Life goes better…

…when I take care of me! I love to wake up in the morning, make a pot of coffee and sit down at the computer for an hour while listening to a meditation from Tara Brach. However, I find that if I don’t exercise first thing in the day the chances that I’ll do it later decrease rapidly throughout the day so lately I’ve been making a few changes that seem to work well for me…

Instead of sitting down at the computer I put on my walking clothes, spend 5 minutes stretching and walk for 30 minutes while listening to my meditation. Then when I return home, I have a big glass of water before drinking coffee and I seem to need less to do more. I like eggs for breakfast but instead of eating them with butter and cheese I’m finding that hard-boiled along with some vegetables is a good way to go!

These are relatively minor changes but they make a massive difference in how much energy I have the rest of the day. How about you? What one positive thing could you do that would make a major impact in your life if you started doing it now? What one negative thing could you drop that would have a positive impact in your life?



Create Healthy Habits!

Take 21 days to create a new healthy habit and the habits you create will take care of you! With what healthy habits would you like to start the new year? A year from now, you’ll wish you had started today…

Oh, and by the way if you’re a geeky type you might want to look into tools like Habitforge to get you started!

image via Visual Inspiration: Create Healthy Habits!.

15 Great Excuses Not to Form the Fitness Habit

Leo Babauta writes:

Lots of people know they should be getting fit, but they can’t seem to find the time to form the fitness habit.

And while I understand this completely — I was stuck in overweight, unhealthy mode for years — I think it’s useful to take a look at the justifications we give ourselves to put it off.

I put things off because I didn’t have time, or energy, or I had too many family commitments, or not enough motivation, or work kept getting in the way, or I didn’t feel good enough to run, or I was sick, or other people would make things difficult, or I didn’t have the money for a gym membership … you get the idea.

But I’ve learned to kill all the excuses. Or to put it less violently, I’ve found loving ways to let them go and embrace the joy of a fit and healthy life.

I did it with six kids and a wife, a full-time job (and now my own business), a ton of family and work commitments, freelancing on the side, building a blog on the side, while writing various books … and so the excuses were ultimately meaningless.

Why might you be putting things off? Let’s look at the justifications, and try to blast them.

Full story at:  » 15 Great Excuses Not to Form the Fitness Habit :zenhabits

Being Fit Without Letting Food and Exercise Control You

“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.” ~Unknown

Get the rest here: Being Fit Without Letting Food and Exercise Control You | Tiny Buddha.

Your Body: One Year From Today

One of my favorite quotes in working with clients is “A year from now you’ll wish you started today”. Along those lines, Craig Harper writes:

If you’re serious about changing your body, and more importantly, keeping it that way, below you’ll find some relevant, valuable and potentially-transformational questions. They are the type of questions that I ask anyone who comes to me for coaching in this area. Keep in mind that transformation lives in the doing, not just the knowing, so if you’re in need of a physical overhaul, or maybe just a few minor modifications, take some time to answer the following thoughtfully and courageously.

What do you want your body to look, feel and function like one year from today (be specific)?

What do you need to do practically, to make your goal a reality?

What happens once your motivation subsides (it will)?

What happened last time you tried to change your body?

Why and how will it be different this time (if nothing changes, nothing changes)?

What’s your optimal exercise strategy (based on your genetics, age, goals, fitness, injuries, etc.)?

What’s one simple thing (that will make a difference) that you can change today?

What happened over the last 365 days (with your body)? Why?

Are you genuinely prepared to do the work (and to keep doing it), or do you just like ‘the idea’ of a different body?

Do you need to change your relationship with food? If so, how?

Do you have an accountability system? If so, what is it?

When it comes to the practical change-your-body variables (food, lifestyle, exercise, time management), what are your ‘non-negotiables’?

As I’ve said many times before on this site, when we ask better questions and we’re genuinely committed to change, we make better decisions, do better things, produce better results and our reality shifts.

Statistically, we know that, despite their conversations, declarations and intentions, most people won’t improve their health or fitness over the next year. Some will, most won’t. Of course, they can change and they want to change, but sadly, they won’t. Like the majority of our ever-expanding population, some will continue to get on and off the weight-loss merry-go-round, all the while complaining about their genetics, the weather, their sore ankle, their limited time and their exhausting schedule.

And then they’ll wake up and it will be July 2013.

Today, I challenge you to be in the minority.” via Your Body: One Year From Today.

