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Reinforce Your Resolution

12 Jan

Resolutions are tricky; we want to set a goal that really matters, but not something so crazy we could never achieve it. Some of us shoot for the moon and others are still contemplating that perfect goal. For all who really want to see improvements in life, here are a few things that can boost you toward your desired outcome, whether you call it a resolution or just a much needed change.

  1. Get focused. Make sure you’re targeting your desired outcome. Let’s use weight loss as an example. It’s a good start to say you want to lose 15 pounds in the New Year, but give yourself a little time to think about it. What do you believe losing the weight will do for you? Do you want to be in a smaller size, or do you want to tighten up in specific areas? Losing the weight may or may not get you to those specific outcomes unless you identify in advance exactly what you want.
  2. Quantify where you are and where you want to be. With weight or clothing size, this step is pretty easy, but it takes some thought when it comes to goals that aren’t numbers driven. Drilling down to the specifics pays off and makes it much easier to see your progress, and course correct if you’re getting off track.
  3. Determine the pay-off for you and others. Imagine that you’ve met your goal. How does that change your day-to-day life? How does it change things for your loved ones? What are the long-term benefits of this accomplishment? If the resolution is a big leap for you, it may be helpful to visualize your accomplishment by creating an inspiration board or journaling as if you have already achieved the goal. (This can be useful throughout the year as inspiration, reminding you that the benefits will be bigger than the obstacles.)
  4. Think beyond the resolution. What has contributed to the issue or current status? What changes and actions will help you achieve your resolution? As you consider these questions, it may be helpful to revisit the last step to remind you why this goal is so important to you.
  5. Identify obstacles & plan a counterstrike. Take some time to think about the barriers you may face and the weaknesses you could experience as you work toward your goal. When you identify what may come between you and your desired future, plan around it. For each obstacle, give yourself options, reinforcement and support that you can use when you need it the most.
  6. Set mile markers. To keep you moving toward your goal, it’s helpful to see progress as you go. Breaking down your goal into smaller steps allows you to see progress as you go and allows you accomplish it in reasonable segments. The quantified info from step 2 may help you identify specific, reasonable incremental goals.
  7. Reward yourself. Plan to win and give yourself benefits along the way. If your goal is to get into a smaller size, don’t hold back all the reward until you get there. Buy something flattering at the halfway point, or enjoy a rejuvenating relaxation day. (Just make sure your reward is supportive of your goal!)
  8. Review & revise. One reason resolutions are broken is that we’re no longer in alignment with the goal. We can lose sight of the importance, feel frustrated, or believe we’re not on track to succeed. When you give yourself an opportunity to review the resolution, you can refresh your commitment or revise the plan so you can reap the rewards of your resolution.

These steps should help you achieve your resolutions and minimize stress and frustration while you work toward them. Cheers!

 

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How Relaxation Can Make You Healthier & Happier

8 Jun

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With all that we have to do in a day, it isn’t easy to take time out for relaxation, but the health benefits are definitely worth it. I’ve gotten some great questions from clients about relaxation and thought a quick Q&A review could help encourage you to commit to a daily relaxation practice.

What benefits can be gained from relaxation?

Mindful relaxation (relaxation with intention) has been proven to lower stress and the resulting physical effects including: muscle tension, elevated heart rate, unhealthy cortisol fluctuation, hormone imbalances, irregular metabolism, and heightened inflammation. Research shows that regular relaxation can:

– Improve heart health and reduce the risk of stroke;

– Improve immune function;

– Boost memory;

– Reduce the incidence of depression;

– Improve focus, attention, decision making (and even test scores!);

– Help overcome cravings and weight issues;

– Reduce acne; and

– Improve hormone levels.

How does relaxation improve health?

When we’re truly relaxed, the body sends signals to the brain that we are content and safe. Heart rate slows, breathing is deep and steady, muscles relax and blood pressure is regulated. These physical changes allow the brain to shift out of activation mode (fight or flight) and into a neutral, balanced state – which then allows cortisol levels to lower.

