#mindsetmonday Life is Hard

Life is hard. It’s just a fact. And sometimes life situations seem insurmountable or overwhelming. But please know that IT WILL PASS. Life keeps moving, you will get through it. You always have and always will. So, gather your courage, fight back the fear and know you are strong. Look for the lesson. You can and will do this. And when you get to the other side – celebrate.

#1 Tool in your arsenal that will help you move the needle forward

Hey everyone!

So, today I’d like to take just a few minutes and talk about one of the most over-looked and under-utilized tools in our arsenal. When making changes – whether it’s eating better, implementing a workout plan, learning a new skill or creating a new habit – this one action can help you plan, track and keep you accountable. It can reveal hidden patterns and unlock the keys to your individual physical and mental needs – it’s completely free yet is often not used. What is it? Journaling.

Ok, some of you may be groaning and thinking – seriously Shannon – but hang with me for a minute. I know for myself, I used to be too impatient to journal – I always thought it was a silly and unnecessary action to take. I wanted to jump right in to whatever program I was participating in – forget the “woo-woo journaling nonsense” – I didn’t have time for that! However, as I have delved more deeply into the field of mindset and the functionality of our brains and how it impacts us physically, I realized how wrong I was.

Keeping a journal is one of the most powerful transformational tools we have at our disposal. The information you collect from it will tell you many things and it really will show you the paths you need to take in order for you to reach your health goals. 3 big areas it will provide clarity on for you:

  1. Helps you to identify patterns, triggers, and pitfalls. This can shine a light on emotional eating patterns or situations where you feel triggered.
  2. Points the way in identifying foods that are causing you issues physically. Uncovers food sensitivities, causes of symptoms that are food related and inflammatory triggers.
  3. Helps you get your mind right – not only will it help you clarify your goals but it documents your journey. And you are able to track your progress! You can see thought patterns which influence your behaviors and you can start to change them. You can see how far you’ve come and hold yourself accountable.

Keeping a journal will help you along whatever endeavor you have undertaken. And it will impact you physically, spiritually and mentally. Don’t underestimate its power. Build time each day into your schedule for journaling – whether morning, afternoon or night. This doesn’t have to be an epic event, 5 – 10 minutes can do the trick. The key is to be honest with yourself. If you’re not, the data within won’t help you.

It is the knowledge and increasing awareness of yourself and who you are that will translate into transformation and lasting change. Knowing what is impacting you and how it’s translating into daily actions will truly change you and support you over the long-run.

As always – remember to be who YOU are – because you are AMAZING

#mindsetmonday – Overwhelmed by the thought of getting “healthy”?

Getting healthy is on a majority of our 2020 goal lists. But figuring out what that means can be difficult and there is so much information out there it can be overwhelming. Because of this, many of us give up because it takes up too much time to figure it all out. If this is you – you’re not alone! I’ve fallen victim to this type of behavior and so do thousands/millions of your fellow humans. So, what can we do to attempt to avoid this trap?

First – you can’t make your goal to general – “getting healthy” is way too general. What the hey does that mean and what does that look like? Setting smaller, more definable goals such as “To improve my skin and not age before my time, I will drink 1 gallon of water a day – at least 4 days of the week”. You are then able to figure out cues/triggers for yourself to create that habit. Once mastered you move on to the next specific and measureable goal. Before you know it at the end of the year, you’re more “healthy” than you’ve ever been.

Don’t get stuck in the “generalities” trap! Define your goal and the specific actions you will take and you’ll soon be crushing it. You CAN do it – you have the power within.

5 keys to reading food labels

Food Labels – what the hey do they actually tell you? How do you read them, what should you look for? They can be confusing and deceptive.

In the name of attempting to be “healthy”, I used to go to the grocery store and examine every product and attempt to look at the labels to determine nutritional value. I would sort of look through, but the information I was looking for never really popped out at me. After a while, I just stopped as I saw it as a futile and pointless exercise. However, now that I’m armed with better information, I look for a few key identifiers. I then have enough information to at least understand what I’m buying and make an informed choice.

Let’s break down the food label and then I’ll give you 5 key things to look for:

First off – there are 9 sections to a food label along with the ingredient listing:

  • Serving size
  • Calories & calories from fat
  • % Daily Value
  • Fat – broken down by saturated, unsaturated, transfats
  • Cholesterol & Sodium
  • Carbs – including dietary fiber and sugar (should have not more than 25g or 6 tspn/day)
  • Fiber – (need at least 35-40G per day)
  • Protein
  • Vitamins and Minerals – only A, C, Calcium & Iron (doesn’t distinguish between natural or synthetic)

But so what? How does that help?! Here’s what you really need to focus on when looking at a label :

