Gift Yourself a Healthy Holiday

It’s that time of the year again! In keeping with my current holiday theme, I’d like to address some of the habits that seem to fall by the wayside for many of us each year during this time. For many, it’s the comfort food, sedentary behavior, extended darkness, and cold weather that tend to affect our health goals just as much as parties and social events. My goal, as a health coach, is to make people aware of the habits and hidden traps that can lead people into the land of temptation and help them create tactics and plans to avoid those added pounds and that sense of exhaustion we often feel around this time of year.

Many factors play into us losing sight of our healthy plan during this busy, and usually stressful, time of year. Aside from the parties, dinners, and social events that fill our schedule, we also may find that our time for movement is cut short. Cold weather and long dark nights may keep us indoors, therefore limiting our time spent getting exercise outdoors, and keep us from getting the fresh air and sunshine that keeps our bodies happy and healthy. Daily walks are cancelled due to inclement weather, and most outdoor physical activities like gardening, tennis, and running are impossible in most areas. It’s important to take some time to evaluate how you used the outdoors in your exercise plan and come up with a replacement that can be easily done indoors. Yoga, treadmills, dancing, and streamed workouts are a fantastic way to bring your movement into warmer settings. It is important to continue to get some fresh air each day, and a bit of sunshine to boost our vitamin D and prevent depression and seasonal affective disorder. Seasonal affective disorder, or “winter blues”, leads to symptoms of depression in healthy people due to a reduction of daily sunlight. Symptoms include depression, lack of energy, loss of interest in things that bring us joy, issues with concentration, and sleep disorders. Spending a small amount of time each day in the sunshine can alleviate these issues, even if you spend it sitting inside a window basked in sunshine.

Holiday parties and dinners often include decadent foods, adult beverages, and lots of treats we wouldn’t otherwise have in our health plans. The important thing to remember is to ENJOY without OVER-INDULGING! It’s absolutely fine to enjoy a few “only baked once a year” cookies, just remember-it’s about TASTING them and ENJOYING them! It’s not about eating the entire plate of them!! Enjoy your favorite foods and treats in small amounts and move on to the main focus of the holidays-making memories with family and friends, enjoying those around us, and appreciating the time we have together.

When planning your meals during the busy holiday season, be sure to focus on quality over quantity; Eat foods with BALANCE in mind. Consider eating a small healthy snack before heading to parties or big dinners to calm your hunger. Fill your plate with healthy filling foods to begin your meal, and then have small bites of more decadent fare. If you are asked to bring a dish, consider a dish that is veggie based so that you know for sure that you will be getting those healthy bites in. ALL foods are fine in MODERATION! Take small bites, be mindful in enjoying the taste, and enjoy!

Most families have what I call a “food pusher”. It could be your mom, your aunt, or a friend that simply gets her holiday joy from watching people eat ALL her treats. You know who these people are, and you need to have a plan to deal with them in advance-they generally do NOT take “no” for an answer. There’s lots of ways to say no politely, after trying a small sample, of course, but these people usually don’t settle for a simple “No thank you!” Have a plan of action going into this situation and be strong about it. Some people think they must announce their health goals, diet plans…But that often leads to too much attention and discomfort from the food pusher. Always remember, “NO.” Is a complete sentence, and that food pusher will likely move on to a new hungry victim quickly! 

I’ve put together a pretty little resource for surviving the holidays, and it’s free to you HERE. You’ll find great tips for self-care, healthy holiday travel, getting exercise during busy holiday weeks, optional food choices for meals, and a few tracker templates to print out to help get you organized and motivated. I hope you will grab yourself a copy and make your holiday season a little healthier and happier.

New Years is coming up super soon, and with it comes the blessing and promise of a brand new year! If you’re looking for a great way to start your year off with health goals in mind, consider booking free chat with me to discuss putting together the perfect, personalized plan focused on YOU and YOUR goals. Whether it’s getting your nutrition in order, finding time in your schedule for building healthier habits, dropping a few pounds, or finding ways to relieve stress, focus more on self-care, and gaining the energy you crave in life-I can guide you to your goals and keep you motivated for success. Learn more about health and wellness coaching HERE. Find out more about me and my passion for great health, and feel free to drop me a message here to start a conversation about YOU!

Speaking of Stress ~A Holiday Story~

As the holidays approach each year, I find myself watching friends and family post their pics of big meals, decorations, and crafts, as well as several posts about being stressed. It seems we all love to go BIG on the holidays, but it’s also an incredibly stressful time for most. Hosting family, baking cookies, shopping, and social events fill our schedule quickly, but the aftermath of all that activity and fun is often exhaustion. I’m no stranger to going BIG on holidays-I’ve had up to 7 decorated trees in my house, huge, haunted yards, and dinners with more guests than house space. Pandemic gave me a chance to scale back in a huge way, to avoid the expectation of bigger and more, and take a step back into simply enjoying the holidays with less stress for a bit. Stress, is without a doubt, the biggest issue I hear about during the holidays. Whether it be schedules, finances, food, or simply finding time to rest and enjoy, it all comes down to being stressed.

