel with me. (Also because I tell my clients to do that, and no one wants to be a hypocrite… right?)

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How To Workout In Your Hotel Room

Or Airbnb, or in-laws, or wherever it is you’re traveling to. These pieces of fitness equipment work the same no matter where you are.

We’re heading up to Canada for our break, and snow, along with sub-zero temperatures, I am not a fan of! It’s been years since I’ve strapped on a pair of skis… I don’t even think helmets were a requirement last time I went. But our kids have to learn (because why? I don’t know, that’s just what we think we need to be doing along with all the over-scheduling of sports, play dates, and therapy).

I’m kidding. We actually don’t over-schedule our kids, send them on play dates (have you seen how they behave in public?) or have them in therapy.

However we may want to reconsider therapy, but then again I grew up in the latchkey era and I turned out just fine… watching General Hospital and eating Fluffer-nutter sandwiches on Wonder Bread every day after school… by myself. I’m totally fine. No resentment. No anger. Just totally fine…

Anyway, back to Canada. We’ll be there while many of you will be in a tropical paradise and I would simply like to state that while in such warm weather, take a moment and send some warm vibes the way of Canada, where foolish people put metal planks on their feet and slide down big hills in freezing temperatures.

Thanks.

Back to the fitness and getting it done while on vacation. Here’s what you’re going to need…

  1. Hip & Booty Bands. Yes! The booty bands are a thing and they’re amazing at making it even more difficult to do a squat. (Not a good selling point I realize but we all want firmer booties right?) They are so light and easy to pack you may forget that they’re in your suitcase. These little booty bands work to make your bodyweight exercises that much more challenging. Step into a band and perform a squat, lunge, side skater, side step or isometric plank hold with your legs pulling away from center and you’ll understand in a flash how you just increased the intensity. Perfect for travel, and for booty firming! (And if you don’t know what these are, just go right on over to Amazon and type in “Booty bands”. You’ll be overwhelmed with options.)

  2. Jump rope What a great way to fit cardio in with your resistance training, and they take up practically no room in your suitcase. Do two resistance moves (with your booty bands) and then throw in 90 seconds of jumping rope to increase your caloric burn for one circuit. Repeat until you have done at least three circuits and you’ve got yourself a great workout that will make that sunset margarita feel all the less guilty.

  3. Running shoes. I know this one is totally obvious and somewhat of a cop-out but there really is no getting around it. Run, walk, climb the stairs… none of these can be done in flip-flops or snow boots, so you really need to pack your sneaks. Think of it as a great way to get out there and mingle with the locals!

With all the planning and preparations that go into getting ready for a vacation, it’s important to remember to pack items that will help you to keep up your fitness routine. This way, when you get back you’re not overwhelmed or feeling guilty for the time you spent away from working out. These three small and easy-to-travel pieces of fitness equipment can keep you in shape and on track. Even if the last thing you wanted to do was exercise while on vacation. (We all have to do things we don’t want to do! Mom-ism #143)


What is your exercise routine when traveling around this great big world? Or do you not have one? What’s the motivation for you to keep up with your fitness? I’d love to hear your tactics if you have any!

How To Realistically Achieve Your Goals

This Method Had Changed My Life!

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I finally figured it out. It took me about 20 years, but by gosh by golly, I have finally figured out how to set and achieve my goals.

Turns out, it’s not my kid's fault. It’s not my high school teacher’s fault. I can’t even (really) blame my parents. I can only look at myself and think “A-ha!” It’s me.

I’m the one who keeps getting in my way. I’m the one who keeps telling myself that I can’t do this, or I can’t do that, because of one excuse or another.

Turns out, I have let excuses run my life. And these excuses have become habitual without me even realizing it.

Habits Create Your Future Experiences

What we do on a consistent basis creates our experiences in life. These habits we’ve formed over time are our unconscious building blocks. Habits can be found in the way you go about your day, and in the way you face adversity, and even in the way you talk to yourself. I’ve managed to build my life around, on and inside my habits, and they’ve kept me from growing, experiencing more, and excelling.

