Just Breathe

just breatheA recent article in Shape magazine said that 16 seconds of meditating each day is all it takes to change your brain in ways that make you happier, more present and less frazzled.

Got stress? Nowadays it feels like there is a lot of stress in our world. We worry about keeping our kids safe, about a new promotion, losing the weight, paying off the student loan and saving for retirement. These are just a few among the MANY stressors in our lives.

Did you know in the early days of the humans they used stress for survival? It was a protective response to make sure they lived.

  • A lion appears across the plain > you feel stressed > you run away > your stress is relieved.
  • A storm rumbles in the distance > you worry about finding shelter > you find shelter > your anxiety is relieved.
  • You haven’t drank any water today > you feel stressed and dehydrated > you find water > your stress is relieved.

In fact, humans at this time didn’t really have chronic stress. They didn’t really have any uncertainty and lived more in the moment. They had to in order to survive. Today there are so many uncertain things in our lives that for many of us, it can be too much to bear.

We know we can’t get rid of the uncertainty. What do we do? A couple questions I always ask myself is, “What good is it going to do for me to worry about this? Is anything going to change if I sit here and worry about this all night?” These seem to put things in perspective for me and I move on.

A couple others that have been suggested are:

1. Measure Something. You don’t know if you are going to get the promotion but you can track how many quality projects you produce and how many relationships you build. You don’t know how much money you will have in retirement but you can track how much you put into savings each month.

The people that are the most successful in life and have the least stress are those that track which direction their life is going: one conversation at time. As told in one of my favorite books on the planet, Fierce Conversations, our lives are moving in one direction or another one conversation at a time. If you don’t feel things are going well, course correct and fix it. It’s never too late to make things right.

2. Shift Worry: Shift your worry from a long-term problem to a change in daily routine. Worry about living a long, healthy life? Start to walk daily and make good food choices. Instead of worrying about whether your child is getting a college scholarship, make sure they are studying every night. There are many ways we can shift focus to make sure our current actions are affecting our future.

Another great one for me is just breathing. Go ahead and give it a try: Take a deep breath for four counts and hold it for four, then slowly exhale for four and pause for a final four. Those 16 seconds of meditating might just be the one thing you need to clear your mind and move forward. And who doesn’t have 16 seconds?

So there’s your homework. Now go do it!

Happy Monday!


We Are the Sum of Our Daily Habits

I read an article a long time ago about habit formation and found it completely fascinating. It basically talked about the habit formation cycle (pictured below) and the fact that everything we become is the sum of our daily habits.

How do you become fit and healthy? The sum of your daily habits.

How do you find happiness and contentment? The sum of your daily habits.

How do you become a healthy eater? The sum of your daily habits.

“You are what you repeatedly do.”

I’ve struggled the past couple weeks with healthy eating. I do fine with breakfast and lunch. Then dinner hits and I eat things I wouldn’t normally eat. At first, I was having a hard time pointing my finger to why I was doing this. Then, I realized a few different things.

  1. My meal prepping and planning was not on point liked it normally is. The weekend is usually meal prep time and it’s safe to say the last few weekends had gotten away from me. Meal prepping saves so much time and headaches. I realize this even more when I’m not prepared!
  2. There were sweets in the house. I’m a firm believer that if you know it’s a temptation for you; don’t buy it! If it’s there, you are more likely to eat it. Let’s face it. If you don’t need it, the rest of your family doesn’t need it either. They may not like you for it sometimes but it’s for their own good!
  3. We always tell our weight loss clients to take it one meal at a time. I wasn’t doing that. I was starting to mesh all my meals up together and say to myself, “Well, I already had a bad snack this afternoon so that gives me permission to have a not so healthy supper.” Eating healthy is a mental game you are going to play with yourself for the rest of your life. One bad meal isn’t going to mess up your goals. Now…A whole week of bad meals could start to take down the wrong course.
  4. I was letting food be my boredom activity. You know that feeling where you are in the house and you start to look through the cabinets like gold is hidden in there somewhere? Yeah…that’s boredom. Walk away from the kitchen and find an activity to do. If it’s really bad, leave the house and do something! Except go to a restaurant or gas station. : ) Go for a walk. Take a bike ride somewhere. Go for a drive with your family. Visit a park. Do a crafting project with your kids. Do what you gotta do to avoid the temptation! Worst case scenario: Ask yourself, “Am I hungry enough to eat broccoli?” If the answer is yes, have some broccoli! If no, you’re not hungry, you’re just bored! Sometimes dehydration is disguised as hunger. Have a glass of water and see how you feel afterwards.

So, here I am being TOTALLY honest with you about my journey AND committing to starting fresh. It’s a new week. I’ve got my meal prepping and planning under control. My daily habits are in check to make good decisions. The good news? I’ve been crushing my workouts. Now it’s time to focus on both!

Here’s a link to the article I read: http://jamesclear.com/three-steps-habit-change

habit formation



A Little Travel. A Little Sickness.

fallingOne of the most common sentences we hear at the clinic is, “I had to travel for a few days and fell off the wagon, ” or “I got sick and threw everything out the window.” Have you said one of these sentences before? Sometimes it’s the smallest things that get us off track when it comes to fitness and nutrition.