In 2008 I was a single, homeschooling, working mom to four kids. Stress was simply a way of waking, living, and existing for me as I navigated through each day of lessons, projects, work, chores, and child raising. Being a somewhat “over the top” kind of gal, I refused to allow my rather new single mom status hold me back, and I plowed right into my holiday plans full force. Homemade chicken potpie, guests for dinner, decorated gingerbread house, china and crystal on the table, a freshly cut tree, presents wrapped perfectly, and not a dent in my other life responsibilities. That was the plan…I never considered the amount of stress I was placing upon myself.

As Christmas grew closer, my carefully written out schedule was working out well. We wrapped up our fall homeschool classes, got our decorating done, and brought home a fresh cut tree. The kids were getting excited, and I was completely on my “type A” schedule, just marching forward into a perfectly done holiday…or so I thought.

At 7pm on Christmas Eve, I bought pizza for the kids, and settled them with a holiday movie while I began to make my famous chicken pot pie-our holiday dinner. The tree was lit, beautifully decorated, and the outside lights were glistening. Everything was perfect. I began mixing my pot pie sauce (condensed milk based, which means it burns quickly) and chopping my veggies while listen to Christmas music play from the living room. 2 of my children (I never say WHO, because no one admits to this!) were rough housing. As I opened my mouth to tell them to knock it off, the smaller child catapulted from the back of the older child-right into the Christmas tree! The tree swayed, and I ran from the kitchen attempting to grab it-but it crashed to the ground. The kids stood in horror. I was stunned. Then I smelled the burning milk…. 

I ran back to the kitchen to pull my pot from the stove as my youngest stood in tears above the fallen Christmas tree. My favorite pot was filled with stinky burnt creamed mixture. The smoke alarms were blaring.  I opened the windows to get the smoke out and returned to the living room to upright the tree. At this point, all four kids were upset and yelling. I had no idea what to do next….Being a single mom on a very tight budget, I had no extra ingredients to start over, and there was not much else in the house to serve to guests the next day. I packed up the kids and headed towards the only store open at 7:45 on Christmas Eve-a Walgreens-to see what I could piece together to save my dinner. I was happy to see cans of condensed milk and cream of chicken soup on the shelves, and I grabbed them thinking I could now pull this off! I ran to the restaurant I worked in and asked for a few chicken breasts and potatoes to complete my re-do recipe. Feeling quite accomplished, I returned home, had a glass of wine, and started all over again-in a new pot-the other pot was destroyed. It was after 9pm, and I still had presents to wrap and kids to put to bed, but my potpie was ready to be crusted and baked. I gave the filling a taste…..WOW….Did you know that condensed milk also comes in a sweetened version for desserts????

My chicken pot pie tasted like custard! I tried to add pepper and seasonings to mask the sweetness. I tried to convince myself it wasn’t absolutely disgusting. But there it was, my entire Christmas dinner, smelling like vanilla pudding with chicken and peas in it. I had another glass of wine. Let’s be honest-I had a bottle of wine! I looked at my tree with the ornaments now hung in a crazy fashion, the lights drooping to the ground on one side. I looked at my disaster of a kitchen with my favorite expensive pot sitting burnt in the trashcan. I thought about the pile of gifts hidden in my bedroom closet that remained unwrapped. I took another taste of my Christmas dinner and tried to convince myself that no one would notice the insane sweetness. I had more wine.

Looking back now, I absolutely can find the comedy in the situation-which is well documented in hysterical Facebook posts and comments. At the time, however, it was nothing but defeat and stress, and way too much wine. I never took a real moment to take a breath and realize that in all reality, none of the things I was trying to accomplish held any importance. I never stopped to think that simply asking and accepting help would have made a difference. I never took a moment to realize that while “my” version of a great Christmas involved pulling out all the stops, no one else expected to be wowed. Had I known THEN what I know NOW, things would have been very different. I would have realized my limits as a single mom of four on a major holiday. I would have taken more than a few moments to practice some mindfulness and rethink my plan with a much simpler meal. I would have realized that I took on too much, and simply taken the kids to visit family for Christmas dinner. I would not have let such a stressful situation happen-and if it HAD happened, I would have dealt with it much better: deep breaths, mindful thinking, asking for help, and not ending up with a rather bad hangover from the wine.