When I read things like this I used to feel guilty — now I’m happy I’m on the right path! I started power walking in March and now walk, run and bike ride; thanks to Endomondo, I know I’ve put in over 500 miles in all three since I started…

I’ve lost over 100 pounds with Atkins in the past 10 years but gained 75 of it back because I don’t believe that Atkins is sustainable or healthy based on my experience. I’m sorry to tell you there is no substitute for eating better and exercising more…

Let It Go: Switching Off Your Inner Chatter

Letting go

Don’t you hate those days where you can’t turn off the negative internal chatter in your head? When you wake up in the morning and the very thing that was circling around in your head the night before is there to greet you with a big nudge, and not even a coffee?

This negative chatter can really impact your productivity throughout the day and ruin your ability to live in the moment. It’s only natural that we worry about circumstances in our lives, we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t. However, when these thoughts consume our heads to the point where we find it difficult to concentrate on anything else, it’s important you have a coping mechanism in place to try and get you through the day.

When it comes to decluttering the head and letting go of what’s worrying you, we found some really practical tips in 7 Ways To Let Go Of What’s Ailing You. The article explains that while we may not be able to solve the problem on the spot, there are many ways we can try and let it go of it for the time being.

“Letting go doesn’t mean ignoring the problem. It simply means that you realize that there is nothing you can do about the issue right now, and rather than having it consume your life with stress and anxiety you are going to put it aside until you are in a position where you can deal with it.”

One of our favorite tips in the article is the visualization exercise. If you’re not used to visualizing, this may seem a little strange to start off with, however, this method can be very effective as it puts you in a position of control to deal with the problem, even if it’s just in your head. For example:

“Imagine the thing that is bothering you, and then visualize placing it in a balloon and watching it float away.”

You’ll be surprised by how therapeutic this exercise can be and the ability for it to free your mind.

If this method isn’t for you, another helpful tip is to write your thoughts down. If you feel the anxiety building in the morning before you’ve even entered the shower, sit down and freely write your thoughts, paying little attention to the need for it to make sense.

The aim is to release everything from your mind, no matter how illogical your thoughts may seem, and write for as long as it takes to get everything out. You’ll be surprised how easily and quickly the words fall to the page when they come from the heart – it’s almost as if the brain is relieved it has an opportunity to freely unload. Even if writing isn’t your forte, this is a very easy exercise which you can turn into a daily practice.

Do you use a technique to turn off the internal chatter running around in your head? Or perhaps you have several depending how severe the issue is? Tell us about your favorite method and how effective it is at “letting thoughts go”. via Let It Go: Switching Off Your Inner Chatter.

Get Your Exercise Without Going to the Gym

We have so many labor-saving devices these days, it’s no wonder we’re all getting pudgy. But, if we could look at everyday activities as exercises that can help us to reach our fitness goals and avoid paying gym fees, we might embrace them as something more positive than we have in the past.

The number of calories you burn during an activity depends on a number of factors, including your body size and composition, your gender and your age. It will also depend of the length of time you spend doing the activity but there’s no question that you can get your exercise without going to the gym.

via Get Your Exercise Without Going to the Gym.

I used to use living 18 miles from the Y as an excuse for being a fatass — another excuse was that the weather in Algoma sucks 7 months out of the year. I decided to stop making excuses and start power walking at 4.5mph, cycling at 15mph [weather permitting] and doing yoga — YES. Yoga! Deal with it…

Here are the most important tools in my smartphone arsenal:

Workin’ your body weight…

David Kanigan shared this great video as part of his morning workout schedule…

It’s a great reminder for me! I live in rural Wisconsin where we don’t have health clubs or fitness centers. For years, I’ve let myself go to hell physically because the nearest YMCA is 18 miles away in Sturgeon Bay — after all, how could I workout without an elliptical machine?