Three areas in my life I can now see have been built on these habitual building blocks and it’s no wonder I’ve been struggling in these areas for years… it’s hard to change hardwired habits!

The first area I struggle with is creating a consistent workout ethic. (And I’m an in-home personal trainer! Shhhhh… don’t tell. I have the hardest time creating my own routine that I can show up for every day.)

Growing my business is another area in which I struggle mightily. Showing up there every day and being consistent is my downfall. I feel like an utter failure month after month when I veer off the “consistency” path. And when there are excuses at the ready (which I have a bunch of), I can point the finger away from me and towards everything else.

Not a good strategy.

The last area I can mark with a big fat “F” is my finances. I suck at saving money. My credit card debt has been my biggest nemesis since college when I got into $12,000 of debt. (And I can quite honestly say I have zero to show for that $12,000 — not even a decent handbag or memories of some lavish meal at a ridiculously overpriced NYC restaurant. What the hell was I spending my money is what I want to know.)

Debt, big or small, has always had me in its grip and I thought well hell, some people are just good with money, and some aren’t. I, clearly, am terrible at it.

Just another excuse.

When I look at these three areas together, it’s kind of painful! I’m in my 40’s and I shouldn’t be where I am. I don’t want to be where I am. I want to be over there… on the other side. Successful. Confident. Content.

But how?

How I Began to Achieve My Goals

It all began with a simple statement.

Framed for me to see every day at my desk!

Framed for me to see every day at my desk!


Today I will commit to doing 1% more.

Now that doesn’t seem like a big deal, right?

There is nothing alarming there. It’s a pretty straight forward action step.

Here’s the most important thing I discovered with that little statement.

I can do it.

I can give 1% more every single day.

And I am. I’m showing up. And I’m accomplishing more than I have in years. By simply giving 1% more effort each and every day.

It’s happening because I’m not over thinking things. I’m simply showing up and doing a little more. I’ve stopped the habitual practice of allowing my excuses to reign supreme when I’m trying to be consistent with something by asking myself this one question each day:

“How can I show up a little more today?”

If I can simply not overthink about what it is I intend to do (i.e. workout at home, write daily, save money) and instead just do it by giving my 1% effort, then it gets done. There is no thinking. It’s just doing. It’s not intimidating or creating resistance because the effort is small and doable.

1% more can mean a 15-minute workout. It can mean writing 500 words. It can mean socking away 10% from my paycheck. It can mean sitting with my kids a little longer to read another book. It can be me stopping what I’m doing to send a text to my husband that says I love you.

These are all things I can (and have) talked myself out of doing for one lame excuse or another. Life is hectic. I’m too tired. The house is a mess. Work is too stressful. So many easy excuses.

Excuses that became habitual. The reward these habits allowed was not having to deal with the fear of failure. After all, you can’t fail if you don’t really try, right? You can lament about how you wish things were different, but that is far removed from failure.

This non-intimidating idea of giving a 1% increase in effort has stopped my excuses in their tracks. It was as if a light went on and the mouse fell off the wheel.

Case in point: I finally paid off my credit card bill this month!! This is HUGE for me. As of this moment, I have a zero balance and guys let me tell you, that hasn’t happened in over five years.

In addition, I decided to keep track of how many nights I sat down in front of my computer to write by giving myself a little “thumbs up” emoji on my calendar (a quick and easy reward), and there are 19 little thumbs up looking at me from the month of January. Going from zero to 19 is an impressive step in the right direction.

And lastly, workouts from home are another 19 days out of 31. (Again, going from zero to 19 is something I will take.)

All because of a 1% increase in effort each day.

It stands to reason then that the less we think about creating positive changes in our lives, and the quicker we act before old habits kick in, then the more likely we will be successful.

Think less + Do 1% more every day = Achieving goals


I hope this was helpful to you and can give you the confidence to try just 1% more each day! Leave a comment below and let me know what you’re biggest challenges are when it comes to following through on your goals.

Thank you for reading!

How to Reduce Stress Naturally: 3 Strategies to Improve Your Health

Understanding how to reduce stress and anxiety can help you perform better in all areas in your life!

