Uncategorized

A Mind Full of Mindfulness

Mind your Mindfulness

When someone says “be mindful” what does that mean to you? It’s almost a buzzword these days as it’s been attached to everything from eating to parenting to exercise to beer (yes, beer)

It’s not a complicated concept. I think it’s a bit overused (see mindful beer above) and like any other trend, it’s often talked about without a lot context. For me, being mindful is simply being present in your current task/activity and being aware of what you are doing, saying, creating, being, etc. It means focusing on what I’m doing at any given moment and taking the time to slow down a bit to think, appreciate, and listen. Mindfulness is the ability to stop multi-tasking.

Demystifying Mindfulness

There are no shortage of mindfulness resources out there…apps, magazines, books, web sites, Facebook communities and more to help you get to that state of mindfulness. It can be overwhelming but it’s always good to know there is information to help you understand and embrace a concept.

Mindful in the context of your health and wellness means being aware of what your body is telling you and what it needs. From the food you eat to the exercise you do to the people and stress you allow into your life. It’s about slowing down and assessing your activities and actions to see if they are aligned with your real life goals.

My theme for March is going to be “cleaning up” your life and eliminating the toxic junk that’s keeping you from being your happiest and healthiest. We’ll be cleaning up our pantries and fridges, as well as our friends list and workspaces. But first, we get mindful about all the stuff we’re allowing to invade our minds, bodies and souls that doesn’t bring us joy. That’s right, we’re going to find all the crap and Marie Kondo it out of our lives.

Mindful Action

We start this week by being more mindful and taking inventory of what might need to be cleaned up to clear the way to better health. Grab a notebook or open a black note on your phone and try these 3 mindful tasks.

  1. Track What you Eat and Drink. I am proud to be a broken record on this one. I require all my coaching clients to not only track their food and drinks but give me real-time access to their food journals. You may believe you eat healthy…and maybe you do! But do you know how much you’re eating, when and why? Do you see the patterns of your eating that might not be about hunger but more about emotions? Your mindful task: If you consume it, track it. And, bonus points if you add a note about how you feel after each meal (that reveals a lot about triggers).
  2. Slow Down to Accelerate Results. In the race to check off things on our to-do list, we often just go through the motions, which can diminish results.  Take a moment to slow down in your daily routine to evaluate if you are doing things right – not just fast. This is especially important with exercise. Hurrying through a workout to just “get it done” can be as bad as not working out at all. Plus, you risk injury. Your mindful task: At the end of the week, note how you feel after exercising and ask yourself if it’s time to change things up.
  3. Reevaluate Relationships. I’m not suggesting you unfriend everyone or break it off with a partner. I’m encouraging you to reevaluate the relationships that consistently bring you stress or drama. You already know who these people are but really focus on identifying them this week. Take note of how you feel around certain people – especially at work, where we spend most of our waking hours. After a meeting, spend a few minutes to write down how you think it went, what caused you to be defensive or hurt, etc. Your mindful task: Be aware of the relationships that bring anxiety, stress and cause you more “work” than others. Then, set boundaries with people or devise strategies to manage them and your stress level.

The Mindful Advantage for Weight Loss

Three simple ways to be more mindful to protect your health and well-being. You don’t have to overthink it or spend hours meditating over it. Just practice being in the moment of any activity and allow yourself to feel all the feelings that come with it. Then, keep notes in a journal about the feelings and what you can do to change them, if needed.

When it comes to your nutrition and exercise – being mindful can be a game-changer for your weight loss or other goals. Small tweaks in what you eat or how you move based on your mindful observations or focus can help you break through a plateau.

Would love to hear how you are becoming more mindful in your everyday life. Join the conversation in my free Facebook group or shoot me a quick email with your thoughts, questions, comments!

Have a wonderful, mindful week!

Personal wellness, Uncategorized, Workplace Wellness

Don’t Let that Extra Daylight Fool You

ecard

Spring ahead into a busier schedule

Daylight Saving Time is here and with it comes more daylight and more “stuff” to cram into our already hectic 24 hours. Somehow, we rationalize that more sunlight gives us more time (it doesn’t, obvi) yet little of that “new found” time is spent on ourselves. Wait. What? We get all this energy around more daylight and then fill it with other people’s priorities. Hmm. Ok. How’s that working for ya?