Lately I’ve made a couple of important changes that are helping me quite a bit;

  • Eating mostly live or unprocessed foods [no more cheddarwurst, David!] — Brussels Sprouts ROCK!!! Try this recipe.
  • Drinking mostly water and tea, although I’m still addicted to my morning ‘red eye’ [coffee with two shots of espresso] and the occasional beer from Titletown Brewing Company in Green Bay. I don’t drink with meals — doesn’t help the digestion at all and food/beverage pairings have been the death of me; ie, cookies and milk, pizza and beer, cheddarwurst and diet soda. Some things that go together just shouldn’t go together in your body…
  • Walking every day. I used to be a runner until I had back surgery in 1990. I thought walking was for wusses — it was, the way I was doing it. I use Endomondo on my smartphone to compete against myself and walk miles in less than 14 minutes. Doing it that way, walking helps! NOT walking or exercising is for wusses. I bike, also and Endomondo has a website that shows me how all my efforts are adding up, too…
  • Yoga. Yup, Yoga. I have a couple of apps on my smartphone like Daily Yoga for Back Buildup and Sworkit that are really useful for toning my almost 54 year old body. Clients like Jackie Dumaine have been instrumental in changing my mindset around tools like yoga, too…
  • Last? I threw out my scale. In the past, I’ve lost 50lbs. three times; once using running in college, twice using Atkins. Atkins sucked for me — it was painful and the weight came back because the lifestyle is not sustainable. But, I wanted the instant gratification from the scale. This time around, I don’t let the scale tell me if I’m having a good day. I know if I’m doing the work or not and that if I do the right things, the right results will follow. I’m also not in it for a quick fix — I’m in it for the long haul; I want to live the rest of my life fit and healthy, not letting a mechanical device tell me if I’ve been good or bad.
You might be thinking to yourself at this point that I’m Captain Obvious but this stuff is just dawning on me now. David’s video got me thinking about the good decisions I’ve been making lately and the difference they are making in EVERYTHING I do and it’s encouragement to dig down deeper and do even more. Thanks, buddy! Saturday Morning Work-Out Inspiration: Workin’ your body weight… – Lead.Learn.Live..

Intelligence Follows the Wheel

English: Exercise wheel for a small rodent, di...

I ran across some interesting research the other day that I wanted to take a few moments to share here. For years scientists have known that giving mice “enriched” environments makes the mice smarter. They would put in colorful toys, tunnels, exercise wheels, etc. and mice who lived in the “enriched” environments performed better on tests than the mice in the non-enriched cages. Finally some scientists started trying to figure out exactly what it was in the enriched environment’s was making the mice smart.

It turned out it wasn’t the colorful balls or toys. it all came down to the exercise wheel. Even though the mice loved the toys the thing that made them smart was running on the wheel. The intelligence followed the exercise wheel–not the toys.

This has some interesting implications for people who want to perform at their peak mental capabilities. Maybe exercise is the one of the best ways to invest your time in getting smarter.” via Intelligence Follows the Wheel | Productivity501.

Own Your Day With A Morning Ritual

Curated from FinerMinds:

Morning Rituals are not difficult to define – it’s basically something you do every morning after you wake up, as part of your daily schedule. This alone may sound trivial, but you’d be amazed at how a simple ritual could impact the rest of your day, and ultimately – your life.

What’s awesome about morning rituals is that you’re in control of whatever you choose to incorporate into it. What matters is deciding why you want to add a ritual into your morning and how doing it repeatedly will boost your spirit. See it as the opening credits to your day’s TV show starring you as the main character. Are you a stage owner like X-Factor, quirky but witty like 30 Rock or part of a lively bunch like Modern Family?

Morning Rituals give you a reason to get out of bed in the morning, and helps to prepare you mentally and physically for the day’s tasks and challenges. It also plays as the more tolerable (and likable) sidekick to your alarm clock, helping you to develop the habit of waking up at a certain time every day and going through an enjoyable routine until you leave your house.

Morning rituals are about you, and, depending on how well you’ve allocated your time for it – are also about indulging in the luxury of not having to rush to work or wherever it is you have to be. Organization is key!

Don’t have a morning ritual yet? To develop your own and stick to it firstly pick an appropriate wake-up time. How long would you need before you have to surrender yourself to reality? Next, pick your objective for your ritual – do you want to use it as a mood lifter, as a mean to improve your health, an opportunity to catch up with or a hobby, or extra quality time with your family?

Test your new ritual for a week or two to make sure if it sits with your personality and your schedule, and if you are able to practice it consistently. Allow time to experiment with what works best. Here are some great ideas we found online for a little inspiration:

1. Welcome the day at sunrise. Even if you don’t have to be up that early, just drag yourself out of bed and watch the sunrise whilst absorbing the stillness around you. Use this opportunity to have your alone time with you and the universe. The first break of light, the slow wakening of traffic, the morning dew – bask in the moment and breathe in this start to a positive day.