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Stress can pop up in a mere instant yet linger for years. And the effects it can have on your body are real and undeniable. Learning ways to manage and reduce stress can literally give you back your life.

Case in point, about a year and a half ago, my husband and I moved our little family out of our three bedroom apartment and into our first home. This was one of the most stressful times in my life because the apartment we were leaving was one I had lived in for almost 17 years! Guys, this was my happy place! It started out as my bachelorette pad that slowly morphed into our newlywed palace, and then into our cramped and crowded family abode.

After baby #2 we quickly realized these two boys needed a backyard (and we needed a sliver of our sanity back!)

Here’s the thing. While I thought I was prepared to leave my apartment, my body was not as convinced. From the moment, I mean the MOMENT we found the house we wanted to buy, my body revolted! I have never once experienced the pain, the ugly and the itching that eczema can produce on one’s body, but there it was, all over my legs. When this house popped up on the market and we knew we were going for it, my legs quickly reminded me that I do NOT do well with change! The nastiness that my body put on display was impressive. From my knees to my ankles, on both legs, were these red boils that itched like a mother!

I’ve never seen my legs so crusty, blotchy, and downright horrendous looking. The stress was literally taking over my body and it itched incessantly. I refused to go get pedicures until I could get it under control because it was so embarrassingly out of control.

I clearly was not ready to move (because change freaks me out!!)

I knew stress had come to visit me and it planned on staying awhile. That’s why I set out on discovering natural ways I could reduce stress and anxiety (because those two are BBF’s! If one comes to visit, the other is right there holding its hand, refusing to be dismissed). I had quickly realized that I needed to deal with this head-on, otherwise, it would simply take over, one limb, and one organ at a time! Facts were facts, we were moving and I had to figure out how to best handle the situation.

Here is what I came up with that proved to be the best ways to reducing stress for me. When you have a few strategies up your sleeve even that can provide you with some relief, especially when you just want to crawl under your covers for days. (And scratch the living daylights out of your legs!)

My hopes are that these three strategies can help you, even if it’s only for a moment… but then again, life is all about the moments, so you may as well try your best to make them as enjoyable as possible!

3 Ways to Reduce Stress

1. Lose yourself in music

This one is my favorite! I absolutely love putting on my headphones and tuning out the world around me. Sometimes it’s the best medicine. You get that guilty pleasure playlist going and something internal shifts. Your hormones start bopping to the beats and next thing you know you’re dancing around like Ellen not giving a sh*t. Happy tunes have the ability to turn it all around and I believe there is magic in music.

I’ve found that when I’m totally stressed out and incessantly focusing on all the crap that’s creating massive anxiety, I grab my headphones without even giving anything else another thought. I get into my Spotify and next thing I know Bonnie Tyler is “Holding out for a Hero”, and I know I’m gonna be ok.

It helps to create the space between stressed out and more stressed out. It’s that little window that you can stick your head out from and breathe in all the fresh air that’s there for the taking. Because when we’re in the midst of a stress attack, it’s as if you can’t breathe. And then you realize you’re struggling to breathe and it becomes this whole game of wanting to breathe more, but not being able to because you’re all seized up on the inside.

Take a music break. Create a little space. Save yourself.

2. Eat foods that naturally boost your mood

In times of stress it’s almost an automatic response to grab the most unhealthy kinds of food there is (Potato chips. Jelly beans. French fries. Ice cream. Pinot Grigio.). “ I’m stressed!!!!!!” is the universal excuse that no one questions. Everyone simply backs away, nodding their head in agreement.

If you haven’t done this yourself, then you’re simply not human. However, we know it’s a super short-term fix that is not doing you or your waistline any good. What you need to be doing is instead, is to go for a little fat.

Yes, have a little fat with your stress!

Omega-3’s have been shown in studies to help reduce stress and anxiety and improve your mood. Your brain loves fat and it needs it to perform and function. So give it what it needs, not what it wants! (Yes, that whole carton of ice cream does sound amazing and it is filled with fat, but that’s the wrong kind, sugar!)

You’re better off going for the healthier options of salmon or avocado toast with an egg on top. You want to fill your belly with good foods that your body can use in times of stress. This will go a long way in keeping you healthy even when it feels like everything else is falling apart.