Look – more daylight or not, we have 24 hours to spend every day. Think of it as $24 that shows up in your wallet every time the clock strikes midnight. Let’s pretend that each dollar represents an hour of your day. How do you spend it? What do you prioritize?

Here’s how mine used to be spent on a weekday:

  • $10 on work (in the office, commuting or traveling)
  • $5 on sleep
  • $2 on running kids around
  • $1 on making dinner
  • $1 on answering work emails at home
  • $2 attending a board meeting for a community organization or volunteering at school
  • $2 helping with homework, class projects, costume creation, school play line rehearsal.
  • $1 on shopping, errands, etc.

Did I catch up on some things over the weekend? Sure, but then sub in the kids’ sports, social events, cleaning the house and other chores/errands and I filled up those 10 hours spent working on a weekday. My point? You get the same hours in a day as everyone else. You must find time for your health, your well-being (your waistline). That may mean that something else needs to go! The consequences of ignoring your physical well-being ain’t pretty. And, you’ll be no good to any of those people if you have to drop everything to focus on a health crisis.

It happens to the best of us

I totally get this. That was my time budget above. And, I have a great partner who helps around the house and as well as a support system – but I got caught up in the cycle of self-care denial that quickly spirals out of control. For me, it resulted in being 30 lbs. overweight, exhausted and, well, cranky!

I reached the point where I couldn’t stand what I saw in the mirror and knew I had to take action. May have been imperfect action at first, but action nonetheless. It took me well over a year to lose the weight but I’m proud to say I’ve kept it off for nearly 7 years.

While I adopted new, healthier habits, all my focus wasn’t just on sweating more and eating less. A lot of it was about unloading stress, needless “to-dos” and mental baggage that was weighing on me and keeping me from doing things that would make me healthy. It was around re-prioritizing myself and my health. Making time for workouts and to cook meals at home. It was getting the whole family on board with new lifestyle choices.

Since that time, I’ve become a personal trainer and health coach and know all the right things to do from a food and fitness standpoint. However, as a recovering do-it-all woman, I also have the personal experience to share the lifestyle changes I made that work together with nutrition and exercise to get you closer to your goals and further away from the destructive cycle of self-neglect.

Start spending time on you FIRST

From my experience, these things help start you down a path to putting yourself first and improving your health:

  1. Get real about where/what you spend time on. Track everything you do for one week. Write it in your calendar as if everything is a meeting you attended. Then, review it and see where you are wasting time. If you find that you spend an hour a day talking to your mother, sister, best friend, or others, block time once a week to catch up with people on your commute to or from work instead of when you get home and want to work out. Or do you scramble every night with what to make for dinner because you didn’t really plan for the week? Set aside 2 hours on Sunday to meal prep instead of zoning out in front of the tv. Find the time wasters and eliminate them or consolidate them into blocks with a designated start and stop time.
  2. Get good at saying NO! Get comfortable with politely turning down requests, invitations and opportunities to volunteer. I always remember that when I say YES to something that means I’ll eventually have to say NO to something else. Choose wisely. There are millions of ways to do it but I’ve found that keeping it short and simple is better than trying to justify or create elaborate reasons. Most times, I simply say, “Thank you but I’m unable to volunteer/attend.” If you feel like giving a reason why, great, but it’s not required. Your time is yours and what you choose to spend it on, is entirely up to you. Don’t let friends, colleagues or others guilt you into saying yes.
  3. Get a budget for your time. Map out how much time you are willing to spend on volunteering, working at home after hours, etc. and then plan for it. The key will be to add in 5-7 hours a week for self-care. That’s a small investment for the ROI you’ll receive. And then treat your time budget like a real one – don’t go over and if you’re under, spend the surplus wisely. Bonus: When you only budget so much for activities that are for the benefit of others, you have a great out for things you don’t want to do but hate saying no to (see tip #2 for how to enjoy the art of NO). “Oh, I’m so sorry Linda, I’d love to help with bake sale but I’ve already booked my volunteering time for this month. Maybe next month!”
  4. Get over doing it all on your own. You are a professional woman, entrepreneur or maybe a small business owner – start acting like it! You have help when it comes to running your department or company. You don’t do everything on your own just because you can. You have accountants and administrative assistants and other professionals to help you. So why do you insist on doing it all when it comes to your personal life? Invest in services and people who can do the things you don’t have the time or energy for or that are not a good use of your time (like cleaning the whole house on Saturdays). Same goes for your health and wellness. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, hire a professional to help you. A personal trainer, health coach or nutritionist can quickly assess your needs and get you a path to better health with the right food, fitness and lifestyle behaviors.