I recently traveled to Minnesota to teach a class and there is always a TON of temptation when I go there. People wanting to take me out to dinner or go for a drink. Lunch being brought in that isn’t so healthy. Dessert flying around like nobody’s business.

After the trip, I was feeling great! Then Sunday hit and I felt like I had gotten hit by a truck. Pretty sure I got some sort of stomach bug. Could barely move and my whole body just ached. Why am I telling you this? Well, this is typically the type of week where someone would completely destroy their fitness and nutrition plan.

My advice to you: Don’t let that happen! I know it may feel easy to give up or you may lose willpower but you’re going to feel even worse if you lose all the progress you made. I love this quote by Jillian Michaels.

slash tires

Here are a few tips I’ve learned through traveling over the years and getting sick (which pretty much happens to all of us):

  1. Put your game face on: If you know you are going somewhere that is going to have temptation, you have to know how you are going to handle it in advance. Know you’re going to a restaurant? Check out the menu you in advance OR have a healthy snack in advance and pick the healthiest item you can find on the menu. Spending a bunch of time in the car? Pack healthy snacks so you don’t get tempted by all the unhealthy places you drive by. Got asked to bring food? Bring a healthy food or make something you don’t even like.
  2. Stay positive: When you’re sick, it can feel like it is never going to go away. If you’ve missed a workout, you may feel like you’re plan is all out of whack. There are several studies that show people who have a positive attitude and remain focused are able to rebound twice as fast as those that sit there and wallow. Celebrate every small win throughout the day. It may be as little as you were able to keep some food down or you drank your water for the day. Pat yourself on the back and say, “I did it! Good job me!”
  3. Listen to your body: Your body is a great indicator of what you can and cannot handle. If you feel yourself getting overworked, learn when to give your body a rest. Sometimes it can cause more harm than good to continue working out when you really shouldn’t be. I learned the hard way this weekend. I decided to run on Sunday morning even though I already didn’t feel good and it made it ten times worse! Make sure you take the rest your body deserves.
  4. No binging: You went to the restaurant, look at the menu and see about 20 items you want to stuff your face with. One cheat meal doesn’t mean an all out binge. Trust me. You won’t feel good mentally or physically. It’s not worth it! One rule of thumb I always remember is to take a little breather between each bite. It takes time for your stomach to send the signal to your brain that you are eating and getting full. Give it time to respond! You’d be amazed at how much faster you feel full and you can avoid the all out binge. A friend of mine used to order her food and then would ask for a to go box right away. She would split the meal in half and immediately put it in the box to take back to the hotel room for the next night.
  5. Request what you need: Don’t know how your meal is being cooked? Ask! Most restaurants are willing to cook your food the way you need it to be cooked. If you’re offered two sides, ask to double up on the salad or if there is a veggie that can be steamed up for you. The worst that could happen is they could say no.
  6. Keep going!: You messed up? You gave into temptation? You missed a workout? So what! You’re human. Shake it off. Get a good night’s rest and start over the next day. One bad day isn’t going to mess up everything. The most important thing you can do is stay focused, bounce right back and keep going!

You got this. I’m already feeling better and back on track.




Every Adventure Requires A First Step

every adventure

If you would have told me 7-8 years ago that I would be training for my 1st half marathon, I would have laughed in your face and immediately come up with some sort of reason for why I couldn’t do something like that. Don’t get me wrong. I have always loved fitness and participated in quite a few sports throughout my middle school and high school days. For some reason, the thought of running 13.1 miles just seemed “untouchable”.

I went to a Women’s Power Luncheon in Cedar Rapids, Iowa about 1 1/2 years ago and listened to a speaker by the name of Traci Fenton. She is the Founder/CEO of an organization called World Blu. My work at the time had sponsored the event and wanted women in the organization to participate and support it. I  was drawn to the content being presented and thought, “Why not?”

While Traci was speaking, she talked about fear. What fear does to our mind, body and spirit. She presented a concept called The Power Question. This is a question you can ask yourself when you are looking for direction, motivation or clarity on your personal and professional life.

The question was, “What would you if you weren’t afraid?” The question struck me in a way that it never had before. We were asked to write an answer down on a piece of paper and share it in front of a group. My answer was, “I would run a half marathon.” Saying it aloud held me immediately accountable. I literally read this aloud in front of over 100 people.  After Traci was done speaking, she sent all of us with a piece of paper that had the power question written on it.

The reason I’m sharing this is all of us have fears when it comes to health and wellness. That’s human. But what’s holding you back from doing what your REALLY want to do? It may have taken me over a year of running shorter races but I’m doing it. I took the first step, signed up and now I’m in my 2nd week of training. It’s both exciting and scary but with every run, I can feel my body get stronger and stronger.

My challenge to you is to answer the power question for yourself. What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Write it down and tell someone. Make a goal for when you will accomplish it and don’t let FEAR get in your way. Your goal may be very different from mine and that’s ok. Whatever you want to achieve, you need to do what works best for YOU.

I’ll keep you posted on my training routine. Sometimes the hardest part is taking the first step. I hope this inspires you to take your first step.



Picture: Feeling good and happy after my 1st 3 mile training run.