If we want to get into the nitty-gritty, eating foods that are high in tryptophan are your best bet when stress comes a knockin’! Tryptophan is an essential amino acid needed for general growth and development, producing niacin, and creating serotonin in the body. (Yes serotonin! That’s the happy, feel-good hormone you need at times like these!)

A few foods you can stock up on are nuts and seeds, meats (all grass-fed and finished), chicken/turkey (organic), fish (wild-caught), eggs, beans, and lentils. Basically, you want to eat a healthy diet especially during times of high-stress. Resist the urge to dive into a bag of chips by acknowledging that that bag will only result in you feeling worse, about yourself! Stay healthy, stay hydrated, and stay guilt-free!

3. A little exercise every day

Number one stress reducer! I saved the best for last. (You knew this one was coming, right?)

What better way is there to get your happy hormones pulsating throughout your body than moving your body with purpose? (And playing your favorite music while doing it? OMG, killing it!) Get your body moving because exercise is the magic pill that you can’t get over the counter.

Did you know that exercise produces endorphins, which are nature’s natural painkillers? And it doesn’t cost you anything to access these endorphins. They’re FREE! You can go outside for a run. Walk up and down the stairs for five minutes. Have a dance party in your kitchen.

Release the tension and stress that is consuming you and you will find that you’ll feel lighter and more energized. Do it every day and soon the fog will clear and you’ll be dealing with life and its challenges with a stronger mindset.

That was how I dealt with getting through our big move, and I’m happy to report, my horrendous eczema completely receded back from whence it came about two months later, never to be heard from again.

Make time to take care of yourself, even if that means just sitting down and reading a book for a half an hour. Life will always present a challenge. It’s how you handle the challenge that helps you grow and learn.

As always, I’d love to hear from you! If you’re struggling with something, let me know how you’re handling it. What tactics do you employ when stress creeps in and begins to take hold?

3 Strategies to Get Mindful

My mantra mug!

My mantra mug!

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that this is some fluff piece about how we would all be better off if we took the time to meditate, journal, reflect, drink green juices and do yoga all live long day. Then we would all be happy beings with big emoji hearts in our eyes, without a care in the world.

And maybe you'd be right, maybe this post is exactly about that.

But does it really sound all that bad?

No, of course, it doesn’t. The bad part is it doesn’t exist. Or it can’t because this is the new tech world where no one has the time anymore to be self-indulgent. 

There are bosses that have us by the smartphones. There are kids activities that have infiltrated weekends, leaving family time that space between soccer, LAX, and baseball (it's called carpooling). And forget about home cooked meals... are you for real??

We’re all living in this madness and we’re all losing our sh*t because of it. Parenting is the new reality nightmare because of social media, and job security is being handed over to artificial intelligence as we speak. In order to make it, we either have to be scrappy and hustle our way through life, or we become one bad-ass renegade and reclaim what is rightfully ours.

Like living a more peaceful life with less stress. That’s all most of us want. And to be a little more happy doing it. 

There is simply too much info out there influencing our society, our environment, our thoughts, our behaviors, our moods and even our daily habits. (Check Instagram much?) 

In the wise words of Ice Cube, come on and chickity check yo self before you wreck yo self. 

Slowing things down so you can appreciate and enjoy life a little more doesn’t have to be this super self-indulgent practice where you lock yourself away for days, digging into your emotions and journaling your way through a lifetime of past experiences to unearth your meaning and purpose in this world. Banish such indulgences!

What we can do, starting today is something less intensive while still being effective and insightful.

It can take up to as little as 10 minutes a day. That's it. And the benefits are ten-fold that! For reals my dear, for reals.

We're all busy, but we can all find 10 minutes to slow it down. If not for ourselves then for our kids. Just think of the positive influence you'll have on your children when you do this. Their worlds are sooooooo much different than ours were way back when. It would benefit them tremendously to learn how to sit down and quiet the mind. If they can learn coping strategies from you, just think of how better off they will be in 20 years when technology is so advanced we'll be walking around with computer chips inserted into our brains, and no one ages! 