When we’re in fight or flight, our brain is laser focused on essential survival functions – ready to defend and preserve. When we relax regularly and shift into neutral, it reduces stress on the body and brain and promotes a more balanced state, even after the relaxation has ended. When our brain is in neutral and no longer over-activated, we’re able to live our lives more comfortably and joyfully, with greater health – and we have an improved capability to respond to an urgent matter when necessary.

Isn’t relaxation the same thing as sleep?

No, sleep is critical for health too, it just serves a different function. The brain is very busy as we sleep – communicating with the body and converting short-term memories to long-term.  One of the values of doing relaxation when you’re awake is that it teaches the brain to move out of the higher frequency activity while you’re alert. Being calm and relaxed during the day in contrast to being action-focused is a way of informing the brain that we are not at risk, so the brain can commit resources to all “non-essential” functions (like being calm, experiencing happiness, and digesting food properly).

How long do I need to relax each day?

To really give your brain a clear indication that you’re safe and are well served in neutral, it’s best to relax about twenty minutes, once each day. This give you enough time to get into a relaxed rhythm of breath and achieve a slower heart rate. You can also leverage this relaxation practice at stressful times throughout the day by taking in three or four expansive breaths and exhaling fully.

Does watching TV qualify as relaxation?

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy – watching television or listening to your favorite music doesn’t qualify as true relaxation. Although it may get your mind off of the stress of your day, it doesn’t provide the improvement in heart rate variability, breathing, cortisol levels and muscle tension. A good way to begin deep relaxation is to spend twenty minutes relaxing in a comfortable, seated position focused on your breathing. If you begin thinking too much, just let the thoughts pass and direct your thoughts back to breath.

When is the best time to relax?

The good news is – you can benefit from relaxation anytime of the day. When you’re first starting a relaxation routine, I encourage you to plan for it at a time that is most convenient, so you can practice consistently. If you decide to do your relaxation first thing in the morning or right before bedtime, try to do it sitting upright to make it easier to resist falling asleep. When the brain isn’t used to mindful relaxation, it tends to take the relaxation cues as an invitation for sleep. If you would rather plan it for the middle of the day, just find a quiet space where you can sit comfortably and not be interrupted. Eventually you will be able to relax in the midst of chaos, but that’s not easy when you’re first starting!

What if I can’t relax?

Many people feel that they are incapable of relaxing when they first try and that’s validation that it’s really needed. Relaxation is truly a skill. If stress is a big factor in your life, your brain may resist it – believing that you need to be in survival mode. Just keep practicing and keep these points in mind:

– You don’t need to clear your mind of thoughts, you just want to allow the thoughts to pass rather than engaging in problem solving, planning or remembering.

– You can use techniques to help distract you from thoughts – like imagining a peaceful landscape, focusing on your breathing, repeating a positive statement or releasing tension from each area of your body.

– It takes time to develop the skill and begin to feel the changes from relaxation. Once you start sleeping better, enjoying life more and are achieving your goals more easily, you’ll be hooked!

I hope you experience blissful relaxation!

Feel free to post questions and comments below.

Take Control of Your Health

16 Jan

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Ugh. There are too many unhealthy, unhappy people. This isn’t news to me – I watched my Mom lose her strength and eventually her life when she was just twenty-nine. It has been many years since, but unfortunately, these illnesses are getting much more common despite the investment and research to cure them. Having my own children has been my wake up call.

Since early 2000, I’ve been strategically navigating the nutrition waters, and let me tell you – these waters are NOT safe. Honestly, I’ve been slowly figuring it out over the years, reading – taking classes, whatever it takes to learn about the opportunity to be healthy and stay healthy. And it IS an opportunity rather than a given. You have to reach for it, preferably before you are already at a deficit.

So, here I am today – frustrated. So many beautiful lives out there are losing the fight. The loss that my friends, family and clients are feeling after getting the heartbreaking news makes my soul ache. I can’t keep questioning how I’ll be received – or how many people will even read what I have to say. We all have to start somewhere and I am determined to help people get started toward healthier lives.