  1. Key Ingredients:
    • Use the 5 Ingredient Rule – if purchasing processed food, find ones with 5 ingredients are less.  In these cases, less is nutritionally more.
    • Avoid products with ingredients that are hard to pronounce.
    • Double check for Sugar in Disguise.
    • Quality Matters – opt for organic when possible & avoid hydrogenated oils.
    • Avoid Chemicals – avoid artificial colors, flavors and preservatives – those only provide inflammation as it is hard for your body to get rid of them as they serve no purpose.
  2. Think about the Fats!
    • Quality over Quantity – avoid non-fat or low-fat foods as they have been chemically altered or changed. Low quality fat made with hydrogenated oils will have a much worse impact on your health than a little bit of high quality fat.
    • Remember that saturated fats are not evil! Our bodies need them for many functions – medium chain fatty acids for example are excellent for your brain health (think MCT oil).
  3. Don’t be fooled!
    • Servings sizes are often set low to make the product nutrition facts appear healthier – remember the # of servings vs. the serving size.
    • Calories is simply the # of calories provided by the macronutrients – it should not be used as indicator as to whether or not the product/food is healthy and many labels are incorrect up to about 20%.
    • Cholesterol isn’t as much of a factor as the media has led everyone to believe – Recent scientific studies have shown that there is zero correlation between high amounts of cholesterol in the diet and heart disease.
  4. Think about what’s NOT on the label
    • GMOs (genetically modified organisms) – these are not required to be listed on the label. Try to choose items that are organic or have the “Non GMO Project Verified” label.
    • The reason the food was fortified – the chemical process used to fortify foods completely strips the food of its natural nutrients so they add synthetic nutrients back in. Your body does not absorb these in the same manner.
    • The label will not tell you about hidden additives or contaminants that may have entered the food during processing.
    • It also will not mention the chemicals used during processing and packaging like BPAs from plastic or dyes from boxes.
    • Silent additives – they most certainly don’t mention pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, medicines or other pollutants!
  5. Final Reminders
    • Don’t believe anything you read on the front of a package. Foods that are legally allowed to say “fat free” or “sugar free” can contain those items as long as they are under a certain amount. Also claims such as “high in fiber” or “low in cholesterol” are used very loosely and can be misleading.
    • When choosing dairy products always look for certified labels such as “certified organic” or “certified humane” etc.
    • Beware of the term “Natural” – this is a tricky marketing ploy. The FDA or USDA does not have rules around the use of that term (except for meat and poultry which can’t contain colors or preservatives but does not speak to the treatment of the animal or any use of antibiotics or hormones). Natural does not mean organic.

Bottom line – some of the information on a label can be useful when taken in the right context – remember that less ingredients is more, buy organic, non gmo when possible and don’t be afraid of healthy fats!

The labels aren’t so scary – it’s more of what’s not on the labels that is important! Use your common sense and make informed decisions. 

Until next time – Remember to always be who YOU are – because you amazing!

#mindsetmonday – Find your motivation, clarify your values and your perspective on what’s “healthy”

Hello all! I know we all want better things for ourselves: an overall better life, more money, more fulfillment, more energy, more laughter, a better job, a promotion, a raise, more love or, conversely: less fear, less worry, less overwhelm, less anxiety, less fat, less bloat, less self-hatred.

All of this boils down to your values, your beliefs, you’re idea of what is good, your idea of what is healthy, your idea of the life you want to live. These are things you need to think about and define for yourself. They govern your current and future actions. Clarify what you want and don’t want and then connect with “why” those are important to you.

Therein lies the foundation of your motivation to change, your spark for life. Therein lies the keys to what you feel is true health and the vision you want for your future self.

Happy searching – enjoy the process

Is the idea of “getting healthy” harming us?

So, I was talking to my coach recently (yes, of course I have a coach!) and we were talking about who I am trying to serve and what message I’m trying to get across. She brought up an excellent topic to discuss and think about – what does getting healthy really mean and has it become just something else to add to our already overwhelming “to-do” lists that we maintain as busy working women, mothers, wives, etc.

We have a lot to juggle, a lot to mantain, a lot to ensure gets done and gets done timely. I’m not just talking about the projects at work, the strategies and actions that need implemented for our teams to move forward and be succesful, the motivation and thought that needs to occur at our jobs. We, as busy working women and mom’s also have a whole other home life to handle. It often ends up being our responsibility to plan the meals, to figure out who’s cooking on what night, to get all the kids to and from their respective activities, to grocery shop, to clean, to do laundry, to ensure what our families are eating is good for them, that they are doing well in school and have the tools and support they need to succeed, and so on! And don’t forget also maintaining relationships with friends, your significant other, networking to grow your business or your career, meeting other external obligations…

And we want to do ALL of these things well, we expect ourselves to have it all together and for all things to go smoothly. And we want to do these things with boundless energy while looking and feeling great doing it all. And if we don’t – we are extremely hard on ourselves. We may not show it outwardly, but we are experts at beating ourselves up when things don’t go as we expect.