There is something tremendously useful to getting your kids in on the action, or just letting them see you do it. I get my 7-year-old to sit with me once a week for three minutes (well I sit, he flips and flops, looks this way and that - but he's quiet! And he's learning... because once in a blue moon he sits, palms placed on his knees with his eyes closed... for about 10 seconds. That's a BIG WIN where I come from!) I do this so I can teach my very anxious son how he can help himself when he begins to feel overwhelmed. 

So why not help ourselves to a practice that is free, takes minimal effort (sitting and closing your eyes) and can transform our perceptions, moods, and reality? It’s worked for millions of people for thousands of years and I truly believe that if you feel overwhelmed with life, this one little practice can help you appreciate, slow down and enjoy more of what life has to offer you. 

It may sound crazy but when you get into the habit of doing this, things seem to happen, or align, or balance out. I’m not sure how to describe it. But there is an energy behind it and once you get into the flow, the flow extends outward and things that seem coincidental are actually more serendipitous. It’s as if you created it. (Am I getting too far out there? I could be… but it’s truuuuuue!)

So let’s cover the strategies that are going to easily set you up so you can have your own practice that will allow you to become mindful, aware, and present in the moments as they arise in life. We need to know how to implement the action to really make a difference, so I'm giving you three strategies you can use today to get you sitting down and letting that sh*t go.

Step 1: Create your space.

This is a fun one! I love having a little space, and a little ritual, when I go to sit down. And trust me, I don't have a lot of space. I'm crunched between my bed and my closet and I sit on my bed pillow. But to make it feel a little bit more special, I light a candle that I keep by my bedside. It makes me feel like this is something more than plopping down on the floor and closing my eyes. You can decorate your space with anything that makes you happy. Maybe you have a favorite little knick-knack that you got on a fabulous trip somewhere that's just collecting dust up on a shelf. Pull it down and place it in front of you. Incense is also a fun thing and can really make you feel zen. I also play calming meditation music which helps me focus, and if I can't focus, then I just sit and listen to it. Any way you decorate your space it will be perfect and suited to you so have fun with it and make it feel special!

Step 2: Know your mantra.

I ain't gonna lie, thoughts are going to be zipping through your brain like wildfire! You're not going to be able to shut your brain down and you'll meander your way through your to-do list for the day, what needs to be made for dinner, what time do the kids need to be picked up and isn't it time for their dentist check-ups? Oh shit, I need to turn my brain off.

Here is where your mantra comes into play. Go back to it. Repeat it in your mind, and breathe. In and out. In and out. And don't stress over your mantra either. Keep it simple. Say "I'm grateful for all that I have" and repeat that. 

Step 3: Remind yourself it's a practice.

You're not going to be perfect at it from the get-go and you may not even feel the utmost benefit from it right away. You may walk away from the experience feeling a little underwhelmed. If you need a solid reason why you just "wasted" 10 minutes of your life then realize there are things going on "under the hood" that you're not totally aware of. Like how you just calmed down your sympathetic nervous system (which triggers anxiety, depression, tension, and fatigue), and geared up your parasympathetic nervous system that helps regulate your breathing, slows down heart rate, and decrease your blood pressure. You're also flooding your cells with life-giving oxygen.

There is always more going on beneath the surface than we realize so even though you may not have swept away your worries or anxieties, relish in the fact that your body is appreciative and relaxed. That's worth more than the running around and list making you could have done with those 10 minutes. 

Using these steps to create a practice that can change the way you see your world is a worthwhile cause, and a necessary one as this world is only going to get more crazed, more busy, and more overwhelming. It’s best to have a trick or two up your sleeve to help keep it all in check! And you can do it pretty much anywhere, even if you're sitting in your car in the pick-up line you can practice stillness and breathing.

Becoming mindful will provide benefits, you just need to be accepting and patient, and they will come.

Now I would love to hear from you! Do you have a daily practice? Or are you trying to stat one and you haven’t been successful? Leave a comment below and let me hear what’s working, or not working, for you. I’d love to help, and sometimes sharing can bring about a little clarity! 