THIS is the point of my story dear readers! The grandiose ideas that some of us may envision as we approach the holiday season are often the reason for exhaustion, burnout, and even ending up feeling our worst. Saying “yes” to every event, volunteering too much, entertaining too much, expecting too much from ourselves are all just ways to end up not being able to enjoy the real reasons for the holidays we love. We tend to get focused on the decorating, the baking, the wrapping-and we lose sight of the JOY that the season simply presents when we are with family and friends. It’s never the dinner that is remembered, or the way the decorations were so perfectly placed, but the laughter, the conversations, and the relationships that we cherish.

As we head into these 2 months of nonstop holiday whirlwind, be sure to remain mindful of your time and energy. Practice a little (or a LOT!) of self-care and self-love. Give yourself a break, save yourself a little sanity, and present yourself to your loved ones the way they most love to see you-relaxed, well, and happy.

Just to wrap this little story up….

In the end, one of my dinner guests offered to bring a small turkey breast that “cooks in 45 minutes” …”It says so right on the label!”.

She showed up from out of state at noon on Christmas Day, and it in fact, needed to thaw for 45 minutes and cook for 3 ½ hours.

We ended up ordering Chinese Food for Christmas dinner and my kids thought it was the greatest thing EVER because that’s what they ate in The Christmas Story movie:)! THAT is the ending memory-JOY!

Learn ALL the tips and tricks to help make your holiday season more enjoyable and focused on WELLNESS with my beautiful 22 page Guide to Holiday Survival! It’s FREE and ready to download HERE!

If you’re ready to take your health and wellness goals to the next level, treat yourself to some wellness coaching! I’m here when you need me for tips, plans, and motivation to reach all your wellness goals this holiday season! Email me and let’s chat! Also, be sure to follow me on Instagram for great tips and inspiration!

Here Come the Holidays!!

And just like that…What seemed more like an endless 2020 than a new 2021 is suddenly drawing to a close. I personally have no idea where the last 11 months went; They seriously flew right on by in a blur. But now, with Halloween happening this weekend, we are headed into the frenzy of holidays bringing us to the end of another year. With that comes the endless amount of busy schedules, family occasions, parties, and food. It can be a tough time for anyone that tries to eat well, exercise, and stay with a wellness routine.

While many people have been told that the average person gains 5-15 pounds during the holidays, that is simply not statistically true. The average weight gain is 1 pound!! However, studies have also shown that that one pound is often not lost, and over a period of years, adds to unwanted weight. What I find most generally with my friends and clients is the end feeling of overdoing it too often, whether it be with food or alcohol, or the feeling of simply not feeling our best due to too many indulgences during the holiday season. It’s easy to get off schedule with movement, to eat or drink too much, or to allow ourselves to be stressed out for too long. So, I’d like to touch on some important ways to avoid some of the holiday health traps and give some tips on staying on track with your goals this season.

Because it’s Halloween, I’ll start with the obvious first obstacle-candy! If you have children in your life or enjoy treating the neighborhood kids to some trick or treating fun, it’s likely that you will face a large amount of candy at some point this week. It can be HARD having all that candy around and not overindulging. To avoid this, try planning to treat yourself to a small amount of your favorite treats, and find a time to absolutely enjoy them! Eat mindfully, focus on the taste and texture, do nothing else but enjoy. Give into a small amount of deliciousness, enjoy, and move on. If you find that you are simply weak when it comes to sugar (it’s ok, there are many!!) Try to put off buying your Halloween candy until the last minute and give it ALL away-even if this means dumpling all of it into the bags of your last few trick or treaters. Another way to deal successfully with Halloween candy is to only buy candy you do NOT enjoy. Until 2 years ago, my family home was a Halloween destination with a huge, haunted yard. We went very big and had hundreds of people show up. We handed out over 30 pounds of candy in a few hours with none left at the end of the night. My husband, however, would order the candy weeks ahead of time, and I quickly learned to remind him to leave the candy at his office, or hide it in our garage in unopened boxes. It was just too much temptation!

Halloween is just the kickoff to the holiday season, which, honestly, in my family, goes all the way to Super Bowl Sunday. Thanksgiving can present a whole new set of issues for people because it’s literally a holiday focused on eating! One of the biggest concerns I hear from clients is about “food pushers”. It seems that everyone has a friend or family member that takes a “No thank you” to food personally. Generally, this person seems to be a grandma or aunt, and they simply will not accept a “no” to their meatballs/cake/pie/cookies/casserole, nor will they accept that a small taste is “enough”. In my family, it was an aunt that would pout if you wouldn’t take a second or third helping. I can remember leaving Thanksgiving feeling sick because she’d sit next to me as a child and make sure I shoveled every bite in. I like to remind people that “NO” is a complete sentence, and a small taste IS enough to enjoy and give praise to our food pushers. Accept a small amount, enjoy it mindfully, say “no” to seconds, and change the subject or move away from the situation. It’s important to remember that holidays are about family and friends-focus on the social aspect of the holiday, and the food aspect will be much easier to navigate.

