Each new Spring I take a moment to remind myself to focus on growth. As the natural world begins to change and flourish, I ask myself, what am I doing to make sure I'm growing, as a person? There are a lot of elements that go into this: volunteering more, being kind and positive, tackling new challenges, and setting aside time to be creative...And then there's food. Food plays a huge role in how we feel day to day, how much energy we have to achieve our goals, and how capable we feel of giving back to the people around us. So this season, with growth in mind, I've put together a list of 5 foods I want to eat more of this Spring, because growth starts with the smallest choices, just as a flower begins with a seed!
A few weeks ago, my family and I rented some top-notch bikes and took off on a mountainous adventure through the rolling hills of the Ozarks. We spent quite a few days there, taking in the sun soaked-blue skies and the endless forests. It was a reminder, as most outdoor adventures are, not to discount the importance of nature in our busy, technology driven lives.
I never get over how lucky I am to get to be active with my family and friends. I know no better than feeling than sharing these types of spectacular moments with my son, as he appreciates what a wonderful thing it is to be alive.
It was a camping trip, so of course I had the requisite cup-a-noodles! But hey, if I eat spinach with this, it's totally better for me, right?
I hope you make time to find peace and happiness with people you love this weekend. Remember that health is about more than what you put on your plate - It's how happy you feel when you wake up in the morning, and how proud you are when you go to bed at night. Dedicate your time to the people in your life who matter, and dedicate your effort to the goals that make everything better. Happy Friday. :)
I read a book recently called A Tale For The Time Being. First of all, it's great. One of the characters is a 104-year-old buddhist nun, and during the course of the book, she tries to teach her granddaughter how to meditate. In doing so, she tells the girl, she will discover her "SUPAPOWER." Wouldn't that be nice, I thought, to be able to discover your personal superpower?
Except, unlike every Marvel movie, our superpowers aren't shooting webs or flying through the air. No, these superpowers are dealing with stress, feeling happier, and being kinder and more compassionate to the people around us. That's the kind of superpower we need in 2018.
So what is meditation? And what on earth does it have to do with your superpower?
Meditation can be an intimidating term. For years, I thought this activity wasn’t for me. Mostly, I was deterred by the idea that I needed to make my mind blank. “A blank mind?” I thought. It sounded impossible, and when I tried it, I found that I wasn’t too successful. As much as I wanted to, there just wasn’t a strategy that helped me find the off switch.
It wasn’t until a little while later that I made an important discovery: My mind didn’t have to be blank after all. The other myth I busted? I didn’t have to steer clear of my technology to protect my mental health. Sure, if you’re constantly being bombarded by work emails and texts, you should find a way to get some distance from those. But when I was trying to get started with meditation, my smart phone ended up being a great tool.
There were a few apps that I found that helped me get a handle on meditation, but one of the first and best, I think, for those starting out, is Headspace.
Headspace is a free app available for any smartphone. If you want to use it regularly, you can upgrade to the paid version. I’m in no way sponsored by them, by the way, so you’re getting an honest opinion here. Headspace markets itself for people trying meditation for the first time. They emphasize the fact that your mind can still be active, and that you aren't trying to get away from something.
Done well, meditation is about understanding the mind and coming to know our emotions and stressors from a different perspective. It’s about learning how to let thoughts pass without dwelling on them—not about shutting down your brain completely. Most of all, meditation is about freeing yourself up to experience things differently.
When we're all trying to get happier and healthier, it turns out that a few minutes can make the difference. If you're curious, give meditation a shot this month. A little mental care goes a long way toward your physical and emotional health. Plus, it's the way to find your SUPAPOWER!
For Deanna Duplanti, getting to your breakthrough is all about looking outside the box, and doing something different:
“I’ve experienced many breakthroughs in my health and fitness, but one of the biggest had to do with my nutrition. I learned that I could train, I could go all day long, but unless I had the proper nutrition, I wasn’t going to improve like I wanted to, and I wasn’t going to feel very good.