Add on top of this that in this day and age it is very “in” to be “healthy”, to eat organic, get to the gym regularly, eat a healthy diet, have great looking skin and hair and rock those skinny jeans (I’ve probably dated myself with that phrase – oh well).

Has this pressure of being what the mainstream culture sees as “healthy” become just another item to add to our list of things we feel we should and must do? Another thing we add to our list and perfunctorily perform because it’s on our list for the day? Has this become just another item, that when not completed successfully and to our expectations, serves to make us feel badly about ourselves – instead of empowered?

Tell me – what do you think. Is getting “healthy” just another added pressure on our already over-worked and over-scheduled lives?

Maybe it’s time we step back. Re-define what “healthy” means to us individually and to take back the power of what that phrase should make us feel. Being “healthy” can mean so many different things to so many different people – from a psychological, physical and spiritual point of view. And being “healthy” is something that should excite you for the future and propel you towards a better you – because it makes YOU feel better inside and out – NOT because someone said it’s something you should do.

Share your thoughts on this. Do you feel that “being healthy” is just another item we “should do”? What does being healthy really mean to you? And how can you take small actions daily to help yourself feel you are moving towards that idea of health – towards empowerment.

I can’t wait to hear your points of view!

Until we chat again – Remember to always be who YOU are – because you are amazing!

1 Powerful & Easy habit for health this year

Since I am focusing on habits this week, here is one AMAZINGLY POWERFUL and easy to implement habit that will level up your overall health in 2020.

It’s so simple – drink 16 – 24oz of water first thing in the morning. That’s it. Small but has a huge impact. This burst of hydration first thing upon waking is like a bath for your cells. It hydrates your cells and gets your systems moving. It helps with detoxification and gets you on your way to your daily water consumption goals.

To do this: set up a cue/trigger for yourself with a reminder – for example, right after you wake, have a reminder set on your phone, or set Alexa to remind you to get your water, or place a water bottle on the bathroom counter – anything that will trigger you to walk to your kitchen, get the water bottle you have ready and fill it up. Drink it as you get ready in the am.

Soon this will be an automatic action – a habit – that you don’t even think about, you just do.

What habits are you implementing in 2020? Share your ideas and remember to always, always be who YOU are – because you are AMAZING.

#mindsetmonday – You CAN do this!

Change is scary, change is hard, change is overwhelming. However, you DO have the tools within you to overcome your fears, work through the overwhelm and make lasting changes! Remember you are strong and your potential is limitless – it is only you who holds you back.

Connect with your WHY; Identify your goals, identify your actions to reach those goals; Use triggers or cues to help you build in positive habits to make those goals stick in the long-run.

You’ve got this!!

Habit Building – It CAN work for you!

With a new decade upon us, now is the time of year that many of us are looking to our goals. Creating goals and figuring out what we want. And many of us dive in right away, guns ablazing, ready to kick those goals’ ass. And then…well, we sort of let that fire die and before we know it we are back to our old ways. Why is this? How can we truly create lasting change? The secret lies in establishing new habits. Easier said that done right? True, this does take a fair amount of work – but anything important or life-changing does. And if you’re not willing to put in the work, I guess you don’t really want it so bad. So, what is the key to actually creating and implementing new habits?

First, let’s talk about what a habit is. It pretty much boils down to a regular tendency or practice you perform, without much, if any, conscious thought.  It’s something you do/think/say every day; every week – it’s just part of your routine.

Your everyday life is made up of 1000s of habits that you routinely go through without noticing. Hence, as author and behavior expert James Clear states, “your life is essentially the sum of your habits… your habits form the person you are, the things you believe, the personality you portray.”

So it follows that to improve your life, you need to develop new habits that will help you to live out those improvements. But how?  There are many, many books out there on habit formation and the best ways to go about creating new habits. I’ve read many of them. I’ve experimented with many of them – and I’d encourage you to do the same as what works for me, may not work the best for you.  However, today, I’m going to look at it from a scientific perspective & summarize the work of James Clear in his book “Atomic Habits: an Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones”. It’s a fascinating read, and I highly recommend it if you’re interested.

Clear states that the process of building a habit can be divided into four simple steps: cue, craving, response and reward. Sounds familiar right – think Pavlov’s dogs – and you can use this framework to identify, change or create new habits. Let’s talk about what Clear calls the feedback loop – an endless cycle that runs every moment you are alive.

The Cue: a cue triggers your brain to initiate a behavior; it’s a bit of information that predicts a reward (such as money, love, approval, praise, friendship, food, sex etc.). Because a cue is a first indicator of a reward it leads to a craving. For example, you had a long day at work (the cue) and your brain starts thinking about what kind of reward you can get to make you feel better.