Alcohol consumption is another holiday concern for many. These drinks are often full of empty calories, they dehydrate our body, and as we drink, we lose touch with our mindset and goals, and often end up not feeling so great in the days that follow. Alcohol often leads to unplanned eating, tired days, and missed exercise. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that the sugar content of my drinks literally gives me a hangover. I call it the sugar overload hangover. If I do indulge, I find that sticking to vodka with a sugar free mixer saves me from the terrible, exhausting, headachy days that often follow just drinking a glass or two of wine. To avoid feeling crummy after having a few drinks, be sure to cut down on the sugary mixes, drink a glass of water to match each libation, and don’t drink on an empty stomach. If wine is your choice this holiday season, consider mixing it with a sugar free flavored seltzer water for tasty, less alcoholic alternative. Again, focus on the social aspect of your events, and you will find that you not only have more fun, but you will be feeling more like yourself on the days that follow.

The holiday season can be very stressful, so be sure to schedule some time for self-care to avoid burn out and exhaustion. Find some time to sneak in some quiet time to refresh your mind and find ways to stay active as the days get shorter, darker, and colder. Take a long walk and enjoy the decorations in your neighborhood or plan some recreation time with family and friends to get everyone moving. If you find that stress is creeping into your daily life, try a little meditation, or simply sit in silence for a few moments to regain your clarity and energy. Focus on basic clean nutrition to feel your best, and on days in which you plan to indulge in holiday treats, eat small, balanced meals to keep your belly full and your energy level balanced.

As our year comes to a quick, busy end, be sure to take some time to focus on YOU. Give yourself a break, acknowledge all that you’ve accomplished this year, and give yourself some praise. As we look towards 2022, start thinking about how you want to embrace that new beginning. I always like to find a word that I want to focus on as each new year begins to get my mindset in order and truly start the year with a clear sense of where I am, and where I want to be,

Have a great Halloween, go easy on the sugar, and get some self-love into your life! If you’re looking for a great FREEBIE to guide you through the holiday season, be sure to grab my 22 page Healthy Holiday Survival Guide! This beautiful guide is chockfull of tips and hacks to get you through just about any holiday wellness situations and concerns. And, if you DO find yourself indulging in too much sugar this Halloween, be sure to watch my blog, and IG, for my new 10 Day Sugar Detox program.

If you’re looking for personal guidance and accountability to motivate you through this season, consider a free chat with me to discuss your goals and needs, and see how wellness coaching might work for you. Be sure-I’ve got your back this holiday season!

Embrace the Silence

Sometimes life moves by so quickly, and we get so involved and busy with things, we don’t take a moment just to live in the moment, or even just sit in silence. Being present for quiet moments is extremely important to our overall well-being especially if your lifestyle and schedule is very active or hectic. Sometimes we think we are tired when we are just overstimulated. Taking a few moments to just let the mind be still, to just enjoy doing, or thinking about, absolutely nothing, is an incredibly healthy thing to do.

This was not a part of my life, ever, until very recently. My childhood was chaotic and loud, my twenties were a blur of work, school, and navigating adulthood, and my thirties and forties were packed with raising four children, homeschooling, community involvement, and a lot of work. As my children grew to young adulthood and started to go into their own journeys, I filled my life with throwing parties and events, returning to school, and lots of time in my gym. I found that I stayed as busy as ever, and because that had always been the norm, I just went with it. I was used to the house full of kids and friends, the dogs barking, the constant chatter, the packed calendar, and the endless conversations about the things my family was passionate about, and I made sure to fill my life with equal “noise” as I approached my fifties.  Silence was not a factor in my life, in fact, it was the exact opposite of my life. Silence made me uncomfortable and anxious, often made my brain go to less than happy places, and pretty much drove me mad. My brain was used to being overstimulated constantly, and I didn’t know what to do with silence.

I sat outside on my deck Sunday, on a way too dark and way too chilly for me October evening, and just sat. Alone. Quiet. I could hear the ocean waves crashing on the shore 4 blocks away, and nothing else. I looked at the stars, and realized, this is what “peace” feels like. I didn’t stop myself from enjoying it, didn’t immediately decide that I had better things to occupy my mind and remove myself, and didn’t feel anxious or uncomfortable. I didn’t reach for my phone or come inside to make myself dinner. I just SAT. In silence. And did nothing. And after a bit-a long bit-I went back into my life and realized-I am so REFRESHED.