They say in a marathon you’re going to hit a wall at mile 20. The thing is, I don’t believe that wall exists. What I have found is that you just have to make a decision, ‘I’m going to give it all I’ve got.’ What you’ll often find is that you could do it, and you did.
Look outside the box. Do something different. Even with food, things that I said ‘oh my gosh, I would never like that,’ those foods often turned out to be the tastiest thing ever. High in fat foods taint your palate. Now, I find healthy foods taste wonderful, fresh and clean. That’s a breakthrough.
Get out of your comfort zone. Goodness knows I had never done a polar plunge, but the first time I did, I loved it. Be creative. You can be disciplined, but don’t let those boundaries mean too much. Lastly, remember that there’s no time limitation on a breakthrough. Every day is a new day, so start out fresh each morning.”
Remember. You have to be in the market.
When I first met Keith Sams in Fall of 2012, he was 45 pounds heavier than he is now, but had already lost a great deal of weight. He came into our meeting with all of his exercise stats from the past 6 months totaled, which included exactly 3325 miles of cycling and 450 miles of running. He described himself as obese, told me how much weight he had already lost, how much more he wanted to lose, how much faster he wanted to get, and all the reasons why. He also said he didn’t “want to wear the scarlet letter of obesity” anymore, and wanted to be Keith LITE! He then detailed all of the things he had already changed in his diet, and that he would be a dedicated client and work really hard to accomplish anything that he needed to do to accomplish his goals of losing weight, being healthier, and getting faster on the bike. Running was something that he enjoyed, but cycling was his biggest goal. He and his wife Cara were soon to be “empty nesters” and he wanted them to be healthy and active and go on fun trips.
Wow, I must say I was a bit overwhelmed by the intensity of this guy! He talked fast, and abundantly, smiled most of the time, and surprisingly, when he stopped talking, was a fairly attentive listener. We set out on the task of accomplishing his goals. By February of 2013 he was at his goal weight, feeling great, running and riding faster, and about to explode with excitement about all the events he wanted to take on as the “new and improved, lean and healthy Keith!” You could hardly keep this guy’s feet on the ground he was so high on how good he felt! During 2014, Keith and I worked together on some of his athletic goals, including multi-day cycling events, multiple half marathons, a couple of marathons, the list goes on. Keith could tell you every single one, and all of his stats on them, in great detail! We learned a great deal about working together, he learned to ask and clarify, he learned that rest, recovery, flexibility, fueling, and hydration were all part of the training formula, not just doing the miles or the hours. We talked often about respecting your body’s work, and giving it time to heal, replenish and recover. Even if Keith didn’t get the execution right on something, you could count on him putting forth a Herculean effort. This turned out to be a very important thing to learn about working with Keith. If for some reason he got off on a sidebar, or didn’t clearly understand the path, he’d be so dug in and busy trying to accomplish what he perceived as the goal, you could hardly rein him in to re-direct or reset! This ability to put his head down and accomplish the task at hand is one of his greatest assets, and little did he or anyone else know, it would be put to the test in a very real, and serious manner.
In 2015, Keith snagged a lottery spot for the NY Marathon. This was a bucket list goal, and he wanted to be in prime condition to have his best marathon ever. He and Cara would make a fun trip out of the event, and the wheels were already turning in his mind. Keith asked me if I would help him prepare for the marathon, and we discussed all of his goals, what was realistic, and I agreed to be his coach. Following his early summer conclusion of distance cycling events, Keith was ready to start his training for the NY Marathon which was in Nov. of 2015. Right up through late August training was going well.
In Late August, while in Atlanta for business, Keith participated in a Half Marathon event and suffered a stroke. His physicians believe the stroke occurred during the early miles of the half marathon, but in his finish the workout mindset, Keith endured all 13.1 miles, and finished. He then went back to his hotel and proceeded to collapse. It wasn’t until much later that he called anyone for help. He assumed he was just tired, dehydrated and disoriented from the heat during the run and didn’t fully grasp the serious nature of his problem. Thankfully his friend and his wife convinced him to get to go to the hospital. There his road to discovery and recovery began.