How To Believe in Yourself: 3 Strategies to Rid Yourself of Negativity

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The saying goes, If you don’t believe in yourself then who will?

You know the old Louie Armstrong song, Noooooobuuuuudy knows the trouble I've seen. Noooooobuuuuudy knows my soooorrroooww. Ringing a bell? (Spaceballs anyone?!)

Ok, age aside (I'm feeling old) that song is a classic and at one point (or many) I'm sure we've all thrown a fab pity party centered around that exact theme. We're feeling low, knee deep in troubled waters, feeling under-appreciated and overwhelmed (hallooooooo motherhood, I'm talking to you!), and it's easy to let those feelings take over, which in turn cues that little voice in our heads that if left to their own devices can easily turn into a booming death metal song you can't get out of head! (WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU, DUN DUN DUN, GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER, DUN DUN DUN, YOU'RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH, DUN DUN DUN.... or something like that. Heh.)

Whatever the tune that plays in your mind, you do realize that those thoughts are there to undermine you, right? And you do realize that it's only your brain doing the job it was intended to do, right? When things get to be a bit too much, or we're feeling down and out about our situations, the human brain is designed to focus on what's going wrong in our lives and to basically freak out about it. It's been working that way for millions of years (so as to avoid death by lion feasting!), and although it would be a welcome change if it could slightly evolve so that we're all filled with joy and rapture all the time instead of shifting toward the negative, it did at one point serve a purpose. Now, however, these thoughts we have are actually helping to create depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, and so much more. 

That's why it's so important to have a strategy when you're feeling low because it's so easy to stay there and wallow in it. But honey, life keeps moving and if you spend too much time wallowing in your "comfort zone", (because let's be honest, even though it doesn't make you feel good, there is some sort of pleasure you get from remaining there... if it didn't, you'd get out of there ASAP!), you're gonna miss a whole big part of life. For example, all the good parts!

Let's get strategizing then so we can get to the good parts of living!

Here's what I've started doing when I'm feeling low and so far it's been helping me get out of some major funks. But it's a work in progress and just when you think you have it all figured out, you fall prey. So be diligent and practice these steps often so they become second nature to you.

1. Recognize your strengths. Because baby you've got them! You have a gift that only you have and you need to know what that gift is. And it could be many! Think of what you're good at and write it down. Make a list. Write it out and place it where you'll see it always! You're special and you have something that no one else in this whole wide world has, and you need to know it, celebrate it, and cultivate it.

Are you good at sorting stuff? Talking to strangers? Creating time-saving short-cuts? Whatever it is, no matter how small you think it is, it's something unique to you and you need to understand it and own it.

Even better, ask your close friends and family what they think your strengths are, I bet you'll be surprised (happily!) at what they have to say. 

2. Understand your triggers. What thought, or action sets in motion the feelings of inadequacy, failure, or anxiety? What causes you not to believe in yourself? Is it a person, an activity, a recurring thought? How can you change your circumstances so you can avoid or lessen the strength of that trigger?

For me, it's my lack to plan out my days, which inevitably leave me feeling like I've accomplished nothing with the time I had for the day. Something simple like that has the ability to knock the wind right out of my sails. Once I realized that, it became simple to come up with a solution. Now I spend 15 - 20 minutes every morning after the kids have been dropped focusing on what I want to accomplish along with what needs I have to fulfill (like going to the grocery store, planning play dates and returning library books - things that easily fall by the wayside.)

Once I learned that this little practice turned around those feelings of not being able to get it all done, I actually felt accomplished at the end of the day... so much better than feeling defeated!

3. Always be kind to yourself. Ditch the negative talk! It serves absolutely no purpose but to bring you down. And the more you do it, the more your brain and body begin to fall into line and believe it even more. I tell my son when he says something negative about himself or even his little brother, that what he says will go up to the stars who hear him and send the message back down to him even stronger so that everyone around him will begin to believe it. (That's the best way I can describe the energy of the Universe to him, and he gets it and stops the pattern right then and there. Usually!)