When we decided to buy a place at the beach in 2019, I envisioned a place with constant family and friends visiting. There would be drinks on the patio and cornhole in the driveway. We set up guestrooms and bought tons of towels and sheets to host a huge crew and made sure everything was set up for relaxing and great times. I was ready for my calendar to be full and lots of beach fun and activity. But…2020 had different plans for us, and I soon found myself in isolation, alone in our vacation home, for “6 weeks”. I kept myself busy, painting the walls, then canvases, I journaled, I talked on the phone to old friends, I meditated, I started doing more yoga. I stayed REALLY busy. 6 weeks turned into several months, and while family carefully joined me from time to time, I was usually alone with just my dog. Projects were completed, courses were finished, and I started to spend more time just relaxing in the quiet on one of my decks. At first, the silence was too much. It made my mind wander to unpleasant thoughts from the past, thoughts I had neatly tucked away without emotion because I was, of course, just keeping too busy. As I began to study meditation, I learned how to sit with those thoughts, recognize them, and let them go. The silence became easier, it became my welcomed friend.

Sitting in silence is different than meditation. While meditation focuses on intention or focusing on breathing, sitting in silence is just as it is.

Sitting. In. Silence.

I sat today, also in silence, but deep in thought as to how these silent moments can benefit our life and bring a wholeness to our overall wellness.

Sitting with stillness gives you a moment to remove yourself from everything, and just view the world as it exists around you. It opens your mind to things we normally may not observe, or notice. It makes you feel that the vast greatness of the earth and connects you to a sense of being just you.

Being in silence rests your brain and your body. It will refresh you and bring clarity to your life. Our minds can get jumbled with the overstimulation from our daily lives; Silence allows for those thoughts to clear, and our mind starts fresh and anew.

Practicing moments of silence can help you tap into your wisdom. Thoughts, feelings, and ideas that don’t have time to develop in the constant busyness of our daily lives have time to make themselves known, and by recognizing these new ideas, we expand our minds.

For me, sitting in silence is a way to connect with my own self. To listen to my mind and body, and ONLY my mind and body. It is the ultimate in practicing self-care and self-love. In silence, we put ourselves first, completely and unselfishly. We honor our own silence, our own peace, and our own journey. In doing this, we inevitably are more able to honor everything around us with a clear, fresh mind.

I hope you will take a small amount of time to sit in silence this week. Sit under the stars, or cuddle in a blanket in front of a firepit, sit in nature, or simply turn off the tv, put down the phone, shut the door, and embrace a few minutes of silence. If you’re curious about more ways to find total wellness in your life, please check out my 24 page guide to wellness, 7 Days to Wellness. It’s completely free and packed with info and tips, trackers and guidance, to get you started on a wellness journey. If you’ve discovered that you truly want to focus on your total health and wellness goals, drop me a message and let’s chat about setting up the perfect personalized plan for you.

Need a Mood Boost?

I started this blog post idea last week, as a “lighter side” kind of approach to our health, while I was busy working on “bigger, more involved” projects and aspects of my business and life. But then-I hit a wall. I’ve spent much of pandemic avoiding straight on news-which means I don’t watch it on TV, but seek out the happenings of the world through newsfeeds when I feel the need to be a bit tuned in to what is going on outside of my little seaside “bubble”. My normally positive social media seemed less positive, and when reaching out to friends to catch up, the conversations were strained and low energy. My positive mood turned gray, there were some tears over the weekend, and, my attempts to do anything-exercise, write, even make a positive graphic for IG, became exhausting feats. So, my “lighter side” approach to this blog post took a pivot, and, well, here we are.

I’d done quite a bit of reading on “pandemic exhaustion” last year, but as things started to open up, and a new normalcy was being discovered, I thought much less about it. Now, it seems we are back to dealing with much of the same stress, disruption, and even isolation, as new variants take over our lives. Where I live, the rates of illness are climbing higher and faster than ever, and even those with the best intentions of staying away from social spots are finding that the heat has sent them running indoors for days at a time. Taking a beach walk, sitting on the porch with a friend, or biking the neighborhood are things I have gravitated to for the last year and a half-but the 108 heat indexes and blazing sun has made that unbearable. Normally, I’d just throw myself into work, or my ongoing classes, but…My focus waned, my energy took a dive, I was tired, but not sleeping well, and my mood was dark. Trying to drag myself out of this funk only made it worse, and so-I decided to be gentle with myself-because self care is always best. Instead of blogging or working on projects or classes, I spent several days binge watching Virgin River and sipping on bone broth to rebalance my gut. (Rebalancing my gut ALWAYS seems to clear my head clouds and lack of energy!)