As a recovering do-it-all kind of gal, I know now that being all things to all people just means having nothing left for myself. And, when we continue to overspend our time budget and take on even more responsibilities, we eventually become overdrawn and even bankrupt in our health and wellness.

Assess, take action and ask for help

Take the time to ASSESS what you’re spending time on, take ACTION to prioritize what is truly important, impactful and enjoyable, and finally, ASK for help with the rest. When you do, your schedule opens, your time bank is full and you can be that strong, healthy and happy overachiever that everyone loves.

Try it..

Xoxo

Niki

PS – if you’re ready to finally ditch the crazy diets and the over-the-top exercise programs and still lose weight, let’s chat about my 8-Week Fit, Fab & Fierce Bootcamp. Lose up to 15 lbs., jumpstart your metabolism and transform bad habits into healthy lifestyle behaviors. Schedule a chat here:  https://goo.gl/forms/J5eqpgY98H2nnBBk1 or text me at 412-310-6882.

 

 

Personal wellness, Uncategorized

Dare to Compare?

working on my own grass

Dare to Compare?

The Dangers of Trying to Be Someone Else

Have you heard this one…Comparison is the thief of joy? Sounds cliché but there is some truth to it. Constant comparison and “trying to keep up,” will not only steal your joy but also your motivation, confidence and focus.

Quick story about the danger of comparison…I once attended a business meeting and there was a woman wearing the same dress. She was tall, blonde, all legs and in my mind, 100 lbs. less than me. I had a jacket on, so it wasn’t as noticeable that we were wearing the same dress, but I spent the entire meeting comparing everything from the thickness of my hair (hers was beautifully thick and wavy) to the circumference of my ankles to the length of my eyelashes in comparison to her. By the end of the meeting I concluded that I was basically Shrek and needed to lose 50 lbs., get false eyelashes and find a way to grow thick blonde hair. Okay…so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit here, but I did spend considerable time comparing myself to someone I could NEVER look like, instead of focusing on the meeting, contributing to the conversation and providing value. Ridiculous, right?

When I used to think of comparison, I thought of it more like competition and I’m a fiercely competitive, Type A gal. I thought that by paying attention to and striving to be like those I considered “high achievers”, it would keep me on my toes and motivated. Until I realized that, most times, it didn’t matter what I did or how hard I worked, I was never going to be the person whose life I held in such high esteem. Not because I didn’t have the drive or ambition – got plenty of both. Rather, because their achievements didn’t fit my lifestyle, career choices, body composition, etc.

You see, comparisonitis (yes, it’s like a disease) or the act of relentlessly measuring our lives/bodies/careers by someone else’s standards, is a dangerous and exhausting endeavor. When healthy admiration and motivation turns to non-stop self-judgement and berating, we have no joy in our lives and we miss out on celebrating the amazing things we DO achieve, every damn day!  Ultimately, the act of measuring our worth, accomplishments and progress against someone else stifles our efforts, damages our self-esteem and leaves us miserable.

Why we do it?

I’d love to say this is a new thing with the dawn of social media and all the filters that make us look better and seem awesome. However, keeping up with the Joneses has been around a long time. It’s just that now the reminders of our shortcomings is like a 24/7 cable news broadcast.