2. Start the day healthy. Take advantage of the morning quiet to meditate, which will help you connect with yourself to better prepare your body and mind for the day. Or break into a quick sweat with some yoga or exercise. Morning exercise jumpstarts your metabolism and will instantly energize you, not to mention regulate your appetite so you can make better food choices and not fall to the hands of irregular eating and bad snacking. In fact, exercise can improve brain power and protect against memory loss as you age. And who said you needed a whole hour to meditate or exercise? 15 minutes is all you need!

3. Include your loved ones in the ritual. Snuggle up together with your children and exchange dreams from the night before. Engage in a loving or relaxing chat with your partner (you may need to encourage them to participate but it will be worth it!). Open the door and let your cat or dog in; they are always happy to greet you in the morning! Or even spend 10 minutes mentally planning the day ahead and ensuring that all family members and tasks are accounted for (we recently read Victoria Beckham left her son Brooklyn at home as she drove to his school to drop him off…)

4. Dance the grogginess away. Pick an anthem for yourself, put it on and dance around in your bedroom or anywhere in the house. Even if you don’t dance or sing along, a little background music is sure to put a little bounce or pep in your steps as you prepare for your day.

5. Take breakfast outside. Or by the window. Or wherever you can get a decent view. Sink your feet into the grass as you walk around your garden, sipping on a mug of coffee. Have your cereal on the porch. Walk to the nearest cafe to get a freshly baked pastry or a smoothie. Watch your neighborhood come to life, and you will come to life too ;)

Do you already have a morning ritual? If yes – share it with us! If you don’t have one yet, what do you think yours could be, and would you be willing to start it soon? We’re all ears, and eyes!” via FinerMinds

5 Tips for Boosting Your Willpower

Two views of local Extension leaders drilling ...

Need to get started? Ponder this:

“Who among us has not made a plan to get up in the morning and exercise, but then hit snooze one time too many, sleeping through our morning jog?

We may have been super-inspired by the incredible brain-boosting properties of exercise. We may have had every intention to start an exercise plan and stick to it. But then… we didn’t. Our warm bed sucked us in. We’ll exercise tomorrow. What we need is willpower.

Once we get in the habit of exercising—or of staying calm in the face of a toddler meltdown, of not checking our email after five o’clock, or of doing anything else we want to have the resolve to do—we don’t need to try so hard. But for now, because we are in the habit of pushing snooze—or yelling, or checking email compulsively all evening—we need self-discipline.” via 5 Tips for Boosting Your Willpower | Psychology Today.

Follow the ‘via’ link above to get 5 great tips…

A seven-step prescription for self-love

Some people see the term ‘self love’ and immediately start to squirm, yet the Good Book says we must ‘love our neighbor as ourselves’ implying that self-love is fundamental in healthy relationship. Author Dr. Deborah Khoshaba shares her perspective here…

Self-love is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological and spiritual growth. Self-love is dynamic; it grows by actions that mature us. When we act in ways that expand self-love in us, we begin to accept much better our weaknesses as well as our strengths, have less need to explain away our short-comings, have compassion for ourselves as human beings struggling to find personal meaning, are more centered in our life purpose and values, and expect living fulfillment through our own efforts.

Here is my Seven-Step Prescription for Self-Love. Continue reading “A seven-step prescription for self-love”

A Compact Guide to Creating the Fitness Habit

A Marine of the United States Marine Corps run...
Image via Wikipedia

Health is one of my 3 words for 2012. Here are some good thoughts from Leo Babauta

A new year, a new slate of resolutions.

Perhaps the biggest resolution at New Year’s is to get fit — start exercising, start eating right, and all that jazz.

But resolutions never last. As you might already know, I’m not a fan of resolutions.

Instead of creating a list of resolutions this year, create a new habit.

Habits last, and they lead to long-term fitness (and more). They require more patience, but they are worth the wait.

As some of you know, fitness habits are what started me along the path to changing my life. I quit smoking, started running. Then I started eating healthier, became vegetarian (now vegan), quit the junk food addiction, started doing other types of workouts (bodyweight, weights, Crossfit, anything that was fun).

And six years later, I’m nearly 39 years old and in the best shape of my life. I have less bodyfat than any time since high school, more muscle than ever in my life, and I can run and hike and play longer than anytime in the history of Leo. That’s not to brag, but to show you what can be done with some simple fitness habits.