There are times when you feel low… times when you feel totally unproductive and of no use to anyone. This is normal in the ebb and flow of life, but the last year and a half have made many feel that no matter what they do to try to pull themselves together, they still find that much of what they are experiencing is completely out of their control. That only seems to make it worse. You are not alone-That I can assure you. So, today, I’d like to offer some healthy suggestions on how to care for yourself if you are finding yourself in this state of mind.

SELF CARE IS CRUCIAL

I can’t say this enough! I have several posts about this, that you can find here, and here, to give you some ideas as to how to better care for YOU, and not feel bad for doing so.

If you’re feeling the affects of being exhausted-the very first thing to remember is to take care of yourself! Many, like myself, find this hard to do. There’s always someone, or something that seems to need your attention-but bottom line-unless you care for YOU, all the rest will suffer as well.

Evaluate Your Schedule

When energy and mood are low, it’s often a good time to take a look at your schedule. Being constantly busy is never good for the soul. Our bodies and our minds need downtime to rest! Take a look at your schedule, see what can be moved, cancelled or rescheduled, and give yourself a well-deserved break. Treat “YOU” as though “YOU” are just as important as all the other appointments and needs on your calendar.

Listen to Music

Listening to music works therapeutically for most people. Whatever your particular taste in music is, listen to that. Load up your Spotify or Apple music, or just ask Alexa to play something for you. Listen to your most favorite song; maybe watch the video if you can. This can cheer you up in a huge way! (For me, it’s The Cure, “Just Like Heaven”. Works wonders!)

Speak to a Friend

Most times, if you just share your feelings with someone, you can do well at managing them. Call the one person you trust more than anyone else and talk. They will listen to you. Do not fear reprimand or ridicule. That won’t happen. If they are your true friend, they will hear you out and maybe even make you laugh, or see a situation in another way.

Go Out for a Walk

If you are stressed, sitting inside and brooding is only going to make matters worse. What you need to do is to go out and let it all out. Take a whiff of the air outside and you will find your problems slowly dwindling away. Most importantly, you can give it some thought and put things in a better perspective. A change of scenery, seeing others going about their lives, a pretty walk in nature, can all do wonders for your mood.

Busy Yourself with Something

When you are trying to work out your stress, the one thing you should try to do is to divert your mind. You have to busy yourself with something that you can put your heart and soul to. This could be your work or do something creative that you were long meaning to do. This can divert your mind in a very profound manner, and you will find that you are slowly but steadily coming out of your stress.

It’s important to be mindful of your feelings and emotions each day, especially if you are prone to feeling isolated or depressed. If you feel your mood, attitude, or energy levels are feeling off, take a few minutes and do a self-check. Sit quietly, explore your general feelings: are you physically tired? Do you feel ill? Are you upset? Are you anxious? Naming the feelings you experience can help you figure out how to deal with them. You may need more rest. You may realize you’ve been eating poorly and feeling the effects. You may need to just change your scenery and shake it off, or you may need to speak to a friend or even a professional. It’s important to practice self-care as often as needed, and to ask for help if you need that as well.

For a little info on “Eating stress away” in a healthy manner, check out this article, or, feel free to contact me to put together a healthy living plan for you.

From my business site Beewell.com

The Third Chapter-Time for YOU!

The “third chapter” is something I speak about often in my health and wellness practice, and that is inspired by MY journey into my own new chapter in life. People generally question the phrase, but upon learning the meaning, are often left feeling enlightened and refreshed. So, today, I’m going to explain the “third chapter” in much detail, in effort to get you thinking about where YOUR life is headed!

In my mind, and in my practice, the third chapter is a chapter of life that is focused on YOU. Chapter one was our childhood and formative years of growing and schooling, and starting our path in life. Chapter two, for many, is the years we spend focused on others, whether it be family, marriage, career, relationships, community, or other outside forces that require our time, effort, and focus. Chapter 3…well, Chapter 3 begins that moment we realize that “self” deserves the same amount of time, energy, effort, and focus that we have given to others-it’s time for “ME”.

This can happen at different times for different people, of course. For some, it may be when they become empty nesters, for others, it may be when they shift from being an employee to a business owner, or even retirement. It may happen after a divorce, or when you send you children to full time school or college, or it may simply happen when you have a the deep realization that you have to reclaim “who you are”. Our time is often filled with schedules, calendars, projects, and people that need or demand our full attention, and after years, even decades of this, realizing that YOU deserve and need to give that same attention to YOU, is a changing moment.