For those out there who want to be healthier, or want to encourage others to be, let’s join together and square off with our food. Here’s the challenge – commit to ONE WEEK of real food. Read labels, chose organic, avoid all processed foods and KNOW WHAT YOU’RE EATING. Just give it ONE WEEK. Of course, I don’t want you to stop there, but the education that you will get in that time should motivate you to make lasting changes. It will take effort, and you will make mistakes and eat unhealthy food sometimes, but your health is worth every challenging step you take.

I’m not trying to rebel against commerce or “fight the power” – but I don’t want to see people handing over the health of their children or the strength and resilience of their own bodies to ANY wealth-seeking entity. My original, immediate family is gone – not because of any targeted, malicious act; they just didn’t live with the intention to stay healthy. They were seemingly fit most of their lives, but their resistance to disease somehow slipped away. They didn’t see the dangers in everyday living, or maybe they chose to take that risk. I learned a difficult lesson from that.

Now, it’s my job to educate my family about the opportunities and dangers. My children are young enough that I can guide them and provide the healthiest foods, but they need to make their own decisions for health as well. We all do. There are so many opportunities to grow in a positive direction; I don’t want them (or any of you) to get bogged down in the negativity of the issues. Just know the facts, and make health-conscious decisions for yourself and your family based on those facts. Each of your decisions will add up to positive results.

I welcome any of you who wish to join my extended health-seeking family. I will be glad to provide more information, support, lists, recipes, references and answers to questions – just comment below or send a message. Whether you’re just starting this journey or somewhere along the path, I believe there is a lot we can offer each other.

Blessings on your health-seeking adventure!

Focus on What Drives Your Goals

10 Jan

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I’m not a big believer in front loading the New Year with goals just for the tradition of it. So often, we set ourselves up for disappointment when we do – we set loads of expectations, do very little planning, and even less follow through. I believe the statistic is just ten percent of all Americans who follow through with their New Years resolutions. I’m not saying we should avoid resolutions altogether; let’s just do things a little differently, so we get the results we want.

Here’s what I propose:

Ask yourself – What do I need to accomplish?

AND WHY?

This “why” is really important. It’s what you need to think about when you’re tempted, if you falter, and when you think about giving up.

Here’s an example. Five years ago, I decided I needed to make changes in my nutrition. I wasn’t feeling well, had low energy, and hadn’t lost the baby weight from my then two-year-old son. When I sought answers, my blood work indicated that I had a wheat intolerance and should eliminate gluten from my diet. Technically, my goals were to lose weight, increase my energy and improve my overall health. Then I quantified desired outcomes; the problem was, I had dealt with all those factors for more than two years and they weren’t that compelling.

But when I thought about WHY I really needed to accomplish these goals, I got fired up. I thought about being active, vital and healthy for my children as they grew up. I had lost my Mom when I was little, so I knew it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility to lose vitality at a young age and I got MOTIVATED! I stopped eating all things gluten and haven’t looked back. I’ve never cheated – not even one piece of pizza – until I found gluten-free options! Accomplishing my goals changed everything for me (it would take many more blogs to explain), and focusing on my “why” made it possible.

There are certainly more ways to prepare for successful goals, which I will likely write about next – but motivation and focus can be gained by identifying your “why”.

Happy New Year!

Are You Dehydrated?

7 Dec
Are You Dehydrated?

Are You Dehydrated?

Water is essential to health and it makes sense when you consider that our bodies are more than 60% water. Just the daily processes of breathing and elimination cause us to lose about 60 ounces of our body fluids each day, so replenishing is necessary. Many of us develop the ability to ignore our signaling for water, which can cost us. When we don’t have enough water, we get reminders from our body – but we think of them as annoying symptoms. Digestive issues, dry skin, headaches, constipation, and difficulty focusing are some of the hints we get, and if we don’t rehydrate, our organs are forced to scale back and make due with the supply of resources they get. Long-term, this can really strain the system and cause serious health issues.