This is an excerpt from the email I got from Keith less than two weeks after his stroke:
To some extent he’s treating my recovery as you would for a post-concussion recovery. Because of that and some lingering vertigo-like symptoms (knocking things off the counter, bumping into things), he did put in place several restrictions for the next 30 days:
· No driving
· No running (walking is approved with no restrictions to speed or intensity).
· Restricted core. I can do core, but I have to avoid the specific exercises that put pressure on the head (pushups).
· He did approve swimming and cycling on the trainer! Thus I have a number of options to maintain my fitness and help me prep for a full-time training after the 30 days.
· He did approve light yardwork (really all yardwork but said to use common sense on those).
· Additionally, he said that I would not get medical clearance for any marathons for 90 days. This will officially end my NY Marathon aspirations, but does not rule out Disney in January 2016!
I have never met a person more determined to recover and conquer again, and exercise was going to be his way to do it. Think what you like, but he grabbed onto these goals and held on for dear life! Frankly, I was a little worried that he was going to push himself too far, too soon, or go against his doctor’s advice. He did none of that. He walked, he was patient, he started strengthening the weakened side of his body. He slowly returned to running and cycling, he took breaks often and as needed. He ate healthfully to help his body heal, he listened to his wife when she said he needed to take a break. In short, he was humble but determined.
Fast forward to November 7, 2016, just a little over a year later, and Keith Sams is finally getting to run his NY Marathon! Please join me in wishing Keith a great adventure with his wife, and a wonderful experience in the marathon. He is trained and ready, and has a fabulous plan to smile the whole way, while still striving to accomplish some personal goals. This guy has put in the blood, sweat and tears. He has completed every workout, taken every rest day, and earned a big accomplishment already.
Best of Luck Keith! Thanks for the opportunity to be on your team. I am humbled, and impressed by you. Have a blast in NY with Cara!
The start of spring brings with it fresh blooms and a sense of new growth. It’s no coincidence that people across the world have made this season a time to start anew. Spring is for rejuvenation, and while many of us may be planning to schedule some time to spruce up our homes and yards over the next few weeks, I’d like to suggest that we take the idea of Spring Cleaning to a new level—Let’s clean up our bodies and minds! Here’s how you can begin this month with a bright new outlook.
Have you ever ordered a light salad at dinner and looked around the table to see your friends shifting uncomfortably as they dig into a plate of ribs? Perhaps you’ve deliberately chosen to wake up early while on vacation to get in a workout, only to face some not-so-subtle teasing from family members. Maybe you’ve even been the one who “ruins it for everyone” by declining a second round of drinks.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle comes with many challenges– some even in the form of unsupportive friends and family members. There are few things quite as discouraging as attempting to make a healthy decision for yourself only to be ridiculed by a person whose opinion you value.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be miserable, or change your choice to comply. Here are some ideas to help you handle your response better and perhaps end those hurtful jokes and disapproving glances altogether.
Step 1: Understand Where the Peanut Gallery is Coming From
The sad fact is that many of us have spent years secretly building an over-eaters support network. We often find solace in validating each other’s eating habits or skipped workouts. Before long, every social outing revolves around food, you're celebrating a birthday every week (someone’s), and your friends have convinced you that not only do you deserve that drink, you need it.
So, when you finally embrace a healthier lifestyle, it’s not unusual for coworkers, friends and family to feel threatened, or even judged by you. You’ve robbed them of your complicit validation, and now they’re at a loss as to what you’ll do together. Who are they going to share late night cookie dough with? Understand that the root of this frustration and stress actually has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with the individual who is feeling poorly. Don’t let someone else’s insecurity undermine your own health. Be understanding but within your healthy choices.