For me, it happened in early 2020. While the world around me became quiet in pandemic, I “locked” myself down at our beach vacation home for what I believed would be a few weeks. After a few weeks of binging all the TV I’d missed in the 25 years of raising 4 kids, I turned off the TV and allowed myself to sit in silence. I walked the waterways, sat on my porch and listened to the waves, and realized-I had not had a silent mind in decades. I spent my childhood in chaos and dysfunction, my 20’s healing from the result of that-while pursuing college, work, and adulthood. My 30’s were spent becoming a mom, dealing with a failed marriage, and endless homeschooling, activities, and all that goes with raising children. I entered my 40’s as a single mom, working, educating my soon to be teenagers, literally waking up each day to check off a long list of to do’s before falling into bed, exhausted at 3am. A decade of my life flew by in a flurry of football games, soccer practices, laundry, meal planning, and even completing a degree and remarrying, and then, one by one, I graduated my children from a lifetime of home education.

Friends congratulated me as I posted pictures of each child, in purple cap and gown, smiling in my front yard as I handed them their diploma, and then proclaimed, “This has been your life!! What WILL you do now???”

At first, I was unsure. I traveled the country a bit, calling it the “ultimate fieldtrip” as I invited my now adult children to Dallas, Memphis, New Orleans, and Atlanta. My youngest son and I road tripped to games and stadiums all over, as I visited places and people from my past. I went back to school and became a certified health and wellness coach, I started a business, I helped make the dream of owning a beach house a reality, and I relaxed-or so I thought.

It was in that beach house, in April of 2020, that having a quiet mind for perhaps the first time EVER, led me to realize-this is MY time. The question was, what would I do for MYSELF?

As a certified coach, with a degree in nutrition and wellness, I knew that very first thing I needed to do was make sure I was as healthy as possible-that, after all, is the foundation for a happy and healthy life! I had suffered from terrible symptoms of leaky gut that had left me undiagnosed and ill for several years. I also had spent some time self-medicating myself with crappy food and wine as lockdowns took over the country, and it had me feeling and looking not so great. I set out to get my health in check, clean up my diet (again!), and cure, finally, my gut issues. Within a few weeks, I felt like a new person! My energy was high, my skin was clear, and I’d dropped some extra pounds. I was walking miles and miles each day, began doing yoga and Pilates, and set new Fitbit goals.

As my energy grew, and my head became clearer, I started to think about things I could do to keep myself occupied, on my island, during pandemic, mostly alone. Within a few weeks, I had rediscovered journaling, reading books that were not texts(!), and even filled my house with art supplies-a talent and hobby I had left long forgotten in my youth. My days belonged to ME; my schedule was MINE, for the first time in a very long time. I was finally taking care of ME. I did the things that were important to me, the things that brought me joy, and the things I had abandoned to take care of everyone else. It was a period of incredible growth, and incredible peace. As family started to join me more often at the beach, they found a new person awaited them; A person who was full of energy, completely at peace, very calm, and very active and engaged in life. I was able to focus more on them and be completely in the moment, because I had grounded myself, made myself important, and had so much more focus, energy and clarity. This, THIS, was the beginning of my chapter three!

As I began to talk to friends, clients, and online followers about this “new chapter” theory, I heard so many stories about the things other’s had “lost” or “forgotten” as they navigated the second chapter of their lives. People had stopped reading for fun, they had given up hobbies, dropped sports and activities, even lost connections with friends because they were just SO busy with all of the responsibilities and schedules in their lives. Many asked, “Where do I start?”

To that, I respond-you have to quiet the mind for just a bit, and listen to your self. I often suggest meditating, or even journaling, to those that enjoy writing, or even making lists of things that they use to enjoy, things they loved to do, things they took part in, but had now gathered dust. One friend journaled a bit and realized that she needed to make a huge move in her life. Another journaled and soon decided to switch careers, giving her more time for activities she wanted to do. One client proclaimed loudly in our third session, “You know what????? Talking care of myself is NOT selfish!!! I know that now!” She planned a personal weekend “recharging” getaway for her self to gain clarity on the idea. Some found the answer in a new exercise program. Several contacted me for advice and guidance on cleaning up their diets to gain more energy. All of them found something new (or forgotten) to bringing them almost instant joy.

This third chapter is not selfish, it is not removing yourself from those that need you-it is simply about making YOUR SELF as important. You deserve to give your self the same love and attention that you’ve been giving everyone, and everything, else. And when you do that-you will also find that your calmer mind, and higher energy levels allow you to be there-not only for your self, but for others.

My third chapter is just beginning. After years of lugging snacks to kids sporting events, and cheering them on from the stands, I am now the athlete on the bike trails, on my kayak on the Intracoastal Waterways, and doing yoga on my back deck. Instead of dropping kids at practices and art classes, it’s ME signed up for Pilates class, and the art supplies are mine! (And very organized, I might add!) I have reclaimed my life, and the joy I have found is simply spreading to everyone around me. The calm and peace I have discovered has enveloped my entire family, and expanded to many of my friends. And, I have taken that joy, that clarity, and all of my education and skills, and placed them into a business that, hopefully, will inspire other to do the same.