Like I said, I think relentless comparison starts as innocent motivation. Let’s take fitness as an example. We decide to get fit and start to follow a fitness celebrity or trainer because they are successful in weight loss and creating a healthy and fit lifestyle.  Yay! That’s what we are supposed to do – surround ourselves with positive people who set a good example. They don’t have to be famous – it could be your neighbor who teaches a spin class and has 12-pack abs. That motivation in and of itself isn’t unhealthy. People we admire help us see what’s possible, and they encourage us to act. All good things. The danger lies in when we go from inspiration to deflation because you haven’t achieved exactly what they have, and you tell yourself you’re a failure who will never measure up.

What’s the harm?

So, what’s the big deal? A little motivation and healthy competition is good, right? Sure. In small, reasonable doses. When that motivation turns to self-judgement and defeat or worse yet, a time-consuming obsession, you risk setting yourself back and even quitting all together because you feel like a complete failure. Here are some signs you’re heading down a dangerous path.

  • You become distracted. All you can see is what you HAVEN’T accomplished. So, you start doing anything and everything to achieve that “ideal body.” And, when you’re doing everything you’re likely not accomplishing much. By veering off the plan you set to achieve your goals, you become distracted and risk losing ground on what you’re after – the healthiest version of YOU!
  • You become defeated. You know that feeling when you’ve been working hard to do something and you’re not making progress? The feeling of exhaustion, frustration and failure. When you have that feeling all the time you end up defeated and discouraged and may decide to throw in the towel. I mean, if I can’t look like Beyoncé, then why bother, right?
  • You develop a skewed sense of reality. When you start to believe that everything you see online is real, it’s time to pull back and re-evaluate. Most of what you see on social media is NOT REAL life. It’s filtered and Photoshopped. It’s the “highlight reel” not the boring, messy crap that we all deal with. The neighbor who seems to have it all together, has laundry piling up, deadlines she missed and cranky kids. You just don’t get the behind-the-scenes tour of her life, so it seems all good. When that’s all you see, it’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to live up to the same standards.

How can you avoid it?

We all fall into the cycle of comparison and competition but how do pull yourself out? The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t see that you’re in the comparison vortex and you continue to spin and spin and become more frustrated.

  • Acknowledge it, feel it, move past it. We all go through this. Recognize it and then ask yourself what’s really going on. It may be guilt over not getting to the gym or ordering takeout too much lately. Your friend’s gourmet meal pic or her gym check-ins are triggering a little guilt. Instead of feeling terrible about it, stop scrolling on Instagram or Facebook and refocus on your goals. Plan to change the pattern. But don’t let it get a grip on you and kill your efforts to get healthy.
  • Take a break from social media. For real…remove one social media channel from your phone. You can still check it on your iPad or laptop but make it a little more difficult to mindlessly scroll. If you’re not ready to delete it, turn off notifications so you aren’t getting a pop up or little red dot every few minutes reminding you of all the awesome things you’re not doing. You can unfollow, pause, hide certain people, posts, etc. Take advantage of these tools to give yourself a break from the constant comparison.
  • Find gratitude for what you have accomplished. Look around. You have lots to be proud of and even more to be grateful for in your life. Acknowledge that. Grab a journal and every night before you go to sleep, write down two things you’re grateful for and two things you’ve accomplished or that you’re proud of (you packed a healthy lunch, your son got an A on a difficult test, etc.). When we remind ourselves of all the good in our life, it’s tougher to feel like a failure.

Comparison is inevitable. We are humans who need to feel good and successful. So, it’s ok to see someone and think, “I could be more fit like her.” Just recognize when healthy motivation and competition turns to relentless comparison and self-judgment. Your goals are unique and specific to you. Don’t jump off the path to follow someone else’s journey because you’ll end up going nowhere.

If you’ve had enough of the cycle of comparing, chasing and failing, take a minute and fill out my free wellness assessment here. Then, let’s chat. I’m ready to get you back on track and hold you accountable to your goals. I’ll help you become the best version of you so that your neighbor will be asking what you’ve been doing.