If you keep telling yourself that you're not worthy, that you don't believe in your abilities or that things can't get better, what do you think is going to happen? Joy isn't going to come along unexpectedly and smother you. No way. Joy sees your dark cloud and understands there is no room for it there.

When you notice the negativity starting to come in, stop it in its tracks by saying one nice thing about yourself. And then put a big fat smile on your face even if it's killing you inside to do it! It will change the moment and then you can change the thought.

3a. Get Inspired! (This was a last minute add-on but I was feeling it so strongly I had to share!) Having something to work towards, something that gets your juices flowing will get you out of your funk fo' sure!

Get selfish and take time to pursue your passions, even if it's for 10 minutes a day. What would you want to do if you could do ANYTHING in the world? Be a savvy day-trader? Know three languages? Learn how to make a mean Soupe à L'oignon? Whatever it is, becoming inspired creates a fire inside that just won't die. It keeps you young, and motivated, and can open up new worlds. Challenge yourself to get inspired and you'll soon forget you're in a funk!

I believe in these steps so much so that I created a pretty little worksheet for you to print out so you can practice these methods for yourself to see how they really do work. You can download the worksheet here, and please give yourself a good 10 - 15 minutes to fill it out. The power of your own written words is pretty incredible so take advantage and keep this close at hand when completed. Refer to it as often as you need!

If you have any methods that you employ that help you to get out of your funk and start believing in yourself, you must share! I'd love to hear what you do, so comment below and I'll let you know if that's something I'll begin to do as well! (Sharing is caring!) 

Mindfulness Can Breed Positivity!

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It's time to get mindful.

Like really, really mindful. I'm talking like put on your big girl pants and don't be afraid to take a real hard look inside your brain to see what's going in. Chances are it's a little bit messy in there because of all those fears, irrational thoughts, and anxieties that are rolling around in there... they are the epitome of messy, and the antidote to all that is get mindful. 

Just like closets, your brain holds so much junk that it's almost bursting at the seams with all that information and chatter. Endless chatter. I must think the same thoughts over and over and over so many times in a day it should literally drive me over the edge. And some days it does. 

Think about this... what do you focus on each day? Is it your finances, or your lackluster office job? Is it all about food and what you're going to eat to help get you out of a bad mood? A challenging relationship? Your full to-do list with not one thing checked off? Are you always running around like a chicken without a head, zipping from one place to the next, never having a moment to yourself? Are you annoyed at others for the current state of affairs in your life? 
 
Slow your roll and take stock.

That's all you have to do when starting out on a massive cleaning project. Take a look at what you're working with, and see how it's affecting/creating your life experiences. I've begun to do this because I'm a big, old, fat worry-wort and prone to anxiety, so I decided to try and figure out why I always feel overwhelmed, unfocused and lacking the energy to accomplish the things I want to do.

Ah, the age old question of WHY?! To be honest, I haven't an answer yet... but, on the flip side, I'm learning SO MUCH about myself. Like, I need to stop feeling like I'm not good enough (because no one has ever said to me, Hey Anne Marie, you really stink at being good enough!) Why am I saying it to myself?! Why do I feel the social pressure to be the perfect mom? Why can't I take it easy on myself?

Beware though, it's a bit of a mindf*ck when you start asking yourself questions about why you do and think certain things. You sometimes find there are no valid reasons. (And you've been wasting your time. And energy. For nothing!) That's actually a really cool side effect because it enables you to then free up that space for all the other good stuff, like taking care of yourself!

So this is why I'm asking you to start asking "why?". Why are you thinking about a certain thing, and how is that directly affecting how you encounter and interact with the people and circumstances around you? Get that notebook out (you know that one that's so cute you just had to have it! It was going to change the way you did things, it was going to help you to become more organized, thoughtful, and mindful. We all have that cute notebook so dust it off girl, it's time to start using it!), and jot down a few things that are trolling around in your brain. Start asking why, what supports that thought, and how can you change it to begin to help you feel empowered, instead of downright defeated. 

I bet you will be surprised at some of your answers.

Asking empowering questions are the key to changing and altering your conscious train of thought. Take control, start paying super close attention to where your thoughts take you, and turn them around if it's getting to be a little too dark in there. Empower yourself, love yourself, be kind, and smile. You are better than good enough and it's time you started to understand that!