Cravings are the motivational force behind every habit – without which, we’d have no reason to act. You don’t crave the habit itself, but the change in feeling it delivers. To continue our example – you’re stressed/tired/annoyed because of work and you seek out something to comfort yourself – like that lovely glass of wine. It’s not really the wine itself but the feeling of comfort or winding down that you want. Every craving is linked to a desire to change your internal state, or the way you feel.

The craving then results in a response – the habit or action you perform. In our example, sometimes even the act of just pouring the glass of wine is comforting, or the sitting and relaxing with it. It’s the action you perform. Additionally, your response is dependent upon how motivated you are or how much work the action will take – if you want it bad enough, you’ll do it. If you don’t really care about the reward, you won’t put the effort in to take the action.

It is the responses that then deliver the reward – the end goal of every habit. In our example, the reward is the feeling of “ahhhhh”, I’m good now, the relaxation. The cue is about noticing the reward, the craving is about wanting the reward, the response is about obtaining the reward. And that reward then gets associated with the cue in your brain – and so begins the loop over and over – you have an automatic habit. Clear maintains that by the time we are adults we rarely notice the habits that run our lives. Flipping on light switches, changing into comfortable clothes after work, having a cup of coffee to wake up, etc.. All of these actions have been mentally programmed into our brains over a lifetime.

So now what? How can we use this knowledge to incorporate good habits and eliminate bad ones? Clear calls his framework – The four laws of behavior change – a simple set of rules for creating good habits and breaking bad ones. He says that you can think of each law as a lever that influences human behavior. When the levers are in the right positions, creating good habits is effortless. When they are in the wrong positions it is nearly impossible.

The following is Clear’s framework to create a good habit or to break a bad habit. To learn more please visit his site at jamesclear.com/habits

To create a good habit:

  1. The Cue: Make it Obvious
  2. The Craving: Make it Attractive
  3. The Response: Make it Easy
  4. The Reward: Make it Satisfying

Start small – pick a habit and make it easy enough that you can get it done without motivation, build from there. By building upon this habit in small ways, your willpower and motivation will increase, making it easier to maintain the habit. As you build up, break habits into chunks – keep it reasonable and easy to maintain as you go along. When you slip, get back on track quickly (plan for failure & think of ways ahead of time to get past these). Be patient and stick to a pace you can sustain.

Follow the 3 R’s of habit change: Reminder (the trigger that initiates the behavior), routine (the behavior itself; the action you take), and reward (the benefit you gain from doing the behavior). 

Additional tips Clear provides:

Create identify based habits. “The key to building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new identity first. Your current behaviors are simply a reflection of your current identity. What you do now is a mirror image of the type of person you believe that you are (either consciously or subconsciously). To change your behavior for good, you need to start believing new things about yourself. You need to build identity-based habits.” For example, don’t center you’re goals around outcomes like “I will workout 4 times a week” rather you’re goal is based around the new identity that “I am the type of person who enjoys working out and does so often”. Essentially you need to decide who you want to be and support that decision with evidence and prove it to yourself with small wins.

To break a bad habit:

  1. The Cue: Make it invisible
  2. The Craving: Make it unattractive
  3. The Response: Make it difficult
  4. The Reward: Make it unsatisfying

Many of our bad habits are a way of dealing with stress and boredom & their underlying deeper issues. Clear states that breaking bad habits requires a level of honesty with yourself – and I would agree. You will need to take a deeper look at the root causes of these habits so that you can deal with and address them in a more healthy way.

According to Clear, bad habits address certain needs in your life. Don’t eliminate the bad habit – replace it. Replace the bad habit with a new one that provides a similar benefit or meets a similar need. Choose a substitute habit and cut out as many triggers as you can (change your environment, change your outcome). Join forces with someone (power in numbers and accountability); Surround yourself with people who live the way you want to live (change your environment); Visualize yourself succeeding; Use the word “but” to overcome negative self-talk – “I am fat and eat too much sugar, BUT I am working on reducing my sugar consumption and I get better every day”; Plan for failure; BECOME AWARE – it’s a critical step.  Ask yourself:

  • When does your bad habit actually happen?
  • How many times do you do it each day?
  • Where are you?
  • Who are you with?
  • What triggers the behavior and causes it to start?

Building good habits and breaking bad ones is hard work. But any one of us can do it. We have the ability within to connect with our “Why” – with what we truly want, to look at ourselves honestly & see our triggers and become conscious of our current habits, and to work slowly and diligently towards better ones. Keep at it, don’t give up. Persistence and perserverance are your friends here. You can be a success story and when you look back in 6 months or a year you will be proud of what you’ve accomplished.

Good luck! I hope this information helped. Don’t forget to check out Clear’s book and until we talk again – remember to always be who YOU are. Because you’re amazing.