Source: » A Compact Guide to Creating the Fitness Habit :zenhabits

Go to the source if want the rest of his perspective…

Taking care of Yourself

Feelings (David Byrne album)
Image via Wikipedia

Anger, fear, sadness, betrayal a lot of emotions can run through us when we stop trying to change the other person and start focusing on taking care of ourselves. The good news is that we’re finally feeling our own feelings instead of trying to figure out what the other person feels.

Maybe all those feelings we’ve been avoiding aren’t the opposite of love. Those feelings could be an important step on the path to love.

Inventory Focus: Is there a relationship in your life right now that is bugging you? Are you willing to explore detachment as a means to improving the relationship and regaining your peace?

Source: December 30: Taking care of Yourself | Language of Letting Go

7 Little Things That Make Life Effortless

Pelican cleaning itself
Image via Wikipedia
Leo Babauta writes this morning…

1. Do less. This is my productivity mantra, and it’s counterintuitive. I actually don’t believe in productivity, but instead believe in doing the important things. Do less, and you’ll force yourself to choose between what’s just busywork, and what really matters. Life then becomes effortless, as you accomplish big things while being less busy.

2. Having less is lighter. Start asking yourself if you really need everything you have, or if you just have it out of fear. Start to let go of what you have, so it doesn’t own you. And then, as you have less, you feel lighter. It’s wonderful.

3. Let the little things go. People who struggle often fight over little things. We obsess over things that don’t really matter. We create resistance instead of letting things glide off us. Let the little things go, breathe, and move on to the important things.

4. Clean as you go. I haven’t written about this for a long time, but early in the life of Zen Habits I wrote about the habit of cleaning as you go. Instead of letting the cleaning pile up, put things away when you’re done. Wash your bowl. Wipe the counters clean as you pass them. Sweep up dirt when you notice it. By cleaning a little bit at a time, as you make messes, cleaning up becomes a breeze, and it’s never difficult. By the way, this applies to everything in life, not just cleaning.

5. Make small, gradual changes. Most people are too impatient to follow this advice — they want to do everything at once. We have so many changes to make, but we don’t want to wait a year for it all to happen. As a result, we often fail, and then feel crappy about it. Or we don’t start at all, because so many big changes is intimidating and overwhelming. I’ve learned the hard way that small changes are incredibly powerful, and they last longer. Gradual change leads to huge change, but slowly, and in a way that sticks. And it’s effortless.

6. Learn to focus on the things that matter. This is implied in the items above, but it’s so important I have to emphasize it. Swimming (or any physical activity for that matter) is best done when you do only the motions that matter, and eliminate the extraneous motions. Stop thrashing, start becoming more efficient and fluid. You do this by learning what matters, and cutting out the wasted activity.

7. Be compassionate. This makes dealing with others much more effortless. It also makes you feel better about yourself. People like you more, and you improve the lives of others. Make every dealing with another human being one where you practice compassion.

Follow the ‘via’ link above for the rest of his thoughts on the topic…

Icon from Nuvola icon theme for KDE 3.x.
Image via Wikipedia

Psychologists tell us that it takes 21 days to forge a new habit — yet most new year’s resolutions are broken in first week. Why? Lack of persistance. This simple little tool may just be the answer for you…

“Whether you’re staring down the end of the year and want to get a head start on your New Year’s Resolutions, or you just want to make a positive change in your life, like getting out for a walk periodically or remembering to get a little exercise when you wake up, Habitforge can help. Habits are generally activities that you repeat without really thinking about having to do them, and it takes repetition to turn an activity from something occasional to a real habit that is part of your daily routine.

Simply tell Habitforge what it is you want to do and how frequently you want to do it, and the service will help you make your vague goal into something you actually do with some regularity. The goal is that eventually, Habitforge will be able to step aside, and you won’t even think about it—you’ll just do it.

Habitforge reminds me of Disciplanner, another tool that’s designed to help you take vague goals, like exercising every day and packing your own lunch, and turning them into things that you actually do. Accounts at Habitforge are free, and getting your reminders set up is incredibly simple: Unlike with Disciplanner, Habitforge has no graphing or analysis tools available to make sure you did what you set out to do, just a reminder and some light tracking of your progress. Source: Habitforge Helps You Build Healthy Habits – AppScout target=”_blank”

You can set up a free habitforge account here

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