Step 2: Be Honest
If you value your relationship with the person who has been hassling you about being healthy, the quickest way to put a stop to the teasing is through honesty. The next time they make a disapproving comment, don’t laugh or shrug it off. Give them a prepared speech. Explain exactly why you’ve chosen to make your health a priority. Be serious, and tell your friend or family member that their support is really important to you. If they care about you, that should be enough to tone down the negative feedback you’ve been receiving.
Step 3: Look for Patterns
Occasionally, there is someone who just can’t seem to get over your healthy lifestyle. Maybe they continue to make negative comments after you’ve opened up to them and asked them not to. Or perhaps their sabotage is more subtle, even driven from a place of love. Many family members show that they care about you by feeding you. If your mother has made your childhood favorite desert, it can be hard to say no, even if that bowl of gooey chocolate is definitely not on your eating plan for the day. In those scenarios, it might be best to accept the food but ask to take it home with you instead of eating it there. Then, you can do with the food whatever you please and your family member still feels like you’ve accepted their show of affection. Whoever your naysayers are, remember that you can empathize with them without allowing them to affect your choices. You and you alone are in charge of your health.
Step 4: Be Proud of Progress and Choices
Regardless of what anyone else says, you should always, always, feel positive about what you’re doing. When someone teases you or calls you out on your healthy choices, don’t get defensive. You don’t have to be defensive, because what you’re doing is good for you and everyone around you. Making your health a priority isn’t easy. It’s something you have to re-commit to every day. So give yourself some credit! By pursuing a healthy lifestyle, you’ve proven that you’re both brave and strong. Wake up everyday and tell yourself that – shout it from the rooftops if you want to. At the end of the day, your opinion is the only one that matters. Make sure it’s a positive one, lead by example, and reap the benefits.
I think it’s safe to say that everyone experiences the point in their fitness or nutritional journey where giving up begins to overpower perseverance. This can be especially true if the results we desire do not come as quickly as we want them to. We start to downplay our goals, cheat on our schedules and simply think that our dreams are not attainable. It is at times like this when our foundations become so important. Having something to reflect back on can be one of the best things to push you through whatever ditch is keeping you from accomplishing your goals.
I wrote in an earlier post about the importance of building a foundational “safety net” to fall back on when we start to lose sight of the finish line. Whether it’s a picture, list or something else, I can’t emphasize enough how necessary it is to have a method of reminding yourself of why you’re even on this journey to begin with. We cannot let our self-doubt keep us from accomplishing what we set out to do. A small reminder everyday can really make a big difference in the long run. Even something as simple as saying your self-mantra every morning can really help keep our negative thoughts away from our dreams. Something I like to do is keep an inspiring quote on my mirror so that when I look at myself every morning, I feel confidant and encouraged. Whatever motivates you to continue on, find a way to incorporate it into your lifestyle. Making motivation a habit will help prevent you from hitting rock bottom and keep you moving forward.
So whether your just starting out, halfway done or at the end of your health journey, I highly encourage everyone to find a small motivational task that can be done every day. Keep yourself from loosing sight of your end goals. If you still lose sight, build a strong foundation that will get you back on track. Regardless of the method you choose, perseverance is something that must be maintained.
I hope everyone enjoyed Mother’s day yesterday! It’s a wonderful time to celebrate the love and support that your mom has given you, and to show some love back! Whether it’s from your mom or simply someone special in your life, support is something that we could all use a lot of. Regardless of what we need it for, knowing we have a team cheering for us almost always gives us that extra boost of confidence to carry out our mission. I always give as much support as I can to my clients, because I know how much it can help them to do great things with their health. I am inspired and amazed by the efforts I see every day.