There’s debate about the quantity of water we need to drink. It seems reasonable to start at a minimum of 60 ounces to replenish what we’ve lost, and increase when active or feeling thirsty. Our body weight plays a part too; the more we weigh, the more water we have, lose, and need to replenish. The latest research suggests half your body weight in ounces of water should be consumed each day. Believe it or not, there are limits to stay within so you avoid the uncommon effects of water toxicity. You don’t want to drink too much, too quickly or exceed about 100 ounces per day (see my previous post, “Healthy Hydration” for more details).

Of course, there’s the other critical question – What’s the best quality water to drink? Unfortunately, the most accessible resource to most of us – tap water, is not ideal. It typically contains contaminants and chemicals that distract the body (at best) and can even accumulate in the body and cause sickness or disease. So the short answer is, distilled or quality filtered water is much preferred over tap water. The longer, more detailed discussion will be posted soon. Please let us know what works well for you!

Healthy Hydration

3 Dec

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We’re doing a Healthy Holiday Hydration Challenge all through December, (join us on Facebook!)
As we increase our water, one important question is: Can we drink TOO MUCH water?
Too much of anything can be bad for you, so the short answer is, “yes”. Basically, you don’t want to drink too much too fast – like chugging 30oz all at once. The huge influx of water can overwhelm the bladder and kidneys. Another risk is that too much water in a short amount of time could wash away sodium from the blood, which helps regulate the amount of water that cells absorb. Some of the symptoms of water toxicity include: dizziness, nausea, confusion, seizures, and even hallucinations. For people with healthy kidney and liver function, the occurrence of these symptoms is not common, but it’s important to drink responsibly!

– Consider this guideline: Drink half your weight in ounces of water, not to exceed 100 ounces in a day.
– Pace yourself and drink throughout the day.
– Make sure you eat nutritious foods to provide your body the vitamins & minerals needed.
– Listen to your body; if you feel like you’re not responding well to water, back off a bit.
– If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned, you may wish to contact a health professional.
– Avoid a major change in water intake until you speak to your health practitioner if you have a major health condition.

These tips should help you get the benefits of hydration without the rare symptoms of water toxicity. Here’s to your your health!

A Little About Natural Remedies

23 Nov

So, just as eating healthier is often a gradual progression, my transition to natural remedies wasn’t overnight. At first, I didn’t realize the damage I was doing by going with the standard over-the-counter medicines. I mean, everyone else uses them; how bad could they be?

Bad.

I mean, really bad.

That’s what I learned when I couldn’t live in the shadow of denial anymore and started doing some research. And you know what else I learned? NOT everyone else uses the chemically-based quick fixes. There are plenty of people who, after bad reactions, ineffectiveness, or just the desire for better options – have found their way to natural options. And they work.

What I love most about natural remedies is that they address the source of the issue. The medicines I used to take masked symptoms and I typically had to take them on an ongoing basis. Headache? Take a pain reliever hope for relief – pain returns, repeat the process. And I would think, “well, that’s why they’re sold in mega-sized bottles, right?” Great.

Now we flash forward several years – if someone in my family has a headache, I first ask “why?” Every symptom our body presents is telling us something. I’m not saying I welcome a headache, but I don’t pop a pill to mask it; that’s like taking the batteries out of my smoke detector when it goes off in my home. If I silence the alarm without knowing the cause of smoke, I’m likely to have much bigger problems later.

So, what natural remedies do I use? Well, for one – I have an amazing resource of essential oils that help with everything. I mean e-very-thing. I never would have believed it before trying them, so don’t feel bad for doubting. Headaches, stomach aches, warts, blemishes, pain, ear infections, pink eye, nausea, flu, congestion – it’s crazy how many things the oils have helped my family and my clients address. And they’re very useful for prevention too. I can’t tell you how much money my family has saved since we started using essential oils – no doctor appointments in years!

I also use food, nutritional supplements, herbal remedies, homeopathics, and other natural products to support the body and overcome issues that challenge health. There will be lots of blogs to come that detail natural options. I love to help people navigate toward a healthier life, so let me know what specific questions I can blog about to help you.