If you are inspired to explore your “third chapter”, I’d love to talk to you! Whether it’s getting your health in order, cleaning up your diet, reducing the stress, or finding clarity as to “what’s next”, I’m excited to speak with you!

If you are curious about journaling to find out more about yourself: your dreams, finding clarity, rediscovering “you”, and building healthy life changing habits, Please drop me an email to get updated on my new journal program being released soon! As always-I do not use emails for spam-I only send a few each year when something really awesome is happening!

You Deserve It!

The last couple of weeks have been exhausting! I completed classes, did the legalities for my business, set up my website, spoke with clients, made a bunch of fun graphics for social media, had photo sessions, and wrote a ton of articles. In keeping with my own health journey, I also logged a consistent 20K+ daily steps on my Fitbit, did Piyo and yoga, prepped food, and tried to spend as much time outside in the waning last days of warm weather here in beautiful southeast North Carolina. Sunday, at noon, I just crashed. I found myself looking at my pile of notes, my books, picking up my computer only to put it right back down in exhaustion. I gave myself permission to rest, feeling a bit guilty, and turned on the football game-only to doze off. It was really clear-I needed a day off.

For many of us, it’s really easy to just check out and take a day or weekend completely off of life and responsibilities. I’ve seen people spend endless hours binge watching a series, or just napping the day away blissfully. For others, it is not so easy. I’ve known people that simply never stop. They work on vacation, they carry a running list of what they need to do with them at all times, they use their breaks to switch up projects, and they never stop moving. I realized, as I sat, Sunday evening, writing this blog article after promising myself a day off-I am usually that person.

Often, when we begin a new journey in our lives, we get so excited, our energy is boundless, and we just want to keep moving, perhaps for fear of losing momentum. This is particularly true when we become focused on our health; that post workout euphoria, that site of the numbers moving on the scale, the sense of our body getting stronger and healthier. Hitting 10 thousand steps each day on your Fitbit was such an accomplishment-why not aim for 15? Adding 10 reps to your weight routine was exhilarating, so why not go for 20? It’s very easy for many to get pulled into the concept of one-upping ourselves, but, inevitably, over time, it wears us down. Everything, when overdone, only leads us to exhaustion.

If you are one of those people, you may have a hard time giving yourself a break. I know that I do! I’ve never been much of a “do nothing” kind of person, but it’s SO important to give our bodies and our minds a break. I take time each day to mediate, but I have to really force myself to just do “nothing at all”. Maybe it’s linked to a sense of accomplishment, maybe it’s about being obsessive, maybe it’s just something in our personal make up that leads us to be so goal focused, we can’t slow down. But “rest” and “doing nothing” is crucial to our health.

Rest, or down time, gives both our body and mind permission to recover, to rejuvenate, to prepare for a fresh start. Resting the body gives our muscles a chance to repair, gives our joints a break, and gives our mind a chance to wander outside the box of checklists and schedules. Often, simply taking a break leads us to see things clearer, and to be able to find the solution to problems and challenges much easier. Often, a well-deserved break gives us a new lease on focusing on our goals, and the ability to begin again, fresh and inspired.

I started this post on Sunday evening after feeling guilty of not getting much done in my haze of exhaustion, but three paragraphs in, the process of confronting my own inability to take a guilty free break worked, and I closed my computer and climbed into bed with a new show to binge watch and soon fell asleep. I awoke much more refreshed and clear-headed, ready to get some major projects completed on Monday morning. So….Rest worked!

If you find yourself being a goal chaser, like me, and having a hard time “turning it off”, take a few minutes today and examine that. Why is it hard to rest and relax? What can you do to make sure that you do make rest and recovery an important part of your life? What are some things you can do to make this process easier?

One thing that I have decided to do, being so “goal oriented” is to actually set a goal for what I will call “pamper time”. My pampering won’t be bubble baths or spa treatments, but simply time to not focus so much on my many lists. Time I will spend simply NOT focused on work, or chores, but on being lazy and enjoying some guilty pleasures of a Netflix series, or simply sitting on the beach watching the waves (in contrast to seeing how many steps I can get). I’m putting this on my schedule-actual scheduled time to do NOTHING, so that my mind will think it’s a requirement, and I can check it off!

If you are feeling run down, tired, unfocused, or exhausted, I strongly encourage you to plan some time to decompress and renew. This has been a monumentally difficult year for many, and the struggles have been very real even to those of us who were blessed enough to be about to handle it well. We all deserve a break, a really good break! I hope that you will take some time to take care of yourself in a fun and relaxing, pampering, guilt free manner, and know that while you NEED it, you also DESERVE it. Schedule some “me” time for yourself right now-it’s as important as anything else you have on that schedule!

reposted from my website BeeWell.com