Not only do we need support in our healthy lives, but in our personal lives as well. When people support us through tough times, it makes a huge impact. I’ve written before about how important it is to have support, but I want to emphasize how important it is to give support. If someone you know is starting to pursue a healthier lifestyle, I highly encourage you to seek them out and let them know how much you are rooting for them! Letting them know that they have at least one person backing them up can be such a confidence booster and could push them to continue on if they get off track. There are plenty of influences out there tempting us off track. Let’s build a team of positive influence that supports the healthy efforts of those around us. Take notice of small things that people are doing to improve their health and fitness, and lend an encouraging word of support. If you see someone in your office filling up their water bottle, or a person loading their grocery cart with veggies or having an apple for snack – give a little kudos!
If you’ve ever heard the line “you get what you give” then this is the idea that I’m pulling at. If you notice and seek out people who desire to be healthy and give them your support, you are more likely to find that support when you need it. Follow the pay-it-forward concept and inspire others. By giving others support and surrounding ourselves with supportive people, we can all feel and be healthier.
“Growing” your health can be a hard concept to grasp. For most of us, when we think of changing to a healthier lifestyle, we want the changes to be easy, and to start seeing results fast. That’s why quick fix diets and products are easy to sell. We want it now! The reality is that it takes time for results to show, and that can often be frustrating. Growing our health can seem like standing there watching, waiting for the garden to grow. It takes so long to actually harvest something you can see. The good news is that you can harvest feeling better very quickly! Improvements in energy, attitude, sleep patterns, and alertness are right around the corner, and well within reach. The visual and physical harvest will follow if you tend the garden well.
The transformation into a healthy lifestyle needs to be thought of as a progressive process, making sure to embrace even the small details that go into the mixture. I am known for asking my clients to “Dream Big, and Work Small.” Having a vision of where you want to be; change goals that encourage you to reach; that’s the Dream Big. Taking small steps each day to implement changes; that’s the Work Small. As you emerge into a new way of thinking about your health, it takes time to understand the significance of each part of the process. One of the best things you can do for yourself is make a plan as to how you’re going to attain a healthy lifestyle. What mini goals must you achieve in order to accomplish your big goal? How will you get there within the constraints that you have? These are questions that I help folks with every day. Transformation doesn’t have to be a lonely process!
Mapping out your goals can not only help you stay organized, but it can make you appreciate the small accomplishments that you have made in order to reach your end destination. Think about a plant. You don’t usually see a flower with a dead stem and blossoming petals. Every part of the plant; roots, steam, leaves needs to be healthy in order for the flower to be full of color and life. The same idea goes for your healthier lifestyle. Instead of rushing the process of building a healthy lifestyle, take the time to make sure every part of your plan is strong and will actually lead you to your end goal. Takes those small steps every day to nurture your garden of good health.
Plan your journey, and celebrate the small victories. Nurture and grow your health and fitness. Not only will you achieve your goals, but you’ll build a strong foundation and feel great along the way!
April is the month for “going green”. It’s not hard to get this feeling when everything around us is finally coming back to life! Our awareness of our amazing planet soars, inspiring us to pay attention, and make a difference. The idea of going green can incorporate many things. Greening up our lives can mean as much to our health as it does to reducing our carbon footprint. For example, if you choose to ride your bike somewhere instead of driving, you save gas of course, but you also got your metabolism boosted. If you choose less processed and more local foods, you reduce the environmental impact of production, and the health bonus is that you will likely be eating much more nutrient dense food with less calories. What if you do your work-out outdoors, instead of in the gym or house? Maybe that means you don’t have to have the AC as cold, and you use less electricity – side bonus: a fresh view from your “workout area” and some new challenges. From reducing processed foods to exercising outside instead of in the gym, there are tons of ways to make your lifestyle just a little more GREEN! Good for you, and good for the planet – now that’s a winner!