I'd love to hear from you about what you discover! Leave a comment below and let's get the conversation started. We grow when we share and I would LOVE to grow my tribe with your help!

So answer me this: Ask yourself what do you love MOST about yourself. See what pops up. (i.e. Is it positive thoughts, or is it something more like, "Hmmmm... I don't know, I never thought of asking myself that, I don't have an immediate answer"?) 

3 Mindless Eating Habits You Can Stop Today!

Trust me, there are more than three, but I'm all about sizable chunks when it comes to processing/trying new things... and anything in three's is pretty doable so let's get to it lassy, weight loss isn't coming anytime soon unless we start getting busy!

1. Curb your nibbling!

A little tiny bite here, a small taste there, a small sweet treat because you deserve it... are all really bad ideas! Like really, really bad. I know it's not something you want to hear but you don't have to let it get your knickers in a wad. I'm nit-picking here because whatever you're doing, it ain't working sister. So I'm getting down to the nitty-gritty and I'm really pulling the rug out from underneath because I want you to make the small changes that are going to make the BIG changes!!!!

You mindlessly eat and it's a habit you don't even realize you have. (I do it too! And when I need to reign things in, this is where I begin. Why? Because it's simple.) All you have to do is... stop. Pay attention. Pay attention as if your kids are playing on the street. Be that vigilant. That aware. You can hear a car turn the corner three blocks away when your kids are playing in the street. You're up and already waving your hands for them to move aside, leering down the road watching the car come closer and closer. I want you to be THAT vigilant.

You know when you're looking for something to nibble on. You can see it coming a mile away. You're already thinking about it, sitting there in your cupboards, waiting to be snatched up. You're gonna totally going for it because it's little. It's harmless. It doesn't count. (Roaches are little too... but if you saw one of those bad boys you'd probably freak the eff out!) 

No matter how small, stop the mindless eating. If you're serious about losing weight, and I think you are, quit the snacking, plain and simple.

2. Don't ever wing it.

EVER. You need a plan and that plan will set you free (from your belly!) If you take a good, solid 15 minutes on whatever day works best for you, (I don't care if it's morning, noon or midnight!) create a solid meal plan. It doesn't have to be for the whole week, it can simply be for the next two days. Write out what you will eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the first day and then eat repurposed leftovers for the next day. Boom. Two days planned so you're never caught with a grumbling belly and no plan. Because that's when it's a free for all my friend. That's when the damage happens. Too many episodes like that and you're not feeling fab in your bathing suit. 'Nuff said. 

Take the time to meal prep... it will actually save you calories!

Take the time to meal prep... it will actually save you calories!

3. Quit it with the grains.

Just stop. Don't believe the hype. You don't need a grain for dinner anymore. It's like we've turned into grain-bots and automatically make a grain each night to accompany our protein and veg. Why does dinner need to be a protein, a carb, and a grain?? Veggies are carbs! Aaaaaaaaannnd here's the kicker... a carb that is a veggie has more fiber than a grain. Why is that important to know? Because not nearly enough of us get enough fiber in our diets and if you want to lose weight, well then you best up your fiber intake my dear. Fiber up! For dinner, make yourself a slew of veggies, I'm talking leafy greens, roots, sweet, sour, colorful, you name it and you should eat it! Who got fat from eating veggies?! NO ONE! (It's all the other crap that got them fat!) 

Test it out.

Try to set aside a week and test out these three simple ways to stop mindless eating. It doesn't have to be hard, you just have to put the time in (see #2 for that!) If you begin with the small things, the bigger things become more doable and you will really begin to start seeing results. 

But take a week, commit, and notice the difference.

And please don't be offended by my tough love! It really is love, and it's all really worth experimenting with, I promise! If after a week you don't feel like it worked for you, then try something new. Share with me what's working and what's not. I guarantee we can come up with a plan (with a side of tough love) that can work for you ;)

Leave a comment below, I'd love to hear if you've noticed any mindless habits that you do and if you have been successful in turning them around.