Farmer’s Markets are finally starting to open up for the summer! What better way to start going green than by buying locally grown foods? Our Famer’s Market here in Northwest Arkansas are a HUGE deal, not to mention you can make a whole day out of it. Walking along the square, enjoying the sights and smells of foods and flowers, listening to local bands play on the sidewalks… there really is something for everyone. If you have not had a chance to stop by the Farmer’s Market, I highly encourage you to do so. Try something new, it’s a great experience and can really open your eyes to a whole new world of fresh living. If crowded markets aren’t your thing, I recommend just spending time outside. With the weather being warm, it’s a great time to start getting in fun bike rides, hikes, and jogs! I always feel so much better when I exercise outdoors. Feel the wind on your face and embrace the change in scenery!
As you work towards a healthy lifestyle, I ask that you keep the idea of “going green” in the front of your mind. Earth Day is approaching, so as your community takes a step to reduce their carbon footprint, make sure you take a step in reducing yours and reap the benefits all the way around that waistline! The difference that living green makes is one we can all embrace!
Peace of mind is not the absence of conflict from life, but the ability to cope with it.” ~Unknown
April brings lots of change in the natural world. Everywhere you look, things are morphing into a new shape, growing, shedding, bursting, and blowing. The natural world and the living things in it aren’t still or stationary, they are ever chaotic. That phrase about the “balance of nature” doesn’t really mean that nature IS balanced. In fact, the natural world is constantly in chaos, seeking towards balance. Maybe that’s how we are too, constantly in chaos, movement, change, but striving for balance.
It is this striving for balance that helps nature, and us, flourish.
I think one of the hardest things about staying healthy and happy is finding the strength to continue on even when things are tough, and the courage to believe that things will swing back in the other direction. The courage that builds our strength ultimately roots back to our inner peace; our peace of mind and heart.
So, this week I am suggesting the idea of nourishing our inner peace. Sounds like a tall order, but it can be accomplished through consistent, small efforts. Here are some ideas to try.
Remembering to Smile
This is something that is so simple, yet can make a huge difference. Finding a way to smile (or even just stay positive) through tough or stressful situations can help you work towards an impactful solution and keep you from getting too worked up. We all know how wonderful it is to bump into that person with the infectious smile. Mantra: “Let it be me that shares an infectious smile.”
“If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.” ~A. Lincoln
Wise statement. The concept applies in looking for good as well. If you work to notice and embrace the loving-kindness of others, you will find yourself exemplifying loving-kindness without even trying. Mantra: “Notice acts of loving kindness – see them, share them”
This is something that I think a lot of people (including myself) struggle with. It can be hard to completely clear your mind and hear nothing but emptiness. But, if you embrace the weightlessness that comes with peaceful meditation, it becomes easier to push away the heaviness of stress and life. Mantra: Today I will sit quietly with myself for 5 minutes”. More is even better!
EMBRACE YOURSELF this week and see what amazing things can come from it!
Are you getting in the way of achieving your goals? We can talk all day about how setting the right goals and staying accountable is super important (and of course, it is), but when everything really boils down, the only thing left standing there is you. So, what can we do about that?
The answer? Know that you can do it.
If you believe that you can accomplish your goals, then you certainly will. But having a strong self-mantra goes beyond setting goals. It can be the foundation that allows you to build confidence. Confidence leads to courage, and leads to success. This success could be personal, work related, or whatever else you might think of. This is a tried and true fact. The book store is full of books based on this simple, but elusive concept. I personally see it every day, in action. My clients not only talk about how they loved losing weight having more energy, sleeping and eating better, but describe how they are changing with the feeling of confidence from loving themselves more.
Here’s one of my secrets. Everyone looks in the mirror at some point in their day. Our reflection stares back at us from glass doors, elevator walls, and sleeping computer screens - but it's best to do this idea when you aren’t in a crowd. Say your self-mantra 3 times while looking yourself in the eyes. Self-doubt is easy, self-belief is challenging.
Make it short and make it powerful. You are strong. You are your own force. In both good times and bad, remember your statement. Have one, have three, change it as you feel the need. It is who you are and who you will be, for as long as you continue to remind yourself of it.